About Me

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Newcastle cardigan for ME!

Hi all,
It's been a while...
Thing here are argg... complicated. The rain had washed away memories of war but the violence here hasn't stopped and it appears like difficult times are ahead. I must have started this post a million times but each time I feel like a party crusher, writing about the bad stuff in a community devoted to the beautiful parts of life. We don't get to choose our circumstances, and I have no control over other people's behavior, but I cannot ignore the reality, this simply isn't me, so here we are. Needless to say all the bad stuff happening around me kind of killed my mojo, and my thoughts were all over the place so I couldn't concentrate on sewing "appropriate" stuff. More specifically I couldn't even imagine sewing wovens, and I've already gone through most of the knits I had, so my choices were limited. I hate when this happens, especially when I really need to sew! Luckily I found the world's greatest and softest fabric (the fiber content of which is unknown, but it looks like wool from the outside, and is brushed from the inside). I made D a  Necastle cardigan (in grey) from the same material last winter and he wears it all the time, it's soft and cozy and perfect for cold winter days. When I spotted the same material in one of the stores I bought enough for two cardigans, one for me and one for my dad (this will take some time, I'm putting off printing the pattern again and cutting a different size). 

While this is undoubtedly a Newcastle cardigan In addition to the Newcastle pattern I also used the Strathcona pattern, a pattern I've used before, as a template for the shoulders and sleeve seams. I figured it will be easier than messing around with sleeve curves, and will probably produce better results (as I know from trying on D's cardigan that the shoulders were too big but the side seams were fine considering this is a loose fitting cardigan anyway). 

I placed both pattern pieces on the fabric, cut around the shoulders according to the Strathcona, and around the side seams according the the Newcastle pattern.

I wanted to do the same with the sleeves, I can't remember what went wrong but I must have made a mistake while cutting because the sleeves were up too narrow (and narrower than the original Newcastle pattern). Next time I'll know better...

Next I interfaced the required pieces. I don't know were I read about this technique, but for the interfacing instead of simply fusing it and then binding the exposed edges, I first sewed the fabric and interfacing right sides together:

Then turned them right side out and understitched to make sure the seam will roll towards the interfacing. 

Then fused them together making sure the seam line rolls inwards.

The interfacing is completely invisible from the right side, with no exposed edges!

This fabric is extremely thick and the width of all layers at the shoulders is about 1.2 cm. After breaking two (!!) Bernina stretch needles I went back to a universal needle and it worked well for the remaining seams. I used stretch stitch on my regular machine and didn't use the overlocker.
I took extra steps to stable the shoulders, by attaching a strip of woven material to the pressed open shoulder seams:

I did the same with the previous cardigans and it adds some structure that I like on this type of a garment. 

The last extra step was taking off about 0.125" around the undercolar, to account for turn of cloth.

While I put a lot of effort making sure the seam line will be invisible by understitched the undercollar as well as by trimming it, at the end I prefer wearing the cardigan with the collar up, so the understitching is visible but I'm sure nobody notices.  I think next time I'll re-draft the collar for a properly standing collar.

Despite all the hiccups this cardigan is one of my favorite makes. The fabric is soft and cozy, the color is surprisingly flattering, and the slightly androgynous silhouette is right up alley. 

The only thing that really bothers me is the fact the left front appears longer than the right front, even though they are exactly the same length! (the cuffs, however, are not even close to being the same size, I have no idea how this happened but after hand-stitching them I couldn't bother taking them apart. BTW I didn't use the Newcastle pattern for the cuffs so this mistake is totally my fault).

I have more of this material in dark grey, which will turn into another version of the cardigan someday soon. For the next make, I'm thinking of adding a curved band at the bottom to add length, a standing collar and... lining. I still need to figure this one out because while I don't need the stretch at the back, I do need it at the elbows. Suggestions?

fabric: ~two meters, 35 ILS per metter = 70 ILS (~17.6$)
two broken needles: 10 ILS (~2.5 $)
5 buttons: 4 ILS each, so 20 ILS total (~5 $)
thread: 3.8 ILS (~1$)
pattern (cost per make) : (that's a bit complicated, but:)
I bought the parkland PDF collection for 70 ILS (17.6 $). For this make I used 2 out of the 3 patterns, so it's 2/3*70 = 47 ISL (11.8$), but this is my 4th Newcastle and the 4th time I use the Strathcona, so I'll divide it by 8 to get: 5.9 ILS (~1.5$).

Total cost: 109.7 ILS (27.6 $)

Money well spent :) 

Happy sewing!

P.S. I thought long and hard about the entire Photoshop thing, and decided I will not edit my photos (apart from (strategically) cropping them). Since I don't have a camera all pictures are taken with my phone by D before I go to work, so this is as real as it gets :)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Sewing "Chocolate"

Well, this post could have also been named as "I have super powers!" but we'll get to that in a a few lines...

Last night I came home "a bit" frustrated from consecutive tough days at work. If you follow Erin's series on graduate students around the sewing community you are probably familiar with the fact graduate students are frustrated A LOT. I guess if you're human, and have a day job, you may also experience this frustration from time to time. Despite how much I love my job and how important I think it is, I can't avoid frustration when things just don't work.

Anyway, I came home and wasn't feeling like doing anything fun (or anything at all). I had about an hour before bed time and I felt like I didn't have the mental energy to start with the pants I've already cut, or cut another project. Looking around me my eyes fell on a scrap of knit fabric, left over from a long sleeve t-shirt I made over the weekend. Instead of shoving it into the (overflowing) scrap drawer I took out my undies pattern and made myself new undies from the scrap. 

It made me feel better.

It took about an hour, during which I could clearly think about anything and everything. My first thought was it felt like I was sewing chocolate. You know, when in doubt - eat chocolate? So I did something else that made me feel better, took longer to complete than what it takes to eat some chocolate, and at the end I have a new pair of undies!

Then I thought that if I can just make myself a new pair of undies in under one hour, I must have super powers. It was not the first pair I made (though I changed a few things, detailed below), and I should make some more as my wardrobe still hasn't recovered from the lost luggage in Sicily a few months back. Yet the idea I can use some scraps and elastic and make myself a new pair of undies is not trivial. The fact we can sew our own clothes isn't trivial. It takes dedication and perseverance, and the strength to deal with frustration when things don't work. Just like in real like, only on a smaller scale. 

Specifically, undies are important to me as I'm very particular about what I like to wear. I feel liberated that I can make it myself and I'm no longer depended on retailers, trends, and whatnot. 

As for the actual sewing: Up until last night I always used fold-over elastic. I wanted to try something else, as the fold-over feels a bit to thick and stiff. This time I used decorative elastic for the waist and self fabric for the leg bands. The pattern is something I drafted from a favorite pair a while back. I used the overlocker for the 3(!) seams, and regular zigzag stitching to attach the elastic with a stretch needle. I prefer the result over the fold-over with 3-step zigzag. 

Today is a new day, and I hope it'll be less frustrating. At least I now have new underwear to help me conquer the day!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Internet and "on-line sewing"

I read Morgan's last post about her week without internet with great interest. There are times in life when I would prefer to immerse myself in the fantasy world of the internet. Less than two months ago we've been through such a period of time during the war in Israel. Scrolling Instagram, reading blogs and collecting inspiration on Pinterest helped me disconnect for short periods of time from the awful painful reality of our being at that time. We were mostly cooped up in the apartment as missile alarms could go off at any time of the day, and while in our town it was relatively safe our families in other parts of the country had them several times a day. Looking at pictures of other people from the sewing community having normal daily fun and continuing with normal daily sewing activities helped me remember that this time will past and I, too, will able to go back to my normal life. 

This advantage of the internet, helping us get inspired by looking at other people's daily activities, normal routines and achievements, is a complicated one. Of course this sort of inspiration is a good thing, but given the edited nature of the content we consume on the internet, instead of being inspired we can end up feeling bad with ourselves and with our seemingly less glorious lives. Looking at pictures taken at special fun moments may give us the illusion that every moment of every day may look like this for everybody else, while we're stuck in a relatively boring reality. This may result in disappointment with our own lives, even though we may subjectively enjoy it very much. 

Another point is that by looking at what other people are sewing and being inspired by their choice of patterns and fabric, we may sometimes find ourselves wanting to make the exact same thing rather than choose our sewing projects in a way that is most suitable for our lives, workplace, and personal style. This may be especially more relevant nowadays as personal sewing blogs become more professional and photos are better directed and edited. Sometimes I find it hard to distinguish between genuinely liking a garment I see and being inspired to make it myself, as opposed to being attracted to the atmosphere the picture represents; usually this atmosphere has very little to do with the reality of life, and the garment plays only a small part of the scene. I interpret my immediate reaction to the photo as my wish to have the way of life portrayed in the picture. Usually the scene is calm, smooth, bright and peaceful, light-years away from my regular, normal, fun but un-glamorous life. Considering the time I have to spend on my hobby is limited, I would like to spend as much of it actually sewing but sometimes I feel so far away from the pretty peaceful lives portrayed in blogs, that it feels like sewing an actual garment will not bring me closer to experience something that beautiful.

However, the truth is that clothes don't REALLY matter, and having beautiful peaceful life has very little (if anything) to do with what we wear. I love clothes, I love sewing, I feel better with myself when I dress nicely, and I absolutely wouldn't trade the time I spend sewing for anything. But the reason I love my life is because I spend it doing what I enjoy and with people I love, and not because it's perfect. I don't live in pictures but in reality, and this is something I sometimes forget. 

The problem is - I wouldn't be the sewist I am or the person I am today, if not for the internet. The inspiration and information is indispensable (not just for sewing, but in almost every area of my life) and therefore I can't and won't give it up. It is probably more like going on a diet - we all must eat, it's just a matter of quantity, quality, and the fact we shouldn't be controlled by it.

Consequently I've been trying to find a better balance between "online sewing" and real-life sewing. More importantly by making a conscience effort to be more aware of what I like and why I like certain types of inspiration, I'm trying to distinguish between patterns and garment that will go well with my everyday wardrobe, and those that are simply beautiful but probably will not fit in my life. 

I hope that by doing so, as well as by managing my online sewing time better, I'll be able to create a happy functional wardrobe and lengthen my attention span so I'll be able to concentrate for longer periods of time on "real life stuff". Managing time is always a problem (especially for self-employed or those who have very little guidance from their supervisors at work!) and I hope the first steps I'm taking now will help me become better at this with time. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Summer Dress - DONE!

Hi all!

We've just come back after marvelous ten days of hiking, driving, hiking some more and traveling the beautiful villages and cities of northern Greece. It's a bit difficult to return to "normal" life after a vacation, I enjoyed to peace and quite of just being the two of us together without all the "white noise" we all have in our lives. I missed the sewing machine, though. Before living I finished the quilt I've been working on since April and also made the rug, but I didn't hem the black Moss skirt and three Stratchona tshirts I made for myself (and took two of them with me to Greece, un-hemmed...). The night before our flight I also cut fabric for couch-cushions so I do have some WIP I can continue while I ease back into my daily routine. 
One garment I manage to finish before our trip (hem included!) was the black knit summer dress I started two months ago. Fortunately we had a few warmer days before the trip so I wore it a couple of times already, and enjoyed it very much. It was a long process even though it's such a simple dress, mostly because the fear of messing it up made me second guess myself every step of the way. 

I used my self-hacked racer-back sports bra pattern as the base for the back. I used a different dress I have (RTW, almost never wear it) to estimate how much length I should add to the back and front pieces. 

In the above picture the original pattern is demonstrated with the length I added for both the front and the back pieces. The ~1" shorter back pieces is supposed to compensate for my sway-back (a problem I have with most commercial patterns). Since I could only estimate the different in length between the front and the back, and didn't know if I'd like the end result, I didn't trace the pattern and cut the fabric using the above pieces. It's a reciprocal process - I have to use the real fabric rather than start with a muslin because it's a knit fabric, but I feel like I can't cut into the real fabric before I'm sure my measurements are correct. At the end I just decided it would be "good enough for a first try" and cut the fabric. As planned I self-lined the bodice using Sarai's method, just as I did with my sports bra. I cut the pieces for the lining a bit smaller all around hoping the smaller lining will make the seam-line roll inwards. The moment I tried on the bodice I realized how silly I was for procrastinating the project. The bodice fits well, I like it, the seam-lines mostly role inwards as I wanted. 

After making the bodice I re-thought the skirt. Originally I planned using the Lady Skater skirt pieces but I didn't want to complicate things by trying to match the Lady Skater pieces with the waist line of "my pattern". Instead, I traced the general shape of an RTW skirt I have, assuming I could make it work (thankfully, knits are so forgiving!).

I added a lot of length to the skirt (at the end I cut 10 cm from the length I added), and make an FBA (=full butt adjustment) to the back piece, by adding more width and length to the center back. I didn't enclosed the waist seam between the bodice shell and lining as planned, as the bodice was a bit too short and I didn't want to risk it too much. 

Initially I thought the bodice was about 2 inches too short; I felt the racer-back didn't balance the fuller skirt and that more length should be added to the bodice in order for the dress to have better proportions. After wearing it for a while though I started changing my mind. I think the quirky proportions work well for a summer dress, and I can also envision this silhouette in floral fabric with cooler colors for autumn (under a cardigan, maybe even a long one, with boots and leggings). I also have some sparkly black knit I would like to turn into a long sleeve version of this dress (like the Lady Skater, only with the fuller skirt I drafted), but I'm not sure if I can pull off the short bodice in a long-sleeve dress as well. Any suggestions? 

Of course I procrastinated the hem for as long as I could. I started with a blind hem but 20 cm later I realized it was too weak for a dress I intend to wear often, and I was too lazy to continue. It took a few minutes with the tween needle to have a proper hem, and while it is not invisible I still prefer the more durable finish on a knit dress. Have your ever tried hemming a knit garment with a blind hem?
All in all i'm happy with this dress and think the silhouette it worth tracing the pattern and giving it another go.

pattern: self-drafted
fabric: 1.5 meters = 37.5 ISL = 10 $
thread = ~2.5 shekels = 0.68 $
Total: 40 ISL = 10.68 $

Saturday, September 27, 2014

I made a rug!

Yes, the quilt is DONE!! It deserves a separate post though...
I wanted a rug "to define" our living room ever since we moved into our current apartment (more than a year ago...). We have one big room that serves as our living room, kitchen, home office, and sewing studio. I obsessed with furniture organization since we moved in order to define different areas, and a rug could help. We couldn't find anything we liked, we kept saying everything was too expensive to fit in our budget but I think we have become DIY snobs - unless we make it ourselves, we don't like it.

Searching Pinterest I found some tutorials for a DIY rug but most used an existing plain rug (we do have it in IKEA here, but it costs double than in the US) or some sort of crochet pattern I assumed would take me forever to complete and won't fit our budget anyway. I didn't want a project that was too complicated or used many products I didn't have on hand. Instead I aimed for simplicity, assuming the "perfect rug" would be one I can complete in a reasonable amount of time (and money). Eventually we had the idea to use a thick piece of fabric on top of an anti-slip mat. We searched for the perfect print but we couldn't find anything we liked and was thick enough for a rug, so we decided to paint ourselves a plain piece of fabric. We chose this rug from Urban Outfitters as our inspiration (I say "we" because it was a mutual decision), after scrolling Pinterest for black and white geometrical rugs for HOURS.

I used a regular pencil to draw the pattern (with my quilting ruler) and black acrylic paint. Despite initial concerns (the first two lines turned out awful) we both like the end result, and it took only a few hours to finish the entire thing. I should say that the cheap acrylic I used changed the texture of the fabric so it isn't soft as the unpainted parts, but I know there are some paints designed to be used on textiles (I couldn't find any). I'm very happy with this project, it was way easier than I expected and the impact it makes in our small home is incredible. 

Anti-slip mat: 39 ISL (10.61 $)
fabric: 68 ISL (18.5 $)
paint: 20 ISL (5.5 $)
Total: 127 ISL (34.61$)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

One Week One Pattern - my reflections

First I should come clean and say I wore my self drafted boat neck tops for only 5 days.On the first day of the challenge I forgot it was September 6th and wore a date night dress (for a morning coffee date) and on the last day I was shadowing doctors in a medical institute as part of my studies so I wore scrubs. As much as I think these awful scrubs deserve some scrutinizing (seriously, these things are unisex and the crotch on the pants is designed exclusively for men. I look like a big pile of sea foam when I wear it), lets concentrate on five days of OWOP for this post.

The gist of OWOP, one-week-one-pattern, is to wear variations of the same pattern for a duration of a week, and get creative in mixing and matching garments to get the most out of an existing pattern. For me this challenge isn't about having 7 garments made from the same pattern and wearing them for a week, which is mostly what I did this time, and thus I don't think I succeeded in the challenge very much. I love the idea of taking a versatile garment and dressing it up or down to create a variety of outfits suited for different occasions.  However by the third day of the challenge it had become clear to me that my work-wardrobe was rather boring and I had very little versatility in my daily outfits.

I currently have five tops from the same pattern (self-drafted), two of which are from woven fabrics, two are cropped, and one has long sleeves. I like the way they fit and these garments are potentially very versatile, if only I had more than one type of bottoms to pair them with. I usually wear pants for work, but I have multiples from the same pattern (and one pair of slacks), so I don't have any interesting combinations. Of course I could (and should) accessorize the same silhouette differently, but I usually don't do it (even thought I have plenty accessories. go figure).

So lesson number one:
Think more about accessorize. 

Starting September the temperature in Jerusalem (the capital of Israel, where I live) drops. As much as I dislike the city, the weather here is great year-round and in the fall it's especially comfortable. It's the perfect weather for fall scarves, which could be such an easy make. I should try it at least once in the coming months.

As I wear mostly the same type of pants, every morning I wanted to grab a skirt and wear it to work, and every morning realized I didn't have any that could go nicely with loose fitting tops. The moss skirt (cut and ready to be stitched) would probably be a great addition to my closet. It's fitted but not formal, and the lack of fluff means I won't be afraid to have wind blowing it up. While I don't like wearing short skirts, I'm not as self-conscious with a pair of legging underneath.
lesson number two:
Try to incorporate more skirts 

Lastly, it had become very clear to me that my workplace is seriously ugly and uninspiring. I work at a lab and mostly sit in front of a computer. I love my job, I love research, and I do the coolest things ever, but in the ugliest environment possible. When I asked a friend to take my pictures during the week we couldn't find one real spot within the building that had nice lighting or reasonable background. While work environment can affect our productivity, there isn't much I can do about it (and frankly I accept it as it is, I love fashion and interested in interior design, but it isn't REALLY important. I'm grateful for doing what I love everyday, the rest is just details). However, combining the ugly and disorganized environment with loose fitting casual clothes results in me feeling frumpy and juvenile.

I had some interesting discussions with my friends at the lab regarding our casual dress code. Israel is a Mediterranean country so it's a casual dress code all around. Most of Israel is too hot to wear anything more formal, and it couldn't be more apparent than in the university, where it's very acceptable not to care about one's attire (or at least act as if you couldn't care less...). There's a fine balance between a casual look and a frumpy look. I should pay more attention to it. Mostly, I should just accept that while some of my older me-makes are still wearable, they may not be suitable for my age and state of employment anymore.

so... lesson number three:
Get rid of things 

I learned a lot from this challenge and It made me think again about my fabric+pattern choices. I wish there was another challenge coming up (like self-stitched September), I don't want to wait until MeMadeMay. Until then... I have some thinking and sewing to do!


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Work in progress - quilt

Am I the only one overestimating the amount of sewing I can do in one (short) weekend? For this weekend I planned no less then 4 garments (moss skirt, knit top, "lady skater" dress and ultimate trousers). However when I came back home Friday afternoon I realized I had way too many UFOs to start new projects this weekend. I had the black Summer Dress that needed hemming and our new quilt I started in April. While I wanted to start new fall projects, especially after some realizations post OWOP, I know better than piling up UFOs. 

The hem on the black dress was done within a matter of minutes using a double needle. I started hemming the dress using a blind stitch, but since it's a knit dress I thought it wouldn't be sturdy enough. I've yet to take any "finished garment" pictures so I'll wait with posting about the process with this one. 

The quilt, however, is a different story. I started it months ago and planned on using a simple solid yellow for the back. But I had too many triangles left over from the top and I don't like scraps. I spent some time designing the back using the triangles but few weeks have past and I haven't started sewing it. A week ago I realized it will never happen. The new design required more cutting and calculating things (and converting cm to inches and vice versa), and I wasn't up to it. So yesterday I decided to just do it, stitched it, and today I finally basted the quilt sandwich. 

I had to move all the furniture and just barely had enough floor space to lay it down. I taped the back right side down to the floor, smoothing the fabric as much as I could.

 I was so happy to finally take the backing out of the closet. It took up so much space!

 I used all the pins I have, knowing I'll have to take the quilt off the machine and back on the floor mid-quilting to smooth the fabric and re-distribute the pins from areas I would already have quilted. 

I'm more than half way through with the free-motion quilting, my favorite part (and the reason I made the quilt in the first place...).
I hope I can finish it in next next few days, so it'll be off my "to do" list and on our bed!

Monday, September 8, 2014

The "Don't wait for perfection" denim Jedidiah pants

I have this rule of thumb, when I see bottom weight fabric that I like (or see some potential in) I buy 1.5 meters of it. I think it's more difficult to find pant-worthy fabric than other kinds designed for tops, and this is especially true if I want to sew something for D. I have the same rule for colorful / patterned masculine warm knits but these are impossible to source that early in the fall so I've yet to find fabric for our Finlaysons.

Anyway a few weeks ago we went fabric shopping together (!) and I came across some really nice blue denim with no stretch. Since I don't wear pants with no stretch, and since this nice fabric was too good to pass up I decided to buy 1.5, enough for Jedediah pants. 

The original plan was to re-draft the front piece (and the pockets) to make a jean-style pant. I wanted to use rivets as well, something I would like to try but never had the chance. But time past and I didn't touch the pattern yet. I'm lazy with drafting because it requires more floor-space and also I don't have tracing paper, so I either tape together printer paper, or use some other material I have which isn't optimal for pattern drafting at all.

Fast forward a few weeks and I read Emma's post about her 5 secrets to success, of which "don't wait for perfection" was three on the list. It isn't much of a secret, really. I think anyone who creates anything in their day-job is familiar with the struggle between wanting to produce the "perfect product" (now!) and the desire to FINISH a project knowing that the next projects will benefit from the experience gained in the previews ones. I found it difficult to let go of my idea with making a jean-style trouser but it had become clear to me that I rather make something now than wait forever until I find the time and patient to draft.

One change I didn't give up on was facing the back pockets. I've made this pattern in the current style 3 times before, and pressing under the seam-allowance on the back pockets gave me trouble each time. I don't like how the seam allowance is exposed inside the pocket, especially not on a pair destined to be worn by someone else whom I don't expect to take special care of his clothes. Usually I just serge the seam allowance, taking advantage of the serged edge to guide me with folding the seam allowance. This time I wanted to try something different with a completely faced pocket. I used some remnants from my stash and faced the pocket by sewing the self piece and facing piece right sides together around the entire pocket, leaving a small hole through which I could turn the pocket inside out. I didn't want the facing to show so I cut it a little smaller to account for the turn-of-cloth. Overall I'm happy with the result!

I tried flat felled seams but it didn't work out too well on the crotch seam. I think the fabric is just too thick to work with this seam finish. for the side seams I used binding, but forgot to finish the curved edge of the zipper extension. Also, as seen below, I didn't cut the top stitching thread after knotting it. I was too afraid it will unravel.

D likes his jeans and the fit is great. I changed the order of construction so that sewing the side seams was the last step before the waistband. I prefer this order because it allows for last-minute fit alternations on top of making inserting the zipper a little less complicated.
I added bar tacks on the front pockets openings. As illustrated in the below picture (he's raising his arms above his head) that's a point of stress on the pants. From the side the facing of the back pockets shows a little, proving my efforts to account for turn-of-cloth unsuccessful. I'll play with it some more on my next makes, what can I say, it's a learning process...

Despite all of the minor mishaps I think it's the most successful pair I made so far! And I'm glad I didn't wait "for perfection" with this make, It's the best fitting pair of jeans he now owns!

pattern (calculated cost per make):   1.52 $ *
fabric: 37 ILS = 11$
notions = 10.5 ILS = 3$
Total = 15.52$ (55 ILS)

* I bought the pattern as part of the Parkland Wardrobe Builder for a total of 27.5$, or for 9 dollars per pattern. I've made this pattern 6 times so far, so the relative cost for each make is about 1.52 dollars.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Lift is too short to cut the wrong size PDF pattern

Lately it happens too often that I cut the wrong size after assembling a PDF pattern. A few months ago I finally decided to make a moss skirt, a pattern I was initially reluctant  to try because I thought it would be too short, but I saw enough good variations on the web to convince me otherwise. So after going through the annoying part of finding a printer and assembling the PDF I cut size 2 based on my archer size. Of course it's a completely illogical decision, you can't base you skirt size on your loose-fitting button-down, but my decision was somewhat supported by my hip measurement (around 35.6 inches. I measure in cm and convert to inches). After making the half-muslin I realized I need a size 4, meaning going through the annoying printing+taping+cutting process.

Today I finally assembled the pattern again and successfully made a half-muslin (I traced the pattern to the muslin before cutting it to avoid another PDF cutting fail) and I hope I can sew the skirt during the weekend. I do intent to add a bit of length to the bottom though...

The only problem I have with Jen's patterns is the half inch seam allowance. My machine (as well as the rest of my life) is in metric, and I never know what line to follow. I finally put some tape 1/2 inch from the needle to guide me when I make this skirt. 

On other news, after writing the last post I realized the REAL reason for avoiding my summer dresses project is my fear of failing it and ruining the nice black knit fabric with all its potential. But nice black knit fabric doesn't help me much when it's suck in the closet, so I decided to ditch my original plan and just hack it. I still have to hem to hand-stitch so I don't know what I think about it yet, but at least I tried! Once I'm done with the hem I'll write a proper post describing how I eventually drafted the pattern.

The black dress shares the ironing board with leftover fabric from an owl pillow and a fitted shirt I want to cut into a tank. Floral fabric for pants and thick fabric for a rug patiently wait on the daybed.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Blank Canvas Syndrome

                There was a time in the not so distant past, during my first years of med-school, when I always worried about money. It's true that with today's fast fashion one doesn't need to spend a lot of money to dress reasonably well,  but my passion was never for clothes but rather for sewing my own and enjoying the process. Since I was so worried about not spending much I felt like I couldn’t justify any purchase, fabric included, and not having "enough" material to create from made me miserable. A couple of years later and my financial situation is stable enough to afford spending money on my hobby; I decide on a specific amount I can spend on fabric every month based on other expenses I have and my priorities. Having a budget means I can purchase fabric without guilt as I know I only buy what I can afford and I know each piece of material will end up as a garment I can wear, or as something I tried and learned from. 
                Undoubtedly I spend more on fabric than I spent on clothes prior to my sewing days. However, having "enough" material to work with means I have the freedom to create whatever I want. Usually I alternate between difficult and easy projects but of course also choose a project based on my mood, needs, and the free time I have on my hands.
                "Enough" is a tough word to define, though. Currently I have about 20 pieces of fabric in my stash to make garments from, but I also have two drawers full of scraps to use for pockets, binding or craft projects. 

Two recent additions to my stash. The bottom one will hopefully end up as an Alder dress while the top one (which I purchased because my boyfriend really liked it...) will be an Alder tank hack.
Having 20 pieces of fabric in my stash means that fabric is not the "rate limiting step" in the process of sewing and designing my wardrobe. So what's stopping me from sewing through this fabric and creating the wardrobe of my dreams?

My art teacher in high-school called it the "Blank Canvas Syndrome", when student will stare at a blank canvas in-front of them fearing from ruining the canvas by potentially not creating a "worthy" painting. Sometimes I feel the same thing trying to bring myself to cut into the fabric. I'm afraid I'll end up with something I won't wear and therefore my efforts will only waste good fabric. Hesitation is another stumbling block. In my mind's eye each piece of fabric can be multiple garments, while in reality once I decide on a pattern and cut the fabric, I can't be anything else. How do I know which pattern is the "best" for each fabric? The black and gold polka-dot fabric that ended up as my victory slacks was purchased to become a dress. Only later I realized the weight and stretch are perfect for slacks for fall, rather than a dress I won't wear that much.

Stretch cotton for pants. I never wear colorful pants, but I want to try and see how it works.
I don't want to let my fears prevent me from experimenting with new silhouettes and patterns. I know that trying something and failing it is better than having a closet full of fabric (rather than clothes). I also know that by sewing the same thing over and over I will never improve my skills and have interesting wardrobe, but I find it difficult to just let go and have fun with the fabric.

What about you? Are you reluctant to cut into good fabric because you don't want to "ruin" it? Do you feel it prevents you from trying new things?