Near miss

On the heels of a post about why I sew, here is a near miss. Sometimes the theory of what should work doesn’t translate into reality. At least I’m not thrilled with this make.

near miss.JPGYou may recognize the top of this dress from a post about embellishing.

My myopia strikes again! The design doesn’t show up from a distance unless I’m in perfect lighting. Also, I think that the stitching technique stretched out the top of the dress. See the vertical wrinkles near the neckline? I could take it in because I put in shoulder princess seams (all bow to shoulder princess seams and how they allow for adjustments!). However, I don’t know if it’s worth the effort.

I think this color is ok on me, but it’s not great. I think it probably should be darker, like the colors of the shadows. Or something. (I’m wondering if I should be wearing warmer colors although I’ve always worn cooler colors. See my color analysis “game” on Instagram.) Also, if I dyed the dress the darker color, the fabric would then completely match the color of the stitching/embroidery. The stitching detail would disappear.

On a positive note, I think the overall shape of the dress is good! It’s comfortable. The neckline is great. The length looks a bit long in the photos, but that could just be my photo skills because it hits above my knee in the mirror. I learned a lot from making this dress!

Overall, it looks like the negatives beat out the positives, so I think this one is off to Goodwill.

Why I sew my own clothes

Over the past few days I’ve attended a workshop taught by Pia Best focused on ecoprint and indigo. Several women there wore clothes they had dyed or stitched or sewn, and it was fun to see their self-expression. This experience reminded me about why I sew my own clothes – I’d like to wear items that feel unique (but not costume-y) and that fit my body and my lifestyle. I also just adore cloth – feeling it, stitching it, dyeing it, etc.

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One of my major goals of the workshop was to create cloth to sew a dress. I knew that I’d like some ecoprint and also some plain fabric in the dress. Some ecoprinted clothes that have an all-over design look over the top, almost like cammo.

IMG_8619One piece I printed, pictured at left, was a great outcome. It’s got interesting colors with the orangish eucalyptus and a lighter blue background. It will make a beautiful bodice.

I indigo dyed darker blue pieces to use for the skirt part of the dress. They will cooordinate but not match exactly, which is great.

So, I got to use beautiful fabric with a nice drape and hand to dye and print. Then I’ll get to sew it into a dress that will fit my lifestyle. That’s  the joy of sewing for me!

Why do you sew?

 

 

 

Flat style – Inspired by…

paint suppliesIn a previous post, I mentioned that I’m aiming to bring some interest to the upper part of  my outfits. I typically wear dresses, so this means the bodice of a dress. Toward that end, I’ve been searching Pinterest for a variety of ideas for surface design. My goal is to use the plain fabric I have and the dyes, paints, stencils, and other supplies I’ve collected over the years. (Does that happen to you, too? I buy something with the intent of using it and then . . . well, things change.)

As an aside, we are planning to move to a different house in the next two to three years. I’m thinking about what the possible implications are for my sewing room. I think I’d prefer to pack my fabric and supplies as clothes instead of fabric. I’m also thinking about if I haven’t used something by then, maybe it’s past it’s expiration date. This is not a commitment; it’s just something I’m wondering. : )

Here’s how things are developing into what I’m calling a “soft geometric” style. To me that means shapes that are abstracted and also are not formal. First I’ve shown the inspiration with a link when it’s available and then my interpretation.

I found Tone Poem on Pinterest and followed the link to the ETSY store where there’s lots more great stuff! I really liked the simplicity and impact of the white stitching on the dark background and the emphasis on the bodice of the dress. My interpretation included using colored embroidery thread (that coordinates with a jacket) and a dark – but not black –  background. The stitching you see here took about two hours, so you’re seeing a work in progress. I think I will also stitch the front to this point, make the dress, and then finish stitching as time allows.

This second inspiration piece was also on Pinterest, but I couldn’t find the original image. (The Pinterest reference indicates it’s from Asiatica, but it doesn’t look like a typical piece from that store, which is totally drool-worthy.) In any case, I went through many experiments to figure out how to free-motion embroidery stitch using my Singer 301. I like the results on the front, but the tension on the back leaves something to be desired. I reinforced the stitches on the back with a sheer interfacing in hopes of keeping the design in good shape.

The final inspiration is from Pinterest, and the reference leads to a 404 error at Trendy Road. Again, I like the emphasis and contrast near the face, and I interpreted this with a stencil that I’ve had for a long time. It was satisfying to be able to find a great application for it, and the dress is coming along really well. You can see from the image at the top of the post that I took the time to make samples with different paint, but then I realized I was sampling on the wrong fabric! Oops. That error was particularly ironic since I rarely sample or practice before  going straight to the project.

I’ll be sure to show the finished dresses on Instagram. : )

What inspires your sewing and design choices?

Pattern Review

PatternReview.com (PR) is an amazing resource! The community of sewists has come together to build a terrific place to look for information, and today I want to share a few ways I have used the site to find information and inspiration for my current (flat) sewing projects. (Please note that images/screenshots are used with permission from PR founder, Deepika. Thank you!)

How to search the site

IMG_4488.JPGIf you are looking for a specific term (such as “mastectomy”), use the search box in the upper right hand corner of the homepage (where the aqua star is on the screen shot). Think about a variety of terms to search because the search widget is looking for the exact term you put in.

Your results page will look different depending on if you search for a pattern or other items. If you search for a pattern, at the top of the search results page, you will see number of ways to refine your search, which could be helpful. At the bottom of the results page, you will see links to patterns or forum posts that match your search terms. Here’s an example where I searched for “archer” and now I can narrow or refine the results by selecting  dress, rating, body shape of the reviewer, etc.-

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I have looked at the forum threads for mastectomy sewing, and they are very helpful and supportive. I encourage you to post a question for any sewing issue that you might have if you’d like some advice. (As a point of information, there are PR members who sew for a post-mastectomy, unreconstructed body, and a majority of the ones I’ve seen use prosthetic breasts.)

Additionally, if you are looking for a pattern with a specific feature, such as shoulder gathers, you can search for it using the search box as illustrated above or post to a forum for suggestions.

Using Pattern Reviews

Another way I use the site on a regular basis is to look at pattern reviews of a specific pattern on a variety of body shapes. From that information and a technical drawing, I can usually figure out if a pattern will work for me.

Also, I can use the search function if I want to see what a Grainline Archer dress looks like on people who say they have a rectangle body. I can click on a variety of reviews to see what sewists have to say about the pattern and how their projects went.

You can also find a member who has a similar body shape to yours and look at all of the items they have sewn. While few “flatties” are posting there, there are women who are small chested who post and can give you ideas of what a pattern may look like on you.

How do you use Pattern Review? Please add any tips you have in a comment!

 

 

 

Flat style – what to wear to treatments

teal 1While the major and difficult parts of my treatments for breast cancer are over, I still need to get Herceptin infusions every three weeks until late October. Today I’ll  focus on what I want to wear to treatments. This is a dress based on my basic knit sloper. Sorry, I don’t have a pattern number for you for this exact dress, but Burda 6496 is close. I have a Power Port that is used to administer the treatments. The nurses say that they can work with pretty much any neckline except for a turtleneck, but I want to avoid having my neckline stretched out. So, one of the first considerations for a top to wear to treatment is that there is some opening that allows access. I used an Alabama Chanin idea and attached snaps to close up the front instead of trying to make button holes.

teal 2Another consideration for me is a dress that I can sit in and not have lap wrinkles when I stand up. For this dress with a straight skirt, I made a faux wrap front. The skirt is attached to the bodice with a empire seam. The bottom panel of the skirt goes a little more than 3/4 of the way across the front. The top part of the skirt goes 3/4 of the way across the front, and it ends about where a princess seam line would be. This amount of overlap has done a good job of keeping me covered when I’m sitting or walking, even in a windy situation.  (As an aside, I noticed that the sleeve cap had too much fabric when I reviewed these photos, and I just stitched out the excess by taking an additional 1/4″ seam allowance.)

teal 3The next consideration was a personal challenge, not related to treatment. In the past, I wore lots of solid fabrics, and I’ve decided to work on adding a creative element to my makes. In this case, I added stenciling by using a fabric pen (Pentel gel roller for fabric, but I think they are discontinued. Boo.) to trace around an Alabama Chanin Stencil, Magdelana. This is a pretty and intricate pattern. Each skirt panel took me about an hour, and the bodice parts also took about an hour. I have a lot of time invested in this project!

I’ve taken several Alabama Chanin workshops, and one of the things that Natalie Chanin shared was that she works on making designs that are interesting to view from a distance, from middle ground and from close up. I think her designs are wonderful, and I’m sure it would take me hours and hours to design something with these design principles. That’s why I’m willing to pay for her stencils and use them.

teal 4The final reason I made this dress was because my favorite infusion nurse, Margo, challenged me to it! We were talking one day about sewing, and she said, “The next time I see you in here, I want to see you in a dress you made.” The way I figure it, if someone is coming at your chest with a needle and has a reasonable request, you should try to oblige. I’ll be wearing this make to my next appointment. : )

 

 

 

Flat style – Recovering from Myopia

I’ve got a problem that I’m still working on solving, and it comes from my efforts to be an optimist. I focus on what I like or what is going well in a situation, and sometimes that means I miss the bigger picture. That’s not good. Case in point:

liberty fabric.jpg

This fabric, in my mind, would be great for a travel dress. It’s not too light in color and would camouflage any spots, right? I love the blue/green colors, and the red dots are interesting. The flower shapes are not too fussy. Except that this is how it made up into a dress:

It should work as a lightweight dress for warm weather, but the theory is not panning out in reality. The print is tiny and it’s too dark for what I wanted. I got expert advice from folks on Instagram and my husband. This is not my best look. However (yes, here’s the optimist again!), I learned several things from this experiment.

I need to zoom out and take a view from another perspective instead of looking closely at a small print. I need to choose prints that compliment my features and are in proportion with the rest of me. I need clothes that have creative and/or interesting details.  I need to look at what has made me feel good when I’m wearing it and figure out how to replicate that.

No wonder good stylists get paid a lot of money. This isn’t easy! (Yes, I’m working with the talented Anne Whalley, but she’s not in my sewing room every day. One of the goals is to help me learn from my mistakes and figure out how to make good decisions on my own.)