simpler still

Too hot for many things: sewing among them, and when there isn’t much sewing, what is there to write about?

The unblogged.

I had 0.7 yard of this unusual (to me at least) denim look rayon fabric, which I found in a remnant bin. This is what I made out of it, with some “creative” fabric cutting decisions along the way:

helmi-bluefilter

Disclaimer: this image has been slightly dramatized with the use of a color filter for the purposes of this blog post.

The eagle-eyed among you might be able to tell that the base pattern is, again, Helmi by Named Clothing. I can’t stop making these. If I manage to get some sewing done in the coming weeks, I should be able to show you another one.

This one… had to be cut shorter than the pattern pieces (sorry, can’t remember how much shorter anymore — I was figuring it out and matching side seams on the fly). I didn’t want to sacrifice even more of the length, hence the bias tape hem.

(I used my kimono sleeve hack of the front and back pattern pieces as you can tell.)

The collar stand was cut on the cross grain because there was no other possibility unless I’d piece it from the fabric fumes I had left. And there weren’t enough of those fabric fumes for cuffs, so I went for bias tape again. Unlike the premade one I used on the hem this one was made by me, and softer because I cut it from a rayon remnant. You can’t see it when the blouse is worn, so I’m not particularly bothered by this mismatch.

The buttons were a lucky second-hand find. I’m glad I only had seven because with the top button-free, the blouse has a slightly softer, more fluid look that I think is better on me than a fully buttoned version would have been.

Helmi-blue1

Awkward modeling is an innate skill; the heat isn’t at fault.

I’ve been wearing this Helmi a lot. Hurray for remnants! They make for some creative, and fairly stress-free sewing.

What has everyone been up to?

slow everything

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Helmi tunic dress. Finally.

Hello! I’m back in the bloglands after some traveling and family time. And back with that great dilemma that every break like that brings up for me. It’s wonderful to see again what everyone’s been sewing, photographing, and writing about while I was away… But, in all honesty, it was really blissful not to keep up with it all. And not to keep others updated on what I was doing.

Thank you everyone who dropped me a line under the blog break post! Your wishes were a wonderful send-off. Here are some thoughts I’ve brought back from my trip.

When sightseeing, I would only take a few snapshots for the family, a la the limitations of yore, as if some “film” were at risk of running out in the camera. I limited texting and email to the absolutely necessary. I walked a lot. I had a notebook with me. I ended up reading a lot.

It did feel a little bit like time travel, unplugging that daily connection that we hardly perceive but use all the time. And then it stopped feeling like time travel, and I simply felt more rested, more focused, and more curious about the world. An undercurrent of mild anxiety stopped buzzing in the background.

I don’t want to be the next person preaching about the benefits of slowing down. I don’t even know how well I will be able to remember what I got out of that period of unplugging.

I’ll try. I don’t think the problem lies in not knowing that you can slow down. I think it lies in the routines that carry us through every day. We get more of a temporary pleasure kick out of scrolling through online content than sitting down quietly with a book, though the latter has a more lasting calming benefit for our mind. We cherish (and remember more clearly) photos when we take them sparingly, we forget the ones we took in quick succession. But it’s all so easy to forget. It doesn’t have a snappy acronym like FOMO or the range of other fears that, likewise, have snappy acronyms that I keep googling, and as I do so I feel old and increasingly not with that next “it” that is the “it” of the quickly fleeting moment.

I’m not about to proclaim this a new trend here. I think I’ll see how well I can keep pumping the breaks on some of my routines and if that will let me accomplish some new goals. It’s probably fair to call this modest plan my attempt at kaizenI’m not starting a business, just trying to get some of my ducks out of the woods and in a row.

In the meantime, I will have some slow-paced (ha!) catch up posts for you on things I made before the trip.

But here’s one I made when I got back, still pretty jet-lagged.

helmi-dress-stripes

I had this fabric sitting in my stash for over a year. I bought it at a store with second-hand fabric, yarn, and notions. It was probably donated to the store, so it was unlabeled and on the bargain fabric pile. It feels like cotton, somewhat crisp. I don’t wear stripes too often and it took me a very long time to figure out what I could use this fabric for.

I can’t remember the exact inspiration, but I think I saw a garment somewhere (on the street? on Pinterest?) that used horizontal stripes that balanced vertical stripes in this way, and that’s when I knew it would be a Helmi dress.

I went for my kimono sleeve hack first tried here. Once again I opted also for the simplified button placket. It seems to me that the buttons make a good visual interruption to all the stripes.

Since I’m quite a few inches shorter than what Named Clothing drafts for, I shortened  the bodice and skirt by 1.5 cm. And, in a bout of masochism, I finished the hem and the sleeve cuffs by hand. And that would be it. I’m wondering whether to insert elastic into the waist seam. I’m not in love with the boxy silhouette of the unbelted dress. I think it looks pretty cool on the model here but on me I feel like it completes the look of a clueless person desperately googling “FOMO.” Thoughts?

This project is my third one in the #sewtogetherforsummer challenge on Instagram. Many thanks to Monika, Sarah, and Suzy for making this such a wonderful, inspiring, and welcoming sewing challenge.

I wish you all happy summer sewing and till next time.

dark and stormy

Homage to the sky before a storm with these fabric choices. My shirtmaking adventures continue, still with the Helmi pattern from Named Clothing. Stormy skies but still none of those trench elements… Those may not be for me, but this pattern is easy to pare down and that basic version is a gift that keeps on giving. I needed to stop myself from cutting out yet another one in favor of catching up with other projects, and blogging these two 😀

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My first Helmi was a good trial run. Here, I opted for a single-fold button placket. My fabric was narrow and I wanted to squeeze out the pattern pieces as efficiently as possible. (That strategy isn’t always smart, by the way.)

The fabric is a buttery soft rayon. It’s a light and somewhat tricky fabric. I stabilized both the front and the back of the placket, and both parts of the collar and collar stand. I wanted these to be stable and durable but not too stiff, so I used a lightweight fusible interfacing.

French seams on the shoulders and sleeves, bias-bound side seams (you can see the side seam in this post). The eagle-eyed among you may be able to tell that the sleeve seam is almost off-the-shoulder. Not the pattern’s fault — all mine. I cut a slightlylarger seam allowance for easier French seams… and then forgot about that when I was sewing those sleeve seams…

The photos, while not perfect, convey the color quite well. It’s an intense cool blue with subtle purple undertones.

The second shirt takes the storm theme further.

The fabric is a Liberty of London Tana Lawn — a fabric that’s usually decidedly out of my price range. Miraculously, this print was discounted by 50% at Fabric.com when I bought it (ages ago, I’d been too scared to cut into it before Helmi came along!). And, luckily, it’s probably my favorite Liberty print.

 

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This is what a shirt squeezed out of 1 yard of a wide (60″ maybe?) fabric looks like. I improvised the kimono sleeve after studying McCall’s 7387, drafted cuffs, et voilà! Again, there was no way I could have squeezed out the double-fold button band, so I simplified it. I think these buttons were a great match (if I do say so myself).

liberty-helmi1

The inspiration came from that coveted pattern, Melilot from Deer and Doe. Alas, that shirt didn’t make it into their new PDF selection, so I’ll keep coveting it… I’ve loved basically all the versions I’ve seen of that pattern so far.

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Helmi is boxier than Melilot, which is especially visible in a crisp fabric such as cotton lawn… but only when I raise my arms. It doesn’t strike me as particularly boxy otherwise.

What else is there to say… I think I’ve made my affection for this pattern abundantly clear. And, really, I’m just thrilled to be finally making shirts rather than just hoping to make them.

This is probably not the last time you see Helmis on this blog, but I also have a couple of Burda patterns lined up (specifically, this one and this one). Knowing that I need to make a broad back adjustment is really the key thing for me. All the other work I might need to do with a pattern is small beer in comparison, so I’m optimistic about those future shirts.

What have you been up to? Drop me a line below.

PS: Check out Joann’s blog A Metre Of and #ametreofproject on Instagram. I was happy to add the Liberty print Helmi to that hashtag 🙂

 

hello, Helmi!

And, suddenly, all plans got moved aside and I went down the rabbit hole of the Helmi pattern from Named. I’ve almost finished the second blouse (shirt? — I need to resolve this) from that pattern and I’m actually pretty tired from the marathon sewing I’ve put myself through. When you dream of sitting down with a book and a cup of tea while at the sewing machine, you know you’re not doing a hobby right…

helmi2-1

So I sat down with a book and a cup of tea to take this photo of the almost-finished Helmi blouse. Note the bias-bound side seam. I made the bias tape from fabric scraps. Needless to say, those side seams took ages. 

Maybe this kind of sewing trance is just to be expected when you finally feel up to making a more challenging type of garment that also happens to be a crucial wardrobe gap… I’m on my way to doubling the number of shirts in my wardrobe, and they are my favorite thing to wear to work.

The photo above somehow does the fabric color justice: it’s a beatiful blue somewhere between the blue of violets and that of cornflowers. It’s a rayon — somewhat unruly but manageable with a little bit of help from spray starch. Nothing like the menace that was the fabric I used for my “test” Helmi (there was a muslin before that but the muslin didn’t have all the details).

helmi1-2

I call this one the Floral Menace Helmi.

If cutting and sewing the blue rayon was at times like trying to make a piece of clothing out of water, this lightweight floral polyester crepe (I think) was like water with patches of ice. The starching helped only a bit.

Because both of these fabrics are lightweight, I was worried about making the right choice with interfacing. My choices were actually very limited, so I settled on knit interfacing on the Floral Menace to keep things naturally floppy but capable of supporting buttons and buttonholes, and on the blue rayon blouse a combination of knit interfacing and lighweight non-woven fusible (i.e. basically, the two kinds I have in my stash right now).

Let’s talk fitting…

I am definitely not in the position to judge pattern drafting, so I’ll just share a few observations. One: all notches matched up beautifully. Two: the sleeve was drafted differently than I’m used to, with a pronounced curve on the back of the sleeve head and not much ease. That meant two surprises: I didn’t have to add ease stitches to ease the sleeve head in nicely, and the sleeve didn’t fit tight at all. Magic! Three: the shoulder seam is drafted to accommodate the 21st-century computer hunch — the slope of that seam is different on the front than on the back piece. For this hunchback it meant a forward shoulder adjustment of a mere 14″, and I would have survived without it. Magic again!

Where I definitely needed a fit adjustment was my broad back, but at this point that’s very obvious to me. I also raised the bust dart slightly, and I’m not sure whether it was a good or a bad choice… I need to wear these blouses a bit more to determine that.

Now… I’m not crazy about the 1 cm/ 3/8″ seam allowance. With the madly fraying polyester it just didn’t feel like enough for French seams, so I overlocked the seam allowances (which will do, but I’m not loving it). For the second blouse I added a 1/4″ to the side and sleeve seams.

So that’s easily fixed if you don’t mind taking the time to redraw the pattern pieces (which is what I did) or remembering to add to these seam allowances when cutting your fabric.

The instructions are clear and succinct. I can’t really evaluate the “trench inspired” elements of the blouse, since I skipped them.

Verdict: definitely recommend and will sew again!

In other news, I really loved following #fashrev and #fashionrevolutionweek on Instagram. I especially enjoyed the validation I got reading others’ washing tips. When I moved to the US it seemed to me people around me were doing laundry all the time, and no one was hanging out any clothes. I quickly discovered that the dryer was shredding my t-shirts at an alarming pace and got a drying rack. I’d always hand-washed quite a lot of my clothes, and while it’s not the must enjoyable activity, I’m glad I’ve stuck with it.

I also liked seeing people’s happy “I made my clothes” photos, though, to be completely honest, I liked the photos of garment workers with “I made your clothes” signs even more. I’m hoping that more awareness about who the majority of the world’s garment workers are, where they live, and how little they get paid leads to fairer compensation and decent working conditions. That’s the change we need the most.

As for making your own clothes… Me-Made May starts tomorrow! I can’t say I’ve filled my wardrobe gaps, but I’ll do my best to wear at least one me-made item every day.

What have you been up to? Are you excited for #mmmay17?