In continuing with the Wardrobe Architect series, February’s challenge was to clean out our closets. There has been some interesting discussion, related to this month’s topic, about minimalism. I love what Jacqui from the blog Birds of Thread had to say about it. Like Jacqui, I grew up collecting things. As a child, I always wanted the doll that had a million accessories. As a teen, it was comic books and action figures. In my twenties, it was pretty much anything vintage. As a photographer, it’s images. If you look around my studio, a lot of these phases of my life are represented and as Jacqui says about her own “curated” items, they bring me a lot of joy.

As my living spaces increased in size over the years, it became easier and easier to collect things. I started feeling the weight of it all a couple of years ago, and since then have become pretty good at not bringing things into the house I know there is no room for, but it’s created a kind of holding pattern on some things I want to do in my studio and the rest of the house (like a basement remodel). My focus lately has been to keep the things that bring me joy and get rid of things I never use and don’t care about any more, so there are plans for a big yard sale this Spring. So this is all good timing!

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I feel like I already have a pretty good understanding on what the gaps are in my wardrobe and I was more interested in my thinking on what made the cut to keep and what didn’t, so I didn’t fill out the worksheets this time.

I did follow Kristen’s advice and created “out”, “mend” and “maybe” piles. I was surprised at how quickly it went from there. If I hadn’t worn something in a while, I didn’t like the color or it was poor quality, it went in the “out” box. Things that looked cute on the hanger, but didn’t look good on me (like my many cardigans from Target), went in the “out” box as well, to be replaced by hand knit sweaters later. If the fit was bad (like so many of the clearance Mod Cloth dresses I’ve bought), “out” they went!

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The “mend” pile was easy, as I already had one!

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My “maybe” pile was pretty small. Just a few dresses that aren’t really my style anymore (a couple from my rockabilly days), but still get worn occasionally. Since I’d made so much room in my closet, they ended up going back in.

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I mostly just went through my closets, as I had gone through my dressers recently and they mostly just have socks, underwear, pajamas and workout gear in them anyway. The things that were sentimental, that I kept, were my roller derby jackets and uniforms and stuff. I also kept some vintage Halloween costumes, like my awesome vintage handmade clown suit (cuz everyone needs a clown suit, right?), a dress that would be perfect for being Margot Tenenbaum someday and a women’s white pinstriped suit, because… just because. Halloween brings me joy, so there.

Since I was able to be so decisive, this exercise only took me a couple of hours. I’m also not a clothes horse by any means (I often joke that if I loved shopping for clothes as much as I do books, I would be a way better dresser than I am), so I didn’t have that many items of clothing to start with. I got rid of over 20 items, so for me that is a lot.

Everything has been sitting in boxes for a week now and I haven’t missed anything yet, so my sister will get first pass of all these clothes and if there is a lot left after that, I will organize a clothes swap. What’s left after that goes in the yard sale. Anything remaining after the yard sale will be donated. Nothing will be wasted, but I now have a lot more room in my closet (and my mind) for all the incoming me-mades!

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Once again, I have been a bit absent on this blog lately. Between ukulele lessons on Tuesday nights (plus practice throughout the week) and my knitting group on Wednesday nights and then trying to get some exercise occasionally and balance family life (in-laws were in town, Matt turned 40), I have been BUSY! 2015 is shaping up to be an awesome year so far, so these are good problems to have. I’m just living life in real-time, yo.

I have been making stuff, I’m just backlogged on blogging about it. So let’s start with Matt’s birthday shirt! I wish I could say I made him a birthday suit, because that would be funnier, but it’s just a shirt… so, anyway…

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Pattern- Colette Pattern’s Negroni

Fabric- Plaid shirting from the remnant/sale table at Pacific Fabrics, so it was cheap!.

Made Version 1 (long sleeve) in size large

Alterations- Added 1″ width to cuff and sleeve. I also used the free downloadable pocket variations, so that I could make him the pointed pocket, instead of rounded.

Total time to make including muslin and fitting- 30 hrs.

Notes-  I cut as many things on the bias as I could: the back yoke, the pockets, the cuffs and the placket. I did this to add visual interest and also to decrease the amount of pattern matching I had to do, as per the following resources. I also looked at some of Matt’s other/similar shirts to see how they were constructed bias-wise and placement of buttons, etc..

Resources-

http://www.coletterie.com/tutorials-tips-tricks/how-to-match-plaids-and-stripes

http://lladybird.com/2013/10/17/tutorial-matching-plaids-like-a-boss/

What I learned- This was my first time sewing a men’s garment and I learned that I really enjoyed sewing it! I love the clean lines and the way this shirt is constructed. I also love the way it is finished. It is mostly flat felled seams with facings in the front. The neck and back yoke seams are encased by an inner yoke, so there is not a single serged seam in this shirt!

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And the placket! Look at that placket! There was some cool ass fabric origami required to create that placket and I was skeptical at first, but it totally worked and wasn’t hard at all.

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I used pearl snaps instead of buttons, to give it more of western shirt feel. Since Matt has a thing for odd numbers (he prefers them and now so do I, so now we are both weirdos), he requested an odd number of snaps, so he got 7 snaps in the front instead of 6. See, these are the kind of customizations you can get with a homemade shirt!

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Look at that plaid matching and those flat felled seams!

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I think the sleeves could be a little shorter, because the plackets look a little bunched up in the back to me, but Matt says he likes the length. He also usually wears his sleeves rolled up, so as long as he is happy!

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Look at my handsome logman!

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I love this shot of him and Wyatt too!

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I’m so happy with how this shirt turned out and that it is something Matt will actually wear. He wore it to his birthday dinner and everyone there thought that it was store-bought, so that’s a compliment! He also said it feels better than store-bought, because the facings and inner yoke give it a finish and heft that seems nicer than some of his other similar plaid shirts. He did say that he won’t feel super comfortable wearing this shirt until he has two of them, so I guess that was his way of saying he would like another one. ;)

All this plaid matching and shirt-making has been great practice for my next project, where I get to go back to selfish sewing and make myself a plaid Grainline Archer shirt! By this point, it should be a breeze, right?

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Last year, Sarai Mitnick of Colette Patterns created a series of blog posts called the Wardrobe Architect. The purpose of the series is to help you hone in what your core style is and what silhouettes you like to wear, so that you can create a handmade wardrobe that truly suits you and works well in your daily life. This series seemed interesting to me last year, but I didn’t feel ready to take something like it on. For me, the past few years have just been about learning to sew garments. As a result of that, I went for the bright and shiny fabrics, crazy prints and made primarily dresses with varying degrees of successful fit. The Wardrobe Architect really spoke to me this year though, because I feel like I have finally reached a point in my sewing where I am making things that fit and that I’ll actually wear. Lucky for me, there is another chance to follow along this year, as Kristen of Colette Patterns has decided to revisit the Wardrobe Architect with the goal of designing and creating seasonal capsule wardrobes. So this is perfect timing for me and just the sort of structure I need to take me to the next level.

Kristen has divided the series into monthly chunks, with January being about defining your core style and exploring shapes. There are worksheets that accompany the posts and at first I felt kind of silly filling them out. I mean, it’s not like I was going to turn them in or that anyone was ever going to see them, but having completed the first four worksheets, I have realized what a great exercise it really was. It forced me to think about and refine my answers before I wrote them down or just focus on whatever came to mind first. I realized I knew more and had more thoughts about my personal style than I thought!

One of the week’s posts suggested using Polyvore to create our seasonal silhouettes. I also made a Pinterest board that these are on as well, along with a few of my style icons.

Fall/Winter Silhouette- Boots and Jeans

 

 

In creating seasonal sets of the types of silhouettes I like to wear, I learned that I wear the same types of things over and over again and it’s kind of a relief to realize that. It makes it easier for me. Plus, I have read that wearing the same thing over and over again is good for creative people as it frees us up to think about other things. My “uniform” is informed by living in the Pacific Northwest, so in the Fall and Winter it’s all about layers: button up shirts, hoodies, sweaters, scarves and boots.

 

Fall/Winter Silhouette- Casual Dress

 

Fall/Winter Silhouette- Casual Dress by rakeandmake

 

Just as comfortable for me to wear, in the Fall and Winter, are dresses with sweater tights, a cardigan and boots. This set also should have included a scarf, as one is pretty much a part of every outfit this time of year.

Spring/Summer Silhouette- Layered Mix and Match

Spring/Summer Silhouette- Layered Mix and Match by rakeandmake

 

I am not a shorts person, so in lieu of shorts I go for capri pants paired with either a tee-shirt or a tank and Converse/Keds or sandals, depending on the weather. A short sleeve button up can also be good. It can still get chilly at night, so a hoodie is still in order around here, even in Spring and Summer.

Spring/Summer Silhouette- Sun dress, Cardigan and Sandals

Spring/Summer Silhouette- Sun dress, Cardigan and Sandals by rakeandmake

 

My favorite get-up in the Summer is just a sun dress and sandals and a cardigan for the evening when it gets chilly. I know it’s a good Summer when I get to wear my sun dresses a lot, so this is always the goal.

 

What this has told me about my sewing-

Going through these motions was very informative for me. I put together a notebook with the worksheets and then made list of patterns that I already had that I would like to make up to add to my handmade wardrobe. I mostly sew indie designers, because the designs are current and unique, they tend to have easy to understand directions and I feel good about supporting them. At some point I may want to explore some of the bigger pattern companies, for the experience and to have more of a selection, but for now I have been able to find a lot of what I need from patterns I already have. For some of these patterns I already have fabric and for some I will need to get fabric.  If I had fabric already, I used my Fuji Instax to take a quick Polaroid of it. I also noted what version I want to make.

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Here is what’s on my list so far, from patterns I already have- 

Grainline Studio Archer Button Up
Fabric- Plaid cotton shirting
Make View A

Colette Patterns Hawthorne
Fabric- Plaid cotton shirting
Make Version 2

Sewaholic Renfrew
Fabric- Striped Knit
Make version B with scoop neck

Colette Patterns Hazel
Fabric- I can’t remember what this fabric is, it’s some sort of lightweight cotton.
Make version 1

Patterns I have, but don’t have fabric for yet- 

Colette Patterns Moneta- Designed for knit fabrics, this dress definitely has to be on this list because it’s the silhouette I love, has a lot of possible variations (good for different seasons) and would be a great staple. I should probably make multiples of this dress, so I have no idea what version I will sew first yet. I know I would like to make several variations though.

Grainline Studios Linden Sweatshirt- Another pattern designed for knits. This sweatshirt would be a great layering piece in any season, but would look especially great with some skinny jeans and tall boots.

Gaps that leaves in my wardrobe- 

Skirts- I need to find a good full/flared skirt pattern. Anyone have any suggestions? Maybe make more Jennifer Lauren Vintage Cressida Skirts?

Pants- Maybe make the Colette Patterns Clover and shorten it into more of a capri? Anyone know of a good capri pattern? I don’t plan on tackling jeans yet, so for now, I plan to continue to purchase my tried and true Levis.

Sweaters- I plan on filling this need by knitting sweaters. I have yarn for the Owl Sweater by Kate Davies and plan on starting that after I finish a pair of cable mitts that I have almost completed.

Whoa Nelly. This list is getting kind of long. The knit garments should be faster to sew and I trace my patterns and save them, so for things I have already fit and sewn, like the Renfrew and the Cressida skirt, that will make it go faster. Realistically, this project may go into next year and that’s okay, but I love that this has me thinking in terms of what I need, what fits my lifestyle, works well together and is my style. I think this is a great start and I’m excited to keep working on all this!

 

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The holidays are over and it’s back to reality. It means I get to finally share the gifts I made though. Actually it’s just gift singular this year, as I only made one thing to give away: a ninja shirt for my nephew!

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Pattern- 

Camp Shirt from One-Yard Wonders- Can be made in sizes 2T-4T. My nephew is about 18 months old, so I cut a 2T.

Fabric- 

“Ninjas Don’t Sweat” by Lily Gonzalez-Creed, available at Windham Fabrics. Isn’t it adorable? I bought mine at my local fabric store, West Seattle Fabric, a while back and it was so popular that they were almost sold out. It comes in gray too, but they were already out of that. I like the red though!

Speaking of Windham Fabrics, I was checking out their other designers and Amy Sedaris has designed fabric for them! Whaaa? I guess it was a couple of years ago. How did I miss that? She is one of my heroes. I love her so much. I had no idea she designed fabric, but I guess I shouldn’t be surprised either. She’s amazing and hilarious and now I want all of her fabric.

ninja_shirt-016I had heard that making kid’s clothes was easy, since there’s usually not a lot of fabric or pattern pieces to deal with and fit isn’t a big issue. This was my first time making a kid’s garment and I now I see the allure. From tracing the pattern, to cutting the fabric, to a finished garment, I sewed this up all in one day!

My nephew got a lot of amazing presents this Christmas, including a fully functioning tool bench and a play kitchen, of which his favorite were the boxes they came in (yep, he’s that age). The adults seemed more impressed with this shirt than Owen did. There was such a frenzy of unwrapping and toy assembling, that I didn’t bother making him try it on for pictures. He doesn’t even know what ninjas are yet anyway. That’s why I made it a bit big though, so he can grow into it. Who knows, this could end up being his favorite shirt! An auntie can hope, can’t she? ;)

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As I sit here with the day off today, my head is a swimming a bit. And no it’s not a champagne hangover… that was yesterday. I have so many ideas and things I want to do this year, but I am also thinking about how I would like more balance in my life. I want to have more fun, hang out with my friends and family more and be more present. The only big plans I have so far this year involve some travel and being a part of other people’s huge life events (a couple of weddings). I could just book the year up, but I’m not going to. I also just read Tasha Miller Griffith’s article in Seamwork about the Infinite List and it really spoke to me, so I am going to keep it simple again this year.

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GARDENING GOALS- 

Grow my usual crops and preserve some of it.

We still want to build a new fence that involves a hops trellis, so maybe that will happen this year!

Take the Master Preserver’s Class- 3rd year on the list is the charm?

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COOKING GOALS- 

Take classes at the Pantry?- I am really interested in the class offerings at the Pantry at Delancy, especially Molly Wizenberg’s food writing class. I tend to go a little class crazy sometimes and am already signed up for an 8 week ukulele class starting next week, so we’ll see what happens.

Get better at food photography- I really need to step up my food photography game. The lighting situation is challenging in my house, but I need to be less lazy and take the time to figure it out. There is talk of a kitchen remodel (think new/better surfaces and maybe a table by the window to shoot on), so that could be promising.

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CRAFTING GOALS- 

Continue going to knitting night- I’ve got the knitting bug bad now that I’ve completed my first sweater. It’s kind of all I want to do now. I want to make all the cute sweaters on Ravelry! Add to that how awesome all the ladies are at the Seattle Yarn knitting night and this is a very positive thing to look forward to in 2015.

Knit another sweater or two?- Owl Sweater by Kate Davies? Hetty by Andi Satterlund? I have quite the queue on Ravelry now.

Whittle away at my fabric stash- This is always a goal and I recently made a list of projects that I already have patterns and fabric for. I will be motivated by the desire to check things off. First on the list, a Negroni for Matt’s birthday!

OVERALL BLOG GOALS- 

Interviews- I still have a bunch of people I want to interview and one has already confirmed, so that’s exciting!

Videos- I was teaching myself Final Cut Pro last year, by watching video tutorials on lynda.com. I also got a video mic for Christmas, so the video front is making progress as well.

Whatever this year brings, I am entering into it feeling positive, inspired, rested and ready. So bring it 2015!

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