SweetLeigh

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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The Joy of Masturbation and Other Goings Ons….

I feel like I have been neglecting us. You and me. My blogging has been sporadic and I have been missing it and you. I have been taking a lot of time to myself. Spending a lot of time alone and being in my head, job searching, as well as doing things I need to do to take care of myself, but never seemingly enough….

I realized I haven’t shared with you that for most of the past year,  I have been an Associate Editor and content curator at Adios Barbie a volunteer-run website. Adios Barbie has been dedicated to exploring body Image, body politics, and body justice for the last 20 years. AB shares content that ranges from journalism to first-person narratives and creative writing around how our identities intersect with cultural politics, our bodies, health, and self-image.

Back to self-care, I recently penned a piece for Adios Barbie called “Finding Self Care Through the Joy of Masturbation.” It is sometimes a fine line at deciphering self-care from actual health care. And although I have defined masturbation as an element of my self-care, you could even consider it to be part of your health care or actual care routine. Here is an excerpt from the article I wrote for Adios Barbie called “Finding Self Care Through the Joy of Masturbation.”

“Have you ever masturbated?” whispered my friend Joyce when our fifth grade class lined up to leave the auditorium following the sexual education assembly.

“No!” I responded, slightly mortified, but intently curious. “Have you?”

“No,” she said with a knowing smile.But she told me she had noticed that her baby cousin was always tugging at his little tiny penis. We laughed.

The sex ed assembly was not nearly as interesting, educational, or memorable as Joyce’s anecdote. When I got home, my mother asked me how the assembly went. I told her it was fine and asked, “When will I masturbate?”

I realized my mistake immediately and corrected it: “Menstruate!” She looked at me in horror and then embarrassment, causing me to sink into oblivion. That was the moment I learned that masturbating was shameful. She said nothing for a very long time. And then she returned to making dinner, and I took the opportunity to obsess alone in my room. She didn’t speak to me again that night except to alert me that dinner was ready. Later, I heard her telling my dad what had happened. I don’t think he ever looked at me the same way again.

Honestly, the thought of masturbation wouldn’t really come up again until I was in my late teens. My mom and dad had long been divorced when I found my dad’s abandoned porn collection, primarily made up of Playboy magazines and a few Penthouse Forums. Forum was literally a hand-sized magazine dedicated to articles, interviews, and, for me, the main attraction: erotic stories. The slow learner in me benefited from Forum.

Growing up in white suburbia, steamy stories about housewives entertaining delivery men while their husbands hid in the closet to watch or join in on the fun turned out to be a turn-on. Ironically, my dad’s porn collection inspired me to finally begin exploring my never-before-explored “nether regions”. Quickly, I had joined the enlightened club that had long eluded me. “Self love” is a beautiful thing, even if the act of loving yourself doesn’t always equal self-love and acceptance.

Continue reading this piece on Adios Barbie

You can also find other pieces by me on the site including a recent interview on race and ableism with east asian non-binary queer activist and Ethiopian food enthusiast, Lydia X. Z. Brown.

I’ll be back sooner than later. If you like and want to support my work consider tipping me at PayPal.me Be well.

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!

Clog ReFashion Moodboard

  • 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.

Sweater ReFashion - Make 2016

  • 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.

80s ReFashion - Make 2016

  • 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.

Print - Colorblocking ReFashion Inspo

  • 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.

Adornment ReFashion Inspo -Make 2016

 Here we go!

xoxo,

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ReFashion2015 Alterations: Gussets 101

Sheer Shirt Dress with Gusset 1

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It’s the end of 2015!!!! ReFashion 2015 is almost over. No worries, there will be a ReFashion 2016! So there have been many an alteration that I haven’t documented this year. Most of which feature my quick go to’s for solving fit issues. Inserting Gussets and using my trusty seam ripper are my main tools! By the way I need a serious upgrade on my seam ripper and have my eyes on this beauty – #seamstressporn 😉

Gusset: a piece of material sewn into a garment to strengthen or enlarge a part of it, such as the collar of a shirt or the crotch of an undergarment.

The first thing I do very often is add a gusset (normally a triangle or diamond shape) into tops and dresses that don’t fit with enough ease. Ease is the space in your clothing that allows you enough room to walk, and sit and eat… you know just be in your clothes without restriction. I am at the high end of mainstream fashion’s plus sizing and often find my belly needs more room than manufactures want to give. I pretty regularly opt for a gusset!

Gussets 101

Sheer Shirt Dress with Gusset

So, the perks of inserting gussets is simply that you can create any additional space you need without dramatically altering the original shape of the garment. OR DRAMATICALLY altering the shape of the garment!  This technique was used on the side seams of this tunic below that I sometimes wear as a dress as well. I had no matching  fabric, but because it was a patchwork style print with the color black in it already I used some leftover black double knit which worked well for me. A new print in a similar design or color would have been an options as well.

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The boots featured with both of these outfits above are a different kind of quick fix that I will get into on my next blog post. In the meantime, I used gussets to widen the calves on these Gladiator sandals! Really the possibilities are endless.

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I am also in the process of finishing up this denim jacket ReFashion below and about to put insets into the sleeves to create a mini car coat shape! Really the possibilities are endless.

Denim Jacket Redux Gusset

So my loves there is a brief recollection of my love affair with the gusset. A savvy smart stylish ecofatshionista‘s best friend! Get acquainted!

No matter what size you are, no one’s body is made to fit into the fast fashion made for massive consumption. There are too many body’s out here in too many shapes and sizes to think that your body has to conform to fit generically made clothes. Your clothes should fit YOU, and YOUR body! Just remember that! Next up- a ReFashion manifesto and another Quick & Dirty Alterations guide before the new year.

xoxo,

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ReFashion2015: A Summer’s Dream

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Hi Friends! ReFashion 2015 Continues! I am seriously all about summer. I have been pretty stressed and depressed over the last month, but honoring that has been really helpful. What I love most about summer are the long sunny days which are a big mood enhancer.  Not to mention generous loving friends who have had my back.  Keeping my projects going is also keeping me inspired. Shakespear’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and a SweetLeigh headpiece was the impetus for this ensemble.

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I was surprised with this gorgeous silk Tolani dress/tunic  in the mail from my friend Joy  a while back. Seriously I am such a lucky girl.   I simply cut the dress up the middle and hemmed each side of my now open robe. This sweet and simple little refashion of a dress into a kimono/mumu/peignoir makes me feel quite glamorous. Perfectly simple.

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I feel like I’ll be wearing it with everything from leggings & a t-shirt to lounging around in my prettiest undies.  Speaking of undies before July becomes a blur I plan on debuting my first hand-made piece of lingerie and it just so happens the Sewcialists are having a July lingerie sew along. I am excited! I’m a little overwhelmed at starting this project, but I love the research to be sure. Check out my Instagram and Pinterest for some of my inspiration! Up next in ReFashion 2015 are some alterations!

xoxo

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The Empowerment Project: Meditations On Fear

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People everywhere are constantly telling us to Love ourselves. Especially now that body positivity is a “trending” topic. I really dislike the word and concept behind the term trend…. It often feels hard and challenging to love ourselves and I’ve written a little bit about that reality in my experience with that here. How do you start to love yourself?! A question not easily answered. So I decided to briefly share how I have come to the place where I am starting to love myself. I’ve talked a little bit about how being visible helped me to actually see myself and start to accept myself.  At the core of my self-love and acceptance journey is the understanding that the opposite of Love is not hate but Fear.

I have been pushing my boundaries with fear as of late. Once upon a time I thought my “pride” and fragile ego, was my biggest curse. But now I think it was my fear or even terror of being hurt and humiliated that drove me to inaction in any and every part of my life for a very long time. It was really the fear of being seen, the fear of being judged, the fear of being maligned and most of all the fear of feeling that I deserved those things that stopped me dead in my tracks. My fears of being hurt were realized early on and often. Those hurts stripped me down over the years.

I remember the highlight reel of pain well. When I was 6 and in first grade, my classmate called me the n-word on the first day of school and  I hurt purely. When I hit puberty and my father shamed me for ‘showing’ my body with what I was wearing my hurt, stung. When I was a teenager my predominantly white affluent high school classmates started arguing that the holocaust was “worse” than slavery my hurt erupted into anger. When I was harassed at work for two years and I went to my union, my office manager, my co-workers who had witnessed it all,  and no one stood up for me – my hurt bore rage. I became afraid to authentically engage altogether.What was the point? I wouldn’t be seen anyway. I was afraid to try altogether and putting myself in pain’s way was counterintuitive.

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After years of existing, I eventually started to remember the things, I loved to do just for myself. I started making. I started sewing. I started making precious headpieces and sharing them with the people around me and then opened up an Etsy shop. And then I started selling my wares in person and meeting other creatives. I took a patternmaking course and met more creative women and started to seek out other communities where I could celebrate the things that gave me pleasure with people who accepted me and authentically saw me.

Eventually, I stopped focusing on others who did not see me, recognize, support or value me. And as I let go of those hurts and actively sought out my joy, I started to recognize my own value. That took years….

And one day I decided that I was of value and stopped looking for others to recognize it. In a fairly short time that recognition of my own worth led me to share more of my authentic self, and slowly but surely move past my fears and try new things. I started yoga and sharing images of myself doing so. Facing my fears and then embracing my fear has become lifesaving. Exposing myself to scrutiny, opening myself up to judgment, and most importantly revealing myself and being vulnerable has attracted kind, genuine like-minded folk into my life. This is key, being vulnerable to attract the presence of supportive people reinforcing that positive self-image and radical self-love is key. I am growing my community and getting the support to shine. Soulshine.

I recently heard an amazing analogy: Confidence is a like a muscle that if it’s being exercised will continue to grow. So these days I practice building my confidence by overcoming my fear.  Whether it’s a fear of not getting the job, having an unfinished project or a fear of someone seeing my body as it is.

To be brave is to be afraid and proceed anyway. I got brave and posted my nude yoga pictures in a recent Yoga Instagram challenge. Letting go of what might happen if I posted them was the thing. Letting go is the thing. I believe that my hurts have gifted me compassion and empathy. My not having felt seen in the world gives me an ability to genuinely see other people around me for who they are. I have realized that for all of the growing pains I experience, once I let go of the pain, growth is, was and always will be left behind. 

Pushing past my fear of being vulnerable is the thing that propels me forward. I understand this now and am on a mission to continue to let go and get free, overcoming one fear at a time. Oh, and #EffYourBodyStandards


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A Love Letter to My Belly

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Often I find meditating on my self and my body is exactly what I need to get grounded. My body is a place that, for a long time, I had separated from. I distanced myself from the random reflections I would catch in a mirror or a window and always be shocked at what I would see. I disassociated from my body, I was not present in it as if I was an alien inhabiting a vessel not my own. The impact of documenting my yoga journey can not be reflected on enough. It has changed my life.

Yoga has changed my relationship to my body. It has again, connected my sense of being and self to my body and spawned a body love and self acceptance journey. Other people’s shaming  can’t compare to my own constant shaming of myself. That will never excuse the bullies out there. I learned that I wasn’t good enough from TV ads, and TV shows, teasing classmates and my well meaning parents, and strangers looking me up and down. The daily microaggressions. The weight loss equals happy life rhetoric became the nasty voice inside my own head beating me down. And its time to let it go. It’s not easy but it is time to reject the “well meaning critics”, the “concerned citizens” and just plain assholes. It’s time to rid myself of my own biases. For me radical self acceptance begins with my big belly. So here is my beginning lovelies.

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Dear Belly,

You have been the bane of my existence for my entire life. I struggle with you, you poor neglected friend. I have ignored you, covered you, never able to hide you but tried in spite of that reality. I have wished you away. I have wished for rolls where I have mass, jiggle where I have girth, most of all I have wished you flatter like the mainstream fashion magazines of my youth, like even the plus size magazines of today.

10903645_1546658305615253_2136387726_nThat cute little fleshy area on others is a mountain on me.  I have been asked when am I due too many times. I have been told that I would be perfect if I could slice off this belly of mine. I have believed it too. I am sorry belly. I allowed myself to give in to judgment, the shaming and the littleness of a nation indoctrinated into myself. I gave in to comparisons that serve nothing and no one. Comparisons, do not honor me, my journey and my unique body. Enough is enough. It is time to embrace you fully, as you are. As we are. As I am.10903412_799409473467023_748313952_n

I am sorry for the neglect and admonishment I have directed at you. I see You and I will not turn away from you again. On hard days I will remember the potbellied 3 year old in the bikini at the pool I once was being adorable loving myself and smiling.

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I am grateful to you belly for warming me, providing comfy cozy hugs, holding muscles that support my frame and being so responsive to the efforts to strengthen myself. Thank you belly for allowing me to deepen my self love practice and my radical self acceptance journey.                Love, Vanessa.

If you are also in a self acceptance journey, what body part would you write a forgiveness letter to? How do you let go of the inner critic inside?

xoxo

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