29 April 2017

Tips on Spring Cleaning Your Wardrobe!

In thoery it's spring. In theory. But I live in Britain and sometimes we get a weekend of summer and then it starts snowing by midweek, because this country is ridiculous, basically.

Last weekend whilst it was beautifully sunny and warm I took the risk and decided to spring clean my wardrobe, swapping out all the winter items for spring ones!

spring cleaning your wardrobe

If you're anything like me, you'll be exchanging your tartans for your ginghams, your dark colours for your lights and those cotton sun dresses are ready to go!
Every spring I do a little purge of items I either don't or can't wear whilst I'm switching, and I wanted to share with you a few things I do to clear up some items ready for selling, donating or throwing away.

First up - everything you own comes out of the wardrobe and storage. EV.RY.THING. Dump it on the floor or on your bed - and you've got the biggest mess of clothing you've ever seen. You're going to need a day and a bottle of wine, but I promise you it's worth the work!

spring cleaning your wardrobe
spring cleaning your wardrobe
Once you're facing your mess (and maybe already drinking to deal with it, I'm not judging you here) you're going to pick up every. single. item. in that pile and you're going to ask yourself a few honest questions.

1. Does it fit?
If it doesn't fit, it needs to go. Don't bullshit yourself that the size 16 dress you wore five years ago is going to fit you when you eventually slim down when you're a 22. Don't do that to yourself, no dress is worth you feeling bad about. Try it on if you're not sure, but if it makes you feel bad, it gets tossed aside.

2. Does it make you feel good?
This kinda fits in with the first one - if when you wear this item you feel like it doesn't fit right or it makes you uncomfortable in any way, get rid of it. Life is too short to wear things you hate.

spring cleaning your wardrobe
This dress split as soon as I bought it - but it WILL be fixed!

3. Is it broken? Are you actually going to fix it?
I'm a sewist, and a lot of you reading this probably sew as well. We've all got piles of UFOs and garments that need adjusting. If it's something you love, repair it. If it's something you can live without, you can get rid of it - we all know if it goes into that pile it'll never be worn again!
If you're not a sewist and it's an item you don't want to spend money to fix, it's time to say goodbye. But remember buttons are so easy to sew on, no matter how bad you are with a needle.

4. Do I actually wear it?
This is where I'm a big fan of the humble outfit photo. I can look at my own Instagram and see what I wore and when, and if I'm looking at a wardrobe of items that I've not worn at all, clearly I don't need it. I can list off at least five items in my winter wardrobe I never wore at all over winter. It takes up space, bye bye! 

spring cleaning your wardrobe
Wine may or may not have been consumed
Now whilst you're deciding what you are and aren't keeping (and if you're drinking wine, you've probably turned this into a drinking game and are currently wearing four dresses on your head...) is when I start putting things back in my wardrobe. Since we're going into spring, winter clothes go into vacuum bags, the real summery items have a small vacuum bag ready for when the hot weather comes in, and spring and interchangeable-season clothing goes back into that wardrobe.

So you're left with a pile of things with broken zips, stuff that hasn't fitted in a very, very long time, and that jumper you bought because it was cheap three years ago and it still has the tags on.
Since I'm in list mode, this is what you're going to organise your pile into;

If you've got some decent clothes in good condition which have a decent resell value - sell it and make a little bit of money. I sell a lot of my branded clothes and accessories on Facebook groups for ease, and this works well with vintage too. Don't bother sticking everything you own on eBay though, that takes far too long! 

spring cleaning your wardrobe
As cute as this skirt is, it's been worn a total of twice over the last three years; to Facebook sales with ye!
Did you know that charity shops are able to profit off 98% of donations? That's a good way of decluttering AND feeling good about yourself - every little bit helps! Whether you're deciding to just get rid of everything in one go, or you've got items that aren't either fit for sale or have no real resale value - fill a black bag full of your items and head down to the charity of your choice - Clutter Fairy has a great post about charity shops here. Alternatively - give to friends!

I'm calling this trash, but frankly - do not throw anything into landfill, guys! Most charity shops will accept unusable items in the form of 'ragging' - which the charity is paid for by the kilo, and is taken to be recycled and reused. Simply add it into your donation bag (I usually have a second bag of donations labelled 'ragging') and they'll go through it and pop it into their rag bags to be used all over the place.

This is where the clothes that have seen much better days go. You can't sell, give away or donate this stuff, but it has to go. I'm looking at you, overworn band t-shirt with holes and stains.

spring cleaning your wardrobe
It barely looks any different! 
So you're done. Congratulations, drink more wine!

It's a pretty good way to spend a day, right? Now you know exactly what is in your wardrobe, you know it fits and it makes you feel good. Anything you've taken out is either money in your pocket, a new item for a friend, or going to a charity, and all of those options are frankly great.

So now you have a streamlined wardrobe and a few extra pennies - time to drunk order some new clothes or patterns so you can work on what you now know is your style!

spring cleaning your wardrobe
I never want to do this again.
What are your tips and tricks for spring cleaning that wardrobe once you get to the new season? Let me know in the comments!


22 April 2017

My Long Haul Survival Kit!

So over a period of six months, I'd been on four trips that have needed long haul flights.
That's eight times cooped up on a flying tin can with recycled air and horrible food (I'm sorry, BA, but it's not great.) for ten to twelve hours at a time. It's grim, but I'm learning how to make it as good as it possibly can be.

long haul survival kit

I'm not going to tell you what and how to pack when it comes to your checked luggage, but I am going to tell you what I have in my carry-on to make the hell of a long haul flight a little sweeter.

The first time I went on a trip I made this awful mistake of not having my bag in order, which made for awkward transitions from the airport through security and then onto the plane. My biggest tip would be to GET THAT BAG ORGANISED - personally, I use one of the large and one of the small wash bags from the Vendula London Skyline Range inside the matching Skyline Tote to keep the small bits and pieces organised. Everything I need is easily reachable and throwing it back into the carry-on is so simple.

long haul survival kit

The main thing that I have in the Large Wash Bag is my liquids bag - most airports require you to have a clear bag for all liquids which must be under 100ml. Since I have hold baggage with everything I need for my stay in whatever country I'm in, the only things I carry in here are an absolute necessity on the flight. A sandwich bag suffices to store them in, but they do have them to take at security for free - take a few.

This includes;
  • Toothpaste
  • Eye mist
  • Moisturiser
  • Deodorant
  • Lip Balm
  • Face Mist 
  • Hand Sanitiser
  • Face Wipes (travel pack or zip lock a few from a larger pack)
  • Lighter (most countries allow one lighter in hand luggage if you are also a dirty smoker like myself)
The rest of my wash bag is filled with other essentials I couldn't live without;
  • Tea bags - Airplane tea is gross, plus a sleepy-time tea before trying to nap will help.
  • Pen - This is an absolute essential. No one has pens and it means your landing pass is sorted before you hit immigration. Black or blue only! 
  • Mints
  • Toothbrush
  • Earplugs
  • Travel sickness and herbs sleeping tablets if you need either
  • Tissues
  • Surgical mask - this will save you from the recycled air tearing your sinuses apart, I promise you. 
long haul survival kit

The Small Wash Bag is the 'Tech Bag'. Again, security like searching these things separately to the rest of your items, so having them in one place means you can dump them in the tray and throw them back in and it's still organised - speed is key! 
  • Headphones
  • Camera - with battery taken out and separate 
  • Phone charger
  • Apple Watch charger
  • Portable charger
  • Charger cable for camera/portable
  • Plug adapter
Although I don't live in constant fear of losing my luggage, having everything I need to keep my tech charged is important to me as someone who is married to their phone.
The thing I love the most about this bag is the internal pockets - I always take my Apple Watch off for flights, and it keeps me calm knowing I can zip it into a waterproof bag once it's turned off and not worry about it for my trip, which is worth that alone.

long haul survival kit

Now. The important things are sorted, but you're still going to need a few things to survive that flight.

No one wears their coat on a flight. The idea is ridiculous, so get yourself a zip-through hoodie. The hood gives you some privacy when you make the mistake of watching Toy Story 3 and need to have a cry, it has pockets if you're using your phone for music and the all-important lip balm, plus you can control your body temperature with a zip.

As a jeans-hater, I generally travel in a band t-shirt and skirt, and although it's comfortable for the most part, nothing beats the comfort of pajamas. Yes, my friends, around two hours in, after drinks/snacks and dinner - I'm right in those pajamas! 
I pack lightweight ones as someone who's legs get warm, and I always have a pair of fluffy socks in my bag to keep things snuggly. A scarf will help you too, either balled up as a pillow, a makeshift blanket or y'know, a scarf.

One thing that seems to amaze a lot of people is that there are no rules to say you can't take an empty bottle onto the plane with you, so grab one (mine is in the shape of Baymax from Big Hero 6 because I'm a perpetual child!) and fill up before and while you're on the plane - much easier than either waiting for water to be served, or having to ask an attendant all the time.

long haul survival kit

Then the most important - a damn travel pillow.
I bought a cheap bean-filled pillow first off, which did the job, but would never actually support my neck. So I caved and bought myself a memory-foam monstrosity that is the bee's knees - I'd definitely recommend!

Then it's time to plug in, cuddle up and try and make the best out of a bad situation!

So now you know what is in my flight bag - what's in yours? Do you have anything that you absolutely couldn't live without? Let me know, and happy travels!

8 April 2017

On Outfit Posting and Body Image

In my new-found energy with making this blog, y'know, a fully-functioning blog without six-month gaps between each post - I've not only been making more of an effort to look good, but also grab actual photos of it so I can be vain as possible and post about my daily style.
You know, like actual bloggers do.

But sometimes it just doesn't work out the way you want it to.

This day in particular I loved my outfit. I made the top, skirt and the necklace which made me proud, but also I thought it just looked great. I whacked on my favourite faux leather jacket, threw my camera at my best friend and posed in front of Whole Foods thinking I looked the bees knees.

But looking at the photos made me a little exasperated - the image I had in my mind of what I looked like didn't stare back at me. In fact, I looked shorter and stockier than I think I've ever looked before, and it was disheartening.

I actually hated what I saw.

As my fingers hovered over "Delete" on these pictures, I realised something. You will not always look perfect. Maybe you'll pose wrong, or the light will make you look strange, or your camera does something weird to contort your body. Or maybe your mental image of yourself really just doesn't match up to your actual self.

Maybe you'll see a photo and kinda hate yourself.

This face makes me laugh, though. 
And maybe you'll post them up, because that's all part of you, in the end. Many years ago I hung up my self hatred, learned to love myself and say "fuck you" to the world - sometimes you have to say "fuck you" to yourself and that voice in your head that tells you that you're not enough, let alone perfect.

Headscarf: Vintage
Necklace: Handmade
Jacket: Primark
Top: Handmade
Belt: Primark (old)
Skirt: Handmade

Because sure, I look short. I look fatter than usual. My cleavage wasn't as noticeable as it was in real life. My pose is all wrong.

But it's still beautiful, because it's me. And even when I don't look 'perfect', I still look beautiful.

25 March 2017

Sakura Season

If you follow me on Instagram you would have seen that I was lucky enough to go to Tokyo again  last month.

One of the days I spent the morning wandering around the beautiful Shinjuku Gyoen - a gorgeous public garden which has traditional Japanese landscaping and two tea houses. I was even so lucky to see the first signs of cherry blossoms in the gardens, which made me somewhat emotional.

Naturally, I had to get some photos in front of the blossoms because I'm that sort of person. Less naturally, I had to drag a tripod to the other side of the world with me because I was on my own and had no one to take photos for me. This was not an easy task because of other people walking into the shot, and also using my phone as a remote meant a wonderful delay that often caught me off guard.

Don't I just look so happy?
But I was determined, damnit!

I won this Adalene skirt from Lindy Bop's daily Facebook competitions last year, and it really couldn't be much more perfect for this setting! With a border print of Japanese pagodas and Torii gates, cherry blossoms and cranes and even a background with Mount Fuji - it's such a beautiful skirt that I couldn't wait to wear whilst I was in Tokyo.

I'm not really into pink as I always imagined it would either wash me out or clash horrendously with my hair, and boy am I glad I was wrong! The colour is subtle and sweet but looks striking against black, and I'm a big fan of the button-down front.

Lindy Bop's sizing is notoriously disastrous, but I took a 22 in this based on the measurements of the size guide, and it was the perfect size for me, not too tight to cut me up, not too loose to fall off me - but the cotton does have a bit of give!

It also has pockets, and if you've followed me for long enough you might know I have a bit of a thing for them. Anything without pockets is a useless garment to me!

Away from the blossoms and into the shade, I'm wearing my well-loved Rachel coat from Collectif from years ago - and of course, a Vendula London Chocolatiers Grab Bag!

The bag is more of a Parisian feel than the skirt, a little shopfront of a patisserie with cakes and chocolates, which is actually incredibly popular in Japan, which clearly means it was a set meant to be, right? Right.

Coat: Collectif
Hair Flower: Lady Luck's Boutique
Necklace: Handmade 
Top: Primark
Brooch: Luxulite
Belt: Primark
Skirt: Lindy Bop
Shoes: Melissa


11 March 2017

Tartan Puns Are Hard - I Made a Thing!

No, you're not imagining things, I really HAVE made something for once, and photographed it, and then blogged it! Damn, if I could do this regularly maybe I'd be good at this whole blog thing.

I don't get to make stuff as much as I used to these days, I've been spending so much time doing that whole traveling to China and Japan thing, and trying to fit normal life in between has been hard enough!

But I digress, I MADE SOMETHING!

The fabric is an unidentified-fabric-content grey tartan I picked up from my favourite bargain bin at Rolls and Rems in Holloway probably about two years ago now. I had the idea of a pinafore in mind as I was buying it, and into the stash it went. Then with the move and a cull of unworn winter items it was time to get it made in time for winter!

And in true Melody fashion, I didn't. It was finished in February. Typical, haha!

The construction is incredibly simple, It's a circle skirt (as always, I use the By Hand London Circle Skirt App) with ginormous pockets that could fit a small human with a literal square of fabric for a bib and strips for straps. I stupidly didn't take a photo, but the straps cross over the back.


The bib of the pinafore is REMOVABLE.
You heard me, I only went ahead and made something cute, functional AND I can do a Clarke Kent style transformation from pinafore to skirt in seconds! I'm so pleased with myself, as you can tell.

The bib attaches to the front of the waistband with four buttons and at the back with one button for each strap. An incredibly simple idea, but it's proved to be a goodun' for me, since I like a bit of choice.

There was a few hiccups with this skirt, though. Using cottons for most of my sewing life, I have never experienced an uneven hem that was particularly noticeable on a circle skirt, I'm guessing because it didn't have the weight to it that this does. So it's a bit longer at the sides than the front and back, and although it's not horribly noticeable it ever so slightly grates on my nerves.

And as you might be able to guess from the above photo - I aligned the pockets to the pattern of the fabric instead of the shape, which means as the skirt sits as a semi-circle, it's wonderful. But they slope at the out corners when being worn. An easy fix, since they're just patch pockets - but you guys know I'm so lazy I will never bother!

Scarf: Vintage
Top: Primark
Necklace: Handmade
Brooch: Second hand, god knows what brand!
Belt: Primark
Bangles: Splendette
Shoes: Miss L Fire
Bag: Vintage

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