Tag Archives: slow fashion

Cut & Paste

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I have to believe that anyone into personal style who also loves to sew has the box of clothing items they just can’t seem to part with because you know you could [fill in the blank] and it would be perfect! My issue with said box is it basically turns into a black hole where ideas go to die and clothes never see the light of day. For this reason, I decided to put ALL my clothing into my closet and move things I’d worn to one end as I went. After a couple months, I reviewed my wardrobe board and did a (dare I say) final sort of items into 3 categories:

  • love = hang back in the closet
  • meh = donate/sell
  • love but don’t wear because xyz = project box

Keeping the love but don’t wear items in my closet was only complicating getting dressed, obviously, so I decided to snap a quick picture of each piece before returning them to the black hole. Next I used Photoshop Elements to create 8 1/2 x 11″ layouts, printed and cut them out to glue into my wardrobe/sewing journal.

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Now I can flip through my journal when I’m feeling the urge to shop and prioritize a project. Drawing in some grids gives me a clean space for jotting down notes for each. Many need mending, fit alterations, dyeing, or restyling, and others I’d like to knock off the pattern or sew/purchase a new item to go with it. I do realize I could have completed some mending in the time I used to play cut and paste, but there’s 33 projects so in the long run I feel it’s worth the couple hours to keep them all on my radar and moving forward.

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I made it look so fun, my kiddo immediately asked for some clothes for his own project and we spent the best Saturday morning creating together!

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I’m so grateful for the online sewing and personal style community. Though I’ve been doing things like this for as long as I can remember, I now know I’m not a total weirdo and others out there share my obsession interests!

Next on the agenda is some actual time at the sewing machine. I still have #2017makenine to finish and one of those projects has been cut and on my table for longer than I’d care to admit…

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#2017MAKENINE: 3 Schnittchen Anna Dress

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.

01-10-17 #2017makenine

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.

Round 1

02-20-17 Anna DressFor 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.

Round 2

04-04-17 floral Anna dress

Don’t mind the un-showered selfie in my kiddo’s messy room

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!

04-18-17 blue Anna 2

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.

04-18-17 blue Anna 4

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.

04-18-17 blue Anna 6

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 🙂

#2017MAKENINE: 1 & 2

01-15-17 midi skirt featured

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.

01-15-17 sewing journal

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.

My Nine

01-10-17 #2017makenine

  1. Alabama Chanin inspired applique shirt
  2. Wide leg pants
  3. Lightweight knee length jacket
  4. M7473 tunic (View D)
  5. Schnittchen Anna dress
  6. Pullover woven top
  7. Colorblocked statement jacket using B6328 View C
  8. Midi skirt
  9. Mend thrifted cashmere sweater

Project #1

01-15-17 visible mendingI’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

01-15-17 midi skirt full frontThis 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.01-15-17 midi skirt backIt’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.01-15-17 midi skirt front detail 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.

01-15-17 midi skirt back detailI’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.01-15-17 midi skirt front

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!

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.

 

The Moon Made Me Do It

For my latest project, I began with two organic cotton American Apparel T-shirts that my husband no longer wore after updating his business name and logo. I’d saved them with plans to dye them, but decided I liked the color for now. It’s similar to an old favorite J. Crew top that lost it’s life the same day as my toddlers first ER visit last spring, but that’s a different story…(the final images are true to color, it’s more mauve)

09-12-16 original tee

THE INSPIRATION

The idea of thread sketching my own image and text onto a tee has been marinating for a while but when I saw a T-shirt with a large moon printed on the front, the idea of using all the phases in a row along with a related quote came to me and I was off and running. Here are a couple images I gathered for this project. When I saw the quote “The moon made me do it” I knew that was the one, so funny…so true, haha!

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THE PROCESS

I used the same pattern as my last two racerback tanks which was hand drafted based upon a shirt in my closet. Using raw edge applique and the scraps left from cutting out the tank, I patched over the front and back logos as well as a few bleach spots. I used french seams at the shoulders and side seams, then 1/2″ binding to finish the edges. Pretty easy, especially since this is my third version. I don’t have a pattern for the binding but based upon the success of my first and epic fail on my second, I was able to compare the stretch of this fabric to the other two and make an accurate guess. I think it came out perfect, although it was a bit stretched at the front neck by the time I took photos. #nursingmomproblems

09-12-16 tank back

To create the image on the front and the quote on the back, I used water soluble interfacing, freezer paper, a circle stencil and free motion sewing. For the quote patch on the back, I also used a piece of heavy weight stabilizer to keep the fabric sturdy enough for all the stitching. It was trimmed down to size after the letters were stitched. Once the shirt was complete, I threw it in the wash to remove the remaining interfacing. I snapped a few step by step photos as I worked:

09-12-16 applique 1
09-12-16 applique 3
09-12-16 applique 409-12-16 applique 5
09-12-16 applique 609-12-16 applique 709-12-16 applique 809-12-16 applique 9

I tweaked my pattern a little to bring the armholes up to hide my bra, which is great because my other two require cute bralettes that will intentionally peek out a bit and that’s not always practical. I’ve worn it a few times already and love it, but I’m still considering going back with darker thread to accentuate the moon images more. Maybe with hand stitches like my 3rd inspiration image.

09-16-16 moon shirt front09-16-16 moon shirt back

This was a really exciting project for me because it was the first time I combined my art techniques with garment sewing to create a truly functional piece of wearable art. The cherry on top was accomplishing that with recycled fabrics that may have otherwise ended up as rags. I’m excited to delve deeper into this marriage between disciplines as I continue to create my handmade wardrobe. I know this piece is just the beginning!

 

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