A Site Devoted to Creative Clothesmaking and Homemade Housewears

Here's to reviving the (somewhat) forgotten craft of sewing.

December 25, 2011

Zen and the Art of Garment Making

Can you take the Seamless Pledge? I, Cassandra M, take the Seamless pledge until December 25th 2012. "I will abstain from buying any new clothes until the end of my pledge. I will find ways to be fashionable without breaking the bank and without contributing to the cycle of fast fashion consuming the high street. I will trawl through charity shops, I will attend clothes swaps, I will look for second-hand items on eBay and I will craft my own clothes with my own two hands." The pledge was written by Elena Cresci, blogger for Seamless. Follow along at http://seamlessblog.wordpress.com/ A growing concern and awareness of the garment and textile industry has settled into my thoughts lately. There have been rumors of dangerous chemicals being used to treat and create inexpensive, mass produced fabrics in not only distant continents, but also here in North America. This is but one rumor, and only builds on the sadness that comes from the knowledge that most of our garments, inexpensive or expensive, are manufactured entirely by the very young to the very old. The work environments are unfair and unsafe for any person no matter what age, gender, creed, nationality or other variation. Low pay and lack of basic human amenities plague this industry. We perpetuate it by forgetting the hard work, dedication, and years of practice, that only the human hand can perfect in garment making. We perpetuate it by forgetting quality, supporting those giant chain stores who choose to go with the the lowest bidder and blind themselves to the real cost to others, just to make the most money by spending the least possible. We forget the old saying, "You get what you pay for." As we all know, not only in the textile/garment industry, but throughout the whole global economic crisis, those chickens have come home to roost. We need to think ahead, let go of the desire to "have more." We need to strive to be content with what we can create and accomplish ourselves. We can be happy with using that which has already been created. Personally, I struggle with wants and desires every day. I can spend hours pouring through online stores, wishing, wanting, convincing myself that I need these things to make my life better, more normal, and happier. What I really need to do, is to purge my home and heart of unnecessary desires, focus on what I do have and can make and be satisfied with quality over quantity. It doesn't matter how many band-aids you buy to cover that wound, you need a skilled professional to sew it up.

December 24, 2011

I can't get enough patterns

In fact, I love them so much, I'm afraid to share my secret sources! I know that isn't fair to the sellers, and I do care about their success. Sometimes, I use the obvious sources, such as Etsy and Ebay. Here's a list of vintage pattern sources: I've (well, my grandmother got them for me, she's the best!) also scored some great patterns from an antique store in rural Maine, near Sugarloaf. Hattie's Gifts and Antique Shop I also recommend So Vintage Patterns as well as The Rusty Zipper I'm going to kick myself for posting this, but the owner deserves the plug: Mom's Patterns Mom's is my favorite source for great sewing patterns. You have to dig a bit, but some amazing finds are there, and the prices are amazing. From basic twiggy dresses to glamorous designer patterns from the 1930s to present, the selection is outstanding and diverse for all shapes, tastes, styles and eras. Actually, I learned most of my sewing skills from buying patterns from Mom's, reading the pattern instructions over and over again, making mistakes and finally successes. The owner, Jennifer, is amazing and even gave me a discount when I forgot to put in the coupon code. She ships really fast as well! I have always gotten my patterns within 48 hours of ordering them. (Obviously there's a shipping hold for the holidays, but lets be fair here, we all deserve a vacation!) For modern patterns, I use Burda, which I can buy at the local Joann's, or online at BurdaStyle I also LOVE Colette Patterns, and follow the blog regularly. I've recently bought my first Sewaholic pattern, the Minoru Jacket. I'm looking forward to the Sew-Along scheduled for next month! I just traced the pattern for my 1st muslin today! There was this wonderful idea that I could fit all my patterns into a folder and neatly fold them into clear plastic sleeves with dividers. It really was a great idea, until I actually put the patterns in the folder. Unfortunately, with so many patterns, the folder barely closes! My BF and I have to sort through the filing cabinet and get rid of half of it so one of the drawers will be free for my patterns. Its actually only a matter of time before that gets filled, too, I'm sure. What a mess, right? My cat just decided to push the folder off the table and now i have to iron out the pattern pieces again.
Tiny Filing Cabinet - Obviously being used as another flat surface for pattern alterations projects
Yes, I meant to get the amazing French movie poster for Dark Crystal in this shot. Jealous? You should be.
Have a great holiday!

December 16, 2011

Join the Minoru Sew Along!

Its been too long...

Hey! I know, its been since BEFORE HALLOWEEN since i last wrote! During that time, I've had some great breakthroughs, both in sewing skills and in my personal goals! It took a lot of effort and a mixture of brute force and letting go, all at the same time.

Here's a mantra for many who are having a hard time "leveling up" (Obviously my partner has been playing a lot of Skyrim, these days...)  Here it is: Get the baby out of the driver's seat.
You heard if from me, yes! No more avoiding student loan phone calls because you're SURE its just a telemarketer.  Get out of those footie pajamas and just schedule your payments. Change because you can, even if you can still go on for a little while longer withing necessarily having to. You don't know what you might lose if you let it get that far. 
That goes for sewing, too.  Slow down, be patient. Follow the instructions, read them at least 3 times before continuing. Remember when i ruined my Rooibos bodice because i didn't use the point of my shears? Didn't read that part! Why? Because I thought I had it all figured out. No, not because I'm intentionally defiant, but because there's a rushed and neglected "child" inside who, as with any child, can't see that there is another way. Take care of the child inside you, and you will learn patience, understanding, and precision. Do the extra steps to make something the best it can be, not just "good enough, for now." You'll be so proud of your work in the long run.  Also, be honest with yourself. So what if your waist measurement is 5 inches larger than it was when you were 23? At least you can tailor your garments to be smaller,  when you lose 3 of those inches and are a normal size woman, instead of a waif. Set your goals realistically. No one else cares as much as ourselves. 

So, look what I've constructed while I was away:

Not much, but they look amazing! I changed the Burda Young dress so much, its basically my own. And it fits (almost) perfectly. More details about the dress to come!!


October 30, 2011

My Sewing Psychology: Anxiety Riddled - Impatient - Uncontrolled Moodiness - Obsessive yet Procrastinator Sewing

I have two yards of this fabric. And I have this cute Burda 7309 pattern.

I'm thinking now as I'm writing this, it's not going to work. I need a heavier fabric for this dress. And it needs to be solid, or subtly patterned.
And, to be honest, I think I've passed that stage in sewing life where cute pattern quilting fabric is going to cut it for fashion sewing. Now I think... "perhaps if I lined the fabric with a flannel-like fusible interfacing, it could work?"  Perhaps not. As you can see, part of me is hanging on to the cutesy quilting fabric idea. The other, more practical and grown up part of me is trying hard not to cringe.

Enough with the BS.

It didn't take too long for me to see the err of my ways. To be fair, I feel like I've always chosen fabrics that are at least cool to look at. Like this:

I still think it's quite cute. Unfortunately, this was my first try at a dress. I didn't prewash the fabric, I didn't make a muslin,  didn't pay attention to my stitch length, and basted all the seams at a 4 instead of going with the standard 2.5 straight stitch. When I did end up washing the dress, a whole lot of it came apart. *Sad Face.*

I learn by making mistakes. Unfortunately, this method is not conducive to learning quickly, saving money, and it also adds to emotional strife and wasted time and energy, not just for myself, either. If you've been in my presence shortly after making ANY kind of mistake, you know just how unpleasant it can be for the both of us.

Now, I'm trying to learn by following instructions, studying, practicing on muslins, making ANOTHER muslin to be sure. I have to practice patience, self compassion, and be honest with myself about my measurements.  I also need to be honest with myself about my inability to do basic arithmetic, an essential part of altering patterns to fit my once slender, now "curvy", body. (Damn you, past age 25 metabolism! - Wait! Remember to practice compassion, put effort into things that you don't like, and take responsibility.)

So, basically, I am bananas. Hopefully it will work out for the better, and I'm really trying. I hope my honesty will inspire others who struggle with the same kinds of things to be less hard on themselves and to know that they aren't alone. Even if what their focus isn't on sewing. Some of you may have picked up on this already, but this is a rather PG way of expressing something a lot deeper and more complicated than sewing.

October 27, 2011

My finished, piped, olive Rooibos

I actually finished this last Friday and I have yet to photograph the completed dress. Of course the bodice didn't fit over my chest, (at least with a cheap invisible zipper, which promptly broke) even though I measured twice and cut once for the full bust adjustment. I can pull it on with ease. I can take it off with the help of my boyfriend... wait, that sounded a little TMI. I mean, I don't have the strength or flexibility to actually remove the dress (because it gets stuck at my chest area!) alone, so I need to plan ahead and make sure someone (probably Dave) who is allowed to see me struggling whilst halfway out of an inside-out dress. Actually, now that I think about it, Dave would definitely have to be present and available when I remove the dress. Until I lose 5 lbs. Which probably won't happen anytime soon. Because I just love steamed dumplings so much. More than installing a zipper. And having more self-esteem. And relieving my boyfriend of his garment-removal duties.

We all love you, but an open seam allowance? Plus ranting...

It's not even pressed!!! FOREAL LANVIN? $700 for an open seam allowance? Not even finished!!??
They even serged the seams back in the late 80s/early 90s for those inside out sweatshirts...

Perhaps this is one of those trends that I will never understand... like these pants:
 Oh yes I did. These pants suck. They have always sucked and make even the most gorgeous woman look like she just jumped out of the waterbed that leaks onto the shag carpet of her single-wide mobile home - which was built manufactured in 1972. Go get some Marb Reds, some Boone's Farm and meet the girls at the slot machines. Its all about you tonight. And you want to be cumftahball.

You can go ahead and ask me how I that description came to me so easily. I don't keep secrets.

October 18, 2011

I made a new bodice, all is well. (ish)

I had to tailor the bodice for a larger bust. I followed the instructions on the Rooibos Sew-along on the Colette blog. It definitely gave me more room, but i did find the instructions confusing and some of the photos looked to be incorrect. I guessed what to do and consulted my pattern alterations book.

I thought I'd share my photo of the pattern layout. My cat, Orchid, thinks she's a pattern weight. I don't have the heart to tell her she's not helping. I used trinkets that I have on display from my friends, myself and my great grandmother.


Here, you can see that my iron is starting to gunk up my fabric. Time for a cleaning and a new pressing cloth. It isn't so bad that I am willing to make another bodice, however. I'll just deal with metallic breasts. It's close to Halloween now, anyway.