After creating my wardrobe mood board and realizing the dominant color was a shade of blue that wasn’t represented in my current closet, the racks at the thrift shops became a sea of blue! Proof that shopping with a plan works…especially when diving into the donation thrift, which can be an overwhelming amount of options. I have so much love for the hunt that giving up shopping new fast fashion didn’t cure me of over buying inexpensive second hand things that didn’t earn their space in my closet. This $2 shibori look skirt, however, was money well spent and fits in with my wardrobe goals. The color, print and silhouette are on point.
I fell in love with the fabric at first sight, knew the skirt wouldn’t fit as is, but could see there was plenty of fabric to re-style into a midi skirt that would. This was a pretty straight forward project that was complete in an afternoon. Here’s what I did:
Cut the waistband off close to the stitching
Ironed new waistline of skirt and laid flat
Marked a line 6″ from the top all the way across and chopped that piece off, leaving a piece of fabric to cut a new waistband from and the skirt portion, already constructed and hemmed
Basted new waistline in preparation to gather and fit new waistband
Using my waist measurement, cut a piece of elastic and a new straight waistband
Stitched elastic together with ends overlapped so it has to stretch slightly to fit
Serged waistband front and back together at the side seams
Folded waistband in half and inserted elastic, pinning in place.
Serged raw edged of folded waistband together
With right sides together, zig zag stitched waistband to skirt
True to recent form, I did steps 5 – 10 twice. Old habits die hard and I first fit the waistband to my hips, then quickly realized I’d only want to wear it that way with a swimsuit on the beach and the purpose of the skirt was to build my everyday wardrobe. Out came the seam ripper. Repeat steps 5-10. Definitely made the right decision.
Confession: I probably should have lined this. I knew it while working on it, but didn’t have any on hand. Slow is a state of mind that’s hard to remain in while racing against a toddlers nap time. The zig zag stitch finish is sloppy but it’s okay because I’m going to add lining once I get to a fabric store then properly bind the raw edges.
I LOVE this skirt and I’ve worn it four times already as is, but it has reminded me of an article I once read about the fashion industry taking the ancient art of shibori and turning into a print. I realize one day this skirt should be replaced with a fully handmade version, from the dyeing process to the sewing. In a world where a child didn’t dominate my time, I’d prefer to grow the indigo and make my own vat…but back to my current reality: I’ve ordered a shibori kit from Dharma Trading Co and added the project to the end of my current list. I’ll be wearing this proudly in the meantime though, especially once lined and properly finished to my perfectionist preferences.
Here’s my favorite way I’ve styled it so far. I felt like a million dollars when I wore this on Mothers Day, even though it only cost me six! Bonus: looks pulled together, feels like pajamas.
Once upon a time, I wrote enthusiastically about all the slow style posts I was planning on. They haven’t come to fruition, but I’m getting back to work on my original goals for the series and hope to have more thrifting, styling and outfit posts sprinkled in between sewing project features. One new development is this little bro turned 3 and he’s my new photographer! Although, I’m not above mirror selfies in a pinch.
I loved scrolling through the flood of Instagram photos and reading the thoughtful blog posts surrounding Me Made May last year and it’s inspired me to participate this year. If in it’s 8 years running, you’ve not heard of it, more details here.
I currently have 10 pieces (8 handmade / 2 thrifted and restyled) and I’m a SAHM making athleisure perfectly appropriate for my days of gardening, cooking, cleaning, toddler crafts and play. The day may come that I make my own yoga pants, but for now I prefer to focus my sewing on my personal style and support decent companies when shopping for those other pieces life requires. All things considered, my challenge will only include days I actually dress to leave the house for errands, meet ups, appointments or weekends out. Here’s what I arrived at:
I, Kaci of textileandstitch.com / @textileandstitch IG , sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’17. My goal is to wear each one of my 10 me-made / restyled pieces at least two different ways during the month. I also plan to add 4 pieces from my mend/restyle drawer back into my closet by months end…so 1 per week, hopefully?!
Looking forward to browsing #MMMay17 on Instagram and expanding my sewing community!
My Creative Living series is a visual journal capturing moments in life away from the sewing machine. The photos begged to be categorized, so I’ve abandoned the month headers this time around.
Eating: Warmer weather inspires rainbows on our plates, walks to the farmers market and meals out back on the deck. My kiddo hand picked those strawberries on a local farm.
Exploring: There was a birthday weekend in Santa Barbara, a drive to fields of poppies, a hike and swim at the Ojai River Preserve, beach-combing for treasures and visits to the SB Natural History Museum where endless outdoor adventures can be had.
Growing: We watched our backyard play-space explode after the rains, further transform with spring blooms and turn into a perfect little wonderland…with plenty of taming! Tomatoes and beans were planted, sprouted and transplanted into their final homes. Daily observation and watering has become a ritual.
Making: With less time indoors, there was less making, but the crazy noodle sculpture was hit, followed by St. Patricks Day and Easter activities. We also spend a beautiful day at a Scandinavian Festival filled with handicrafts for the littles, one of which was a hand sanded butter knife.
In the same span, I’ve continued to purge our home and studio. Each time I’m certain the job is done, it just exposes the next layer of unnecessary things that went previously unnoticed. With winter behind us and spring in full bloom, it’s also meant my closet needed attention, but I’ll save the details on that for the Slow Style series…
Here I am, a little later than expected, with my 3rd project for #2017makenine. Below is a quick recap of my plans and today I’m sharing the Schnittchen Anna, a simple A-Line dress with kimono sleeves and side slant pockets.
Since this is my 3rd project, it makes sense that I’d sew it up 3 times, right?! Well, it wasn’t the plan, but that’s how it went down and I have ONE new dress to add to my closet after all that. I should add that the issues I had were 100% user error. The pattern is perfectly drafted. So, a brief rundown.
For this version, I attempted to grade between sizes based on my measurements and quickly learned that reading blogs about other makers grading between sizes does not an expert make. Add an afternoon at a brewery before jumping in and I should have seen disaster on the horizon. Needless to say, my grading skills paired with fabric that was pretty shifty resulted in a dress with too many issues to correct. This will be cut apart to salvage what I can of the fabric.
For this version, I re-traced the pattern using a straight size 38 based on my bust and hip measurements. My only modifications were to omit the patterns facings to finish with a back zip and bias facing instead and shorten the sleeves. This wasn’t a total failure, but the fabric feels a little too granny chic (luckily it was $2 at the thrift store), the pockets are too high due to my long torso and I’m not loving the A-line silhouette on me. Since the pockets and hem can be easily remedied, this will go in my fall/winter storage and may come back out to pair with tights, boots and sweaters later this year.
3rd Time’s a Charm!
LOVE at last! For this version, I went back to my traced size 38 pattern with the already shortened sleeves, dropped the pocket placement 3″ and took 3″ off each side of the hem, blending up to the new pocket notch. After these final adjustments, I was just able to squeeze the pieces out of 1 1/2 yards. I flat felled the side and shoulder seams, which resulted in the one bummer about this dress…no pockets. I found some instructions online for in seam pockets with flat felled seams, but I got mixed up and basically did the trimming and folding backwards. The only way I could see to salvage it, without risking the dress being too small, was to omit them.
It was an afterthought to drop the front neckline by 1/2″ to eliminate the closure, so on a future version I could cut both the front and back on folds to get rid of the center back seam. The plus side, when considering slow fashion, is I have the option to change the shape of the dress if I tire of the shift and want to fit it more in the future.
I had considered keeping some of the edges unfinished so when I ran out of thread before hemming, I decided to give it a wash and wear to decide how I like the frayed end. It hasn’t been washed yet, so the jury is still out. I love how easy this dress is to wear! No special underwear required, not see through, interesting alone but easy to pair with any sweaters, jackets, shoes or accessories in my closet. Definitely a win. My only concern with the fabric is it smelled of chemicals even after washing and drying the yardage, so in terms of ethical clothing this probably doesn’t score high on the environmental front. I’ll definitely be more mindful fabric shopping from now on, but this color and style filled a huge gap in my wardrobe.
I followed along with Me Made May last year but wasn’t ready to play along yet, so I’m looking forward to finding a challenge that will work for me this year. Be back sooner than 2 months…I think 🙂
Between writing in the 5 Minute Journal and my bullet journal, I can see how starting and ending each day with such intention keeps me focused on the things that bring joy to our day to day, rather than getting bogged down in the monotony and demands of motherhood and family life. I recognize I lead a charmed life as a SAHM, and I wake up grateful every day, but it took longer than I expected to find a rhythm that keeps me feeling fulfilled and my kiddo’s needs met (he’ll soon be 3!). Lately though, it’s been feeling easy, and when I scrolled through my camera roll the other day and saw just how many ways creativity has become part of our routine, I decided to use this space to keep a monthly visual journal of those smaller moments.
I took KonMari to the paper stash in my studio and got it under control. This was a before shot, and it took a good chunk of the month to complete.
Scored some great vintage yardage on one of many thrifting trips.
Made multiple batches of homemade ice cream, the highlight being fresh raspberry dark chocolate with milk, cream, egg, coconut sugar, fresh raspberries and shredded dark chocolate. Ridiculously good. We also made chocolate peanut butter and cinnamon.
My scissor loving kiddo gave faces then haircuts to many, many tp rolls, giving me a few moments to myself!
Spent a stormy morning building a sailboat and floating it down our flooding street.
Made some progress on a Schnitchen Anna dress, one of my #2017makenine.
Got going on the baby book, you know…almost 3 years later.
Made pink glittered play dough and put together Valentine’s busy bags with pipe cleaners and eyes for making love bugs…and then brought the fun along to the brewery for a small celebration for mommy and daddy.
Got my 1st taproot magazine in the mail on the same day kiddo went to bed abnormally early and indulged with a glass of wine.
Little man requested a project so he could paint and use hot glue, so I gave him pressed leaves, paint and feathers and he made two birds which he hung proudly on his art wall.
I ordered A Garden to Dye For to read before mapping out my first ever garden plans.
Together we dyed an assortment of items with avocado pits from the backyard. He made a pair of pj’s and I chose a range of lace, doilies, gauze, jersey and muslin scraps.
I finally added our first plant inside the house. In a pot I received as a high school graduation gift. I won’t mention how many years it’s been stored empty!
We created a makeshift workshop that keeps him tinkering for hours.
After 5 years living here, I may just have a handle on our 4 rose bushes. They’re exploding!
When I logged in to start writing this post (3 days ago) I was notified my blog was 5 years old, so cheers to another year! Perfect time for another new beginning.
Happy New Year! Starting the year strong, jumping into #2017makenine on Instagram last week and managing to complete my first two projects already. One was just mending and the other was already in the works, but that was intentional to get momentum for the more tedious projects to come so I’m still feeling proud of myself.
Since I’d already started a bullet journal specifically for sewing and worked out my silhouettes and, therefore, types of pieces I wanted to sew to create them, coming up with my nine projects was quick and easy.
Alabama Chanin inspired applique shirt
Wide leg pants
Lightweight knee length jacket
M7473 tunic (View D)
Schnittchen Anna dress
Pullover woven top
Colorblocked statement jacket using B6328 View C
Mend thrifted cashmere sweater
I’ve had a drawer filled with mending for a while, but when I snagged this short sleeved baby blue cashmere sweater from the thrift store, it immediately earned a spot at the top of the pile. It had a little hole right near the neckline and I was interested in finally trying my hand at visible mending. My first attempt was horrendous. I pulled it out and gave it another go and this was the result. I don’t think it’s perfect and I’ll probably revisit it once I’ve had some more practice and master it, but for now I like how it looks…and no more hole!
Project 2: Midi Skirt
This fabric is from a skirt I found thrifting, 100% cotton, made in Nepal and so beautiful. The original skirt was horribly unflattering so the entire thing was deconstructed and a brand new pattern was cut in order to start from scratch. The only original bit is the hem.It’s a basic rectangular skirt with a straight waistband, carefully gathered and pleated to control where the bulk sits. I pinned 5 times before finally sewing the waistband into place. There are some puckers making me wish I’d interfaced the entire thing but then it probably would have been too bulky, so oh well. I hadn’t sewn a zipper forever so I was happy with how nicely it went in, although I’m not sure I aligned it with the upper edge properly. I think I may have done the waistband overlap wrong too, but I was sewing without instructions and it looks and feels okay on so I’m not stressing over that either.
I’m just thrilled to have a skirt in my wardrobe at last! This is the only one I own right now and as you can see in my journal above, it’s the silhouette I’m most obsessed with right now.
Based on the current weather and how long the jacket has been on my wish list, I should prioritize that next but I don’t have all the fabric yet so we’ll see what actually hits the machine!
After two months of unsuccessful sewing, I decided all this work deserved at least a shared post to document the realistic journey into making ones own wardrobe. Plus, I’m always happy to read anything I can find about a new pattern before sewing it up, so maybe this will be useful to someone other than me??
The first top was a test run of the Vogue 9116 pantsuit top. I didn’t end up liking the elastic in the back or the partial lining, the neckline is too high for my taste and it’s too short for my proportions even after lengthening. Basically, I wanted to change it so much that I may as well draft a pattern myself, but instead it was neatly folded and put away until summer was over and I now have no desire to add this jumpsuit to my closet.
The striped pullover woven top, Butterick 6293 View C, was a mostly successful sew except for messing up the construction of the overlapping hem at the side seams and having to wing it. It was a new technique and pattern shape though, so it was interesting to learn. The real issue is I had reservations about the fabric even before starting. I picked up a 2 1/2 yd piece from the thrift store for $2 because I loved the blue and brown, but sure enough, I never reach for it because of the pink and orange. This was a bonus in a pattern I purchased for the jacket and I like it, this version just didn’t earn a space in my closet.
After the semi success with the striped top, I cut a second one right away with big ideas for embroidery (inspiration here) only to completely botch the pattern alterations, attempt to sew from memory and mess up the side seams / hem intersection even worse than my first one! Total wash.
The Vogue 8909 joggers, upcycled from a garage sale Lucky Brand maxi dress, were going to be the lounge pants of my dreams, lol…until the fit was off, my elastic casing was attrocious and I decided I didn’t have the patience to redo it for something that would never leave the house.
Ugh, that color-blocked jersey dress, McCall’s 7383. I love the fit and it’s comfortable and flattering, but in my attempt to upcycle a blue tie dye maxi skirt that didn’t have sufficient yardage, I had to make a design decision that I really dislike now that it’s sewn up. So bummed because I love that blue fabric and I’m not sure I’ll get much out of the remnants even if I take this apart. BUT, the pattern works for me, so there’s that.
The midi skirt was thrifted, completely taken apart and resewn into a slightly different style. My mistake was thinking it was SO basic that I could cut and sew willy nilly and it totally didn’t come out right. This will be salvaged after taking it apart AGAIN and starting over.
Buying a pattern thinking I’d get handmade clothes in my closet faster than drafting saved me zero time.
If I’m not IN LOVE with the fabric before starting, the finished garment probably won’t change my mind.
The extra time to draw out designs on paper before getting excited and cutting is going to be worth it.
Slow methodical sewing with attention to detail will result in a wearable garment a whole lot quicker than fast sewing, shortcuts and lots of seam ripping.
I’ll never successfully execute my dream handmade wardrobe without learning to love the process. Every. Slow. Step.
I’ve decided that even though I’m dying to sew, I really need to step back and work through the creation of custom pattern blocks for myself. Draft, sew up, make adjustments. Get them just right, so when used to create my designs I won’t have so much pattern alteration to deal with after the fact. I’ve also realized that when I do purchase patterns, I should be focusing on those that will teach me specific construction techniques where my skills are lacking so I’m able to put together the patterns I make. Somehow, I hadn’t really looked at it like that before. It reminds me of that quote from Uptown Girls.
Fundamentals are the building blocks of fun.
Getting back to fundamentals for a while so I can create something worthy of it’s own post…and maybe sewing up that Schnittchen pattern I won on Instagram too 😉
My birthday, September 16th, marked one year since making my slow style commitment and I wanted to take a moment to reflect back on how it went, what I learned and consider where to go from here.
Where I Started
I’ve had a draft sitting untouched forever about my starting point last year, so I’ll just go ahead and summarize here and delete that! Out of curiosity, I counted the total number of garments I owned at the time and how my wardrobe measured up in the categories Handmade, Thrifted, Ethical and Fast Fashion. I was happy to find that of about 120 total, over half was thrifted, one third was fast fashion and the rest was split between handmade and ethical. Of course, I donated literally hundreds of garments after becoming a mom and quitting my job 2 years ago, but these numbers showed that once I started over with focus and a conscience that I was really walking my talk. It’s also worth noting that, with few exceptions, all of the fast fashion has been in my closet for 3+ years.
What I Bought
Now this was actually quite startling to me…I STILL bought 27 pieces of clothing throughout the year! That’s equivalent to one every two weeks and I felt like I’d completely quit shopping. Goes to show how bad I was before I can at least say that 21 were second hand from thrift stores and the other 6 were from companies I felt good about. Not pictured is a sequin skirt I bought off ETSY for a Vegas trip and future occasions, the top was handmade in Guatemala and purchased from a vendor in Santa Fe, the pants are from Patagonia and the cami’s are from PACT.
What I Made
Although I started this back in September of 2015, I didn’t actually start sewing until April of this year. So in 6 months I made 6 garments, a pace I’m totally satisfied with. It’s given me the chance to see what I reach for every day and plan projects accordingly. I’d love to sew all day every day but then my closet would probably be the same mess it was before!
What I Learned
I learned that I LOVE the clothes I make for myself, even when they’re imperfect, and that one handmade item can easily replace a handful of ready to wear items because I’m happy to wear the same things over and OVER again. Unfortunately, I learned this the second half of the year once I started sewing and had already thrifted a bunch of clothes that I’ll never wear now…but at least they weren’t brand new. Some of the items I thrifted are my favorites as well, so not all was lost. The unworn stuff has been piled on my sewing table to make quick notes about what I don’t like. I think that, along with a good look at the favorites will keep my sewing focused on true wardrobe builders.
What started as a goal to change my shopping habits and improve my technical skills ended up being a true shift in my mindset and lifestyle. In the second year of my Slow Style series, I hope to continue with about one garment per month using mostly materials I already have in my stash. I’ve been interested in slow stitch and natural dyes for quite some time and I think that’s where I’m finally heading now. Blurring the lines between my art and my wardrobe more and more. This moodboard is hanging in my sewing area to gently guide upcoming projects. I no longer need rules about where to shop, it’s second nature. This year is simply about making. Experimenting. Creating mindfully.
About 4 months ago, I started bullet journalling and I can honestly say it has changed my life! I’ve always been a journal, notes and lists type of person but my methods just weren’t allowing me to efficiently find, implement or complete the plethora of ideas and tasks I was recording. Especially now, with a two year old who still doesn’t sleep through the night, I desperately needed a way to keep track of my husbands business travel, birthdays, play dates, appointments, meal plans, cleaning schedule, preschool homeschool, sewing and home improvement projects, and my blog. Not to mention the constant new ideas I get every day for projects, kids activities, books to read…someday. I had to get it out of my head and prioritized with plenty of flexibility for keeping track of all the things I dream about and plan to do in both the near, and not so near, future. Well, I found my method, and without going into great detail, let’s just say my BuJo is here to stay. This means it was time to create a system to keep my supplies together and not in a pile on the kitchen table.
I started with the measurement of my notebooks and a list of the items I’d like it to store and drew out a plan with the length and width of each necessary pocket plus seam allowance. From there, laying out the fabrics to create the design and stitching it up was a breeze and it was done in a day. Between vintage flea market finds and scraps from the wraps I carried (and still occasionally carry) my little one it, this is very precious to me! Before planning each day, the patch on the front reminds me of my goal to live simply, as sustainably as I can and connected to nature, keeping the tasks and projects focused on what’s important to me.
My morning and evening ritual of sitting with my journal just got sweeter and my productivity during the day is through the roof, my house is cleaner, our meals are healthier, and I’m actually DOING all the amazing things on my Pinterest boards…or as my husband would say, I’ve really been GSD’ing (getting. shit. done.) No more staring out window with an overtired brain overwhelmed with indecision and a to do list a mile long!
P.S. After shooting the photos above, my husband discovered the brown embroidered pocket was the exact size to carry the iPad mini he surprised me with for my birthday. Talk about meant to be. All I need for my 5 hour train ride this weekend is this case…and a giant bag filled with snacks to distract my toddler…and probably a cocktail 😉