Monday, March 31, 2014

March Stashbusting or Why You Should Never Shop With Alzheimer's Lady

   I grabbed the first pair of dark wash jeans I saw off the shelf and hustled into the dressing room. Granny Alzheimer was getting fidgety but there was no way I was going to serve biscuits and gravy to the high school boys football team tomorrow morning in the same pair of shorts I'd been wearing all week. That same pair of shorts with that hole in the bum I'd just discovered this morning. Yeah....
   So I ignored the tag proclaiming these jeans had a slimming panel built in, didn't look at the fabric content and didn't really stop to see how they fit. I pulled them on and they didn't fall down so I whisked them off, gathered up Granny before she could disappear among the clothing racks and we headed to check out and home.
   It wasn't until I put them on the next morning and tried to put my cell phone in my pocket that I realized the "slimming panel" meant "we didn't put in the front pockets and all that top stitching that looks like front pockets is FAKE". I got another surprise the first time I sat down then stood back up. I stood up but my pants didn't. They stayed down where they had slid when I had sat. Being tall and these being low cut meant that unless I wanted to start a midriff bearing trend or share my undies with the world I was going to have to do some careful wardrobe planning when I wore these babies.
Look at those weird wrinkles! What kind of fabric does that!
   Plan my wardrobe I did. These were the only skinny jeans I owned and unfortunately were my go to pants for all my tunic tops or any time I needed to be a bit dressy. These were the only nice jeans I had and I wore them. I wore them even after the fabric started showing it's poor quality by getting these weird wrinkles and growing a size after every wear.  I wore them even when I was disgusted with the poor craftsmanship. I wore them.

Today I finished my first Maritime Shorts jeans hack and I am super proud. It was just going to be a tester pair from some navy twill I found in the stash but it was too good of quality fabric to waste so I broke out the top stitching thread and Voila! 
Proud does not fully describe how I feel about these pants. Relieved, elated, delighted! I have a lovely pair of trousers that really don't look this wrinkly in real life. Trousers that fit me very well and don't have weird wrinkles or bagginess in the wrong places. I also used up an entire piece of stash fabric so GO ME! 
It's all in the details. I'm liking these "guts" shots. How about you?
This is my main accomplishment for this month. I also managed to make two simple skirt shorts and a pair of lengthened Maritime shorts. Next month, as I continue my Maritime Marathon I'll show you all my pattern alterations and adjustments. 

My loud red Maritime Shorts! Fun Fun! More guts too!

Right now I am going to try to bask in the glow of what I have accomplished instead of looking at my 
to do list in despair... it's at times like these I wonder if I have early onset dementia because I'm not sure where March went. What did you get accomplished this month?

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Cotton Friend Shorts and Sewing Japanese Patterns

I finally managed to finish something this month! I needed an easy project after feeling crummy and I had already tested these in some heavy polyester so I knew the fit and construction.

Pre elastic. 
With the test pair I learned these look best in a lightweight press-able fabric. So I had to go back to the stash and reevaluate my choices.

I found this lightweight twill and a solid meant it would match with all my printed tops and I could do the cute little bow belt. I stash busted almost all of this fabric up which was very exciting! Lying right next to it was an "ugly" cotton floral I've had for years. Suddenly it looked very attractive made up as skirty shorts.

In a lightweight cotton you get the twirly factory even though it's shorts. Can you wear floral and polka dots together? I look like an upside down flower....

Guts and details. 
Pattern Details: Cotton Friend Autumn Edition 2012 vol. 44
I traced the largest size and they fit fine without me adding seam allowance. I do think if I were to make these up in a very lightweight fabric I would add more fullness down the center of the patterns so they would look as full as the magazine photos.

1. I only ran 3 pieces of elastic through instead of the 4 the pattern called for because of the width of elastic I had. Inserting the elastic like this ensures perfect fit to you and lovely precise gathers.

2. Since the back and front are IDENTICAL I added ribbon tags to center back.

3. I added pockets because who wants to run around summer camp without pockets. You always need a place to stash treasures no matter how old you are.

4. On the solid red pair I added the fold over amount to the pattern again so the crotch drop would be lower so I can hike them up higher when I have painful infusion sets which was part of the point of me making these.

I think these will be a fun addition to my summer wardrobe and am delighted by how much stash they used up! I'm adding these to the Sew Japanese Sew-Along I stumbled upon. I was so excited to find it as I'm always looking for more people who sew these lovely styles. I've realized part of my style is heavily influenced by Japanese styles, specifically mori kei... but I think that post will have to come later...

Monday, March 24, 2014

Searching To Find My Style: Wardrobe Analysis

Darlings! It feels like forever since we've chatted. Drat emergency rooms and the inability to plan ahead for them. :) There's nothing like a visit to one to make you feel grateful to be alive and take a brief moment to evaluate your priorities though. I am so thankful to be alive and here and not dying of a heart attack. Anyways, back to the important stuff....
Before March comes to end I wanted to take some time and see if I could come up with my "style". I feel so hodgepodge and pulled in many directions so I'm hoping this exercise brings some clarity...
I asked you to go through your closets and pull out your favorite pieces and search for commonalities so I decided to start there.
I like tunic tops and stripes... that wasn't hard. :)

I love lace and this top is so floaty and accentuates my natural waistline.
Full skirts and natural waistline... straight dress in the middle is the odd
one out but I love it too.

I've got a little bit of everything going on here... full skirts for easy movement, knee length skirts with well fitting
waistbands, I like the pencil and full silhouette.

  • I like ease of movement in my clothes
  • Emphasis on the natural waistline
  • Good fit is key to getting me to pull pieces out again and again
  • I love lace, color blocking, tunics, florals and stripes
  • I'm not afraid of the dramatic
  • It seems I have two favorite silhouettes or shapes I like to wear: fit and flare or straight all the way. 

As I was writing this post I think I had a breakthrough! I was rereading some of Colette's Wardrobe Architect posts and downloaded the shapes worksheet to see what it says when I realized something...  I'm looking at all the different shapes of my clothes and am expecting them to be the same and that's my "style" but I was wrong. I can wear many different shapes but it will be the fabrics, colors and how I combine those shapes to create my style. Am I thinking correctly here? This is so exciting!
I hope your March Stashbusting is going well whether you are analyzing your wardrobe or not!

PS! Look what came in the mail today with a lovely card full of tips on putting it together! I won it during Sew Grateful Week from Kate from Good Purl Gone Bad?
Now this is my style ;) not that you can tell
from the bright photograph.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Curating A Cohesive Wardrobe Interview with Sharon

Hello Stashbusters,
Today I have a  lovely interview from Sharon who blogs at Petite and Sewing. She's sharing how she builds a cohesive wardrobe and I think you'll agree with me that she always looks well put together. Let's hear her story.

How long have you been sewing?
I have been sewing for 37 years, first taught by my darling Mum and her very good friend, my sister and I then went to evening classes at TAFE and then when I moved to Sydney I had lessons with a fantastic sewing and fitting teacher for 8 years.

Why did you start?
I started to sew as my Mum had sewn for me as a child and I was used to having garments fit me. When I got older I continued to sew as any RTW garments, particularly skirts and pants fitted me in the waist, but assumed I had hips!

During my lessons with my sewing teacher, I soon realised that I much preferred the fit I could achieve through sewing my own garments than I could in almost any RTW garment.  It also meant that I could make a top in the colours I liked and the style that suited me.

How do you get such nice looking outfits all the time? 
This is two fold.  I had my colours and style analysed back in 1989 and had them reviewed recently.  Both of these things have helped me choose styles that reflect my taste, classic with a bit of a twist and my Personal Colour Swatch colours have let me have a very cohesive fabric collection.

Do you have a specific style you gravitate towards? How do you decide what to sew?
I do tend to gravitate towards separates, and this also lets me have a small wardrobe with a lot of different outfit combinations.  Again using my Personal Colour Swatch it means that nearly everything I put in my wardrobe coordinates with another piece even though it might have been designed as a top to go with a particular skirt.  

My sewing decisions at the moment are based on what holes I need to fill in my wardrobe as all of a sudden my garments have started to fail through too much wear!  Another thing I do is Sew with a Plan (SWAP).  I have been doing this for a couple of years now and there is a very active group at Artisan Square where you sew 11 garments  that work together – e.g. 6 tops, 3 bottoms and a layer piece or a dress and this is the combination I sewed last year.

To read more about the individual pieces see here.

When you decide to sew a garment what factors do you consider? 
First up is the pattern. Can I use one of my TNT patterns to get the fit and look I want? How much work do I need to put into a pattern to get the fit I want? 

Then the fabric, what is the look I am after and how does it wear?

Once the fabric is chosen then it is working out how to handle it during construction, pinked seams, serged/overlocked or French seams and if I want to add any additional structure.
I try and have all my notions for any project together before I start, putting them all together in a zip lock bag!

Do you shop for fabric with a plan for use, or buy whatever speaks to you?
The majority of my fabric has spoken to me and I usually have a very good idea what it will be, however some pieces that have been in the stash for quite some time, do have a change of direction, like this navy top. 

Planned dress changed to top.
Even though my fabric speaks to me, unless it works with my Personal Colour Swatch it does not come home with me.

Here is a blog post from 2011 after I had completed my first Me-Made month hosted by So Zo, that explains how I purchase my fabrics.

 Wow! Thanks for sharing your process with us Sharon. I've learned several new things and will have to check out SWAP now that I understand what it is. Now it's back to you stash busters, can you pinpoint your style? How would you define your clothes?

Monday, March 17, 2014

My March Plans

Word of warning, if something seems a bit wonky about this post, I got glutened over the weekend so bear with my recovering brain. I couldn't wait any longer to share my plans with you and hopefully help restrain myself....
You see I had SO many plans I couldn't figure out what to do first and realizing that I only had 12 weeks left at the time I knew I wouldn't be able to get everything floating around in my brain done. Enter the chart.... I tried to draw it all out and make this cool collage but there were still too many choices and it didn't photograph well. :P

I decided to start with the most necessary items and work my way out from there. The biggest hole in my wardrobe is pants/trousers. Especially now that I'm working at a summer camp. So I broke down and bought Grainline's Maritime Shorts and have entered the "MARITIME MARATHON"
 I have it fitted to me and hacked to bermuda shorts length and tested skinny and bootcut jeans with it.  The only alteration I have left to make is figuring out how to add a back yoke so it looks more like jeans.

I have completed one pair of red print shorts and have plans to make one more denim pair. I'm finishing up a pair of navy twill skinnies and am debating between a wide/straight leg denim trousers or a more fitted Maritime jeans variation. Any advice is appreciated. I'm hoping I can get it all figured out so I can assembly line sew several of these babies.

I'm going to be making one of these shorts that look like skirts from the red and am wondering if I should do a pair in the floral as well? Is it too much to go with a tshirt? Or will it just look like a cute ditsy floral skirt? Hmm...

I bought the whole collection when it first came out and the last of them finally arrived! I'm usually cold so a couple of shrugs or jackets are on the to make list!

The only other things I need to make are some undershirts and I'm waffling between the Sammy Cami or hacking my TNT knit top pattern into a built in bra tank...

I have a ton of knit tops I really REALLY want to make and a couple corduroy jackets but I'm not sure when I'll get it all fit in... Maybe as rewards when I finish the necessary stuff?

I'm also working ahead on the monthly themes for when I'm at camp so I don't leave you guys totally hanging then but I can't exactly list them because that would be "Spoilers"! Guess who I'm thinking about now....... Muahahaahahahaha!
Ok that zapped all my energy so I better quit this rambling and go eat some homemade pizza... bye bye.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Seasonal Sewing With Heather: A Stashbusting Interview

Today I have a lovely interview from Heather of Handmade by Heather B. Today she's sharing a bit about her sewing process and how the seasons effect it. Enjoy!
Summer of Dresses
I Dream In Blue

What's the cycle of weather like where you live? Can you wear the same things year round or do you have to make specific things for certain seasons? 
Here in southern Pennsylvania we do get all 4 seasons, though Fall and Spring seem to be about 2 weeks. Curse you global warming!  I'm also part reptile so my body temp tries to match the current outside temperature. In the winter I need lots of layers and in the summer I need light clothing that breaths. I also need hamsters to feed on. ;)

Does it effect what you sew? 
Yes indeed. In effort to keep warm I'm almost a 100% pants wearer in the cold months.  I might sew one dress for a fancy occasion during that time.  The rest of my sewing is tops that go with pants, blazers, leggings and if I'm feeling crazy some actual pants. Then I remember that my backside does not fit into pants and I make a hasty retreat back to knit tops.
In the summer my sewing is just one dress after another with a pair of shorts thrown in so local people stop asking why I'm so "fancy."

Do you sew for summer in summer, winter in winter, etc. or do you plan ahead so you can wear your creations in season?
At the beginning of the season I stick with clothing that works with the current season.  As winter/summer drags on and I get tired of being perpetually cold/hot then I usually start sewing for Spring/Fall.  An illicit dress project in late winter or jacket project in late summer feels so good that it must be bad for you.  Guess who has 3 summer dresses planned this month. This Girl!

Are there any things you have made specifically because of the climate where you live?
Most of the clothing I make works well for my climate except maybe those light jackets that you only need for 2 weeks.  However wool jackets get a lot of use and I have no guilt about the 5 colors of wool coating in my stash.  

How has stash busting hindered or helped?
Last year my stash was a little winter heavy in the woven area, but I filled it in with a lot of pretty cotton prints.  So now the stash is just about perfect.  I've found it pretty easy to sew up patterns with fabric that I already have. My brain does still jump to "buy something NEW!' but then I take a look around and usually find something that will work.  Thinking of my future adult child taking all my fabric to the dump helps too.  No Son, I thought I taught you better than that!!!!

What time of year do you get the most sewing done?
Well it's too cold outside in the winter, too hot in the summer and I have pollen allergies in the Spring.  So I'm outside for those 2 weeks of Fall and sew the rest of the time. ;)  Only a slight exaggeration. 

Does sewing help you stay sane in the winter?
Some people doubt that I was ever sane to begin with, but the answer is Yes. Actually I'm a fan of winter cause the cold temps keep me from feeling bad about keeping my kid inside so I can sew. I can sneak in some more sewing and he gets some home made cookies.  It's win/win! 

Summer of Dresses
Thanks so much Heather for sharing your story! I hear ya with the allergies! How about all the rest of you stash busters? Does the climate effect your sewing?

Monday, March 10, 2014

Helpful Links to Curating a Custom Wardrobe

Hello Sewing and Stashbusting Friends,
 Apparently my ideas for building a wardrobe with the curating challenges were so strong I sent them telepathically to bloggers who took my ideas and wrote fabulous blog posts or series on it.

Seriously though, I think it is just a level sewists get to at some point. We've made a few things we really love and fit well and we want to continue that. It's so hard to go back to store bought clothes when you realize you can make one that will fit and feel so much better, plus all the feel good conservationist, DIY vibes. Most of us want to live organized and uncluttered lives, or at least pinterest makes us think we do; and that spills into our closets.


First up is a fabulous piece from Tasha of By Gum, By Golly. You all have probably already read it but I recently discovered her blog and I love the intuitive approach she takes to her closet. It's not dependent on trends, styles or others. She's beginning the wardrobe journey by focusing and analyzing her own clothes that have been tested by her life. She raises several good points that are well worth rereading.

The Wardrobe Architect

Secondly is Colette's Wardrobe Architect. She totally stole my vibes, dug into them and made a wonderfully detailed, cohesive plan. Even if you don't jump into it fully, her posts are well worth the reading and thinking about, especially when she starts discussing the practical stuff.

I enjoyed the croquis posts one and two by Gloria & Me. It's a great way to experiment with different silhouettes without going to all the work of sewing it up and then finding out you don't like it on your body. Plus it's fun! Like playing paper dolls again but with the ability to make it real!
My actual closet stash last year...
So how does all this wardrobe planning help with our fabric stashes? Hopefully we'll walk away full of ideas to use up the stash, but it's also a preventative measure. Hopefully we can take what we've learned and be more discerning in our fabric and pattern choices. Do I wear silk? No? Then I probably shouldn't buy it. Do I have 5 dress patterns with that same silhouette already? Yes? Then I probably don't need another. Personally I was amazed at how many patterns I liked/had stashed that were almost identical, especially when it came to dresses and tops!

How about you? Have you found any similarities in the fabrics and patterns you buy?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Detour from the Norm: Jewelry Making

So I had a whole different post planned but after driving to town in fog, teaching class and taking lessons, then driving home in the dark, I thought I'd do something that takes less preparation. In between my private sewing lessons I get to learn some jewelry making techniques. I've been especially delighted with learning how to make my own findings. These are the fruits of my labors so far.
The purple stones are called aqua terra jasper and I
made those cool swoopy findings.
The brown ones are just cool beads. They're the first
ones I made and learned how to wrap the wires.

I made these swoopy ear wires too! These are all real pearls. Just like we used to turn the flowers colors with food coloring in the water these pearls are colored the same way. So the colors go all through the layers of the pearl. I thought this was cool.

More real pearls and some very sparkly iridescent beads.
Can you tell I love iridescence?
So, that's all from me. Now I just need some fancy occasion to wear my swanky new earrings to. Jewelry making is one of the few other creative avenues I've allowed myself to branch out into. Do you try each and every craft or do you limit yourself? I've found I must limit myself to keep my sanity and pursue excellence in something.
Now I'm off to bed!

Monday, March 3, 2014

March Stashbusting Theme and Curating Challenge

It’s March!!! The temperature is above zero and the sun is shining for the first time in days! It’s time for a celebration and beginning to plan for the warm summer days that are sure to come. At least for those of us in the northern hemisphere. :) I’ve already seen a shift in blogging for those in the warmer part of the world preparing for your fall and winter. Hurrah for seasonal change. Are you ready? 
Jake and Cat are ready for the season to change as well.

March’s Curating Challenge is a big one this month. Wardrobe Evaluation! Time to go through your closet and pull out all your favorite clothes whether they are handmade or RTW. Why are these things your favorites? Find the similarities. Is it style, comfort, colors, certain details? Once we find the common denominators we can approach our fabrics and patterns with a more educated eye and sew up more garments that will get worn.
A big revelation and shift in my sewing happened when I realized some of my favorite pieces accentuated my natural waistline. I started making more things that defined it and ended up with several new favorite pieces! 

There seems to be a lot of talk going around the blogs about all this and I’m compiling a list of interesting articles for later this week! I’ve also got some fun interviews planned for later this month as well. So stay tuned for more good stuff!
Someday winter will be over and my waistline will return!
Right now I want to hear from you! Is there a big shift in your sewing depending on the season? Do you have super defined seasons that require separate wardrobes? I know I have to living in South Dakota! It’s wool, layers and long johns in the winter and t-shirts and shorts in the summer. I also do more knitting in the winter time… that may be partially because I’m indoors and watching more movies too…

So let me know! What are you planning to sew?