Create / Enjoy

Thursday, July 2, 2015

DIY Lilly Pulitzer-ey bright shift dress

I've had a thing for Lilly Pulitzer for a long time now. I haven't owned many pieces, just a few vintage things I found at thrift stores way back, and I don't wear the bright, retro, Palm Springs-ey style much, but I really like it! So when Target came out for their Lilly Pulitzer for Target line this spring (view the official lookbook here and collection here), I was totally into the dresses!

The bold stripe of lace down the front is cute and unique. Chunky lace that wide is not easy to find, either--I went to 4 stores when looking for the trim for this project. (I made a shift dress with a wide lace band down the center front back in 2009, a few months before starting this blog (see it here), and I had a hard time finding wide enough lace then, too!)

I had this very cool bright green and white print vintage fabric that a friend found at a thrift store and bought for me, thinking I might be able to use it for some really fun, bold upholstery. I still have several yards left, so maybe I will someday! But in the meantime, it really reminded me of the fun florals and colors of Lilly Pulizter fabrics.

The simple summer sheath dress is a classic 60's shape, and I used Simplicity 2584 with some modifications yet again (see all my versions here). I cut facings for the neck and armholes, since the fabric is heavy enough to be unlined.

Since I couldn't find wide white lace or trim, the lace look down the front is three strips of pleated lace trim.

I also had a vintage skirt zipper that I used at the neckline!

So fun to wear such brights when it's in the 90's even in the evenings!!
Purse: Target (similar/similar/similar). Shoes: Target (similar). Dress: DIY!

This is the time of year for BRIGHT summer dresses!!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Summer weekend bliss: Beach and berry-picking

We did last weekend right. I'm still on a bit of a high after two days of balanced fun and relaxing! With days like that, every weekend would feel like a holiday weekend.

The forecast was for the 100's in the Portland area for Saturday, so we did what a lot of other folks did and went to the coast. We left around 8:00 AM (we were already sweating in the house) and didn't get back till bedtime. The weather was absolutely perfect at the coast, and we went hiking, played on the beach (literally), visited our favorite places, and even went to a movie.

We hiked at Oswald West State Park, just north of Manzanita, and we did a beautiful and comfortable hike out to a point where we looked out over the ocean and saw a whale jump! Then we laid on the beach in Cannon Beach and husband built a moat system while I read a book. Then we made it up to Seaside for the evening. The whole day was just pure fun, and without the stress of packing for an overnight or camping trip for just one night.

Then, on Sunday morning we went to our fave berry farm and picked raspberries, blackberries, marionberries, and a few blueberries--although the blueberries aren't quite ready yet so we'll have to go back!

I know the 4th of July holiday is coming up, but this past weekend is hard to top!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Little white dress - a new favorite! With eyelet lace ribbon inset

I love a good little white dress (LWD). Always have! If you scroll through my DIY dress archives you'll see several versions in previous years, usually involving lace and sometimes piecing for interest. A couple years ago I made this pieced eyelet bodice LWD and loved the versatility and simplicity of the pure white cotton. This year it was time for another one, although a very different style!

I used this Offray eyelet lace, which comes on a spool like a wide ribbon but can also be used like strips of fabric. I gave this dress a full lining (longer than the bodice, so the lining is a plain sheath while the outer dress has the gathered skirt) so I used the lining as a guide when slicing out pieces of the main bodice before I pieced the lace in. It also took some seam allowance math.

I used Simplicity 2584, which I use a lot (see all my versions of it here). It's now out of print but you could replicate this with any basic sheath dress pattern (the side bust darts are important for keeping it flattering when you want a flat front).

To do the eyelet lace ribbon inset:

  1. Cut bodice front from pattern, being sure to mark center front at top and bottom edges of bodice piece. (Cut lining and outer fabric pieces).
  2. On outer bodice piece, avoiding bust darts by at least 1/2", choose symmetrical points for lace insertion rows. I centered mine on about 5/8" from either side of the center front, and based on the width of my lace and bodice piece I had room for another evenly spaced lace piece on each side.
  3. Measure distance of lace strip plus seam allowance; cut strips of excess bodice pieces. I.e., my lace was bout 2" wide and I had about 1/2" seam allowances, so I cut out about 1" of fabric for each strip.
  4. Cut lace strips slightly longer than distance from longest top to bottom edge for each inset row.
  5. Sew right sides together, lining up bottom edges of bodice piece and lace pieces.
  6. Press seams open.
  7. Using lining bodice piece as a pattern, even out neck edge and re-cut neck shape on lace strips, which will be rectangular.
  8. Assemble dress as usual, sewing front to back, skirt, etc. for both lining and outer pieces (as applicable).

I'm all about basics and neutrals, so I think it goes great with brown leather accessories and a classic jean jacket!

It's so comfy and easy to wear, but still cute! Easily could be my new favorite dress!!

Thanks to Offray for sponsoring this post!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

5 things to do on an active staycation

We were on a staycation for the first part of last week. Celebrating husband's week between school terms, and our 11-year dating anniversary (we usually take a trip to the coast).

We had originally planned a great road trip to a few of the Seven Wonders of Oregon--we were planning on taking the whole week and going to Crater Lake, Smith Rock, and the Painted Hills. But, things have been a little stressful around here recently and adding a big week-long trip to the schedule/brain power was just too much for us. Instead, we hung around our part of the state and did some vacationing here!

It was weird, at first, to be at home during the day on weekdays, but it was great once we switched into vacation mode to have the comforts of home. And to be able to stay on a relatively normal schedule, eat normal food, have access to all of our normal favorite things. Like a super long weekend!

And like we do on many nice weekends, we went hiking, took walks, and spent some time trying new things (new for me, anyway)--bouldering at a rock climbing gym. I realized, being at home with extra weekend time lead to us really just having a super active few days! As compared to weekdays at the office, we were moving, enjoying fresh air, and just feeling great.

Here are my tips for you on how to enjoy a staycation while staying active and taking care of yourself!

5 tips/things to do on a great active staycation

1. Try a new kind of indoor recreation. My husband likes rock climbing, but I haven't done it since college. We went to The Circuit, a very cool bouldering, yoga, and other kind of gym with a few locations in Portland, and it was fun and exciting to try different routes and practice falling on the soft floor! Even got to try slack line balancing at the end. But rock climbing isn't something I have time for during most weeks, so an afternoon off was a great opportunity for it!

2. Explore your neighborhood by foot. This is the faraway part of a very long park near our house. We walk there a lot but we don't always make it this far north. It's so cool to find this kind of oasis within walking distance! Morning walks are so relaxing when we have the time.

3. Take a powerful bath! Since I posted about my DIY essential oil bath salts for sore muscles, I've used it a couple times and given some away to family who needed it, too. And the verdict is looking good--on the night I used this, husband and I were both sore from a recent run and hike a couple days previously. I woke up feeling much better, with less tightness and soreness in my legs!

A staycation is a perfect time for a bath, because it is sometimes hard to make time during the regular routine!

4. Eat really awesome breakfasts. Every morning for the past many months I've eaten a slice of my crustless quiche with whatever I had on hand that Sunday thrown in. It's tasty and nourishing, but it's not the same as a hot breakfast, and every weekend morning I look forward to frying my eggs over-easy and eating some hot bacon and veggies if I have them.

I actually don't remember when I made this breakfast, but it looks pretty awesome to me now. Over our staycation, it was a great treat to have a fresh, hot breakfast every morning in the morning light of our kitchen or living room!

5. Find an epic hike! We've been hiking almost every weekend since February this year, but usually just short hikes close by. Over our staycation, we made it out to Larch Mountain Crater in the Columbia River Gorge and did a 7.5 mile hike that included a view of 5 mountains at once! Here's one that fit in the camera view.

Other hikes we like to do when we have a whole day to kill are Saddle Mountain on the way to the northern Oregon coast, and King's Mountain.

5 things that worked well for us! I really enjoyed our staycation and hope we get to do it again sometime, at least for a long weekend!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Finally, the lavender print halter maxi dress

Not until after I had designed this dress did I realize I was still trying to make the pretty lavender floral Anthropologie maxi halter from last year.

I used Simplicity 1355, which I've used several times, twice in making halter maxi dresses inspired by the original floral one. Last year, after multiple trips to the fabric store, I was never able to find a nice lavender floral fabric or anything remotely similar. So I ended up with this dress and this dress, both of which are great! but pretty different.

Then this year, I found this "famous maker" rayon fabric at JoAnn on sale. It's a great weight and texture, and I envisioned it as a maxi dress! I looked at my maxi dress-friendly patterns, and picked out Simplicity 1355 again. And... now, I realize, it ended up looking pretty similar to the inspiration!

I modified the pattern to give it some sewn-down pleats instead of the front placket opening. It ties in the back now instead. I also gave the skirt two side slits instead of a center front seam and slit.

So here it is worn out to dinner!

It's a great floral and so smooth, drapey, and fun to wear! I love this style for summer outdoor events (last year I wore the aforementioned maxis to two different weddings), and am having fun learning this pattern super well! Simplicity 1355, I recommend it!

Friday, June 12, 2015

DIY essential oil bath salts for sore muscles

Bath salts! Sounds relaxing, right?

I know epsom/magnesium salt baths can be very soothing for sore muscles, and transdermally is a great way to absorb magnesium. I also know there are some powerful essential oils and blends out there that can really help with tight and painful muscles! I looked around, but I didn't see a lot of recipes for a combination of the two. DIY bath salts can be calming, energizing, or just nicely scented, but I wanted to make one that was also kind of medicinal, with some strategically selected essential oils!

I found four sore muscle essential oil blends (for back rubs and/or soaking) (1, 2, 3, 4), and the folks at Aura Cacia sent me some essential oils to try them out--along with a recommendation for which oils would be best together.

I looked at lots of bath salts recipes, too, and I found this blog post about the purposes behind each of the common ingredients in DIY bath salts. I love understanding stuff like the whys behind ingredients. For example, for what I needed I decided to use baking soda but not some of the others you may see.

And here's the result of my experiment! A really wonderful-smelling, totally soothing (mentally and physically) epsom salt bath salts recipe!

Sore Muscle DIY Epsom Salt Bath Soak

You will need:

  • 2 c. epsom salt (plain)
  • 1/2 c. baking soda
  • 90 drops German Chamomile Precious Essential™ 
  • 30 drops Roman chamomile precious essential oil 
  • 18 drops peppermint essential oil 
  • 12 drops wintergreen essential oil 
  • 6 drops clove essential oil
You can find all these oils at Pharmaca online or in-store.


1. Combine epsom salt and baking soda in a bowl; mix together well.

2. Add essential oils (isn't it funny how they're different colors?) and stir to combine well.

3. Pour into a large airtight container.

Use 1/2 cup per bath.

This stuff smells amazing (adding each oil was a fun surprise, smelling each bottle's addition!) and feels great in the bath. The hardest part of using bath salts for sore muscles is making time to take a bath!! I've been fitting in a lot of workouts after work lately, so on my rest day this week I took a bath instead of a post-workout shower in the evening. It felt soooo good!

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