Monday, February 8, 2016

Wardrobe, another DIY


Want to see what I've been making? Lo, it is a nice day, with some light in it. (If this is winter, I like it very much). My trusty assistant and I filled a basket with accessories and went out into the sunny garden for a few photos.

I've talked before about my struggles with following a pattern--even a good one--and getting a nice fit. I don't think I'm shaped all that weirdly, but must be I am, or else I am too picky, or something. Anyway, because I don't really know (yet) how to modify a sewing pattern to make it fit my particular self, I have over the years sort of accidentally made a couple nice things and also a whole big bunch of sad failures.

Also, I don't like to install zippers, or make buttonholes, or wear things that have elastic in them. I don't like facings. I don't like to use any kind of interfacing. I will set in some sleeves, but only if I have to. I like plain and easy, but it's got to fit, and it's got to be comfortable. That seemed like too much to ask, and I gave up on sewing clothes a couple times. I thought I just couldn't get what I wanted, but I found out I can. I love it when I get my way.

I made a dress from a (really lovely) pattern, and it was a fail. I made another dress, from another (really lovely) pattern, and it was also a fail. So I put them in the donate bag, got out my big paper and drew the dress I really wanted; loose and easy, but with some shaping. No zippers, nor buttons, nor elastic. I used a couple dresses from my closet as a guide, to make sure I was even close to getting the right size, and I used a french curve to help me figure out the neckline. (French curve? Oh my goodness, so nifty! How does it really work? I don't know! I just use it by placing it over the sketchy curved line I have drawn and scootching it around until I find a curve that looks right...ack! I know there's more to it than this, but life is for learning.)

Feeling bold, I did not make a muslin. (I also did not make a muslin, because, truth be told, I don't know what to do with a muslin. I don't know how to take what I have learned from making a muslin and apply it.) So I got out the pretty fabric and just cut it out. And just sewed it. And put it on. And friends, I smiled. I danced! I drove Doc crazy by making him repeatedly agree that it was amazing. I have worn this many times, and it is such a thrill. I loved everything about it, especially the plain and perfect sleeve, but a variation occured to me, and I was fired up, so I got out some more fabric and tinkered a little. Quick change...

Brr! A real model gets to put on a parka between shots.

This is the same dress, but with a little more room in the hips and a little pleated cap sleeve. When I put this on, I smiled, danced, laughed with glee. Look what I can do! I can make my own clothes, and they are good!

Whoops, it's slightly windy--watch those petticoats...

Did I stop there? Well, no. I started thinking about yokes, and about a nightgown pattern I made up a couple years ago. A few adjustments to the neckline, and done.

[Headmistress at an English boarding school. She's strict, but sweet, too. Teaches the older kids to drive in her vintage Citroen...]

This fabric is a wool plaid that I thrifted. (I know! Score!) Coming soon: the square yoke version. Honestly, ideas are coming practically on top of each other.

I started thinking tunics:

It's soft, comfy, versatile. Next time, the neckline will be lowered, and sleeves will be long. I wonder, if I cut it on the bias, will it drape more? Will that stretch out the neck opening too much? There's just one way to find out. Do it and see!

As I've said before, I come from a very crafty tribe. We all figure if there is a need for something, might be there is a way to make it ourselves. My clan of aunties are artists, every single one, and one auntie is a top-notch sewer of clothes and furnishings--she can make lined drapes and formal gowns and for-sure clothes with buttonholes and facings and the whole shebang (*waves to Auntie B*) and in the early 80s, maybe I was about twelve or thirteen, my lovely mama decided to teach me to sew for real. We went to the fabric store and picked out an easy dress pattern--it had six rectangular body panels, waist ties, facings, and a zipper--and a tiny, eighties-style calico print cotton fabric. It was simple and fun; we worked together on it, and I couldn't wait to get home from school, so we could get back to it. She made me do everything myself, and the sense of pride when it was done was huge. I wore that soft, plain dress into tatters. I was still wearing it in college, when my hair was wild, with big earrings and long underwear leggings and engineer boots, and a bookbag I made out of worn-out jeans. As a DIY girl, I'm so grateful to have those sewing skills, even as I disregard most of them. Thank you, Mom.