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.

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Top 5 of 2016: Highlights and Reflections

Time to get thoughtful! And hopefully have enough pictures to keep this visually interesting. Ha.

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Let’s start with the highlights, shall we?

  1. For a little while, I had a sewing student. It was a bit hit and miss over this past year, because first I had to go on maternity leave, and then she couldn’t start it up for awhile. And she ultimately ended up moving to Florida around the end of the summer. But I did enjoy helping her figure out ways to translate her sketches into real garments (though mostly for dolls). And I did get a message from her around Thanksgiving to check her instagram account, because she sewed herself a costume. So it’s gratifying to know that she’s keeping at it, even though I’m not the one helping her anymore!
  2. This kid. Even though he’s mostly what’s keeping me from sewing more these days. He’s pretty much into everything, we’ve already been through our first emergency room visit with him, and I’m having to answer what “this” is about a million times a day. But it’s also fun to watch him explore and learn, I love how curious he is, and he’s getting to a really fun age where I can actually start doing stuff with him instead of just trying to keep him fed and changed. Hopefully he’ll adapt well to being a big brother this spring!
  3. My music life picking up again. I did orchestra for pretty much all but my first semester of college for my large ensemble credit, and have missed playing in that sort of group. I’m very thankful that the opportunity to play in this community orchestra came up. It ended up being more of a time commitment this fall than I anticipated, between extra rehearsals for a family concert and playing in the first chamber concert of the season (also more time away from my sewing machine), but so far it’s been worth it.
  4. Not being sick for this entire pregnancy. I’ve been more tired, and like the first round, I’m still oddly repelled by anything peanut butter– even Reese’s cups, which I normally love! But I’ve been able to drink tea the whole time, and the nausea did pretty much go away shortly after I hit the second trimester, and I’m so thankful for this. I have absolutely no idea how I’d keep up with Hobbit if this was anything like when I was expecting him!
  5. For one thing that actually is sewing related, I did finally tackle a few patterns and ideas that had been on my list for awhile. So even though my output this year as a whole hasn’t really been that great, I do feel like I accomplished something.

Reflections:

  1. To go back to my hits and misses for this year, I think my greatest strength and weakness were both fabric choice. Especially when it came to colors. For the most part, my favorite things were bold and bright. The things I didn’t care for as much leaned more towards neutrals and especially reds. Even though one of them was one of my oldest fabric acquisitions and one of them was much newer, it seems I need to really consider that maybe there’s a reason I automatically gravitate towards blues and greens, and stick with what I know I love.
  2. Surprisingly, since I’ve been sewing a majority of things that are knit since I first got pregnant with Hobbit, I’ve found that it makes the woven projects a bit of a treat. I really enjoyed making both my Bruyere shirt, and the Grainline Archer that I haven’t shown here yet. Even though the fitting on knits is generally more forgiving, sometimes it’s just lovely to sew with a fabric that doesn’t ripple or skip stitches when I try to hem it.
  3. One of the big things I did this year was a closet purge. I had to get rid of a lot of things that I’d made, many of which I loved, because I was almost certain that they’d never fit me again. (Some of those are now sitting in my refashion pile in hopes of getting a second life, somehow, because I just couldn’t give up the prints.) I really can’t say that I was left with a streamlined or cohesive wardrobe. Frankly, I found this exercise hard, because I am not a minimalist and would probably die of neutral colored boredom if I did one of those things where I only had 20 hangers in my closet. But I think I at least have a fairly good idea of what some major holes in my wardrobe are, and can try to remedy that going forward. The question at this point is more about what I can just pull from my existing stash vs. needing to shop for new fabrics, because I really do need to try to get this pile more manageable. (Sewing room is going bye-bye to make room for a second nursery, sadly. There’s a lot of piles that I need to manage better.)
  4. Looking over last year’s reflections, one of my complaints was about my sewing becoming more utilitarian and fueled by a need to just have something to wear rather than being able to make something that I love to wear. I do think that I found a little more of a balance there this year. But I wonder how it will go in 2017, being back to limited by what fits a rapidly changing body and specific wardrobe needs of being a nursing mom. I think the best way to summarize is more that I still haven’t quite found the balance between what I want my style to be as a sewist, and what I need my wardrobe to be as a mom. And I’m not really sure what to do about that yet.
  5. At least I’m getting better at embracing the “slow fashion” thing, since two of my projects this year took multiple months to make. And maybe a little less selfish about my sewing than I used to be, since I have enjoyed making the kid projects.

 

Top 5 of 2015: Highlights and Reflections

#sewingtop5 - The Top 5 of 2015!
For my second post, I’m combining my non-sewing highlights of the year with my reflections on the things I did make. Let’s dive right in, shall we?

Highlights:
20150622_1902341. Obviously, the biggest one for me this year is that I made a little human! While pregnancy and labor were physically the absolute hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I haven’t gotten a single full night’s sleep all year as a result, this little cutie has been 1000% worth it. I can’t believe he’s almost 6 months old already!

2. Does it make me sound like a total bum if I say that a highlight is having only one part-time job? I’ve had multiple jobs my entire post-college life, all in the name of trying to support my ability to keep working in music in one way or another. But since my last day of my old seasonal retail job was just before last Christmas, this year, I’ve been quite content with being a full-time mom/part-time flute teacher.

3. I’ve gotten a lot of time in with my very first hobby love this year– reading. While I was pregnant, sometimes that was all I had the energy to do. Thanks to my Kindle, books (and blogs) have helped me stay awake through many a late night feeding session. And while I haven’t quite managed daily, I’m trying to get into the habit now of reading to Hobbit as often as I can, in hopes of passing a love of the written word on to him.

4. New blog. It wasn’t easy for me to decide to move on from my old Blogger site, especially since I had to change the name. But sometimes a fresh start is nice. And obviously, my crafty life had to change, with the life changes I’ve had this year. To quote Annie, I think I’m gonna like it here. (As an extension to blogging, I’m going to throw in Instagram, because I’ve quite enjoyed the monthly photo challenges with #sewphotohop and #bpsewvember. My only wish is that IG would allow me to choose which photos to make public and which to keep to followers. Maybe someday?)

20151017_1240455. My husband. Aside from the two weeks of paternity leave that he was with us for, he burned all of his sick days to stay home and help me on particularly hard days (usually when the baby kept me up all night). He’s also got this uncanny knack of being able to get through more cleaning and organizing around the house in three hours than I can get through in three weeks, usually when taking the baby for a few hours on weekend nights so I can catch up on some sleep. He’s amazing.

Reflections:
1. My sewing this year, as a whole, has been so utilitarian. Aside from the practical baby things, like diapers/bags/nursing cover, a lot of my choices were driven by literally having almost nothing to wear that fit. So I had to go with things that were quick to sew and work for nursing. And while I don’t necessarily regret the projects that fit the current need, or used up fabric that would still otherwise be sitting in my stash, several of these were not things I probably would have made if I was going for the ideal of a wardrobe full of things that I love.

2. I definitely struggle mentally with letting go of supplies that I don’t know what to do with. (See my “secret corner of shame” pic from the #sewphotohop.) Whether leftovers from projects, old pieces from my stash that I just never found the right project for/are too fancy for my new mom life, or perfectly useable fabric that people destash onto me that I wouldn’t have chosen myself, I’d guess a solid third to half of my stash is made up of fabrics that I’m clueless about how to use. But since they’re not nice enough to try to sell, being mostly polyester blends, and I haven’t found any good solutions around here for non-clothing textile recycling–even the thrift shops here don’t take yardage that isn’t old curtains and such– I feel bad just sending them to the landfill. And so they sit, waiting for inspiration to strike. And also making me feel a little guilty whenever I want to pick out some new fabric, or just can’t find a good piece for whatever pattern I’m using in the stash.

3. I guess those first two are to say that I’ve reached the point where, while I don’t necessarily want a small wardrobe– I’ve learned that I get extremely bored with wearing the same 10 outfits all the time, thanks to my maternity clothes– I want a more curated one. And definitely a smaller stash that’s all either prints that inspire me, or good for making basics to complete the outfits. I’m just not sure yet how to make that happen, given #2 in particular.

4. I did enjoy making a couple of capsules this year, and if I can continue to plan outfits that way– especially separates– I think that will help with the curating.

5. I wish it was easier to find fun knit prints that are suitable for little boys that don’t cost $15+ per half yard. It seems like most of the really cute patterns I’ve found for boys so far involve knits. Since his daddy is so picky about clothes and I can never sew for him as a result, I feel like I have to have my fun while Hobbit is still little and lets me pick what he wears! At the same time, I am grateful that we’ve been given such a large stash of second-hand clothes for him, because then I don’t have to stress about having to make him clothes. And I am enjoying being able to make him some toys instead, too. So I guess it evens out.