Low Fabric Confidence

A few weeks ago Heather B wrote a post about a dress that wasn’t really her. She described her in post her inspiration and modifications for her dress. In the end she got a dress with many technical skills and it fitted her like a glove, but she wasn’t happy with it because she didn’t feel good in it. Somewhere along the line a cute dress had become too cutesy dress with too many distractions and a shape that wasn’t her.

I can relate.

Sewing has kind of become a cult, of which I am part. I no longer feel that sewing is my hobby, somewhere along the line it became a lifestyle. For me that has meant a much more conscious way of thinking about building a wardrobe in terms of colour and style, as well as a big turn-off towards the fast fashion industry and must-haves. I have turned to sewing and thrifting as my main resources of clothing. I have realised that I don’t look like anyone else, style wise, that I don’t know what’s in trend and I’ve come to accept this and embrace my own look.

So, why is it that I made a dress in colours that don’t look good on me and in a shape that is totally unflattering for me? I remember buying that fabric. It was in the home textile department, so I was a bit unsure of it, but it felt soft enough to use as a dress. I was just getting into using colours more and this seemed colourful enough without being too much. I liked the fabric, I still do, but it’s not suitable for adult apparel. As cushion or maybe even children’s clothes it would come to its best.

And the pattern? Ugh! Was I so eager to get a quick project in, joining a sew-along that I completely forgot what shapes I should wear. I was feeling optimistic, that by adding a belt all problems would go away, but in the end I feel as if I was delusional more than anything else. And it shows in the rushed sewing, for example the shoulder straps on the back pieces are wider than those of the front giving my shoulder seams a discrepancy. At the point of sewing the shoulder seams I was already over this project (subconsciously) and made no effort to fix it.

You know you don’t like a project when you don’t bother fixing issues like this

What does this tell me? I need to make things I like, I need to focus when fabric shopping, I need to not jump at any opportunity to join a sew-along, a contest, whatever, if it’s not something I would do anyway. There. If I didn’t already have plans to make a summer sundress, I shouldn’t join a summer sun dress sew-along. I didn’t join Sew Dolly Clackett or Oonapallooza as I wouldn’t get wearable pieces out of it. I should stick to my guns, which I usually do well. I need to see a pattern made up several times before I buy it, I stalk the fabric store website before visiting making sure I like the colours, in the store it’s all about texture. Also, I will be more devoted to The Monthly Stitch. That will allow me to join a community of sewers while still having guidelines to what to sew. Guidelines that are wide and not very restrictive, letting me do things that are me and still fit in with a theme.

When I went to the fabric store recently I was haunted by my past fabric mistakes. I saw plenty of pretty fabrics, including the infamous tape measure fabric, but I couldn’t see them made up as garments. In my mind they were all too boring, too much or not me. I need to get some fabric confidence back!

Now, I’m awaiting the release of fall fabrics, perhaps that can get me back in the saddle!

Creation: The Turnaround Dress

With my work on the Wardrobe Architect project I’ve come to term with my style. It’s not modern, trendy or even what anyone else might wear, but what I’ve learnt is that I’m OK with that. Sitting next to the other women at work, I feel a bit out of place, they follow trends, look modern and I’m in my me-made/thrifted/old clothes and doesn’t have an ounce of trendiness in me. Again, that’s OK. It’s not only the Wardrobe Architect project that deserves credit, all sewcialists around the world deserves credit. Because of you I’ve learnt that dressing can be fun and unique, it doesn’t have to follow trends plus the sewcialists are an empowering community. Getting involved in that community has given me strength and confidence. But I digress. I will explore my views on sewing as a lifestyle more in an upcoming post, but right now I have a dress to present!

 

Perhaps I should have pulled my dress down a bit. Ah, well

Perhaps I should have pulled my dress down a bit. Ah, well

This dress gets a little credit for pushing me into believing in what I sew. Because I love this dress and I want to wear this dress. It’s not trendy, it’s not modern, but it’s fun and it tells more about me than any modern outfit, in which I’d undoubtedly feel misplaced, would. Personality is important in my clothing, I’ve come to realise. I will wear my clothes with pride, since each piece should be carefully selected to suit me, and not worry one bit about how on trend something is.

The Turnaround dress (8)

This fabric has been in my stash for quite some time. It was first bought, in the beginning of 2012, with the intention of becoming a Colette Truffle. However, it just didn’t feel right. Then it was switched to a Burda City Dress (02-2013-XX), to showcase the print, but after I thought of that I realised that the width of the fabric was only 115 cm (45”), not enough. Enter Jenny Hellström’s Sy!-books. The Evelyn dress from the second book, Urban Collection, was a perfect match to show the fabric to its best since the dress is cut in one piece. It’s a blouse dress with a Peter Pan collar. It is very straight, having only horizontal bust darts and vertical neck darts in the back and the designer herself says that this dress needs a belt for definition. Good thing I had a perfect brown braided leather belt to go with it! I have not made any alterations to the pattern, but if I were to make it again I would lower the bust dart as it falls a little high right now (same issue on my Norah Sundress, by the same designer).

The Turnaround dress (15)

The fabric is a printed cotton, very soft to wear. The collar is made from an ordinary cotton weave. When I was itching to get the project done I first contemplated a pure white collar, hoping it wouldn’t clash too much with the cream lines. However, I had no suitable buttons, so since I couldn’t finish the dress either way, I opted to buy another collar as well, matching the purple in the flowers. Luckily I also found buttons to match the purple, to bring the accents of the dress together.

Hard to get the facing to lie flat...

Hard to get the facing to lie flat…

Puff sleeve with elastic ruching.

Puff sleeve with elastic ruching.

The dress came together fairly quickly. The instructions are pretty clear, for most part. As with my first Jenny Hellström pattern, the Midnight Sun Shirt, I found that the instructions lacked a bit when it was the most difficult bits, the collars. After sewing it wrong the first time I managed to figure out what she meant. I’ll take the lesson and read more thoroughly next time, really thinking about what I have and, more importantly, what I want after I finish the step. I will definitely use more Jenny Hellström patterns, they are, at least as far as I’ve come, well-drafted and fun, she wants us to play with fashion, which I want do too.

Creation: Norah Sundress

OK, my Spring this year had a very solid theme, fitting. It started with my “perfect knit dresses” (Rule Britannia Dress and Tie-dye Aqua Dress) back in January and then my Almas (Starry and Striped) followed suit, ending with my Anna dress. It was fitting, FBAs, muslins. In the end I’m very, very pleased with the fit on all of these garments, but it left me in the mood of wanting to make something more simple.

Enter Heather B’s summer sundress sewalong.

I had a piece of heavy weight polka dot cotton, stashed away. It wasn’t really suitable for office wear so a sundress seemed like the best deal for it. I did debate using Colette’s Truffle or the Jenny Hellström Norah dress. I made the latter and I’m not sure it was the best decision. However, I wanted an easy project with minimal fitting and the result reflect that.

The dress is a balloon dress, described as like walking around in a minitent without feeling like a camper. Yes, this dress really is all sorts of wrong for my figure. There. This is the third pattern I make from Jenny Hellström’s Sy!-books and a few conclusions about the patterns are starting to arise.

 

I was promised a tent and a tent I got

I was promised a tent and a tent I got

Firstly, the patterns could have used a thorough testing and proof reading. In two of those patterns I have found errors (in the Lily shirt there was an error in the instruction for constructing the collar, inthis Norah dress there seemed to be a discrepancy of whether or not the back piece should be cut on the fold or not as well as not illustrating the facing pieces as pattern pieces).

Seriously whose boobs are this perky? (mind you, the dart has been lowered 2.5 cm (1"))

Seriously whose boobs are this perky? (mind you, the dart has been lowered 2.5 cm (1″))

Another conclusion is that the patterns are drafted for a small, perky bust. I had noticed on my Turnaround dress (not properly blogged) that the horisontal bust darts sit very high. For my Norah I lowered them about 2.5 cm (that would be 1” in imperial) and they could have gone down a bit further. Or perhaps have benefited from an FBA, but that seemed so unnecessary on a dress of this shape and when I wanted a simple project.

I added a belt, but I'm not sure I like it that much better.

I added a belt, but I’m not sure I like it that much better.

So, a tent-look was promised and a tent-look I got. It’s not flattering at all, but it’s really comfortable. Unless that the armholes are a bit tight and then there’s the already mentioned case of the high bust dart. In order to draw it in, I sewed myself a narrow belt in the same fabric as the dress. Husband thinks it’s an improvement and sure it takes away from that tent-like feeling, but I’m not feeling the dress, even for a “lounge around the house”-dress. The fabric is a bit meh and washed out, I prefer my colours bright, plus it’s a bit too stiff to fully work as a dress.

Unflattering (for me, I'm sure other body types could make it work)

Unflattering (for me, I’m sure other body types could make it work)

 

The verdict? I have worn this dress during some hot summer days and while it was comfortable in shape, I wasn’t completely comfortable in it. The sundress days are over for this year and the dress will move into the back of my closet. If it survives the full year I might wear it next summer, otherwise it might be chopped up and used for children’s clothes. We’ll see. And in the future I shouldn’t play with silhouettes I know won’t work. I knew this silhouette wouldn’t work and laziness took over since the dress was easy to make. However, had I made the Truffle it probably wouldn’t have been comfortable anyway and more time had been wasted.

Do you ever find yourself disliking a garment you made? How do you treat it afterwards? Does it even make the blog?

Sew For a Change – Recycling

The theme of August is recycling. Both in Sew For a Change and in the Reuse/Refashion/Repurpose challenge as hosted by Amy. I will combine these two.

We were challenged to find three areas in which to improve our household recycling, with tips on areas given by Alexandra. The challenge for me is that we already are pretty good at recycling our trash. We get everything picked up at home, we just do the sorting and put it in the bin and then gone! We have a good organization under our kitchen sink with bins for metal, paper, waste, plastic, cardboard and food. We take glass out pretty quickly without storing it. The kiddo knows that different trash goes into different bin. (He was all sorts of confused on vacation where we had only one bin and he had to throw his juice box in with the waste). However, most of my fabric trash ends up in the waste. No more! Here are my three challenges:

  • Recycle textile. I will give some scraps to the kids’ (yes, kids in plural, little E begins next week) preschool to use in crafts. If they don’t want it I will take it back. As for the rest I will put in in textile recycling, I know a few chain stores that have this option, I don’t know about the recycling centre as we hardly visit anymore. But my scraps and leftovers will be used somehow. I will also put up an extra bin in the sewing room so I can separate my fabric scraps from regular trash.
  • Refashion usable textiles. Yes, another textile point. Clothes I don’t wear will be donated to charity (or sold if I think I can actually make some money). Those I don’t want to donate, i.e. stuff I’ve made poorly, dirty, stained etc. I will try and make use of. I will hold onto buttons and zips for further use and try and use the fabric in a clever way. So far my Cassette nursing t-shirt (in which I nursed little E) has become leggings for little E (very circle of life), my discarded Envy dress became a beanie for little E (using a free Stoff och Stil pattern).
  • Reduce waste. Even if we have a pretty good recycling system, it is always better to reduce waste altogether as well as using what we have and what nature can give us. This has been an excellent year for blackberries so I have picked and stocked up my freezer with blackberries to use in the winter, meaning I won’t need to buy berries in the winter, I’m using jars and pots we already have and there’s no need for transport. I will also pickle all those red beets in our garden, they will hold up and again no need to buy pickled beets! To reduce my personal waste I will invest in a Mooncup, let’s hope I’ll like it. I will try to fulfill my needs with what I have (for example in order to recycle textiles I must in my sewing room separate fabrics scraps from other waste – I won’t buy anything new for this). We already use reusable shopping bags for grocery shopping, otherwise that’s also an idea to reduce waste.

 

Do you think my three areas are enough to warrant me 10 points? Do you have any tips regarding recycling? Can you help a mooncup newbie out?

(Oh and my life is not just about Sew for a Change. I have a few creations to blog about, but when I went to take pictures the camera batteries dies (in both cameras!). So hold on. A sundress, a Tee and a regular dress is on the way! As well as musing topics related to sewing)

Sew For A Change – June

The food month is coming to an end. To be honest, I haven’t dedicated myself too much in the star challenge this month for a lack of time. Much to do at work, we’ve had plans every weekend (been away, had parties or both!) which we have had since Easter. Plus my husband is on parental leave and does most of the cooking, I can’t make him cook something he doesn’t want to (firm believer in meat). Excuses, excuses, excuses.

Complete the following:

 

  1. Start by doing a food inventory. Get rid of (preferably through composting) any food that is not fit for eating any longer. Now, try to plan your dinners to use the food you have, before it goes bad.
    If I may say so myself, we are pretty good at using things in our freezer. We don’t overbuy and check what we have before making our shopping list for the week. Our freezer could use some cleansing and it should be done soon in my opinion. Maybe I should do it as a vacation project. I need the kids to be occupied somehow (TV or napping is sufficient) and it should preferably be done in connection to garbage pickup day. Let’s get planning!
  2. Choose one week this month to be a completely vegetarian week. For the rest of the weeks you shall eat vego at least twice/week.
    As I wrote above my husband is a firm believer in meat (I once suggested having a vegetarian day, his response was that he could fry up some bacon on the side). Plus we’ve been so busy in June that making new dishes have not been a priority at all. But I have gathered recipes and will, in July, start with a vegetarian day a week. Baby steps.
  3. Look into what is in season and choose vegetables and fruits accordingly. First choice is organic, second choice is local produce.
    We’re not very good with vegetables (that’s been made obvious) and fruit. I’m allergic to raw stone fruits (apples, pears, peaches etc.) so I pretty much just eat banana. We try to buy locally produced if we can, they have a lot of locally produced vegetables at our store so whenever we can, we get it.
  4. When it comes to the following 5, we ask you to buy organic or not at all: coffee, potatoes, grapes, bananas and cheese.
    Coffee, grapes (including raisins and wine) and bananas are check! We haven’t found eco-potatoes and unfortunately the most organic, local-produced cannot be harvested yet. I don’t eat a lot of cheese, but I’ve eaten some and it wasn’t organic.
  5. For meat we want to limit the use of beef to once per week (except for the vego week, obviously, where it is zero).
    Again, I haven’t had the energy to work this out. It’s quite possible that I could’ve passed this because we haven’t eaten much beef, but I honestly don’t know.
  6. Eat rice max once a week, unless you live in a part of the world where it is produced.
    Same answer. I honestly don’t know.

We’re not quite there yet, but we are coming up on the halfway point and it’s usually when I lose momentum. Plus I’ve been thinking a lot about a post I read on Creating in the Gap about sewing as a hobby. It is my hobby why should I impose a bunch of rules on it? I don’t over-buy, I keep clothes for a long time, I donate what can be donated. My kids wear plenty of hand-me-downs, we fill the washer, we buy eco-friendly products, I buy clothes second-hand. Why should I have to abstain from buying a pretty fabric for a maxi Anna dress just because I needed new bras after ten months of breast-feeding? Or a winter coat? I have underwear you can practically see through since they are so worn. My winter jacket was bought in 2006, my spring jacket in 2008, my clothes are from the 1990s. I keep things and wear them. We don’t throw away food instead we make lunch boxes, we recycle. I could probably do more, but I don’t see why I should sacrifice my hobby, something that makes me feel good, in order to clear my conscience.

image

Great fabric, length and lace. The joy!

Plenty of thoughts to deal with.

This month I bought myself 4 new bras. The joys of a well-fitting bra! They were in polyamide so 3 points each and 12 in total. I also bought a skirt (in lovely fabric, see blurry cell phone pic above), a blouse and a cardigan, but they were all second-hand so free of charge!

With 12 points spent and 0 gained it leaves my total on 59 points.

Creation: Anna Dress for Wedding

Ah, Anna. She has been everywhere this past year, on every blog I read, there she was! She looked great on anyone I saw her on. But I wasn’t convinced she’d look great on me. Now I surrender.

Blue Anna (12)

Back in February we were invited to my SIL’s wedding. Of course I wanted to make my dress for the occasion. As we came from the theatre when she told us I wanted to make a dress mimicking one we’d seen. I looked through several patterns, trying to find at least a bodice I could work with. I didn’t find one that felt 100%. I could’ve still gone for one of those but with trying to get it right and then Frankenpatterning sleeves and skirt I figured it was easier if I went for a pattern which I could use in its whole and perfecting it.

Step one of perfecting it was fit. I cut a size XX. I sewed the side seams with 1 cm SA, so it would fit according to finished measurements. I made a 2 cm FBA (1 cm per side) according to the tutorial from the By Hand London’s sewalong. It worked fine for me, but I’ve read that it doesn’t really work if you need to add more than 2.5 cm (1”). I found no gaping in the neckline at all.

Blue Anna (6)

You could call this selfie a fail, but it does show the FBA dart I added.

 

 

After cutting my pieces, the first thing I did was a staystitch on the neckline. The V is pretty deep and I didn’t want it to stretch when I handled it. Other neckline finishes I added was that I interfaced the facings as well as understitching them (did wonders!).

 

Blue Anna (14)

Unfortunately I got some gaping at the top when adding the hook and eye

 

After cutting my pieces, the first thing I did was a staystitch on the neckline. The V is pretty deep and I didn’t want it to stretch when I handled it. Other neckline finishes I added was that I interfaced the facings as well as understitching them (did wonders!).

 

French seams and lace hem

French seams and lace hem

For the whole dress I did French seams, except for the bodice to skirt seam and CB due to the zipper. The sleeves and hem are finished with a hand-sewn catchstitch and on the hem I added some lace as hem tape. Just because it’s pretty. We sew to add details like that, right?

 

The fabric is an organic cotton sateen from Sonja’s Ateljé. It was very nice to work with and is soft, while still holding the shape of the pleats. The fabric recommendations is 2.5 m for the short version, I bought 2.7 to be on the safe side and account for shrinking, still I have one metre to spare (which was lucky since I accidentally cut a notch in the fold of the centre front skirt. Oops!). Very generous fabric recommendation. I hope I can use the remaining fabrics for something useful. It’s a very wide fabric, so I can probably squeeze something out of it.

 

Lace hem with catchstitch

Lace hem with catchstitch

As the dress is in one colour only I thought I needed something to go with it. Based on what I had at home (purse, bolero, hair piece and jewelry) my colours became blue, gold and white. I wanted something more to complete the look and as I was reading blogs it came to me; Tilly’s bow belt! I used her easy tutorial and then my look was completed.

 

The fabric wasn’t very cheap I paid 554 SEK for it (but can probably make a top with it as well), but after hearing what others spent on their store-bought dresses it’s not so bad. My dress is organic and custom-made. You can’t beat that! It would be nice with a few more occasions to wear it.

 

As I said, I surrender. This dress is gorgeous and flattering and I really want to make more.

This dress is also my first post on The Monthly Stitch for Indie Pattern Month. If you like it, please head over there and vote for me!

Sew For a Change – May

Another month has passed, bith in the real world and in Sew For A Change. The focus for May was laundry and I must admit that I wasn’t very committed to this challenge.

  • Estimate the amount of laundry your household produces during a normal month (and make it official), then try to reduce that amount by 20% during this month. This means, if you usually do 10 loads during the month you should try to do only 8 (or less).

Husband and I estimated that we do about 2-3 loads a week, accumulating to about 10 per month. Our loads are usually pretty full and we wear clothes several times before washing them (unless they’re smelly and/or stained). We saw no reward in trying to push this further down. We also have two kids who need their clothes was and while they have clothes to get by, they don’t have enormous amounts (trying to reduce shopping as well leads to having to wash more) and the clothes needs regular washing. We do, however try to fill the machine with what’s in the laundry pile. (Being grumpy, I’m not a big fan of relative goals. We would need to get from 10 to 8 to pass this goal, whereas someone who washes 20 loads needed to get down to 16. Their reduction is larger, but over the course of a year with our ten we’d wash 120 loads and they’d wash 192. Which saves the environment more?)

  • Only wash full loads.

As I mentioned above we try to fully load the machine every time, filling up with sheets, towels or other things in the right colour and temperature. It pained me that I needed to wash an almost empty machine towards the end of the month, but unfortunately it could not be helped. I had washed my judo gi on the weekend, filling up with other whites, but on the Tuesday class I got a lot of blood on it (not mine) and it needed to be washed immediately so the blood didn’t set. And since it was recently washed I had nothing to fill up the load with.

  • Change to a earth friendly detergent – make sure it’s free from phosphates, zeolites and EDTA.

We bought a new machine last summer and with it we got plenty of boxes with detergent, bound to last at least this year out. So we’re sticking to that for now.

  • Do not use fabric softener! If you must use something, use vinegar instead. 

My husband is a softener addict, I don’t use it. Except for my judo gi (that thing is a laundry environmental hazard in itself) because it is so heavy and stiff that it actually hurts to train in it un-softened.

  • Avoid dry cleaning.

I can’t recall using a dry cleaner. Ever.

  • Check the water hardness and make sure you don’t overdose the detergent.

I’m bad at this, I just wing it. We do have pretty hard water where I live and I haven’t been bothered to check it. We have our own well, so I don’t really know how I’d go about testing it. I do think it’s pretty hard (my FIL has said that he need to rinse his shampoo a lot longer at our place than at his home)

  • Avoid using the dryer and instead air dry the laundry inside or outside. Get set up with line and pegs!

The dryer that came with the house broke a few years ago and we haven’t even bothered replacing it, there was no need for us.

Some good things, some bad. We could change to a more environmental friendly detergent, but it would be after using up what we already have. As for dosing we could probably do better but I do think we have quite hard water so I don’t think it would differ much.

Now, let’s get to those numbers:

Ingoing points: 75.125p

Blue fabric:      -4,05 p    (2.7 m of 1.6m wide organic cotton)

Star challenge: 0p

Outgoing: 71.125p

This month it’s focus on food, I probably won’t get the 10 extra points, but I will work on the challenge bits anyway.