Tag Archives: handmade

Still Sewing, Still Learning

I’ve made a little more progress on my #2017makenine line up, beginning to tackle McCalls M7473 view D, the line drawing included in the image below.

01-10-17 #2017makenine

“Once you stop learning, you start dying.”    -Albert Einstein

The good news is, I’m alive and well. Unfortunately, I’m sharing another failure / learning experience. It was so disappointing because I sewed a muslin, made fit changes, altered the pattern and thought everything was good to go. Then I cut my fabric and mostly constructed the entire thing before slipping it on. Great fit! Pattern matching, not too shabby! Left side, love! Right side, hmmm??

 

It took a while staring at it in the mirror and thinking about the process to come to the conclusion that the underside, when cutting the front and back pieces on folds, must have slipped and come up shorter. I’m not sure how I want to go about salvaging the fabric yet but I see no way to fix this particular garment.

I really like the pattern and feel good knowing the issues weren’t due to the modifications I made to it, which were to lower the neckline, drop the notch on the side seam to create coverage down to hip level and extend the sides of the front panel to more closely match the shape of the back. The original pattern is only sewed to below bust level and I’m not about showing off that much skin at this stage of life or requiring the right under layer in order to wear it.

What really bums me out is after my failed initial attempt at the Anna dress using a similar type of fabric, I thought I’d done my homework and was more prepared to work with such shifty material. I didn’t pre-wash it and took great care to line up the pattern and keep the grain straight but just didn’t anticipate the underside slipping so much, even when pinned.

I’ve since read advice to use a felt board or flannel backed tablecloth to keep the fabric in place so I will try that next time as well as tracing off a full pattern piece rather than cutting on a fold. I’m feeling hopeful about the next version, but need to figure out what to do about fabric as I’ve used this piece down to scraps. So much to learn. So little time.

 

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Me Made May 2017: Wrap Up

04-29-17 MMM

Me Made May 2017 is a wrap, so I thought I’d pop back in with an update. I challenged myself to wear each of my me-made items two different ways and complete 4 mending or upcycling projects during the month. I’ll go ahead and throw it out right now, I did not crush my goal, but I had fun with it and did what I could.

The Outfits

MMMay17 cat shirt

Outfit 1: Cat shirt, thrifted and upcycled | sweater, thrifted | Paige denim, new 2015 | Frye boots, new 2011

Outfit 2: Cat shirt | Wet Seal vest, thrifted | shibori skirt, thrifted and upcycled | Simple shoes, thrifted

MMMay17 moon shirt

Outfit 3: moon phase tank, upcycle from husbands closet | Patagonia pants, new 2017| Toms, new 2015

Outfit 4: moon phase tank | sweater, thrifted | jeans, thrifted | Toms, thrifted

MMMay17 green shirt

Outfit 5: green 70’s blouse | sweater, thrifted | jeans, thrifted | Palladium shoes, thrifted

Outfit 6: green 70’s blouse | necklace, new 2014 | Patagonia pants, new 2017 | Clarks shoes, new 2016

MMMay17 dress & skirt

Outfit 7: skirt, thrifted & refashioned | One Heart tank, thrifted | Simple shoes, thrifted

Outfit 8: denim dress | scarf, new 2010 | Simple shoes, thrifted

Pieces That Got No Love

MMMay17 unworn items

The May gray was partly to blame and when sunshine did peep through I reached for other favorites first. The kimono was never love so I’m not shocked there. The blue tank was a favorite in the summer but it’s very low cut and I could use a new layering piece to put under it so I couldn’t be bothered. Then there’s the crochet jacket which I’ve decided doesn’t get wear because of the color so I’m going to dye it gray to make it more versatile.

The two pieces which aren’t accounted for were me-made by my loose definition for this challenge and include a skirt and sweater which I thrifted, tailored and mended. The skirt was in the laundry most of the time, but it was too cold to even notice. The sweater got one wear but my cat needed an emergency visit to the vet, then a couple hours later my son suddenly had a fever of 105!! Anyway, no photo that day.

The Projects

I did two out of the four I aimed for. One was the shibori skirt and the other was a quick tailoring job on a pair of joggers I lived in two summers ago. They were too saggy in the hips and the fabric was shredding next to the rear seam so I removed the inseams and took them in, simultaneously solving both issues. I haven’t worn them yet, and as I type I’m recovering from a 24 hour migraine and can’t manage to photograph them, but I’m sure they’ll make an appearance here eventually.

In Conclusion

Life threw me some curve-balls and the weather was all over the map but the first two weeks were great. I got a feel for what type of items I’ll actually wear, figured out how to make a couple older items wearable and I’m looking forward to next year if this continues! Thanks Zoe!

Slow Style: Reflecting on the 1st year

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.

05-26-16 full closet

My current closet

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’s Next?

SS Year 2 Mood Board

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.

 

Crochet Cardigan

The Challenge

I scored this crochet tablecloth for $1 at my local Wednesday flea market a while back so when Etimi over at The Secret Costumier invited others to play along with the #usedtobeatablecloth challenge, I jumped right in!

08-01-16 Butterick 6328 crochet jacket

The Inspiration

I wanted something pretty with a homespun vibe in a simple shape I could throw over a tank and jeans on a casual day or over a dress for a date night.

Image sources 1, 2, 3, 4 (1 and 2 were dead end links on Pinterest)

The Process

I picked up Butterick 6328 in a 3 for $5 sale with plans for a different jacket, then realized the front and back pieces minus the lining, collar, facing and pockets would work well for this project also. I cut View C Size 8.

I traced off a second front piece and sleeve in order to lay all the pattern pieces out on the fabric before cutting to work around stains and tears and utilize the scalloped edges for the ends of the bodice and sleeves. To construct the cardigan, I cut 1 1/2″ strips of matching jersey and made binding which was then hand stitched at the shoulders, side seams, sleeves and armholes. It wasn’t the original plan, but it required basting to keep all the layers flat and aligned and the basting stitches had to be so small that it was basically constructed when that step was done. Since the front edge was only a single layer, the binding was machine stitched there…not as straight as I’d like, but not horribly noticeable when worn.

This was nearly complete a week ago but I was unhappy with the fit because of how much the fabric sags so I removed the armhole and shoulder binding, chopped two inches off the shoulder of each bodice piece, an inch off the sleeve caps and put the binding back on a second time. Truthfully, my alterations didn’t feel like the correct way to go about it, but because this fabric is so forgiving it worked out just fine.

08-27-16 crochet cardigan 2

08-27-16 crochet cardigan 3

I’m pretty in love with it, but may end up taking it apart again to remove width from the side seams and sleeves to get a closer fit. I’ll decide after wearing it a while if it feels too fussy…like if it slides off my shoulders while chasing a toddler on the playground…

The Look

I paired it with my cat shirt (which I LIVE in), a thrifted pair of jeans I scored a few weeks ago for $8 and ankle moccasins I’ve had over 5 years now.

08-27-16 crochet cardigan 1

Today I finally set up my tri-pod and figured out how to operate the timer on my camera. YAY! Next time I’ll shower and style my hair so I don’t have to chop my head out of the photos, lol…baby steps.

Summer Sewing

Summer fun has had me away from my computer but I’ve actually finished two projects since checking in here last. These projects started with a vision of a complete outfit including a racerback tank, lightweight kimono style cardigan and sashiko mended jeans, but the pieces will also mix and match with other things in my wardrobe.

06-12-16 project fabrics

Since I wear my cat shirt 3-4 times before laundering, I need another similar item for the summer and when I saw this 4XL 100% cotton screen printed t-shirt at the thrift store for $2 it was love! I roughly traced the cat tank to copy the fit and then cleaned up the pattern later. I would typically cut the pieces on a fold, but I find for upcycling graphic shirts, it’s easier to use a full pattern piece to place the image accordingly. When doing so, I realized the image was too high to keep the original shoulder seams (which is ideal), so I had to improvise and piece together the straps.

06-22-16 blue tank original tee06-22-16 blue tank front06-22-16 blue tank back

So…the straps. I pieced them together in order to center the graphic and was all pleased with myself using this as an opportunity to add design details (the 3 stitching lines across the strap). Then I attached the neck binding. It was too long and sagged terribly. Had a date with my seam ripper and the second attempt was still a mess. I could tell the worn cotton couldn’t handle the seam being removed and re-sewn a third time so I was forced to cut the entire binding off, losing width all the way around. My solution was to sew stay tape around the neck and armholes, roll to the inside twice and top stitch. This was mostly successful, but now that the strap was thinner than planned, the topstitching overlapped. Had I used matching thread it wouldn’t be so noticeable but I was feeling confident and thought contrast would be fun. Luckily, when I’m wearing it, it doesn’t scream “home sewing fail” like this close-up photo does and it was a good learning experience. I ended up using stay tape around the bottom and hemming in a similar fashion and I really like the way it hangs and keeps it’s shape, so not all was lost. I’ve worn this multiple times already styled a few different ways: for the beach, a typical day with my toddler and a date night. Very functional and I love the print which looks just like my home in Ventura…still trying to figure out if it actually IS a photo of Ventura. Not sure yet.

06-22-16 blue tank strap detail

Now for my simple summer kimono. I used one of the many tutorials on Pinterest and basically cut a rectangle with a slit up the middle and a sloping side seam to create a sleeve, added some french seams and basic rolled hems and called it good. It took all of 2 hours from start to finish. I bought this fabric 16 years ago when I was a fashion design student at one of the shops in the LA garment district that sold $1/yd fabric with a 3 yard minimum. Pretty cool such an old cut looks so current and that my taste has stayed so consistent! The photo’s from Instagram, but when I went to take a proper photo my camera battery was dead to I decided to just use this and get on with more sewing 🙂

07-05-16 summer kimono

Sorting the Stash

Ever since clearing my home of all the extra stuff that didn’t “spark joy,” I knew I needed to do the same with my fabric stash. Well, after sewing up that top I shared in my last post, I was so excited to make clothes that I ran out and bought 4 new patterns. Then that night I was so anxious to get started, I jumped online and started shopping for the perfect fabrics to sew them up with. And then around midnight I clicked over to my Pinterest boards and was quickly reminded to slooooow down (Thankfully, before pulling the trigger on any purchases). Note to self: I’m not in this to scoop up all the new and shiny things or to finish projects quickly.

I want to deconstruct and reconstruct clothing I’ve saved, piece together special bits I’ve collected from flea markets, play with natural dye, print, stitch, create surfaces and turn them into wearable things.

The problem was my fabric stash wasn’t sorted in a way that lent itself to this endeavor so I didn’t realize just how many worthy pieces I had. I got to sorting using the KonMari approach of pulling out every single bit of fabric I own (including everything on my refashion rack) and throwing it into one giant pile, then holding one piece in my hands at a time to see if it sparked joy. No’s went into (a total of 10!) paper grocery bags without a second thought and Yes’s were tossed into two separate piles based on whether I’d wear it or not. The only exceptions were a few pieces of yardage I knew would work great for muslins before cutting into similar but more precious fabrics.

 

What a difference! There was a clear visual divide between the two resulting piles. A rainbow of lace, burlap, fur and tulle along with sweet prints like teeny polka dots, hearts, stripes, and vintage florals went into drawers for dolls and soft sculpture. It’s my inner little girls dream. Lots of pretty, playful, pink and pastels. Then there are my stacks of wardrobe fabrics with a toned down earthy palette, mostly devoid of pinks, reds and purples. Lots of blues, greens, browns and whites with rich bohemian prints, a wide array of textures and plenty of soft comfy knits.

My vision is becoming more and more clear and with my Pinterest boards for reference and my materials sorted, visible and accessible, it’s going to be much easier to plan out new projects and maximize this gorgeous stash I already own. I’ve also photographed and uploaded all of my clothing into the Stylebook ap on my phone so I’m able to flip through what I have when planning new items to think about how it will work into my existing wardrobe. I think I’ll end up writing a post with more on that later because at the same time, I did a quick assessment of how many pieces were handmade, thrifted, ethical or fast fashion and it’s something I’d like to document to show where I started at the beginning of this long journey.