2017 In Review

Finished Objects:

 

Whew! Well considering I spent a lot of this year feeling like I wasn’t doing nearly enough sewing, I definitely got quite a few pieces done! (And a lot more undergarments than I should probably feel comfortable sharing on the internet; I now feel like the queen of oversharing, SORRY.)

Items I’ve worn a lot:

  • the Harrison shirt is the MVP of the year. I love it and I want to make more! It has a few minor fit issues that I’ll try to resolve next time, and my sewing could be better on it, but I’m always excited when it’s clean and I get to wear it again.
  • The skull and heart underwear are ridiculously comfortable and I love them. I need to transfer that underwear pattern to tagboard because it is golden.
  • The denim Selene skirt, despite what a pain it was to make, is functioning exactly as I dreamed – I wear it all the time.
  • Is it too soon to call the Margot PJs a fave? I can already tell I’m going to be wearing them a lot.

And things I haven’t wound up wearing much:

  • the first pair of underwear just feels too much like a swimsuit (in fact, I might add a top and call it a two-piece swimsuit)
  • the first York shirt pulls badly at the upper center back. I just noticed today that the center back seam has torn, in fact, and I’m not sure what the best way to fix it is
  • the second York is just… not quite right. I don’t like the feel of the material even though I like the way it looks, and it also still tugs at the back, and the blue binding doesn’t pull the blue out of the fabric like I thought it would, so it needs some additional blue trim to tie it together. With all that combined, I just don’t wear it a lot.
  • The plaid Akita shirt is way too big and I have to be wearing something I feel comfortable tucking it into, or wear it with a belt.

 

Reflections

I bought a grand total of three pieces of clothing for myself this year. One was a Captain America shirt (which was on my exceptions list from day 1), one was my yukata from Japan (obviously a special purchase and not something I consider to be aiding in overconsumption), and lastly, the grey sweater I got at the Bins (a rescue item, and one that needed mending at that – but it’s still the one of the three I feel guiltiest about).

I’m not particularly a clothes horse, so I knew it wouldn’t be that much of a hardship to keep myself from buying new clothes. What did surprise me was the number of thrift store items I wanted to buy and forced myself to put down since they were technically a clothing purchase. Yes, buying at thrift stores is marginally better since you’re not directly supporting sweatshops, but it’s still very easy to overconsume clothing at thrift stores since there’s just so much of it.

My other goal for this project was to get in the habit of sewing regularly, and to get better at it. I’ve certainly tried a whole lot of new things, and gained some additional skills, even though overall I don’t feel like I’m that much improved. However, I also obviously had some periods where the last thing I wanted to do was sew, and I know that came across in some really boring updates. (My stats say there are a few of you who read every week, and you must have the patience of saints, bless your hearts.)

Going forward

What I’m going to do going forward is focus more on a project-based update cycle, rather than weekly updates. This means far fewer updates, I’m sure, but hopefully more interesting ones. I’m going to aim for at least one update per month, and more if I’m on a roll.

I’m also going to try to do more with my Instagram for intermediate updates. I’m very bad about using it now because a) people I know in real life are on there and I have anxiety, and b) I’m hoarding the few pictures I do take every week for my updates here, haha.

I’m excited about the new sewing space I’m going to have when I finally am able to move into my house (it’s looking like late February or early March, right now), and hopefully I can turn it into a place where just walking in will make me feel inspired and want to get to work! It’s been wonderful to actually be able to keep my sewing stuff set up all the time, but it will be even more wonderful to have an actual cutting table and a full-sized ironing board so I don’t feel like I’m bumping my elbows on everything while I’m working.

Happy New Year, folks, and here’s to a great 2018!

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Week 52: Margot + Mending

Well, this is the last week of the year, and of course the last night of the year as well here in Portland, so happy new year! It’s kind of hard to believe I’ve been doing this for a full year, to be honest. It simultaneously feels like I’ve been doing it forever and only just started. I have a wrap-up planned for tomorrow, but for tonight it’s just a normal update.

I wrapped up the Margot PJ pants! They are quite a bit shorter than I was expecting, because I failed to consider hemming when I shortened the pattern (oops), but they are about where I’d wanted them to be – a couple inches above the ankle, where I’ll never trip over them even if the tie comes loose and they start getting a bit low. I probably could have shortened it by an inch instead of three and it would have been ankle length, but I’m not at all unhappy with the length as they are. I should have added a full seat adjustment (I just need to give up and do that by default), and the front crotch area fits a little weirdly (maybe for the same reason) but there is enough ease that they’re still plenty comfy and make for great pajama pants. Yay for old flannel sheets!

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Mending-wise, I made it through most but not all of what I wanted to. I darned this hole in the very first pair of socks I ever made:

It  spanned enough rows that I actually decided to knit a patch while darning to cover it. It was kind of an awkward affair, especially since it was right at the point where the heel was decreasing, but it turned out all right.

I don’t believe I mentioned this sweater before, but I found it at the Bins months ago, and I decided that since it needed mending it was a justifiable purchase for this year:

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It’s 100% wool, and it is a little bit felted (but still stretchy) – it looks like it was originally a mock honeycomb pattern like the one I used on these socks (but purled on the right side), but I am a very inexperienced darner and opted to just darn it in stockinette. It had three moth holes that needed repairing. I used a Paton’s 100% wool yarn, and it’s a decent match considering I forgot to bring the sweater with me to the store when I went to buy darning yarn. It’s a bit heavier weight, so the darned spots are a little stiffer, and it’s a touch darker. It’s more noticeable from the inside than the outside, I feel, and anyway I’m not that concerned if it’s not a perfect match. I’m not quite bold enough to do perfectly visible mending, but semi-visible mending doesn’t bother me.

The largest darned spot is obviously in the center, but you can also see the spot I mended in the collar at the top left.

I don’t actually have any other wool sweaters, so this was a great find – I’ve already worn it out a few times and it’s nice and warm in a way my other sweaters aren’t quite. (I imagine the partial felting helps with that, too.)

The last thing I managed to get mended is a quilt my late great grandmother made for me when I was a teenager (so… probably twenty years ago now). The edges have been pulling out of the binding and fraying for awhile. I just darned over the smaller spots, but this was one of the larger holes that I didn’t think just reinforcement was going to help:

So instead I took a scrap of flannel leftover from the PJs and patched it:

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I’m kind of excited about the idea of it just getting patched and re-patched over the years, putting my own care into maintaining something that my great grandmother put her care into making for me. I’ll have my own boro quilt by the time I die, haha. I’ve been hesitant to use this quilt much since I don’t want to wash it much while there are holes, so it will be nice to put it back on the bed while it’s still winter.

The major mending I wanted to get done that did not is another item my great-grandmother made, a nightgown. It’s my favorite, because it’s knee-length rather than ankle-length (I hate it when nightgowns get twisted around my legs as I’m sleeping), and though it’s flannel, it’s lightweight enough that I can wear it in summer, too. It’s definitely going to be a project – the cuffs and neckline are all worn completely ragged, there’s a giant hole in the armpit, and there are a lot of spots that are just nearly worn through and need to be reinforced. It’s probably a week’s project on its own. I might also attempt to make a pattern from it before I fix it up, because unlike the quilt, the nightgown is unlikely to survive my lifetime no matter how much repair I do (although we’ll see), and I’d like to make another like it before this one falls to pieces.

Week 51: Margot PJ pants, part 1

WHEW well with the holiday and everything going on with my house paperwork I almost forgot to do my update.

I did not, however, forget to do sewing! I graded up the pattern (really very easy with a multi-size pattern) and got all the pieces cut out.

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Grading up in progress – the paper is lifting up a bit so it doesn’t look like it, but the dots are two sizes out from the last size. Once marking is done, you just connect the dots, easy peasy. Since you have to trace the pattern anyway, it’s really easy to do it at that point.

I wound up shortening the legs by about 3 and a quarter inches, because they were going to be really long on me. I’m not particularly short (5’5″), but I do often have problems with pant legs being too long.) I probably took a bit too much off and when I hem them they will be shorter than intended, which is actually fine by me. I was considering making them 3/4 length anyway, and decided against it for no particular reason, so a bit short is not a problem.

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I’ve loved the owl flannel selections at the fabric store forever, so I had to jump on these flannel sheets when I saw them at the Bins. The fabric has clearly been used, but it’s overall in good condition. The fabric is white – the yellow is because we have no light in Portland in the winter. :\ I probably should have ironed it before cutting, too, but… they’re PJs.

Goals for next week:

  • Finish up the PJs
  • All the mending – I have a number of things sitting around waiting for me to mend them before I can wear them again, and I would like to start next year with a clean slate. Since I have no work next week and just house buying stuff to stress out about, this should be doable, right? RIGHT?

And of course, since it is Christmas Eve and all, Merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate it. 🙂 I hope you’re with people you care about, or enjoying a quiet night alone if you prefer (that’s what I’m doing!)

Week 50?!?

Holy cow guys, it’s week 50! It’s almost the end of the year!

I wish I had a nice post with all sorts of pictures for you, but I do not. This week has been hectic as hell – our product at work launched worldwide, and there was some overtime associated with that, and then yesterday I went on several house tours, and then decided to put in an offer?! So that has been exciting and also stressful, and won’t be wrapped up for awhile yet if things go well.

I did find a few hours today to try that bust dart. First, I decided that there was an overall width problem, since where the center front hit at the top was well over the center line, so I took out the two inches needed to fix that in order to give me a better baseline for the bust dart. Then I fought with trying to figure out how to make a bust dart on a muslin and let the slashes let me know how big it needed to be, but even after I got it opened as wide as it needed to be, the side seams still weren’t sitting quite right. I finally, after slashing and tweaking and pinching things to hell and gone, decided that I just need a break from this pattern. I’m still excited about this jacket, but I think I’m going to find another pattern for it, possibly one with princess seams to make my life a little easier.

My lining swatches from Mood came (I think they had come before my last entry, but I hadn’t checked my mail), and they are beautiful – here they are all lined up on the confetti tweed:

Tweed + lining options

I would really prefer to use the dark blue one if I can – I absolutely love contrast lining, and that one picks up the blue in the tweed so well. My second choice would be pink because it will also pop. I grabbed the light blue and the beige just in case the darker colors bleed in my dry cleaning test.

One of the perks of holding off on doing this jacket is that I have a lot of time to get that color test ready, haha.

Meanwhile, I still want to finish something else before the end of the year. I have the week between Christmas and New Years’ off, and yes I will (hopefully!) be busy with home inspection stuff and all that, but I should still have more time to do sewing! I have two flannel sheets I picked up at Goodwill with cute patterns on them, and I’m going to turn at least one of them into a pair of pajama pants. The Margot PJs from Tilly and the Buttons‘ book end about two sizes shy of where I need them to be, but I recently bought the pattern grading class on Craftsy, so it’s time to put that knowledge to work! Plus, you know, they’re pajama pants. Nobody is gonna see them but me.

Goals for next week:

  • Grade up the Margot pattern
  • Cut out fabric

Week 49: Still muslining

I am still working on my Lilliana muslining. I decided to go ahead and start over with the smaller size on the front, since I felt like there was too much going on in the front and I couldn’t figure out how to fix it. I had to true up the lengths between the two, since the size 16 actually had a longer side seam than the 18. In case you’re curious, here’s the difference between the straight and curvy blocks in Seamwork patterns (the one on top is a size 16, and the one on the bottom is a size 18. The 2 inches of added length on both is the only adjustment):

I did a full bicep adjustment to the sleeve, and then since I was using two different sizes on front and back, I had to add 3/8 inch to the sleeve seam at the front in order to get it to match up for sewing:

I decided to pin baste the muslin instead of sewing basting it until I have a pretty good feeling about where the seams actually need to be. So far it’s pretty clear I still need a full bust adjustment (although smaller than the one the size 18 has built in, I think). The shoulder seam also seems pulled really far forward, but I’m not sure if that’s because the bust is tugging it forward or if the shoulders are just strangely positioned on me, so I’m going to go ahead and do the full bust adjustment and then re-evaluate.

Without the sleeve set in, the back seems like it’s hanging fine, maybe a little too loose at the side. It’s possible that the sleeve was tugging itself and making it seem like the back was binding, and the full bicep adjustment will fix that? I’m hoping, anyway. I am almost certain that my ridiculously large broad back adjustment in the last muslin was a mistake, but we’ll see what happens when I finish up the main body adjustments and add the sleeve. (The temptation to add princess seams to the front and the back for better fitting is very strong.)

Goals for next week:

  • Keep on fitting… hopefully finish…. man I hate fitting
  • If fitting gets to be too much, I have some flannel owl sheets I got at the Bins that I’m pretty excited to turn into PJs – that would be a nice, relaxing project, haha.

Week 48: Lilliana muslining

I don’t exactly have any good pictures, because muslining is not super exciting. But I did actually cut everything out, baste it together, and then start the horrible process of trying to fit myself.

Before even sewing up the muslin, I tissue-fit (well, paper-fit) the pattern and made a few changes:

  • lengthened the whole body 2″ since it was supposed to hit just below the waistline and it really didn’t
  • lengthened the sleeve 1/2″
  • moved the bust point in about an inch
  • increased the seam allowance at the center back and side seams to 1″.

I also measured everything and myself again to make sure everything was big enough and had enough ease, and everything seemed fine, but as soon as I put on the muslin I knew I was gonna have to do some work.

My starting problems with the initial muslin:

  • Very constricting around the back/shoulders – I couldn’t pull my arms forward comfortably
  • It was about two inches longer in the front than in the back
  • The bust dart seemed a bit low – probably moreso because the dart is pressed down and is visible through the muslin
  • The front just felt too big in general
  • It felt like it was sliding back on my shoulders, like I needed to keep pulling it down to sit properly (I actually have this problem a lot with RTW, so I’m looking forward to figuring out which adjustment I can make to fix it).

The adjustments I’ve tried so far:

  • An enormous broad back adjustment (two inches either side, so four freaking inches total), which I probably need to convert to just a broad upper back adjustment since the waist now has way too much fabric on it. The upper back is about right, though. (Four inches?!!)
  • I tried pinching up some fabric at the underarm to do triple duty – bring up the hemline in front, raise the bust dart, and reduce the armhole depth to improve movement. This improved the look of the front, but made the arm constriction worse, so I undid it.
  • I noticed that the shoulder seemed a little low, like it was pulling off my shoulder, so I moved the shoulder point in a bit less than an inch to hit my shoulder bone.
  • The neckline seemed really wide, so I added about an inch to the inside of the shoulder.
  • Raising the shoulder dramatically improved my mobility (yay!), but the arm still seemed a bit snug and there were some drag lines like the sleeve was twisting. I decided to try slashing the upper arm to put in a full bicep adjustment, and that seems to be helping, although I’m still in the process of getting it pinned in the right place.

It’s pretty horribly frankensteined at this point, and I’m still not sure I’m addressing the right issues. I’m thinking about doing a round back adjustment (that might help the shorter back hem), and reducing the broad back adjustment amount (I still feel like four inches can’t possibly be right, all my fitting books seem to indicate that 1 1/2″ is the normal max addition – so maybe there is something else going on there).

The good thing is that this pattern is extremely simple, so the adjustments to it aren’t hard to implement. It’s just that I’m still really bad at fitting myself. I actually signed up for a fitting class at the Portland Fashion Institute in February where they will try to help you figure what sort of adjustments you need, so that should be helpful. I mean I hope I’m done with my jacket by then, but I’m going to try to get a fitting sloper fully fitted in the class so I can at least have a starting point for other patterns.

In the non-muslin front, I ordered some swatches from Mood for lining fabrics, since I don’t have enough lining-type fabric in my stash for this project (or at least nothing that will match). After seeing some recommendations online, I think I’m going to stitch a few little swatches of my fabric to the lining swatches and have it test dry-cleaned, in case the linings bleed. I love the dark, colorful linings, but I’m really afraid of, say, bright blue lining dying my white fabric blue when I get it cleaned. My swatches haven’t arrived yet, so it’s going to be awhile before I can actually get started on the jacket, even if I can finish up with fitting this week. (I have plenty of other projects waiting in the wings that I can get started while waiting, though.)

Goals for next week:

  • Keep fitting! Work up the second muslin to check changes.

 

Week 47: Underwear & Grocery Bag

Well the last part of the underwear, as expected, was a ridiculously quick sew. Batch-working these seems like the way to go. My yard of cotton jersey got me three pairs total, so next time I buy a yard for underwear I might just make all three pairs at the same time and save some time.

I know I said I was just going to cut the fabric for my bag this week, but my sew-jo came back and also Thanksgiving weekend came up and things

just

 

spiraled

out of control.

I was so worried about being able to sew and cut through this nylon, but actually it cut beautifully and the major sewing problems I had were (I’m fairly sure) related to the thread, not the fabric. Sewing through the D-ring tabs (four layers, plus whatever I was stitching it to) was the hardest part, and definitely getting those attached around the bottom curves of the bag was a challenge, but basically the whole thing just went extremely smoothly, and now I have a nice grocery bag with sturdy seams and the ability to turn into a backpack for those long walks home with heavy stuff!

There were a few moments of confusion with the pattern, but in general the pictures explained most everything without me needing to use a ton of my Japanese skills (although they were nice to have as a backup). I like the book a lot, and will gladly use it when I want a new backpack.

I also sort of went a little overboard on Craftsy classes during the Black Friday sale. (Even though $17.87 isn’t that much better than the $20 sales they have all the time, I know.) I bought the last two of the Alison Smith Tailoring classes because I love every class she’s taught and also I’ve always secretly wanted to do tailoring, along with some others that either had been on my wishlist or just sounded appealing in the moment after a few beers.

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That brings me to my next project! Ever since I got this fabric in Japan, I’ve been envisioning a short, tailored coat for it. I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted with the style, and I wasn’t sure exactly how I needed to prep it, because it’s a very loose weave and I knew I was going to need to know before I started on it. But after watching the Structure and Shape class I’m feeling like I have a basic idea of where to start, at least, and then Seamwork’s Lilliana pattern came up when I was looking for a jacket pattern, and while it’s not exactly what I want, it’s close enough and a simple enough pattern that I think I feel comfortable making pattern modifications to get it there. (I’m going to add a lining and facings, more structure in the shoulders, and probably patch pockets because a jacket without pockets is no jacket at all.)

I’m going to start with a muslin, because I’ve had shoulder fitting issues on every top I’ve made, so better to get that over with in cheap fabric before hitting the good stuff.

Goals for next week:

  • Get this new pattern printed
  • Make any pattern adjustments I know I’m going to need right off the bat
  • Cut out muslin