Jupe du Jour

Halloween Thrift Shopping at Deseret Industries Los Angeles

Haley SwanComment
Halloween thrifting in LA

It's that time of year again! You know, the time of year where I obsess over all things gourd related and spend all of my time and money on our Halloween costumes. You may remember from last year that I have a kind of "go big or go home" attitude toward Halloween costumes; I like them to be fun and one-of-a-kind.

But I also hate spending money. Period. So when it comes to Halloween, I try to get as many of the materials that I need for our costumes from thrift stores as possible. Last year, my leopard hoodie and almost all of Jared's Steve Zissou costume was thrifted, and the year before, our entire costumes minus the axe, paint, and hair products were also from thrift stores.

This year, Jared and I are going as Triton and Ursula from The Little Mermaid, and I managed to thrift him a couple of teal skirts that I'll use to make Triton's fish tail, but I was having the hardest time finding a good black dress for my Ursula costume. Enter Deseret Industries. They reached out to me about collaborating on a Halloween thrift shopping post, so I figured I'd check out their dress selection to see if I could find something usable. Can you say jackpot?? They had TONS of black formal dresses for me to dig through.

Dresses at DI
Dresses at DI

For those who don't remember, Ursula is a voluptuous sea witch who rocks a mean sweetheart neckline and some serious blue eyeshadow. I needed to find a dress that was black and form fitting in the bodice, but had some body in the skirt to create a curvy, full effect since Ursula is a bigger lady. Oh, and I'm eight months pregnant, so I also needed something that would cover my baby bump and still be about floor length. Sleeves were also preferable. So, all in all, a pretty tall order.

Dresses at DI Los Angeles

I ended up trying on four black dresses that looked about the right size. (Excuse the cell phone photos--it felt too weird pulling out my big Canon in the dressing room. But on another note, are these the nicest thrift store dressing rooms you've ever seen, or what?) 

I really liked Dress 1. It was velvet on top with an empire waist that looked great with my bump, and had a lovely black satin skirt. But I could NOT, for the life of me, zip it up in the back.

Dress 2 was a similar style, but with a black lace bodice and a lower waistline that wasn't as flattering. On anyone else it would probably be floor length, but it takes extra material to cover my bump, which meant the hem hung several inches off the floor. It did, however, zip up all the way.

Dress 3 was a really basic black crepe dress with flutter sleeves and a pretty drape to it. It didn't have the va-va-voom you'd expect in a dress for Ursula, but it was the most comfortable of the bunch, was long enough, and had sleeves. All major pluses for this pregnant lady.

Finally, Dress 4 was basically the quintessential Ursula dress. It was black satin and had a sweetheart neckline, fitted bodice, and a TON of fullness in the skirt thanks to a tulle underlayer and some beautiful gathering. It was also floor length and then some. Like Dress 1, however, I couldn't zip it up all the way. BUT I did notice that the previous owner had taken the bodice in by about 3/4 of an inch on each side, so I reasoned that there was some room to play around.

Price-wise, I think Dresses 1 and 2 were about $10 each (totally reasonable for formal dresses), but 3 and 4 didn't have price tags on them.

So what was a desperate, Halloween-obsessed girl to do?

Ultimately, I wanted both Dress 3 and Dress 4. Neither was perfect,  but both were workable in different ways, and I wanted to have a back-up in case my plans fell through. I figured I'd let out the bodice on Dress 4 and, if it still doesn't fit, maybe use some black ribbon to create a corset in the back. The shape is just perfect for Ursula, so it's my first choice. If it proves too difficult to work with, Dress 3 is a great alternative: I can create a slimmer, sexier silhouette with this dress and use the tentacles (coming in another blog post soon!) to add some fullness.

Since the two dresses I chose were also the two that didn't have price tags, I told myself that I'd only buy both if the total was under $25; otherwise, I had a difficult decision to make. The total, my friends, was TWELVE DOLLARS. That's right, these beauties were $6 each--ridiculously cheap even by thrift store standards. Bless you, Deseret Industries, for making my Halloween dreams come true. Now to get to work with some craft foam, hot glue, and seashells...

For those of you wondering about other Halloween costume options at DI, rest assured that it would be super easy to pull together just about any costume using what they have on hand. For example, a couple of minutes' worth of browsing and I had found a near-complete and totally adorable cowgirl outfit. Just add jeans and a belt buckle!

Thrifted cowgirl hat
Thrifted plaid shirt
Thrifted boots

They also have a great selection of craft supplies and toys that could come in handy as you're piecing together your costume this year. Anybody need a sword?

Thrift store crafts
Thrift store toys

Also, not as relevant to Halloween, but DI has a FANTASTIC baby clothes section, and I couldn't resist poking around for some stuff for Baby Swan, who will be here in just over a month. I ended up finding ten things for him for $12, including these two vintage pieces that I cannot wait for him to grow into. Squeal!

Vintage baby clothes at DI Los Angeles

The moral of this story: Go to DI. Go to find your Halloween costume, go for adorable baby clothes, go for toys, go for whatever. Because it is so cheap it's almost criminal. And the store is very well organized, and the selection is to die for. I'll definitely be back soon to find more sweet little clothes for Baby Swan.

The Los Angeles location is at:

2720 East 11th Street
Los Angeles, California 90023
(323) 268-7281

Or you can check DI's website for additional locations!

Recent Vintage & Thrift Finds and Budget Style Boxes

ThriftingHaley SwanComment

I promise more thrifted outfit inspiration is coming soon, but in the meantime check out our Instagram account, where I often post my own all-thrifted outfits of the day!

We're excited that our Hand Picked boxes are gaining some traction, and have been very busy shipping out orders (both vintage and non-vintage) lately! Here's a peek at the kind of stuff you could expect in your very own vintage box (check our Etsy shop for more!): 

Gold chenille 70s poncho

Gold chenille 70s poncho

White feather hat

White feather hat

1950s purple and pink plaid dress

1950s purple and pink plaid dress

Green wool plaid necktie

Green wool plaid necktie

Reversible army green trench coat

Reversible army green trench coat

Aaaand, here's a look at a few of the standard (non-vintage) boxes we've shipped out recently:
 

Jupe du Jour Hand Picked - personalized style subscription box on a budget

Jupe du Jour Hand Picked - personalized style subscription box on a budget

This customer let me know that they liked feminine looks but not bright colors, so I went crazy with the jewel tones and girly prints: a mustard waffle print Roxy sweater, a pale pink daisy blouse from Loft, a navy polka dot peplum blouse, deep green skinny cords from Loft, and a fun tassel necklace.

Jupe du Jour Hand Picked - personalized style subscription box on a budget

Jupe du Jour Hand Picked - personalized style subscription box on a budget

For this box, the customer requested that I include soft, stretchy, and breathable fabrics to accommodate her recent back surgery. Done and done with a light, flowy pink floral blouse, super soft purple American Eagle tee, tribal print jersey dress, and (not pictured) American Eagle stretch skinny khakis and a gorgeous geometric print stretch dress.

Jupe du Jour Hand Picked - personalized style subscription box on a budget

Jupe du Jour Hand Picked - personalized style subscription box on a budget

Among this customer's preferences were polka dots, animal prints, skinny pants, and 1950s style clothing. Imagine my joy in finding a zebra print a-line skirt, pink polka dot blouse, and the cutest bottle green skinny work trousers ever!

Like what you see? Check out our Hand Picked section to get a thrifted style box of your own!

Thrifted Thursday: A Thrifted Wedding

ThriftingHaley SwanComment

So, this is a long story, and I'll try not to bore you with all the details, but of all of my major thrift scores (and there have been many), my wedding dress has got to take the (wedding) cake. I wasn't even engaged yet when I bought it. Yep, I was that girl. But we'd been dating 2.5 years and were talking marriage and Jared got into grad school in Boston so we went to check out his new school. While he went on a campus tour I did what anyone would do on a gorgeous summer's day in a beautiful town brimming with history--I went thrift shopping. And oh, what thrift shopping there is to be had in Boston, my friends! 

Anyway, I ambled into The Garment District, a glorious two-story thrift/vintage shop near MIT campus in Cambridge and started poking around their vintage section. Here's the view, just to get your mouth watering:

The Garment District, Cambridge, MA

The Garment District, Cambridge, MA

Before long I had found two vintage swimsuits (one to keep and one for the Etsy shop) and an incredible wedding dress, probably from the 1960s. 

I took it to the dressing room. I tried it on. It fit like a freaking glove. What was I supposed to do?!

I called Jared and explained my dilemma, though I don't know what I expected him to say. "Yes, go ahead and buy it because I'm secretly proposing to you tonight and now it's not a secret." He was very sweet and made me feel not crazy for wanting to buy a wedding dress for a wedding that was not happening. Yet. 

In any case, I figured it was $45 and beautiful and if we didn't end up getting married I'd sell it in my Etsy shop. I am so, so glad that I didn't have to.

Here's what the dress looked like when I bought it (in the terrible lighting of my apartment in Utah):

Pretty gorgeous as is, right? And it honestly and truly fit like it was made for me. But the lace was starting to yellow, and I had other plans for the fit. I wasn't in love with the a-line shape of the skirt, and wanted something a bit more fit-and-flare. My sister swore up and down that she would kill me if I altered such a gorgeous dress but, you guys, I had a vision. And once I get a vision there's basically no stopping me.

So first step first, I got engaged. Then I took this beauty to the cleaner's. I had spent $45 on the dress itself and spent $65 for a good dry clean but I could not BELIEVE what a difference it made. I actually got a call from the cleaner after my dress had been with them for a few days. The tone in the lady's voice nearly stopped my heart:

Cleaner: Hi this is so-and-so from the dry cleaner's. We have your wedding dress?

Me: Hi, yes, what's up?

Cleaner: Well we just wanted to call because the dress well, umm...

Me: (Oh sweet mercy please please please do not tell me that something happened to my dress. Please please please.)

Cleaner: Well it's just that it's a really bright white now.

Me: .........................

Cleaner: When you brought it in it was kind of an ivory? But after the cleaning it's a very true white and we didn't know whether you thought it was ivory and didn't want a white gown...

I laughed myself silly after I hung up. They were calling to tell me that they had cleaned my dress...too well?

The next step was to get the skirt altered into the fit-and-flare style that I wanted and have cap sleeves added to the slip underneath. Luckily one of my roommates in college was the one and only Janay Marie, who makes insanely beautiful custom wedding gowns. After a lot of explanation about what I wanted, fabric cutting that I couldn't bear to watch, several fittings, and another $175, I had my dream wedding dress--a 1960s vintage lace fit-and-flare knockout. I was in love. My only regret is that I only got to wear it twice.

Here are some photos from our wedding day so you can get the full after effect:

Perfect, no? Like, I said for $45 ($285 after the cleaning and alterations) it will forever be my favorite thrifted treasure. Because oh, what happy, happy memories it holds.

Thrifted Thursday: Thrifted Outfit(s) of the Day

ThriftingHaley SwanComment

Whew! It's been quite a crazy last month, and there's another crazy one to come! In the last few weeks we (Haley & co): celebrated Thanksgiving with Jared's family, hosted his sister for a few days, took an awesome trip to the La Brea Tar Pits and Page Museum, went on a cool hike in Eaton Canyon, celebrated my (27th!!!) birthday, ate lots of good food and watched lots of good movies, visited my BFF and her fam in San Diego, got our first Christmas tree together, decorated said Christmas tree, and went to the Magic Castle in LA, which was beyond cool. I also started a new job at the library, which so far I am loving. 

But you're not here to talk about my goings-on--you're here to see cute thrifted outfits. So, without further ado, I present to you this week's round of thrifted outfits of the day (click the links in the caption to purchase!):

Navy Gap sweater, Route 66 denim shirt, J. Jill booties, burgundy skinny jeans, all thrifted

Navy Gap sweater, Route 66 denim shirt, J. Jill booties, burgundy skinny jeans, all thrifted

Xhiliration horse dress,  Gap denim jacket, J. Jill booties, all thrifted

Xhiliration horse dress,  Gap denim jacket, J. Jill booties, all thrifted

Tan cardigan, leopard print scarf, thrifted; Gap black skinny jeans

Tan cardigan, leopard print scarf, thrifted; Gap black skinny jeans

Chico's wool tribal vest, J Brand gray skinny jeans, black booties, all thrifted

Chico's wool tribal vest, J Brand gray skinny jeans, black booties, all thrifted

Gap blue leopard jacket, black booties, thrifted; Gap black skinny jeans

Gap blue leopard jacket, black booties, thrifted; Gap black skinny jeans

Black blazer, paisley dress, thrifted; green necklace, gift

Black blazer, paisley dress, thrifted; green necklace, gift

Stay tuned for more great thrifted outfits of the day (week...month...whenever I get to them), and remember to pin the ones you love to your outfit inspiration boards!

Thrifted Outfit(s) of the Day

ThriftingHaley SwanComment

What did I tell you--these thrifted and styled outfits of the day are becoming my jam. There's something so satisfying about looking at a shirt, snapping your fingers, and figuring out that it would go perfectly with that skirt and shoes that you already have in your closet. No? Just me? Well whatever, I'm having fun. And so without further ado, I present this week's thrifted outfits of the day. (And remember, the links in the captions will take you to our Instagram shop account where you can actually buy the items!)

Aeropostale sweater and black booties, thrifted; scarf, Target; tights, gift; faux red suede mini

Aeropostale sweater and black booties, thrifted; scarf, Target; tights, gift; faux red suede mini

That red mini was my favorite--SO cute with tights and booties, or in the summer with a boho top and gladiator sandals. It'll also be making its way to the Etsy shop soon!

Cotton On leopard print dress, My Michelle tan jacket, Steve Madden open toe booties, all thrifted

Cotton On leopard print dress, My Michelle tan jacket, Steve Madden open toe booties, all thrifted

Gap mint legging jeans, Cherokee polka dot denim shirt, vintage woven leather shoes, all thrifted

Gap mint legging jeans, Cherokee polka dot denim shirt, vintage woven leather shoes, all thrifted

American Eagle boho top, tassel necklace, H&M hat, black midi sheer skirt, all thrifted

American Eagle boho top, tassel necklace, H&M hat, black midi sheer skirt, all thrifted

Brown beanie, Express crochet sweater, Old Navy leopard flats, Old Navy boyfriend jeans, all thrifted

Brown beanie, Express crochet sweater, Old Navy leopard flats, Old Navy boyfriend jeans, all thrifted

Which is your favorite outfit? I'm torn between the red mini and the casual / slouchy boyfriend jean look. I'm just stoked the weather's supposed to take a turn for the "cold" this coming week and I may actually be able to break these sweaters out for real in time for Thanksgiving. It's about time!

Love the idea of thrifted outfits but don't see anything here that's quite your size or style? Good news--Haley can put together a hand-picked thrifted outfit just for you. Find out how, here!

Thrifted Outfit(s) of the Day

ThriftingHaley SwanComment

For as long as I (Haley) can remember, there have been two things that I can get absolutely lost in: books and clothes. As a kid I would spend hours curled up in the back seat of my family's van, reading where it was nice and warm and quiet. The other thing that I would do for hours, as a teenager, was put together outfits. If I bought a new item, I'd immediately go home and rifle through my closet to figure out all of the different outfits I could wear it with. And putting those ensembles together would inevitably spark an idea for a different outfit I  hadn't tried and, well, you get the idea. Sort of a "if you give a mouse a cookie" type of situation.

I still love books, and became an editor. That's what I do in my real life. I write and edit. I also still love clothes, and that's why I started blogging at Jupe du Jour. I can spend hours in a thrift store finding treasures, and then another hour at home figuring out how to combine them into outfits I love. For that reason, Pinterest is obviously one of my favorite places.

But lately I've been trying something new. I photograph clothes on my dress form pretty often for my Etsy shop, but I've been inspired by Instagram's Outfit of the Day  mania and decided to try taking some of my thrifted finds and styling them into outfits by laying them flat. And I kind of love the result.

BB Dakota dress, Gap jean jacket, white statement necklace, all thrifted

BB Dakota dress, Gap jean jacket, white statement necklace, all thrifted

Ann Taylor LOFT pants (new with tag), Walmart denim shirt, cognac belt and shoes, all thrifted

Ann Taylor LOFT pants (new with tag), Walmart denim shirt, cognac belt and shoes, all thrifted

BP cardigan, Abercrombie blouse, Swiss cross skirt, heeled oxfords, all thrifted

BP cardigan, Abercrombie blouse, Swiss cross skirt, heeled oxfords, all thrifted

Bambini brand weather resistant army green jacket, Gap 1969 jeans, Thermalite boots, all thrifted

Bambini brand weather resistant army green jacket, Gap 1969 jeans, Thermalite boots, all thrifted

H&M dusty rose blouse, J. Crew polka dot skirt (new with tag), white statement necklace, all thrifted

H&M dusty rose blouse, J. Crew polka dot skirt (new with tag), white statement necklace, all thrifted

H&M plaid peacoat, faux suede booties, both thrifted, black Gap skinny jeans

H&M plaid peacoat, faux suede booties, both thrifted, black Gap skinny jeans

What do you think?? This might become kind of an ongoing daily/weekly series where I put together all or mostly thrifted outfits of the day. 

And the best part, about these ones at least, is that they all contain something that's for sale right now over on our Instagram shop account! So if you see something you like, follow the link in the caption, and make sure to follow our shop and regular Instagram accounts so you never miss a sale.

I'm not a super creative type (except when it comes to costumes of course), so I think this clothes styling thing might become my jam, since it's a great way to show people that you don't have to spend hundreds of dollars on a great new outfit. Plus, it's kind of fun to be making the cool outfits, as opposed to just pinning them :)

DIY Halloween 2015: Steve Zissou and the Jaguar Shark from The Life Aquatic

DIY, Sewing, ThriftingHaley SwanComment

A couple of weeks ago I (Haley) shared my DIY Shark Costume with you, but hadn't quite put the final touches on or made Jared's costume, so I wanted to show you the finished product. Voilà!

You guys, I kind of love how they turned out. Never mind that only ONE person at our church party knew who we were... Beats last year when no one did and we won the "Most Obscure Costume" award at the party we went to!

In the end the only things I updated from my costume since last showing it to you was that I added a pair of black buttons for eyes and cut down the teeth a little more. Jared's costume was supposed to be the easy one, but ended up taking more time than I anticipated. Steve Zissou's outfit is light blue with darker blue stripes down the sleeves, front of the shirt, and side of the pants. I foolishly thought that I could just add some blue tape to his thrifted polo and pants (the hat is also thrifted!) and call it good, but of course the tape wouldn't stay put. Fast forward to me, the night before his Halloween work party, cutting up an old blue t-shirt of his and sewing the pieces onto his costume.

The good news, as I think I've mentioned before, is that I am not a perfectionist when it comes to crafts, and especially when it comes to costumes, which no one is going to be scrutinizing that closely. "Good enough" is good enough for me! 

Oh, and shhh! don't tell anyone, but you see that leg holster Jared's wearing? Totally a black bandeau bra that I had lying around and never wear. Bahaha.

Here are Steve Zissou and the Jaguar Shark from a few other angles:

What did you go as for Halloween this year??  We'd love to see pictures!

 

How do you stay inspired as a creative, or an artist of any kind?

SewingMonica StebbComment

A month ago I started a new job here in LA. (applause) 

This job is great. The company atmosphere is one of the best that I've ever been a part of, they believe in team work, and taking care of their employees. I am so proud to be counted in their numbers. I still pinch myself sometimes that I found a job like this that also meets my financial needs.

I went from a lot of freelance work that required all of my creative faculties, to a full time job where I use more of my logic and business sense and the change has been both wonderful and dizzying. While it has been very fulfilling and exciting to learn more about a business I love, I would be lying if I didn't address the fact that some days after work and my commute home I feel drained. Days like that, no matter how hard I try, I cannot summon the design mode that could so easily come before. I have felt empty. 

I am still learning what works for me as far as protecting my creative self so as time goes on I will certainly add to or take away from this list. I end each blog post asking readers what they think, but I truly do want to hear your input. This is my first grown up job so I'm in uncharted territory for me here!

  • Feed the beast. This means eat something when or before you start to feel hungry. I find it helps to plan snacks according to your day. This works better for me if I go over in my head what I know the next day will look like before I go to sleep and make a plan for what snacks I want to take with me because Morning Monica does not care about very much about food and Mid-day Monica always hates her for it.  Creativity cannot flow if you're in a bad mood, or all you can think about is how hungry you are. 

  • Dress yourself. If you like to feel pretty then it is totally worth finding time in the day to figure out your hair/makeup/outfits because you will carry that good energy with you throughout the day. 

  • Do something boring every day that doesn't take a lot of brain power. For me it's doing the dishes or exercising; it gives my mind time to wander and clears the cobwebs. 

  • Plan time every day or week to do something creative. For me this includes doodling, pattern making, and sewing. It's as simple as doodling on the bus or during lunch breaks and then making time for projects in the evenings or Saturday afternoons. If you don't consciously make a plan to do it, it'll never get done. 

  • Surround yourself with inspiration. This doesn't always have to be idea boards and fabrics. For me this could mean going to a concert or a museum, or thrift shopping. Figure out what works for you and recognize that it doesn't always have to be the same thing time and time again. If it's making you feel something, you're probably headed in the right direction. 

  • Spend time with friends and family who love and support you. This is key for me. I feel rejuvenated after spending time with my husband and close family and friends. It's important to me to be able to talk about deeper or important things. I am then able to carry that with me into the work I do to design and create.  

  • When time is a valuable resource, focus your creative energies. This is a process I am working on refining. When I didn't have steady work I could pick up passion projects like nobody's business. Right now my focus is to work on projects because I want to, not because I can.  

  • Be mindful of where your energy is spent. I know I can feel so drained after working on answering emails at work so I try to do those first thing in the morning, then I follow that up with a break where I get up, walk around, and get a snack. If I try to save that for the end of the day where I'm already tired, I don't have the time to bounce back like I would at the start of the day; I come home exhausted both physically and mentally. 

Travel Tuesday: Park City and a Utah Roadtrip Roundup

TravelHaley SwanComment

You may have noticed that I (Haley) was AWOL on the blog last week. My excuse, I'm delighted to say, is that Jared and I were on an awesome long weekend getaway to Utah to visit family and friends and just generally revisit some places that hold fond memories for us. We left on Thursday afternoon and got as far as Vegas, where we crashed with Jared's aunt and uncle for the night (Highlight: They took me scorpion hunting). We left the next morning and wended our way through the rest of Nevada, a corner of Arizona, and finally hit Southern Utah, which is one of my very favorite places in the world. These pictures were taken from the car window, so just imagine how much prettier it actually is in person!

We got into Provo at around 3 pm and spent some time revisiting favorite places around town and on BYU campus (Go Cougs!) before meeting up with my siblings for dinner at India Palace (yummm!) and watching my brother's frisbee game.

Fun fact: Jared and I met because we were next door neighbors. We have over 2.5 years of (mostly) happy memories in these houses and it was surreal and sweet to be there again.

Our first kiss was also on the sidewalk between our two houses, so it seemed appropriate to reenact the moment while we had the chance and a camera. Unfortunately, I couldn't stop laughing and my little sister is one of those photographers who always seems to catch you blinking or making the most horrendous faces. So, this is the best shot we got. I know, awkward.

Walking around campus and visiting the Maeser Building, my favorite:

The next morning we headed up to Park City, where our BFFs' family has a cabin. We started Saturday morning with a hike on Jenni's Trail at the Park City Mountain Resort (famous for its skiing). It was the perfect amount of exercise to start off a beautiful fall morning and work up an appetite for lunch, and the views were stunning. Just looking at these pictures again is making me depressed that I live in LA and am missing out on changing leaves right now :(

Jenni's trail ends at the top of a hill where you can take the "Payday" ski lift back down the mountain (for free!), which made the hike even more worth it. The plan was to ride the Alpine Coaster or Alpine Slide afterward, but the wait was 2 hours so we added those to our "next time" list and instead stopped for lunch at a pizza / burger joint called The Junction. OH. MY. GOSH. If I hadn't devoured by barbecue burger and crinkle fries so fast I would have taken a picture to show you the meal in all its glory. If you're in Park City and enjoy a good burger, GO. That is all.

I have virtually no pictures to show you from our time at the cabin because we were having too much freaking fun to stop and pose for the camera. We're all game nerds and one of us is a trained chef so the weekend was basically an amazing blur of ping pong, shuffleboard, card games, homemade soup and pear crisp, and fancy cheese knives. So, pretty much the best weekend ever.

Monday was Jared's birthday (what's up 29!!!) and his last day in town so we grabbed Kneader's for brunch (he'd never had it!), went and saw a matinee of The Martian (cheap and amazing!), kicked around the BYU Museum of Art, and got Thai food for dinner with a friend of his from undergrad and his wife and adorable baby.

Getting a birthday selfie with the mountains in the background (or our faces in the foreground) proved too much for us on the first several attempts. We did get "better" shots than this, but for some reason I just kind of love this one. Happy birthday love!

Jared flew back to LA on Monday night to go back to work but since I'm a freelancer and do whatever I want, I stayed around Provo for a couple more days to see more friends and get more time with my family. And more time with family, in this case, meant getting to gorge on crepes with my older sister.

And finally, perhaps the most important photo from this trip: Me with Chandler, aka Baby Car, aka my first car and the love of my life (sorry Jared). She's a 1990 Honda Civic. I bought her with 253,000 miles and passed her on to my brother in Provo when I got married and she's still going strong at 289,000 miles and after 2 cross country trips. I got to drive her around a little bit while we were there and it was like being home. I know I'm silly and sentimental, but man, do I love her.

On my final day in Provo I headed south to Springville to meet up with some old friends / coworkers and take a trip to the Springville Art Museum! But this post is already very picture heavy so I'll save my photos from that trip for another Travel Tuesday!

Have you ever been to Utah? What was your favorite place / memory / meal?

Spooky Podcasts for Halloween

Monica StebbComment
Spooky Halloween.jpg

Out of all of the holidays this season Halloween has historically been the one I (Monica) have had the hardest time getting excited for. Once I outgrew trick-or-treating I think I lost part of the spark that made Halloween so special. For many years I saw it as an excuse for people to have a party and for girls to wear outfits they normally wouldn’t wear; for many years I awkwardly could not understand either phenomenon.

Years later, I think I’m slowly re-discovering that spark again. This is thanks in part to being inspired to tell and enjoy a great story.

I’ve already told you about 2 podcasts that I absolutely love that could totally fit into this installment of My Favorite Podcasts, but why recycle material when I can tell you about a few more podcasts to help you get into the Halloween season? (Obviously I have selfish intentions here because I want more people to talk about these stories with.)

The Black Tapes Podcast: Made after the style of Serial or This American Life yet completely fictional, this podcast follows journalist Alex Reagan as she searches for truth behind some haunting experiences and the struggle between telling the story and becoming a part of the story. I am half way through listening to the available podcasts. I have my guesses about how things will turn out but don’t ruin any surprises for me! Start listening to them from the beginning or the story won’t make much sense.

Lore: Have you ever wondered how myths or legends came to be? Author and designer Aaron Mahnke looks at the truth behind these scary tales and delivers them with a healthy dose of common sense which leaves you thinking deeply about what you know or believe. Each episode is self contained. Creepiest episode: #8 The Castle.

Snap Judgement: There are so many episodes from this podcast, you will never be out of a story. This podcast goes for about an hour and depending on the length of each story will usually tell about 5 stories with an introduction. They’ve done a few ghost story episodes but here are two I’ve listened to so far:

  • Campfire Tales II: Out of the two Snaps this one is less scary than the other and the last story even brought me to tears at one point.

  • Spooked V: Creepy. Creepy with a dose of tender depending on which story you’re listening to.

DIY Shark Costume

DIY, Sewing, ThriftingHaley SwanComment

Happy Halloween everybody! Although I (Haley) like to celebrate Halloween all October long, I usually put off making my costume until the night before and end up staying up until 3 am, up to my elbows in thread and glitter. Since I'm going to be out of town over the next week (trip pictures to follow!), however, I thought I should finish my costume ahead of time and share it with y'all in case anyone else feels inclined to be a giant shark for Halloween. No, no one? Well here goes anyway... ;)

I let Jared choose our costume theme this year (I chose last year's) and it involved either dressing like a deep sea diver, or dressing like a shark. And, because I like a challenge, I obviously chose the shark.

To start, I looked around the web for examples of other shark costumes. Most of them were just a hoodie with a fin on back and some teeth sewn around the face. I wasn't super impressed. People would know you were supposed to be a shark, but you wouldn't actually look like a shark. I did find one example on Pinterest of someone who rocked the shark costume, and that's this one:

Instead of just putting teeth around the interior of a hood, this lady actually used padding to create the right shape for the shark's head. In addition to the dorsal fin on the back, there's also a tail, and she padded the arms to make them look like pectoral fins (yes I had to look up what those were called and definitely googled "shark arms" in the process). There was only one picture, and no instructions, but this became my guide as I made my shark costume. 

Since I needed my shark to be leopard print (...), the first thing I did was buy a leopard print hoodie at the thrift store for a couple of bucks. I used it as my base. Then I went to JoAnn's and bought 1.5 yards of the closest matching leopard print I could find, and some padding / stuffing / filler.

Next I made basic patterns for the shapes of the shark's head, dorsal fin, and tail. I freehand drew them on brown paper bags, cut them out, and traced two of each of them (there are special instructions for the shark's head) onto the wrong side of the leopard fabric. Here's the dorsal fin: 

Two dorsal fin shapes cut out and pinned, right sides together, with a seam allowance.

I sewed around two sides of the fin, leaving the end open in order to add stuffing, and turned it right side out.

This is what I used to stuff each of the parts. This bag was like $3.50 at Joann's and I used about 2/3 of it total. In order to do a good job stuffing the corners / tips of the fins, it works best to push it in with a pen or knitting needle.

Once the fin was stuffed to my satisfaction I topstitched it to the upper back of my hoodie, keeping as close to the base of the fin as possible for a more secure attachment.

Next I repeated the same process with the tail fin but saved it to attach later.

The next thing I did was cut out the teeth, since I figured it would be easier to attach them before adding the stuffed shark head to the top of the hood. I had some pellon lying around from a previous project, but felt or any stiff white fabric should work well for the teeth. I thought it would be easiest to cut them in rows and then sew the whole row of teeth into the hood at once. And while yes, it was easy, it didn't end up having the effect that I wanted; the teeth stuck out at weird angles and came straight out of the mouth instead of pointing down like I wanted. So, painstaking though it may be, if you attempt a shark's mouth, I recommend sewing the teeth in individually or in groups of only a couple at a time so that you can position them as you like. If you look in the photo of the little boy's shark costume, the teeth are also quite small, which I think also would have looked better. 

My next area of focus was the head. I put on my hoodie and figured out about how wide the snout would need to be where it connected to the top of the hood and how tall I wanted it to be. Then, instead of cutting out two of the same pattern, I made one several inches longer than the other. This is because the stuffed portion would flop around on top of the hood unless it was anchored to the back of the hood with the extra fabric. 

This is what it looked like once it was stuffed and the front part was sewn to the front of the hood. (See the crazy teeth?)

Here, the extra fabric has been tucked underneath itself and tacked in place.

Now that the top half of my shark was pretty much done, I needed to focus on the bottom half. I measured around the waistband of the hoodie (see the brown part?) to determine the width and down my leg to just under my butt to figure out the length of leopard fabric to cut out to make my skirt, adding several inches to both measurements to account for seams, etc. Then I lined up the end of the fabric with the very bottom of the hoodie and sewed them right sides together, just above the brown waistband so it wouldn't show. As the fabric ends met at the back, I created a seam running in line with the dorsal fin.

Here's the skirt portion attached to the hoodie. It still needed to be much shorter, so I cut it down to where it would hit just below my butt, hemmed it, and adjusted the back seam as necessary for a tighter fit.

With the skirt portion finished, the next (and basically last!) step was to attach the tail that I made and stuffed earlier. I stood in the mirror and figured out the best place to attach it, and then did it the same way I did the dorsal fin, by top stitching as close to the base of it as possible. The dorsal fin had a nice wide base that made it sturdy to attach, but the tail didn't (if you're attempting this  you might play with the design to rectify that). So I knew it would be pretty floppy as gravity worked on it. To counteract that a little bit, I actually sewed through some of the stuffing as I attached the top of the tail, which is the part that needed the most support.

So, after all that, this is the result! It still needs eyes (probably black buttons) and some dental work done (I may re-do the teeth altogether), but I'd say this is a totally passable, better-than-your-average, Halloween shark! I'm still deciding whether to turn the arms into pectoral fins but that's pretty low priority until I get back from my trip to Utah. What do you think??

Oh! And I realized that one of the reasons the mouth looked "wrong" to me is that sharks have a flat lower lip, for lack of a better term.Their mouths, when open, are shaped sort of like a gum drop (look at the picture of the little boy's costume). So I experimented a little further and threw a fabric remnant across the neck to give it something closer to the right shape--looking better! Some nostrils (probably just drawn in sharpie) will help too, as will cutting down the teeth a bit more. 

If you've made it this far and are still wondering why my shark is leopard print, I'll give you one hint--Jared's costume:

And with that, I wish you a HAPPY HALLOWEEN! May your days be scary and fright (ful)!