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A Sustainable Life. Make Magick.


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Work Capsule Wardrobe: Retro Shift Dress

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So I looked through my closet for suitable “professional” day job wear while I search for the perfect day gig and wasn’t impressed. My last refashion, the black shirt dress was the first piece in and beginnings of a work capsule wardrobe in the making. For this dress, I had already made the bodice and the skirt of this dress over the summer with the intention of using them for mix and match separates. I didn’t really like the fit of the two together and decided to make a dress, which kind of makes this a refashion!  Once I had the shift together I had some adjusting to do since the tank started out pretty billowy.

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Then I looked through my drawer of sewing patterns and hallelujah found this sleeve pattern. Which made me ecstatic! A little early 70s vibe was what this simple shift needed for me to make it feel more special and give it some School Marm Boho styling appropriate for work. YAS! This look also fulfills a goal of making a print/color blocking piece as noted in my 2016 Make and Refashion Planner, that I made at the beginning of the year. Sweeeeeeeeeeeet!

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retroshift-5 I am not mad at the results! I made the sleeveless sweater coat above with leather cap sleeves a few years ago now! All of the fabrics here were bought in the last few years from my favorite spot, the Loft, at Michael Levine fabrics in Downtown Los Angeles. The loft is the outlet that sells remnants and bolts and pieces that are out of season before they are discarded which can mean shipped abroad or put in a landfill somewhere. I still love wearing this sweater coat with all sorts of outfits from a t-shirt and joggers to interview wear and will definitely be using it in my work capsule wardrobe. In this case, I am loving how the additional print and cap sleeves show off of the bell sleeves of the dress. You know I love some print on print action!
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xoxo,

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Basic Black#ThriftyThursday

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So it’s been ages since I did a Thrifty Thursday but was inspired upon seeing Confession of a Fashiontista ‘s Sheri’s latest blog post. She runs  Refashion Nation and organizes weekly themes to inspire folx to show off their thrifted and refashioned treasures! I actually found my treasure yesterday! These men’s Brogues fit perfectly are nicely broken in and have many more years in them. I am psyched to have found a new comfy and stylish pair of Black shoes suitable for both work and play.

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The other gem of this post is my second refashioned shirt dress. The first is a denim number you can find here! I live in that dress have nearly worn it out already. This time around I finally used an old bedsheet in a refashion. It was gifted to me in a huge bag of fabric I inherited. I used it to create a skirt to add to a button up shirt that I wasn’t wearing. I love my boxy new shirt dress which is as Basic as it gets! And I definitely need to grow the basics in my closet. Below is a couple of visual maps on how I did the refashion. It is fairly self-explanatory.

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And there you have it. A basic number that I can wear to work, or out for the weekend with my docs or peep toes or sandals… this is L.A.! I’m not mad at this little black day dress which will be hard at work for me for a long time to come.

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If you like and want to support the blog consider donating at PayPal.me Be well!

xoxo,

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ReFashion 2016: Resort Style, Body Acceptance & Fatkini Fall!

fatkini-refashion2016It’s been AGES since I did a ReFashion post! I have done a lot of hemming, mending and alterations that I just couldn’t manage to post yet, but hope to get around to it. Why a fatkini for fall you may ask? The practical reason, I have access to the apt building swimming pool without tons of children screaming and splashing (who are now in school!), so I tend to swim more at the end of summer. Also living in sunny Southern California is year round incentive!

The other reason is that in all of the collections fashion designers put out annually, my favorite is usually resort wear. Resort collections generally consist of great separates that can be worn year round in warm or cold weather and yep includes killer swimwear. I feel the need to be prepared, for when someone wants to take me away for a fabulous tropical holiday! (((Manifesting)))
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I made this skirted swimsuit bottom last year and didn’t manage to get a DIY up for it. So when I finally decided to turn this built-in bra from an old ill-fitting camisole into the base of a swim top to match, I was excited to complete the look! This top was one of those projects that I kept putting off since I hadn’t made a bra, or bathing suit bra top before.

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The project turned out to be easier than I thought and one of my favorite DIY’s EVER! It’s not perfectly sewn, but it was very well thought out. I experimented with straps successfully and have a nice heavy-duty elastic lining the top and bottom of my side straps. All of my materials were gifted, salvaged and refashioned, including an old bra closure for the top closure.

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I’m fatter than last year and feeling it. As I decide how to best practice more consistent care for myself I realized I was starting to fall into old habits of shaming myself and my body, particularly my belly, which has also grown. So making a new suit top that doesn’t completely cover that belly was a true act of love, resilience, and acceptance. I really love the suit so much and feel quite adorable in it. And let me tell you, feeling attractive doesn’t hurt when it comes to body image which you probably know already. But it’s always good to be reminded.

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I often reflect on how I’m coping with the world and how where I am at, largely depends on my ability to stay the course when it comes to taking care of myself. If I am not taking care of myself then I find myself reacting, to the people and world around me. When I am in my moon cycling (Happy Full Moon by the way), when I am honoring creating sacred space for myself, it turns out that I am far more resilient than I often remember. Making and creating is as empowering as meditating and spell crafting for me and is very much a part of my holding sacred space. So look forward to more ReFashions loves! Autumn is so my time of year to #MakeMagick! Ciao bellos!

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If you like and want to support the blog consider tipping me at PayPal.me Be well.

xoxo

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ReFashion 2016: Denim Repair

Denim Repair Inspo

Boro and Sashiko are Japanese mending techniques. Sashiko refers to Boro means  rags or tattered cloth. Boro is the textile created from clothing that has been patched several times. Japanese borotextiles (usually clothing and bed covers) were sewn from rags and patches of indigo-dyed cotton during the 19th and early 20th century. The rural population of Japan couldn’t afford new clothing and had to literally make ends meet by patching together discarded cotton rags. Japanese families repaired and recycled everything from fisherman’s jackets to futon covers, handing them down for generations. Sashiko, meaning “little stabs,” is a long, embroidery stitch used for mending or purely for decoration. source

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Although I love hand work I haven’t been able to carve out the energy or time for a lot of it lately. When my mom asked me to repair a couple of pairs of her favorite jeans I took inspiration from the visible patching and stitching techniques of boro and sashiko.

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  1. I pinned a patch to the inside of the jean to cover a large vertical rip.
  2. I started sewing across the patch in a zig zag formation vertically.
  3. Then I did the same thing horizontally.
  4. I turned the jeans inside out.
  5. Next, I added a decorative patch from a piece of a vintage japanese kimono I thrifted.
  6. Then I followed the same technique on a hole on the inner thigh using some recycled denim, also thrifted.
  7. This time, I patched it from the outside.
  8. I turned and repeated the process on a third hole.
  9. Finally, I have a repaired jean that hopefully will become more interesting with wear.

My mom was pretty pleased to be wearing her jeans again.

 

xoxo

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ReFashion 2016: Black Is Beautiful

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The Story

Black History Month aka Black Future Month ends with my little tribute to The Black Panthers and a simple and very satisfying refashion! If you follow my Instagram, you will see that when PBS aired the documentary, The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution I was fairly obsessed. I was raised in a working class all-white neighborhood in the burbs of Los Angeles in the late 1970s.

I learned respectability politics young from my southern mother and my father, an immigrant from the West Indies. For their survival and mine, I was taught it was important that as a Black person I was extra nice, extra likable, and that much more respectable than my white counterparts. It was as if because I was Black, I didn’t automatically deserve respect. Leaving the white pov or white gaze behind is complicated in this country with our very racist history. Long before Beyonce’s Formation, there was the Black Panther Party. The Black Panthers celebrated Blackness, traded in respectability politics for justice, and all the while shone for being fierce in their own skin.

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At one point in the  documentary (where yes, I was driven to tears) the filmmakers interviewed former Panthers and journalists alike on the style of the BPP. The natural hair, the sleek stylish ‘uniform,’ and “swagger!” Whether you are interested in political ideology or not, there is so much fierceness in the message that BPP gave the Black community which was – love yourself, as you are. Their message was that Black was not only beautiful but worthy. Worthy of love, worthy of justice, worthy of self-determination. There is nothing complicated about that. If you have not seen the documentary yet, do!

 

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The ReFashion

First of all, I love these boots so hard, they were a major investment piece I bought (on sale) about 8 years ago for my first return trip to NYC after moving home. They are made for all weather and are water resistant, have lug soles, working laces, and a zipper for easy access.  I LOVE these fabulous functional boots, but after gaining significant weight they didn’t fit anymore. My smallest calf size was probably about 19 inches and my widest calf is currently 23inches.  I often prefer ankle boots, but when I have gotten higher boots, I generally got away with having them stretched at a cobbler’s shop or have also had elastic inserts put into boots. Any shoe repair can also do this simple alteration for you.

  1. When I tried on the boot years after my last wearing, they  would not close.e
  2. Reasonable people take out their laces which I recommend, but I partially unlaced my boots enough to see what I was doing on the inside.
  3. My solution for making space across the calves? Detach the tongues of the boots! Because the tongue is sewn into both sides of the boot – it can not be placed where you want it on the leg for coverage. Sometimes it’s sewn into one side of the boot.
  4. Use scissors to cut open the seams where the tongue and lacing sides of the boot are attached.
  5. Once the tongue was freed up, I had about 2 extra inches in overlapping fabric on each side of the boot newly available.
  6. At this point, you want to dispose of any loose threads.
  7.  If you like you can add fabric to both sides of the tongue for more coverage. You can also elect to get rid of the tongue altogether for a cute tongueless boot.
  8. Finally, you will want to get longer laces to properly lace up your boots. I haven’t done this yet but am looking forward to it. Remember you can always switch up the color and/or use grosgrain or velvet ribbon instead of standard corded laces. Now lace up those puppies and go!

Dress: Thrifted  Hat: ReFashioned Leather Jacket: Built to Last
70s Vintage Wallpaper: Interwebs

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xoxo,

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Make & ReFashion 2016 Planner

I’m back! It’s taken me a couple of months to figure our what I wanted to tackle on my sewing projects list. Getting gifted three giant bags amounting to 70 lbs of fabric on top of a newly organized bigger stash, means finally getting organized! I have a couple of ReFashions from 2015 that never got done so they are on my 2016 list!

  • If you follow me on Instagram you may remember me disassembling some thrifted clogs! Well, it’s time to get those perfect platform walking height heels hooked up for Cali’s year round clog wearing weather! I’m So ready! I am going to make either a T-strap style or an Oxford style with a secure ankle strap. I’m not very good with slip on clogs, I tend to twist my ankle a lot!

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  • I have been meditating on how to make my denim jacket more wearable for ages since I don’t wear it. And I’ve decided on a plan of action. Below center is where I’m at, but thinking about going marching band with it. Think Balmain meets fat adorable majorette! Instead of traditional trims, I’m thinking of using patchwork techniques with denim or velvet to create the banding. I am so into it – which is all that matters of course.

Denim ReFashion Inspo 2016

  • I never even started my Velvet number that was calling me so hard! I have two deconstructed thrift-shop-scored blue velvet dresses that demand action. I thought I’d do a simple slip dress and see if I had enough for a jacket too, but now I am thinking of a simple shape like some of the ideas below. And I’m definitely interested in embellishing the velvet! See Adornment Inspo board further down, please!

Velvet ReFashion Inspo 2016

  • The last project that I haven’t gotten to are sweaters! I am freezing half of the time. AS long as I have been alive, I have been underdressed. Even in lovely Los Angeles, it gets cold and often it will get hot and even when it’s perfectly in between the temperature always drops at night so I will always need to be layer ready. These sweaters inspire me BEYOND to get to sewing. Luckily I scored a new light lovely knit in my recent gifted haul and have a couple of really nice knits as well as a couple of heavy Ponte fabrics to tackle projects. I also have a lovely three-tone looped yarn I hope to use as fringe in at least one project.

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  • I went to an 80s Prom this month with my favorite dancing buddy Betty! I think that warrants its own post – and it just got me on a major nostalgia trip! The 1980s was an odd and unique period that somehow managed to reference, the 50s, a new era of Japanese modernist design, a NeoVictorian thing coexisting with a retro-futurism of sorts. I really need to make a prairie shirt, not to mention some asymmetrical cuts in neutrals. I have some splatter paint style cotton with a bit of lycra, some geometrics and a fab piece of grunge-worthy yellow plaid that needs to be used for the love of the 80s.

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  • I have some lovely chiffon and polyester blend sheer prints that need to become fabulous timeless maxis! I love how simple color blocking becomes art in prints and lace. I am also really feeling my inner Stevie Nicks these days. Easy witchy high style moments in the making.

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  • And of course, and probably most importantly, the BASIX I didn’t quite master last year! I have some vintage leather, recycled denim and a ton of light-weight two way stretch knit blends that need to become easy tunics/dresses, skorts, culottes and drapey tops. Sounds like the Drape Drape books are coming out of storage! It’s time to get the basics down and that for me means easy, comfy, sultry everyday wear.

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  • Lastly, I am obsessed with fabulous artisanal embellishments. I am first and foremost a textile addict after all. Everything from screen printing and hand painting to beading and embroidery is calling me. I think some artistic adorning will be on the immediate horizon! My leather jacket, in particular, keeps telling me they want a makeover. I am here to serve.

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 Here we go!

xoxo,

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ReFashion 2015: What A Year!

 

Thanks so much for joining me for ReFashion 2015 Loves! IT has been a great year and my ReFashioning has given me so much joy. I love creating. And if anything I hope it has sparked you to look at how you use your closet. I hope that this year you are more mindful about what you need vs. what you want than in 2015. I hope you consider whether what you want can actually be achieved in the closet you have right now.

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This journey was a bit of a surprise. I have been chronically unemployed and out of the traditional job market for years now and besides not being able to afford the influx of fast fashion available in plus sizes, I grew tired of seeing so many people in the same clothes that didn’t quite speak to me. And if they did, I realized that the devil was in the details and that I often could re-envision what I have in my closet to meet those sometimes transient needs….

I hope ReFashion 2015 reminded you and inspired you to creatively play in your closet. Know that you don’t have to settle for what a manufacture created, but can personalize your closet. If you don’t sew, and don’t do DIY consider tailoring your clothes to fit you the way you would like them to. And don’t forget to alter them around trends that speak to you.

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The planet is hurting from our wasteful ways which causes people to hurt, whether it is chemicals in the manufacturing process in our clothes and contaminating our water or the literal garbage we create by not recycling them reducing our carbon footprint, is EVERYTHING. People being exploited for their labor is always something to keep in mind. Consumers are always demanding more. But do we need more?  We must call on big corporations to be responsible to their workers and to the planet.

Part of me really likes living off of the fast fashion grid and choosing this extreme variation of slow fashion. I often prioritize other things besides my wardrobe and taking time to make all that I need is not possible. The point is not to make everything in your closet, but to recycle, reuse, shop vintage and thrift often and maybe first. The point is to be mindful. Mind the chain of people affected by your shopping habits. Shopping local, shopping small, supports community and sends a message to big retailers to be more mindful too.

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Lastly, ReFashion 2015 is very much about body love, and my body politic. As someone who lives outside of traditional sizing, including plus sizing at a size 26/28 currently with a non h/w proportionate body type, I decided to make my clothes work for ME. I don’t have expectations to fit into mass manufactured clothing. Even when I do, I generally alter my clothing to my tastes. I invest in my closet so that I use it. I invest in personalizing my clothes so that any and every item in my closet works for me. How many people can say that every item of clothing is working for them?

I don’t believe that my body whatever size and shape should fit into the clothes as they are made. Because they don’t. And that is not something I feel good or bad about. If your body is made for commercial fast fashion more power to you, but understand that it is not true for many bodies of all shapes and sizes.  I believe the clothes that I wear should fit my unique body. And I’ve found that that requires some help a lot of the time. So I encourage you, to dig deeper, look further and take your closet into your own hands. Harness your creativity, love your body as is, and make your closet work for YOU. You deserve it!

I will be back with more ReFashion and more Makes in 2016. I have plans for my sweet little shop to include more post consumer made millinery accessories and some home goods too! Let me know what kind of things you’d like to see in the SweetLeigh shop. Sewing Patterns? ReFashion Kits? I’d love to know! Thanks for joining me on the journey loves! Happy New Year!

xoxo,

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