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!

Rachel's Haircut (29 of 52)

SKIRT!

Rachel's Haircut (43 of 52)

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

Skirt and Top (3 of 12)

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! ‚̧

Better Pictures Project* (And Also Another Marfy 3093)

*Disclaimer: this LONG post is mostly about improving the photos I post to this blog, but it does feature a new sewn garment as well. It’s just that the photos and talky words will have more to do with photography and less to do with sewing than usual. Additionally:¬†I am probably not the target audience for Gillian’s awesome series, since I have a partner to take my photos and we use a cell phone and not a camera, but her September homework inspired me. =)

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Since we last met, your intrepid blogger has managed to turn 30–WOO HOO I MADE IT!!!!!!!!!¬†I’m excited for this new chapter of my life;¬†this is the first fresh decade that I have kicked off¬†knowing exactly who I am and feeling good about that person, and it’s a great feeling. Not bad, eh? ūüôā

I have also been sewing as much as I can, and I am trying desperately to keep up with my massive blog roll (Bloglovin’ makes it so easy to follow a billion-and-three blogs, and then I end up with the dreaded 99+ unread icon…), which helps explain my belated interest in Gillian’s Better Pictures Project. She has been posting lots of really helpful information for anyone looking to¬†improve their photography skills and make their blogs that much better. Now, per my disclaimer above, I not only do not have an actual camera, I have a personal paparazzi to help me; as such, I read the camera settings posts and thought they were interesting and helpful, but just not something I could incorporate into my life right now. But then the September “homework” came along: find a new TNT photo location close to home. THAT, friends, was something we could handle! I knew there was a public park comprised of a ravine and its surrounding wooded area within walking distance of¬†the house, so we went location scouting (with Mulder in tow, naturally) one Saturday morning in September. You guys, I might never take photos in our backyard ever again!

So we had a new awesome location ready to go, but we were missing one crucial element: a finished thing. (This is still a sewing blog, you know…) So I got Tom all wound up about taking these photos in an idyllic location and then basically gave him photography blue-balls by taking forever to finish my new shirt. But whatever, I don’t need to explain my art to him!!!!!

*Ahem*

Finally, I finished the damn shirt. And then it got cold and rainy here in Ohio, which meant that going down into a ravine was probably only going to result in one or both of us winning a Darwin Award rather than any blog-worthy photos, so we waited. Then this Sunday, the weather gods shined down upon us with sunshine and mild Fall temperatures!

Bird Mural

Bird Mural

Fashion is about climbing on stuff, right?

Fashion is about climbing on stuff, right?

Senior portrait pose

Senior portrait pose

One of our favorites of the day...

One of our favorites of the day…

Side view + some nature

Side view + some nature

Another favorite!

Another favorite!

A back view

A back view

I wish I could fit in this pipe!

I wish I could fit in this pipe!

Using props to our advantage

Using props to our advantage

The shirt really pops!

This amazing slate wall made the best backdrop of all!

This amazing slate wall made the best backdrop of all!

The color of the shirt really pops in these!

Gotta use a bridge when it's there!

Gotta use a bridge when it’s there!

A walk-away shot on the way back to the car

A walk-away shot on the way back to the car

(Really quick note: every photo in this post was taken on a cell phone with no filter or settings adjustments.)

The blouse is another Marfy 3093. I LOVE this pattern, you guys! This time I made it in a hammered silk (I bought it from the same lady who sold me the chambray I used for Marfy 1.0) and while I did a decent job, there are things I wish had gone better. I should have listened to my gut and done a starch or gelatin treatment first, because this stuff got shifty. But overall, I am very happy with the result. I used some precious vintage shell buttons ca. 1930’s and they’re perfect for this shirt. The only thing I did differently to V 1.0 was to leave off the pocket flaps (and accompanying buttons) and remember to french seam the front shoulder seams. I am done with this pattern for the time being–it’s a pretty unique shirt, after all–and will be moving on to other stuff in my FW ’15/16 queue.

My only regret about these photos is the way I styled myself and the blouse. In person, I totally looked like an extra from a 1990’s music video from the waist up!! It was mostly my makeup (lipstick, in particular) combined with the shiny finish of the shirt–both looked great on their own merits, but together they weren’t what I was going for AT ALL! Hopefully that doesn’t come across in the photos to people who aren’t me, but I certainly can’t un-see it, LOL!

Yeah yeah, we get it: but what about the Better Pictures Project thing? Here’s what we did:

So, I’m biased, but these are without a doubt the best photos I’ve ever posted to this blog. We chose a¬†time of day¬†(10:30AM) with plenty of natural light–critical in such a heavily wooded and earthy area–and the added benefit of next to no foot or bike traffic, since it was a Sunday. You may have noticed¬†the distinct absence of a Mulder cameo in these photos. ūüė¶ Ultimately, it just wasn’t a good idea to try to have him along while we were climbing around on slippery rocks and earthen banks and focusing so much on the quality of the composition and lighting. He really loves this park (he “helped” scout, after all!) so we will take him back again, just not when it’s “Mommy Daddy Happy Photo Time.”¬†And you guys, we haven’t even been to the entire park yet!!! Endless possibilities for the entire family. ūüėÄ

So Phase 1: know when and where to go, and when to leave the dog at home.

Phase 2: Challenges

I think we really did a good job of achieving most of our goals for this conscious attempt at improving our pictures. Obviously the primary objective–finding a TNT photo location close to home–was achieved, and we’re thrilled about that! We knew we wanted to¬†incorporate¬†the features of our site as much as possible, and I think we did that pretty¬†well. There were some areas we would have liked to use more, but either the lighting wasn’t working out or the extra water from the rain the day before made it too annoying or hazardous to attempt what we had in mind. The bird tunnel is a prime example of a lighting issue: in real life, there was lots of light pouring into the tunnel from outside, but that did not translate to the photos. The shot I posted above is the one and only workable shot we got from that site, and it’s pretty dark (and I’m fucking slouching…grrrrr)! Another issue we ran into was my dislike/fear of nature–I do NOT do nature, folks. I am a strictly indoor nerd. So there were some points during the shoot where I was eager to get out of the setup because OMG THE NATURE IS TOUCHING ME AND CHRIST ON SALE IS THAT A BUG?!?!?, which translated to stiff poses and short sittings. And, like any sensible human who wants to live, I was not super keen on the slippery-ness of some of our settings due to the rain; that, unlike my seething hatred of the great outdoors, will not always be the case, thankfully.

Phase 3: It’s not you, it’s me

Tom, bless him, has really found a love for taking photos by helping me with this blog. He even wants to get a proper camera at some point! He probably has more fun than I do on these shoots!! Tom¬†is a great amateur photographer, IMO. In addition to having a great eye and¬†tons of creativity, he is adventurous and very willing to roll with whatever happens while we’re shooting, which makes for a relatively easy and fun experience. It also leads to some unexpectedly awesome photos and settings! What he needs, frankly, is a better model. I really have to work on feeling comfortable in front of a camera: I never know what to do with my body!! I feel like I look uncomfortable and awkward most of the time, and I want to change that. I need to work on poses that feel natural enough to me while still looking interesting; I’m not necessarily going for editorial here, but I do want to take cool, creative photos of me faffing about in my handmade clothes, so whatever. I need to practice my poses and faces before we go out for a shoot, and perhaps invest in some practice time with Tom to see how things photograph before the “real deal” gets underway.¬†Do any of you have suggestions for or advice on posing for photos? Do you ever feel awkward having your photo taken?

Here are a few ton more from our shoot: enjoy! And seriously, please weigh in with how you think we did: input is welcome and appreciated!

Inception: Blog Photography Edition

Inception: Blog Photography Edition

Admiring the nature from a safe distance

Admiring the nature from a safe distance

Much casual. Wow.

Much casual. Wow.

Branchy branch

Branchy branch

Pensive walking

Pensive walking

Probably shouldn't have touched that water, tbh...

Probably shouldn’t have touched that water, tbh…

I got my silk shirt dirty for this one. O_o

I got my silk shirt dirty for this one. O_o

"Mads" in the wild

“Mads” in the wild

Reflection

Reflection

"Fabric Sale Ahoy!"

“Fabric Sale Ahoy!”

There's a smile!

There’s a smile!

Camera-shy

Camera-shy

I totally match my living room. #sorrynotsorry