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The legal stuff: I am a sales associate at 2nd and Charles and a long-time employee of Books-A-Million, Inc. While I am doing this post on my own time with no extra compensation and the ideas and thoughts expressed in this post remain my own, they do give me a paycheck. I just thought you guys should know that.

Now, let’s have fun!

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So, someone should tell Justin we have his records…just kidding! Here I am at my home away from home. I work in the Vinyl department of 2nd and Charles in Covington, LA, a magical place for nerds…um, I mean “hobbists,” of all types. Books, music, comics, video games, and tons of other stuff–we got it! However, my little vinyl babies hold a special place in my heart, as you can tell by my dress from Modcloth and my colored, etched copy of Warpaint‘s self-titled double album. And I’m not just flashing the record because it matches the dress, by the way. They are a great band you should definitely check out. “Disco//very” is my jam right now.

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Saturday, April 19th is a super-special day for record stores and a great day to check out your local vinyl retailer. As for us at 2NC Covington, we’re hosting our Get in the Groove event where we’ll have local bands, prizes, and artist, Justin Lacoste, who makes jewelry and other neat things out of records! Check out his Facebook page and all the cool stuff he makes here.

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Speaking of crafting from records, here’s our DIY which I call the Galaxy and Gold Tri-Pick Necklace! Instead of using the vinyl itself, I decided to use the album cover, and I found a winner in our $2 bin:

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I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore. That’s another band. I didn’t just pick this album because “Hold the Line” is awesome (which it is, but that’s beside the point). You know how galaxy print is hot these days? Boom! Toto were truly trailblazers in more ways than one!

IMG_1401You’ll also need one of these, a Pick Punch. What it’s really used for is to make instant guitar picks from gift cards, but we’ll use it for craftier purposes. I got mine at 2NC. IMG_1402You’ll also need another punch that makes the tiniest circles you can find, jewelry pliers, gold chain, jump rings, a clasp, and your secret weapon…

IMG_1400Extreme Glitter Mod Podge!

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Punch out your picks using the Pick Punch. I punched out more than I needed, so I could choose the best ones. Punch a small hole near the top of each one. That’s where you’ll attach your pick to the chain with a jump ring. Before you do that, paint a couple of layers of Mod Podge on each pick. Once they’re dry, measure out a length of gold chain to fit your neck. Evenly space your three picks and use the jump rings attach them to the chain. Add your clasp, and…

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Tada! You’re ready to rock! Quick tip–make sure your record isn’t super valuable or collectable before you craft with it. That would make us vinyl geeks cry.

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We have time for another outfit, right? This headphones t-shirt comes from Lane Bryant, who has been coming out with some great graphic tees lately. Check out this new one I saw today with DJ Kitty! The black maxi-skirt is also from Lane Bryant, and my shoes (if you can see them) are from Vans.

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The actual headphones on my head are Audacity Quilted Rebel Headphones, and I got them from 2NC!

IMG_1476There you have it! Don’t forget to score some great vinyl at your local record store this Saturday, and if you’re in Covington, drop by 2nd and Charles for what’s sure to be a fun day!

 

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Work It!

March 16, 2014 — 18 Comments

IMG_1059Work where? No matter how you bring home the bacon, you can always be on the clock in style. In this week’s Style Study, I’m going to show you three different professional outfits tailored to different workplaces and a quick DIY to reveal your creative side.

Outfit #1: Executive Excellence

IMG_0927You’re the corner-office cutie who’s dressed to impress! This look is great for any workplace with a suit-and-tie dress code or for that all-important interview to you snag the job of your dreams. The power suit doesn’t have to be too matchy-matchy. I paired this plain black blazer with a chevron-striped pencil skirt, both from Lane Bryant, to show that you can mix and match your suit separates to get versatile looks from your business wardrobe. The ruffled top from Cato Fashions adds a pop of coral to brighten up your daily grind.

IMG_0932Chevron earrings from dELiA*s, a Lane Bryant belt, and black patent, pointy-toed heels from Zappos gives the outfit professional polish to show you mean business. Ready for a night out with co-workers? Lose the blazer for a party-perfect evening look.

Outfit #2: People Person

IMG_0988Let’s face it. Heels and short skirts aren’t always practical if you spend all day on your feet. You may be a teacher running to keep up with the kiddos one second and having a parent-teacher conference the next. Or, you may work in retail where you have to look put-together for the public but still have to be comfy enough to spend eight hours without sitting at a desk. This is the outfit for you! This sheer teal top from Torrid layered over a Lane Bryant cami gives the outfit a dressy look without being too fussy. The black slacks, also from Torrid, are casually functional and have a little bit of stretch ensuring that you can keep up with whatever the day throws your way.

IMG_0989I can testify these sensible flats from Zappos with cute knot details have helped me to survive many shifts on the sales floor. I used the same Lane Bryant belt from the first outfit to emphasize the top’s empire waist. The little rose earrings from Charming Charlie compliment the fabric detail of the top as well, and a cute hair bow from Carter’s (Yes, the baby store! I was shopping for my niece, and one thing led to another…) finishes off the outfit.

Outfit #3: Creative Comfort

IMG_1053Ever want to show up to work in your sweats? Some people are really this lucky, especially artists, designers, and writers. If you’re one of these folks working either from home or from a dressed-down workplace, you can still look polished without taking too much energy away from your creative endeavors. Pastel and pretty, this graphically inspired Lane Bryant sweatshirt layers effortlessly over an Old Navy mandarin collar shirt. Stretchy, skinny jeans from Torrid are comfortable for a long day sitting in front of a computer but are polished enough for if you actually run into another human being.

IMG_1052The accessories pull from the pastel palette of the rest of the outfit. You’ll swear these mint flats from Simply Be are your favorite slippers, and the earrings? Well, that’s our DIY project, and you can make them in no time!

IMG_0843The how-to on how to make the earrings can be found here, and she even gives a few different designs you can pick from. As for me, I started off with a pair of big, gold hoops from Charming Charlie that were beginning to tarnish and not look so great. Picking the embroidery thread, I chose colors found in the sweatshirt going with shimmery mint green and pink and a solid black. Full disclaimer, the shimmery thread was a bit more difficult two work with because the strands wanted to separate more so than with the black thread, but I made it work, and here’s the end result!

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Hopefully no one has a case of the Mondays with these outfits! Until next time, work hard, play harder!

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Yes, this is a picture of a potato. No, this hasn’t turned into a cooking blog. You wouldn’t want to take my advice in cooking anyway. Keep reading to find out how potatoes play an important part in this week’s DIY.

But first, I was browsing on Pinterest not so long ago, and I came across this:

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These are Pantone’s hottest colors for spring. (The pin I found links to here.) Just who are these Pantone people? They’re the go-to people for standardizing colors, especially in the printing industry. Here’s some more info about them on Wikipedia. Fashion folks follow Pantone, too. Pantone declares a hot color for every year, and this year’s hot hue is the Radiant Orchid shade seen in the above picture, and I’m also a fan of 2013’s color, Emerald. As you can see in the spring palette, there’s a good mix of neutrals, brights, and pastels.

In this week’s Style Study, I decided to put together three outfits using these spring colors (or as close as I could get). Unfortunately most of the pieces are from years past, so I could only provide direct links to a few of them. The good news is you probably already have some of these colors in your closet, too.

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In the first look, I was super stoked to find that I had this maxi skirt from Cato Fashions with three of the spring colors on it: cayenne, sand, and hemlock. I pulled up the top of the skirt and used this belt from Torrid to make an instant dress. I played up the cayenne shade with the cardigan from Old Navy, the bracelet also from Cato, and the earrings from Charming Charlie. The pearl necklace is from Charming Charlie as well and the flats are from Zappos.

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Since purples are prominent in this group of colors, I used a purple tube dress from Ross as a foundation for the second outfit. On top of it, I tied this blouse from Old Navy in a sand snake print. I added some accessories in freesia, hemlock, cayenne, and placid blue (The ring is from Lane Bryant, the earrings are from Target, and the necklace is from Fossil). I finished the outfit with some beige shoes from TOMS.

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In the final outfit, I went for a casual look. Dark rinse denim goes with any color palette, as do these straight-leg jeans from Lane Bryant. The top in paloma is also from LB. The dazzling blue shoes from Avenue dazzle a bit more with the studs near the toes. As for the accessories, the freesia earrings are from Charming Charlie, the celosia orange ring I believe is from Torrid (but I got it some time ago), and I used the same cayenne bracelet from Cato.

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 The triangle tote brings us to our friend, the potato, and to our DIY. Potatoes can be used for art projects! Who knew? Cut them up, and they make great stamps. I found this tutorial on Pinterest, and it was extremely helpful. I got the blank canvas tote from Michaels.

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When working with potato stamps, use simple shapes—for example: triangles, hearts, squares, and crosses. Anything too detailed will look too blurry. Put a sheet of wax paper flat inside of the tote so that the paint doesn’t bleed through to the other side.

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Also, I chose to apply the paint to the potatoes with a foam brush as opposed to dipping the stamps directly in the paint. I felt that it made the edges crisper (and we all love crispy potatoes!). When stamping on fabric, remember that not all acrylic paints will survive in the washing machine without adding a textile medium. You can usually find them by the paints at the craft store. Luckily, I used Martha Stewart’s satin paints (also from Michaels) that are made for a variety of surfaces, including fabric. The colors I picked were purple yam, blue sky, wet cement, marmalade, love bird, and chamomile. I also used beetle black to make the other colors pop.

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It really is as simple as it looks. Let it dry, and you’re ready to go!

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I had so much fun putting these outfits together. The Pantone colors encouraged me to take some chances pairing pieces that I never imagined would go together. Now, go do it! Raid your own closet, and mix it up!

In this week’s Style Study we’ll take a little trip to France. Okay, maybe it’s my backyard. But close your eyes. Can’t you just see the Eiffel Tower? Okay. Now open your eyes or you’ll miss this week’s outfit and the two DIYs that add a certain je ne sais quoi to the whole thing.

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The inspiration for this outfit came from wanting to add a pop of color to a neutral pattern. While any neutral print would work with a pop of color, I often gravitate to black and white stripes.  Seriously, check out last week’s Style Study. Right now this pattern is simultaneously trendy and classic, as I’m seeing it everywhere, like in this top from Modcloth, but I also have striped shirts I still wear from seasons ago. Along with the stripes, these pants from Torrid give the outfit a bit of ooh la la. I’m fairly tall, so the length hits me right above the ankle, which makes them a great for Spring.

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The shoes! I was so psyched to find these on Zappos, especially since I’m very hard to fit. I was originally looking for red heels, but seeing them changed my mind.

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The first DIY is this beret, or Gretel Tam as the pattern calls it. I believe that a tam is more Scottish than French, but it has the right vibe for the outfit. I found the pattern in Stitch ‘n Bitch: Superstar Knitting, but the designer also has it available for purchase on Ravelry. This is a tougher pattern, especially for me. I always call it the most difficult thing I ever knit and finished (compared to the projects on which I’ve given up). Remember though, there’s always a way to get something similar if this pattern isn’t for you. Beret/tam knitting patterns are readily available at all skill levels, or you could even find one to crochet or to sew out of a felt fabric. When all else fails, you can probably find a cute one online. In case you’re curious, the yarn I used was Stitch Nation’s Full O’ Sheep in Passionfruit, designed by the author of Stitch ‘N Bitch. Unfortunately, it has been discontinued, and I have seen some listings for it on eBay, but any single-ply, worsted weight wool should work just fine. Remember to check your gauge!

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This brings me to the next project, and I used the same yarn to make the felt ball beads since I wanted it to match the hat. There are several tutorials and cute projects to make with felt balls on Pinterest (P.S. You can also get them ready-made here). While I found this particular tutorial helpful, I ended up using my own method to felt the yarn. The most important thing to remember, no matter what method you use, is that the yarn must be 100% animal fiber, preferably wool. No acrylic blends!

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First I wound mini balls of yarn. Above there’s six, but you only need four. Remember, what you start with will be slightly larger than the size of the finished ball. I then filled a sink with warm water and about a tablespoon of shampoo. Keep the shampoo handy, as it will help with the felting process. Next put the yarn ball in the sudsy water and begin to roll it in your hands like a ball of dough. You will start to see the “stringiness” disappear. Keep going until it’s completely solid and you see no more strands. If you need extra help getting it to felt, add a dab of shampoo in your hand and continue the process. If you see any bumps, weird spots, or excess fuzziness, it’s okay to trim them away once the yarn begins to cling together. When you’re finished, rinse it off and let it dry. Repeat with the other yarn balls. It will take a couple of days for them to be dry enough to make the necklace.

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Assembling the necklace is super easy. You’ll need the felt balls, black embroidery floss, a sturdy and sharp sewing needle, a jewelry clasp, some black beads, and a pendant. I got mine from Hobby Lobby, in store. Being a New Orleans girl, I love the fleur del lis!  I also needed ajump ring to make the pendant face the correct way, but you may not need it depending on the direction of the hole. Using the needle and the embroidery floss (don’t separate the threads), alternate stringing the black beads and the felt balls, stringing the pendant when you’re halfway done. To add the clasp, I simply tied a knot on either end, trimmed the excess floss, and used a little clear nail polish to make sure the ends don’t come undone, and voila! You’re good to go!

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Have fun experimenting with patterns and color, and see what little extras you can whip up to make your outfit special. Until next time, au revoir!

Sew What?

February 20, 2014 — 2 Comments

When trying to decide which DIY projects to include in my upcoming posts, I wondered whether or not to include knitting projects. I love to knit. It was something I taught myself how to do many years ago when I was between jobs and had some spare time. The Stitch n’ Bitch books, along with Vickie Howell’s television show at the time, Knitty Gritty, were great resources putting all of the instruction in a language I understood. However, while there is a big community of knitters (especially on the web), it’s not something everyone knows how to do. Would I drive people away from my blog by including knitting projects? After all, this isn’t a blog primarily for knitters. It’s more about using different resources to create a personal style. Would I be alienating certain readers because knitting just isn’t their thing?

This brings me to my own personal confession. I can’t sew—at least not using a sewing machine. Sure, I can embroider, attach a button, or close up a hole, but all by hand. Believe me, I’ve tried to do it. Trying to wind the bobbin and thread the machine through the various nooks and crannies feels like being lost in an unfamiliar, sketchy neighborhood without a GPS. And I always recall the time when I tried to machine sew denim without knowing any sort of sewing machine basics, and I broke five of my mom’s sewing needles. Sewing machines scare me. If that’s the case, then why do I own these books?

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I bought them while I was in grad school when I neither had the time nor the inclination to learn how to sew. I mostly bought them because I was a fan of Wendy Mullin, of Built By Wendy fame. I first began to notice her work when some of my favorite bands wore her guitar straps and fell in love with her simple, indie fashions. She published the Sew U books and corresponding Simplicity patterns a while back. She includes instructions even a beginner who just purchased her first sewing machine can understand, but that wasn’t enough to help me overcome my fear. And the patterns included in the book weren’t even nearly my size. Sure, I’ve had to resize a few knitting patterns which usually involves measuring and simple math that even I can handle, but I have no clue where one would even start to size up a sewing pattern. That being said, what was I doing with these books?

The answer, they inspired me. When I shopped, I began to keep my eyes open for similar dresses, tops, and pants as those I saw in the books. Most crafty projects, whether they are needlecrafts, jewelry-making, or anything else fashion related, are usually based on things people can buy somewhere. Usually, someone who has a given skill sees something in a store, a magazine, or online and says, “I can make that.” I know that’s been the case for some things I’ve knit. But if you can’t knit it or sew it, rest assured, you can probably buy it.  Keep that in mind when I throw anything your way that might not be a part of your skill-set. Remember, too, if you can’t make it, someone on Etsy or in your circle of friends can. Barter or trade or have fun craft parties where you and your buddies can share your talents and your wares. Also, if you wish you could DIY so you can make garments for your size and shape, remember there are places that can do this for you. I just found out about eShakti, which custom-makes dresses, tops, and skirts to your measurements. I’m waiting on some dresses to come in from them, so I’ll give you all a report when I see how they fit. Don’t forget your local seamstress either who can make clothing or do alterations.

I’m not giving you any of these suggestions to dissuade you from learning a new craft or hobby. I remember it took me months to knit anything that even resembled a rectangle, but I stuck with it, and I would say my skills are now on the intermediate level. I’m good with cables, knitting in the round, and reading patterns, not so good with lacework or anything that requires a lot of counting. And who knows, maybe there will be an upcoming blog series titled “Becca Learns How to Sew.” Just remember, we all have our things we can do. Knitting just happens to be my thing, and you should use whatever your thing is to add to your personal style.

Oh, and there is cool knitted hat in my next Style Study! Pop in on Monday to see it!