Findings: Inventory and making the most of things

In the throws of pattern testing, I haven't had much exciting news to report aside from the fact that the new pattern will be ready this month.

But so as to not shirk my blogging responsibilities, here's another edition of Findings!

Precious Plastic is an open source program designed to allow anybody to build their own plastic recycling and fabrication studio. I can imagine all sorts of cool objects you could make with this stuff...all their examples are awesome.

I'm always thinking about the disposability of things like seam rippers and plastic spools (and, honestly, disposable culture in general) and this project has me dreaming about a line of recycled sewing tools and notions. Now if only somebody could invent a consumer level machine that could quickly process scraps of fabric into raw material to be woven/spun/etc.

While we're on the topic of 'stuff'...

I recently came across this piece by artist Simon Evans (well, artist duo really, as his wife has been his collaborator for years under his name...a discussion for another time) that got me thinking about inventory. As I work through my wardrobe revamping and thinking about living with less, slow everything, Marie Kondo, etc, the idea of creating an inventory is extremely appealing to me.

Simon Evans  Everything I Have

Simon Evans Everything I Have

This Evans piece is more than just a visual inventory of course...if you examine the text below each item you'll find a variety of odd references and social commentaries, which is typical of their work. For the purposes of this blog post, I'm thinking about the work in a visual and loosely conceptual context.

I've tried to do projects like this in the past...making a visual catalog of all my clothing & accessories. I've actually helped other people do this as well, with varying success and levels of commitment. I'm such a visual person in terms of thought processes and organization, that I think seeing all my clothing at once would allow me to better curate. I could think of the collection as a whole. But the daunting process of photographing everything leaves me uninspired. If I were more of an illustrator, I might do drawings of everything, but that would take time I don't have. However, I think creating a visual wardrobe lexicon is a nice long term goal to have. Maybe on a long weekend...

Detail: Simon Evans  Everything I Have

Detail: Simon Evans Everything I Have

It gets me thinking though...how will people in the future remember us and what our lives were like? Will they examine our culture through facebook updates and vine videos?

That brings me to my next finding....

As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, I'm currently reading a book called The Making of Home by Judith Flanders. The book examines how our idea of 'home' in America & Europe was conjured over the course of the last few centuries, through developments in technology, practice, and culture. I'm only half way through it (I'm a slow reader, especially when I'm not taking public transportation: my preferred reading scenario) and in each chapter I've already discovered some wonderful thought seeds about women & work, homesteading, the social power of furniture, etc. I'm a total nerd about the history of domestic experience.

A detail from  The Arnolfini Portrait  by Jan Van Eyck

A detail from The Arnolfini Portrait by Jan Van Eyck

Archaeologists and historians often rely on legal documents from the time (such as probate inventories taken at the time of death to value an estate) to figure out what kinds of items people had and draw inferences about how they lived. Part of this is because paintings, though reflective of their times in a variety of ways, are not always direct representations of 'the real life'. Things change a bit when photography is invented.

Inventory from 1792, including 1 pair leather shoes, 1 yard black gauze, 1 oz white thread, and a thimble.

Inventory from 1792, including 1 pair leather shoes, 1 yard black gauze, 1 oz white thread, and a thimble.

So, how would future cultures interpret our lives by watching episodes of the Kardashians and reading an Ikea catalog VS. looking at a collection of photos of everything somebody owned? Or reading a sewing blog? Or looking at your amazon purchase history? Of course, all of this relies on our technology surviving us ;)

Anyway, a bit of a rambling of what my brain is doing when it's not thinking about pattern layouts. I like thinking about the future in relationship to history...it gets me thinking.

Do you have any creative methods for recycling your sewing leftovers? Have you ever created an inventory of your clothes or anything else?

A Color Palette

I'm chugging away her at BFS headquarters getting the next TWO patterns ready for you all. That's right, two.

I'm so excited to announce these patterns this month. One pattern will be release both as a PDF and as a printed pattern, while the other (a simpler design) will be released as a PDF only. Perhaps in the future, the digital pattern will be available printed as well, but for now, my plan is to release a simple PDF only pattern with each larger printed release as a way to keep my business sustainable. But I'm really excited about the opportunities these patterns present and the possibilities of creating an outfit from separates :)

In the mean time, as I crunch numbers, edit, and devise pattern release strategies, I've been thinking about color. In this month's issue of Seamwork (an awesome online sewing magazine from Colette Patterns) there is an article about creating a personal color palette.

I've definitely gone through color phases. As a punk sixteener, I was fond of black and every possible combination of neon and animal print. In my late teens and into college, I made a complete 180 and confined myself to earthtones only. I wore quite a bit of brown, along with colors like avocado, moss, and harvest gold (and any other colors usually associated with 1970's home decor palettes).

Some pre-'selfie' selfies from my college days with my first phone camera

Some pre-'selfie' selfies from my college days with my first phone camera

Though they seemed silly after the fact, I'm actually quite glad I took these for clothing documentation purposes. I often get nostalgic for some of my wacky art school garb

Though they seemed silly after the fact, I'm actually quite glad I took these for clothing documentation purposes. I often get nostalgic for some of my wacky art school garb

After college I tried to expand my color repertoire and found myself gravitating to blues. Indigo, chambray, lavenders, mauve and other cool tones. Perhaps it was part of a post-college re-invention. Changing your wardrobe and palette is tremendously transformative as part of a life change.

Rochelle over at Lucky Lucille wrote recently about being a blue-gravitating gal herself, but discovered that in spite of her attraction to the color, she felt she looked better in warmer tones: Golds, greens, orange, etc. As a fellow pinkish-toned person with dark hair, I was at first defiant. As an anarchist of style rules in most contexts, I felt the need to balk against this concept.

Saffron cardigan, black check, daffodils

Saffron cardigan, black check, daffodils

green french terry

green french terry

Then I bought some warm, olive green french terry. After putting on the top I'd made from it, I noticed my features pop and my overall look and complexion improve to me immensely. It was quite the opposite of what I expected. I also rediscovered a saffron yellow cardigan as the weather warmed up...low and behold, that same effect. Then I looked back at old photos and realized that I was indeed on to something with the earthtones in college.

More college earthtone selfies. Here's a clip from a video piece featuring a fantastic orange sweater.

More college earthtone selfies. Here's a clip from a video piece featuring a fantastic orange sweater.

I feel like this former pullover (gone now, sadly) is on its own the basis for a color palette.

I feel like this former pullover (gone now, sadly) is on its own the basis for a color palette.

This was a crazy sweater dress, plus copper cateye glasses.

This was a crazy sweater dress, plus copper cateye glasses.

I posed with this guy on tour with my old band in PA. I wore the striped tshirt pictured for years until it literally disintegrated.

I posed with this guy on tour with my old band in PA. I wore the striped tshirt pictured for years until it literally disintegrated.

Now, I don't know about you, but I read once that fair skinned folks should stay away from yellow and green, lest it make them appear wan and sickly. Friends, I found this to be quite the opposite. And thus, my spring palette reinvention begins.

Out of my strong desire to power sew a whole compatible wardrobe in a flash (ever had that feeling?) I looked in my fabric stash: Navy, indigo, mauve, lavender, pops of red and pink. I'd say nearly 75% of the fabric I have stashed fits that criteria. Mostly cool. In my closet, the same was clear.

So now I'm on a mission for my summer wardrobe and it falls into 3 projects:

1. Take loved garments (good shape, cut, print) that don't flatter and dye them!

We have a proliferation of Dockweed and Pokeberry in the garden, and an industrial sized spice container of turmeric and anatto. I think this is the summer I try some natural dyeing.

2. Make some garments in warm tones to wear with/complement my cool tones

I'm not getting rid of some of my faves, but perhaps they just need some warmth to balance them out.

3. Create a color palette for fabric shopping/project planning.

I'll follow the Seamwork instructions and create a swatch booklet. I love this idea. Also plan to give each color appealing food-related name. So far I know I need: Olive, Saffron, Paprika, Pecan, Blood Orange, Cream, Salmon.

Are you planning a summer palette? Do you change your colors to be harmonious with your complexion or do you defiantly mix and match? Or do you just wear all black and call it a day?

 

 

 

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 right...like 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!)

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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.

RIMG0064

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?