Funny DIY

Had to share this because I’m so surprised it actually worked! I had this pair of Tom’s cordones that started out grey and eventually got covered in brown splotches I couldn’t wash out (See: toddler adventures).

Since I often dip things in grey dye for my work, I figured I could re-dye them to cover the spots. But that didn’t work at all. They came out looking exactly the same.

So, one day the idea just popped into my head to color them with a Sharpie marker. I was going to trash the shoes and buy another $78 pair in black anyway, so I figured it was worth a try. I even floated the idea to Mike and he said I should not do that. But I am stubborn.

So I colored the shoes. And it totally worked. They came out looking kind of denim-ish. Given Tom’s weathered style, I don’t think you would know they weren’t that way to start. So, if this happens to you, give the ‘ole Sharpie a try!

Dressing a post-baby body

I don’t have to dress for an office every day, so usually the style I’m going for is comfy-cute. But I realized I was looking more like bedraggled-new-mom lately. I had this uniform of skinny jeans, a stretchy tank top and a curvy fitted cardigan that I thought was flattering. But the way the sweater curved out at the bottom was actually just highlighting my stomach, which is the part I least want to highlight. 

So I tried to find some affordable and truly flattering pieces that would take my style up a notch, but still be practical for my lifestyle. I have to carry a toddler, bend over constantly and play in the dirt. So anything I wear has to work with that, plus be nursing friendly for a little while longer. So that’s pretty limiting, but I’m finding some basics that are working really well, and I just wanted to share. 

1. Merona sweater dress, on sale for $16.08 at Target
I grabbed this on clearance without even trying it on, and it has become one of my favorite pieces to wear. After I washed the dress, it got shorter, so it’s more of a tunic now. Throw on a belt if you want to define the waist a little more. The zipper detail on the shoulder is key!

2. Old Navy linen shirt, on sale for $20.
Button-up shirts don’t usually work for me, but these are softer and more comfortable than most. They’re super cute layered over a tank top, and they have shape without being too tight over a less-than-flat belly.

3. Toms cordones, $69 (get their emails for coupon codes)
I love these shoes because they’re just a little bit more stylish than your average slip-on. I don’t have time for laces anymore, so I leave mine out. Best part about Toms — you can throw them in the washer anytime they get dirty. I got these in a grey color, but I probably should have gone with black.

4. J.Crew Jackie cardigan, $65
I bought 3 J.Crew sweaters when they were ridiculously cheap on clearance, and this one is by far the best. It’s short and fitted and really comfortable. I should probably get rid of 2/3 of my cardigans and just have a couple of these. 

5. Denizen modern skinny jeans, $27.99 at Target
Over the holidays my pants were getting too tight so I went to Target and bought another pair out of desperation. I normally would not pay nearly $30 for Target jeans, but these fit so perfectly, I had to. And I’m so glad I did because they’ve become my absolute favorite pants.  They’re fitted enough to be flattering, but stretchy like a jegging. And $27.99 is really not a lot to pay for good jeans.

6. PACT cropped leggings, $29.99 (I got them during one of their 30% off sales)
I’m wearing a lot more dresses lately, so tights have become essential for chilly nights. I love pretty much everything from PACT — they’re a great eco-friendly company. Next chance I get, I’m ordering more of these.

7. Old Navy bermuda shorts, $24.94
I bought two pairs of these last season when they were on sale for $10. They are so perfect for when you need something casual to wear on a warm day. I have short legs, so I roll up the cuffs a little higher. 

8. Old Navy jersey tamis, $10
As I’ve said before, I live in these. They’re nice and long, which is an absolute must for me. Plus they’re stretchy and they come in lots of cute colors. If they ever stop making these, I will be totally screwed.

9. Old Navy terry sweatshirt, $17.94
There’s a lot of Old Navy here because I think they make the best variety of inexpensive basics. That store has saved me! (Though I am starting to explore our new UNIQLO store.) Anyway, I included this sweatshirt, because it is the least frumpy looking sweatshirt I’ve ever seen. It’s another great layering piece that I’m finding I can’t live without.

What are you wearing these days?

Swedish shoes

Aren’t Mike’s new shoes awesome? We discovered this great store in Berkeley called Convert. They have a separate shoe store in the 4th street shopping district that is full of shoes that we both loved. Mike picked out this pair of Tretorn shoes — they’re Swedish.

On the women’s side they had some really cute and comfy looking heels by Maguba, also Swedish. I resisted buying any, but I am finally getting some Toms! I might be the only person in the bay area who doesn’t have them yet.

A little love for MM Knits

Two really cool things happened this week that brought a little attention to Mary Marie Knits.

First, a local magazine, Diablo, featured my giant pouf in a collection of handmade gifts.

And then CasaSugar ran a little interview and tour of my house.

Cara and Pups

I had so much fun chatting with Elka and taking stock of all the pieces in my house I’ve made or collected over the years. And the dogs made sure to find their way into as many photos as possible!

J.Crew for less

So while I was home in Kansas, I made the mistake of going into a J.Crew outlet store. I absolutely fell in love with pretty much everything in there, and with some unknown source of willpower I walked out with NOTHING.

But I’m still thinking about some of those goodies. I looked online, and you can actually shop the factory store, but only on weekends. It also has flat rate shipping for $8.95.

J.Crew is probably the store closest to my personal sense of style — very simple, comfortable, kind of preppy. They follow trends, but always have basics. And stripes. I do love the stripes.

Here are some of my favorites, from the regular (left) and factory stores (right):

boatneck painter tee in stripe, $39.50, tissue classic stripe tee, $24.50

eden cardigan, $89.50, cody cardigan, $44.50

perfect shirt in gingham, $72, perfect shirt in plaid, $44.50

takeaway tote, $68, classic leather tote, $118

dreamy cotton pant, $45, knit cozy pant, $39.50

Sadly, J.Crew jeans never seem to fit me. I have to stick to Gap for those.

I also noticed that if you like J.Crew’s Martina suede wedges ($228, left), you can get an almost identical pair at Target for $29.99.

And here are some more of my loves from J.Crew this fall:

1. always cardigan, $29.50

2. double cloth metro coat, $298

3. open shawl cardigan, $59.50

4. ruffle scarf, $34.50

5. vintage field army watch, $150

6.booker boots, $298

Exercising willpower, exercising willpower…

Vintage family photos

I absolutely love when The Sartorialist posts vintage photos of people’s stylish relatives. Mike and I were looking through some of his old family photos, and we found these gems.

(Mike’s words): This is my great-grandfather, Otto Satorius Sr., probably in Milwaukee, probably in the 1910s.

This is his son, Robert Satorius (my great uncle), somewhere in the Pacific during World War II.

And this is one of his other sons, Otto Jr. (another great uncle of mine), either just before or just after World War II.

Aren’t they great?

How to hem jeans

I have so few pairs of pants that fit anymore (but not much budget for new ones), so I was really excited when I found this pair of Zara jeans at a consignment shop for $14.

Just one problem. They were a tad too long.

But I bought them anyway, because I learned a few years ago that even someone as impatient as I am with sewing can hem their own jeans in less than half an hour for a cost of nothing.

See? This is an old pair of jeans that I hemmed myself.

When you look closely you can see the little line of not-so-expertly-sewn blue stitches. But I doubt anyone is going to bend over and examine your cuffs that closely.

So yeah. There are many ways to hem jeans. This is just how I do it.

First you put on the jeans so you can figure out where on your leg you want the bottoms to hit. Then you start folding the fabric, kind of pushing it up inside itself so that the new fold meets the little stitch line of the original hem.

Once you have both sides looking right, pin them all the way around.

Now, carefully, take the jeans off. The place where you folded the new hem will probably seem a little thick. So you want to iron it nice and flat.

Now you’re ready to sew. Choose a thread that matches the jeans as closely as possible. In my case, they were so dark I went with black.

You want to line up the new fold with the old hem as closely as possible so that you can still see the original hem stitches, but there is no space between them and the fold. Leave about an 1/8-inch space between the fold and your new stitches. It’s pretty simple. Just sew a straight line all around.

You’ll probably have to speed up your machine as you go over the bumps on the sides of the jeans.

Inside, you will see the fold, but outside no one will know it’s there.

The only time it’s an issue is if you want to roll up your cuffs, say to wear them with rain boots. But it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make. You can also press this fold from the inside if you want it to lay a little flatter.

Top-secret hem line. Shhhh.

Oh, and one more thing. With most jeans the bottoms are a little bit wider around than the few inches above, so you may have to pinch your fabric a little to get it to line up correctly. This is no big deal. You just sew over it.

Voila, jeans that fit like they were made for you.

Loving: A shelf for my Pyrex bowls

Finally, I have a place to show off my collection of vintage Pyrex bowls besides the dusty top of the refrigerator. We bought this expedit shelf from IKEA while we were in Minneapolis. We also got the desk attachment because Mike has had a hard time working in the living room without a dog clamped to each arm on the couch. Now I am wishing my office desk was so nice!

You can also see my keep calm poster in the background. Love it.

Sleeping beauty

Caught Sadie sleeping on her Nylabone. How could that be comfortable?

I should also mention that she’s sleeping on the dogs’ early Christmas present. It’s a Molly Mutt dog duvet cover. They’re so cool. You buy the cover in one of many adorable patterns and stuff it full of old clothes, towels, blankets, or even an old dog bed. The duvets are very affordable, and they come in the mail with a button and a sweet handwritten note. Our doggies took to it right away.