Wardrobe Architect Revisited, part 2

For this episode, I’m revisiting lifestyle and silhouettes.

Lifestyle: I honestly don’t have to rehash the entire worksheet. After all, my history/family background and such hasn’t changed. If you are interested in  reading the original answers, you can do so here. But here are the things that have changed…

5. Activities- How do your day-to-day activities influence your choices?
When I originally wrote this, I was working part-time at the garden center, teaching music lessons, and a newlywed. Now, as a mostly stay at home mom, I need to think more practically about my clothes. If you follow my Instagram, it’s pretty obvious that saying Hobbit is “active” is a bit of an understatement! And with a little brother on the way, I think the bulk of my wardrobe is going to have to be made up of clothes that are easy to care for, easy to move in, and at least for now, easy to nurse in. I still need some nicer things for church and teaching/performing, especially now that I’m also playing in an orchestra again. (Oh, hi, all the black clothes!) But after several months of also following along with some ideas for toddler activities, I’m also realizing that I really could use some loungewear as well, particularly things that either I don’t mind getting messy or that stains come out of easily. I still love (and miss) jeans, but definitely don’t want to go through the fitting process again only to lose the results to finger paint or other messier play! (I might be better off getting that stuff from the thrift shop though, since my sewing time is limited.)

6. Location- Does the place you live inform the way you dress? How does climate factor in?

Well, I still live in the same area, so mid-Atlantic humidity and wacky temperature swings are still a thing. (Wow, this past winter was nuts.) I’m mostly revisiting this because I’ve since discovered that I actually don’t mind wearing skirts when it’s moderately cold, when paired with leggings and boots. And I’ve also reluctantly concluded that I’m going to need  some shorts for our hot days, because moms with little boys hanging on their legs and running all over the playground probably can’t live in just skirts.

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?

This one is probably the biggest change from before. As I said in the last post, it’s been awhile since my body wasn’t undergoing constant changes, given that I’m ending up with 2 kids less than 2 years apart. (Not by more than a few months, but still.) And if you’ve been following me within these last 3 years, you know that one of the things I’ve struggled with is coming up with things to sew that have a flexible enough fit to accommodate the changes in weight/measurements that still feel like me. It’s looking like after I factor in the weight I’m going to lose that’s actual baby, I’m facing an approximate year of nursing plus about 30-35 additional pounds to lose if I want to get close to where I was before all of this started. And since one of the things that my favorite silhouettes before tended to play up was my waistline, and that’s pretty much shot at this point, it’s much more challenging to figure out what feels flattering to me when I’m still also self-conscious about the same areas as before plus that.

Now for the more fun part– silhouettes! The words I came up with to describe my ideal style before were casual, colorful, cozy, artsy, and geeky. And that still feels right to me. But for silhouettes, a lot of what I’d said before involved favoring more fitted silhouettes. Fit and flare dresses, peplums, waistline definition, and so on. That’s where I have to rethink things a little more. Fortunately, I have been collecting inspiration on Pinterest for awhile now, and in combing through the outfits that I liked well enough to collect on my Wardrobe Architect board, here’s some things I’ve noticed:

Jeans and maxi-skirts for days are apparently two of the major things I’m drawn to– there were far more long skirts than shorter ones or dresses. And you all know how I feel about my jeans. (I’ve been dying to try the Ginger jeans pattern for years now, but, you know, double pregnancy fitting issues.) Still lots of jackets/outerwear layers, too. One thing I have noticed about the outfits that I’ve saved over the last year or so is that I do seem to be finding more pins where the shirts are more the type that are still fairly fitted in the bust, but drapier in the waist. That will be much more forgiving for me now, so that may be a good thing to keep in mind for future top patterns, even though I still see a place for tops like my beloved Renfrew. (Assuming I can get a nursing-friendly hack to work for that!)

Incidentally, another thing I’ve noticed about Pinterest is that it’s often rather challenging to find outfits that aren’t just solid neutral everything. SO MUCH TAUPE. And I particularly found it harder to find things with prints, period. But I have also noticed that solids are more palatable when they have some kind of interesting design detail, like that drapey teal top in the top row. But anyway, moving on to some more seasonal stuff

You knew I couldn’t do this without some geeky inspiration, right? I’m seriously in love with that Faramir outfit in particular, and not just because he’s actually my favorite male character in the Lord of the Rings books. I realize that the color palette here reads more fall, but I found it easiest to find silhouettes that would work well for the more transitional weather of spring and fall here. It’s mostly cool enough for pants and boots. I can layer up, like with the plaid shirt and the jacket. And I can wear tunic-type shirts– I think something along the lines of these cream and green ones in the bottom row are a particularly good style evolution for me, because the belts still give them a bit of waist definition, even as the respective pleats and drapiness are better for the weight fluctuations that I’m still getting used to. (I may seriously have to knock off that cream one, since it’s also very nursing friendly!)

Winter clothes have always been a bigger challenge for me. Frankly, a lot of them bore me, even though a lot of that is probably more the palette. But I did find these three that I liked. The long cardigan gives that outfit the artsy element that I’ve been missing. The middle outfit would be a great one for things like running errands and chasing the boys outside, without feeling embarrassed about how I look– I really do feel much more put together in jeans than yoga-type pants! And the outfit on the right would actually be a great casual teaching outfit, with the trouser jeans and the nicer top/cardigan. The pants remind me of the Sewaholic Thurlows, though maybe just a bit straighter in the thigh to give it that wider leg. I miss those pants.

Surprisingly for me, I actually had a lot of trouble finding some ideas for summer outfits. At least, ones that don’t involve a maxi-skirt. The thing is, I don’t particularly feel comfortable wearing shorts, since I don’t like to show that much of my pasty thighs, but as stated before, sometimes they’re just more practical for my current lifestyle. And it’s especially hard to find outfit inspiration where the shorts aren’t super short, even when you plug in search terms like “mom outfit” along with it. Like that outfit with the coral top? Love the concept, since I can get all over a colorful, printed top that’s flowy enough to deal with our 80-90+ degrees plus all the humidity days that we often get around midsummer or so. But I’m pretty sure that Hobbit’s shorts are longer than those shorts, and he’s still under 3 feet tall! (I think.) The length on the other outfit is much better, though I doubt I’d tuck in any portion of my top during those really sticky days. Again, I like the concept, though, and maybe it’s time that I considered trying out a woven tee pattern, if I can find one that wouldn’t just look like a sack once it got past my chest. I do have two on hand that might work (the Sewaholic Belcarra and the Seamwork Akita.) I do have a couple of shorts patterns to try out as well, hopefully this summer since I maybe have one pair of shorts that may or may not end up fitting to get me through the entire season, and I’m hoping that they won’t end up looking dreadful on me.

So, to sum up, it looks like the silhouettes to aim for now are more fitted at the bust/flowy at the waist and hips, and try to figure out a way to fit some pants or especially jeans. Also, it looks like separates are something I lean much more strongly towards overall, though I still love me a good maxi dress. But even though I know I’m not the type of person who can have the 40 hanger capsule wardrobe and be happy in all seasons with that, the potential ability to mix and match more within those mini capsules that I’m still trying to build will serve me well.


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?


Top 5’s of 2013, part 1: Reflections and Inspirations

I’ve been quiet lately. Part of it is that because even though I am sewing, it’s all stuff that needs to stay secret for awhile longer. Part of it is because I’ve had a slew of computer issues lately that resulted in my husband giving me my main Christmas present early– he likes to go a bit over-the-top when it comes to giving me presents, and he bought me a new computer! So I’ve been trying to get stuff transferred from the old computer to the new, but that’s been one issue after another. I’ve finally managed to get the files on there, but it dumped it all onto one hard drive with no rhyme or reason, so I’m in the process of reorganizing EVERYTHING. And finishing installing programs and such. And hopefully finding the approximate half of my extensive music library that didn’t seem to transfer– yikes! I do actually have some Christmas-themed projects to post, but they’ll have to wait until I get things sorted and feel comfortable loading pictures on there again!

But enough of my IT woes. Let’s talk end-of-year stuff, shall we?

Top 5 of 2013 - An Annual Blog Series
I’m doing a Gillian-style roundup this year! Due to all of the computer issues, I’m starting with the ones least likely to need photos, and hopefully by the time I get to hits and misses, I’ll have this sorted.  I’ll probably also do a knitting and other crafts one later, but I’ll stick with sewing for now.

Top 5 Reflections: What I learned
1. I’m a slow sewist.  It seems there’s so many sewing bloggers out there that can just crank out one fabulous garment after another. I am not one of them. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, since I definitely have a perfectionist streak, and taking my time means I’m more likely to be happy with the finished project. But still–I was looking back, and I actually only sewed 10 garments this entire year! I think that’s my lowest number since I started this blog! Granted, that doesn’t count the time I spent making accessories for the wedding, or gifts for friends, or those bedroom curtains that took way longer than they probably should have. And I did spend 3 months on just that One Dress. (Or, you know, several major life changes, like getting married and moving!) Still, the sad truth of it is that I just don’t have as much time to sew as I wish I did. And until my work schedule changes, or I have a shorter commute again, it will stay that way.
2. I need to be more realistic in my goals. Like when I meant to make 5 pairs of pants during Pantsapalooza, and it took me the entire 4+ weeks to make one pair. But I do this to myself every time–for every new season or sewalong that comes my way, I always think I’ll get more done than I can honestly accomplish, and I get frustrated at how little I finished at the end. So I think I need to scale back some, settle on 1 or 2 things at a time, and then it will be a pleasant surprise when I have time to do more!
3. Couture sewing can be fun. And also a huge pain in the butt. But for someone who absolutely used to loathe handsewing, I definitely learned to relax and enjoy the process more this year. I guess knitting actually sticking has helped my patience levels immensely!
4. Stashbusting is great, but sometimes a girl just needs a new piece of fabric to get inspired. Or a new pattern. I’m not giving up on busting the stash, and I think I did pretty decently with it this year, all things considered. But I don’t need to feel guilty about occasionally buying new things, either. Especially when I just don’t have fabric on hand for something I really need.
5. My organizational skills need work. It definitely helps that I have built-in organizational skills via my husband now! But I always waste a lot of time trying to figure out where I set that thingy that I was just using. And I definitely had a few incidents of thinking I had notions that I didn’t, or buying things I already had. Now that I live even further from anywhere to buy sewing stuff (you’ve all heard me lament occasionally how Joann’s is the only place in the state–and now the Super Joann’s is close to where I used to live, and the only local one is a smaller Joann’s!), I really need to get on top of this.

Actually, I’m not claiming this as a goal for 2014, but I have made a goal to try to get my craft room reorganized before the end of this year! I will have more free time starting next week, when my seasonal retail job lets me off for the winter. So I want a fresh start, so I can spend those two glorious months when I’m pretty much guaranteed to have no work other than my flute teaching sewing as much as possible!

Top 5 (Plus some) Inspirations: Bloggers, etc.

It’s hard to narrow down bloggers–I’ve discovered so many new ones this year, I don’t want to leave anyone out! So here’s my best shot, in no particular order other than what came to mind.
1. Tempest at Fanbloomingtastic. I admire her quirky sense of style, and the Doctor Who sewalong was one of the highlights of my sewing year! She also is creating an ongoing “club” of sorts for more Whovian makes, which is great, since I didn’t get all that I wanted to done.
2. Cation Designs. She’s another one whose quirky clothes I admire. And she loves all things Tolkien, which automatically makes her cool. (I can say that, because I have multiple offline friendships and even more online friendships that started just over Lord of the Rings!) Her cat pictures make me smile, especially now that I’m cat-less myself. And her cosplay posts have me itching to create some costumes again! Her “Party King Thranduil” seriously makes me giggle.
3. Handmade by Carolyn. I’ve been following her longer than most of the blogs that I read, but I’m still in awe of her commitment to a completely handmade wardrobe. Her ability to mix and match her makes is enviable, and I quite enjoyed following her “paper doll project” and her adventures in learning to screenprint this year!
4. Handmade by Heather B. She’s one of those bloggers I mentioned earlier who seems to be super-productive, despite wrangling a toddler. Her style of writing consistently makes me laugh, and her photos make me want to have some more fun with my own. (She’s also probably the person on Twitter that I commiserate about the weather with the most, since she’s as close as I get to local and things are usually similar.)
5. Gillian at Crafting a Rainbow, since her “sewing dare” is what got me on Twitter in the first place! Her posts on color palettes have gotten me thinking about my own closet quite a bit, too. And though knits never really scared me that much, I’ve enjoyed the “Lazy Tips” series a great deal, because there’s always room for learning new things.
I’m adding two more cheater answers:
6. Twitter! As far as I can tell, I am literally the only person who sews clothes and blogs about it in my state–seriously, I keep checking the “Sewintists” map every few months, and I have never, ever seen another pin dropped in Delaware! So, since I have very few people I can talk to about sewing in my everyday life, with the exception of Mom the Quilter, it’s great to have a place where I can talk to like-minded people in real time. The Friday afternoon #fabricchat sessions were something I looked forward to, when my teaching schedule allowed me to participate, and I did have several projects from this year that were directly inspired from sewalongs or other ideas thrown about on there. Also, this encompasses pretty much every other new-to-me sewcialist that I “met” this year!

7. Indie pattern designers! A rather huge percentage of this year’s projects were from smaller companies’ patterns. Sewaholic and Cake Patterns were the big winners, with 3 and 6 projects, respectively. (Even though my Cambie and the last Hummingbird skirt were heavily modified, I’m still counting them.) I also acquired patterns from Grainline Studios, Deer & Doe, Maria Denmark, Colette Patterns, and Megan Nielsen this year. But in spite of my good intentions, and often already buying fabric to go with, I haven’t actually sewn any of those up yet. Maybe that should be one of my goals for 2014…

I’m dreaming of a blue craft room…

Production on the dress has come to a pause. It’s partially because my schedule has suddenly exploded with things like having to work multiple Saturdays in a row again (boo), things I’m playing my flute for (yay!) and various social engagements, all of which conspire to keep me out of the house for multiple evenings. It’s also partially because the only table in the house that’s big enough to cut this thing out on is completely covered in gift-wrapping stuff, most of which is not mine and therefore I have no control over getting it cleaned off. So I don’t think I’ll actually get it cut out before Christmas, but before the end of the year seems like a pretty reasonable goal. I hope. The good news is that the muslin is dissected, though I do need to press it. Between that and some Craftsy/reading research on the underlining, since it’s been awhile since I’ve done that, hopefully that will be enough to keep me feeling productive while I wait.

https://i1.wp.com/distilleryimage11.s3.amazonaws.com/94ea79d2f54711e1973e22000a1e88a7_7.jpgIn the meantime, I’m now about 6 months away from getting…. *drumroll*…. my own sewing/craft room! I’ve been collecting inspiration on Pinterest for a few months, and the room is already painted. (I thought I had a picture of it, but I don’t yet–it’s a very cheery aqua color with a creamy yellow on the doors and inside the closet. It’s such a happy-looking room, and I think it will be wonderful to create in!) My beads and most of my jewelry-making supplies are also already down there, and now super-organized thanks to my fiance. I also have this table from Ikea, which folds out to make a cutting table large enough to cut the legs of pants out, and therefore should serve most of my purposes.

The biggest question at the moment that still needs to be answered is how the heck to store my hundreds of yards of fabric, I figured I’d show a couple of the things that are inspiring me right now.

Marie over at A Stitching Odyssey  recently did a sewing room makeover, and I absolutely love the look of her fabric cubicles. It’s a pretty nice way of keeping all of the different types of fabric together! Gertie did something similar, but with a whole bunch of canvas boxes.  Which is a nice way to keep the dust out, but I do kind of miss seeing the fabric!

I saw this closet craft room thing on Pinterest awhile back. Doug suggested that we make the closet into a little nook for my non-sewing crafts, like my scrapbooking and jewelry-making. So we’ve got a little table in there, and some shelves. I’m really looking forward to having a place where I can just leave layouts sitting out and work on them as I’m able– I think it will do wonders for me actually getting pages done, since the biggest deterrent for a long time is that I have to drag stuff out every time I want to scrapbook, and my sewing machine is always out. I’m thinking that if I get an office chair where I can adjust the height, I can use it for both that and my sewing table.

There’s a bunch of little things that need to get figured out still–where to put my pattern boxes and various craft books, what to do with my fabric and yarn, where to keep all of those various notions like threads and scissors and the like, etc. But I am rather looking forward to getting it figured out and seeing how it comes together!

What about you? How do you like to keep your fabrics and the like organized?

Oh, Anthropologie, why must you torment me so?

If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you know that one of my favorite places to find inspiration is by browsing Anthropologie. Today, I got an email from them which got me all excited. These are seriously the coolest pants I have seen in a long time:

Not only are they a great color (pretty much the exact color brown I’ve been wanting to add to my wardrobe in pants for some time) and a really nice cut (I do like a good wide-legged pant), there is CORSET LACING. Which makes these pants awesome, because being the medieval fantasy costume geek that I am, I am a sucker for anything with lacing. In fact, I like these pants so much, that for a wild and crazy moment, I was considering going to the store and paying the $88 it would take to buy them. Which, admittedly, is really good for them, at least for pants. Most of the ones they currently have on the site are well over $100 and even $200 dollars. These were some of the cheapest ones on there.

But then I was thinking, can I really justify paying $88 for a pair of pants, when I can sew? After all, that means they would cost more than almost every formal dress I have ever worn (since most of them were homemade), with the exception of one recital dress and both of my bridesmaid dresses. Actually, now that I think about it, I think that these pants are almost the same price as the less expensive of the bridesmaid dresses….When it comes to RTW, I pretty much refuse to pay more than $30 for almost anything. (Shoes being the major exception, since I generally don’t have much choice if I want them to actually fit.) And I do have 2 yards of twill that are pretty close to that color in my stash already. Closer to a mocha, but it’s thin enough that it could probably fill in for a linen fairly well.

But then again, they’re pants. Which are still my major sewing/fitting nemesis.

Even so, I’m strongly tempted to try, because I haven’t gotten this excited by looking at a pair of pants for a long time. Because as tempting as it is to just buy them, given my current work situation, I’m sure there’s better things I could use this year’s birthday money on. Like, say, keeping my gas tank filled as needed.

(But I’m still also strongly tempted to just buy them. If they actually fit, I have a feeling I’d wear them a lot.)

Not dead yet.

I just haven’t had a whole lot to show or tell lately. Still chipping away at Muslin 2.0 for the jeans, and still haven’t solved the fitting puzzles yet. I think this one’s closer than the last class’s, but I’m still having some weird issues I haven’t been able to resolve yet.

I miss sewing things that are for real. Trying not to think of January, in which I’ll be taking another class on Pattern Review that will require me to make a muslin.

Also had my first craft fair experience. Rather than rehash the whole thing, I’ll just refer you to the post I made on my newer jewelry-business-only blog.

I do have a bit of inspiration to share, at least. Work was super-slow today, so after the manager didn’t have anything else for me to do, I spent some time window shopping on Anthropologie. And fell in love with this:

There’s just so many things I love about this top–the ginormous cowl, the ruffles at the bottom, the fact that the sleeves are super-long-looking with the scrunches and would therefore probably fit my arms perfectly, etc. What I don’t love is that it’s made from wool, so I wouldn’t actually be able to wear it. Technically, this is a sweater, but I think I can pull some inspiration from it for a lovely knit top. I’ve been thinking/saying I need some things to brighten up the blahness that is my winter wardrobe anyway, so this might be just the thing. Since I have about 2 yards of teal interlock that need to get used up. (Particularly since, in digging through the stash, I discovered I actually have two pieces of teal knit–not the same textile, since the aforementioned piece is a thicker knit, but almost the exact same color!) So I’m going to be using this for an inspiration piece, and I have just the perfect starting point. More to come….hopefully later this week. I just need to get through Wednesday first.

I’m ahead of my time, apparently.

First off: Happy Easter! (What’s left of it, anyway.)

Second: My apologies to everyone that I’m regularly in contact with through here, as I’m rather behind on reading and even more so on commenting on all of your blogs. Since going back to my third job, my computer time has been cut back quite a bit, but I am still lurking and following what you’re doing and will comment as I can!

I was briefly browsing on Modcloth this evening, looking for a particular top that is serving as partial inspiration for my current sewing project so I could save the picture. While on there, I stumbled across this dress:

Their “Island In The Sun” dress.

I can’t help it…something about the seaming detail with the midriff panel, the gathery waist, and the tie-dyed colors really, really makes me think of my Titania dress from about 2 1/2 years ago.

From sew and so

Though I have to admit that I like my version better. The wider straps and the longer skirt make it a lot more wearable for me (Modcloth has some cute stuff, but man, their dresses run short!) Plus mine has shiny stuff woven into the fabric. 😉

Other than that, let’s see… I made some paper yesterday, which still hasn’t dried, and is partially a fail, but I’ll blog about that more later. I finished some hand-sewing detail on my current shirt project tonight, and can therefore get back to actual construction. I also finally tried out the Kansashi In Bloom book this afternoon (a craft I could bring along to my grandparents’ that wouldn’t take very long and would still allow me to talk to relatives), and it was pretty fun.

Also, I decided to go back to the Blogger-sanctioned template….it won’t be as pretty, but it’s way more functional. I’ll just need to work on a new banner for the top so I can at least customize from there. (I did figure out how to get the scrollbars back in, and edit the background, so that’s something, right?)

And now, off to bed.

The Personal Style Project: Inspiration file!

I’ve been looking around at some of my favorite inspirational websites (a bunch of old stuff from Anthropologie, and some more recent finds from places like ModCloth and Free People and other various websites), and in my old sketchbook where I’ve pasted pictures of and drawn sketches of clothes that have inspired me in the past. And I did find certain themes beginning to emerge of what I’m drawn to… (The first collage being a sampling of the things that have inspired me, and the second being things I’ve actually copied.)

  • I tend to be drawn to tops that, while mostly flowing, have some element of fitting–either at the waist, or an empire waist that’s still somewhat defined at the actual waist. I tend to avoid tops that are shapeless or too tailored, with the exception of blouses that have some really exceptional detail to them. (See the pink and white blouse in the collage of stuff I made–the basis for my “Doolittle blouse” Anthropologie knockoff.)
  • Oddly, I’m also drawn to more tailored jackets–especially if they are longer and/or vintage looking and/or military-looking.
  • I also like draping, particularly in the realm of knit tops. However, I usually stay away from ruffles.
  • Despite my penchant for flowy tops, I’m drawn to tailored details within that, at least for the woven-fabric tops–pleating, gathering, interesting seamings, etc. I also tend to like details that are kind of a throwback to Medieval or Renaissance days, like lace-up stuff. (That’s probably very 60s too, come to think of it.)
  • I also like a variety of textures–silky, velvety, denim, suede-like, leather, etc.
  • I’m drawn to colors that are either very bold or very earthy. Not so much neutrals, and definitely not pastels. If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, it’s no secret that I’m also quite fond of prints–generally, the bigger and more colorful (and, apparently, the harder to match with anything else I already own), the better!
  • I do like vintage, but the 60s and 70s are way more me than the 40s and 50s, which is where most of the vintage lovers seem to end up. At least, the swing dancers I know and the blogs I read that deal with vintage sewing.
  • My choice of bottoms is rather tied to the season–this time of year, all I want to wear is jeans and pants, but once the weather warms up, I’d rather wear skirts than shorts!
  • My accessory of choice is generally jewelry–I never really like the way I look in hats, I’ve already mentioned that shoes and I have an ongoing feud due to how uncooperative they tend to be in getting on my feet, I’m not really a scarf person (at least beyond “they keep my neck warm when I go outside”), and while I’ve seen a lot of that belt-over-clothes look lately that I like the look of, so far all of my shopping attempts to find a way to try it have failed. (I haven’t found a belt that actually fits my waist yet, and the ones I own are basically for the utilitarian purpose of keeping my jeans where I want them!) This is usually in the form of beaded necklaces and earrings.

In part 3 of the RetroChick guide, she suggests that the next step is to take an honest assessment of who I am–what I do (both for work and for play), and my body type and coloring. So that’s going to be the next post. Mainly because I’m going out of town tomorrow morning with the church’s outing club (going to make my second attempt ever at skiing, which will hopefully go all right–my first time was one of the worst experiences of my life, but a big part of that was who I was with.) And I probably should have gone to bed an hour ago to prepare for that…

Edit: I forgot a couple of things, mainly due to not having much in the way of inspiration pics for them!

  • Jeans and pants: I don’t like skinny jeans or leggings or short shorts. In fact, I prefer skirts in the summer for the simple reason that it shows less of my leg. I’m most comfortable in pants that are flared or wide-legged, and my favored skirt silhouettes are long and flowing (think hippie-style) or knee-length A-line.
  • Shoes: I tend to go for boots with chunky heels, and strappy sandals that can accommodate my excess foot width. (But nothing between my toes…I can wear toe rings, but shoes that do that drive me nuts!) Either that, or my trusty Birkenstocks. Yeah, I’m so fashionable. 😉 When I have to do other shoes, I prefer to get Mary Jane-style shoes since the strap helps them stay on my feet. And I hate loafers.

Mini-wardrobe plotting

The winter blahs have hit me hard. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s extra-cold this year, and I hate being cold. Maybe it’s being stressed out about all the weather-related teaching cancellations I’ve had to do (particularly since that’s my only source of income atm.) Maybe it’s just that it’s February– one of my least favorite months, despite having been born in it. Maybe I am just completely and utterly sick of winter. Actually, that’s not a maybe.

So in an attempt to cheer myself up (and also to motivate myself to finish the remaining stuff for Susannah’s wedding as quickly as possible), I’m plotting what I want to make for spring and summer clothes. Specifically, the mini-wardrobe I want to make. (Though I do have some other things in mind too.)

Here’s what I know so far. I’d like to end up with 8 pieces: 3 tops, 3 bottoms, a dress and a shrug-type thing (for when I inevitably get cold from overdone AC, or am wearing things out in the evening. Yes, I am one of those people who can and does get cold when it’s 70 degrees out.)

While doing a bit of reading up on how to plan a mini-wardrobe, I came across an article from a back issue of Sew Stylish that suggested coming up with a theme to tie it all together– they had titles that was something like “Uma Thurman Goes To Pluto” or “Naughty Librarian” or something along those lines. When thinking of summer clothes, the first thing that immediately came to mind was Caribbean beaches and palm trees, so I was thinking it would be fun to make beach-inspired clothes in those vivid blues and greens. Then I came across this print, which I decided to use as my foundation for the color scheme:

From sew and so

No, it’s not really island colors. If anything, it reminds me more of Rehoboth and Lewes (the two beaches here that I’ve basically grown up with.) But the name of the print– “Sea Flowers”– still demands that beachy vibe. So then I was listening to the Beatles while driving in my car today, and inspiration struck. So my theme is now “Hippie Beach Party.”

From sew and so

I’d already known I wanted to make this dress for that component (the paisley one in the bottom left corner. And that I wanted to make this top:
I’m thinking maybe the purple one for this. So that’s going to be the two print items (has to be, since I ordered the fabric for that yardage!).

As for the rest, I’m trying to come up with some ideas. Thinking I’ll have to go with solids for this (which is going to be a bit of a stretch for me, because I do love my crazy prints! But the point is to have a wardrobe where everything goes together, so some solids would be a great foundation.)

I’d already known I want to make this top (from last July’s issue of Burda World of Fashion.) This was actually the first look I’d picked out. But I didn’t think it would work such a big print, due to the pintucks. So I’m thinking, if I can find it, of picking up the blue in a solid knit for this.

And this skirt is the one I’m pondering now– the long version, only I want to lengthen it this time. This is one of my tried-and-true patterns– I’ve made the capris 3 times and the long skirt twice. It’s fast, it’s comfortable, it’s fitted enough at the top despite the drawstring that it’ll counteract the flowy tops, my only complaint about the skirt is that the mid-calf thing didn’t quite work for the embroidered twill. (Still works fine for the black linen-looking one that I have, but to fit the hippie theme, I want it full-length.) So for this one I’m thinking the chocolate brown, which I would love to do either in a linen or hemp blend. (Preferably the hemp… what I would absolutely love to do is to get as many of these fabrics as I can in organic or other eco-friendly options. But financially I might not be able to swing it– was poking around earlier and all the hemp-type stuff in this sort of color alone is something like $20 a yard! So I’m hoping to at least be able to go with natural fibers.)

So for the rest: I know I want to make a pair of jeans–dark denim and at least bootcut, because I like the way flares look on me the best, fits the theme, and the dark denim means it’ll go with everything, including the stuff I already own that’s not part of this wardrobe. (Plus then I’ll finally fulfill my jeans goal!) And I’m thinking a pair of longer, Bermuda-type shorts (color to be determined). Which I’ll have to find a way to hippie-fy. And I need to come up with one more top–wondering if I should go with some kind of blouse or woven tunicy-peasant shirt type thing, since the other two are knits. (Color also TBD). And patterns for all three of these items. (I’m open to suggestions.) For the shrug, what I’m hoping to do is use the knitting machine to just make up some fabric, and then sew it up. Possibly with an adapted version of the pattern I’m using for the bridesmaid shrugs, since I think the kimono-type sleeves will fit the theme well, and it’s less pieces to cut. My only concern is that I won’t be able to knit fabric wide enough to accomodate both the body and sleeves. So I’m thinking I should sit down and knit up a full-size fabric sample soon, so I can test it out and see what I can do with sewing from it, or if I’ll have to actually learn the stuff like how to follow knitting patterns and increase and decrease and all that. There was this shrug pattern on the machine website, which would work if I adapted it to short or 3/4 sleeves. But I’d much rather sew on homemade sweater fabric than actually knit a sweater on it!! What I’d love to use for this is a bamboo yarn (warm in the cooler temps, cooler in the warm temps), maybe either in a cream or that taupe color that’s in the print. (Neutral enough that I can wear it with other stuff, too. This was the stuff I saw at Joann’s–Soooo expensive… but it’s so soft! Well, I guess that’s actually not bad, seeing as how it’s 3 skeins and not just one. But I still want to test this machine out on my pound of cheap hunter green before I commit to buying that!)

Ok, enough daydreaming– time for me to get to bed and have some real dreams!

Friday Favorites, Episode 22 (the very short edition)

Don’t have many links this week, so I’ll make this quick. After all, a (hopeful) weekend reconstruction project and a July ’08 Burda World of Fashion that arrived in the mail today are calling my name!

So here’s my two things:

1. I really liked these pictures from a fashion show that the author of glam.spoon took part in. I’m quite liking her style– it’s like Anthropologie with a recon twist!

2. This one’s sort of belated, since it was really a part of the most recent Carnival of Green Crafts. But there was a list of the top 10 eco-friendly fabric vendors on Etsy, and let me tell you, there is some great stuff in there. Too bad it’s generally in the fat-quarter category, because I’m dreaming of funky skirts!

And with that, off to the cutting table!