Re sole

The REI member coupon for 20% off came in the mail which meant it was time for me to get my yearly pair of utility shoes. Having spent years on my feet caring for plants this was my yearly splurge and when you put on that new pair of shoes you feel like your feet are brand new. Joyous style for me.

This year when I was shopping I noticed one of the filters was could the shoe be resoled. What an old but newly novel concept! Don’t get new shoes, resole your old ones. Unfortunately there were only two styles advertised as having the ability to be resoled. Neither of them were of the heavy duty style I needed although I was tempted to try the Ahnu but settled on the Salomon because my hiking boots made by them are very supportive.

As you can see I have not put much effort yet into stylish hiking clothes but at least I am not in black.

My husband seems to be able to pull it off much better than I. These photos were taken in the Yakima Canyon in April. The wildflowers are small but perfect. I saw these beautiful violets and believe they are called sagebrush violets.

Do you have a favorite yearly ritual?

The crap up

Today I want to share with you the steps needed to create your own pattern for a handbag.I recently decided to begin to create handbags made from re purposed fabric. I had seen some messenger style bags in the store recently that I like. My goal was to create something similar with a little more style. And of course to eventually create more of them out of fabric and ex clothing that is destined for the rag pile.

While I was creating I was listening to  a book called “The Achievement Habit” by Bernard Roth. He suggested that when you have an idea you start working on it without caring if the outcome is perfect. He suggested making a prototype (a muslin in sewing) or a “crap up” .His theory was that calling it something different would help prevent the perfectionism that can take over and that leads to project abandonment. I like that concept and this is my new name for my muslins – my crap ups. It also makes the initial creation process faster.

Step 1: Have an idea. For most of us this is the easy part. We see something we like and think “Oh I could make that,” My inspiration came wandering the aisles at a department store and seeing the piles of bags.

Step 2: Sketch it out. Think about how big you really want it to be, what shape you want it to have, do you want zippers or snaps or a strap or……….. Lots of design decisions begin here and may or may not stay in the final plan.

sketch of purse idea

Sketching your thoughts will be the first step

Step 3: Begin to create the pattern pieces. This is like geometry from high school. You have to think about how the different shapes will come together to create your design. It is fun because at this point anything is possible. To start I drew a square with the sizes I wanted the final bag to be. I then marked them on the square.  I drew the shape I wanted and refined it until it was the size and the shape I wanted. At this point I made some changes. My first idea of bag size seemed too big when I held it up to my body so I made it smaller. Also at this point don’t worry about seam allowances just finished size.

Step 4: Look at other items you have around the house to see how they are put together. I knew I didn’t want a flat bag so I looked at some grocery bags and other items I have around the house to see how they are put together. There were many choices. I chose the one I could visualize best for this bag – a side band that is sewn around the edges of the front and back to give it shape and depth. At this point I sketched pockets on the inside and outside of the bag in desired locations. I thought about how to attach the strap and close the purse. What would make it practical.

Step 5: Finalize the pattern pieces remembering to add seam allowances. I chose 1/2″ so there would be less to trim.

Step 6: Choose your materials. Since this is a muslin or prototype or “crap up”, I chose some upholstery fabric left over from a chair I recovered many years ago, some felt from a costume project and for the lining a muslin curtain we didn’t use in a house we recently sold.

fabrics for the prototype bag

Use inexpensive materials for your muslin or crap up

Step 7: Cut them out and try to figure out what order to sew them in. This again tested my brain. I ended up sewing the pockets on the lining with the middle felt attached. This made it easier for me to see this as one piece – the lining. Three pieces was too much. High school geometry was more than 40 years ago. The tricky part for me was how would the lining and the structure and the outside fabric go together? I put them together every which way but really couldn’t see how it would work without actually starting to put it together. I machine basted the pieces together and at the very end saw how the flap would come over and be completed. At my final stitching I managed to break a machine needle  Stopping and taking the time to put in a heavier needle might have helped me complete this project the same day I started. Instead I lacked the patience, broke a needle and stalled out for two more days.

Lack of patience caused this broken needle

thick fabric needed a different needle

Thick fabric needed a different needle

Step 8: Refine and adjust and try again. My final project is too bulky so I will use a thinner interfacing next time – or a thinner fashion fabric. I also want a zippered pouch front and back. I will do another crap up  before I use my final fabric.

Almost Done

I can hide my bag here and the burglars won’t find it

Messenger bag in use

Muffin top is a choice

It is tempting to try to wear things that fit last fall after an active summer and before the holiday eating bonus that happens from Halloween through New Year’s. But unless you are more disciplined than me that will result in muffin top!
I used to say that it was great to be over 50 because muffin tops are expected! However expected they may be, they are avoidable.
This morning I put on my tightest pair of jeans just to make sure I could still get them zipped. Yes they zipped but……….. look at that fabulous bulge. (I believe the last time we embraced that was when we were 2). If I choose to wear these jeans and this outfit today I will be too self-conscious to take the jacket off if I get warm. Not a great outfit choice even if it looks good. After looking at my photos it is obvious the short sleeved t shirt – in addition to being too thin of a fabric – is too small. Guess what I need to add to my make it/buy it list – longer short sleeve tops in my basic colors made of thicker fabric in a larger size.

The immediate solutions to this problem would be:

  • Wear a larger size jean so the bulge disappears
  • Put on a heavier knit top that is not quite so form fitting. (this is the one I chose)
  • Or you embrace it as you did when you were 2 as a beautiful part of your body!

As you can see in the pictures as I tried these solutions it looks like I and my muffin top shrank.

How do you reconcile changing body size in your wardrobe?

Too tight clothes result in muffint op
Do I want the world to see this?

I’m bothered

Brown town Neutrals

When I started this blog I was attempting to transition back into things I enjoy. I had a lot to learn about style after neglecting it for years. It has been fun! Along the way I have learned how to incorporate color into  my wardrobe (funny I was never shy about using it in my home), what lines enhance my body and how things fit. This blog has encouraged me to experiment, start sewing again and appreciate the art and craftsmanship in a beautiful garment. It has encouraged me to spend time on contemplation and my self.

It has not changed my attitude about how much to spend on clothing (although I suppose if I had a lot of disposable income I might be tempted to buy or try to create some of those beautifully crafted garments I mentioned above). It has changed my attitude about how many pieces of clothing I need in my closet and how they get there. I am still defining how many and what and I believe that is an ongoing process as the days and weeks go by. Most of the things I own come from thrift stores or I make them myself. The more I read fashion/style blogs and go to stores to see what clothing styles and colors are current the less I want to buy new. There is SO MUCH out there.

When I was a teenager I took great joy in taking all my babysitting earnings and spending them on new clothes or new fabric to create new clothes. Now I get a little sick to my stomach when I think about grabbing armfuls of new clothing to take home. I know it is part of what keeps our economy rolling but………. at what cost? How do we reconcile keeping creative designers at work designing those beautiful garments with having too much stuff?

I will continue to share with you my thrift store finds and some of my upcycled items I am creating as well as any brands that have figured out how to get creative and reconcile their product with their impact on the environment.

My outfit above is courtesy of Value Village and Goodwill earlier this week. It is an attempt to move from the gray that has been the backbone to some more spring like colors as it finally gets a little warmer here in the Pacific Northwest.

The leggings are generic, the jacket is from a company called Modern Soul which I can find nothing about online. The jacket goes with my gray and my brown and would also work with green which I don’t have  much of.  Both items are made with polyester and spandex along with cotton or rayon which makes them feel drapier and soft. There were lots of chemicals that I can’t even pronounce used to create these original garments. I love flowy wash and wear garments that feel great as I move through my day. The shoes (found on this same thrift store trip) are something I could wear all day. They are brand new Clarks in my size!

For my body type which is that bottom heavy lovely pear (or triangle) with an occasionally growing middle longer styles (but not oversized styles) with curvy lines help me look balanced. The scarf draws attention up and away from the unbalanced heavier lower portion of my body. The colors blend together and don’t overwhelm my blended natural coloring.

How do you reconcile your fashion purchases with your environmental consciousness?

Style shows in everything you do

Old truck staged as a wreck

This creative roadside tableau in a field strewn with lava boulders was outside Hagerman Idaho.

Your style shows in everything you do and this person (whoever it is) got creative in a big way staging an old wrecked truck to look as if it had crashed into this tree stump with a body thrown through the windshield and been left to age. The writing on the door says Mr. Pickens moonshine.

I would enjoy meeting the creator of this. They think just a little bit differently than the rest of us and take the time to manifest their ideas. Your clothing can do the same thing for you. Take a little bit of time and express what you are thinking and feeling inside to show the outside world who you are. For me personally this is easier said than done. Even though I quit working at the beginning of 2017 I have found myself on the road or preparing to be on the road. This has left me little time to think or express myself. And maybe that is my way of hiding and resting during this transitional time. I need to create alone time and speak up to get it so I have time to process.

We all have different needs. It is easy to ignore them and harder to do the work to figure out what they are. I admire those who find the time to pull together a unique interesting wardrobe that looks fabulous. I wonder if it takes them less time than it takes me. Is it effortless for them? I am sure they have done work at some point to learn about colors, fit and styles that work for their body shape. Have they also thought about who they are?

It is easy for me to get lost on the way to finding myself. To let myself get tied up in what others think I should be doing, to rush from one thing to another, to spend time on social media or defending myself and how I want to spend my time to my partner. I spent 30 plus years as a small business owner. That was my excuse for not having time for myself. I pushed to get everything done and rarely stepped back to see what I wanted my life to be about. It was work all day, cover for employees, spend time on the rest of the family’s hobbies/needs, cook, sleep and repeat. I thought this was how life had to be. It made me resentful.

Instead I realized it was a choice I was making. Everything we do is a choice. You might feel like you have no choice but there is always another choice. Your choices have put you where you are. Now it is time to joyously accept that and make conscious choices in the future. Realize that not making choices is choosing. Letting someone else choose for you is a choice.

For me spending 30 minutes or so a day (mornings are best for me) pausing and reflecting help me be more conscious of living a life I mean to live. Not spending that time these last few months has put me in a state of limbo and anxiety. How do you become conscious of where you are and how you got there?



The tunic

This fabric had been in my stash since the sewing expo in Puyallup about 4 years ago. I had since determined that black is not a great color on me and had decided to use it as my muslin fabric for a knit tunic pattern I was developing. When I took it to a sewing meetup one of the other sewers said it would be fabulous in reverse (the grey side you see). I decided to try it.

It was a struggle to get my brain to put the fabric together “inside out”. I probably ripped out every seam at least once. My serger was out of commission so I used a long but narrow zig zag to put it together. I chose the length to cover the back side and the widest part of my body. I added pockets because I like them in everything. It glides over my body but is not a tent with lots of fabric. It is comfortable to wear and light! I am happy. I challenged my brain in more ways than I thought.

My one sewing challenge was that the facing rolls out in spite of my understitching. I have had one recommendation to try making the facing a little smaller next time so that it wants to roll to the inside. Anyone else have thoughts?

Learning from my mistakes

This marvelous green knit fabric has been in my stash every since I created a basic t shirt pattern for myself 6 or 7 years ago.
My first mistake was a lucky accident. I accidentally cut out two front pieces. (I didn’t even realize I had enough fabric to do this). I had been wanting to try a surplice style top for a while and this presented the perfect opportunity.
Then as I looked at my finished hem and neckilne I realized why the women in the sewing group were so curious about what stitch I woud be using on my knit fabric. My neckline stitching was very visible due to the thread I used and it was not even in the most noticeable part of the V. My hemline was wavey due to using that same tight stitch. It had stretched into a ruffled bottom.

I was ready to throw it in the Goodwill pile and write it off and then I realized I needed to learn how to do it right. For the neckline I defaulted to a band around the V neck. There are fabulous instructions for this at web site that make it easy.
since the fabric was so stretchy I was able to use one of my small scraps to make the band.
For the hemline I just took my newly repaired serger out and cut it off. I then used the blind stitch on my regular machine to finish it off. It also required a couple of well placed hand stitches because I was still impatient and didn’t catch the fabric everywhere.
The final product is soft and easy to wear and provides a little pop of color in my charcoal outfit.

Back on Track

These last few months have been busy as I transition out of owning a plant business and into the new joyous style business (whatever form that ends up taking). As part of the transition I had to change the name of the business I owned. I pondered it for quite a few days. Here are some of the thoughts and ideas that passed through my head:

The retired plant lady
Free Woman (my daughter nixed that one thinking I might send the wrong message and there is already a free woman site) Metamorphosis (when my accountant wanted to know what I was going to call the metamorphosis)

Going back to my vision board I remembered my goal of freedom- freedom in time, freedom in thought, freedom in place and freedom in choice. That led to the new name “A Woman Liberated”. It speaks to me and will be a guiding light as I make choices about how to shape life after being the plant lady.

I am not free of the old business until January of next year and I could use that excuse as a reason to stop pursuing freedom right now but that would be another form of putting off life (which I have done for 31 years). Instead I have pulled out my 12 week year planner to remind me to take action every day towards my goals. I find that if I don’t take time to do this I will spend each day repeating what I have done in the past. Puttering around doing things that need to get done but that keep me stuck in the same place. And saying “I don’t have time to take on another thing” – which is an exhausting way to live. This planning forces me to prioritize each day to move forward and makes me to look at what I have done (or not done) each week. Putting me back on track to living the life of a Woman Liberated!

I picked up the planner again after a hiatus. The last time I had worked on it was for an August 9 completion. I discovered I had completed some of the goals.

  1. I sold my current business and completed the paperwork to get it done.
  2. Goal 2 to stay (or get) in shape to hike my 100 miles on the Pacific Crest trail at the end of the summer. I had accomplished most of the tasks but need to add in more hills and stick to the 1 drink a day strategy to really get it done. On the positive side the strength training was curing the plantar fasciatis and I was able to start running again after 18 months off. And I did complete my hundred miles (120 was the final tally).
  3. Work on this blog and an online color and style course are the items I have let slide. Looks like it is time to pick up the planner and figure out where this blog is going!



Where have I been? I haven’t posted anything since April! As I thought about this I realized I was using the excuses (i.e. the roadblocks we set up for ourselves) to keep from making progress. Here they are:
1. I am too busy. In June I sold my plant business. It has freed up my time and I now only work 32 hours a week for the new owner (soon to drop to 20 and then 0 on Dec 23!!) This means I have theoretically had an extra 8-20 hours a week. I have spent a lot of it increasing self care – jogging again, taking time to read both blogs and books, creating healthful meals and SEWING! which has been a lot of fun and frustration. This excuse is simply that – a reason to not do something which is hard – writing helps me think about what I will purposefully do with my time after December that will bring me joy and help me to grow. Not writing and using the busy excuse keeps me stuck in the same place which is spending my time doing the items on someone else’s agenda. It takes away the fear of the unknown.
2. I hate taking pictures of myself and can’t think of anything else to take pictures of. They say a picture is worth a thousand words and mine do seem to say it all. Can’t this woman get out of her dressing room?
This is where I need to get creative and brave and take my tripod and camera out in public to bring some more interest into those 1000 words. Right now they say my life is boring. I fear going public and this statement about pictures brings it home.
3. Fashion is silly. Which is why I can’t bring myself to be a “fashion” blogger. This is an excuse to accept where I am and not put myself and my ideas out there into the world. As I think about my resistance I realize I am putting an entire industry down. Folks who design, sew, blog and even sell fashion are a creative bunch expressing themselves truly and authentically through their style. It is our job as consumers and wearers of fashion to take their art and use it to our benefit. To feel better, to brighten someone’s day and bring joy.
4. I don’t know where I am going. My life is in transition. Textiles, clothing and style are calling out to me and I don’t know where to take it. I relish the freedom of having time to find out but continue to put up the roadblocks in my mind to grant that freedom. The excuses. The need to have a defined path instead of trying many. I also find a place in my head that tells me that to create I must be in isolation. It is true I need time alone to think but I also believe community will be valuable in my progress. There are so many pathways in this industry that I don’t even know about. There are many opportunities to help others discover the joy as well. I have always enjoyed a well defined path and knowing what comes tomorrow. I need to remind myself that this is just an illusion. None of us are on a predictable path. Life can change in an instant so bring joy into every day.
5. I am not smart, creative, talented enough. You name it that message is going through my head and makes an easy excuse. I am farther along the path than I was yesterday and everyone starts from the beginning at some point. I can continue to learn or I can shut down and use the excuse I am not smart creative or talented enough.

Today I will tackle excuse no 2 and take my camera along on today’s rainy bike exploration of Seattle’s remodeled home tour. Get a picture of myself just to see how far I need to go down the road of creating the stylish cycling outfit for all weather conditions. – Looks like I have a ways to go!

Enough about me – what are the excuses holding you back?


I know it’s trite but Spring has Sprung

Last week I was back in Michigan visiting family. We had 10″ of snow in one 24 hour period. When I left Seattle the ground in my backyard was like a bog. When I returned it was 75 degrees and all the trees had budded out. My backyard was dried out and I was stuck for what to wear.

It is time for me to start over on the style journey. I had started to master putting on enough items to look like I made an effort. My fall and winter wardrobe came together, Scarves were my go to security blanket. I had basic shoes for every winter item I wore. Now it is a new season and I am challenged to find things that fit the warm weather.

It is a year ago March that I started experimenting with my image. Looking back on those pictures is a bit shocking. My goal for this spring is to not repeat those mistakes. This means looking at everything in my closet with a fresh eye and challenging myself to put together items that emphasize my best features. And finding those accessories that will make it an outfit. I need to find some basic necklaces to replace those security blanket scarves. I need some spring flats in a color that matches those light pants I want to wear. I need to find some sandals that don’t look like I only care about comfort. (Even though I do).

The challenge for this will be that in spite of my best efforts I seem to have less time this spring than I did last. So shopping for those needed items will be an exercise in efficiency.

What are your solutions to the changing seasons?