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!

tamara flick

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. ❤

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. 🙂

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. 😦 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

February* FO Trio Post (aka Shield Your Eyes)

*Okay, so one item here was made in December. Whatever.

Hello again!

Hopefully all of you are enjoying the last gasps of the weekend; we had nicer weather the past few days, which doesn’t hurt!

I have not one, but THREE completed garments to show off today–can you believe it?!? Very exciting stuff.

Up first, the longest-finished of the three: my latest version of vintage Simplicity 1281!

New skirt, featuring Mulder

New skirt, featuring Mulder

Side view

Side view

Obligatory twirl photo, duh

Obligatory twirl photo, duh

I have very little to say about the construction of this one, since it’s my third version. It’s exactly what I wanted and is a great staple for my wardrobe. The fabric remains a PITA, but seeing the way the skirt hangs in photos helps me feel like it might be worth it. 🙂

FO #2 can be (partially) seen above: the Tamara top by Style Arc!

Do not adjust your monitor: this shirt is playing games with your eyes.

Do not adjust your monitor: this shirt is playing games with your eyes.

Side view of those triangular bottom panels

Side view of those triangular bottom panels

It's like someone captured the very essence of my attitude in a single candid photo...

It’s like someone captured the very essence of my attitude in a single candid photo…

Pretty nuts, huh? I bought this fabric a few months ago when FabricMart had a big sale and had no idea what to do with it at first. Then I saw this top pattern while shopping the Style Arc Etsy shop and got the idea you now see before you. I wanted to look like a walking page out of one of those 3D picture books from 20 years ago, and give innocent bystanders headaches. Flawless Victory. Speaking of flawless, I should note that the last photo in the above series was a candid that Tom took at the very end of our session this morning. My red was getting all up in my face and so I tried to move it before he took another photo, and he chose that moment to snap a candid shot. After we saw this one, we ended the “shoot” for the day, because it was obviously not going to get any better. Ever.

Constructing the top was relatively challenging at times, due to the fabric (an ITY jersey) and those damn pointy corners. I thought I had knit interfacing but that turned out to be incorrect; I improvised with Wonder Tape and my tracing material and got what I think are really good results. I had to unpick the right one twice (!!!!!!!) until I was happy with the point. After that part was finished, the rest was pretty smooth sailing. This was my first Style Arc pattern, and I knew what I was getting into with respect to their instructions; that said, I really didn’t need any other resources to make this work, since I’ve done neckbands and have sewn knits on my machine before. I did all my hems with a lightening bolt stitch (no twin needle 😦 ) and the stitching is pretty well hidden by the busyness of the print. I will get a lot of wear out of this top! (Bystanders, you have been warned!)

The third item in this post is actually a big fail. I made a really dumb mistake and that resulted in an unwearable (in public) garment. But I’ll share it, because it’s part of a concept outfit with the Tamara top above. (I know, right? Who fucking does “concept” outfits? Who am I trying to be, the The Who of sewing??) Presented for your viewing agony: the Shadi knit skirt by Named Clothing!

Yep, nice and trippy

Yep, nice and trippy (plus a scowl)

Just in case you ever wanted to know more about my ass...

Just in case you ever wanted to know more about my backside…

I got it in my head that it would be AMAZING (and hilarious) to go head-to-toe “Mod on Drugs” and make a pencil skirt out of the same checkered jersey. I knew I wouldn’t really wear them together, but having them as separates seemed like a great idea. I picked up the Shadi knit skirt pattern from Named Clothing (via Pattern Review) and got to work. Sadly, I did not notice that I was cutting the skirt with the highest % of stretch running up and down instead of horizontally. You can bet that I noticed, though, once I tried putting the goddamn thing on. At first I was baffled: I’d done everything I was supposed to do, including making the elastic smaller than my waist and stretching it to fit the top of the skirt. I even graded out from the smallest size to the one up from it on the PDF at the hips, just to be safe!! Tom laughed hysterically as he watched me struggle, which made me mad, and when I finally got it over my ass I realized I could barely walk! Ugh. And of course, there isn’t enough material to re-cut it and it’s long since sold out. *cue heaving sobs* But if I’m honest, the top is the more versatile piece and would have gotten the most wear, and it turned out pretty great, so I’ll chalk it up to a learning experience.

"Vitruvian Mads," aka my entire range of motion in this skirt

“Vitruvian Mads,” aka my entire range of motion in this skirt

But of course, I had to take photos of the two together. HAD TO, you guys. Brace yourselves, and maybe take an ibuprofen and come back to look at the next photos in 30 minutes:

The trippiest dog training photo everrrr

The trippiest dog training photo everrrr

"Come on, Mulder, dance with mommy!!"

“Come on, Mulder, dance with mommy!!”

Good boy!!

Good boy!!

So there you have it: three things, two of which will make it into regular rotation. The other might be scrapped for parts (i.e., the vintage elastic in the waistband) or just binned; the jury is still out on that one. The Shadi pattern is NOT the issue here, to be clear: my lack of ability to brain while sewing is entirely to blame. I’ll be using the pattern again, for sure. (Yes, I know I could have probably just drafted a knit pencil skirt myself, but Named has an aesthetic unlike most other pattern companies out there now and I’m happy to give them my $9USD for this and support them.) I may not make the Style Arc top again, but only because it’s such a statement top that I don’t know if I’d need another in my wardrobe, even in a saner color combination. I will be making more Style Arcs, though, obviously! Vintage Simplicity 1281 is a TNT for me, so it will undoubtedly be back again. Now that I’ve gotten this inspiration out of my brain and into meatspace, it’s on to pants for this weirdo!

Have you ever gotten a random inspiration that you had to bring to fruition right this second? Did you love the results as much as the original idea?