Self-Stitched September, Days 29-30 (and closing thoughts)

So today is the last day of Self-Stitched September. Here we go….

Day 29:

The Details:
Top- Self-stitched, “Gypsy” blouse
Pants/shoes: purchased
Jewelry- Self-made, the “Titania” set

The Context:
A band/teaching day that was slightly heavier on the teaching than usual, due to some rescheduling. And it’s also starting to cool down just a bit– not enough to ditch the sandals quite yet, but enough that I was quite comfortable in the pants and barely 3/4-sleeved blouse. I was also quite happy with the jewelry choice–I think the only thing I’ve worn this with before is the dress that I specifically designed this set to go with, so it’s good to mix it up at last!

Day 30:

And the piece de resistance….

The Details:
Top: Self-stitched, finished last night! (Loosely based on Simplicity 2883)
Jeans: Thrifted
Shoes: The Birks (but this will definitely be switched to boots before I go out tonight…)
Earrings/bracelet: Self-made, and finished about 10 minutes ago!

The Context:
As stated in a recent post, this was supposed to be a dress for a cousin’s upcoming wedding. That was a fail. But I think it makes a pretty nice shirt! So since I was supposed to be at work, and the garden center didn’t even open today due to the entire East Coast getting drenched, I’m just at home until I do my one lesson and go out for Bible study. (So naturally I made something. And will likely do some cutting out for my next sewing project this afternoon)

I’ll post more details about the top and jewelry soon. (Like when I’m not wearing them and can take more detailed pictures.)

Closing Thoughts:

I’m really glad that I did this experiment– I think that it was a rather valuable tool to go along with the reassessment of my personal style that I did earlier this year. I’d like to do a post later on where I re-evaluate the most and least successful outfits, but that can wait–at the moment, I’d rather reflect on the broader topics while they’re still fresh in my mind.

  • The easiest part: Choosing self-stitched things to wear for a work context.
  • The hardest part: Hands-down, taking the daily outfit photos. The fall is traditionally my busiest time, and this one more so than usual due to adding a couple of extra activities in (Bible study, rock climbing, etc). So for the most part, my pictures were hastily taken when I had time, rather uncreative, and really not the best lighting at all. I have a lot more respect for fashion bloggers now, because that takes a lot more dedication than I thought!
  • The most surprising part: How hard it was to find more casual things to wear that fit the criteria. And also that I often ended up being dissatisfied with those outfits.
  • The other most surprising part: How much I missed a lot of my thrifted items. There were multiple occasions where I felt like wearing one of my great secondhand finds, but had to find something I’d actually made instead. Which led to bendings of the rules like Day 18 (in which I only mended the shirt) and Day 28 (where I basically gave up and resorted to jewelry).

So I feel like I learned a couple of valuable things:

  1.  I may need to start considering what I’m sewing/buying as part of my wardrobe as a whole. It’s no secret that I’m drawn to crazy prints and such, but then I tend to wear those items with the same thing all the time. Gwen made a comment on my last SSS post asking if I’d ever considered wearing a certain blouse with a certain skirt that I’d worn a couple of days apart, and the thought was pretty mind-blowing to me because I’d never even considered it! I know from following on the Flickr site and various blogs that some people felt that their contributions were getting boring because of repeats–I’m on the opposite extreme and surprised at how mix-and-matchable my wardrobe often isn’t. (But don’t think I’m ditching the prints entirely. Because I’m not.)
  2. The most surprising thing is, I really didn’t like a lot of my casual outfits. At least, not the ones that were solely for bumming around the house. Ok, to be honest, I didn’t like photographing them. So part of that may have been subconsciously dressing for the camera, and I’m certainly not going to go and ditch all of my t-shirts, but now I’m feeling like I need to re-evaluate my casual style in particular.
  3. In contrast, I discovered that I actually like the way I dress for work. At least in the warmer season. So I guess my style evaluation experiment had some success after all!
  4. Taking pictures of myself, even with a tripod, and still getting a decent shot of my creations is hard. And not something I particularly enjoy. So yeah, you’re still going to be seeing a lot of Donna the Dummy around here!
  5. I did like how this made me consider the outfit as a whole–not just individual pieces, but stuff like “do those two silhouettes really go together? Can I wear that with something else?”
  6.  I often felt like I would have had a lot more fun with putting outfits together if I didn’t spend half the day in jeans and a grungy work-required t-shirt. Especially on the days where I wasn’t set to teach afterward– I think those were probably the days of the worst casual outfits. So I think my job definitely affects my outlook on how I’m dressing–actually, it was also that job that got me started on the personal style project in the first place!
  7. There are a lot of really fun sewing bloggers that I didn’t know existed before this month. So now I have several new lovely ladies to “follow”! (And probably more, once I finish clicking through the participant list– I only got about halfway.)
  8. For a month focused on self-sewn items, I did surprisingly little sewing! But the related thing I realized is that I don’t feel a driving need to have an entirely self-stitched wardrobe. I was perfectly content to mix in things I made with things I thrifted or otherwise bought–though I’ve certainly become more conscious of the impact that store-bought fashion has on people and the environment over the past several years, my main motivation for sewing has been and still is the fun of creating things that I can use to express myself. And I also love learning new techniques and improving my abilities at pattern manipulation and fitting. Besides, thrift shopping is too much fun to give up!

So, in conclusion, I am glad I did this, even though it got a little tedious at the end. I think it helped me identify some holes in my wardrobe that will need to be filled. As for whether I’d do it again, I think I would….truth be told, I’m strongly tempted to do a mini-version in the winter, even if there’s nothing official, just because of how much it helped me figure out what I do and don’t like about how I dress. And winter is definitely the most challenging fashion season for me. Hopefully next time I’ll have a little more time to get better pictures!

Self-Stitched September, Days 22-28

To be perfectly honest, I haven’t had a whole lot of time over the last several days to photograph. So you’re going to get a lot of crappy pics. Sorry. And since I’ve got several days to post and not a lot of time to do it, I’m going to be focusing mainly on the self-stitched elements.

Day 22:

The Details: 
Blouse: Self-stitched, “Spring Fever” blouse
Purchased capris/sandals/camisole….don’t remember what jewelry I wore this day. 😦

The Context: This past Wednesday was a super-busy teaching day for me  And also still a fairly warm one–not sure how fallish this looks, but it was comfortable.

 Day 23:
The Details: 
Top: Self-stitched, “French Vanilla”
Purchased capris/sandals, thrifted sweater
Jewelry: self-made, “Autumn Leaves”

The Context:
A little bit of teaching, then dinner at Boston Market and Bible study with my friends. I wore the sleeveless top because it was still warm, and the basement where we meet usually gets really hot once everyone’s in there, but I was glad I thought to brought the sweater because it was actually a bit chilly this time!

And here’s a closeup of the jewelry on me–this is one of my go-to sets this time of year.

Day 24:

 The Details:
Skirt: self-stitched, sort of…. it was purchased from Dharma Trading Company, but I did the embroidery.
Top/sandals: purchased
Jewelry: the Celtic malachite set that I showed before.

The Context: 
Off work again. So this was a good pick for a day of chilling around the house and sewing. Though I do have to confess that I changed before the evening– I was going to a party in which the main draw was busting out all of those games that we used to play as kids, and I knew Twister was going to be involved so I needed to dress appropriately–no v-necks, and definitely no skirts!

 A closeup of the embroidery.

Day 25:

The Details:
Top/sandals: purchased
Jewelry: same as 2 days ago
Skirt: Self-stitched, “Dirty Hippie” skirt 

The Context:
I had a family bridal shower to attend today, for my cousin’s fiancee. I wasn’t sure how dressy it would be, so a casual skirt was just the ticket.

 Day 26: 
The Context:
Pants/cami/shoes: purchased
Print top: thrifted
Sweater: Self-stitched, “Sweater Song” cardi
Belt: ModCloth
Necklace: Lia Sophia

The Details: 
I was scheduled to work on tech crew at church today–operating a video camera this time, which involves sitting on an elevated platform. Clearly, a skirt or dress was out of the question. And since it was cooler and rainy today (and my church is always cold anyway), layers were the way to go! I’ll be honest, though– I ended up ditching the belt before I left the house. This is the time of year when my seasonal allergies are the worst, and that often results in me feeling easily nauseated in the mornings. So having an elastic band around my waist and pressing on my stomach was just not doing it for me that day!

Day 27:
The Details: 
Blouse– self-stitched, the “Chevron” blouse
Sneakers: Payless
Jewelry: self-made, but no closeup pic yet. Sorry.

The Context: 
This outfit was kind of a rush job– it’s the same jeans I wore to my retail job, with the blouse thrown on to take it out of the realm of too casual to teach. (Not that the adult student I have, my only one on Mondays, cares. But still.) I knew I wouldn’t be wearing this for long, since I went rock climbing last night with some friends, so I didn’t feel like going all out. (Incidentally, I also discovered that I feel a LOT more comfortable in this blouse with a cami underneath! But the one that matches best is the one I’d worn the day before.)

Day 28 (today):
The Details:
I’m scraping by on a technicality today– I made the jewelry, but the top was thrifted, and the rest of my clothes were regular store-bought.

The Context: 
Another away-from-home teaching day. And I think that by this point in the month, I’m getting a little burned-out on the challenge. I was looking in my closet after my retail job today, and nothing I had sewn was inspiring me at all. Out of everything I haven’t already worn this month, it was either too warm or too cold to pull it out. (Except for a couple of my skirts, but I was not feeling a skirt today either.) So I figured that secondhand is the next best thing to homemade for the purposes of this challenge, and it’s days like this that are the reason I added the accessory clause.

Two more days. And I will certainly have thoughts to write once this challenge is done. So I’ll save it for then.

In the meantime, I’ve also been making some jewelry (Sunday’s activity), and I have some stuff percolating in my head there. And now that I’m basically done dinner, other than the apple pie in the fridge that’s calling my name, I’m planning on fully taking advantage of a bit of unexpected free time to work some more on salvaging that dress….with any luck, I’ll have a new shirt by the time this month is out!

Wardrobe Refashion Wednesday #4: For the Price of a Cup of Tea…

A couple days late on the post, because I just did NOT have time on either Wednesday or Thursday. So this was the project of the week. I got this shirt for my mom for Christmas a couple of years ago (I’m generally in charge of the gifts to her from my dad as well, since I’m better at picking out stuff she likes. Plus then he doesn’t have to shop as much.) I couldn’t resist this shirt for her, because she loves tea. Unfortunately, the only size they had in the entire store was extra-large. And, well, my mom wears a small. She wore it a couple of times anyway, but then she asked me if I could take it in for her. I needed something quick, and I actually have a good color of thread in the serger, so it seemed like a good time.(Sorry it took so long, Mom!)

To give you an idea of just how much bigger this was….this is underneath one of Mom’s best-fitting t-shirts. I think I probably ended up taking in at least 8 inches out of this one all the way around!

But it was just your basic t-shirt resizing. (You can see how much better it fits on Donna now!) This one’s not 100% done, since I still have to fix the hems where I ripped them out near the side seams and sleeve seams. I’m still trying to figure out the best way to do that, since they’re that serged-looking hem and neither my serger nor my sewing machine can replicate that. So I may end up hand-stitching them down, since that’ll be the best way to keep the fabric from stretching anyway. But hopefully I can finish that up soon….if nothing else, there’s always WRW next week.

In other news, I think I may be jinxed when it comes to sewing outfits to wear to relatives’ weddings! Now, this one isn’t being nearly as problematic as the dress for my brother’s wedding last year, but I’m still having issues with it. I realize this one doesn’t look bad on Donna, but you can kind of see on the left side where it’s pulling in at the bottom of the dummy’s leg…yeah, that’s what it’s doing all across my hips. Not pretty. The reason for this was that I had to switch patterns from my original idea, due to one-way printing on the fabric and an extra-wide selvedge that was going to make it not work well. So I pulled out one of the Simplicity Project Runway patterns that I’ve had sitting around for awhile. (Hmm, apparently this one’s out of print now. Maybe I should have taken that as a sign…) I figured this one would be ok, since it’s one of the few knit fabric dress patterns I have that has sleeves. As it turns out, I was misled a bit by the technical drawing. I thought the bodice was going to be a lot longer than it was, but when I pulled it on, it turns out it was an empire-waisted dress instead of the bodice ending closer to the waist like I’d thought. (Maybe it’s supposed to go to the waist, but it sure doesn’t on me!) I’ve learned from experience that gathered empire-waists just make me look pregnant–not the look I want to go for. So then I added a panel and dropped the skirt down to the waist. When I got it down to there, the gathering was just not working because it was still giving me more of a belly than I have. So I tried to narrow the skirt enough to get that out, and ended up taking out too much. Rats.

So I’m giving up on this one as a dress, and trying to salvage it into a top. I’d probably get more wear out of it that way anyway. But I don’t have enough time to make another dress now, so I’m just going to have to suck it up and go shopping. Maybe I’ll have better luck with my next upcoming family wedding in April…either that, or maybe I need to rethink my plan of making my own wedding dress if I ever get married myself!

"Layla" in Red

And since I mentioned in my last post (of about 30 seconds ago) that I was sewing on Sunday, figured I should show what I made! This is revisiting the Layla apron from BurdaStyle, as a gift for a cousin’s fiancee. Her bridal shower is on Saturday, and my sister-in-law and I are teaming up for her gift. (I figured she’s not even my Facebook friend yet, so there’s no chance she’ll find this and I can talk about it.) So we got her a bunch of the smaller kitchen doodads that she asked for on her registry, and I made the apron to add a more personal touch to it– the main color of her kitchen stuff is red. And this French-inspired print was kind of screaming at me for her, after spending a little time with her down at the family beach time back in August.

Oddly, I could NOT make heads or tails of the actual directions on the apron, despite having made it before. So I basically just used the pattern to cut it out and then did it my own way. And it seems to have worked out well. I may have done it that “winging it” way last time too….can’t remember.

I do have to say, though, that I couldn’t be happier with my print-matching job for the pocket.

See? It’s practically invisible! So pardon me while I pat myself on the back.

So, anyway, there it is, and I hope she likes it. And now I’d best get going….gotta get through work so I can get to some reconstructing!

Self-Stitched September, Days 19-21

Because I haven’t taken today’s pictures yet. Most of these are for Sunday, though.

Day 19:

The Details:
Top– Self-stitched, Simplicity 5595 (another one that pre-dates the blog)
Skirt–Self-stitched, a repeat of the “Baby’s In Black” skirt.
Shoes- Payless
Necklace- a green amber one that my parents gave me for Christmas one year– I saw it in a catalog and fell in love with it, so my mom tracked it down. It’s so Elven-looking. I love it.

The Context: 
This is what I wore for church today.

It was also cool enough this morning to wear my self-stitched lightweight jacket–from a modified Vogue 1266 (shortened quite a bit). This is another pre-blog one. The outside is denim…

…so the inside needed to be more fun.

(I’m thinking I may need to do some retrospective posts when this is all done, to showcase some of these older projects!)

Sunday was also “Talk Like A Pirate” day, and I love silly made-up holidays like that, so I decided to celebrate with my outfit a bit while I was bumming around at home and sewing.. Since it was still warmer, I just left the skirt on (it’s comfortable) and switched to this self-made pirate t-shirt that I did a couple of years ago (around when Pirates of the Caribbean was out and I was very much in a piratey mood.) Just a basic t-shirt that I rehemmed to a nicer length, and I also did the pirate stencil on it.

Day 20:

Now this was another slacker day– between work at the garden center, needing to do some cleaning before C. came over for some crafting and Farscape/season premiere of Chuck viewing, and actually taking some time to exercise (and then needing to shower afterward), I didn’t actually get dressed for real until 5 PM! So I kept it simple with this thrifted black shirt that I self-stitched the daisies around the neckline on. (This was just a quickly snapped picture from around 11 PM, which was the only time I had to take it, so please ignore the fact that I looks like I’m ready to eat your brains. Braaaaaaaains….)

Day 21: Ahhhh, that’s better. No more zombie face.

The Details: 
Top: Self-stitched, the Kaylee tunic
Pants: Self-stitched, a repeat of the band teacher pantsuit pants
Earrings: Self-made
Shoes: purchased

The Context: 
Another of my more intense teaching days, since this is the drive-around one. And shiny shirts are always fun.

Change of plans…

So it’s looking like I’m not doing that contest at BurdaStyle after all. My main reasoning being this– I was strongly suspecting that I didn’t have much wiggle room when it came to the fabric for the vest I’d envisioned. I cut out the pieces for the pattern I wanted to base it off of and laid it out on the dress yesterday, and I was right– there’s no room for alteration to the original design. Or the lining, for that matter, which is a pretty crucial design element since you can see it. (My idea was to use the shiny underside of the same fabric, since this ended up being a hard-to-match brown.) Also, I have a gift for my cousin’s fiancee’s bridal shower that I need to cut out and sew by next Saturday (an apron, so it shouldn’t take long, but still) and my own dress/jewelry for the same wedding to make asap. And I have that Burda jacket that I’ve been meaning to make for 2 years that I’d like to get done while I can still wear 3/4 sleeves. So I’ve decided that, given how quickly my weeks keep filling up, I’d be better off not putting that additional pressure of another sewing deadline on myself.

So yesterday, I started the dress instead. My plan is to cut out and sew the apron, or at least as much of it as I can, tomorrow after church. I lost last night and this morning to dogsitting, this afternoon to baking with my mom and sis-in-law (apple pies! Yum!) and will be losing tonight to social time, but at least when I was dogsitting I was able to get some jewelry-making done. I don’t think the dress will take long to make, especially since it’s a knit and so I can sew the seams and finish the edges simultaneously. But I do have to make some changes to the original design, so I’m figuring those out.

This vest will get made, though. I like the idea for the pattern variation too much to not give it a shot, and the dress is already in pieces. I just need to go to Joann’s and see if they have some more of that fabric so I have enough to, in the immortal words of Tim Gunn, make it work.

Self-Stitched September, Days 15-18

Day 15

The Details:
Blouse: The Painter Blouse
Camisole and trouser jeans: purchased
Jewelry: the “Air” set from the Elements series
With added kitty bonus!

The Context:
Another band/heavy teaching day.  I also went to a Lia Sophia party that one friend was hosting and another friend was selling at– I was joking with the seller about wearing homemade jewelry to her party and she said she’d rather have that than a competing  company’s! (I did get complements on the necklace too.)

Day 16
 (This was the part of the week where things started getting busy and I didn’t have time to deal with taking really good pics– sorry!)

The Details:
Blouse: The “Lizzie” shirt
Capris: purchased
Jewelry: a Celtic knot/moonstone set I got as a gift
Shoes: the Birks

The Context: 
Rushing around after work at the garden center to get things cleaned up enough for the one lesson I had to teach (for a family friend who doesn’t care if I wear jeans!)

Day 17:

The Details: I wore this reconstructed t-shirt–my first real t-shirt reconstruction, from my college days. (I combined the two shirts, modeling the pattern after a shirt I already owned, and did a reverse applique from the red  to be like the Chinese symbol for “harmony”. The earrings on there were also ones I made, though you can’t see them too well. Aside from that, I just wore the usual jeans and sandals.

The Context: 
My hours at the garden center got cut back again. So it was super-casual for me again today, since I spent the afternoon sewing and the evening dogsitting/making jewelry  (Didn’t want to wear anything too nice for the dogsitting, since she’s a rather needy dog who likes to drop her drool-covered toys on my lap and/or craft projects!)

Day 18

The Details:
Shirt: Thrifted (though technically, there is some self-stitching on there because I had to mend some holes in it before I could wear it!)
Jeans, sandals: purchased
Jewelry: Self-strung. Glass plum-colored beads. This one also pre-dates the blog.

The Context:
I know I’m kind of stretching the rules here today, but I wanted to have something both cute and comfortable today. Comfortable because this morning and afternoon consisted of going to the apple orchard with my sis-in-law, and then making pies with her and my mom. And cute because I’m going to a movie viewing party tonight with several friends I’ve made over this summer. A blouse is too fussy for Saturday, and I’m running out of reconstructed t-shirts!

Wardrobe Refashion Wednesday #3: Too Early To Say

Funny how this themed weekday thing makes me want to put a song with every week… though it’s hardly relevant to sewing or the project, I guess Innocence Mission gets it this week. Anyway. I’m a bit short on time today since I have a lesson shortly, just enough time to eat dinner before the next one, and am leaving immediately after the second to go to a friend’s Lia Sophia party tonight. (You wouldn’t believe how many of those things you  get invited to when one of your friends sells it…) So I have the pattern that I’m using as a starting point printing out, and this pile of fake polyester shantung that I’ve been ripping apart for the last two days. (That white line is from the iron-on hem tape. Which apparently would not have held anything in place, so I’m glad I actually hemmed the original dress. I’ve decided I’m going to make a vest. The design details are still being worked out in my head, but I’m hoping to start it shortly.

I do have something finished to show, though!

Yes, that’s right, I finished the sweater from last week. Spent some time on Friday sewing on the buttons and making the thread loops, and then on Monday I took some chunks out with the serger. (About 2 inches on each side!) I’m still thinking this might look best with one of those wide elastic belts over it to keep it cinched in, but I still think it’s a pretty big improvement over the original.

Self-Stitched September, Days 12-14

…and some reflections on the experiment now that I’m practically at the midway point.

Day 12

The Details:
T-shirt: Old Navy
Jeans: Thrifted
Sweater: The Trippy Hippie cardi, in its debut appearance
Boots: one of those mail-order places
Necklace: Made by my mom (she decided it was too heavy for her, so I inherited it.)

The Context: 
A nasty, rainy, cool-ish day. And I’d been put on tech crew for church, so I was hiding out in the techie room to run slides. Plus I was playing one song in a concert at church that night, and it was easy to just pull off the cardi long enough to do the song and then pull it back on to keep warm.

Day 13:

The Details:
Top: Don’t even remember.
Vest: ModCloth (hey, I finally found something to wear it with!)
Skirt: Self-stitched. But I did this something like 5-6 years ago and I honestly don’t remember what the pattern was.
Necklace: Thrifted
Sandals: The usual

The Context:
A slightly warmer day, but cool enough that I wanted some layering. And I had one lesson to teach.

Day 14:
The Details:

Blouse: The Doolittle Blouse
Pants: Purchased
Bracelet: Kohl’s
Hard-to-see other jewelry: One of my souvenirs from Santiago, Chile
Shoes: The usual

The Context: 
Got several lessons to teach tonight, and some driving around in the car to boot. So these pants are pretty comfy for that. And I’m feeling the need to wear this blouse while it’s still warm enough to.

So…here’s what I feel like I’ve learned so far, at the halfway point:

  • Weekends are HARD to do self-sewn things on. Because I just want to live in jeans and t-shirts. More motivation to try and get a jeans pattern to actually work…or maybe just make some comfy knit tops that can double as casual workday/weekend wear.
  • I really need to get a pants pattern tweaked to fit well, since most of my purchased pants don’t really fit me that great either. Though I think the pattern for the pants I wore last week still has potential–in retrospect, I shouldn’t have made my muslin in stretch twill and my final in a non-stretch. So it ended up a bit over-fitted. I may need to revisit that.
  • In trying to put together outfits that I know are going to be photographed every day, I’m beginning to see some value in solids. But don’t think this means I’m going to be giving up my crazy prints any time soon…it just might be good to have a wider variety of things I can mix it with, so I don’t end up doing stuff like just wearing that cardi from Sunday with the same black t-shirt and jeans combo all the time.
  • I’m really glad I included the jewelry in this. Especially since I’m running out of things to wear for weekends that I haven’t showed already.

In which Little Miss Sew-and-So gets completely sidetracked.

I did get my dress for my cousin’s wedding cut out on Saturday, and pretty much all ready to go. And yesterday, I found beads to go with to make jewelry. (No small feat, since it is an odd-colored print to match. See?)

(The solid color at the top is a scrap of the leftover strap fabric from my maxi-dress fix…I had to switch patterns due to one-way printing, and I have hopefully just enough to make it work. And yes, that’s a clue as to which line of patterns I’m using now.)

So my plan was to work on this next. But then I got an email from the diabolical BurdaStyle, in which they announced that they’re doing a contest inspired by the first episode of this season’s Project Runway. You know, the episode in which they had to take a piece of clothing out of their suitcase and give it to another designer to chop up. Honestly, I didn’t even look to see what the prizes were before I decided that I must enter this contest. And I immediately knew which resident of my closet was going to be the sacrifice.

That’s right, “Sister of the Groom Dress From Hell”… you’re going DOWN. Mwahaha.