Saturday, January 26, 2013

Wardrobe Redo: First Redo Finished

Wow, how hard is it to convert a flare skirt into a pencil skirt?  Easy right?  Well, I found out it was not so easy.  Maybe I am slow, a little too slap happy with the scissors, a little too impetuous and not enough planning.  But, this simple, easy, let's go into it slow wardrobe redo was a bit time consuming that I thought it would be. Hence, I did not get this posted yesterday.  That and the fact that my children have only been in school 1 1/2 days in the last week and only 7 in the last three weeks, which makes finding the time to get my sewing done a bit more challenging.  Plus, I know there are much colder places in this country right now, but having to turn over the horses' water tanks, jump on them to bust out the ice every morning, and hauling buckets of water down to the field for the horses is getting a bit old.  It takes twice as long to do chores when the water in the barn is frozen solid.  Okay, enough whining about the weather, okay one more whine, we didn't even get enough snow to sled on!

Enough excuses, here it goes:  Before and After.  I am pleased with how the skirt turned out, a nice update.

I took a bit of fabric off of both sides, then felt it wasn't quite slim enough and impetuously cut a bit up the back without thinking.  It took me two days of thinking and sewing and ripping seams to get the back right.

The Barcelona Skirt by Amy Butler (see previous post) can be divided into three layers then the layers are stitched one on top of the other.  I finally had to take the two bottom layers apart and readjust them to get the back of the skirt to hang correctly.  Because of course, the back of the skirt is cut on the fold and is therefore straight.  Duh, I forgot this fact in my zeal to get a straighter look so I cut up the back which created a LOT of headaches.  This is a lesson I won't forget.  

I am happy with the final result, so this skirt will be coming out of my closet more this spring and summer.  (Hopefully, as my son and I get better at fashion photography the photos will get a bit better, too.  It is too grey and cold to get out for more interesting location shooting).

In the meantime I found a FABULOUS book:  Basic Pattern Skills for Fashion Design by Bernard Zamkoff and Jeanne Price.  I found this book when perusing the sewing section of the library.  I was so taken by it, that I ordered it from Alibris.  If you are not familiar with this site, it is a great site for finding out of print books and used books from booksellers around the country.  In any case, this book shows a basic design and how to modify it to get all kinds of other styles.  So in the skirt section they show a basic straight skirt, then how to modify the pattern to get a pegged skirt, dirndl skirt, flared skirt, trumpet skirt, ...  They also cover collars, bodices, and sleeves.  The book is very clear and straightforward.  I had bought another pattern alteration book which has useful information, but the pages are so cluttered that I found it almost unusable.  

What's next?  The next few weeks will be following my changes to a trench coat.  I have had this trench coat for decades.  Depressing to admit that it is that old, but it is.  However, it is in good shape.  I love the fabric, it is 100 percent wool, and has held up well to abuse.  However, it has NO style.  

I will be looking to update this coat to take with us on our spring vacation.  So, I will post more about it next Friday....

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Wardrobe Redo: Piece 1

As promised, it is Friday and I am posting my first wardrobe piece that I want to update.  I made this skirt a couple of several years ago.  It is from an Amy Butler pattern Barcelona Skirt.  I love this pattern.  It is easy to make, it fits well, and it is easy to modify the fit.  This skirt wears well whether I am the size I am now, or when I am 5 pounds heavier.  It sits on my hips, not at my waist, and is really comfortable to wear.  I have made 5 of these skirts and this was my first one.  I wear these skirts in the heat of the summer when it is just too darn hot to wear pants.  I hate wearing shorts and rarely wear them, but feel comfortable in skirts.

Now, to what I don't like about this skirt.  When I made it, I made it pretty long.  I wanted to cover up my legs.  I have made other shorter versions, and I have to say, those look better on me.  I think this one  just looks dowdy.

When I first made it, I didn't like the fabric that much.  I felt like I was wearing a 1950's sofa pattern, but the fabric has grown on me.  It is a heavier weight cotton and it washes and dries well, and wears like iron.  Gotta love that!

Don't you just love my adoring dogs?  It helps that I feed them every night!

I think what I have decided to do it to update the design by making what Boden is calling a "Modern Pencil Skirt".  This photo shows the pencil skirt in a bright floral.  It should be an easy modification, which I hope to make this weekend.  So come back for the first update.

Embroidered Button Sweater Complete

I finally finished my Embroidered Button Sweater from Classic Elite's Winter Whimsey book.  I didn't want to use the embroidered buttons, and I tried other buttons, but in the end, I went back to them.  The Dorset Buttons were really pretty easy to make.  The hardest part was finding the plastic rings.  In the end I used two from a fabric store which were meant for a purse and others from a craft store.  It did take me a couple of days to make the buttons.  I made them first out of a bunch of different yarns as I sat with my son keeping him company.  He was in bed with influenza.  I made the buttons liked them, and then went to knit the button holes.  I HATED the buttonholes!  I knitted three versions, then just gave up.  I had recently downloaded KnitWear Spring 2012 and remembered a sweater that had a wide button band that used snaps.  So snaps it was!  

The yarn that I used, Gedifra's Marokko which is 100 percent cotton, was very floppy and just didn't hold up to the buttons that I made.  So, I decided to line the button bands with fabric to give them more structure.  I chose Amy Butler's MidWest Modern II Optic Blossom (olive).  However, once I selected the fabric for the lining, I realized that my buttons and the fabric didn't match.  So, I had to redo some of the buttons, which took several more hours.  The buttons took an evening of movie watching and sewing.  This time I watched George and the Dragon with my daughter (we both loved the movie, great preteen movie).   

I used the Amy Butler fabric to cover my snaps, so I spent an evening sewing covered snaps.  And, yet another evening sewing the snaps onto the sweater!

Finally, I was done.  Here are some photos that my budding fashion photographer son snapped of me in  the sweater.

Sorry about the lighting.  We are finally having rain here, so the lighting was a bit tricky.

I have to say, I LOVE this sweater.  I rarely, make that never, knit the same sweater twice.  However, I think I will knit this one again.  I would make a few changes.  I would make the button band smaller on the next sweater and use regular buttons.  I would probably knit it out of wool, and I would make the sleeves long rather than 3/4.  But, I love this as a spring sweater in a cotton yarn.  I would recommend making it.  The pattern was a bit tricky at first and I had to start over a couple of times, but mainly because I put  the sweater down for a few months, then restarted, then had to start again because my gauge wasn't what I thought it was at first, but all's well that ends well.

Tomorrow I start the wardrobe redo with my first piece!

Friday, January 11, 2013

2013 "Wardrobe Update, No Money" Challenge

I have decided that I need to use what I have and not to spend more money on clothes when I have a bunch in my closet.  I know that there have been a lot of challenges out there regarding wardrobes, but I decided to frame mine a little differently.  I have sewn or knitted many of the pieces in my closet, but I am tiring of some of them, and my style is changing a bit, and I am tiring of some of them.  Rather than just run out and sew some more, I have decided to take a new approach:

  1. Look at what is in my closet, and decide what pieces I have that I like, and which ones need to go either to a used clothing store or to Goodwill or to be recycled into something new.
  2. What pieces do I like, made of fabric I like, but having a style I don't like anymore or is out of date?  What can I do to update these pieces?
  3. Are there some out of date pieces that just need a tweak here and there?  
Here are my rules:

  1. Only buy minimal fabric or trims and accessories such as snaps or buttons as needed to update the look.
  2. Use what is in my stash fabric wise wherever possible.
  3. Spend no new money on fabric.  (I have a credit in the fabric store for winning a sewing contest, so I have about $100 or so left on the credit.)
  4. Track all my expenses.
Every Friday I will present a piece of clothing and show what I have and what I plan to do to it.  Then I will see what I can do to update my closet!