Friday, October 12, 2007

Reflections on a Sewing Plan

Today I read a post about layering on Marcy Tilton's website. Three garments were suggested whose necklines fit together so that a shirt, vest, and jacket could be worn on top of one another (and presumably removed as temperatures dictate.) I've never been much for layering other than bringing a sweater if I think it's going to be cool, such as in air conditioned restaurants when traveling in the summer heat.

It's fall here now, and raining today. We heat our house with wood, and the fire has been on all night and all day for the first time this year. It's very hot in here, and I started my day in a long-sleeved t-shirt, a treasured gift from a friend who lives far away.

As I prepared supper, and sat later in front of the stove, I realized that a long-sleeved shirt is not routine apparel for me in the least not when I am at home. Then I realized that of all the shirts I have made in the past year or so, most have been long sleeved. I've only worn them when going out, or in the case of cotton shirts, as an over-shirt for cool days or unknown weather conditions.

Reflective Lesson #1: Sew what you will wear. Since I am home much of the time, I should sew what I will wear around the house, ie: short sleeved shirts, sleeveless shirts and tank tops.

Reflective Lesson #2: Think of layering. I should choose patterns that can be worn over the shirts above, as you would wear a sweater. Long sleeves with uncomplicated necklines and coordinating colors. There's a bit of opportunity here for some neat styles, and embellishments.

Referring back to Lesson #1, I think we all spend more time sewing what we won't wear much than what we will wear often. The challenge of more complex garments I suppose is a factor. Having made the Burda Cape/jacket, and I am considering making another. Does a person need more than one of these, especially when she is also making another cape by Vogue? A cape has a life-span of what? -- 3 years maybe, before the fashion police snatch it away.

More than one person has suggested red wool crepe would make a fabulous version of the Burda Cape. My sister, who is much more practical thinks one is enough...b
ut then, she does not wear red.

As I was reflecting on all of this, I was stretching my legs and feeling glad I had on my taupe stretch cords, made for SWAP last year. Suddenly, it occurred to me that I really love these pants, and also the brown ones I bought from Northern Reflections, and will probably also love the green ones waiting for hems and a 5-lb weight loss:

Reflective Lesson #3: Sew what you will wear. I like stretch cords. Therefore, make more. I could/should make them in every pattern and color I can find. Make them in NAVY for heaven's sake. My potential SWAP has a navy base -- make it work. Good grief, if I can find the fabric, I could make them in fuchsia and see if I have the nerve to wear them. Other stretch fabrics might be just as great!

Yesterday and today I worked on 2 Jalie T-shirts, trying to get the pattern adjusted for a good fit. Knits frustrate me, and I mostly still don't get them right. On the first round, the fit was tight because the fabric did not have quite enough stretch. I knew that would be the case, but figured my daughter could wear it. It was the sleeves that surprised high, and so tight,...and so uncomfortable.

Rather than give up in despair (after I had already made copious notes about what to change on the shoulders and bustline) I impulsively chopped off the sleeves very short. Well! Now the shirt fits half-decently, the shoulders are not off nearly as much as I thought, and if I make that 5-lb weight loss, my daughter will not be getting a new shirt.

I enlarged the sleeves and lowered the armholes on the pattern by using the armscye of a larger size. It was moderately successful, but the forward shoulder adjustment still results in a strangely twisted sleeve. If you are still with me, I am getting to my reflection. It happened when I came upstairs to get out of the long sleeved too-hot shirt. An old black T-shirt from Reitman's was on the bed, and I put it on. It is made with a ribbed knit, a bit stretchier than the fabrics I have been using, but it fits perfectly -- even in the shoulders -- which is saying a lot because my shoulder seams are always too far back.

Reflective Lesson #4: If you have an old perfectly fitting shirt, take a pattern off it instead of fighting with alterations on other people's patterns. Duh.

Reitman's still carries this fabric and style of shirt, but they have changed their sizing, or perhaps the stretchiness of the fabric has changed. I have several of the old version. Best get to work tracing them off.

I should never have accumulated a stash. Now it takes forever weighing options about what to do with this or that. I read a post by Kathryn showing a princess style dupioni shirt. I decided to use my green dupioni for a similar pattern......decisions: short sleeve or long? muslin first or not? Is this really what I want for this dupioni? OK. Better make a muslin since you will have to do some alterations for sure, even though this is a Simplicity B-C-D cup pattern. Around we go again. What to use for the muslin? Junk fabric, decent cotton -- what will go with the potential SWAP. This is nice, but there are 2 whole meters. Never mind, use it anyway. Do I really want a short-sleeved shirt from this beautiful Asian cotton?........around and around.

Reflective Lesson #5: Sometimes you have to just do it. I muddle too much. There are no right answers, maybe not even any best answers. Pick a fabric. Pick a pattern.

Reflective Lesson #5A: If there is something #5 will go with, made or unmade, carry on. Use crappy stuff for a minimal fitting muslin and quickly get on with the fashion fabric that you really want to work with.

So there you have it, a rainy day's ramblings, and maybe some focus to very unstructured sewing of late. I hope this helps my progress.


Tany said...

Great post, Betty!

Vicki said...

Betty great post. I have just found your blog via your link at Stitches Guild.

I have to comment on your reflection on making what you wear at home - ie short sleeves (or no sleeves). Well here in sunny Aus, I am the opposite. The first thing I put on when I get home is some polar fleece. I put a top or my dressing gown over what ever else I am wearing. Maybe I should try and make some groovy polar fleece not!