Friday, April 4, 2014

Try, try again

This is one of a few projects that I made before our trip but never got around to writing about.  All of my computer time in the weeks leading up to the trip were spent researching weather, backpacks, tours, and if I would want to barf at the thought of eating Scottish food (I didn't.  Actually the food was pretty great, except the seafood wasn't nearly as good as it was hyped up to be.  Says the girl from Louisiana, I know).

So, after hating my first attempt at this pattern, mostly die to the weirdness of the fabric, I decided to try again with something more structured and less clingy.  I decided on a cotton twill, and found this pretty navy at High Fashion Fabrics in Houston.

Side note:  if you're in the Houston area, I love this place.  My home base in Houston is completely on the other side of the city (Energy Corridor) but I make the trip often, because it's so worth it.  They have every type of apparel fabric you could want, and their prices are fair, in my opinion.  Plus their selection of zippers, thread, and buttons is pretty great.

ANYWAY, this twill was great.  I don't remember how much it was but it wasn't expensive.  Under $10/yard and I used two yards.  I love the color, definitely a navy but not too dark or black.

I added pockets, but I think I'll remove them next time.  Just not necessary and they add bulk.  I also need to take this in a tiny bit at the hips, but I think it's a really great basic.

Side note:  sweater is from J. Crew last season.  It was a gift from my mom and I'm crazy about it.

Close up of the waistband (and the cat hair)

Although I cut this on the straight gran, I used the waistband from version three.  I didn't want the shaped waistband, although I may try that next time.

I hemmed it with yellow grosgrain ribbon.  These little details are one of my favorite things about home made clothes.  I also used an old blouse for the pockets so there is a fun little print in there (it's a pretty floral with blues and purples).

I was happy to have this second chance at a good pattern.  It kind of erased my frustration at the first attempt.

Project:  Navy a-line skirt
Pattern:  Colette Ginger
Fabric:   Heavy navy cotton twill
Notions:    thread, interfacing, invisible zipper
Skills involved:  Placing a zipper.  There is a really cool technique for finishing the zipper that is explained will in the instructions too!
Changes made:  Used a straight waistband instead of shaped.
Fuckups: None that I can remember

And a final note:  RIP red leather flats.  I shouldn't have pushed you so hard on the cobblestone streets of Belfast.  You were a good friend to me....

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

My spring/summer capsule wardrobe

So here it is, the culmination of the Wardrobe Architect.  A capsule collection of clothes that fit my style, my needs, and that I can reach for again and again.

I ended up with what was a fairly long list, so we may not see all of these pieces this season.  But when it comes to needs, wants, and budgets, I think this is a really good compromise.

So, for spring, I chose a few silhouettes to keep in mind.  full skirts, slimmer skirts, cardigans, skinny pants, and blousey tops were all featured.  And ballet flats with every outfit.  Which is fitting since I have about a bazillion of them.

So I made a list of each item, how many I had (and love wearing) and how many I would need to have a mixable wardrobe.

In the end I decided on my needs

  • 3 blousey tops with short or mid length sleeves
  • 2 full skirted dresses
  • 2 slimmer dresses
  • 1 easy knit dress
  • 2 full skirts
  • 1 slimmer skirt
  • 1 knit blazer
  • 1 terry sweatshirt
So, make or buy?  The only thing on the list I'm buying is the blazer, because I'm not confident enough in my skills yet to try a structured knit.  I actually already bought it, and really love it.

Next, color.

I thought a lot about this one, and tried not to just go with my first instincts.  I thought about the colors I've been wearing a lot, the fabrics that I've bought and love, and what is flattering on me.  And this is what I came up with.

It's arranged with bolder colors at the tops, nearly neutrals in the middle, and neutrals at the bottom.  At first this image gave me a little pause.  Shouldn't I be choosing crazy bright colors?  It's spring!  But this is colorful without being over the top, and I think entirely mixable/matchable.  I'm also including cream/white even thought it's not shown here.

So from here, I was able to plan specific pieces.  12 pieces to make (and one already bought) that I think will really work for me.

So back to the list above
  • 3 blousey tops with short or mid length sleeves
    • A loose fitting tee shirt in blush colored silk
    • A silk georgette blouse with a neck tie in ochre
    • a short sleeved blouse with peter pan collar in a charcoal and white stripe
  • 2 full skirted dresses
    • A white seersucker dress with tiny embroidered crabs in a poppy red
    • An eyelet dress, color TBD but would love it to be poppy or coral
  • 2 slimmer dresses
    • Button front sleeveless dress in a cat print - aubergine with pink and poppy accents
    • A shirtdress (I think) in a different cat print - very light putty and white
  • 1 easy knit dress
    • Black knit dress with a full skirt and elbow length sleeves
  • 2 full skirts
    • pleated flowy skirt in a dark olive silk georgette
    • print skirt in black and gold - done!
  • 1 slimmer skirt
    • Slim skirt in a bright coral floral
  • 1 knit blazer
    • black and white striped blazer - bought!
  • 1 terry sweatshirt
    • cream terrycloth sweatshirt for lounging
So, that's a lot of colors/prints.  But when I put them together, I think it really works. This combination feels very "me." So I think this exercise was definitely a success. Now I just have to put this into practice!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Crazy cat lady

I'm steadily knocking off items from modcloth like it's my job.  This is the third garment I've made in a few months that is almost identical to something on their site.  The quirky prints in classic silhouettes is just right up my alley, so it makes sense.  But when something is so simple to make (like a dirndl), I just can't resist.

So, apart from the spinster part, I am quickly approaching the definition of a crazy cat lady.  I'm obsessed with my cats.  These are my babies, and I love them so much.  I even have a tattoo of one of my cats (who we lost about a year ago and dude, still not even close to over it).

So, when I saw this skirt on modcloth, I knew it wasn't optional.  I had to have it.

But $60 for a novelty print skirt seemed... excessive.  And I am really trying hard not to make unnecessary clothing purchases right now.  But I wondered if I could find the fabric, and I suspected it was quilting cotton.

Low and behold, I found it.  I think I googled cat frame quilting cotton.  I found it at Hart's Fabric and bought two yards.  This all went down about midweek last week, and I got the fabric delivered to me on Friday or Saturday.  Super quick!

I washed it Sunday morning (along with some other cat themed fabric I'm psyched about) just so it would be ready when the mood struck.  And the mood struck that evening around 5, so I just went with it.

I'm actually in the middle of another project, a silk crepe Colette Zinnia.  I am really happy with how it's turning out, but I still have to attach the waistband (and hem!) and the instructions have me stumped.  I feel like the hard part should be over, even the zipper is done, but I'm just at a loss.  So Sunday afternoon I decided to put it aside and take my mind off it for a few days.  Googling tells me this is a problem for a lot of people.  I may just put the waistband in the way I usually do it and skip the confusing instructions.

ANYWAY.  After I gave up on that skirt I still wanted to make one, so I set about making something quick.  And what's the quickest, easiest garment to make?  A dirndl.

Three rectangles and just a few seams.  It's perfect and cute.  This fabric was even easier because I could use the cats as reference when cutting.

And dude, I LOVE how it turned out.  I think this skirt is the most "my style" thing I've made.

And an advantage mine has over the $60 version?  No partial cats.

No cat left behind (excepting the waistband).

I'm just butt crazy in love with this outfit.  I thought about wearing a bright red sweater but I thought that might be a little TOO Claudia Kishi.

Side note about this project.  After one too many replacements, I finally broke down and bought a legit invisible zipper foot.  Do it.  Do it now.  It is so much better than those little multi-machine plastic pieces of shit you can get at Joann's.  I've used it twice and marveled at how easy it was.

See also:  Clover marking tools.  Every Dritz thing I've bought (tracing paper, pencils, and markers) has been shit.  Just go with Clover and save yourself the money.

So, the details

Project:  Cat portrait skirt
Pattern:  None, just a n easy dirndl.
Fabric:   Cats in Frames from Hart Fabric
Notions:    thread, interfacing, invisible zipper (I just shortened one I already had, hence a black skirt with a lavender zipper!), hook and bar or a large-ish button.
Skills involved:  Geez, this one is so simple.  Almost none.  Gathering and putting in a zipper?  And if you were really worried about the zipper you could do an elastic waist.
Changes made:  N/A.  Actually I was planning to do a button closure but changed my mind at the last minute.
Fuckups: None!  The perks of not working with a pattern I guess

BRB, scouring modcloth for another piece to copy.