August 26, 2011

The Current State of My Wardrobe

So I’m still working on the Yard Sale Wrap skirt, but it’s slow going trying to squeeze it out of not really enough fabric.  With this bit of dead time, I thought I’d share the current sorry state of my wardrobe.  To date, most of my sewing has been costumes for GenCon or other gaming events, with the exception of a few easy skirts.  On a day to day basis I wear the same sorry set of worn out T-shirts and giant hoodies.  I would like to look nicer, but finding anything in RTW that looks even remotely good is such a chore that I inevitably give up.  I am slowly weeding out some of the worst offenders, and I actually still have a lot of clothes, but very few make me feel good wearing them.  While looking nice is by no means a requirement for my job (my advisor couldn’t care less what I’m wearing as long as I get results), I find that I have a much better attitude towards life when I know I look decent.  Additionally, I’m still teaching, and I feel like I get a little more respect when I’m dressed nicely.

So here are my requirements for my ideal wardrobe right now:

1.        Has to be basically all separates.  While I could wear dresses, I have to wear shoes that completely cover my foot while in lab, which limits me to dresses that look good with tights and boots.  More casual skirts that work with tennis shoes are doable

2.       Heavy on the long sleeves.   This is Wisconsin.  It’s cold most of the year, and even in the summer I am usually in a sweatshirt because the air conditioning makes it cold inside.

3.       Modest.  I have a hard enough time being one of only two girls in my lab; I don’t need anyone ogling anything while I’m at work.

4.       Not shapeless.  This is usually my go-to solution for accomplishing #3, and we all know if you wear a giant t-shirt, you look like you fill said giant t-shirt.  Not flattering.

5.       Age appropriate.  I haven’t been able to fit into anything junior basically ever because of my long torso, so I’m less worried about the juvenile look than going too dowdy.

6.       Stylish (for my body type).  Here I’m less worried about being on trend than things that will always look good my shape.  This may take some trial and error.  

I think that sets the bar pretty high, and it will take a long ways to get there, but it’s nice to be able to visualize going to my closet and knowing everything in it will fit me and look good.  Of course, by that time I’ll have probably (hopefully) gotten a job and have a whole different set of requirements, but that’ll just mean I never run out of things to sew!  Hope everyone has a great weekend!

August 24, 2011

Simplicity 2181: Not Quite What I Expected

Alright, so I finished my sleeveless top, just in time to not really get much use out of it.  Unfortunately, through no fault of the pattern, I have a few problems with it.

Pardon the late night hair and pajama shorts...
1. The twist falls in an unfortunate place right under my bust.  In my original “vision”, the twist was further down, more by the hip.  Looking at the pattern envelope, I think this was just a disconnect in my head; it looks about halfway up, but I just didn’t realize how weird it would look with my chest there.  The big bust strikes again.

2.  Speaking of bust, I REALLY need to learn a real FBA, as opposed to using cheater methods.  It’s painfully obvious in this top (hugely gaping armholes, anyone?)  Fast Fit by Sandra Betzina is on its way to my house specifically for this purpose.

3.  This really needs to have been made up with in a beefier knit.  I’ve been nervous to buy online, as I don’t have the years of experience to necessarily think through what a fabric will work for with just a description.  But I think now I’ve heard of enough good sources from the various blogs and am just getting fed up enough with the quality of stuff I get from Joann’s to venture into that field.

With all this said, however, I think this top will work underneath a cardigan or something at work (which is most likely how it would get worn most of the time anyway).  

If I were to make it again, I would make a lot of changes.  I already added 2” to the length at the waistline and I would increase that at least another inch.  As I just said, I would do a real FBA and get a heavier knit, and I would also lengthen the overlay piece considerably to move the twist down.  I might add a teensy bit more ease; I know knits aren't supposed to be baggy, but this is a bit tighter than I think looks good on me.  Also, I would try to do something different with the facings.  I don’t know if completely self-lining is a good idea, but the way they have you do a back facing just resulted (for me) in a bulky lump that I really dislike.

On someone without the ridiculous chest I have, I think this would be a pretty cute top, and I may have to rework it just for the challenge of making it work for me.  So I’m not calling this a failure, I’m calling it motivation for independent design. :)

After this ordeal, I want something easy-peasy and feel-good.  I’m going to make up the Yard Sale Wrap Skirt from Weekend Sewing by Heather Ross.  I think I have just enough of a beigey, crinkly kind-of-looks-like-linen fabric that I’ve had forever (I could do a burn test, but I’m lazy).  It’s a longish skirt, and the fabric is a decent weight, so I’m hoping this will be something I can wear now with sandals and in the winter with tights and boots.  We’ll see how it goes. 

August 21, 2011

Hiccup and Henrietta

Well, it wasn’t one of my official choices from the last post, but I did finish a garment.  Since I already had it all cut out, I went ahead and finished the Hiccup tunic for the BF.  I do need to add buttonholes to the neck to thread leather cord through, but that will most likely be something that happens right before he needs to wear it.  Mostly because I have to fight my machine to make decent buttonholes.  He likes it, it was easy, and it actually got me into a good schedule for my work week.

Since I work about 70 hours a week, my sewing time is pretty short.  However, I’ve started going to work slightly later, and sewing in the mornings before work.  By the time I get home, I’m usually too exhausted to get much done, so this has really been helpful.  Getting things done gets me more excited about sewing, which makes me more likely to work on it even when I’m exhausted at night.  It’s an encouraging cycle.  I’ve also developed a hierarchy of sewing tasks.  If I’m not too tired when I get home, I sew.  Once I’m too tired to sew, I cut or mark.  After I’m too tired to do that, I lay in bed and either sketch out plans or look through my sewing books until I go to sleep.  It sounds a little pathetic when I write it out this way, but with Saturday being a regular workday for me, I don’t have the luxury of a couple full days of sewing over the weekend.  I have to fit it in when I can.

In other news, I GOT A DRESS FORM!  I’ve been scouring Craigslist and for at least a year now, looking for a dress form in anything resembling my size.   Two days ago, I finally got my hit.  On Craigslist I found a new-in-box Singer DF-150 for $70.  Not extremely cheap, and I almost didn’t buy it, until the BF offered to split the cost with me (He knew how long I’ve been looking for one, and considering I sew all his costumes, it might help him too!).  When he picked it up yesterday it still had the original packing straps on it and everything.  It blows my mind to think that someone paid to get one and never opened the box.  Whereas I made him pick me up from work and put it together while dinner cooked, then went back to work. 
Of course, the most important decision with a major new piece of sewing equipment is the name.  Having my…generous proportions, she needed a bodacious name.  Meet Henrietta.  She actually needs to be a little more bodacious in a few areas (I’m an F cup with a 13” difference between waist and hips) but she’s alright for now.  She will be my primary model for in progress projects and on bad hair days.

Speaking of in progress projects, I’m cranking on Simplicity 8121.  It's cut out and about half assembled, so hopefully I'll have that to show before the week is out!  Off to get a little more done tonight, hope everyone is having a great weekend!

August 9, 2011

Happy but exhausted

I'm finally back home, and will actually be here for longer than a few days this time!  Vacationing is fun, but two trips with a move in between is just a bit much.  However, GenCon was ridiculously awesome, as always. One of my best friends lives in Indianapolis, so hanging out with him and his GF made the whole thing more fun!  I unfortunately missed the costume contest this year, but there are amazing costumes pretty much no matter where you look (oh, the steampunk loveliness...).  Lots of inspiration for next year.  I may, in fact, do a post laying out the costume plans soon.

GenCon also means that I finally got pictures of the first costume I made for the BF.  This is an Organization XIII outfit from the Kingdom Hearts video game, made from Simplicity 5386, View A (heavily modified). This was also several sewing firsts - first time modifying a pattern and my first "real" zipper.  It is far from perfect, and you will probably see a version 2.0 sometime, but it was a real confidence booster and he loves it, so a win all around.

We spent last night unpacking (again) and generally recovering from vacation, but hopefully I will have a completed project to post soon!

August 3, 2011

New and Improved Nook!

      So this post was delayed slightly due to the fact that my camera does not appear to come home from Milwaukee when I did.  I'm holding out hope, but it appears that it may be lost for good.  Fortunately I located the BF's digital camera for the meantime. 

     The nook is all set up! I got a 6 foot "banquet table" from Target, and my only gripe with it thus far is that if I sew too quickly, it sort of bounces.  I may end up moving my machines to the ends to get a little more stability.  In this picture you can see my Brother1034D serger, bought with my tax return last year.  Under the stylish Snow White cover is my Brother XL-5962 sewing machine.  I bought it when I was a sophomore in college at Goodwill for $20.  Best investment I've ever made? Quite probably.

    As you can see, I had already begun sewing again by the time I found the camera.  I just couldn't wait until I got the fabric pretreated for Simplicity 2181, though as of last night it is ready and waiting in the wings. Instead, I started working on McCall's 3789, the costume for the BF, which I had already cut out.  It's a super simple tunic and shouldn't take very long to put together.  I actually enjoy doing costumes, because they often let me try out new techniques but don't require hard wearing seam finishes or intricate linings because they are worn so rarely.  Even if there are small mistakes I would hate in my wardrobe, they still look a million times better than anything you can purchase in stores, but at a fraction of the cost.  In my case, often the costume you want to wear just does not exist, so there is no choice but to make it.  At which point I'm glad I sew.

   Speaking of costumes, I should have plenty of costume pics to show you over the next few days, because today we are leaving for GenCon!  Yes, folks, in addition to being a chemistry nerd, I am a gaming nerd.  For those of you who are not, GenCon is the biggest tabletop gaming (a.k.a. Dungeons and Dragons) conference in the country.  It's in Indianapolis, and important enough for me to use a large chunk of my total vacation days to go.  (I promise I'm not gone this much usually - things just happened all at once this summer!)  So I'll be pretty much incommunicado until next Monday, but there will be pretty costume pictures to make up for it, I promise!