A Ruffly Distraction: Papercut Patterns Adrift Dress

I won't sugarcoat it: the last seven weeks have been tough. I love, love, love our baby girl more than I can express, but sleep deprivation, a recovering body, and lack of daily routine (where do I work again? Who am I even??) have left me reeling. Combine that with the generally screwed up state of our country and.... well anyway, we're all feeling it. 

On the other hand, I really love being at home with my little boo. She's growing and changing by the minute (those fat little cheeks! I die!), and I even have a few hours here and there to sew while she sleeps. So let's take a moment to forget the frightening new world order and celebrate silk, cinched waists, and ruffles! Brought to you by Papercut Pattern's Adrift Dress and Avery's nap time. 

Pattern and Fit

Here’s my dirty little sewing secret: I never make muslins. Since most patterns fit me without any adjustments I get cocky, and I can't handle the idea of making a garment twice (I only have so much free time, dudes!). But I learned my lesson this time, and unfortunately I had to learn it while using some very expensive Missoni silk. 

One of the reasons I’ve been inspired to sew lately is that none of my pre-maternity clothes fit. I’m sure they will eventually, but for now I’m stuck in that awkward postpartum limbo where my bust is three times bigger, my belly still smooshy and protruding, and my shape a little foreign to me. So even though I cut the pattern a size bigger, it still ended up being way too short. I did make one other adjustment by inserting a waistband between the skirt and blouse instead of folding it under like the pattern instructs, elongating the dress by about an inch. The dress is still completely wearable with tights and a slip, but I’m kicking myself for not planning better (I'm also guessing that the pattern has a short waist to begin with, so if you’re a long-torsoed gal like me, make sure to account for that before cutting!). 

Otherwise, I give the Adrift Dress an A+. The drape is to die for, and the ruffles were actually a lot easier to assemble than I’d anticipated. That’s the magic of a well-drafted pattern!

Fabric

I found the silk at Britex a few months ago. It’s Missoni, it’s scrumptious, it's made in Italy, and it cost way too much. I realized as I was sewing that it was actually the first time I’ve worked with 100% silk, and I probably should have used a finer needle. But overall it was fairly easy to work with. 

I’m interested in learning more about silks in general — specifically, what makes this particular silk drape so well and remain nearly impervious to wrinkles? I own several 100% silk blouses, and some of them are wrinkle-resistant while others are barely wearable without creasing. Does anyone know what the difference is, terminology-wise? I’m particularly curious because I’d like to order some ethically-sourced silk online, but I’m afraid it won’t have the texture that I’m looking for. 

More sewing plans

I have no idea how long it will be until I lose the fifteen pounds I need to get back to my fighting weight. And who knows, maybe I never will. I don’t hate my postpartum body — I’m amazed by what it did — but I do need to sew or buy some new pieces to get me through the next few months. I’m planning a small capsule wardrobe that includes another solid version this dress, a Sew Over It wrap dress, a Grainline Archer, a Colette Mabel, a couple of True Bias Ogden Camis, and some Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans. Ambitious? Absolutely. But sewing is one of the few things that’s been keeping me sane lately. Well that, and Miss Cheeks over here. 

Wrap you up in love : An upcycled baby blanket for Avery

Avery Rose made her debut on December 10, 2016, with a full head of hair and an impressive lung capacity. Needless to say, Jon and I are pretty in love. 

Although I was pretty low-key for the majority of my pregnancy (blame it on the morning sickness), I may have gone a little nuts over the last twelve days. Suddenly, I’m a germaphobe who sanitizes everything and gives the side eye to other people’s sticky-handed children in the pediatric waiting room. Suddenly I can’t sleep at night, looking into Avery’s cradle every five minutes to ensure she’s still breathing. Suddenly I’m the kind of person who rush-orders baby noise blocking headphones because the building’s fire alarm went off twice. Suddenly the world is a much scarier, dirtier place than it was before. And I want to create a force field around this baby girl to protect her from all of it. 

Instead I made her a blanket. 

I found the double-gauze cotton in a seagull print at Britex (made in Japan by Kokka Fabric). Super soft and ocean-themed, it was the perfect choice for the top side of Avery's baby blanket. For the other side, I found a swath of vintage ikat fabric at the General Store in San Francisco. I love how both fabrics work together without being overly matchy, and only contain a hint of girliness. There was plenty of the ikat fabric left over, so I made a couple of pillow covers as well (pictures of the whole nursery coming soon).

I wanted to have something handmade for Avery when she arrived. Something to carry on the tradition of my mother and grandmothers, all of whom sewed blankets for their babies. I may not be able to shield our little girl from the world forever, but at least I can wrap her up in love. And even if I'm 99% more crazy than I was two weeks ago, I'm 100% content. Which is a very strange feeling indeed. 

Ethical Gifts for Women

I'm a total dork when it comes to Christmas. I love the decorations, the music, the hot toddies, even the egg nog (I know, I'm gross). But I'll admit I've become a little lax over the years when it comes to gift-giving. Jon and I are pretty inconsistent about giving each other presents (Christmas or otherwise), and my family dropped the expectation long ago. I actually like it this way; it makes the gifts we do give and receive that much more special. So when putting together my shopping guides this year, I chose items that not only give back and have a good story, but also exude good quality and construction. These gifts are meant to feel special, and to show the people in your life how much they mean to you.

Note: Asterisk indicates an affiliate link. 


14k Gold Filled Hair Accessories

$68 - 188

Available at ByBoe

There's just something so elegant about a hair pin — every time I wear one I feel like I'm in an episode of Downton Abby. This pin and hair jewel by ByBoe are made in New York City by individual artisans using recycled and ethically sourced sterling silver and 14kt gold filled from US factories.


Brass and Bone Plane Ring

$68.00

Available at Nisolo

Last year ethical shoe company Nisolo launched a jewelry line, and I can't get enough of their gorgeous creations. This ring is handmade in Kenya with upcycled brass and bone by artisans who are offered beyond fair trade wages, extensive benefits, and a healthy working environment.


Martina Low-Rise Briefs

$25.00

Available at Naja

Not only are Naja underwear, bras, and swimsuits cute as all get-out, they're also made by single mothers and female head of households who are paid above market wages. Sweathop free and all about empowering women, Naja is one of my favorite lingerie lines. 


BABY ALPACA SCARF

$125.00

Available at Cuyana

Through their Lean Closet initiative, Cuyana encourages women to buy "fewer, better things" and reduce their overall consumption. Production-wise, they develop close relationships with artisans around the world rather than outsourcing cheap labor. This baby alpaca scarf is crafted in Peru, and will serve as a wardrobe staple for years to come. 


Ceramic Ring Trays

$32.00 each

Available at Amour Vert

These pretty little ceramic dishes are handmade in Kansas City, Missouri by The Object Enthusiast. Finished in a variety of glazes with 22k gold lustre details, they're perfect for displaying rings and other treasures.  


MM. Lafleur Bento Box

$50 - 1,000

Avilable at MM. Lafleur

Finding ethical professional clothing can be a frustrating and time-consuming, but MM. Lafleur makes it easy with their Bento Boxes. Each box contains a selection of sustainable, American-made wardrobe staples that are personalized based on a quick style survey.  You can send the workin' gal in your life a gift card with increments up to $1,000, which will come with a note from her stylist that explains the Bento process. 


Cosmetic Case Set (vegan)

$80.00

Avilable at Angela Roi *

Angela Roi creates beautiful, cruelty- and sweatshop-free handbags and accessories. Handmade in Korea using  vegan leather, the Elle Cosmetic case perfect for those who want to avoid animal products.


The Birdie Watch

$525.00

Available at Shinola

This one is definitely a splurge, but well worth it if you can swing the price tag. A few years ago, Jon gave me the Birdie watch for Christmas, and it continues to be one of my most valued possessions. Elegant, well-designed, and just straight up cool, Shinola products are all made in Detroit, Michigan, with the mission of bringing jobs back to the USA. 


MORE GIFT GUIDES FOR WomEN

Need more ideas? Check out these gift guides from other ethical bloggers: 

LEOTIE LOVELY - 9 Eco + Ethical Gift Ideas for Women

LIFE + STYLE + JUSTICE - Ethical Gifts for Her

SARAH LAUGHED - Ethical Gift Guide for Her

MORAL FIBRES - Ethical Gift Guide #1

VALERIE KEINSLEY - Simplified Gift Guide: for Her

INTO-MIND - 12 Thoughtful books about style, ethical fashion and building a better, simpler wardrobe

Maternity Style | The Waiting Game

Pink Coat 2.jpg

Maternity leave pre-baby is kind of like vacation. Except I'm still pregnant. And I can't drink. And I get to sit around and wonder when, exactly, I'll be launched into several hours of intense pain. So really not like vacation at all. 

I've been working on the nursery and putting together ethical gift guides to pass the time (due date is tomorrow), and figured I should capture a few more maternity style pictures before I officially deflate. I especially wanted to get some shots of this coat, because it's been a godsend since the temperature dropped a few weeks ago. By this point, none of my regular coats fit, so I bought this dusty rose cashmere coat by Theory (I found it on sale at Bloomie's... phew!). I'm so glad that relaxed, oversized silhouettes are in this season, as it made finding  maternity-appropriate winter wear much easier. And the color is a bit of a head-turner; I get compliments on it every time I wear it out.  It makes me feel like a fancy East Coast lady-about-town. 

All I need is a Shih Tzu with a diamond-studded collar.

All I need is a Shih Tzu with a diamond-studded collar.

...But is it Ethical?

Much like BCBG, Theory isn't a brand that I would promote as particularly ethical (you can read Project Just's review of their parent company here). But their clothing is incredibly well-made with an emphasis on classic/timeless silhouettes, so they'll do when I can't find an ethical or secondhand version of what I'm looking for. The dress, by Susana Monaco, is made in the USA (similar here). 

Pink Coat 5.jpg

We'll see how much more blogging I get through before our new friend arrives, but au revoir for now darlings! 

Outfit Details: Theory 'Clairene New Divide' Wool & Cashmere Coat  / Susana Monaco dress (made in USA; similar here) / Woven leather platform sandals (thrifted) / TOMS Luisa sunglasses (one-for-one)

Ethical Gifts for Dudes

Malin + Goetz deodorant and face serum

Malin + Goetz deodorant and face serum

In California, we refer to pretty much everyone as "dude" (as in, "Dude, the 101 is a parking lot," or "Dude, I can't believe Clinton scored a 2.5 million lead in the popular vote and we still have to let Trump be president. Bummer."). So while this ethical gift guide is aimed toward the brothers, fathers, uncles, and grandpas in your life, it's really appropriate for anyone who appreciates stylish, functional gear that's good for people and the planet. 


Glade Beanie

$29.00

Available at Patagonia

Patagonia has been killing it on the sustainability front lately, growing its offering of Fair Trade Certified products significantly in 2015 and continuing to reduce the environmental impact of its supply chain. Made from a 96% recycled polyester/4% spandex blend, this beanie is comfortable and built to last.


Konia Parka

$143.00

Available at Aloha Beach Club

On our last trip to San Diego, we stumbled upon Aloha Beach Club's flagship store in north Park. I was impressed by the company's selection of well-made mens ware and commitment to ethical manufacturing, with many of their products made in the USA. The Konia Parka, for example, is made in Hawaii from a water resistant cotton polyester poplin. 


Topo Roverpack

$139.00

Available at Marine Layer

Made in Colorado, this rucksack by Topo Designs combines contemporary functionality with timeless design (I love that it looks like something my dad would have taken on a hike in the eighties). Includes a lined interior, laptop sleeve, zip pockets, and camera cube.


Malin + Goetz Gift Set

$45.00 - $150.00

Available at Malin + Goetz

My husband and I are both big fans of Malin + Goetz products (Jon is basically unable to function without their pomade). The brand combines tried-and-true natural ingredients with modern-day technology to create effective, amazing smelling products that won't irritate skin (anyone who's tried making a "natural" cinnamon mud mask knows that nature in its raw form can actually destroy your skin, but that's another story). Malin + Goetz emphasizes local sourcing and sustainability, and never tests on animals. 


Durango Dopp Kit

$88.00

Available at Nisolo

Nisolo is another one of my favorite ethical shoes and accessories, with commitment to above-fair trade wages, benefits, and a healthy working environment for the artisans who make their products. This dopp kit (or toiletry bag for those of you (me) who were unfamiliar with the term) is handmade with ethically-sourced, vegetable tanned leather in Leon, Mexico. 


Evolution Swim Trunks

$95.00

Available at Outerknown

So no, swim trunks are not an appropriate December gift for a large swath of the northern hemisphere. But! It never hurts to prepare the dude(s) in your life for next summer, and these trunks by eco-conscious brand Outerknown are the perfect way to do it. Made from reclaimed fishing nets and other waste products with a commitment to sustainability


More Gift Guides for Men

Need more ideas? Check out these gift guides from other ethical bloggers: 

LEOTIE LOVELY - 9 Eco + Ethical Gift Ideas for Men

VALERIE KEINSLEY - Simplified Gift Guide for Him

LIFE + STYLE + JUSTICE - Ethical Gifts for Him

THE GOOD TRADE - Gifts that Give Back (for Men)

Palihouse Santa Monica and a Reformation Dress

A quick stay at Palihouse

Whenever we travel, I make it my personal mission to stay at the quirkiest, most Wes Andersonian hotel I can find. In Paris, it was the Grande Pigalle in all of its nostalgic glory – spiral staircases, brass room keys, and pineapple door knockers included. In London, it was the Ace Hotel (a little less intimate, but quirky nonetheless). And when planning a recent babymoon/ bday getaway to Santa Monica, I stumbled upon Palihouse

Formerly the Embassy Hotel Apartments, Palihouse has been housing design-minded travelers like myself since 1927. I imagine it’s been gutted a few times over the years, but the original Moorish/ Mediterranean influences and intricate ornamentation remain intact. The interior decor has a mountain lodge-meets-Old-Hollywood feel, with kitschy details like pink velvet ottomans, dip-dyed wood furniture, and antlers over the bed. The ambiance of a place is just as important to me as what we do/see/eat, and Palihouse has atmosphere in spades. We didn't have to do much – it was vacation enough to just sit back, look around, and soak it all in.

Palihouse 6.jpg

It's Maternity if I say it is

I’ve been meaning to post about this Reformation dress for a while, so we took advantage of the gorgeous courtyard and overcast skies to shoot a few pictures. I bought the Mattie dress dress back in June, hoping that the wrap style would accommodate the bump throughout my pregnancy. For the most part, it has. It’s grown significantly shorter as the months go by, but I still think it looks pretty good, considering it wasn't actually designed for a pregnant body. I've worn it to every fancy occasion this summer and fall, including my own baby shower. And true to form, it's made in the USA from 100% viscose, a synthetic fabric made from biodegradable plant fibers. I love Reformation with a passion unmatched (well, at least when it comes to dresses), and I'd be stoked if they ever decided to create a maternity line.

Back to Reality

It was a lovely weekend of ocean air, family, fancy vegan food, and a visit to the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Now I'm back at work for another two weeks until, well... shit gets real. I can't wait to welcome this little bug into the world (and drink wine again, in that order).

Outfit Details:  Reformation Mattie Dress in Hibiscus / Madewell denim jacket (old; similar US-made version here)/ Woven leather platform sandals (thrifted) / Kayu Andrea Clutch (responsibly handcrafted by women in the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia)

Just Call Me Big Red

It’s week 34, and I’m feeling positively large and in charge. While I was able to get away with wearing some non-maternity pieces for a while, I’m relegated to knits and spandex these days. Thank goodness for this Ingrid & Isobel tank dress, which I’ve basically been living in for the last month. It’s soft and cozy, while making me feel comfortably compressed (is that why babies like being swaddled?). And, lest we forget the purpose of this blog, it’s also made in the USA.

The scarf is by Marine Layer, a San Francisco-based brand that I absolutely adore. The company manufactures most of their clothing in the United States, while sourcing more technical styles like raincoats and accessories overseas. Like Everlane, they closely monitor the factories they work with to ensure fair and ethical working conditions.

I love their laid-back aesthetic, and I can’t wait to get my hands on their Jackie Denim Skirt once I have a waist again (I mean it has my name written all over it, riiiiiight?).

And then there’s the coat. This, along with the camel-colored version I have in the same style, was a compromise in terms of ethics. BCBG certainly isn’t a pioneer in the ethical fashion space (although they do have a vague corporate responsibility statement like everyone else), but I’ve always found their clothing to be exceptionally well made. Every BCBG piece I own has held up for years (including the dress that I’m wearing in almost every Facebook picture from 2015). So I know that when I make a purchase from them I can adhere to the “30 wears” principle. Ideally, a garment will be ethically produced and well-made, but as I’ve mentioned before that’s not always the case. Ultimately, I want to ensure that the things I buy will stay in my closet for years to come.

 

All you have to do is ask: On fundraising for A Beautiful Refuge

The women of A Beautiful Refuge.

The women of A Beautiful Refuge.

I'm embarrassed to admit this, but I'm just now getting around to putting together thank-you gifts for the donors who helped support A Beautiful Refuge. I wrote emails of course, but I'm still a firm believer in hand written notes and other tokens of appreciation. Better late than never, right?

A little backstory: In February of this year, I and five other bloggers from the Ethical Blogger's NetworkDanielle, Ashlee, Cassandra, Holly, and Christy – joined forces with Hannah of Life Style Justice to launch launch A Beautiful Refuge, a social enterprise based out of the Philippines. The artisans, all women in need of sustainable employment, create screen printed items like t-shirts, banners, pillows and tote bags designed by the founding team. ABR directly benefits Safe Refuge, a non-profit organization that provides maternal care, educational opportunities, emergency shelter, and supportive housing for women who have been victims of human trafficking. You can read more about the company (and order their beautiful products) here.

I'm proud to be a part of this project, and I'm not quite sure why I didn't post about it back when we were fundraising. But have a sneaking suspicion it had something to do with my discomfort with asking for money.

When I was a kid, I loathed fundraising campaigns. Every time my school launched a magazine drive or bake sale, I sat in the back of the kickoff assembly rolling my eyes. I hated the pageantry of it all the competition, the hustling, the idea that you were a better student if you could talk more family members into buying your crappy holiday wrapping paper. It all seemed like such a sham.

To complicate things, my own family didn't have much disposable income growing up. Nor did we have a network of well-to-do friends interested in supporting such things. This isn't to say that we never gave; I remember putting together care packages for the homeless, and leaving baskets of food for members of our church who we knew were struggling (we even found a basket on our own doorstep when my dad lost his job). But it was the early nineties in working class Southern California, and unemployment was high. The general attitude towards fundraising campaigns was one of extreme skepticism.

As I struggled financially in college and throughout my early twenties, I still bristled when people asked me for donations. I crossed the street or averted my eyes whenever I spotted a GreenPeace canvasser, mumbling excuses like, "I already support this other thing and think about the environment someti– ...ok bye."

My reaction was immature, of course. I could have given up a small portion of my income to help a worthy organization... I just didn't want to. Things like pour-over coffee, the new Belle and Sebastian album, a consignment Marc Jacobs dress these were my little comforts. Even if they were funded by student loans, they made me feel a little more in control of my life, a little less austere. I wasn't about to trade them for a monthly donation, and I deeply resented being guilt-tripped for not giving up the few luxuries I had.

So when I finally started making a real, livable income, I threw my money around with glee. Whatchu need, UNICEF? You got it. Fifteen dollars a month to support Planned Parenthood? Heck, that's pocket change. It felt so good to do good, to make giving a regular part of my life, that I almost let it go to my head. You might say I almost felt like better person now that I had cash to give...

Which leads me to the fact that I still have hangups about money. About giving it (what are my real motivations? Am I trying to buy my way out of the guilt I feel about my privilege?). About asking for it (am I asking someone to make a sacrifice they're not comfortable with? Will they feel bad if they can't afford it?). And, frankly, about having it at all at a time when so many people in my community are suffering.

I could write an essay about the deeper roots of my chrometophobia (or save it for the therapist's chair). But will say that it's getting better. And that's due, in part, to my experience fundraising for A Beautiful Refuge. 

Hannah shows the staff how to use the screenprinting equipment

Hannah shows the staff how to use the screenprinting equipment

The Power of Asking

I rewrote the Facebook post eight times. I sat in front of an email to my coworkers for half an hour before hitting send. I was terrified of how I might come across. Was it tacky to ask coworkers for money? Will my friends and family think I'm judging them if they don't decide to donate? Is it weird that Safe Refuge has a religious affiliation even though I don't go to church?

Finally, I just went for it. And within two months, I reached 184% of my fundraising goal.

I was astounded by the generosity of my social network. Family, friends, coworkers of different ages and income levels all rallied together to give what they could. Many wrote heartfelt messages along with their donations. Others emailed me privately to tell me how cool they thought the project was. I was shocked, and deeply touched.

Watching so many people in my community donate also helped me become more comfortable with my own place on the so-called economic ladder. Having a higher income doesn't make me part of something evil. I'm not sitting around with other Silicon Valley elites spouting neoliberal drivel, claiming that poverty could be solved with just a little more "individual responsibility." No – the people I work with and surround myself with don't think like that. They're in a position to give and so they do. It's that simple.

Months later, A Beautiful Refuge is thriving. And my little community had a part in that.

And it's all because I threw aside my insecurities and found the courage to ask. After all, we can't change the world alone.

A Beautiful Refuge headquarters in Manila.

A Beautiful Refuge headquarters in Manila.