Return of the French Jacket

Like most seamstresses, I have a stash of fabric I’ve been amassing for years. Everything from knits to silk to $1/yard cotton prints. Yet I can never find something I like when I want to sew.

The situation became more acute since I decided to stop buying fabric until I use what I have. (Okay, I did buy some fabric a couple months ago but it was on impulse. I got some orange ponte for $3/yard. Don’t judge me. What was I supposed to do? It was ponte. At $3/yard. Don’t look at me like that; you’d have done the same thing.) So now I feel stuck between using fabric that doesn’t inspire me or breaking my “no buy” promise.

My solution is to dig deep and pretend I have no options; that I have to sew my way to freedom. I haven’t been sewing much because, as I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been deep in my coding obsession (I’ll be writing about that in a separate blog so you won’t have to read about it here.)

To get back on track, I’m revisiting old projects that I’d put aside because a) this is, after all, a blog about making stuff; and b) it’s spring and I don’t have any spring clothes.

My first project is my super-overdue French jacket (Vogue 8804). The one I’ve been talking about since 2014. Yes, 2014!!!! I was waiting until I reached my goal weight, but you know what? I’m close enough AND I can buy more fabric for another one later. I found my old muslin and I’ve been tweaking it a bit, especially the sleeves, which are giving me agita.

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I know the sleeve isn’t set in properly, but I’m over it at this point.

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See those markings at the bottom? I got that idea from A Challenging Sew. Apparently adding length to the center back visually elongates the torso. Go read the entire post because her finished jacket is so beautiful, it’ll make your eyes well up.

Most of the adjustments I had to make are ones I usually do anyway, but some of them were just baffling. For example, when I made up the muslin, I had a HUGE bubble in the middle of my back.  I know I always need to make a swayback adjustment, but this one was extreme. In the pic below, the black thread is the original seam and the red one is the new seam. At the widest distance, the two threads are about 1″ apart.

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I’m going to do a couple more fittings then I’ll be ready to take the muslin apart and start cutting the fabric.

And for anyone who still remembers the bra underwire saga, I finally got my underwires in the mail (yay!).

That’s my less ambitious (and hopefully more realistic) plan for this week.

So, are there any projects you’ve been working on (or planning to work on) for 2+ years? Share your pain the in comments; I’m here for you.

xoxo,

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Life Changes

I have a confession. I wrote this post last week, but the topic frightened me so much that I couldn’t publish it.

For the last few months, I’ve been thinking about making some major changes.  I’ve been reading quite a few books like What Matters Most: Living a More Considered Life by James Hollis and most recently Vital Signs: The Nature and Nurture of Passion by Gregg Levoy. I’ve also been hopscotching across the internet machine and reading lots of blog posts by and about other people wrestling with the same issue (like this one).

Every time I found a new book, post or magazine article, it reminded me of a long ago promise I made to myself that I’d never allow myself to stagnate. When I read Walden at 12 or 13 years old, one of the quotes that pierced my heart was “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” At that age, I didn’t know exactly what it meant, but I had a good idea. Most of the adults around me were not unhappy, but they weren’t happy either. They just existed. Work, home, work, home, maybe a vacation once in a while, otherwise rinse and repeat year after year. And I knew that I never wanted to be like that. I wanted to be able to look back and know that I lived well and fully.

Over time, I’ve been able to create more passion and adventure in my day to day life, but I still feel like I’m limiting myself in some ways and I want to change that. I’ve also spent a lot of time thinking about the kind of lifestyle I want and what I need to do to get it.

What does all this have to do with my unpublished post? Well what scared me was the finality of putting my decisions out into the world. It’s one thing to tell your plans to family and a few friends, but somehow writing it here made it feel like I was crossing the Rubicon – and that completely freaked me out.

So here’s what I decided: 1) to leave New York; and 2) to switch careers, all within the next two years. I’m still processing my decisions because of the enormity of those changes; particularly leaving the city I call home.

I never thought I’d ever even consider leaving NY. But I feel a dissatisfaction – a restlessness – that’s like a low grade fever. Overall, I have a great life here and most days I wake up thrilled to live in such an amazing, wonderful city. But I can’t seem to shake the feeling that I could be just as thrilled waking up somewhere else.

First I have to decide where I’d like to live. Right now, I’m considering five cities – some overseas – but I need to narrow it down to three so I can start researching the details. I only have two three requirements for my new home: it has to be in a warmish climate and it has to be near water and it has to have or at least be near a fast internet connection.

The career change is a little less intimidating because I’ve done it a few times before. I currently work as a film/video editor, but I’m studying to become a web or mobile developer. Coding has always been interesting to me because I love puzzles, but it always seemed so difficult that I never got far. This time, though, I’ve found some great books and online resources. Now that I understand more, I’m obsessed with it. Like seriously obsessed. As a result, I’ve been spending a ton of time doing tutorials, reading code or reading about code. I actually took a book on Javascript with me when I went to the park.

And maybe the word “change” is too strong; it’s more like adding another tool to my toolbox. Emilie Wapnick did a TEDx talk –  “Why Some of Us Don’t Have One True Calling” – which finally gave a name to what I am: a multipotentialite.  When I heard her talk, it was like the skies parted and suddenly things made sense. All my life, I’ve been told I had to choose one skill or career, but I found it impossible because I have so many interests and whenever I find something I like, I completely immerse myself in it – at least until I find the next big thing.

Anyhow, whenever I have to work through something serious, I try to spend as much time as I can in nature because that’s where I do my best thinking. Last week, we had two unseasonably warm days so I took full advantage. On the second day, I went to one of my favorite places, the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens.

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I sat under this tree and listened to music, read, and did some writing. Afterwards, I felt so much clearer about what I need to do.

I might not have all the answers yet, but I’m willing to take the first step and for right now, that’s enough.

xoxo,

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Miette Cardigan

The last few weeks have been really busy with work, so sadly I haven’t been making much. But, I did manage to finish Miette. I just need to block her this weekend and I can finally have a win!

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I have a lot more to share with you about what’s been happening in DinWorld. I was going to put it in this post, but I need to untangle my thoughts. Until then, go do something creative and I’ll see you next week!

xoxo,

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Loungewear, Dita and Me

So I got Dita Von Teese’ book, Your Beauty Mark in January. It was much more for inspiration than a manual I can use in my day-to-day life, but I loved that she’s just so put together all the time. I mean, who does that these days? As I mentioned in earlier posts, I decided to dress up more when I go out, but I didn’t really think about changing my home wardrobe which is equally important.

Now I don’t get paid to look good or maybe I’d be more ambitious about making the changes, but I decided that I would at least take baby steps in the right direction. I’m usually wearing capris or yoga pants and t-shirts or when I’m home. And while none of it is ratty looking (thanks to Marie Kondo, I tossed out all that stuff last year), it’s still not – I don’t know – dignified. Although it’s much more dignified than my tiger striped catsuit (complete with tail) that I used to wear. Don’t ask.

Coletterie’s recent Seamwork issue is about loungewear too so I know I’m not the only one thinking along these lines. Maybe it’s a move away from that dreadful “ath-leisure” trend that the fashion magazines have been pushing for the past few years. I don’t know. I just know I feel better when I’m in clothes I love and I want to feel that way whether I’m home or out.

After going through my closet, I decided I definitely need to make some comfortable clothes that were not athletic/exercise related. But before we look at the practical choices, let’s look at the stunning –  but impractical – Simplicity 8013. This pattern made me SWOON.

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It’s a complete fabric hog (5-5/8″ or 7-5/8 yards, depending on the fabric width), but it looks like it would be so worth the effort. I can picture myself in a challis or chiffon version twirling around my newly cleaned apartment while arranging flowers or something. This is not a post-cleaning outfit. And it’s definitely NOT a cooking outfit; nothing good can come from standing near fire with this much fabric.

Now for the staples. I decided maxi dresses are the way to go.  I’m going to make a couple of knit maxi dresses like McCalls 6559 (just the plain tank version) and see how they work for me:

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No comment on the styling or fabric choices; I have no idea why the Big 4 make their pattern pictures so unappealing.

I also like the snug t-shirt/maxi skirt combo so I’ll be working on a few skirts too. Finally, I have a capri pant pattern that I’ve been wanting to try for a while. Fitting pants is my achilles heel so I rarely make them, but I really like Simplicity 1373:

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Again, a bad picture, but the pants have a back zipper and I think they’d look fabulous in stretch denim or something similar.

Anyway, the idea is to keep it simple and make some pieces that (a) I can sew quickly; and (b) make me feel slightly more dressed up than usual. After all, you should put it least as much effort to look good for yourself as you would for other people right?

xoxo

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Underwire Woes

When we last saw my bra muslin, I had it in a good place – or so I thought. I played with the cups to get them to fit a bit better but I had a recurring problem: the underwire was poking me in the area right between the side of my breast and my armpit. Plus it was higher than the actual cup. I tried to ignore it, but I knew in the pit of my stomach that I’d have to find different underwires to make this bra work.

Now to backtrack a bit, I’ve been putting this bra project off for well over a year. But once I got started, I really thought I had everything I needed to turn my fabric and findings into a gloriously beautiful, well fitting bra. So instead of continuing down the wrong road (which I do often: see Miette fiasco), I printed out the underwire guide from my bra-making class to confirm my suspicions. When I checked my underwires against it, they were much too long: size WL-40(!), when I needed a 32 or 34.  In my defense, I bought those underwires on Etsy some time ago and I never questioned if they would fit. Honestly, I never thought much about underwires and I definitely didn’t know that they came in so many different shapes.

Next I read this article on Emerald Erin (her blog is a a must-read for any bra fanatic) and learned so much more about choosing underwires that are not only the right length, but also relate to the actual shape of my breasts.

Regardless, I couldn’t use the yellow tipped ones for my bra. I thought about cutting them and resealing the edge, but it seemed like too much work for too little payoff.  So off to Etsy I went – again –  to order more underwires. Common bra-making wisdom is that you order the size you think you want, one size up and one size down. I was unwilling to buy 3 sets so I bought 32C (WL 32) (which I think will fit) and 32D (WL 34) just in case I’m wrong. But because the bra-making gods seem to have turned against me, the 32C are out of stock (I should be getting them soon though.)

Anyway, here’s a comparison pic of my two underwires. (The one with the yellow tip is the original underwire and the blue tipped wire is the new one).

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I put the new wire on my sheet and it’s a perfect 34 (it’s not exactly on the top of the 34 line because it has a little bit of tension so it holds the cups in shape.)

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So I’m onto the next muslin while I wait for the 32s.

In the meantime, I’ve been working on color/pattern combinations for my future bra projects. I haven’t found the suggested cup fabrics (duoplex/supplex) locally so I bought 40 denier nylon fabric online as an alternative. I’m not crazy about it because it’s shiny – I mean Vegas shiny – so I’m probably going to put a layer of lace (or another less gaudy fabric) on top of it. I might also use it to make some cute high waisted panties. IDK. Everytime I take it out of the bag it hurts my eyes, so it’s difficult to make long term plans with it.

I’m also on the hunt for some nice lace to make a pretty black bra with matching French Knickers from this Vera Venus pattern. My stretch goal is to make this Cut Out & Keep garter belt pattern for those days when I’m feeling saucy.

Overall, I’m still excited about making my first bra and if my next muslin fits with the new underwires, it’ll finally be a reality.

xoxo,

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