I Sew Because I Am an Artist (Not Because I Am a Woman)

Sometimes, I get a squirmy feeling in my chest when I tell people that I sew. It has less to do with me and more do with their reaction, which can go one of two ways: a very enthusiastic response about what a “classic” and “rare” woman I am, or a sort of sneer of confusion as to why I would want to partake of something considered part of women’s domestic past. These two responses land at opposite ends of the spectrum but are both rooted in the same misconception about what it means to be a sewist. Both see sewing as a submission to a woman’s traditional role in society, and both are wrong.

Assuming that I sew because I am trying to fulfill my role as “good woman” is not only insulting to women, but it is insulting to the craft. Often, popular understanding of what constitutes art is far too narrow. For most of my life when people asked me if I was “artsy” I felt compelled to tell them no, because I am not some type of painter or illustrator as people usually assume is attached to the title of artist.

Our culture leads us to believe creative activities historically associated with women, such as cooking and sewing, aren’t art. Yet, everything about them is artful. Art is not easily defined, and that is the way it should be. The only requirement I attach to the definition of art is creation. Sewing is creation. Looking at a rectangle of color and being able to envision it as something whole, to see exactly where I would place the darts and what accent colors would make it pop, to translate a piece of nothing into an expression of my being–I dare you to tell me it isn’t art.

Sometimes the people who reject sewing as art are well-meaning progressive women who just never want to be forced to squeeze into a traditional role. This fear of this forced assimilation is totally valid, but the way it is expressed is not helping anyone. It’s not feminist to reject and shame things that are traditionally feminine. Feminism is about the choice to express ourselves however we want. But it’s also about dissociating traditionally “feminine” things with negativity. That means supporting women and recognizing their artistic expression as valid, even if it is different from the way we choose to express ourselves. It’s an important act feminism to reclaim textile art as just that–art. Detach art from the gender binary. Give sewing the power and reverence it was neglected for far too long.

What other arts have we neglected because they are seen as feminine? Maybe we’ve never thought of our grandmas as artists but maybe they are the most artful members of our families.

I encourage you to give Faith Ringgold, Suzan Engler, and Toshiko MacAdam a search to see just how broad and innovative textile and fiber art can be.

Put a Sweater Under It

My fall and winter motto: put a sweater under it. Specifically, a turtleneck. This way, I can wear all of my favorite summer dresses all winter long and no one (or temperature) can stop me.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it is the absolute best time in history to have ears because the earring trends are INSANE right now. I bought these earrings at Dig It in OKC and I can’t stop wearing them. They were super reasonably priced, too, at around $12. I’ve been trying to shop minimally for winter and fall, but these earrings were worth adding to my wardrobe.

I handmade this dress in early high school and it’s still going strong. A lot of the dresses I made back then are a little big on me now, but they actually work out perfectly for putting over sweaters. I loving mixing brighter colors with muted tones and pastels. 

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This outfit is full of pieces I’ve owned for years, yet I’m still finding new ways to style them. I totally recommend walking into your closet with a fresh mindset before you decide to go out and buy something new.

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I write a lot about where to and not to shop, but another side of sustainability deals with how much to shop as well. I’m often tempted to buy gobs of new cozy sweaters at Goodwill the seconds the temperature drops in the slightest. This season I’ve made it a goal to purchase as few pieces as possible while still keeping my look fresh for fall.

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Nothing about this look is tired even though every item except one is from AT LEAST a year ago. Getting the full use out of my items is a big part of creating less clothing waste. I kind of enjoy the creative challenge of restyling my old pieces into new outfits.

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Playing with accessories and layering is one of the best ways to make an old outfit new. I bought this vintage coat from Re-Runs in Kansas City and it is going to make my entire wardrobe feel like new. This coat is a 1960’s piece that probably originally came in a set with a matching dress or skirt. It is unexpected to pair it with some ripped jeans, but I love styling a vintage piece in a modern way. If you’re in a bit of a rut, try searching out one or two pieces that really intrigue you instead of getting a whole new wardrobe.

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These pictures were taken by my favorite creative collaborator, Andrea Schultz. If you want to see more of her photography, check out her new website https://andreaschultz.blog/.

Summer’s Last Hurrah

It may not be summer anymore but this is my last warm weather look for the season. It’s not actually getting cold, I am just trying to will the universe into submission by wearing turtlenecks.

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This post is mostly going to be a photo-drop, but if you’ll notice I’m taking a bit of my own advice from Daytime Disco Dress. This rainbow crop-top is 1980’s piece I picked up from the OKC Mod Swap. I balanced it out a bit by wearing jeans, but kept it fun with my Classic Sarah (TM) yellow beret and some bubblegum pink Keds.

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These photos were taken by my multi-faceted friend Andrea Schultz. If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ve seen her fabulous work many times. She is launching her website soon, and you can (and should) keep an eye out for it by watching her Instagram.

This blog is about to turn one years old! What should I do for my blog-birthday post? Help me decide in the comments.

 

Daytime Disco Dress

One of my friends told me I looked like Hannah Montana in this outfit. No shame in dressing like a pop star every once in a while.

Often times, people will compliment my outfit and say something along the lines of, “I could never pull that off.” My response to this is always a resounding, “NOOOOOO.” Nothing makes me sadder than hearing that people aren’t dressing the way they want to simply because they feel that they aren’t the “right” type of person. You just need a little bit of courage and lot of sense of humor to put on that sparkly dress you want to wear even if you’re just going to brunch. The number one piece of advice I’d share about taking fashion risks is to understand that, unless you’re going to work, there is no reason to take fashion seriously. Play with it. Like I said earlier, people makes jokes about my outfits or say that I dress like a cartoon, but I don’t see that as a bad thing. If I put on something I love and it is a little weird, I just keep in mind that people will probably think so. For every person who doesn’t get your style, there will be tons more who are into your creativity and willingness to break the status quo.

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However, I did make some conscious accessory choices to help keep the outfit from being entirely distasteful. When I wear a really attention grabbing statement piece, I like to choose accessories that won’t compete for the attention. Sneakers and a denim jacket help tone this dress down, taking it from night club to casual. I still kept the beret and sneakers colorful because that’s my thing. It works even though the dress is so loud because the colors are in smaller doses.

Almost all of the items in the outfit were thrifted. Except the coffee.

Go forth and make fashion fools of yourselves. It’s a lot of fun.

Early Summer Sunset

Summer weather recently hit the Midwest full force and I am 100% more of a person than I was before it came. I always forget how much more alive I feel in the sunshine.

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I love novelty prints and bright colors no matter the season. However, I look a lot less out of place in the summer. Believe it or not, this is not the only lemon printed shirt that I own. I bought this shirt in high school, but these vintage peachy shorts were a recent Salvation Army purchase.

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This girl loves to be ridiculously matchy-matchy, hence the shirt and scarf combination, so I had to grab this lemon mug at Goodwill. It was fate. Besides tied scarves, which are a personal favorite in every season, my favorite accessories for the summer are colorful barrettes. They are a simple way to add some extra color to an outfit, especially for us short-haired girls who don’t have many options for switching up hairstyles. I like stacking several colors, especially yellow, orange, and pink as they resemble a sunset. Just pick up a rainbow pack from your favorite store in the little girls’ section (no shame).

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Velco sneakers are comfy, casual, and quirky. They add a silly touch to my already fairly silly outfit. Shoes always make the final decision about how casual or dressed up an outfit is, making these shoes perfect for everyday summer looks. I love to wear dresses on a daily basis and these shoes are the perfect paring to keep me from being too overdressed, if one believes in such a thing.

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This is one of the first summers I won’t be spending my time in class or working. I have been blessed with a lot of opportunities to travel, which is why I have gone back to a lower maintenance hair color. I am not sure what my blogging schedule will be like, but I am excited to find more unique places to take pictures as well as just to soak up new experiences.

T-Shirt Styling

To me, this sweater is reminiscent of the children’s bible illustrations of Joseph’s coat of many colors. It’s a great statement piece to add some spunk when styling a t-shirt.

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First of all, I have no idea what I am doing in this picture. Let’s move on. T-shirts! Wearing a t-shirt doesn’t have to be boring. Comfy and cute do not have to be mutually exclusive. It takes a little bit of creativity, but a casual look can have just as much personality as a more dressed up look.
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If you’re going to wear a t-shirt, wear one that represents something that you’re into or that supports an organization you like. My t-shirt is from Cheap Rent, a group of OKC artists that design and print shirts. It’s quirky, comfortable, and yet a lot cuter than wearing an old church camp shirt or a shirt from one’s old high school. Lately, I’ve been into tying all my t-shirt at the waist to create a more flattering shape.

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Surround your shirt with hecka cute accessories. I’m wearing this adorable pair of sneakers I bought on Depop, but, contrary to popular belief, t-shirts can definitely be worn with flats and loafers too. Don’t be scared to pair different patterns with a graphic t-shirt. I layered mine over a wide-leg denim jumpsuit. Try tucking one into a denim skirt or tying it at the waist over a dress.

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Wearing a t-shirt should be playful and fun, so don’t think too hard about it. I still have tons of t-shirts from different events and camps I went to in high school, but I’ve decided recently that I am going to pick two or three shirts that are my favorite and turn the rest into dish rags. I thought it would be a fun activity for earth day, but we’ll see if I actually get around to it before the summer. Thanks to my friend Ryan from Ryality.com for taking these pictures.

Happy National Poetry month!

Rainbow Bright

Every once in a while I put on a outfit so perfect that it seems to have the supernatural ability to improve my mood by 200%. This outfit makes me feel like a sunbeam.

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This darling handmade vintage dress is from Jenny’s Thrift in Oklahoma City. It is such a lovely, locally owned vintage store with the kindest owners. Stop in if you are in the area.

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My adorable friend Hope gave me this woven handbag a few years ago. It is just begging to carried around with me all spring. I love woven/wicker purses; they make everything feel like a picnic.

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Pastels are gorgeous, but an entirely pastel outfit can be little flat sometimes. That’s why I love the addition of this vibrant orange velvet ribbon, which I stole shamelessly from my mother’s sewing room.

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Sunnier days are ahead of us, friends. Happy Good Friday.