A meetup! Home improvement!

This past weekend I was fortunate enough to attend a meetup (and fabric swap!) of the Bay Area Sewists. Which was awesome! Chuleenan was kind enough to organize a meeting at the library a few blocks from my house. I’ve known about these for a few months, but never managed to actually make it to a meetup before this. But when it’s so close, I have no excuses! Unfortunately I got no pictures, but Meg did an great writeup on her blog which has a picture of everyone. It was fabulous to finally meet people in person! And also to see everyone’s creations (like this gorgeous dress) in real life.

I brought a bunch of stuff to the fabric swap – mostly 1 and 2 yard lengths of fabric left over from various projects where I wasn’t likely to use that exact fabric a second time, plus some stuff for baby projects that never actually happened. I hope it all went to good homes! I did come home with a few things, but at least it was a lot less than what I came with.

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(Apologies for the terrible flash. It’s dark out.)

I got some polkadot lining fabric, a length of really nice, heavyweight swimsuit fabric (I’ll have to try out the Closet-Case Bombshell pattern now!), a length of gray denim (probably for shorts), and a bunch of cotton lawn with blue and purple woven through it that will be perfect for a summer sundress. Hopefully I’ll get to sewing these up sooner rather than later!

In other news, my kitchen, which until recently looked like this (lots of stainless steel, virtually no cabinet space):
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Now looks like this:
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Well, actually I’ve pried off more of the rubber cement and so on since that was taken. But yeah…need to work on that. The plan is to add a bunch of cabinets, which will be a big improvement.

Cal Patch drafting class

Big news! My hand is FINALLY out of the splint, and so my life of making things can resume. This is a REALLY BIG DEAL. Now here’s a dress I made before all of that happened.

I’ve been telling myself that I just haven’t been sewing at all this year, but I realized that’s not strictly true! In February I took a pattern-drafting class with Cal Patch at AVFKW. It turns out I’d owned her book for years, but never actually made anything with it. The class was one day, so we just drafted a pattern and made up a muslin. I made this dress up a few days after. If you ever get a chance, I totally recommend Cal Patch’s classes. She’s great fun to talk to, and the one-on-one feedback on the muslin was a great way to speed through a part of the process where I usually get stuck by myself. I hear she has some classes on Creativebug, which I’ll have to check out soon.

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It’s a really simple shift dress, so it came together really quickly. I drafted front darts, but left them off this version. I’m not sure this was the most flattering choice, but it is comfy. And I’m kind of digging the hippie back-to-the-land vibe. This is a fashion trope I always come back to, but it’s been out of favor the past year or so while I’ve had pink hair. The jury is still out on whether or not that’s something I can effectively incorporate into how I dress right now.

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The fabric is 100% cotton Khadi cloth from AVFKW, dyed with indigo. It’s hand-woven and gorgeous. The pictures definitely don’t do it justice, but it feels great and should wear wonderfully. The edges are finished with bias binding, sewn onto the outside and then hand-stitched down. I like the effect, though I should have been more careful to stretch it around the curves.

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The dress is still a bit plain, so I’m thinking about adding some kind of decoration on the bottom band. Embroidery? Stencils? I’m not sure yet.

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My absolute favorite part are the cut-out pockets. I’m definitely doing this style of pockets again! I have a deep loathing of inseam pockets. These are a vast improvement.

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This is a self-drafted pattern, so there really shouldn’t be alterations…but of there are. I drafted the neckline too low, something that didn’t become obvious until the garment was finished and my bra was showing. The seam allowances on the muslin masked quite how low it was. So I took up the straps about an inch, which helps but makes the fit around the back of the arms sub-optimal. For the next version I’ll raise the center front a couple of inches. I’m also planning to make the skirt flare out more. Something loose-fitting like this really needs to not look like a strait up-and-down tube! These ought to be easy fixes, and I already have fabric for the next one.

Next up: another (much awaited) Negroni shirt for Tom, followed by the second version of this dress and then a couple of Alabama Chanin style projects that I bought fabric for while my hand was in a cast.

Since January…

I knew it had been a while since I updated this blog, but I didn’t realize it was quite this long! Apparently my last post was in January. Many things have been happening, but very few of them are sewing/making things. Some excuses, in list format:

Regarding the broken hand, it happened about a month and a half ago, but I was in denial and din’t actually go to the doctor for a couple of weeks. I broke the head of the 5th metacarpal. Sadly, I forgot to ask for a copy of the oh-so-blogable x-rays. So I had 3 weeks 100% in a splint where I couldn’t do ANYTHING (it’s my dominant hand) and any sewing/hobby/etc. type stuff ground to a halt. Now I’m allowed to occasionally remove the splint for low-impact activities like typing, but I still have to wear it for sleeping and anything that has a chance of being high-impact (like, uh, life with a toddler). Not being able to make things or have any kind of creative outlet has been DRIVING ME UP THE WALL, so I’m hoping I can start to ease back into it now.

I was considering doing me-made-may, because it was pretty awesome last year and got me excited to make lots of stuff. But when I actually looked at what I had to wear vs. the style I’ve been dressing in lately, they don’t match up. The clothes I’ve sewn push me towards a style that’s a lot more cutesy than I’ve been feeling. I describe this in more detail in this post. I half-hearted tried to wear me-made clothes yesterday, and this was the result:
Outfit 5/3/14
But I changed soon after – that outfit wasn’t very comfortable for toddler-chasing.

My plan now it to try and take some photos of me-made outfits in May…but only things where I feel really happy about the style. If I succeed in making new stuff (despite being in a splint all month) that’ll be in there. I have some Alabama Chanin fabric from A Verb For Keeping Warm and plans to make some simple hand-sewn garments. Since my Chanin-style dresses (see below) are among the few handmade clothes still in heavy rotation, I have high hopes for getting something wearable out of this.
Outfit 5/30/13
(pic from LAST May)

There’s another paragraph to write about making vs. blogging and my priorities there, but the baby is making noise and it’s probably time for lunch, so it’ll have to wait. In any case I’m hoping to post here more now. The sewing blog-o-sphere is a pretty awesome place, and I plan to stick around!

this post is total filler

Hey look, I drew a thing during a meeting:

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I signed up for this blogpact thing with my friend Kathleen and some other people I mostly haven’t met. The idea is to blog once a week and encourage each other to keep up with it, or something. I’m already behind, so we’re off to an auspicious start.

Three more random things:

  • This is a perfect summary of why I haven’t done much with wearable electronics, even though they really ought to be right up my alley. There’s a lot more I could say on this. Someday.
  • The Law of Jante is apparently a thing in Sweden. Interesting cultural thing I had no idea about. (Also maybe Scandinavia isn’t just a paradise of paid maternity leave after all.) I first ran into this here, and then had lots of interesting discussions about it with my coworker who married a Swede.
  • This is a really great podcast about the history of American housing policy. Lots of (mostly pretty terrible and racist) things I didn’t know actually happened. I should really learn more 20th century history.

get the look: space pirate fashion

I recently watched this episode of Star Trek, and it made me think: really, why wouldn’t you want to dress like a space pirate? Seriously: the clothes are comfortable and practical to move in, but still look totally badass.

Some space pirates of note (click to enbiggen):

  • Okona (from the episode)
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  • Han Solo
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  • mal reynolds/anyone from Firefly
  • mal22ht7

  • riddick
  • riddick-2013

  • many, many anime characters
  • Honorable mention since he’s not a space pirate but whatever: Rufio
  • RufioDying

Note that these are all dudes. But Zoe from Firefly proves that women can also pull off pretty much this exact look:
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See also Cation Design’s Genderbent Han Solo costume. This zombie space pirate is also pretty good.

So what makes one look like a space pirate? Probably most of all a swagger and a devil-may-care attitude. A touch of cyberpunk, a touch of Old West. But if we want to get specific, it pretty much comes down to this:

  • vests
  • gun belts
  • BOOTS
  • fwooshy coat

All of which I can totally make. This could totally be adapted to a streetwear look (at least, streetwear for me. Maybe not for other people) or done up as a full-on costume. I’m not sure which way I want to go. Probably both! Costume details in everyday clothing can definitely make them more fun. In any case, I am a big nerd and enjoy plotting sewing based on science fiction or random media (comic books are a big one) rather than the latest issue of Vogue.

I’ve been pondering a lot about the balance of practical sewing vs. fun crazy sewing. On the one hand it’s awesome to use my sewing skills to get basics that really fit, but it’s boring to only sew those things. I’m definitely planning more projects on the “unique and possibly super weird” side coming up. The line between “regular” clothes and costume pieces in my wardrobe is often kind of blurry, so it doesn’t need to be totally either-or. And since I sewed a lot of basics – t-shirts, underwear, etc. – in 2013, it’s probably about time for something more frivolous!

Presidio Purse

So now that Seamstress Erin has released her Presidio Purse Pattern, I can post about this purse!

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I made the purse the first couple weeks of December, and then road tested it on my post-Christmas trip to Arizona. It was great! The thing is huge (seriously, I could fit my kid inside – see Erin’s announcement post for a better sense of scale) and worked great for travel. It was capacious enough to fit the pirate adventure kit along with my kindle, toys and snacks for the toddler, spare clothes, a magazine, and a couple of water bottles. The inside pockets kept my phone and keys from getting totally lost. Plus the handle happened to be the perfect length to hang over the handles of our (super lightweight, no bells and whistles) stroller when rolling through the airport.

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The fabric is the leftovers from my Tron skirt. The fabric wound up being a little on the light side, so if I made this again I’d interface the body as well as the handle. (To Erin’s credit, she actually recommends this, but I thought my fabric was thick enough that it wouldn’t be a big deal.) I added piping, which definitely helped the design lines pop. I ran out of the green towards the end, so I used blue for the handle holder bits. I think it looks okay? The neon green zipper also make me very happy.

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The floor shot gives you a better sense of what the purse looks like laying flat. It’s big!

Anyway, I totally recommend the pattern if you’re thinking of making a bag this year. I was a little uncertain initially about whether I’d use it much, but after traveling with it I’m SOLD. It’s a great shape and size, and there are a ton of possibilities for future versions. You can check out the flickr pool to see what other people have made. I really want to try a leather version!

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final tally (and stashbusting sewalong followup)

This is mostly for my benefit, and mostly numbers. I’m not going to put in a ton of links, but you can look at my completed projects archive for details.

  • (Woven) shirts for me: 2 (burda shirt, tiny pocket tank)
  • Skirts for me: 4 (tron, bicycle, green linen, grey plaid)
  • T-shirts for me: 5 (purple, rainbow, black & white stripe, neon stripe, finger shirt)
  • Dresses for me: 3 (red velvet pink & gray, tiramisu – all Cake Patterns!)
  • Leggings: 4 (grey stripe, black & white stripe, dragonscale, purple stripe)
  • Underwear: 1
  • Tank tops: 5 (purple, black with green, black with purple, black with silver, black with black)
  • Pants for Tom: 2 (cow pants, patchwork pants)
  • Fancy stuff for Tom: 1 (vest)
  • Shirts for Tom: 4 t-shirts, one button-down (red & stripe, red & blue, red & orange, green & blue, negroni)
  • For Izzy: 6 (cow pants, orange pants, upcycled sweater, skull onesie (fail), rainbow coat, dino costume)
  • Quilts: 2 (Finn, Miro)
  • Bags: 2 (pirate adventure kit, presidio purse)
  • Knitting: 3 (elf hat, orange scarf, tom armwarmers)
  • Failed project: 1 (darling ranges dress)

Total: 45 projects! Roughly 20 of them (in italics) were all or mostly stash fabrics, so I’ve fulfilled my Stashbusting pledge to make twelve things from stash fabric. Thanks to Cation and EmSewCrazy for organizing this thing! I certainly bought fabric this year, so it’s probably a wash in terms of total stuff owned. But I dug out some awesome fabrics and followed up on some plans that had been lingering for a loooong time, so that’s pretty cool!

45 is actually way more things than I thought I’d made, probably because a lot of it wasn’t clothes for me, and a lot of what I made for me didn’t work out. But still! I learned tons about sewing and feel like I’m in much better shape to make lots of things I will wear in the new year.

There’s definitely a balance to be struck between “Just jump in and make something already, don’t horde the special fabric” and actually planning things out so that I’ll be in love with the final product. I really like embellishments like piping or contrast cuffs/facings etc., but I didn’t do many of them this year in an effort to not be too precious about things. In 2014 I’m hoping to make more detailed garments, and do more of the custom stuff that make them special. The “design” phase of my makes needs to get longer and be more involved. Historically I’ve been terribly disorganized about this part, so we’ll see how it goes!