2018 Make Nine Plans and Wardrobe Goals

Hello everyone! Blogging again in less than a week? It can't be!

I blame it on the sub zero - ok fine, sub 30 - temperatures in my barn that manage to defy the strength of my puny pellet stove. (Later today I'm meeting with some heating contractors, wish me luck!) Part of it may be that I'm quite excited to share my sewing goals for 2018. My personal, mostly non-blueprints projects to help round out my own personal wardrobe.

I've written really, really extensively about my wardrobe on this blog. It's an ever evolving process but I feel like I'm finally catching up to it. Either I'm speeding up or it's slowing down. I think that's part of moving into the adult realm.

Here's what I confirmed about my style in 2017.

I say confirmed, because many of these are things I already knew but have now crystallized in my brain, big time.

1. My style tends to shift and my love for garments waxes and wanes. This is my biggest challenge as somebody who covets the idea of a capsule wardrobe. I blame ADD and an overactive imagination.

2. However, I'm very content wearing pretty much the same color palette at all times. In fact, I prefer it. The more earth tones, the better. Here's my color palette for 2018:

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I taught a graphic design class this Fall and one of the things that I had fun reviewing to teach my students was color theory. (Here's the powerpoint I made for my class if you want to check it out.) My personal color scheme is one of mostly analogous colors, so colors that are next to each other in the color wheel. It's got some complementary colors thrown in for contrast too.

It's pretty similar to my 2016 palette. Here are some outfits from 2017 that really capture this palette well:

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3. I'm constantly searching for balanced items that are quirky and designed but still timeless and professional. This is a hard one too. I'm trying to make more basic items to pair with funkier stuff.

I've started to figure out the whole curator/designer/artist uniform thing and had a lightbulb moment about embracing the color black as a neutral. I always thought of wearing black as being essentially an aversion to color, perhaps from watching so many designers on project runway struggle with using colors in their designs. But I realized it can be a perfect canvas for colorful accessories and outerwear (I'm looking at you gigantic ochre scarf with fringe and tassles and embroidery!) So, as you'll see in my plans, some basics are a must to achieve this.

4. I need different types of clothing for different parts of my life. Nice stuff for teaching, rugged stuff for gardening and chopping wood, and those magical items that do both perfectly.

2018 Make Nine plans

For 2018, I'm joining in the Make Nine Challenge. Rochelle has set up this challenge to be very open and low pressure which is just what I need. My plan is not to make a specific nine items, but rather to make at least 9 items for my own wardrobe (aka not samples for Blueprints, though I'll most likely sew a few blueprints patterns and share them. So, win-win.)

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Some of these might change along the way, but here's what I'm planning to make so far.

Row 1 is purely functional stuff

1. Desperately need pajama bottoms. Will most likely draft my own due to my prodigious booty.

2. Also really need a silky, not cling short slip for wearing under dresses. I'm 100% a slip gal and have plenty of vintage ones I should probably refashion. Most of them are weird pastel colors, so perhaps a dip in a dye bath is in order. But something about a really simple slip dress that can be underwear but also worn on its own is appealing too.

3. I would like to make a bathing suit that I actually feel comfortable and like the way I look in. I found a crazy dalmatian print lycra last year and I think I can make it work.

Row 2 is tops I don't really need, but can't stop thinking about

4. I'm envisioning a woven pullover that is super boxy to layer over collared shirts and dresses. With loose sleeves. Kinda like a woven sweater/sweatshirt type deal.

5. I've realized that my wardrobe desperately lacks pullovers. I want to knit one from something puffy like Quince & Co Osprey. Also considering carrying a lace weight yarn in a color I like for a subtle marled effect like this scarf.

6. Last year I saw the work of Lorena Marañon (you're welcome) at Quiltcon and my feelings about appliques changed forever. I can't stop thinking about a top covered in appliques (#stashbusting!)

Row 3 is stuff I need to round out my wardrobe and are currently missing.

7. My singular, go-to pair of jeans are getting ragged. I'm waffling back and forth between making 'business jeans' or more of a work pant. Also thinking about employing creative strategies for achieving a better fit. I'll most likely start with the Morgan or Ginger Jeans as a base and go from there.

8. Is pretty straightforward. I need another neutral-ish A-frame skirt. It's my go to perfect skirt pattern. Trying to decide between a dark grey denim or a brown linen-cotton blend.

9. I don't have a LBD (Little Black Dress). I've finally realized that my wardrobe can benefit from one. Just need to find the perfect fabric. I'm still trying to decide between a fitted sheath and a shift dress. Maybe I'll make both?

And something fun on the horizon!

Many of you asked about the capsule wardrobe workbook I created for a class back in August. I'm happy to say I'm working on developing it into a full fledged zine to release early this year! I'll be sure to share more updates and would love a few testers as well *wink wink*.

What are your 2018 wardrobe goals? Are you participating in #2018MakeNine

Geodesic Addition: Solid Back Piece & Cuffed Short Sleeves

One of the suggestions from my intrepid Geodesic pattern testers was the option for a solid back piece, as an alternative to having both a pieced back and front. So I decided to make one! To be honest, it's been drafted for quite a bit, but I've been reformatting Geodesic for print and decided to update the PDF version and tidy up the back piece pattern in the process.

So, at long last, here it is! **Updated 1/6 to fix error**

Geodesic Back Piece
 

Today, in honor of this pattern addition, I thought it would be fun to make another Geodesic using the solid back piece and a bunch of knit scraps that were taking up real estate in my stash. Geodesic is an awesome scrap buster and gives you an opportunity to get a little wild and wacky with color & fabric combos. I've seen some amazing scrappy Geodesics popping up on the #blueprintsgeodesic hashtag on Instagram. Be sure to check them out if you need some inspiration!

When I finished it, snow was falling. So I ventured outside in the flurry to get a few pictures for y'all. Hopefully the charm of these snowy pics will make up for the fact that they're a little slapdash and underexposed.

Here's the solid back piece in action!

After taking these shots, I promptly ran back upstairs to sit in front of the fire. Though being out in the snow in short sleeves was a bit refreshing, my hands were freezing! Any other sewists have constantly cold hands? My hands are icy even when it's mild out.

This is the 3rd Geodesic top I've made with short, cuffed sleeves, a look I really dig. Each time, I've experimented with a different method of cuffing the sleeves. While I'm not sure this one is my favorite, I think it does the job well and is a bit fancier than simply turning up the hem. This method also allows you to do a contrast cuff. For this version, I thought I'd include some pictures of what I did in case you'd like the do the same!

First, shorten your sleeve to however short you want the final sleeve to be. Cut a piece of contrasting fabric that is as wide as the hem pattern piece and as long as your armhole opening. Sew one side closed.

Fold the cuff over along the edge so the raw edges meet. Press lightly, but avoid creating a major crease.

Put the cuff inside the sleeve, raw edges together. We're going to attach it in the opposite way of the pattern instructions, so that the serged seam is on the outside. Sew and press the seam up towards the sleeve.

Fold the cuff up along the seam line.

Here's the tricky part: roll down the cuff slightly, so that the seam attaching the cuff to the sleeve is about 1/2" from the bottom edge of the cuff. Then, from the inside where seam is, pull out the excess fabric, creating a new fold for the top of the cuff.

In the picture below, you can see how the cuff has been shifted up by looking for the shadow of the original seam. This is right after pressing...when worn, the shadow/outline is not very visible. Part of the lumpiness of the seam is from the serger. If working with a thick knit, you could probably avoid this by straight stitching and trimming down to 1/8" or pressing the seam open.

I decided to do a small tack at the top of the sleeve as well, to keep it from unrolling. You could also do a second tack at the underarm.

I'm pretty excited about how this guy turned out! Looking forward to wearing it this week.

I hope you enjoy these additional options for Geodesic. If you ever have an idea for a pattern renovation or addition, please feel free to share!

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?

Refashion to the rescue!

I spend part of every fall and spring, culling my wardrobe as many of us do. Lots of folks lately are writing about this process. The Coletterie has touched upon this more recently as part of their Wardrobe Architect series.

At this point, I feel like my style is shifting again. Maybe it's getting older, moving to the country, feeling subtle shifts in how I want to be perceived. As a result, the need to re-evaluate my wardrobe as I have in the past is unavoidable, but familiar.

I know what I wear all the time. And I know what I'm not going to wear. Since I cull my wardrobe so frequently, I don't have too much to work with as things start to change. There are some serious gaps. And I'm also at the point where a majority of my garments are self made. I've astonishingly been able to part with a few ill fitting or ill conceived makes, but it's the pieces in between that confound me.

I'm still figuring out what to do with the maybes...

There's loads of criteria for whether or not to ditch something and many of these maybes only fulfill one: they don't get worn. For many, I like the fabric, the style, the color, and they go with things I own. But I don't wear them, and I think that's due all sorts of factors.

I find one of the hardest things to do when making clothing for oneself is to distinguish between what you like and what you like to wear.

I decided to take some unworn pieces from my wardrobe that I really, really like and figure out how to make them wearable:

Exhibit A

This is a Hazel Dress by Victory patterns, modified to be a shirt. I used some incredible cotton voile and lightweight sateen. I love the colors.

But I discovered that despite the fact that bow blouses were designed for small chested women, it doesn't feel right for me. It's too fussy and feminine, even though it's made up in the least feminine colors possible. Too much bow.

I think the best way to save this is to do away with the bow. There's quite a bit of fabric in there that could be used for other details, but I think it would be best to stay simple. Perhaps I'll keep the neckline as a sort of band collar and add a button placket. I'm a big fan of the Henley shirt and fantasize about making them all the time (though no pattern exists to my knowledge...I'll have to make one!). The silkiness of the fabric will be the star, offset by a more masculine palette and balancing out the feminine puffy cap sleeve.

Exhibit B:

This was a pattern I was developing for myself after seeing a little boys shirt with button closed neckline. I had, I believe, 1.5 yards of this awesome Nani Iro double gauze and decided to make it happen with this shirt. I think the fact that I was short on fabric, combined with the fact that my posture has changed a lot in the last year, resulted in a shirt that's just a bit too short. It's not a crop top, and it looks ok with high waisted skirts, but as a result of being a pants person lately, it's just not getting worn.

I'm thinking for this one, my best bet is to turn it into a dress, or at least a tunic. The drawing on the left: Find some more of this fabric and attach a skirt right below the purple stripe at the waist, then add elastic. On the right, cut shirt in half as pictured and throw in a contrasting double gauze to add length...most likely cropping right below the bust line.

We'll have to see if I can find a fabric that works...

Exhibit C:

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This is from the Japanese pattern book I Am Cute Dresses.  I made it originally as a sample for JP Knit & Stitch and took it home when the fabric (one of my favorite - and unlikely - Denise Schmidt prints) and the book were out of stock.

In theory, I love this dress. It's over sized and very Japanese, just right. Since I'm a similar build as the models, it looks quite nice on me too. But here's the problem: I don't want to look girlish and demure like the book models. Which I certainly do, despite using a fabric one could describe as feedsack-goth (can that be a thing?). I think this look is great for others, but for me is somewhat retroactive.

The plan here is to eliminate the 13 yr old dressed in mom's 90's sundress cut and make it into something more oversized-in-the-right-way Japanese artist in late 1960's New York.

I decided to crop the dress at thigh length (right now it hits at low calf) and use the remaining fabric to create raglan-ish dolman sleeves. This one inspired the most clear and manageable fix, so I decided to give it a shot. I wrote the majority of this post before attempting this fix, but decided to wait to post until I had a picture of the finished product.

That night, we had out annual JP Knit & Stitch holiday/winter dinner party and I decided to wear this to it.

Here's me an Genevieve at the party (she's wearing her Cabin top in Nani Iro sparkley double gauze.) I can definitely foresee this getting a lot of wear!

I've noticed a lot of other folks taking this approach to their handmade garments, too! Teresa of Dandelion Drift recently made a Cabin shift out of a lovely double gauze. When she decided she didn't like the length and wasn't much for tunic length tops, she decided to turn her potentially unworn Cabin shift into a shirt, and it turned out awesome!

Stay tuned for the other two rescued tops!

Have you performed any successful wardrobe saves? Was it a simple fix, or did it end up being more complicated than the original?