Monday, January 30, 2012

Garment Life

What is a reasonable lifespan for a garment? There are huge variables. I think a thin cotton blouse will not have as long a lifespan as a sturdy winter coat, for example, just because of garment construction and fabric quality. But then again, the use a particular garment sees can play a huge factor. If you wear an article of clothing every week for 7 months out of the year, it will wear more quickly than something you wear two a month for 4 months out of the year. And then again, specific activities take their toll. Sportswear ages more quickly than fancy dress, I imagine.

How do you determine when to let go of a garment? Style? When it's looking shabby? A bit of both? What are your general expectations for the lifespan of garments?

I have several overfull boxes of clothes waiting to be donated and it's got me thinking about how long I hold on to things. I think I tend to keep things for a long time. The average age for one of my casual shirts must be about 7 years. I still have t-shirts, etc. that I've had since at least 2003. And I wear them! Often! But some are looking shabby now and I've put them in the box. :)

And so as not to have a post without pictures, here's how my knitting is coming along:

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Computer Design Challenged

This croquis thing is difficult. I know I should just do it by hand, but I thought I'd give it one more go using Gimp. I was inspired by the Simplicity 3559 pattern, the middle version, but without the bow:

It's supposed to be a 1960's pattern. And originally I was leaning toward wool fabric, but then I found this lovely Cerise Linen at the Croftmill website:

And I'm wearing an orange sack:

You'll have to imagine the neckline and wrists with a ribbon treatment. That was too much for my Gimp skills. A ribbon like this perhaps:

Ribbons and images found at Trim Fabric.

Or these ones:

I've been reading the new Jane Austen Knits magazine that was a Christmas present, and I'm feeling rather like Mr. Darcy right now: I shall conquer this! I shall conquer Gimp image manipulation! But not today. ;)

Monday, January 23, 2012

En Train

Howdy there! I have no new finished projects to share, but I do have several things I'm working on.

I started this blouse from Simplicity 2501:

I'm sewing view D (the one modeled) but with the long sleeves from view A. You might recognize that I've already sewn view E (sort of):

The fabric I'm using is a little stiff for this pattern though. It's a quilting cotton. I'm hoping it will soften over time.

I also just started a new knitting project: a sweater, for me. I should rename my blog The Selfish Craftster, but that one's pretty much been done. ;)

It's the Zara pattern from the now-defunct (I believe) Canadian yarn company, Mission Falls. This is the first time I've used their yarn, and while it is very soft and very pretty, there are a ton of splits in it. I had three splits in one row alone. It's pretty ridiculous. And unfortunately it's not just this ball or this color because I've used several different colors and had splits in all of them.

That's a major drawback and I think it would prevent me from purchasing this yarn again, if the company weren't already out of business. But I hope I'll be happy with the finished sweater. This is also the first time ever that I'm using the yarn specified for a project so I'm a little disappointed to find the yarn quality lacking.

For my next sewing class project I'll be learning how to make pants. The teacher asked me to pick a pattern and so I chose this one from Burda (the April 2011 magazine):

This is the first time I'll be using a pattern from Burda's magazine and I'm glad to have the extra help. I'll be sewing the same pattern as the white pants pictured, but in that blue twill you see in the photo.

In other news, I made a croquis. I think I made the whole process a lot more complicated than necessary. Finally my husband told me I should just put a piece of paper over my computer monitor and outline a photo of me that I had uploaded. I was trying to do everything digitally and failing miserably.

My husband took the photo for me but I think he angled the camera down and it makes me look shorter. Anyhow, here's my tracing:

You can really see that I have very little waist definition (this is true) and that my shoulders are as wide as (or wider) than my hips. This is also true. I am of the reverse triangle or reverse pyramid body type.

I'm not sure what to do with the croquis now. I think I'll do like in The Wardrobe, Reimagined and I'll make copies of it and draw over it like a fashion plate. I was trying to draw over it digitally, and again, was spending a lot of time accomplishing nothing.

And last but not least, I finished my second Swedish horse napkin. Here's the two of them photographed side by side:

You can see I darkened the color of the leaves on the second one. You probably can't tell, but my French knots on the second piece are much better. I had looked at several tutorials and finally one clicked. I would love to give you the link but I'm not sure where I found it anymore! But I remember that she said to angle the needle up and away from the work when you wrap the thread - which is the opposite of what other people had said - and her way works best for me.

Anyhow, that's what I have on the boards. I'm not sure this is going to be a super productive week though. I woke up with pretty bad back pain on Sunday morning and I still have it. Oddly, the original place it hurt doesn't hurt as badly but now it's spread to the other side. I sewed a bit this morning and it definitely irritated my back. But knitting doesn't seem to affect it, so I might make more progress on that front. :)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

12 in 2012

You may have already noticed my Goodreads widget on the right side of my blog. Last year I challenged myself to read 35(??) books, and I accomplished it. This year I've challenged myself to finish 45 books. So far I'm 3% (or 1 book) behind schedule. :)

In addition to this challenge, I'm also going to participate in the 12 in 12 Challenge.

But I think I'm going to modify the parameters. The original challenge is to either: a) read 12 books in 12 months, each book over 600 pages; or, b) read 12 classics (whatever that means) in 12 months. I think I may end up combining the two and reading 6 books of 600+ pages and 6 classics.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Shawl Collar Sweater Finished

This sweater has been languishing while I worked on Christmas projects. All the pieces have been knitted for months now, waiting to be sewn together. I finally got around to it yesterday and bought some buttons for it today. I think I might replace the buttons - these are pretty nondescript. I'm thinking of making some fabric-covered ones.

I lengthened the body and the sleeves, but I think I could've done so even more. I think I should've gone up a size in truth. It fits but it looks cropped on me and it's not intended to. If I were to knit this pattern again I think I would also forgo the waist shaping; it flares out at the hips, but my hips don't flare out like that! Or this could be because it sits too high up on me.

In other news, I finished this Swedish horse embroidery. I was supposed to have finished it by Christmas, but that didn't happen. :)

I have started the second one, nearly identical, except that it's facing the other way and I might change up some of the color combinations. Better late than never!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Handmade Christmas

This Christmas was especially exciting because not only were we celebrating in Hawai'i, but also we exchanged a ton of handmade gifts! I was so stoked to be able to make a fair amount of gifts this year and even more grateful to receive handmade presents. Here's a sampling:

This awesome, awesome box made by my best friend's mom:

And another ceramic piece by her, this time a fish that is also a functioning whistle:

And I got yet another handmade gift from her, these earrings:

I tried to take an action shot of me wearing the earrings, but that didn't turn out. I am seriously blown away to have received all these handmade gifts. I should've taken pictures of some of her other ceramic pieces, they were seriously breathtaking.

My best friend is currently working on a shirt and maybe a hat for me, but in the meantime I stole this t-shirt from her. She had stenciled it as a practice run and was going to toss it, but I thought it was too cute and rescued it from the bin.

Here I am wearing it, while modelling a trucker hat that I embroidered for her (I can't claim the idea - she asked me to do one for her after she had seen some tea towels I embroidered):

A close-up on the embroidery:

She liked the hat so much that she has requested a second one for her birthday next month. The pattern is once again from Polka and Bloom. They have a flickr group, by the way, if you're interested in seeing other people's embroidery.

Chels made the most fabulous hats and shirts for Christmas gifts. Some she stenciled and some she painted free-hand - beautiful stuff. I should've taken photos of those too (I was slacking on the photo-taking). I can't wait for mine to come in the mail!

Last but not least, we got a surprise gift from her dad, who is a painter. I may have to change apartments to make my space worthy of all this artwork.

Every single one of these pieces took hours to create. And knowing the creative energy and goodness that was poured into these works of art just makes them all the more special. This only reinforces my intention to make more gifts - I just need to work on things year round in order to have them ready on time!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Whew, it's been a while!

Here's the final version of the halter dress. I just finished it two days ago. I had to take it in 2 inches (I did it along the center back seam/back zipper) and she wanted it to fall just above the knee so I chopped off quite a bit from the hem.

She doesn't like to wear the dress with the belt (which I made w/ one grey side and one pattern side) but she does like to wear the belt with jeans. I also made Chels a second belt with the grey fabric and long black ribbon that wraps around the waist twice (a great idea by her mom and using her mom's ribbon), but I forgot to take a photo of that too.

Here's a picture of the dress sans belt.

By the way, the painting behind her is one of her dad's works. Pretty freakin' awesome. And that's her adorable dog Kavi in the first photo!

I received a lot of awesome handmade gifts for Christmas, so I'll do a future post to show them off. I also managed to finish making some more embroidered gifts while in Hawai'i; I didn't take photos of everything but I have at least one to share with you.