Besides failing at the Me-Made-May challenges that I set out to conquer. My me-made wardrobe is seriously lacking some trousers and jeans. Okay, maybe not jeans. I really could use a couple of pairs of pants though. It is the one item that I've been hesitant on sewing because I fear the fitting issues. Vogue 1325 is on my wish list for this challenge.
And there is also Vogue 8821 that has been in my pattern stash for some time that I also wouldn't mind to try. This pattern is for a straight legged pants with a back zipper.
The other garment that was lacking from my me-made rotation were undergarments. I made a pair of knickers but to be completely honest I only wore them once and they're not the most comfortable fit. I would like to give it another shot with a couple of Kwik Sew patterns that I picked up recently.
Well I have have to get busy on these items in the year ahead to get ready for next year's Me-Made-May festivities. Oh and brush up on my photography skills.
There has been quite a bit of talk over the internet as to whether the west has become a "nation of slobs" since CBS News ran a story on May 19th. I just saw this video for the first time this evening. If you haven't, check it out.
This professor has stirred up quite the debate in the blog landscape. I love this debate. The journalist asks if we've become a nation of slobs in this piece. Linda Przybyszewski, Norte Dame Professor of History and author of Nation of Slobs: How Americans Learned and Forgot How to Dress teaches a course on this very topic. Must remember to check if it is an on-line course!
She examines literary and historical texts that teach how to dress and present oneself. Ah, the golden days before personal shoppers and celebrity stylists. The days of soup and fish.
The casual styles of the sixties and the demand for cheaper clothes, Przybyszewski adds, moved from "simplicity and then slipped into stupidity."
I would like to throw in the appearance of the shopping mall as a contributing factor in sloppy dressing. Stores crammed with fast fashions that have to turn over quickly because the the next season's items are piled sky high in the cramped back rooms. Shopping centres also made a spike in popularity at the same time as suburban living.
I don't agree that America has become a nation of slobs. Canada has its own fair share of pajama/yoga pant/flip flop wearing folks this side of the border as well.
I think that it more an act of defiance and rebellion to dress in a non-conventional manner--a rebellion against dress codes. That with a dose of fashion narcissism. Consider the university student's statement at the end of the video where she describes a fellow student that shows up in pajama bottoms while wearing make-up. They are making a statement or a demand to be noticed. It seems like they fit into a fashion subculture.
What I do like about this interview is the fact that Przybyszewski embraces the small details in her own creations. Yes, Professor Przybyszewski sews! She is right, if you want the unique and exquisite details of by-gone fashions, resurrecting sewing skills is the way to go. I don't think it is too late or that these by-gone skills are totally lost.
I finally figured out how the sleeve pleat works! Basting is a very important step.
There is only one sleeve done. But I thought I would snap some photos. I'm actually kinda giddy that it worked out.
Still hurting from that back injury so this project has been proceeding at a snail's pace. The sleeve is all I managed to get done this weekend. Well, I also did manage to finish off the sleeve seam edges with the bound seam finish.
Tonight though, I'm going to lay low and take a wee break from this project. Perhaps tomorrow night I'll tackle the other sleeve.
Have you seen this little tool before? It is called a binder foot. It is suppose to a handy little tool to help in attaching bias tape.
For thinner widths of bias tape you would feed the tape through the grooves on the side choosing the appropriate sized groove. The choices vary from the five holes located on the conical tape guide. If you have a wider width of bias tape you and feed it directly into the inside of the conical tape guide from the front of the foot. That is the bonus of this foot there are lots of options when it comes to tape widths.
I'm not sure if you can tell in the the above photo but at the narrowest point of the conical tape guide there is a little screw. This allows you to adjust the tape guide position. It is very flexible.
I'm sure that once I master the fine features of this foot I could produce some nice looking bound seams. But I quickly abandoned this tool early in the project I was working on.
I went back to my old ways and a sense of comfort in doing things the old fashion way.
Once I stitched my seam I would press them open to get ready to attach the seam binding. I would open up the seam binding and stitching it close to the edge of the seam following the pressed fold as my guideline.
Then I would fold it over to the other side and stitch it down. I used a store bought double fold bias tape and I have to say that I'm thrilled with how it looks.
The binder foot would save me time as I wouldn't have to stitch two lengths of the seam to achieve the bound seam. And I could have followed the pin and stitch method illustrated over at Colette Patterns or at Sewaholic. But I just felt more comfortable with this method and I didn't mind the extra time sitting at the sewing machine.
Well, I have a few more bound seams to take care of...
Burda 7304 is still on my sewing table. Oh my, has this project been eating up much of my free time this week and I still feel that I am no way near done.
Never have I put sew much time or expense into the inside of a garment. I believe now that they call bound seams a couture finish because of this expense of time and money. It is worth every minute and cent spent.
I promise to write a blog post about bound seams soon.
Right now I'm taking a break from another challenge. The sleeves are providing a bit of a mental challenge. I'm taking this step slowly and carefully. I've read on the internet that I'm in good company and Burda provide a response to this plead of help.
In other sewing news, I've been binge pattern buying lately. Vogue patterns had a sale and I'm weak. For many of these I think I can share some of the blame on some other sewists for encouraging me to buy.
Peter over at Male Pattern Boldness made this men's shirt. I think it looks fabulous and thought that it would be a great shirt for my nephew. My nephew would like a long sleeve version despite the fact that the last men's long sleeve shirt I made ended up being a short sleeve shirt. Oh the blind faith! His favourite colour is green and the only green fabric that I have in my stash is a light weight green linen that I was saving for a Marcy Tilton dress, Vogue 8876. But it really would be great with Vogue 8889 instead.
I can blame my purchase of Marcy Tilton's shingle dress pattern on Shams over at Communing with Fabric for this fabulous version. I do like that this is a multi-sized pattern that have sizes 14 to 22 in one envelope. I think I might be able to fit my hips into this size range.
Debi over at My Happy Sewing Place was my enabler when she made a sailor's dress. Do I need a sailor's dress? No. For goodness sakes I live in the prairies. But I do love the look of that collar. I finally broke down and picked up Vogue 1171 to go with some blue sateen stretch that has been sitting in my stash for some time.
The other patterns I've run out of others to blame. ;) I'm going to have to buck up and take responsibility for these myself. Vogue 8710 made it into my pattern stash because I would like a tee-shirt that does not cling to my mid-section. And Vogue 1357 was just plain and simple an impulse purchase. It happens some times.
I happen-ed to be in the local Value Village when I came across this vest. It still has the tags on it.
This item is from more than a decade ago. Actually, more than fifteen years ago. How do I know? A vest just like this one was once part of my wardrobe. And I have a picture with it on, holding my then-baby-nephew at the hospital. The only reason that I no longer have it is because I outgrew it gained some weight. But I came across it hanging on the rack packed in between layers of cheaply made rejects.
Oh the contrast! You won't find quality pieces like this in the stores now-a-days. The vest is completed lined. It has front and back facings and fabric covered buttons. And are you sitting down? The front of the vest has an interlining. This vest is not a designer piece. And the best part of this garment when I owned one just like this is that the fabric never pilled--never.
This vest was a piece from The Work Connection line carried by EATON'S back-in-the-day. I still to this day mourn the loss of Eaton's from the Canadian retail landscape.
Retail has changed over the years since Eaton's demise. Our landscape has become polluted with low-end retailers offering low prices. It sounds good at the surface but for lower prices you'll have to sacrifice something. You never get something for nothing.
Millions of jobs in North America were traded off and shipped overseas in a plan to exploit cheap labour. In returned they shipped back poorly made clothing from even less impressive fabrics. Many styles that come back are less than imaginative. And there you have another reason why I sew.
But when I came across this vest with the tags still on, I had to pick it up. It was mostly a nostalgic purchase. And it fits. I plan to proudly wear it as a tribute to when clothes were well-made in Canada and as a reminder to never take short cuts in my sewing.
Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion
by Elizabeth L. Cline
Published by Penguin Book 2012
Canadian price $27.50
I first heard about this book last year. It is not a book that has been discussed in the staff room with co-workers. I work deep in suburbia where shopping malls, Old Navy, Joe Fresh and Mark's Work Wearhouse rule the suburban fashion landscape. Rather, I discovered the existence of this book through other sewing blogs.
I won't say that I was captivated by Cline's writing style, rather the historical references and modern-day observations kept me turning the pages. Also the positive book reviews I've read in the past kept me plugging along to see what all the hype was about.
Cline is quite clever in writing this book. She avoids preaching to the reader about the pitfalls of cheap fast-fashion. Instead, she holds up a mirror at her own shopping habits and bad shopping decisions allowing the reader to recognize themselves in these activities. Cline takes the reader on a journey into the dark side of the fashion industry and tells her tale stylized as new journalism. Cline travels to far off lands fictionalized as the business owner of Fashion Forward Inc. looking to produce a line of garments she plucked out of her closet.
Along the way, Cline also examines the by-gone days of department stores with "bigger fabric departments than ready-to-wear sections, and affordable patterns, some inspired by couturiers" (81). Cline not only examines the significant shifts in ready-to-wear fashions but also the shift in plastic-based fibres. "Fabrics have become compromised" in order to save costs. Cline argues that "about half of our wardrobe is now made out of plastic, in the form of polyester" (123). She examines the environmental impact of producing "Frankenfabrics" that take hundreds of years to biodegrade. She also points out that even natural fibres have an environmental impact that is hard to swallow.
The earlier mentions of home sewing peaked my interest in reading one of the final chapters, "Make, Alter, and Mend," only to be let down by this chapter. The chapter should have been named "Alter, Mend and Re-fashion" instead. Cline's foray into the world of sewing was minimal as she describes sewing lessons that produced a pillowcase and the desire to patch jeans and hem skirts. It was as if it were an after-thought to inject more of her own personal experiences into the book. I came away with the feeling that Cline was a supporter of vintage and thrift fashions rather than the make it from scratch DIY aesthetic.
It is a powerful read especially after the recent garment factory collapse that killed over 1,100 people in Bangladesh. This book came out before this horrific event but it echoes the tragedies that plagued garment workers in by-gone years. It is a book with important statistics and history that help to understand the working conditions in these oversea factories.
Will this book go down as a great read, no. I wouldn't put it up there with Fast Food Nation by investigative journalist Eric Schlosser. Someone was using a bit of creative licence when designing the book cover with the Katha Pollitt quote. But it is an interesting and insightful read into the dark side of fashion considering the recent debates surrounding fast and cheap fashions filling many closets today.
If you don't mind the grammar mistakes and typos this piece of fast-non-fiction might make it on your summer reading list.
Spring is finally here. The apricot tree in the folks' yard is blooming with beautiful pink flowers, it is absolutely gorgeous. It is actually raining instead of snowing! And my thoughts are turning to sewing a new spring coat.
The pattern I have in mind is Burda Style 7304. It has been in my pattern stash for quite some time.
The fabric is a recent purchase. I found it in the home decor department of the local Fabricland store. It is a 100% polyester. I'm not a 100% sure how it is going to work out but I'm willing to give it a whirl because I love the print. It also have a raised texture.
I did manage to get all the pieces cut in the main fabric. Yesterday, I stopped by the fabric store to pick up some more interfacing and I came across the most perfect buttons.
I didn't get much sewing done yet as I'm still hurting with this back injury from a few weeks ago. I'm so over this, I just want to feel my old self and get back to sewing without all the mega breaks. But I have to look on the positive side. This slower pace will force me to slow down and take my time with the details of this coat.
It is an unlined coat and the fabric does like to fray. My plan won't be to serge the edges, rather to use bound seams on the inside of the coat. I have purchased seam binding for this and so far I like the way it has turned out. It is not perfect. The latest June/July 2013 issue of Vogue Patterns magazine has an article "Tiny Seams Finishing Techniques for Delicate Garments" which includes instructions for the bound seam.
I cheated with the first bound seam finishing that I did on the centre back pieces. I used a binder foot. It turned out okay. It didn't seem to leave an impress that I was saving any time or made the task easier or created a perfectly straight finish.
Sew, now I'm doing things the old fashion way. I've removed the bias tape foot and stitching it to the edge, turning it over and top-stitching it in place just like in the Vogue Patterns magazine article. I like the control that I feel I have doing it this way over using the bias tape foot. It might take more time, but that is okay with me. Besides, I think it looks better.
Hmmm, I wonder how long it will take to finish this project?
There has not been any sewing this weekend. I have been fighting a cold. Come to think about it, since pulling muscles in my back a couple of weeks ago and now this cold there hasn't been much sewing this month. Boo.
I'm going to drop the Me-Made-May fête. Sorry, it has just been too much to keep up with the posts and managing to get pictures. Just know that I will continue to wear me-made items this month, like every month. I just won't have photographic proof to show and tell.
I did learn a few things during the first ten days of Me-Made-May. I need pants! I would be dancing with delight if I could just pull off a decent fitting pair of pants. When I get my energy back this will be one of the projects I would like to tackle. That and knickers. I could use a few more pairs of those also.
Oh and then there are those other sewing projects that I need to take care of before I think of making pants...
The vestment for the parish priest. I'm feeling guilty that I've had it for this long. I really must get this done this week. There is still quite a bit of seam ripping to finish first. And then I will have to trim down the blanket binding and make it into bias tape.
I will also have to start and finish the other men's shirt that I promised my brother.
Oh and finish cutting the remaining white linen and complete the rest of the purificators.
Me-Made-May also highlighted the fact that there is so much to sew and so little time!
My favourite sewing memories, I owe to the greatest woman I know, Mama R.
She came to this country as a young woman who didn't speak the language of her new home. She had a lot of struggles raising a young family of four and working a full-time job.
She did all of this while fitting into a new culture and learning a new language with very little free time and help. The Grey Nuns, a fixture in the Manitoba scene back-in-the-day, gave my Mom a second hand sewing machine that she still has today.
She didn't have the time to sit me down on her lap as she mended and sewed our clothes. But she was an important role model and still is today. My favourite sewing memories are more recent ones. The times we spend together creating new projects and working on ideas. Although our tastes are different, I always appreciate her feedback and help.
It was an itsy bitsy, teenie weenie, yellow polka dot baby onsie...
Two, three, four, stick around I'll tell ya more.
Oh my gosh, I think I may be dating myself here. Papa R and his pals used to listen to that song (Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini by Brian Hyland) on vinyl when I was a wee little one. But I digress...
Stash busting 2013: Project # 21
Fabric Used: 1 metre of cotton knit fabric
Pattern Used: McCall's 7367, an old stand-by, circa 1994.
Snaps Used: 1 snap
Ribbon Used: 1 metre of yellow ribbon. (Actually, I didn't stash-bust any ribbon. I picked up the yellow ribbon for this project).
I actually picked up this fabric last year for a tee-shirt that is still waiting to be sewn up. This baby onsie is what I managed to make with the left-over fabric. I did have enough yellow fabric for the band pieces but went with a black knit that had a bit more stretch.
So happy to have this one done. Hmmm, what's next? Stay tuned, I haven't decided yet.
Oh my goodness, this is a full blown head cold. I made some homemade chicken soup (spiked with cayenne pepper) when I got home from work and after I down another neo citron. (No pictures again today, sorry) Here's the low-down on the clothes I wore for
Skirt: Marcy Tilton design, Vogue 8637. Burnt orange double knit. I actually would like to make another one in black, it is such a comfortable skirt.
Sweater: RTW, taupe and orange zippered Rachel Roy sweater.
It was a rough day, I actually walked in the door and threw on my pj's even before thoughts of dinner popped in my head. My thoughts are on shaking this cough and headache rather than trying to snap a photo. Here's the low-down on the clothes I wore for
It was a windy day today. If I weren't holding back the stray bits of hair that are too short to reach the pony-tail at the back of my head I would have pulled off an Albert Einstein look. Well, here is what I wore for
Eyewear: DKNY eyeglasses and Vogue cat-eyed sunglasses
Accessories: Knee braces, nicely hidden under my skirt. I love this skirt pattern for that reason.
Undies: Bra and knickers, all RTW.
Nightgown: I'm sure this was made with a Simplicity pattern that is lost somewhere in my pattern stash. Maybe I'll find the pattern number before the end of Me-Made-May
Bathrobe: Simplicity 7417. Fabric: 100% cotton terry cloth.
Progress on the baby onesie: leg bands are sewn and serged and one of the sleeve bands is pinned ready to sew. I know this will go down as one of the slowest sewing projects ever. Sewing fell to the side lines while I fight the start of a sore throat and cough with tea, honey and lemon. Sew many interruptions!
What a gorgeous day! The temperatures hit the plus twenty mark and beyond. And my chiropractor was back in the office. Oh man, did I ever need that appointment. After a day at work, I laid low at home enjoying the heat from my heating pad instead of the sun. Equally relaxing.
My me-made-outfit might actually qualify for sleepwear today. I spent most of the day napping on the couch. I still not feeling 100% and was so wiped out. I did manage to make it to the post office and enjoy the warm sun. It is tough to believe that less than a week ago I was wearing gloves and a toque. Now, the trees are starting to bloom.
Today's me-made photo is by my favourite fruit tree in Mama and Papa R's backyard, the apricot tree. Wonder if it will have fruit this year?
This Saturday was not a relaxing day at all. It was an early start to my day as I travelled to my local Costco store to get my winter tires removed. Two hours ahead of the store opening and can you believe that I wasn't the first in line! Three hours and a latte later I was on my way home. Just a quick stop at the fabric store to pick up a metre of ribbon.
I arrived home around one-thirty with horrible back pain. Which would explain why I left the fabric store with what I went in to get and nothing more. The pain meds I have, I didn't want to take when I was driving because they make me drowsy. Despite it being early afternoon and the sun was warming everything up outside, I changed into my pajamas and sat with a heating pad without taking any photographic proof of my outfit for
Jeans: RTW, Jones Brand.
Top: Marcy Tilton design, Vogue 8709. Fabric: olive green stretch cotton sateen. I hardly ever wear this top anymore. I love the first version I made in a 100% cotton. The one I wore today is a lighter weight fabric and doesn't seem to hold up as nicely. And then I used that cheap fusible interfacing that seems to reveal itself with puckering. Oh well, that was a lesson to avoid cheap interfacing but I don't have to heart to get rid of this top and besides it is a good running-errands shirt with great pockets.