Purging

So I finally got around to purging my closet the other day.  It’s been gnawing at the back of my mind for a few months, mostly… well, because I’ve expanded slightly, and things that should be wearable, aren’t.  It felt good to sort through everything and make some decisions.  Ruthless decisions, I might add.  Garments were sorted into “doesn’t-fit-and-I don’t-care” for giving away; “doesn’t-fit-but-it-may-before-I-die-so-I’ll-keep-it-because-I-really-like-it”; and “alterations required”.

This is my “keep” pile.keepI confess to never wearing two of the three silk blouses in this pile.  But I like them, and maybe they’ll be wanted someday.  Most of what’s in this pile has been blogged in the previous couple of years.  But it doesn’t fit either my lifestyle or me these days, so it’s going into storage.  I just can’t part with garments that I’m proud of from a construction point of view.  Perhaps they’ll be used again in future….

This is the “alteration” pile.  Only six garments made it into this lot.

alter pileI can’t part with Liberty fabrics, so I’ll be changing up the ‘Bea’ dress on the left.  It’s got about 2 yards of fabric in the skirt, so I’m sure to remake it into something useful.  The ‘Hurren’ dress still fits, surprisingly.  I didn’t wear this at all last year, but, again, it’s Liberty, and I just can’t bear to part with it!  I’ll probably shorten it by 3 inches and change up the sash/belt.  The batik dress… I’m so in love with the fabric that I must find a way to use it again, albeit a small amount (about 1 yard total).  And on the right is the McCardell dress. I intend to remake the skirt, which has about 2 yards of fabric in it, again. The dirndl look isn’t flattering anymore. And two silk blouses that need a remake or slight tweaking.  Again, it’s the fabric that’s calling to me….

I sent one very large bag out of the house with no regrets.  I’m strangely exuberant about all this sorting.  The doesn’t-fit collection has been making me miserable for a long time, knowing the garments don’t suit lifestyle or me right now, and it feels good to get them out of sight (and mind) and open up some space for new garments.  It also gives me ‘permission’ of a sort to add to my wardrobe, something with which I struggle, since I really am trying to be driven by necessity for the most part, not want, in my effort to be economically and (I like to think) globally mindful…. in my own small way.

Don’t get me wrong!  I love to dress up and “feel oh, so pretty”, but seriously…. there’s not a place to go. It brings to mind a series of billboards from about a decade ago here in my local city, for one of the larger malls.  They consisted of a young mom all dolled up perfectly in pretty dresses, makeup and stilettos, cleaning a toilet, crawling on the floor after a toddler and changing the oil in her car.   As much as I’d like to dress like the ladies who lunch all day, it’s completely impractical and unnecessary for my lifestyle.  It’s taken a long time to let go of wanting to dress up all the time.  I have always been the overdressed person at “______________” (pick a function), because I like dressing up.  And I confess to finding some kinds of materialistic excess pretty and attractive (who doesn’t like a shoe collection? the latest makeup look? another bag?) but very irresponsible, and, (finally) quite unnecessary.  I don’t need a new wardrobe every season.  I love to build clothes that will last, not wear out or be dated in 5 years.  But this means collecting if I’m going to keep sewing, and my conscience bugs me about what it calls ‘hoarding’ sometimes.closet

So…. all that to say, I’m happy with the holes in my wardrobe!  Between my rather empty closet and Me-Made-May ’15, I’d say there’s plenty of incentive to shop my stash and get sewing me-mades that fit both me and my life.

*If you’d like to join in, click on the image above.  It’s linked to the sign-up post over at SoZoWhatDoYouKnow.

Miss V’s Wardrobe 2015

I always love hearing from Miss V with her cheerful announcement that she’s got a bag of fabric that needs to be turned into clothes.  She is back from Cambodia for a few months, and needs new clothes.  What fun for the both of us.  Here’s a catalogue of what she has added to her wardrobe this time ’round.

First, a plaid blouse, base pattern Burda 9/2010 #110.  Believe it or not, this was the first Burda pattern I ever made.  It seemed like a good place to start for the shawl collared sleeveless knit top that needed to be copied.  Never mind that this fabric is a poly woven.  The blouse has a lot of wearing ease, so I just cut off the fronts at the CF, omitting the overlap of the pattern.

Burda 09-2010-110

Then I added a band, about 4 inches wide, cut on the straight grain to the bottom of the blouse, leaving a 4-inch gap between ends at the left side seam.

Vogue 9595

This simple shift dress is Miss V’s favourite.  I use Vogue 9595 with a mock wrap sarong that I copied from one of her dresses.  It has a hidden welt pocket.

Vogue 9595 hidden welt pocket

This next dress is my least favourite, and imho, a fabric disaster.  It’s not only a sheet, but the weirdest sheeting fabric ever.  I’m sure it must be a 70/30 polycotton mix, and it’s as light as a voile.  Anways, she’s pleased with it, although I’m not.  The bodice is Burda 2/2011 #101, the first iteration of which you can see here.

Made-from-a bedsheet dress

I had originally put on a dirndl skirt, but she didn’t like that, so I substituted in the A-line version of Sewaholic’s Cambie with pockets.  I confess to doing a less-than-stellar job of accurate cutting.  *sigh*

Marfy 1913 dress back

Now this sweet little number is none other than the free Marfy 1913, lengthened into a dress.  If you search Google images, you’ll see a entire world of versions of this great pattern.  I added side seam pockets and lined it.

Marfy 1913 dress

This orange striped polycotton jumped right out of her bag of goodies and screamed, “SUNDRESS!!!”  I used Burda 9/2014 #130, which is the basic bodice associated with DD1’s recent LBD.

Striped sundress

The skirt’s pleats are all edgestitched, both on the inside and outside to keep the pleats in place after laundering, and to prevent the fullness of the skirt flying up in the wind.  I cut an A-line lining and attached it to the skirt using thread chains.  Apparently it’s quite windy in Cambodia, and flying skirts aren’t an option!

Here’s another version of Marfy 1913,  with side hemline vents and a side zipper in addition to it’s CB opening.  It can be worn outside the trousers, or tucked in.

top side vents

The trousers are Vogue 2064, which I used to re-make a sari Miss V brought last time.  The pattern is for jerseys, but I find sizing up one size takes care of the negative ease and makes the pattern work for wovens.  Miss V wanted a dramatic waist sash with a bow to finish it off.  I’m really sorry the only photos I have of this outfit on the dress form.  The fabric is quite stunning in person.

purple

And that’s all, for this round of Miss V’s sewing.  Keep stitching!

Blackwatch Plaid Coat: Finale

blackwatch twirlWell, the skirt was fun!  As mentioned before, it’s six quarter circles, and it twirls magnificently.  Perfect for a dancer, no?  I didn’t hem it.  It’s faced with a 2 inch self-fabric facing which is stitched 1/8″ from the lower edge and catchstitched on the upper edge..  The hem edges are left raw.

blackwatch side frontIt’s above the knee in length, at her request.  She doesn’t care for long “dowdy” dress coats.  I did not match up the plaid on the skirt with the CF panels deliberately.  I thought with the ample folds of the skirt, it would be nice to not have the edges match – sort of a continuation of the broken plaid lines in the skirt. I did match all the plaid horizontally at the seams of each quarter circle.

blackwatch backBTW, I didn’t get any pictures of her wearing it with her hands out of the pockets, so the sleeves all look completely wonked in these photos.  You’ll just have to believe me when I say they are the perfect length and hang properly!blackwatch coat
Whew!  I’m so happy this project was a success and that DD1 really likes the coat.  I had to wrestle her into agreeing to have it made (stylish leather jackets look ridiculous in the middle of winter with a party dress), and I think she’s happy she did.  She’s wearing her silk & spiderweb lace LBD with it today, on her way to a school semi-formal.  Happy dancing!

Blackwatch Plaid Coat: Sleeves

Short post, but these sleeves were a trial for me.  You see, I decided to cut the skirt before cutting the sleeves, and the skirt is h.u.g.e., comprising six quarter circle panels.  So I was left fitting the sleeves on to what was left.  Not a big deal, really, because I did have enough fabric, but matching the plaid was a challenge without yards left to use.Marfy 1005 sleeveAnd it looks like that green stripe is running forward of the centre of the sleeve, but it matches up perfectly with the forward shoulder adjustment, and hangs straight on DD1.  The dress form doesn’t have a forward shoulder, so it looks off.  I don’t handle ‘I-don’t-know-what-I’m-doing’ and out-of-my-depth sink-or-swim learning situations very well, and trying to decide how to match the plaid, with enough ease for the shoulders left me with a shorter sleeve that I really wanted and cost hours of draping, hemming, hawing and one or two mental sewing sessions at 3 a.m. This is the sort of crux I come to and wish I had more theory under my belt, or at least someone to teach me as I do it.  However, trial, error, and a what little experience I have had to make it do.  shoulder match plaidThe plaid is matched all ’round the sleeve through upper and under pieces.  DD1 and I had planned to add a bias cuff, so I wasn’t too worried about the inch or so of sleeve length I was missing by the time the plaid-matching decisions were made at the upper/under sleeves were cut.   I wanted a deeper cuff, but I was literally working with scraps by this point, so they’re only about 6 inches wide.  I lined them with the same lining used for the coat in order to keep bulk at a minimum.  We also added a short peplum, cut on the bias, to break up the plaid and add a little of the McQueen silhouette into the garment.  It just seemed to ‘finish’ the look.  There are side seam pockets underneath the peplum.bias peplum and cuffWell, the next (and last) post on this project will be with a live model.  I’m hoping she’ll give us a twirl so you can see how lovely the skirt on this coat is.

Blackwatch Plaid Coat: Collar

backMatching plaid is always a challenge.  This plaid is slightly irregular, which made some matching really hard to wrap my head around.  I had to choose between matching horizontally, vertically or both.  In some areas, I was able to match both ways, but when I had to sacrifice, I chose to match horizontally (except when I chose to not match at all).  I had to re-do this CB seam three times before it lined up.  I found the topstitching pulled the fabric slightly askew.  The bodice back is completely interfaced with bias hair canvas.  The shoulders have an extra piece, padstitched together.front

The shoulders were a big challenge for me.  DD1 has both wide and broad shoulders, and she wanted the pagoda look.  So I researched how to make pagoda shoulders, and, after learning it’s the most difficult shoulder to tailor, decided I’d focus on getting her wide-broad-forward shoulder adjustment just right instead.  I made several toiles, but here’s the results in a nutshell:

  • one inch broad/wide shoulder adjustment
  • one inch forward shoulder adjustment

These looked quite extreme on the pattern pieces, and I doubted my eyes (until she put the toiles on), but she wanted her shoulders accentuated as much as possible, as well as growing room built in.  Once I show you the pictures of her wearing the coat, you’ll see it isn’t extreme on her at all.  For the record, the dress form modeling the coat in the last picture has totally square shoulders.

As an aside, I referenced Fitting and Pattern Alteration extensively, but which alterations to do for DD1 was a little difficult to determine.  I tried broad shoulder, broad-wide shoulder and protruding shoulder blades before I realized which one worked for her.  Does anyone else struggle with “reading” toiles to determine the correct alterations?

I cut the collar completely on the bias, both top and under collar and interfacing.  The stand is on the straight grain.  The collar is a detail from Burda’s Talea. coat pattern.  It’s quite deep – about 3 inches.collar front I really had to take breaks trying to match the plaid across the shoulders and sleeves.  I started going cross-eyed from staring at it so long.  I ended up second-guessing myself and cutting an extra (different) front piece, but discarded it the next day when I saw (with fresh eyes) that my original cut had matched up just fine.There were a lot of things that made the construction of this coat a messy business for me.  I used 1 inch seam allowances, which totally messed up the side bodice pieces (every other step of the construction went fine with the larger allowance- d’oh).  I have no idea what I did, but once I trimmed everything back to the standard 5/8″, the armscye and princess seam went together like a charm.  Lack of experience, I guess.  Next up: the sleeves that made me cry.

Blackwatch Plaid Coat: Closure

I have been working furiously on making a blackwatch plaid coat in Harris tweed for DD1, as she does not own a dress coat, and needed one for a family wedding earlier in March.  I made a toile of Marfy 1005 and a coat called Talea from Burdastyle’s website which I downloaded a couple of years ago.  Neither one was quite to her taste, so we went back to the original Harris tweed coat I’d made for her a few years ago from Burda 9/2010 #101, and put together a frankenpattern for the blackwatch coat.

I have completed the hidden button opening, complete with hand-worked buttonholes instead of the snap buttonholes I used last timeBurda 09-2010-101 hidden closureI just felt like practicing buttonholes this time ’round.  Need I say that the fourth one is significantly better than the first!hand-worked buttonholesBTW, if you google “blackwatch McQueen coat” (runway version) you can see the inspiration behind this one.  I am not a master cutter by any stretch of the imagination, and this project has both frustrated and challenged me.  It has whet my appetite for more tailoring, and I truly wish I could just sit and learn somewhere on Saville Row, or at a tailor in my own city.  Projects like this make me realize just how little I know and how much more I need to learn.  It’s been a big project, and I loved every minute of working on it.  More details soon!

Burda 2/2013 #122: Silk Xanthe Sunbeam

Burda 2-2013-122 redI love Liberty Art Fabrics.  All kinds.  All prints.  All qualities.  I have quite a stash of tana lawn and some wool, but I’ve never handled any of their silks.  Until DD1 set eyes upon this dress from Burda’s February 2013 issue. 122_0213_b_largeIt’s called the “City Dress”, and DD1 liked it because it’s modeled in red.  After hunting through my stash and going back and forth about the fabric, I noticed Burda mentioned Liberty as the fabric source.  So I searched through Shaukat, which their website claims is the largest stockist of Liberty fabrics in London.  Well, they had the design, Xanthe Sunbeam, in the red colourway, but in a satin crepe de chine.  I decided to splurge for my DD, and I don’t regret it.  It’s a gorgeous tightly woven silk with the most delicious hand.  There’s even a little left over for a top or blouse.xanthe sunbeamI went down to my local Mokuba to look for the petersham trim, and was shocked at the price per yard. Five to six dollars per yard for petersham ribbon?  Does anyone else think that’s absurd? I decided I could order rolls by tpetershamhe time I purchased the almost 3 yards required for this dress in the selection of colours I wanted to have from which  DD could choose.  So I bought a collection of reds-pinks-purples from TheSewingPlace, which were a lot more reasonably priced, even with the shipping, than paying what the local brick & mortar store wanted per yard.  What can I say?  I enjoy being a personal shopper for my kids. :)  Besides, multiple choices mean more stash.  *smug wink*Burda 2-2013-122 petersham trimI cut a straight size 38, and made no changes since the dress is so loose-fitting.  Except for that 3-inches-from-the-waist deep front slit.  Burda suggested putting a hook & eye closure at the top, and then again 5 inches down – probably about bust point level.  I cut and finished the slit as prescribed, since it’s a design feature.  See?  It’s open clear to the waistline. Burda 2-2013-122 bodiceThen I added a strip of fabric behind the slit for modesty and decency’s sake.  Besides, wearing a slip or camisole under this would not be DD1’s style.Burda 2-2013-122 modestyAnd I lined the skirt.  Because lining skirts is, imho, the proper way to make a skirt.  Linings make a garment modest to wear, ensure the garment hangs well, and contribute to a long life of happy wearing.  Besides, who wants to wear a silk crepe de chine dress that’s unlined in the skirt?  And, like I mentioned above, slips are not a first choice. Burda 2-2013-122 elastic The lining is rayon bemberg from stash.  Not quite a good match, but it’s close enough to do the job.   All the seams are sewn as French seams to keep things neat and tidy.Burda 2-2013-122 back