About Me

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Wedding dress #1 (and the Linden I made while procrastinating)

Hi all!

I'm glad to report that the pre-clinical-rotations-two-months-of-frontal-lectures-hell is behind me! I past the exam and my body (and mind) are slowly recovering. Sitting in class all day IS NOT FOR ME and I'm glad I'll never have to go through this again in my life.

As I mentioned before, we are getting married in the beginning of February. We've been living together for several very happy years, so getting married and formalizing our relationship was not a surprising step for anyone. Therefor I naively thought that everyone will accept our opinions regarding the ceremony itself, and will let us hold it in a way that suits our lifestyle. I was wrong... Weddings in Israel are big (and expensive), the stadard is an evening wedding with dinner and a dance party (DJ included), in which guests are expected to give money as a present, to cover the costs of the party. Needless to say, this kind of celebration isn't really for me... but as the wedding ceremony is also a gift we give the families, we are doing what we are asked to do, while trying to fit it into our lifestyle as much as possible. 

Having a "standard wedding" is difficult for me as my mother died when I was young, and nothing can make up for the fact my only wish for this happy occasion would be that she could witness it. therefore I tried as much as I could to push aside the traditions, the "should" and the "proper", and make this night about love and happiness in a less formal way. Unfortunately, as I wrote above, not all of my wishes were granted and for the past weeks I was just sad about this entire thing. 

I know it makes very little sense, as I get to spend everyday with the love of my life, and one night in which I put other people's wills above mine will not change it. But I still struggle with letting go of the things that will not be as I wish, despite knowing I'll enjoy this night no matter what.

Anyway, the wedding dress and all that involves my appearance is one place were I can do whatever I want (within reason). The process of designing my outfit started with deciding about several topics:

Do I want to make my own dress, rent it, or buy it?
Well, that was the easiest... I think that making my own dress will not only save money but will allow my to wear (almost) exactly what I have in mind. It will also spare me long hours of looking for an RTW dress, fitting sessions etc. Most importantly, the making of a garment is part of the experience in wearing it. I think I'll feel more "me" in a garment I spent time working on.  

How much money am I willing to invest? Do I want to save money, or try working with high-end material?
I want to feel special and beautiful in my wedding dress (aren't we all...?), and it shouldn't look cheap. At the same time, this is a one-night garment, so I didn't want to invest a lot of money in fabric. I prefer to invest money on fabric for garments I'll wear more (such as high quality denim, that I already asked for my birthday). 

How much time do I want to invest in this project?
Nowadays sewing knits is all I want. The speedy work on the overlocker and the cozy result excite me. I have plenty of projects on my winter sewing list, and since winter-wear is my favorite to sew (and I would also like to sew a cascade coat this year), I don't want to spend all my free time on the wedding dress. Therefore, while I think dresses with lots of bead work and hand-sewn lace are amazing, it is probably not the project for me.  

What is the general style I'm going for? 
There are probably one-million dresses I would enjoy wearing. The waiting gown from Sex and the City would probably be my top choice as an inspiration, while the Vera Wand dress from Brides Wars is another one I always liked. However while I like this aesthetic I probably won't feel comfortable wearing such a big dress to this particular evening, so I started a pinterest board and realized I wanted something with less volume and more coverage. 

At the end (of admittedly a very short search session) I decided to use the two-piece outfit from Rue De Seine as the inspiration (it's at the bottom of the board). 
After a few weeks of procrastination I finely went fabric shopping with a friend. For the top I decided to use the snowball dress by Waffle patterns, the base layer would be made of cotton-sateen in off-white, and the top either from lace we bought or from a lace shirt I already have (depending on the amount of lace needed). The skirt is "just" a full circle skirt cinched at the waist, made out of three layers of white chiffon and one layer of lining in cream sateen. 

I like the texture and pattern on the shirt I have so I hope I can use it for the dress (also, I got the shirt from my father's wife, and it feels special to integrate it into the dress)

Before we went fabric shopping, D jokingly said I can buy as much fabric as I'd like, but he will lock all my non-wedding-related fabric until I finish the dress, as I have no plan B and the wedding is getting closer (I don't really have time working on the dress during the week, and we still have to make all the decorations, since no made-in-China-by-children decorations will be part of our wedding...). Obviously Linden sweatshirts are made faster than the time it takes to persuade me to confront 20 meters of white slippery fabric, so this one was made immediately:

(Worn here with my Go-To Knit Pants. I know I promised a review but I'm still not sure what I think of this pattern). This is my 4th Linden, this one is made from Scuba knit I bought along with the aforementioned ridiculous amount of white fabric, and put immediately into good use. I made straight size 2 based on my measurements, and surprisingly my broad shoulders don't need extra room. Please note: Linden comes with 1/4" seam allowance!

After finishing my Linden I was ready to conquer the piles of white fabric, which meant I had a "white Christmas" after all! The results of this first sewing session will follow shortly. 

Till then, Happy Christmas and may you all have a fabulous end to 2015!



Saturday, November 7, 2015

Alexandria Peg Trousers by Named

Hi All!

Med-school started four weeks ago, and it is not as bad as I anticipated. We had the first test two weeks ago and it went well, despite the fact I spent the last weeks on-and-off sick. I hope things will slowly settle into a routine that will allow me to study, work, sew, run, and spend time with my friends and family. Actually today was the first time I ran this week, as I spent most of it fighting a cold - and I had so much fun!

I'm looking for patterns and ideas for my light workout / lounge wear wardrobe. In the weekend before med-school started, instead of finishing off my responsibilities to work, I made up the Alexandria Peg Trousers by Named. This was my first time sewing with a Named pattern, and judging by the success of this garment - it won't be the last time I buy a pattern from them. I was looking for a trousers pattern for a woven fabric that is casual and comfortable. I like the general aesthetic of the Alexandria, but I didn't know if it could work with my body type - the model in the pictures is stick thin, and I was afraid the pleats won't do me any good. However despite my concerns I couldn't let go of this pattern and eventually bought it and made it up immediately!

I'm SO happy with this make! I have no idea what fabric I used - I just bought something black and thin with good drape. The fabric is soft to the touch, and the trousers are so comfortable! I even wore them for a short hike we took:

I wore them with my hemlock tee, and my UV protection sleeves. Black is very difficult to photograph, I'm sorry for the lack of details, but hey - you get a good idea of the view from the Jerusalem mountains :)

As it's the first time I sew with a Named pattern, I was a bit worried about the fit. Based on my hip measurement (about 90 cm) I was between 34 and 36, but I do have a very full seat so I sized up and after a quick muslin decided I was good to go. I'm happy with the fit of the trousers, they are loose fitting but the length and the tapering of the pant leg make them more appropriate for casual wear.

The instructions are great, and sewing was fun and smooth. The only part I had difficulty with was pressing the seam allowance of the pockets. The pockets are curved, so I had to fight with the iron. Next time I'll make a cardboard template I can use as a guide.

I do need another one of these in my wardrobe, possibly something a bit warmer as the weather here is getting colder. I have a light-grey flannel that may be a good candidate for my next attempt... although I doubt I can beat the success of these trousers - I wear them all the time and I think they are one of my favorite makes of all times!

In addition to having so much fun with this pattern, I'm also very happy I've discovered a "new to me" indie sewing company. I already have some of their patterns on my wishlist, one of them is the Rene Maxi Skirt pattern, to be used for my wedding skirt.

Have you sewn with Named before? I'm looking for information regarding the Wyome jeans pattern, I would like to try it as my next Named advernture...

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Difficult days in Jerusalem

Hi all,

Med-school started again 4 days ago, it is not as bad as I anticipated, but I find it difficult to juggle my research work and med-school responsibilities. I'm sure I'll settle back into a routine in a few weeks, probably things will calm down on the school-front once I'm done with the first exam (10 days from now).

Unfortunately things around here are once again unstable. in the past two weeks we experienced daily terror attacks around the city (mostly stabbing, but there were shootings as well), meaning leaving the house is a bit dangerous, and going to center city is not an option. Public transportation is also less-safe so we need to juggle, be careful, and be at home/university and off the streets as much as possible. 

You can imagine how difficult it is... I'm still going to dance class twice a week, and I'm getting my sewing mojo back (I hope) but it is still very difficult. 

During the writing of this post, there was another terror attack in the central bus station (a few kilometers from our house). The rule is "if you hear one ambulance, it's fine. If you hear three - it's a terror attack.  

I guess I'm a "stress organizer" because the stress from the upcoming academic year along with the general stress we currently experience, pushed me to continue with the KonMary project, this time organizing my stash. While I did the "throwing out" part in April, the current organization system was not working.


Initially keeping my fabric rolled was a good system, but with time it got messy and the scraps and leftovers overshadowed the material I'm more likely to work with on a daily basis. So instead, I chose to use boxes and fold the material the same way I fold my clothes. I still don't have enough cardboard boxes, so I'm only half-way through. I hope I can find enough in the next couple of days, so I can continue with it during the weekend.

To raise my spirits and make me feel as if I was "getting things done" I tried to finish one UFO: the Morris blazer was the first!

 I started it a long time ago (immediately after the pattern was released), but my overlocker had some problems and had to be fixed, so it took me this long to finish it. (Worn over an Archer shirt)

In addition I made a second version of the Morris blazer (which I wore for the first day of school over my beloved Strathcona). As I can't go buy fabric or notions for projects, I'm trying to make things for which I have everything already in the stash. The Morris blazer needs no notions, so it's an easy choice:

Unfortunately I have some issues with the overlocker again. I'll try to fix it myself, but if not I'll have to wait until things calm down here, because the Bernina shop is located in central Jerusalem, and I can't go there right now...

Both blazers are size 2, graded to 4 in the shoulders. I have access fabric around the chest, so I think next time I'll grade the shoulders back to 2, or do a small bust adjustment (I did it on the Scout, on which I had the same problem with the fabric and it helped). Anyway until I find a solution to the overlocker problem, I'll have to stick with wovens.

What should I do next, another Archer perhaps? finally try the Aster pattern from colette? 

I'll keep writing about my makes, and continue with updates on the situation from our tiny spot in the middle east. I do hope that this stinky situation will be over soon.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

On fall/winter wardrobe (that should include a wedding dress) and going back to med-school

Hi all!

It's always so difficult to start a new post after not writing here for so long.
In the past few months I've been mostly working on projects for our home, continuing with my Konmary project and trying to organize our place in a way that will help me feel comfortable and happy during the the next year of med-school. Additionally, I had to finish all experiments for the PHD, and then we took off to Scotland where we traveled for a month. I was, and in many ways still am, exhausted.

I'm studying towards an MD/PHD degree, so in two weeks time I'll be back in med-school after 3 years of research. I don't have the right words to express how it makes me feel. I want to be a doctor-researcher, but my years in pre-med were a total misery. I was alone, and lonely, in a new city. I was cold most of the time, I felt I didn't belong and that I wasn't good enough. I had very little guidance and I was lost. 6 years have past since this first week in pre-med, and I'm in a totally different place in life now. I'm in a stable relationship (that we will formalize this winter!), I have my PHD project that I love, and most importantly I have learned that some of the difficult things I had to cope with in life, were not things I deserved and where not my fault. The thing is - It's very difficult to change our habits, and learn to expect different things from the future despite a certain past. Specifically I find it difficult to imagine having a good time next year, as my memories are based on past experience that was so bad.

It is very difficult to be outside looking in, and as the sewing community is indeed a place in which I feel belong, I would like to participate! However, as this blog is public, and as pictures from here are quite up the "google image" search of my name (found out the bad way), I never know how personal I would like this place to be.

HOWEVER after reading this post from A Stitching odyssey I thought there was no way I'm keeping my radio silence. If they can write so openly about such a life-changing journey, I can be open about my fear from the near future :)

I'm trying to come up with a list of garments I would like to sew and wear in the upcoming months. It will take me a few more hours to finalize the list and understand what patterns / materials I need to gather, and I'll keep you posted!

I'll leave you with a picture of my new, finished Morris blazer! worn over an Archer shirt, with my "proper" black denim (RTW). I bought this pattern immediately upon its release (that never happens...) but due to some overlocker issues I just finished it yesterday!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

On accomplishments and judgment against them

Some days I know who I am, some days I think I have no clue. 
Some days I am confident with my life choices while on other days criticism really hurts me. 

We had a long weekend, and I wanted to deep-clean the apartment. I LOVE our apartment, it's the first place in my adult life I call HOME. I want to spend time (and money) making it prettier and more "us". Rented apartments in Israel are usually kept in a bad condition. Despite the (very) high prices it's not uncommon to have lousy and old facilities. When we moved in two years ago we cleaned the place thoroughly, painted the walls, hung shelves etc, but we didn't do much with the bathroom since it was all too much and we didn't want to start painting both walls and ceiling.

It was fine for two years, but after the winter the bathroom needed a face-lift. So I bought hydrogen peroxide (diluted it to 3%) to get rid of the mold, and gave the washing machine its annual treatment with vinegar and baking soda. As it wasn't enough, I also applied new grout on the bathroom floor.

I felt like a super-hero!

All happy and stinky I went to a family dinner, and proudly shared my afternoon act of magic. The first reaction was "oh, you have too much free time!", followed by another key line  "but it's a rented apartment, why would you go through all the trouble?"

This reaction crushed me. MY HOME is so important to me. Coming back from work to a place I can call HOME is a feeling nothing can replace. having a place that I love, knowing that most of it is my own creation, this is something I care so much for. Being surrounded by items that spark joy is precious. And having it all dismissed by someone implying my time is better spent doing other things is hurtful.

I didn't know what to do, so I went back HOME and went all out: painted the bathroom (walls and ceiling! primer and paint!), scrubbed the ceramic with vinegar to get rid of all the limescale, took the sinks apart to clean the pipes, removed the carpet from the bedroom floor (my landlord approved) and more. The bathroom looks amazing, and three days from now I'll take myself on a date to the flee market to find accessories. Every shower I now take is different and refreshing. And I have myself to thank for it.

But I'm still sad.  I choose to live a different life. I have a "normal" day-job I will not replace for anything in the world, I think what I do is important. But at the same time I feel that sewing my own clothes, using ecological cleaning supplies, recycling and reusing is my way of living a balanced life, feeling that I'm a positive force in the world, that I do more good than bad. I also choose to spend my (hard-earned) money on dance classes, trips, fabric and craft supplies. Should I be ashamed?

When somebody dismisses my choices, saying I'm wasting my time with all this, there still is a little voice in my head thinking that he might be right.

Should I do something else? Be somebody else? Am I a young idealist that still hasn't grown out of it? (I'm 27, will I change?)

and most importantly - am I alone with my point of view on life?

Did anyone ever insulted you, laughed at you for sewing and DIYing?  How should I react if/when it happens again?


Monday, May 18, 2015

Me Made May - a celebration of me-mades (?)

I am one of these people who anticipate May since March. For the past few years May was a month for celebrating all the self made garments and reflecting on the sewing process in the year that passed. May is also the month during which blogs discuss broader aspects of sewing rather than publishing only posts with new finished projects. So this year I anticipated reading and watching pictures capturing the dynamic aspects of clothes and how they work in real-life, outside the "finished garment" posts. I anticipated reading posts about the successes and failures in sewing, and how these experiences affect the "to-sew" lists. 

I was a bit disappointing reading that many of the big bloggers decided to ditch this experience. I know the sewing community develops over time and it is true that many of us wear our me-mades on a daily basis anyway. But circumscribing me-mades to finished-garment posts takes the point out of making and writing about our sewing, and makes sewing similar to RTW where the only job a garment has is to look good and picture-ready.

The lack of documentation in MMM15 reflects a bigger change in sewing blogs over the past two years - the easier patterns are to sew, and the greater frequency with which patterns are released makes sewing more like fast fashion. Maddie posted her take on that exactly one yer ago, during May. This change is also apparent in the photo shoots presenting finished garments - sewing photography becomes as important as sewing itself. Much like in RTW.

The growing sewing community is amazing, and it is because of these changes that we are able to sew most of our clothes. The quality and detailed information that comes with the new patterns helps us all conquer sewing garments we would otherwise skip such as jeans. But these changes could also make us less aware of the actual job our me-mades have in the real world, which is to be comfortable and pretty outside the settings of the photo-shoots and blog posts.

I wish that while the community continues to grow and new patterns are released, we will remember to reflect on the process more often and continue the discussion over garments long after they were first photographed.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Me Made May 2015 - 2nd week

Hi all!

I was better at documenting my outfits this week, and since I like reading round up posts I thought I'll contribute with my own. I think when all results are shown together trends are starting to emerge from the data. If it works for day-job science it could work for hobby-science as well, so here we go:

 I made the above top a week ago, the sleeves are sewn front-to-back but I don't really mind. This is a Scout tee from grainline studio, but I altered the side seams for a more fitted silhouette. I also did a small-bust-adjustment, this pattern is drafted for a B cup and I'm AA so it was necessary. Since I'm as flat as a board I have no trouble putting it on, even in a woven fabric. worn here with my worn-out RTW  jeans and fitflops. From the mess behind me it appears it was either early in the morning or late at night. The past week was busy and passed real fast, especially since I was still tired from the work-trip the week before. 

 Above is my self-drafted striped tshirt, worn last Thursday. It was still cold so I wore an RTW jacket (that I bought 11 years ago in GAP during my first visit to NYC) and black RTW loose fitting jeans (bought 6 years ago in Old Navy, NYC). 

It was my first attempt with a long-sleeved variation of the pattern. The sleeves are a bit wide but I like the fabric so I wear it a lot. 

Friday, another Scout tee in viscose and the same RTW black jeans. All seams are french seams as I always do with wovens, but since the fabric on this one is a bit sheer I also faced all hems with self bias binding (sleeve hems included). I think I'll continue with faced hems on wovens, it's nice that the pattern is very simple but I can play with the details and finishes. 

Saturday, another Scout tee and blue Ultimate Trousers. I wore the pants before hemming to check the fit and at the end of the day lowered the front waistline in about an inch, as I felt as if it was cutting my circulation when I sat. The fabric has NO give and I'm used to more ease in my clothes so it's a change. I can't do a split in those pants... but apparently I can easily climb a ladder as evidenced by our successful mulberries picking day. I'll save the splits for another pair of pants.

I'm still experimenting with the pattern and I have a way to go, but this is a (heavily) modified size 10. I narrowed the side seams to size 8 and then shaved the side curves off. I always thought I was a pear shape but I guess I'm not. I also used a smaller seam allowance at the side seams at the waist, but took a wedge off the center back. I'm happy with the fit of those, but would like to have a more flared leg opening on my next version. Also this pair has an exposed metal zipper instead of the recommended hidden zipper. 

Sunday, at the ugly lab environment. (Work week in Israel is Sunday-Thursday, don't mistake me for a workaholic). 

My self drafted knit top, the same pattern used for the striped tshirt from Thursday, crop variation. One of my favorite garments, worn over an RTW black tank and RTW jeans. This crop top was one of my first makes on the overlocker about a year ago, and I wish I had more of this fabric so I could make a longer version as well. The fabric is so soft and easy to wear on hot summer days, and to my eyes the shibori looks like clouds, making me feel free and energetic. 

5 minutes after arriving home this is what I looked like:

 I didn't forget the lounge wear part of my pledge. I change clothes the minute I get back home, this time I jumped into my red fleece pants. I like them a lot and wear them during the winter all the time, but it's 27 degrees today, I should have an alternative for summer!

From this documentation it's very clear that I have a preference to loose fitting garments irrespective of the temperature. Skinny jeans are around for a few years now, but I only care for loose fitting "boyfriend" type silhouettes. I know there's a rule saying that if you wear wide pants you should wear tight top, but as evidenced by my (crappy) selfies I ignore it. I like to move a lot and I hate anything that restricts my movements so I'll try to focus on looser pants from now on. The Ultimates could be a good path to follow, maybe I can add a back yoke and draft my way towards a proper jeans variation without the negative ease (they are drafted with 1" of ease, which is the minimal amount for me to feel good in my clothes). 

Another conclusion is that I should focus my fabric quests on lounge wear material, to be used with the "go-to knit pants" I already tried. 

This Me-Made-May proves very effective! I hope you are all enjoying this month as well,


Sunday, May 10, 2015

Are you ashamed with your RTW purchases?

Hi all!

I'm 75% done with my KonMary project. I gave away so many things that I'm lacking some essentials at this point. I started organizing and tiding my stuff more than a month ago, but the process is still on-going as I keep giving away items I don't like anymore, never liked (but got as presents), or simply getting rid of things that are too worn/used to hold on to.

As I'm letting go of things, I understand I need to replace some essential garments. For instance my winter coat has seen better days (also I always hated it, got it from my sister and never enjoyed wearing it) and in the past two winters didn't fight the rain as it should. I gave it away, but had to buy a new one. The same goes with "formal shoes" (my previous pair was lost by the airline company) and the list goes on.

The list actually goes on longer than I anticipated. I started writing down all the items I need to replace/ make/ buy, and am slowly working my way through it. However I'm surprised by how ashamed I feel whenever I need/ want to purchase an item of clothing. From the moment I write it down to the moment I actually buy it a year can pass. That's a regular for me, But at this moment some things should not be postponed anymore. Summer is just around the corner and the number of simple tees I have for walking/ lounging can't last even a week.

are you always trying to justify purchases? trying to avoid them? feeling ashamed with your material needs?

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Me-Made-May 2015 - My pledge!

Hi all!

I know may has started two days ago, but I couldn't decide on the right words for this year's pledge. Last year I went with the regular pledge of "one me-made-a-day" but I find I wear my everyday me-mades anyway, and I don't particularly mind wearing all RTW for a day, if it fits me and my schedule. Since I have older RTW that I still like, I don't see much point in retiring them for a month just for the sake of wearing solely me-made fashion.

Thinking about my wardrobe for the past few weeks proved that the areas in which I'm lacking enough options (at least options that are legit to step out of the house in) are lounge wear and "walking wear". I tend to go on long walks to clear my mind, and I don't like wearing running clothes while I walk. I still haven't found the best "walking outfit" but given I threw out most of my old ratty tshirts during my KonMary journey, I do need to invest more energy and sewing time in finding the best option. Currently I thing the go-to knit pants show some promise, but luckily I have May to help me empirically test them!

So my official pledge:

 'I, Roni Arbel of Wardrobe Histology, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '15. I endeavour to wear a me-made lounge garment at least twice a week for the duration of may. Additionally I will wear at least 1 me-made garment 5 days a week for the duration of May 2015.   

As may has already started, I'm leaving you with a dirty-mirror selfie of my newest Strathcona, which I love despite the obvious plaid-fail, worn over a Scout tee (I tried to match the plaid over the shoulder seams and forgot about everything else. Also the back of it is in a completely different fabric because I ran out of plaid. I should call it "The Stratchona of All Mistakes").

Can you tell I like it? Also, I'm flying tonight to a conference, once I'm back I'll share my (me-made) traveling wardrobe. I hope I made the right choices!


Thursday, April 30, 2015

A sense of Self

There are other things I want to write about. My me-made-May pledge is one of them, as May is only two days away and I'm not yet sure how to finalize my pledge. I have some finished garments to show, and patterns I would like to discuss, and a few meters of fabric that I purchased and can't wait till I'm able to wear, and a Morris blazer in process. And I'm also going to a conference and would like to share my me-made wardrobe decisions and...

Despite all the sewing-related thoughts I have throughout the day, I haven't stitched a seam in a few days. Life has the tendency to explode on me from time to time, and when it happens it's chaotic and tiring and results in me feeling a great loss, as if I have lost some sense of self.

Graduate school has its ups and downs. Few months ago I was stuck in an endless tunnel of experiments that just don't work. Also during the war the MRI system I work with was down (due to safety reasons) and I lost precious time. I had no energy and no motivation and felt like the entire world was against me (the entire world, with the exception of my partner, best friends, and pHD supervisor - this is actually a large group!). Lately things are looking different. I'm not sure yet whether my results are enough, but I'm feeling a change of pace and also the ability to look back and have different perspective on things.

However when things are chaotic and I don't sew as much as I would have liked I always worry that it always will by like that. That the pace will not slow down, that I will not regain my sewing energy, and that the fabric I love will never be made into a complete garment (rather than the pile of UFOs I currently have).

That fear is taking up more time than the time it takes to finally sew the binding into that last Strathcona or stitch the waistband to my newest Moss skirt, but it still holds me back. Mostly I'm afraid that my sense of self is depended on so many different things, and given that a perfect life balance is not realistic I always have to leave part of me neglected, that part of "me" that belongs to the activity I have no energy for.

Thins change all the time, life is dynamic. Achievements are counted in years and decades, not in the couple of hours it takes to sew a t-thirt. I know all that, and yet when I can't have it all I find myself searching for that sense of self that was left neglected on that lost piece of puzzle.

Is sewing part of your definition of "self"? How do you feel if you don't get to sew for longer than you would have liked? and what will you make once you finally are able to turn the machine back on?

Friday, April 24, 2015

Strathcona by Thread Theory - endless possibilities

Hi all!

I know Matt and Morgan from Thread Theory have a discount on their Strathcona pattern and since I've made this pattern many times I thought I'd share my versions. While this pattern is designed for men, my first make resulted in one of my favorite loose-fitting shirts ever and many versions followed. Some are still in progress, waiting for mojo (=I can't bring myself to cut the welts, as you'll see below) or for a change of thread color on the overlocker. While I've never blogged about these makes, I did try to take some pictures. Some pictures are rather old, and some are selfies in front or our mirror (dirty-mirror selfies used to be legit blog pics a few years ago!), but it will have to do.

Following my first try, I used the only knit fabric in my stash at the time to make this version: 

The fabric was bought to make D a Strathcona but I really wanted to make another version for myself and the only garment he ever asked me to make him is a button down shirt (I'm waiting for a pattern so D is still waiting for a shirt), so I went for it. This version is still un-hemmed but I wear it all the time. I added sleeve bands and narrowed the sleeves, and I like the puffy look of it. I started with size M but changed the shoulders and narrowed both the back and the front, so I have no idea what size it is now. D is wearing his jeans version of the Jedediah pattern, btw.

I also played with the back neckline, tried to lower it considerably but the end result is more of a low boat neck rather than the design I was going for: 

Even though I wanted a lower back neckline I still like the end result because it's low enough to be irregular but high enough so the bra doesn't show. The pictures were taken during a hike we took, so they demonstrate how well this tshirt fits in my wardrobe. 

Following this successful experiment I went on and made another one: 

I tried to avoid unfortunate pattern placement, but got into some trouble when I realized the pattern was completely off grain. It took me a while to identify the problem, it appears that the vertical and horizontal lines don't meet in exactly right angle. As a result I couldn't win this game and ended up with a weird pattern going diagonally. I got used to it after a while, and people don't seem to notice it anyway. Both tshirts are in constant rotation and have the perfect silhouette for dance lessons (I dance flamenco).

At this point the weather started to change and the days became colder (yep... It was 6 months ago). Considering I had only a few winter clothes (have no idea how this happened) I had become an overlocker monster and started sewing knits as if my life depended on it. I went to the textile district with the sole goal of purchasing enough knit fabric to create a  variety of winter clothes so I can lengthen my laundry cycle (my life-goal is 2 weeks, currently at 10 days so I'm getting there!). I wanted to play with the Strathcona and see how it would look in different types of fabric, and also expend the variety of materials with which I work. For the next make I tried a sweater knit in purple, and the result is still one of my favorite garments and is in constant rotation:

Worn here with my moss skirt, a garment I finished ages ago but never written about, and secret pajamas in the form of fleece leggings. Other accessories are a grumpy face and tired eyes, it was cold, early in the morning, and a work-day, so... I'm not giant, btw, our fridge is rather small. I love sleeves in unusual lengths so for this version I used the original sleeve length of the Strathcona, which is super long for my frame. I added cuffs and I like the extra material bunching around my wrists. The cuffs also help in preventing wind from freezing me on my way to work so it's a win!

After yet another successful version I wanted to push it, test if I could hack the pattern and create raglan sleeves. 

The first result of this experiment is this grey sweatshirt (if you look close enough you'll notice I'm wearing it over the purple version, and a red version which was a fail):

When I first tried it on, I felt I was wearing an armor rather than the cuddly grey sweatshirt I was going for and I didn't know if I'll keep it or give it away. After 3 months of constant wear the fabric had softened considerably, and I finally hemmed it. The fabric is a bit strange: it has almost no stretch (except for the mechanical stretch of the knit), and it unravels a bit which is very unusual for a knit fabric. 

To test the raglan again I tried another version with sweater knit:


I used matching ribbing (all the starts aligned and I found matching ribbing!) and matched the pattern across the raglan seams. I wear it and I like it, but not as much as the purple version. in hindsight set-in sleeves could have been a better choice for this fabric. Also I'm freezing in this picture, it was taken during a snow day while I was sewing brocade ultimate trousers and wanted a picture to help me judge the fit. It's a story for another post though.

After experimenting with the raglan variation my verdict is - next time I'll use the Linden pattern. Jen is an alchemist when it comes to everyday clothes and I want to try her raglan pattern!

I did however tried another hack of the Strathcona. Using my raglan variation I wanted to make a bomber jacket. I had a blue version of the grey fabric in my first raglan try and floral neoprene in my stash, both perfect for this experiment. I hacked the raglan some more, and while both version are still in progress I think I'll like the end result:

both versions are worn here with go-to knit pants, a pattern I'll review soon. In order to achieve better fit across the shoulders I added a shoulder dart, and narrowed the front some more. At this point there's barely any resemblance between the current pattern and the original Strathcona, I guess you can call it pattern evolution. 

I'm stuck here, because I can't decide on the welt pockets placement. Additionally I want to draft the pocket bags in such a way they'll be caught in both the zipper seam and the bottom band seam. I still need to draft the facings and decide what to do with the lining. Both versions are stretchy, and I don't want the lining to compromise mobility. I think I'll do a partial lining - only line the body of the jacket and leave the sleeves un-lined. I'll add a pleat at the back to increase mobility. I'm in no rush, though, and don't mind having a few UFO's sitting around waiting for my mojo. I rather take my time than end up with a garment I'm not happy with.

The weather is colder than expected, but my sewing list includes a couple more versions of Strathcona with short sleeves and cuffs once I find fabric I like. I love everything about this pattern and am looking forward to future variations.

Please tell me I'm not alone here with my womenized Strathconas!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Fabric bowls for protecting your favorite pans

Hi all!

I went all out with spring cleaning this year. As in Marie Kondo spring cleaning. It was this huge snow ball, starting with the regular spring routine of going through my fabric scraps, cleaning the closets, unpacking summer clothes etc. And then I ran into her book during an Instagram break and all hell broke loose. Suddenly it hit me - I CAN get rid of all the STUFF I don't like. I don't have to keep it. 

So I started raiding the closets, giving away most of the stuff I don't like just because I don't like it. It took me a few hours to realize most of the items I dislike were never chosen by me. Being the youngest child I always get hand-me-downs: bedding, kitchen stuff, clothes (!), and I have this voice telling me that if I already have something, it must be good enough, why should I replace it?

I agree with this voice most days, but this year I decided some things must be replaced. Starting small, I gave away the two frying pans we have, and replaced them with a good ceramic pan I wanted for the past 5 years.

Our storage solution for pots and pans is something like this:

We use(d) kitchen towels to protect the pans from scratches while they are crammed and stacked in our cupboards. I hate this solution, both because it's messy, and because I really like this owls towel and would like it to be used as a towel, not as a pan protector. So when we got this nice new ceramic pan I thought I could sew a fabric bowl to protect it, instead of this mess.

A short(ish) pinterest search led me to this tutorial from Imagine Fabric, showing how to quickly sew a fabric bowl. I created a "quilt sandwich" with two layers of fabric and cotton batting between them. I used the widest and shortest zigzag stitch for attaching the "petals".

My first go was for our wok, following the instructions as is:

While it undoubtedly looks better than the towel, it felt a bit sloppy and not sturdy enough. So for the next two bowls I free-motion quilted the layers before creating the 3D shape. I additionally bound the edges instead of using a zigzag stitch. I fought the desire to hand-stitch the binding, as with traditional quilting, convincing myself nobody will ever notice the visible stitches. 

The bowels are sturdier and hold their shape well without being too stiff, so it's a win! 

fabric: a present from a friend's mother
batting: 75 ILS for a meter, used about a 1/4m so, around 20 ILS (~5.08$)
thread: 1 spool, 3.8 ILS (~1$)
*I used an entire spool for the 3 bowels - quilting and tight zigzag stitching uses up a lot of thread.
~24 ILS = ~6USD

 Happy spring cleaning everyone!

btw - I know a lot of garment sewers don't do home-dec. I always hesitate before writing about home stuff as I do see myself as primarily a garment-sewer. However I do make everything for the home as well, and I find such projects refreshing and interesting when combined with more traditional garment sewing. I am planning a review on the go-to knit pants view B, a pattern I couldn't find a lot about, so stay tuned! (it will not take me 4 months, promise).