Yang Gamine, Flamboyant Gamine… huh?

Remember the refashioned cardigan? My custom-painted scarf arrived and the weather cooperated so I can show you how it all looks.

Outfit 1 comparison

On the left is how I wore it last winter. On the right is how I wore it today. Makes a difference, doesn’t it? And it’s not just the cardigan. Did you notice the earrings? I am wearing ones you can actually see, hehe. Wearing more and bolder jewelry is one of my new style goals so be prepared for more of it.

The jewelry is only a part of my new style direction. You see, I have recently had a consultation with Rachel Nachmias of Best Dressed. She helped me understand where I fit on the yin-yang continuum and sent me a personalized pdf with recommendations plus visuals in the form of a private Pinterest board. The visuals especially are priceless. The keywords for Yang Gamine (or YangG) are bold, contrasting, fitted, structured, and cheerful. Today’s outfit was my first attempt.

Outfit 1 accessories

Scarf or pearls or both? Do you have a preference?

Yang Gamine. Flamboyant Gamine. High-spirited essence. Different names for the same archetype. The youthful, playful, spunky, ball of energy type, with twinkling eyes. That’s me. And I’m going to learn to dress the right way so that my clothes and accessories tell my story. Lots of sewing coming up, hehe.

See you soon!

New sewing space

The move is done and the boxes are all unpacked. Yay! I still have a batch of cardboard sitting in the garage waiting to go to the recycling center and there’s some reorganizing still to do, but for the most part, things are in their place now. My sewing space is once again on the main floor, which is awesome. Let me show you:

Sewing space 1

You can see the couch in the left lower corner here. The couch is where my husband likes to hang out, playing the Playstation or reading. We like being in the same room even if we’re not doing the same thing so this arrangement is perfect for us.

Sewing space 2

Please excuse the undressed dressform. Maybe I could make a robe or something for her to wear in between projects. And matching covers for the sewing machine and serger, maybe?

Sewing space 3

The coverstitch machine is now living behind the doors of the cabinet on the left. I just need to buy a 110V surge protector before I can use it. (The other machines run happily on 220V.) The two compartments with gray roll-doors hold fabric. Maybe about 25% of my collection. The rest is upstairs, neatly stacked on shelves in the storage room.

Sewing space 4

My little bit of sewing-related decoration – it used to belong to my grandmother. Both the treadle and the needlepoint cover. I added the decorative things on top. Pretty cool, eh?

New jeans

In one of the recent wardrobe posts, I wrote that the wear-at-home side of my closet needed its own capsule. And it does. I’ll spare you the gory details. Suffice it to say that the need is dire and I have taken the first step to fill the gaping hole. I’m thinking two pairs of jeans and 4-6 tops. I’m starting with the jeans because I wanted to try Angela Wolf’s pattern.

Jeans - Front view

My measurements are between size 4 and 6 so I went with the 6. I wanted a straighter leg so after adding ⅛” to both the inseam and side seam at the knee (to match an old favorite pair), I dropped both seams straight down to the hem. Then I tested it in muslin. Muslin doesn’t stretch so this was a stand-up only pair but it was enough to show what other adjustments were needed:

  1. I took out ¾” from the upper edge of the yoke at CB, tapering to nothing at the side;
  2. I added ¼” to the inseam at the crotch level on both front and back, tapering to nothing about 8″ lower;
  3. I scooped the front crotch curve ⅛”.

Then I cut it in stretch denim to make a wearable prototype. That’s what you see in these pictures. For this particular pair, I taped the back yoke to the jeans back piece – there’s no shaping involved, just a straight line, and no grain change either so this was okay and it allowed me to position the pockets higher. I omitted the belt loops because the stabilized curved waistband will stay put without the help of a belt.

Jeans - Back and side view

I am not too keen on the amount of wrinkling on the back of the legs. I’ll see if I can fix some of that in the next version. Otherwise, I am pretty pleased. The pattern has very detailed instructions, which I followed almost to the letter. I used regular white Metrosene for both seaming and topstitching. No doubled thread here. I think it shows just fine. The serger was threaded with blue from a previous project so I just used that. I opted for a contrast waistband facing, using the same bright green quilting cotton that lines the pockets and serves as the fly shield.

Jeans - Closeups

I’m not entirely sure about the stretch denim. It feels weird, how it moves with the body. I think I prefer regular non-stretch denim. There should be a few yards coming in the mail soon. That said, this pair is perfectly wearable for around the house.

There’s so much more I wanted to tell you but the words aren’t coming because my brain is ready for the movers. They’re coming tomorrow. It’s a local move so somewhat less stressful than our usual transatlantic move but still far from fun. I expect to be unpacked and fairly functional early next week. And now I’m off to pack up my machines because I don’t want anybody else’s paws touching them.

See you soon!

Cardigan refashioned

As I had mentioned in one of the recent wardrobe posts, I had a red cardigan that needed a bit of refashioning. It was nice, I mean it’s cashmere and soft and feels lovely, but it was also kinda boring. Okay, really boring. You know, the kind of cardigan that looks perfect on a tall, classic, elegant woman. Which I am not. I am a yang gamine so that cardigan was not speaking to what John Kitchener calls my “high-spirited” essence. Ha! No problem. At least, it’s nothing that a good pair of scissors and some double fold bias tape couldn’t fix.

I present to you, my refashioned cardigan:

Before and after

It looks even better worn with a simple black dress and a jaunty scarf.

It started out life as a regular Land’s End cashmere cardigan. I took it in a total of 2″ at the waist, cut off the buttons, buttonholes, and bottom ribbing, and turned the neckline shape into a V (or is it Y?). The bias tape is cotton – the leftover Kona cotton from my husband’s quilt. I finally used the super-duper Clover bias tape tool that I bought years ago and now that I’ve seen what awesomeness it does, you can bet there will be other bias tape projects in the future.

See you soon!

Wardrobe from scratch – part 3

We left off having completed step 13, the second round of accessories, and had what looked like a reasonable wardrobe. I mean, I probably could have stopped there and done just fine. But there are more steps in Janice’s plan so let’s work through them.

Step 14 is leisure wear. In other words, clothes to wear at home. This is a good place to add some colorful pizzazz. I already have the two pairs of pants – one is a cotton woven wide-leg style, the other a stretchy knit yoga style. I’d need to make the two tops. In reality, I need a separate capsule for homewear so I will leave these out of the subsequent slides.

Step 14

In step 15 we’re adding a versatile dress, an accent cardigan, and a pair of shoes. Janice made them on the warm weather side, with sleeveless dresses and sandals. I already have a dress in this wardrobe plan and it’s a long-sleeved one so I’ll add a sleeveless one here. I was debating between a really neat black and white houndstooth and this solid black one. The black one won because I already own it. I really love the idea of a houndstooth dress though so it might make an appearance next year. We’ll see. No sandals for this fall/winter wardrobe. Instead, I’m bringing in my knee-high boots – they’ll see plenty of wear. Rounding out this selection is a red cardigan, which I already own. It will require a slight refashioning but it’s definitely serviceable.

Step 15

In step 16, Janice looked for a “core of four” in each of the neutrals – two tops and two bottoms that can make four outfits. I can do that with the black pieces. The gray capsule only has one bottom so I’m going to add another skirt here but not in gray. I won’t wear gray pants so there’s no use putting them here and the only skirts I wear are pencil style so adding another gray pencil skirt won’t lend this wardrobe further versatility. But a black and white houndstooth skirt would be perfect here.

Step 16a

I am also seriously short on white items so I’ll add a white sweater and a white cardigan. I don’t own any of these three items and will have to make them.

Step 16b

Below I included the three new pieces so the white section looks more in balance with the rest. It’s starting to look like a really large wardrobe but there are only 23 garments and that includes two coats.

Step 16c

This wardrobe is just about done so in step 17 we add some finishing touches. Let’s take another look at the garments in the picture above to see if there are any obvious holes. Janice is aiming at 24 pieces. I’m good with what I see, but will add a black leather skirt and a ribbed V-neck sweater because these two together were one of my favorite outfits last year. The black short-sleeved tee shirt looks like an anomaly here, among all the sweaters, but for now I’ll keep it. We’ll see how it works out in real life.

Step 17a

I have separated the clothes from the shoes and accessories to get a better idea of how things look. I think the wardrobe is looking pretty good now.

Step 17b

Step 17c

In step 18, Janice checked her wardrobe plans against her Common Wardrobe to ensure nothing was missing. The Common Wardrobe has too many pieces I wouldn’t wear so instead, I’m using this step as a reality check. First, there are two dresses and five cardigans I’d wear with them. It sounds like ten different outfits but in reality it’s only five different looks because the sleeves or lack thereof under the cardigan won’t make any difference. Depending on the weather outside, there will really be only one reasonable dress choice on any given day.

Then there are six bottoms and nine tops that work well with them. Each top goes with at least two bottoms so that’s another 18+ outfits. I also have the black T-shirt here but the chances of it being worn without a cardigan on top are practically nil. There is a bit of crossover between the two groups in that I might wear the pants and jeans with the white shirt or the black T-shirt and a cardigan, but we’ll see how realistic that is.

Step 18

So, pretty decent wardrobe plan, I’d say. I’m going to give it a try this fall/winter and see how I fare. There are a few pieces in this wardrobe that I will need to make or buy:

What to make and buy 2

Pretty cool, right?

See you soon!

Wardrobe from scratch – part 2

In the previous post, I left off at step 7, with enough garments and accessories to get through at least two weeks without completely repeating an outfit.

Step 7

I thought in this post I’d get through the rest of the steps but, umm… no. It will require at least one more post. It takes forever to find just the right picture, in just the right color, and just the right shape, to represent what I have in my wardrobe or want to add to it. Let’s just say that going through this exercise, I have gained a whole new appreciation for the work Janice does on The Vivienne Files.

Anyway, moving on to step 8, we’re going to add two tops and a necklace. I chose a light gray cashmere jewel neck and a darker gray cotton blend turtleneck, both of which I already own. The necklace is my peridot torsade.

Step 8a

Step 8b

In step 9, we add a skirt with a top and shoes. In Janice’s lineup, this is the first skirt and fairly formal and the blouse is on the formal side as well. As in, “important occasion”. I already have a formal-enough gray skirt in this wardrobe  and tops that work with it, so I’m going with polka dots and bright color. I’ll need to make both of these pieces (and my fall 6-PAC is starting to take shape). The shoes are a pair of Ecco maryjanes I already have.

Step 9a

Step 9b

In step 10, the idea is to up the casual factor in the wardrobe and so we add a casual jacket, top, and shoes. I already have a black parka and a pair of black Keds. I’ll have to make the sweater (probably knit rather than sew).

Step 10a

Step 10b

Step 11 is where we start adding personality to the wardrobe, although I think I might have started on that earlier with the polka dot skirt. Anyway, here we add a complete outfit – three pieces that work together. Some of Janice’s variations show a three-piece outfit, one shows three pieces that can be paired together in two different ways. I chose the latter and added a dress, a cardigan and a shawl. I wouldn’t wear the cardigan and the shawl together, but each works well with the dress. I already have the long-sleeved black dress and the green shawl. I’ll have to knit the cardigan.

Step 11a

Step 11b

In step 12, we’re looking for an attractive, versatile winter coat. My 12-year-old black coat is getting threadbare and will require replacement soon so I chose this red double-breasted one because I like the shape and the details. When I make it, the trim will be black to match the buttons and it may have a hood so it’s more practical in rainy/snowy weather. The boots are my existing Ecco, and I’ll knit a black or dark gray cowl to keep my neck warm.

Step 12a

Step 12b

Step 13 is round two of accessories. It calls for another handbag and because I don’t actually like to change handbags day-to-day, I chose to add a tote that already lives in my closet. It’s very useful for carrying larger items that don’t fit in the handbag. Then two pairs of earrings, a necklace, a brooch, and a bracelet. I’m not much of a bracelet person but I think I would wear this one. I already own the peridot earrings and the starburst brooch, and I’ll need to buy the red earrings and necklace, and the green bracelet.

Step 13a

Step 13b

It’s getting pretty crowded there but there are still a few more steps to go. I’m liking the look of this wardrobe very much, and especially the fact that I already have most of the pieces. My sewing and knitting plan is shaping up quite nicely (I’ll make the garments and purchase the jewelry). I’m sure I’ll have to add to it in the steps that follow, but here’s how it looks right now:

What to make and buy

How are your wardrobe and/or sewing plans coming along? Please share in the comments.

See you soon!

Wardrobe building from scratch

Janice over at The Vivienne Files has been posting awesome articles about wardrobe building for years. Her latest series, Starting from scratch, is pure genius, beautifully illustrated and with excellent explanations of what, why, and how. There’s also a very lively discussion related to her articles on the Stitcher’s Guild. I’ve been waiting every morning with bated breath to see what the next step brings. Last night, I decided to see how it would look in my own wardrobe and what I might need to sew this fall and winter.

The first step is a pair of dressy pants. I already have one. It will need to be replaced soon but for now, it will do.

Step 1

Step 2 is a versatile, comfortable pair of shoes. For me this would be my Ecco Kiev. I love them.

Step 2

Step 3 adds a cardigan and a tee shirt. I have these already.

Step 3

Step 4 adds jeans and a shirt. Jeans in the neutral color, which means I’d have to make them. So I’ll be on the lookout for some nice black denim. The shirt already lives in my closet.

Step 4

In step 5, we add accessories: handbag, earrings, watch, bracelet, necklace, scarf – whatever works. I’m not big on wearing bracelets so I didn’t put one here, opting for a necklace instead.

Step 5

Step 6 adds accent color tops (one each) and a scarf. I already have sweaters in these colors so I added them. Janice shows tops that can be worn under cardigans, which I might try in a future version of this. The scarf is also one I already have.

Step 6

In step 7 we add a top and bottom in the second neutral, and a pair of shoes. Janice shows a pair of pants but I prefer skirts so that’s what I chose. I would need to make this. For the gray top, I have a cardigan that will work well. Janice shows the shoes in the second neutral color but all my shoes are black and that’s not likely to change anytime soon, so I added a pair of Munro pumps I already own.

Step 7

Now we take a brief pause to see what outfit options we have and whether this is the direction in which we want to go. I put these together and I like them, although I don’t really like sleeves on sleeves so the white shirt with a cardigan is not my favorite option. I’m not sure if I want to rethink the white shirt or just not worry about wearing a cardigan with it.

Wardrobe building pause

And this is as far as I’ve gotten for now. Janice has plenty more steps and I’ll work through them in the next few days. I want to be ready with a good plan when the fall 6-PAC sew-along starts on the Stitcher’s Guild.

Are you following along with Janice’s posts and looking at your wardrobe with new eyes? Please share in the comments.

See you soon!

Finished: quilt for my husband

It’s finally done! I put the last stitch in the binding this afternoon.

Quilt - whole

The pattern is Big & Bold by Cozy Quilt Designs, and the fabrics are mostly from the Deep Sea collection by Timeless Treasures. I made the queen size, substituting a wide solid border for the two narrower ones in the pattern.

It’s been a fun project because 1) it’s for my husband, 2) I love the colors, and 3) it’s different from what I usually sew. That said, it will be a long time before I do another quilt this size again. This one is 95″ x 95″ and let me tell you, quilting it was epic. Seriously, E.P.I.C.! And I only quilted straight lines on the diagonal, 2″ apart.

Quilt - quilting pattern

Still, with half or more of the quilt rolled up and supported by my left shoulder, I had a heck of a time maneuvering the whole thing through the sewing machine. Yes, my regular sewing machine. If you’re thinking right now that I must be crazy, let me assure you, I thought that too several times during the quilting process. It did get a little easier once I figured out the logistics of it. After that, it was sheer determination, hehe.

There are more than a few areas with crooked or wavy stitching. I was going to fix them but my husband said not to worry, that he didn’t even notice. And really, who else is going to be close enough to his bed to examine the stitching on the quilt? I let it be.

Quilt - crooked quilting

I am seriously proud of the binding. First I had to look up in a quilting book how to do those corners when I sewed it on, but now I know. And I love how they turned out.

Quilt - corner 1

It’s quite a bit of hand-stitching to go around the whole quilt and it took almost the whole last week, sewing maybe an hour or so every day. It’s such peaceful work, too. Very enjoyable. It totally made up for the epic undertaking that was the quilting.

So, now that that’s done, maybe I can start working on some clothes.

See you soon!

Gray Viajante

I don’t have a whole lot of pictures but I wanted to share this project with you because it was fun and easy and I love how it turned out. There haven’t been any knitting projects here lately, boo!, but at the end of June I finally felt inspired to pick up my needles once again and spent a fabulous week of knitting this lovely shawl. I used Cascade Heritage in charcoal. It’s a 75% wool, 25% nylon blend in fingering weight, 437 yds/100g. Easy to knit, doesn’t split, and produces a soft drapey fabric. I am in love with this yarn.

Viajante 1Viajante 2

The original is much longer but when I looked through the finished projects on Ravelry, I didn’t like how it looked on people in that size. So I made mine shorter. I was going for roughly two feet on the short side so it would cover my shoulder but leave most of my arm exposed. That would give it a nice diagonal line across my body without overwhelming my smallish frame.

Viajante blocking

It really has an interesting shape, doesn’t it?

I used two skeins of yarn, with a few grams left over. I could have continued the lace mesh but it’s such piddly work that once I had what I figured was enough length in the mesh, I bound off. I wanted a nice stretchy bind-off and found a really cool one. It’s easy and goes quickly. I’ll be using it again.

Modifications: on the short side, I used a centered double decrease (sl2tog, k1, psso) – it looks much nicer and doesn’t ladder. I only decreased every five rounds to prevent it from becoming a long narrow piece. I don’t want a chimney on my neck. On the long side, I increased by knitting into the center stitch three times: knit through the front loop, place marker, knit through the back loop, and then through the front loop again. This does require that you take the marker off the needles completely in order to knit this stitch but after a few rows you find a rhythm and it’s easy.

*** Update: here are pictures of the increases and the centered double decreases.

Viajante - decreases

You can see I started out with the decrease specified in the pattern (on the left side of the picture), then switched to the centered double decrease about 15 rounds in.

Viajante - increases

Pretty increases, right? No laddering at all. And it’s so easy too.

See you soon!

Bright-colored dresses

Back in April I posted about my black and lime green theory. It involved a simple sleeveless dress and a coordinating collared cardigan. That was the hypothesis anyway. But the more I worked with the four pieces, the more I felt like something was a little off. It took a while to put a finger on it but I finally realized that I didn’t care that much for the open neckline on the dress when worn alone. So my second hypothesis was born: collared dress and collarless cardigan.

Front 2

I closed up the neckline just a bit from the really wide and deep tank top style, and added a foldover stand-up collar. This is really pretty easy – it’s right about 1.5″ finished so I measured the neckline and cut a 7″ strip on the crosswise grain to that measurement. The 7″ allows room for turn of the cloth and seam allowances. I actually made a paper pattern piece to make cutting out easier.

The pattern is my good old TNT McCall’s 6355. It had the length, side seam shape, and armholes already worked out so the neckline was the only alteration. After making the first one of these to test the neckline, I promptly made it again in two other colors so now I have it in lime green, bright kelly green, and turquoise.  I took all three on our trip to Florida and practically lived in them there. One piece dressing – it just doesn’t get any better.

Front 3

To stay warm in the arctic A/C, I carried a black cropped cardigan. I had originally planned to make a black collarless cardigan as part of this collection but I ran out of time before the trip. So the old RTW cardigan would have to do. It was perfect for my needs.

And a quick preview of the knitting project I had mentioned:
Viajante 1

I’ll save the word soup about it for when I have more pictures, should be in the next few days.

See you soon!


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