Thursday, 5 January 2017

Always Forward.

I had actually had the majority of a top 5 post written up but decided to delete it instead. I gotta say, love reading everyone else's reflections on the past year, though.

To keep this post from being overly wordy and/or boring, I'm throwing in some unblogged garments I've made. Fair warning--some of the picture quality is shite. Deal with it.
Linden sweatshirt. Sized down to a four (Much more flattering). Arms pieced together (so I have enough fabric for another). Fuzzy-backed poly knit (i.e. it actually keeps me warm), with ponte bands.
What made me delete the post? Well, I read these two posts (here and here), and, in a lot of ways, they have summed up how I've been feeling about the sewing community we are in lately. When I first started sewing and reading blogs, I was so impressed by how supportive the community seemed. I would comment and e-mail people, and, if I was lucky, get a response, but that was it. Not much reciprocation.
Cotton jersey Hemlock, for a friend.
With every link round-up, every pattern testing round-up, every guest blogger, and every comment, it was beginning to feel more like a "cool girls club", which I clearly was not a part of. The same bloggers would be showcased across the web over and over. What happened to the "we support everyone" mentality that was supposed to exist? Why do I feel like I am back in high school?
Kwik Sew 4172, drastically altered, for a friend. Navy rayon jersey. In-seam pockets. EXTRA swishy.
As a blogger, you start to equate your blog with yourself. After all, isn't this little piece of web a reflection of yourself? Why aren't people following my blog? I make stuff too! It can be nice. Maybe it's not from the hottest indie pattern? Maybe they don't like my writing? Maybe I'm not posting fast enough? Maybe it is not interesting enough to comment on? Let's enter this contest so I can get more people to like my stuff! I'll make this indie design and then send them a link with the hopes that they will maybe put me on their Pinterest board if they feel I'm relevant enough. As one of the posts I link to above state, you start to equate likes and follows to self-worth, and for me that is a weird feeling because even in high school I just accepted my weird self and did whatever I wanted.
Terrible quality! But, you can see the bands used instead of lining it.
When I read those two posts, they really resonated with me. Why the f*ck do I keep doing this? In an effort to seem "relevant" I would buy patterns from indie companies that I knew would look like shit on my body type. I overlooked terrible drafting, instead thinking that if I just did enough adjustments, the garment would fit right and that it was somehow my problem it didn't. And when I knew that something had been drafted carelessly and then proceeded to contacted the designer to point it out, I just assumed that the designer was too busy to respond when she didn't. It's as though, in some ways, the online sewing community is a bad boyfriend, you just keep on making excuses for them, secretly lying to yourself about the fact that deep down, you know it's not a healthy relationship.
I started sewing because I needed a creative outlet where I could work with my hands to physically do something. I wanted to create unique garments that fit me better in styles that weren't readily available. I wanted to blog to be able to share the experience and to connect with others who have similar interests in a meaningful way. More than this, I wanted to have a positive impact on the environment and stop pretending that a $20 dress from H&M didn't exploit a worker in another part of the world.
Scout wearable muslin in crappy suit fabric. I don't remember the size and you can't make me go upstairs to find out.
I remember when sewing blogs used to be critical, honest, and slow, focusing on the process over the product. I want to get back to that here. I work full-time. I have a husband and a dog and friends and family and a house that all need my attention. I simply can't churn out garments at the same pace as many other bloggers are doing--at the same rate as fast fashion is doing. So I won't. If you can't stick around because of that, cool. If you can, awesome. So, how do I move forward from here?
First of all, I purged my Bloglovin' reader. No more people giving uncritical pattern reviews for freebies, no more "cool girls club". There are a select few people on my reader that are genuinely kind, who are actually interested in having a conversation, and those are the types of people I would like to be around in real life, so they stay (Thank you for being actual human beings who are genuinely lovely to talk to! You know who you are! xoxo). There are a few other blogs I've kept who don't really reciprocate too much, but who are always an endless source of inspiration, and hey, at least they don't mindlessly promote, promote, promote. After that, it is time for me to make some legitimate goals to work towards for the new year.

Blog Goals:
1. Be more critical. If I try a pattern and I think it sucks, I will say so. Sorry I've sugar coated a bit more than I should have in the past.

2. Post whenever I damn well feel like it. If this means I post two times in 2017, so be it. I don't want to pressure myself to produce more, more, more (!), when I could be taking my time with a higher quality instead.

Sewing Goals:
1. Take my time to really plan, fit, and sew my wardrobe. I want to focus more on creating a timeless wardrobe that works well together and that will last me a long time in fabrics that are natural and sustainably sourced. This one may take a few years to get to though, and you may think that I gave up on the sustainably sourced fabrics part, but I want to use what is in the stash first. More than anything, when I pick out fabrics and patterns to try, I want to do so because they work well for me, not because I think it is the newest trend and it will get me noticed.

2. That brings me to #2, no more fabric. I was actually mostly good about this this past year. There were four new additions (a linen knit, some wool coating, a small piece of quilting cotton [in a dog print, I mean come on!], and some tencel denim), that I actually purchased. I used a giftcard for another purchase of cotton sateen, and any other purchases were purely for other people's projects. Everything else I used was from the stash. Now that I have the wool for my coat, I hope that I can more or less make it through the year without more.

3. Make a quilt. This will likely be the only exception to #2. Ever since we adopted Sweet Dee, I've wanted to make a quilt for the local humane society to raffle off as a way of saying thank you. I think I found the perfect pattern. I hope to have this finished by the end of the summer.

4. Incorporate embroidery into a design. I really like the idea of being able to take all that time to embroider something and then be able to wear it afterwards. I have a few ideas for things that I may like to try. This one may end up on the back burner, but what are goals if not a starting place?

5. Finish a coat. I've put this off for a few years, but my current coat won't last another year so there's not much choice here. Not after the money I spent on my wool, anyway.

6. More sewing time, less Pinterest/Bloglovin' time. I think that the purge will help this one out. I just find that I spend WAY too much time eyeballing what I could be making instead of actually freaking making it.

And that is it really. Sorry if this came off as a bummer of a post, it wasn't really meant to be that way. I've just been repressing these feelings for a long time and now that others have put it into words, I have been able to state much more clearly how I have been feeling.

I am breaking up with my bad boyfriend because I deserve amazing, quality, comfortable, hand-made garments that suit my style and body without feeling pressure to get more likes and follows from people I don't know.

It's over.

And you know what, it's not me, it's you.


Saturday, 31 December 2016

Laterz 2016! + Noodlehead Campfire Messenger Bag

Happy New Year's everyone! I was planning on doing a little indoor shoot today of my new favourite makes to send this gawd-awful year off, but the hubs got really, really sick in the middle of the night last night, so he's in bed eating crackers and here I am.

Luckily, I actually have been sewing up a storm behind the scenes here and so I do have some other things that I could show you. So today, I'd be pleased as punch to show you the Campfire Messenger Bag that I made from Noodlehead.
I was actually commissioned about a month ago to make this bag. I really like the idea of designing and using a fabric bag, but if we knew each other IRL, you would know just how quickly I would get stains all over it.
I picked up the fabric at my local Fabricland. They are a yellow and gray twill, and the other two fabrics are quilting cotton (both Robert Kaufman if I recall correctly). I absolutely love the floral lining fabric. As for the metal hardware, I picked that up in a kit at the Quilting Bee.
I made the purse with all the bells and whistles, only trading out the closures for magnetic snaps. In order to do this I had to add about four extra inches to the front flap.
Although I folded and pressed everything as per directions, my front pleated pouch looks a little lopsided.

I think the inset zipper turned out great but would be even better with a few more under my belt for practice. My top stitching and pressing could be tidied up a bit more here.

I think if I made this again, I would not interface any of the lining pieces. I think it just added a bit too much bulk for my liking and it sort of sits a bit funny at the bottom of the bag as a result. Additionally, one thing that I had a lot of trouble with were the little tabs that attach the metal rectangles to the sides of the bag. For the life of me I can't turn such a small tube that is interfaced. I ended up just sort of doing my own thing there.
For the back compartment, I just used a snap I had on hand.

Overall, I was really pleased with the pattern. This was my first time using a Noodlehead pattern and I was so excited that everything came together exactly as it should that I e-mailed Anna to tell her how happy I was. Everything lined up the way it should! This pattern is Carlee-proof!

I ended up picking up the Petal Pouch and the Envelope Clutch patterns as well and am super excited to dive into those for nice easy sewing pick-me-ups.
All in all, I would chalk this up to a sewing win. Again, it is not really my style because, with shoulder problems I try to keep a small bag so I don't have much weight to carry, but I was more than delighted to whip this bad boy up as I really learned a lot.

Here is hoping that in 2017 the world can become a little (or a lot!) less scary of a place. Happy New Year to you and your loved ones, and many happy stitches for 2017!

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Refashioners 2016: Jeanius!

Jeans. Ugh. I haven't actually worn a proper pair of jeans in a loooooooong time. After seeing Portia's post about this year's Refashioners theme, I wasn't really sure if I should participate. I mean, I've participated in contests before only to end up with a garment I never wear.
So I decided to lay out some ground rules for participating:

1. My end garment MUST be something I will wear. Not like to a wedding one time, but often. (i.e. Must resist all temptation to make a ball gown just because I like to be crazy like that.)

2. In line with rule #1, I will only participate if I find a coloured or patterned pair of jeans in a colour/pattern I like since I am not huge on plain old denim.

In essence, I would only participate by making this challenge work for me, not the other way around.
Well...BINGO! I found these ridiculously amazing patterned jeans at the local thrift shop. I won't share prices because, needless to say, thrifting in Canada ain't cheap. But those jeans! And they look like beautiful brush strokes! I was sold.
I decided really early on in the process that I wanted something that would work with the jeans, opting for a dress with more structure. I had about a million ideas for this (which if you follow me on Pinterest, you will undoubtedly have noticed), but decided that because of the limited amount of fabric, I needed to take it one step at a time.
First I started with the bodice. After some humming and hawing, I decided that I wanted the bodice to be in the patterned jeans. Originally I had wanted to do the back bodice in the patterned jeans with burgundy jeans in the front (with a front zipper), but decided I liked the pattern too much to have it hide behind me all day. So I whipped the bodice up using my trusty Simplicity 1873.
Next I had to decide on a skirt. After seeing how artsy the bodice looked, I wanted a skirt that matched the artsy-ness of the bodice but more so in terms of the shape and structure of the skirt. I had really liked the looks of the three skirts below. I settled on the far left one (with input from my sister), until I realized I would need two jeans of the same colour to get enough fabric for it. I had already bought different coloured jeans and on principle I wasn't going out to pick up a fourth pair. (And I didn't like the idea of just using the two different colours to make up this skirt.)
That's when I came across the below pic on Pinterest.
EUREKA! I thought this would look pretty nice with the two tones and I knew I would have enough fabric to pull it off. I used a basic skirt block (for the first time), and just sort of laid things out until it worked. I don't think you can call that draping, but whatever it was, I like the outcome.
I used the inseam of the white jeans to make the front overlap, and the hem on both the burgundy and white parts of the skirt are the jeans hems (Hooray for no hemming!).
At this point, I tried the dress on and.....I hated it. It didn't fit right and it was missing something. I took the hips in where it meets the waist and took in the back zipper at the top by a lot. Taking it in to be more fitted completely changed my perspective on the dress.
I then decided to make a big bow to add just that final little "oomphf". I figured the jeans would help the bow to hold its shape really well. Luckily, I was right and I am SO glad I added it! I think it takes this dress to another level. I also really like how you can see the jeans pocket in the bow. It's my little tip of the hat to the dress' former life.
As a last little detail, I used some of the leftover jeans scraps to make some matching earrings.
This dress has been such an emotional rollercoaster. I love it, I hate it, I need a break from it, I might like it sort of, I love it, I hate it, I love it but it doesn't fit, it fits but it is too plain, I LOVE IT! (Not to mention cutting through my fabric while trimming a seam, accidentally cutting out a pattern piece twice without remembering to flip the pattern, and almost tearing a hole in the front when pinning on the bow with a broken safety pin in order to determine bow placement.) I've really learned a lot and am so happy to see people's reactions when I tell them this used to be jeans. (Read: everyone is amazed!)
I'm pleased to say that I feel like a fancy babe when I wear the dress and thus will be wearing it often to work (i.e. mission accomplished).
Well, only one day left until the deadline: did you participate in the Refashioners this year? Would you wear something that is quite "out there" like this is? If you've already made something you would classify as "artsy", please do share!