What I’ve Been Pondering This Week

My cousin posted the following status on her Facebook page earlier this week:

Think about it…clothes aren’t for you, they’re for others. Maybe we should think more about others when we pick out our clothes. It might change what we wear. — feeling challenged.

This seemed like a wonderful topic for a blog post, so with my cousin’s encouragement, here we go!

I’ve been mulling this thought around in my noggin all week long, letting it simmer like a tasty fall stew, considering the question:  For whom do I dress? For others, as KB suggests? For myself? For my husband? Or is there perhaps another Person for whom I should be dressing?

Going back to the original purpose of this blog, I hoped to pull myself out of a clothing slump. I’d found myself wearing sweat pants and giant baggy flannel shirts – certainly NOT fashionable, although quite comfortable,  and NOT attractive or flattering in any way. I wanted to attire myself, even in my everyday housewife life, in such a way as to be appealing to my husband and to improve my own self-image. As a Christian, after a short time of blogging about clothes, I began to wonder if this were a vain or frivolous activity. But I recalled a passage of Scripture that speaks of clothing:

I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes,<span class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(B)”> but with good deeds,<span class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(C)”> appropriate for women who profess to worship God.                       I Timothy 2:9-10

Blogging about what I wear, for me, is a way for me to determine if I am dressing modestly, with decency and propriety. The clothing I wear is important – not to draw attention to myself, necessarily, but to reflect positively on God, my husband and those I love.

Which brings me back to the question – For whom do I dress?

The most important Person for whom I dress is my Father God. My goal is to wear what pleases Him, and that my clothing choices will give Him glory. Secondly, I dress for myself. (More on this later.) Finally, I dress for others, most particularly my husband. My goal is not to embarrass him with my appearance, but to reflect on his wise choice in marrying me. (Big smiley face here!)

There have been many times that what I’ve worn has failed to please God, I am quite sure. I know for a fact there have been countless times an outfit has not pleased me! I’m still refining my personal style, although this blog is certainly helping me determine it. (I have discovered that I am not a big fan of bold color, for example, nor do I care to follow drastic trends. Classic with a bit of moderate color seems to fill my bill.) My hope and prayer is that my clothing choices will bring honor to God, and not shame Him.

To achieve this goal, anything that adorns my body needs to meet the standards listed in the verses quoted above: modest, decent and  proper. Granted, each of these terms is fairly subjective. What is modest to me may be immodest to another. I believe that each of us should define modesty how the Holy Spirit leads us. For me, modesty looks like this…a neckline that does not show cleavage; nothing that clings so tightly that it leaves the viewer an exact idea of what lies beneath; skirts no shorter than just above my knee; and nothing with a crude or suggestive saying or picture on it (including any word scrawled across the seat of pants). Bare arms and bare legs are modest, to me, as are shorts (no shorter than where my fingertips reach at my legs) and pants as long as they do not fit like a second skin.

What is decent to me? Very similar to modest, but with consideration to quality. For example, my favorite jeans and sweater may meet my standards for modesty, but when they develop holes or giant stains, they are no longer decent. Decent can also mean “not revealing”. To me, a long skirt with a slit in it that goes nearly all the way up is not decent, although I suppose it could be modest if you’re standing still. For my definition of “proper”, let me refer back to the sweat pants and baggy flannel shirts. Yes, they are modest, and even decent if they aren’t all worn out (many of mine were, however), but they are wildly inappropriate to wear to church, to work, or to pretty much anywhere out in public, in my opinion. (Please, if you find sweats and flannels proper, I don’t mean to offend. This is just how I feel about these things on ME.)

As for my clothes being worn for myself, I think it is good to wear clothing that fits and flatters and that appeals to me personally. Honestly, if I don’t LIKE an item of clothing, I am not going to wear it, even if it meets the criteria of being modest, decent and proper. For example, culottes. Modest? Yes. Decent? Of course. Proper? Most likely. But I loathe them! I have tried to like them, truly I have, but I quite simply do NOT. (If you wear culottes and love them, please do not take offense! They are fine on others, just not on me.) Also, in my experience, what I am wearing many times has an effect on my mood and/or my outlook. Those sweats and flannel shirts felt like I had given up and just didn’t care about my appearance. They reflected the negative self-image I had developed. When I put some care and thought into my clothing choices, it reminds me that I am God’s own dear child. It isn’t necessary for me to wear a shapeless sack of a dress in order to be modest, decent and proper.

There is another verse that sums up what I try to do with my clothing choices. It was the theme verse at the Christian school I attended (for one year? several? I don’t recall.). We recited it every morning when we opened with chapel, and our music teacher set it to music. I am so thankful to my school for drilling this verse into my head, and especially glad Mrs. S. turned it into a song so that there is no way I’ll ever forget it. This verse is the answer to every aspect of my life….

Autumn Has Arrived!

Fall is absolutely my favorite season of the year. It’s a welcome relief from the heat of summer, the trees are at their loveliest, foods like stews and apple crisp are back on the menu, and my closet comes back to life! Ah, Autumn, welcome back!

It hasn’t gotten overly chilly here in the Flint Hills just yet, so I’m not ready to don tights and scarves, but a short-sleeved sweater is comfortable. If I can work up the energy today (I’m fighting a cold), I plan to move the summer shoes up to the top shelves in the closet and bring down the cooler-weather shoes. And BOOTS! Ye-haw! I am SO ready for boots! The most wonderful pair of cognac wide-calf riding boots are waiting to be worn with the best-fitting pair of rust-colored pants I’ve ever had the privilege to own….but I’m getting ahead of myself. Back to what I wore to church on Sunday….

George sweater top – ??? (either Walmart or thrifted)
Nine & Co. skirt – thrifted
 Premier Designs bracelet – thrifted
Croft & Barrow sandals – Khol’s
Earrings – JCP
I have had this olive green sweater top for AGES. It’s been in my closet so long, where it came from originally is hard to say. The brand name is George, which is a Walmart brand, so most likely that’s where I got it, but it could have been thrifted. A really great feature of this sweater, other than being a classic style, is the threading holes in the neckline. The top came with a matching olive green sheer tie woven thru the holes, but I have switched it out with an olive-and-purple floral silky tie on occasion. For this outfit, I put in a length of ribbon that matches the blue flowers in the skirt. It’s really easy to change the look, and somehow, this top has held up quite well over the years.
When I saw this skirt at Goodwill, I was really happy that it fit, thinking it would be quite a workhorse in my wardrobe. Alas, my trusty olive sweater is the ONLY top that looks right with it! Chambray would be terrific, but the one shirt in my closet that is the correct shade is not a style that looks appropriate with the skirt. Maybe I’ll find a sweater in my packed-away cool season clothing that will work with it. Do you have any suggestions, dear readers?
Bring on the cold fronts! Goodbye sandals and hello boots! Hooray!

How to Make a Crib Sheet

My little sister-in-law had a baby shower last weekend; she and my brother are expecting a little girl. I found directions on making a crib sheet in a magazine, and so that is what I decided my gift to her would be. Actually, it was very difficult to limit myself to three fabric choices at JoAnn’s! They have SO many adorable baby prints.

The original directions can be found on page 40 of the Feb/March 2013 edition of Sew-it…today magazine. I have embellished them a bit, to make it a little more clear to someone who might be doing this for the first time.

You’ll need 2 yards of 44″ wide 100% cotton fabric (do not remove selvages); trim the longest side of the rectangle to 70″. (Measure the mattress if you can, to make sure it will fit.) Cut a 9″ square from each corner. I folded my fabric in half and cut two corners at once.

Step 1:  Press short ends 1/4″ under to the wrong side. Stitch.

Step 2:  Fold the cut corner’s right sides together to form a miter (to make the sheet fitted). Stitch with a 1/4″ seam allowance. Repeat for all corners.

Folding the corner together
Corner sewn together

 (Step 2b: Press the corner seams to make sewing the edges easier later on…)

Step 3:  Center a 12″ long piece of elastic (I used 1/4″ wide elastic) on the corner seam, wrong side up.

Pin down the elastic on top of the seam.

Stretch out the elastic and pin the end down. (I stretched it the wrong way for this picture – you should stretch it to the right instead of the left. Sorry!)

Position the fabric under the sewing machine foot and carefully remove the pin without losing the place where the elastic needs to start. Drop the foot and lower the needle into the elastic & fabric. Sew a couple of stitches, backstitch and then forward again just a couple of stitches, stopping with the needle down. Hold the fabric where you have the elastic pinned at the seam with your left hand, then pull it to stretch the elastic and make it lay flat on the fabric. Grab with your right hand a few inches from the needle, holding that section stretched out, let go with your left hand and use your left hand to gently guide the fabric behind the needle as you sew. Keep doing this until you get to the end (removing the pin in the seam as you get close to it). Backstitch at the end of the elastic, too.

The stretched elastic will gather the corner.

 Repeat for all corners.

Step 4:  Press entire sheet under 1/4″ to the wrong side, including the places between the elastic, but do not press on top of the elastic itself. It will turn under pretty easily without being pressed.

Stitch a hem all the way around the sheet, beginning in a nice flat area. When you get to the elastic section at a corner, stop with the needle down and stretch the elastic to make the fabric flat, then sew.

And there you have it – a pretty crib sheet for your little one’s bed!

It took me a little while to figure things out with the first sheet I made, but after that, the other two went quick as a wink. Hopefully I’ve described the process a little better than the original directions so if you want to try making one, it’s easier for you to figure out.

Dreaming of Fall

This dress called out to me from the clearance rack at Target. It just looks like fall to me! Never mind that it’s a summer dress. I can envision it with tall boots and a cardigan. Oh, won’t that be nice? Alas, the weather this week is confused. It thinks it’s still July; the thermometer climbs to nearly 100° and the South Wind dries everything green to a crispy brown.

Happy news – tonight, a cold front moves in! We should see rain and more seasonable temperatures, altho it still won’t be cool enough for boots and a cardigan just yet.

Xhileration dress – Target
Dansko sandals – TradeHome Shoes
Bracelet – Walmart
Earrings – Target
Have you seen the trends for fall fashion? I’m not sure I can jump on the bandwagon of wearing pastels in autumn. It just doesn’t seem right to me. Kind of like out-of-season produce. You know how it is…in the middle of December, those red tomatoes in the grocery store look like tomatoes, but they certainly don’t taste like tomatoes. Somehow, wearing a pink blouse with sky blue trousers in October strikes the same out-of-season chord with me. I believe I will be un-trendy this season and stick to traditional fall colors like rust, chocolate and olive. 

My Favorite Kitchen Gadgets – Can Opener

We still have the heavy, clunky electric can opener that was given to us at a wedding shower waaaay back in 1989. It still works. Drat. But I was ready for a new one, so I got one anyway. I wanted something less bulky, easy to use and inexpensive. When I saw this cute little Hamilton Beach rechargeable unit, I simply had to have it! It wasn’t the cheapest unit available, but it was reasonably priced at under $20.

I call this my little kitchen robot, because he does the work of opening cans pretty much all by himself. Just attach him to a can, press down and watch him go!

Isn’t that fun? I could open cans all day long! There is an old-fashioned hand-operated can opener in my utensil drawer, but the beauty of this little guy is that he’ll still open cans even if the power is out, for quite some time before he runs out of steam. Over time, I’m sure he’ll need to be plugged in more often, but so far he’s needed charging about once a month. The cutting lever is removable for easy cleaning, too.

My little kitchen robot came from Walmart: you can learn more about the product here. I’m sure it is available for purchase at many stores, but I found it at Target and on Amazon as well. Walmart does have the best price on it. This post was not sponsored by any of the companies mentioned, nor was I paid by anyone for my opinion.

Nothing Fancy

So much for being on a blog roll! I have gotten completely off my normal routine, what with Labor Day and Some Postman having to work only three days this week. We are enjoying the extra time he has at home! Next week, he’ll only have Sunday off. I will miss him, but it will be easier for me to get back to my schedule.

This is what I wore a couple of days ago. We went to Town to do a little shopping, visit my grandparents and go out for dinner. Summer is still beating down on us, so my outfit is certainly nothing fancy. Keeping cool and being comfortable is all that matters.

 Merona tee – Target
Gloria Vanderbuilt shorts – thrifted
Birdie socks – Old Navy (I think?)
Dansko tennies – eBay
I’m considering dying these shoes navy blue. They make me think of old nurse’s shoes, being white. And it’s very difficult to keep them clean. 
In farm-related news, we have acquired two new ducklings! Our neighbor T incubated some of her ducks’ eggs, hatching out a dozen cute fuzzy yellow Indian Runner babies. She kindly offered a pair to us. Some Postman gave them their dancing names (all of our ducks are named after dances): Boogie and Woogie. They are hanging out with Foxtrot in her little pen out in the yard while they grow up a bit. At this stage, they would become a tasty snack for the dog or the kitties, so to keep them safe – and alive – it is best to keep them penned up. Foxtrot appreciates the company, and the ducklings seem to like her well enough, too. Tiger the barn cat sits and watches them for hours….

Tailor-fit Skirt

Yesterday afternoon, I pulled a skirt out of my mending basket that has been lying there for nearly a year, crying out to be tailored to fit me. It took about 90 minutes, but I wanted to do it properly, because I really adore this little skirt. I paid a quarter for it at a thrift store; it was a size 18, and needed about 5 inches of the waist taken in. Too much for tucks, and with the waistband, zipping up a new side seam in one quick move would create too much bulk as well. So I carefully used my seam ripper to detach a section of the waistband and two of the pleats and part of the hem. Then I marked the new side seam, following the line of the old one. After that was stitched, I cut off the excess fabric and pressed the seam. Next, I marked where the new seam met at the waistband, trimmed the waistband and sewed it back together. I wasn’t able to finish the waistband in quite the same manner it was originally put together, since I was working with such a small portion of it, but it blends in nicely. For the hem, I ended up stitching it back up by hand. The original hem was serged with a blind hem; I tried out my machine’s blind hem stitch setting on the scrap from the side seam, but it just wouldn’t work right with that serged edge. It took just a few minutes to do by hand – far less time than was spent fooling around with the scrap!

So sorry if you were expecting photos of the tailoring process. It did not occur to me to snap pics as I worked. No “before” and “after” shots, either – honestly, the skirt looks exactly the same, just narrower.

I truly love the way this skirt looks and fits! It brings to mind a rather Anthropologie-type of styling, even though it’s a Walmart brand. All for a quarter and a little tailoring!

Danskin Now active tee – Walmart
George skirt – thrifted
Comfort Plus by Predictions sandals – Payless
Necklace – thrifted
Love my “new” Anthro-esque skirt!
On a side note, I did get my hair cut on Friday and I really like it. The new girl (new to me, anyway) told me how to style it in a very simple, quick way that works with my quirky hair instead of against it. No more straightening for me! I love the curl definer she sold me (altho it was pricey!) and now I’m on a quest to find a new hair dryer that won’t make my head look like a seeded-out dandelion. The dryer we have is the SAME ONE my husband used in collage! It has two settings – hot hurricane gale force or hot motorcycle ride. The amazing thing is that it still blows! After more than 25 years!