The Things We Make and Keep

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I’ve been thinking a lot about my handmade wardrobe lately.

What is the difference in the things I make and keep wearing and the things that I just can’t bring myself to wear?

What do I want to wear?

What do I enjoy wearing?

What do I want my style to say about me?

Things like Me Made May, thought up by So, Zo, and the Wardrobe Architect series by Sarai over at Colette Patterns have really gotten my wheels turning lately.

About two weeks ago, I stumbled on the blog Un-Fancy. And her idea of a minimalist capsule wardrobe has really hit home with me. I’ve been feeling really frustrated with my clothes and my house lately. I’m chronically unable to keep my house clean and I always feel like I have NOTHING TO WEAR.

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I own way too much stuff. For a while, it was a product of being broke as a joke. So, if I have it now, and I keep it, when I need it and can’t afford it, I can just pull out the thing that I kept for so many years that I have no idea of where I even stored it (let’s be honest, I probably never even remembered I was holding on to that thing, either). After that, I kept holding on to things just out of habit of keeping stuff.

To be honest, I have a harder time than usual with organization and getting rid of stuff. I was diagnosed with adult ADHD about a year ago (yes – also meaning, I went undiagnosed as a kid with ADHD). And suddenly, my whole life makes sense. People with ADHD usually have significant impairments in their executive functioning (see: organization). But, organization and routines are two things that can drastically improve your ability to function like an adult, in spite of your ADHD. So, I’m learning organization, even when throwing out something threatens to send me into a panic attack. I’m reminding myself of what I have to gain: calm, peace of mind, feeling excited to get dressed, knowing where things are.

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I decided to take a look at all of my clothes I’ve made over the years and to evaluate what went well and what I could improve upon. The things we make and keep versus fashion failures. My goal is to see if there are any commonalities amongst the things that make it into wardrobe rotation land so that I can plan and use my sewing time better. I’d love for everything I make to end up making it into the wardrobe rotation. So, I’m also going to be looking for any common threads amongst the things that just don’t quite make it. I’ve got a few ideas about why those things don’t make it into regular wear. But, we shall see.

Today I’m starting with two of my oldest makes.

imageWhen I was in college, many years ago, I took a clothing 101 class. I’d been sewing random things since I could hold a needle in my hand, but I’d never actually made any people clothes. I had made quite a few Barbie doll outfits, though.

In this class, we were taught seam finishes, closures, and shaping devices. After that, we were to make two garments using what we had learned: one for the top half of our body, one for the bottom half of our body. The specific details of the garments were up to us. My bottom half garment was a pair of jeans-style grey pants, inset zipper and everything. I’ve since grown out of them, but I keep them in my Sewing Hall of Fame – a place for all of those me-made items that have too much sentimental value to actually throw away.

My top half garment was this fully lined wool pea coat. My teacher sort of scoffed at the idea that I’d be able to finish a fully lined pea coat in the time she had allotted. Which, had the effect of making me work as hard a possible to prove her wrong. I made this coat in the Fall of 2002, I think. I’ve worn it OUT. It’s missing a button on the front, the pockets have worn through and need replacing. I have extras of those buttons, I need to fix it soon. I also need to dry clean the thing, I can’t remember the last time I had that done. Gulp. The pockets won’t be too hard to replace, I don’t think. And, I should probably just replace the whole lining soon.

This was and still is a MAJOR home run in the make department.

  • I LOVE the color (and the pop of red!)
  • It filed a gap in my wardrobe at the time – I didn’t have a good winter coat
  • it’s made of natural fibers – wool outer, cotton flannel lining (sort of a pain to get on, but it’s pretty warm!)
  • It’s sized perfectly – I’ve gained and lost weight over the 12 years since I made this, but it’s always fit fine (except for that one winter when I had a broken arm – humerus – and no coats fit over my arm), and I can wear layers and it still fits.

With a little work, I may be able to get this coat to last another 12 years. Any tips on fixing the cloth at the cuff where it starts to wear out over time?

imageNext up, we have my Amy Butler fabric kimono-style robe. I took a pretty long break from making clothes after that sewing 101 class. This was one of the first things I made after that class, about 6 years ago now.

I don’t know about you, but I was OBSESSED with Amy Butler fabrics when the first came out. OMG SOMETHING THAT’S NOT MY MOTHER’S QUILTING FABRIC!! Not that her quilting fabric was bad, but something young and modern was a shock, in a good way.

So, I had Amy’s books, and in one of them was this kimono-style bath robe. I found an amazing fabric store in Nashville, TN, where I lived that carried all of this amazing fabric. I spend more money on this fabric than any other fabric to that date (other than that wool above, I guess). I was soooo excited. And, I used sharpie to mark all of the dots and notches and such. Hot pink sharpie. I didn’t have any chalk. WHAT WAS I THINKING??? And, I forgot about all of my seam finishes. So, all the edges are raw inside. I also used HOT PINK THREAD. I’m sensing a trend. I had a serious hot pink obsession for a while. I even wore hot pink eyeliner. No, they didn’t make hot pink eyeliner. Me and my best friends at the time used hot pink lip liner for eyeliner. OMG.

But, back to the robe. I’ve worn it a lot over the past 6 years, but I’m filing it under a fashion failure now because:

  • you can totally see the hot pink sharpie and thread
  • NO SEAM FINISHES! This thing is really close to unravelling at the seams because of that. It’s been a good run, but I think it’s time to send it to the Sewing Hall of Fame Heaven.
  • I’ve totally grown out of florals. I want simple patterns, geometric patterns, neutrals.

So, I’ve got two questions for you:

  1. What do you notice about the things that you make and keep versus the things that are fashion failures?
  2. What do you do with your fashion failures? How do you let them go? I’m still not sure what I want to do with a few of these things I’ve made that I know I’ll never wear. I’m boxing them up, for now.
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Moss Making Month: Classic Denim Skirt, part 2

It’s DONE!

My first Moss skirt is complete!

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The verdict? I LOVE IT!

I seriously went all out in the construction of this baby. I was going for that classic jeans-style. I flat-felled all the seams I possibly could. The front seam I did a fake flat-felled seam since a correctly constructed one would have made the zipper insertion much more difficult. I top stitched EVERYTHING. I used rivets on the pocket edges. I did French seams on the bottom edge of the pockets. And, I used gimp cord in my button hole (added strength and durability). Now, I’m totally not worried about throwing this skirt in the washing machine.

I used a stretch denim I’ve had in my stash for AGES and probably bought at Joann’s with a coupon once upon a time. I also used some left over Anna Maria Horner Pastry Line cotton voile for the pocket linings.

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Look how pretty it turned out! One of my recent discoveries was my edge stitching foot. It made the flat-felled seams almost mindless. If you’ve never used the edge stitching foot, it’s the one with the rudder in the middle of the foot. You guide your fabric edge, or folded edge in the case of flat-felled seams, down the rudder and it ensures that your stitching is always the same distance from that edge. It also made top stitching the waist band a cinch. Brilliant! Try it some time! Also: thicker top-stitching thread is TOTALLY worth it on denim. Regular sewing thread just doesn’t have enough visual weight, in my opinion.

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If you look closely at the center front seam above and the side seam, you can see the difference in the two. The side seam is a true flat-felled seam, the center front is the fake one. From the outside they look almost identical, the inside is where the difference shows. I love seam finishes and creating the perfect finish on a garment. I’m still annoyed that I don’t really know how to make a fly front without some semi-raw edges. I used my Bernina’s faux-overlock stitch to finish the edges of the fly facing and the fly shield. I went over the raw edges about 3 times each. Those threads don’t stand a chance of coming loose. At one point, when inserting my fly, I did completely stitch through the fly shield. That would have been awkward, there would have been no way to open it. Oops.

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The one thing I’m trying to figure out is what I did wrong with the pockets. Do you see how the bottom edge wants to curl upwards? The second one I’m working on looks like it’s going to have the same issue. It makes the front of the skirt a bit bulky, since it won’t lay flat. I’m curious if I cut out the wrong size of one piece? I can’t figure it out. I don’t want the bulk like that on my next one. The denim disguises it, and with your hands in the pockets, no one can tell.

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I also recently finished a Scout Tee from Grainline Studio in a super light and flow-y chambray. I’ve been wearing one or the other of these two garments just about every day since I completed them. This might be my summer uniform this year. This shirt is so comfortable, I think I need about 100 more garments made from chambray.

My sandals are also one of my favorite pairs of shoes. Piper sandals, they have been handmade in Texas since 1971 by the same family. And, they offer repairs, new straps put on for free, and re-soling (not for free) for as long as they are in business. They are amazingly comfortable, too.

I also realized that when I got home and took off my complete Grainline outfit, I then put on my (as of yet unblogged) Polka Dot Chambray Lakeside Pajamas. ALL GRAINLINE ALL DAY.

It’s pretty much a Grainline love fest around here EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. Jen’s patterns are just really great wardrobe basics. I love all of them.

How’s Moss Making Month going for you? Have you made any Moss skirts yet? Don’t forget to tag us on Instagram with #grainlinestudio and #mossmakingmonth !

One last shot, from the back:

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Thanks for taking pictures of me, Allie!!

Moss Making Month – Mini Skirt Sew-A-Long!

 

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Stephanie from makesthethings & Native Clutter and I have declared April to be Moss Making Month!

We are planning on making as many Moss skirts as we possibly can in one month to get ready for summer.

I might end up wearing Mosses, slouchy shirts, and sandals aaaaalllllllllllll summer long. I need to be ready!

You can see sneak peaks all month long on our Instagram accounts, too (look up #mossmakingmonth and #ssmmm to follow our progress):

Sara’s Instagram     Stephanie’s Instagram

Stephanie will even be diving into making a leather Moss! I’m super excited to see it!

Join us, if you want! Even one Moss is enough!

Grab your copy of the Moss skirt PDF pattern from Grainline Studio and let’s get this party started!

Olive Knit Scout Tee

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Welcome to my chicken coop…I mean…I made another shirt!

pattern: scout tee ◊ grainline studio

fabric: random olive green knit from my stash that I probably bought 3 years ago

 

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I made this shirt in one loooooong evening. I think I decided at 8pm I wanted to make it. I found this olive green knit in my stash and dove in. And came out with a finished t-shirt at 1am. Oops. I got sucked in.

I made one size smaller than the pattern suggests based on my measurements. I got all kinds of excited about my double needle and top stitched everything but the side seams. Seriously, even the shoulder and arms and hems. I love top stitching, just period. It always makes me feel like my projects look finished.

I don’t usually wear t-shirts that are sort of oversized like this, but I’m going to need to start. I love this shirt! I do prefer it with my fitted jeans as opposed to my relaxed jeans.

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Back into the fray today, Thanksgiving break is officially over. So, my sewing productivity is probably going to go down. But I have so many gifts to make!

Jamie Jeans – Part 1 (of many, many more)

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I made jeans!!!

pattern: Jamie Jeans Named Clothing

fabric: dark stretch denim that’s been in my stash for YEARS ◊ Joann Fabrics

And, it’s almost 70 degrees here in Denver on the day after Thanksgiving. I ❤ you, Denver.

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According to the pattern, my hips fall into a size 42 and my waist into a size 44. So, I ordered that size pattern and graded between the two sizes. I’m a bit concerned that I actually need one more size down (size 40), but the patterns only come two to a file. The pattern calls for a 1cm or 2/5″ seam allowance. I don’t know anyone who uses 5ths of an inch for anything. So, I guessed that 2/5″ is pretty darn close to 3/8″ and used that for my seam allowances. Based on the pictures, I thought this was going to be a pretty fitted, skinny jean type fit. Maybe I did something wrong? Because these are super loose and relaxed fit in my book. Everything is a bit baggy. Don’t get me wrong, I still love them and have worn them every day! I just was not expecting the fit to be as loose as it is.

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The back pockets are in two pieces which gives a nice detail. I top stitched EVERYTHING obsessively. I think that and pressing as you go make all the difference in the world when it comes to the final garment looking professional.

A lot of people have complained about the pattern pieces being nested and having to trace off of the printed pattern. I just printed several copies so that I could just cut out what I needed. I’m apparently faster at printing and taping than I am at tracing. I did try to trace and got irritated and upset. So I just printed another copy so I could stop being upset. 🙂

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I used some of my favorite space ship fabric to line the pockets with. It makes me immensely happy when I see it.

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The fly turned out AWESOME. And the pockets. Hi, that’s my crotch. But, check it! A perfect jeans fly! I used this awesome tutorial that I found on Meg’s blog meggiepeg. It worked like a charm. She recommended that you not cut one side of the fly-flap-thing shorter than the other like the pattern calls for and then follow the instructions in the tutorial. So, I tried it and it worked beautifully!

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And more top stitching down the front leg seam. I think this detail is one of my favorite. Apparently I’m really digging the seam down the front of the legs look because I’ve been drooling over the Papercut ooh la leggings. I’m seriously buying some knit wool and making those as soon as I get my hands on the pattern.

DSC04359gI did have a few OMG WTF moments when I was putting on the waistband. I had SOOOOO MUCH ease in the pants that I was trying to spread out into the waistband. I realized later that I had forgotten to put on the fly shield and that helped. Then, I realized I was opening up my zipper fly into the waistband in a weird way that made things not line up. Guys, this is my first pair of pants in about 12 years. So, all things considered, I think they turned out awesome. And wearable! And, I made them in about 2 days. What.

I’m ordering some more stretch denim soon so that I can make a pair that is more fitted. I think this next time I’m going to use 5/8″ seam allowances and probably flat fell some of the seams. I ❤ flat felling seams. Why, I don’t know. It’s got something to do with my dislike of raw edges and serged edges. And, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this solves some of my fit woes/wants. Otherwise, I might need to see about getting a size smaller pattern.

Once I get the fit the way I want it, then I’m planning on making several pairs of these. I want to make a black twill pair for work. Probably a pinstripe pair, as well. And, several in denim of different colors and weights. If I can get these fitting well, then this will be my idea of the perfect pants pattern ever. How’s that for a glowing endorsement?

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