Sunday, October 23, 2011

Do you have a uniform?

As I just completed my ... er, sixth seventh version of what is basically the same skirt, I don't think I need to answer the question that is this post's title.   I wear a broad range of colors, but I tend to return to the same basic shapes that work for me:  a-line to fuller skirts that hit just above or below the knee, boot-cut to wide-leg jeans with a middling rise, fitted tank tops to layer with classic cardigans and/or hoodies, and the occasional scoop or boatneck top.  I like blouses, but finding ones that me well is not easy ... this might be a sewing challenge for me someday.  Though alas, even if I come up with a tried-and-true blouse pattern, it's still not gonna iron itself.

Here's what I avoid:  skinny jeans:  I just look ... weird in them.  Like I need to go put on some pants.  Long-sleeve knit tops with tight sleeves do me no favors.   Overly blouse-y tops often look poorly fitted on me, and tunic lengths  usually don't work either, though I'm less sure of the reason there.  Straight skirts have historically been passed over for the ease of fuller shapes, but for my birthday I acquired this one from Anthropologie so we'll see if that changes things.  I was going to just try it on to see if I should give the much-loved Beignet from Colette patterns a whirl.  However it was more comfortable than expected, and the husband gave it a thumbs up, so home it came!

Sooooo .... I'm wondering whether there's the makings of a uniform in your closet?  Or do you sew to try new things, to reinvent your personal style?   Sewing has certainly tweaked my personal style:  my wardrobe was very low on prints pre-sewing, and I had far fewer skirts, and even fewer dresses.  (I still haven't figured out what kind of dress I want to wear to work, but that's another subject.)   I have learned that sewing's not the place to try totally new looks ... what a lot of work to end up with something it would have taken two seconds to reject in a department store dressing room.  Your mileage may differ:  it does seem to me that some sewists let their imaginations run free and come up with all kinds of unexpected but flattering looks.  Is that you?

Anyhow, here's the latest skirt for my uniform collection. (And yes, a few co-workers have picked up on my tendency to have a new-but-somehow-eerily-familiar skirt more Mondays than not of late.)  I'm calling this one the "Moroccan Meadow" skirt.   For some reason I did a terrible job getting the waistband seam aligned with the skirt side seam ... it's shifted fully a half-inch.  Actually, I know what the reason is:  I lined things up with the lining seam when pinning, instead of the outside seam.  I hate sewing gathers so I didn't re-do it!   I don't think it'll be so noticeable anyhow.  I added navy piping and trim because I thought it looked nice with the light yellow-green, and I have plenty of navy options to wear on top. And navy shoes.  Matchy-matchy-matchy-matchy.

As for the main fabric, it's quilting fabric from Quilthome ... I can look up the name if you are interested.  The facing fabric was a JoAnn's fat quarter purchased a million years ago, and the lining's poly-cotton batiste from High Fashion, as I recall.

Now I think it's time to return to the Colette Peony!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The slower sewer

Another skirt came down the assembly line last weekend ... I am not tired of making them or wearing them yet!   Once again, I piped the pockets ... not tired of that either!  Here it is:

The images are a tad blurry because it was pretty dark and rainy when I took them, and because I was using my new Holga lens for my digital camera (Olympus Pen E-P2) -- just like the Holga, it performs a little better in brighter lighting conditions.

The fabric is quilting cotton -- a cute bird print by Carina Gardner.  Strangely, this fabric ends up crazy wrinkled by the end of the day, whereas my Birds of Norway skirt barely wrinkles at all.  Clearly not all quilting cotton is created equal, not even designer quilting cotton.    But the reason I'm sewing with it in the first place is because all the best prints are on quilting cotton, so if I want them in my life I have to make it work.   :)   Anyhow, here's a better look at the print:

I also tracked my sewing time.  I did this a while back while I was making a shirtwaist dress ... then it took about 14 hours, and the skirt took me almost seven, which makes sense I guess since a skirt is half a dress!

Now, I do line pretty much everything I make, and do serged French seams, and hand-sew the lining to the zipper, but still ... that's pretty slow, isn't it?  I only ran the timer while I was actually working ... okay maybe there was a few minutes of dog-petting or enjoying the (very rare!) rainy weather, but really, it was mostly sewing.  If I left the sewing room, I stopped the timer.  

While it would be nice to be able to sew faster (since I could make more stuff!)  I don't really want to rush the process, so if I am slow, so be it.   But I am curious:  have you tracked how long it takes you to complete your sewing projects?   I imagine lots of things -- skill level, but also attention to detail, and degree of prefectionism impact how long sewing takes us.    It's a bit like cooking, I suppose:  some people follow recipes to the letter, while others just throw stuff in the pot  based on instinct.  You can end up with a lovely result either way.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Birthday awesomeness

Last weekend I celebrated my 39th birthday by doing all the stuff I love to do ... spending time with my husband, photography, sewing, and a little shopping for fun stuff!    My husband and I both took a day off from work so that I could do even more of what I like to do.

The shopping part of the weekend included a trip to High Fashion fabrics, where I bought five pieces of cotton to make into yet more "new moon" skirts.  I, uh, also ordered a few additional pieces from Quilthome.  (Hey, it's my birthday!)  I'm definitely set for fabric for a while.  Maybe until the apocalypse.

My iPhone was challenged by he harsh sunlight.  But you get the idea.

One of my birthday gifts was made possible by the kindness of another sewing blogger!  Back in the Spring, Liberty of London collaborated with Nike to produce a run of sneakers in Liberty prints.  I really wanted some!  But my size was long gone by the time I discovered them.  Later, I saw that  CarmencitaB had been lucky enough to get a pair, and I mentioned that I'd missed out because I'd heard about them too late.  Lo and behold, Nike and Liberty came up with another collection for Fall, and Carmencita forwarded me the announcement!   Thanks to her kindness, I was able to snap up a pair this time!  They were pricey at 70 pounds plus 30 for shipping, but they are so cool.  And you do get your money's worth on the international shipping -- I had them within 48 hours of placing my order.  Then my husband hid them away until my birthday.  :)

My birthday weekend also included sewing -- I got the bodice of the Colette Peony dress done.  It's going to require some redrafting to get the fit right.   The neckline's quite wide on me, and I need to figure out how to adjust the bodice.  Not only do I have a smaller bust than Peony is drafted for, I have a smaller rib cage:  I could almost fill out the upper bodice with a padded bra, but then I had a lot of bagginess right underneath the boobs.  I suspect there will be a few other minor adjustments, but I need to attach the skirt and baste in the zip to be sure. I think I'll be able to figure it all out, and I have plenty of fabric to re-cut the bodice.

Looks a little sinister, doesn't it?

However, just now I have more than enough challenges to deal with at work: thus I want fewer of them in my sewing room, if that makes any sense.  So I'm going to do something I've never done before:  put away a dress mid-make simply because I'd rather be working on something else.  I will return to it, but I don't have much sewing time right now, and the thought of spending the rest of the month trying to get one dress right doesn't appeal to me.  So back to making more of my favorite skirts!