Friday, October 31, 2014

{Crafting Diva} How To: DIY 80s Costume Edition

Happy Halloween, everyone!  I hope you all have a safe and happy holiday filled with lots of laughs and candy!

This summer, some friends and I were talking about attending an 80s river cruise party (that we still haven't done), so I was going to make my 80s costume.  I had yet to break out my sewing machine I got for Christmas and was really hoping to sew the skirt I envisioned in my head.  After all that work, I figured I would use it as my Halloween costume. Then we were invited to a Halloween-themed birthday party.  And then Bunco night before Halloween was deemed 80s themed.  Lucky me, I have gotten a lot of use out of my creations!  This is part showing off my costume and part crafty tutorial post.  While it is a little late for Halloween, it could come in handy next year or for your 80s costume needs.

Crafting Diva: DIY 80s Costume Edition -

First up for my rockin outfit was a Halloween birthday party. It took me a few days to make everything, but I was really happy with how it turned out.  It was my first time using my sewing machine and actually making a full-on piece of clothing.  More on the How To portion below....Sean was a doctor for the birthday party and busted out his Star Wars Tuxedo Shirt for 80s Bunco night.

Crafting Diva: DIY 80s Costume Edition -
Crafting Diva: DIY 80s Costume Edition -

Bunco was a blast!  It is our first costume themed gathering and certainly won't be the last.  Everyone looked fantastic in their 80s best!

Crafting Diva: DIY 80s Costume Edition - (80s Bunco)
Crafting Diva: DIY 80s Costume Edition - (80s Bunco)
Crafting Diva: DIY 80s Costume Edition - (80s Bunco)

A few more snaps from the partying:

Crafting Diva: DIY 80s Costume Edition -
Crafting Diva: DIY 80s Costume Edition -

How Tos:

The Makeup and Hair

I wanted my makeup to be colorful without being too garish and blue.  I pulled inspiration from my costume and went with green, pink, and purple color-blocked shadow and heavy black liner for the first night (I used Smashbox gel liner.  It stays on and does NOT budge).  The bottom lash line was black liner blended into a dark purple.  I just felt like the winged liner was so thick, it was hard to see anything but the green peeking out.  For Bunco, I wanted something a bit lighter and not as dark as my first attempt.  The color-blocking didn't turn out as well because my pink shadow blended in with the purple too much.  Also, the green was barely noticeable in its tiny inner corner spot.  I used black liner again in a much thinner line and went over it with a metallic purple liner from Hard Candy.  The bottom lash line I used two different purple Urban Decay liners blended together.  Both nights, I added glitter eyeliner on the bottom lash using Urban Decay's Heavy Metal Glitter Liner in Spandex. Comparing both, I think the first attempt turned out better, though I like the not-so-heavily lined aspect of my second attempt.

The hair was pretty simple for me.  I utilized my natural curly/wavy hair by first added a volumizing mousse to the roots.  I then dried my hair with a diffuser while holding my head upside down to create more volume, scrunching as I went.  Once that was done, I held up sections and teased them underneath and spritzed a sea salt spray to give more hold and thickness.  Once your hair is as poofy as you can stand, flip your head upside down and unload a can of hairspray on it.  Flip it up and work strands into place before unloading the hairspray again.  Fluff, scrunch, fluff, repeat, until you get your desired look.  Sometimes I hold sections up and hairspray underneath them and let them dry standing up to give more poof.  Hold up your bangs and spray them, allowing them to dry before you let go.  You can use a hair dryer to speed up the process.

Crafting Diva: DIY 80s Costume Edition -

The Skirt

The skirt was a labor of love, as I was using my new sewing machine for the first time.  I really didn't want to mess up and am so hard on myself in these situations.  It turned out great though!  I followed the Tulle Skirt tutorial from The Maria Antoinette blog.  While the text of her post can be a little confusing, the video was much better at showing how to make the skirt.  The measuring process was accurate and very helpful.  I found a great reversible knit as my lining, used hot pink tulle from my wedding decor for my five layers of tulle, and added a sparkly leopard print tulle on top.  I think I could have gotten away with three layers of tulle underneath because when all was said and done, I ended up having to trim the tulle inside the skirt so it would be a little less poofy.

Crafting Diva: DIY 80s Costume Edition -

Some things that weren't talked about in her post:
- When sewing the elastic, use a zigzag stitch to account for the stretching.  I sewed all four sides of the overlap and adhered the tulle to the waistband in two parallel zigzag stitches.
- If you are a plus size chick like me, account for the length you want your skirt when acquiring fabric.  I used about 1.5 yards per layer, but my skirt was only 17 inches long.  My hips measure in at 63 inches, so if you are around that and you want a longer skirt, you will need twice as much fabric.  I would really love to try to make another full skirt with the leftover knit I have, so if I can do it, I will post a separate tutorial because that skirt will be longer.
- You will need to trim the top and bottom of the skirt unless you take the extra time to cut it perfectly or finish it all nice and neat.  I knew my waistband wasn't really going to show, so I didn't worry about it.

Crafting Diva: DIY 80s Costume Edition -
Crafting Diva: DIY 80s Costume Edition -

The Hairbow

Save your small circles of fabric from cutting skirt layers and use them to make a giant hair bow!  I took a skinny, no-slip grip headband (you can use any color) and a long strip (roughly 20 inches or so) of about 4 layers of tulle and twisted it, hot gluing it to one end of the headband.  I worked my way around the headband, twisting the tulle into a loose rope and hot gluing it to the headband.

I laid out my circles of tulle (about three or four layers with the leopard print one on top) and gathered them in an accordion shape.  Pinching it in the middle to form a bow shape, I tied another long strip of tulle in the middle of the circles to make the bow.  Tie it really tight!  Cut off the ends and dab on some hot glue to seal everything.

Crafting Diva: DIY 80s Costume Edition -

Next, I drizzled some hot glue inside the ends of the bow and pressed it together to form a little more of a flat bow.  This helped cut down on some of the crazy poof and shape the bow.  Once the actual bow is shaped to your liking, hot glue it in place onto the headband.  Make sure you try the headband on first to find the exact place you want the bow.  Once the glue cooled, I used my pink thread to attach the bow to the headband in a couple of places.  This just adds extra security.  I also sewed the ends of the tulle (at the tips of the headband) and added extra hot glue to keep the ends in place.

Crafting Diva: DIY 80s Costume Edition -

The Sweatshirt

This one was a lot of fun!  It turned out just like I envisioned, which is always an awesome thing.  I bought a slightly over-sized black sweatshirt in the men's section at Wal-Mart.  You don't want it TOO over-sized because once you cut the neck, it gets really loose.  I bought mine in a 3X.

If you are an expert shirt chopper, pay me no mind.  This was a learning experience for me.  I turned the shirt inside out and put it on, hoping to use chalk on the inside to map out the way I wanted to cut it.  I couldn't find my chalk, so I used sewing pins to mark out a line where I wanted to cut the shirt.  For me, I wanted the lower shoulder on the right side, so keep in mind that when wearing the shirt inside out the right side is the left side.  Does that make sense?  Map that out accordingly.  I would also add that you should cut sparingly at first because a little goes a long way.  I cut mine about 4 inches too much, I feel.  It loosens up a lot with minimal cutting.  Keep cutting it and trying it on if you have too.

I cut off the bottom band and shortened the sleeves.  To make the sleeves the same length, remember one side is going to need more cut off.  I found these awesome cassette tape iron-ons on Etsy and arranged them on the shirt.  Again, wear the shirt and pin the cassettes in place because a straight line on the shirt when you are laying it out is not a straight line when you put it on.  Check and double-check.

I ironed on the cassettes as directed and used neon fabric paint for the rest.  I used the Saved By The Bell graphics as inspiration!

Crafting Diva: DIY 80s Costume Edition -

In addition to the items I made, I added the following (yes, I already owned all this stuff, except the gloves):
- Black Leggings
- Glittery flats
- A neon green tank, tied in a knot on one side. (It is pretty long otherwise.)
- Neon pink fishnet gloves
- Black rubber bracelets
- Big pink hoop earrings from the 80s
- Bright colored necklaces from Kohls
- And I always have to give a nod to New Kids On The Block, whether it makes my costume chronologically inaccurate or not.  I added my neon pink NKOTB bracelet and some of my first New Kids buttons from 1988/89.  These also helped to hold my sweatshirt up a little higher too.
- Also, my purse was a black and hot pink tiger striped little satchel from Old Navy.  I was pretty proud of how perfectly it went with everything.

Hopefully you found this helpful, or at least entertaining.  If you have any questions, leave a comment and ask away!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

What I Wore: Kaleidoscope - Kiyonna Coastal Cold Shoulder Dress

I've been so excited to show this dress to y'all, but life has been getting in the way of all my fun plans!  If you follow me on Instagram, you know that we have been having issues with our elderly chihuahua's health, plus a round of colds for the husband and I that kicked our butts last week.

My nose is still stopped up, but I did not let that interfere with date night plans.  I took advantage of a break in the Northwest rain to snap some photos outside for a change.  As the weather got chillier, I brought out a sparkly wrap to keep me warm. - Kiyonna Coastal Cold Shoulder Dress - Kiyonna Coastal Cold Shoulder Dress

I just LOVE when Kiyonna does prints!  It makes me so happy to see bold colors and fun prints grace their website.  I knew I needed this dress the moment I saw it, and they were kind enough to send it to me.  Let me tell you, it does not disappoint.  The length is perfect and the entire overall fit is just fantastic.

The slinky polyester/spandex fabric has a great weight that drapes beautifully and smoothly over my body.  I am not wearing any kind of shapewear with this at all.  The deep V in front and back still allow for coverage (and wearing a regular bra), while adding a touch of sexiness.  Flutter-esque sleeves also add some coverage with a peek-a-boo slit to show a little skin.  I can see myself wearing this in all seasons and for many occasions really.  The wrap added the warmth I needed in the chillier weather, but this would also be a fantastic vacation dress as well!

Can we talk about this pattern???  The pink and purple is GORGEOUS with the black and white graphic print.  The colors are so vibrant and amazing in person!  My husband said the circles in the pink and purple part look like diamonds to him.  I started singing that Rihanna song. lol - Kiyonna Coastal Cold Shoulder Dress

This recently bought necklace from Lane Bryant ended up being the perfect pairing with this dress.   The pewter and purple shades are just gorgeous together.  I was really proud of my makeup too, with shades of purple eyeshadow and a fun pink lip. - Kiyonna Coastal Cold Shoulder Dress, Lane Bryant Twisted Chain Necklace - Kiyonna Coastal Cold Shoulder Dress

For reference, I am 5'9" and wearing this dress in a 3X. - Kiyonna Coastal Cold Shoulder Dress

Coastal Cold Shoulder Dress - c/o Kiyonna
Twisted Chain Stone Necklace - Lane Bryant
Silver Intertwined Bangle Bracelet - Lane Bryant (Similar)
Strappy Black Wedges - Payless (circa 2009)
Lipstick is Wet N Wild Megalast Lip Color in Mauve Outta Here

In a previous post, y'all said you love prints.  What do you think of this amazing kaleidoscope/tie-dye print?

Disclosure: I am a member of the Kiyonna Blogger Brigade and they provided me with the dress in this post.  All opinions on the item are my own.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Diva In The Kitchen: Gluten Free Threesome - Biscuits, Baked Chicken, and Tomato Gravy

After starting a gluten-free lifestyle almost a year ago, I have finally been feeling like I don't have to deny myself treats I want because I can totally find a gluten-free version of it out there somewhere.  It can take a while to find really tasty copycat versions of otherwise gluten-FULL things, but it is definitely possible.

Diva In The Kitchen: Gluten Free Oven "Fried" Chicken, Gluten Free Biscuits, and Gluten Free Grandma's Tomato Gravy -

Pinterest and gluten-free Facebook groups have been a real lifesaver in terms of seeking out tasty options.  I recently came across this baked "fried" chicken recipe and instantly felt a craving coming on.  I love baked chicken with any endless array of spices.  There is just something nice and simple about marinating chicken and throwing it in the oven that makes dinners easy and stress-free, while providing a warm and tasty meal.  I served this entire meal for dinner, but it also makes a fantastic breakfast!

I followed this recipe exactly, doubling it to make the amount I did. Turning it in the middle of cooking was definitely the trick to getting a crispier crunch to the outside, while the chicken inside stayed moist.

Diva In The Kitchen: Gluten Free Oven "Fried" Chicken -
Diva In The Kitchen: Gluten Free Oven "Fried" Chicken -
Diva In The Kitchen: Gluten Free Oven "Fried" Chicken -

Missing the delightful texture of bread has been a big issue for me in being gluten free.  There is something so comforting about pillowy, warm dough.  When they serve bread at a restaurant, I have to sniff the slices just to pretend like I am eating it.  Baked bread just smells so good

As a girl raised in the South, I really, really miss a good biscuit.  I've tried various gluten free biscuits from mixes and frozen, ready-to-bake varieties, only to be disappointed by the grainy texture that is characteristic of many gluten free baked goods.  I didn't have high hopes for this recipe, but there were a few more steps involved that made me think it was worth it.  Boy, am I glad I tried it!

Diva In The Kitchen: Gluten Free Biscuits-

While this recipe is easy and pretty quick (especially with a stand mixer), it can seem a little daunting at first.  Acquiring the ingredients for the flour mix may be the hardest part if you don't have a great gluten free section in your local store or a store that caters more to this lifestyle.  All of the ingredients I used for the flour mix happen to be from Bob's Red Mill because they are local and came in the perfect sized bags for what I needed.  Finding the ingredients in bulk is also a great option.  I haven't used a store bought all-purpose gluten free flour, but I would like to think those would give you similar results.  I haven't yet learned enough about gluten free baking to give you an experienced opinion on that.  I do know that Xanthan gum (a thickening agent) can be expensive, like most gluten free related things.  From my research, it is not advisable to sub Guar gum, the less expensive thickening agent, in place of things that call for Xanthan gum.  Again, I haven't played around with it enough to know for sure, so if you are an experienced gluten free baker I would love feedback on that.

The only thing I did differently with this recipe was replace sugar with coconut sugar.  The first time I made these, I used plain yogurt and the other times I ended up using sour cream.  Either way, the result is a delicious, moist, non-grainy biscuit that could pass for a regular biscuit.  I was thoroughly impressed and utterly delighted!

Diva In The Kitchen: Gluten Free Biscuits-
Diva In The Kitchen: Gluten Free Biscuits-
Diva In The Kitchen: Gluten Free Biscuits-
Diva In The Kitchen: Gluten Free Biscuits-
Diva In The Kitchen: Gluten Free Biscuits-

The night I chose to make the above items for dinner, I knew I needed to make my Mamaw's tomato gravy to go with it.  Whenever we visited my grandma, she would make biscuits and either tomato gravy or cocoa gravy.  Both are delicious, but I was always partial to the tomato one.  This was one of the first "Mamaw recipes" I made for my Northern husband.  I have turned him onto many Southern foods that he now loves.  Tomato gravy is typically a breakfast food that goes over biscuits as one would put sausage gravy on biscuits.  If y'all are interested in a Cocoa Gravy recipe, let me know.

Diva In The Kitchen: Grandma's Tomato Gravy (Gluten Free) -

Mamaw's Tomato Gravy
From Mamaw Sims to Me

- 1/4 cup oil or bacon fat  (I use avocado oil)
- About 3 tablespoons flour (If gluten isn't an issue, use all purpose flour.  To keep it gluten free, you can use an all purpose gluten free flour.  I've had success with the various individual flours I have used such as potato flour, brown rice flour, almond flour, etc.)
- 28 oz can of Diced Tomatoes (To make less gravy, you can use the smaller 15 oz can)
- Water
- Salt and Pepper
- Additional seasoning options: Mrs. Dash Chicken Seasoning, Smoked Paprika, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder

- Heat oil in a skillet or medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Stir in flour, combining well, and cook until lightly browned.  Stir constantly during this step.
- Slowly pour in the can of diced tomatoes, stirring well as you pour.  Let mixture simmer until it begins to thicken.
- Reduce heat to low and simmer for another 5 minutes.  After the 5 minutes, if mixture is too thick stir in water (a little bit at a time) until you get it to your desired gravy consistency. 
- Season to taste.  I add a tiny dash of salt and loads of fresh cracked black pepper.  I also add some Mrs. Dash Chicken Seasoning, smoked paprika, and garlic or onion powder.
- Serve over biscuits.  This recipe makes enough for about 10-12 biscuits.  ENJOY!

The finished product is a savory, peppery gravy!  After I took photos for this post, I cut my chicken in half, plopped each half on a biscuit half and smothered it in gravy. You're welcome.

Diva In The Kitchen: Gluten Free Oven "Fried" Chicken, Gluten Free Biscuits, and Gluten Free Grandma's Tomato Gravy -

Please let me know if you try any of these recipes and what you think of them! 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

What I Wore: Bright and Happy - SWAK Designs via Gwynnie Bee Lucy Maxi Dress in Coral Abstract

Sometimes an all-over print can be intimidating, especially when it comes in bright colors.  But you don't have to be afraid!  I love bright colors and prints because they make me happy.  I always hope that, by wearing something that makes me happy, I can pass some happiness along to someone else too. - SWAK Designs via Gwynnie Bee Lucy Maxi Dress in Coral Abstract

Enter this fantastic dress from SWAK that arrived in my Gwynnie Bee package.  I knew the style was great because it is the same style as the Sabrina maxi from SWAK, but I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about the pattern.  Putting it on though, I absolutely loved it!  It is fun and vibrant with shades that can work year round. - SWAK Designs via Gwynnie Bee Lucy Maxi Dress in Coral Abstract - SWAK Designs via Gwynnie Bee Lucy Maxi Dress in Coral Abstract

I adore the deep V-neck and flowing skirt that makes me feel so feminine and lovely.  I anchored the pattern with a black shrug and added a bold necklace with brushed silver shapes.  For reference, I am 5'9" and this 3X dress hit the floor when I put it on.  I am wearing black wedges with this look. - SWAK Designs via Gwynnie Bee Lucy Maxi Dress in Coral Abstract
Lucy Maxi Dress in Coral Abstract - SWAK Designs via Gwynnie Bee (Similar styles here, here, here, and here)
Black Sweater Shrug - Lane Bryant
Strappy Wedges - Payless
Silver Shapes Necklace - Avenue

What's your favorite SWAK item?  Do you embrace all-over patterns?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

In The Fitting Room: Macy's - In the dressing room - Macys

After the Macy's Fall fashion event, I made my way over to the women's department to look at all the clothing and try some things on in the fitting room.  I grabbed items from the clearance racks, as well as some of the pieces I found in my size in the department.  I hadn't really planned on purchasing anything, but wanted to get an idea about the sizing for the various brands since I do not have a lot of experience with the Macy's brands.  I also want to add that I have found the pieces at Macy's to have pretty steep price tags, but the sale prices are really fabulous.  I found so many items to be extremely well-made though.  If you see an item you like on their website, keep an eye on it if you can't afford it right away.

PS - For reference, all the items below are a size 3X or 24. - In the dressing room - Macys

INC International Concepts Plus Size Open-Front Draped Printed Cardigan 
This cardigan is different from anything I own, so it seemed perfect to start with.  I love the bold Southwestern print and warm fall colors.  It went exceptionally well with the jeans and boots I wore that day. The cotton/poly blend material is not too thick, which is great for my personal thermometer that tends to make me run very warm.  This was one of the final pieces I was debating on buying and Emme herself told me I really needed to get it.  I figured I'd listen to the supermodel. lol - In the dressing room - Macys - In the dressing room - Macys

Style&co. Plus Size Studded French-Terry Jacket
I liked this jacket for the denim look with lighter-colored sleeves and the studded shoulders.  The stretchy cotton fabric lends to a more comfortable version of a blazer, which is way more practical to my life and use for it.  However, on closer inspection, I found the French terry material to look too cheap in person and I didn't like how it looked hugging my upper arms the way it did.  I like the idea, but not this particular item. - In the dressing room - Macys

INC International Concepts Plus Size Allover Rhinestone Dolman Sweater
On first arriving to Macy's that night, I spied a sweater with an attached button-down that had rhinestones all over it.  I don't care how gaudy you think it is, if there are sequins/rhinestones/crystals involved I probably want to try it on.  lol  Later that night, I found this dolman-sleeve sweater covered in blue, clear, silver, and bronze colored rhinestones.  It was really fun and so me, but I wasn't excited about the fit.  If my stomach was completely flat though....I just might have purchased it. - In the dressing room - Macys - In the dressing room - Macys

Alfani Plus Size Button-Front Jacket
This blazer was featured in the runway show and I really loved the way it looked on the model.  I wasn't sure if it would fit by looking at it on the hanger, but I grabbed it anyway.  They only had one left in my size! Turns out, I loved it!  The burgundy color, thicker (but comfortable) material, and three-quarter sleeves make it a great addition to my fall wardrobe.  I have already tried it on with a few of my outfits at home and cannot wait to share those looks with you!  The blazer-style is great for pulling an outfit together, while the bottom section has a slight peplum feel.  This jacket also comes in grey, black, teal, and zebra. - In the dressing room - Macys

Style&co. Plus Size Sleeveless Cable-Knit Vest
The cable-knit vest was so cute!  I really wanted it to work because it would be such a fun layering piece.  I love the fuller bottom portion and liked the way it looked, but buttoning it up made it a little tight on my tummy. - In the dressing room - Macys

American Rag Striped Dress with Sleeves
This was a find from the clearance rack.  I was really drawn to the colors and prints of all the American Rag items.  I looked in that area of the department for a while.  The Southwestern colors of this dress were fantastic and it fit surprisingly well (it looked really small on the hanger.  Again, try things on!!!).  In the end, I wasn't a fan of the curved stripes on the bottom portion of the dress.  I have seen items like this online and have thought they look great on others, but the curved lines on me made my stomach appear more round and full.  From the front - totally cute; from the side - pregnant.  No good. - In the dressing room - Macys

INC International Concepts Plus Size Short-Sleeve Sequined-Lips Top
Sequins. Lips. Pink!  Obviously, I was going to try it on.  lol  I am not a fan of white shirts for myself, but they do carry a similar top in black online.  The fit wasn't ideal unless maybe I was wearing a Spanx tank underneath and the sleeves were too short.  However, I freaking love the sequin lip print.  It was too cute! - In the dressing room - Macys

Style&co. Plus Size Printed Tiered Sleeveless Dress
Another clearance find.  I'm a fan of the tiered dress and leopard print.  It was made of a comfortable, stretchy material, but I felt like the wide tier under the bust was awkward and one tier too many.  It was a little clingier in that section than I would have liked. I think if I was better at tweaking clothing, I would have bought it and moved the tiers up one. - In the dressing room - Macys - In the dressing room - Macys

Style&co. Plus Size Roll-Tab-Sleeve Button-Front Shirt
This rayon shirt was soft and silky and cut really well.  I loved the gorgeous teal color and tab sleeves and felt that it fit me better than any button-down shirt I have tried on in quite some time.  However, the price tag was a bit high for me at the time and I wasn't thrilled with the way it would cling to my tummy roll when I moved a certain way.  Overall, it is a great shirt!

American Rag Plus Size Printed Soft Pants
While I thought the models looked great in their soft pants ensembles, I already knew the trend wasn't really "me".  For the sake of the blog, I wanted to try them on anyway.  I imagined that, based on the style of pant, they wouldn't even fit me through the hips and thighs.  The 3X looked smaller on the hanger.  Boy, was I surprised when they fit well!  I had a nice amount of room in the thighs and seat for them to look good and feel very comfortable.  They are made of a lovely rayon which feels like a soft, silky pajama pant.  The pattern and colors were great too.  It just isn't my aesthetic.  If these intrigue you, please try them on! I think you will be pleasantly surprised!

So there you have it!  I had a lot of fun at the Macy's event, with trying on new-to-me brands definitely being a highlight.  I'm looking forward to going back when I have more time to try on more items and push my boundaries further! 

Do you have a favorite piece from this post?  Do you have a favorite Macy's brand?  Do tell!!

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