Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Reflections Upon a Me-Made-May: Word-Heavy Post!

This me-made-month has been more frustrating than the previous ones for me. I've felt stymied and unsatisfied by my wardrobe. I had attributed this to a change in my style, and I think that is still partly true, but while I was updating my knitting project on Ravelry today, I realized that I'm overall much happier with my knitting projects. So then I started thinking about my 'knitting career' as it were and I remember that I've been knitting since 2000 and I've only been sewing since 2010.

Well, duh! Now the light bulb comes on. My expectations are too high. The first 3 years or so after learning to knit, I made a string of hats and scarves to learn various stitches and yarn qualities. I only have one of these projects with me now, the others have been given away, etc. I don't even have any photos! In other words, those first learning years produced nothing spectacular but were essential to build up my skills and tastes. I am going to sprinkle in this blog post spectacularly failed knitting projects. ;)

Knitting to be frogged:


As the project time for sewing is generally shorter than for knitting, I can make way more learner projects in the same time period...that I now can part with! (Sorry, I've been watching the A & E Pride and Prejudice so my diction has been affected!) ;) This is just to say, that I don't feel bad about no longer having/wearing those early knitting projects, so I shouldn't feel bad about my early sewing projects. I can always reuse the fabric to make a quilt.

Also, in my first years of knitting, I never put my creations on the web and participated in challenges! Well, such things didn't really exist back then. But, while I love the on-line interaction, it can lead one to pressure oneself and second-guess one's sartorial tastes and sewing decisions. :) Of course there's the inspiration and encouragement which far outweighs any negatives!

Another difference between my knitting and sewing projects: the time and money investment. I think that overall my knitting projects are more expensive. And of course they take way more time. But my requirements for a knitting project are such that I really only want to do this particular pattern in this particular yarn quality, brand, and color. And because I know that it's going to take me months to finish the project and that I can wear it for years afterward, I generally don't skimp. (Although I will gladly take advantage of any and all sales - as my stash can attest!)

More knitting to be frogged:


Moreover, when a knitting project doesn't work out - as sometimes occurs, either 1/2-way through a project or at the very end - I really don't hesitate to frog the entire thing and use the yarn for something else. And, somehow, I'm not too, too upset by the failure. Either because I enjoy the process so much that I still feel it was worthwhile, or perhaps, it's also knowing that I'll easily find another project to try with that same yarn. I feel like it's easier to just start over in knitting than in sewing...because there's no cutting out of pieces, just unraveling and casting on again!

So I think one of the traps of my sewing has been that a) at the beginning, I had no strong knowledge/conviction about which fabrics to use; b) it goes too quickly ; and c) it can be done relatively cheaply. If it took months to finish a project I think I'd take more care when choosing a pattern/fabric. And I'd feel more justified in choosing a better quality/more expensive fabric!

And I am happier, in general, with sewing projects in which I've invested more time and money. However, I think it's going to take much longer to have a similar skill level in sewing as I do in knitting w/ regard to fitting, simply because yarn is so much more forgiving! Knits readily conform to your body, whereas you have to compel wovens to do so by cutting them out and sewing them together cleverly.

Project fail:


Anyhow, I'm not trying to romanticize my knitting skills or taste; I just thought it was interesting to notice that I feel much more confident when choosing knitting projects than sewing projects. I also feel much more confident in ignoring people's advice and just doing my own thing in knitting. I belong to a knitting group and sometimes the other members will make comments and/or give unsolicited advice. And, for the most part, the comments just roll off my back because it's my knitting and I'm completely comfortable with how I'm doing it and I have no problem living with those little mistakes (one twisted loop, etc.) that drive other people crazy. I haven't reached that level of confidence (or is there another word for when you don't give a sh**t?) yet with my sewing, but I'm looking forward to it. :)

For those of you that started out in another area first - crochet, knitting, weaving, beading, etc. - how do you feel about it in relation to your sewing? Can you relate to what I'm saying?

One more project waiting to be frogged:


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Me-Made-May: Days 18 - 24

I fell a bit behind in documenting my daily outfits. And I've worn nearly all my handmade items at least once. There are still a couple pieces in the mending pile...if I a miracle happens I may have them mended before the end of the month.

So, without further ado, here's what I wore from the 18th to the 24th:


Day 18: dress using New Look 6587; I added a scarf because my sister reminded me that adding a scarf makes everything better;
Day 19: the first outing for my new top made with Simplicity 3887;
Day 20: my linen pants again, made with Simplicity 2656;
Day 21: my secretary blouse, made with Simplicity 2501;
Day 22: the top is hand-dyed and the skirt was made using Simplicity 2655;
Day 23: pants from Lisette Simplicity 2245;
Day 24: the top is from New Look 6870.

I continued to put together new combinations. I've probably worn Day 20's outfit previously, but the others are all new. I wasn't particularly comfortable in Day 22's outfit, but a lot of people in the flickr group seemed to like that one. My favorite of the week was Day 19, with my new shirt.

The weather has continued to get warmer; yesterday was positively hot! But apparently it's going to rain again today and the temperature will drop today and tomorrow. Still, I think we've turned a corner and I can pack away the wool sweaters. Knock on wood!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wool Jacket Begun

I hadn't had my sewing class in several weeks due to various holidays, but it was back on last night. So I was able to finally start putting together my wool jacket. Just a reminder, I had chosen this pattern from the 9/11 Burda Style magazine and this fabric:


Here's the schematic, from the Burda website:


During the last class (a 2-hour session) I had spent the whole time tracing out of the pattern pieces and adding the seam allowances. I ran out of time and couldn't cut out the pieces so I just kept everything pinned and planned to do it at home. And then when I unfolded my fabric yesterday to cut out the pieces before class, this is what I found:


No more seam allowances marked! Ack!! All I did was fold the fabric and put it in a bag - and kept it like that for a week. I didn't move the bag or fabric around a lot, but apparently it doesn't take much to erase chalk marks. Luckily I had enough time to redo all the seam allowances (although I did mess up one piece) and cut out the fabric before class.

So I was very productive in class! I got the back and front shells assembled.

Here's the interior of the back:


And an exterior shot with the back pleat:


You can see that I've decided against going for the exposed seams, as they do in the original. I couldn't find the same type of wool, and the kind I bought will unravel if I do that. Too bad, I like the look. But I'm happy with this more classic version too.

An interior shot of the front:


I can tell already that there's too much room in the bust, but my teacher said we should finish putting it all together and see how it hangs, then alter it. So that's what I'm doing!

Here's the exterior front:


So far I think it's looking good. I'm making much better time on this with help from my teacher than I would going it solo. It would've taken me forever just to decipher which pieces go together. That's the good thing about enrolling in classes, you are forced to work (well, if you attend class!) even if your mojo is suffering. :)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Me-May-Made Update #3: Days 12 - 17

Like a couple of other participants (The Makings of an Urban Rustic and Two Little Cabbages & Cie) I've been experiencing un coup de blues regarding my handmade wardrobe. The last few days I just haven't been feeling it! I haven't been doing any sewing either. Lack of motivation, I guess.

I just feel like I'm going through a sartorial transition, so to speak. Even stuff I made last year doesn't really reflect what I'd like my style to be. But, in the meantime, I'm trying to do my best with what I have. That's the challenge after all! And I'm trying to work on identifying what my style is becoming...and what is a practicable version for my skills/budget/life. :) These me-made challenges really force a person to examine her wardrobe desires and needs!

I feel like I'm turning a corner though and today I'm wearing my happy new yellow blouse for its first outing. Also, I have been steadily knitting and I'm not far from finishing a little summer tanktop - if summer ever gets here!

So, without further ado, here's what I wore during May 12 - 17:


The weather hasn't made up its mind. One day it's warmish and the next it's rainy and cold again.

Here's the list:

Day 12: Spring Ruffle Top, tutorial by Made-by-Rae;
Day 13: top, New Look 6781; one of my first shirts and I still love it but it's very faded;
Day 14: top is made with Simplicity 2614 and the skirt again is Simplicity 2367;
Day 15: top is New Look 6677;
Day 16: skirt is the brown linen Simplicity 2367 and the top is my trial version of McCall's 5522;
Day 17: Thermal sweater again (pattern by Laura Chau).

One thing I noticed is that I wear a lot of navy and red. I guess I always admire these color combos on others, so it's not surprising that I like to wear it, too. Somehow I never noticed before that I had so much. I think perhaps turquoise/teal is a better match for my coloring though - what do you think? I think navy on the bottom is okay, but a tad harsh when it's next to my face?

Anyhow, here's hoping I can reboot my motivation!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Me-Made-May Outfits: Days 6 - 11

I had some good days and some bad days. I managed to work in at least one me-made that I hardly ever wear, but for that shirt (the first I ever made!), I think I really need to accept that its quality is not such that I like wearing it in public. I just need to put it in the pile to be repurposed; the fabric itself is still perfectly good.


I managed to wear my Lotus Cami shirt, a shirt I've only worn once or twice before. I have trouble wearing it because I'm not happy with the fit. But I wore it with this little grey cardi and I'm happy with that combination.

I also wore my paisley bow-tie shirt with my black skirt, which I've never done before, except (funnily enough) when I took blog photos to model the newly finished black skirt. :)

But, other than that, I didn't do much that was new in terms of styling.

The weather was weird for this period. You can see that for two days I was wearing sweaters, and then suddenly I'm in short sleeves outside! It got really warm on Thursday, but the weather is supposed to take a dive again.

I did manage to get a slightly more interesting photo for the Friday challenge. I went to a weird junkyard that's along the river and took an arms-length self-portrait.

So my challenge this coming week is to style things better!

Here are the stats for the outfits:

Day 6: Lotus Cami (Amy Butler pattern)
Day 7: skirt is Simplicity 2655; top is Simplicity 2614
Day 8: sweater is hand-knit using the Thermal pattern by Laura Chau; the shirt is Built by Wendy Simplicity 4112
Day 9: same skirt as in Day 7; sweater is the Tilted Duster pattern by Norah Gaughan
Day 10: top is New Look 6808
Day 11: top is Built by Wendy Simplicity 3964

Friday, May 11, 2012

Local Style

I had fun sharing the April fashion spread in my local "woman's" magazine, so I thought I'd feature what they did for May too. Again, the magazine is called Edith and you can page through it for free on-line. All photo credits go to the magazine, of course!

This month they again feature women who live in town and who are not professional models. The women (I believe) choose their own clothes and accessories and talk about what their particular styles are. Pretty cool, huh?

The first two are showing off the spring trend of pastels:


In case you are interested, the ages and professions of the women are listed too. I'm nosy, so I like that. ;) All three women here are in their 40's, for example. I like her purple and red combo.


In this next spread I like the red trousers. And all the women here are in their 30's.


Overall, I prefer the styles in last month's spread. Here it is again:


In other news, the weather has finally broken free of winter! It's been positively summery the last two days. :) So my pics from Me-Made-May might actually look like they were taken in May, instead of September.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Me-Made-May 2012: Days 1 - 5

I've been making a special effort so far to try new clothing combinations for this challenge. I don't have many new garments so I want to inject new life into the old ones! I'm doing okay so far.

On the first day I even got out an old vest that I'd knit. It looks okay far away, but up close it doesn't really do the job anymore. Maybe I should unravel it and use the yarn on a new project...


The weather is starting to warm up a bit (still rainy though) so I've been able to wear some skirts. Today I even wore one without tights!

So far, I've worn as me-mades:

Day 1: shirt, using Burda 7431 and knitted vest from Stitch 'n Bitch original book;
Day 2: shirt, New Look 6781 and skirt, Simplicity 2367;
Day 3: shirt, New Look 6870;
Day 4: pants, Simplicity 2656;
Day 5: shirt, Simplicity 2501.

I participated in the first photo challenge (food and drink) but I only found out about it right before I was going to take my photo, as I was drinking my morning coffee. So, predictably, I used my coffee cup in the shot! I'll try to be more creative next time. ;)

In addition, I've been trying to work in some new pieces of jewelry that I was so lucky to receive as birthday gifts recently. So far I've managed to wear the two sweater guards. I have a couple necklaces too. These are not made by me, but they are made by independent artisans on Etsy. The sweat guards came from here.

I'm loving seeing everyone's work and creativity - can't wait to see what's next!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

New Additions to the Family

Please welcome our two new kitties! We (finally!) went to the local animal shelter and found two girls to adopt.

She jumped into my lap straight away and she's barely left it since; we've named her Athena and she's a little over two years old. Here she is hanging out on the couch:


And here's Artemis. She's a year and a half and she likes to hide. She comes out to say 'hi' and to play a little bit, and then she's back to her 'nid'!


They've arrived just in time to help me with Me-Made-May, but I haven't tried sewing yet. I'm letting them settle in before I get out the big guns. :)