Wednesday, April 29, 2015

OOTD: Owls Are Not What They Seem

I'm back!

This time I'm doing a brief little write-up on the outfit I wore on Sunday. It's really hard, having a blog but having all the other social media we have, because by the time I post this OOTD the actual pictures will have been circulating for a week. I could always hold back and wait, but I get so excited I just have to share immediately! So, if you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, sorry but you're getting repeat pictures.

Dress: Cirque du Frock, Shoes: Chucks/Ross, Jacket: Thrifted/GAP, Jeans: Old Navy

This outfit is kind of my favorite thing now. I love the cuffed jeans under my dresses look, and I practically live in this denim jacket when I'm not at work. It's still a little chilly in the Philadelphia area, so jackets are a must have. My hair is still wet in these pics but I don't care. We were on our way to our new favorite store- BJ's Wholesale. It has a funny name, if you're as childish as I can be, but we got a case of Mexican coke and I got a 32 gig memory card for my phone, so it was a productive outing.

I love owls so much. This is another example of what you can do with my Sideshow Dress tutorial. I usually use a lot of contrasting colors/patchy fabrics when I make this dress, but you can also use the same color for a more monochromatic look. It changes it up completely. The large graphic print on this dress needed to be the focus, so I accented it with a men's v-neck and black jersey side panels.

Sideshow Dress Tutorial
Because Megan Mae is such a sweetie and features my stuff all the time, I put together a little collage for our Tumblr accounts featuring her. We have one for each tutorial. This is the one for the Sideshow Dress. I love the various ways my tutorials come out, and I love seeing her in her cool dress.

.... I thought I was hilarious when I wrote that caption under the 'wardrobe remix' part. Don't let me market my stuff at 3 AM guys, it can get really weird.

Anyway, that's all for now. I'll be back soon!!

Monday, April 27, 2015

OOTD: Can't Touch This

I have to say that one of the hardest things I experience in life is the struggle I have with being able to 1. Relax or 2. Do something for myself. I often feel like if I have spare time, be it in the evening or weekends, or sometimes even my 1/2 hour lunch break at work, that I need to be working on my shop. Because if I don't obsess over it clearly I'm never going to be self employed, right? (I know that's the wrong way of thinking, I'm just saying those are the impulses I have to battle all the time.) 

I've always been this way. If I'm not physically making something, or writing, I have overwhelming panicky urges. I can't sit still long enough to watch a movie unless I'm sick, I've almost entirely stopped reading books (we're working on it! I used to read all the time). It's just either work at work or work on shop. 

So this past weekend I decided to take a step back and make myself something. I had some pretty unexpected results, too! 

I've been obsessing over the recent harem pant trend (or Hammer Pants, as they've been known all my life). My bestie has a few pairs she wears and loves, and I've been eyeing them for a while. So when Tina Givens came out with the Norma Jean pattern, I drooled over it for months. I hemmed and hawed, and finally, I purchased. My goal this past weekend was to make me some hammer pants. 

I... have mixed feelings on this pattern. 

The crotch was super low- even for this style of trouser. I feel like the pattern itself was made for someone much taller. I'm only 5'3 and I think that the pattern should be worn by someone probably closer to 5'5 or even 5'7. The balloon shape to the leg wasn't helping the shape. Overall, I didn't like it. And it was disappointing because I wanted to use the hammer pant pattern to refashion some jeans into Magnolia Pearl inspired jeans like those below.

In my attempt to evolve my style, I really want pants that I can wear under my dresses. Something with a tapered leg, so I can cuff them, but that kind of look like bloomers. 

I immediately downloaded a free bloomer pattern from Sew Tina Givens. I mean, just because the hammer pants weren't working, maybe the bloomer pattern would fare better. It was worse. I didn't even finish them. The crotch, even after taking 3" off the pattern, was down to my knees and the flare on them was way too wide for what I was looking for. (It looked like I was wearing culottes, but not good ones.) I didn't take a picture. 

Overall the patterns were easy to understand, taped together well, and if I were taller they might've worked better, but they just didn't suit my needs. And I didn't like myself in hammer pants- I felt awkward. I will probably use the pattern to make PJ bottoms, though, because all that extra fabric is great for sleeping. 

Frustrated, I ended up at JoAnne Fabrics, drowning my sorrows in overpriced craft supplies, when it hit me. I came back home, whipped out my newsprint (a must-have for pattern drafting) and got to tracing one of my favorite pairs of PJ pants. Then, carefully, I tapered the leg so that it had a more skinny jean fit. Megan Mae will tell you I've been obsessing for months over the denim joggers that are so trendy and have yet to find a pair that work on me- well, with $40 worth of on-sale denim colored Chambray I was determined this time would work!

But I didn't use the new fabric. First, after so many fails, I had to test the theory. 

Luckily, my mister had taken me to the big Village Thrift in New Jersey for my birthday. It is one of my happy places, and also where I bought my Monster High doll. I snagged some $3 sheets to make bloomers with. I rifled around until I found the perfect sheet and I got to cutting.

Guys. I'm in love.

Top: Thrifted, Necklace: Gift, Jean Jacket: Thrifted/GAP, Shoes: Chucks/Ross, Pants: Handmade
They are all I've been asking for in pants, and so comfortable!! They have a more narrow fitting leg that works when cuffed, an elastic waist, and if I hadn't been in such a hurry they would've had pockets. After months of being frustrated trying on skinny jeans, fancy joggers and work trousers, I've come up with a pair of pants I can live with. Also, just an FYI, they look adorable under my dresses and tucked into my cowboy boots. 

I'm so excited! I can't wait to make more, especially in black or dark colors for work. I need some summer trousers to get me through. And I love that the pair I'm wearing above are made from an old bedsheet. Recycling is one of my passions. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Laurel Hill Cemetery (Part 2)

In an attempt to return to blogging, I'm breaking up my Laurel Hill post into two. The first post was the cemetery itself and all the gorgeous things I saw. Next is the #ootd portion of the day.

I've been very proud of my outfits recently. I'm beginning to feel more comfortable in my style and less self-conscious, and it really helps that I'm making things I'm utterly mad about. I love all the clothes I'm wearing! Last week was such a treasure, too, because I went out with friends which means I had an excuse to dress up.

Tracy took this pic after we'd finished being ghosts and went to a local diner for some lunch. She's friends with the girls that made my cell phone sticker (Rainbow Alternative) and wanted a picture of me holding it. I'm happy she took it because I worked really hard to get my hair cute! I braided my bangs to the side and pinned the rest back from my face. I felt super adorable!

I love this tunic. This was the first ever Calliope tunic that I made. It's a neon yellow Ireland T-Shirt with a striped knit blouse and a favorite fabric scrap along the bottom. I appliqued the little shamrock from the original tee on the front. It's worn here with my new favorite Minnetonkas, my ON Rockstar Jeggings and a favorite denim jacket.

I had this jacket on at Target and I got compliments on my 'awesome pins'. It was pretty sweet to hear!

Tracy also snapped these two action shots of me. She's the sweetest!

I felt so pretty in this outfit. I wish that jobs were more relaxed with their dress codes because I would wear stuff like this every day and feel so much better about myself. In regular clothes, for whatever reason, I just feel awful, but in weirdo patchy tunics with rolled up jeans I felt alive.

Here's to more days spent feeling like that.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Laurel Hill Cemetery (Part 1)

This past weekend my friend Tracy and I had a special outing to Laurel Hill Cemetery. Laurel Hill is a place I've wanted to go ever since I first moved to Philadelphia. One of my favorite things to do is walk around graveyards, looking at the beautiful sculptures and words left behind, and this cemetery is huge. It's actually 78 acres, so there was no way for us to see the whole thing, but we saw a great portion of it!

Here are some of my favorite pics (warning, giant pics).

Cemeteries are so beautiful and peaceful. I'm already planning to take Megan there when she visits next because I know she'd love it. The mausoleums were my favorite part, I think, and that giant set of stones with the woman opening the coffin. I want to go back when it's a little more overcast and take creepy pictures.

I had a blast and Tracy and I are already planning more adventures.

Monday, April 20, 2015

'Best' Week Ever

When I wrote this post I mentioned how last week should have been the best week ever but because of the work situation it was not, and I said I would explain later. So since I've given you the emo points about last week, let's switch gears and I'll tell you all about my exciting week out.

On Monday I ordered a beautiful pair of Minnetonkas from ShoeBuy (before all the work drama). They are a perfect lilac color. 

They were kind of a necessity because I don't have any summer shoes, except Chucks, and sneakers aren't quite office wear so I thought I was purchasing them for work as well as just because I love them. They are the perfect lilac pink-purple and fit like a dream. In addition to that, they came with a free tiny moc keychain in it's own box! I love packaging surprises like that. 

Monday night I went to a poetry reading with my friend Tracy. (Who just dyed her hair the most perfect shade of grey, omg.) The main poet, Andrea Gibson, was new to me and AMAZING, but the highlight for me was the opening act. I've followed Amber Tamblyn since I was about fifteen years old. Her column for BUST is always a good read and her poetry is beautiful. I thought I was just going to go listen to her read, but OMG I got to actually stand in a picture with her! 

I was shaking so hard because I was very nervous, and she was the nicest person. She kept saying over and over again, "It's okay, it's okay!" I'm such a geek. 

I also managed to convince my boyfriend to start taking outfit pictures for me sometimes. I felt beautiful in this (it's what I wore to the poetry reading). Bandannas are my new favorite hair accessory. This Lucille Ball pin-up tunic was made using my Sideshow Dress tutorial, mocs by Minnetonka, and jeggings from Old Navy. I got the choker from Buffalo Exchange while Megan and I were shopping. Jacket is from DOTS. 

My mister is the best at getting me to smile. 

Speaking of OOTDs, I had some pretty great looks last week. I like to take selfies in the bathroom while I'm on my lunch break. There are days when the doctor doesn't see patients and he allows us to be pretty casual, so I was able to wear my Sideshow dresses and thrifted treasures. I love the new grey/black/orange one because it features a large velvety griffin on the front, and the MCR one in the last pic was made using the tee shirt I bought the day the band broke up, so it's super important to me. 

You can tell I love that necklace I bought when Megan was here. 

Even though the rest of the week went sort of sour, I ended it by exploring a large cemetery with my friend Tracy. I took so many pictures that I'm definitely doing a separate post dedicated to just that day, but it was amazing. It was a gorgeous day! We both want to go back when it's more overcast, though.

Some aspects of last week were terrible, but so many of these days had such positive parts! It was both giddy and terrifying, and all of it was wonderful. 

* UPDATE * Work is working with me on the aforementioned issues, so fingers crossed that everything is looking a little brighter than it was last week. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Stolen Voice

I know I allude to how upset I am on a daily basis in my posts, but I never really address the issue online, and I think it might be time to speak out. This week should've been one of the best weeks (more on that later) and it ended up being one of the most disappointing.

It's really hard to keep your eyes on your goals when you're surrounded by people that upset you. It zaps your creativity, makes you lose sleep while simultaneously being too tired to move when you come home from work, and really takes a lot out of you. It's even worse when there is no way of avoiding the conflict that causes you pain and it's at work, which means you have to try because you rely on that money to make ends meet.

I had a job for two years where I made a lot of what I thought were friends. I had a boss I loved, I had coworkers I loved (even the ones I didn't always get along with, in the end, I thought cared about me) and I had customers I enjoyed being with. I recognized that a lot of my difficulty was my own negativity, and I did have a lot of trouble surviving on lesser pay, but I enjoyed my work. Unfortunately, the boss sold the biz, the new owners and I didn't see eye to eye, and all the coworkers I grew close to faded away. I couldn't write about my hurt and anger on the experience online because I didn't want anyone to get their feelings hurt, but at the same time I was never able to fully heal. I couldn't mention things that were happening on Facebook or my blog, and I just started to feel mute. Like why bother blogging when I had nothing to say? Prior to this I'd had no problem raging on the internet, but this somehow seemed to pathetic and personal that I just couldn't continue.

Spray Roses
I guess a part of it is that I felt like a sucker. No one likes to feel lied to, and when all the 'love' I'd felt, the enthusiasm from 'friends' faded away, I felt lied to. The job I'd been so happy to be at was a lie. So I didn't want to talk about it because I didn't want to be pathetic.

In the mean time, I'd stepped out of that job and magically, immediately into another full time position. It was seemingly perfect. An office job, so I would have weekends to work on my store or vend at shows (which never happened), it paid me enough to pay my student loans each month, and buy groceries (literally that's all I have) and it was a desk job. I love desk jobs- data entry is one of my favorite things to do.

Nothing is perfect.

My boss is the nicest gentleman I've ever met. He's an old school doc who genuinely cares about treating his patients. He's a 'dinosaur' in medicine (his words, not mine). He loves botany, plays the violin and gets excited about rare medical cases that come in. He's nice. He wants everyone to get along. He likes to think he's fair. I was excited to work for him- I felt a little like I was working for the medical version of Sherlock Holmes.

His MA, the only other person in our three person office, has made it extremely difficult to continue on there. She has to have her own way in all things, up to and including correcting both the doctor and I on things that she doesn't know anything about. She monitors how loud or long we use the restroom and comments on it (also will make fun of how loud you blow your nose or basically exist) and she gets angry that I have a nine-to-five schedule when she has to work ten to six two days a week. Her constant stream of complaints about me filtered through the kind voice of the doctor as well as her passive aggressive accusations to my face have made it hard for me to even try getting up in the morning to go to work. My boss even has to ask her if I can have a personal day whenever I ask for one, even with months notice.

I was making it, though. I was getting through. I had plans, dammit. I was going to save up extra, pay off the $50,000 mistake in student loans I have as soon as possible and I was going to have a shop of my own.

It's not going to happen. My five year plan is down the drain. This week, she decided to attack and attack until finally she destroyed my desk while I wasn't there and instead of being able to just fix it, she threw the parts of it away (they belonged to the hospital, FYI, not the doctor) and it cannot be righted. On top of that, in order to prevent a scene in front of patients, I got called at 7:30 at night, while I was at home making dinner, by the doctor to let me know this. I told the doctor that I was not quitting right then, but that I was certainly going to start sending out resumes. I told her to her face, after a year and four months of non-stop picking, that it was her fault because she made the work place unbearable.

 The doctor asked me to reconsider quitting, but I don't see how I can when I have no support from him, no protection from her rages. "I know she's difficult, you just have to let it roll off you."

I know I can be difficult to work with sometimes, but I work hard. I was good at this job. Very good. And I liked my boss, which made it much easier to want to be there. But I can't do it anymore. There is no escaping. The way patients are booked, I can't even step away for a moment to take a deep breath or count to ten to get rid of her. And now she's not only in control of the entire office, she's in control of my hours and my work space when I've been told repeatedly "She's not my boss".

I didn't know if I should post this online because I am currently looking for employment and I don't want future employers to see this and think ill of me, but at the same time I've felt for about two years now like I was restricted with what I could post on my blog. Society and bosses ability to Google have been controlling my voice and my words, and as a writer, that is just intolerable to me.

I'm afraid. I don't have a job lined up. I don't have enough to make my loan payments. I don't have my own shop yet, I can't support myself. Food, bad credit, keeping my apartment- these are all things that I'm worried about. But I think every once in a while you have to stand up for yourself, even if it means being afraid.

Text heavy post, I know.

But even though I don't know what's going to happen now, this quote kind of resonates with me.

Quitting my job to save my mental health, to protect my well-being, is not a weakness. It's an opportunity. I've been saying my whole life that I wanted a business, and now, while I send out resumes to every office in the city that I see a craigslist ad for, I have time. I can edit my book and put that out for publishing. I can continue to sew for my etsy shop. I can start a kickstarter to open a Cirque du Frock Thrift Boutique and if the government gets pissed off that I cannot pay them 50,000$ right away, well that's what they get for letting children take out loans.

I really mean it this time when I say I hope to return to blogging, because I'm sick of being silent when I'm in trouble. I'm sick of not trusting that what I'm doing is right. I'm sick of not making mistakes and learning from them.

I've decided it's time to fight back.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Shop Evolution: Making Things I Like


In an attempt to make a regular effort at blogging, I'm writing a little something about my latest shop update. I still don't have too much to comment on in terms of my day-to-day, which doesn't really change/differ/get better, so I'm talking about the bright spot in my life- my shop.

I reached a pretty interesting point this year as an artist, and it's taken my shop from something to do into something I truly enjoy. For a few years I was desperate to really make stuff 'to sell' and I feel like a part of me lost what made the shop fun. Of course I want my store to one day be a brick and mortar, to have vintage clothes and furniture and rustic pieces and my own homemade things, of course that is my big huge dream that I want (I want it so bad it hurts) but at the same time, years of focusing on 'a craft to make' really sort of made me feel inadequate as an artist. And then, one day, while I was sitting on my rear feeling sorry for myself, I just had an epiphany.

I'm an artist. Not a factory.

So instead of looking for 'cute marketable dresses' to make and sell (and I did come up with ONE original pattern for a 'cute marketable dress'), I just thought that I would start making what makes me happy. What gives me joy to make. And suddenly, I went from an etsy store with zero items, to an etsy store with more than seventy items. And sure, I don't sell a lot, but I know the people that look and favorite and buy see my vision as an artist and really appreciate the time and thought process that goes into each piece. Because I do consider the things in my store a part of my art.

And I'm much, much happier.

At the same time, I hate not being able to make things for the store. When I get too busy or I'm just plain worn out, or (as was the case this past weekend) my sewing machine gives out on me, I get so frustrated because I feel like I'm 'not working hard enough' on my art. On my passion. Luckily for me, I did manage to finish up a few things, and I got those listed on the store this afternoon.

Orange Sherbet Tunic , Metal Bobbin Military Necklace, Roar Roar Necklace, Wild Beauty Tunic

Yeah, I make weird stuff. But to me, it's beautiful. These tunics are based on the lagenlook bubble-style of clothing where it flares out and then draws in tighter at the bottom. I really love them and they look great with chunky sandals, rustic old boots or even chucks! In fact, I can totally see myself styling them with my black suede chucks and a denim jacket, just like in the pictures.

Recently I made Megan Mae a less tunic more top version of this with her favorite star shirt and some of her mother's clothing. One of my favorite things about selling this style as well as selling tutorials for this style tunic is that you can make your own with clothing that means a lot to you. My Sideshow Dresses are usually made from tees that friends or family have given to me, or concert tees, that I love and never want to part with but would never wear in their natural state. Megan's star shirt was made with things that she didn't want to part with, but also didn't have the storage to keep. I love clothes that mean something to the wearer, that tell some sort of story. It appeals to the writer and the romantic in me.

Heart Applique Vest , Skelly Heart Necklace , Drawer Pull Statement Necklace , Mens Shirt Pinafore

And, like any good artist, I do have some fails sometimes. I was super excited for this men's vest refashion, but it happened to be one of the pieces my sewing machine quit on, so it's double stitched and serged, but it's not pretty on the inside like I usually like my pieces to be. I also didn't realize that the way the buttons are on the opposite side on the bottom would mean that it only buttons on top! Or that the lower pockets wouldn't work. I've priced it low and hope it goes to a nice home. These things happen, and as frustrating as it is, it's just a part of the process.

I do love that drawer pull necklace. I have a second one, and I think I might need that for myself.

Megan Mae was a trooper, too, talking me through listing my stuff tonight with encouraging words. She's a great cheerleader and tolerated me collapsing in a fit of giggles when I decided to tag the lion necklace as a 'roar roar' necklace (I don't know why but I find that hilarious).

This year has been really hard. There've been a lot of highs and lows, but as far as my shop and my art go, I think I've had one of the best years ever. It was work. But it was worth it.

In the mean time, I'm throwing a sale until Saturday (it 'ends' Sunday which usually means the code expires midnight Saturday) using the code APRILSHOWERS2015 because omg it's about to rain for a week straight if you listen to Philly weather.