Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Sewing Icing vs Cake vs…Bread?

I don’t know about you, but I don’t care about sewing the “icing” pieces. The fancy-shmancy dresses. The tailored suits. The highly structured Chanel jackets. For starters, I have nowhere to wear such things. And most importantly, they don’t interest me. At all. Sorry Susan Khalje et al. I won’t be taking a class with you. Not sorry.

I have a fairly active, relaxed and definitely non-business lifestyle. I know what I like to wear but most importantly I want comfort above all. A#1! Secondly, I look for out-of-the-ordinary shapes that are as flattering to my body as possible. I like to have fun with my clothes but I also like to be able to move easily so things have to feel soft and not restrictive or binding in any way. I walk, sit, lounge, bend over, kneel and move about all day. I’m active. I want to wear my clothes – not have them wear me! It’s a compromise perhaps, but one I’m willing to work with. OK, I insist. Or I won’t wear it. So there.

My favourite pieces seem to be knits. Separates. Tops, bottoms, tunics, vests – layering pieces. And we aren’t even talking about my knitting and weaving – sweaters, scarves, shawls, hats, gloves etc. I just love the seasons as they get colder and I’m able to wear lots more clothing layers. I’m just happier when the air is brisk instead of stinking hot! More options. So I’m a crustacean. Yes.

So I can’t be the only one who feels this way? Separates are everything! I’m sure I’ve complained about this before but please tell me why are the pattern companies, indie as well as Big 4 (or 5), still creating so many more patterns for dresses than anything else? And sleeveless ones at that! So practical in my life. Not. How many really formal or even semi-formal events have YOU been to lately. Me: none. Not in years. OK, maybe I don’t run in the right circles. Or maybe I’m too old…errr, born in another era? But my current wardrobe of separates and the occasional rather casual dress seems to fill any bill that comes up in my life. Your mileage may vary, as they say. If so, most likely you work in an office. And go on very hot dates. You have my congratulations - and perhaps my sympathies.

There are more casual clothing pieces that I don’t wear. Jeans, for instance. They don’t feel comfortable on me. I own precisely one single pair of black jeans, purchased years ago and with an elastic waist. Even more egregious than mom jeans! The horror. I wear them when we’re camping, mostly to go caving. I was happy to have thick denim between me and the rocks in the lava tubes, let me tell you! Otherwise, I never think of them. I usually wear leggings, stretch pants (I guess you might call them yoga pants?) or heavier knit (sweat?) pants. I don’t know how the styleista/fashionistas refer to them. I just know what I like.

So what I really look for are those interesting arty pieces. Something that slides over the lumpy bits and snugs my narrow shoulders. Interesting details, fancy collars, asymmetry, seams in unexpected places, funky pockets, dangling hems. I know it when I see it. And I love it when I do! There are quite a few manufacturers out there that fall into my criteria (except that they don’t fit me very well) but there are only a few people making patterns for these type of pieces: Issey Miyake (in the “olden days” especially), the Tiltons, Lynn Mizono, and occasionally Sandra Betzina. Once in awhile someone else, usually anonymous, nails it for Vogue or Butterick. I really don’t think I’ve seen too much of the type of garment I’m talking about from the indies. (We will not mention my intense love for Sewaholic’s Minoru Jacket since it’s not in the same category really. Even if it does have a really dramatic collar! And works really well in my wardrobe. I know because I wear it all the time! Ahem. I digress.)

Recently I’ve had to…been forced actually…to sign up with Pinterest. Forced because they wouldn’t let me in anymore as an anonymous guest! Pfth…For ages I’ve been clandestinely checking out several people’s boards on there but – they wouldn’t let me keep doing it unless I broke down and signed up. Sigh. I still don’t have any boards of my own. And they still don’t know whose boards I look at because I’m not obviously “following” them. My own clips are on Evernote. Privately. So sue me. I prefer everyone didn’t know what I prefer! But I like looking at others’ stuff. Yeah. Conflicted. I’ve recently been really tempted to create a new Pinterest board. Still conflicted. Urgh. And answer me this: why do I already have a Pinterest follower when I Haven’t Done Anything Obvious Yet? A mystery.

Meanwhile, I’ve been beavering away in the Studio. I finished my Cherry-Brown Stretch Pants out of the same luscious beefy ponte fabric as the T-Flare Dress. OK, they’re more like tights with boot-cut legs. Or something like that. Whatever, they are my TNT and I like them a lot! They’re very comfortable and look great as long as the top covers over down to at least the crotch area. Otherwise my Botticelli Belly overwhelms the unwary. Snicker! Here they are hot off the sewing machine:


Over a year ago I rubbed off the pattern from a pair of knit pants that I loved so much. The originals are nearly worn out now after a number of years’ yeoman service (close to 10 perhaps?). From the rubbed off pattern I now have 3 pairs of shorts, 3 pairs of pants and 2 pairs of capri pants. I’d say they are living on in their offspring. Excellent. More to come. I still need a black pair to replace the original one. Oh, and check out the ribbon tag that helps me get dressed in the dark morning:

CherryBrownPants det

Hmmm…that’s the photo closest to the real colour of this fabric yet. At least on my screen.

In the same vein after dithering for several days I finally chose a size from the Sandra Betzina Today’s Fit pattern V1411 pants:

Line Art

View A with the wider legs. Don’t you love the seaming? Surprisingly this is the first Today’s Fit I’ve ever tried and Sandra’s sizes are of course not quite like the standard Vogue ones. (I do love that she has ALL OF THEM in the same envelope. Yay.) The size I ended up choosing is 2 sizes smaller than suggested by my measurements. Go figure. Is this another example of excess ease? Or do I just like to hold in the jiggly bits more tightly? It’s closer to my TNT pants in waist and hip but the legs are still quite a bit wider from just above the knee down to the ankle by at least a couple of inches. (Yes, I know. I’m that rare DIAMOND! AKA skinny everywhere except the middle of me.) I may have to take them in but we’ll see how I like it. Instead of making a muslin/tester garment I’m going to baste and try on first before committing to the final vertical seaming. I think it’ll work fine. If not, that project will be considered the muslin and I’ll move on. Works for me. I’m pretty confident though. The gray ponte is quite stretchy. Of course that first assumes that the darn thing fits on the fabric that I have left after I get Thom’s Finlayson Sweater on there. The sweater comes first! No compromise. T-Man gets his sweater – or else.

And then of course I’ve started a new spinning project. It’s kind of low-key. A gift. (And I don’t give out many of those as I’m sure long-time readers will have noticed.) Not sure how much I want to publish about it although probably the recipient doesn’t read this blog. Not sure however! The wool is a roving from the older incarnation of Aurelia Fibres called Boysenberry Sparkle. (The newer owner doesn’t have it, unfortunately.) Very pretty deep reds/purples/dusk and berry-coloured sparkles:

BoysenberrySparkle singles

Only the flash could even get close to the real tones. These days of living on a fixed income, I’m committed to using up the stash and there may be just enough left of this bag of roving. Or a little more than enough. We’ll see. I’m spinning a medium singles to be chain-plied into an aran-weight yarn. Hopefully to end up with at least 125 yds when I’m done. And yes, knitting will ensue. More on this one later.

I also started hunting in the stash for another fleece to spin for when I’m done with the Boysenberry Sparkle. I have a Romney Cross from New Zealand in a lovely light oatmeal colour:

RomneyX Fleece

Yes, those are sheep on the pillowcase!  Please don’t ask where this fleece came from. All I can remember is washing the greasy fleece several years ago. Somebody gave it to me, of that I am sure. Besides, I’ve never been to NZ! It’s not particularly soft and it’s quite variable in colour and crimp which is kind of a challenge. I’m hoping that some thorough teasing and carding will blend it sufficiently to make a successful outerwear-type yarn for a sweater for Thom. Not everything has to be merino-soft, you know! (Besides, merino can pill abominably.) I have a few ideas on patterns. Yes, he’s getting spoiled. He deserves it! Not nearly as spoiled as I am however…

Ummm….moving right along…


In between the other projects, I’ve been working on our Spectrum Study Group’s current shibori project. It took hours to narrow-hem the silk/wool twill scarf (fabric from Dharma) by hand. I actually enjoy that part though it was really spongy compared to the pure silks I’ve worked with before. I’ve pressed some folds into it in preparation for the shibori stitching. I also tried out at least 3 different methods of marking the fabric on a scrap piece, including a Clover water-soluble marking pencil, a Chaco Liner and a water-soluble felt pen (I think it’s Dritz brand). The first 2 were too damaging to the delicate fabric so only the pen was a viable choice. I think it comes out in the wash! I did test-wash a teensy piece and the results were kind of hard to discern. If not, the indigo we plan to use will disguise any remaining marks. I also have several cotton hankies to play with shibori stitching. This will be an ongoing project for the next couple of months. More later. Again.

Oh, and I had a glitch in my Silken Haruni that took strong light, 2 extra needles and the chart to fix. Urp. Got it finally. Carrying on. I’m now past the 12 required stems and repeating at least one more time and maybe twice before starting on chart B. My yarn is thin and my needles fine – what can I say? It needs more gravitas! Just a wee might too teensy and airy as it stands. I need a new knitting project. Just one is not nearly enough. Especially when things go slightly awry.

Guess I’m done for now.


Dixie said...

Phew! How do you do it all? So many projects - I'd get them all mixed up, for sure! Nice to see what you've been working on. Fun, too, to read about your clothing style preferences. Every time I make a jacket (indoor) I wonder why I did, as I'll probably seldom wear it. My lifestyle has gone casual, too!

pao said...

Ok, where to start...I so agree with your designer choices. I look up the Tiltons, Miyake, Koos, and Mizono. Tina Givens too. I love layering, but I love dresses too. Not dress-up, fancy ones, but wear any time, "house" dresses. So much easier than separates. Total agreement on comfort too, including shoes.

And the same stupid experience with pinterest. I couldn't understand its appeal, but then noticed I was getting pinned and started looking them up and got drawn in that way. After awhile I was forced to sign up too. Same deal. I don't post there. Although I do save images to my own files for ideas on sewing. Privately, like you.

Like those crazy seams on Betzina's pants. I hadn't noticed them on the pattern.

Louisa said...

Yes, I do tend to flitter about from one craft to another, don't I? SOME of the projects even actually get finished! Eventually.

And agree on the shoes! Comfort above fashion on that one. But you have a much better selection than I do, pao! My feets are very particular and shoes are way more expensive here.

Heather said...

You have so much energy, I am in awe! What's your secret? Even though I'm not as productive as you, I still opt for the comfy clothing. I think I could successfully live all day in my pajamas, no one seems to notice out here on the island.

Sharon in Surrey said...

Well, old Bean, I finally agree with you about something!!! I hate jeans too, unless I'm painting or grubbing in the dirt. My one & only pair are 10 years old, too big in the waist & too long in the rise. I need to take that waistband off, chop out 4" & put it back on . . . I find that I want knee length shorts in the summer & thick, sweat pants in the winter to keep my knees warm - especially since my knee injury. Leggings do nothing for me & much as I love our Yoga pants, they don't keep the knees warm enough. Give me wool sox, sweats, tees & sweaters in comfy layers thank you. And how come you aren't wearing more of that gorgeous RED??? You wear too many dull neutrals!!!