Wabi-Sabi Dress

From the UFO (UnFinished Object) files:

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Once upon a time, I was inspired by Julia Bobbin’s colour blocked Laurel. I decided to tackle a small stash of some exotic silk that I got from my Mother-in-Law, and I chose this lovely navy-grey piece. It was quite sedate in comparison to other pieces from said stash… It featured a beautiful scalloped pattern along one edge. After being strongly reassured by MIL that yes, you can wash it normally, I took all the pieces and threw them in the washing machine (on gentle cycle, I’m NOT crazy), an then in the dryer, on cold. All the silk came out lovely, much softer and more pliable, and the colours acquired more lustre. But my gorgeous grey piece had threads pulled out through the entire length of the yardage… I was heartbroken. I tried to cut my pattern pieces in a way that the most obvious damage was hidden by the darts, but to no avail… And what’s even more, the lovely scallops did not align on the bottom, which was too much for me… in the UFOs you go!

Fast forward 6 months or so, and I find this reasonable, mostly finished garment with a seriously funky bottom. So I cut off the bottom, and decide to make a tunic, but then I realize that I have some cotton that matches the colour almost exactly, so I add a panel to the bottom, make a weird neckline for more interest, and I have my colour blocked Laurel, just like Julia (same, but different)! My MIL recognized the fabric right away when she saw me in this dress, and was very surprised and quite pleased that I made something out of that silk! As for the damage, it’s still there.

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Enter the beautiful concept of wabi-sabi. Good people of Wikipedia will tell you more, but just to quickly paraphrase, it’s an idea that describes perfection in it’s imperfection. My dress is wabi-sabi. I am wabi-sabi. And you, have you ever felt like you’ll never be  able to pick yourself up and put yourself together after something that happened? But then you did, you got up, and now you’re mostly whole again, except that now you’re so much richer and much more interesting than before…

In life (and sewing), it is so easy to get preoccupied with striving for perfection. There is nothing wrong with perfection, but one does not have to be perfect all the time. This dress has many faults, but it is one of my favourites. Casual, comfy, versatile, but it’s a dress. Looks good belted, and loose (you know, for skinny or fat days!) The cotton part wrinkles like crazy, but hey, more wabi-sabi to me!

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Care to share your wabi-sabi creations, dear reader?

I think I’m in Love…

Earlier today I made two garments, both are promising to be my spring/summer favourites. I feel that everybody involved in the process of making these should be thanked. So here we go:

1) Thank you McCaul, for putting out M6754. Terribly cute pattern, and I’ve been dying to make it since last summer. Also, it is a terribly silly pattern. Or it is great if you are a person who is comfortable with seeing your bellybutton through your front neckline, and your butt-crack through the back neckline. When I made the first version of View A the only thing that I liked about it was the placement of the bust darts. I liked them enough to go on with another muslin… Interestingly enough, both of the following versions have darts that go too high. Oh well, I think they make my bewbs look perkier, no?

2) Thank you to my sister-in-law. She wears horizontal stripes like no one else, she wears them all the time, big stripes, small stripes, and what-not stripes, and ALWAYS rocks them. You see, I am intimidated by horizontal stripes, and a lot of my stash involves stripes, because I love stripes. My SIL has a very similar physique to mine, she might be 1″taller than I, and is equally apple-shaped, so there is no reason why she should rock those stripes, but not I!? It’s all about attitude, yo! You wanna see what I made yet?

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3) I also would like to thank The Stashbusting Sewalong 2014 group, who are such a swell bunch of gals! This month’s theme is COLOURS! I love all the colours, I sew all sorta koo-koo hues, but I got to thinking about sewing for work, or for when I cannot match a jacket to a dress, because all of the clothes that I make are so crazy colour-wise. So I’ve decided to make me a dress out of the plainest piece of knit that I had: medium weight, grey t-shirt fabric, 100% cotton with not a lot of stretch. I thought of it as a plain canvas, on which one might hang a crazy jacket or a sick belt. When I put it on after I attached the skirt to the bodice, I gasped. It was the most understated but also elegant piece of clothing that I made. The way the skirt hung, how the fabric skimmed my body without clinging to my rolls… Love at first sight!

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And just to prove a point about it being a canvas on which one might hang things, I tied a piece of random cord around my waist, to mimic a sick belt, of course:

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See how pretty? Point proven…

4) Thank you wind, for blowing some nice weather this way, perfect for taking pictures:

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Your love is Kiiiiiiiiiing….

Been long enough, no? What have I been up to? Mostly scrubbing my hands, since two weeks ago I did this:

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I edited out some wrinkles and zits, I’m normally not this perfect, SNORT!!!

Manic Panic is a messy mistress, but I love me in this colour! And moving right along, I also painted the “art wall”, to a colour that totally clashes with my hair. Bad for taking blog pictures, but at least my living room looks better. And because it’s so bad for taking pictures, I will model my latest creations in front of this wall, even though the cleanup is not quite complete, and the baseboards… Sigh…

So, have you heard about “Jean-ius:  Reverse Engineer Your Favorite Fit” from Craftsy (once again, I’m not being paid by Craftsy for this, maybe I should hit them up for some free courses)? Taught by Prof. Kenneth King, who is a true genius, his method of copying clothes is amazing. I need to say that the pair of jeans that I started with was not my favourite. I don’t think I ever had a fave pair of pants. Old Navy’s Diva came the closest, but when my last pair practically disintegrated from so much wear, I had to come up with something. Can’t buy any more, I am on a retail clothing fast, remember?IMG_0413

This is what you’re supposed to do to your pants. The idea is to mark all the necessary features of the pattern with thread, and when you’re done with taking the pattern you can pull the thread out and you can still wear your pants as if nothing happened. My pair was so dead that I got lazy and just drew on them with markers. It worked.

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We can all agree that the fit to start with was not so great, but it was not catastrophic. And here’s what I came out with following King’s precise and crystal-clear instructions:

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Click the image to enlarge.

There were several snags, such as awfully butchered zipper installation (the top flap did not cover the zipper, gaaaaaah!). And also, I managed to hit a gnarly combo of marking my grain line wrong on the pattern (I was off by a couple of degrees). This got amplified by the fact that the original was not cut perfectly on grain, apparently cheap clothing manufacturers do that to save on fabric costs. My being totally off the grain can be seen in the inner leg seam veering to the front (middle picture, above). But in overall I liked this pair, I wore it a lot. It had just the right amount of stretch… and… what did the prof say? That he absolutely refuses to work with stretch jeans for this technique? Even if you start with a stretch fabric, the amount of stretch you have in the “copy” fabric might not be the same, therefore the fit will be different. Makes sense, but I immediately had to venture into the non-stretch territory. I was thinking that I would make the seam allowances smaller and all should workout. Bahahaha!

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I overexposed the picture on purpose, so you can see the wrinkles in the fabric.

Looking vaguely triumphant, these pants look slimming! But it’s probably because they are KINDA tight in some areas… like the stomach… and the upper bum…

IMG_0449Even though I messed up the zipper insertion again, I totally fixed the grain line problem, yes! And the extra wrinkles all around the bum come from the fact that they are simply too tight in those areas.

And now you may ask why do I keep blogging about all those sewing disasters that I call “clothes”? Ummm, to document my sewing journey? To give hope to those who, like me, keep messing up and yet they go on to create another “failure”, but eventually they end up with a proper pair of pants. Or not. Because a failure is a failure only when you give up! And I know that one day soon I will have a proper, well-fitting pair of pants.

So fight on, dear sewists!

Oh yeah, I would have forgotten: I recommend this course to anybody having even a remote interest in making pants. The amount of cool techniques that one can learn from this teacher is amazing! How to make a contoured waist band with your iron? Sure!  What are pocket stays and what are benefits of such? Yes, installed them in both pairs and love them!

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See, pocket stays. And the butchered zipper insertion. Obviously I’m not getting something…

But in the meantime, brace yourselves, I am churning out another dress for

Julia Bobbin - Mad Men Challenge III
Yes, yes, yes!
The post is due by April 1st (my birthday), and this time I’m going with a 50s bored housewife dress. Vaguely inspired by early Betty, since I have no idea what’s been going on for the last 2 seasons because Netflix doesn’t have those seasons! But anyhoo, see you soon, and keep on keeping on!

Winter Purse

No denying it, fall is almost here! As I am still agonizing about making a winter coat (and currently I have fabric for at least 3 different coats and probably 7 patterns which I really like), I made a winter purse. So I can “warm up” to this whole winter sewing gradually, you know… I’ve wanted to make a purse for a while now, and finally I bit the bullet and purchased the purse making class on Craftsy. I have to admit, I did not think it would turn out so well, have a look!

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Front. This twist-clasp is from Fabricland.

I got the grey plaid wool fabric that I used for the exterior from Debbie at the summer Toronto Bloggers meeting and swap, and the pink faux-suede (aka 100% polyester) was from my own stash. I did not settle on the choice of the fabric until I got most of the hardware, which pretty much dictated the rest of the design process of this purse. I visited Leather & Sewing Supply Depot, where I bought this awesome do-hicky:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADid you know that Leather & Sewing S.D. has moved, dear Torontonians? They are now located at 204 Spadina, not far from where they were located before. They did have tons of all sort of purse hardware, but most of it was quite basic. I did manage to buy what I thought I wanted, but what totally blew my mind was the zippers. That store has THE BEST and coolest selection of zippers. But I digress… Here’s more pictures:

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Fancy purse-feet and hard bottom!
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Back view. Oh I tried so hard to match the pattern, which I mostly succeeded in doing, although it resulted in the pocket being off-centre. But you wouldn’t have noticed it, had I not pointed it out, right?
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Bird’s eye view
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All the guts and glory: zippered pocket, and a divided pocket on the other side, and a magnetic clasp closure

And you know what’s totally ironic? I splurged on the dress form, and instead of padding her up and sewing up a storm of awesomely fitted clothes, I’ve been sewing stuff that does not require a dress form at all… Alright form-lady, make yourself useful, model my purse for the nice readers!

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Her shoulders are way too slopey, the purse would not stay on. Not likely I’ll wear it like this…

I really enjoyed the whole process. This is the very first purse I’ve made in my entire life, and I think I’m hooked.  Designing, assembling, and sewing a purse is a fairly complex process, requiring a level of concentration that I hardly am capable of.  But I pulled it off. Now please excuse me, I’m heading to Craftsy to buy me the Leather Purse class.  Or maybe I should clean this up?

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Nah!