September 8, 2013

It is fall, so it must be....a new capsule time!

Fall is in the air around me in Southern Ontario.  The evenings are cool, the days warm, and now I turn to thinking about sewing.

I've been sewing, even though I fail at pictures.  Just a few pieces here and there.  I made a couple of fabulous cardigan sets, one in a red plum and one in a fabulous flowered print that my youngest called upscale Hawaiian (which it definitely is!), and one in a flower etched white stretch velvet.  All three of them are using different cardigans from the StyleArc patterns, and they are all awesome. Along with two different bottoms from rayon polyester crepe (a pair of one seam pants in a narrower leg width, and a pull on skirt with a flared bottom), and a pair of pink stretch denim pants, I think I have a full 8 (or 9) pack. And, even better, they are not all black.

But the real bonus is that they all go with the things I had made previously--like my teal sylearc skirt with the fold over waist band, my dark blue Barb pants, and my denim capris.  I love how sewing smart just adds to my options now.  I have done enough planning, enough thinning and have a good sense of my own style, so now things are beginning to work together even if I only make one or two pieces.

So fall is in the air, and I think I need to add a few dressier pieces to my wardrobe.

I've been thinking along the lines of using some dark grey rayon poly lycra to make a real suit jacket (from stylearc), a pair of dress pants or two, and a skirt.  And then to use some of my lovely embroidered cottons to make a few dress shirts.  I don't have many of those in my wardrobe at the moment, and I have two different patterns to try. These will mix and match with what I have, and give me a little more of a grown up vibe.  Which isn't a bad thing for a teacher.

StyleArc Sarah jacket
Leah Lounge Pants
Brenda Blouse--I think in white and in black would be awesome. 
Tiffany Blouse--in a soft plum or deep red

If I get even half of this done, I will be doing well.

August 2, 2013

Reality is in the Pictures (Or what I did not post for the stash contest, part one)

Those of you who have been reading me for a while realize that I do not love taking pictures, particularly of myself.  This means that although I have sewn a gazillion yards of fabric in the last two months, the reality is that I did not take or post pictures for reviews for the Stash Contest.

I know, bad bad bad. Particularly when I probably sewed enough fabric I would have been in the running to win.  I have won this contest before;  I do not need to win.  I need to see the bottom of the sewing room floor and be able to put everything away.  I need to use the stylearc patterns I have purchased.  I need to update my wardrobe.  These are my goals.  And, these are the goals I do think I managed to achieve.

So, dear reader, here is round one of the pictures.  I promise there are more items than this; I just have to rescue them from the wash.

Spinning Wheel Cover--4 1/2 yards
Ottobre T-shirt 1 yard
4 gore skirt- 1 yard
These did not make the 'keep me' cut!
The neck on the T-shirt is too high on me.
The skirt is just not flattering.
Exercise will do that. 

Ottobre T-Shirt--neck lowered,
but is still too high--1 yard
Variation 1--Alabama Chanin Tank Top--1 Yard
I wear this one a lot. 
Alabama Chanin Tank, Verion 2, 1 yard
I love this one more,
but the fabric is weird to the touch. 

Loes Hinse Dress--3 yards
Have to say that I love this silly thing!
Very 80s style, though.

Variation of Style Arc
False Front cardigan with a
Drafted Facing.
1 1/2 y
Bottom line: read the directions!
Did not make the cut, because of the fabric colour.
My friend loves it 
Alabama Chanin Tank Version 3
1 yard
Style Arc skirt--2 yards
I wear both of these a lot

Alabama chanin Tank Dress
1 1/4 yards
Love this silly thing!
Style Arc Capris, without the buttons.
1 yard
This fabric was really stretchy, and
I took them in three times.
Wear them, but they don't work
in my wardrobe (more about that later).

Style Arc Capri pants, just lengthened 7 inches.
1 1/4 y
I wear them, but the fabric stretches out like
Crazy!  They look like preggy pants
at the end of the day.  

Style Arc Caite Top, 1 yard
I wear this, but I am not convinced it is
flattering. It does, however, fit.  

Style Arc Kim Cruise Dress, shortened 4"
1 yard fabric, 1 Yard lining.
Fits well, not my colouring.
(Seeing a pattern here, dear reader?)

Style Arc Leggings
1 1/4 yards
Strech Fleece
Love love love these,
even if it is 95 degrees in the shade here. 
Style arc Capri Pants, dark grey,
1 1/4 y
Wear these a lot, all the time.

So, this is round one of the 'what I did not post for the contest'  posts.  Yes, there was more sewing.  This is about a third of what I made.  There are still 3 maxi dresses, several pairs of legging shorts, denim capris, a jean jacket,  and at least 4 tank tops which have to be rescued  from the wash to take pictures on Judy.

What I will say at this point, however, is that my effort to make my summer wardrobe more light and bright was not my best wardrobe planning move (although my friend who loves loves loves those colours is really happy right now, since she is getting all my cast offs).  She looks amazing in the zigzag dress, and the light grey stuff works well with everything she owns.  Light bright and spring are her colours.  The deepest colour she wears is the bright blue.  So, she gets about 7 things to take home from this sewing exercise.  Still it is sewing fabric out of my stash.

I wear deep and dark and high contrast.  Plum, teal, steel blue, denim blue, deep grey, black, with larger more definitely black and white prints work in my wardrobe.  About the lightest I should go is the deep bright blue and bright pink (hot pink).  Even then, a darker intensity of the colour is better.  When I lined everything up on the rolling rack, the song that kept going through everyone's mind looking at the tan pants, and the light blue capri pants  was: some of these things are not like the others.  Some of these thing just do not belong.  And, that was the reality when I got dressed every day.  The denim capri pants got worn.  The light blue ones did not.

More later.

July 2, 2013

Why I love StyleArc Patterns

I love StyleArc Patterns.  Even though they come from half way around the world and they are single sized and they same cost as a Vogue Pattern, I love them. Why?  Because they fit!  And fit is worth the cost and the wait.  I can do the same thing to each pants pattern (shorten the leg 4", tilt the back 1", lower the front 1/2") and they fit.  I don't have to guess.  I don't have to hope they will fit.  They will. They might not have been the best style choice (LOL--having some issues with that at the moment) but they fit. 

To test this out, I just made the Laura Knit Leggings.  I was lazy so I didn't shorten the legs, but I did add the inch at the center back, and lower the front the 1/2" as usual.  I also used wider elastic, which puts the waist slightly lower than the expected spot, which is fine.  And, they fit perfectly. Well, except for the fact I need to shorten the legs 4" because I didn't do that when I started.  Now, I have to admit that leggings are probably not the best 'fashion' choice for my body, but I want exercise wear.  And I'm on a RTW fast, so that means making legging shorts for exercise class.  So, this is my test run pair:

Hmm, Iphone photos are much more challenging than I imagined
and wow, I need to tidy next time!
Laura leggings
Pattern: Laura Knit leggings, size 18.  The pattern includes a couple of length options, but it is really a doll clothes kind of pattern--one piece, sew it up.  When I ordered, I went up one size from my usual size because I am not comfortable with the very very tight look of fashion leggings.  This was a good choice, and something I would do again for a very tight fitting garment.  It does mean that there are wrinkles on the knees because they are looser than the fashion dictates. But, they are comfortable.

Fabric:  1 1/3 y  of  very old stash knit, thick ribbing style.

Notions: Thread, and 28 inches of 1 1/2" elastic for the waistband

Pattern Alterations: I added 1" to the center back rise, and lowered the center front rise 1/2".  Next pair I will also cut 4" off the leg length to make them the correct length.  The pooling is cute, though.

Comments:  I would highly recommend this pattern.  I love the fact that it is 'doll clothes'--as long as you pick the right size, and know the changes you need, the garment will fit.  The leggings are surprisingly comfortable.  Just be careful in your fabric choice, and pick very stretchy fabric, with good recovery.

I will be making these again.  The next pair is going to be some fleece lycra four way stretch, and then I'm making exercise shorts.

Wishful thinking, or Did I ever talk about SWAP?

A number of us have been reflecting on SWAP over at Artisan's square, and why we finished, or didn't, as the case may be.  Now, dear reader, I have to tell you that SWAP is worth doing, and I love it.  It helps you plan.  It makes things work.  And, there are clothes that I still wear from my very first black and white swap so many years ago.

But, this year's swap was a failure for me.  Not because I didn't have time like last year (I did), but because I violated that first rule of all sewing and fashion: know thyself.  Or, to put it more positively:  Dress what you have, not what you wish you were.  And, it is a sad fact, when looking in the mirror, that the very 'in look of the drop shoulder' does not flatter me in the least.  All of my swap was based on that look. 

This failure to finish is not the fault of swap.  I did not use the tools I have to make better design choices.  The clothes I made fit very well.  They just don't look awesome or wonderful on me.  This could have been prevented by using a personal croquis, and testing it all out in drawing.  A design course I took long ago taught me that you can tell if you will like something if you draw it out and like the design, and I have found that to be very true.  And a fashion drawing can head off many a fashion failure like this. 

My sister, who is a lovely fine boned rectangle, has inherited two of the pieces I made, and all the patterns, and is thrilled to pieces with them.  She rocks the dress that made me look like I was wearing a sac (still makes me want to cry that the dress did not work for me).  She was thrilled beyond words to get the patterns.  And I have decided that I will bite the bullet and make a proper croquis in the next week so that I have a better idea of what works for me. 

June 8, 2013

The only problem with using a base colour...

I've been sewing a variation of a six pack for about three years now, and I can say that the only problem with it is that I am getting tired of my base colour.  When I run out of clean clothes, what is left in the closet is all black.  Or dark grey, or plum.  But, mostly it is black.  

It makes getting dressed easier--since it all goes together.
It makes doing laundry easier--it is all the same colour, and works in the washing machine. 
It makes sewing new stuff easier--black thread, here I come.

But, I can see how someone would get tired of a colour.   Even though it is practical, and I like it, and it all goes together, I am getting a little tired of black.  It is just so...dark.   This morning,  I tried to force myself to branch out, to lighten up a little.  That resulted in a  dark plum outfit (top, pants, runa). Which is still lighter than black, but it is dark.  Then, I made a pull on knit skirt, of a black rib knit.  It used the stash, and is comfortable, is black. 

I really think I need to branch out and lighten up a lot.  Maybe a little teal, or green, or grey for summer time is in order.   I may have to go shopping. 

Pictures of my summer 6 pack this week, I promise. 

June 5, 2013

Things I don't think I told you, dear reader...

I don't think I ever told anyone that I was doing a year of 'Living Sewingly' including you, dear reader. I started in November, last year.  With the exception of coats, socks and possibly underwear, I am choosing to make, not purchase, what I need to wear.  When I need something new, I need to go down to that amazing stash and sew it!  I can purchase patterns, and limited amounts of fabric, but otherwise the list includes socks, coats and under garments. 

In the last 9 months,  the only clothing I have purchased was two coats--one a convertible sports style, because I was cold and I needed a coat while out of town, and one that is a trench style rain coat.  The trench style rain coat is the very first item I have purchased full price since I can't remember when.  But, it fits, it is flattering, and I love it.  And, I can see me wearing it for a very long time, because it is not too small to wear over my hips, or over a sweater, and I have worn it four times since I purchased it. 

I am learning, with this exercise, that I don't need to cycle items through my wardrobe, which is what I do when I purchase second hand.  I have enough, with what is there, that I can let go of things that don't fit.  If I truly love something, if it is flattering and I know I will wear it, I can afford to purchase full price.  Since very rarely do things fit, it isn't a problem I am going to have often.

Since the clothes I make fit best, and I can make things that are awesome, living sewingly is not a real challenge, except...I am lazy. 

I like to make 'doll clothes'!  I like to make it tonight and wear it tomorrow, even if no one but me knows I did that.  I hate making things that take more than three sessions to make.  Because, I am lazy and usually don't usually have three sessions to make things.  Since I wear what I sew, and I like simple clothes, that isn't normally an issue.  But, I need to make myself expand my own horizons.  Isn't that the point of sewing--to make things that are not cookie cutter? 

June 3, 2013

The People who make a difference...

The People who make a difference
are the ones who show up.
They are the ones who come
to graduations
and funerals,
to see dances,
and solos,
and confirmations.
They are the ones who call
when they can't get there,
the ones who at least try.
They don't make excuses;
They make things happen.
They are there when it matters,
when you need a friend,
when you need a shoulder,
when you need an ear,
and a swift kick in the pants.
They will tell you when you are wrong,
so when they tell you you are right,
it means a lot more.
They don't leave you deciding
just never to ask again,
even if it is the first solo in public,
the graduation,
the confirmation,
 the first big stage role.
Once, long ago, those others showed up.
They made an effort.
You don't know when it changed.
You don't know why.
Maybe it is you; maybe it is not.
But now, you ask because you have to ask,
since they are 'family by birth'.
You know, in your head,
they have voted with their feet. 
They won't be there,
even when it is something that matters
in the eyes of a child.
But you ask any way. 
Because it matters;
And the broken angry heart is yours
because they used to tell you that
'family is there for each other'
and your child's,
because they aren't there for her,
even if she is family,
and there is
you can do about it.
It is always because
they don't feel well,
or they can't get up even to call
on the phone.
They don't send cards.
They don't connect.
And you lose a little more hope
every time some thing comes up.
But, there are also
the ones who make a difference.
the family who chose you
the ones who show up. 
They laugh at your jokes,
remind you to take pictures when it is an event.
You look at their faces, and realize
that these ones,
the ones who choose to be there,
have become
the people who make a difference.