About Me

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Blank Canvas Syndrome

                There was a time in the not so distant past, during my first years of med-school, when I always worried about money. It's true that with today's fast fashion one doesn't need to spend a lot of money to dress reasonably well,  but my passion was never for clothes but rather for sewing my own and enjoying the process. Since I was so worried about not spending much I felt like I couldn’t justify any purchase, fabric included, and not having "enough" material to create from made me miserable. A couple of years later and my financial situation is stable enough to afford spending money on my hobby; I decide on a specific amount I can spend on fabric every month based on other expenses I have and my priorities. Having a budget means I can purchase fabric without guilt as I know I only buy what I can afford and I know each piece of material will end up as a garment I can wear, or as something I tried and learned from. 
                Undoubtedly I spend more on fabric than I spent on clothes prior to my sewing days. However, having "enough" material to work with means I have the freedom to create whatever I want. Usually I alternate between difficult and easy projects but of course also choose a project based on my mood, needs, and the free time I have on my hands.
                "Enough" is a tough word to define, though. Currently I have about 20 pieces of fabric in my stash to make garments from, but I also have two drawers full of scraps to use for pockets, binding or craft projects. 

Two recent additions to my stash. The bottom one will hopefully end up as an Alder dress while the top one (which I purchased because my boyfriend really liked it...) will be an Alder tank hack.
Having 20 pieces of fabric in my stash means that fabric is not the "rate limiting step" in the process of sewing and designing my wardrobe. So what's stopping me from sewing through this fabric and creating the wardrobe of my dreams?

My art teacher in high-school called it the "Blank Canvas Syndrome", when student will stare at a blank canvas in-front of them fearing from ruining the canvas by potentially not creating a "worthy" painting. Sometimes I feel the same thing trying to bring myself to cut into the fabric. I'm afraid I'll end up with something I won't wear and therefore my efforts will only waste good fabric. Hesitation is another stumbling block. In my mind's eye each piece of fabric can be multiple garments, while in reality once I decide on a pattern and cut the fabric, I can't be anything else. How do I know which pattern is the "best" for each fabric? The black and gold polka-dot fabric that ended up as my victory slacks was purchased to become a dress. Only later I realized the weight and stretch are perfect for slacks for fall, rather than a dress I won't wear that much.

Stretch cotton for pants. I never wear colorful pants, but I want to try and see how it works.
I don't want to let my fears prevent me from experimenting with new silhouettes and patterns. I know that trying something and failing it is better than having a closet full of fabric (rather than clothes). I also know that by sewing the same thing over and over I will never improve my skills and have interesting wardrobe, but I find it difficult to just let go and have fun with the fabric.

What about you? Are you reluctant to cut into good fabric because you don't want to "ruin" it? Do you feel it prevents you from trying new things?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Victory in the form of polka-dot pants

Hi all!

It's difficult to see the polka-dots. My (self-drafted self-made) tshirt is completely see-through, though. Luckily I'm wearing my good sports bra.

Pants were on the top of my "to make" list for a few years, but it wasn't until a year ago that I made my first pair. They weren't for me, though. I started with the Jedediah pattern for my boyfriend so I could get use to the fly thingy before dipping my toe in the fitting pool for a women's pair.

I've since made 5 pairs for him and 4 pairs of jeans for me, but never tried to make women's slacks as I couldn't find a proper PDF pattern. My luck changed (for better or worse?) two months ago, when an airline company lost my luggage on the way to Sicily where I was flying for a work-trip.

When it happened my closet was 95% me mades; three days later and I was head-to-toe H&M. There was very little I could do about it, as I had to buy clothes to wear during my stay, so I decided to concentrate on buying garments that had different silhouettes from those I usually make and wear. 

I ended up buying a pair of patterned slacks from H&M, and decided to draft a pattern based on them.

When you ask your boyfriend to take pictures of your behind, you end up with weird things on your camera roll.

For a first-try with the pattern I think these are rather good. There's something about wearing a pair of slacks with single-welt pockets and polka-dots that makes me really happy and comfortable in my own skin, even though the fit needs some improving.

for the next pair I'll make the following changes:

1. Take a wedge out of the front crotch (1 cm in the center, tapered to nothing at the side seams).

2. Lower the front pockets 1 cm.

3. Optional: use Madalynne's tutorial and create tummy tuck pockets.

4. Replace the current waistband with a shaped one. I'm not sure how much of a difference it will make since the rise of the pants is high, but if I make my own pants, I want a shaped waistband!

5. Take better pictures. Everyone is talking about blog pictures this month... I should learn from the experts! Although it's not like I'M the one taking the photos.

6. Use regular zipper instead of jean zipper. I guess it goes without saying for most of you, but I used the only type of zipper I had in my stash, and it doesn't work. The fabric is too lightweight to support the weight of the zipper even though I interfaced what needed to be interfaced.

What will you wear with slacks?

I'm trying to explore more silhouettes, inspired by the Wardrobe Architect series. Lately I wore mostly loose tshirts (knit or woven) and skinny jeans. It's very practical for my day-job but with fall wardrobe on my mind I would like to explore other combinations. Slacks are different from jeans in the way they create a bottom-heavier look, so I'm looking for tops that will balance the proportions. Maybe something more form fitting but with emphasis on the shoulders?

And with fall fashion of my mind, I think the summer dresses I planned will have to wait for the next season. I won't get much wear out of them now and honestly I prefer fall/winter sewing anyway.

So, what's on your fall sewing list? What bottoms do you wear during the fall? What do you think about slacks?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Strathcona T-shirt for me!

How do you choose fabric when sewing for someone else? 

I usually ask the recipients to come with me when I go to the textile district so they can choose for themselves, but I leaned that for someone who doesn't sew it's difficult to imagine the fabric as a garment (Not to mention it's just not fun, for someone who doesn't sew fabric shopping is really boring).
But what should I do? I just hate choosing stuff for other people, who am I to decide what they should end up wearing? I have my taste, other people have theirs... I guess this is why I try to avoid sewing for others unless they are part of the process.

Anyway, a few weeks ago I went to the textile district all by myself and ended up picking this knit fabric I thought would make a nice Strathcona. I printed the pattern, cut the fabric, and made it up as quickly as possible. The only change I made to the original pattern was the neckline, I thought a V neckline would be less tight around the neck than the original round neckline. (The V neckline could have been nice, had I made it properly... Unfortunately I rushed this process from some reason, I just wanted to MAKE IT RIGHT NOW, so the V is horrible but I don't care too much). 

The second obvious deviation from the plan is the fact I ended up keeping the Tshirt for myself rather than giving it to my boyfriend as planned. I tried it on before hemming, as I always do with anything I make, and I fell in love. We both decided it was more "me" than "him", so I hemmed it for myself (took about 15 cm from the length but kept the sleeves as-is). I love the length of these sleeves! So weird, so perfect!

I wear it here with my self-made self-drafted black jeans but I think it can go nicely with a mini skirt as well (I plan on making a moss skirt from the same fabric as the jeans, but I'm drowning in UFO's so it'll have to wait).

mmm... I guess I should explain the Pink Crocks situation. I'm training for a marathon and my foot hurts a little. I know it looks awful, but I'm comfortable and pain free and that's all that matters. 

I have another Strathcona planned (for my boyfriend), but as it requires re-printing the pattern and cutting a different size, he'll have to wait :)

Has any of you tried the Strathcona? I would like to add a pocket to my next version and maybe a sleeve detail. So many options! If I can just get the fit right (on him)...

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Designing knit summer dresses

Hello all!
I'm slowly working through the kinks of this blog, setting up the design and understanding how to control the visual features. I'm not much of a coder, and have zero experience with HTML so getting to know my way around this place was a bit of a struggle. But I'm getting there!

I'm also figuring out my preferred way for presenting pictures on the blog. I rather dislike the idea of editing my pictures using photoshop. I do use photoshop and illustrator at my work, but there's a thin line between editing pictures to create a clearer image of what I was trying to show, and editing them to the point of creating an alternative reality. I wish I could live in a world where everything is crisp, clear and sharp, but I'm not. I hope to find the middle way and learn in the process.

Now let's talk about summer dresses:

I have this nice thick stable knit fabric I bought recently, I have enough of it to make a summer dress, and I also have the same fabric in black. I want to use the fabric to make summer dresses, and after much thought I think I'll go with the following design:

I never tried a racer-back for a dress but I think it can work well with this fabric. I want to self-line the bodice, so the added structure will balance the casualty of the design.

I'm still not sure what to do with the skirt. for the black dress I want to do a simple 1/2 circle skirt, but for the striped fabric I thought of playing with the design a bit. Initially I thought about adding gathers at the waist, but since the fabric is thick it may be too bulky for me. On the other hand a half circle skirt with stripes may end up "drooping" at the sides seams; Should I try a chevron pattern instead? 

For the bodice I'l use a racer-back sports bra pattern I drafted in the past. I'm aiming for a self-lined bodice with no exposed seams, for that I'll follow collette's tutorial, but I have one more requirement – I want the seam between the shell and the lining to roll inwards, thus I need my lining pieces to be a bit smaller than the shell (to account for the turn of cloth).
While I can cut the lining pieces smaller in the side seams, cutting them 1/8" smaller all around is a bit tricky so I'll try to manipulate the seams as I surge: instead of aligning the shell and the lining, I can pull the lining a bit so it'll end up smaller. I tried this on a recent sports bra and it worked, but I need more practice. 

The lining piece is the bottom piece. instead of aligning the shell and the lining,
I pulled the lining a bit to create an overall smaller piece. 

Let's break the process into stages:

1. Extent the sports bra pattern to create the bodice. adjust the fit (most likely a swayback adjustment and maybe add 1cm in circumference). 
2. Cut the fabric from the previous step to create another sports bra, in order to practice self-lining again.
3. Prepare the bodice for the black dress.
4. Create a half-circle skirt; do an "FBA" (full butt adjustment) on the back piece. 
5. Stitch the skirt so that the seam is sealed between the two layers of the bodice (in theory I know how to do it, but I've never tried it).
6. Repeat for the striped fabric, with modifications (the chevron on the skirt if I choose to go with this design).
 I'm still not sure what to do with the hem. hand stitching is a bit of an overkill for something that casual. Maybe I'll finally try my machine's blind-stitch foot?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

What's in a name?

Histology is the study of human (or animal) tissues under the microscope. Tissues are stained in different colors to emphasis certain cells or structural components of the tissue; when examined under the microscope all the tiny details together help explain how the microscopic structure of the tissue enables the functionality of the organ. 
There’re a lot of similarities between histology, also a “hobby” of mine (or a practice I enjoy as part of my MD studies) and sewing. Histological slides are 2D representations of a 3D shape (the entire organ), Just as parts of a pattern are the 2D building blocks of the 3D garment. by examining histological slides pathologists and forensic doctors can describe what’s going on with the entire organ, just as when we look at pattern pieces we can tell how the complete garment will look like. 
The structure-function relationship is also similar. the microscopic structure of the tissue can help understand the mechanism behind the organ’s function. In sewing, the angles and curves of pattern pieces help explain the functionality of the garment: curves around the legs, armholes and neck allow mobility and help shape the garment to fit around the curves of the human body.
I’ve been sewing for about 7 years, and sewing blogs have played a major role in my sewing education as I’ve never taken any classes or had help from a real-life seamstress. While I’ve been playing with the idea of opening my own blog for about 3 years (!) I was’t sure what exactly it was that I wanted to write about. However, recently, my fascination with patterns and the way they interact with the shape of the body has led me to finally take this step and open my “Wardrobe Histology” corner of the internet.
A place where I could discuss the patterns I use, the clothes I make, and how the clothes interact to create a wardrobe that functions (or doesn’t?) in real-life. 

Hello World

Writing the first post feels like going on a first date. You kind of hope things will go well, and you may have all these question marks, pondering about what the future holds.
How do I introduce myself? What should I choose as the first garment? Do I have something in my teeth?
Should I just smile shyly and let the sewing do the talking?

I’m currently working on a new quilt for our bedroom, equilateral triangles with a nice border and impossible math. 
I’m almost done with the quilt top, but decided to use the scraps for the back which means I have to do the math all over again.
I can’t wait to get to the free-motion quilting part! Just a few more hours of work.