Thursday, November 12, 2015

Thoughts on FESA 2015

I've just finished uploading the last of my project photos to the FESA Flick group and I am experiencing a lovely feeling of accomplishment.  My projects ended up being nothing like my original plan and that's OK.  FESA is meant to be an organic process; evolving from need and inspiration.  It wasn't until I discovered Pattern Anthology's wardrobe planning sheets that everything fell into place.

If you follow me on Instagram, you will have seen quick snaps of WIP and finished items. I wanted to share some of my favourite items from this year's FESA with you today.  First up is Jasper Perri Oslo, my most recent make.  I squeaked it into the deadline by 2 days!

When I found my pink skinny jeans while thrifting, I was lucky enough to find this pretty periwinkle blue sweatshirt fleece for $8.99.  It's a surprisingly hard colour to photograph and looks dull grey no matter what I do.  Trust me, it's periwinkle.

I have a beloved grey knitted pullover that I wear practically all the time once the cold weather hits.  It's roomy enough to pop over any outfit but has sadly become too decrepit to be fit for public wear.  I needed a new cozy, able-to-wear-in-public pullover.  I combed the Internet looking for inspiration and combed through my pattern stash before settling on a pattern hack to suit my needs.

I used the cowl from the Jasper Dress, the sleeves from the Oslo Cardigan, and the cuffs, bottom band, and body piece from the Perri Pullover.  The sweater has the same front and back  I turned the fleece inside out on the cowl and cuffs to expose its fluffy innards.  The verdict? A total win.  It's comfortable, easy to wear, and warm!

I'm a big fan of secret pajama clothing and try to sneak it into my wardrobe whenever possible.  If I can make it work appropriate, it's an extra bonus. This fall I fell head-over-heels for Made by Rae's Ruby pattern.  You've heard me wax poetical about it before and the love affair continues unabated.  I'm a utilitarian stitcher and when I find a pattern that fits and flatters, I make multiples.  While my summer wardrobe tends to be made up of Laurel and Washi garments, my fall wardrobe is all about Ruby.

I found this pink plaid flannel at Fabricland for $4/metre. Yes, $4/metre!  It is a gorgeous shade of pink and has a fuzzy wrong side and crisp right side.  I am far too lazy to spend the time matching plaid so I turned the yoke front and back on the bias.  The yoke is self-lined for extra warmth and convenience.  The sleeves are a slightly shortened version of those in the Washi Expansion Pack - another TNT.  With tights or leggings and boots, this has been a quite a typical fall outfit for me.  With a secret fuzzy inside.

I was once a mad knitter.  During my first year of knitting, I turned out 10 cardigans, about half of them wool.  When I was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis, English style knitting soon became impossible due to pain and it is only recently that I am back in the knitting game as I have learned how to knit Continental style.

For most of October, it was much too warm for wool cardigans but too cold for cotton ones.  I needed a cozy option that didn't involve knitting and Gillian suggested the Julia Cardigan.  Of course, I made it in pink. Tracy, a very cool artist and seamstress who works at my local Fabricland, who suggested this polar fleece masquerading as a sweater knit.  I was easy to cut being a stable knit and went through my serger quite well, only having a small hiccup with the double thickness collar + waist band.  I've worn this a lot this fall, both on its own and as a cozy extra layer.

* * * * *

I was not as active during FESA this year as I am normally.  I struggled with pain and swelling through the end of September and most of October, as well as a significant flare of my arthritis, which really prevented me from being as present as I wished.   There are so many amazing makes in the FESA Flickr Group and I am truly humbled to be working along side of such talent.

From the 16 items I planned as my ideal fall wardrobe, I made 9, thrifted 1, and already had 6 in my handmade wardrobe.  I even snuck in a few bonus items.  I had a huge wardrobe clean out and discovered that I am functioning within parameters of a capsule wardrobe! I even started a cardigan!

At final count, I made the following to add to my fall capsule wardrobe:

  1. Navy stripe Dolores tee
  2. Black stripe Dolores tee
  3. Ruby Tuesday tunic
  4. Ruby Norway tunic 
  5. Pink polka dot Ruby tunic
  6. Jasper Perri Oslo pullover
  7. The Queen and I Ruby dress
  8. Pink Plaid Ruby dress
  9. Rose print Jasper dress
  10. Peony Washi dress
  11. Denim Ruby dress

As for failures, I had two:  a pink knit Ruby tunic (the colour was all wrong for me) and a pair of denim Moji pants (which wouldn't go over my bum!).

What have you sewn for fall (or spring) this year?  Are you already moving towards winter (or summer)?

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

A Sewing Holiday

My sweet DeeDee 'helping' me sort my seasonal wardrobes.

I've decided to take a little sewing holiday.  Not the kind where you travel with your sewing machine, but the kind where you switch off your sewing machine.

Since discovering capsule wardrobes, I find I am most content with a seasonal wardrobe of less than 40 pieces; approximately 10 core pieces as laid out in The 10 Item Wardrobe. Getting dressed is easier and more enjoyable.  Everything hanging in my closet is a well-loved, well-fitted item.  In all honesty, I hover at around 30 items, leaving me space to add garments I've made.

Being content with a smaller wardrobe has really been a positive change for me.  I still adore clothes and love to sew as much as I always did, but I find that my choices are more thoughtful, my patterns are more uniform, and my joy with each finished item is consistently better.  There are no closet orphans and very few wadders.  My impulse fabric shopping has reduced to almost nil as I find I really enjoy the 'percolation process' of what I would like to make.

My fall capsule wardrobe feels complete and plentiful.  This means that I will not finish making most of my items for FESA but I am (surprisingly) happy with that decision.  I do have several things I would like to make for what I call deep winter, but that can wait until early January.

I feel lucky to have successfully picked up continental style knitting and am now able to knit again.  My plans for now are focused on handmade gifts for the upcoming holidays, including two complete handmade wardrobes for my daughter's American Girl dolls.  I've already started knitting this cardigan (with a few modifications).  So tiny! So cute!

Do you give handmade gifts?  Have you started your holiday gift making yet?  How do you feel about capsule wardrobes?

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Queen and I

This fabric has been percolating in my brain for a few months.  I first saw in late summer during a small blogger get together and was struck by the uniqueness of the print.  As a Tudor enthusiast, the idea of turning Queen Elizabeth I into a neat handmade garment was too much to resist.    At first, I thought of making a Macaron dress with dotted Swiss yoke and sleeves but set that aside for my current pattern crush: Ruby.

As it happens to all of us at sometime or another, the best laid plans of mice and (wo)men often go awry.  In this case, it was Slow Fashion October that gave me pause.  While I haven't participated in the weekly reflection portion of this movement, I really responded to the focus of slow, thoughtful, and joyful crafting.  Too often, I can get caught up in the fast, fast, fast aspect of sewing and I find when I create in hyper speed, I rarely enjoy the fruits of those labours. So, to make a long story short, I decided to embrace slow crafting, changes in plans, and garments that take their time.

I took my time making this dress.  I washed the fabric one day.  Ironed it and cut it out on another.  I spread the sewing out over two days.  I though carefully about pattern placement on both the front and back of the dress and deliberately set my patch pockets lower as I didn't want them to disappear in the print.  I lined the dress in cotton voile for an extra layer of warmth.

This was my first project using both knit and woven fabrics.  I used a teeny tiny zig zag stitch when attaching the knit yoke to the woven body and finished the seam with my serger.  I self-lined the yoke instead of adding a neckline band.  The jersey fabric is a wonderfully soft.  I found it for less than $5/yard at Denver Fabrics.

With just over two weeks left in FESA, I know my output this year will be less than compared to other years, but my satisfaction with my output is the highest it has ever been.  I love all the items I have made so far, especially my denim Ruby dress.  My J.Crew knock-off dress has taken an unexpected turn with an unflattering (on me) bodice but I think I have come up with a good solution to reinvent it.  Besides that, I have one more project planned: stretch velvet Elle pants.  This year's FESA has been the most enjoyable for me by far.

Our ability to create is a gift that should be savoured and I plan on remembering that much more often.