Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Scout Tee Family + Me Made May

While my sewing machine was being serviced, I sewed up some knits. It was interesting because even though I have a serger and coverstitch machine, I almost always use the sewing machine at some point when sewing knits. I just feel like the sewing machine is more precise and basting the shoulder seams and neckline binding before serging gives me more control. I think it was a good exercise to try doing things differently though it did seem sloppier at times.
So, I offered up my knits stash, and my daughters each picked one for a top. We agreed on Grainline's Scout Tee. It was my first time trying a Grainline pattern and I must say, it fits great! I must try sewing it in a woven some time.
Big L picked this sheer synthetic jersey with printed oranges. It'll be really lovely over a tank top.

Little L picked this fine mercerized cotton jersey. It's an oyster color that suits her cool complexion and it has a really lovely silky sheen.

When I took her measurements, she was a negative 8. I was prepared to grade down, but since she wanted her T oversized with dropped shoulders, I went ahead and sewed a 0 and it turned out really well. I finished the neckline with a band so as to raise it a bit.

For myself, I used this bronze colored jersey. I think it is a cotton with some kind of synthetic coating on the right side which gives it a slightly metallic sheen. It was leftover from a tank dress I made several years ago and still love.

I have signed up for Me-Made May. This will be my first time participating, and I am very excited! I have pledged to wear at least one handmade garment each day for the duration of May 2014. The truth is, I already do that pretty much every day of the year, so I see this less as a challenge than an opportunity for mindfulness. I want to put more thought into how I dress every morning, how I balance self made and purchased clothes, and maybe identify some wardrobe needs. I also see it as an opportunity to give some love to things I made that don't get worn enough, not because there's anything wrong with them, but really out of laziness. It's easy to wear the same uniform all the time, but it can also get boring.

I just spring cleaned my closet. I usually do this much earlier in the season, late March or early April, but this year, though we had a few sunny days, the weather has been pretty bad for weeks, so I kept putting it off. Eventually, I couldn't stand the sight of all those dark wools and had to put them away and bring out some Spring colors. I was very selective this year. For every item, I considered not only whether I wore it last year, but how I felt in it. If there was any discomfort associated with the garment, back to the attic it went, and it didn't matter if it was something I put many hours into making. The resulting pared down wardrobe is comprised of about 50% handmade and 50% purchased clothes. Several years ago, I thought I would eventually make all of my clothes, but, though I admire those who do, I have since realized it would be less of a pleasure for me if I felt sewing had become an obligation.

I have registered to the Me-Made-May Flickr and Pinterest groups and I suppose I will post about my progress weekly, but since I have only been blogging for a few months and most of the clothes I made have not been recorded, I might do special posts about some of them. I have no preconceived plan, so we'll see how things unfold. I just hope the weather warms up, because with my Spring wardrobe, I will soon run out of warm options!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Comfy Linen Pants + Fashion Revolution

What I'm sewing is what I want to wear.
When I get up in the morning, if the item I would really love to slip into is not in my closet, then I must make it.

I made these pants, Burda 7250 before, and I really wanted a Summer version. I chose a very soft washed linen with a diagonal weave from my stash. It's a gorgeous slate blue color, the color of Russian Blue cats.
As you know linen wrinkles, but that's part of its beauty. It gives these pants a lived in, laid back vibe which I love.

I've made a few changes to the original pattern. I drafted a contour waistband, added slant pockets and a welt pocket in the back, and altered for fit of course.

I love these and hope to wear them as much as my wintery ones.

I also love my t-shirts. I make some, and some I purchase, and over the years I have bought quite a few from Petit Bateau, the Oh So French brand. There used to be a "Made in France" label in their clothes, but it disappeared several years ago. Now, there is no indication of where the clothes are made, but if you ask the sales staff, which I have done several times in the past few years, they will assure you the clothes are made in France. It seems to me that if that were the case Petit Bateau would be more than happy to put labels stating this loud and clear in their clothes. And if they are producing their clothes in an ethical way in some other country, well that would also be something to be proud of, and they should let us know. The lack of honesty however, might lead us to imagine the worst, don't you agree? So today, a year exactly after the deadly collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh, I was inspired by the Fashion Revolution campaign to email Petit Bateau asking where their t-shirts are made. If you've ever bought a garment from them, would you consider contacting them as well?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Sartorialist Sculptor -- Tomoaki Suzuki

Tomoaki Suzuki--Mel

Bordeaux's own museum of contemporary art, CAPC, is having an exhibition of Japanese artist Tomoaki Suzuki's wood carvings.
His sculptures are 54 cm high and very detailed.

Tomoaki Suzuki--Nia
he says: "I am interested in details because it's through the faithful observation of details that the complexity of a model's personality can be sensed... a tatoo for example is a very clear expression of oneself, and I would extend this thinking to someone's haircut and clothes"

Tomoako Suzuki--Adam
This reminds me of the famous quote from "Wild at Heart", when Sailor (Nicolas Cage) says of his snakeskin jacket : "Did I ever tell ya that this here jacket represents a symbol of my individuality, and my belief in personal freedom?"

Suzuki's earlier sculptures were less detailed, but I really like this little guy:

Tomoaki Suzuki--Satoru
To what extent does our appearance reflect our true selves ? I doubt that most people care that much about self expression and I think most of the times they're just conforming to their social or professional environment. Sewists, obviously, put more of themselves into what they wear, but honestly, when I get dressed most days I just want to look good and feel comfortable ;)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Denim Vest

My husband rarely asks me to sew anything for him. He generally thinks it's too much trouble. So much easier (and cheaper, if you factor in your hours) to just go to the shops and buy something. However, sometimes you want something you can't find in the shops. He asked me if I could make him a raw denim vest, in a tailored style, with welt pockets and special details and I was very happy to oblige.

I used pattern 136 from the April 2013 issue of Burdastyle. The pattern as it is designed is quite boxy and shapeless, so I made a few modifications to give it a more fitted look.

I added darts in the back and took in the sides a bit. This pattern is sized for tall men, and though my husband is taller than the reference height, there was too much length in the upper torso and upper back, so I took out tucks there.
I also lowered the V-neck and redesigned the pockets.
We discussed the pockets together. He knew he wanted a welt pocket at the chest...

...and he wanted the lower pockets to button, so he could put stuff in them. I decided on patch pockets because they are nice and strong. No flaps because I thought they would add too much bulk.
I'm really pleased with how they turned out.

Purple lining.

Our daughters disapprove. They say it makes him look like Will Schuester from Glee, but what do kids know ;)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Style Dichotomy

Barena Venezia Spring 2014
DVF pre-Fall 2011

Two aspects of my personality.

On the one hand is the gentleman farmer which, since I recently stumbled upon beautiful Barena Venezia, has materialized in my mind as the Venetian Peasant. This style is masculine, rugged yet refined, with an emphasis on beautiful fabrics and craftsmanship.
On the other hand is the easy chic aesthetic of the seventies, reinterpreted in this contemporary look by DVF, which I see as highly feminine, sleek and streamlined.
The first is earthy and contemplative and the second is urban and outgoing.
These two styles are apparently very different, but there is a common sense of easy going simplicity.

Some elements I love :

Venetian Peasant - slouchy pants, vests, cozy coats, and enveloping scarfs. Texture. Authenticity.

70s Chic - dresses with attitude, belted coats and jackets, caramel leather, bright colors.

Harmonizing these two styles in my wardrobe is a work in progress. But so is any wardrobe, don't you agree?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Silk Tunic Dress

It was sunny out today and this dress felt nice and airy. I love the feel of the lightweight crepe de chine and how it picks up the slightest breeze. I think it will be wonderful in the Summer. And on cooler Spring days, I can layer my safari jacket over it.

Did you notice the masonic symbols on the ancient doorway? We visited a secret masonic temple in someone's private chateau once. It's not in use anymore, but the owner has kept it as it was when her ancestors used it, with all of the artifacts, including an authentic Egyptian sarcophagus. It seems the original masons were the builders of the pyramids.

The pattern is 122 from the February 2013 issue of Burdastyle. The only alteration was to make the sleeves 3/4 length.
Also, I originally sewed the elastic casing at the waist, but I didn't like it.  I prefer to have the option to wear the dress loose when it's really hot, or to belt it at the waist or hips. So I unpicked the casing, which is a rather scary thing to do on fine silk, but it worked out ok. I also made a tie belt out of the same crepe de chine, so that gives me another option.

I used a tiny gold button at the neckline, and as you can see, there's a bit of gold in the print as well :)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Do you find wardrobe planning overwhelming?

so many options!

With all the talk over the net about wardrobe planning, I think it might be a bit intimidating for some home sewists.
Maybe you aspire to have a comprehensive, workable wardrobe, but figuring everything out, such as silhouettes, colors, function before you even get started on the first piece of the season feels like too much work.
Maybe you don't think you really want to commit to a pre-established plan, even if it is designed by you! (that's how I feel).
I have a pretty good idea of where I'm going with my Spring wardrobe, but I know there's a very good chance I'll change my mind several times along the way.
I'm pretty sure what colors I'll be using. After all, I've already selected my fabrics, but when I tried creating a color palette to share on this blog, I found it very uninspiring, like part of the magic was being sucked out into those blocks of color.

If you don't know where to start with your wardrobe capsule, I suggest beginning with just one piece and then growing it from there.

Here's an idea (consider it a game, no math here...) :

Try answering these 3 questions :

1- What is your favorite color to wear? If you don't know, maybe go with your eye color, I know for me, green always works, or your favorite lipstick color, or pick your favorite neutral if it makes you feel comfortable.

2- What is your favorite period in fashion? This is for inspiration and to help set a mood. It doesn't mean you have to sew from a vintage pattern, unless you like to. It might help to google the period you chose and see a variety of style options.

3-What category of clothes do you wear most in this given season and feel that you could use more of? Or, is there a gap in your wardrobe that desperately needs to be filled?  Choose an item (skirt, pants, blouse, dress, outerwear....) you feel is within your sewing ability.

Combine these 3 elements and envision the resulting garment. You know this garment will naturally suit your personality and lifestyle, and you're likely to wear it because it is something you need. Sew this one garment, and when you're done, you can build on that. I think it's a lot easier to build a wardrobe one piece at a time than to envision a complete virtual wardrobe from virtual fabrics, colors and shapes which will probably take you several months to sew!

My starting point this season was a jacket, because I knew that I could easily build around it and that it was something I needed. My period was the 70s, because I love the easy going chic vibe of the time. The color was bronze, a near neutral that veers toward green which could be paired with any and all of my favorite colors.

My Spring wardrobe is growing organically from that original piece.

How would you answer these three questions?

More on wardrobe planning: Sewing & the minimalist wardrobe , Sewing a wardrobe you love