SWAP sewing – red top and dress

Well, it has taken me a while to get back to sewing. I have a good excuse for February (out of town all month) but how March got away from me, I really don’t know. Anyway, it is high time to get cracking on this SWAP collection if I want to finish it by the end of April.

To that end, I sewed up a top and a dress, both red, both sleeveless. Same fabric for both – Sophia double knit in Scarlet. It turned out to be a darker red than I thought it would be but very wearable, and less in-your-face than my usually preferred screaming bright red.

Red 1

The pattern for both is my TNT that started out life as M6355. I just love it. By now, I can sew this up without much thinking or elaborate planning, having worked out the best stitching sequence in previous versions.

Red 2

I left the necklines plain, just a simple scoop, because I plan to wear scarves with both of them, as in the picture above. I will have to look through pictures to verify this, but right now my theory is that I prefer to wear necklaces with collars, and scarves with no-collar necklines. If this hunch turns out correct, then that will inform my future capsule planning.

I hope you all are sewing up a storm. See you soon!

Wadder report

The last ten days or so have been a very busy time for me. Lots of time in the air and on the road, then recovering from jetlag, and visiting with a friend… Fun times. But let me bring you up to speed on my sewing ventures.

The weekend before I left, I was sewing up a storm. Well, so I thought anyway. I made the red tank top and red dress but they ended up in the trash can instead of in my closet. I had a funny feeling when I prewashed the red ponte and its hand changed significantly. It seemed very liquid-y, if that makes sense, and not anything like the stable fabrics I like to sew. But I pressed on anyway, figuring that it was better to sew it up and find out it’s wrong now than to postpone sewing it until the end of SWAP when there would be no time to find a replacement.

Well, next time a fabric changes like that, it will be going to a new home. The dress was a good three inches longer when I put it on and looked like it would only continue to grow. Even in the short distance between the shoulder seam and bottom of the armhole, on the relatively lighter weight top, the stretching was obvious – turning in the edge of the armhole to hem it would have exposed my bra band. It was a rather expensive lesson (the ponte was from Marcy Tilton so the quality was lovely, just not well suited to my purpose) and I’m glad I figured it out early on in the SWAP. Today I ordered some red Sophia double knit so I can remake those two pieces.

In the meantime, I started sewing the black pants. They are almost finished. They just need the waistband and the hems.

I must say there is something very comforting in following the plan. I can keep moving forward, learning from setbacks like the growing red ponte, but not letting them stop my momentum.

SWAP sewing – first three tops

I’ve been down with a wicked cold but that hasn’t stopped me from sewing. In between the gallons of tea and regular doses of cold medication, I was thinking and sewing spring. Ha! Take that, silly cold!

Tops 1

This is yet another adaptation of my favorite pattern, M6355. I just love it. The fabrics are black Sophia double knit, white Swiss 4-way stretch (from Gorgeous Fabrics – it’s a fabulously smooth nylon/acetate/lycra jersey), and the striped knit is a cotton interlock that’s been waiting patiently in my stash for years.

I took the pattern for my colorful dresses and shortened it to about the high hip level. I left off the collar and just turned the neck edge under, topstitching with a twin needle. I really love how easy it is to use a TNT pattern. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever use another top pattern again.

Up next is the red top and red dress. The fabric is in the washing machine as I write this. I hope to have pictures to share by the end of the week.

See you soon!

SWAP 2015

Occasionally over the years, I’ve planned a neat-looking SWAP and even made a few pieces, but I’ve never actually completed the whole thing (as far as I can remember, anyway). The closest I came was in in 2004, when I made three skirts and six/seven knit tops (seven sewn but one was a wadder).  I have photographic evidence, hehe.

This year, I need some basics. Simple shapes, easy color scheme, that kind of stuff. I’m going with red, white, and black. Most of them are already in my fabric collection.

SWAP 2015 fabrics

A little bit of analysis of my previous SWAP attempts leads me to believe that my best bet this year is to focus on one silhouette and make multiples of only a few patterns. So, I’ll be making pants – it’s time to update my pant pattern to a narrower leg and adjust the length to somewhere near the ankle so they will work with both heels and flats. I’ll make three pairs: black, white, and red.

To go with the pants, I will make five tank tops: black, white, red, white/black stripe, and white/red stripe. I was completely wintered out by Christmas so all this sewing will be with spring and summer in mind. I am almost always cold so layering is important. That said, I do not like the feel of two sleeves inside one another so my preference is for a sleeveless top with a long-sleeved cardigan. The five tank tops should give me a pretty good start.

SWAP 2015 plan

The other three items in the SWAP are wildcards and those will be two cardigans and a dress. The two cardigans are RTW that need a little refashioning. One is solid black, the other black with white polka dots. I plan to cut them shorter, reshape the neckline, and add white trim like I did on the red one. The dress will be solid red and sleeveless.

I am actually going to limit myself to just two patterns – one for the pants and one for the tops and dress (both of these patterns are TNT).  I am hoping this will help eliminate any analysis paralysis so that I can just sew. Let’s see how well it works.

See you soon!

Happy New Year!

Yikes, it’s been a while. Not much time to sew in the last few months, even less to blog. But things are normalizing and I have a fairly reasonable plan for a red/white/black SWAP, so there will be sewing and blogging on a regular basis.

Happy New Year to all of you!

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!

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