Randy in a tux and Jacqueline in a white wedding dress with colorful accents, in front of a stone wall at a park

Dress

Picking a dress for a once-in-a-lifetime event is hard. I browsed dresses online. There were so many options. Did I want to wear something huge and white and over-the-top poofy? Something slim and sleek? I did want to wear a dress. I didn't mind the idea of it being white.

Fortunately, my mom still had her wedding dress. Fancy, white, and lacy, it was made in the '80s and had a train longer than I am tall. "You can have it if you want it," she told me. "That's why I saved it."

I liked the idea of wearing a family heirloom. There was something nice about that. Also the part where I didn't have to pick the style—the dress was already made and it was what it was.

"Okay!" I said. My mom mailed me the dress. I tried it on. The long, lacy sleeves were a bit much... especially for a June wedding in Boston. I didn't want to sweat through the sleeves. I had a tailor remove them.

The next step was to make the dress more "me." And that meant adding color!

The dress had a petticoat. Very poofy. I dyed it turquoise—fabric dye from the craft store and a plastic bin in my bathtub did the trick.

The dress also had a long, lacy veil, with lacy flowers all along the edges. I bought fabric dye in bright orange and magenta, and spent several afternoons carefully painting the flowers in alternating colors.

Much better.

close up of lacy flowers on a veil, colored pink and orange

Here's the full effect with the train and veil!

back of a woman wearing a white wedding dress with a veil draped down her back

Shoes

The dress was just a little long (my mom is two inches taller than me). I didn't want to hem it, so I had to wear heels. Finding a good pair of comfy heels was tricky ... my feet are wide; most decent-looking heels don't fit. I wanted colorful shoes to go with my colorful theme. After browsing, a lot, I found these chunky wedges at some local store. The turquoise was a good base. I added thing ribbon bows along the back, and aded more ribbons and ribbon flowers over the toes. Perfect!

cork wedge sandals with thick turquoise straps and ribbon flowers attached over the toes

Ribbon-flower bouquet

I didn't eschew real flowers because I hate flowers. I like flowers. But I wanted to make my own bouquet. (And I didn't want to add "florist" to the list of other things I had to deal with before the wedding—I was busy enough trying to finish my master's thesis!)

I spent several weeks browsing other people's homemade bouquets online. Mine needed to be bright, colorful, and classy. I tried make a few different kinds of flowers—including with buttons, beads, and paper—before settling on ribbon roses as my favorite.

I ordered a bunch of satin ribbon online. A bunch. Bulk ribbon was cheaper. So much ribbon. Green, silver, purple, pink, purple, orange, turquoise, yellow with polka dots, shiny transparent pink, shiny transparent turquoise.... you get the picture. Most of it was 1.5-inch ribbon, which made a good size flower.

open cardboard box filled with rolls of colorful satin ribbon

Then, settling down for many evenings watching random shows on Netflix, I made a bunch of ribbon flowers. I attached each flower to a green wire stem, made of floral wire, that I bought at Michael's. When I had a huge pile of flowers, I arranged the bouquet. Twisting the stems together held them in place, mostly.

I don't have great pictures of the work in progress, unfortunately! Here's all the flowers put together, after the bouquet was finished.

satin ribbon flower bouquet

satin ribbon flower bouquet

The next step was to hide the kind of ugly wire steps. I wrapped green ribbon around the stems and glued the ribbon in place with some tacky glue.

I cut turquoise felt into a flowery circle and used that to hide the rest of the stems.

felt flowers and green ribbon on the underside of a satin ribbon flower bouquet

I tied a couple long pieces of thin turquoise ribbon and more of the green ribbon around the base of the stems.

Voila! Here's the finished product.

satin ribbon flower bouquet

Boutonnieres and corsages

For the rest of the wedding party, I made mini ribbon flowers for their boutonnieres and corsages. The flowers were made the same way as for my bouquet, but with 1-inch ribbon. Again, I used green ribbon to hide the stems.

little ribbon flowers on green wire stems, laid out on the floor

Boutonnieres:

ribbon flower boutonniere attached with a pin to a suit jacket pocket

ribbon flower boutonniere attached with a pin to a suit jacket pocket

ribbon flower boutonniere attached with a pin to a suit jacket pocket

Corsages:

colorful satin ribbon flowers in a corsage on a woman's wrist

satin ribbon flower corsage being tied on to a woman's wrist

satin ribbon corsage on a woman's wrist


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Close up of several colorful buttons

Buttons and pockets

Two years ago, I decided it would be cool to have a coat decked out in buttons.

Then I thought, wouldn't be great if it were really colorful, too?

Haven't I always wanted a coat with infinite pockets?

a zippered orange pocket above a flapped grey-green pocket on the side of the patchwork coat

Coat creation

And so the Patchwork Coat Project was born. I picked up a purple suede coat from a thrift store to use as a base. My sister gave me a fantastic selection of unique buttons, and I nabbed a few more myself. I began collecting scraps of fabric: old shirt sleeves, halves of socks, leftover bits from my grandmother's quilting projects, the pocket from an ancient pair of jeans.

The base coat flared out in the front and didn't close well, so I had to add a good amount of fabric there. Still to do is a better lining. I also added buttons and loops so the front could be fastened closed.

front of a very colorful patchwork coat

buttons and loops on the front of a patchwork coat

The sleeves, similarly, weren't long enough -- like the cuffs I added?

side view of patchwork coat

the back of a very colorful patchwork coat

Nearly all the sewing was hand-sewing, too, given the fabric involved. Plus, I think it looks better.

closeup of stiches

closeup of buttons, patches, stiches

part of a coat collar

The coat doesn't quite have infinite pockets, but with twelve and counting, it's coming pretty close.


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I designed and painted t-shirts as gifts for some family and friends. Each shirt's design reflected something I knew the recipient would appreciate.

Movin' right along

This one's the masterpiece. My dad appreciates The Muppets—I remember him singing along with Fozzie Bear and Kermit when I was a kid. The song Moving' Right Along was one of his favorites. And so, I present the shirt that, at first, he didn't realize was hand-painted!

t-shirt with text movin' right along and painted pictures of fozzie bear and kermit the frog

close up of t-shirt with text movin' right along and painted pictures of fozzie bear and kermit the frog

I love grammar

For my sister, who had studied languages and enjoyed being a grammar nerd, I made a purple shirt proclaiming "I love grammar." Simple, effective.

t-shirt with text saying I love grammar

I've got soul but I'm not a dualist

One of my college friends, who had studied cognitive science and was staunchly against the philosophical position of dualism, happened to be a fan of music, too. He would sing along to The Killers' song All These Things That I've Done, changing the lyric "I've got soul but I'm not a soldier," to "I've got soul but I'm not a dualist." Yup.

t-shirt with text I've got soul but I'm not a dualist

The airlock is ajar

After I played Mass Effect for the first time, I made this one for myself featuring the character EDI with one of the funnier lines she says in the game.

t-shirt with a picture of EDI from Mass Effect and the text 'the airlock is ajar'

That's outside the scope of my project

Engineers frequently have to enforce constraints on the number of features that other people try to add to their projects. The phrase featured on this shirt was no stranger to my husband, Randy, who used it quite a lot... That's outside the scope of my project.

gray shirt with black text saying that's outside the scope of my project


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