Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sewing from My Stash

There are online seamsters who sew something new every week, but I'm not that sort. While I need clothing and own more fabric than I can make up and wear, I approach each project with the speed of an arthritic tortoise. 

When I'm sewing for myself, I'm very picky. I rummage through my patterns and winnow things down to 20 or more possibles. Deciding on a fabric is also a production. My basement is full of boxes with fabric. Some fabrics are bits and pieces, but a few boxes are marked "Dress and Pant lengths." I haul upstairs a bag of patterns and a box of fabrics, and cogitate at length. Eventually everything gets taken back to the basement, and sometimes is even returned to the correct places. More rarely,  I've even cut and sewn something.
Jacket with darts, but before shortened sleeves and sleeve linings.

The magenta plaid jacket has simplified things. Refashioned with lots of darts in the body and linings for sleeves, it is my focus. My stash yielded two moderately astounding fabrics. The brighter one will be a jumper or a dress, mostly because I need a success and dresses are easier to fit than pants. It's lightweight cotton and rayon, and will require a lining. I've settled on an eye popping scarlet batiste because I've already got it and won't need to visit the fabric store where temptation lies.

The darker fabric is heavier weight, and will be pants when I achieve a reliable pants pattern. I approach each attempt at pant making with great trepidation because of  past unhappiness. There is hope. Last spring I happened upon Make Your Own Clothes by Marie Clayton and PatternMaker, a book and CD combo, gave it the pants test, and discovered that the wearable muslin for pajama pants needed only minor adjustments. 

Despite this success, it took awhile for me to approach the software again. This time, I mastered the "move" command, and achieved better use of paper. It took me a couple of weeks to approach cutting the pants after I printed out the jeans pattern and taped the bits together, and even longer to baste them together. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that once again, alterations will be minor! The waist is too big and the back rise is a hair too short, but I can fix both things by redrafting the back yoke. Right now I'm croggling at the near-success. Soon I will undo the basting, put in the zipper,  and inch toward a wearable result.

Technically, the pants are "jeans cut." The fabric is not a twill or denim, but an olive greenish cotton waffle weave from the clearance counter somewhere. I'm not cutting decorative back pockets. My rump doesn't need the attention. Belt loops? Don't be silly. The last time I wore a belt was 15 years ago. If this pattern works, I will use  jeans cut for many many pairs of pants, I hope.

Make Your Own Clothes  came out 3 years ago, and is still available in stores and online for $25 or less. If you have no patience with commercial patterns and passed cutting and pasting in kindergarten, this book /CD will work for you. It is a scaled down, training wheels version of PatternMaker software. I don't think I'm a serious enough seamster to blow the budget on the full version, but things may change.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Fur Magnets, or Why Magenta Is My Neutral

Wardrobe advice from 1940 to date demands neutrals and a Little Black Dress. Whoever made these rules probably had a personal maid to take care of clothing. Black is not a neutral color; black is a magnet for pet fur. All the suits in stores for women seem to be black, burgundy, dark green, or charcoal. Fur magnets, all of them. Why would anyone want to own  and wear something that will acquire every piece of lint in three counties?
I disappear when I wear neutrals such as  beige, tan, caramel, and ecru. When I wear black, I acquire so much fur I have fuzzy edges. This is not the look I was going for. Some people have such colorful personalities that they can wear black and tan and still be vibrant. I'm not one of them.

Clothing ought to provide a few clues  about the wearer, other than the fact that they live with animals. I try to conform but can't quite manage it. Every time I read about LBDs, I have to translate it into my wardrobe experience which is no black, no dresses, precious few dress pants and two pairs of jeans. 

I want purple, magenta, teal and burnt orange. I own pant lengths of fabrics in those colors. (Actually, I have no pant lengths in orange. A person has to draw a line somewhere.)
The line stopped at magenta with a black pinstripes about an inch apart. (I might have called the color fuschia, but dictionaries confuse that with the flower fuchsia, and I'm really not up for long discussions with  a spellchecker.) By a happy coincidence, a trip to the thrift store yielded a magenta plaid jacket. Its boring boxy shape was easily modified to that of a 1940's suit jacket. If I  shorten and line the sleeves, it will be a very satisfying piece of clothing.

Chez moi, magenta is a neutral. I have turtleneck jerseys, mock turtles and even scoop-necked Tees in magenta. Not all the same shade or intensity of magenta, but you can tell it is the same family.

I took photos to go with this, but the computer does not wish to recognize the storage device.