Down with OPP

Yeah, you know me! (yes, this is a reference to the Naughty By Nature song. What can I say? I have a soft spot for 90's hip hop. If you do too, definitely go and re-watch that video. Queen Latifah makes an appearance.)

In this case OPP stands for Other People's Patterns.

As you know, along with designing patterns for you, I make a lot of patterns for myself. Lately I've been experimenting with using other people's patterns when I would normally make my own. As a pattern maker, it's a great way to do research and it is also a great way to distinguish 'work sewing' from 'pleasure sewing'. I tend to make up patterns rather than use pre-existing patterns for almost everything, including recipes (as discussed here!)  So using OPP gives me an opportunity to relax and not think too hard about what I'm making. Which is nice.

This is my 3rd Aster shirt by Colette Patterns. When I first saw this pattern it spoke to me immediately. I love Colette Patterns' designs, but usually they're not quite my style. This top, however, fits the bill for something I've been thinking about a lot lately: variations on button up blouses (especially without collars). This was definitely a quick and easy sew, though I'll admit, the button band threw me off a bit (I blame this on not using Colette's instructions. There are some differing seam allowances I didn't expect! Note: Always read the instructions, even if you think you know what you're doing ;)  )


My first Aster was a a 'wearable muslin' made from a stripey cotton gauze. Colette Patterns are drafted for a C cup, so I already knew I would need to do an SBA (Small Bust Adjustment). The results were good, thought the fit was not perfect. Having a very petite upper body (not so much on the bottom), I found the fit comfy but a little too low cut all over to feel comfortable. I figured this was due to the bodice/armhole length being a bit long.

For this version, I shortened the pattern by 1/2" evenly at each shoulder seam, bringing the armhole up to a more comfortable place. I also narrowed the sleeve by 1" to compensate. However, I still found the neckline to be a bit gape-y. I think I should have taken 1/2" from the shoulder only at the neckline, tapering to nothing at the sleeve, like a sort of 'square shoulder' adjustment. The is usually an adjustment for square shoulders. I have what's often called a 'forward shoulder'. I think in subsequent versions, I can take out yet another wedge shape from the shoulder seam to eat up the extra length at the neckline (as shown in the pic above).

Tiny fit issues aside, it's absolutely wearable as is and I love it! As you can probably tell, I changed the V-neck to a scoop neck. I also shortened the sleeves and omitted the bias cuff. I see many more Asters, or at the least, more button down variations in my future.

Can we talk about this fabric for a second? This was one of those 'love at first sight' fabrics. I picked it up at Britex when I was in San Fransisco. Their selection is truly overwhelming, but luckily I was able to browse enjoyably without having a panic attack. I decided to treat it more like a gallery visit than a shopping trip.

I picked up this amazing Japanese cotton print. I find it super unusual in the best way (though who knows, maybe it's super traditional in Japan. A friend pointed out that a lot of the motifs appear in Japanese scrolls). The fabric was only 35" inches wide, which seems scary but in reality worked out quite well and resulted in less waste fabric. The color palette is perfect and the fabric feels sort of old and worn in the best possible way.

I couldn't wait to cut into it! I defied the oft held fear of charging forward on a project with beloved fabric. And it worked out well!

Have you ever seen a fabric in a shop and just knew it would make the perfect so-and-so? Did it work out?


Thinking about personal style

One's personal style is constantly evolving (I've talked about this before) and before you know it, you need a whole new wardrobe to accurately outfit who you are in the present, feeling as though you're only left with articles of clothing from the past. This is particularly challenging when you are embarking on a new chapter in your life. This, however, is not a terrible conundrum to be in, my friend. It is one of the major reasons I got into sewing. I have always felt that there was something special, spiritual, and intangible to me about clothing. As I grow older, I slowly unfold these mysteries. I have realized that quality of materials explains in part the depth of tactile feeling I experience. For example, feel a nylon knit slip and a silk charmeuse chemise- you'll know what I mean then. As a lifelong patron of the used clothing trade, I have always felt the histories of the clothing I wear, though I have learned the rich stories behind different styles, materials, and wear&tear. Overtime, my personal history of learning clothing effects how seriously I take wearing clothing now. It is because of this that I find the challenge of outfitting an ever changing style to be so complex. Not only do I take it seriously from an aesthetic perspective, but I feel it when my outfit is not quite I'm subtly misrepresenting myself. It also makes it INCREDIBLY hard to get rid of clothing, especially things I have made. (The Coletterie has done some great posts on this topic, check out their wardrobe architect series as well!)


Holding up some lovely fabric

My style is constantly changing. I discover new sides of my aesthetic personality. Though these new feelings tend to take center stage, parts of my short-in-comparison personal history still cling. In my teens, I was very active in the punk scene and was particularly enamored with the diy aesthetic, iconoclast imagery, and performative costuming. The art school punk scene of the early 70's had a spirit of experimentation that to this day is a component of my personal stye.


Me and my high school station wagon (and platinum blonde hair)

After college I also worked in a Vintage clothing store and amassed an excellent collection of vintage stuff. The craftsmanship of the pieces, as well as their aura of time, drew me to them.

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Posing for a goofy ad campaign at 'Mercedez Benz Fashion Week'. 1960's wool dress and coat, 1930's handbag, shoes

Finally, some bits have crystallized - I always maintain a touch of vintage and punk - but others remain fluid. The more I read and research and experience life, the more history I have to draw from. As my life and lifestyle changes, I find new ways to incorporate these old loves into a style that feels right in the present.

One thing I've thought a lot about lately is being 'understated'. I've been very visually flamboyant in different times of my life. Nowadays, I'm interested in dressing more 'conventionally' for lack of a better term, but with something strange or special to set it off. I find these nuances more compelling at my age than 'making a statement' like I did when I was younger... though I may be so deep in a weirdo fashion bubble that my dressing 'conventionally' still looks weird to most people. I have been especially curious since moving out of the city.

These days, I am a pretty utilitarian dresser. (One of the things I have been negotiating lately is how to relate to athletic activities. I've never been big on the aesthetics of athletic clothing, and frequently make my own running gear. There's still a learning curve for me there, but it's progressing. ) The problem comes for me in how to dress simply while still maintaining a unique style. I'll tell ya, it's pretty tricky. I'm not a jeans and tshirt kind of gal, but that tends to be the uniform in rural New England and I've found myself gravitating in that direction. I actually bought a pair of stretch jeans, which I have been adamantly opposed to in the past (BUT OMG they are so COMFORTABLE and make your butt look awesome). If you'll ever find me in a Patriots/Red Sox/Bruins jersey is yet to be seen...

This month I wore some of my Cabin samples around and found them to work well with my new lifestyle. I see myself making a few in different fabrics to update my wardrobe for my 'new life' in the country. I know, the suspense is too much to bear. Hang in there! Cabin comes out in October!

How often does your style seem to evolve? Do you have a solid uniform or do you like to mix it up? Do styles of your past still find themselves in your present look?