Playing With Pie Charts – Patterns and Garment Types

My current project is yet another dress, a blouse dress with a Peter Pan collar. But when I failed to find any useable buttons in my stash plus the fact the only fabric I had for the collar wasn’t really perfect, the project came to a screeching halt. I don’t like having multiple projects going on, plus with my “one in, one out” policy I need to make sure that what I make will be better than whatever I take out, therefore my sewing mojo is dwindling at the moment. It happens and it always comes back.

Instead of sewing I ended up playing with pie charts. I don’t feel very nerdy as I know stats and charts amuse many sewists around the blogosphere. As I was already making a list of my clothes, to keep track, freak myself out with numbers (I own way too much stuff, need full season variety, though) and to prepare myself for the “one out” I also started playing with pie charts. I wanted to break down what I had made and how I had made it.

As for what types of garments I’ve made

Kläder jag sytt
I find it no surprise that dresses and skirts come out on top. Skirts are so easy and quick to make and fit, dresses are fun! If I am to make something for a special occasion, it’s a dress. However, I was surprised to see so many tops as I don’t feel I’m very good at making tops. But one should keep in mind that this chart is made up with all things I’ve sewn, including those that are now deceased and it is mostly tops and toppers that have gone down that route, the conclusion being that I was right, I’m not very good at them. So, this tells me what I already know; I need to work on tops and toppers. I am hoping that Sewaholic’s Alma, Jenny Hellström’s Sy! and Cake’s Carmine and Cocoa might help me. But toppers will have to wait until fall.

My pattern chart is even less surprising, and very un-inspiring:Mönster jag använt

Burda, Burda and some more Burda. And then a little more Burda. Over 60% of my me-mades are Burda (old Burdastyle.com, magazines and book included). I think that is bound to change as I move more into indie pattern designers including Jenny Hellström, whom I suspect will take more ground. When I took up sewing the old Burdastyle site was launched. Remember that lovely place? You recognised the users, you got free patterns, the weekly creations were fun and inspiring. Now I hardly ever visit that site. Sigh. But I digress. Anyway, starting to sew and having that pool of resources, of course I ended up using a lot of Burda patterns. Plus Burda magazines were easy to come by in Sweden. Haberdasheries here don’t stock patterns, you must order them and it was too much of a hassle for me.

Then I moved more and more into the sewing blogosphere and discovered many more pattern companies. These days I hardly sew Burda, save for my old favourites or if there’s a pattern I love in the magazine, so the Burda quotient will sink but it has a major head start on the other companies. Since I treated myself to the Sy! books earlier this year I have plenty of patterns to choose from, plus I’m accumulating a small stash. Very small. It would be swallowed whole by other sewists’ stashes. Also, I’ve now found Swedish pattern stores online, making it easier to shop for patterns. However, envelope patterns are expensive (even the big 4) and I’m a bit wary about buying them, I want to make sure it’ll be something I can use more than once; either with different variations in the pattern or making them different with fabric choices.

This is my current status. Of course I’m already planning to include pie charts when I conclude a year, starting with 2013.

Do you have a brand or garment type you sewn the most of? Are you good at filling gaps? And, most importantly, do you like pie charts?

Sew For a Change – March

Another month of my consumption challenge has passed. The challenge this month was energy. Even as the challenge was introduced I knew I was going to fail it, but let me break it down.

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Contact your energy supplier and check what sources YOUR energy comes from. Also investigate what green/renewable options you have.
Check! Our supplier only delivers electricity from renewable sources – hydro, wind and biofuel. However, in a life cycle perspective wind power has pretty high CO2-emissions per produced energy, so for me that is not the best option.

Vacuum behind your fridge and freezer (and on their backs) and then defrost them – it will increase their efficiency and save energy.
Fail! Our fridge is fairly new, so it could be done, but I admit to laziness. Our freezer is old and is a freezer box, it could use defrosting, but it was just too warm, we have plenty of food in it. Yes, I’m lazy.

Check that your fridge and freezer temperature is not colder that what is really needed: +5C and -18C respectively (41F / 0F)
Check and dunno! Our fridge is at +6C. Our freezer I have no idea. I think it’s so old that there is no actual setting just on and off.

Leave nothing on standby overnight this month.

Fail! I could easily just switch off everything but it’s usually husband who goes to bed last. He doesn’t think it’s necessary and to be honest it doesn’t make that much of a difference. I know excuses… One positive thing we did last winter was to change windows in our bedroom, it was freezing before and now we don’t need to heat is as much. We usually charge our phones and the tablet overnight, but will pull the plugs when not charging.

No washing dishes under running water.
Fail! We try to stuff the machine as much as we can, so we only have a few items to hand wash every night. We don’t pile them up, so each night it’s a few things under running water. (In my defense my shower time usually averages about 5-7 minutes).

I have not bought anything this month. However, I don’t see it as a self-fulfilling goal to save all your points and have the most by the end of the year. I’m thinking that this is pretty much a challenge that can go on and on forever and then you need to buy things. For example, right now I need new Spring shoes. I will buy them, reduce my points and hopefully they’ll last me a few seasons. Next year I might need a winter jacket and no spring shoes. I’m not saying I need to stick to exactly these points, but be aware of my consumption for the years to come and spread it out. No point in having all my points by the end of the year and shop everything in January. My conclusion: I shouldn’t be afraid to spend points on things I need. Period.

With nothing bought and a failed challenge I’m still on 75 points. In April shopping will begin and I think I can do a pretty good job in the April challenge regarding paper as well.

Creation: Aqua Painted Dress

I am back to work since a couple of weeks following my parental leave. Now, don’t you worry about baby E (who, by the way is outgrowing her baby status soon) she’s at home being taken excellent care of by hubby. There’s a reason I write parental leave and not maternity leave. Besides working I am also trying to find time for my hobbies; sewing and judo (how stupid of me to have two hobbies that require to study and learn and remember more and more techniques). Tuesdays and Thursdays are judo nights. Seeing how Fridays and Saturdays are family nights that leaves three sewing nights; Monday, Wednesday and Sunday. I’ve have found that with limited time I am more efficient and can now present my next make.

I decided to use McCall’s 5974, “the perfect knit dress” and the pattern behind my Rule Britannia dress, yet again. Why ditch a winning concept? And it’s been my plan ever since January when I picked up the two pieces of fabric from the scrap bin.Aqua Painted Dress (3)

As I had already made this pattern once this dress went together rather quickly and only at the cost of one twin needle (although that was my own fault and I can’t put the blame on either the needle, the machine or the fabric). I made the FBA a bit smaller, for the Rule Britannia Dress it was 2”, for this one I narrowed it down to 1.5”. Instead of a narrow hem at the neckline, it bubbles a bit on the other dress, I sewed a banded neckline with a piece of fabric 2 cm wide and 80% of the neckline width. I liked that finish so much better. I also sewed the side and back seams with a 1.5 cm seam allowance as opposed to the suggested 1 cm. And yes, I’m uncontrollably mixing imperial and SI units. It’s how I roll.

Aqua Painted Dress (6)

The biggest challenge for this dress was stripe matching. I had 2 m of fabric, more than enough, so I knew  could do it. I cut the back first, on the fold, this was the easiest piece to match. The front has three pieces; bodice, midriff and skirt so I had to work with getting the lines as correctly as I could. You see, the lines are supposed to look tie-dyed, so they are not regular, the distance between them varies. With this in mind, I think I did a pretty damn good job.

 

Aqua Painted Dress (4)

Look at that stripe matching

 

The fabric is a printed cotton jersey, a printed tie-dye as opposed to, you know, a real one. I like the summery feel of the fabric, yet I think it works in the office (at least my office). It’s fun, comfortable, it fits and it’s flattering. I have nothing else to ask for. Although having made two jersey dresses in a rapid fashion I’m now in the mood for some woven fabrics, I have som eprojects lined up.

Do you use the same pattern more than once? Do you make version different from each other or are you fine with “having one in every colour”? How do you find time for all your hobbies?

A First For Me! Alma Toile

I am on the lookout for an everyday blouse that can work for the office as well as being casual. The thing is I want a feminine silhouette. I don’t want a female version of a male silhouette, ie. a button-down shirt. After re-discovering Alma I thought “hmm, maybe that’s the blouse I’ve been looking for!” I turned to my sewing nut group on Facebook and the opinions were divided, either you loved it or hated it. One member showed me her three versions, including a dress variation, and one member offered me to buy her unused copy, which she had purchased when everyone was singing Alma praise only to realise it really wasn’t her style. I decided to give it a go. (and I feel really bad for buying an indie pattern second hand, I should support the indie designers myself, but my conscience is somewhat rested in the fact that my seller said she should have never bought the pattern in the first place).

Before Christmas I visited IKEA with the family for some needed shopping, I don’t remember what though. As we passed by textiles I grabbed a bolt of fabric and bought 8 metres of the Ditte fabric. Husband asked if I planned to make red dresses aplenty, but I had another plan. Cheap fabric for muslins! With cheap fabric and some 20 people pulling in different directions regarding the Alma, I made my first real muslin.

I started with my measurements. Of course. I took my high bust, full bust, waist and hip measurement and corresponded those with sizes

HB: 35”
FB: 36.5”
W: 30 “
H: 39.5”

Full bust and waist were a 10,high bust an 8 and hip a 6. I also looked at finished measurements which were, for the 8

FB: 38,5”
W: 34.5”
H: 40.5”

I decided to start out by cutting an 8 and adjust that in what could be needed, I suspected an FBA.

 

First attempt - front

First attempt – front

For my first attempt using a straight size 8. I sewed a 1 cm seam allowance as opposed to the 1.5 cm included. I stitched on side and basted the other, to see if I could get the blouse on without a zipper. I could. It took a bit of wiggling and I’m not sure how it will work with sleeves, but once I’ll get there I’ll test. Anything to avoid putting in an unnecessary zipper, right? I was quite happy with the fit in the front, the darts ended up in the right place and were the right width.

 

First attempt - side

First attempt – side

From the back and side you can see that there is a bit of fabric bunching up on my lower back (which I have no idea what it’s called in English, but I take it as a sway back adjustment. Correct?). I tried widening the dart, 0.6 mm (as that was easy to sew) on each side of the dart, making it 2.4 cm in total

First attempt - back

First attempt – back

Onto version number 2, same pieces, just a widened dart. Now, I should know that widening a dart by stitching over an already sewn dart is not a good idea, but I did it anyway. It helped pull some width in, but I’m not too pleased with the results.

Second attempt - side

Second attempt – side

It’s still a bit wonky and I think I would fare better grading the pattern to a six size at the hip and keeping the darts as are. I’ve always thought my bottom had a pear shape, but I guess not as my hip measurement falls into a smaller size than bust and waist. Granted, baby E has left some additional waist width, which I’m trying to reduce, so maybe I can get my waist down a little.

Second attempt - back

Second attempt – back

 

I think I’ll make one more muslin. For that I will make it a bit longer, one inch I think. And grade it down to a 6 waist down on the back bodice. The front bodice fitted nicely. With my being on a consumption budget, I need to plan my makes and make them fit.

This look can also work tucked in, I think. However, after eating a yummy dinner of bacon-wrapped chicken stuffed with cream cheese and sundried tomatoes, it wasn’t the most flattering look on me so I won’t share any pictures. I didn’t even take any.

I was prepared to do an FBA (I even found a Swedish tutorial covering FBA on the Alma, what are the chances?), but the consensus in the Facebook discussion was that if your whole frame matched up ie. large bust and broad shoulders OR small bust and narrow shoulders this blouse will look good on you. If you don’t (small bust/broad shoulders or large bust/narrow shoulders) it won’t. I can’t wait to get my hands on some fabrics and make the real deal!

Do you regularly make toiles or are they saved for “special garments”? Have I missed something crucial in toile making, if so, what?

One Out, One In and Being Stupidly Cheap

In Sweden there is a word called “Dumsnål” , the literal translation would be Stupidly cheap. And I am one of those stupidly cheap persons. 

Let me explain. When you are stupidly cheap you hang on to every penny, not spending anything even though you know you have it. I felt this way when I bought my overlocker. Even though I had received money for my birthday to buy myself something special it felt wrong to spend that much money on myself. I dates back to my childhood, even though we didn’t have a lack of money at all. My dad is still the same, so maybe it comes from his childhood, which I have understood wasn’t the most affluent. 

So, how does being “stupidly cheap” relate to my Sew For a Change challenge? In three ways, actually. Let me count the ways.

 One major issue is that I don’t spend my points. I currently have 75 points and I don’t dare to spend them, because what if I’ll need them? What is necessary and what isn’t? Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t see myself having 75 points on Dec 31 and then spending the equivalent of it on Jan 1, 2 and 3, but it can keep me from buying something I actually need just for the sake of saving points. I talked to hubby about this and he agrees that I am “stupidly cheap” and that I in fact need to learn to spend money (or points) on things I need. I am also hoping that this will help me focus and think once and twice about what I buy, it needs to go together with what I have or plan to make/buy so hopefully learning to focus on my purchases can help me bring my wardrobe together.

 Secondly when I do buy something I want to get it cheap. Which is why my closet is stocked full with cheap stuff from the likes of H&M and C&A. I have bought bad quality (ie. polyester) fabrics just because they were cheap and I didn’t want to spend more money on a better fabric. A few years ago I came to the realisation that polyester isn’t comfortable and I’ve been avoiding it ever since. I still love making a great find in the scrap bin, but (and this is an important but) I no longer buy things I kinda like just because they are cheap. I have to like them. In the same manner I’ve also stopped entering every single giveaway I come across. If the prize is something I want and can see myself use I’ll enter, otherwise I’ll leave it to someone who will use it. There is no point in stocking up things just because I can get them for free.

Thirdly is that I hang on to everything. That’s why February’s challenge of de-cluttering wasn’t an issue for me. I could easily get rid of 25 pieces of clothing without a hitch. And I can still get rid of more. However, there comes a point when I can’t throw more out of my closet without replacing it, can’t walk around naked. But there’s plenty in my wardrobe that I never wear and that should be replaced with things I do wear. Although, sometimes these saving tendencies (I refuse to call it hoarding) come in handy, as I took up judo earlier this year I didn’t have to spend any money on a new judo gi, I just pulled out the one I’ve been holding on to, for no apparent reason, for 17 years.

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This leads up to a new challenge I’m giving myself. One in, one out. For every new item that makes its way into my closet I will take one out. I can refashion it, donate it, sell it or harvest it and throw it out. It doesn’t matter just as long as it doesn’t take up closet space in an unused form. Preferably I am to take out the same type of garments, in goes a dress, out goes a dress, or skirt or shirt… you get the idea. It wouldn’t be too bright to start with de-cluttering skirts, ending up with no shirts at all while I have restocked on skirts.

 I’m doing this to keep my wardrobe under control, not just adding more and more, but also to fill it with stuff I like and wear (I think I have at least 120 garments, not including undies, bras, stockings, camis and basic t-shirts. 120. At least. ). Being on a budget, albeit a point budget, makes me think more about what I want to add to my wardrobe, it should be things I use, things that go together. I don’t know how long I can keep this up and it will vary for different garments. Someday I will come to the point where I don’t want to take something out, when that point comes I guess I’ll have a perfect wardrobe in that category. I think I must start making a list over all my garment…

 Challenges like these surprise me. Here I thought I was doing a challenge on consumption and environmental issues and it turns out to help me with money management as well as wardrobe planning and de-cluttering.

 Have you ever learnt something that wasn’t the point of a challenge? How do you work on your weaknesses regarding your hobbies? Why do we end up with a wardrobe full of clothes and still nothing to wear?

Wardrobe Architect: Hair and Beauty

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For this week’s exercis of Colette’s Wardrobe Architect it’s all about hair and beauty. To build a complete style and look I believe hair and beauty is key. We were to answer a few questions about ourselves and our routines, so there’s no need to drag on:

  1. What hair style has been most flattering and comfortable for you? How did it make you feel about yourself? Did it invoke any of the words you came up with in our core style exercise?
    After cutting my hair fairly short earlier this year I came to the conclusion that I have a 2.5 year cycle of my hair length. I cut I short, play with it in various lengths and then decide to grow it long. After I’ve grown it long I question myself as to why I decided to grow it long (usually since I don’t have to go to the salon so often) and cut it off again.

The thing is, I do prefer shorter hair. It’s easier to style for me, as I always end up slinging my hair back in a ponytail when it’s long enough. You see, I have plenty of hair. It’s full and I also have a lot of hair. When it is long it doesn’t really lay down and I need products to keep it down, even though it’s perfectly straight. Plus I like the edge short hair gives me.

Confession: I have never, ever dyed my hair. It has gone lighter over the year, as a teenager my hair was very dark brown, to the point of being black without actually being black. Now it’s more of a dark brown. I have also lucked out and haven’t gotten any grey hair (yet?) so I don’t have the need to cover anything. For now I’m sticking with my real colour and play with lengths instead.

My core words were put together, colourful, feminine, structure and comfortable. (I’m thinking of adding “fun” to the mix, just to remember to not take it too seriously and just have fun with style). I think my short hair falls into those categories.

  1. How much makeup are you comfortable with? It could be no makeup, or a full face with contouring (and all that jazz I could never figure out). Or it could vary day to day..

I feel comfortable in no to a little makeup. I have no problem leaving the house without anything on, but for work I usually put on eyeliner, mascara and eye shadow. For my lips I go with a coloured chap stick for most parts, but I could go for a little gloss if I want to branch out. However, I think makeup is fun and I would like to take a lesson in it, learning what colours I should use and what products to make it a bit better.

  1. How does your makeup and hair reflect your personal style? What do you feel they say about you and your aesthetics?
    Keeping with the fun I think my hair can be played with. Or styled more business if I need to. I like to play with spikes and shapes but also hair accessories.
  2. How much product do you want to own? Do you like collecting products, or would you rather just have a few essentials? How much bathroom clutter are you ok with?
    I want to own a few products, the essentials. I have no need or desire to stock my shelves with things.
  3. What requirements do you have for the products you buy? Do you stick with all natural products? Are there ingredients you avoid?
    Too little at the moment, but then again I’m committing the horrible crime of keeping products until they are gone or too messed up to use them. I definitely want to get more high quality products that haven’t been animal tested and are natural. I don’t want parabens in lotions, otherwise I must confess that my knowledge is poor. Some research before I buy more is in order.
  4. What colors feel best near your face? How do they relate to the color palette you created?
    I usually go for earth tones; warm brown, purple and pink depending on the occasion and what I wear. Which is odd since I don’t go for earth tones on my clothing, I like my clothes more bright. But the colours, or nuances of them ,are in my palette and match my skin tone and eyes (or so I think, see above about a lesson in makeup).
  5. What colors never look right near your face? What colors have you tried and given up on before?
    I don’t want too bright colours on my face, for every day I don’t want makeup to be a focal point. For special occasions I don’t want to look like I’ve been trying too hard.
  6. How much time do you realistically want to spend getting ready in the morning?
    I don’t spend a lot of time getting ready and it wouldn’t bother me if I had to do a bit more. I find it more annoying having to wash my makeup off at night or before workouts. That’s what I love about short hair, I just comb it down and I have a style, which I can amp up if I’m in the mood.
  7. What types of scents do you gravitate towards? Do you wear perfume? Other scented products? What do you feel the scents you like communicate about your personality?
    I don’t think I even own a perfume. I wear a scented deodorant (and I feel that the one I currently have is too strong in smell). That’s it. I’m not much for scenting myself and I don’t care for it too much in others either. A natural, neutral smell is the best.

The picture is me on my wedding day. In a hairstyle I like and with great makeup, my sister did it. Plus happiness as an accessory.

Wardrobe Architect: Prints or Solids?

I’ve fallen behind on the Wardrobe architect project, so good thing there haven’t been any new tasks recently. I’m still on prints…

Now, seeing how I am lazy I won’t do the tasks as Colette instructs us, but I still want to think about what prints I do and don’t like, I’ll follow the post from Colette:

Prints vs. solids: I think solids are easier to match so my basics are pretty much all solids. I need my solids. However it is fun to mix it up with some prints, but I am not a person of print matching. I just don’t do it or like it on me.

Scale: Thinking about what I wear and what I feel comfortable in I have made the conclusion that I am a small, but not tiny, print person and my prints need to be regular. However, if the print is too small it can be overwhelming for say a long sleeve button down shirt. Scale and garment must work together.

Contrast: If I’m going to work a print, I want it to be seen that it is a print!

Naturalism: I tend to like softer prints, not a big fan of geometric prints that I find too sharp for clothing. Although I just made a geometric dress, so one should probably never say never.

In my early days of sewing I liked prints that were simple and literal (examples: Another Belle Skirt, …) but now I gravitate more towards interesting lines and classics (examples: The Leaf Skirt and Leaf Dress, Blueberry Sorbetto). Like I mentioned above I want to keep my prints regular, after all “structure” was one of my style keywords. Paisley gets a big thumbs down from me, it has nothing that appeals to me, they tend to be very light in colour too and I prefer my colours bright! Stripes I like and I thought I liked plaid, but after wearing my Plaid’n’Wrap skirt the other day I didn’t feel totally comfortable in it. Maybe it is just that plaid, but I just threw out another plaid skirt that I didn’t like. Is it bad plaid or is it that I just don’t like plaid?

I tend to think novelty prints look fun, but I don’t see myself wearing those; I’d probably feel that I was playing dress-up. Kudos to those who can pull it off (Dolly Clackett comes to mind) but I will settle for admiring her pieces and sticking with my own safer choices. Also, animal prints: not my cup of tea.

Currently I feel that I have moved past the “oh, look at that lovely quilting cotton print” that is totally impractical and into more thinking of what will work and how the print will be displayed for the garment I’m planning. The smaller the garment, the more daring print I go for. I want to work more on bringing in prints I feel comfortable in, prints have the tendency to make clothes more fun because clothing should be fun and not taken too seriously. With that in mind, I’m thinking of adding fun to my keywords, just to remember what it’s really all about.

Are you a print or solids person? Do you like your prints to be stripes, plaids, novelty or something completely different?