Shirt No. 1

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After ogling her Instagram account for the past 18 months, I finally ordered and made up Sonya Philip’s Shirt No. 1 pattern.

Her views on the politics of clothing and the agency of sewing really resonate with me:

Clothing is an elemental part of day-to-day life, offering both protection and adornment. It is also bound up with ideas of culture and the body. Alternately encouraged by and excoriated by the media, women in the US forge a deep discontent with their bodies that leads many on a constant search for clothes that alter appearance. In response to an ever-varying trend to either conceal or reveal, women go through a series of manipulations of their bodies through clothing under the rubric of “fashion.” Sewing is a way to return to a more primary mode of expression, which a person can choose to follow or create their own style.

The pattern’s simple lines, together with the fabric’s whimsical print made this a joyful yet mindful project. The resulting garment is not about being sex-ay or even “feminine”;  it is about expressing myself by wearing flamingos, as one does.

 

If you’ve never visited Sonya’s website or IG account (@sonyaphilip),  run don’t walk (or the digital equivalent). She wears color brilliantly and prints fearlessly, and spreads the love generously.

Sonya, thank you for being. If you’re ever in Albuquerque, I’d love to get hopped up on Vietnamese coffee and pastries and go fabric shopping.

Plantain Tee

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This might be my new favorite tee shirt pattern. I love the fitted shoulders, the subtle-yet-forgiving shaping, and the deep scoop neck (which shows where my daughter’s rabbit bit me; long story).

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I’m not sure whether it was the fabric or the pattern, but the neckband achieved the perfect medium between saggy and tourniquet.  The print is lovely; even if it is a little Alfred Dunner from a distance, it’s more Boden up close (no shade, Alfred Dunner).

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Up next: Flamingos and #OAL2017….

 

Seiren

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Central New Mexico rarely has “heavy coat weather,” but October-April is definitely “scarf season.” Temperatures rise and fall 30 degrees within a single day; mornings and evenings are chilly and afternoons warm-ish. A wool cardigan is enough to keep my arms and torso warm while driving to work and running errands, but my neck is always cold.

Enter Hiroku Fukatsu’s Seiren, an easy-to-memorize lace pattern done in fingering on size 4 needles (I used size 3).  A variant on the classic feather and fan, it’s reversible with a luscious, liquid drape.

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Yarn is Tanis Fiber Arts red label in OOAK Laurel colorway.

I’ve typically shied away from fingering-weight projects because #windingandtangling, but now that I own a yarn winder I want to knit all the fingering-weight, drapey things, as soon as I get done making all the other things.

 

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What’s your favorite fingering-weight pattern or project?

 

 

Power Skirt

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It’s more than what it looks like–really. 

 

Or as Sandra Betzina calls it in Power Sewing Step-by-Step,  “Terrific Tube Skirt.” I’m wearing it with second-hand Kork Ease sandals, although the early 2000s block heels shown in the book made me nostalgic.

One yard of fabric; one seam with 1.5″ allowance.  (It hangs so beautifully!)  I used her ruching technique on the back hem. The fabric is Marcy Tilton’s black “Parisian Plus” knit, no longer available. It reminds me of a pair of Sympli pants that I wore to death.

And there it is. Sometimes you just need a quick fix.

 

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Ruched detail along back seam.
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Blurry “styling” photo with latest thrifting score: Eileen Fisher chambray shirt jacket, tags still on. Woot! 

 

 

 

Testing

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Lately I’ve been making muslins, with mixed results.

 

 Jalie Vanessa 

I had high hopes for this one and was convinced that I could somehow replicate my beloved Eileen Fisher pants, which I wear at least twice per week year round. Not sure why I thought that a pattern with an elastic waistband, drawstring, and pockets would produce a super-clean silhouette. I blame it on Easter candy.  I won’t be sewing this one.

 

 

 

Deer & Doe Plantain

I love a good scoop neck so I was willing to go through the rigamarole of printing, piecing, and tracing a pattern. Totally worth it! I’ll definitely make at least one of these.

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Plantain Tee. Photo: Deer and Doe

 

Alabama Chanin A-Line Top

Another winner. I sewed one of these by hand last summer. The knit I used was a little too stiff (even after washing) and I was overzealous in shortening the hem. I still had the pattern, so I gave it another go on the machine.  I think this will be beautiful in a drapey knit (which I’ve already ordered from Emma One Sock).

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A-Line Top. Photo: Alabama Chanin

 

Vogue 1496

I really wanted this to work, to the point of entertaining visions of myself wearing it as I sipped craft cocktails, smug in my cerebral, covertly feminine aesthetic. Sooooo, that’s not going to happen, which is for the best on a lot of levels. Even in the smallest size, no amount of drape will prevent this from smothering my frame without major pattern grading….and even that’s pretty iffy. Alas.

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Vogue 1496

 

Coincidentally,  two weeks ago I also picked up a copy of Sandra Betzina’s  Power Sewing for $1 at a rummage sale. It’s full of dated clothes and timeless nuggets of sewing wisdom, including this:

“Never feel guilty about tossing a pattern. Only 50% or so are worth making. A pattern that doesn’t progress past a pretest doesn’t count as a failure.” 

Thanks, Sandra! And no hard feelings about your V1496. It really is stunning, just not on me.

 

Morris Blazer

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I’ve had very good luck finding jackets from local consignment and thrift stores:

I love how they elevate an outfit and have long been determined to make a blazer myself.

The blogosphere is full of stunning examples of Grainline Studio’s Morris Blazer, and Jen generously offers a very clear sewalong that covers everything from fabric and interfacing choices to final pressing. I chose this stretch cotton sateen from Britex; the eggplant color is a flattering alternative to black, per Victoire de Castellane. (Worth clicking to read her beauty philosophy and to learn the word faux-sombre.)

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I’ve never sewn a jacket before and found this pattern to be demanding but accessible. The toughest parts for me were setting in the sleeves, managing bulky bottom corners during edgestitching, and facing down my own perfectionism in the mirror:

  • Sleeves. I pin-basted the sleeves using Ann’s tutorial. I’ve since come across two additional tutorials from Craftsy and Blueprints for Sewing, both of which show examples of easing in sleeves while flat. The obedient Home Ec student in me gasped–is that allowed? I’ll have to try it on a muslin sometime.
  • Bulk. The fabric I used is described as “medium” weight on the site, but it feels heavy to me. Maybe that’s because I’m used to wearing and sewing with knits. I wound up ripping out stitches and redoing them using this method (scroll down for the helpful hint about using a fabric scrap to level the presser foot).
  • Perfectionism. Intellectually, I know that people are not spending their energy scrutinizing the craftswoman-ship of my blazer. Yet with every project, I struggle to focus on healthy goals for self-improvement vs. perfectionism. Progress is slow, but steady.
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Tank: Style Arc Evie. Pants: Old Navy.            Oxfords: Clarks.

Have you ever set flat sleeves into a woven garment?

How do you deal with perfectionism?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring Break, Part 2

Update: Magical thinking does not in fact work, although our washer and dryer might have fantastical properties.

The hottest of hot water followed by a haboob-level turn in the dryer neither shrank nor felted (phew) my sweater. Instead, our appliances converted my wannabe tank into a tunic? Rave wear cover-up?

 

 

This makes five (I counted while trying to practice detachment) top-down projects that have mutated in spite of conscientious gauge-swatching.  This morning in the shower I realized that in all five cases, I chose the pattern size based on my full bust measurement instead of my high bust measurement. If I were sewing, I would do an FBA.

But there is no knitting equivalent as far as I know….is there?

Have you ever graded between sizes when knitting?