I had a ton of ideas for what to write up for Sewing By Ti’s May theme of Ch-ch-ch-changes. Initially, I was going to muslin up the Chi-town Chinos since I need a few pairs for my backpacking trip next month and I kept saying ch-ch-chinos, but they were so well written up by MahlicaDesigns that I didn’t want to cover the same ground. I was also thinking about highlighting the rest of my hiking capsule, but I frankly ran out of time for that, and I’m going to be sewing like a madwoman for the next few weeks to be ready. (More about that project later!) Finally I settled on what is a major change for me regarding my sewing – I am working towards more intentional, mindful sewing. Focusing less on sheer volume and occasional shock value, and more on what I need and improving my craftsmanship.
What does that look like for me?
- Purging – finished garments, fabric, and patterns. I have a fairly constant purge cycle, but I have been paying attention when I gloss over a particular piece of fabric again and again. I now have 3 trash bags full of fabric to sell and donate, and will be evaluating my patterns in the same light. I have purchased a ton of (approximately 800 OMG) PDF patterns in the ~3 years since I got involved in the online sewing community. I’m hyperventilating as I read that and make my tallies. Kids clothes, adult clothes, lingerie, bags, crafts, English, German, Dutch, French… I have an acquisitional nature and I’m working on correcting that.
- Being tidy – I sew SO much, and bring in so much fabric (I typically have 50-100 yards on preorder at any given time) that I need to be more organized. Electronically I’m in pretty good shape: I keep all my fabric orders on a spreadsheet; I have well-organized and filterable lists of my patterns; I just started another spreadsheet to help me keep track of my obligations (custom bag orders, strike-offs, pattern tests, and blog posts). My bag-making spreadsheet is a work of Excel beauty. But physically, I need more focus. I have patterns scattered in a few different rooms and often the pieces aren’t well labeled. I have fabric piled everywhere as it moves from pre-wash to storage to mid-project and back to storage. I do a pretty good cleaning every few months, and I will never get back to a place where I work on a single project at a time, but I do need to be better about managing my physical space.
- Being attentive – as I purge, areas of necessity are showing through. I need more pants that I want to wear to work and keep on all day. I need comfortable clothes that can see me through the hot SoCal summer while protecting me from the sun, and keeping me mostly modest while chasing my 3-yr old. I need swimwear that I love. I need hiking gear that is seasonally functional.
This post is mostly focusing on #3 (but if I’m smart I’ll commit to documenting 1 & 2 so they really, really get done). For this summer I wanted to work through my stash of woven fabric and make tops that are stylish and practical. Thankfully two of my favorite pattern designers posted tester calls for just such tops in the last few weeks! They were exactly what I was looking for to fill in my wardrobe, and I was prompted to dust off a few tools and techniques in the process.
Wardrobe By Me Summer Breeze Tunic: (Affiliate link)
A fun trapeze-style tunic with a not-too-crazy hi-low ruffled hem. The gathering is reasonable (72″ of gather around a 40″ hip on an already loose-fitting garment). I really love the relaxed spirit of this. I made mine up in this fun heart-print chiffon that I picked up downtown for something like $2/yard. I added 1/4″ to the side and shoulder seam allowances so I could do french seams since this frays quite a bit. This is the pattern that prompted me to pull out my rolled hem foot, and I kid you not, it was life-changing. If someone had been taping me in my workshop as I tried it, failed, watched youtube, tried again and it worked, you would have just seen me with my mouth hanging open, astonished that hemming fussy wovens could be so stinking easy. I am never, ever pressing a narrow woven hem again. Nope. This thing is magical. And I’m motivated to run through all of my weird little presser feet to see what other magic I can accomplish.
The shape of this top isn’t necessarily one that I would naturally gravitate to, but it is really on-trend and super fun paired with a slim-fitting bottom half like the Haute Skinnies. It’s also such a great base pattern that it lends itself well to tons of modifications. I’m definitely planning on sizing down, removing some length and making another in knit.
Make sure you join the Wardrobe By Me facebook group because there are some really awesome things in the pipeline that you won’t want to miss!
Love Notions Rhapsody (Affiliate link)
This pattern got a ton of buzz during the testing process, and for good reason. In a lot of ways, it’s a Holy Grail for a home sewist – a quick, technically easy (no darts, no closures), well-fitting pattern that works equally well with wovens and knits (size down). The incorporation of the yoke, shoulder gathers, and split-V neckline elevate it to a pattern that will be a timeless staple. I made 2 during testing- the first in a black lightweight cotton/ rayon blend with border embroidery. The second was a very lightweight stretch poly twill from Urban Rag Trader that I had left over from a different pattern test last summer. I used a scrap of vegan leather for the yoke. For this pattern I broke out my bias tape makers and had real fun working through the continuous bias tape making method and getting a nice clean finish around the neckline. My next iteration will be a slightly slimmed down sleeveless in a stretch satin that I should be able to pair perfectly with pencil skirts for work.
Wardrobe By Me Summer Tulip Top (Affiliate link)
I saved my favorite for last – I loved this pattern the minute that Christina previewed it! It is SO different from any patterns that I have, and much easier to make and wear than it looks. The high collar and gathered neckline is really unexpected for a summer sew – I have a vision of my next one in soft white lace layered over a strappy cami or longline bralette. The finishing on this is very simple, the collar is surprisingly easy (with a sew-in snap closure!) and the drafting is top-notch as always. The fabric I used is a gorgeously drapey stretch satin in a light slate blue. It’s going to slide perfectly in to my work wardrobe (and I think I have enough of this fabric to make my next Rhapsody!); in a more casual fabric it will look great paired with cutoff shorts.
Make sure you check out all the other stops on this month’s tour!