Favorite Shopping Spots in Oak Island / Southport NC

by Amy Draughon


School is finally out and summer has started for the kids around here in North Carolina!

Today I thought I'd share a little bit about my favorite beach to visit in NC: Oak Island. 

Some people enjoy a beach vacation for the sun, sand, and ocean breeze. Those are very nice, but for me, I prefer a getaway that includes...shopping!

The best part about shopping in the Oak Island/Southport area is that there is a great variety of shops. There's something for both the window shoppers and the bargain hunters!

If spending a whole day hopping between shops and boutiques excites you, whether to buy or just explore, this is the place to visit!

Get Thrifty!

In my opinion, thrift shopping is the ultimate treasure hunt! I love looking through items that need a new home.  Of course I'm always on the lookout for sewing materials. The drive between Oak Island and Southport is dotted with thrift stores and consignment shops. 

A couple of our favorites:

  • Thrifty by Nature: Look for the flowered fence as you drive through Southport. You don't want to miss this cute little shop. Thrifty by Nature is my favorite place to look for new jewelry (only $3)! I got my dorm plates and bowls, as well as a beautiful vintage creamer there. 

 

This is just the tip of the iceberg! If you are looking for bargains or for up-cycling projects, the dozens of thrift stores around Oak Island/Southport won't let you down!

Boutiques/High End

Okay, so maybe thrifting isn't your thing...or you just want to find a great gift or souvenir? Well, walk down North Howe Street in a sundress and sandals and visit the fun boutique shops full of pretty clothes, decor, and trinkets. There is so much eye-candy for those who love to window shop, and beautiful products if you want to purchase and support a local business.

Other Fun 

Last summer we visited a vintage shop called "Stuff", full of clothes, furniture, and odds and ends. I bought a pretty green nightgown there that I love! ("Stuff" is now located inside of Klassy Konsignment). There are many other cool antique shops in Southport as well. Don't forget about furniture! There's plenty in the thrift shops, but being in a beach town there are whole stores dedicated to home decor and furnishing. There's places for the artists to, from craft supply stores to local art displays and shops. 

If you want to shop around Oak Island and Southport, a few google maps searches is all you need to uncover unique places to visit. As you drive around, keep a lookout for small shops and be willing to pull over, go in, and explore!

 

More resources:

List of Retail Businesses in Downtown Southport

Shops in Southport/Oak Island/Bald Head, NC

 

Where is your favorite vacation spot? Am I the only one who considers shopping a vacation must-do activity? 

Here's to a great summer!


How To Sew New Jeans From Your Old Jeans

by Amy Draughon


For the past couple years my favorite jeans had been a pair I found on a Kohl's clearance rack for $8. 

Recently, I had to retire them. (You can only go so long with fraying patches in the inner thigh threatening to burst open!)

However, I wasn't too torn up about it. 

Earlier I'd splurged and bought some beautiful stretch twill denim online (thanks, Girl Charlee!) with which I was determined to make into my first-ever pair of handmade skinny jeans.

Have you noticed? Floral fabric turns me into the heart eyes emoji.

With my beloved jeans rendered unwearable, I had no problem dissecting them to use as a pattern.

You could do the same when your favorite jeans get too holey. Or buy a well fitting pair from Goodwill for a few dollars. 

 

The process is pretty simple:

  • Cut up a pair of jeans along the seam lines
    • You'll probably have the pant legs, back piece, belt, zipper, and pockets 
  • Use the pieces to trace a pattern onto paper, or cut directly from your new fabric
    • When working with stretch fabric, make sure the stretch is going across the pants (side to side, not up and down)
  • Be sure to add seam allowances and extra length for the hem!
  • After cutting your pattern pieces from fabric, sew them together into a new pair of jeans
    • Sew pockets onto the pant legs before sewing the leg pieces together

It might take a little thinking, but pay attention as you take apart the jeans to how the pieces work together. You learn a lot about clothing construction when you pick things apart!

The pockets were probably my favorite detail! So darn cute!

For my jeans I actually didn't put in the zipper; my fabric had so much stretch it didn't need it. (That's also why I didn't add seam allowances either.)

I love the floral pattern so much! I actually had to make this black peplum top to go with it - the pants are so bold!

There are plenty of other ways to use your old jeans as a pattern! Add more seam allowance for roomy pajamas, subtract allowance for leggings, make shorts...

I can't wait to make more things from my new pattern. I've already got more denim in my stash waiting to be sewn!


Florals and Bright Colors...New Handmade Items in the Shop!

by Amy Draughon


I am so excited about these new items in the shop!

There are so many fun fabrics that were dreamy to work with! They just radiate those warm-weather fashion vibes. 

Click the links below or visit the SHOP

Bring on the sunglasses, sandals, and summer outings!

Like something but it's not your size? Contact me for a custom design! Facebook.com/dressedlikeadream or amydraughon@gmail.com

How Your Favorite Hobbies Make You Healthier

by Amy Draughon


It is clear that crafting provides us with

more than just "something to do".

     A 2010 survey reported that 56% of American households had participated in a craft or hobby during the past year. With over half of the United States involved in craft activities, you might wonder what benefits or effects these hobbies have on people.

     It turns out that creative pastimes do impact a person's health, and in a positive way. We might first think of the practical perks - having a skill that is useful, marketable, or just something fun to do - but crafting can also offer both cognitive and emotional benefits for your health.

     A 2010 study on elderly persons sought to observe the impact of certain activities on the aging brain. Over one thousand people ages 70-89 were studied to see how different pastimes affected their MCI, or mild cognitive impairment, which is the decline in brain function between what is expected with aging and more serious dementia. After studying and interviewing  elderly people who participated in activities involving books, crafts, art, computer games, music, and social activities, the researchers found that craft activities were among those that significantly reduced chances of MCI

     Scientists believe that crafts aid your brain because of how it is stimulated while crafting. Therapist Sharon Gutman notes that many hobbies engage multiple parts of the brain, such as the frontal, parietal, occipital,and temporal lobes, and the cerebellum. Because all of these parts are active, it strengthens the neural connections and keeps them in good shape. This way, as a person ages, they have a buffer against illness, cognitive decline, and dementia.

     Perhaps for most of us, the emotional benefits of our hobbies are a lot more tangible and evident in our daily life. It has long been known that doing the things we love makes us happy. Crafters know there is a certain joy and confidence that comes with creating something beautiful, expressing yourself, and just being able to say “I made that”.

     The emotional benefits of sewing were evident for Charlie Wensley. In an article for Seamwork Magazine, she shared how she faced her diagnosis with postnatal depression with taking up a hobby. Wensley found that sewing kept her from being irritable or frantic and gave her something productive to focus on. She reported feeling a deeper sense of self and enjoyed becoming a part of the sewing community. Sewing translated into other parts of her life too; she says:  “this flexibility with the rules and how one interprets them has opened my eyes and given me more confidence in my own way of doing things, not only as a person who sews, but also more widely in my life. Gradually, I don’t feel like an impostor or that I have to fit a certain mold, or subscribe to a certain parenting style. I can decide my own way of being a mother, my own way of being a role model to my children, rather than constantly bench-marking it to others or worrying I shouldn’t do something for fear of being judged. I have new confidence in my way being the right, or at the very least, an OK way.” 

     Science backs up Charlie Wensley’s experience. Many have noted the calming, therapeutic, and meditative effects of doing a craft. In one case, women with hospitalized cases of anorexia were taught to knit. 74% of them said that knitting for about an hour per day helped them to cope with fear and anxiety. Specialists tell us that when a person becomes absorbed and focused on one task, the nervous system cannot process the outside factors of stress and worry. They are in a state of meditation. Crafts can also be an antidepressant, as dopamine is released when you do activity that makes you happy.

     After looking at the evidence, it is clear that crafting provides us with more than just "something to do". Creative hobbies contribute greatly to a person’s health. These activities strengthen the brain, making us better equipped for the effects of aging. They are a method for keeping us emotionally healthy through relaxation, self-discovery, and community. With hundreds of crafts to choose from, there is certainly a way for anybody to begin a hobby that could benefit their health for a lifetime!



Thanks for reading!

This was an assignment I wrote for my freshman English class at UNC last fall. Yes, I did a "two for one" with this paper so it could double as a blog post :)

College has kept me away from the blog for the past 9 months...so I'm very excited to get back to it this summer!

Works Cited

Geda, Yonas E. et. all. 2011. Engaging in Cognitive Activities, Aging, and Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Population-Based Study. The Journal of Neuropsychiatry & Clinical Neurosciences. [cited 2015 Aug 27]; 23 (2): 6.  Neuropsychology Online [Internet]. American Neuropsychiatric Association Publishing - Available from: http://neuro.psychiatryonline.org/doi/full/10.1176/jnp.23.2.jnp149#

Mascarelli, Amanda. 2014. Might Crafts Such as Knitting Offer Long-term Health Benefits? [internet]. The Washington Post; [cited 2015 Aug 27]. Available from:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/might-crafts-such-as-knitting-offer-long-term-health-benefits/2014/04/21/d05a8d40-c3ef-11e3-b574-f8748871856a_story.html

Wensley, Charlie. 2015. Finding Me Again [internet]. Seamwork Magazine; [cited 2015 Sept 8]. Available from:https://media.seamworkmag.com/issues/2015/seamwork-2015-09.pdf

Wilson, Jacque. 2015. This is Your Brain on Crafting [Internet]. CNN; [cited 2015 Aug 27]. Available from: http://www.cnn.com/2014/03/25/health/brain-crafting-benefits/

2011. CHA Announces 2010 Craft Industry Statistics [Internet]. Craft and Hobby Association; [Cited 2015 Sept 7]. Available from: https://craftandhobby.wordpress.com/2011/04/06/cha-announces-2010-craft-industry-statistics/


Product Spotlight ~ My Favorites

by Amy Draughon


I'm super excited that there are now several items for sale in the Shop!

But I wanted to highlight a few of my favorites. 

Why do I love them so much? 

First off, they are cute and stylish pieces for any wardrobe! 

And even better - they are super comfy! 

The best part: these are great "back to school" clothes that transition effortlessly from summer to fall. 


I LOVE this maxi! In fact I love maxi skirts in general.

What's better than a skirt that makes you look elegant while feeling like your lounging in yoga pants?

My favorite things about this Blue Chocolate Chevron Maxi Skirt are the colors and the feel. 

This blue/brown/beige combo is  fun, flattering, and easy to pair with tops and accessories. 

The knit material is sturdy, but has comfy stretch and flow. 

Blue Chocolate Chevron Maxi Skirt
23.00

*Click for larger images*

Stretch knit maxi skirt, with blue, brown, and tan chevron pattern, slight A-line cut, smooth and comfy!

38 inches in length with a 6 inch fold over waistband

Best for hips 34 to 38 inches, or size medium

Add To Cart

By now you must know that I am obsessed with circle skirts!

They're the easiest way to feel like a 1950's cutie. 

It's the ultimate twirling skirt!

I love the Toile de Jouy Circle skirt's white with green details. It's unique, but simplistic enough to be paired with and has a comfortable stretch waistband. This skirt is great to wear high waisted too!

Toile de Jouy Circle Skirt
30.00

*Click for larger images*

White circle skirt with green designs, lined skirt, with stretch waistband. Full-skirted, versatile, and perfect for warn weather!

Waistband stretches to accomatdate waist/hips measureing between 28 and 36 inches

Skirt length is 20 inches, and hem falls at or slightly above the knee

Add To Cart

This one's for my college kids and mommies ;)

Soft pants are the best for getting dressed without feeling like you took off your pj's!

Wear them with a nice blouse or a statement necklace and you automatically look dressed up!

I love the colors in these Sunset Soft Pants! The strong oranges look like the bright summer sun but the warm reds make you think of pretty autumn leaves...

The rayon material of the pants is soft and very lightweight, making these perfect for transitioning seasons.

Sunset Soft Pants
17.00

*Click for larger images*

Comfy, loose, rayon pants with elastic waist and ankles. Bright, fun, and comfortable!

Size Small/Medium. Fits women's pant sizes approx. 6-10

Add To Cart

Check out more handmade products  in the SHOP including skirts, tops, and dresses!


Buying Fabric... Without Spending a Fortune!

by Amy Draughon


Sewing your own clothes is a fun and rewarding pastime!

However, it is not always the best way to save a little money. In fact, buying some fabrics for your handmade dresses can leave you spending more money on an outfit that took days of work to create, than you would have spent after 2 hours in the mall!

So how can you make sewing a practical skill instead of a money-grubbing hobby?

Easy! Know how to shop...

Have Perspective

When you go fabric shopping, pretend your in the department store. That bolt of blue knit? It's really a long sleeve top. The purple chiffon...is really a frilly dress. 

Sometime we don't equate the fabric we see in the store with the item of clothing it will become. When shopping, think about what you want to make with the fabric, and whether the price you will pay for material is balanced with what it will become. 

For example, you want to make a dress. You will probably need 3 yards of material. Picking the $12.99/yd fabric is going to put the cost of your dress close to $40! And that's not including tax and the worth of your personal labor. Now, going for something on sale that's $5.99/yd is going to make your dress more like $18. 

You want to be super thrifty? Snagging that great deal on clearance fabric plus your coupons for $2/yd will make your dress....*drum roll*.... only $6! 

That's when sewing becomes a money saver. 

Get The Weekly Ads

So if you're going to start looking for fabric at it's best price, the first step is to start getting the weekly ads for your local fabric stores. 

Stores like Joann's and Hancock's offer many ways to stay updated with their sales. Check out their websites to sign up to have ads mailed to you and/or emailed to you.  

Pay attention to sales and coupons. Knowing how to shop is just as important as knowing when to shop. 

Understanding Sales

The trick to finding fabric when it's on sale for a good price, is to understand when a sale is actually a deal. 

One you sign up for weekly ads, you will constantly be bombarded with different sales. It will seem that nearly everything in the store is on sale! 

Keep calm and remember: anything on sale for less than 40% off is not worth getting excited for. 

Why you ask? Because stores usually always offer "40% and 50% off one regular price item" coupons. It would be better to buy that fabric at regular price and use your 50% coupon, than to "take advantage" of the "big" 30% off sale. 

Whenever something is on sale for 60% off or more, that is the time to stock up! These big sales usually occur around the ends of seasons, holidays, and years when stores want to clear out old fabrics. 

Coupons

Coupons can usually be found on a stores website. When you sign up for weekly ads, you will also receive coupons. Coupons for fabric stores take a little bit of thought, and they can often be a little tricky. 

Most coupons have restrictions. It is important to pay attention to whether a coupon applies to all items, only regular price item, or include on sale items. 

It is also often sticky with how many coupons can be applies to an item. For example, some stores won't let you take 50% off an item as well as take 25% off the total purchase. In those cases it is good to think about whether coupons on individual items will be better than a coupon discounting your total purchase. 

Clearance!!

Clearance fabrics are your best friends. This is where you find the greatest deals. Clearance fabrics aren't any less valuable than the regular priced ones. The fabrics that get put on clearance are there because the print has been discontinued and the stores can no longer re-order more of it for their customers. 

Joann's clearance fabrics are stacked on a table in the back and are labeled "Red Tag Fabrics". Often you can find fabric for $4/yd. 

Hancock Fabrics has a similar set up in their store called "Spot The Bolt". Reduced price fabric is stacked and marked with a colored sticker, and the color indicated whether the fabric is 50%, 60%, 70%, 80%, or 90% off the original price. 

Walmart Isn't Cursed 

In the fabric world, a lot of the time Walmart gets put down for having cheap material. But cheap doesn't exactly mean bad or unusable. 

Walmart is a good option for projects where high fabric quality is not a necessity. One time costumes, casual crafts, and clothes that will most likely get dirty or grown out of are times when low priced fabric will be your best bet. 

Think Outside The Bolt

Not all fabric is found at the fabric store. In fact, a fun place to go in search of material is the thrift store!

Curtains, bed sheets, and plus size clothing sold at thrift stores at a small cost can give you a nice amount of fabric. My best find was a set of three gorgeous lace curtains I found for $7! I have a few dressed actually made out of pretty floral bed sheets. Large sized full skirts a great too, and a thrifted men's shirt is the perfect size for baby and toddler sewing projects!


Hopefully these tips have given you some ideas for better, simpler fabric shopping.

And some ways to save a little more $$$

Did you like these tips?

Follow the new Fabric Shopping Hacks board on Pinterest for more!