It's about exploring and sharing my creative adventures (mostly sewing these days) ~
~those activities that sometimes obsess, usually inspire, occasionally frustrate
~and always provide a delightful maze to wander through.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Mini Wardrobe Challenge with No Rules! (My kinda challenge...)

On a bit of an inspired whim, one of my local  sewing groups decided to do a mini-wardrobe challenge.  After some discussion about what rules to set, whether to have a "winner" & prizes, etc., we ended up deciding to hold a make-however-many-pieces-you-want-and-set-your-own-goals-and-we'll-just-support-each-other sort of event, because that's the kind of group we are.  :-)  My kind of contest!

I entered one Pattern Review mini-wardrobe contest a few years ago, and really appreciated it for a number of reasons:

  • It helped settle my mind in a work-together wardrobe mode, as opposed to a closet full of orphans. 
  • It was a stretch for me on several fronts, and I do appreciate stretching exercises.
  • The time pressure of having a finish date was a good experience - although I don't relish deadlines, I do tend to do well under pressure, and I proved that I could rise to the occasion on the sewing front if need be.  (it is not, however, something that appeals to me on a regular basis)
So, with a vague goal in mind, I set about figuring out what I wanted to do.   It actually ended up being easier than I thought it might be!

My Wardrobe Planning Process

The State of My Mind in the Beginning Steps of Planning:

We had a supportive planning meeting, and the goals and reasons that people were doing their wardrobes were as varied and individual as the members of the group (and we are a delightfully motley crew!)   Some wanted a specific travel wardrobe, some focused on expanding themselves out of their usual color-comfort zone,  some wanted more work clothes, some wanted a good-fitting pair of trousers as a start.

  • I need a new pair of jeans.   I've made 2, which are both still serviceable (one fairly, one barely), but since jeans are probably my single most-worn clothing item, I'm definitely due for another pair!  So that became my jump-off point, and once I made the decision, I didn't waver from it.
  • I also need more tops that actually go with jeans.  I know, I know, virtually anything can go with jeans, but sometimes I just want a nice blouse or shirt that actually matches my jeans, and my closet just never seems to produce just what I'm looking for.  Tons of T-shirts I have, but not much else.
  • The SF Bay Area is Jacket Central.   You simply cannot have too many jackets if you live here, and my only navy blue jacket is old, funky, and made by someone else.   My local charity gets that one.
  • Expanding on the navy goes-with-jeans concept, I've added a skirt and a sweater to the plan

I'm also planning on sewing entirely from stash (unless I need something to round out a piece).  Or (as has already happened),  I find myself short of some fabric I bought well over a year ago.  And Oh lucky me - they STILL HAD IT!!!!      (thank you Piedmont Fabrics!)

The state of my mind had cleared up somewhat at this point:
(Biggify to see my brain at work a little more clearly)
You will notice some carefully selected (i.e., somewhat random) silk ties
scattered about - the thought is to maybe use some of them
as embellishments here and there....we'll see.....

The REALLY cool bit, at least in my mind, is that 4 of the 6 fabrics I'm using were pieces that I've just not had a clue what to do with, mainly because they were "too special to cut", so I was terrified to do anything at all - you know the syndrome ... right?    I've already cut out 2 of those fabrics, and the Center for Patter Design Spiral blouse is all done except for the buttons and buttonholes, so I think I'm doing well!

I'm on a roll with the sewing now, thanks to finally finished the jumper project, and having the wonderful support of my fellow seamsters, so you should be hearing more from me in the coming weeks and months :)

How about you and your planning/sewing process?   Do you sew well under the pressure of a deadline, or would you rather meander at your leisure?  And does your sewing process match how you navigate the other aspects of your life?   (these are the sort of musings that sometimes keep me awake at night...)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Self-Drafted Wrap-Top Form-Fitted Jumper with Palazzo Pants (aka: Do Not Try This at Home)

I admit that I'm a decidedly selfish seamstress for the most part, with the occasional project for others thrown in the mix, because, well, as a sewist, that's what's happens.   Right?  The most fun I have (usually) is making something for my darling niece Laurel.   It helps that she's a huge fan of everything I make, and that she's super fun to collaborate with, with her own developing sense of style and willingness to step outside the box.   And a shapely young body to boot.

For her 24th birthday and a going-away present (Nepal for 6+ months!), I wanted to make her something she could travel with....and the collaboration began.

She decided she wanted a jumper.   No problem, says I.   With palazzo pants.   Can easily be done, I says.  And a wrap top. Umm....OK.  Tight.  Very tight (show off said shapely, curvy body, after all).   Knit wrap top, silky palazzo pants, body-hugging jumper.

Did I mention the tiny waist and the curvy hips that said jumper must fit over while donning? darling Laurel, some of the requests you may be granted, but not all at once.

Off I go searching for a pattern to use as a jumping off point.   There is no such pattern to be found (at least in my search).   I wonder why?   Undaunted, I carry on with a T. Gunn "make it work!" attitude.  I used an existing wrap-front knit dress of hers and a complete set of measurements, found the fabric, grabbed my scissors, and the adventure began.

This was step one:   a combination of all of the fabrics used:

I blogged the process that I used to create the 4-strand braid Here.

I have spared you all, dear readers, with the journey that I took creating the finished look.   You may thank me for that, because who wants to commiserate with angst?   The fact that she lives a couple of hundred miles away and we had a total of 3 fittings (plus one more, and then just one more, and then one final one before the final final final fitting).

There was a point towards the end when I realized that, if it didn't fit at all, it could magically turn the jumper into a pair of awesome palazzo pants, and I did start breathing more easily, knowing there was a simple save out there, just in case...  But we all survived!

Since there were so many fits and starts, taking progress pictures really wasn't even an option without writing a book, and as you may have noticed, just getting a simple blog post written on a regular basis just ain't happening lately, so I'll just jump ahead to the final pictures:

The braided belt, the bamboo knit top, the knit under-belt thingy, 
and the palazzo pants from a ploy silky:

Ready to Travel the World!:

And/or dance the night away....

...looking comfy and chic....

Ready to stand on the mountain top and teach, and learn, 
and experience the glories of the world!

The Designer and the Recipient:

The Designer, the Recipient, and the Bug:

The final result was not constructed with perfection, but it fits, it's comfy, it should travel well, it can be dressed up or down, and best of all, Laurel loves it!   So was it all worth it in the end?

You betcha!

Farewell my darling Laurel - wear it in good health and with a smile on your face, and return home from your adventures safely and filled with great stories!   And maybe I'll see you next year in Kathmandu......