Saturday, 2 April 2016

Wardrobe Architect

Last couple of weeks I have been distracting myself from from Uni work with the Wardrobe Architect series from Colette Patterns. It is a series of questionnaires and tasks that all together are designed to help the user make more thoughtful wardrobe choices, based on things the wearer likes to wear.  It isn't about your body shape, or what kind of fruit you resemble the most, or even if your complexion looks more like summer or autumn.  It focuses on what the wearer likes, and what the wearer feels most comfortable in.  Mindful choices.

In retrospect I should have started the program at the beginning of the year when I started my "no new fabric pledge".  Making more mindful choices was right there as one of my goals in my pledge post. I had tried to do the Wardrobe Architect when it was first published in 2014, and again in 2015.  But it's hard.  It's hard for me to really think about the choices I make when I dress myself.  I had to dig deep. My five words I came up with are

comfortable, coordinating, cleavage, transitional, structured 

I am sure the cleavage will get a raised eyebrow but it was the best way I could describe the kind of feeling I was trying to convey, that of room and freedom around my neck. 

When we were asked about what silhouettes we liked I discovered a few things about myself I had not realised before

First off, I wear mostly skinny jeans and I don't know if I like other pant silhouettes.  How have I not noticed that before? I like skirts and dresses but have difficulty feeling comfortable in them because they make me feel a bit naked.  Jackets and blazers that are cut close to the body make me feel like an Amazon in pygmy clothes, even if they technically fit.  Everything should have pockets. 

I have organised my inspiration into different headings 



Colour Story


I chose to use the word "texture" instead or "pattern" because I like the texture of woven woolens and tweed as much or more then polka dots and stripes right now.  After the colour exercise I went through my stash and took about everything that made me feel blah or outright uncomfortable.  Amazingly it has made me feel so much better about my stash and sewing room in general.  Before looking at my stash made me feel uncomfortable, I assumed because it represented a lot of work.  Now looking at it makes me feel a little joy as I can imagine wearing all of those fabrics on my body, and feeling good about them. Capsule wardrobe planning is coming up and I have a few ideas.


I have a pair of these on my sewing table right now.  This program has made me take stock of the things I actually need and want, so the floaty tops I had planned were put aside and the Ginger Jeans pattern were pulled out.


I really like the idea of a relaxed pant worn with a belt.  Not sure if I would like it on myself but I am willing to try.  The hard part is choosing which pattern.  Leaning towards the Guise pants in the middle.  From left to right Gilbert trousers, Guise pants and Hampshire trousers.


This exercise has made me realise I really like a casual button up shirt in something drappy.  I have never worn that style assuming shirts are for the professional environment but I am itching to give it a go.  From left to right Chemise Merlot, Archer shirt, Granville shirt, blouse with short sleeves.  The big question is Archer vs Granville? I love the look of a straight shirt on other people, but when your curvy or big busted they just look boxy and frumpy instead of relaxed.  Have to weigh up my options.


I have black cashmere, red wool, blue tweed and lots of other outerwear fabric horded in my stash and I am excited to get cutting into some of it this winter.  From left to right Ziggi jacket, Yuzu Raglan coat, Camden cape (with pockets), Clare coat, white biker jacket.  I really want to make a Camden I had bought and put aside wool, lining and buttons for one right after it came out in November.  The others I am unsure off.  I hope I can make a biker jacket this winter.  A coat as well seems unlikely at this point but its nice to dream.

If anyone wants to do the Wardrobe Architect along with other people in real time Christine Haynes is doing it atm on her blog.

Friday, 18 March 2016

No pledges were broken in the writing of this post

I finished placement this afternoon. It is hard to make non nurses really understand placement.  OK I think doctors might understand. Before it starts I meal prep every meal, and barely look up until the following Friday. Weekends are for cleaning the house and meal prepping for the next week.  During the week the only thing I pay attention to other then placement is how much sleep I am getting and how many days I have between bowel movements. Sorry for the over share, but nursing you know.  My first placement I didn't pay attention to that and it ended badly.  

It has been over three months since I took my "no new fabrics" oath.  I have not bought any fabric since.  It has been hard as I predicted. In February I took my Step-Dad and the Boyfriend out fabric shopping to another Phillips shirts sale.  My Step-Dad bought the fabric and I bought him lunch so that doesn't count right?  No new fabric was found but it was a lot better organised and there were a bunch of fashion people there.  I thought I would show you what they bought as well as the fabrics from my last haul from the Spotlight boxing day sale. 

Firstly the fabric my Step-Dad picked out.  He saw The Brothers shirt and wanted one for himself. It is a really soft cotton.  The event states cottons start at $5 but I was charged $8 by the sales person.  Hmmmmmm.

The Boyfriend picked out a black pinstripe for a short sleeve shirt appropriate for casual events.  Also a cotton, it was labelled "made in Japan".  

I did not buy anything for myself and I felt good about that.

So in December I went to spotlight for top stitching thread and accidentally bought 9 meters of fabric at the sale.  Sigh.  This is why I needed to do something about my fabric buying habit.  I found some more cotton/linen that I used to make The Brothers shirt. So I bought some more in another print to make him another shirt.  Lets be clear, I had just finished his first shirt the week before, my selfless sewing track record is pretty bad, and his birthday is in September.  Why did I think I would find the motivation to sew him another shirt? It is a nice print but still.  When a sign says 40% off all rationality gets thrown out the window.

Last couple of months I have seen a lot of not horrible looking denim at Spotlight.  I feel like this is a new development? I succumbed.  Instead of a pair of Ginger Jeans this stretch denim looks like it wants to be a pair of Birkin Flares.  I was worried at first that Birkin Flares wouldn't suit a curvy body type.  The back pockets are almost unflattering in a flattering way.  Then I saw Reyna Lay's pair.  She is beautiful curvy sewing blogger and looks amazing in her Birkin's. 

Last but not least.  This stretch denim is my favourite.  This is a cotton/wool/lycra blend.  The right side looks like normal denim but the underside feels like a soft brushed wool. Winter jeans! yes it is white denim.  Don't worry I am going to dye it.  I don't really mind how it comes out of the dying bath, if they look even or if they look like Foonik's gingers I can't imagine being disappointed.  My friends tell me I wear crazy pants anyway.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

A long journey/It's a cinch tote

I am writing this the weekend before classes start in my last year hopefully of undergrad study.  As a mature student this is a big deal.  My BF and I talk about this on the regular, as people who for one reason or another chose to restart our careers in our mid 20's we watch as the people in our social circle buy houses and have babies.  I am counting down the months until I can move on to hopefully bigger and better things.

The last 2 months since my last blog post have been hard.  Placement was incredibly hard. It didn't go well.  It takes a toil on you emotionally as well as physically.  I decided to get a head start on placement hours this year, so I am going out again in a week.  I started a project the weekend before placement 2 months ago and finished it last night.  My sewjo came and went in drips and drabs but the project was a bitch.  Never have I done so much hand sewing.  I see some "hand sewer's" on Instagram, people who hand sew everything instead of using a machine.  As far as I am concerned they are crazy, or just terrified of machines.  They need to get over it.

First off this is the U handbag It's A Cinch Tote I first saw this pattern on Kelli's blog True Bias

First off, Kelli has to be one of the coolest sewing bloggers around.  She is the designer of the Hudson pant's ( I may be wearing these pants at time of writing), so as a big fan of her and her style I believed her when she said this is a "great pattern".  I half thought about just using her photo's as "inspiration" and drafting it myself, but then I thought "no that isn't fair, someone worked hard to draft this pattern for people to use".

I went and bought leather, interfacing and looked around for some hardware but gave up pretty quick.  The big shops in my part of the world are lacking in quality, the smaller independent shops sell higher quality stuff but a lot of the time they don't have much in the way of options.  I found a bright orange pleather bag with the right hardware on one of those shopping trips my boyfriend drags me to.  Do any other sewers out there dislike "normal" shopping as much as I do? I don't mind window shopping somewhere inspiring, Mimco or Zara's? I am there but the BF like's to go to direct factory outlets.  Just feels like a waste of time to me. Bag was $15, I haggled the price down to $13 because the pleather had a mark.

It was around this time, when I was about to order zippers from zipperstop that I decided to buy the pattern PDF and read through it.  I went to buy it and the website kept trying to charge me for postage.  I was getting pretty frustrated with it.  They have a PDF version but you have to buy the booklet version aswell, you cannot buy them separately.  I took a deep breath and paid my $30 Australian for my pattern and postage.  I was pretty miffed.  You can only access the PDF version after you receive the booklet so I waited around for 3 weeks to read the pattern.

When it finally arrived and I opened it and sat down to read it, I realized my mistake.  Someone didn't take time to draft this pattern for people to use.  There are instructions in the pattern for you to draft it yourself.  I was very annoyed.  I am aware that it is basically made up on different rectangles but I had just paid hard earned money on a online tutorial.  If that's what you want to do fine, Mimi G sells tutorials and someone must be buying them, but I would like to know up front what I am buying. I took another deep breath and pressed on.  I still wanted a bag just like Kelli's.  And at this point I had spent about $100 on the pattern and materials.  Smoke blew out of my ears when U handbag emailed me some discount vouchers and other propaganda a couple days later.


The interfacing is some corrugated felt stuff I found in the curtain section of spotlight, the lining is some quilting cotton and is one of my favorite part's.  It looks Victorian or something, So pretty. Makes me happy.  The wool for the main body is from my stash.  I bought it at an op shop some years ago .  It is a very soft very narrow tweedy looking wool.  It was 90 cm wide and just shy of 2 meters.  I originally wanted to make a little jacket out of it, but couldn't find a pattern that the pieces would fit.  I liked the grey against the brown and was feeling that sense in the back of my neck that I had over spent on this project that was going to be a wadder, so should use something from the stash.

I widened the space between the straps like Kelli did, my faux patch pocket is a bit smaller because I was pretty sure I was going to run out of leather.  The top stitching isn't that good. I tried a couple of times with the machine, but the thickness of the felt, wool and leather was just to much for my machines to handle.  It was picking up stitches but on the wrong side it was just a loopy mess.  I perforated the leather with my machine and then hand stitched it down.

I really like the finished bag.  But as you can imagine I am not looking to start another structured bag, or work with leather anytime soon.

After using the bag for my first week of uni I can report that I love it.  I took these photo's after a week of use which is why the bag looks nice and worn in.

Friday, 1 January 2016

That New Year Post/Fabric Stash Pledge

I have been thinking a lot about what I want to do differently in 2016.  Hopefully I will graduate for the last time this year (let's hope nursing sticks!) and my head is full of placement dates and job application stuff.  I turned 30 in November and this will hopefully be the last year I am a student, I have been very tempted to do something crazy like dye my hair purple, or shave it all off.  Soon I will be interviewing for jobs and will have to look presentable.

I have been thinking a lot about style and wardrobe building and how little sewing I did the last two years of uni.  During the semester I hibernate on the couch surrounded by textbooks.  Even if my course load doesn't take up a lot of time, it takes up a lot of my mental energy.  I keep my sewing room tidy, sit in my comfy chair and listen to recorded lectures.

I really want that to change this year.  I have been planning for weeks to do a "no buying new clothes" pledge to try and spur on my sewing.  The year I turned 21 I took on a "no new clothes" pledge and that has some symmetry for me.  Starting and ending the decade making more thoughtful choices about what I am buying and sewing.  But during the last couple of days in my sewing room I have come to a few conclusions.  I should only take on a pledge like that if I feel overwhelmed by how many clothes I buy.  Truth is after that pledge when I was 21 I don't have a problem buying new clothes.  I buy the bare minimum (bras, jeans) maybe twice a year and that's it. I do have a problem with buying fabric.  I wouldn't say NEW fabric because a lot of my stash I have found thrifting

I feel overwhelmed by my stash.  I have 12 sewing machines but when I want to change machines I have to move piles of fabric around to make room. Even when my sewing mojo is hibernating I can still go into a store and leave with two big bags of "couldn't pass it up" fabric.

I look at a trip to the fabric store as inspiration.  Problem is I can't just leave the store with ideas and a refreshed mojo.  Most of it I don't have a project in mind when I buy it.

It is not that I just need a better storage solution then piles on flat surfaces.  I have a built in wardrobe in my sewing room which I filled when I moved in to this house three years ago.  On the left is my scrap pile.  Yes that is the "hanging" space crammed in with scraps of fabric.  Top shelf is outerwear, below that is linings, then its dress weight and the bottom shelf is blouse weight (blouse weight is that a thing?).  My stash runneth over.

I need to stop buying fabric with so little thought.  It is not that I have read other bloggers pledges, in fact this year I haven't read any pledges of any sort.  Maybe the bloggers I read are not feeling very introspective.  I don't have a pledge I am going to cut and paste my name on to.  It is something I have come to slowly, feel like I HAVE to do but am not looking forward to very much.  I think it is going to be hard.  So ...

I will buy no fabric in 2016 

with a few guidelines ...

  • I can buy patterns and notions when and if I need them
  • I can buy fabric for specific garments if my stash has failed me

I currently do not feel I have a problem with over buying patterns or notions.  If you read my other posts you may notice the patterns I like I sew over and over.  I sew my own undies and may one day venture into bras.  I am planning to sew some casual cosplays for PAX Australia 2016.  I will not be making anything that far out of my skill set, no covering boots or building amour, I like to sew clothes! but colour and weight is specific.  Projects that require fabric not in my stash I can buy for but only when I am currently working on them.  No buying fabric for garments in my "to sew queue".  This pledge is less about black and white restrictions and more about severely reducing my mindless fabric consumption.

I am hoping that this time next year I will feel more in control of my stash, making more thoughtful choices about things I want to sew AND wear and will have more space in my sewing room.

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Ginger Jeans Disappointment

I took these photos yesterday when I was very excited.  Then soon after I was not very excited. I was very disappointed.  I'll get to that part later.  These are the Ginger Jeans from Closet Case Files

I have been lurking in her shop for months, looking at local denim sources, options for buttons and rivets and reading through the sew along over and over.  My denim history as an adult woman is pretty dismal, ranging from Target when I was desperate to City Chic denim which becomes more and more a disappointment each passing year.  So this new project seemed like a big moment for me.  I really want to no longer be dependent on those stores.  Or any stores.

I spent a long time looking for hardware.  I searched though eBay and etsy but didn't jump on anything, read through reviews of rivets and jean buttons, asked in Facebook groups.  One trusted online friend told me to just not bother without spending $600 on the special machines.  I pushed through that low point.  I tried to buy from a local supplier M.Recht but the site wanted an Australian Business Number.  Remember me mentioning the internet trying to suck the soul out of me.  Yeah I was trying to source for this project.  Remember in my head these are the jeans that make way for all of the jeans for the rest of my life pretty much.  So I am looking for the best, or at least a good source of hardware that I can buy from again.  I finally decided it was a coin toss between ThreadTheory and TaylorTailor.  The Australian dollar was better against the Canadian than the US so I went with ThreadTheory.

I found some stretch denim in the Alannah Hill outlet, but chickened out using it my first try.  I found some denim that felt very similar from Spotlight for my muslin.  I bought the ebook with the pattern.  You could totally do without the ebook and just use the instructions and sew along if you want but if you need a bit more hand holding it's good.  I appreciated it.

These are technically a wearable muslin.  I SHOULD have just cut out a pair of jeans proper instead of shorts but this seemed more approachable as a project.  I wanted to try view A first.  I didn't have any top stitching thread in my stash so I used some army green standard thread that didn't look horrible in my testing.  I used an edge stitching foot which is AMAZING for the top stitching.  My measurements atm are a 33" waist and a 45.5" hip.  That corresponds to a 14 waist and a 18 hip.  That sounded super scary grading two sizes in such a small gap.  I cut a 16 waist and graded to a 18 in the hips keeping the height of the 18.

Heather suggests basting everything together after the front pockets go in to check the fit.  I was a good sewing person and did just that.  When I tried them on the first time I felt so frumpy and not at all the sexy denim goddess everyone online said they felt like wearing their Gingers.  After lots of pinching and squinting in the mirror I came to a few conclusions. They were to big everywhere not just in the waist.  My crotch length was too long, an adjustment I had anticipated because I have trouble with that in RTW.  And after wearing City Chic denim for so long the balance of the front and back pieces didn't feel right.

Let me try and explain.  City Chic cuts the front of their jeans a lot narrower than the back pieces, this is very slimming at the front as there is less space between the pockets and fly and creates an illusion of a curvier backside which in this society of Kardashian worship is not a bad thing.  The side seam just felt like it was in the wrong place.  Not what I am used to.  I cut the front's two sizes smaller at the side seams and trimmed a bit off the crotch length and put them back together, hammered in a button and tried them back on.  And I was so happy.  The clouds parted and I shimmied around the house in the best shorts that have ever been on my body.

Have to tweak the pocket placement on the next pair.  Not bad though.

Later that night something bad happened.  I plucked this picture of Instagram.  Button snapped off.  I am not sure if I bent it or did something wrong but I got very discouraged.  My sewing mojo is still recovering.

Friday, 25 December 2015

Last Christmas Present Negroni Shirt

At the start of December I started work on the Brothers shirt.  I got it finished at 4:30 am Christmas morning but I got it finished.  As you can see it is not purple plaid.  Luckily I stumbled on some COTTON/LINEN blend Hawaiian print at the Boxhill Spotlight opening sale.

I was very pleased with my find.  Now lets look at some horrible pictures of muslin's.

I used the Negroni shirt pattern from Colette/Walden.  Muslin 1 is a straight size XL.  The result isn't too bad. I pushed shoulder seam back a cm, raised the arm hole a lot, gave it a little extra room in the hips, and shaved off a little off the bottom of the upper back piece.  The Brother has rounded back shoulders so there was extra room there and I really wanted that seam to look horizontal.

Muslin 2 looks much better.  We were happy enough with it to cut out the good one.  This took longer than I had hoped.  I don't know what I did when I prewashed it but it was really off grain when I laid it all out. I cursed and swore and wrestled with it for a few hours.  Some googling later I found Madalynne's article about grain perfection.  I sewed the whole thing together selvage to selvage, ripped end to ripped end and washed it again.  It worked! mostly.  The ends were bang on grain, some parts in the middle were still a bit skewiff.  I guess it works better when the length isn't 5 meters.  The buttonholes were the real pain.  My machine from the 80's has step by step buttonhole, but I don't really like it.  I have some vintage Singer buttonholers that I really like and have had good results with in the past.  But last night it just could not make a good buttonhole consistently.   Never let the machine know you are in a rush!

Not so good picture from Instagram
I don't think he is sold on the idea that cotton/linen will be more comfortable then polyester.  We will have to see if he keeps wearing it. 

Friday, 11 December 2015

Tessuti Kate Top

Tessuti put up the call announcing another of their competitions in November.  The Kate Top.  Had to give it a go, especially since mid November I imagined I would have all the time in the world to make clothes not on the Christmas present list.  Guess who got notified today she will be doing six weeks of placement in a row, starting first week of January.

Tessuti competitions in the past have specified that the fabric used must be from their store.  This time that was not necessary.  I went through my "special" stash.  Fabrics that are either really expensive or sentimental for some reason.  I found this silk in Darn Cheap a couple of years ago.  It was $20 a metre and felt like nothing I have ever felt before.  It is a thick heavy, drappy silk with a matte side and a shiny side that is so soft it feels like suede.  It was fuchsia pink.  I kept coming back to it for months until one day for some reason I had some extra cash and bought two meters.  Dyed it with a lot of blue food colouring and white vinegar.

When I was young and naive I wanted to be a textile designer.  Or a shoe designer.  Well there is a textile design degree offered here in Melbourne so I wasted almost three years studying something I would have hated as a job.  My favourite teacher took me aside one day and just said "this is not for you".  Cue breakdown at 20.  Anyway.  I had to study dying techniques.  Failed it the first time, so I had to do it twice.  Failed fibres, yarns and fabrics twice.  Yeah she was probably right.  I am pretty confident with a burn test and how to dye a protein fibre on the cheap.

I wanted to change the pattern in some way, there was going to be an exposed zip, then maybe some gem stones.  I couldn't decide.  I was going through my pinterest boards and something I had pinned months ago gave me my inspiration.

I saw this top while watching Total Divas, a show I shouldn't like but I do.  This was the best photo of that top I could find, it's not on Shop Your TV for some reason.  I call the split high low hem tuxedo tails.  And compared to an exposed zip or hand sewing gem stones, it was so easy and something I will actually feel comfortable wearing.  I really love the resulting top.  I did two muslin's.  I made the largest size first.  The first muslin was way to drappy for what I wanted, darts way to low and the armholes were too deep.  Next muslin, I sized down the side seams and did a 1" FBA raising the dart point.  Left everything else the largest size.  Raised the armholes 1/2" and added the new hemline.  Here is muslin two.

Look how pleased I am
When a muslin makes you feel this fantastic you know you are on to a good thing.  I put it on and thought it looked awesome.  The resulting top went smoothly.  I used the matte side as the good side so I can feel that super soft side next to my skin.  Used a lining weight purple silk as bias binding, because I was worried about bulk.

"She's his lobster" necklace bought off etsy several years ago.  Surprisingly you can still find it here.