Rock ‘n Roll Uniform (In Which The Blogger Goes Full “Fangurl”)

Hey guys and gals!

I know I said summer wardrobe planning was my next post, but I mayyyyyy have gotten a little carried away with something else in the meantime. ūüėČ

I told you all about my new gig as a guitar player for a 90’s alt-rock cover band (thank you for the kind words on that, BTW!), and we recently had our first show together. I decided about 3 weeks before the show (of course) that I needed to make a new outfit for the occasion. O_o I haven’t been in a band in a couple of years, so between giving stuff away and my style evolving, nothing gig-worthy I owned really felt like “Me” anymore. I don’t know about any of you, but when I am preparing to get up in front of a lot of people, I get¬†very anxious; feeling comfortable with my clothing and appearance can go a long way in terms of building my confidence (or at least giving me 1 less thing to stress about). So obviously I wasn’t about to go onstage feeling like I was wearing a costume or trying too hard. A new outfit seemed like The Answer. And I think it’s safe to say it was:

Rachel's Haircut (5 of 52)

Outfit in action!

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SKIRT!

Rachel's Haircut (43 of 52)

A non-crummy photo of me at a mic. #festivusmiracle

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The outfit in daylight

Skirt and Top (4 of 12)

Back

Separates were my first thought, both because I couldn’t think of rock-ready dress patterns and because separates would be easy to split up and wear with other things I own already. I started with the most critical piece: the skirt. In my epic Fall planning post of epicness, I had mentioned wanting to use a boucle I had for a Named Nascha mini skirt; I may not have gotten around to that in the Fall/Winter, but¬†better late than never!

Skirt and Top (8 of 12)

Front view! (Now with awkward hands!!)

Skirt and Top (9 of 12)

Gettin’ the whole skirt in there…

The fabric is BANANAS, isn’t it?!? I love it. I bought it thinking I’d make a jacket but I am SO GLAD I changed my mind. I love it as a skirt!

I got this material from Gorgeous Fabrics, and am so excited that I can now wear it after staring at it for over a year.¬†It’s such a unique fabric, and fun fact: there’s cellophane in the weave!! WUT. It made pressing trickier (which is why the hips look a little lumpy–they need re-pressed),¬†but it was totally worth it. ūüėÄ Other fun fact: some of the yarns glow under certain¬†lights.

Rachel's Haircut (11 of 52)

IT GLOWS.

Rachel's Haircut (13 of 52)

You guys, I made an electric skirt.

The glow-in-the-dark nature of the skirt got more comments for me afterwards than any other aspect of the gig, which means 1.) it’s pretty cool and 2.) clearly my guitar-playing is less impressive than my sewing. I can live with that!

Construction Notes

Nascha is designed to be lined, which is good because this boucle NEEDS a lining to wear smoothly. I used a black bemberg rayon and it makes the skirt much easier to wear and put on/take off. I have never lined anything but a bag before this skirt, folks. But having worked through difficult-for-me Named instructions with my Reeta, I was able to understand the steps and nail lining this thing on the first try.


You can see that I accidentally sewed one half of the lining inside out…oops. I didn’t feel like unpicking it, because it’s just the lining. ūüėČ I made¬†my lining a little “extra bigger” (the pattern pieces are definitely larger than the shell) just in case, which worked out fine; any extra fabric got pleated into the waist and hem and make the skirt feel a little less snug than it looks. ūüėÄ

Skirt and Top (10 of 12)

Close-up of the zipper

I have never sewn an exposed zipper before, and not to be a cocky jerk or anything, but…#nailedit. I used a 7″ zipper because that was what I had, so I had to make the CB opening longer (the pattern calls for a 6″ zip). That was a good thing in the end though, because this thing is TIGHT. Funny story,¬†I bought this zipper (and 2 others) AND my lining fabric to make a Named Mai Zip Jacket¬†a¬†couple of years ago!¬†I still haven’t made that jacket, but I did finally use this zipper and a little bit of the lining material. ūüėČ

This fabric frays when cut, so I serged all the edges of each piece right after I cut them out. I also gave myself an extra 1″ on the side seams, just in case. Before I put the zip in, I sewed the sides up on the 1″ line (so, giving myself the 3/8″ included seam allowance as wearing ease until I could try it on). Good thing too, as I needed some room in the full hip to be able to sit down!

Pattern Alterations

For reference, I started with the US0/EUR32 size, as I do with all Named patterns. I added 2″ of length at the lengthen/shorten line (or at least that’s what I think the line was–it wasn’t clearly labelled on my PDF pieces) because I have heard tales of how truly “mini” this skirt is. Named drafts for 5’8″, and while I am not much taller than that and have shorter legs for my height, I wasn’t taking any chances, especially with that big split at CF. I wanted to make sure I could wear it to work or a gig without anyone seeing my panties. YMMV. #freethelabia

Having said that, I couldn’t really tell where the skirt was supposed to sit: at the natural¬†waist, or at the high hip, or somewhere else. (The pattern says, “regular-waisted.” Does that mean natural waist??) Mine sits at my true waist; if it didn’t, I wouldn’t want the 2″ I added. Because I put mine up so high, I had to take in the side seams from the waist down for about 3-4 inches. I waited until I got the zipper in to do that, so I could really test the fit. That was also when I opted to let out a little bit of seam allowance at the fullest part of my hips so I could sit down with confidence. (I had to bend my knees together and SLOWLY lower myself onto a seat in the first round of testing; Tom thought it was hilarious, probably in part because I happened to be trying to “sit” using the toilet in our downstairs bathroom. 0/10, would not recommend.)

Other than that, I just followed the directions and had good luck with everything fitting nicely; no other adjustments were necessary. The back in particular is very nicely fitted, and my ass looks fabulous in it, if I may say so. The front vents, however, are acting a little odd: they have weird wrinkles or bubbles near the turn, and I don’t know why–everything is done correctly and without alterations from the pattern. Maybe it’s my fabric? Maybe the skirt is too pegged for my legs near the hem? Oh well.

Speaking of this fabric, I bought 2 yards and I have PLENTY left for another…thing. This is more impressive given the defined stripes AND the width: 45″. I am very conflicted about whether to make anything else with this fabric. O_o

So that’s the skirt! Moving on to the top:

Skirt and Top (11 of 12) (1)

Top!

Skirt and Top (12 of 12)

Top again!

This is an Inari crop tee, with just a couple of insignificant small mods, made in a black tencel jersey. That’s right: my new onstage outfit was ALL Named patterns. #sorrynotsorry¬†I think that finally puts me at full #fangurl status, but I’m happy to gush my Named love all over the internet: their patterns just work for me. (Plus they know WTF they’re doing technically, and are able to produce full collections twice a year–totally gush-worthy in my book.)

I had never worked with tencel fabric before this, but it was similar to working with the modal/silk jersey I used for some Penny Raglans last year. I bought my fabric from Blackbird Fabrics and have another colorway waiting in the wings. It’s really, really nice stuff! I was surprised that the top didn’t read as sheer once I put it on; the fabric itself is only semi-opaque (noted by Blackbird–her descriptions are always spot-on) but didn’t show my bra or anything.

Pattern and Construction Notes

I picked the Inari pattern¬†because I wanted something loose, cropped, and somewhat plain to balance the outfit, since the skirt is so outrageous.¬†I was¬†thisclose to using the Penny Raglan pattern, but felt it would be too much boxy volume. I do sort of wish I’d thought to try to frankenpattern the raglan portion of Penny onto my Inari, though! A lot of folks have mentioned the dropped armholes of the Inari being limiting for range of motion, but since 1.) I picked a drapey and stretchy-ish knit and 2.) I am the least mobile guitar player of all time, I decided it wouldn’t be an issue.

In terms of changes, I didn’t use the cuff bands because my fabric is so floppy and light. I had added a little length to the sleeves and took a 5/8″ hem, but if I had it to do over, I wouldn’t have added any length. I added about 1″ to the hem, and again took a 5/8″ hem.¬†I also sewed all the seams of this top at 1/4″ for some reason. For real, I can’t remember why I did that.

This top¬†took maybe 2 hours from cut to “not-hemmed-but-sewn.” The best part? I was able to conserve yardage AGAIN and had enough of my lovely tencel knit left for a regular, full-length t-shirt. Yay!!

So that’s my new gig outfit! I would show you all more show pics but the band still needs to go over them all and decide which ones we want to use. ūüôā

Hopefully I’ll be back soon with either a finished thing, or some Summer Sewing Plans!

What was the last outfit you made specifically for an upcoming event? Do you have any suggestions for what I should do with ~1.5 yards of that outlandish boucle fabric? Please share! ‚̧

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
shadi skirt 2

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. ūüė¶ 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. ūüė¶ 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!

I¬†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. ‚̧

Spankin’ New Springtime Set (aka Jumping On The Scuba Bandwagon)

Hello, one and all!

I am pleased to inform the general internet population that I, Mads, have completed my first-ever item(s) in a scuba/neoprene knit! That alone probably makes this my trendiest sewing project ever. Shall we?

2-piece scuba set!

2-piece scuba set! Part Inari Crop Tee, part Shadi Knit Skirt

Bam, skin-tight skirt!

Bam, skin-tight skirt!

A shockingly good photo

A shockingly good photo

Peekaboo!!

Peekaboo!!

Isn’t it pretty????? This 2-piece set is brought to you by the Inari Crop Tee and Shadi Knit Skirt, both by Named Clothing. Apart from the same shoulder adjustment I made for my Inari dress, I also lengthened this top to account for my long torso. Well, actually, I cheated by using the pattern nesting to my advantage: the shoulders of the larger size (you get 2 sizes per PDF file with Named; I used the US 0/2 pair) are nested up higher, which means that the line for the hem of the smaller size ends up being lower on the page than that of the larger size. I just started at the top of the shoulders for the size 2 and followed the size 0 lines the rest of the way down. Doing that gave me just enough extra length to cover my midriff, provided I wear a bottom piece that comes up to my natural waist. Huzzah for work-appropriate crop tops!! One caveat: I did not take the 2″ hem allowance the pattern calls for–I did 1″ instead. I also cheated by abandoning the band finish recommended for necklines in stretchy fabrics and just turned and stitched it. (Incidentally, this is why my neckline looks a LOT different than the white knit sample on the Named site.)

Can we talk about the fabric for a minute? It’s SOOOOOOO beautiful. I really don’t think the photos can do it justice. If I could wallpaper a¬†room in my house with this print, I would do it! And to me, the color palette is as quintessentially “SPRING” as it gets: bright magenta pink, deep mint green, a splash of cobalt blue, some white, and plenty of gray. And I was thrilled to realize that I had the perfect shade of obnoxious magenta lipstick to wear for my photos, as one does. ūüôā

As mentioned previously, this was my first-ever attempt at using a scuba/neoprene knit. This stuff seems to be everywhere right now–RTW, runway, and the sewing world at-large–and I’ve been wanting to try it. Now that I’ve been there, done that, I can say that I understand the appeal. This length of beautiousness is probably on the lighter side of the scuba spectrum, but it’s definitely still heftier than any jersey I’ve ever met. I had tried to mentally prepare myself for the, er, “unique” tactile experience that I’d read reports of online, but I was still surprised by the feel of this material. It almost feels…melty? Sticky? Gooey? Like, if fabric could simultaneously feel like fabric with top-notes of¬†melted taffy, it would be this stuff.¬†Even Tom was mesmerized by its strange properties, and I had to cut off a small scrap to give to him so that he would stop fondling and petting the pieces I needed to work with for my outfit, lest he create a pull or snag on one of the important bits! (Thanks to the lovely Ms. Red at Sew RED-y, I knew snagging was a risk with this material–thanks, girl!) The fabric was SO easy to cut and sew (even without a serger), but pressing was dodgy due to the synthetic nature of the material; I turned my iron to the “Barely On” temperature setting and gave seams a quick press that way, but mostly I stuck to using the iron unplugged for applying pressure only. I need to do the armhole seams with a little warmth though–they’re still not laying quite right! And despite the strange hand-feel of the fabric, it was not unpleasant to wear (though I¬†reserve the right to¬†alter that opinion if I wear any of this outfit in truly hot weather). Even Mulder likes this fabric:

My face says,

My face says, “I love you, but don’t you dare snag my new outfit!”

Truth time: I don’t totally love this outfit, and I have not worn it yet apart from these photos. BUT, I suppose I¬†do know what bothers me about it: I just am not 100% confident in it because of how body-con the skirt is. ūüė¶ And I think the root of that disappointment lies in my previous experience with the Shadi–yes, I’ve made the pattern before and understand the shape of it, but since I badly mis-cut that first iteration, I assumed (LOL) that a correctly-cut version would not be as revealing or blush-inducing. I was clearly wrong. So now I have this skirt that I love in theory (THAT PRINT THO) but not so much in practice. I knew I was in trouble when I got the waistband done, tried it on, and then never hemmed it. In “The ‘Mads’ House,” that’s a bad sign. Maybe I will feel better once I finish it, or find a magical undergarment of some sort. And, you know, figure out how in¬†the hell to wear the skirt¬†so that I don’t¬†look and feel like I’m a big Mads sausage crammed into a very pretty casing. :-/ Tom tried to make me feel better by pointing out that my skinny jeans actually reveal more, uh, “details” about my lower half than this skirt does, but for some reason I feel so weird and vulgar¬†in the skirt. (Not that tight clothes are inherently vulgar–I absolutely do not think that is true. I just *personally* struggle to feel comfortable in something this tight, for some reason.) Do any of you have suggestions or words of wisdom??

So what’s the word out there: have any of you sewn with a scuba/neoprene knit before? On a related note, I have some of this fabric left–what should I make with it?? It’s probably enough for a top or a skirt, but I can’t decide!

I will leave you now with two “action shots” of my new outfit, plus my supply list at the bottom. Thanks for tuning in!

Oh, you know, just jumping off of stuff, NBD...

Oh, you know, just jumping off of stuff, NBD…

Spinning in circles

Spinning in circles

Scuba 2-Piece supplies:

  • 2 yards of scuba knit from Gorgeous Fabrics
  • Inari Tee Dress and Shadi Knit Skirt patterns from Named Clothing
  • Guttermann all-purpose polyester thread in grey
  • 80/12 jersey needle
  • 1″ elastic for skirt waist