Category Archives: sewing

The Handcrafted Wardrobe: Luxury

The world’s quickest, and quite possibly worst, finished object pictures.

This dress evolved over the course of time.  It started with a serious crush on this dress  Also pictured here, because apparently I’m a style stalker now (if you are curious, it came from this adorable little shop.  I asked.).  Now, I have enough self-awareness to realize that much of the appeal lies in the cozy scene and setting of this particular image.  But that’s where my search for fabric that looked like it belonged on a couch circa 1976 began.  My intention was to make a shirt dress in the same style.

One of the things that I love about the book Women in Clothes is that it totally validates whatever your style may be.  To be honest, there are a great many days for me where the mood of the day can only be classified as “frumpy”.  And I actually don’t mean that in a derogatory way, more that the message I wish to convey to myself and anyone else who happens to be paying attention is that comfort is a great priority and I have no interest in trying to impress anyone or calling attention to myself in any way.  It’s kind of like going cocoon-mode.  With this dress, I totally wanted to embrace that.  This was meant to be my comfort dress.  I was basically going for a glorified mu-mu.  The first thing I would reach for when it was unbearably hot and I wanted nothing clingy or fitted.

In my great fabric search I found the fabulous cotton-silk blend voile (pictured above), which kind of changed everything.  It somehow reminded me of this dress, which I’ve worn and loved for over 20 years now, but which is sadly starting to show it’s age.  Instead of the makings of a crisp shirt-dress, I now possessed a fluttering, drape-y, semi-sheer cloth to ponder.

The final piece of the puzzle came when I was style stalking* that really beautiful woman who we sometimes see at local cultural events.  She had on this beautifully simple, sheer brown paisley dress that cinched at the waist.  It was a real ah-ha moment for me when I realized I could run some slender elastic loosely through the mid-section to make it a bit more flattering without sacrificing the comfort factor at all.

I self-drafted the pattern, using an old nightshirt as a reference.

I have more fabric, since the dress was originally going to have sleeves.  I think a scarf from it would be lovely, but I haven’t totally ruled out a blouse or perhaps some silky/slinky nightwear?

* Just so we’re real clear, by “stalking” I mean when we happen to be somewhere and she, with no prior knowledge on my part, happens to be at the same place, I try to discreetly check out what she’s wearing.  And yes, I promise to introduce myself the next time our paths cross!

What do you consider luxurious?  For me it’s all about comfort, sensuous fabric and a departure from the practical.

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days of pink lace

I’m still reading and enjoying The Summer Book.

I’m trying to pull myself out of a long standing food funk.  Breakfast one day last week: Cinnamon-Raisin Meatballs, broccoli from our garden and half a Japanese yam.

I’ve gotten out of the habit of making sauerkraut, even though my children love it and it’s excellent for them and good too just to have around to pad out meals.  After years of successful kraut making, we were experiencing problems with mold growth.  It was frustrating and wasteful and at some point I just gave up.  This time I used this method, packing it in a Fido Jar to ferment and it turned out beautifully.  We get our jars at our local Farmer’s Supply, but you can also find them here.

I’ve also been experimenting with making vegetable based “cheeses”.  I added some fresh herbs from the garden to the batch above.

Speaking of the garden, these purple radishes have grown amazingly this year.  I wish I could remember what variety they are!

The first pair of little toddler socks are done and seriously a more adorable, little, rosy, lacy pair of tiny ankle socks has never been seen.  I always want to nibble her toes when she wears them.  They are made of yarn leftover from this dress and bonnet.  Would you just look at her perfectly precious, tiny baby self?  Darling little love of my heart.

There are so many small projects going on all the time here, but little to no time to share them.

The chicken coop is well underway!  So far we’ve managed to use all salvaged materials.  Once we get to the siding I think we’ll be investing in some local rough-cut lumber.

Someone discovered her old Moses basket!

Do you know the trick of blocking hats and bonnets over an inflated balloon?  Just blow it up to about the size you need and balance it on a bowl.  Or, as in this case, with a very tiny bonnet, a large mug.

One of my oldest and dearest friends just found out that her fifth baby is going to be her first girl.  If that isn’t a reason to knit a pink lacy bonnet, I don’t know what is!  (you can’t tell me that there is never a reason.  I simply won’t believe you.)

This is my Flora Irene pattern again (also here and here).  I have three patterns either ready or almost ready to go out to test knitters.  But the test knitting process requires my being ever available and quick to answer questions.  And as my over-flowing inbox will attest, that is *not* in the cards at the moment.  frustrating.

Oh, have I mentioned it’s reversible?

I often get asked why I don’t talk more about chronic illness and how it effects our lives.  I guess the simple answer is that there is enough heartbreak and sorrow in the world.  And I’d rather devote my precious little time to trying to put some beauty and joy out there.

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The Handcrafted Wardrobe: Thinking Ahead

I’ll have a new project to share soon.  Having spent the better part of this last week feverish and swollen and snotty, posing for pictures did not rank high on my agenda.  Besides, I’ve already shared a “Thinking Ahead” project.

I knew going into this project that it was going to be a hard sell.  The majority of my readership consists of mothers.  Convincing mothers to take the time to make things for themselves?  Talk about themselves?  Think about themselves?  Post pictures of themselves?? I smile and nod at all the lovely women I know who tell me that they plan on joining in, knowing that most of them will not get around to it.  And that’s ok.  We all know how it goes!  But every week I get emails and comments from people telling me that they have been inspired by these posts.  And there always seems to be an interesting dialog going in the comments.  It’s a good thing.  I want to hear more voices and see more people get involved.  I’m very grateful to those of you who have bravely shared your projects thus far!

To answer a couple of questions and just as a reminder…..

* Anyone can join this community!  Male, female, young, old, all are welcome!  In my opinion, the more diversity, the better.  This whole project is about discovering and sharing your own unique sense of style and no two people are going to have the same thoughts or projects to share, which is the true beauty in this.

* You do not have to post a project.  You can share an idea, thoughts about fabric, inspiration, plans for the future, musings on self care and your own process of cultivating your own personal sense of style.

* You may add photos to the link up from a blog, Facebook, Flickr and I believe, Instagram.  If you’ve never done it before, the process is really quite simple.  If anyone needs help with this, please feel free to contact me.

Our next challenge is July 25th – Luxury, now you know you want to get involved with that!

I am very excited about next week!  As I mentioned at the start of all this, from time to time I plan on bringing in a guest blogger to talk about style, sewing/knitting, the process of self discovery and anything else that might come up along the way!  My first guest is very near and dear to my heart, so I am hoping you will give her a particularly warm welcome!

And you? What are you working on/dreaming about/discovering this week?

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The Handcrafted Wardrobe: Thinking Ahead Part One

I don’t know about you, but I am in desperate need of clothes for autumn.  And apparently I’m now taking my fashion cues from my 7 year old!  This olive colored, cotton velour was actually meant for leggings for Mairi Rose- cotton velour leggings being her favorite sort of pants.  But when all of my leggings started falling apart, I began to wonder if there wasn’t enough fabric to cover me instead.

In my head I pictured myself wearing these with a long, oatmeal colored, tunic sweater, while ever so causally curling up with a book on a stormy autumn day.  It should be noted that in this fantasy I also had really long shapely legs.  Hey, if you are going to have an active fantasy life, you might as well have some fun with it.  The leggings are now done, but I’m still lacking the sweater and the legs.  Books I can manage.

To make these I took my most comfortable pair of (totally worn out) leggings and after closely examining their construction, turned them inside out and carefully trimmed off the seams.  I then used the pieces as my pattern, being sure to add the seam allowance back in.  I’ll be using this pattern again, but I will change a few things as I go along.  Mostly I don’t like the way I put together the waistband.

I learned something very valuable with this quick project.  With careful cutting I can make myself a pair of leggings from a single yard of fabric.  I just have to do the waist in two pieces instead of one.  Sometimes it pays to be short after-all.  Who knew?

Are you starting to think about cooler (or warmer, depending on where you live!) weather coming and what that might mean for your wardrobe?

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The Handcrafted Wardrobe: On Color

I had a big, full post planned for this week, but I’ve been under the weather these last few days, so you are getting some brief musing on color instead.

It has not been lost on me that all of the creations I’ve shared so far have been blue.  It’s true that the cowl I recently made is grey, but I’m not really sure that will remain mine.  It feels like it maybe should belong to someone else.  And my new sweater is brown!  And done!  Buttons, blocking and all.  I love it and I will post finished pictures of it, just as soon as this heat wave breaks.  Because while I love it, I don’t love it enough that I’m willing to pass out just to be wearing it.

Still, I’m obviously in a very blue place.  The attributes of blue as listed in Knit the Sky by Lea Redmond, for the purposes of a “mood ring” cowl: “sad, fearful, disappointed, exhausted, heartbroken, unappreciated, restless, unable to let go, shameful, hesitant.”

Well, that’s kind of depressing!  Still, I can see how some of that rings true for me at this moment in life.  Though I’m not sure that exhausted is a strong enough word.  The truth is I have been feeling heartbroken and sad for various reasons.

Brown is “rooted, connected, centered, balanced, whole, secure, natural, earthy“.  I feel some of that too, which seems like a step in the right direction.  I’d like to turn that beautiful brown yarn up there, from dear Corina, into something for me, but I haven’t quite decided what.  Four hundred and thirty yards of possibilities.

What do you think?  Can color choice influence mood and vice versa?  I believe it can.  Though not in a one size fits all kind of way.  While there are general cultural associations with certain colors, there are also personal ones.  Like in my case, blue is one of my favorite colors and I find it soothing, which is why I painted my bedroom blue and perhaps why I’ve been so drawn to it lately?

Don’t forget, next week is comfort week!

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The Handcrafted Wardrobe: Aprons

Fabric selection was limited to what I had within the house.  I dismantled my Halloween costume from last year, which started out life as a sheet.

I used this tutorial.  Because like most young women, I’ve dreamed of owning a Regency style apron since high school….roughly corresponding with the release of this version of Sense and Sensibility.  Not a coincidence.

This whole project was a hack job.  I really meant for it to be just a practice piece to make sure it fits and works well for me.  As such I gave myself permission to cut as many corners as possible.  A professional seamstress would be horrified.  Even the somewhat fastidious home sewist would be aghast.  What can I say?  Frankly, it was either fast and dirty or not at all and this is a very useful garment for me.

I should have gotten proper pictures of the back and all, but really my highest priority in the moment was to get my parsley and basil in the ground.  The straps cross in the back, which I love.  It’s comfortably supportive.  I do not like the type of apron that just goes around the neck.

I have some large patch pockets with elastic cinched tops that I plan on stitching to the skirt portion the next time I sit down at my machine.

 What have you been working on?


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The Handcrafted Wardrobe: Mother-Son Sewing and Apron Inspiration

Elijah has decided he’s going to start making all of his shirts, since he can’t find styles that he likes in his size.  After a long couple of days last week, when we woke up to heavy rain, I declared a sewing day.  I even changed my plans and opted for a project in a similar color to his so that we could share the sewing machine without having to re-thread.  He completed his entire shirt that day, while I only manged cutting out the majority of my project.  It must be nice to have so few responsibilities!  Still, sneaking in a seam here and a seam there, I made slow, but steady progress.

  On the very day I wished to wear it, shortly before leaving the house, I resolved to quickly finish it up.  Dear reader, this is how almost all of my projects are completed, if they are ever to be completed at all.

At the very, very last minute, I decided that unless I was planning on picking up work as a serving wench, the neckline was much too low.  When Steve walked in on me standing at my sewing machine- because who has time to find a chair?, in my underwear- I can’t very well alter a dress that I’m still wearing, now can I?  sheesh. He paused momentarily, taking in the scene, before seemingly coming to the conclusion that this was perfectly normal behavior for his wife and without a word went back to packing the car.

  My dress is a very heavily altered Washi, but I think I’ll have to save the details for another post because this one is already going to be a long one!

Our new challenge for June 27th is “Comfort”.  Two potential ways of approaching this challenge are the creation of clothing that is comfortable to wear or crafting that is a comfort in the making, perhaps using a favorite pattern that is so well known to you that working with it becomes almost meditative.  I’m sure there are many other ways of working with this theme as well.

Don’t forget, we’re looking at aprons next week!  Here is a selection of free apron patterns and tutorials to intrigue and inspire:

Gathering Apron

Harvest Half Apron

Yet another style harvest apron

Clothespin Apron

PDF Booklet Featuring 27 Vintage Apron Patterns

Romantic, Regency Inspired Country Apron

Edwardian Apron

“Best Worn Barefoot” Smock (a good option for maternity wear)

Recycled Men’s Shirt Apron

Japanese Style Cross-Back Aprons: tutorials 1 and 2 and a  child-mother matching version

No patterns, but tons of inspiration can be found at The Vermont Apron Company’s shop and blog.


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Handcrafted Wardrobe: Summer is A-Comin’ In

Around every corner there seems to be someone in need of me, at every hour of the day.  I’ll have to wait until next week to share my project.  But I’m very much looking forward to seeing what others have been working on!

If you haven’t been doing so already, do have a look at the comments on these posts!  There are many interesting conversations happening.

Happy Monday friends!

 


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The Handcrafted Wardrobe: BurdaStyle Book Review

Since the start of this project I’ve been hitting up our interlibrary loan system looking for pattern books and inspiration.  This is a fabulously economical way of trying out new patterns.  Within almost any library system you should be able to find a wide assortment of both knitting and crochet books, as well as sewing books, complete with patterns that you can trace and use.

It was in this way that I was recently able to wade through a small stack of BurdaStyle books.


BurdaStyle Modern Sewing: Dresses for Every Occasion

BurdaStyle: Sewing Vintage Modern

Nothing in either of the first two caught my eye, which was somewhat surprising, considering the themes of each.   Of course I can only speak from the perspective of my own sense of style, which may vary wildly from yours.  And I haven’t actually sewn with any of the patterns, so I can’t speak to that at all.

BurdaStyle: Wardrobe Essentials

The third one, however, has a lot of potential. There are a couple of cute dresses that aren’t appropriate for me in this phase of life (read as not nursing friendly) as well as some nice basic skirts.  There are a number of simple, basic tops, with really nice detailing that I would happily sew and wear.  I’m making a note to come back to this one when I start in on my cold weather sewing!

These two are contenders for my autumnal/winter wardrobe….

With maybe a bit of length added to the one above.

I think that with the addition of a modesty panel, this one…

Would make a perfect nursing tunic.  It looks like it would be really comfy made out of a soft sweater knit.

How are things going with you?  Are you working on anything?  The “Summer is a Comin’ In challenge is next week and I confess, I haven’t prepared a thing!  We shall see what the coming week brings.

I have a new theme for your consideration for Monday, June 13th:Aprons” or any other sort of protective clothing that suits your lifestyle.  I’ve decided that if I’m going to take the time to make myself clothing that I love, I better find a way to keep it nice for as long as possible!

Remember the themes are entirely optional!  Please share whatever is inspiring you right now.  I hope you will join us!


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spring stitching

Whenever I see a pretty vignette on other people’s blogs, I’m always like, “wait, where are the grabbing toddler hands?!?”

Hiding out in bed, finishing up hand sewing the last seam on a tie for Elijah’s birthday.

We’re chick sitting for a few days, while we continue to consider the possibility of starting our own flock.

After my post last week, I spontaneously cast on for a cowl, designing it as I went along.  Rhythmic comfort knitting: around and around and around… I thought I might use one ball for the cowl and the other for a coordinating hat, but once the first ball was used up, I picked up the second and around and around it went.  When that one was used up I picked up an entirely different yarn and continued on with that.  Before I knew it, I essentially had an entire shawl that slips of over the head, cowl-like.  Which wasn’t the plan at all, but there you have it.

It still needs some finishing work and blocking.  I share it once it’s entirely done.

Celebrating Mother’s Day with my mother.  The beautiful linocut card and goodies underneath were made by Kris.

We are already thinking ahead towards colder weather.  This winter’s wood has been delivered and this evening I cast on for a toasty wool sweater in the color of powdered cocoa.

I’m reading Living Language by Donna Simmons of Christopherus, hoping to incorporate it into our studies, if not this year than next.

 

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