A springy little pattern

So aside from Saturday’s various obligatory activities (cleaning, yelling at children, pouting at the 20-30cm of snow (that’s 8 to 12 inches) that’s already fallen today, and it’s coming down steadily), all I’ve been doing is messing around with paper as per the various instructions on the RTW tailoring sewalong (wowza, I think my brain broke—on the plus side Sherry’s walking us through making facing pieces etc. which is good for me since I don’t have any drafted yet!). While fun, this is not particularly scenic to share. Oh, and I lengthened the bodice front of my muslin, which will hopefully make up for the unevenness of the skirt.

Interfacing trials

I also trialled a couple of different interfacings on my fabric—I can’t say that I really noticed a difference between the two, although the fusing might be slightly better on the knit (right). I am a little concerned that either is going to be too thick for my pleated cuffs. Will the world end if I don’t interface my cuffs? My fabric itself is pretty beefy to begin with…

Out of curiosity (this is thrift store fabric, remember) I also tried my first burn test. The fibre doesn’t stay lit, melts into a smooth bead that’s either black or neutral depending on how much soot gets in it, and smells like plastic when it’s burning. I’m not sure exactly what that makes it (maybe polyester), but definitely man-made. Which is about what I thought.

I’m alternating between being overwhelmed by all the details to do for the sewalong and being impatient to get cutting fabric. Which probably means Sherry’s pace is just right ;). Especially since the kids will be done their spring break and I’ll be “fully recovered” on Monday, which means no more slacking from my real-life stuff…


Me-Made-March: the Autopsy

(Or, more than you really want to hear about my wardrobe for the last month…) I mentioned my big me-made lessons for the month yesterday, so I won’t belabour them much. Much greater selection of clothing this time, less helpful weather, crappy photos, yadda yadda…

A possible favourite, day 31

I was hoping to go through and pick my fave outfit (or five) but I’m really having a hard time. Obviously there’s the “dressed up” days, when I wore outfits that feel just dang costumey. Not bad, but definitely out there. Those would be day 3, day 12, day 15, maybe day 26, and, of course, day 31. Of these, day 15 (the “Ceylon suit” as I tend to think of it) and day 31 are probably my faves, but there’s nothing wrong with the others. Incidentally, I always feel a bit awkward wearing the pouffy circle skirts, and it’s not because they feel costumey. Rather, I feel a bit rude and obtrusive, as if I’m taking up too much space with that big skirt, especially if I wear one on the train or to the grocery store or a crowded waiting room. Weird, no? Come to that, I kinda feel the same way when driving a mini-van.

The rest of the month I would call “regular” days—my usual uniform of pants and a top. Mostly jeans; the skinny cargoes and the skinny jeans got the heaviest rotation, but the silver-topstitched jeans are still probably my favourite, even though they’re getting pretty ratty (pockets shredded, topstitching failing, and now a small hole at the crotch seam). I’m glad I got to haul out my first attempt at the Ellen pants, which I initially wasn’t sure would ever get worn, but apparently I’m a lot more into white pants in March than in October. My fave top of the month probably wound up being the fluttery cowl, despite my initial dislike for the flutter sleeves, although I’m still quite enamoured of my Stegosaurus top and the blue raglan top. Not sure why, since they both photograph as BORING, but something about that thick, slightly scratchy knit just feels substantial and cosy. And much as I was trying to feel spring this month, I needed cozy.

Which brings me to my big me-made fail: toppers.

A me-made topper.

This would be that nebulous category that includes sweaters, hoodies, bunnyhugs, shrugs, cardigans… the stuff worn over your shirt to keep me warm. At this stage I have three me-made toppers, which you’d think would be adequate… the Kimono Lady Grey, the Simplicity Cardi-wrap, and the 50s shrug. I did wear the KLG several times, but a) it completely hides the shirt underneath, which makes me sad if it’s a cool shirt, and b) is so distinctive I don’t like to wear it that often (well, except for the first month after I made it when I wore it every day). I wore the shrug once, and the cardi-wrap not at all (although I did wear it yesterday just to prove something to myself, I guess). The shrug would get more use but for two things: 1) it’s not really warm enough, and 2) I don’t quite like the fit. I need to tweak the pattern a bit—narrow the neck, shorten the whole thing, maybe shorten the sleeves a tad as well, and narrow the waist. It’s a bit big, and even the original shrug was a bit too long in the back—it would probably be cropped on someone with a normal torso, but on me it reaches my waist, which is not the best look. It’s comfy and I do like it with a bright-coloured top, though. The cardi-wrap… well, again there’s two problems. The first is that I snipped a hole in it accidentally back in November. Although it’s usually hidden in the folds of the drape, it still annoys me when I notice it. I should stitch it up and call that good, I guess. Then there’s the colour. Not that I don’t love it. But it doesn’t coordinate at all well with the “springy” colours I’ve been sewing lately, I’m bored as hell of my basic black tops, and I don’t like the red-on-red look. Maybe I just need to be more bold and creative in my colour combos, I don’t know… So the upshot is that time and again, despite these options, I retreated to my lone, boring, black, workhorse RTW hoodie. I guess the moral of the story is that I’m still not quite sure what I’m looking for in a topper, so it’s hard to know in advance what I want. Although I need to try to remember pockets. Pockets are very, very good.

Some other things that didn’t get worn:

the Kasia skirt. Partly the weather wasn’t overly condusive to skirts, but also me and pencil skirts don’t get along terribly well. Everytime I wear this I rip the back seam up about three inches, which then needs to be repaired and re-topstitched. Meh.

A lot of my knit tops. Some of these I love to bits, and some I’m just not overly thrilled about, and it’s hard to predict before hand which will be which. A lot depends on the fabric—not just how it fits initially, but how it launders later on. Also I’m always more excited about my newer tops than my older ones. Hmm. Have to think about that…

Two of my JJs. Although I did wear the other two once each, so I guess that’s something. Not sure why, except that they feel more summery, and I wasn’t desperate enough to do a whole lot of layering-over-a-long-sleeve-top this time around.


Anyway, I am happy about the days that I did get to wear exciting outfits, and even some of the days where I didn’t—there’s something very satisfying about even my more unglamorous days, as long as it’s a garment with construction that feels solid and satisfying. Which isn’t all my pieces by any stretch ;).

I think I’ll stop boring you with my wardrobe details now… I can’t imagine they’re of great interest to anyone else.

I am a bit torn about one thing—what I am “aspiring” to in my wardrobe. The people whose style I most admire—who are most amazing every day in their outfits, are, I’ve noticed, the ones who’ve purged the ordinary from their wardrobes. All they have is nifty—so their outfits are, by necessity, nifty. And I love the idea of that. But how does that mesh with banging off another round-necked, long-sleeved top, or another pair of jeans (even if they do have a nifty topstitched pleat in the back)? While I love wearing the odd circle-skirt or 70s dress, I don’t really want that to be all I wear.


Oh, I know. I have to leave you with a shot of my back yard. Because some things are too depressing not to share.

April 2nd, people. And what’s worse, at this time yesterday less than half the back yard had snow on it.

Somebody pinch me, this must be a nightmare, right?



Filed under Sewing

27 responses to “Autopsy

  1. Not terribly scenic to be working on the pattern is right. I keep itching to shear right into the fabric, but I know that taking the time over the pattern will make the finished coat come together beautifully. My facings and collar pattern already had 100% right turn of cloth allowance, though it took me a lot of measuring and head-scratching to be sure.

    • Great that your pattern is so sophisticated already, but a bit of a pain to have to go to all the trouble to figure it out. I have an oldish (80s) Vogue blazer pattern I keep thinking I’ll make up (despite being 80s it’s a very classic cut, not a power suit) that has all the separate pieces—lining, interfacing, etc. And I don’t have the instructions—maybe after this sewalong I’ll have the nerve to give it a try!

  2. I know what you mean about wardrobe direction. I’d like to get away from the jeans and tee look, but it is basically all I’ve done my whole life. So, I revert back to that every chance I get, even though I’m pretty sure I like happy colors and soft fabric (maybe even dresses). Besides jeans and a tee doesn’t necessitate make up and hair done like nifty outfits do. Someday I’ll commit. Maybe.

    Weather sucks. We had 70 degree weather yesterday and it should snow in the morning:( (Yes, not as bad as a foot of snow, I know)

    • Snow after 70 would SUCK! Fortunately (?) it hasn’t gotten quite that warm here, though it did break 50 for a few days this week. This far north (even in the chinook zone) it’s not a surprise that we have a blizzard in April (or May, or even June)… it’s just that you always hope that this year you won’t…

      I also find a lot of days I go “I could get dressed up nice today!” and then I think “yeah, but why?”… and on go the jeans.

  3. Great round up!
    In regards to the wardrobe aspiration…have you tried reading style books? I find it helps me identify what I like. Or at least, what I don’t like. Then I only buy/sew items that fit into how I want to dress. I’m not always successful but it helps me have a direction.
    That being said, I love your style. Very cool and unique.

    • I find I get all squirrelly if I actually try and read fashion advice… shades of the rebellious teen, I suppose ;). The issue isn’t so much knowing what I like (although it is good to stretch my ideas once in a while) but figuring out what part of what I like I want to focus on—do I really want to evict the boring-jeans-and-top… not really, apparently. At least not yet…

  4. Sue P.

    YOU are amazing…..not only an excellent seamstress, thought-provoking philosopher, but truly funny as well. You should never ‘diss’ your abilities or your contributions. Remember, I am somewhere between being old enough to be your mother (for sure, that) and your grandmother (maybe not quite old enough for that), and what I can tell you is that the most beautiful women I’ve seen around the world, no matter what age, look best in a well-cut black top and jeans. So all the work you do on knit tops is worth it. Thanks for continuing to inspire!

    • Sue, you are so sweet! (And you’re closer to my Mom’s age than my Grandmas’)

      I don’t mean to dis my knit tops—the ones that I really love I adore beyond belief. But a lot of them are flawed in various ways, either because of poor pattern, poor construction, or just unpredictable effects of fabric choice like stretch and pilling. Sometimes I manage to love them despite the flaws—sometimes I don’t. Though I think my batting average is getting better ;)…

      • Sue P.

        I don’t think I’ve ever made anything with which I haven’t found ample fault. And I’ve been known to make something, spend hours on it, and then put it in the St. Vincent de Paul bag and see it walking down the street one day on someone who scored it at the thrift shop. I’m constantly thinking I could do so much better “if only I had……..” . Usually, fabric choice is the culprit. But looking around, it’s true with RTW as well. They’re rarely perfect. So, like you, I keep on sewing, keep being inspired, and occasionally, something is so good that I can’t stop wearing it. You’re the BEST, Tanit-Isis!!

  5. I appreciate your “autopsy” and also that you even did photos all thru MMM.
    I could never do it – despite my extensive sewing, my self made wardrobe is heavy on the coats, tailored jackets, fancy dresses, and all kinds of SUMMER clothes. so my jeans and fleece tops of winter – not exactly interesting and mostly bought at Old Navy. hey, my family always makes fun of me – I am Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde – my out of the house put together outfits and my at home, could almost scare the dog outfits.
    OK – I have been reading/watching you sew for a while. now that you mentioned your dissatisfaction with toppers, I think you need a blazer jacket. now I know you are thinking what? but you would look great in a menswear style jacket. Regular length. not bolero length or jean jacket length. with lapels. and sleeves you can maybe roll up to see a wild lining.
    Not an 80’s style oversize shoulder padded monstrosity, but a real fitted jacket with collar/lapels, etc. maybe in a grey. just a thought.
    anyway – I hope you have sunshine and spring soon !

    • Ha! A blazer has been on my to-sew list for, well, as long as there has been a list, actually. I have one in my closet (the lone survivor of the bevy I wore in high-school) that I adore in every way, shape, and form, except that the sleeves are too short. Actually, I’m wearing it in this post. If only the sleeves were wide enough to roll up, or narrow enough to stay scrunched…

  6. I agree with you on style: it would be awesome to be stylin all the time, but so much work! My main issue is with the shoes I wear with skirts and dresses–not comfy for walking! I’d love some Mary Jane Docs but they’re too wide for my feet 😦

    As for your pleated cuffs, maybe a lighter weight interfacing just for them?

    • Shoes can be a killer—I have plenty of cute options that just don’t get the wear because they’re not effortless, /sigh.

      Unfortunately for the cuffs, this is already the two lightest-weight interfacings I could find.

  7. Is that usual for you to get that much snow in APril? I would become mad… I need warm light after the winter, and it’s finally starting to show up here in continental Europe!

    Also, I am with you about the RTW tailoring sew along. I started panicking when I saw the first post… There is a lot of info there… I think that, for my own sake, I will take my time doing it (2 trench coats, one for me, one for Mister).

    • Well, I wouldn’t say it’s usual, but it’s certainly not always snowy at this time of year—on a good year, there would be flowers out by now. Although one or two snowstorms in April and even May aren’t uncommon.

  8. You know, one week of an ice covered Atlanta, GA thoroughly killed any desire to move up “where there’s actual winter!”. Yeah, I totally feel ya on the “GO AWAY SNOW!”. Wanna come visit? Its nice and sunny here.

    • Also, I’m behind (as always) on the RTW sew-a-long but I”m gonna do it! And I decided on the non-lapel version cause I want more of a bolero than a cropped jacket.

      Later in the fall I’ll do view C cropped jacket in a cotton velvet. 😉

  9. You have my official pity on that weather. What the fuck is going on??

  10. I saw the weather report on the news last night and was pitying my friends and cousins out in Calgary…but then again, you guys get those random chinooks and we see you jogging in midwinter on the 5-o’clock news, so I guess it evens out. 😉

    I love the short plaid jacket over the ’70s purple dress; an unexpected May-December marriage that works! (is it and Eva dress pattern like Debi’s?)

    • I think the chinooks are to make up for the crappy summers, actually 😉

      The jacket is a blatant knockoff of the evadress pattern, or at least it’s chief style features 😉

  11. that’s some freaking april fools joke, right? i hit the wrong key at first and it came out as fright. which is appropriate for the horrible, horrible snow. a joke. or a really bad song by prince.

    every year i see people glory in the results of their MMM, understanding what they need to sew more of… and i slap my head a la V8. i love your autopsy!!!

  12. awesome awesome awesome as usual! btw i love that you actually tweak and rework patterns after you dislike the results. i really need to learn patience and determination like you have. that’s my assessment for the month 🙂

  13. That Lady Grey Kimono of yours is my favourite garment you have made too! Everything about it is stunning. I wish I had one just like it….

  14. I’ve been thinking a lot about style, too – especially the everyday (at home, walking the dog and grocery shopping) style. I think half of the battle is what you mentioned – toss the boring stuff. My ‘uniform’ is something on the bottom, tank and cardigan. In the summer I ditch the cardigan. If I just tossed all my old navy tanks and was forced to wear ones I made myself (the me-made tanks have an elastic waistband and a peplum), that would up the ante just a bit. So just a clearing of the closet, getting rid of everything that isn’t part of your, um, thing (dare I say vision?) is a good start!

    The other half is less about clothes and more about accessories! And honestly, with your collection of belts and awesome shoes, your jeans-and-knit-shirts outfits are WAY more than run of the mill!

    I realized recently that I’ve spent my first year or so of serious garment sewing sort of gorging – making clothes that I’ve lusted over and either couldn’t find, couldn’t fit or couldn’t afford. Lots of party dress love here! Now that I’ve satisfied that life-long yearning, I’m focusing more on my daily things and what my actual style is – up until now, I’ve been at the mercy of RTW-whatever-works.

    A project that I’ve been thinking about is doing a COMPLETELY tailored to me ‘classic wardrobe capsule’. You know, white menswear shirt, trench, dark wash jeans – the 10 must-have-items – but making them each well fitted, great fabrics and exactly ‘my’ style. So you KNOW the white menswear shirt will have a midriff band, etc. I think it’d be fun to take the style-magazine-staple and make it mine, all mine.

  15. Tenshi

    I’m one of those people who don’t really have a lot of ordinary items in their wardrobes. Those that I have remain from the days when I still bought clothes, about 3 years ago. I’m trying to spice them up and some just don’t get worn anymore. I’m too… whatever it is I am for metal bandshirts or blouses with kitties&crossbones. Not me anymore. And the eyecatching jewelry, I do that, too. All the time. Never leave the house without earrings and a necklace and a watch. As for shoes, “comfortable” is just not an argument for me. No sneakers here. No chucks. One single pair of ballerina flats.
    But while some people happily throw out all the ordinary and dress uniquely and fancily all the time, noone has to do that. Indeed, there are days when I ask myself why I do not have anything simple to wear. Just a piar of jeans and a shirt. I don’t own jeans and all my shirts contain ruffles, puffed sleeves, gathers, a deeper-than-strictly neccessary neckline, … When I want somethign simple, I usually throw on a jersey dress.
    So… what I’m really trying to say is: Wear the extraordinary when you want to, on the days that it feels like you, the days that it’ll make you smile to see your reflection in a shop window and knowing that people watch you doesn’t feel like a burden but like fun. And on the days where you don’t feel like sparkling, where you just want to hide in your hoodie that is practical but not-so-stylish, do so.
    The great thing about our time is that we have choices. It’s only fun because it’s a choice. And whatever you choose, as long as you choose it consciously, is great, because it’s your own damn choice.

    Btw, I love your red boots. And I don’t envy you the snow.

  16. Zoe

    I really enjoyed your wardrobe autopsy! I think all of us have similar internal conversations about our clothes. I also think we are especially critical of things we have made ourselves. You looked awesome this month, and the fact that you wore both ‘costumy’ outfits and the ‘jeans and T-shirt’ ones reflects that you are a real person getting on with your real life, which is the point of the challenges really.
    Thanks for taking part again, I really hope you get involved again. And next time you might be able to see some grass in your garden!

    Zoe xxx

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