curly hair to pixie cut

Over the years I've had my fair share of bad haircuts.  My hair is quite thick and coarse and I think that's what always threw stylists for a loop.  There was a lot more body than they were expecting and my hair really needs A LOT of moisture.  Until a few years ago I never really understood how my hair behaved, so that wasn't helpful either.  Because of the past bad haircuts I've been cutting my hair myself for the past two years.

About a month ago I finally caved in and got a real haircut. I had done a pretty good job on my own, but I knew there were uneven places and I was frustrated my hair wasn't curling very well on its own.  I thought about just getting a trim and some layers, but I've always wanted to try a super short style, and since I had already gone through the work of finding a good stylist, I decided to go for it.

I ended up seeing Shannon at Selah Hair Design.  I e-mailed her before booking an appointment and described the characteristics of my hair and the kind of style I wanted.  She loved all of the information I gave her and we talked even more at the appointment about my hair and how to cut it.  She understood exactly what I wanted and even took into account how I usually style my hair, which I really loved because I feel like some stylists try to impose their methods on your hair and don't listen to how you already take care of it.  I showed her pictures (here and here) and we agreed the style would work well with my hair.

I loved working on my hair with Shannon and I will definitely be going back next time I need a haircut.  The only downside is that my hair hasn't been curling as much as I thought it would after the haircut.  The second set of pictures shows my hair the day after I got it cut and that's pretty much the curliest it's been since then.  What little curl and wave I was able to achieve became completely flat over night and there was no reviving it the next day.  I think my curl pattern just isn't tight enough for it to really curl at this length.  It's a lot easier to get it to lay flat and straight than be curly.

I knew that short hair styles require a lot of upkeep to maintain the style and I also knew I wouldn't be able to do that because I can't afford to get a haircut every month.  In the past I've noticed that my hair tends to grown pretty quickly, but I was really surprised when I started comparing the photos above.  I wouldn't say that it has grown a full inch in just one month, but maybe half an inch or somewhere in between?  It'll probably grow into a mullet at some point and then I'll either have to trim it myself or go in for another hair cut just to clean things up while it continues to grow out.

My husband keeps asking me if my curls are gone for forever.  I don't think they are.  I think my hair is just too short right now.  I'm sure they'll show up again may be in another month or two.  And if they don't then I'll just have a new hairstyle to play with!


sew lovely: flowy summer dress

This blog post has taken longer to put together than I thought it would.  After the busyness of getting a new camera and then right away shooting an art tour and a wedding, I finally have time to share this lovely dress with y'all.  Enjoy!

For my spring break project this year I decided to make a dress out of a soft knit bed sheet I bought at the thrift store.  The material ended up being very frustrating but I stuck with it.  This is the first sewing project in a long time where I am completely happy with how it turned out.  I feel like I learned a lot and I am so proud of this dress!

Here is my lovely dress form Penelope modeling it for me.

I hunted around for a knit dress tutorial to give me an idea of how the material would behave.  I had never sewn with knit material before so this was new territory for me and part of why it turned into a frustrating project.  I ended up using this dress for inspiration and returned to my favorite circle skirt tutorial for this project as well because I really love full swishy skirts.  I really wanted to add these sleeves to my dress but it didn't look quite right.  I'll save them for a future dress project.

For the bodice I traced a tank top, like the dress tutorial said to, but I didn't flare out for the skirt since I was going to make my skirt out of a separate piece of fabric.  I cut the bodice just a little bit longer than where my waist would be so that I would have a seam allowance for sewing on the skirt.  I did a double layer of fabric for the front and back of the bodice so the color of my bra wouldn't show through the thin fabric.  I oopsed and cut the bodice pieces a little too skinny, so then I cut little panels and sewed them to the edges so the bodice wouldn't be too tight on me.

And this is where my frustrations started.  Perhaps I didn't cut the fabric on the appropriate grain or maybe I should have been more careful when handling my freshly cut pieces of fabric.  Whatever the reason, it seemed like I would cut my pieces to the exact size they needed to be but then they would stretch.  It was a headache.  The little panels I added to the sides of the bodice, I ended up having to make them smaller later on because they stretched.

The waist of the skirt also stretched.  After I sewed together the skirt and the bodice and then tried it on the waist was very loose on my body.  I looked up different ways to add elastic to the waist and ended up making a casing for the elastic like the first tutorial in this blog post.  Rather than measuring my waist and subtracting a certain length I just put the dress on with the elastic threaded through the casing and pulled it to a comfortable tightness.  Then I sewed it together at that point and cut off the extra on the ends.  This very easily solved my loose waist problem.

Originally I wanted to finish the neckline the same way as the tutorial dress, but it didn't turn out the same way.  Perhaps I didn't sew on the fabric strip correctly.  I ended up binding the edge of the neckline (and the arm holes) but for some reason the neckline stretched A LOT while I was doing this.  I couldn't believe how much it gaped open!  I have since learned there are all sorts of techniques to keep knit fabric from stretching (walking foots for your sewing machine, using double needles, etc.).  Sadly, I didn't know any of this and had only bits and pieces of fabric left, so I couldn't cut out a new bodice and didn't really want to take the dress apart for a new one even if I did have enough fabric to cut out a new bodice.

I tried on the dress to see where the extra fabric fell on its own.  I took a break from the dress for the rest of the day to figure out how to solve the problem and because I was really frustrated.  Instead of taking it in and cutting off extra material, I decided to fold up the extra fabric at the back of the neckline and then sewed it together.  Here is my attempt at illustrating what I did.  (Excuse the coffee stain.)

Folding up the back of the dress ended up puckering the back of the sleeves so I folded over the fabric where it was puckering and then hand stitched an invisible stitch along the folds on the outside and inside to have it lay flat.  I sewed it by hand because I didn't want to have an obvious line of stitching interrupting the interesting folds that appeared from folding up the extra fabric.  Luckily I hadn't finished the arm holes yet so I was able to begin and end the binding at the new "seam" on the back which gave it a nice finished look.

A great advantage of knit fabric is that it doesn't fray if you don't hem the edges.  I wanted the neckline and armholes to have a finished look but I left the bottom of the skirt un-hemmed so it would remain light and flowy.

I've been considering dyeing the dress dark purple, but I think I'll leave it the way it is.  The light purple is really soft and feminine, perfect for spring and summer.  I already have plenty of dark colored dress clothes for fall and winter.  This will be my girly dress for the warmer months.  :)


the great embroidery project of 2016

Embroidery is one of those skills I tried to learn as a kid but didn't really have the patience to stick with it.  I vaguely remember taking an embroidery class through our homeschool group sometime before I was in high school.  While I was digging in the bottom of my sewing box trying to find my stash of embroidery floss I came across some practice stitches I did for this class.

Many years later, I now have buckets of patience for complicated crochet and sewing projects.  I love creating things and having something to do.  Unless I'm completely worn out and really need some time to just sit and do nothing, I'm always craving for something to keep my hands busy.  For the past few weeks I've been working on a baby blanket during Sunday Bible Class (I promise I'm paying attention!) and now I have this embroidery project to keep me busy while we enjoy downtime in the evenings.

I've had ideas for an embroidery project bouncing around in the back of my mind for quite a while.  Recently I started recovering the throw pillows that came with our sofa and decided to do some pretty embroidery on one of them.  For a pattern I settled on one of the beautiful illustrations from the coloring book Secret Garden by Johanna Basford.  I was so proud of myself for coming up with such a clever source for a pattern.  But then I got on Facebook and saw that Johannah Basford had shared this beautiful embroidery based on one of her illustrations.

Inky stiches! Love this little Enchanted Forest Fox by Katie from Cottage Garden Threads! They dyed the threads, then embroidered the design. Colour me happy! Jx
Posted by Johanna Basford on Tuesday, April 5, 2016

It burst my bubble of pride, but I was also in awe of the delicate stitches.  When I tried to find the image again I came across this beautiful hummingbird embroidery also pulled from the Secret Garden coloring book.

The last stitches are in, the project is complete, and here it is: http://www.needlenthread.com/2015/05/secret-garden-hummingbirds-last-stitches-finished.html
Posted by Mary Corbet's Needle 'n Thread on Thursday, May 14, 2015

I know my finished project will not be as impressive as these amazing works of art, but I'm still excited to try out embroidery again.

I would have loved to do one of Johanna Basford's intricate circular illustrations, but I knew I needed to start out with something much more simple for my first project.  For this project I copied a page full of flowers and then cut it down so I would have only whole flowers to work with.  Then I taped it to a piece of cardboard, making sure the paper was completely flat, and then taped a piece of tissue paper over the flower paper.

Yep, tissue paper.  When I started gathering supplies for my project, I knew I needed a heat transfer pencil and figured I could just use it on regular paper.  I should have done more research.  When my test scribbles didn't transfer to the fabric I turned to Google and discovered fancy tracing and transfer papers and a billion different ways to transfer embroidery patterns.  I didn't really want to buy a bunch of fancy paper in case I got sick of this project and never wanted to embroider again.  One of the websites I came across suggested using tissue paper so I gave that a shot and it worked!  It took me two evenings of ridiculous tracing, but I finally got it done.  (I'm sure there was probably an easier way I could have accomplished this.)

Next I cut apart the flowers and arranged them on the new pillow cover I had sewn together.  At first I tried to be careful with the heat settings on my iron because I didn't want to scorch the fabric, but the flowers just wouldn't transfer.  I ended up cranking the iron to the silk/wool heat setting and pressing down for thirty seconds on each flower.  I would not recommend this if you're working with delicate fabric, but my material seemed to be pretty sturdy and wasn't affected at all by the high heat.

Now I am happily spending my evenings stitching away at my pretty little flowers!  And I've already finished the first one!

I'm not too sure about the color combinations.  I think the pinks and purple on the petals look nice but maybe the green and yellow isn't quite right.  But the stitching looks pretty nice considering this is the first time I've embroidered anything in 10+ years.  I am planning to do one gigantic blog post when the entire project is done, but until then I'll probably post updates on Facebook and Instagram, so keep an eye out for more pretty little flowers coming your way!  :)