32 books finished in 2015: Getting Things Done

32 books finished in 2015

needed improvement
in work productivity
went straight to the source

My friend and former housemate Katie casually mentioned that she re-reads this book every time she has a new job, and like most things she says/does, I immediately latched onto it as THE BEST IDEA EVER.

This book is classic self-help. I am such a sucker for this type of book, which is why I can’t read very many of them. I was practically rabid during the first section, as he’s explaining the reasons why one might need to use this system and the ways it might improve one’s life. And then, as soon as it was application time, I got SO OVERWHELMED. But I kept reading, and I’ve been applying and re-applying these lessons. I have the book sitting next to my desk. I’m putting little encouraging notes/reminders on my wall. I’m already understanding why he suggests implementing it for work and life at the same time (because I did not, and my life feels so much more chaotic compared to my work now).

So, this is a strong recommendation. This book is a classic for a reason. Know that it’s going to challenge you to change some habits, so don’t read it unless you’re willing to change.

31 books finished in 2015: Between the World and Me

31 books finished in 2015

this book should be read
by every Good White Person
and the not so good

One of my friends (or maybe Jon Stewart?) commented on his constant reference to Black Bodies. This was definitely powerful, and I’m glad I knew to listen for it. There was a lot of lyrical/poetic repetition throughout the book, that would emphasize some points and draw curiosity to others.

He references non-black people in a progression of ways: “those who think they are white,” “who need to believe they are white,” etc. You could feel the tension in this, the fear of being defined as other, as black, as dangerous.

He also talks a lot about The Dreamers. It was explained near the beginning of the book, but they kept coming up again and again. Poking holes in our illusion of the American Dream.

I’m mad at this dress.

It should have been a slam dunk.


Instead, this photo inspires me to come up with various mullet analogies. (Tall drink of water in front; shambles in the back.)

I was essentially replacing a dress that I’ve worn to pieces, using an updated/fitted version of the pattern. I was thoughtful about the materials, spending a bit more money on a brightly-colored woven fabric with better drape than a quilting cotton.

But sometimes, the closer you get to right, the more obvious your near-misses are. At least, that’s the lesson I think I’m learning from this. Instead of dramatically declaring that it’s useless to even TRY if your efforts to solve problems are obfuscated by NEW problems. Or, I don’t know, wishing for an entirely different body because THESE CURVES ARE IRRATIONAL. (Self talk: your body is strong and capable and beautiful and your curves are not something to be ashamed of.)

Okay, back to the DRESS, which is something that can be easily changed or discarded.

Looking through my archives, this is a pattern that has ALWAYS caused me to look at my backside and wonder what’s going on. And not in a positive way. Though, really, WHO IS LOOKING AT THEIR BACKSIDE ON A REGULAR BASIS? (Ha ha ha. You guys, I’m going to want to delete so much of this blog post, but I also want to be honest about both the difficulties of sewing things to fit your particular body AND the struggle to be body positive.)

But, I argued, this was one of the first things I sewed! There was room for improvement! This could be a major win! I made a winter version of this that was really charming. (Though, no photos of the backside.)

A few notes, in case I really want to continue down this rabbit hole. (Stubborn optimism leads me to believe IT WILL HAPPEN.)
-I took out the front seam of the skirt, wanting a cleaner line. But I forgot to reduce the pattern width when I cut it on the fold. I ended up adding two little pleats. The first time, they were facing in, and that was weird so I unpicked the waistband and adjusted them to face out. This is still wonky – it has the appearance of off-seam pockets without the delight of pockets. I’m tempted to unpick the waistband AGAIN to convert these to gathers, but that’s paying too much attention to the front of the skirt when the back is a problem.
-The zipper I used was too long. I realize that this isn’t helping with the line of the bodice. What is the best zipper length? Ending just before the curve at the bottom of the spine?

For reference, and to remind myself that these fit problems probably have more to do with the pattern than my skills, I’m including photos of the original dress as well.

Original version, without alterations:


Updated version, with lengthened and fitted bodice:

Untitled Untitled

Comparing these, I can see the improvements! There is still potential for this dress. I should be thankful that it’s helping me to see that I am OVERDUE to learn how to address fitting issues in the back of a dress. Honestly, I’m only a few years into learning how to fit my bust, so it makes sense that the rear would be next.

the capsule wardrobe infinite list

I may have just, in this moment, made peace with a lot of my personal blogging problems. I am a person who lives in the process, in the brainstorming, in the research, in the give and take and “maybe this” and “have you thought about trying…” and once I get to a decision point, all of the fun is over, I act on my decision and I move on with my life. Which explains why I am NEVER motivated to blog about a project once it’s finished. Once something is finished, once I’ve worn it in public for the first time, I’m already scheming about the NEXT thing, and I don’t want to loan any of my brain to dwelling on the past.

So here’s a list of things I’m thinking about right now.

1. Lounge shorts. Sleep shorts. One of my (long) long-term goals is to replace my wardrobe with entirely handmade garments. This meant that, as the Soffe shorts that I’ve had since college are all falling apart, I needed to find something new to wear while sleeping/loafing. Thankfully, I already owned digital versions of the Salme’s Elastic Waist Shorts AND Grainline’s Lakeside Pajama’s.

Also, I’ve recently sorted through sewing scraps and failures, and had been trying to utilize these fabrics instead of throwing them away! This meant that scrap pique from a summer dress helped test the Salme pattern, and I made final versions out of a) an unused pillowcase set (which is probably the most brilliant idea EVER) and scraps from this striped skirt. I was able to make some Lakeside shorts out of beautiful quilting cotton I bought on vacation as well as flannel scraps from a circle-scarf sewing binge a few years back.

Thoughts about this:
-MAKING SHORTS OUT OF SCRAPS IS SO MUCH FUN! I am so glad I figured this out.
-Finally figuring out how to use a bias tape maker wasn’t as tough as I thought it would be. Also, I now have miles and miles of bias tape made from OTHER fabric scraps!
-Everyone wants me to make them lounge shorts now. This…is probably not something I’m going to do, but EVERYONE, YOU COULD LEARN!
-Figuring out the exactly perfect length for elastic waistbands is TOUGH. This might have to do with how snug the shorts fit in general, meaning the elastic is mostly pointless. But I feel like there is a 1/2 inch difference between too loose and just right, and I haven’t yet found it, but I am getting there.

2. Fitness shorts. Shorts shorts shorts. Have I said that word enough yet for it to become gibberish?

Again, I’ve had a situation arise where most of my exercise shorts/leggings are falling apart, and they can be EXPENSIVE to replace, so I’m trying to learn how to replace them my own. I bought the Duathlon Shorts from Fehr Trade, which seem to be everyone’s favorites (and also have an awesome hidden phone pocket in their design). Since I knew this project would live or die by the fabric, I actually bought a collection of swatches and color cards from a manufacturer, which was VERY EXCITING and reiterated that I never can anticipate what a fabric will look/feel like based on the description and a digital photo.

The next step is to order some fabric, so I bought one last pair of awesome leggings to tide me over until then.

3. Making more Lady Skater dresses. The weather cooled off a bit this past weekend, and I pulled on the awesome brown terrycloth version which, people are ANGRY when they realize how comfortable it is, and it is one of my strongest selling points for sewing: “YOU CAN MAKE YOUR OWN CLOTHES AND THEY CAN BE GORGEOUS AND SECRETLY SWEATPANTS!”

I need to pull from my stash for this one. I think there’s some purple ponte knit calling my name.

One of my concerns is that my “capsule wardrobe” will turn into a closet full of Lady Skater dresses in every color of the rainbow. Which isn’t a terrible idea, BUT will probably be boring after a while, so…

4. Pencil skirt! I have had a pencil-skirt sized hole in my wardrobe for a while now, which needs to be addressed. I don’t wear them frequently, but I DO want to have the option to dress like a Very Professional Lady from time to time. And I think I’ve seen enough ruffle-less versions of By Hand London’s Charlotte Skirt (the paper pattern was a birthday present LAST YEAR) to convince me that it’s going to be the one.

Though, I might wait until I’ve completed this Craftsy class to start making a fitted skirt. It’s already been purchased, and the accompanying pattern is in my house, so this is definitely a winter project.

5. More things. All the things. But I’m going to stop here for now.