of shapes and stitching (in-progress sewing and Wardrobe Architect, Week #3)

I don’t really have anything new to show sewing-wise, as I’m currently in the throes of assembly line sewing. (Which is actually working out pretty well, but “throes” is just fun to say.) And since this week’s Wardrobe Architect worksheet was pretty short and straightforward, I figured I’d just do a little roundup of in-progress sewing and that.

Denim Thurlow welt pocketsPictures first. I’m currently making the two denim versions of the Thurlows, and therefore am doing a few more jeans-like details. Namely, I topstitched the darts. And I’m also topstitching around the welt pockets, which has the bonus of reinforcing the stitching. (The brown pair is coming undone already, because I’ve washed and worn it so much!)

Thurlow pocketsAlso, pockets! The cherry print is particularly fun, I think. It’s a shame I didn’t have enough of that for the waistband facing, too–that will have to be plain black. But I did have just enough to squeeze these and the welt pockets out. As for that purple-y hand-dyed stuff, I had more than enough for the pockets and facings for both this pair and the future grey pair. Plus a ton left over. I may have to resort to using it for things like wearable pajama muslins or something…

As for the Wardrobe Architect project, this week’s assignment was thinking about garment shapes. Which was really nothing too ground-breaking for me, but I figured I’d share some results anyway.

I seemed to end up in the middle of a lot of things– I like most things either somewhat fitted or somewhat loose, but not too tight or especially too loose. Some more garment-specific results:

  •  Skirts: I’m most comfortable in skirts that are either knee- or maxi-length, A-line or with some other kind of flare (but not too full, as that always makes me feel like my hips look huge), and with either a hip-hugger waistline, or occasionally a more natural waistline. I’m still getting used to the latter, which is probably a result of being a teenager in the 90s when everything was cut lower and I just got used to it. I don’t like high-waisted things, mainly for the practical reason of they feel restrictive when I’m playing my flute and need to breathe deeply. Also, I don’t tuck shirts in too often anyway. I’m also not very comfortable in shorter skirts, though I’m more comfortable when my legs are covered by tights or something.
  • Dresses: I’m most comfortable when things are either somewhat fitted or somewhat loose, though I tend to lean more towards fitted. Too tight and I feel self-conscious, too loose and I feel like I’m wearing a sack. Length and skirt fullness preferences are pretty similar to my skirt answers, though I’m more likely to wear a fuller skirt here since the dress can provide more obvious waist definition than one can often get with separates. I’m also more likely to go for a higher or natural waistline here, or none at all if it’s a princess-seam type dress. No dropped waists, since 20s-style silhouettes were not meant for curvier ladies!
  • Pants: My waistline preferences are similar to my skirt preferences. I prefer somewhat fitted to loose (hello, Thurlow marathon!), though I do have the one pair of skinny jeans and was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked the look on me. I’m more comfortable in full-length pants as opposed to shorts, though when I do wear shorts, I prefer them to be around mid-thigh length.
  • On top: somewhat fitted is my main preference, though I’ll also go for very fitted or somewhat loose, depending on what I’m wearing on the bottom. Length preference is above the hip to tunic-length, as opposed to cropped. I’m more likely to bend these rules when it comes to layering pieces like cardigans and jackets. 

There were also a few more detail questions about necklines and sleeves.
Favorites: V-necks, cowl necks, or scoop necks; sleeveless, above-elbow length or long sleeves (depending on the season).
Also like:  Boatneck, Square, Sweetheart necklines– I’ll wear these, and have made things that I like that feature these necklines. Three-quarter sleeves and short sleeves fall under this category as well–I have lots of things that are these lengths, and like them, but I think the other three sleeve lengths are perhaps slightly more flattering.
Neutral: Spaghetti strap and halter necklines. This is more under the category of it’s not that I don’t like them, it’s just harder to wear a bra, so I have to take extra considerations (like the bra I built into my Lonsdale dress specifically for this reason.) To be honest, most of my spaghetti strap tops are actually camisoles, and only worn as layering pieces.
Dislike: Off-the-shoulder and strapless. The former is just super-annoying, both due to arm position when playing flute, and the feeling of having to adjust it from falling down all day. I always feel like strapless is going to fall down on me, too, and the only thing I own of that category is the red dress I took with me on the honeymoon. And only because it fit me so perfectly at the time that it couldn’t fall down. I certainly wouldn’t plan to make something strapless. Unless it was something like a strapless corset top that I was specifically planning to wear over another top. (I wouldn’t put that past myself.)

So, like I said, none of this is really any surprise to me. Or probably to you, if you looked through my collection of finished objects that I’ve shown on here. But it was still a useful exercise.

A basic little wallet (with tutorial!)

I honestly needed a new wallet pretty badly. My mom gave me this nice expensive leather one about 2 years ago for Christmas–but the cost definitely didn’t reflect the quality. The colorful print on the leather started wearing off almost immediately! Fast-forward to the beginning of this year–the pocket on the outside was rather stretched out of shape, due to the wallet having nowhere else to put my cards (and this wasn’t even counting rewards cards, this was just my basic credit/debit/drivers’ license type stuff!), and half of the wallet was floral print and half was worn-off grey. It was a mess. So, since the Stashbusting Sewalong theme for this month is “Itty Bits” anyway, I decided to make myself this new one. And since I was having trouble finding patterns online for basic, everyday wallets without coin purses (which I didn’t need, since I already had a separate one that my grandmother made for me several years ago), I decided to photograph the process as I went, in case anyone else wants something similar.

(Sorry the photo lighting isn’t better–this is the best I could fix it to, the fabric has a yellowish tint to it anyway, and I was making this in the evening while watching tv with my husband.)

IMG_1007What you’ll need: 
1. Fabric, cut to the following dimensions:

  • 4″x8″, for the wallet body- cut 4 (shown in tan Celtic print)
  • 4″x4.25″, for the card pockets- cut 6 (shown in tan music print)
  • strips for the binding, 1″ wide- you’ll need 2 that are 8″ long, and a third that’s at least 16″ long. (I didn’t measure this one, and just trimmed off the excess later. Shown in dark brown Celtic print)
  • 4.25″x4.5″, for the tab – cut 1. I cut mine to more of a triangular shape at the bottom to accommodate the print, so this is the longest length. (shown in tan Celtic print)

2. Interfacing- cut 2 4″x8″ pieces, and one that’s half the width of your tab.
3. Closure of your choice– I used a largeish snap, but a button, velcro or magnetic closures would also work.

Sewing note: All seam allowances are 1/4″.

Step 1:
Fuse the interfacing onto the back of two body pieces, and half of the tab.

IMG_1010 Step 2:

Fold the card pockets in half, wrong sides together and so you’re folding the longer side, and press. (Pockets will be about 2.25″x4″)

Step 3:
Lay the pockets out on one interfaced body piece, folded sides pointing towards middle. I placed the innermost pockets with the raw edge 1″ away from the short edge of the wallet body, the second one 1/2″ away, and the third lined up with the raw edge. As you lay each piece out, starting with the innermost one, baste the raw edge down. Only the stitching on the lowest pocket should show when all three are on. Repeat this with the other side.

IMG_1011This is what your pockets should look like!

Step 4: 
Take one un-interfaced body piece, lay it on the side without the pockets (wrong sides together), and baste around the raw edges.

IMG_1013Step 5: 
Fold tab in half, right sides together, and stitch around the long edge, stopping 1/4″ from the short edge, and whichever short edge you’re using as the closure end (here, it’s the pointed one). Trim/clip as necessary, turn, and press. Also tuck the raw end inside the open end so that it gives a nice clean edge, as shown.

*Note: I don’t have this illustrated, since I used a sew-on snap closure. But if you’re planning on using a magnetic closure, you’ll want to add that to the tab between steps 4 and 5, or if you’re planning on sewing on velcro, you’ll want to stitch that to the tab end before proceeding. If you use this method, also add the other side of the magnet/velcro to the remaining interfaced body piece in the appropriate spot after the following step.
IMG_1014Step 6:
Take the remaining interfaced body piece, center the tab on one shorter edge, with the folded-in end about 1.5″ from the edge. Stitch the folded end down, leaving the rest of the tab free. (I did a little box to give it more stability. Also, if you’re doing the velcro/magnet, make sure that the side you sewed it on is facing towards the body!)

Step 7 (not pictured):
Baste the remaining uninterfaced body piece to the back of the tab piece like you did in step 4, wrong sides together, folding tab out of the way to keep the end free.


Step 8:
Take one of the 1″x8″ strips, and line up a longer raw edge with one longer edge of the pocket piece, right sides together. Stitch. Repeat with tab piece. (Make sure you use the 1/4″ seam allowance, or you won’t have enough room for cards later!)


Step 9: 
Press the edging strips up away from body. Press raw edge under 1/4″. Repeat with tab piece.

IMG_1018 Step 10: 
Turn this folded edge to the inside so that it barely overlaps the stitching. Turn back to pocket side and “stitch in the ditch” (right on the seamline between the edging and other piece). Repeat with tab piece.

Step 11 (not illustrated):
Take the two body pieces and stack them on top of each other so that the tab and pocket sides are on the outside, and both finished edges are at the top. Baste around 3 edges, leaving the finished edge open and the tab free.

IMG_1019Step 12: 
Take the remaining longer strip, line up the edges with the raw edges on the tab side, and fold under any excess at the finished edges to make a nice clean edge. For the corners, I folded it at these 45-degree angles so that it looks square on the top. Stitch, breaking the stitching at the corners and refolding as necessary to keep the corners moving freely.
(Note: I found it helpful to pin the tab back out of the way so it wouldn’t get caught in this.)

IMG_1021Step 13: 
Press the raw edge of the strip away from the body, and the raw edge under, like you did in step 9. Fold this to the pocket side, turning over and stitching in the ditch on these 3 edges (see step 10). When done, the pocket side should look like this.

Step 14 (not illustrated):
If you did not already add a magnetic or velcro closure, sew a snap onto the tab side, fold the wallet in half and mark where the snap lands on the outside of the wallet, and sew the other half there. (Note: the snap is already attached in the picture in step 14.  You could also do a buttonhole (on the tab) and button here, but I’m lazy and don’t want to fumble with that every time I open my wallet!

And that’s it! It’s been working out well for me so far as far as function goes, and it was a nice, quick little scrapbusting project. I kind of wish it was more colorful, but I had more brown stuff that actually went together, so you work with what you have, right? This used less than a fat quarter for each of the 3 pieces, so it would be great for quilting cotton leftovers.

If you use this tutorial to make a wallet, please tell me in the comments! I’d love to see how yours turns out!

Wardrobe Architect, Project #2

This one was actually a lot more challenging for me than the first one! This week’s “assignment” is to uncover the styles that make me feel like myself, and attach words and images to them. So I spent a lot of time flipping through Pinterest yesterday and thinking through this. (I should probably warn you now that this is going to be a rather pic-heavy post!)

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t really sure where to start with this one. While I enjoy watching shows like Project Runway and flipping through the occasional fashion magazine, I’ve never really been one to follow designers or celebrity styles and the like. I honestly get a lot more inspiration from sewing patterns and fabrics than I do from stores, which may be part of why I’m not exactly sure what my “style” is.

Honestly, if you look at the things that inspire me, like the collection I’ve been keeping on my usual fashion Pinterest board, it looks like I have multiple fashion personality disorder. And maybe I do.

Because the things that inspire me have quite a range. Like “roaming the Scottish Highlands”…

From Pinterest

but hey, that layered skirt is pretty cool. And even though they’re completely impractical, especially this one since it barely covers the one shoulder, I still love capes and wish I could work them into my wardrobe!

There’s gauzy, peasanty dresses and tops, like this one.

Chic Mythology Dress, #ModCloth
From Pinterest, via ModCloth

 Which, honestly, isn’t even a color I like, because taupe is the color of boredom. But I do like the textures, and the hi-low hemline variation, and the overall 60s-ish vibe to it.

There’s a plethora of jackets on there, which range from modern-day pirate…

From Pinterest

In my defense, it looks like it’s actually a fairly classic silhouette, aside from the tails. And the pirate cuffs. Admittedly, I didn’t see the front when I stumbled across this one on Pinterest, I just snagged the picture.

Also, arrrrrrr.

….to amazing modern-day draping…..

From Pinterest, via Anthropologie

Sadly, I don’t think I can replicate this one, because I’m pretty sure felted-looking wool would be essential to this. But the asymmetry! And the sweater collar! And those pleats! 

to quasi-Victorian.

From Pinterest

 I just love all the little detailing on this–the tiny ruffle, that pleated draped collar, the flowers, and especially those sleeves. I am a sucker for a funky sleeve.

And, of course, there’s the “I want to dress like the Hunger Games” look…

From Pinterest, via Polyvore

There’s the modern version of “Fellowship of the Ring” look…

Yeah, I'll admit it, I kind of want a cape.
From Pinterest

Seriously. Capes. I still want one. You have to admit this one is pretty cute! And Elves can wear jeans too, right?

There’s the standard pretty dresses.

From Pinterest

Cute, right? I like that it’s a print, but not quite a print. And the cardigan with belt styling is great, since I’m always cold anyway.

And then, since it’s me, of course there’s jeans and t-shirt looks.

red velvet blazer and rocker tee
From Pinterest

Admittedly, wearing them with jackets is something I do a lot anyway. And mmm, shiny velvet. 

So the trick, for me, is figuring out how to merge all of these different fashion personalities into one cohesive closet. There’s a lot going on here, and while I wouldn’t wear all of these clothes exactly, there’s elements of all of them that do appeal to me.

I’m not going to go through my individual answers on the worksheet this time. Honestly, I was having trouble coming up with words, and certainly didn’t get the 15 or so. But one thing I did do that was helpful was spend some time combing through photos from the last couple of years–most of them were staged (for me) outfit photos for stuff like Me-Made-May and this blog, but there’s some actual “real life” pictures in here, too. So this is what I ended up with, for pictures with outfits where I felt most like “me”.

 Here’s what I noticed:

  • All but one of these photos feature at least one garment I made. (The exception is the bottom right corner. But I did make that necklace.)
  • T-shirts of both the graphic and “nicer” quality do feature pretty regularly (the nicer ones being the two Renfrews on the bottom row).
  • There’s actually a fairly equal balance between skirts/dresses and pants outfits. 
  • Of course there’s no winter outfits on here–every picture I seemed to have from those months that weren’t specifically staged for the blog were just me bundled up in my winter coat. Also, I’ve said before that I just don’t find my cold-weather clothes inspiring. I need to fix that.
  • That being said, layers of some sort are a fairly regular thing.
  • Prints, of course. There’s only two outfits on here that are basically solid. And that black top/skinny jeans outfit at least has an embellished top.
  • There’s also a pretty equal balance between wovens and knits, depending on the garment. Which is good, because I have a lot of wovens in the stash.
  • Perhaps the most important note: For those dress/skirt outfits, aside from the two in the middle of the top row, they’re all pretty casually styled. And the two woven dresses, while perhaps a nicer style, are made more casual by the fabric prints.  (My Lonsdale is a tropical print, which is automatically casual, and the other dress features a tie-dyed looking fabric.)

So with those things in mind, and with the help of the Pinterest board that I made specifically for this exercise/the answers to last week’s questions,  I ended up with the following 5 words to describe my style:

Casual – Since the people I know and the places I tend to go the most are more this sort of environment, this is pretty much essential. It’s fun to sew fancy dresses, but it’s not like I get married or play recitals every day, and the people I’m friends with aren’t exactly the cocktail party type. So I’ll be much more likely to wear skirts and dresses if I can dress them down, so to speak.

Colorful – pretty obvious, if you see my stash. Even if those colors do often seem dominated by blue and green. And I crave color so much this time of year, because where I live is pretty neutral-blah colored in the winter. This also covers my printaholic tendencies, along with the next…

Artsy – I can’t exactly call my style “boho”, but there’s a strong influence there. I like things that are flowy, chunky beaded jewelry, funky sleeves, and the thing that often attracts me most to a piece of fabric is the print and/or texture of it. Also, since my primary career centers around music, I can get away with it! (Note to self: I should probably work on getting comfortable with print mixing.)

Geeky – It’s pretty much inevitable, given that I seem to be drawn to outfits that have that kind of modern-day Elf look to them. Or take inspiration straight from fantasy movies. Or sci-fi shows. Or even just science (seriously, I want something constellation-printed so badly) or literature. Also, that’s what most of my graphic tees seem to center around.

Cozy – Since a common thread in both my own personal pictures and a lot of the stuff I’ve snagged on Pinterest seems to be layers, jackets and cardigans and things of that sort are a good investment for me. I actually do have a fair number of jackets, but what I need to work on there are things to wear under them (that aren’t graphic tees). Soft textures play into this as well.

I know this was a very long, rambling post, so if you made it to the end of this, congratulations! Is there anything you saw in my picture collage that I missed? How would you sum up your own style?


Look at this pile, isn’t it neat?

Cut-out ThurlowsWouldn’t you say my collection’s complete… ok, before I get that song more firmly stuck in my head, I should probably clarify that the collection is not complete, because I still have to, you know, actually sew this. (And cut out the interfacing.) But this pile represents 3 pairs of pants, which is what remains of the original 5 pairs I’d planned to make. Now that I have the fitting worked out, I think this will go very quickly. Especially because I can use the same serger thread for both the blue and black denim versions, which means that I can definitely assembly-line make those two pairs! The grey will have to be done separately for it to look right, I think, but you can’t win them all.

As far as my stashbusting goes, overestimating once again bit me in the butt. I don’t have the full width yardage on any of these, but I still have a solid 1 3/4 yards of both the blue and the black lightweight denim. So I’ll have to figure out what to do with those, though I did manage to use one largeish remnant of the black for a secret project. (Which doesn’t count towards that 1 3/4 yards, unfortunately.) I do have quite a bit of the grey left as well, but I do already know what I’m going to do with that. And it isn’t another Hummingbird skirt.

On the plus side, I did use up the cherry print, and one length of the multiple cuts of this batiked muslin from ages ago. I think there were something like 6 total. So that puts me at 3 out of 4 fabrics to get out of my stash completely before I can buy more– 4 if I count the zebra print charmeuse that I passed on to my mom for a bag lining. I’d ordered 3 yards, but they only sent me 1, and then ran out, so I can’t use it for the winter coat lining that I’d originally planned.

I think I’m going to count it. After all, I can’t delay too long in ordering fabric if I’m going to be ready for March of the Shieldmaidens. But I’m still making progress, right?

Two for the price of one

My pantsapalooza is back on! I finally made the olive pair of Thurlows, and now have 3 more to go. I also learned as I was cutting these out that, once again, I did err on the side of too much fabric. So rather than fold up the remaining large piece of fabric, I just went ahead and cut out a Hummingbird skirt while I was at it! I already had a zipper in my stash that would work, aside from the one I’d bought specifically for the pants, and I used the same buttons for both, which means that aside from sewing time, this skirt was essentially free. Can’t beat that!

Of course, this also means I’m going to have leftovers for the other 3 pairs of pants, too. I already have an idea for my grey twill, but I’m also going to have some charcoal and navy lightweight denim (as two separate yardages) to figure out what to do with. I’m hoping that I can get my cutting table cleared off today so I can cut as much of this out tomorrow as possible, given that I’m actually going to be a working musician tomorrow as well. (I love playing weddings, they’re such easy money!)

Anyway, on with the projects, shall we? I’m attempting to track stash usage as I go this year, since I’m on the Stash Diet. So that information will go below.

Olive Thurlows- Front

Pattern: Sewaholic Patterns- Thurlow Trousers (worn here with my Simbelmyne top)

Amount of time it took to make: about a week, I’m going to estimate about 10 hours total

Fabric used: A cotton olive green twill, plus a quilter cotton for the pockets and waistband facings

Amount of fabric used: Approx. 2 1/8 yards (really more, I was left with 1.5 yards of the twill, half the original width.)

Stashed since: 2012

I think this is going to be my new indoor spot for photos. The light just seems so much better in here than in our living room! Plus, you know, books. Anyway, aside from an hour or so spent basting and unbasting the back seam to tweak the fit, the second round of these went together much, much easier than the first.

Olive Thurlows- backThe welt pockets look pretty good this time, I think! It helps that it’s a better-quality fabric than what I used for the brown pair for certain. But practicing the construction with the first pair helped a lot, too. They’re still not perfect in the corners, but certainly passable.  I did also realize some things about the waistband construction that made the end result look much better–it was probably obvious to a lot of people, but I figured out that stopping the stitching 5/8″ away from the raw edge made the zipper area fit in much, much better! I got the pockets sorted for what side needs to be out for the insides to look pretty this time, too. Which is good, because I’m actually super-excited about what I get to use up for one of the next pairs, and I want to show it!

Thurlow insides“Guts” picture! This quilt cotton has been around forever, from some fabric my mom gave me from her own stash when I was trying to get this quilt planned out. It didn’t quite work out for that, so I’m glad I finally found a use for it. I did discover that the twill creases quite a bit during wearing, but nothing that a little dryer or iron action won’t fit. The creases are mainly in the front from sitting, anyway, and I generally wear my shirts untucked, so I’m not worried. Incidentally, I’m pretty sure I can count these pockets as “Itty Bits” for the Stashbusting Sewalong, too.

And now for the skirt…

Pattern: Cake Patterns- Hummingbird skirt (worn here with the “Autumn in Lancaster” Renfrew, since there is some olive in the print.)

Amount of time it took to make: Probably about 5 hours, if you count the time I had to spend ripping out my fitting mistakes.

Fabric used: same as the Thurlows. I’m calling this my “Tapenade” skirt, because that’s the sort of thing you’d make from leftover olives, right?

Amount of fabric used: a 1.5 yd x approx. 30″ piece of twill, cut crosswise, + 5/8″ yard cotton

Stashed since: 2012

Despite the fact that I’ve made this skirt twice already, I had a surprising amount of trouble with the fitting! When I made the hemp Hummingbird, I had to take the top in at a pretty extreme angle, which you can see much better in the pocket detail picture for the TARDIS skirt variation. I don’t know if it’s because the twill has much less give than the hemp, or because there was no stretch involved like there was with the denim, but it didn’t work at all this time! The skirt sits pretty tightly against my waist, and when I first tried it on, there were these weird wing-like protrusions at my hips. Which is pretty much the last place I want wing-like protrusions. So I had to rip out the seam, the serging, and the topstitching (argh) that I’d already done, soften the angle quite a bit, and then restitch it. I guess this means I may need to rethink my pattern alterations before I use this one again!

Also, I completely blanked on constructing the pockets–the good news is that I got the right edges lined up first try, but that means the wrong side of the pocket fabric is showing from the inside. Oh well, it could be much worse.

Aside from fitting, a few minor tweaks I made was doing a centered zipper instead of invisible, just because that’s the sort of zipper I had on hand. I also added topstitching to the front and side seams, to give it a more casual look.

Total yards out: 4.25 (twill used up, only large scrap left of cotton left, so I’m counting it.)

Current stash total: ~334 yards

Diet rules: 2 pieces of fabric, 2 separate patterns out of 4 before I can buy more of either. Which I’d better get cracking on, because Doug and I are planning a weekend trip to NYC in February, and he said we could go to Mood! I’ve never actually bought anything from the physical store, though I did have a chance to step inside it once, so this is really exciting! I do have things I can legitimately buy to finish already planned projects, like a winter jacket lining, and I did build in a travel exception, but I still want to be very thoughtful about what I do buy there.

Wardrobe Architect, Challenge #1

The Wardrobe Architect

So you’ve all heard about this project that Sarai started over at Colette Patterns by now, right? Since I’ve been working on trying to figure out my style for years now, and one of my goals for the year is a more cohesive wardrobe, the challenge couldn’t have come at a more perfect time!

She posted a series of questions recently to help narrow down your own individual fashion story. So I figured I’d answer these questions, with photographic evidence when I can.

1. History- How has your personal history informed the way you dress? When did your tastes crystallize? Have they changed over the years, and why?
I grew up going to a private Christian school, up until my college years. I did not have a uniform, but we had a fairly strict dress code that included things like no blue jeans, no t-shirts, and no skirts shorter than 4″ above the knee when kneeling. So aside from weekends and summer vacations, much of my teenage wardrobe was a combination of staying within the rules while still displaying my own personal style. In addition, my mom made a lot of my clothes when I was a kid, and started teaching me to sew before I was done elementary school. So this meant I was used to having clothes that weren’t exactly like what the other girls in my class wore. As I went into junior and high school, I discovered thrift shops, so my style was generally a combination of things I found there, things I made myself, and things inspired by the 60’s and 70’s, some of which were things my mom had sewn for herself in the 70’s. I think this is still a big part of my style today. I also still love blue jeans and t-shirts, and pretty much wore that straight for a lot of my college years, since I couldn’t in high school.

I couldn’t find many photos of my day-to-day look, unfortunately, since digital photography was just starting to appear and wasn’t quite affordable for a college girl yet. So most of the photos I have from high school and college were from “special” occasions that I could justify using my precious film on. I think this pic of me and my two best friends from college was probably fairly typical, though. (Even though I have no idea what sort of goofy pose we were doing at the time…)

Now that I’m in my early 30s, I still love a lot of the same things, though I’ve tried to maintain at least some level of professionalism in a lot of my clothes, as I’m partially self-employed and would like to make a good impression with my students.

2. Philosophy- How does your philosophy, spirituality, or religion affect your aesthetics and buying habits? Or, what aspects of those things would you like to see reflected?
Growing up (and still being involved) in a church culture definitely affected my style. We didn’t dress like nuns or anything, but modesty was important. I still shy away from things that are too tight, too low-cut, too short, etc. It’s honestly not really a sense of being uncomfortable with my figure. I just don’t really care to flaunt it in an overly provocative way, though I still want to be stylish.

3. Culture- How has your cultural background shaped the way you look? How did the aesthetics and values you grew up with affect your tastes as you got older?
My background is classic western European–heavily German on my dad’s side, and predominately English/Irish/Scottish/Welsh on my mom’s. I definitely look more like my mom, and do have a strong leaning towards Celtic-influenced designs and British culture. (What can I say, their books, tv and music tend to be great!) 

4. Community- How are you influenced by the people around you, including friends, family, and other communities you’re involved in?
My family is generally pretty casual, and my church increasingly so. Also, a lot of my friends are moms of fairly young children. This means that I often feel overdressed when I wear my dresses in particular, even though they’re really fun to sew! My mom has always had a thing for bright colors and funky prints, and this has most definitely rubbed off on me. I do have to admit that I’m also often influenced by geek culture, and like to work subtle references into my clothes when I can! (You know, TARDIS skirts, Lord of the Rings-inspired shirts…) This also explains my t-shirt collection, which I’ve included a sampling of here! Finally, as a classically-trained musician, I do tend to keep an eye out for black clothes that have interesting details, because I always need black for performances.

5. Activities- How do your day-to-day activities influence your choices?
When I’m at my garden center job, I don’t really have much choice in the way I dress. Just thrifted jeans that I don’t care if I wreck, and the company t-shirt (and whatever layers I need to get by if I’m outside). When I’m teaching, I generally like to go for an artsy-professional look, which is a lot of what I sew and show on here. If I’m just bumming around the house, or hanging out with friends on weekends, I tend to go for jeans and t-shirts or other casual tops.  

6. Location- Does the place you live inform the way you dress? How does climate factor in?
I do get 4 seasons, so I need to have clothes for both hot and cold weather. It gets really humid here in the summer, which is when I tend to go for things that are flowy and sleeveless and such. I also get cold easily, so in the winter, I just want things that will keep me warm! Which usually equates to sweaters and jackets, as long as they aren’t made of wool. Spring and fall here can go either way–it can (and often does) swing from the 40s to the 70s within the same week, or even the same day! So layering pieces are a necessity for me. I’m much more likely to wear skirts/dresses in the warm weather, and pants in the cold weather.

7. Body- In what ways does body image affect your choices in clothing? What clothes make you feel good about the body you live in? What clothes make you feel uncomfortable or alienated from your body?

I wouldn’t say I have huge body image issues, though I can be a bit self-conscious about my butt and thighs, and prefer to keep them covered up. I generally feel best in clothes that have waist definition and are fairly modest. I feel like a slob when I wear sweatpants (and only own them for exercising), or clothes that are just shapeless.

Are you playing along with the challenge? I’d be interested to see others’ take on this!

More thoughts on stashbusting

I just found out that the Stashbusting Sewalong that Cation Designs and EmSewCrazy hosted last year is still going on! Which is exciting, since I’m doing the Stash Diet anyway. So I’m definitely jumping in on this one, too, in hopes that I can actually participate in more of the challenges this time around.


This year, they’ve also added in a “Curating Challenge”, so here’s my answers for January’s questions.

Why do you sew?

I sew because making things is what keeps me sane. No, really. You don’t want to be around me when I haven’t had time to do any crafty stuff in awhile. I also like having clothes that fit me better/are different than what you find in stores–even when I was a kid, I liked wearing the clothes that my mom, and later me, made, because no one else in my school had the same stuff.

What’s on your list?

This will probably get altered depending on how many Saturdays get stolen from me I have to work in the spring/what sewcial challenges come up, but my current mental list for this year, in no particular order, is the following:

  • 4 more Thurlows (first one is in progress currently)
  • A Robson coat (hopefully before spring, I’m thinking for #bluefebruary)
  •  The new winter coat (I’d like to finish this one before October, since that’s when I may start needing it. I do need underlining and lining for this.)
  • A Project Runway pattern that I’ve had bagged with pattern/fabric/notions for about 2 years now that I haven’t gotten to yet
  • The Reglisse and Darling Ranges dresses that I didn’t get to last summer
  • A black knit maxi-dress
  • Espresso leggings. Especially since I figured out that the brown knit I’ve had for years that I was planning on testing this pattern out with will work for the costume I have in mind for Shieldmaiden March! 
  • Also, Shieldmaiden March. More on my costume choice and research to come. Hint: it’s not a traditional Viking. But you probably figured that out from the leggings (or if you follow me on Twitter).
  • A couple more (less involved) costumes, which need to get done before Labor Day weekend, since there’s plans in the works for a girls’ weekend at DragonCon! (This will probably involve tweaking things from the thrift store for the most part, and shouldn’t be too terribly hard to put together–for instance, one of my must-haves is an Amy Pond costume (from Doctor Who, for the uninitiated) and her clothes are pretty everyday wearable. I just need to decide which episode I’m coordinating with, since I have one friend who already has a particular River Song dress and another friend who wants to do Clara as “Souffle Girl”.)
  • A Cooper bag, which I should also try to get done before Labor Day, because I want to use it as a carry-on/day trip bag.
  • I do need to make 1 set of curtains for the kitchen at some point this year, particularly so I can shuffle things around to look better if we do put our townhouse on the market.
  • Other things bouncing around my head: I’d also like to make at least one more pair of jeans, a “real” Cambie dress, an Archer blouse, some pajamas (which I do legitimately need some warm-weather ones), and a Red Velvet dress.

Did I mention I have a problem with the ambition vs. time ratio?

Why are you stash busting?

Because my stash, as previously mentioned, is at ridiculous proportions. I want to downsize to a manageable level, so I can put more thought into my fabric purchases, create more cohesion in my wardrobe, and not feel guilty about buying fabric because I already have so much. I also want to make it easier to pack and move to a new space, since even if we don’t manage to move this year, moving a little closer to our families and to a larger space is something that we would prefer to do before any kids come into the picture. (And if we do that, I very well might have to work with a smaller craft space, since bedrooms would be a higher priority.)

This month’s theme for the Stashbusting Sewalong is “Itty Bits”. The good news is, I already did this without realizing it, thanks to my Kindle case! I can probably also count the pockets for my pants, or is that pushing it?

First finished project of 2014

One of the gifts that my husband spoiled me with for Christmas was a new Kindle Fire! I’d already had an original black-and-white Kindle, and plan to keep using it for things like taking to the beach, since the non-LCD screen will be better for reading in bright daylight. But I’m having a lot of fun with my new toy so far, and needed to come up with something to protect it, quickly!

Kindle case- standingThis was pretty simple to put together. I used this tutorial, and it worked like a charm. I already had all of the materials on hand–the cardboard was from an old, unused binder, the elastic was just lying around, and the fabric is leftover from the apron I made for a friend last year. I could have done a more involved case with padding and zippers and whatnot, but what really drew me to this one is that I can stand it up. Since some of the books I have on there are cookbooks that I downloaded for free from Amazon (I have a habit of hoarding whatever looks interesting on the top 100 free books of the day), I like the idea of being able to stand this on the counter while I cook (and make it less likely that I’ll splatter food on it.) I’ve also since learned that this works pretty well for reading while knitting, which is what I tend to do when Doug is watching hockey or something.

Kindle case- openFor Stash Diet purposes, I can’t really count this. All of the fabric was in my scrap bin, I didn’t use either scrap up, and even though I am insane enough to measure out yardage, I’m not insane enough to measure my scraps! But this was a great little scrap project, and came together really quickly. I cut the cardboard out one night, cut the fabric another, and sewed this up super-quick on Friday afternoon. Altogether, it maybe took an hour and a half from start to finish. (Today is just the first day I’ve had decent light while I’ve been home to take pictures.)

Kindle case- closedAnd look! I basically matched the pattern without even trying! I love when that happens.

It was nice to start the year with a quick project. I have my next two projects cut out, and have already started on one–I’m making my next pair of Thurlows, and cut out a little something else to use up the leftover fabric. So hopefully they won’t take too terribly long, now that I have the fitting for both things down.

So what are you working on for your first project of the new year?

Stash Diet 2014

Happy New Year, sewcialists! If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I’ve been spending a lot of time in my sewing/craft room lately, going through things and just trying to get it neat so I can start 2014 off with a cleaner slate. There’s a lot of stuff that never really got put away after the move, so I’m trying to do it right this time! Though, as of last night (and with a little help from my husband), I have it at “good enough” for now, so now I can start making things again. Woohoo!

I’ve also been doing a lot of tracking of what I have, and have discovered that I have an embarrassing amount of stuff. I’d mentioned in my Hits & Misses post that I didn’t feel like I did such a great job of buying vs. using my stuff. But it’s all useful stuff, and the cheap frugal part of me doesn’t like to get rid of things that are useful. Especially when I still like the fabrics, you know? But hubby and I are also talking about potentially putting our house on the market this year and moving back up north. (Which, in this state, means 20 minutes away from where I am now, and above the canal so we don’t have to keep paying that stupid toll any time either of us go to work.) And that means the more I use, the less I have to pack, right? We’re also going to be attempting to crack down on our budget this year, so me using what I have instead of buying new craft supplies will be a huge help!

Stash Diet Badge

Andrea and Gwen have started a Stash Diet initiative for 2014, and I think it’s just what I need. I’m going to be doing mine for yarn, too, since I also have a lot of that. But I also need some ground rules, so here goes:

The basic rules:

  1. I will allow myself one new piece of fabric for every 4 from the stash that I use up. I will include lining fabrics into “things used up”, since I already added those into my yardage totals, but will not include scraps or muslin. Giving away fabric will also count, since that means it’s out of the stash.

    Side note–since I do have several curtain-type things on hand, I will count home dec fabrics towards the yardage totals, but not for new fabric purchases.

  2. I will allow myself one new yarn purchase for every 3 that I use up, proportional to the size of the project. For instance, I can’t buy enough yarn for a sweater if I only use enough for a hat. (Note to self: need ideas for yarn leftovers, since I frequently end up with about half a ball after knitting something.)
  3. I will allow myself one new pattern purchase for every 4 that I use. For the purposes of this project, reusing the same pattern multiple times in a row will only count as 1, like the Thurlows that I plan to make all at once. Using a previously used pattern for a different view or after a passage of time, like if I make another Tiramisu dress, will still count. (This way, I can still buy the hot new indie patterns that strike my fancy!)


  1. Fabric or yarn that I need to complete a project. For instance, I already know that I’ll need to purchase both Thinsulate and lining for the winter coat I recently purchased fabric for, because the lining that I did order fell through, and I don’t have enough yardage of anything on hand for that.
  2. Same goes for notions–I’ll use what I can where I can, but sometimes you just don’t have the right color zipper or enough buttons.
  3. Materials for gifts, if I don’t have anything I can use. I know of at least one friend who will be having a baby shower this upcoming year, and though I don’t know what I’m making for her yet, I don’t really have much in the way of baby-appropriate options on hand!
  4. Travel exception: If we can swing the vacation we’re hoping for, or if something magical happens and there’s a blogger meetup I can actually attend, I will allow myself up to 3 pieces of fabric/skeins of yarn.
  5. If unforeseen life circumstances happen, I will make an exception as needed. I say this because the last time I tried to do a major stashbusting effort, I ended up needing to buy over 20 yards of fabric for ny wedding dress! So, given my stage in life, although we are not currently trying, it’s not completely out of the realm of possibility that I could unexpectedly get pregnant. It’s also not completely out of the realm of possibility that we might decide to start that process sometime over the course of the year. If that happens, I’m sure I would need to buy some fabrics and patterns, because I definitely don’t have enough knits or stretchy fabrics to make a cohesive maternity wardrobe! (But I would try to use what I had as much as possible.)

Stash shelves, end of 2013Here’s where I’m starting at:
Fabric currently in: Approximately 333.5 yards, not counting scraps or muslin
(Edit: Make that about 339.5. I forgot to factor in a Gorgeous Fabrics order that I’d already made before seeing this post. Though, since one is to make a garment out of an otherwise too-small stash piece, one of those pieces does fit my parameters!)

Yarn currently in, according to my Ravelry stash: Approximately  19,928 yards. (Though this isn’t entirely accurate, due to in-progress projects and some secret knitting.)

And this is how the shelves currently look. The 3 blue bins hold yarn, but I still had to leave a few projects’ worth in a separate bag, not counting the bag of knitting projects I’m actually working on at the moment. The rest of it is all of the fabric, minus what’s sitting in the basket in front–those are all of my Thurlow fabrics that I’m hoping to use soon. And there’s also at least 5 pieces of fabric that are bagged in the closet with their corresponding patterns. And everything I’ve bought recently for coats and whatnot, which still hasn’t made it in here from the laundry room. And anything for muslins, and scraps, and the several decent-sized pieces of fabric that had to get left in the scrap bins. Obviously, I need help!

What about you? Are you planning on doing any major stashbusting this year?