Tuesday, February 24, 2015

My first Cabin

When I first saw the Cabin pattern, it was over at Fancy Tiger Crafts' blog. Amber and Jamie whipped up two cute Cabins and I've been pondering whether to go for it. Finally I saw Teresa's over at Dandelion Drift, and I took the plunge! 

This is my first attempt at the pattern and as usual, I look for fabric already in my stash. This cute navy and white fabric complete with giraffes, elephants and monkeys was purchased a long time ago when I was going to make a quilt for my son. Obviously that never happened (he's now 25!) but I could never let the fabric go. Here it has been put to go use, supplemented with some other scraps.

When I am in the "zone" of trying new sewing patterns, I do my best with reading instructions then I just figure things out (aka being impatient!). In this case, it would've been better if I had checked out the online tutorial on the weltless pockets.  I still like my pockets but next time I will follow the tutorial.

Sizing wise it's obviously too short on me for a tunic. I had to lower the bust darts. I think this pattern is probably modeled on someone much shorter than me.  Thank heavens for the dark fabric to hide all my changes. Otherwise it's a cute pattern. I like the pleat at the back.

I will wear it for awhile and see. I am already thinking of another small change to make in my next version.

Now, back to preparing the next batch of projects! Happy Sewing!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Progress on my test garments

Hi, I'm back and I finally have some new garments to show off. These are my "first time tries" so I used sale fabrics for just such a purpose, before I cut into "good" fabrics. I don't always do this but I try to as they have saved me many times!

First out of the gate is the Oceanside Pants by Blank Slate Patterns. I whip these ups a couple of weeks ago  just to try out the fit.

I'm glad I did since initially I thought the fit was just fine, then when I wore them around the house I realize the rise is too short to be comfortable. So this week, I ripped out the casing, added a strip to make a new casing, and it was much better!  They are very comfy. Although I don't like this fabric it's great just to lounge in these indoors as our weather has gotten so much warmer.  Next I will hunt for some linen/cotton mix to make a good pair.

Second project is Butterick 6024.  I first made it back in August and it was way too big. I actually bought the pattern again in a smaller size just so I can try this out again. I really like the pleats in the design.

The top is now in a Medium and it fits nicely - honest, even if  I feel like it's a pregnancy top around the middle! The fabric is too stiff  (quilting cotton) so I look like I could parachute down the stairs in safety!  I am going to try and see about slimming down the sides a bit but this may just be the design and I just need a softer, floatier fabric for it. What do you think?

 Last one to show you is a Japanese pattern from a company called "M Patterns" and it's M142. I am making that white blouse. No, I don't understand Japanese so I just guessed from the looking at the diagrams which can be confusing. The way they did the front button facing is quite different.
If you look at the drawing you can see that the blouse is very wide and boxy. So why was I surprised when I put it on and thought to myself "gosh, this is too wide!"  Here it is in a shirting material and the fabric is in fact quite lovely and soft. If you look closer you will see pins instead of buttonholes. I have to decide whether to do buttonholes at all or just sew on buttons as I can just pull this over my head. Plus I like having it open at the top rather than buttoned all the way up.  I will decide on that later as I am in a bit of ambivalence whether I like it or not.  I do like the little gathers on the sleeves though!
So I am at my "trying out" stage of a lot of projects at the moment. I will go through this "testing" phase then I can binge on good fabrics and have a few new things in time for my birthday (April so I have time - ha!).

Thanks for stopping by. Have a great weekend!

Monday, February 16, 2015

A Little Bit of "Refashioning"

As we are heading towards Spring (even if you are living in the polar vortex back east!) thoughts turn to Spring cleaning! I have seen this on various blogs, especially with using the Kondo Method.  Going through my recent handmade wardrobe and holding each item and asking "does this bring me joy?" (as well as questions like "does this fit"?)  Not surprisingly I only wear a small percentage while others are in the "what am I going to do with this one?"

So, a tiny bit of  "Refashion" was in order.  I made a  Camber Top back in September 2014.
I never really liked it before. I felt it was a bit blah and didn't quite know what to do at the time. So, today, I found I had some extra border fabric (Nani Iro Field Star) left. I made pockets but I also trimmed the hem by a couple of inches which makes it more into a boxy top.  I like a lot better! 
I made another Sailor Top a few weeks ago, and again, something felt a bit "off". When I finally decided to chop off a couple of inches on this, it felt "just right"!  I think this length has more to do with how the fabric (Nani Iro Herringbone Pencil) worked with the pattern. My first Sailor Top was stitched with the longer length and I liked that one just fine!
I will see what else I can rescue from the "meh" pile! I have also been taping/tracing patterns for my next batch of projects. We'll see what the next post will bring.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Catching up

I'm playing catch up with some of my makes that I haven't posted before. I'll start off with a new-to-me pattern, which is the Blouse Marthe from Republique du Chiffon.

I love the fabric which is a cotton sateen from Cocca, called "Origami". I just love that fabric made into Blouse Marthe.  One interesting thing of note though I didn't realize till much later: the model for the pattern is based on 165cm or about 5'5" height. I'm about 6 inches taller or 180 cm so I think next time I will make it into a tunic. It might not be obvious but when I am wearing this and standing making things over a kitchen counter, let's say, the roomy tunic will drift forward and slink onto the counter - a bit awkward for doing things.   I do like the blouse though!

In January I managed to send off a couple of garments I made for friends.  First off I made the Schoolhouse Tunic for my friend who is expecting Baby #1! Instead of pleats I just made gathers for the tunic as I thought this would work out better as her baby and her belly grows!
Next I made Dress No 1 from 100 Acts of Sewing for my friend in beautiful New Zealand. Here she is looking lovely! 
I'm really pleased both garments worked out well for my friends!

I really have been in a bit of a lull as to sewing. Fabrics and patterns have been staring at me and I just stare back and then put my nose in my book again! I hope that changes soon. Meanwhile I love bringing home tulips to brighten these grey February days! 
Thanks for visiting!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Emotional Wardrobe

I woke up in the wee hours this morning, still heavy with sleep, but part of my mind started this very long blog post. It was really strange but what it said to me was Fashion is Emotional.  On one end of the scale, there are people who look to clothing as something only functional, on the other end are the fashionistas. I'm somewhere on that scale that looks to clothing as an expression of myself, my equivalent of an artist (wannabe that's me) painting on canvas.

This will be a long post, something I normally don't do, haven't done on my other blog.  The door has been opened, the key was the Wardrobe Architect. Such a simple set of questions and they were the prompts that I needed. I should preface the following by saying that (1) should you want to look at my responses to the Wardrobe Architect questions, you can scroll down to the end, and (2) I am at a big transition point in my life - I took early retirement last year and along with that *snap* I've landed in a new place, still trying to figure out this new part of my life out.

To get to where I am today and where I want to be, wardrobe-wise, I must look back to where I've been.

Pre-migration: that's a funny sub-title, isn't it? I was born in Hong Kong and we emigrated to Canada when I was 10.  I wasn't a girly-girl but I remember my mom taking me to the tailors to get dresses made. I got to choose the fabrics. The only dress I clearly remember, and this speaks to my future preferences, was a sleeveless shift dress made with cotton (perhaps sateen?). It had a medium green background, with the clear front and back panel of large flowers, predominantly pink. It was a very Monet-like print and I loved it.

Growing up in Canada: once we got here, we began a completely different life. We were strangers in a strange land. We didn't speak the language. We weren't white. It was not easy. My parents bought a grocery store business (surprise, surprise) and we all worked, all the time. My clothes grew smaller as I grew taller. My parents had no time to take me shopping. My clothes started to come from the Sears catalog.

Learning to sew and Cruella: When I started junior high and we had mandatory sewing class, I was so happy! I took to sewing like a fish to water. You see, I'm really tall (now 5'11") and I was always the tallest in class growing up. Clothes then were always too short for me. With sewing class I learned to lengthen and make clothes to fit.  However, it took me a long time to get it right. By that I mean my techniques were good, but finding the right fabric for the right pattern was the puzzle I had to solve.

That's where Cousin Cruella came to the "rescue". I joke when I say this but this cousin was like a bossy older sister (by 10 years) who had a lot sewing experience.  She would cackle at the things I made because she said the fabrics were terrible. True. I used things my mom had brought from Hong Kong. Nowadays they would be "vintage" and cool, but back then making an A-line skirt with a tulip pattern was not cool. I was told I should've used a plain coloured fabric. I think the jibes from my cousin did help and it took me till senior high when we made some serious clothing (tweed suit, slinky Jean Muir jersey dress) for me to get better at the fabric-to-pattern fit.  I say "get better at" as I think I still struggle with that part of sewing.  To this day, I gravitate to prints!

Twenties and working: once I had a college education and a "real" job and paycheck, oh my, I went crazy buying clothes. I was tall, slim and young. I had looked good in so many things. I loved buying designer clothes. Oy, those were the days! In my early twenties I went for a bohemian, Annie-Hall look. I bought purple designer linen suit while in Italy. It was such fun. (In case you are wondering, I stopped sewing clothes  then when I could buy these gorgeous stuff from Italy! Me bad.)

Mommy phase: in terms of fashion, this was probably my worse "moment". Yup. Sweatshirts, t-shirts, things with elastic waist plus the short mommy haircut. Our son had arrived a month earlier than expected and we were totally thrown. It was a blurry time. I took a year's maternity leave.

Corporate work life: when I got back to work, it was all about suits. Beautiful suits. Thankfully the trend towards business casual dress made wardrobe expenses less and I could wear things in my non-work life too.

Retirement - now what?  So here I am. I was surprised how this has all surfaced for me because when I look at my Style Pinboard, I recognize the style of things I had loved in my twenties.  I also realized how I really was "into" what  clothes I put on, hence the "Emotional Wardrobe".

I think feminine menswear is something that grabs my eye. In terms of style icons - Katherine Hepburn comes to mind, as does Lauren Hutton. As to Aubrey Hepburn I love her look but "petite" and "gamine" do not describe me at all.

Wardrobe Architect - Words to describe me - I wrote down:

Strength - strong clean lines
Softness - in texture, drape and feel of fabrics
Fun - something with a touch of whimsy
Colour - I think this refers to prints. Funny enough when I look at my Style Pinboard a lot of what I like are linens of solid colours.
Freedom - clothes that allow me to move because I am doing more yoga now.

Shapes - loose, boxy? I seem to tend towards that but in fact, I think I need to get more shaping into my sewing. I think an empire silhouette would be good.

Patterns - Hmmm, there are lots of choices. This month I want to sew the Girl Friday culottes, the simple Cynthia Rowley S1366 top , the Robe Aubepine.

Doing the WA2015 process has helped me organize my patterns too which I desperately needed to do.

Are you doing Wardrobe Architect 2015? If you are, what have you learned about yourself?