burnout

Not the fabric type, the experience.

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I was very excited about my plan for “Sewing the Seventies” — the dress from Burda’s ’70s special issue. I cut it out — main fabric and lining; I even manage to sew parts of it.

And then I ran out energy completely. It was like my batteries were suddenly removed. Not a stitch more.

And that was a few weeks ago. I haven’t sewn anything since. Sewing is usually my refuge from work. I try to squeeze in a few moments here and there on less busy work days sometimes. Occasionally, a day on the weekend, when I have a longer stretch of time.

Well, it feels like that was then, and now is a very different reality. I’m just tired, and there’s no “second wind,” no shifting gears, no sense of an escape. I use up whatever energy I have (or manage to fake) to get through my weekly work tasks, and that’s all I’ve got.

To stay sane through this time, I’ve been reading and helping myself with what I call “the Sophia Loren method.” When I was a teenager, I stumbled upon an interview with Sophia Loren in one of my mother’s glossies. Loren told the interviewer she loves “working from her bed.” I’m not sure what that really means for a glamorous retired actress, but I imagine she meant responding to emails from adoring friends and fans while sipping Prosecco.

Dial down the glamour to nothing and you got my situation: work email, typing up work materials, and reading work materials in bed while sipping a cup of green tea (which, I try to convince myself, will give me a caffeine boost and make me feel less antsy). This, by the way, is all happening after a day at work, grown-up clothes and all.

“The Sophia Loren method” is countered by the fear of turning into a childless stay-in-bed mom (thank you, Arrested Development for this priceless label for my anxiety).

If I had a back-up me with enough energy, here’s what she would be sewing:

This dress from Burda 3/2017, in turquoise rayon crepe (it’s already traced and adjusted!).

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This top from Burda 3/2018 — an issue I got in a care package along with too much chocolate and some beautiful fabrics. I have a fabric I could use for this (but my doppelganger would need to do the rest):

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If the doppelganger and I could put together a small factory of impish helpers (seven dwarves?), we’d try recreating these looks from Szycie 1/2018 a.k.a. the Polish edition of the Spanish magazine Patrones:

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This one, though, definitely not in white. I will never understand white pants, ever. If you wear them, kudos to you. I’d have to laminate myself to pull it off. I love the jacket and the camisole…

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This is an outfit from the plus-size section, so would only be possible if I could count on my doppelganger being better at grading patterns than I am. I wouldn’t have thought of this combination of garments on my own and I find it actually pretty brilliant.

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That’s all, folks. I hope you have more energy than I do. Use it wisely.

Yours, in boundless envy.

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Sewing the Seventies: My Vintage Patterns

Hello! I have no new sewing content to share, since my recent output consists of dutifully made t-shirts from patterns I’ve already written about. So I figured it’s a good time for a bit of an eye candy post.

Here are some ’70s patterns I picked up from various sources — and mostly for a steal. With one exception (scroll down to the bottom of the post), they’re all waiting to be made. I guess, in a way, it’s a post about my laziness as much as about ’70s eye candy.

First up: a pattern for jeans with an envelope illustration I love. I wish I were as cool as these ladies (and could reliably wear white shirts…).

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I think the size marked on it actually makes sense when you consult the back of the envelope as it has no relationship to contemporary Vogue Patterns sizing (I think…). It hasn’t mattered yet because I’m too scared to make jeans.

Next: Glamorous dress reminiscent of the recent Vogue Patterns hit (this one). I both love it and am consumed by worry that it’s too boob-tastic for me to actually wear.

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The illustration style on the envelope for this shirt pattern looks ’70s tilting into the ’80s to me. Maybe it’s the perm on the lady in the middle? I like views A and B (I’d like them more if I knew how to figure out a broad back adjustment for raglan sleeves). View C is the stuff of clown nightmares for me. Get away from me, oh bloodthirsty one!

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Now, this is a real thrifting score — it came in a ziplock bag of mostly ’80s patterns for $1. I like the lapels. There’s a softness to this blazer that really appeals to me.

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Another one from the same bag — this one is from 1980 so, depending on whether you’re a glass half-full or half-empty person, either the last year of the 1970s or a launch into the ’80s. I like the simplicity of this design, but I’m not sure what would be “extra-sure” about it. A jacket for your clairvoyant needs.

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Finally, one I made, though with some changes. Would make again.

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Any tips for me as far as making the leap from admiring to sewing goes? You may have noticed, the sizing on these is all over the place, which gives me yet another reason to procrastinate.

What ’70s patterns do you have in your stash?

my wardrobe gaps (black holes?)

Diving in today: I need to make more pants because posts about pants get the best comments!

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More about the pants in this post.

Thanks to everybody who joined in the conversation on my last post. I do have a tendency to ramble on about the challenges of fitting pants, and after every pair that I make I need to take a breather. It’s always the conversation after I post about it that makes me want to take on another pants project. The support and the practical advice I get from fellow sewists is a much stronger motivator, to be honest, than needing more pants in my wardrobe. (And I need more pairs badly.)

So that brings me to wardrobe gaps — or black holes, you know the category you desperately need, you try to tackle, but end up feeling that there’s an insatiable need for MORE of it in your wardrobe.

I keep returning to The Curated Closet (if you’re curious about the book, I have a book review post about it) and wishing for more time and patience to take on some of the practical exercises from the book.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the pie-chart breakdown of lifestyle/occasions compared to your actual wardrobe composition. Henna’s post made me think about my personal pie chart, how it’s changed and what I’ve done with it in the time that’s passed since I first read the book.

The unique challenges of the past year notwithstanding, I think I can pat myself on the back a bit for aligning my sewing more closely with my wardrobe needs.

This has basically meant two things:

  1. fewer dresses
  2. my photos are pretty boring even when bad lighting isn’t the main culprit.

The “interestingness” of dresses was definitely brought home to me by the many, many, many comments and “hearts” that my most recent dress garnered on Instagram.

Don’t get me wrong: I love this dress and had a fantastic time making it, too.

However, I feel that closing my ears to the siren song of dresses like I’m Ulysses of the Sewing Machine helps me make things that get less sighs and pats when I open the closet and more wear.

Case in point: I type these words wearing the first of several to come Basic InstincT-shirts. Many of my posts have been typed while wearing one of the many versions of the Plantain tee I’ve made since I discovered that pattern.

So: I always need more knit tops (especially t-shirts)

BasicInstinctT (left) and Plantain with some mods (right). Definitely not a great picture of the Plantain! But, hey, now you know I used cotton jersey.

My one problem is that I don’t love sewing with knits. Something about the springy stretchiness of the fabrics annoys me when I’m sewing — and both on the sewing machine and the serger. With wovens, I definitely enjoy the process more. With knits, I just keep my eye on the finish line and the valuable wardrobe addition.

I am, at this point, out of things to add about the Plantain tee. But Sasha’s BasicInstincT is a new pattern for me. It bumped the Seamwork Jane out of my queue as the classic casual tee to try.

The PDF is more economical than Seamwork (which isn’t hard, their PDFs are notoriously long). Better yet: it’s layered, so you can choose to print only select sizes.

Notches matched up nicely. The neckline band had, I would say, the perfect length. I didn’t need to make a rounded shoulder adjustment (!).

The one change I will make next time is to raise the armhole by 1 cm and take some width out of sleeves.

Pretty close to perfect, this one!

One of my favorite versions of Plantain didn’t return from the wash, which either means that an envious neighbor went raiding the washing machine in the laundry room before I made it there. Or (more likely) it landed with my partner’s-in-crime tees never to be found in the bottomless collection.

Doesn’t matter. I need to make more.

What’s next?

More pants, obviously. 

It’s more than about time to face jeans-making. Alas, with the sturdier machine out of commission for now I get to continue to shamelessly procrastinate on this.

And?

Anything that could fall into the category of clothes to wear at home.

Here the neglect has reached criminal proportions. That’s where my old and worn out RTW items go to work beyond their retirement age. Ouch.

One saving grace is that I did make myself an item that adds some glamour to that otherwise sorry band of garments.

Remember the Camas cardigan I squeezed out of various leftover knits?

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More about this project here.

In my last bout of t-shirt making, I spontaneously decided to upgrade it by a simple addition:

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Obviously, when you add ties as an afterthought, it’s not a perfect wrap. But sometimes perfect is not what you need.

This post is getting long. Is there more?

Yeah.

Shirts.

Things are improving in that department, so I get to wrap up on a happy note.

Over to you:
Do you have any significant gaps or even black holes in your wardrobe? Do you prefer to tackle them or leave it to RTW while you sew what you really desire to sew?

I’d love to hear from you!

February Burda Challenge: Wardrobe Essential Hopefuls

Starting off telegraphically today:

Managed to make (and wear!) my planned Burda project.

Pictures didn’t come out great (color me surprised). But here goes.

IMG_20180126_145712The pattern comes from the Burda Style: Wardrobe Essentials book — a gift that keeps on giving.  All the patterns in the book have been also published in the Burda magazine. This one is from 2013 (I think). One drawback of the book is that it doesn’t tell you that, so it takes some investigating on the Burda Style website among patterns from 2010-2013 to match them to specific issues (and find more photos).

What did I do?

Lots of things. Mostly basting and fitting, and ripping, and basting again, and fitting. Then looking up alterations from Pants for Real People and making them, and then narrowing the legs some more…

Quite a lot of the fitting, to be honest, was more experiential and experimental than methodical. While the book was pretty indispensable for fitting my flat derriere, the side seam alterations to fit my particular hip and leg shape were mostly about trying it out.

Scary. Sometimes slightly disheartening. But I wanted to wear these, so I decided to trust the process and get to the finish line.

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I wanted to get a decent shot of the back but failed. I complain about my photography skills (and opportunities) far too much here. And these photos were rushed, in bad lighting.

I think the pants look better in real life, but I’ll be the first one to admit they’re not perfect. Next alteration to be added to the menu is the poetically dubbed “low-butt adjustment.”

We’ll see how it goes from there…

I made some additional changes to the pattern, too:

I wasn’t on board with the front-fly construction (two parts! seam allowances to be added in some places but not everywhere! what?!), so I drafted in what I think of a regular fly, extending its “flaps” beyond the line of the also poetically dubbed crotch seam.

Regrets?

I wish I had stabilized the pocket openings because the main fabric is pretty stretchy.

Speaking of fabric: you can find some good stuff in the “Suitings” section at Joann Fabrics. I like this one, even if I can’t remember the fiber composition for the life of me.

…And I squeezed in an extra garment this month, also from Burda. This top did not initially catch my eye. Because of the sleeves. I’m really not a fan of “the year of the sleeve” or what seems to be “two years of the sleeve and counting.” Crazy sleeves are at odds with my everyday life, so we’re not going there.

As you can guess, I simplified it. I find it really hard to find fabrics that hit the sweet spot of having both decent drape and some body. And not being transparent…

The crinkle rayon crepe I used here definitely wasn’t it. So I lined it with another rayon fabric from my stash that was too thin and filmy for my liking.

Oh, the joys of photographing black: on the left is the blouse as it is worn, with the crinkle crepe on the outside, and on the right you get a view of the inside.

The lining is attached at the neckline (which I first stabilized the hell out of with lightweight knit interfacing) and finally incorporated into the French seams at the armholes. It’s hemmed a little shorter than the shell. If I were to make it again, I wouldn’t go with a narrow hem because it’s pretty stiff. Not constricting, really, but it feels too different from the other hem.

I didn’t French seam the sleeves. I overlocked them on my sewing machine with a narrow overlocking stitch. I tried to be slow and accurate, so as not to destroy or distort the very fragile fabric. I left a slit at the bottom of the sleeves — I guess that’s my take on the “year of the sleeve.”

And that’s how I challenged myself in February with Burda. I’m left with the lingering sense that the clothes look better than in these photos but maybe the gray days of winter have me fooled?

What have you been sewing?

 

Sewing the Seventies: My Plan

I’m that person who posted about not really joining sewing/knitting/photo challenges, right? Just confirming. I am indeed that person. But I’m also currently participating in the Burda Challenge and now… I want to Sew the Seventies. I guess, eventually, the challenges find you 😉

I discovered Sewing the Seventies last year — too late to join, but not too late to enjoy the Steely Seamstress’ posts (scroll through for last year’s posts). Seventies’ fashion reminds of my dad’s craziest clothes, which I only know from photos and his stories. It was also the time my dad learned to sew — taught by his friend’s dad. For him this new skill set meant inventions such as secret pockets for ciggies on a pant leg and refashioning regular pants to make them flared when flares were hard to buy but everyone else seemed to have a pair…

For me, dad’s sewing meant awesome doll clothes during my — very intense — Barbie phase. Later, life got too busy and dad stopped sewing. Much later, I learned to sew myself, thanks to Craftsy and YouTube, and blogs, and books…

My aim with this challenge is to time-travel a little.

burda70sWhile I’ve scored a few authentic 1970’s patterns along the way, I find myself drawn to one particular dress that I found in a Burda Vintage special issue I got as a gift.

The more I looked at the dress, the more I realized how much it looked like a crazy dress my grandma (dad’s mom) owned when I was little. By that point, the dress had been retired to the depths of her closet and I would dig it up for dress-up parties with the neighbors’ kids. My grandma would have worn it to parties in the mid-70s.

The cut was, to tiny me, the height of sleek sophistication, paired with a fabric that today’s me would honestly call bonkers. When you’re about five, nothing beats a combination like that. The dress was green, printed with a pattern of majestic white storks with red beaks and red legs. It was everything. Even if it was — and it surely was — polyester.

If I could find a similar fabric, I’d sew a replica of that dress. (Maybe that’s a fabric designing and printing challenge for the future, come to think of it?)

For now, I think, I’ll make it in a more subdued navy poly print that’s been sitting in my stash for a while.

Without further ado, here’s the pattern:

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The Donna dress from Burda Vintage 1970s issue 3/2016

What puzzles me about the dress is that the sample is sewn up in a sequined jersey but the recommended fabric is embroidered silk?… If I’m reading between the lines correctly, it’s more likely drafted for a woven than a knit fabric. There is a zipper in the back and neck darts.

I think the simplest answer right now is make a muslin.

I’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime, here’s the Steely Seamstress’ post about this year’s challenge and her first challenge garment: a beautiful popover shirt in Liberty lawn.

Think you’ll join in?

Burda #103 from issue 2/2012: pleated pant adventures continue

Sometimes on this blog I feel like a kid who just can’t tell lie for fear of [insert some sort of punishment idea from an ’80s fantasy movie]. Typing this post, I realize how fitting it is for the Burda Challenge that this pattern is from a February issue… However, I most definitely didn’t just make it. The Burda Challenge project is still in the midst of fitting and all the head-scratching that entails. Since it’s another pair of pants, I thought that writing about these might be a way to think through a few things.

I finished these a couple of months ago and have been in two minds about them ever since.

It’s the pleats.

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It seems that I can’t resist pleated pants. I see them on someone else and just want to make a pair for myself, and once they’re closer to being finished, the doubt sets in.

In this case, Jasika Nicole’s post about her pink pair got me obsessed with this pattern. One thing I didn’t ask myself till I was deep into making the pants was what differences between us (apart from the fact that I’ve seen her on TV and if she saw me on TV I’d worry about a candid camera scenario) might be significant in terms of the end result.

Three pairs of pleated pants later (this one being the third one), I think I’m beginning to get it.

I mostly see those gorgeous pleated pants on women with figures very different from mine, and so the proportions work out differently.

Now, I’m a strong believer in “wear what you want to wear, however you may describe and see your body type.” And I wear these. But I do accessorize them with second thoughts, and that’s not ideal.

It seems that pleats and round tummies may not be a combo for everyone. Pair that with a flat derriere, and you get even more questions.

I think I’d like to get away from the pleats for now in favor of more fitted silhouettes.

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Some thoughts on making and fitting these:

I always baste pants together after cutting out the pattern pieces, and that always reveals a host of necessary changes. Out I take Pants for Real People and begin to move seamlines, pin out excess fabric, etc. I definitely can’t claim to be an expert in fitting myself at this point, but I think I’m at least on track despite not being able to ever get a fitting buddy to help with this process.

Actually, it’s such a downer to read advice such as “If you can’t get a fitting buddy, maybe don’t bother because it will be very hard to fit yourself.” Well, what if you can’t — should you just give up on sewing altogether because you can’t create this perfect situation?

It’s all experiment here, with multiple goes at basting. I find that reading the Palmer/Pletsch book and sewing blogs is helpful as long as you don’t limit yourself to the scenarios you see described. Mostly, I’ve encountered fit alterations to give more room in the hips and derriere, with fabric taken in to accommodate a smaller waist, which is the opposite of what I end up needing.

Matchstick legs paired with a flat bum and a round tummy give you some interesting shapes to play with. Long story short, I end up adding and cutting fabric in slightly different places than I usually see described, and, obviously, that leads to more head-scratching.

In a nutshell, figuring out fit by yourself can be extremely helpful for getting clothes that actually correspond to your figure… but it can also be crazy-making.

As for this pattern in particular, I didn’t follow instructions too closely — because it’s Burda, and I don’t speak Burda even when I can recognize the words from languages I know. Put together, the words rarely make perfect sense. Burda is a language of its own, and I’m not sure anyone but the pattern writers speaks it.

So I made these on the basis of earlier pants I’ve sewn and some arbitrary choices about, e.g. whether and how far to sew down the front pleats, whether to stabilize pockets, how to hem them, what closure to put in, etc.

My one discovery with this pattern is that the side-seam pockets really work well — I had some doubts and even thought of altering the pattern for slash pockets, but I might actually play with adding side-seam pockets like these to other pairs of pants.

Any pearls of wisdom to share from your own pant-fitting adventures? I’d love to hear from you.

Helmi plus Cotton and Steel

I’m late* (fashionably?) but still timely with this post. Late, because I made this dress earlier in January but just couldn’t get it photographed. And then, over at Belle Citadel, Claire wrote a great post about sewing garments with quilting cotton.

So here’s my timely follow-up about sewing with quilting cotton despite all the doubts I always have about it.

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It’s the print that was the decisive factor in this case, since, to be honest, whenever I’m considering quilting cotton for a garment, I always question that choice. Most of the time, I think it doesn’t work because a bit of give, fluidity, and drape makes a significant difference for how the garment hangs.

But I keep seeing a lot of successful projects that use quilting cotton — maybe the bold prints make up for drape sometimes? Claire’s post lists several shirt patterns and it’s shirts in quilting cottons in particular that catch my eye on Instagram.

And I guess that’s how I ended up choosing this print for yet another version of my favorite Helmi pattern from Named Clothing.

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I discovered this print thanks to this dress made by Natasha. The birds kept reminding me of this mitten pattern by Spillyjane, which I made years ago. The birds must have imprinted themselves in my mind because I found myself remembering it repeatedly, looking it up, then deciding against it because what am I going to sew with quilting cotton… until I just went for it before last Christmas.

And that’s how you end up with a print that feels kind of outside your comfort zone but also kind of familiar. There’s a story in there, very different from Daphne du Maurier’s The Birds, unless it’s a sequel in which the birds give up murder, take some marketing seminars, and settle on using subliminal advertising to sell cotton prints.

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The Helmi was the obvious choice. By this point this pattern must be imprinted, like the birds. I guess I just have to keep making it. I’m thinking about another version as I type these words…

I went with Esther’s (@estjune on Instagram) suggestion and elasticated the back. I like the look of the original pattern sample on the model but I don’t think I could pull it off most of the time. I also shortened the bodice slightly and added side-seam pockets, and skipped the hidden placket yet again because I found these buttons in my button box.

And that’s all, folks. Tell me about your sewing adventures.

Burda 7198 for the January #burdachallenge2018

I don’t usually participate in challenges. No fear of missing out can overcome my desire to be free to sew whatever I want whenever I want. Here, the stars have aligned: I know I’m in good company and I mostly want to sew Burda patterns anyway these days.

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I had my eye on several patterns from this and last year’s January Burda magazine. I noticed that in past years, the challenge participants would aim to sew something from the current issue and, if they didn’t particularly like anything from that issue, went for past years’ issues from the same month. A neat way to keep things challenging but fun.

However, my Burda magazine collection isn’t that expansive, so I’d have just two issues to choose between, and then the patterns I liked from both were on the more involved side… complications from the get-go.

So I decided to sew a stand-alone pattern from Burda that would allow me to refashion an unworn dress into something I’d actually wear. You can’t get stars to align even more without causing a cosmic disaster.

The pattern is Burda 7198 and the fabric was harvested from this dress (a Burda pattern, by the way, and a poor pairing of pattern and fabric on my part).

Refashioning felt really good. I don’t know about you, but it really bugs me to see unworn clothes staring at me when I look into my closet. That dress looked much better in photos (blurry though they were) than in real life. And I only wore it for those photos.

I ripped into the seams cautiously, to minimize the damage to the fabric. Still, the fabric frayed with a vengeance. Luckily, I was able to rescue the zipper and hook-and-eye, and  undo the hand-sewn hem without problems. The skirt became the front and back of the blouse, and sleeves I re-used without any changes. The benefits of a consistent drafting block: they went in beautifully, with minimal easing.

Since the sleeves had the navy detail — and cutting into the bodice of the dress would have only yielded minimal amounts of usable fabric — I reached for leftover fabric from these two projects for the yoke and neckline binding.

My thoughts about this pattern… a mix of good and, hm, less good ideas.

I really didn’t like the suggestion to leave the bias binding just sticking out with a raw edge on the neckline. I don’t think that’s a good look. I wish I had cut the binding strip a bit wider, but I did manage to coax into compliance with an iron and patience. I applied it in a similar way I did the contrast cuffs on the sleeves: like a facing that has a folded edge and goes on the outside.

I also didn’t like the godets and left them out because the back and front pieces come together nicely, and with enough room on the hips. The triangle shape you can see in my last photo isn’t a godet — I had to piece the fabric on the back pattern pieces.

Any problems I had while sewing came up due to the poor quality of the black fabric. It’s a pretty fragile and thin poly crepe. Making up the button placket in it was flimsy and annoying. You may be able to notice that the bottom of the placket has something that looks like a tiny pleat. It’s not really a pleat, but I could neither snip into the corner far enough nor press out the placket aggressively enough to eliminate it without risking damage to the fabric.

I guess I’ll have to see how long this top lasts. Unlike the dress, it’s getting some wear already, luckily.

Verdict: Pretty good pattern, especially if you’re willing to tweak its less convincing details.

On to the next month.

Pulmu

It’s all thanks to the Compulsive Seamstress, Anne. Her post about the beautiful version of the Pulmu pencil skirt from Named she made for her daughter got me to finally stop procrastinating and make it. And I had a pretty good amount of very nice black suiting fabric left over from making these pants, so I just had to finally get to work…

Anne gave me really good tips on shortening the skirt pattern. The key: don’t take out a chunk in just one place. I shortened the skirt around the hip line and then above the vent, taking out in total about 3 or 3.5 inches. You have to adjust both the skirt pieces and the lining pieces, so I’d say the other key is patience.

I’m very happy I shortened the pieces because I’m quite a bit shorter than the height Named draft for and I’m not a fan of mid-calf length…

Here are some blurry photos of my black skirt in January darkness:

(Skirt paired here with a Plantain tee with a somewhat modified raised neckline.)

A heads up, too. You are likely to see quite a lot of black garments paired with black garments here for the time being. I’m finding that wearing black right now is helpful right now. While, yes, I do expect someone might at some point crack the old inappropriate joke about my clothes, it hasn’t happened yet, and I’m getting a degree of psychological comfort from this tradition… But, obviously, cat hair doesn’t care, so I haven’t suddenly become more elegant. The lint brush is my best friend.

Back to the skirt. My measurements fell between sizes, so I decided to cut out the larger size and then baste the skirt together with a 1.5 cm rather than a 1 cm seam allowance. I ended up taking out a bit more width in the lower hip, so the basting proved very useful — as it always does, honestly.

I had a slightly smaller D-ring set in my stash, so I also “skinnified” the belt by sewing it with a larger seam allowance. And it all worked out.

Difficult parts: attaching the lining — lining the vents in particular. It took some head scratching but I got there, eventually.

My one complaint is that I maybe should have been smarter about my main fabric and lining pairing. I really wanted to sew this skirt entirely from the stash, so I ended up with a really lovely, somewhat stretchy suiting and, unfortunately, a completely non-stretch lining. It’s okay so far, but not an ideal combination. The fabrics move a bit differently.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Again I’m very impressed with Named, and I love this design made up as much as I loved the idea of it. In the fabric I chose it ends up being a pretty comfortable pencil skirt.

Have you made a Pulmu skirt? Maybe a better question: what Named patterns do you have on your to-make list?

 

patience

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The biggest project of 2017: cables for months and an incredibly satisfying final result.

Hello, and let me clear the cobwebs off this old blog. Thanks to everyone who got in touch here and during my occasional returns to Instagram over the past months.

I have missed the conversations on blogs and over sewing-related content in other places; however, I really needed the time away and FOMO or any other tether of our interconnected world was not strong enough to keep me from what I knew I needed. Which was to be away and focus on what was necessary.

Usually, it’s the online sewing community that gives me a nice sense of temporary escape into a much-loved hobby, but there comes a time when things are not usual any more, and this was one of those times.

Over the years as a pretty avid blog reader I’ve definitely drawn inspiration and a sense of meaningful connection from writers who’ve written candidly, beautifully, and often with a sense of humor and insight, about their experiences of illness, hardship, and loss. Without naming specific people, I want to thank those of you who write about life in this way. You help others by allowing them to think and feel together with you. And, in their own trying times, to remember, and feel less lonely and more capable.

I’ve discovered that I’m not that kind of blogger. I really enjoy blogging as a means to get away from all the emotion-laden real-life challenges. While immersed in them, I try to be there as fully and honestly as I can, but I don’t share it in writing afterwards. Hence the blog silence.

So while I was away from the blog I was with my family as we faced the challenge of terminal illness and loss. My dad passed away after a long struggle against cancer.

We’re here, still supporting each other. Some days are really difficult, others are easier. I don’t have any wisdom to share other than let yourself feel your feelings fully, no matter how strong they are. And be there for the people in your life, in your own imperfect but true way (even if, like me, you can’t write about it).

fleta-mod3

While I usually enjoy the fact that sewing can take you much faster from idea to its realization than knitting can, in those months knitting helped me work on my patience, while sewing was mostly beyond the attention I had available. Knitting demanded less immersion while bringing a perspective of relief and time to think.

And so I completed one of the most involved knitting projects I had ever undertaken: a cabled cardigan modified from a pattern I had long admired. The pattern is Fleta, from Norah Gaughan’s pattern book #9 for Berroco. I changed the neckline to get a silhouette I find more wearable (as I usually wear cardigans unbuttoned) and I shortened the cardigan slightly.

I haven’t bought new yarn in a long time and this was part of my mission of stashbusting. As you can see, the bottom was knitted in a different type of yarn to use up a partial skein and get the necessary yardage.

Apart from the cardigan, my other important project was the dress I made for the funeral ceremony. I had not planned to sew initially, but searching for an appropriate dress online was really disheartening. There’s a rant in me that I really don’t have the time for right now but… why is there this pervasive idea that women wish to look sexy at all times?… Most of the dresses I was able to find online were too revealing, no matter how I limited the search.

Sewing was my best best, I realized, and reached for the October issue of Burda, in which dress #103 caught my attention.

My photos — taken hastily on a dark January day — don’t do this dress justice. It’s really nice, with clever shaping using double darts and a flattering neckline that doesn’t hit too low (what a relief!).

 

 

Bad lighting and posing, good dress.

I was also amazed how little adjusting I had to do in order to get a good fit. I needed my usual broad upper back front shoulder adjustments, but apart from those, initial basting showed I could continue as is, which meant quick work.

Iwould like to make this dress again later. When I do, however, I will finally commit to the one adjustment I keep meaning to incorporate into my Burda sewing but tend to skip — I’ll raise the armhole by 1cm to get a slightly closer fit (and better range of motion).

That’s it from me for now. I hope 2018 is off to a good start for you, not just in terms of sewing, knitting, and other projects 🙂