It’s A Jungle (January) Out There

There once was a girl who lived in the city
Who thought that nature and the “great” outdoors were icky

But though a nature master she was not,
she could not resist joining in Jungle January with you lot.

Try as she may and try as she might
She could not shake the feeling that something was not quite right

“Is this wild zebra print really ‘me’?” 
No turning back now: the cutting and sewing had begun in earnest glee.

She pinned, she sweated, she pondered, and she fretted
If this dress turned out, to the gods she would be indebted!

And at last, the moment of truth had come
Scarcely any yardage remained–nary a crumb!

She bravely donned her togs, fit to be worn,
And her inner Jungle Vixen thus was born!

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Some super-effective jungle camouflage.

I hope you people enjoyed that, because a poet I am not! 🙂 I didn’t think I’d be able to come up with anything nearly as clever as what Anne normally writes (and which I am convinced is how she talks and tells stories all the time, in real life, because she’s just that awesome) so I settled for a silly poem instead. (And brace yourselves for a whole set of fashion-bloggeresque “Inappropriate Sunglasses at Sunset” photos, because I could not be bothered with a full face of slap.)

So as you have figured out by now, I am participating in Jungle January this year–my first EVER! I had not really planned on that but for some reason my inspiration whacked me over the head like a Shakespeare anthology one Friday night, and here we are. Anne Jungle January Goddess, get your fainting couch ready, because I must now admit that my stash contains a paltry 2 animal print fabrics. Clearly, I am a #junglenovice. Teach me your ways!!!!!!!

I bought this crazy-ass fabric over a year ago when Fabric Mart the-fabric-retailer-that-shall-not-be-named had one of their many sales. I even described it using the same foul language back then. I had no immediate plans for it, but figured it was one of those random things I’d regret NOT owning if I didn’t buy a bit of it. Let the record show that RETINA-SEARING ELECTRIC BLUE and motherfucking ZEBRA are, even on an individual basis, not really my usual taste; together, they create what is without a doubt the biggest taste anomaly in my fabric stash, all wrapped up into 3 clingy yards of “What the fuck am I going to do with that?” and shoved into an unmarked box until that particular riddle solves itself. 14 months of “seasoning” later,  the riddle finally got off its ass and presented me with the answer: McCall 6886, aka the ubiquitous knit sheath that everybody has already made and seems to love.

I had figured on doing a fitted sheath-type dress in this material when it arrived those many moons ago. My initial idea, I thought, was Brilliant (yes, *with* that capital “B”): focus the blue bits around the waist of the dress, and let the top and bottom sections fade gracefully into zebradom (or at least as gracefully as is possible with an animal print mash-up). Well, Present Mads had to make a slight revision to Past Mads’ plan. Turns out the greatest % of stretch in this ITY jersey runs perpendicular to the blue border, not parallel to it. And if there was one additional Taste Violation that this dress did not need, it was the “Painted-On Sausage Casing” effect.

In order to save the “Illusion Dress” idea, I cut the front and back pieces as pairs rather than on the fold as directed. That allowed me to get the side seam parts on the blue (an endeavor which met with more success on the back pieces than the front), which I felt would create the illusion of a narrower silhouette. (Yeah yeah, I know that’s a damn stupid thing to see someone like me write, but let’s face it: nobody wants to look wider than they are, not even me.) The hardest part of this project was the cutting out! I must have shifted the pieces around a dozen times, but I am happy with how the pattern got distributed in the end. In other words, we came out of this with ZERO unfortunate boob or genital flowers. SUCCESS.

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Front view

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Side

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Back; I can see that a swayback adjustment would be of use next time.

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“Mom, what the f*** are you wearing?!?”

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Just standing among some wood scraps, as one does

Fitting Adjustments and Pattern Changes

I made View C, with the scoop neck and one of the many assorted lengths provided. After consulting the back of the pattern envelope, I made the decision to grade the hips to 2 sizes above my size, and stick with the smallest size everywhere else. I also used a 3/8″ seam allowance from the hem through the hips. In addition to that, I gave myself a seam allowance of 1/2″ at the center front and back seams, but sewed those up at 3/8″ just in case. (Reminder: this pattern is supposed to have front and back pieces cut on the fold–I changed that to accommodate my pattern placement.) My fabric is not the intended weight for this pattern (it says “medium weight knits” and this is a very light ITY jersey) so I wanted some insurance to literally cover my ass. This turned out to be a mistake. I removed what I had added after the fact, and then removed a little more. All removal was done from the side seams; everything I needed to remove was from the underbust through the hips.

At first, I had lengthened the pattern pieces by 2.5″ at the bodice lengthen/shorten line but hadn’t changed the actual waist circumference: I wanted to make sure everything else fit first. (I did a quick tissue fitting before adding that length; the bodice was definitely too short for me as drafted.) I must have removed 2″ from each side seam at my waist by the time I was satisfied (after trying the dress back on 3 or 4 times, each time being SURE that this was going to be the last, because how much more fabric could I possibly need to remove?!?) and, while it isn’t super-fitted at the waist, it shows off my one-and-only curve and remains office appropriate. Um, as office appropriate as this bananas dress can be, that is.

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Office styling for Crazy-Ass Zebra Flower dress (snotty sunglasses optional)

This was a SUPER SIMPLE dress. Very awesome. My only major gripe, and I should have expected this, is about the sleeve cap ease. This is a fitted knit dress. The sleeves do NOT need much cap ease, if any, vs. the armhole. I had decided from the beginning to install the sleeves flat (not what the instructions said to do, but whatevs, this Disobeyer of Instructions cares not), and was not a happy bear when I realized how big the caps were vs. the armhole. In the end, since I had no fabric left (that poem was TRUTH y’all) to recut new sleeves, I did what Andrea at Sew to Fit recommends and just let the extra cap ease get taken up as seam allowance. (That knowledge-bomb is in her verbal explanation at the beginning of the linked video, before the sewing starts. Her video explains it beautifully, by the way, if you ever run into this after you’ve cut and feel stuck.) So the end result was 2 pucker-free sleeves and a mollified Mads. DOUBLE GOOD SUCCESS.

Sorry for these photos, by the way. It was dinner time on a Sunday and quite cold, so going anywhere that was more than 100 feet from my wood burning stove was out of the question. So yard photos were the order of the day, and I only managed 5 minutes of shooting time!

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Zebracicle.

Wrap It Up Already!

So there you have it, people of the internet: my first foray into the jungle! It was a lot of fun, and hopefully I’ll be brave enough to play along next year as well.

But WAIT! There’s More:

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Bam! Future bra.

Coming soon* to a “Mads” House near you: The Ze-Bra! Get it?!? (But seriously–The Ze-Bra is happening. This will be a beta test of the Watson pattern, which I am hoping will become my TNT bra. Exciting!!)

*”Mads” speak for approx. 3 forevers from now

I hope you’ll go check out Pretty Grievances for all the jungle action–people always have so much fun with Jungle January!

 

 

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2015 Reflections and 2016 Goals

Welcome! Consider this my version of a “Top 5” post, if you will. (And thanks to Gillian for masterminding this recap series–it’s been such fun to read everybody’s posts these last few weeks!)

Had I been more productive in 2015, I would have done the whole Top 5 shebang. **Actually, after looking it up, I finished 14 things in 2015–that’s 2.3333333 times as many as I finished in 2014!!!!! I am awed.**

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So in light of this BRAND NEW INFORMATION, here are my Top 5 Sewn Projects of 2015:

  1. Marfy 3093, Version 1.0
  2. True Bias Men’s Hudson Pants
  3. Marfy 3093, Version 2.0
  4. BHL Anna Dress
  5. McCall 7103 (aka Sherk, aka Dunuh)
    Honorable Mention: Style Arc Tamara Top
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Marfy 3093

The first iteration of the Marfy pattern has been worn so many times that I have lost count–nearly once per week since being finished! I think it is my best work to date (sorry, Anna dress) and I am really proud of it. Isn’t it awesome to fill a hole in your wardrobe that you didn’t realize existed??

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Men’s Hudson Pants

I guess this is sort of cheating, since the pants weren’t for me, but seriously: Tom wears a pair of his Hudsons every. single. day. When both pairs went into the washer this past weekend, he ruefully put on a RTW pair of sweats and kept asking if laundry was done yet. He is eager for at least one more pair, so I know they’re a hit!

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Marfy 3093 #2

Marfy 2.0 is also wonderful, but I don’t reach for it quite as often simply because my work wasn’t as excellent as on 1.0. (And I also got pizza on it the last time I wore it–I KNOW–and have washed it, but still have to re-starch and iron the collar before I can wear it again. I am nothing if not lazy.) But it is much-loved and does get worn!

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Anna Dress

Ah, the Anna dress…I love that I got it done and that I was able to wear it. The flaws in it–and trust me, they are flaws–are unnoticeable to most people, and the fabric is BEYOND amazing, so I won’t be dissuaded from wearing it to future formal events.

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SHERK

SHERK! I love this thing more than a 30-year-old ought to love a giant stuffed animal, but I can’t help it. He will be the first of a handful of these, I’m sure; I’ve already agreed to make one for a co-worker’s granddaughter for her 2nd birthday. I am just glad that my friends and their son enjoy the shark so much–that’s such a great feeling!

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Tamara Top

The Tamara top gets a lot of wear when the weather is cool/cold (solid polyester + snug fit = cold seasons only). It was definitely a good addition to my wardrobe this year!

And now, my Top Fails or Misses:

  1. Named Shadi Skirt 1.0
  2. Named Inari/Shadi Scuba Set-acular
  3. BHL Anna Dress
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Shadi Knit Skirt

Obviously this Shadi skirt is my biggest fail of the year–it was literally unwearable in polite society. I did wear it to the first night of my sloper class (Nina said to wear something tight for measuring, and I knew EXACTLY what to put on!), but after that it was unceremoniously cut up, the elastic salvaged, and the scraps of skirt thrown away. Womp womp.

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Shadi Skirt + Inari Top

I dearly wanted to love this set. REALLY wanted to love it. But I never, ever wore it. 😦 The crop top is fine on its own, but I don’t have enough slim-fitting, high-waist bottoms to pair with it for office-appropriate outfit building. “But Mads,” you’re probably thinking, “isn’t that why you made the matching skirt?” Why yes, dear reader, it is. But I just couldn’t get comfortable with the idea of wearing such a tight skirt in public. I’m no prude–I despise “modesty” doctrines, etc.–but I just felt very self-conscious in it. (That’s right: even scrawny people can have body confidence issues!) The skirt is STILL unhemmed. It’s such a shame, because that incredible fabric deserved better. 😦 Maybe 2016 will be the year I get over it and wear at least one part of the set…

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Anna Dress, with accurate facial expression of my feelings

Come on, guys: Anna had to make this list. Even if I wear the dress, love the fabric, and got tons of compliments on it at the party I wore it to, I cannot pretend that the flaws aren’t there. I see them every time I look at the dress. It is what it is.

No Man’s Land

Neither of my 2 Inari Dresses made these lists because they fell into that weird middle ground of being worn sometimes but not constantly; they’re neither hits nor misses, I guess! Vintage Simplicity 1281 didn’t make the lists either, but it got worn pretty regularly. My only complaint about that one is the fabric, whose favorite thing to do is still wrinkle. My Anna skirt got a lot of wear in the summer months, but is definitely a seasonal item when you live in OH!

think that’s everything from 2015!

Goals:

Last year, I did something very similar to what I’m about to do: laid out vague goals–big picture items, if you will–to strive for in the coming year. I do have a project queue, but it gets edited all the time, fabrics get reassigned to other theoretical projects, and stuff definitely “cuts” the line regularly. I prefer to let my inspiration be my spirit guide on this peyote fabric-fueled journey through the creative realm rather than make prescriptions. That being said, here are a few general things I’d like to be able to say I did in 2016:

  1. LIMIT THE BUYING. I don’t mean RTW–I’ve been unofficially RTW fasting for almost 2 years. I mean fabric shopping. I have so much fabric that storing it has literally become a problem. A problem I cannot solve unless: A.) we win the lottery and buy an entire IKEA warehouse and/or a bigger house, or B.) I sew through some yardage. I know which of those is more realistic, so I’m going with that. I LOVE sewing, and now that I have more free time to devote to it, I am hoping to make some real headway here in 2016. This was among my goals for 2015, and I failed very badly.
  2. Fill wardrobe gaps. I still lack tops/blouses in a way that really limits me, and more pants wouldn’t hurt either.
  3. Make some activewear/outerwear things for myself. I need these things, but not in a “SEW THIS FIRST!!!!!!!” sort of way. But it would be fun and different for me, for sure.
  4. Dude sewing. Tom has a long list of things he needs and/or wants, and while he does not expect me to make him a wardrobe, it is something I want to do.
  5. Lingerie. I need bras that fit, and I am trying to go pad-free. (Which, in my approx. 30A size, is damn-near impossible to find in a store.) I have what I need to get started, and I’m hoping this is my year. Underpants would be nice too, but those I can just buy if it comes down to it.
  6. Keep up with the sewing spreadsheet I started late in 2015. I am recording fabric and patterns that I have, fabric I would like to buy for a specific project I have in mind (and where to find it), a project queue (this changes depending on my mood or inspiration, but it does help get my creative juices flowing), and a selfless sewing idea list. The fabric and queue are the most up-to-date tabs so far.

Reflections: 

Non-sewing stuff in 2015 was a definite mixed bag. We nearly lost Tycho, but his amazing vets saved his life. (Talk about emotional whiplash…) I got promoted. I had braces, but they came off in March. I got bad family news. I made new friends. I took a leave of absence from my vintage job. (That one counts as both a high AND a low–I cherish the store and the family I have there, but my body couldn’t cope with my schedule any longer.) Overall, things could have been so much worse, and I feel lucky to have made it through another year.

I did spend a lot more time in my sewing room in 2015 vs. 2014, not least of all because my work schedule is now strictly a 1-job situation. My output doubled (!!!!!!) from 2014 to 2015, but I did accomplish much more than the final tally for 2015 would suggest: my patternmaking classes resulted in an increase in knowledge and understanding of my craft, and I have lots of bits and pieces from those sessions hanging around. Those classes really changed my life, adding new skills and friends that I never knew I needed but now could never do without. I can only hope that 2016 is a continuation of these good things, and hope that this new year brings you all health, happiness, and peace in whatever form it may take. ❤