change of lace plans

Thanks for your feedback on which color lining to use with my lace skirt! It was a pretty clear vote for the purple, which is probably the color combination most in line with my style as well, so purple it is!

Lace skirt in progress, purple lining

The process and comments I got from you guys threw me for a loop though. You see, I was planning on using Sewaholic’s newest skirt pattern Rae, which is an easy panelled a-line skirt. I was a pattern-tester for this one, and after making  the test-skirt I thought it would make for a fun skirt in lace. My thought was that a fancier fabric like lace paired with an easy-going silhouette like the Rae skirt and a colorful lining, would dress it down and make for a fun but more casual skirt. I still think I’m right, but what I didn’t fully take into consideration were my own preferences for dressing! The truth is, I don’t really wear that style of skirts. I feel better in straight and fitted silhouettes, and the fuller skirts that I have are panelled and flared rather than gathered.

Anyways, I stood in front of the mirror and lamented how little the purple would be visible if it was hanging freely like I had planned. As I smoothed the fabrics taut across my legs to see how close the lining would need to be to show through, it made a pencil skirt shape, and bam! I should be making a pencil skirt instead! I might have smacked my head at this point, since duh – I wear a whole lot more pencil-shapes in skirts and dresses than I do gathered waists, and it makes sense to make what I would actually buy. So, new plan is to make a pencil skirt instead, and I am far more excited about that, so that’s a good sign.

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Since I’ve already cut the panels, I’ll stick with those – there are six of them; four side pieces, one front, and one back. I’ll need to take the sewn skirt apart though, since I’ll be underlining with the purple polyester, and I’m thinking a wide facing on the inside to work as a waistband. I’m not putting an invisible zipper into lace fabric, so I’m thinking either a lapped zipper on one side or an exposed zipper in the back.

Anyone else change their tactics in the middle of a project? Sometimes I keep going, even though something feels a bit amiss, but it usually results in a garment I end up not wearing much!

a wardrobe peek

I was folding and putting away my clothes the other night, and I was reminded of calling purple a preferred color in my post on the Minoru jacket I just finished (using a purple color, of course). Seeing my clothes all (fairly) neatly hung and piled, I found it funny to see my clothing color preferences so clearly!

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A huge part grey and dusty blues, a fair presence of mustard yellow and yellowy green, and a dash of hot pink. It’s interesting to see that I clearly favor warm purples in the tops that I wear (top left), but I have no sweaters or skirts in that color. Similarly, most greens are found just in the sweater pile (top right), and not much anywhere else.

Anyone else have recurring colors in their wardrobes?

2013 – reflections, inspirations and goals

It’s a week in to the new year, and I shall carry on from the hits & misses post, on to what 2013 brought in terms of reflections, inspirations, and goals for the next year of sewing and crafting.

Reflections

I take forever to get personal projects done. I think alot, I plan, I make changes to patterns, I hem and haw. Part of the hurdle is my very space-limited apartment that means I have to unpack the sewing machine every time I use it, and cutting out fabric is a puzzle piece, trying to make it fit between kitchen chairs and couches. Combined with working on 5 or 6 projects at once means I forget what I’m doing between each time I pick it up. Which actually leads to putting it away again since I get frustrated not knowing what is going on!

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On the plus side, I’ve been happy with some refashions I’ve done this year. I’m not so attached to things I make that I’m unwilling to redo them. The yellow scarf for example – I’ve knit that twice now. It just didn’t work the first time around, so I frogged it and started again. I’m thinking of doing that with a shawl I crocheted many years ago, and this summer/winter dress that I’ve worn all of once will get a contrast color waistband and a shorter length. If something just isn’t working and isn’t getting worn, it’s clutter – even if that something is me-made.

Inspirations

The patterns coming out of independent pattern designers this past year has been blowing my mind! There are several swoon-worthy newcomers, like Thread Theory and Named, but I’m seeing a trend across a lot of the indie designers of fashionable, on-trend looks that are *designs* first and patterns second. I think how they style their shoots and the fabrics they choose have been a huge part of this. Bang-up job guys!

   
The Julian Knit Dress by Named Clothing, and the Model #1 from Sandnes Yarn’s 1315 DIY pattern booklet.

Also, ikat-prints. I don’t know why. Maybe because they tend to make things look less home-made? Maybe because it’s a non-frilly pattern, but one that isn’t cold? I’m getting more and more comfortable with prints in general, but my heart beats a little faster for those ikat-prints.

Goals

The goals I set myself for 2013 are somewhat fulfilled – I did make colorwork mittens, 2 pairs of them actually, just not for myself! I took on several unfinished projects and brought them to completion, but it’s funny to see how my list of planned things to make remain pretty identical from last year to this one! I think one hurdle for several of the things I’ve listed (a boatneck dress in a beautiful Liberty of London fabric, a magenta pencil-skirt, and a pinstriped blazer) is that they require a whole lot of preparation – drafting the pattern, or seriously altering one, muslin-fittings, etc, and so I am a little daunted by the amount of work and I just don’t start. I’d like to think less – and this is related to my next goal – and chip away in small but steady pieces til I get it done.

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I usually have many projects going at any given time, jumping between them. I think given the tendency to forget where I left off, and the challenges with the space I have available, I’d be better off working mainly on one project at a time. I often feel like I don’t have time to sit down for a block of time to sew, but lately with working on the Minoru jacket, I’ve been doing 10 minutes here, 15 minutes there. That means progress – progress that wouldn’t happen if I was waiting for a good time to do a 3-hour session! This also means I leave my sewing machine out for longer periods of time, but that’s a trade-off. (I’m telling you, tiny space!)

And finally (this is kind of a big one) – I have so many ideas that needs patterning and testing and refining, but I’d really like to release a full scale garment sewing pattern in 2014! Wouldn’t that be great!

pattern_presentation_underwearMy first one – a free underwear pattern.

2013 – hits and misses

I totally didn’t see Gillians Top 5 sewing recap arrangement last year, but I’ll happily join this year! I see that I’m not as prolific as a lot of the bloggers I follow, so I’m doing top 3 instead of 5. Today are hits and misses, and tomorrow comes the reflections and goals part of this end-of-year summary. I’m in good company doing this sort of round-up – head over to Gillan’s blog Crafting a Rainbow to see more!

Top 3 Hits

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The Ireland dress. I *loved* wearing this dress. I loved being able to finally use the lovely fabric for an elegant, floorlength gown, I loved how appropriate it was for the occasion, and I loved that I took the time to make several muslins to get the fit right. Love all around!

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The Slouchy bubbles hat. This wasn’t a big, difficult or time-consuming project with intricate fitting issues, but this is definitely one of my favorite makes this year. The cables are the most advanced I have knitted (and that makes it fun to make!), and the yarn and the color are just perfect.

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Refashioned custom dress. This wasn’t even a dress for me! I remade this for a customer, but I was thrilled with the end result – it fit her, it was the style and length that she wanted, and I was able to use my experience to construct the dress to a professional finish, which made me quite proud! 

Top 3 Misses

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Amerson undies. I tried twice, and they were just total fails. They seem to have been quite popular, so I don’t think there is anything wrong with the pattern per se. I might have chosen the wrong size, and maybe materials that weren’t optimal, but after two fails I’m letting this one lie.

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Tiny pocket tank in turquoise silk. A well-loved pattern and a down-right staple in my wardrobe at this point, but with this one I made some bad choices. I did an FBA that resulted in a stupidly large dart (pointy dart ends!), I was impatient and grabbed some not quite matching bias tape in a funny dark pink silk, and I was a little sloppy in applying it. I was craving some instant gratification, so I wanted to complete this top immediately! None of these things are deal breakers however – but paired with the color being too bright for me to feel comfortable in this has ended up in a top I just haven’t worn.

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Wool Marie (not blogged yet). I had high hopes for this one! One of my sewing goals for 2013 was to finish UFO’s, and this is one of them. I stalled several times because of bad choices and bad memory, and now after finishing it – it doesn’t fit! I like the fabric and the color and the topstitching I added to keep the pleats under control, but it’s too big and is quite unflattering when it sits too low. Yes, I could take in the sides with a lot of unpicking, but I’m not sure the work is worth it. I haven’t even blogged about this one yet – probably purely out of disappointment, but now I think I will give it its own post after all.

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Finally, I did also want to collect all my finished projects in one place like last year, so here are links to my completed sewing and knitting projects this year:

SewnAfrican dress tweaksTiny pocket tank in turquoise silkFolk dance costumesBeignet corduroy skirtIreland dressUnderwearrefashioned custom dressTiny pocket tank in bird-printWearable muslin of Ireland dress (not blogged yet, but finished in 2013 I promise!)

Knitted: Renegade Mallory sweater Re-knit yellow cowlWedding present mittensGreen & tweedy seamless sweaterSlouchy bubbles winter hat

wardrobe thoughts

I came across a wonderful blog last week, and it’s prompted so many thoughts for me on the concept of “wardrobe”, so this is my attempt to put it in writing.

Making our own clothes (whether sewing, re-fashioning, knitting or elsewise) is, I think, partly about the joy of creating something and executing a handcraft, and partly about the freedom to make whatever you want – whichever size or combination thereof, whatever color or pattern you can find (or make, as sallieoh does so well!), whatever silhouette and fit we want. At least for me, the combination of these two factors is why I make (some of) my own clothes.

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My first years of sewing or refashioning was based a lot on what I could find of fabrics and clothes to take apart, and very little buying fabric and patterns specifically for an envisioned project – so that has long been my standard mode of operation. I don’t think I really sewed according to any sort of plan. After one of the Me-made-May or Self-Stitched-September’s I’ve participated in, I saw a conversation going on in the blogosphere. People were noticing that the things they had made for themselves didn’t necessarily fit their lifestyle or their style period. I noticed it too. After the first round, I decided that just because “I’ve made something myself doesn’t automatically mean it’s my style. Or, it might no longer fit into my current style.” After the second round, I realized I actually have multiple styles going on: “When I’m going to work, I want to look sharp and polished and put together, with pencil skirts and structured tops, or fitted dresses. When I’m not at work, I gravitate towards flowey, casual, faded, slightly off kilter things. Which is totally fine, except for the days I dressed really casually and picnicy going to work and felt awkward and uncomfortable. I think I just have to accept that work-me wants to dress differently than leisure-me!”

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I usually devour any posts on wardrobe and style since find the topic fascinating and mystifying, and I’m not sure I have a full grasp of what my style is. Which isn’t a big deal! But I would love to feel like my wardrobe is a better curated collection of clothes. I am completely enamoured with Anuschka’s blog – the streamlined imagery, clean look, and of course… the content. Unlike most other posts and blogs I’ve read on wardrobe-how-tos or wardrobe-must-haves, she doesn’t provide rules like that. Instead, she offers tasks and exercises to figure out what your own must-haves are, based on your own preferences and lifestyle. And, she outlines different approaches to putting together outfits, and describes how to use that as a guide to what pieces and how many you’d need in your wardrobe. I love it! It’s an approach that revolves completely around figuring out what works for you, not set formulas or pieces. It’s actually liberating, in a way!

I’m tempted to toss all the contents of my current wardrobe on the floor and only put back a carefully selected collection of garments that of course all go perfectly together. But a wardrobe is always a work in progress, so besides the fact that I don’t own all the things that would be in my dream wardrobe, I’m aiming for an easy-does-it approach – mindful replacing of worn out/ill-fitting/damaged clothes, with a sort of core wardrobe each season and complete permission to also have things in my wardrobe that is for special occasions and rare uses (if I love it, it’s allowed!).

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Intersecting here between wardrobe planning and the ability to make one own’s clothes is of course that you can make the pieces that are missing! I’m now making a dark grey cabled hat as part of getting my winter outerwear wardrobe to a place I’m happy with – which to me means not having a myriad of colorful hats and scarves and mittens that clashes totally with my warm jackets. It doesn’t necessarily mean making big changes to feel put together! Looking through my wardrobe to identify gaps between what I want to dress in and what I have, has made my sewing-to-do-list longer – I’m thinking several pencils skirts, a couple of miniskirts, and definitely some longer sleeve shift-dresses in the next few months. And I have a portrait neckline blouse already cut out, along with another Tiny Pocket Tank. Wait, do I need more of those? Hmm, always!

Anyone else having thoughts about they wardrobe and style? What are your sewing plans for the rest of the year (and into next year!)?

Resources: Wardrobe Building for Beginners: a starter kit from into-mind.com & alreadypretty.com

fix-it-friday: vintage dress let loose

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I don’t know if this dress has ever made an appearance on this here blog, but I bought it some six or seven years ago during an impulse trip to Copenhagen with a friend. It was a good trip – my friend had some days off work, I did too, so we took an overnight bus down there and experienced odd people on that bus, and we saw old people dance to live music in the Tivoli, and went to the superb art museum Louisiana, and I bought the best smelling sunscreen ever, and after pinching our pennies all trip long, we ended up having to take a taxi from the bus station back to the apartment we’d been staying at to retrieve… ahem… a bus ticket, and then back to the waiting bus in the nick of time. Oh, and I fell in love with and bought this dress in a basement vintage shop on a cobbled side street after a decadent sandwhich lunch in the sun.

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It’s always made me feel like a flight attendant for a cowboy airline. I think it’s the piping, and maybe the epaulettes? It goes wonderfully with turquoise necklaces, by the way, as you can see. And up until a couple of weeks ago, I was going to hem the thing – the vintage length isn’t necessarily too flattering on me, and I figured this was a perfect fix-it-friday thing that would take me all of 15 minutes, and then I’d actually start wearing the dress again.

I had chalk and a ruler out, and I put the dress on to have John help me measure how much to shorten it by, and it hit me. Even with a shorter length, I wouldn’t use it more. Even with fixing the bust which has really always been a little too roomy, I wouldn’t use it more. Even with all the memories of how I bought this, I wouldn’t use it more, and even knowing what it meant to me at the time to have chosen this dress in a style totally different from all of my friends, and the victory that the choice had felt like…. I wouldn’t use it more.

IMG_1191-2I absolutely love this dress. And for several years, it was the style I had chosen for myself. But the current me doesn’t feel comfortable and invigorated by it anymore, so the right fix for this one (and right up the alley for my 2013 goals of dealing with my fix-it-pile by any means necessary) is actually to let it go and be loved by someone else. So, dear dress – off to e-bay you go.

hello 2013

I went back over my archives for 2012 to round up my finished projects for the year, and I was sort of gobsmacked to not find more than I did. Did I really just sew four things all year? (well, disregarding all the wedding dresses and suits I’ve worked on for my day-job…)

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Looking back, 2012 has been one of those periods where knitting things and sewing my own clothes couldn’t be a priority, and that’s ok. I tried tough! Especially at the beginning of the year I started a bunch of projects that were abandoned for one reason or another (stalled on the shape of a pocket; a waistband that puckered; couldn’t finish 12 bound buttonholes in time for a SewWeekly challenge – which, by the way, I totally deluded myself by attempting to participate). Stuff came up in the middle of making these things, and I just left them. So for 2013, not surprisingly, these half-finished sort-of-forgotten projects will be dragged to the forefront to be dealt with. I’m allowing myself to “deal” with them in any which way I feel like, which will probably mean finishing them, but could also be seam-ripping, donating, or burning them in the woodstove if that’s what it takes. But they have to get out of my waiting-pile!

It won’t be all I’ll be working on – like Roo recently wrote about, I’m also feeling the workwear conundrum. I touched upon it briefly after Me-Made-May, that the portions of my wardrobe that feels work-appropriate is quite small. I have a lot of pieces that are casual, lovingly worn, a little baggy, faded around the edges, and therefore just not sharp enough for work. I’ve started (in a small way) to invest in some better pieces – leather shoes, blazers… wait, that’s how far I’ve gotten. Leather shoes and a blazer. I’m am on a budget afterall! Some of the things that have been on my sewing list for ages  (ahem… over a year?) will be very useful in order to feel more polished and put together at work – a Liberty of London boatneck dress, a magenta pencil-skirt, a pinstriped blazer, and some blouses. I work in a design-concious field, and while I’m comfortable with, and know how I want to dress, what I’m wearing nowadays is just not in good enough shape. Therefore, enter sewing. I have quite high hopes and big plans for 2013 in other words!

Let’s not forget knitting though! I had quite a few big projects going at once earlier this fall, with a cabled hat with tiny thread, three sweaters, and a lace top on my needles. Those projects aren’t all done, but I did complete these things in the past year (with some pictures from ravelry for ease):

2012knits-hatsI think it’s really funny how these hats came in next to eachother on my ravelry page. We’re two peas in a pod, obviously.

2012knits-otherMittens I never blogged about since I finished them in the car en route to the recipents house (I know… bad knitter.), and the cowl I use all the time.

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I’ve finished a couple of hats, a cowl, and a sweater this year, with one big knitting goal for the next (well, besides finishing the two sweaters, one cardigan,  and the lace top I’ve started) – mittens! I was dumbfounded to realize, especially as a knitter, that I had no good mittens to wear when it got chilly! Not good enough. Nobody should have freezing hands in the colder months, and knitters should be able to provide that for themselves. If I start with some stranded colorwork mittens now, I’ll probably have them ready by spring, haha! But then I’ll be all set for the next winter, so that’s ok.

Also 2013, I’m going to floss every day. Just letting you know.

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