Sew Edgy Winter Sewing Plan 2019 Edition

Instead of making new fall/winter “sew edgy” sewing plans, I am trying to still deliver on my plan from last year. When I make a plan, I expect I will accomplish about half of it. So, I planned for 10 projects, expecting to make about five. As it turns out, I did six.

Anyway, here’s the fall/winter “Edgy Wardrobe” plan from 2018 and how it shook out – I ended up with six items which can mix and match for outfits:

2018 fall sewing plan update

I ended up finishing heavy on the “cheap and easy” side of the grid and focused on  “needs” over “wants.” The one “want” – that goofy Japanese-style top – was the one fail in the bunch. The rest all have been great additions to my wardrobe.

Anything that didn’t happen probably died on the drawing board for a good reason – maybe I was iffy on the pattern, or I didn’t have the right fabric, or I lacked the time/energy/interest to get the thing done. I was also kind of indecisive about a few projects, but the fullness of time has sharpened my eyes.

Here’s why the plans fizzled out:

  • The navy wool fabric I’d earmarked for either McCall’s 6464 or Deer & Doe’s Arum is too heavy for a fall/winter dress. During the past year I’ve developed much more sensitivity to temperatures with the menopause hot flashes and whatnot. The fabric’s better suited for a jacket or maybe even a light coat. So it will sit in the stash a while longer.
  • I need a simple ponte jacket, but the Oki Style pattern is not going to play well with it. The Lekala one is the way to go.
  • The New Look skirt gave me trouble in muslin form. I found a true wrap skirt pattern that gives the same effect and is much easier to sew, so that’s the new direction (see below for more on that).
  • I still like that Burda dress, but the fabric I had earmarked for it is way too heavy and stretchy. Jersey dresses are not for me. I may have to forget about this one.

So… what does that leave me for this winter? I feel like my needs for work clothes are simple and few.

  1. I need a suit, so I am going to make one – but I am going to take shortcuts. I have some high-quality ponte in stash that will get me the look of a suit for less work and less fabric, and a lot fewer fitting headaches. I may jazz it up with faux leather to work on the “sew edgy” plan some more.
  2. I need a good workaday dress. The RTW ones I’ve worn to work for a few years are pretty worn out. So I am going to make one – but something simple and unlined. Maybe use some faux leather here, too.
  3. I also need a work blouse – something simple, again, but in a print for a bit of color and texture.

I started with the suit skirt – again taking the “cheap and easy” route. This is the Osaka skirt from Seamwork magazine (a Colette publication).

The two-tone look allows for some stash-busting fun. I had about 3/4 yard of stretch faux suede, which I used on the top. The bottom is black ponte. This is a bit bulky, truth be told. I am styling it with my black wool batwing sleeve sweater to even out the proportions.

The pattern calls for a reversible skirt, but I didn’t want any more bulk at this party, so instead I drafted a waist facing out of leftover wool twill from my Style Arc Jasmine pants. I tried a few stash hardware pieces on as a closure for this but nothing really worked well. Then I remembered that I’d picked up this vintage covered button set at my favorite second-hand store:

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Vintage covered button set – oooh

I gave it a whirl with a scrap of the faux suede. It barely worked, but …. success! (The fabric’s a bit bulky. Did I mention that already. Oh yeah, I did.)

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Covered button

It’s a cute look. I plan to do the same with the Lekala 4114 jacket – using scraps of suede for the yoke and cuffs (if I have enough). I also plan to add a zipper for a bit of bling.

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Lekala 4114

Three Goals in One!

I managed a hat trick for my most recently completed sewing project:

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Jeans, bitches!

Yes, I sewed a proper pair of jeans with all the topstitching, fancy seams, fly front and whatnot. This has been a goal of mine for three years. I am delighted not only that I met this goal, but also with how well the jeans came out.

But wait! There’s more:

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Machine embroidery, bitches!

I also busted the embroidery unit out of its box (where it has been gathering dust for 4 years), downloaded a simple design and sewed it on to the pockets. I even did a fancy “mirror image” trick so that these ginkgo leaf motifs are somewhat mirroring the curve of my butt.

But wait! There’s more!

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Camp view, bitches!

I attended a hands-on sewing retreat, Camp Workroom Social in the Catskill Mountains in New York State to make these jeans. It was another goal I had that I can call “done!”  While the event was definitely “not for me” in some ways, the class itself to make these jeans was wonderful. I never would have done it without the help I got at the retreat.

We used a pattern made by Workroom Social, called the Claryville Jeans, after the town where the camp is held. The pattern is drafted for us pear-shaped women who have larger hip-to-waist ratios. It’s a really high-quality pattern with all those great details that make jeans look RTW. And the fit was great. After trying on a muslin in size 12, I made a few 1-centimeter adjustments to give my butt a bit more real estate, such as scooping out and extending the crotch curve and increasing the yoke at center-back. I also needed to take in the waist about 1.5 inches.

The fit is pretty great. These are a bit tight, but they will no doubt stretch out and conform to my bod over time, as jeans tend to do.

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Obligatory butt shot

The jeans have slightly forward seams and a bit of a bump-out at the calf for some nice fitting details. You do mock flat-fell seams at the yoke to reduce bulk. The only thing I haven’t done is to install the rivets at the front pockets. I am going to borrow a rivet-setter from someone to get that done.

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Obligatory inside shot

The topstitching is a chore, as you can imagine. Next time I make these, I will thread one machine for construction and another for topstitching to save my sanity with all the thread switching you have to do otherwise. It’s not perfect in any event – I could not get that second line at the fly to work – but who cares?

I used a kit from the subscription box Needle Sharp to make these. I won the box from a drawing at PatternReview.com (thanks again!) The box was a really nice kit, including  Cone Mills (made in the USA) stretch denim, fabric for the pocket bags, interfacing, regular and topstitching thread, needles, buttons,  a zipper and rivets. I can see this being a great service for sewists who make projects occasionally and can’t or don’t want to maintain a stash. The box also came with the Ginger Jeans pattern, which maybe I will use someday if I get tired of the Claryvilles.

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Needle Sharp jeans kit

For the embroidery, my recent “goofy for ginkgo” moments offered an opportunity to try personalizing the jeans a bit. I was in no rush to try my machine’s embroidery unit, since I don’t really like most embroidery. What can I say? A lot of motifs are corny. But I found this design on Urban Threads,which offers more modern and edgy designs, so I decided to go for it. More on that later.

(I want to say here that I don’t get any kickbacks, promos or other value of any kind from any of the entities I am linking to here. I am just telling you all about the pattern, fabrics, and embroidery that I found and used because I really liked it. I believe in ethically disclosing this stuff.)

A Little Retail Therapy

Shopping for fun is not really my jam. I mean, I don’t get a rush from buying things. But to lift myself out of my sewing funk, a trip to New York’s Garment District always works.

I like to start my trip by rubbing the handwheel on this sculpture for good luck:

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Statue in the Garment District, dedicated to garment workers

This statue, by the sculptor Judith Weller, is modeled after her father. It’s dedicated to garment workers from the city’s heyday – many were poor Jewish immigrants who toiled on piecework for pennies but gradually built themselves prosperous lives in the United States.

There’s a New York Fashion Walk of Fame that celebrates 28 New York designers. I meant to visit Betsey Johnson’s plaque, but I forgot where it was, so here’s another favorite – Diane von Furstenberg.

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Walk of Fame

There’s also a big needle and button sculpture (there’s construction around the site right now – here’s a picture I took a couple of summers ago):

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We’re going to need a lot more thread

People are always moaning that the Garment District “isn’t what it used to be” and I’m sure that’s true. But it’s still a fun, vibrant place. Walk around and you’ll probably see fashion students, designers and models, people pushing racks of clothes down the street, and plenty of shoppers. Many sample shops offer unique experiences. Lots of little shops cater to certain kinds of fabrics or trims, including some that serve ethnic shopping niches. There are also some big stores – Mood is the most famous from its Project Runway sponsorship, but there’s also B&J Fabrics, Elliot Berman, and many more.

I stopped first at my favorite specialty shop, Lou Lou Buttons. It’s a store that just sells buttons, and wow what a selection! Everything is top quality, and you won’t find many bargains, but if you need something special, it’s the place to go.

I am making my mother a blouse for holiday parties out of some gold satin. I wanted something to bling it up a bit. I was delighted to snag these rhinestone-studded beauties:

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Lou Lou has all the button looks

Then I headed to Steinlauf & Stoller to get some interfacing. They have the best quality stuff – I will never use that dreadful Pellon junk again.

I also scored a big roll of patternmaker’s paper. This stuff is transparent enough that you can see through it for tracing off patterns, yet sturdy enough that you can tissue-fit.

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Patternmaker’s paper

I also threw a little love the way of some trimming shops. I can never seem to remember their names, but they seem to be run by families and they have great prices. I stocked up on more pins, elastics, tailor’s chalk and a few others odds and ends.

It was a great way to spend my lunch hour from work. If you’re ever in NYC and want to shop, give me a shout!

Notes on Camp – Distaff Edition (and Apologies to Susan Sontag)

Camp. Hard to define, but like pornography, you know it when you see it.

How you do define “camp?”

A) It’s so bad, it’s good.

B) Failed seriousness.

C) A sincere effort at artistic expression that falls flat on its face.

D) You’re not making fun of it, you’re making fun out of it.

E) All of the above.

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CAMP – BITCHES!

Camp was the theme of the Met Gala this year. Some guests, such as Katy Perry (above) delivered. What makes this campy? Ultimately, it’s not the idea or the execution – it’s the fact that it both the idea and execution almost fell apart on the Red Carpet that gives her outfit the tang of Camp.

Here’s another example – Tiffany Haddish doing pimp drag:

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Again – it’s not the style or the execution. What you can’t see makes this camp – in her clutch she’s carrying a Ziploc bag full of chicken that she said she cooked herself and brought to the Met Gala because “there’s never enough food at these things.”

Which brings me to me. I am attending a sewing retreat at a YMCA camp this fall. We’re having a fashion show, “Camp at Camp, ” in homage to the Met Gala. People are encouraged to bring or make a campy outfit for the party. This idea has mystified some retreat attendees. They don’t get it, or they don’t want to get it (I don’t know which). But I get it. And I get why I get it. That’s because to years ago I sewed an outfit that could slide into camp easily.:

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CAMP … almost

This dress, made from New Look 6498, was a sincere effort at creativity that, for the most part, fails.

It has its sincere moments. I made this out of a sari I bought In Hyderabad, India.

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Washed sari drying in the sun

I saw many beautiful saris, but I chose this one because it’s the kind of sari made for selling to tourists. Few Indian women would wear such a thing, I was told by my Indian colleagues who helped me pick it out. For one thing, adult Indian women don’t go in for depictions of Indian motifs such as peacocks or elephants in such a juvenile cartoony way, I was told. (Of course, tasteful motifs are always in.) Also, the mixed motifs – peacocks, paisleys, the overall color scheme, were all “a bit much.” The sari itself was a bit campy.

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Campy sari?

I was told, as a western woman, if I wanted to cut it up to make something out of it, or to use as home dec or something, have at it. (I am expressing the opinions of some trusted colleagues and friends. I am sorry if you disagree.)

If you want to read about how I adapted this sari to make the dress, see my old blogs: Refashioning a Sari and Sari Refashion Completed!

I wore this dress once – when I was at a fancy dinner on vacation in Costa Rica. People stared at me. I realized that I looked ridiculous. So I never wore it again. It wasn’t campy, exactly, but it wasn’t “right” either.

To slide into camp, I needed two things. One – real peacock feathers, arrived from eBay this week:

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Actual peacock feathers… can you smell the camp yet?

I intend to make these into a headdress. I think I sense some quality time with Pinterest in my future.

Also, I need some campy-ass shoes. I was thinking gold platform heels. I need to find some. I guess a trawl of Zappos couldn’t hurt?

 

Peek-a-Boo Pleats

My “sew edgy” looks include high-contrast color schemes, so I have been itching to try a project using both sides of this lightweight denim:

I love the idea of these Thom Browne skirts with the contrast in the pleats (but not the preppy AF textiles). Could I do something similar?

Thom Browne skirts

Thanks for the advice on the McCall’s shirtdress. I decided the skirts were not for me, but you gave me a great idea to mash up the top with another skirt that wasn’t so full or so fitted. I found this vintage Butterick in my pattern stash – and I think it will work!

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Butterick pleated skirts, vintage pattern from 1991

The pattern is copyrighted 1991. What do you suppose the models are saying to each other?

View A: In this sexy mid-calf red skirt, I will audition for a role on Murphy Brown!

View B: Forget it, View A, you slut! A black pleated skirt is what Murphy likes!

View C: If I swap out this pendant for a crucifix and put on some rubber bracelets, I could wear my skirt to a Madonna concert!

You get the idea…

Anyway… I think I will try View D because it has fewer pleats and I think the center-front panel will flatter my bod better than pleats all around. The skirt has two pattern pieces and a waistband. The weird-looking giant notches are for sewing down the pleats. The front and back are cut on the fold, and then there’s a side panel to give the skirt some shape.

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Two pieces, plus a waistband. Easy!

I will need to cut the pattern pieces on the foldlines of the pleats and add seam allowances. I pleated the tissue pattern and marked the different sections.

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Skirt tissue mock-up

This seems easy, but the issue, of course, is the grainline. The pleats don’t follow the grainline, but they’re close. See the grainline on the left and follow the pleats – you can see through the tissue to the grid cutting mat.

I marked each colored section as black or white and marked the grainline for each. Some of the pieces will be cut a little bit on the bias. That will be a fun challenge. I assume I need to follow the grainline of the original layout, right? If anyone knows better, please speak up!

Anyway, I am going to make a muslin to see if this is even worthwhile. My mother-in-law gave me this ugly lovely duvet and sheet set several years ago – the contrast will make the perfect muslin material.

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Muslin worthy duvet set, ready for the scissors!

Assuming this all works, I will need to figure out how to attach the skirt to the top of the dress from McCall’s 6696. First things first…

 

Which View to Choose?

I’m trying to make a big decision about my next sewing project, McCall’s 6696 – a very popular shirt dress pattern:

6696_cover

Here’s the line drawing:

6696line

Do you think I should do the full skirt or the straight skirt?

Here’s the thing. I have two RTW shirtdresses in the closet. Both are favorite garments. They both have full skirts, but the fullness is achieved with gores – they are not pleated. Because of my small waist to full hip, thigh and rear ratio, the silhouette happens naturally and probably doesn’t need pleats to help it along. The whole effect could veer a bit girly on me. I could, of course, reduce or eliminate some pleats.

The shape of View C and D seems sophisticated and sleek. I could wear this to work. But does it really suit me? I have no dresses like this, because anything sheath-like tends to make me look more pear-shaped. Of course, since I am making this to measure, I can do whatever I want! I would make the 3/4 sleeves of View D to help balance things out.

I have picked out some gorgeous lightweight denim for this dress. I am thinking about using the light “wrong side” creatively on the placket or something.

Finally, I have a dozen cool metal buttons to continue the “sew edgy” look.

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Suggestions and opinions welcome! Thanks!

I Hate to Put a Label on It, But…

I finally did. Behold:

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Style Arc Jasmine trousers – with my label.

It wasn’t easy.

This is my second pair of Style Arc Jasmine trousers, with custom-made labels I got at The Dutch Label Shop. I bought 100 of these labels back in December 2017. The cost was  $33.70, including shipping. (I bought them during a 30% off Black Friday sale. The normal price would have been $46 with shipping.)

I chose red – my favorite color – the Distaff name and my city, New Haven, Connecticut (USA). You can also choose a logo, and I decided after some hemming and hawing to put the astrological symbol for Venus on the labels too, just to drive home the whole “female” point.

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Custom-made labels – ready for projects!

I put the labels in a drawer in my notions and threads organizer. I looked forward to using them. And then I didn’t. I even used a label the Islay Woollen Mill gave me when I bought fabric there to hide my labels, so I wouldn’t have to think about them.

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Lonely labels

I can’t say WHY I didn’t use them. Sometimes I think it’s a bit of an affectation to put your own label on something. Sometimes I am not proud enough of a garment to label it. Sometimes I just don’t want to do the tiny bit of hand sewing necessary – lame excuse, I know.

This week I finally said the hell with it and promptly sewed a label onto three items. Besides the Jasmine pants, I sewed one onto this top from Vogue 9246.

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Label matching – oooh!

And the Osaka skirt from Seamwork Magazine:

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Labeled, bitches!

I am going to label everything from now on. Promise. Three labels down, 97 to go!