So this series is all about buying nothing and using what you have. So what was I doing buying new white designer jeans at a sum of money that is way outside my thrift-and-secondhand-boutique price range? I have no idea what came over me, except these jeans made me look super hot!
Look, I’m a 43 year old mother of two. I’m in reasonably good shape, I’m, by fortunate genetics, thin and petite. But things sag, even small petite things, and my rear view looked so awesome in these white jeans! I also bought a slightly sheer georgette sleevless tunic in a lovely cobalt blue, with a tie neck. To wear with these white jeans. Except they cover up my derriere (but they’re sheer, you can still see through it at least.)
I justified this purchase by saying I’d wear them all the time – and I have been on the hunt for white jeans from all of my consignment, thrift and other discount stores for a long time. But they were either nonexistent – one can imagine at thrift it is harder to find a decent pair of white jeans that are not stained – or of such flimsy fabric as to be see-through. And in a jean, a white jean, you do NOT want see through.
But I’ll be posting about these jeans again (and again, and again) so eventually they’ll be part of ‘use the good stuff’. Even if I am hanging my head in a bit of shame for being so hypocritical this week!
As with all purchases, I came home thinking of the 9,756 outfits I would make from these jeans and that I would never need to buy anything else (at that price, I shouldn’t shop for months!) You know that’s not the way we work, right, so I vow to take a photo of these jeans and keep it in my phone for the next time temptation strikes. I went in looking to get myself something pretty – the top was pretty all on it’s own. The jeans were pure decadence.
The same lovely little boutique posted about some sales going on today, and I almost thought “oh I should stop in again”. I haven’t even WORN the white jeans yet, LOL. As I tried them on at home to consider the hem length, the tag said they were the “Icon” jeans (Joe’s Jeans) and I thought, yep, these are certainly iconic. With a black jacket, a white tee and some big shades, stilettos, even I could be an icon in them! It’s like a great pencil skirt, you just can’t go wrong.
You can wear white jeans in the winter with a heather gray cashmere turtleneck and camel wrap coat. You can wear them under a big cozy sweater with boots. You can wear them the first warm day with a striped top and spring green capelet. You can wear them with a silver drapey tee and long slinky necklaces to drinks with the girls in the summer. I’ll definitely be wearing them with the couture boucle jacket! But the good news is, you can wear them everywhere, because, at this price, you’ll want to get all the wearing you can out of them!
I will say this – the experience of this little shop, the shopkeeper/owner, a young woman in business for herself, was delightful. We are blessed to have a number of these little boutiques in town run by women. I took nearly an hour in a small shop without my kids in tow to try on several things, examine them in the mirror, decide if they were for me or not. And for that experience, those jeans are worth every penny I paid!
Today I’m doing slow sewing. I cut out the lining of my couture jacket and the interfacing. And that’s it. Yep. I’m not fusing, sewing, anything. Just taking this slow and savoring the beauty of the fabric and the process. I did this for just over an hour, and decided that was it for the evening. I’ll do more tomorrow evening – a fusing session before tackling the quilting probably the following weekend. Lots of sewing projects are competing for my attention right now – a Kwik Sew swimsuit for myself, a Jalie bicycling jacket for my DD, the couture jacket and some easy-to-sew separates from my favorite designer, @christinejonson.
I’ll bet without a doubt that most of you have some sort of exercise equipment gathering dust in your basement. What is it? A set of weights? A weight bench (if you do have a weight bench you are willing to part with for free, message me, as I’m looking for one!) or the classic piece of equipment that collects dust: a treadmill.
Today we dusted off the road bikes and went for a road ride on our January Thaw day. They weren’t really dusty, we’d had them in the basement on the trainer at least once or twice since Thanksgiving when we last rode outside. But in our basement in a crate was a set of weights. Well, part of a set of weights. The larger weights has been on a carcass (interior frame) of a dresser woodworking project my dad started 30 years ago and never finished. He gave it to my husband, who has made some progress on it, but found that the carcass had sagged and the drawers no longer fit. So for a year, it sat upside down with our heavier weights in it to persuade the wood to go back to it’s original dimensions. There they sat, unused (except for wood-persuasion purposes) for more than a year. They’re too heavy for me to use, so I never did. I used my smaller weights.
And we also have a set of resistance bands that were pretty dusty too. We won those in a wellness contest (along with a Pilates video – but that’s a different post!) at my husband’s work at least six years ago.
Today we literally dusted it off, and after our bike ride, we both worked out. Used every piece of gear we had in the basement. It felt good to use our stuff AND to exercise.
If you’re looking for your January resolution, kill two birds with one stone by using the stuff you already have AND get in a workout!
I hand dyed this silk satin lining using my Procion professional dyes. I have had this set of Procion dye kit since about 1998 or so. I took a class at our local community education on how to do batik dyeing (though I have long since bought more materials – dyes don’t have a shelf life that long.) When I had children, taking four hours to carefully draw or hand-stamp designs on fabric with hot wax wasn’t really practical (but when they get older, I’ll teach them how), so I just started dyeing fabric.
What crafty things do you have at your house that you have not used in a while? What do you have invested in them? Can you take a class, check out a book, look to Craftsy to learn more about it? Dust off those craft supplies and get cracking!
This lining is for my couture Chanel jacket – French Boucle from the Montmartre district of Paris, and I am learning how to do this in a class on Pattern Review by couture designer Angela Wolf. The thing that looks like a plaid hot pad is actually the pockets for my jacket, a beautiful aqua blue with brown and white.
This jacket is, for me, the piéce de Résistance project for sewing: it’s the one luxury I would never afford (I’d rather spend $4,000 on a vacation to Paris, not a jacket) and it’s the one big sewing project I aim to tackle multiple times. You know the big sewing project for yourself, the one you initially say “I could never attempt that.”
Well, over the years, I’ve tackled them. First, I made a knit jacket – from the same designer as this jacket, Christine Jonson Patterns. Two piece sleeve, two-part collar, six panel body, you know, a real jacket. Only in knit (harder/easier at the same time!) Then, I tackled swimwear – who knew this was so freakin’ easy AND inexpensive (if you have the right pattern – Kwik Sew, just start with Kwik Sew). And now, the Chanel jacket.
I’m long past marrying time – coming up on my 21st wedding anniversary – so a wedding dress is not on my list of things to sew. I’m hoping my daughter will wear mine (lovingly and professionally preserved in the chest at the foot of my bed.) Oh, sure, there’s a prom dress or two or three in my future (for my daughter) and I’ll love that process when I get there.
Angela Wolf’s class at Pattern Review made this easy. She has video, well-done photographs of every step, and she’s stayed available after the class ended to answer questions on the PR forum, which is good, because there’s no way I could have made this jacket without help. See? I’m not even done and I’m celebrating my success!
So, if you have a craft languishing, a project that you’re afraid – take a class, get a book, and get going! Use the Good Stuff means using the things you invested in and getting your fun out of them!
The most surprising thing about this project is how much I like the process. Normally I’m a ‘let’s get finished’ kind of girl – I want this project done, I want to wear it, use it, love it, NOW! But this jacket has infused me with a desire to take each step and savor that step, that process. That is nothing short of a miracle for distracted-by-shiny-objects me. And it’s not with pain that I’ve accepted this process, but I’m looking forward to it, welcoming it. (I’m still in shock over this change in me.)
It may be related to this point in my life – new company, new responsibilities, and a lot more stress has me looking for ways to slow time, slow down, and do just one thing at a time. Maybe you can find the peace, creativity and rekindle a passion for that craft you have sitting in your basement!
I’m taking a break today from the Use the Good Stuff posts (though I have one about the sled….I haven’t yet taken photos of it) to look at all the cool things I pinned on Pinterest and see what rises to the top. I realize pinning is a little bit like my pattern collection – I probably won’t ever sew them all, but I like the option of doing so. I also want to pin new creative ideas for my friends and followers to enjoy:
This year I’d like to craft more – and craft with my kids so they know the joy of making.
Beading: I can bead with my fancy beads while my toddler strings macaroni and my kindergartner strings plastic beads.
Sewing: I can sew on my machine with a toddler in my lap, or get him started with sewing cards. My kindergartner gets her own machine next week (I’m not sure who’s more excited!)
Drawing: It’s been years since I’ve drawn. I will get out my chalks and pencils and draw our dog and still life at least, even if drawing my children seems daunting right now. My kids love to draw.
Designing: Infographics, content design are my watchwords for this year.
Cooking: use those recipes! Pinterest, books, whatever.
Of course, less time online, but that’s largely a function of putting my son to bed on time (since that’s when I’m online!)
Today, I have on a shimmery knit shrug I sewed at least 10 years ago. I intended it and probably wore it over my LBD to some fancy black tie event. I hardly ever go to those now, but I wore it today over a black turtleneck and jeans to a kid party and felt great!
I’ve been sewing since I was 10, which is 33 years ago now (gulp!) and I think the more I sew the more I’m happy I do. This is a bit of a soapbox post, but bear with me.
Most of our clothing now is made in sweatshop factories in China, Bangledesh, Pakistan and India. The people who work there – mainly women – work 12 or more hours a day under awful conditions – crammed in like sardines, sewing as fast as they can. It’s hot, dirty and they have to sew things at an amazing pace to get paid. Some are mothers, leaving their small children at home 12 hours a day just to hopefully make enough to eat.
At home, we buy cheap, trendy, throwaway garments made of cheap fabric, usually polyester, but sometimes cotton (and cotton is one of the most heavily sprayed crops there is.) All of this is hurting our environment. When we think of sustainability – it’s not just recycling – but considering where and how our goods are sourced. Are they good for the world? for the people in it?
In the last decade, I made a conscious decision to buy only used clothing for myself (or sew it) and for my children. I have deviated from this, mostly the lure of Target. Don’t get me wrong, I love Target. Looooove Target. But I really have to minimize the things I buy there because the culture of cheap, disposable clothing that we discard next season is bad for our world.
I turned to sewing again not because of cost savings but because I could have something more. Something I made, something unique not everyone has, something creative. And I think that’s better for our world.
So today, I got out this shrug, and wore it again. I wore it over a turtleneck that’s at least 10 years old (Lands’ End) and skinny Levis (two years old.) I’m happy I made it and happy it got a chance to get worn.