Monday, March 26, 2012

My Hair History

after my favourite hair blog wrote this post on her hair history i was inspired to write my own.
it's been quite a ride!

i, like my siblings, were born with jet black hair, it all fell out, and came back blonde.  my sister likes to tease that i looked more like a little brother than a little sister with my pixie cut.  i like the matching hair in the 3rd photo, myself.  it stayed dark blonde for my toddler years.

in elementary school it stayed pretty long with a blunt bang that my dad trimmed for me, i refused to let him cut them any shorter than my eyebrows.  crimped hair was my favourite style for special occasions, it was the 80's, after all.
i grew those bangs out in grade 5 or 6 and had long, shiny brown hair.

for some reason i thought the return of the blunt bang would be a good idea in grade 8.  it didn't take long to realize it wasn't a good idea, it only accentuated my awkward unkempt brows, bad teenager skin, and a nose that i hadn't quite grown into yet.  at least by grade 9 my sister had taught me how to tweeze my eyebrows (which, as you can see, i took to the next level by grade 11) and apply my own makeup.  as i found my friends and figured out my style i started to cut my hair shorter and shorter.  i was going for "funky skater chick" even though i wasn't that funky and didn't skateboard.  i did, however, have a skater boyfriend in a punk band in grade 11 and 12 who loved when girls had short hair.

after high school i had a little more fun with colours and cuts, even bright purple at one point (which i didn't include a picture of, i didn't keep it long because i didn't like how old people looked at me like i was up to no good).
i started working in a hair salon as a receptionist and got my cuts for free and colours for cheap.  it was heaven - perusing hair magazines all day and getting many, "wow, you have cool hair, can i get my hair cut like yours?" compliments.
i guess i should mention why i have headshots.  no, i wasn't attempting to be a model or an actress, i had a friend who was going through makeup school and needed a model for her projects.  i guess i was her only friend ;)
after a couple of years i calmed down a little and decided blonde and flippy was my signature look.

this is how my hair was when i met my husband, and i wore variations of it during our first few years together, through our newlywed days and after we'd had our first child.

the upkeep of the blonde was expensive, especially since i was now on maternity leave and wasn't getting my free cuts and colours anymore.  so i went brown.  dark brown.  to me it felt black, and i hated it!  i'd been blonde for so long, it just didn't feel like me.  thankfully it was fixable, i slowly added more and more highlights until it was back to "normal".  funky cuts like my asymmetrical bob kept it fun.

add some bangs, add some highlights, have another baby...

about 3 months after my 2nd child was born i came upon that picture of me as a brunette with my firstborn and though, "hmm, that's actually not so bad..." and went for it again, this time not quite as dark a brown.  and i liked it.  and i was able to do it at home (with professional colour still, of course, thanks to my esthetician sister who can buy salon colour at cost).  i also decided i wasn't the same short-haired kid i used to be and thought growing it out might be fun.  and it has been, i can try different styles, throw it up, make it wavy, add some bangs, and i haven't once been tempted to cut it short again.  the longer it gets, the more excited i am.
and my hairdressers colour suggestion when i went brown was so close to my natural that you wouldn't  even know i have a good inch or two of regrowth in that picture of me with the cute little girls, which is nice, it means not having to worry about my roots.
now that i'm nearing 30 it feels like i should stop trying to look like a kid.  is that weird?

and sometimes, when i feel like trying a whole new look, i'll log on to hairmixer and try out some celebrity styles.  what do you think, should i get a short curly blonde and pink 'do?  yeah, probably not.
i think i'll stick with what i've got for awhile :)
i do miss my blonde though.  do you think i should go back to it someday?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Zippered Wet Bag Tutorial

welcome to my first ever sewing tutorial!  so please, go easy on me if i make a mistake.

* please note that i am self-taught on my kenmore sewing machine that i got for christmas when i was in grade 8, and don't claim to be an expert by any stretch of the imagination!

i'm about to start potty-training my little girl and needed a solution for dealing with away-from-home accidents, so i started a search for a waterproof bag that i can put wet/dirty clothes in and hide discreetly back in my purse.  none of the wet bags i found (though i didn't search long) were the exact size i wanted and i also wanted a pocket on the front.  i've sewn wristlets, clutches, purses and bags before and looked into my memory to combine elements from each to make my own custom wet bag.
it could also be easily used for cloth-diapering and wet bathing suits, too!  or you could switch out the waterproof fabric for more cotton fabric and make a cute little non-waterproof bag instead!

for a bag with the finished measurements 10"x13" with a 5.5" strap and 7"x10" pocket, you will need (shown left to right in photo above):

- two 10"x14" pieces of waterproof liner (i used a vinyl tablecloth because that's what i had lying around but most tutorials suggest PUL, which stands for polyurethane laminated fabric, great for making cloth diapers as well)
- two 10"x14" pieces of cotton fabric for the outside
- one zipper (at least 14")
- one 4"x12" piece of cotton fabric for the handle (if you want one)
- two 8"x11" pieces of cotton fabric for the front pocket (again, if you want one)
- optional: a tag with your own logo to make it look professional ;)

use a 1/4" seam allowance unless noted otherwise.
to do all the cutting, sewing, ironing, photo-taking and note-making took me 2.5 hours from start to finish.

i highly recommend washing and pre-shrinking all fabric ahead of time as this is something that will probably need to be thrown in the wash many times.  you don't want to go through all the work making something only to have it shrink and warp when you wash it for the first time.

i also recommend ironing all of your pieces before you begin, and ironing after each step.  i used to be too lazy to dig my ironing board and iron out from the closet and wouldn't bother until i read somewhere that the difference between a sewing project looking homemade and professional is ironing.  my projects have looked way nicer since i've been making that extra effort!

start by preparing the strap (if you choose to include one, it's just as easily left out).
fold your 4"x12" piece of fabric in half lengthwise and iron to make a crease.  open it back up and fold the edges in to the centre line, ironing again to make them stay.  then fold in half and sew along the open edge (and the closed edge, too, if you want it to look more finished).  you should end up with about a 1"x12" strap, like in the photo above.  set aside for later.

next make your front pocket (if you choose to have one).  i needed mine to fit my plastic graco wet wipe container (measuring 8.5"x4.5"x0.75") that came with my first diaper bag.  as mom's know, accidents always require wet wipes!
take your two 8"x11" pieces of cotton, lay one on top of the other, right sides together.  sew along one of the 11" sides.  open and put right sides out, folded at the new seam, and iron flat.

sew a straight line across the top edge (photo above, on left).
for those of us without a serger machine, do the following: to finish the raw edges so that they won't fray and get little threads on everything you put in this pocket, run a zig-zag stitch along the 3 raw edges.  do this by keeping the raw edge of the fabric in the middle of the foot.  as the needle zig-zags left and right it will go off one edge of the fabric and catch the other edge of the fabric.
the first time i learned this trick i was amazed that you could finish edges this way without a serger machine and i was very excited about it.  it doesn't take much to excite me, apparently...
if you have a serger machine, serge the 3 raw edges.

to form the pocket, iron the 3 serged edges in a 1/4" and pin into place.  fold the top corners in so they don't poke out the top of your pocket.  if you wish for your bottom corners to have an angle, simply fold the bottom corners in toward the middle, iron, and pin into place.  the back should look something like the photo above on the left, and the front should look like the above right.
if you'd like the top edge of your pocket to close with velcro, now's the time to attach it.  sew one side to the back side of the pocket, center your pocket into position on one of your 10"x14" pieces of cotton, and sew the other side of the velcro to the outside of that piece so that they line up.  it would be a major pain to add it after the bag is all put together.

if you'd like to add a tag, now's the time to get it ready.
i made my own: i printed my little birdie logo onto iron-on transfer paper (you can buy it at staples, michaels, or even walmart, i think), cut it out, and ironed it onto a piece of ribbon.  make sure there's enough extra ribbon on both ends so that you can tuck in into a seam or beside a pocket and it will get sewn in and not just slide right out.

pin your pocket in the center of one of your 10"x14" pieces of cotton fabric.  tuck your tag in one side as far as you'd like it to stick out and pin into place.

sew the side and bottom edges of the pocket to the 10"x14" piece with a back-and-forth stitch at the beginning and end to keep it tightly in place, removing your pins as you go.  do not sew the finished top edge!  (sorry - had to say it!)
to sew nice, sharp corners on those bottom angles: when you get to your corner, stop sewing with the needle sticking into the fabric.  left your presser foot, turn your fabric to the new angle (see middle photo), lower your presser foot, and continue sewing.  don't be a hero and keep your machine sewing while trying to manoeuvre the fabric around, your lines will curve and it won't look as nice.  these are things i don't want to assume you all know because at one point i didn't either.

here is where i slid my wet wipe case into the pocket to make sure it fit.  it did.  i did a happy dance.

now it's time to deal with the zipper.  i like to add it now rather than at the end, i find it a whole lot easier.
this part might look wrong at first but just stick with me, it'll work.

we're putting the zipper along the 14" top of the bag.  lay the front piece of 10"x14" cotton (the one with the pocket) right side UP, then your zipper right side DOWN on top with the top edges lined up, and finally your waterproof fabric on top of that, right side DOWN (if there is a right side), top edge lined up.  pin together.  hopefully the pictures above help it make sense.
sew along that top edge, your zipper will probably be your guide in determining how close to the edge you will be sewing.
i find when sewing along this top edge the zipper pull-tab itself really gets in the way, i like to open the zipper half way, sew the first half.  then, stop my needle down in the fabric, lift my presser foot, carefully slide the zipper closed again, and continue sewing the rest of the way.

go ahead and open it up, put wrong sides together with the raw edge of the zipper out.  iron flat.

now to sew the other side.
place second 10"x14" piece of fabric right side UP, then pocket side DOWN on top of that with the undone edge of zipper lined up with bottom piece of fabric.  last, lay your second piece of waterproof fabric right side DOWN, top lined up with zipper and bottom piece of fabric.  pin together, sew together along top edge using that zipper pull-tab trick again.

fold pieces open, with waterproof fabric on back side of the zipper and cotton fabric on front side of zipper (with wrong sides of waterproof fabric and cotton fabric together) like in the photo above.

sew fabric along either side of the front of the zipper so that it all stays flat (it will also help keep the waterproof fabric liner from getting caught in the inside of the zipper).

now unzip the zipper a little over half way.  this will be helpful later when turning your bag right side out.
fold your strap in half and place it on top of the front piece of fabric, raw edges lined up.  pin into place.  i put mine 2" down from the zipper, the top edge lined up with the top edge of my pocket.

now, place right sides of cotton pieces together and right sides of waterproof pieces together with the zipper in the middle.  pin the edges together all the way around.
in the above right photo you can see i folded the zipper towards the cotton fabric side, right sides out.  if i make this again i'll fold it the other way, right sides together (as much as they can be) sandwiched between the waterproof fabric side.  it just ended up a little bunchier than i wanted, that's all.
make marks along bottom edge of waterproof liner, 3" in from edges.  sew all the way around the outside except leave the area between those marks open (see photo below for what it should look like).

trim off any excess fabric around the outside and clip all 4 corners close to the stitching so they aren't bunchy when you turn it right-side out.
reach in throw the hole you left open and turn the whole thing right-side out.  poke the corners out so they're nice and square.

you'll have an opening in the bottom of the waterproof fabric still, so fold the raw edges in and stitch however you'd like along that open edge - straight stitch, zig-zag (like i did in the photo above), hand stitch, whatever.  it'll just be on the inside of the bag so you won't see it.

now tuck the waterproof liner into the inside of the cotton fabric so the zipper is along the top edge, and you're done!

fill your bag with whatever you like, an extra change of clothes, wet-wipes, whatever you'll need.  then, if an accident happens, and accidents always happen, you'll have a fresh set of clothes to change your kiddo into and somewhere waterproof to put the dirty ones.

the strap wasn't really necessary since i'll be keeping this baby in my purse, but it could come in handy if i were carrying it around.  this is where i did a happy dance when i finally tried fitting it into my purse.  like a glove!

an impromptu photo shoot with my daughter was instigated when she followed me to the only source of natural light in our house when i was taking pictures of the final product.  she was very excited to find her wet wipes in the front pocket, and spent some time practicing opening and closing the zipper.  i think she likes it!

and, while on the subject of her upcoming potty training, i also made this super-absorbant, waterproof, washable car seat protector pad for her car seat using this wonderful tutorial at home sweet homebodies. she's a smart cookie.  and yes, that stripe is crooked.  i really should invest in a square instead of winging it all the time, haha!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Rainbows For Breakfast

last week my baby girl had her second birthday so we threw her a party over the weekend.
there's few things i love to do more than coming up with a theme, colour scheme and all the fun little details for my kids parties.  i get to call the shots (well, i always ask my husband his opinion but usually get a generic "sounds good" response) and i get to create all the graphics to use for the invitations, labels, cake toppers, goodie bags, etc.  that's the best part.  well, and seeing my kids smiling faces when i see them having fun at their party, of course!
pinterest was very inspirational as well, you can recognize many of the decorations and menu ideas from my parties pinterest board.

i long to have a program for my mac like illustrator or photoshop or one of those fancy programs that lets you create your own graphics with ease, but alas i do not have the funds for such things, so i've taught myself how to draw almost anything i put my mind to using simple old microsoft word.
(note: if you're planning on taking on such an endeavour yourself may i suggest choosing "word publishing layout" in your project gallery which you can find listed first under "file".  the regular "word document" that opens automatically will not give you as much freedom with the details.)
i made my invitation, got it looking just the way i wanted, saved a screen capture of it (command+shift+4 and hold your mouse to rectangle-select the image you want automatically saved to your desktop as a .jpg).  then i sent it to online to be printed so i don't waste my own ink.

my theme: rainbows!  what little girl doesn't love rainbows?
my colour scheme: ahem... rainbows.
venue: my in-law's place, which is much bigger than our place - and conveniently right upstairs!
time of day: morning, therefore we would serve breakfast.  i've never been to a breakfast party, i thought it sounded pretty darn sweet and it wouldn't interfere with afternoon naps or be as expensive as serving dinner.  although i think it was.

no rainbow party is complete without some rainbow bunting and rainbow balloons.
i cut the triangles out of construction paper and sewed them together with my sewing machine onto a piece of shiny red ribbon.
i chose rainbow coloured balloons and made tissue paper pom-poms (thanks martha stewart for the tutorial) hoping the balloons would float to the cieling and the white pom-pom could be the cloud under the rainbow... my helium was too weak or my pom-poms were too heavy, so they got to hang out on counters, above lamps and on the stair railing post.

using word, again, i created a rainbow placemat for each of the younger guests (there were 9 kids altogether) and set the table with them; a place card, a placemat for eating on, and a take-home gift all rolled into one.  i had them printed on heavy cardstock at staples and had them laminated.  they were perfect, i was really happy with how they turned out.

i decided a menu would be fun, make it like a restaurant menu hanging over the food table (the kitchen island, actually) so people could see everything available.  i had two printed on one poster, cut them out and double-sized taped them together so people could read it from either side.  the eggs & sausages were an afterthought, as you may be able to tell.

the food!  it was awesome.  i had lots of help from my husband, my dad, and my in-law's.  and we made way too much so there were a lot of leftovers, which was also awesome ;)

my home-made place cards, which i had printed onto card stock to be nice and sturdy, so people would know what they were eating, as if they couldn't tell...

a cake and cupcakes seemed a little much that early in the morning so we opted for rice krispie cupcakes instead with rainbow coloured icing.

cupcake toppers are always fun, too.  i cut them out and pasted them onto slightly larger cut out circles of construction paper with a half-short skewer sandwiched in between.

my father-in-law was kind enough to take all of the photos for me.  one of his cameras has this great fish-eye lens which he used to capture the chaos in the living room after gifts were opened.  this was only half of the guests.  i'm so glad we didn't have the party in my tiny house!

and, of course, when the party ended, there were goodie bags waiting for all of our smaller guests with my little graphic of molly thanking her friends for coming to celebrate her birthday with us!