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.

Friday, September 16, 2011

September 15th

Necessity is the mother of invention, and today's self-made is an example of that. Jon and I have been trying to get at least one nice bike date in each week while the weather holds out, and yesterday we went for a ride to Ukrainian Village, a neighborhood in western Chicago. It was about 24 miles round trip, so I was going to take the "sweaty day" exemption from the Self-made September rules. But a few minutes before we left, I realized that I couldn't find my ear warmer. My ears are overly sensitive and start to ache if they are subjected to wind in below-70 degree weather, so I often wear a band for my ears, even at temperatures where the rest of my body is comfortable in shorts and a t-shirt. Yesterday the high was supposed to be in the low 60s, so I knew I needed ear protection. I have a lightweight "Turtle Fur" band that I love, but I haven't been able to find it, or three other cold-weather head pieces, since I moved. I figure they must be together somewhere, but they are eluding me right now. So I cut a long rectangular piece out of a polo shirt I had already started using for scrap fabric, tied it around my head, and set off! It's not really much of anything, but it meant I ended up wearing something self-made even though I hadn't planned on it.

In case you were wondering, our bike date was great. We had pierogies, went to a couple small museums, looked at pretty churches, and went to a few corner grocery stores that had all sorts of Eastern European goods. We may have found a Polish chocolate company we like a little too much. The bike ride was fun, too. There was a strong north wind, especially while we were on the lake, so we felt like we were fighting to get through on the ride up. The 7 miles from our apartment to Millennium Park took about 1:10 on the way north in the morning and only 40 minutes on the way south in the afternoon.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

September 14th

I felt so pretty in this outfit! With hints of classy and put-together. It's self-made pants, a striped sweater I bought off of a blog, and another necklace I liberated from my mom. Instead of doubling it or wearing it long, I knotted the necklace, which gave it a tie-ish look. I really dig ties on ladies and have been wanting to add some ties to my outfits, but it feels so much like a performance to wear one. It's only recently that I've paid much attention to what I wear anyway, and wearing something that bold kind of scares me.

We decided to take outfit pictures by the octopus because the aqua of the top and coral of the sweater I wore over it are sea colors. The octopus is on a wall in the alley near our apartment. It's pretty cool.
The pants are yet another really old project. I'm guessing 8th or 9th grade, so around 1998? Pants are tricky. I'm convinced pants-makers have access to secret fabrics that cling to the hiney in a way the fabrics available to us mere mortals never will. I think that home sewists have a better chance of success with wide-leg pants like these. I hadn't tried these on in ages, and I was pleasantly surprised with how flattering they still were. I was a bit worried I would have outgrown them, but they still fit. At the time I made them, low-rise and saggy pants were all the rage, and I desperately wanted to fit in, so I was never super happy with the high waist of these pants and probably tried to wear them further down on my hips. (I was a little skinnier then, so I might have been able to get away with it.) In retrospect, I see the absurdity of desperately wanting to fit in and somehow thinking that making my own clothes was anything other than a direct impediment to this goal. Luckily the creative, individualistic me was not nearly savvy enough not to make her own clothes anyway, and now I can wear these pants that she made.
For some reason, instead of doing a waistband facing like I did in the shirt skirt on the last post, I just turned the waistband over and did a blind hem stitch along it. Either I had to make the pants in a rush, or I was an even lazier sewist then than I am now. Maybe a little of both. Because of the corner-cutting, the waistband kind of stretches over the course of the day, but since it's generally hidden by clothes, it's no big deal.

I am in a quandary about re-hemming the pants. I think they're a bit too short. They're a couple inches too much above the ground when standing, and they look a bit comical when sitting. But the hem is actually really well-done, plus I don't know if I'd ever be able to press the fold all the way out. It's been like that for 13 years or so, after all. I think inertia will probably win, but if I ever need to wear these in a professional setting, I might re-hem them.

I'll close with a shot of Jon jumping as high as he can in front of the octopus.
Not bad, honey.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

September 13th

I finally got around to making something for Self-made September! I decided to tackle this UFO. It's another shirt skirt. When I tried it on again before I started sewing, I realized why I had abandoned it. There were some fit issues that bummed me out.
The button placket (is that what it's called?) was gaping pretty badly, and there wasn't much extra fabric around the upper hips to give it more room. Recall that I cut off the sleeves and then sewed up the sides; where the sleeves were cut off, there is less chest area fabric, and that was also where my hips started getting wider. After some fiddling, I discovered that I could deal with the issue partially by raising the top of the waist closer to my natural waist. To do this, first I cut the top off a little above the top button. I added four darts at the new top of the waist to take a total of about 3 inches out of the waist area. The darts were about 4 inches high. Then I used the part I had cut off as a waist facing. I made an error in this part, but I was able to work with it and get it usable.
The idea of the waist facing is that you sew the right side of the fabric to the right side of the facing. Then you flip the facing to the inside so you are left with a clean line at the top of the garment. Well, I needed the finished waist line to be about an inch down from the raw one, so I lined up the edges of the facing piece and the garment piece and sewed an inch down from that. The error was that the facing piece was not very deep, especially on the back pieces, so when I flipped it, there were short pieces sticking up that were hard to flip to the inside. (I'm not sure if I've described that clearly, but you can see it above.) I planned on topstitching on the right side to keep the facing down, but I was worried that because it was so short, it would stick up anyway. To deal with this, I pressed all the layers of the facing away from the right side and did a narrow zigzag stitch close to the seamline. That helped catch the frayed bits of the facing and keep the short parts better-attached to the longer parts so I could treat them as one layer. Then I flipped the whole facing over and topstitched on the right side of the fabric. It worked like a charm. Next time, I should either have a deeper facing or line the facing up so there will be enough sticking out at the bottom.

After dealing with the facing, I sewed up the sides for good and pinked the inside. Then I resewed a few places on the bottom hem that had come apart. I knew that I would probably need to add snaps to the button placket because it was still gaping a bit, even though it was no longer under much tension, but I was so eager to wear it but tired of working on it that I decided to do without for the time being.

I wore the skirt with this polo shirt for a tour Jon and I did of the new library addition at the University of Chicago. As soon as we got home from the tour, I added three snaps between buttons on the skirt. I had been getting a little too much breeze. The tour was really neat. We got to go down to the five-story compact storage facility where they are storing millions of journals that are not as likely to be browsed by patrons. There, they are stored by size (rather than subject) in these bins, and if someone requests one of them, the system knows what bin it's in and sends a crane to go retrieve it and send it up to the first floor where a friendly librarian gets it out of the bin. The whole process only takes about five minutes. They can hold seven times as many volumes in the same space as browsable stacks, and they can climate control this area more easily to preserve the materials. It was really interesting to hear about this awesome system and to imagine the way they decide what to store in compact storage instead of open stacks. This picture is me in the basement with a crane behind me in the stacks. The pictures at the top of the post are me outside the new library. The first floor is this big reading room with a cool glass dome. They also have the digitization and conservation units in there, so we got to see how people re-bind books. They have a blender in the conservation section to whip up paper pulp patches for damaged books. (And to make margaritas for the awesome parties they throw?)
p.s. I love this skirt! I am so pleased with how it turned out, and I think the curved hemline is really cute. I was worried it would look too much like I put a shirt on the wrong part of my body, but I don't think that's the case at all.