Jewelry For Travel

The topic of this post is simple jewelry designs to help pull your looks together while travelling.   Of course, these can be worn at any time and necklaces add a little interest while coordinating with basic clothing pieces.   These are me-made, and more inspiration can be found on Pinterest.    The post I wrote about my London trip better shows my overall cohesive plan.

The necklace on the left is a wire wrap technique, which means that wire is wrapped with a loop on each end. The bead is in the middle.  A series of loops link together forming a long necklace.

The necklace on the right is a simple stringing project where beads and spacers are strung in a pattern with a closure in the back.

Variation = Versatility
Both necklaces complimented my wardrobe pieces by combining neutral colors. To offer the most versatility, I constructed them by varying the lengths and varying the bead size.   Although I love scarves as an alternative to spice up a neutral outfit, I prefer to wear necklaces if the temps are warm.

Questions To Ask 

What kind of trip will it be?  A beach vacation, a work conference, or a family reunion all require specific wardrobes, so the jewelry included (if any) will be different.   I want simple and easy ‘go-to’ items that add detail that makes the outfit looked finished and that I put a little extra time into the overall look.   I don’t pack items of great value, but I do ask myself if I would be really disappointed if the item(s) broke or were stolen.  Although I would miss these pieces if something happened, I also ask, ‘Can I remake or replace this jewelry?’  If yes, then in the bag it goes.

Assorted beads from my bead stash

Assorted beads from my bead stash

40 inch assorted bead necklace

40 inch assorted bead necklace

Discover Your Preferred Necklace Lengths
Trends in jewelry come and go. Classics like pearls and gold chains seem to remain strong, but it is the length that is important and very individualized.   I like more substantial pieces and have a shorter and longer length I keep coming back to that seem right for me.

If I want a longer necklace that has the potential to be doubled up, I have discovered that 40″ is a good length for me, especially if I include a closure in the back.  That way I can unfasten it and place the closure in the front, avoiding pulling it over my head.   Another length I prefer is at the collar bone.  I have written about it here and here.  Toggle closures are bigger and can be fasten easily.

Navy, gold, silver, light pink, shell, pearl beads

Navy, gold, silver, light pink, shell, pearl beads

A closer look. Most beads from Joann's

Many of these beads are from Joann’s and from my stash

Design and Composition

Sometimes it helps to take a closer look at the beads, their arrangement and the tiny beads or spacers in between. I have written about going into stores and making a beeline to the accessories to check out the jewelry designs. Keep an eye out for jewelry that can be re-purposed or re-designed to your taste.  If you like to bead, you may recognize in the picture above some of these beads from the Joann’s.   Often the collections are a blend of beautifully colored beads.  All that is needed is to string them up!

Small lobster claw closure

Small lobster claw closure used with a split ring

Metals Used Instead of Color
Using colored beads is not the only way to add interest in a bead design. Sometimes adding metals does the trick.   Adding the wonderful warmth of copper or the cool tones of silver and pewter translate as color and can add so much to the overall color scheme our eye sees.   Gold can be used instead of yellow and blackened silver can add the black to ground a design and add some shine.

Since mixing metals is a current fashion trend, I used gold square spacers on the sides of the navy blue stone beads and pewter/dark gray spacers (above photo) to incorporate a dark gray into the design.

Gold pewter toggle closure

Gold pewter toggle closure

I didn’t get many outfit posts recorded, however, here is one taken while walking late across the Westminster Bridge toward Big Ben.

Dressed for Big Ben

Dressed for Big Ben

Other simple choices for travel were the earrings I packed.  All of them were purchased and could be worn interchangeably with the necklaces.

Do you have some versatile jewelry pieces you like to pack?  Do you even bother to pack jewelry?  Would you consider making your own jewelry?  Please share your comments below, cuz’ I want to hear!:)

Happy sewing , creating, travelling, packing, etc.!:)



6 Ways to Sew Affordably

Hancock's receipt showing pattern sale savings

Hancock’s receipts showing pattern sale savings

A question I get often is “Why bother sewing when fabric/patterns is/are so expensive?” or “Clothing is so cheap now so why would I bother taking the time to make something if I can just go buy it?” The pressure to answer this question convincingly is strong; I’m about to attempt to sell the positives of sewing over the ease of going to the mall. Or the simple click of the mouse gets items shipped right to the door. There is a valid argument here, but I try to share the affordable strategy first before getting into all of the other reasons I sew. (More on that in other posts).

I should have a standard answer by now, but I don’t. I consider myself to be very thrifty with my sewing hobby so keeping the cost down is just natural for me. That got me thinking about sharing some of the ways I keep the cost down. There are so many reasons I sew that I’m not always sure which answer to give first. So here are my ideas:

1.) Either borrow or purchase and inexpensive sewing machine for starters if you are unsure about the longevity of this hobby. Be aware, though, that you often get what you pay for in machines (not always) and frustration with a machine is the fastest way to kill enthusiasm. Have a mentor or some support nearby to help troubleshoot mechanical problems. Upgrade and invest in a better machine after you’re hooked.

2.) Sign up for weekly mailers or online alerts for sales. I know what you may be thinking…more email alerts?! Uuhgg! But social media is the way of the future and it is the most affordable way they can keep in touch with me. Some stores offer phone aps that can be downloaded and can be scanned at checkout for the current discount. Facebook is also a tool used by stores to keep you notified.

Of course the stores hope I will buy more than the sale items, and sometimes I do, but the plan is to be very focused on just what I need for the upcoming projects. For example, zippers, thread, etc. Rarely is there only one item on sale I need, so I stay on track by bringing a list.

3.) Utilize store coupons and competitors coupons when possible Check to see if major big box craft and fabric stores in your area will acknowledge each others’ coupons for discounts. There will be exceptions, but for like items, these stores are ready to make you happy for shopping in their stores. I have found Michael’s, Jo Ann’s and Hancock’s very good about this policy.

4.) For online shopping use the discount coupon code at check out. I use the coupon code printed below the paper coupon in my mailer. Sometimes there are in-store and online incentives, so be sure to read the fine print. The online discounts can often help offset the cost of shipping.

5.) Avoid paying full price for patterns. I use the flyers and sale alerts to purchase when patterns are at their lowest prices. The people who ask me about the outrageous cost of patterns today are not aware of the monthly specials on what is referred to as the “Big 4” patterns companies. Keep and eye out for the new styles online and then plan a trip to the fabric store to pick up your favorites on sale day. If I can get a few items sewn up from one pattern, even better.

*Independent patterns are the exception. I am a strong supporter of these hard working designers! The cost of production is higher for them so they must charge more. These pattern designers work harder for your money by giving more thought into the instructions, techniques, drafting and fit. Just a little perusing on some sewing blogs will show you that ‘independents’ are often more pleasing than the “Big Four” pattern companies, so support them if you can. The savings on the other patterns makes it easier to justify giving these patterns a try.

6.) Support mill end, thrift, remnant tables and other discount stores selling fabric, if possible.. In mill end stores, if you can look past the messiness and dig for treasures, this is a sure fire way to keep your fabric costs low. When manufacturers are done with their fabric for mass production, the leftovers are purchased by a mill end store at a discount and then resold at a low price. And it’s a win-win. The store makes a profit off of what might have ended up in a landfill and great deals can be had. Be aware that the fabric content can be a mystery and there may be a minimum fabric requirement left on a large piece, (for example, 2 yards must be remaining) so be prepared to buy more than planned or simply put the piece back. This can often work well to allow for shrinkage since there won’t be content descriptions or washing instruction for the fabric.

Some thrift stores offer plenty of donated fabric for sale or in the way of donated clothes that can be refashioned into something better suited to your taste.

Remnants are often drastically discounted to get it out of the store in order to make room for new shipments.

So there you have it. My main strategies to feel better about spending less money and creating quality clothing that fits my body in the colors, fabrics and styles that suit me.

What is your low-cost strategy to keep your clothing budget in check?