Sunday, January 26, 2014

Wardrobe Architect Week 2

This week's exercise for Coletterie's Wardrobe Architect was to think about what styles we like and what our particular style might be.

It took me awhile, but I went through my Pinterest board and added more pins. I pinned all sorts of things, whether it related to fashion or not. I like motorcycling, so there was a lot of that. My style seems to fall into two groups, modern and more rustic/vintage.

In my more modern likes, I love anime, colourful things, shiny motorcycles, and clean lines.

Style inspirations: Akira, Sailor Moon, Trinity from the Matrix, New Girl, and my lovely Honda 599.

But, I also like the vintage look, with more muted colours, natural materials, vintage motorcycles, and a little dirt. 

Style inspirations: Hunger Games, Della Crew, military jackets, tweed and denim, the Van Buren sisters. All of these ladies aren't afraid of getting a little dirt on them.

The main goal of the exercise was to think of words that describe our style. Here is what I have: comfortable, action, appropriate (for the task at hand), "pretty yet tough".

I couldn't think of a word for "pretty yet though" - it's some sort of combination of masculine and feminine, but not androgynous (there's probably a German word for it). [Update: I looked up the definition of 'androgynous' and it actually would work. Typically, when we use 'androgynous' when taking about fashion, we mean genderlesss. But, 'androgynous' also means "having both masculine and feminine characteristics".]

And what is definitely not my style in one word: heels. I don't like high heels. Actually, no, I *hate* high heels. And frilly dresses are ok, but usually only at parties.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

2013 Wardrobe Plan Review

Last year, I came up with a wardrobe plan for what I wanted to make for myself this year. For the most part, it worked really well.

Cute, but didn't work with my wardrobe

I made my shirt for the black and white challenge. It was a great learning experience and I even made a sew along out of it. Unfortunately, the fabric isn't great and I never wore the shirt. I think a shirt like that would work with a different fabric. This project was sort of just thrown into my wardrobe plan without much thought, since I just really wanted to be a part of the challenge.

I never did make dress pants, but did buy all of the materials. This is something I need, so it will definitely be on my next wardrobe plan.

I did, however, finish making jeans. And I did it by making my own jeans pattern! These ended up being the best pair of jeans I have ever owned. I wear them several times a week and I can't get over how comfortable they are.

I made other one light coloured work shirt: my wearable muslin Sewaholic Alma. It's cute and comfortable. Who knew bedsheets could look this good? I stopped wearing it in the colder seasons, but will wear it again when it warms up. I plan on making another one or two.

Another shirt I made was Butterick 5356. This wasn't part of my plan, but it turned out pretty good. It's almost too comfortable!

My shorts were a success. They are comfortable, as well, and I can't wait to make more.

I made a dress! While it's not the dress I had planned, it's still very nice. My friend and I made dresses for cosplay at the My Little Pony convention. (I dressed as Scootaloo!). Unfortunately, I'm still not sure if this dress is for me. Maybe I need to find the right shoes and accessories. I just feel a little overdressed in it.

I also made two pencil skirts. They were part of the Pencil Skirt Challenge and not part of my plan. They turned out well, however, I still haven't worn them. Pencil skirts just done fit into my life.

I haven't made a light coloured t-shirt yet, but I have fabric and the Sewaholic Renfrew pattern waiting to go! I also wanted to make a light coloured blazer, but haven't done that yet. I have a nice cotton stretch sateen waiting to go, but I'm thinking I might like it more as some capri pants. I also bought the Sewaholic Cordova jacket pattern, so I want to make that, too. I'll see where the Coletterie Wardrobe Architect leads me.

Something that took up a lot of my time and wasn't part of my wardrobe plan, was my sister's and her husband's plaid steampunk costumes. They were fun and definitely a great learning experience.

Another thing that wasn't exactly part of my plan, is my lovely winter jacket. I love it so much! I can't believe how well it turned out. I think I'll make a new inner jacket to go with it for next year.

And then there is the knitting!

I made a lovely, yellow cardigan as planned. It doesn't fit as well as I hoped, but it is still really nice.

My blue cardigan fits much better and is working great in the colder weather.

And, as planned, I made myself a cowl to bust my stash a little bit.

That's it! Hopefully the Wardrobe Architect will focus my energy even more. That way I won't end up sewing something I won't ever wear.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Coletterie's Wardrobe Architect

I'm going to take part in Coletterie's Wardrobe Architect. Basically, it's a series of exercises to figure out how to build a wardrobe for yourself. The overall goal is to not sew things that you won't actually wear because they don't fit with your personality and lifestyle.

The first week's exercise is to look different parts of your identity and how they influence the way you dress. Here is goes...

  • History: Until I had a full time job, I never had a lot of money for clothes. I also went to a middle school with a dress code, which meant I lost of few years of wardrobe building practice. So, I have spent most of my life in low quality clothing that wasn't put together very well.
  • Activities: I work in an office where I also get to work out in the field occasionally. I also enjoy outdoor activities, like hiking. So, I need clothes that work for indoors and out.
  • Location: I'm in Canada and the weather here can vary a lot. I need lots of different types of clothing throughout the year.
  • Body: I didn't feel that comfortable with my body when I was growing up (but most people don't). I was horribly out of shape until I started martial arts when I was 18. When I got into shape, it made a huge difference to how I felt about myself. I'm even more comfortable in my skin since I've started sewing. Having clothes that fit really do make a positive difference.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

My Sewing Room and My 'New' Sewing Machine

My sewing room has had a lot of work done to it lately. As part of my Christmas present, my hubby built me a peg board. It's made a huge difference! Here is what my area looked like before:

And here is after (and yes, the wooden dummy is still on the other side of the room):

All that stuff on the peg board was on my sewing table! Which meant I only had the area right in front of the sewing room to sew. Ridiculous!

Now, I even have room to leave my serger out and ready to go.

And here is my 'new' sewing machine:

It's a circa. 1978 Singer Stylist 533 that my dad bought for my mom for Christmas when it was new. It's the sewing machine I learned to sew on! I spent a few hours taking it apart, cleaning out all the lint, and oiling it. I was happy to see how many gears and parts were metal and not plastic.

This is what it replaced:

This was my 1991 Singer 3343C. So much more plastic! It's still a heavy machine, but it doesn't do what I want it to (ie. sew through 4 or more layers without skipping stitches and struggling). I had so many issues, like not being able to finish my winter jacket.

In comparison, the older Singer 533 is a dream! It sounds so beautiful when it runs. I tried sewing on a thick piece of twill to see how it would work. I just kept folding and folding it and sewed 12 layers with no problem!

This machine also has one extra feature that the Singer 3343C doesn't. The Singer 533 has a pressure foot adjustment dial. Now I can control tread tension and foot plate tension!

Now, I should have no problem sewing thick or tricky fabrics.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Meet my New Friend!

My friend Kristyne made me a little friend for Christmas. It's a crochet Bender (from Futurama)!

I love my Bender. His place is on my couch watching tv with me.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

My Sister's Sweater

Take a look at my sister's lovely fairisle sweater. Our Granny made it for her a few months back and I thought I would share it with everyone.

The pattern is the Ross Cardigan by Rowan (in the Scotish Heritage Knits book).

My sister wanted the sweater as part of her Scotland photoshoot. That's also when my sister and her husband had pictures done in their Steampunk Costumes. The photos are by Rowell Photography.

I really love how all the colours work well together. This type of pattern might work well for stashbusting, which I definitely need to do more of.

Please leave lots of lovely comments - my Granny reads this blog and would love to see them.

Knitting and Sewing as Seasonal Trends

Personally, I like to knit practically year round. But most people tend to knit when the cold weather hits. How do I know? Well, it's one of the fun things you can see using Google Trends.

If you are a bit nerdy like me, you might have fun looking at all the neat trend graphs. Here is how people search for 'knitting':

See how there are dips in the warmer months and surges of interest in the colder months?

Sewing also has a rise and fall with the seasons. But, compared to knitting, it is much more stable:

There you have it!

As the weather warms up over then next few months and you find your interest in knitting and/or sewing fading, you are not alone. It looks like many people lose interest. While I plan to keep going, I hope that you will be back again once the weather gets cold again.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Knitting Marathons!

That's right, there's such a thing as 'knitting marathons'. I just found out about them myself.

Above is a picture of David Babcock, who ran the Kansas City Marathon in 5 hours 48 minutes 27 seconds while knitting (back in October of 2013). He ended up with a 12 foot 1 3/4 long multi-coloured scarf that broke the world record. More about it here.

Antique Animal Postcards

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. I have been busy organizing my sewing room and my kitchen. In the meantime, here is a collection of Antique Animal Postcards from 1914. Quite a few of them have the doggies or kitties sewing.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

My Completed Winter Jacket

I did it! I finished my winter jacket and I couldn't be happier! It took a lot of work, but it was worth it.

  • 2-ply Ultrex
  • Polyester lining
  • Flannel (for pocket lining and the small triangle collar pockets)
  • Snaps
  • Velcro
  • Seam tape
  • Seam sealer
  • Zippers (one large 2-way separating, 2 small pocket, and 1 small separating)
  • Polyester thread
  • Interfacing

Pattern and Alterations

This is a heavily altered version of Burdastyle 08/2011 #103.

I made several muslins and lots of fitting adjustments and features. I added a large collar, a waistband, and a hood to the coat. I also added a zipper and facings.

I was able to "bag" my jacket, which means I sewed the lining in place (including the hem) with the lining and main jacket inside out. I was able to pull the jacket rightside-out through one of the openings for the armpit vents. This post by Grainline post was a good guide on how to bag a jacket.

I was really happy with the armpit vents that I added. The are inconspicuous and are very functional.

Vent open

Vent closed
After I put my jacket together, I handsewed the lining to the armpit vent opening. I pressed the seam allowances of the lining before sewing it into the jacket, so it was very easy to sew.

I also handsewed some snaps onto my small inside sleeve tabs.

These small tabs wrap around a small loop on my inner jacket and snap in place. This means I can take both jackets off at the same time without the sleeves getting bunched up.

Sleeve tabs in action
I also decided to go with snaps for my waistband. At first, I couldn't decide whether to use snaps, buttons, or buckles. But, I couldn't find anything but snaps, so that's what I went with. I just added a third belt piece to wrap around the back so the jacket has more room to gather.

Another alteration was to the front pockets. The front pockets are inside the jacket and made with cosy flannel. Zippers keeps the pockets closed and the pocket flaps protect from the wind, while looking stylish.

My Completed Jacket!

Here is the jacket with my microfleece inner jacket inside:

 And here is me wearing it:

Long shadow - the sun is still so low!

It looks and feels great. The hood works well, too:

Matching sunglasses!
Now, I'm off to spend more time outdoors and see how well it works in the cold and snow.

Here are all my jacket posts:

And if you need more help with your own jacket, I also recommend taking a look at the Sewaholic Minoru Sew-Along for tips.

Sewing DWR Fabric and Waterproof Outerwear

I definitely had some struggles with the Ultrex that I used for my winter jacket. In order to get my machine to sew the material, I had to use Microtex 70/10 needles, change my foot plate to the straight stitch plate, and use my walking foot.

Straight Stitch Plate
Even with all of this, my machine would still not sew when there were more than 4 layers and liked skip stitches every now and then.

I ended up borrowing my friends sewing machine to get the job done. All her machine needed was a Microtex needle and it sewed with no problems. So, if you struggle with the fabric a much as I did, It's not you - It's your machine. I'm definitely going to get a another sewing machine because I otherwise enjoyed sewing with this fabric and want to do more in the future.

If you are trying to make your project waterproof, then you will have to seam seal. I only had 1 yard of seam tape, so I used it on the shoulder seams. I found it very easy to work with. You just have to go slow and iron a small part at a time.

Inside Back of Jacket
I used liquid seam sealer on the rest of my seams. It's definitely a bit messy, but also seems to work. If I had more seam tape, I would have used it instead, because I really liked how well it went on (no waiting for it to dry). But, the liquid seam sealer is great if you make any mistakes and have to rip out stitches or for really tricky parts that are hard to iron.

This guest post on Sewaholic about sewing waterproof outerwear was very helpful.

PS. I was very disappointed with Seattle's Fabrics (from whom I bought my Ultrex). I emailed them twice for needle recommendations and heard nothing. I had to search the internet for a few hours to find the information I needed.