Self Confidence: 30%

Yesterday, I went to the mall.  I went because my whole family has been out of town for a week and I was bored, and because my birthday is coming up and I had a gift card to Victoria’s Secret.  I was pretty excited about the trip, since I’ve been wanting to invest in some quality bralettes.  Recently, I’ve become a bit disenchanted with VS, preferring Aerie’s “The Real You” campaign to VS’s traditionally sexy appeal.  But I put that to the back of my mind, because there are still some products I wanted to check out — and I had a gift card, after all.

Looking around in the store, though, was not a great experience.  Being an introvert, I usually like to shop in big department stores where I can hide between the racks and not have to talk to salespeople.  If I have to go into a specialty shop, I like to bring a friend so I don’t have to stare at merchandise in silence.  Friends provide a sounding board and a social cushion — not to mention their wonderful company (I love you all, if any of you are reading this).  But I decided to go by myself anyway, because I’m a grown woman.

I was expecting the mall to be a little vacant, since it was Monday during the day, but it wasn’t.  VS was especially crowded.  Everywhere I looked there were girls my age and women with their boyfriends and salespeople asking if I needed help.  I felt awkward being there by myself, and even more awkward because I know I look young.  I looked especially young yesterday, since my hair was up and my face is not being kind to me right now.  I’m pretty much broken out everywhere.  To make matters worse, most of the women in the shop were tall and stylish and beautifully made up — they all looked, at least to me, like they were about to maybe run to the back for a quick lingerie photo shoot to be put on the VS website.  I felt small and silly and decidedly not sexy.

I forced myself to wander around and look at everything in the shop.  For starters, there weren’t nearly as many bralettes as I had hoped — I guess most of those are sold online only.  VS is notorious for push-up bras, and that is not what I want at all, so I really didn’t see anything that I liked.  And even if I had, I’m not really a standard size — I would’ve had to ask someone to help me, and then I would’ve felt obligated to spend.  I’ve never tried anything on in VS before, so I didn’t know if I was supposed to grab a hanger or a bra from the drawer below or what — it was completely overwhelming.  I ended up rambling around in the underwear tables even though I have too much underwear as it is — that was the only merchandise I felt comfortable looking at.

I left pretty quickly.  I don’t even think I spent a full 10 minutes in there, though it felt like forever.  After walking out I decided I didn’t want to waste the twenty minute drive, so I decided to go to Aerie.  I didn’t have a gift card, but I had noticed on the way to VS that they had a sale going on.

It was super crowded as well, and seemed more so because the shop is smaller.  But the shoppers in there were younger, and Aerie has tons of bralettes, and I felt much more comfortable.  I grabbed several styles to try on and headed to the back.

The fitting rooms were crowded, as I expected.  I had to wait a few minutes for one to open up.  At Aerie, as I’m sure is the norm, they write your name and number of items on the door of your room, both to prevent theft and to provide a personal feel.  Then they check on you every few minutes to both see if you’re still there and to see if you have any questions or need help.  It’s all a very nice process.

I didn’t really appreciate it, though.  The small fitting area allowed me to hear every little thing that was going on — every customer that came in, every suggestion the employees made to buyers.  I felt rushed.  Again, I prefer department stores because fitting rooms are usually large and deserted, and you can try on clothes in peace.  Maybe I’m weird, but I like to make final decisions in the fitting room.  If something fits, I can look at the price tag and calculate discounts in privacy, and maybe even text my boyfriend or sister a picture to see what they think.  I like clothes, and I like shopping, but I’m on a restricted budget, so it sometimes takes time for me to decide whether or not I actually need to purchase something.  Mostly I just like my shopping experience to be as private and undisturbed as possible, and Aerie was not making that happen for me.

I liked a lot of what I tried on, but I ended up leaving all of it and walking out of the mall in a bit of a bad mood.  I didn’t feel pretty or confident; I felt sub-par and flustered.  I was upset at VS for not making me feel comfortable or welcome, and I was upset at myself for going into Aerie when I knew I didn’t really have the money to buy anything anyway.  And then I was mad that I had wasted the gas to drive there and back.  The only high point of the trip was that it killed a couple hours and I had been really, really bored.

The whole ordeal made me feel like I was back in middle school, hating my skin and hair and body.  I think sometimes I use my introvert tendencies to cover up what I’m really anxious about — that I’m not good enough or pretty enough or worthy enough to do or buy or say X thing.  I say I don’t like people or that I don’t want something to cover up the fact that I’m afraid I’ll be rejected.

Usually, I can overcome those feelings.  I tell myself that everyone feels the same way, and that of course I’m good enough.  I tell myself that everyone deserves the same chances.  Usually, if I stop thinking so much and just do the thing, it turns out fine.  Usually, I do believe that I’m good enough, even when I make a mistake.  Yesterday just wasn’t one of those days.  I guess it just has to happen every once in awhile.  Next time I won’t let myself be intimidated.  But today, I think I’ll shop online.

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Thrifting Tips + Maxi Skirt Refashion

In the summer, I sew and write, write and sew.  Yesterday when I got tired of writing, I went to Goodwill and found this skirt for a mere $3…

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It was a size 18.  But it turned into this…

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Want to do some thrifty refashion projects yourself, but don’t know how to spot a good project piece?  Well, look no further than…

My Nifty Tips for Thrifting Refashion Projects!

1. Find a good print. Cute fabric is always what I look for first when I go thrifting.  If you don’t like the fabric, chances are you’re not going to wear what you make.

2. Check the size. It’s always better to go large when you can — extra fabric is always a safe bet.

3. Think about the possibilities before you buy.  In other words, make sure the item is refashion-able. Does it have a lot of seams that will need ripping? Will it be feasible to work with? Make sure the refashion you have in mind will be worth your time.

4.  Make sure the item is a good buy!  Just because it came from a thrift shop doesn’t mean it’s a good deal.  Know when your thrift shop’s sales are.  Why buy an $8 dress when you can get it for $3?

5.  Know when to splurge!  Obviously, thrift shops are probably never going to have the same items twice.  (Unless it really is horrendous and people keep donating it again.)  If you find a piece you know you can do something with, and you know you would actually wear it, and you’ve been looking for something like it for ages — go for it!  You’ll still be saving money — it’s a thrift shop.

Ribbon Accent Tee

As I type this, NaNoWriMo is one hour and twenty minutes away!  I could have done some last-minute planning today, but instead I got my hands on some cloth.

At college orientation, they gave us our t-shirts to wear at convocation this fall.  Well, guess who got a large instead of the small she asked for?  Yep, you guessed right.  But, guess who now gets to wear a perfectly fitted, completely unique convocation t-shirt?  Oh my gosh, you got it again!  :o

I neglected to take a before pic, but see the chalk lines on this shirt?  Those were traced from a shirt that fits me well.  Huge difference.

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And this, my dear friends, was the end result:

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I’m pretty happy.  This is probably my best t-shirt refashion ever.  Probably because I was being painfully careful since we HAVE to wear these for the convocation ceremony.  I did not want to ruin this shirt.

Click here to see the full tutorial of how I did this fun and simple refashion!

Trumpet the Successes and Hide the Failures

I love making old clothing new.  I love making ugly clothing pretty.  What I hate is when that doesn’t happen.

I got a bunch of gift cards for my birthday for Plato’s Closet (check out my Dress to Skirt Refashion to see a successful Plato’s refashion).  Among my purchases there was an oversize button down tunic top that  was so soft and comfy I had to buy it.

I’m not really into oversize clothing.  If I had lived in the 80’s I would’ve practically drowned in those ginormous sweaters.  I knew I wouldn’t wear this tunic top unless I did something to it.

This is where Pinterest came in.  I found a super awesome tutorial to try on this shirt.  (Maybe some of you will have better luck.)  I knew I would be improvising some, since the tutorial called for a men’s shirt and mine was a women’s.  I was really excited, though, and got to work quickly.

It didn’t really perturb me that I had to make twice the amount of ruffles (which meant twice the amount of hemming — blargh!), because that was a matter of having smaller sleeves than a man’s shirt would.  It didn’t matter that I had to remember how to put in an invisible zipper so I could get the shirt over my head — I’ve done zippers before and it was a good review.  It didn’t even matter that the sleeve holes were thigh-sized.  (Okay, they weren’t that big.)

What did irk me was that I did everything right — on a rack the shirt looked lovely — but when I put it on I hated it.  I mean, for Pete’s sake, I tailored it expressly to fit me.  But it was horrendous, beastly, and dreadful.  Sewing projects that I don’t like usually fall to my sister, and they usually look good on her.  But it didn’t even fit her.

Another thing that makes me mad is the fact that I spent hours on this shirt, and money.  I spent about four days working on it, and with supplies I had to buy the shirt cost about $13 — kind of expensive for a refashion.  It wouldn’t be bad if the shirt had worked. . .but it did not.

I wasn’t even going to blog about this shirt.  Half the fun of doing refashions is blogging about them.  The point is to be proud of your work.  The failed refashions can just hide in a corner of the closet forever, and everyone will think you succeed at everything.  But then I realized, that’s kind of like lying.  It’s like losing a contest and not putting it on your transcript even though you entered.  It’s understandable — I mean, who wants to go around shouting, “I failed!”?  Obviously, the human race kind of frowns upon that.  But the point here is that you tried.  What if you had failed at something no one else had ever tried before?  One of my favorite quotes is by Thomas Edison, who once said in response to a comment about his failure to produce a lightbulb, “I have not failed.  I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”  

Obviously, he eventually succeeded.  But he did not view his failures as failures.  He viewed them as successes because that was one more step in the right direction.  So that’s why I’m posting about my “failed” refashion.  It doesn’t work every time.  I did get a few good things out of it — I practiced sewing a zipper, for one thing.  I mostly had fun, for another.  And now I know one way not to make a ruffled shirt.  :)

As for the time and the money, they are what they are.  I don’t own time.  I can only use it.  Past time is what it is — past.  Goodbye.  I’m not going to think about you anymore.  And money isn’t mine in the first place — I get what God gives me to use.  So even though I really don’t like the shirt, and I’m still kind of put out about it, I shan’t obsess.  It is what it is.

And now you know I’m not perfect.  I’m sure you totally knew that anyway.  :)

Pants to Shorts Refashion

This morning I was in a sewing mood.  I should have been doing schoolwork, since school has unofficially started here, or practicing my flute, since band auditions are tomorrow, but I was really itching to get my hands on some cloth.  That’s why I was thrilled when I found a pair of too-short dress pants in my closet.

***This is where the before picture would go if I hadn’t accidentally deleted it. :/ ***

I don’t know what gave me the idea to make them into cuffed shorts, but that’s what I did.  I cut off about 21 inches from the pant legs and gathered on the side seams.  Using the legs I had cut off, I snipped off the original hem (that actually wasn’t original since I had to hem the pants when I bought them), leaving a seam allowance, and took them in a bit.  These would be the cuffs.

(Guess I could have let the hem out again. . . but where’s the fun in that?)

I then attached the hem part to the gathered legs and sewed.  After taking out the basting, I had my shorts.  :D  However, I apparently shouldn’t have taken in the cuffs so much, because the leg holes were rather small.  Kind of a tragedy, since I sort of like how the shorts turned out.  They’re a little odd, but they definitely have personality.  Oh well. . .I suppose I’ll be giving them to someone with smaller thighs than me.

Look, I didn’t forget to take an “after” image!
Here’s a terrible attempt to show you the gathering on the sides. . .wish the leg holes weren’t so tight. . .

This was a fun, albeit failed, refashion.  I hope whoever ends up with these shorts is into exercising.  If not, she might not fit these shorts for long.

One Man’s Trash — Tank Dress Refashion

I’m pretty pumped to begin blogging.  I’ve had blogs before, but not awesome ones.  And I didn’t keep up with them anyway.  Hopefully this will be different, although I have a feeling that once school starts it’ll get neglected. . .hopefully not!  We’ll see.  Onward!

My mom cleaned out her closet today — there were clothes pretty much covering the entire bedroom.  She had a huge Goodwill pile, which naturally I had to sift through because as a pastime I peruse Pinterest and other refashioning blogs, which give me so much inspiration it’s not even funny.  On my sifting journey I happened upon this beauty:

It’s hugungous! (Also excuse the lack of makeup on face. . .I’ve been home all day, okay?)

It’s a button down tank dress, which is a style I happen to like (I own two already).  Obviously, it’s huge and rather hideous right now.  I wasn’t crazy about the pink and blue vertical stripes (which you can’t really see in this picture), and the material was sort of worn and stained around the hem, but I figured, what the heck.  It’ll be comfy when my athletic shorts are in the wash.

1.  First things first — I removed the hideous pockets.  The one on the breast sat in an awkward spot (it’s not so good to be short when clothes are made for tall people — thank God for seam rippers).  The two on the side went over the side seams, which wasn’t very cute and made the dress bulkier.

Mwahaha — pockets detached!

2.  Next I put the dress on and measured how much I would need to take it in by pinching the excess material on the sides.  It ended up being 3 inches on each side.  Turn the dress inside out, lay it flat, and pin 3 inches in on each side.

Just keep pinning, just keep pinning, just keep pinning, pinning, pinning. . .
My fish pin cushion says hi. Isn’t he cute? (Perhaps someday I’ll show you how to make him. . .)

3.  Sew up the sides where you’ve pinned!  At this point, the color thread you use doesn’t matter because this seam does not show.  (Good for me, because my bobbin was black.)  You can also cut off the extra material with pinking shears.

You don’t see the pins here because I forgot to take a picture before I finished sewing. . .oops.
Snip, snip. Don’t be hasty with the pinking shears! I’ve pinked through seams before.

4.  The fit was good after I took the dress in.  However, it was still pretty lengthy.  I folded up the hem 4 1/2 inches, pinned it, ironed it, and chopped it off.

Measuring and pinning must be done — alas.
Chop, chop!

(I left it pinned while I chopped, because that way I could just stick the scissors into the fold I ironed, which makes for a neat cut.)

5.  The only thing left was to hem the raw edge under.  Have I mentioned I hate measuring and pinning?  Alas, I do not own a serger so I usually end up hemming twice to hide that raw edge.  However, I discovered that you can do a zigzag stitch on the edge of your fabric and line that with a straight stitch — voila.  I tested this on the strip I cut off from the bottom of the dress, then tried to make it fray — it wouldn’t.

Zigzag stitch, then straight stitch on the outer edge.

I did that to the raw edge of my dress, then pinned it up 5/8 of an inch  and sewed.  Hemming twice to hide the raw edge looks much nicer, but this works in a pinch (or if you’re lazy, like me).

Hemming — almost done!

Here is the finished product:

Much better. No more frumpy elephant!
Yay!

As you can see, the armholes were rather large so I had to stick a tank top under it.  Also the skirt turned out a bit fuller than I would’ve liked.  However, overall I like the way this turned out.  The stained bits got cut off when I hemmed the skirt, so that was taken care of.  This will be a good dress to wear to the pool or working around the house.

Ciao for now!  Keep cutting corners.