Friday, September 19, 2014

A Body of Work

Something I've seen a little bit lately in the blog world has been posts about body image. Most of the posts I've read have been written by women, who in my opinion, have a more culturally ideal body than I do, and who adamantly say they have no body issues, but here's their opinion on it. I'm not writing this to negate anything they have said or feel, but rather to say that I find it odd that they are the voices on this issue, but also that as a society we are embarrassed to admit we struggle with body image or with being overweight in general.

It almost seems like you aren't supposed to admit you're unhappy about your body or appearance, but if you don't fit the ideal of our culture, then you will be bombarded with images and weight loss suggestions until you change. Of course, you will be simultaneously subjected to lots of food advertisements and people saying you have to be happy with your body right now and that you should just flaunt whatever body you have regardless of societal norms. So, to be unhappy with my body or weight is taboo, but in reality we don't want to be overweight either?

Not to mention the pressure put on moms in our day to look no different after giving birth (no matter how many children you've had) than they did as a teenager. If you don't bounce back than you just have no self-discipline or restraint and the implication is you are a failure as a woman, a wife, and a mom, and trust me, everyone puts in their two cents worth on this. Doesn't that just make you want a Hershey bar?

I struggled with posting pictures on my blog when I started it for a couple of reasons. I didn't want to give up a lot of my privacy, which is why you won't get my full name here, where I live exactly, or many pictures of my kids. Yet the main reason was because I was and am unhappy about my appearance. I used to be very active and never stick thin, but definitely a lot thinner than I am now. I used to have the time and ability to exercise every day, to go to the gym, and to run as long as I wanted.

Now, I'm not saying this to decry the effects of motherhood and pregnancy, nor do I want to use that as an excuse or crutch. Rather to say we have a wrong way of perceiving women and mothers in our culture. I am much more than my body or my appearance, and my body is more than my appearance, as well.

No matter how many times the 22 year old skinny feminist tries to tell us that it's men making us feel this way, I refuse to believe that. I've never had a man, including my husband, say anything about my weight, yet have had girls and women make comments about my appearance since elementary/grade school. Men are much less obsessed with our weight than other women seem to be. Not to mention that it's women whom we dread their scorn in this area. It's women whom we hope notice just how "hot" we look after losing weight or while wearing an outfit that makes us look amazing. After all, they are the ones who can really appreciate it, right? Just go on facebook/instagram and see how many women are posting workout photos and bragging about their bodies to other women. I know when I first went on facebook and saw just how many of the women I had went to high school with now posted almost constantly about their workouts I was a little shocked, then I felt guilty for what I was or wasn't doing. Now isn't that the point of posting those pictures?

There's nothing wrong with enjoying exercise, I actually enjoy it, I just don't get to do as much as I would like, but only to say maybe we should question why we are talking and posting so much about our bodies. What's the point of that picture? Am I showing it only in hopes of making others feel bad? Do I take pride only in my appearance or am I more than the body that houses my soul? Why do we have to be embarrassed to have any body issues? I have a feeling all women in our culture struggle with body image to a certain extent, it's kind of unavoidable.

I realize this may seem like an odd topic to come from someone who is a blogger and has multiple pictures of themselves posted on here, but I am asking myself these same questions. I do take more than one picture for each post and I do only pick the ones I think make me look my best, but I am starting to question my motives. Am I doing this only to feel some sort of validation or is it only to share a love for certain styles of clothing?

We live in an age of discontentment and I am resolving right now to not be ashamed that I've not got the perfect body, the figure I once had, or the figure I really want. But I will choose to be content where I am while endeavoring to make needed changes (seriously, I want to fit in my jeans, not have to buy new ones). I'm grateful that my body has withstood the growth and birth of four babies as well as the death of two. I'm amazed when I look at my children to know they were and are such a part of me and have such a connection and bond with me. I'm blessed that my husband still thinks I'm the most beautiful woman in the world and am sure he's lost his mind or eyesight when I look in the mirror.

This is partially why I have chosen to post pictures of myself post-partem, swelling and all. I want to show what motherhood actually looks like, not what we're told it looks like and in some way to celebrate that. To show the imperfection and yet the strength of the human body. The fact that we have been created to do so much with it and how it changes and survives and thrives in spite of all our bodies are put through. I don't want to hide behind motherhood or physical conditions as an excuse to being unhealthy, but rather choose to not hide away in spite of them. I'm not there yet, but by God's grace, I will get there.

How do you deal with your body image? Do you feel like there's shame to admitting we're unhappy with our bodies? 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

I've Plaid Enough

 Well, it definitely seems like forever since I have posted, but I did have our baby girl and she's beautiful and perfect and we didn't know how incomplete our family was without her. I'm hoping to start posting more regularly again, but can't make any promises.

Today's pictures are of a vintage Kerrybrook plaid shirtwaist dress I actually purchased while pregnant and couldn't wait to wear afterwards. So, at our daughter's first check up with the pediatrician I wore it.

I've always loved plaids and the colors of this plaid are actually more vivid in person and not so dull  looking.

Shirtwaist dresses are awesome for breastfeeding as that usually makes wearing most dresses impossible, and a fuller skirt is a good way to hide that mommy tummy. ;)

We've just been trying to get back to some kind of normal around here and re-figure life out with four kids. We've gotten back to a similar schedule, are homeschooling again, and her older brothers and sister can't get enough of her. But some changes had to be made, like a bigger vehicle, more stuff to carry everywhere and this last week a cold has went through our house. Just the everyday craziness.

I'm going to shift the focus of this blog more away from just outfit posts and hope to blog more about sewing and about just being a mom, but there will be vintage clothing still involved. I hope that doesn't make anyone upset or annoyed, but that's my life right now, so that's what I'm going to blog about.

Do you love plaid as much as I do?

Monday, July 14, 2014

Mysterious Hat of the Blue Bows

I still feel like a relative newbie when it comes to wearing hats and I certainly don't wear them everyday. I don't have the confidence or the style to wear one like Jessica from Chronically Vintage (who has great taste and style for wearing hats), but I'm learning what I like and what works with my hair or how to wear my hair with a hat. I am wearing them more often this summer than ever before and more than just sun hats.

Much of my anxiety in the past about wearing hats has actually been less about worrying what others will think and more having to do with the fact that I didn't know what hat to wear where or how to fix my hair with them. Not to mention, that some of the most fabulous vintage hats call for a stupendous outfit and/or occasion for them and I don't have a lot of fancy clothes or fancy places to wear them. So, sometimes I would buy a hat that I just loved the looks of, but couldn't quite figure out how or where to wear them.
This cute blue bow hat was one of those, not necessarily super fancy, but definitely a hat that I couldn't quite figure out how or what to wear it with. To tell the truth, it was a mystery to me.  Well, whether it worked or not I finally wore it out of the house for the first time the other day and decided to take pictures and post about it.
I feel sure that when I can look outside of my maternity wardrobe I will find more outfits and opportunities to wear this hat and perhaps it will get more outings. I am so glad I gave this hat another chance. It was one of the first vintage hats I ever purchased and I was thrown off by what to do with the veil and the color. Yet, a change in my hair and a different positioning of the hat and veil, and I felt much better about the hat.
Do you ever have a hard time figuring out how to wear certain hats? Do you try wearing your hats different ways?

Friday, July 11, 2014

A Special Day For Papaw, Oh, and the 4th of July Girls


My Dad's birthday is the Fourth of July, which happens to be a national holiday here in the U.S. and is considered our nation's birthday. So, basically there's lots of outdoor fun, fireworks, and red, white, and blue. Every year we have a party/cookout for my Dad, and all the grandkids dress in red, white, and blue for their Papaw's special day.

My daughter really looks forward to picking out outfits in general. Yeah, I don't know wear she got that, lol. She also really likes for me to sew her up one of a kind special clothes. So, it was inevitable that I would try to sew her up something special for the Fourth of July/Papaw's Birthday. The only obstacle being that I started it three days before said event. Honestly I had forgotten she had chosen the fabric and all.

I did a quick search of my box of girl's patterns and found this size 6 little Advance version of the popular patio dress of the 1950s. Knowing that this kind of skirt and top would be a quick and easy sew, I got to work right away and hoped I could at least get the skirt done. The hardest part was getting the fabric chosen and cut out, and then a million gathers and pins later there was a skirt.

Although I didn't get the blouse finished for her, she was still delighted with her new skirt and she had something red, white, and blue to wear to Papaw's birthday party which is all she really wanted.

The day also gave me the opportunity to try a 1940s updo that I'd been wanting to try for a while. I'm not sure how often I will repeat the hairstyle as it came out looking a little like Aunt Bee, but it did keep me cool and looked better with a vintage 1940s straw hat. It was fun to wear 1940s hair with my blue 1940s pinafore dress, though, and the 4th of July always stirs up images of the 1940s patriotic propaganda.

Aunt Bee's Online Cookbook

I really do enjoy sewing for my kids and particularly for my daughter. There just aren't as many fun and cute options for little boys. Even with vintage boys patterns it's hard for me to get all fired up about it, and I usually sew things for them out of necessity, but for girls its super fun.

Only picture I got of two of the kids with me and of her skirt that wasn't a blurry running picture outside. 
Do you dress for holidays or in themes? Do your kids take some of their style from you?
The 4th of July Girls and doll Grace :

Monday, July 7, 2014

Seeing Dots: A Vintage Maternity Top

Simplicity 1174
Okay, okay, I know at the beginning of this pregnancy I said I would be sewing more separates this time. Yup, I ended up sewing more vintage dresses, but in my defense, they are just so easy to sew and cute to wear. Not to mention that I already had more modern separates that I had either bought and worn in previous pregnancies and that had been given to me. It seems like there is no shortage of modern separates for maternity in my wardrobe, but I did get around to sewing up a maternity top the other day and now wish I had more time to sew some more versions of this awesome top. Probably not going to happen, so don't hold your breath. I'm looking ahead to my post baby sewing queue and especially fall dressing. (Hey, thoughts of cool autumn mornings are helping me not to go crazy as I literally melt in all the heat and humidity here in the south.)

I really love the fun details of this design.

I used two remnants of a quilting cotton with baby blue dots on a soft brown background and sewed up the sleeveless version. Not only was it a relatively fast and easy make, but it's insanely comfortable and I get lots of compliments every time I wear it. I seriously love this top and am contemplating sewing another version even though I'm getting into the home stretch of this pregnancy and might not get to wear it much. 
Trying to hold photobombing daughter still.
It's more comfortable than the usual stretchy maternity t-shirt or tank top and the swingy loose nature of the top makes it super cool for the hot and humid summer weather we're having. If you're expecting and can sew or know someone who would sew for you, I cannot recommend a loose fitting vintage maternity top enough. This will, God willing, be our fourth child and I can tell you from experience that  you will want to wear nothing tight fitting again while pregnant if you try one of these loose vintage styles. 

I even had enough fabric leftover to make a pair of cute shorts for my daughter (to be seen in a future post).
Youngest son was napping, but Sir J the Brave couldn't let the Fairy Princess Cowgirl have all the photobombing fun.
Since I'm getting a little burned out on making maternity clothing and I'm in the final weeks of this pregnancy, I'm thinking ahead to sewing for fall. I've been sewing a lot for the kids and trying to get into getting everything ready for the new baby. I don't think I'm "nesting" quite yet, but I am excited to plan out projects for the fall for everyone.

So, how do you plan out the coming season's wardrobe? Does it change your buying or sewing plans?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

60s Mama Dress

I know it's been forever, literally, since I've posted, but since the last post there's been a lot going on. Not only am I in the last trimester and closer every day to having the baby, but I had a debilitating stomach virus, finished up our homeschool year, grades, and attendance for the spring as well as turning in my lesson plans for next fall, as well as finding out our oldest son is going to have to have surgery right away and I will have to have surgery sometime after the birth of this baby. Needless to say, blogging has been a priority, nor has there even been time for it, but I've missed it and am looking forward to getting back to more regular blogging again. 

This has turned out to be another favorite maternity dress. It's made of a nice breathable, but solid linen printed with all these large colorful flowers. It looks a little too dressy for everyday wear, so I save it for special occasions and have already worn it to a wedding. My husband really like this dress, so I'm thinking it would be great to wear if we ever get a date night before the baby comes. 
Simplicity 5271
I made it up in the exact size on the pattern and again had to do some fitting around the bust. Tent style dresses from the 1960s seem to run a little too large in that area for me, but a little dart adjustment and taking in of the side seams fixes it right up. That was the only altering I did to the pattern, but I tied it in front instead of on the sides, because even though I feel huge, I'm apparently not large enough yet to fill it out properly with the side ties. So, as baby and belly grow this last little bit, I will keep trying the side ties, but am not sure it will ever be very flattering since I am already huge here. 

It's slightly shorter than I usually wear, but no where near mini skirt length, plus the tent-like drapiness of the dress keeps things well covered when sitting down. I'm think this makes a great summer dress for when I want to be a little more polished and yet keep cool in the southern U.S. heat and humidity that is already come to stay. 

I wore a vintage rhinestone brooch that I got for extremely cheap while I was in high school, but don't wear enough now. (That will have to be soon remedied.) I also had another photobomber for these pictures in the form of my youngest son who is 22 months and the only redhead so far.

Outfit Details:
Dress-made by me from vintage Simplicity 5271
Bangles-vintage lucite and bakelite from various sources
Earrings-Vintage style rose earrings from Etsy
Brooch-Vintage Rhinestone flower purchased at local antique mall
(I wore shoes, but they weren't pictured, sorry.)

 I was the most fortunate recipient of a great compliment lately, when a reader remarked how elegant I made pregnancy look. I must confess I was taken aback and very flattered, possibly even blushing a little as I read it, because I certainly don't feel that way. I've incorporated some vintage into my wardrobe since I was about 12, but really it was after my oldest was born and even though I lost a lot of the baby weight, I never really felt like my old self in my post-baby body. I took up sewing garments more in an effort to find more flattering styles and fit. As I got more into collecting vintage patterns and wearing more vintage styles, I found them to be much more flattering than most things I could just buy at a store. Learning older techniques for makeup and hair soon made getting dressed up a lot of fun. I realized that I still didn't have to spend tons of time doing hair and makeup, but with a little effort I could avoid some of the frumpy mommy looks. I don't dress to the nines every day, but I do often wear dresses and if I throw on a couple of easy accessories and a dash of makeup I feel better, am more productive, and have a better day. That doesn't mean I never wear jeans and a t-shirt, but that it's just as easy to wear a cute skirt and a t-shirt or a dress or a nice blouse with jeans.
For me it's a way to celebrate motherhood and bearing children and to accept and even welcome the changes that come to a person's body as a result and to give thanks to God for it. I don't by any means feel perfect, but I can take what I have and be content. This to me is a pathway that leads to true beauty, the inner kind that lasts, and as a Christian it is a way I can praise God for making me just as I am in this moment.

I'm not suggesting everyone has to share my viewpoint on having kids or even on dressing, but that what we wear is deeper than just putting on clothes in the morning. They do say something about us and to us, and that is something that should be considered when we get dressed.

We see too many images and read too many articles or advertisements that are all about making us discontented with ourselves in every possible way. They scream to us that we are not enough, whether in looks or in personality or whatever we do, but if we remember and realize that is their function and aim, solely for the purpose of convincing us to spend our hard-earned money on whatever they're selling, this realization means they can lose their power. 

As a mom, I want desperately for my kids to know that they are enough. That I love them just as they are for no other reason than I love them. To me as a Christian, it's because that's the kind of love God, through Jesus Christ His Son, has shown me when I deserved nothing but anger and rejection.

The only not blurry picture I could get of him smiling. He's a mommy's boy.

I know everyone will not and does not have to agree with my views on dressing, parenting, or kids, and I'm okay with that. All this to say that my dressing this way, whether pregnant or not, is a part of the process for me of being who I am and a desire to be the best me I can be for my God, my husband, my family, and for me.

Do you see how you dress as more than just clothes? How has dressing vintage changed you?

Friday, June 20, 2014

My Last Maternity Dress....Maybe

Simplicity 4994
I've sewn up what will probably be my last maternity dress to sew, at least for this pregnancy (although I've been known to tackle huge sewing projects in the last few weeks, even if I only get to wear them once). It's been done for a while, but I just hadn't got a chance to post about it. Seeing as how I only have less than 10 weeks left before baby arrives, I can't bring myself to sew up another dress. I have sewn up a couple vintage tops and lots and lots of stuff for my kids, all of which I hope to blog about soon (if I can remember to take pictures!), but have no plans to sew another maternity dress. 

This is probably my favorite maternity dress to sew. It's fast and easy and totally flexible for your growing baby tummy, and I've already sung it's praises here and here before. So, I won't bore you with all the reasons I think Simplicity 4994 from the sixties is so amazing, just know that it really is.

This time I used a very, very, very, bright orange printed cotton and it's called the Big Orange dress, because I live in "Big Orange" country, a nickname due to our state football team. (I, however, know nothing whatsoever about football and my husband isn't a big sports fan either, so, yay!) So, I'm guessing no one can say they didn't see me coming in this dress, but that aside, if you've seen my blog at all, you know by now that I absolutely love really bright colors and prints. It's also really amazing how this pattern looks totally different with different colors and prints. 

I only changed one thing about the construction of this one, and used my own self made bias binding for the neck and sleeves. I cannot begin to say how much I love doing that since I figured out a really easy (think lazy and cheap) way to do my own. With the nearest fabric store carrying bias tape at least a 30+ minute drive from my house, I HATE having to do to the store to hope to find a bias tape that matches and then hope again I've purchased enough of it. Someday I will have to share here my easy way to make your own bias tape. 

Best picture I could get of my awesome orange lucite glittery starfish earrings. 
I'm still feeling okay, but am entering that uncomfortable last few weeks, the time when I'm already thinking to myself "How many weeks early could the baby be born and still be considered full term?", cause that's really my goal, but all my kids so far have went past their due date. Maybe I make it too comfortable on them in there? I don't know, but I do hate the heat and humidity we already have here and am not looking forward to July and August.

 I am also huge, and no I am not having twins and yes, I really am due in August. To all those who ever run into someone pregnant, just remember that she already feels like a beached whale, so never make any comment that could in any way be interpreted as you saying she's too big. Seriously, it should be illegal. When you're pregnant you have a hard enough time feeling good or remotely attractive, don't make it worse, not to mention your hormones are so out of whack that you assume the worst whatever anyone says. Hmm, maybe the safest thing to say is you look great, no matter what and keep any thoughts about size or how much she's swelling to yourself, then just talk about anything else.

So, I am so looking forward to this fall and cool weather and to fitting in anything but maternity clothing. I do have some health issues to deal with post pregnancy and eventually surgeries (Yuck!), but am still hopeful I can fit in some of my vintage clothes again (Can anyone say girdle?). I am trying to be satisfied and content with what's in store no matter what, but must confess I've only had two surgeries prior to these and one of these will be very major surgery(no, they are not cosmetic), and I am scared already. Prayers definitely appreciated.

I have also, after four pregnancies, had to learn to cope with changing body shapes a lot. The things I dread most are not being able to wear all my vintage and sewn clothes right away, but that gives me something to work towards.

Do you find that dressing vintage helps you maintain a certain weight? Have you found it harder or easier to dress vintage when your body shape changes a lot, especially from circumstances you have no control over (i.e. pregnancy, illness, side effects of medication, etc.)?