Ntokon | DIY high waisted wide leg pants

Red wide leg pants and a conversation on confidence

Heya!

Yes you my address me as the associate VP of the Pepper Dem Gang. For those of you who may not be familiar, “Pepper dem” references a state of being wherein your slay is so severe that it is heartburn inducing. Marinate. On. That. Hunnay!

Remember the overalls I made for my brother? Yea that experience came in super handy with this project. I mean check me out, coming through with that front fly zipper. Trust me when I say the process of learning how to do this was grueling but look at me approaching this with so much confidence now. Also, looking back at some of the pants or shorts I made in the past and comparing them to this, talk about a progress!

Speaking of confidence, I was at a women’s conference recently and something that the speaker said really stood out to me. She said -and I am paraphrasing a little- as a woman, you need to understand the space you occupy and the value you bring. I let that sink in a little because it one of those things “you know” but I had to question how often I fail to apply these principles

For me, understanding the space I occupy means understanding my strengths and weaknesses for what they are. I’m a great listener, pretty insightful, resourceful, creative, intelligent, cute in the face and funny too. I am also often inconsistent and undisciplined, a little lazy with a tendency to wallow in self pity once stressed and not great at taking criticism (even when it’s coming from me to me – seriously, this portion of the post is aggravating me already). All of these things and more; good, bad or somewhere in between make a pretty amazing person and it important for me to move through my daily interactions with the  consciousness of who I am.

The other side to this is understanding the value I bring. Yea it’s one thing to take a personality test and say “ugh that’s so me” but so what? How does being me with all my quirks and dazzle impact the people in my life and the work that I do? Understanding who I am allows me to assert myself in my space. My strengths allow me support and uplift my friends and family and my weaknesses could be a source of inspiration if I let them or at the very least a recurring joke between me and the people who love me. Of course as my social reach expands, so does the impact of my being.

Another key portion of all of this for me being Christian, is the understanding of not just who I am but Whose I am and what that means.  I was carefully crafted by God with a unique purpose. Then not only did He make me, He loves me. That’s a pretty big deal to me because the way I see it, He looked at me and thought “Wow, I did a really good job with this one.” Soooooo, if you think about it, I already got the seal of approval from the manufacturer which would make me an asset just about anywhere!

I think bringing all these pieces together is where I find confidence. This is where I find the strength to try again after failing because my worth is not in the outcomes of an isolated event but rather grounded in the unique truth of my awesomeness. I’ll try to remember these things the next time I stop sewing because I think I suck at it or when I fail to speak up at work because I think someone else would have a better suggestion to bring forward.

This does not mean I’ll always be right or that everything I touch will always turn to gold but the confidence (and courage) to keep pressing on and trying better each time, that’s true excellence.

Pictures by Willyverse

Ode to Summer – DIY Chambray Romper

DIY Chambray playsuit

Summer is coming to an end friends and I have not been very present here. No excuses just acknowledging my absence and letting that hang in the air for a few seconds. Alright now shall we?

Soooooo…I may not have blogged as much as I would like this summer but I haven’t left my sewing machine to rust and croak. Presenting my new and dare I say improved take on a romper. You may remember a couple years ago now my first successful attempt at a one piece with leg holes 🙂 ahh simpler times ❤ . Anyhow now we have grown and started adding zippers and trimming and bias tape like it’s not a thing!

Putting this together went relatively well however, no project is without it’s challenges so I will be remiss if I didn’t mention the challenges of sorting out a fly zipper. This is a newly acquired skill for me so I have to follow along with the YouTube tutorial. Between watching the screen and flicking away at seams with my seam ripper, I may have knicked the fabric once or twice (or four times). All things considered I am pretty happy with how things turned out.

To finish off, I will leave you with a quote that’s been getting me through the last few days of summer, amidst trying moments and moments of fear and trepidation:

“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you” – Isaiah 26:3

My prayers are with all those impacted by Hurricane Harvey and many others around the world displaced by war, nature or economy. I pray for perfect peace.

 

My Hair is a Sassy Lover | Fro’ Tales

My relationship with my Natural Hair

My hair has way too much attitude for her own good. Let’s call my fro Freddy. Freddy and I have been going steady for about 3 years. When I first met Freddy, I was still involved with my ex but that relationship just wasn’t working anymore. I felt I was getting burned too often and over time it became clear that we couldn’t weather the cold winters so slowly I stated cutting my ex out of my life.

Freddy and I have been through a lot since then. I’ve learned what makes Freddy happy and in return she’s helped me see myself in a completely different light. The longer we’ve been together though, the more Freddy and I don’t seem to see eye to eye. Don’t get me wrong, I love her to pieces but lately I think she’s taking my love for granted.

I’ll take some responsibility for this; I got a little lazy with our relationship. I started moisturizing less and using heat more. Things got so bad that I couldn’t even remember the last time I deep conditioned. That’s when Freddy started to pull away. I noticed my first heat damaged piece and only then did I step back and look at how much I was hurting her. I didn’t just want to apologize because I knew she would respond just like one of my best friends, “What are you sorry for?” while maintaining her salty attitude. I decided to change completely and start paying more attention. I started with a good trim, stopped leaving her out as much and started conditioning more. I thought things were getting better until she started acting up.

Now I’ve been a lot busier with work so I need Freddy to stay put till the weekends when I can give her my full attention but three days into the week she’s already begging for a wash. Now I know this is all a clever ruse to get me to condition her again because she’s gone much longer than a few days without any problems but now she’ll go dry and matted on the ends if I don’t answer her call for moisture.

I have tried new conditioners and even locking her in with her favourite shea butter mix but she insists on misbehaving unless I’m giving her undivided attention at least twice a week. Things really came to a head two washes ago when I hadn’t detangled properly after our last wash day and she wasn’t having any of my nonsense this time around. My arms hurt, the bathroom steamed up and I practically had to beg her to release the knots. Grudgingly letting one knot out after the other, it was like she was daring me to repeat the same thing. I promised her (and myself) that she deserved better than that and I thought we had both agreed to collaborate more.

Three days later we were back to an itchy scalp and that’s when I decided I had had enough. I told her it was time for some braids and even though she may not understand right now, I think we both need the break. Surprisingly she didn’t put up much of a fight going in and I had even started to question whether I had reacted too harshly but by the end of my first full week with these braids she’s already wiling out and trying to get itchy. I miss her but its probably best that we give each other some space for a couple weeks just to gain a little perspective.

Even with her attitude though she still makes me happy. Something about her keeps things interesting and speaking to other naturals I think they’ll agree, when you look at your thriving fro, it makes (some of) the stress worth it :p

 

 

 

 

Crop of the Cream | DIY loose Floral Crop top

DIY Short blouse

crop-top-and-pants

Hi guys!

I’ve been listening to Noname’s telephone mixtape a lot lately. Just plain vibes I tell you. But anyhow she had me pondering what it means when people say “Everything is everything”. I mean a bunch of artistes have used this line, a lot of my faves actually but what does it mean for everything to be everything? Ponderings and musings aside, I have my last DIY for the summer here. Summer is by no means over despite that morning chill but its safe to say I need to accept my Torontonian realities and prep for the cooler months.

tied-crop-top

To create this top, I used a top I already owned as a pattern and just made this slightly shorter<Partly due to fabric constraints, Partly intentional> I felt this would be a great piece for times when I wanted to look playful but still a bit put together.

summer-dinner-outfit

This was also my first attempt at bias binding and I think I did pretty well! Initially I only tested it out on the neckline but when that went well, my mum suggested I do the same on the sleeves cause it would give a nicer finish and she was right :).diy-blouse

floral-crop-top

Now if you’re wondering what the big hoo-ha with bias binding is here are a few thing I noticed from my experience. Firstly, it could be slightly more visually appealing than your basic hem. Its just one of those things that says “I went the extra mile” even though it wasn’t much harder than the basics. Secondly, it could help some necklines lie flatter. Hemming doesn’t always cut it with some fabrics so binding could be more of a necessity than an option. Finally its superb for those curved edges! Now that wasn’t much of a concern with this project but hemming a curved edge takes mad skill and patience but with some bias tape a lot of your worries could melt away.dinner-outfit

Now time for a quick side-bar. Blogging has it’s hazards :’D . This flawless image of me plummeting to the ground was supposed to be a graceful skip into the woods. I still crack up thinking of how slowly I fell. Until next time folks, stay cute 😉

blogging-hazards

Pictures by Willyverse

Bloom Blaum | Peach Sundress

Halter skater dress

braid out on natural hair

Hi Guys!

Today in DIY land, I think its finally safe to say hello Spring! I have been holding on to this one for a while but it’s high time we encouraged summer to roll in so here we go.

halter neck dress

peach sundress

I’ve been really into pink this spring -as may soon become evident in future posts- so when I came across this delightful coral cotton I knew exactly what needed to happen. This dress allowed me test out a few new skills; creating a wrap dress and hiding my seams.

diy wrap dress

I don’t think I completely understand how to create the perfect dimensions for a wrap dress so best believe there was plenty trial and error here! Taking this into consideration I tried to include a lot of allowance to account for the possible discrepancies.

dark skinned girlsbackless summer dress

Something I’m learning more and more these days is that the way you cut is EVERYTHING! You can not fix it in post :p. If you want a straight edge, cut a straight line, seemingly simple concept but I find myself doing the opposite too often. Also while we’re discussing cutting, always leave more than enough allowance. You can cut stuff away and alter to make things more fitted but expanding fabric is wayyy harder!

summer picnic outfitpink summer dress

Ultimately I love this dress! I love the way the color highlights my melanin, I love how girly it is, I love the dress up potential, frankly I just feel so ME in it 😀

summer vibes

Pictures by Willyverse

 

Fro Tales: Natural hair Confessions

The Natural Girl’s DONT list

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Bantu Knots Kickin

Hi Guys!

So its been a while since I posted about my hair and I have some serious confessions. Don’t worry it’s nothing wild like considering a perm or flat-ironing every week but these are some pretty deep confessions.

Wash-day doesn’t take all day

GASP! I know!!! I just don’t have time for all-day-wash-days. Yes of course there’s still the drying process which could take an eternity but that certainly doesn’t stop me from carrying on with my day. I’ve had to cut out some of the lengthy pre-poo processes and just reserve those for days when my hair really needs the extra tlc but my life is no longer scheduled around my washes. It’s truly liberating to say the least.

I’m not up-to-date on all the latest hair trends

Once upon a time, I knew every new natural hair trend ever posted on YouTube. Whether it was a new product, tool or hairstyle, chances are I probably had watched at least four reviews. Now however I’m so behind that I didn’t know what a vixen part was let alone a silk press (which I still think is just straightening your hair but okay)! Thank God for friends who keep putting me on to trends and keeping me fresh. <-who still says things like this???!

I don’t always read the ingredients list for my hair products

Well I make my whipped shea butter myself so I know everything that goes into that, however with all my other products, I really just go with brands that I know and well what my wallet can carry. I’m not about that spending $50 on conditioner life. Mainly because conditioner finishes so quickly that spending a fortune on one high-end brand just isn’t worth it to me.

I have slept without my satin scarf a few times

Of all my confessions this is probably the one that gives me the most anxiety. Wearing my scarf to bed is like sleeping with a blanket, it may slip off before morning but it had to have been there before I went to sleep. Some days however (especially if I’m not home) I may forget to bring my scarf. Nevertheless my edges have survived, I think…*nervously strokes nape hairs*…Yup I’m doing okay.

There is no secret hair growth potion that I own!!!

Now one of the questions I get most often is “How Do I Grow My Hair??!!”. I wish there as some potion I could prescribe as the magical ingredient for hair growth but alas friends, I am still searching for that potion. I usually offer people my shea butter cream recipe but I don’t think that would necessarily make anyone’s hair grow to Rapunzel like lengths. Growing your hair is all about constant care and lots of time. Lots and Lots of time.

 

Fro Tales: New Lessons

5 things about longer natural hair

Hi Guys!

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Merry Christmas to all who are celebrating! :). I have loved Christmas for as long as I can remember; the food, family and presents. So although I can not give a tangible present to everyone reading this I figured now would be a good time to share a few more things I have learned about my hair.

In February, it would be four years since I last relaxed my hair.  A while ago I shared some things I had learned since being natural and now that I am almost four years in, here’s my updated list.

  1. Long hair=More time
    As my hair has grown, the “hair goals” comments have increased.   I’m not going to front and act like I don’t like those comments but sister, it is not easy to have a “hair goals fro”. Detangling takes longer because all of your shed hair just clings to other strands. Drying takes longer because well there’s more hair to dry. As a result of these two things, overall styling takes longer so you cannot afford to be re-doing your hair every other day. As such, I have found a few key styles that I rotate and anything I do to my hair starts from there.
    matching set- ibegan
  2.  What is the actual length of my hair anyway???
    This question is deeply rooted in the magic of shrinkage. I did a very basic length check on snapchat just to get a sense of where I’m at. [I tried uploading said video but it didn’t work :(. I will do another length check at some other point if it’s requested.] The thing about this is that when my hair is wet it is more elastic so it stretches longer than the length in the video [My hair in the video is just about bra strap length]. So if you’re looking for a little encouragement on your journey just check the length of your hair while it’s still wet :P.
  3. What worked in the past may not work anymore
    I don’t know if this is just me but I may have a conditioner that works wonders on my hair and then after 6 uses I no longer feel the silky softness I once did. I don’t know if that is just me getting used to the effect of the conditioner or if my hair truly gains immunity after a couple washes but I definitely feel the need to switch things up fairly regularly. I however have not allowed this to turn me into a product junkie. I just flip flop between my regular conditioner and my deep conditioner.

    image
    When those kinks stay poppin!
  4. Naps or nah?
    As my hair started getting longer I started to feel that my roots were a little dense and incredibly difficult to comb through. At first I thought this was new growth cause you know how when your hair is relaxed it gets harder to comb your roots as it grows out. But something about this theory just didn’t make sense to me. Remember those shed hairs I mentioned? Yea those little bad boys think they can just chill wherever they like and make your hair harder to manage. I realized this when I took the time to properly detangle only to be sliding out shed hairs that had been making my life difficult for goodness knows how long.
    mustard dress
  5. Combs? LOL!
    I never thought it would come to this friends, but I almost exclusively finger detangle my hair now! With shorter hair, combs work and you can be gentle and keep the breakage to a minimum. However, when combing my hair brought on flashbacks to my childhood I knew it was time to stop. I remember cringing every time my mum said it was time to do my hair–I know most black girls can relate to this–you’re sitting there begging for mercy while your mother keeps trying to convince you that it doesn’t hurt -_-. combing hair

Despite the struggles, I still love my kinky-frizzy-sometimes curly-has a mind of its own-sassy-fro. ❤

 

The Nigerian Woman- Diverse

Nneoma Nwankwo

Hi Guys!!

Back with another one! (Shout out to DJ Khalid still). Nneoma is one of the first friends I made in life (not nearly as dramatic as I just made it seem). She was in my age group in church so we just kinda grew up together. Needless to say we were cool kids :p. We have both evolved immensely since those days in our afro-puffs but this young woman here continues to make me so happy! She’s a true inspiration and I hope you all check out her work and see all of the amazing things she gets up to.

Nneoma-begin-Nigerian woman

Who are you (What are the things that make up your identity, likes, interests, quirks)

“Who are you” is such a difficult question! I’m Nneoma, and my name means Good mother. I’m really extroverted, so I enjoy being around people. I listen to music in African languages I don’t understand, particularly Amharic, Xhosa and Tamasheq. I can sing the songs literally word for word, but I have no clue what they mean, and I’m fine with that! But of course, I love my Nigerian music, Reggae, and Dancehall. I study Political Science, and Urban Planning, and I conduct extensive research on Menstrual Hygiene. I write poetry and fiction also, and I’m a scribbler–so I have couplets and unfinished story plots in the margins of all my Politics and Law textbooks. In my group of friends, I’m definitely the loudest, because I love making people laugh. I worry that I’m too pushy sometimes, because I’m the one in the group that’s like “Apply to this program! Send your paper to this conference!” but my friends love me anyway, so it’s fine. I have been really blessed in life: I have an amazing family, wonderful friends, and great opportunities. I can truly say that I’m immensely happy, and as much as I can, I try to ensure that people around me feel the same way.  

What do you feel being a Nigerian woman means

When I think of Nigerian women, three words instantly pop into my mind : humor, resilience and ambition. Almost every Nigerian woman I know is hilarious, we innately relate to everyone with humor and wit, and there’s always a way to ease up any mood and create a loving atmosphere with the way we talk and crack jokes. Although it’s starting to change (or get better), the Nigerian society has looked down on women as less than men for the longest time, and resilience is necessary to deal to with it. Furthermore, Nigerian women around the world are breaking down barriers, and really doing amazing in all fields, from entertainment to finance to politics. It’s amazing–I cannot imagine being anything but.

Has your identity as a Nigerian ever been questioned? Why and how did you respond?

I don’t think I ever had my identity questioned, until I started university in America. Even then, it was not so much being questioned, as being clarified by others who identified as Nigerian also. They were trying to “make sure” that I was a “real” Nigerian, you know, like “Omo, are you experiencing this culture shock? You fit cook jollof? Wetin dey happen na?” So my Nigerian-ness wasn’t so much being questioned, as it was being authenticated. I don’t think the purpose was to isolate Nigerians raised in America, or Americans of Nigerian descent, rather to find Nigerians with more similar experiences, and to build relationships with them.

When did you become conscious of your identity as a Nigerian woman?

I have always been aware of my identity as a Nigerian woman. I grew up in a household where Nigerian female icons were very celebrated, like I vividly remember the day Agbani Darego won Miss World, and I remembered it was important because she was a Nigerian woman, just like me (even though I was 6 years old at the time). I remember when Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was rising through the World Bank. My Mom actually wrote a wonderful book called “Gender Equality in Nigerian Politics,” and then became the first Nigerian woman to win an Oxford Reuters Fellowship. So even as a young girl, I was positively hyper-aware of my identity as a Nigerian woman.

What bothers you the most about Nigerian women?

I hate to make a sweeping generalization of both Nigerian men and women; but I’d have to say I hate that mentality that there are just things that men do, that a woman will have to put up with, especially in a romantic relationship. So like a man is cheating, hitting a woman or verbally abusing her, and it’s like, well, he’s a man, and that’s how they behave and just pray about it. I refuse to believe that somebody is (un)intentionally being terrible to me, and I should just sit there and take it (quietly) because he’s a man. Whether he is a boyfriend, a father figure, or just a male friend, if a man consistently mistreats me, I will permanently remove him from my life. Thanks to my parents’ marriage and my brothers and all my male Nigerian friends, I know what loving relationships between men and women should look like, and in the words of Lauryn Hill, “respect is just the minimum.”

What are you most proud of when you think of Nigerian women?

Honestly, I cannot even quantify how much I love Nigerian women. I think of my different Nigerian female friends, and they are so diverse in ethnicity and religion, but the bond is fantastic. Nigerian women have this great way of keeping our heads up, and forming beautiful relationships with each other. I think we are the most hilarious group of people–and where there is laughter, often that’s where you will find love. I am most proud of the drive that Nigerian women have–if we say we are going to accomplish something, good luck attempting to stand in the way of us and our goals.

Where can people find you and your work?

My professional Twitter: @nneomaen (!) I share there whenever my work gets published, or whenever something interesting happens in my life, which is everyday, if you ask me 🙂

Relish

Mustard Yellow Bodycon Dress

mustard dress

Hey Guys!!

I am still so proud of my self for making this dress and just so pleased at how the shoot turned out. This fall the colors I was inspired by were brown, mustard yellow, grey and forest green so of course when I saw this fabric I had to have it. That touches on my impulsive buying habits just a little but that’s a story for another day.

kinky hair

natural hair shot

This is most definitely not a beginner project in my opinion, but then again with the right pattern and careful cutting you can achieve greatness. I started out by making my pattern from different articles of clothing that I own and adjusted for length and minor details like the shape of the neck hole. After which I cut everything out.

Mustard yellow dress

fall style 2015

I attached the top bodice pieces to each other on the sides and then attached those to the bottom of the dress which I had also sewn up on the sides. Next I sewed the shoulders together and then proceeded to attach the sleeves. Now do not be deceived, I had to redo that step a few times before I got it right but all’s well that ends well.

Bodycon dress

Afro hair

Then the two most frustrating parts came upon me; putting in the zipper and finishing the raw edges!! I’m still not very good at sewing straight lines so needless to say hemming was an absolute disaster. This fabric is also so unforgiving because it curls up if your lines aren’t straight. This was the point I resorted to my trusty pal hemming tape. Hemming tape has been a friend in times of need. When my sewing machine refuses to work with me, I know hemming tape would stand by me. I love you hemming tape! Okay a little dramatic I know but it’s really true.

yellow shift dress

Then of course there was my eternal struggle with putting in the zipper but I got it as right as I could really. Lest I forget, to achieve the finish I have on the neckline, I cut out the shape of the neck line in 3 inch strips and sewed those on then flipped them inside and tacked them down. There is probably a more technical term for that but #teamSelfTaught, we don’t curr bout all dat.

DSCF8003

Yellow dress

Pictures by Willyverse

Transit Thoughts

Thoughts I have while I commute

Transit ThoughtsHi Guys!

So I’ve thought long and hard about what my next post should be and I decided it should be about thinking. Trust me this wasn’t a lazy conclusion (okay maybe just a little bit) but you know how people always talk about the deep reflective moments they have in the shower, I thought I should give a little love to the deep reflections I have when I’m on the subway.

First of all I think there are 5 types of transit users; the people who read, the music listeners, the ad watchers, the people watchers and the sleepers. Clearly from this assessment I’m a people watcher. I observe subway interactions, and for the few stops where the subway goes above ground, I observe people outside and make up little stories about their lives. For example if you’re in the GTA you’ve probably gone past Old Mill station. There’s a lake that runs below and sometimes you’d see people in boats fishing. I always imagine that the people in the boats are having some really deep introspective conversation because those are the kind of talks you have on a lake really.

Anyhow, my thoughts usually begin once I enter the station. “The germs that are just thriving on the railings and door handles“, “What if the transit collector doesn’t see me put in my token and decides to make a scene? Then I’d look him/her square in the face and fight back. But what if they call the police cause they don’t believe me?” Of course this doesn’t happen so I proceed to the platform. “I hope the train isn’t full“, “I hope more people don’t get here before the train comes so it wouldn’t be full“-the train comes and its full-“I hope someone gets off soon“.

In the midst of these thoughts I have some major pet peeves though. First of all if I have to stand on the train then so be it but if someone leaves, I don’t see any real reason why I shouldn’t sit. Now of course there are times when you may really just not feel like sitting but brother why are you blocking the chair?! Are you saving the seat for your imaginary friend? Please if you’re not interested in sitting, let someone else access the seat. Thank you! My second pet peeve is really just something that gives me unnecessary anxiety. When an older person gets on the streetcar, my expectation is that they should sit as quickly as possible, especially when there are several available seats close to the entrance because once the streetcar moves you run the risk of falling but NO! some people would decide to walk past all the available seats till the streetcar starts moving then they start scrambling for a seat which would usually end up being the seat of someone who doesn’t want them to fall or the seat next to somebody. This point segues to my next issue, the people who sit next to you in a streetcar or train with several empty seats -_-. Maybe it’s just the need for human contact but seriously?!! in an empty streetcar the only seat you wanted was the one next to me?

I think of many other things when I’m in transit, where my fellow passengers are going, what their lives are like, what they must be thinking as they ride on, what they’re listening to, if they’re enjoying what they’re reading, why eye contact on the subway is so creepy, what crazy event could happen on my way to where I’m going and so many other things. Like I said, transit thoughts feel a lot like bathroom thoughts just with live characters driving them.

I’d really like to hear what thoughts other people have when they’re on the bus or streetcar or train or even in your car.