Friday, May 15, 2020

Week 8: A Farewell to Arm Coverage

I haven't been posting my work-from-home outfits as the novelty factor wore off and they basically became variations on a tired theme, but this week I'm back! There are exciting developments afoot! This week, as the weather finally, hesitantly, approached something resembling warm, I got to wear short sleeves!
On Wednesday, it was a pink and red floral number, topped off with my still-new-and-exciting dusty pink duster! The color coordination came as a pleasant surprise even to me, the person who put it together!

On Thursday, my gold cardigan made its second appearance, over an off-white T-shirt and my still-new-and-exciting refashioned gold pants for another day of monochromatic dressing.

Both those days, the afternoon got warm enough that I was able to discard the cardigans for a few hours and enjoy freely flailing my limbs! But Friday was truly special. The forecast predicted 86 degrees, and I marked the occasion with my first dress since the first week of April! I didn't even need a cardigan in the morning!

Usually, by this time of year, I've already had my spring wardrobe out for several weeks and sometimes (as in 2018) even already begun wearing my summer clothes.

This year has been the cold and miserable exception. My usual cutoff for the Spring Switch, seven consecutive days of high temps above 59, has still not actually occurred—meaning that if I were following the rules, I'd still be decked out in my winter wardrobe of cable knits and furs.

But I haven't been following the rules. I went ahead and unpacked my spring clothes sometime in mid-April, as we'd had enough days in the high 60's and low 70's that I'd started re-wearing T-shirts. I'd also run out of interesting outfits for any weather condition, since wearing nothing but house clothes has effectively reduced my wardrobe to less than a third its usual size. So out came the transitional clothing, even though plenty of chilly days awaited!

There's no reason I shouldn't be able to fashionably enjoy whatever warm weather we have, whenever we have it! Following a set of arbitrary rules is needlessly restrictive and prevents me from living my life to the fullest! Rules are for the repressed! Plus, it's pretty clear that climate change is the new normal and I can no longer count on consistent weather patterns to guide me in my clothing selections.

So I think I've given up on the rules entirely. I revise them and make exceptions so often; I may as well just abolish them. From now on, I'll use my own good judgment as to when it's appropriate to rotate my collection. Rules? They're more like guidelines.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Facemask, but make it fashion


Never in my wildest dreams did I think a surgical-inspired facemask would become part of my daily attire, but here we are. In the state of Maryland, it is now required by law (or is it executive order? Facemask, Fahcemask, I guess) to wear a face covering any time you will be interacting with people in public, and it looks like that's going to be the norm for quite some time.

So, since I'll probably be wearing facemasks pretty regularly for the foreseeable future, and since all my usual avenues for creative sartorial expression have been cut off, it should surprise no one that "Make fancy facemask" became a must-do project for me.

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, back when it felt like the sky was falling and there was a shortage of everything, I learned that some home sewists were starting to make fabric facemasks to help out people on the front lines. I jumped on the opportunity to join them and soon found a local group that was sewing and collecting masks for distribution in the area. So I've been sewing masks for months now and have actually learned to do it tolerably well (much different from my usual haphazard DIYs!). I am by no means fast (I usually manage about 6 finished masks per week!) but I now feel quite confident in my ability to sew a face mask from scratch!

I kept several of my early prototypes and "mistakes", so I have a decent-sized collection, but they don't make me feel good when I wear them. And in these depressing days, you have to do whatever you can to feel good. If that means wearing a festive facemask to the grocery store, then so be it! I debated long and hard about how I wanted to make my own personal facemask fun—rhinestones? glitter? graphics? trims? The answer came to me in the form of a ruined pillow.

Back when my dog had fleas last fall, I packed up most of the soft objects in my house and put them in the shed so I wouldn't have to flea-spray them every week. My shed doesn't leak, so I'm not quite sure how it happened, but when I finally brought them back inside last month, I found that several items had mold and water damage—including a pretty cool quilt that folds into a pillow. The stains didn't wash out, but fortunately, only the exterior pocket (the piece that helps it become a pillow) was ruined. I was able to remove that and salvage the quilt.

The fabric is lots of fun, featuring line-drawn forest creatures peeking out from an array of graphic flowers. It's just the kind of whimsical thing that I want on my face! Here's a picture of the front of the pillow pocket after I'd already taken it apart and cannibalized some of the fabric. The larger piece was just big enough to make a double-layer facemask!

https://www.craftpassion.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/face-mask-template-rev3.png This isn't a mask-sewing tutorial (there are plenty out there now!) so I won't be going into the details of how I constructed my mask, but it was based on the "Type A - Normal Face Mask" pattern from Craft Passion. I've tried several face mask patterns, but this one is my favorite based on fit and ease of sewing (especially if you don't bother with making casing for the elastic and just attach it directly!). It also has variations, so you can find one that best suits your sewing and wearing style. My one warning for this mask pattern, is it does seem to run small. I'm a woman with a fairly small head, and I wear the "man"-sized mask. For larger adults, this pattern might not actually be big enough, but I'm sure the front curve could just be extended if necessary.
With my newly salvaged fabric, I was able to make a mask with one side prominently featuring an owl, and the other side featuring a rabbit! It was reversible! [Pro Tip: Don't reverse your medical facemask without washing it first!]
But there was a problem—it was also prominently featuring the same stains that had marred it when it was a pillow. Embellishments to the rescue! Not only would they be able to hide the ugly parts, they'd also do that little something extra to make the mask a work of art!

From the remaining scraps, I cut out a few of the printed flowers. I didn't want them to fray, so I put permanent fabric glue around their outside edges on the back. You can just barely see it as a glossy sheen in the photo.

I wanted the flowers to really pop, so I hand-stitched around their centers and gathered the thread, causing the cloth to pucker.

Then, I opened up the bottom seam of the mask (if I'd been thinking in advance, I wouldn't have sewn the bottom to begin with, but we improvise here!) and sewed the flowers to the owl layer directly on top of the worst stains. I put more flowers on the rabbit layer in different positions, purely for show.

Then I repaired the bottom seam and was good to go!



Owl Side                              Rabbit Side

On the first day I wore the new "fashion" mask in public, I really pulled out all the stops! I put on eye makeup for the occasion and boots with actual heels! I don't think I've worn anything but flats since March, so it was indeed a thrill! I rocked the mask at Home Depot and the Post Office, but sadly did not get any comments. People are so much less friendly when we're all wearing masks. Oh well...maybe I'll try again the next time I venture out of my house in another 2 weeks!



Friday, May 8, 2020

Velvet leggings


Feast your eyes on another work-from-home outfit I'd never consider wearing to work-from-the-office....Because it features leggings as pants!

These blue velvet leggings are gloriously glam. As soon as I decided to wear them, I knew I wanted to wear them with black, for the starkest contrast possible with their shiny surface. I tried on every black top I own, but ultimately decided that my cape-like cardigan provided the drama factor I was looking for.

Ordinarily I only wear leggings with fully crotch-covering tops, but for these, I had to make an exception. The high waist and zipper closure was just begging to be noticed, and they didn't have the problems with excessive clinginess that makes most leggings too revealing. So I tucked my tank top inside and strutted my high-fashion stuff. The pom-poms on the shoes definitely added to the effect.

Now that I don't have any showplace for my outfits, I get inordinately excited whenever anyone sees them—anyone at all. Yesterday, I just about brimmed over with delight when my roommate complimented my leggings...in front of her mom, who happened to be visiting. An adoring audience of two! That's what Unfashionistas live for!

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Bring me a higher waist

I came of age around the turn of the millennium—in other words, the era of ultra-low-rise pants. At the time, I was new to fashion and embraced the trend with all the enthusiasm of someone who had never known anything else. But I never really understood it. I was frustrated by the fit of low-rise pants, trying valiantly to keep mine on the up and up with a succession of well-used belts (I only owned one belt at time in those pre-Unfashionista days) and always choosing oversized shirts to shrink the gap caused by an very low waistband.

When the tops of bottoms finally started to ascend after a decade, I embraced that trend with all the enthusiasm of someone who had never realized it was an option. Now, with several years of increasingly higher waists behind us, I've reached the point where I absolutely refuse to wear anything that doesn't rest solidly above my pelvis and stay there without a belt. Too low of a rise has become one of my top reasons for returning pants I buy online; but this particular pair was low-rise and not returnable, so I had to do something drastic.

When I was finally brave enough to risk ruining the pants forever (nearly 5 months after their purchase in October), I took them apart so I could reassemble them into a style more to my liking.

First, I picked apart the waistband with my seam ripper. The belt loops were removed, the button snipped out (I tried to take it apart to damage the fabric less, but nothing doing), the buttonholes unstitched—in order to get the inner layer separated from the outer layer, everything else had to go!

Once the waistband was completely removed, I put it all back together in a single layer twice as high.

I used zigazg stitching for maximum stretch, which unfortunately was too loose and can be easily seen from the outside when the material is taut—I'm not sure what else I could have done except maybe a stretch straight stitch, which my machine does, but which takes forever.

What I did was go over my original stitching with another layer in less visible yellow thread. I also tried to better position the seam to hide the original serging, which had been peeking out in places after my first run.
 
The pants were stretchy enough that a button and zipper closure were not really necessary, so I decided not to replace either of those. Instead, I cut out the zipper, sewed the placket shut, and finished the waistband for pull-on ease!

Without the original double layers to give it support, the waistband was now very flimsy and unstructured. I decided to buttress it with a backing of elastic, which I had salvaged from some other pair of pants sometime in the past.

The elastic served to cover up a lot of the raw edges, but there were still several seams left exposed. I tried to mitigate those with a combination of pinking and zigzag overlocking.

 
Where the button and buttonhole used to be, I was left with several unsightly holes. I stitched over them in a haphazard way to close them, but I also had to cover their scars.

 
Since I knew I was never going to wear these stretchy jeggings with a belt, I set three of the old belt loops in a row on the front, to hide the holes and add a little bit of pizzazz to the waistband. They're slightly off-center, but in spite of that, they're my favorite feature of the new pants!


I ended up completely covering up the belt-loop trim in the pants' inaugural outfit, but I'm just lucky I got to wear them at all! The weather is warming up here in Maryland, so soon pants season will be over. Fortunately for these pants, winter hasn't given up the ghost yet. On a cold and rainy Thursday, I put on the pants for a pick-me-up—sunny colors for a sunless day!

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Stay-at-home mom jeans


It had to happen sometime. After a month and a half of working from home, I finally ventured into denim territory.

I've been very firm in my adherence to soft clothes during the extent of my quarantine—I've basically lived in stretch leggings, flowy wide-leg trousers, and the occasional skirt. But not only am I bored sick of those options (side note: this fall, I was just beginning a love affair with leggings and tunics, never imagining that they'd be my uniform for the entirety of April. The affair was probably the most short-lived of all my fashion fixations. Now if I never have to wear another tunic, I think I'll do a jig), but they're also very limited in their pairing potential.

Leggings can only be worn with tops that cover my crotch; wide-leg pants can only be worn with short, tight shirts (I mean, unless you want to appear slovenly, which you're certainly entitled to do while sheltering in place, but it's not my first choice of look). If you want to wear a moderately fitted and mid-length top, neither of those options are a great choice. If said top happens to be red-and-white striped, your options are even fewer, because there aren't many colors or patterns that won't clash. The best option by far is blue jeans.

But what about the lack of flexibility? The pinching and constricting and all the other downsides to wearing denim? Was I willing to take on those hazards? Yes, with the greatest compromise ever: mom jeans!

Mom jeans: what are they? Generally high-waisted, roomy pants with plenty of room for child-bearing hips, famous for their popularity among busy mothers who can't be bothered with fashion. To contrast them from "boyfriend jeans," which are straight-legged and baggy all around, mom jeans tend to be tapered toward the bottom to emphasize a more feminine figure. Most importantly, they have a relaxed fit, perfect for retaining the leg mobility I prize so much in my WFH outfits.

This is my first pair of mom jeans, and the first time I've worn them in this blog. I'm a little late to the party (who's surprised?). Mom jeans first took off around 2014, much to my initial dislike. They fast became a favorite among fashion bloggers, but it took several years before they really went mainstream, or before I was willing to invest in a pair. I finally decided to try and bring some into my collection early last year.

These mom jeans are the real thing—purchased at the thrift store at my "I'm not sure if I'll ever wear it, so I'm not paying more than 4 dollars for it" price point, and proudly bearing the Sonoma brand name. No high-street knockoffs for me!

I never found many occasions to wear them. When I did, I always felt frumpy and not at all like the trend-setting fashionista I wanted to be. Eventually I realized it was because the cut was wrong. At the time, above-the-ankle was the only fit worth sporting, and these jeans reached as far as my foot. I tried cuffing them, but they still didn't look right, so eventually I cut a few inches off the bottom, leaving what I hoped was an edgy raw edge. Just in time for hemlines to start creeping downwards, I'll have you know—I'll always be behind the curve!

Though I don't think mom jeans will ever be my first choice of legwear, I do think they work with this outfit. The top is new to me, and I couldn't love it more (it's almost a fair substitute for the much-missed black-and-white top that even its replacement could never quite match); the Chinese slippers are the ideal addition to the outfit, perfectly comfy indoor shoes, and yet another first wear since quarantine times.

After a whole day of wearing the mom jeans, I feel neither confined nor constrained nor uncomfortable (I'm sure the added Spandex helps). Sure, they're not as loungey as leggings, but the freedom of having a whole new silhouette to explore almost makes up for it. I'd consider these again for another day at the home office.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Hood to Hemline - A refashion


I bought this unicorn hoodie last summer from Rainbow, when I was actively building the collection of lounge clothes that's becoming so handy in these stay-at-home days. It was on clearance—3 dollars, I think?

I must have decided it was too cheap to try on, because I didn't notice until I brought it out of storage in the fall that it was missing its waistband! Raw edges are no dealbreaker for me, but this shirt was awkwardly short without a bottom band. Something needed to be done.

Some deliberation later, I had decided to use the hood to extend the hemline. I never wear the hoods on my hoodies anyway, so...Off with her hood!

I turned the raw edges inside and stitched them down (they're still raw for the most part, just out of the way!) but I forgot to take a close-up of that part.

The hood, I picked apart stitch by stitch (I wanted to salvage as much fabric as possible, so no cutting!), finally ending up with these two pieces.



After accounting for the unusable curved edges, I found I had enough fabric to cut four rectangles that would cover the shirt's circumference if they were sewn end to end.

I attached them to the bottom of the shirt...

...Then folded them under for a neat hem.

The inside doesn't look so neat, but that is typical of my work. At least I took the time to zigzag-stitch over the seam to minimize future fraying.

Since the sweatshirt was destined to be a "house shirt," I modeled the finished product lounging on my bed (with my house shoes again)!

However, the day that I wore it, I also made a rare trip to go shopping (for essentials, of course!), which meant I got to wear it with jeans. I never thought of jeans as a treat, but I haven't touched my denim since early March, so I felt pretty excited about wearing them. I even busted out some sparkly earrings for the occasion!

Friday, April 17, 2020

Three more for Week Four

Tuesday

In my last fashion haul before coronavirus made trend-watching irrelevant, my mission was to acquire a full-length or midi-length cardigan, which I'd heard were making a resurgence. I loved them the first time around, but as is the case with most fashions, I never quite got one of my own.

Well, now I have one, just in time to never be able to wear it anywhere! Fortunately, long sweaters make great loungewear, so I paired it with some graphic leggings and a tank top for my Tuesday WFH outfit. I even pinned the top closed with a brooch—about the most effortful use of jewelry I've attempted since the start of quarantining.

Thursday

I haven't ever worn this sweater at work because I prefer to take full advantage of its lace-up sides. While I can close them tightly for a modest and office-appropriate appearance, I love them best when they're wild and undone. I wore a burgundy tank and matching leggings underneath, the dark colors of which contrasted delightfully through the openings in the sweater. I am running low on shoes that I haven't yet worn for quarantine, but I haven't run out! These off-white ones are one of the remaining holdouts.

Friday

Friday is casual day, and that means screen prints! I'm not opposed to graphic prints at the office generally, especially if they're traditional designs like flowers, but I'd typically save a big bold image like this one for a Friday—and I probably wouldn't wear this particular one at the office at all, owing to its extreme tightness. But it's fair game for working from home, and exactly what I needed to pick me up on this last day of this very long week (time seems to drag on unbearably when I never leave the house!). I paired the print with some fortuitously coordinated green leggings, and – the icing on the cake – leg warmers! I haven't touched my leg warmers in two years, but when I saw them in my drawer next to the leggings, I knew the time was right to bring them back!

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Three for Week Three

This week, since it seems like teleworking is going to be my life for at least the next month, I decided to make getting dressed a little easier.

I divided my closet into two sections: clothes I'm likely to wear at home, and clothes I'm not. Here are 3 outfits that made it into the first category.

 Tuesday

As I learned last week, a dress can seem a little too try-hard for teleworking, so I was suspicious that a skirt would work any better. But Tuesday was National No Housework Day, and I decided a fussy outfit would be the perfect thing to prevent me from accidentally starting to clean something.

It worked! I did no housework that day, and I also did not feel too overdressed. I think the secret to wearing dresses and skirts while maintaining a casual vibe is to stick to boho, earthy styles.

Wednesday

On Wednesday I dressed for the weather, which was supposed to top 70 degrees. That meant the second of the two tank tops I reserved for layering only, with a cardigan over it.

I was planning a lunchtime bike ride to run an errand, so I thought  the cropped pants would save me from having to change my outfit.

What I neglected to consider was that after returning, I was sweaty and in need of a shower, and felt compelled to change my clothes in case they had picked up any germs while I was out.

So another lesson learned: Don't bother trying to make your work-from-home clothes also work in the real world. You're going to have to change out of them anyway.

Thursday




It's hard to find comfy knit pants that aren't also super tight and clingy, but these red and black ones make the cut! That means I can wear them with a shorter top (I'm getting mighty tired of leggings with tunics, which were my other two outfits this week!).

I covered my perfectly coordinated burgundy tank top with a black cardigan, and I've never felt more stylish yet comfortable!

Friday, April 3, 2020

Yay, more teleworking outfits!

If there's one thing I've learned from being a hermit for over 3 weeks, it's that I have a more substantial collection of loungewear than I ever thought possible.

Once I expanded the definition from "sweatpants and T-shirts" to include leggings and tunics, stretchier and wide-leg trousers, and casual dresses, almost everything in my closet became "house clothes."

There are a few things I haven't worn and probably won't (jeans, I'm looking at you!) and a few things I've tried that I probably won't again, but mainly I am coming to realize that I've been prepping for this disaster (at least sartorially) for most of the past few years.

Here's the culmination of all that work, in four of the five outfits I wore this week (Wednesday was more leggings and dress—been there, done that).

Monday

Last week, when I finally got off my leggings kick on Friday, I'd been planning to wear these khakis (pretty much my only pair of wide-leg work pants that doesn't require high heels), but I realized that would have been 3 days in a row of near-white pants! Unacceptable! I saved them for Monday and was pleased to find yet another pair of ballet flats to wear with them and the olive green sweater.

Tuesday

I always thought this pink polo shirt would be great for the office, but as it turned out, the length never worked with either skirts or looser pants, so it's got minimal use. But, it was the perfect topper for a pair of leggings! Finally I got to wear it for work!

Thursday

The bathrobe-looking wrap dress seemed like the perfect outfit for a home office, but I soon learned otherwise. In order to stay warm enough, I had to pair it with over-the-knee socks, which were constantly sliding down all day. I felt overdressed and, in fact, this was the only outfit thus far that hasn't survived an entire day. I gave up around 3pm and changed into yoga pants and a T-shirt. I'm thinking I might save the dresses either for summer, or whenever I get back to working in an office, whatever comes first.

Friday



The National Day Calendar informed me that today was "National Find a Rainbow Day," so I had to oblige.

I put on a rainbow sweater (and my stretchy navy blue cigarette pants) and "found" a rainbow behind a couple of mattresses. How ever did that get there? The house shoes today were a fun (albeit not particularly on-theme) reprisal of my llama shoes!

Friday, March 27, 2020

Week from home

Today marks the culmination of my first full week of teleworking. I know I'm not unique in this experience, and while I'm sure all of the recently homebound have different challenges, my personal favorite one has been deciding what to wear.

Should I go purely for comfort in my coziest of house clothes? Should I dress to impress just in case of an unexpected video chat with the dean? Should I explore the possibilities of mullet-outfits (business on top, party on the bottom)? How professional is too professional? Should I bother changing out of my pajamas at all? There were so many questions, and I had fun trying to answer them over the course of the week.

Adapting to my new fashion reality is still a work in progress, but I decided early on that I was going to have to put in at least some effort. After all, getting to wear something snazzy is often the main reason I get out of bed in the morning! Besides, I have all weekend every weekend to dress like a slob, and all these clothes in my closet aren't gonna wear themselves! By the time we're cleared to enter the real world again, spring will be over, and some of my still-new clothes will have to wait another 6 months before the weather is cool enough to put them on.

So I'm dressing up for my future! For my sanity! For the sake of keeping a somewhat familiar routine! And for you! Because I know you were absolutely dying to see what I wore "to work" this week!

Monday

Over the past few months, I'd invested heavily in fun leggings (The collapse of LuLaRoe no doubt had a large part in the abundance of wild prints at bargain prices). I'm glad I did, because they are one thing that I just couldn't see myself wearing to the office. But I wasn't shy about wearing them from home. I paired my first pair, festooned with orange birds, with a long black top, arm warmers because teleworking is no excuse for a sky-high heating bill, and my newly minted house shoes. They didn't match and that bothered me, but I was experimenting with my limits!

Tuesday

My roommate's reaction: "Those are some loud pants, girl!" Yeah, this is one pair of trousers I'm never attempting in the office.

It didn't take long for me to realize that wearing the same pair of shoes every day was going to wear on my patience, so on Tuesday, I decided to try ballet flats. This pair actually has an ankle strap, which I had to sort of twist and tuck into the shoe, because I didn't want to be buckling and unbuckling my shoes all day, and I did plan to take them off while doing things like sitting cross-legged in my office chair and doing my hourly exercises.

In retrospect, I think just leaving them on buckled would have been better, because my toes got cramps from trying to hold the too-big shoes on all day.

Wednesday

A friend stopped by my house in the morning and commented on how businessy I was dressed. But this was the day of my first video meeting with my boss, and I wanted to show that I'm serious about work even when I'm not actually there. I figured my boss wasn't going to see the not-so-businessy leggings, which I would definitely not try at the office with such a short top. Fortunately, even with the short top, I had everything under cover.

Style Tip A long scarf can help keep your crotch from accidental exposure when you're wearing tighter pants.

I just learned that tip today, and I'm definitely keeping it up my sleeve for future fun with leggings!

Thursday

Generally, my work week wouldn't be complete without at least one dress, so I wore a new mauve one with a crisscross neckline. At first, I tried on some grey thigh-high socks, but decided against them. They wouldn't really keep me warm enough, they'd probably be falling down all day, and who was I really trying to impress? My dog? Maybe I should have tried harder, because my roommate's friends showed up. One of them complimented the dress, so I'm glad that my efforts were not all in vain.

Friday

It was the last day of the week, and I realized to my chagrin that I'd worn leggings every single day. Not very diverse, and an Unfashionista is all about variety. I decided to branch out into pants, but found that there were very few options that actually worked.

Full leg mobility is paramount (for some reason, I can wear jeans all day at work no problem, but can't stand having them on when I'm at home), which left most options off the table. My looser pants tend to be on the long side, and I wasn't about to bust out high heels just to hang out in my bedroom (plus the constant clacking would probably drive my downstairs roommate crazy!). Eventually I found a pair of cropped black pants that fit the bill. I worried I'd be too cold in them, but I survived, with the help of some arm warmers again.

With a full week behind me, I can say I've learned a lot about dressing for work-from-home.
  1. My sense of comfort still trumps my sense of style. While I'll make small concessions, like showing more skin than is totally temperature-appropriate, I will not concede to wearing anything binding or restrictive.
  2. I really have a wealth of clothing for wearing at home, beyond the limited collection of "house clothes" I'd designated previously.
  3. Leggings every day may work for some girls, but not for me!
  4. I am pleased to have found a matching pair of soft ballet flats for nearly every outfit I've tried. If I succumb to the urge to shop for more indoor clothes, house shoes are probably gonna be at the top of my list.
  5. Dressing up for work, while it seems somewhat pointless if I'm only doing it for a blog, actually does have a purpose in that it keeps me on task. At least, I can't embark on really dirty housecleaning projects (which I've been tempted to do almost every day) while I'm wearing my "good" clothes!
With one week down, I hardly feel I'm an expert on teleworking fashion, so I'll probably continue the experimentation next week. I probably won't continue to blog every outfit, but if I have any epiphanies, I'll probably share them. After all, I don't have anything else to fashion blog about for the foreseeable future!

Sunday, March 22, 2020

House Shoes: A DIY


OK, beloved readers, you can stop holding your breath. The moment you've all been waiting for has arrived—the moment when I reveal the end result of my House Shoes project! In case you missed it, my previous post explains (in agonizing detail) just how I came to need a pair of house shoes; today's post will tell you how I made them better!

As you've already ascertained, I started with a pair of pistachio green Keds. No amount of washing was going to remove the greyish hue from the cotton fabric, and no amount of solvent was going to lift the rust-red paint spot from the one shoe's toe. Trust me; I tried. The only solution was to cover the ugly up!

While my favorite shoe-renovation strategy lately has been to cover the old material with a new layer of fabric, that wasn't going to work for these unstructured but highly textured tennis shoes. I decided I would paint the shoes in a two-tone gradient.

My watercolor wash technique seemed to work pretty well when I did it on the pink ballet flats (they are one of my few refashions that have remained in active usage beyond a year!), so I decided to try it again with these shoes.

I started by soaking the shoes in water to facilitate paint spread.

I stuffed the toes with plastic bags (which wouldn't absorb any of the water) to help them hold their shape while I worked.

Then I mixed some cheap sky blue craft paint with water in about a 1:4 ratio. The paint was already pretty thin, but I wanted it downright liquid!

I brushed the paint onto the shoes in a crescent shape across the toes.

To blend it better with the unpainted fabric, I painted plain water in a circular motion over the parts where the blue was still too intense.


I wasn't sure if I wanted to decorate anything other than the toes, but I accidentally swiped some paint onto the back of one shoe, so the decision was made for me!


To cover up my mistake, I used the same technique on the back of the shoe, starting with a narrow strip of blue at the top of the heel, and widening out towards the bottom. (Photo shows heels after they had dried!)

All that was left was to wait. To speed up the drying process, I set the shoes in front of the heat vent in my wall.

I left the shoes to dry overnight, and when I came for them in the morning, they were completely dry. Unfortunately, some of the color had bled in an unwanted direction, so I didn't have quite the neat ombré crescent I'd been hoping for, but house shoes are house shoes! They don't have to be perfect.
I was itching for a little somethin' extra, so I decided to dye the laces blue as well. I mixed up a little bit more paint into my water mixture, then soaked the laces in it for a few minutes.


I laid the laces out to dry on a plastic bag. When they were fully dry, I soaked them in the paint one more time.


After a second drying session, I used a pipette to touch up the parts that hadn't absorbed as much paint, to create a more even coloration.



The finished product! 

While this simple little dye job didn't cover up all the flaws in the shoes, it certainly distracts from them. I'm a lot happier to wear them now than I was when they were dingy and dirt-stained.

They even (kind of!) matched my work-from home outfit on Friday. Teleworking fashion is a whole category of outfits that I'm interested to explore, but that's another post for another time. At least I now have a decent pair of work-from-house shoes to get me started!