Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Chair cushion

I finally got around to making the cushion for the chair I found out by the dumpster a month or two ago. It's not perfect, but it's way cheaper than the not-quite-the-right-size-anyway ones I found online, and it only cost $11 for batting and about an hour of time. Here's what I did:
1) Procure batting. I got low loft polyester quilt batting that was 81x96 inches. Lay batting over the chair (mine is folded in half once) and use a Sharpie to trace the rough shape you'll want the cushion to be. Make sure batting is flush against the back of the chair so the cushion won't be too small.
2) Cut batting out. Lay the remainder over what you cut out and cut again if there's enough for another layer.
3) See if your batting is thick and comfy enough to be the chair cushion. Mine wasn't, so I also used an old nylon blanket folded over twice.
4) Find an old sheet or other fabric for the outside of the cushion. Spread it in two layers and lay batting over it. Trace with tailor's chalk a couple inches from the batting to leave ease for the seams. Cut sheet out. Mine was borderline on width, so I left the fold in on one side.
5) Sew the two sides of the cover together for about 3/4 of the perimeter of the cover. The open part is for stuffing.
6) The hard part: Stuff the batting and blanket in and try to get fairly flat. I didn't do a great job at this. For one, the batting and blanket both have textures that like to stick to other things, so it was hard to get them to move against each other without folding. In the end, I decided I had gotten it as good as I was going to and moved on. I think sewing the padding to one of the layers of cover would be good, but it was so thick that I don't think my machine could handle it.
7) Sew up the hole. I did it on the machine, but a more patient person could get it to look better by doing it by hand.
It's not beautiful, and since I like beautiful things, I might try to make it more beautiful in the future. For the time being, however, the addition of the cushion has made the chair usable for something other than a coat rack, so I'm happy about that.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Purple twist dress

I love this Vogue dress I made in the fall of 2009, but it has not gotten much wear. It's backless and very shiny, so I don't think there's a way to dress it down much. It makes me feel sexy and fun, and I sometimes wear it around the house. It was pretty easy to make, and I think the twists make it very flattering. It only has a couple pattern pieces, and even though I was a little confused about the topology of the twist details, following the instructions in the packet made it work perfectly. I did make a small error in choosing the size of the pattern. It is a multi-sized pattern, and my top half is in a different envelope than my bottom half. I should have gone with the envelope that had the right bust measurements because it's easier to alter waist/hips, but I went for the one with the right hip measurements and had to extrapolate the top part of the pattern to fit my upper torso. It ended up working fine, but if it hadn't, I would have been kicking myself. The first time I wore this dress for real was to a friend's wedding in July. I paired it with some delicious arm candy.

The only other time I've worn it out of the house was to a Halloween party a few days after I made it. I went as a lady who made herself a dress she liked a lot. I engaged in questionable pursuits like beer pong and taking a picture with my office-mates. The Jolly Green Giant and I were beer pong champions, even though I had never played before. The wrap is a rectangle of fabric that was left after cutting out the pattern. It came in handy for the chilly Halloween night.

Monday, October 3, 2011


I am not great at sleeping. At our last apartment, the ambient light that came in our window was a real issue. Even though we lived there almost three years, I never got around to getting curtains. With this apartment, I wanted to get on that early. It also turned out that we had quite a few twin sheets that we won't be using, since we have no twin beds. One day when I should have been packing for my trip to Minnesota, I made curtains instead.

Here's how I made my curtains. First, I took a navy blue twin sheet. I cut it in half. (Actually, I cut a slit at the top and tore it the rest of the way, which is always fun.) Except for the top few inches (where the deep hem is), I sewed a line of stitching down 1/4 inch from the raw edge. Using this as a guide, I turned under a narrow hem by folding on the line of stitching and folding the raw edge under. (I'm not sure if that makes sense, but I'm having trouble describing it. I guess that's why I don't write pattern instructions.)
Then I cut the closed sides off of the deep hem at the top of the sheet so I could stick the curtain rod through. I didn't bother finishing those raw edges since they're so high up and no one will see them.
The project took longer than I thought it would, about an hour and a half, mostly because the sheets are so long and the seams just took a long time to do. It was easy and cheap (free old sheet, $10 curtain rod), and the curtains do a good job of making the room darker so I can sleep better. They are not very thick curtains, and they let light in during the day, but I don't sleep during the day, so I don't mind that. It's actually a bonus because then I can start to wake up as the sky gets lighter.

I was going to add a valence at the top because I have a really pretty one (it came with a quilt I have). But there were topological obstructions to having the valence up there and still having full range of motion of the curtains without adding a second curtain rod, so I decided the top of the curtains is attractive enough and left it at that.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

September 30th

I wanted to end Self-Made September with a bang, so I wore these crazy pants. The fabric belonged to my mother in the '70s, and I used the same pattern as these pants, but took them in at the knees to make bell bottoms. The print reminds me of a Mondrian painting, so they have most frequently appeared as part of a Halloween costume. (I have gone as a Mondrian painting multiple times, solely because I have these pants.) There is the slight detail that Mondrian didn't use green, preferring primary colors, but I don't let that get me down. The pants are so loud and crazy that it's hard to wear them much in everyday life. The black shirt subdues them a bit, but they are a bit costumey anyway. My mother-in-law was in town on Friday, so she, Jon, and I walked over to the lake so she could see the great views we get of downtown. It was terribly windy, so the waves were huge and awesome but also sprayed us and made us cold.

These pants are not the most comfortable things I own. The fabric is a bit scratchy and has absolutely no stretch, so the waistband, which is very snug when I'm standing up, kind of bisects me when I sit down. Shortly after dinner, I switched to PJ pants.

Friday, September 30, 2011

September 29th

I last wore this skirt on September 3rd. Now it's colder and gets dark earlier. We forgot to do pictures until it started to get dark outside, so they were done in the kitchen. This outfit is nothing special, but I like the shirt. The . I got dressed when it was a beautiful sunny fall day, then it became a dreary rainy fall day. Then it cleared up and got warmer and sunnier, before chilling down and raining some more, so the outfit was sometimes perfect for the weather, sometimes not quite warm enough. Here's a detail shot of the back zipper. It was done before I knew how to do invisible zippers properly, and I didn't put in a hook and eye at the top. It's a bit raw, but it gets the job done.

September 28th

Whew, we're back in order again! It was another chilly, dreary day on Wednesday. I decided to wear this one-shouldered top I made ages ago. I think the pattern was in the same envelope as the one for these shirts. I love it, and I feel very sexy and saucy in it, but I don't have much chance to wear it. It feels very loud to me, and I don't always want to be loud in that way. I liked it under this white jacket, though. The fun neckline could peek out without showing too much clavicle and shoulder.

I am posing by this chair because I was going to take it and put it on our balcony. It was sitting in between two parking spaces in a lot behind our apartment. But Jon was concerned that it actually belonged to someone who wants to use it to enjoy a nice sit in the parking lot, so we didn't take it. That is something I worry about when we pick up free stuff from the alley. I usually try to walk by it a few hours apart just in case someone was in the process of moving it or cleaning or something like that. I don't want to deprive people of property that is rightfully theirs, and I agreed that this was a little iffier than when they clearly throw stuff by the dumpster to be taken or thrown away. So we left the chair in the parking lot. Earlier that day, though, I had found two other chairs sitting by a stop sign on the curb. I decided that these were definitely not being kept, so we took them home.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

September 24th, 25th, and 26th

In addition to getting to see my friend in Minnesota, I went to go to another Sacred Harp singing. On Saturday, I wore this relined skirt with a light pink/beige sweater set. I meant to take some tights, but I forgot, so my legs were pretty chilly in the morning. I didn't get any good pictures of my outfit that day because I was too busy singing. I did a dramatic reenactment this morning, but I forgot the necklace and didn't bother with the hair. However, below are two pictures of those with this exact sweater, so you can pretend I'm wearing the skirt too.
On Sunday, I re-wore this outfit from a couple weeks ago, so I didn't re-take pictures of that. I did wear different shoes, though.
On Monday, I had to fly home. I had planned on wearing this skirt with an orange shirt on Friday, but it was cold, so I wore jeans instead. Even though it was warmer on Monday, I didn't want to wear a skirt to the airport because I opt out of the backscatter machines, so if I have to go through those machines, I get a very thorough pat-down, and I thought it would be unpleasant with a skirt. (They run their hands up your legs until they "meet resistance," and I'd rather they met with resistance from my jeans than my underwear.) I didn't end up getting a pat-down, but I was glad I didn't have to worry about it. When I got home, I was going to change, but I was really tired, so I put on my robe instead. I decided it counted.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

September 27th

It was raining this morning, so I didn't get to take pictures of my Saturday outfit, so I'll have to post out of order. Shocking, I know. We did pictures by the dumpsters yesterday because I really like the "Know Garbage Picking" sign. It reminds me of the "No Jesus, No Peace/Know Jesus, Know Peace" shirts I sometimes see people wearing, but funnier. For the record, I have seen a lot of people going through the garbage, and I have done some of that myself. A lot of people have been leaving furniture out, and I'm glad to give it a new home. Anyway, I thought my outfit was kind of fun yesterday: black leggings, shirt skirt, purple shirt, and black velour jacket. I liked the way the umbrella popped against the more muted outfit.
I feel like this part of the season is awkward for me. I really prefer sandals to shoes, so I'm keeping the sandals on for now, but it's a little too chilly for bare legs with a skirt. Unfortunately, this is my only pair of leggings. I have some tights, but then I'd have to wear closed-toed shoes. I don't have a go-to pair of closed-toed shoes that I'd be happy wearing with footed tights, so for now, if it doesn't go with black leggings, it doesn't get worn.
I have a significant amount of anxiety about my first-ever "real" winter. I'm worried because most of my "warm" clothes are only warm enough for how the weather is now (50s-60s, rainy), and it's only September. I'm trying to get used to being colder by not dressing as warmly in this weather as I would in Texas in the same weather. But I know I need some better cold-weather options, and I'm going to need them sooner than I thought I would. The skies are gray again today, and I'm a little daunted by the prospect that they'll be like this until April. I hope we have a few more radiantly beautiful fall days before we go to full-on drear.

On the bright side, on my trip to Minnesota, I picked up an absolutely gorgeous royal blue 1960s vintage coat with awesome buttons, and I'm looking forward to getting some good use out of it this winter.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

September 22nd and 23rd

I was visiting one of my best friends from grad school in Minnesota from the 22nd through 26th, so I wasn't able to post. My outfits for the weekend were not inspiring, but I did manage to keep going with the challenge. I didn't get good pictures of my outfits on Saturday or Sunday, so I'll be doing a dramatic re-enactment of those later. For now, here's Thursday and Friday.
On Thursday, I wore that big green tunic again with black jeans and a different belt. I took this picture right before going to bed, so I was pretty wrinkly. My self-made thing was pretty small: the flower pin on the belt. The belt has a kind of stupid looking heart on the end, so I was happy to cover it up with the pin. I wasn't thrilled with this outfit, though. I kind of wished I had been in jeans and a t-shirt instead.
On Friday, we went apple picking. I wore my self-made red flowered tank top with a blue sweater and black jeans. I was on the fence about how the tank neckline worked with the sweater neckline. When I packed, I had planned on wearing this skirt on Friday, with an orange top, but it was so chilly that I opted for the pants instead. It threw off my outfit plans for Monday, but at least I wasn't freezing all day. We picked a ton of apples and made apple crisp when we got home. It was delicious, and I proceeded to eat it for breakfast on Saturday and Sunday.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

September 21st

I am kind of grumpy today because of stupid car stuff (the check engine light has gone on and off for over a year, no one could diagnose it until my warranty conveniently expired, now it's $1200 to fix, and everyone I talk to about it says someone else has to make the decision about whether to cover it but probably won't), but I managed to put on a smile to take these pictures, and it cheered me up. I think this was a much more successful deployment of the poofy skirt I wore on the 7th. This time I wore a much tighter shirt and added a belt, per Emily's suggestion. I really liked what the belt did! I didn't have a wide belt in a color that went with the others, but I thought that the medium-width belt low on the waistband brought my waist down a little visually, so I don't look like the skirt is up to my armpits. I also like the rich reddish-purplish brown of the leather with the blue and orange. The belt is a gift from my grandmother. She used to wear it and hadn't for a while, so she gave it to me. I really like that kind of gift.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

September 20th

I have been struggling to get good pictures without my trusty cameraman Jon. Today I bought a little tripod with flexible legs for wrapping around stuff, but I'm still getting used to it. Right now I'm too scared to use it in any risky (or useful) positions. But I did manage to use it and the self-timer to get some pictures of today's outfit.
Today I wore my white and navy cropped pants with an olive tunic-style top and a yellow belt. I don't wear tunics much, but I saw this one at a garage sale and thought it might be nice to play with. I think the tunic top with the cropped pants is kind of fun, and a little out of my comfort zone. My natural inclination with these pants is to pair them with a form-fitting shirt. I'm not quite sure about the color combination, but I think it works.

Monday, September 19, 2011

September 19th

I felt busy today, but now I feel like I didn't get anything done. The Comcast guy came by to install internet (yay!), and of course I had to wait around a lot for that. I did some other stuff around the house, ran some errands, and suddenly it was 9 pm. I had to take my pictures inside because I didn't get around to them earlier. I feel like I'm a vomit of color a lot of the time, but today I went with something more muted: black jeans, black long-sleeve t-shirt, and this blue and black shirt, worn as a vest. It was pretty dreary this morning, and I wanted something warm and cozy. I liked the blue shirt as a vest. It might have verged on the smock-ish, but I think it worked.
This chair is one of my projects that I should really get on but seems like it will be a pain. We rescued this chair from the dumpster, but obviously it's missing a cushion, so I need to make that happen. Part of the reason I haven't started is that there doesn't seem to be a craft store in my neighborhood or very nearby, so I might have to drive to downtown. I'm also concerned that I'll have trouble finding batting that is thick enough at the craft store. I have an old blanket that I thought would make good filling, but I had to fold it over twice to get it thick enough for comfort, and at that point, it was too small. I should see if the neighborhood hardware store has cushions for outdoor furniture, but I don't want to pay much for it. All the cushions I've seen on amazon are over $50. It seems silly to spend much money on a cushion for a chair that was out at the dumpster. On the other hand, it seems silly to think that seems silly, since it should seem sillier to spend more money on a chair that already cost money.

September 18th

Sunday was the second day of the Illinois State Convention. Looking through my closet before the trip, I was surprised to realize I hadn't worn my blue and white flowered dress yet this month. I decided to pair it with a cream crocheted bolero sweater and a cameo necklace my grandmother gave me. (It belonged to her ages ago.)
The top picture was taken at a rest stop on the drive home. We thought "Pride of the Prairie" was a funny name for a rest stop. Here are some pictures of the singing. I'm in the mirror in each of them. I thought it looked cool.
I felt like this outfit was very summery for the cool, rainy weather we were having, but it is technically still summer, and I have more summer clothes than winter clothes, so I want to wear them for as long as possible.
I did my hair in a style I've been working on: make pigtail braids (either French or normal) and pin them to the back of my head in a pretty way. It's pretty difficult. I've done it three times so far. Yesterday, the friend who shared a hotel room with me helped. I didn't manage to take this picture until the end of the day, when I had sung for five hours and driven about four, so I think it's a little more lopsided than it was earlier in the day. I think this style has real potential, but it's very hard for me to do because I can't see the back of my head while I'm working.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

September 16th and 17th

I'm out of town this weekend, so I got behind on my posting, but both Friday and Saturday were repeats from this month, so I don't have to blather on too much about them. On Friday, I re-wore the pants I wore on Wednesday. Jon really liked them, and I knew it would be the last time I saw him until the 26th due to our combined travel schedule, so I wanted to wear something he'd like. This time, I paired it with this print shirt and a white denim jacket.
I love wearing this pendant with this shirt because the birds match. I don't know if other people notice it, but it makes me happy all day.
On Saturday, I went to a Sacred Harp singing. I like to dress nicely for those, so I wore the same dress I wore September 9th. This time I did a light brown belt at the waist and a brown sweater, so it was a little less of a color statement. I tried various necklaces, but I liked the turtle so much with this dress that I wore it again. The singing was at a replica village-type place, which is why there is a cannon behind me. Below is an action shot from the singing. I'm bringing the basses in while leading a song.