Sunday, May 30, 2010

Yard Sale Hopping and the Conscientious Decision

One of the blogs I visit everyday is New Dress A Day. Marisa's project is to limit spending only $1 per day on a clothing item for a whole year. This means no more shopping for new clothes. This may sound near impossible, but Marisa is amazing at finding clothing items for $1 from places like flea markets, vintage stores, or yard sales and upcycling them into modern pieces. Just seeing some of her finished products inspires me and makes me jealous that she can find awesome "raw" materials at places like yard sales.

I, myself, don't typically frequent yard sales. I've heard of other people that get up at the break of dawn and drive around in their car scouring the neighborhood for yard/garage sales, which sounds like fun, but that isn't really me. (Because I hate getting up early.) But today, I can proudly say that I have had a breakthrough. I purchased an awesome dress (that fits me!) at a yard sale for $1. And I love it!

I have to say that the experience is pretty addictive. The feeling of knowing you gained something valuable for only $1 is such a rush! So Albert and I drove around to a few other yard sales today to try and keep the high going. I didn't score anything else after the first one, but Albert did get a Pyrex mixing bowl, rolling pin, and silicone spatula for $3.50.

I think the most important thing I took from this experience (and from Albert saying that I've been quite the spender lately) is that I don't really need to spend so much money on new things all the time - especially clothing. Over the years, I've been in the habit of getting rid of clothes that I've outgrown or found to be old, ill-fitting, or inconsistent with my style and comfort needs. In fact, just the other day I chucked a pair of flats into the trash because my toes kept scrunching up in the shoe giving me toe cramps and the liner had become completely unglued to the rest of the shoe. I felt somewhat bad about throwing them away since I did spend money on it, but they didn't really last and were becoming uncomfortable. So if I spend $X on something, wear it for only a year or two then give it to goodwill or throw them away, was it really worth it? Probably not. Therefore I have made a conscientious decision today to try to not buy anymore new clothing and accessory items. Instead, I will either make it myself or buy used.

There are several difficulties in accomplishing this. I will need jeans for inspections and I haven't worked up the confidence to make my own. I kinda need a new jacket (also don't have the skill to make those yet). I'm a sucker for affordable dresses (especially ones made by other local craftspeople like on etsy) and cute, unique accessories like necklaces, scarves, and belts. Also, shoes. What if I need a certain type of shoe for a specific occasion?

However, I can sew tops and dresses already and am slowly expanding my repertoire. For pants, I have a pattern for shorts/capris/pants that I will attempt in the near future (hopefully with success). For jackets, I hope to re-line some existing coats thus lengthening their useful life. And, let's be honest, I probably have enough t-shirts, shoes, belts and accessories for awhile. So I should be able to make do. And again, it's not like I can't buy anything - it should just be used is all.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

La Esperanza

Albert took this picturesque shot of a man sitting outside of La Esperanza Mexican grocery store. It looks like something from a photography magazine. Except that he took his from the car since we were too embarrassed to ask the guy if we could take his picture.

Glass Water Bottles

Albert and I had a consumer whore day, as in we did lots of shopping. I've made peace with it due to the fact that I left my sneakers in Berkeley (and therefore, needed to buy another pair), and because I don't have a hoodie to wear to my inspection. I know, excuses, excuses...

But I did score some nice stuff at Ross: these decorated glass water bottles. I'm a bit on the fence about glass water bottles. I like the idea of a water bottle that isn't made of plastic, but I don't like the idea of potential breakage and dealing with glass shards. But they do look pretty, don't they?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Another Simple Top

Going to Santa Cruz again for work. I'm very fortunate to be able to spend so much time with Albert and continue to do work beyond my usual jurisdictional area. There is, however, one downside to me being at my home away from home - I can't sew. I get tired of lugging my sewing machine and tools around so I will have to do without for a week. Too bad because I wanted to finish another Built By Wendy shirt in this fabric:

Thursday, May 27, 2010

All Made Up and Nowhere to Go Dress

Love this dress made by verypurpleperson. I thought I would try my hand at it. So I took an old polyester bedsheet, cut it up, sewed with elastic thread for the first time, added pockets, and here's how it turned out:

Those brown straps are from my bra and not part of the dress.

Not bad for a first attempt. Some notes for next time:

1. Be careful about bedsheets or the fabric in general. This bedsheet is proof that stiff polyester just won't fall nicely.
2. Place pockets higher. On this dress, they bottom of the pockets almost reach my knees.
3. Cut the important elastic (at the top of the dress and the bottom of the bodice) shorter. The point is to get a nice fit.

Will try again.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Must Stop Reworking

I have been working (and reworking) a shirt I sewed based off of Simplicity 2863. The pattern calls for stretch knits only, but I tried it in a printed cotton because I wanted something that looks like this. And that was my first mistake because now the shirt doesn't drape that way I would like it to. In order to salvage the top, I've sewn up the armholes to make them smaller, cut and finished a v-neckline, trimmed excess in the front middle and back middle instead of darting or taking in the sides, and then made an even more dramatic v-neckline. This is what it looks like now:

I know this is fine, but because I'm such a perfectionist (and because I don't really know what I want the final product to look like) I just keep tweaking it. Well, I'm going to stop right now and move onto some other project. Like this.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Paper Vision in Santa Cruz

Been working out of the Monterey District office lately on a temporary assignment. Really glad I took the opportunity to learn more about other water systems and spend more time with Albert!

One of my favorite shops in Santa Cruz is Paper Vision, which sells a quirky mix of posters, gifts, cards, stationary, toys, etc. While searching for a birthday card, Albert and I meandered around the store and found some cool stuff, as we always do. Here's what I purchased:

Yes, temporary tattoos. Because I am a commitment-phobe.

And here's me rocking one of ye olde time tattoos.

A cute graphic book about Ramayana, parts of which also are retold in Thai culture.

The author of the book, Sanjay Patel, works at Pixar. Can you recognize the art style? I wonder if he also worked on Samurai Jack.

Awesome water bottle promoting tap water.

I think this will be my contribution to my office's white elephant gift exchange.

Also, Albert and I made pizza bianca the other night. Only we added heirloom tomatoes, basil, and red bell pepper. Guess it's not really pizza bianca, huh?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Simple Top

So I just completed my first Built by Wendy top and it took me about 5 hours!!! 5 hours included preparing the fabric for cutting, cutting using a rotary cutter (faster than tracing and scissor cutting), sewing it, trying it on, getting excited about the final product, taking pictures, and blogging about it. I need to learn to sew faster or utilize other shortcuts. Ironing hems take too long for me (perhaps I'll use bias tape instead). I also had some trouble with inserting the elastic into the neckline. The first time, the elastic came off the safety pin. The second time, the excess fabric at the sleeve seams bunched up in the casing and prevented the safety pin from progressing. I ended up finagling a pathway by poking needles through from the outside and wiggling it around. But all in all, it was worth it!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Nothing Says "I Love You, Mom" Like An Owl

Just finished my stuffed owl for my mommy. (Been working on it for about 2 weeks on and off now.)

Posing on my bed lookin' all deep in thought.

Check out the rainbow chest feathers!

I love his big eyes!

Happy Mother's Day, Mommy!

Hula Hooping and Bike Riding

This past weekend was wonderful in that I rediscovered the joy of hula hooping and bike riding. (Whee!)

Albert and I joined the festivities of a Hula Hooping Festival in Santa Cruz this past weekend.

We also went for a bike ride around Santa Cruz. Can you believe I have not ridden a bike since summer 2008? Pictures were taken along West Cliff Drive.