Thursday, December 7, 2017

How to Fit Your Handmades into Your Wardrobe

Like a lot of people, I’m often pulled in by the “oooh shiny” phenomenon in sewing. How many times have you sewn something new, only to have it languish away in your closet? And how often is that because it doesn’t go with anything? I call these pieces “unicorns” although I’ve also seen them referred to as “widows” or “orphans” (too depressing for me, I’d rather imagine my closet full of mythical creatures!). Recently, I’ve tried to be more mindful about the new items I sew and how they’re going to work with my current style. I’ve developed a few steps to help eliminate these beautiful, but not-so-useful, unicorns!

Listen to the fabric
Everyone is different in the way they purchase fabric, but I think all sewists tend to buy faster than they can sew! Inevitably, we end up with stash fabric that loses its original purpose. We know we want to use it, but we can’t decide how. When I run into trouble is when I attempt to force certain fabrics to do certain things, just for the sake of using it up. For example...

...I bought this open knit jacquard many years ago, because it was cool. That was the only reason! I had two yards, which meant I COULD do many things: dress, cardi, skirt, top. But due to the open nature, I kept getting stumped. A top or dress would need lined. For years (literally) I debated about what to do with it. In the end, it was so simple! A lightweight, lacy knit could really only be a cardigan. Once I listened to the fabric, I had my answer.

Look for inspiration
After deciding on a style for your fabric, I find it helpful to browse photos of what your finished garment might look like. Going back to my example, I knew the fabric wanted to be a cardigan, but I couldn’t picture how a navy and white striped cardigan would fit into my wardrobe. What would I wear with it? I pulled up Pinterest and did a search for “navy and white striped cardigan”.

Most of my results were actually navy and white striped shirts with cardigans of other colors. But there were enough real-life examples to give me an idea of how to wear this particular style. Overwhelmingly, they were worn with plain colored shirts underneath, typically white or navy, or sometimes grey or black.

Next I asked myself, do I have these plain shirts? If I have them, is this a look I want to wear? Does the silhouette work for me? If the answers to these questions is no, then you have some more thinking to do. If the answers are yes, then you can feel fairly confident in moving on to choosing a pattern and making your garment. Pairing the right fabric to the right pattern is an art in and of itself, and it's not something I'm going to cover today. I will assume you've chosen the right pattern to meet your fit needs and to match the fabric you've chosen (you can see my full review of the cardigan sewing here).

Mix and match
Once you've finished your garment, don't just toss it on a hanger and wait around for the day you want to wear it. I admit, I'm completely guilty of this habit! After I finished my cardigan, I attempted to just throw it on top of an outfit, and I realized that it simply didn't work. I decided to slow down and invest some time into figuring out exactly how to wear and style this item.

I went back to Pinterest to remind myself of my original inspiration. I pulled out all my solid colored tops and tried different colors underneath until I found what looked best.

I paid attention to the necklines. I also swapped out different cuts and washes of jeans. Finally, I tried different shoes and various styling such as a half-tucked shirt, a fully-tucked shirt, an infinity scarf looped twice, looped three times, etc. I did my makeup.

Yes, this process took time and effort. I estimate I spent at least 30 minutes figuring out what worked, and why. I learned that the cardigan looks best with solid white or navy tops underneath, and with a pair of pants that have a decent amount of color contrast, to avoid looking like a big navy blob. I found a slight hole in my wardrobe, in that I could use a white tank top with some sort of embellishment along the neckline (the one in the photos is definitely too small).

Finally, after mastering your outfits you want to be able to remember them! I made sure to take photos when I liked a look. I ended up with three different combinations. It's easy enough to make an album on your phone, or you can use a more advanced process like the Stylebook app. A few weeks later I wore the cardigan again, and I couldn't remember how I liked it! I was so glad I had the photos so I could quickly find the pieces I needed to finish off my look.

Do you have any of your own tips for incorporating handmades into your wardrobe?

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Jalie Drop Pocket Cardigan

This is my new favorite thing.

Back in the day, I had a RTW cardigan with this same drop pocket look. I LOVED that thing, and it disappeared, and I hate myself because I'm sure it's in my house and I just can't find it. I had saved Jalie 3248 ages ago but finally decided to buy it recently. I bought the PDF directly from Jalie. It wasn't a perfect assembly, some lines didn't match up. It wasn't layered so I had to trace off my size and true the lines. But it was worth the front-end effort. I'm so glad I made it up right away because I LOVE it (did I mention that?).

There are a couple important details to know about this pattern if you make it (and you should). First, the sleeves are narrow, as stated in the description it's intended to be worn over a sleeveless top. I found that to be true. Second, it's a fabric hog. The front is doubled over and doubled up. I had two yards and only just eeked out my size (R). So don't ignore the fabric yardage chart! I'm not 100% certain but I think my fabric was a touch narrower than 60", so make sure your's is wide enough.

Using stripes turned out not to be such a terrible idea. Cutting was a PITA of course, but keeping each layer properly aligned was easier with stripes. There are plenty of notches but I could ignore them if I wanted and just use the stripes. The fabric is a knit jacquard and the white lines are open lace. I believe it was from Girl Charlee many years ago.

Dog photobomb

This is one of those patterns where the directions make no sense if you read them ahead of time. But in the process of sewing, everything worked. I did have two windows up on my computer at once so I could flip back and forth between the written directions and diagrams. The pockets are constructed in a really cool way and it's more involved than just folding over the front. Here's a really terrible photo of the pocket pulled out of the fold.

The only thing I would do differently next time is the finishing of the back neckline. The directions have you fold a strip of fabric to the outside and topstitch. I would rather turn it to the inside.

The shoulder seams are finished so that the seam allowance is enclosed.

Believe it or not, this was actually a fast sew, and I had most of it done during one nap time (just the sewing, cutting was a different story). I did not hem the sleeves. I like them extra-long, they would be an acceptable length if I did hem, though.

Forgive my ugly backyard and my dogs running through the photos. There just isn't enough daylight in the evening for photos anymore! Gotta grab what pictures I can during nap time.

If you need a new cardigan in your life, make it this one!

Monday, November 27, 2017

Cyber Monday sale on A Sewist’s Notebook

Looking for that special gift for a sewing friend (or yourself)? Until midnight eastern today, take 40% off all versions of A Sewist’s Notebook! Use code CYBER40 at checkout. Undecided on whether or not you need a copy? (You do.) Check out the many reviews and photos on the About the Book page.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Project Runway finale recap

I have to admit, this was the first time in a long time that I’ve felt complete surprise during a finale! What I thought would happen, didn’t, and the one I expected to fail, succeeded. What a good episode!

Spoilers ahead...

After the previews last week, I thought it was down to Brandon and Ayana. I felt like Margarita was put through sort of as a courtesy to her being the Tim Gunn save. Honestly I wasn’t sure why Kentaro was sent to Fashion Week at all, since he received bad feedback.

“Designing fashion is exciting, it’s kind of like I’m making food for the soul.” -Kentaro

I love this quote. I also loved when he said that he felt like he’d already lost, which was a GOOD thing, because then he could do whatever he wanted.

Margarita’s collection was fun, but I feel badly for her if she thought she could really win. To me, the judges just wanted to see a colorful runway and never had any intention of giving her a win.

When Kentaro’s collection walked, I was stunned. The flow of looks was amazing. The colors told a story. It was like watching artwork that moved. The eerie quiet of the audience, paired with the music he composed, was haunting.

I was highly anticipating Brandon’s collection, but it turns out I was disappointed. I agreed with the judges about the lack of diversity in his fabrics. I understood what he was doing with his various silhouettes, but it just didn’t work. His most interesting looks were the ones that incorporated the pink leather, but sadly there weren’t enough of those.

Ayana’s collection pretty much looked how I expected. The prints weren’t my favorite, the silhouettes were old, and I can’t get on board with ruffles. But I think she accomplished what she wanted. I give her kudos for her finale dress. It was possibly the most beautiful garment made this season.

Going into the judging, I thought Ayana had a slight edge over Brandon. As much as I loved Kentaro’s, I thought it would be too cerebral for Project Runway. But to be honest, I wasn’t sure at all how it would go, and that was fun! I was pleasantly surprised when the win went to Kentaro. He deserved it and his collection was beautiful.

What did you think of the finale? Was Kentaro the clear winner?

Friday, November 17, 2017

Wool Peacoat with Organic Cotton Plus

It seems I'm on a coat-making kick when it comes to using fabrics from Organic Cotton Plus. My previous review was a Kelly Anorak with their fabulous pink cotton twill. I knew that this time around I wanted to make my oldest daughter a winter coat, and I couldn't be happier with how it turned out!

This is the Olivia and Oliver Peacoat from Peek-a-Boo Pattern Shop. I made this coat once before for my daughter, when she was just a baby (sob!). I've always wanted to make it again, and I'm so glad I did!

For my outer fabric, I chose this navy wool (it comes in 11 colors!). Aside from being the classic peacoat color, it also matches my daughter's school colors. I wasn't quite sure about the fabric and whether it'd be suitable for a coat, but I looked through the older posts from other OCP bloggers and found a coat made from the same fabric. Double-checking the weight (13 oz/sq yard) led me to believe that it would be a bit lighter than wool melton, and I was right.

For the lining, I settled on a beautiful golden poplin from Cloud9 fabrics (doesn't say the maker online but it was on the selvedge). It is a little "sticky" in that it doesn't glide over clothing like a silkier fabric would, but I wasn't interested in purchasing polyester just to make dressing easier (have you ever dressed a Kindergartner? It's not easy, no matter what they're wearing!).

Both of these fabrics were absolutely wonderful. The wool, in particular, was a great surprise. I've worked with heavy wool in the past and when you start adding layers, it becomes very difficult to sew. Then when the coat is finished it weighs a million pounds. My daughter is still in a five point harness carseat, and I needed her coat to be slim but warm so that she can be buckled properly on her way to school.

The pattern is surprisingly simple. No collar stand, no pieced facing/lining (only the back panel and sleeves are the lining fabric). Minimal topstitching. But the impact is strong. I opted for only a single row of functional buttons. Extra buttons usually end up confusing my kids. After a quick muslin of a size 6 (my daughter will be 6 in a few months) I realized it was a little too small for wearing over a cardigan, and I wanted it a bit wider. I slashed and spread the front and back pieces from the shoulder to the hem. I spread them 2" at the hem on the front (4" total with two pieces), and 1" on the back (piece was cut on fold so 2" total added). I also added in-seam pockets, and I rounded the collar for more of a Peter Pan style.

My daughter goes around school telling everyone that her mom made her coat, and I kind of want to cry over how sweet she is! The changes I made resulted in a bigger coat that will hopefully fit the entire season, and dare I hope for next season as well? We'll see.  At the very least, her two younger sisters will have a high-quality garment to wear when they're older.

If you want to nab some of your own beautiful, all natural fabrics, make sure to follow Organic Cotton Plus on Facebook or Instagram. They will be having a big Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale next week. There have been a few teasers of new products and they look amazing! You can also sign up for emails on their website. Thank you so much to Organic Cotton Plus for sending me the fabric for this review!

Fabric for this review was sent to me for free. I purchased the pattern and notions. This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Project Runway recap

Home stretch! For the most part, I think this has been an enjoyable season. All of the designers were talented and the challenges were great. Although, I did find myself watching this episode and imagining how it would be with Claire and/or Shawn and how dramatic that would be! I guess this season we learned that siblings should not be on this show?

Spoilers ahead...

Best/worst moments: Tim’s visit to Puerto Rico somehow falls into best and worst. Old San Juan was so beautiful in those shots, and it was so sad knowing what was coming to that area.

For totally different reasons, Kentaro’s piano playing also falls into a best and worst category. I thought it was cool that he composed something, but then the whole exchange was so awkward! Sometimes I wonder how much of it is Kentaro’s personality and how much is the language barrier.

See all the looks here.

Best looks: As always, Brandon’s looks were the most interesting, but I agreed with the judges that the crop top and pants were a bit of a miss. There was just too much volume. I’m glad Ayana listened to Tim because the looks she showed were much younger looking than the ones she wanted to show. They’re still not my cup of tea but she does have talent.

Worst looks: Sadly, Kenya’s looks were not good enough for Fashion Week. I really wanted them to be. I wanted her to have more time and get her thoughts together for a great collection, but it just didn’t happen. The black dress just wasn’t working, and I can’t see the same woman purchasing both of her designs. On the other hand, Margarita’s woman would buy both of her outfits and then have nowhere to go, except for a disco club in Miami. To be honest, I’m a little appalled that Margarita went through. Her prints are beautiful in small doses but I’m afraid they’re going to dominate the collection in a tacky way. I already have second-hand embarrassment for the judges.

The big question: who will win? I think it’s down to Ayana and Brandon. Their viewpoints are very different so it could come down to a matter of taste. Ayana’s dresses that she wanted to preview are super frumpy dumpy to me, but it’s possible she could rescue them with some amazing styling. Kentaro seems lost (again, styling is important!!). I can’t see Margarita winning (please no). What do you think? I’m rooting for Brandon.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Color-blocked Halifax Sweatshirt

It's that time of year, the time of hoodies and sweatpants and hats and "it's too cold to go anywhere wahhhh". Okay, maybe that last bit is just me! While everyone else is downing pumpkin spiced everything and wrapping up in blanket scarves, I'm all like "I'm cold!" But I learned a long time ago that dressing in frumpy hoodies for 6 months out of the year is both unfashionable and bad for my self-esteem. The last few years, I've been on a mission to make stylish sweatshirts that are comfortable but not sloppy. Enter my fave, the Hey June Halifax!

Hey June Halifax

I made this pattern twice last winter (here and here). Both of those were mediums, and I found that they were just a bit too big. The pattern includes enough ease for wearing as a sweatshirt (in other words, with something underneath) so I didn't really need to size up. For this newest Halifax I went with a small and I'm pretty pleased with the fit.

Hey June Halifax

Another reason to be happy: all the fabric I used was from large scraps in my stash! Hooray! But that also explains why the sleeves are color-blocked (I didn't have enough fabric). I wavered between making the top 3/4 length sleeves or adding the color-blocking, my husband voted for color-blocked so that's how it ended up. Both fabrics are French terry. It escapes me where they were purchased, but I remember that the green is a cotton/modal blend and super soft (the rest was used for this Itch to Stitch top, and the black was used here for a Union St. sweatshirt).

I went ahead and added thumbhole cuffs, using the directions from the Lane Raglan. This was my second time making these, and while it can be a little head-scratching, Adrianna does a great job explaining it.

Yes, that is snot and dog hair #sahmomlife

Olive is so "in" right now, and black is always in style, so I'm excited to add this sweatshirt to my wardrobe.