Category Archives: Fashion

Sass and Style in the Garden

Joy and Tracy answered a question on their podcast a few weeks ago that got me thinking. It was in response to a listener that works outside and wanted to know how to bring more style into her life. When your clothes have to be durable and utilitarian, how do you sass it up?

I could totally relate. I’m a pretty hardcore gardener and spend most of my summer and weekend days with dirt under my nails and in clothes that can do some work. But I’m also a sassy young lady. I still like to accessorize and experiment with new looks like most girls my age. So how do I bring my sense of style out to the yard with me? Here’s how.

Boots:
You already know I love my Hunters and with so many fun colors, there are lots of ways to express yourself while also wearing shoes you can work in. Bogs has some pretty fun colors and patterns too. Earlier in my gardening career, I made the mistake of getting some fun looking boots that were cheap, but cute. I paid the price when a few months later I was soaked to the socks. It’s worth it to invest in some boots that can get you through a few seasons – both style and durability.

Hair:
Now, this isn’t my strong point – styling my hair has never come naturally to me. But, what I have learned is that actually doing my hair before going outside to work all day makes a difference. Instead of thinking to yourself, why do my hair? I’m just going to be working in the dirt all day. Do your hair for you. I don’t care who’s going to see me or not – it feels good for me to feel a little put together. I get to see it all day and that matters. Plus, a bandana, a braid or a headband go along way.

Earrings:
Hands down, earrings are my favorite way to accessorize. It always has been – since my days as a fifth grader when crazy earrings like Paula Abdul records hung from my ears. To this day, my earring philosophy is the more dangly, the better. No matter what grubby clothes I’m wearing up top, my earrings always make me feel feminine.

A good pair of jeans:
For the longest time, I wouldn’t want to ruin my nice jeans by working in them outside even though I finally found a style that fit me perfectly. I’d wear the old ones I was phasing out until they pretty much disintegrated. Until, one time, I wore some jeans I like outside, got them pretty dirty in the knees and deemed them, from that point on, work jeans. What a difference it made to wear the jeans that actually fit and felt good! Why wouldn’t I wear the jeans I actually like where I spend the majority of my time doing what I love?

Of course, like Joy and Tracy mentioned, Carhartts does make some pretty rockin’ utilitarian clothes (at least for men) and it’s probably high time I bought me a pair of those.

I worry that this post might seem narcissistic and I hope you see that’s not my intention. My point is that spending so much time living outside in the yard doesn’t mean I have to give up the opportunity to express myself and my personal style. And I’m not suggesting that we abandon practicality. I’m not talking about wearing heels and working in your Sunday best. What I am suggesting is that we rethink our habits. When we go out, we often feel compelled to dress up, fix our hair, and put on make-up. We do this because we know we’ll see other people and it’s a way of presenting your outside persona to others. But why don’t you deserve the same treatment, when it’s just you and your garden? Aren’t you worth that?

*Boot image by Jenn Ireland

Fabric Veggie Farmers’ Market Tote

My creativity and motivation as an artist ebbs and flows. Sometimes, I get so jazzed about a project, I’ll work on it for hours (we’re talking hours, people, like all day hours). It wakes me up in the early morning, like I can’t wait to get the idea and vision out of my head and made in real life.

Then other times, I can’t be bothered (and naturally, that’s usually when I get a request to make a custom order). It’s inevitable, I guess, especially as I become a more avid gardener. During the spring and summer months, all I want to do is be outside, but during the winter, art projects abound.

This tote bag, well, the first version anyway since this tote was made special for my bff for her birthday, was created during one such winter. During a winter when I was jonesing to grow something, but it was snowing outside. I got out my sewing machine, some scraps of fabric, and appliqued some veggies over the logo on an old tote bag (sorry, Safeway). It’s my farmers’ market bag and I’ve gotten so many compliments on it and requests to make them and sell them. Knowing how I am, you just might see one on my Etsy shop some day, but until then, they’ll just be special gifts and something you can make too!

I suppose I should let you know that some basic sewing skills are required for this project. But as sewing projects go, this one is super simple. You will notice lots of rough edges and areas where I just zigzag stitched with abandon, but I think that adds to the charm of these bags. Also, the goal of this project is to use what you have so dig in your drawers for those fabric scraps and odd pieces and doll up a tote that you already have. This one had stains on it, even after I washed it, but that was nothing a little fabric apple couldn’t cure. So here’s what it takes:

Cut out a piece of fabric to be your pocket/mini-tote bag. I cut mine out approximately the same size as the logo, just a little shorter.

 

 

Using super cute contrasting stitching like the red thread I used here, stabilize the pocket so it’s sturdier. I did this by just stitching a piece of thick canvas to the back of the fabric I was using. You could also get fancy and use interfacing too – that’s what it’s for after all!

Add a bit of single fold bias tape (stuff I already had on hand – I know, I had red bias tape!)  to the top of the pocket and add a handle. All of these details serve no purpose other than adding flair! My goal was to make the pocket look like a tote bag.

 

 

 

Place the pocket on the tote bag just to see where it’s going to end up. Make light marks on the tote bag at the edges of the pocket – I put a mark at each top corner and made a line in the middle. You’re going to use these marks as boundry guidelines for sewing on the vegetables. Attaching the pocket will be one of the last things you’ll do.

Now the fun begins – the fabric vegetables! Cut out the fabric into the rough shape of the vegetable you’re trying to mimic. If you have it, save yourself a headache and use some fabric glue to stick the vegetables in place before you sew them.

 

This is fabric asparagus. In general, I used straight stitching around the edges of the shape and fun zigzag stitching where it needed more texture or just general flair. And yes, I changed the thread several times so that the color of the thread would add to the look of the vegetable. So worth the effort, I think.

 


Fabric rainbow chard! The most fun of all since I got to use the shiny, colorful ribbon scraps I love. They make the perfect ribs!

 

Now for some fabric carrots. Yeah, I don’t know how it is that I just happen to have orange fabric in my stash. I’ve gone through a lot of creative phases in my day.

 

Those carrots need tops! Polka dots anyone? Just go crazy with the zigzag stitching here – just make sure you use fun, green thread!

 

 

 

An apple a day keeps the doctor away…plus, I just really wanted to use some of the cool, red fabric I had and another excuse to use ribbon. Brown ribbon makes the perfect stem!

 

This little apple covered a little stain. You’d never know it was under there.

Place the mini tote/pocket on top of the logo and just part of the vegetables and sew around all the edges except the top. I used red stitching again and used my original stitching (remember, when I added the canvas?) as a guideline. And there you have it – a reusable tote with a little pizazz and a pocket to stash your personal things. Now you can shop the farmers’ market with style.

Enjoy!

Please allow me this digression

Actually, the topic of this post does not stray far from my goal to live a life of all things green and sustainable, as you’ll soon see. But here’s the disclaimer: it doesn’t have to do with food and it doesn’t have anything to do with gardening.  It has to do with fashion.

Those of you who know me well, know that I am not all that fashionably inclined. Sure I have my own quirky personal sense of style, but when it comes to new trends, accessories I’m not used to, and generally thinking outside of the box when it comes to my wardrobe, I’m just not that savvy. But it’s back to school time and it’s the time of the year when I’m forced to face my closet, give things away, and revamp my collection of professional clothes… on a budget.

Now my sister, Rachel, on the other hand, is the opposite of me when it comes to style. She’s just got it figured out and always looks beautiful and put together. And what’s more, she’s the queen of bargains. She’s the kind of person that can go into Ross, TJ Max, or other discount store and find amazing things. I take one look at all the overcrowded racks and feel overwhelmed… until yesterday, when I employed her inspiring, thrift store shopping strategy.

First, I found some guidance. Rachel told me that before she went on her last amazingly successful shopping trip, she flipped through a new Lucky and InStyle magazine for inspiration. I chose a fall Boden catalog one of those catalogs that I still opt to receive in the mail, but never order from because it’s so expensive. I just really love the casual-but-hip style of their clothes. So, I marked the pages of the outfits I loved, made a list of things that I would like to find that would compliment what I already had, and set off to the secondhand stores to find them.

If you’re in the Seattle area, check out the Value Village on Holman Road. It’s newly remodeled and reorganized, so it makes shopping a breeze. Also, the Buffalo Exchange and Crossroads Trading Company on the Ave are fantastic! I can’t believe some of the clothes I scored! Everything I purchased today was around $9 or less. In fact, the most expensive item I bought was a putty-colored, trench coat (notice the super cute lining) for $14!

OK, so how does this all relate to being green and living sustainably? First of all, I got organized, which is a good way to avoid coming home with a bunch of things you don’t actually need. Furthermore, to state the obvious, everything I bought was used and was sourced locally, instead of paying shipping and handling to get it shipped to me from across the country. Rather than going out and consuming brand new merchandise, I’m reinventing the clothes I already have and am recycling clothes that have already been used. After all, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. Of course, this is not the first time I’ve gone used-clothes shopping, but never before have I done so with such intention. I can’t ignore the fact that as a working professional, I need to look, well, professional and when you practically wear the same thing all year, you eventually need to buy some new clothes. But I’m starting to rethink how that can be done. Here are some of the things that inspired me and what I ended up with:

Different colored stripes together (image from Boden.com)

I purchased the scarf and put it with things I already owned. Maybe that tired, old jacket isn’t so bad after all.

Adorable, dressy trench coat (image from Boden.com)

Inspirational coat in catalog, $248. Finding one at a thrift store for only $14, priceless!

Cute skirt with tights (image from Boden.com)

Ok, so I still need to buy darker tights, but you get the idea here. Lovely pencil skirt, only $9! And the new handbag? I scored that Nine West bag at the Goodwill for just $7!

Fun prints and cardigans (image from Boden.com)

Same skirt from the picture above ($9) and “new” Ann Taylor cardigan for $9. Love it!

*Thank you, Jake, for humoring me once again by taking all these silly photos. The post just wouldn’t be the same without them. You’re the best!