Some thoughts on lifestyle design + how I’m doing

I wrote a few weeks ago about trying to add more intentional structure to my days.  I got thrown off a bit by getting the flu the day after I wrote that post but I’m back on track.  I’ve managed to develop two different morning routines, one for days when I go into town and one for days when I stay home.  I wrote the steps for both morning routines plus my night routine and my shower routine on index cards so that I can get back on track when my brain blanks out, and it’s been so helpful.  I’ve been remembering to eat regular meals, sleeping better, reading for pleasure more, spending more time outside… you get the picture.  It’s amazing how little things can make a big impact.  My new planner has also been really helpful; not that I have that busy of a schedule but it’s nice to have a concrete way to keep track of what I’m doing each day.

I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts/reading a lot of blogs about slow living or simple living lately, and the idea really appeals to me.  The thing is that slow living is often associated with minimalism and the assumption of “you’re doing too much.  You’re too busy.  You need to do less to be happier.”  I imagine this is helpful advice for most neurotypical folks but I have something of the opposite problem as an autistic person.  I have trouble “doing things.”  This is mainly due to my absolutely horrible executive functioning.  Most evenings I look back on the day and realize that I did absolutely nothing.  Or rather, I paced around the house, very slowly ate some potato chips, possibly fell asleep at some point, refreshed my Instagram feed for an hour, and maybe flipped over a record.  I manage to eat up the entire day without doing anything productive, meaningful, or pleasant.  It’s just one of the struggles I have with how my brain works.

The point here is that I need to find or create an alternative lifestyle that is designed to help me be able to DO, instead of being focused on doing less.  I also want to be able to reduce my anxiety, environmental impact, and dependence on capitalism while increasing mindfulness, the beauty of my environment, my ability to create, and general happiness.  Some ideas I’ve been thinking about:

  1. Slow or Simple Living: I already incorporate many aspects of the slow living movement into my life with my craft and my farm but I want to be more conscious about it.  I don’t think being entirely self-sustainable is a realistic goal for me as a disabled person, but I do want to increase my self-reliance.  Right now I eat eggs from my chickens and sometimes herbs from my garden; I dream of eventually having bees, a couple of fruit trees, and a small kitchen garden.  I want to spend more time baking, drying flowers, making jam, all that fun stuff.  This will probably for the most part have to wait until after I graduate, though.
  2. Minimalism: I am attracted by some tenets of minimalism, just not all of them.  I really like the idea of having nothing in your house that is neither useful nor beautiful, although I’d rather have everything including the functional things be beautiful.  I like the idea of cutting down on disposable packaging and things like paper napkins in favor of reusable products, and just the idea of cutting down on plastic in general.  I’m really attracted to the philosophy of quality over quantity.
  3. Mori Kei: I used to be super in to mori fashion a few years ago but I kind of abandoned it as I began to explore my gender identity and needed to wear less feminine styles.  I kind of want to revisit it.  The mori lifestyle has a lot in common with simple living, but with more of an emphasis on visual aesthetics.  Mori encourages collecting and the accumulation off trinkets, which is what I miss in minimalism.  Small useless objects are good as long as they are visually pleasing and help tell your story.
  4. Bohemianism: I took a class last semester on the Bohemians of the 19th and early 20th centuries: the people who laid the foundations for the counterculture movements of the 60’s and beyond.  Bohemianism is kind of a hard idea to pin down and it could look very different across space (in New York, London, Paris, Vienna…) and across time.  The basic goal of most Bohemians was to defy traditional bourgeois values & conventions and to live a life that is in itself a work of art.  There’s a lot to learn from the lifestyles of people like Alfred Jarry, Sonia Delaunay, and Augustus John.  I recommend Among the Bohemians by Virginia Nicholson for those interested in the original Bohemian lifestyle.

Soundtrack: more psychedelic folk today, from Debbie Harry’s pre-Blondie band The Wind In The Willows



Developing An Intentional Autistic Routine

This spring is my last semester of university.  Not only do I have my thesis to contend with, but I also have to start preparing myself for post-student life.  My plan is to take a year or so off to explore some creative ideas (I want to learn more about music production and synthesis!) that I haven’t had time to think about the last four years and to recover from the autistic burnout I’ve been suffering from.

My worry is that without the structure and routine that being a college student provides I will basically do nothing and waste a year.  I tend to fall into a depression during the summers and although part of the problem is the sensory hell of hot weather I think a big factor is the lack of routine.  I’m going to try to be proactive and start establishing a daily routine right now, one that is not dependent on my class times.

I’ve been really inspired by Megan Rhiannon’s youtube channel lately.  I really admire how intentional she is in structuring her day in a way that is optimal for her as an autistic person, and I love her planner/bullet journalling videos.  I’m really intimidated by the idea of starting a bullet journal since I’ve never been in the habit of writing my plans down and I’m really horrible at keeping up with journals and things (see: this blog).  Watching Megan’s videos helped me figure out what I might want from a planner though, and I was able to find this one on Amazon that I thought would meet my needs, with monthly pages for deadlines and events and weekly pages where I can keep up with my routine and habits.  I really hope I can transition to a bullet journal eventually because I love the idea.


I’ve got a pretty good evening routine established.  I get in bed early and color in my coloring book I bought in Finland while I listen to a podcast like The Adventure Zone or Tabletop Genesis (or just listen to music for a while).  I haven’t managed to come up with a good morning routine yet but I think that by having an evening routine to wind-down I will be able to get up earlier and eventually a morning routine will come to me.


My brother gave me a beautiful pouch made of a recycled sari for Christmas that I’ve been keeping my stim toys in instead of leaving them loose in my bag.  This has made it a lot easier for me to stim in class and when I’m in town, which has reduced my stress levels significantly.  I’m trying to find the best time to work designated stimming sessions and time to engage with my special interests into my daily routine.

Soundtrack: Agincourt, Fly Away I stumbled across this gem on youtube, apparently it’s quite obscure but I adore it


Anatomy of a Pair Of Flares


FIRST OF ALL, here we are on August 31st and I haven’t written anything at all for CoBloWriMo.  I do have my valid excuses: my internet went out, then my parents went on vacation so I had to run the farm myself and had very little TIME, then classes at the university started and the internet went out again.  Oh well.  I told myself I wouldn’t beat myself up if I wasn’t able to post as much as I would have liked, and I’m still going to try to use the prompts for post inspiration.

I do have a post for you today though!  While I was in Europe a little vintage store called Crimson and Clover opened back in Arkansas.  Last weekend they had a sale and I went to check it out and I was delighted.  Not only do they have a whole lot of beautiful dresses they also have a great selection of vintage menswear.  I tried on a few dresses but I’m not feeling particularly femme right now, so I ended up with a beautiful pair of 70’s flares, (pictured above with a Finnish shirt from Vintage Code) some 60’s trousers, and a couple of beautiful neckties.

As some people who know me may know, I’ve been trying for uhh, a couple of years to draft a pattern for the perfect pair of flares, but all my toiles have been unsatisfactory.  Now that I have such a beautiful extant example in my possession I thought I might poke around to see what I could learn from them, and share some pictures here.

IMG_9812The built-in belt seems to be the solution to my worst fit problem, keeping the high waist up without actually digging into my body.  It’s only in the front, attaching at (not in) the side seams with x-shaped stitching.  I adore the wide belt loops, they look funky and I imagine would be a lot less fiddly to sew than standard narrow loops.

IMG_9818detail of top-stitching and eyelets, along with a bar tack reinforcing the corner of the front pockets.  The pockets have a weird welt-type thing going on, I’ll have to take some time to figure out exactly how it works.

IMG_9821The fly is stitched down with pick-stitching that is barely visible on the right side of the garment.

IMG_9822 I love the closure.  Besides the belt and zipper, there’s also an interior button-and-tab arrangement set slightly lower than the actual waistband, working like a waist stay and helping keep the pants up.  The waistband is faced with a small strip of the cotton muslin (also used for the pockets) and then a wider strip of something that reminds me of petersham but is much thinner and softer, with two bands of decorative (or if they have a function I don’t know what it is) stitching.  IMG_9834In one place the stitching holding the waistband facing down was coming loose and I was able to peek in at the interfacing inside the waistband.  It’s sew-in, not fusible, and looks like a strip of very lightweight buckram.  No wonder the waistband stays so smooth and beautiful when being worn.

IMG_9825IMG_9826more cotton muslin used to face the fly and as a sort of reinforcement/facing? in the front of the crotch seam.  The fly has another bar tack at the bottom of the zipper.

IMG_9833Nice spacious back pockets! The back seam has been taken in at some point, as seen by the extra wide seam allowances with a crease (and some stray bits of thread!) where the previous seam-line was, and some rather messy work stitching the waistband facing back down at center back.  Part of why I love wearing vintage clothes is the little pieces of evidence like this that they were worn and loved by somebody before me.I’m kind of thinking that these flares were made handmade by a tailor or professional seamstress rather than manufactured, due to the sew-in interfacing, the details, the hand-sewn hem, etc.  so I find it interesting that this alteration had to be done (by a different sewer, as evidenced by the different colored thread and difference in work quality) in the first place.  Maybe I’m actually the third owner.

IMG_9838(here’s a closer look at the alteration) Speaking of crotch seams and seam allowances, the seam allowances on these flares are pressed open in the crotch seam and lie absolutely beautifully.  Almost all of the raw edges in the garments are finished with a narrow overlock stitch.

IMG_9841The legs are relatively straight with little actual flare but the effect when being worn is perfect.  This means that the hem can simply be a wide fold-up hem without any sort of puckering.  It’s hand-stitched.  I’ll probably be taking the stitching out though as I need to hem the pants about an inch shorter.

So yeah, I think I found a lot of construction details that will help alleviate the problems that I’ve been running into with my self-made flares, as well as add some 70’s authenticity.


(am I the only one who finds it funny that I’m dressed all in vintage posing in front of my record player but the outline of my iphone is clearly visible in my pocket 😛 )

Soundtrack: Al Stewart- Past, Present, and Future


CoBloWriMo 1: Introduce Yourself!

I’ve been neglecting my fledgling blog lately since I’ve been in Europe all summer, first on a two-week study tour of London and Paris with my university, and then a two-month stay in Finland while I interned at the Helsinki University Museum, where I was cataloging parts of their fashion and textile collection (I mainly worked with objects from the 1940’s-80’s.). I’m back home now, and hopefully can get back in the habit of writing regularly again before school starts at the end of the month.  To facilitate a schedule of regular posting, I’m going to be taking part in CoBloWiMo aka Costume Blog Writing Month.  I may get around to writing some bits and pieces about my adventure in Europe, but honestly right now my priority is just to focus on writing anything at all.


The first prompt for CoBloWriMo is Introduce Yourself, so here’s some background info for those of you who don’t already know me:


My name is Grace, I’m 20 years old and have been sewing since I was seven.  My passion and career aspiration is costumes, but due to various (mostly logistical) reasons I’m currently working on my Bachelor’s degree in fashion design and merchandising, with plans to go on and get a Master’s degree in costume design.  This semester I will be starting on my undergraduate thesis, which will involve designing costumes for Tolkien’s Legendarium while avoiding influence from  previous depictions.

I’m the Costume Manager/Master of the Basement for my local historical society (http://www.washcohistoricalsociety.org) which means that I’m in charge of keeping track of the costume collection we keep for use by our costumed volunteers and living history interpreters, overseeing laundry and repairs, purchasing commissioning or making new pieces when needed, selecting and altering costumes for new volunteers, instructing volunteers on details like historical hairstyles, and providing help and resources for anyone who wants to try making their own costumes.  I also teach dances from the Regency and mid-19th century to our volunteers and to the public. image.jpg

My siblings and I were all homeschooled through high school graduation, so my transition to college life was quite difficult and jarring.  I suffered a severe burnout in my freshman and sophomore years, leading to me being diagnosed with autism almost two years ago.  I realized that I had been unconsciously suppressing my autistic traits almost my entire life in an effort to appear neurotypical and “fit in,” which worked just fine during my carefree childhood but got to be EXHAUSTING in highschool and in college I just couldn’t keep it up any more.  Since my diagnosis I’ve been relearning how to be visibly and proudly autistic: letting myself stim in public, embracing my echolalia and “raptor hands,” recognizing when a meltdown or shutdown is imminent and giving myself permission to take a break instead of pushing past my limits trying to Keep Up With The Neurotypicals.  As for being an autistic costumer: I’m very detail-oriented, I tend to conceptualize certain ideas in my head as clothes instead of words, I touch ALL THE FABRICS, and I can sit for hours at a time researching.  On the other hand though, I have horrible executive function (https://musingsofanaspie.com/executive-function-series/) and most days very little actual sewing gets completed. It’s a struggle, but it’s the way I am and I’m learning to love myself.  My special interests (https://www.theodysseyonline.com/an-autistic-view-on-special-interests) are costume design (no surprise there!) Finland and the Finnish language, Tolkien, and the bands Nightwish, Genesis, and the Bee Gees.

Lately I’ve started collecting vintage clothes from the 1960’s-80’s, which I’m beginning to wear on a daily basis.  I also love music so I try to share a song or album that I’ve been enjoying in each blog post.  Here’s my record collection: image.jpg

Before I end this post, I’ve seen some CoBloWriMoers introducing their pets, so I thought I’d share some pictures of mine. I live on a small hobby farm so I have a lot!

My sweet and rambunctious baby girl Gala: (an old photo from Instagram because she wouldn’t stand still for a picture today)image.jpg

Apple the elderly gentlepig: image

Dior, Olórin, and Noam Chomsky: image

As well as Ferdinand the dog, Aztec the Sewing Room Turtle, 4 guineas, 8 ducks, and about 30 more chickens not pictured.

Soundtrack: since this post is about getting to know me, here’s my favorite album of all time, Imaginaerum by Nightwish (I’ll provide a link when I’m not blogging from my phone, but in the mean time you should be able to find it on spotify)


Long Distance Voyager

Hello hello, bonjour, terve!  I realize everyone wants to know how the fashion show went and how the Big Fashion Show Thing turned out, and I promise I’ll get to that at some point.  I’ve been doing some super exciting stuff and I have a lot to catch up on, as you can see here:


Look at that! It’s Trafalgar Square!  Where the Bee Gees played a concert on January 1st 1973 and Grace took pictures some time in May 2017!  That’s right guys, I’m in Europe.  As soon as the fashion show and final exams were over I left to tour London and Paris with a group from my university, which is why I haven’t been blogging the last few weeks.  Right now I’m in Finland, and I’ll be here for a while.  My plan is to do some catch up posts on the fashion show and the first part of my trip spaced out over the next few weeks, and also blog about my  adventures in Helsinki (which should include some outfit posts, since I mostly packed vintage clothes)

In the meantime, here’s some more pictures of me wearing Halston and having afternoon tea in London


Soundtrack for chilling in my apartment in Helsinki: Peter Frampton – I’m In You


I Don’t Really Know How To Do Futurism

Today’s post is going to be a bit of a wall of words since up until this week every time I’ve tried to photograph this project it just looks like a big pile of black fabric scraps.


I’m currently working on the garment you see in the above sketch (minus leggings and boots, those will be purchased, thankfully) for my advanced apparel production class which will be in my department’s fashion show at the end of the month.  The end of the month!  help.


About the design: the theme/concept for the fashion show is Futuristic Florals, which made me panic a bit, since my designs tend to be very heavily historically inspired.  I was lamenting to my sister when she recommended I interpret “futurism” as a sort of retro-futurism.  I ended up going for an 80’s sci-fi look inspired by the tailoring wok of Thierry Mugler and the costuming work of one of my favorite costume designers, Michael Kaplan (particularly his work in Blade Runner, although he also costumed Star Wars Episode XII, which keeps things relevant.)  The result is a sort of “space cadet” jacket made out of black wool satin, with some funky and unexpected seaming to amp up the futuristic feel.

I’ve also been interested in the concept of fashion as a vehicle for horror lately, since when done well our clothes shape the way we view or maybe even be viewed as part of our body, leading to opportunities to experiment with body horror and creating a sense of “wrongness” through clothing.  I’m going to create a reproduction human heart out of wool felt and silk gauze sort of bursting through the left side of the chest of the garment, bleeding and dripping “blood” made out of silk flowers; this is the floral component.  An unconventional interpretation, but I think it will be morbidly beautiful and thought-provoking and my professors are all delighted with it.

To further drive home the futuristic aspect of the project, our class has access to 3-d printers this semester, and we are collaborating with some electrical engineering students to add lights to our garment.  I’ve designed a 3-d printed epaulet for the right shoulder, and I’m working with the engineering students to add red LED lights behind the “heart” to softly pulse and mimic a sort of unnatural heartbeat.


 About the actual construction process:  this is a BIG PROJECT and I haven’t made it any easier on myself, since my high standards for my work won’t let me take any shortcuts, even if that means I have to make every flower individually out of hand-dyed silk (see previous post.)  Because the seaming is so convoluted I ended up making the pattern entirely by draping while my classmates were all doing flat-pattern drafting.  Cutting it all out was also incredibly nerve-wracking since I’m using some of the most expensive fabric I’ve ever worked with, so I kept having to go outside and have mini-panic attacks.

Now that those bits are done it’s coming together pretty quickly, though.  The wool satin is an absolute dream to work with; it isn’t finicky under the sewing machine at all and it presses beautifully.  The thing that’s stressing me out is that since this is a project for class I’m required to do all the machine stitching in the sewing lab on campus in a room with 20 other students, instead of at home in my nice quiet sewing room with my records, which translates to a lot of sensory bombardment.  I’m usually okay if I put my earbuds in and just let myself hyperfocus on my sewing, but yesterday somebody put their hand on my shoulder to get my attention and I very narrowly avoided melting down.  I managed to make it through my next class but then I had to call my mom to drive me home because I was all shaky and my brain wasn’t working.  In general I’m okay with being touched but I’m quite sensitive and touch-averse on my shoulders and back and I don’t even let people I know well touch me there, much less some random classmate and much less as a surprise when I have my earbuds in and didn’t even hear them coming.  Ugh.  The good news is I’m done with all the machine sewing, and I just have a Heck of a Lot of hand-stitching to do now so I can work at home now.


Soundtrack for this project: I mean obviously this is a huge project but for the sketching and patterning I listened to this playlist on Spotify to get in the mood


Some Thoughts on Autism Acceptance


It’s April 2nd, which, depending on your point of view, is either Autism Awareness Day or Autism Acceptance Day.  Being autistic myself, I celebrate Autism Acceptance Day and #REDinstead rather than Autism Awareness Day and #lightitupblue.  A lot of people have written about the difference and why Autism Awareness Day is, as I said on Instagram, unhelpful at best and actively harmful at worst, but I just wanted to write a few of my thoughts here.

I love being autistic because I love being me.  I love the intensity and fierceness of my love for my special interests, I love the feeling of stimming, I love how easily I am moved to tears by beauty and emotion because of my hyperempathy, I love how my autistic sensory processing lets me experience music and rain and velvet and hot chocolate chip cookies.  I’m not over here trying to say that being autistic is always a walk in the park, because it’s not.  It’s hard.  It’s really really hard.  The sensory overload, the social difficulties, the executive dysfunction (hoo boy the executive dysfunction) can all be incredibly difficult at times, but here’s the thing: the autistic brain has a variety of tools and skills pre-installed, so to speak, to help us cope with these difficulties.  It’s perfectly natural for us to stim to regulate our sensory input, to use echolalia to communicate when we’re having trouble putting words together, and to find ways to escape when we’re in overwhelming environments.  The problem is that we’re taught that using these skills is bad thing, either explicitly through harmful therapies or implicitly by being exposed from birth to a society that mocks and degrades anyone who isn’t neurotypical-passing.  “Awareness,” in my experience points out visible autistic traits and basically says “look at these autistic behaviors!  horrible!  terrible!  we need to help these poor children to stop doing these terrible, terrible, things like not making eye contact;”  while acceptance is just that– advocating for the wide-spread cultural acceptability of a range of behaviors, and encouraging our more socially-adept allistic friends to meet us halfway in matters of socialization.  Acceptance says “look at these autistic behaviors!  They are normal and helpful and there is nothing wrong with them!”  True autism acceptance in our society would have so much impact on making autistic lives easier.

Another issue I have with “awareness:” it doesn’t even work.  I suppose it did work to some extent for a while since nowadays most people at least have heard the word “autism,” but the wide-spread understanding of autism is completely inaccurate.  A lot of us get told “you don’t look autistic!” like it’s some sort of compliment when we disclose our diagnosis.  I don’t know what neurotypicals think autism “looks like,” I guess maybe Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man.  This inaccurate picture of autism leads to the under-diagnosis of poor people, people of color, and anyone who isn’t a cis man.  In reality, we are all races, come from all socioeconomic backgrounds, are all sexual and romantic orientations, and we can be all ages.  Autistic people can be any gender, and a lot of us are trans or nonbinary!  We needed to be accepted as who we actually are, instead of only being acknowledged if we fit the mold created by faulty “awareness.”

I want to end on a positive note, so here’s some shoutouts to some great people in my life who practice autism acceptance:

  • My friends, who, when I text them in the middle of a meltdown ask me “do you want to infodump?” and then let me tell them stuff about the Bee Gees until I’ve calmed down
  • My dad, who has a special way of hugging me.  I cross my arms over my chest and let him squeeze me, which is a form of pressure stimming and helps keep me from getting understimulated.  He knows that even if I don’t “hug back” I still love him very much
  • My professors who let me ask questions in class when I’ve gone nonverbal by handing them my phone with the question typed out
  • My big sister who is autistic, we show each other affection by listening to each other infodump about our special interests and getting really excited when our special interests intersect


The shirt I’m wearing in these photos is from Vintage Code, one of my favorite vintage shops on Etsy.

My soundtrack for writing this post:  Pink Floyd– Meddle