When all else fails, bitch

Apparently all I needed to do was release my negativity to the universe to get things to shift. I was talking about my frustration with my DH and realized that I've been dedicating a lot more time to my writing in the last couple months; it's no wonder I haven't had time to sew, since I only have a finite amount of time to work with. I'm feeling better about my lack of skills, although I may take a break from reading sewing blogs for a bit and see if that helps. And watching the Project Runway finale was inspiring; finales are always my favorites since they usually focus on the creative work rather than interpersonal drama. Plus, I can start thinking about SWAP!

Stitchers Guild is running the upcoming SWAP contest, since Timmel Fabrics has closed, and the rules were just announced. The rules are quite simple this year: 6 tops, 4 bottoms, 1 jacket sewn between Nov 1 and April 30. All the pieces should reflect a week in the life: an average week of your life, however you typically spend your time.

I'm still mulling options, but I've had a drawer of coordinating fabrics collected for months now, in a brown/lavendar/indigo/cream colorway. And I could also go in a black/white/teal direction. As always I think deciding on the jacket design and fabric will be the key, since it has to go with everything.

As far as the week in the life angle, I can wear pretty much what I want most days, but mostly I'm in jeans and smart casual separates. I don't know if I can manage making jeans for the first time, but all the other components of my everyday wardrobe are probably doable with my current skill level, time and tools.

Ok, off to actually SEW now!

In a funk

I've been feeling a bit stuck as far as sewing creativity goes. I've got a sweater knit cut out in an Onion coat pattern, as well as a laptop bag that I saw featured on America Sews. But I haven't touched either one of them in a week or two.

When I read the sewing boards and blogs recently, I'm finding them more frustrating than helpful. I can't help but think "oh, I never could have thought of that" or "I don't have the tools/money to do that" or "that would take me years to learn", yadda yadda. I know it's not necessarily true and it's certainly not helpful, but I can't help but feel that way right now.

I think it's been exacerbated by the wardrobe review process that I went through recently, and seeing that the real holes in my wardrobe are the ones that require skills I don't have yet - tailored pants, etc. I know I can make knit tops until the cows come home but I already have more than enough of those. In addition, I've lost a bit of weight and it's easier for me to find RTW that fits right now (not that I have a lot of $$ to spend on it right now).

What I wish is that I felt about sewing like I do about cooking. I enjoy cooking, but am not obsessed by it. I watch cooking shows and read recipes on occasion, but I rarely follow recipes to the letter anymore. I can look at what I have in my kitchen and come up with an interesting dish out of it. I enjoy the process; most of the time I make simple things but occasionally I crank it up and make something really complicated, and I enjoy both.

I've been trying to remind myself that I've been cooking since I was a kid, and it took a lot of time and practice to get to the point where I am now, as well as many years spent cooking alongside my mom when I was younger. I wish I had a hands-on mentor like that for sewing. I've tried taking a few sewing classes, but the overly-organized, stepwise process that I find perfectly acceptable in intellectual work irritated me deeply when applied to something that was supposed to be an enjoyable hands-on hobby.

Sneak Peek

Here's a sneak peek photo of my blue striped skirt (from my cameraphone in the mirror, sorry about the fuzziness):

I really like how the contrast fabric looks on the sides. I'm working on some applique flowers for the front of the skirt, made out of the contrast fabric, to pull everything together a bit more. But I finished the basic construction and wanted to wear this while it was still warm.

[Geek note: This project has me typing/saying "striped skirt" a lot, which makes me think of Last of the Mohicans:
"You're not coming with us?"
"I've got a reason to stay."
"That reason wear a striped skirt and work in the surgery?"
"It does. No offense, but it's a better looking reason than you, Jack Winthrop."]

Fall Fashion

As someone who's interested in clothing, I always feel like I should care about Fashion Week in New York, but I never seem to have much enthusiasm for it. The process that translates conceptual high fashion into wearable garments seems both inexplicable and negatively politically charged to me. Other processes of commercializing and commodifying art bother me less; I suppose that fashion includes the issues of female body image and the objectifying gaze. Anyway, enough sociological nattering.

Here are the trends for this fall that I've seen and liked:
  • sweaters, sweater coats, sweaterdresses
  • menswear influences: cuffed trousers, vests, chunky grandpa cardigans
  • saturated jewel tone colors

I'm considering how I can incorporate these into my fall sewing. I'm already planning on a couple of vests, since I've always been a vest fan. What about you?

Oh, and anyone know where to get decent sweater knit that's neither acrylic nor wool?

So much for simple

I thought I'd throw together a quick elastic-waist skirt out of the blue diagonal-stripe linen as my return to sewing. I grabbed Simplicity 4881 @ the Joann's pattern sale (since the Burda pattern I wanted wasn't in the cabinets) and skipped merrily along. Ah, the best laid plans. I cut it on the straight grain instead of the bias because of the stripes, and even though there's quite a bit of ease included, it's a bit too snug to comfortably fit over my hips. And I don't have enough fabric to recut. So now I'm trying to decide whether to a) put in a zipper and fashion some sort of faced waist b) throw it in the TBR pile and hope I lose more weight or c) attempt some kind of added fabric gusset/strapped seam dealie at the side seams. I could do something in self-fabric, but I found this 1/8 yd 'swatch' from FFC in my scrap bin which looks kinda cool and Anthropologie with it. What do you think, quirky and interesting, or weird and jarring?



Discuss amongst yourselves the ironic use of the anarchy symbol as a commercialized, productized consumer good, aimed at 'rebellious' teenagers (or the sewing mothers of said teenagers).


Moving onward. Spent last week visiting family and in-laws in the midwest. My mom and I did spend an afternoon fabric shopping, although primarily for quilting fabric as she and I are going to work on a quilt together. She's a retired math teacher, so she's faster at picturing how to calculate yardages and such than I am, but I was pleased at how much better I have gotten at that kind of thing in recent years.

The one garment fabric I did buy was this blue stripe from a Hancock's clearance table.

It was missing the original bolt info, but it feels like linen or a linen/cotton blend. The stripes are printed diagonally on the fabric, so it gives a nice bias look without needing to be actually cut on the bias. I'm thinking of a quick elastic-waist skirt to wear during this summer-fall we're currently in. It's a bit jarring to leave a rainy fall-bound midwest and return to sun and 80+ degrees.

Style for Fall

I've read the September Lucky and Glamour mags, and I wasn't bowled over. I haven't even seen much in RTW that thrills me (although the Chaiken fall collection is lovely and understated; if only I were 50 pounds lighter and a lot richer).

I did see a cute detail on a MICHAEL Michael Kors jacket: extra-large plastic four-hole buttons, retro-ish (~3-4" diameter) on the front placket, non-functional with a snap for actual fastening.

I'm also glad to see vests back in; they tend to rotate in and out of style, and I've always liked them and think they suit me. I have a couple of fabrics in my stash that would make great vests; one I just picked up and is a brown with fuschia tweedy weave, and one I bought last year at the JoAnn's Black Friday-weekend sale is a black embroidered velvet, which I intended to make for the holidays. Well, maybe I can make it for this year's holidays...

I think I'm becoming crotchety in my old age. Usually I'm all het up to be able to wear fall clothes...even though our fall here isn't super-dramatic. However, I've recently found several style blogs that I really enjoy. I find that the 'real-life' examples online tend to be more applicable to me than the spreads in the fashion magazines.

Solids & Prints

Finally got back into the sewing nook for a few hours this week, although it's been really hot and thus uncomfortable out there. Maybe I should just accept that I won't get much sewing done in the summer and take Jul-Aug off. Anyway, I did a sweep of the fabric stash, reorganized things, thought about projects I wanted to work on for the fall, and pulled out some fabrics that I think I'll get rid of.

It strikes me as I sew more and renovate my wardrobe, I really don't wear a lot of prints. The prints I do wear are small, geometric or only a couple of colors. But I haven't always followed that rule when I've bought fabric; instead I've acted like a bird collecting shiny things and ended up with stuff I'd never wear. If it won't work for PJs either (and I don't have kids to sew for) or get used in a quilt, it's really a waste for me to have it in my stash. Or at least I should hang it up as art and quit pretending I'll ever sew a garment out of it.

It's worse when you're buying fabric online, too. You can't feel them or see the texture well, so the solids look boring, while the wacky prints really grab you. Which brings me to this cracktastic croquet print voile at Waechter's, which may rival my Abraham Lincoln quilt cotton as one of the oddest fabrics I've seen. (I initially misspelled 'fabrics' and my spell-checker suggested 'farces'. Yes, that too.)

I don't need a cotton print of Victorian figures playing lawn sports, right? Right?


Burda-Style has posted a free plus-size jeans pattern (European sizes 46-60). I'm glad that they're gradually increasing their plus-friendly patterns.

The photos and line drawings are up for the upcoming women's issue of Ottobre. I think there's some real winners there; here's hoping I'll get the issue in the mail before we head off for a week's vacation on Saturday.