Pink Striped Blouse Mashup

Who says you need a pattern to make something cool? I am a big fan of Patterns by Gertie but not a fan of wasteful pattern purchases. So with a heavy heart, I left the simplistic Butterick 6094 on the shelf for another seamstress and vowed to attempt a fold-back detail on a garment of clothing sometime in the near future. Turns out it ain’t that hard!

Meet my newest wearable muslin! I found this fabric in the remnants bin at Spotlight and it hurt my eyes so badly just looking at it that I decided I simply had to have it.

I didn’t want to complicate the project too much, so I forwent some darts and made it a pull-on blouse instead. Screw zip-up blouses, seriously.

The shoulders and neckline was inspired from Vogue 8789 (I’m a sucker for buttons). I wanted to try out a variety of different techniques for my mockup, so it features all of my favorite styles and techniques–Pattern matching, excessive buttons, bows, and open backs.

I’m really pleased with how it turned out, and will definitely not shy away from sewing a back like this in the future! Tutorial, anyone?

Summer Stripes

Another day, another outfit post! I feel like I’m always talking about the weather on here but HAVE YOU SEEN THE NEWS? Apparently it’s been the hottest weather for this time of year for about a decade or something. So basically for me this means my face melting off onto my dress as I walk to the bus, followed by getting snap-frozen inside the bus, then melted as I wait for my second bus, and resume freezing on the next round of public transport. Between the continual freezing and thawing between locations, it means that by the time I’ve actually arrived in the office, I have a neat collection of sweat icicles growing from the tip of my nose and earlobes.

So yes, in case you were wondering, that’s why I don’t look so impressed in the above photo. It’s hot, it’s stinky, and I can’t wait to get out of my clothes at the end of the day.

I do love this dress. It’s not the first time I’ve worn it, and I’m definitely considered a–gasp!–serial outfit offender, but this is a different twist on it considering it’s way too hot to wear it with anything layered underneath. The sorbet colours are perfect for Summer though, and my Alyssa Milano glasses match perfectly with this outfit! (Not that I seem to care about matching that much anymore–these have basically become my standard pair for everyday use.)

What I wore:

  • Black and Gold Bee Brooch – Lovisa, $3.30
  • Five Crosses Belt – Colette, $6
  • City Dressing Ponte Dress – Target, $49
  • Gold Mesh Lorus Watch – Graduation gift
  • Basque Heels – Myer, $37.50

Total: $95.80

On another note, since I’ve started sewing clothing for myself, I’ve noticed how weird this dress is. The darts are inside out. Why are they inside out, dress designer, why?? The concept of darts on the outside confuses me so much that I’ve considered unpicking them and popping them back in. And then I remember how lazy I am and that plan goes right through the window.

How to Henna

So I’ve had a few searches on this site pertaining to my hair colour and I thought it was about time that I shared my henna routine with you! I choose henna over other hair colours because of these reasons:

  • It’s cheap (a couple of dollars per application)
  • It’s healthy for your hair
  • Complete coverage (it will also hide greys) but multi-tonal, so it will work with your natural highlights
  • Ultra-permanent (not for the fickle)
  • It looks awesome

I always get the loveliest comments about my hair and the colour and it’s not hard to see why. Henna absorbs right into the hair and reflects the light, so just after I have had a treatment, the next few days I walk around with a halo of light in my hair. I really do feel like a goddess after a fresh application!

It’s been so long since I started dying my hair that I’m not even sure what my natural colour is. I think it’s some kind of horrible ash blond colour or something under there–Why some people purposely elect to have their hair dyed that colour at the salon is beyond me–but I can’t really tell. I went through quite a lot of changes to my hair as I was growing up; I was born with flaming red hair, which grew out to a white-blond, then grew into strawberry gold, and it’s been getting darker since.

So in a twisted way, I like to think I’m returning to my newborn roots (ha, get it?) when I’m use henna.

For your very own henna-at-home salon treatment, you will require:

  • One sad little muffin with scary amounts of regrowth
  • A comb
  • A brush for applying hair colour
  • Bowl
  • Henna (duh)
  • Boiling water
  • Glad-wrap
  • Newspapers
  • A towel (If there’s anything I learned from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, it is that you should always have a towel on your person)

As to what kind of henna to buy, first and foremost, I must stress not to buy henna from Lush (unless you enjoy the feeling of being ripped off). It has many other ingredients in it apart from henna that make it a nightmare to wash out, and the results aren’t as awesome as they would be if you were using the real deal. In addition to that, it’s just too much added work to try and get the block to melt right, smells worse than normal henna, and fades faster. There’s really no reason why you would choose it over the powders. I can’t think of a single benefit.

I get my henna straight from the Indian grocer. My favorite is a brand called Neha Herbal, but it doesn’t matter what brand you use, so long as the ingredients are natural and there are no nasty metals or chemicals hiding on the label. You can get many different shades of henna, from bright orange to red to brown and black. To get the different shades, they mix different kinds of plants and in the case of true black henna, they SHOULD be using indigo or walnuts.

Because I want to keep you safe, if you’re planning to use anything labelled black henna, do a spot test on a piece of paper with a bit of water and if it bleeds blue, that’s the indigo. If it doesn’t, stay away! The black dye is probably para-phenylenediamine, also known as PPD, and that can hurt you.

Dyeing your hair with henna is not an exact science, so it sometimes takes a bit of time and experimentation to get that right shade for you (and the right amount!). I know that Neha Herbal is more orange-y than I like, so I mix 2 parts Neha with 1 part henna body-art powder that says “RED” on the packet that I know delivers a dark, candy-apple red. This is my tried and tested super formula!

For short hair, you’re going to want about half a cup worth of henna. Pour in your boiling water and mix thoroughly. It is at this point that your mixture will start to take on the vague smell of cow manure. I must warn you not to be alarmed, because this smell doesn’t linger in the hair for too long after it’s washed out, and your hair should return to its normal, deliciously-smelling self within a couple of washes. Once I got used to the smell, it  now reminds me of the strong scent of grass clippings, which isn’t too bad.

Anyway, I usually do the mixing with the brush, but sometimes if it’s particularly lumpy, I’ll use a fork to smoosh out the lumps. You want it to be firm enough to have some hold, because if it’s too runny, it’ll run right off your scalp! However on the flip side, if it’s too thick, it’ll be a nightmare to wash out, so a good consistency is key!

Make sure you lay down some newspapers wherever you’re doing this and make sure your resident dog is comfortable. Be wary that the henna won’t wash out if it lands on linoleum floors or carpeting, so take care to cover your floorings (and yourself)! I just throw a towel over my shoulders and peg it together at the neck.

After you’ve combed your hair thoroughly, you’ll want to find your most common hair parting and start brushing on your concoction there. We do this in case we miss any other areas, so at least we know that the area that sees the light the most will have full coverage, haha.

Working front to back, make sure to cover every strand..

Pay close attention to the area in front of your ears and the outer edges of your hairline.

Once you’re done, grab a large amount of glad-wrap and wrap up your hair securely.

Cover with a towel turban, and that’s it! The towel is used to trap in heat, which is always fun during the bi-polar tendencies of the Summer days in Brisbane.

How long do you keep it in for? My mother is done with an hour, but it doesn’t last as long. My sweet spot is 3 hours, but if I can afford to, I always try to keep it on for as long as I can. I just read a magazine and watch a movie and by the time they’re done, so is my hair! Some people have been known to SLEEP in it, but I can’t even begin to imagine how uncomfortable that would be.

I carefully pull the layers off my head, squat in the shower, and spend the next five minutes rinsing. Make sure you rub your scalp thoroughly to get all the lumpy bits out and when the water is starting to run clear, then you can shampoo and continue with the rest of your beauty routine. Dry your hair on an old towel because there will be orange staining. We can get these out using a hot wash and some Napisan, but all the same, I probably wouldn’t risk it on new towels!

And the results will be fabulous! I wouldn’t ever use normal hair dyes after discovering henna. My mother and grandmother uses henna and we’ve even gotten some of the greying men in our family to use the brown varieties! And at $10 for a 500G packet of henna, why would I switch to anything else?

Anyone wanting to try this technique should keep these three things in mind:

  • Henna stains skin, clothing, towels, and glasses. I had a pair of glasses with green handles that have slowly turned brown over the years of using henna so I would definitely not recommend it to someone with white glasses. Also your white towels will have orange splotches on them from drying your hair, so maybe warn your roommates before they walk in the bathroom to see a murder scene on your towel.
  • Henna is ultra-permanent. You will never get it out. If you try to bleach or strip your hair, you will end up with REALLY ORANGE (or sometimes worse–GREEN!) hair, so if you have a change of heart, your only options are to dye over it with some other kind of henna if you don’t like the colour or entirely shave your hair off.
  • Henna glows in direct sunshine. The reflections could kill or grievously injure distracted cyclists, so maybe consider wearing a hat in traffic.

I’m just kidding about that last one, nobody has died or been seriously harmed from my henna halo.. yet.

My First Dress!

I am unbelievably proud of this one! I only started sewing seriously last year and I’ve been putting off dresses for the longest time, worrying that it would be too hard to tackle as a beginner.

Turns out, dresses aren’t as hard as I thought! They’re like a skirt and.. (not being able to compare to a top, because I’ve never made a top before) a skirt joined together! Or something.

I bought this fabric last year at some point, intending to make another gathered skirt from it. (Skirts are easy and don’t lift me out of my comfort zone very far.) Unfortunately, after deliberating on my fabric choice (and you can bet I do a lot of deliberating when I’m starting a project), I decided that the teapots wouldn’t stand out enough in a simple gathered skirt–it just wouldn’t do the print justice! But as it turns out, the pattern is exactly large enough for 6 teapots to fit around my hips. That’s what made me the most excited–the prospect of matching up my patterns on the skirt!

It’s not 100% perfect, but from a distance, the sides are practically seamless and I’m utterly thrilled!

For the dress, I used a vintage reproduction pattern from Butterick–B5747, and went for the pencil skirt instead of the a-line version. The model on the website really doesn’t do the pattern justice; I’ve seen some other bloggers do some fantastic work with this pattern, but I hadn’t seen a pencil skirt version out there, so I’m pretty pleased with how everything turned out.

To review the pattern a little bit, the instructions were pretty straight-forward, although some mention that the part about sewing on the waistband was kind of ambiguous. Truthfully, I skipped their instructions on the waistband and sewed it on the way I knew was easiest for me. Everything inside the dress is finished with bias binding (I can’t get enough of the stuff), and the bottom hemline has been sewn down with clear thread instead of an invisible stitch. Ain’t nobody got time for invisible stitches.

I bought about two metres of the teapot-printed linen for around $20 from the upholstery section at Spotlight (I think it’s fabric meant for tablecloths or curtains or something) and stiff, white bridal satin from a local gem called Trad’s Liquidation Store for a couple of dollars! The button kit is the 27mm variety from Daiso Japan covered with scraps from the bridal satin. I still haven’t decided whether I’m going to add teapot patch pockets to the dress lined in the satin, but after several days working on this dress, I think I’m done for the month!

My verdict? Definitely a pattern I’ll use again and again. Next time, I plan to turn the neckline into a sailor collar and sew up a flared skirt. I’ve only ever sewn flared skirts from self-drafted patterns, so I want to see what it’s like to follow someone else’s guidelines for a change!

Trying New Things

I never wear turquoise! Is it my colour? I haven’t quite decided yet.

I’m still experimenting with my office style–trying to keep it somewhat work-appropriate but still unique to me. One of my workmates calls me the “office fashionista”, which is kind of nice, considering that they could be calling me the “office sideshow” with all the crazy-colourful ensembles that I’m trying to incorporate into my everyday workwear.

It’s hard to strike a balance when your office is so cold–I’ve taken to leaving a pink double-breasted tweed woollen coat I bought from the church jumble (for $5!) permanently attached to the back of my chair so I don’t have to carry a big pink coat around me wherever I go. Of course that means no matter how sombre and serious my outfit is, at some point during the day, I will be walking around in a bright pink oversized coat.

That being said, I think this outfit is a pleasant mix of serious and playful–I mean, just check out those heels! I haven’t been able to take them off my feet since I bought them.

As a bonus to today’s post, I decided to include a few pictures of Hugo goofing around with me. He can be such a photogenic dog sometimes. Of course, other times he’s just like his mommy with one eye half-closed and a derpy look on his face, but that’s just his lovable personality right there!

If you ever come to visit, ask him to give you a hi-ten. Stubby as his legs may be, those are his speciality.

What I wore:

  • Gold-Plated Bee BroochAliExpress, $2 (On special–I also bought the silver variety!)
  • Linen Pencil Dress – Kmart, $9
  • White Tassle Belt – Forever New (outlet), $6
  • Retro White Mary-Jane Heels – Salvation Army, $8

Simple, and classic. I didn’t give you an accessories rundown in the previous post so I made up any excuse to wear these shoes again so I could tell you about them! I got them from the Salvos a little while ago but the lining had fallen off so I’m not sure what brand they are. All I know is that they say size 7 on the bottom and yet they fit my size 8.5 feet perfectly and I can walk around in them for hours without getting sore. The most important characteristic in any shoes you own should be comfort factor. If they hurt my feet, I don’t buy them.

If you’ll allow me to rabble on about a different topic here, I am proud and excited to announce that I have officially finished sewing my first dress EVER! This is a pretty big step for me as I’ve been sewing for less than a year and have only recently jumped into using patterns. I’m hoping to feature it in my blog pretty soon, and also start compiling a list of resources for the thrifty seamstress–Places to buy fabric and other sewing-related paraphernalia on the cheap.

I’d love to get your feedback on it first though–For anyone who is looking to take up sewing, what’s something you struggle with most?