Tuesday, January 28, 2014

January Tee Times Two

I can hardly believe it myself, but last night I finished sewing my second "fancy" tee that I'd put into the queue for my Make a Garment a Month challenge to myself. I hoped to get at least one done -- but I've made both!

This one is another Vogue, and another flowy design. I used Vogue 8581, and made View C.

I had a lovely teal knit from the sale table that I thought was drapey enough to work for this, and I was right... although it certainly was springy which caused me a few moments while cutting it out, and while stitching. But in the end it all worked out (even with the sudden running out of matching thread halfway through...quick run to the fabric store for thread solved that...but also added two metres of a gorgeous woven print to the stash)

I didn't hand stitch the sleeve bands OR the neck band... the neckline would have been a little bit nicer if I had but then again if anyone is looking that closely at my bodice at work they will get a punch in the nose anyhow ;)

I shortened the sleeves because I have quite short arms, but also because I don't like lots of fabric getting in the way at my wrists -- these are just slightly shorter than full length but the fullness means they avoid the "oops they shrunk" look. At least I think so. Here's a better look at the length.

I really like this one. The colour is really rich, the fit is nice -- loose but not enormous, and the elasticized hem actually sits quite nicely. Oh yes, the other thing I did was to cut the neckline at a size 10 and the rest size 12. I often have problems with necklines being a little too deep and/or gapey -- just my shape and short upper body -- and this fixed that. The neckline sits really well and doesn't gape or droop at all, not even when I'm leaning over. Love that. Anyhow, this was pretty easy and it's a nice bright new top for me.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

January Tee Complete!

I've completed my January tee for the Make a Garment a Month Challenge! Well, one of them anyhow.

I started off with Vogue 8514, view C. That gathered back was really irresistible.

I had a very lightweight, soft grey knit, just perfect for this design. I cut it one night, and finished sewing it the next day. It was so simple to cut out and sew together that I felt a little bit like the Grinch making a Santy-Claus suit!

I did change a few things. I had to take 2 1/2 inches out of the length, as it looked more like a nightshirt when I was done -- I forgot to measure before cutting, and I'm quite short so always have to adjust length. I don't know what I was thinking! And because it was a loose fitting top I cut a 12, and thankfully it fit perfectly. 

Front view -- there is no pink tinge to this
shirt, it is my camera once again acting up

Back view - you can see the light weight of this
fabric, it does tend to stick to my jeans a bit
I really like this shirt, it's comfortable and I think a little nicer than something totally plain even if it is just solid grey. One of the reviewers on PR mentioned that there are no instructions for serger -- true, but I don't have a serger so I didn't mind. If you have one, then this would be an even faster project. I also put the facings on at the neckline -- you probably don't need to do that, but I thought I'd follow the pattern, mostly, on the first try. I did sew the sleeve bands on as one instead of hand sewing down the inside. There are limits after all!

The only problems I found were that the sleeve seam (along the middle of the arm as the sleeve is cut on) tends to twist, and I have to straighten it when first putting it on or after doing anything really active. Also, perhaps because of the weight of the extra fabric at the back, it does pull toward the back a little and has to be readjusted every now and again. But those aren't annoying enough to change my opinion that this is a nice shirt that I am really enjoying!

I wore it out for the first time today, when I went to a local community workshop on re-purposing clothes, organized by the energetic owner of my favourite local consignment shop, Covet Consign & Resale. We learned how to make slippers out of old sweaters -- we traced our feet on the body of the sweater to make the soles, and cut off the sleeves at an angle to make the upper foot and leg. I picked an old red-hooded sweatshirt and ended up with these:

Two cozy feet

Side view -- see the original wrist ribbing at the top?

Please ignore my atrocious hand sewing on this ;)
I had a lot of fun at this community sewing event -- my online sewing community encouraged me to make this t-shirt, and the in-person one today helped me make my new red slippers. What fun!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


I got lucky at the thrift store today and found 4 interesting patterns in my size. Plus, I found a white invisible zipper which is just perfect for my next project. All of these things were just .25¢ each! Lucky me!

There are interesting details in each of these patterns, I think. I love random discoveries like this.

Now which to try first??

Sunday, January 5, 2014


I don't usually cross-post things, but I have just read and reviewed Elizabeth Cline's book Overdressed at my book blog, and I think it may be of interest to other sewists. In fact, I first heard about this book on various sewing blogs, so I am sharing my review with you here as well.
(this first appeared at The Indextrious Reader)


Overdressed: the shockingly high cost of cheap fashion / Elizabeth L. Cline
New York: Portfolio/Penguin, c2012.
244 p.

This was a book I read over the holidays -- not very cheery but certainly good for inspiring New Year's resolutions! It takes a look at the fast fashion industry, and the effects that this industry has on worldwide environmental and economic realities. It was rather disturbing in its way.

Cline tackles her subject from many different angles. Rather than just talk about sweatshops (which she does, and which are real concerns) she also delves into why we seem to expect $5 outfits these days, and our assumptions that we will wear something for a season then throw it away. She follows a garment from its manufacture, probably in China or newer, cheaper places like Bangladesh, to its appearance in North American or European stores, to its being tossed into landfills or routed to charity shops -- which are overrun with cheap trends and can not sell it all. That clothing may go to textile reclaimers, who make both rags and huge bundles of clothes to sell to the African resale market -- a market that is shrinking as Africans also adopt the desire for cheap, new clothing.

She explores the marketing of trends, how it has become frenetic, and the "trends" whirl by monthly or weekly rather than seasonally. As an example she shares how she and her friends talked about the styles of the 80's -- fairly easily identifiable -- then the 90's -- a few there -- but could not clearly gauge any trends after that. There aren't any, because there are too many. She speaks to factory owners, to stylists, to designers, to extreme shoppers, to tailors, seamstresses and hobby sewists, as well as refashioners like Jillian Owens (a refashioner who I love, so it was great to see her mentioned here). She shares that the fast fashion industry not only cheapens our clothing in its quality, price and style, it also drives up the costs of well made clothing and especially high end clothing.

Then there is the whole environmental impact. From the horrible pollution that factories can cause -- air pollution, dyes in the water, toxic chemicals used in tanning and dyeing etc. -- to the enormous strain on landfills when we throw things away -- to the way that factory work affects population movement -- there are various problems with fast fashion. Not to mention the top-heavy economic model where the people making our clothes are paid barely anything (and no, it's not a "living wage" in their countries as we are often told/sold) and the huge companies make huge profits for their stockholders and CEOs.... well, there is a lot to learn in this book. Most of it we already know in some sense, but a clear vision pointing out how it all works together to make up an industry that is not sustainable reminds us strongly that our actions are part of it all.

Despite all of this, Cline's narrative is not judgemental or hectoring. She's not trying to shame the reader or pretend that she's above it all herself -- she is sharing her journey of enlightenment in this area, and acknowledges the difficulties of change. One route toward getting off the fast fashion merry-go-round that she suggests is to sew your own clothes, or to get to know a tailor or seamstress who can do so for you -- while it is more expensive than $5 H&M skirts, the quality is far superior, and you are paying a living wage to your neighbours. Of course, I am particularly interested in the "sew your own clothes" route, and this book was originally brought to my attention via various mentions on many of the sewing blogs I read. (Such as an interview at the Colletterie). While this is not the only suggestion she makes (since it won't be for everyone) it is one I can do something about. (you can find a list of her Top Ten suggestions for action, at her website)

So, after reading this, I no longer feel inclined to rejoice at my amazing shopping deals, or to buy more stuff all the time. I've been feeling a bit discombobulated by how much of everything I own (and I am by no means a huge shopper). This seems a good time to attempt to buy less fast fashion, make more of my own classics and 'reduce, reuse, recycle' in my wardrobe. The next step? Trying to figure out how to source fabrics that are sustainably made...

Friday, January 3, 2014

January MAGAM plans

It took me a little longer to decide what to choose for my January Make a Garment a Month pattern. Should I make another dress, or something different? I looked at a lot of patterns, but in the end I decided that I needed something easy this month, and had just the patterns & fabric in my stash. Despite my recently stated sewing goals for 2014, I'm going to start slow this year with something easy -- still thinking about the bigger challenges I want to take on later :)

I don't like plain t-shirts, and don't really have very many. But I do like long sleeved comfy tops so thought I'd use some pieces of soft knit jersey in my stash to make up some more interesting tees. I have these two Very Easy Vogue patterns and these two colours of knit:

Vogue 8581 and Vogue 8514

My goal is to make at least one of them this month. I feel in need of something simple and comfy. I'm planning to make the blue fabric into the green view, and the grey fabric into the white view.