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Wednesday, February 27, 2013


After all my talk of sewing what I need versus what I want, I decided to make a list of both to see where it all stands. These are a work in progress, but I can see already that I should be rearranging my schedule to make the complete wardrobe projects a priority. I don't want to take the fun out of my sewing, just have a clear idea of when I'm sewing something I really need or more of an extra statement piece.

I'm in the process of deciding what to refashion and what to chuck before the big move, hence my earlier question of how to refashion for the better... knowing I can keep old clothes as fabric makes the decisions all that much harder. I guess I will first have to organize what is not reusable/refashionable out of the stuff I dont wear before I can see what is left. This wouldn't be so difficult if I wasn't such a hoarder!

Monday, February 25, 2013


The polka dot skirt made an appearance at my brother's birthday brunch last weekend. It is really comfy and the lack of a slit didn't seem to pose a problem. The fabric is very thin so although a lining would make it more figure flattering, I think the lightness gives it a designer feel. I didn't use a pattern, it is basically two rectangles sewn together with french seams down the sides and an elastic casing at the top, hem on the bottom. I still plan on re-hemming it to a 1940's knee length after I have worn it in this length for a while. I wore it with a Paul Smith brooch my mum gave me for Christmas, that is made of vintage Valentino buttons to form an Owl (each brooch is unique and comes with a registration number).

I pinned the pieces of my Joan dress to the dress form and it looks as if it might be a good fit, fingers crossed! Now I just have to sew it together but that requires following instructions, which I hate to do!

Friday, February 22, 2013


Yay! Finally I was able to work on my Joan dress, the pics are proof of my labour. My assistant took lots of breaks to lounge in his chair, but since he was such good company I forgive him. Figuring out how to place the pieces was the hardest part, I didn't buy enough fabric silly me, but after many configurations I found one that worked. The sleeves and some of the neckline facings are not cut on the grain as specified in the instructions but at least I had enough fabric this way. Hopefully this will not affect the drape/fit of the dress too much since I dont plan on doing any aerobics, oh wait- every day is like an aerobics class with baby Zeke.

Look Mum I can kick my own socks off, tee hee!
Next I am pinning the cloth pieces to my new dress form, more for fun but also to see how it's going to look. I agonized over which size would fit and in the end, after calculating the finished waist measurement (why Simplicity don't think that golden nugget would be useful is beyond me) I decided that a size 14 would be the best bet. We will see soon enough... or not depending on when I can get on the machine. Even if I can't sew, Polka dot skirt might get an outing this weekend for my brother's birthday shenanigans... 

A few things have been on my mind recently:

- Refashioning clothes in a way that improves them not just changes them.
- Sewing multiple projects at once, motivating or stressful?
- Vintage wear with an active lifestyle (Vintage active wear is not the answer haha)

Friday, February 15, 2013


I manage to read blogs that I follow on a daily basis but finding time to write my own is challenging to say the least, actually sewing seems to be impossible sometimes. Just when baby Zeke has fallen asleep I remember I need something that in his room to make progress on a current project. That plus exhaustion by the end of the day (trying to calculate pattern alterations while he is awake is not an option) means weeks can go by before I sew. This frustrates me no end. Then I read pattern reviews for a project I'm planning to do and the trials of others reminds me I am not alone, and that I have come a long way. After my first two garment attempts it seemed like sewing clothes would be more of a hobby than something I could actually wear, I genuinely thought that home sewing might not be durable enough for washing machines and actual movement in the clothes, such as sitting down or folding ones arms! I could have given up but I didn't, I don't know why I was so determined but I am so glad that I stuck it out and can now wash, wear, sit and move while wearing something I sewed. Now I have reflected on my appreciation for home sewing (a little behind sew grateful week which is right on time by my schedule haha) I can move onto more creative thoughts- my mad men dress challenge II plans. The pattern I intend to use is Simplicity 6123, with view A (bottom left) for the bodice and sleeves and view B (top left) for the skirt. The fabric is a green cotton sateen I got on sale at Joann's in Tennessee with my mum (her favorite colour is green actually so I will think of her when I wear this dress!) Although I relate much more to Betty's style I wanted to try something different and more typically retro so I took my inspiration from a dress worn by Joan.


Hopefully I will get this done on time for the April deadline! My goal is to cut the fabric this weekend.

Friday, February 8, 2013


It was high time to take down the wreath so to hang in its place I fashioned a Prospect Park, Brooklyn homage that we can take to England when we move as a souvenir. Frame: freebie from set, Ribbon: from a tea towel gift set, Printed paper: wrap from a gift, Photo corners: left over from wedding album, Postcards: 99c each from a local stationary store. Total cost = $1.98 The paper is a little busy to be a background but I love the print so I wanted to reuse it. 

I've been thinking a lot lately about vintage fashions, maybe because I am participating in the Madmen dress challenge II at Juliabobbin.com and have subsequently been researching mid-century style, plus my ongoing addiction to watching period dramas currently has me dreaming about the 30's and 40's look thanks to the Upstairs Downstairs remake. Much of what I have been reading in the blogosphere recently is about the detrimental impact of throw away fashion and how sewing can be a way to combat the problem. This made me proud that I am sewing most of my clothes and altering existing garments. However it did lead me to ponder about how even home sewing can produce similarly wasteful results. 

For example, I have two evening/smart dresses in my sewing plans yet I will unlikely have an opportunity to wear them until at least six months from now as they cannot be worn with a nursing bra and what I really wear right now is sweatpants and cold weather boots... I want to make them as it seems more rewarding to create something beautiful rather than practical even if it's barely worn but isn't buying factory produced fabric for that that just as bad as funding the sweatshop industry? I'm not saying they will never be worn or that they will go out of fashion and will be thrown out but they definitely do not qualify as a sensible investment of my time and money. The new skirt I made has yet to be worn due to the fact that I can only wear cold weather boots for the snow and flats for carrying Baby Z down the treacherous stairs at present.

But what about sewing for practice and fun? If I only made what I would get daily use from then I would never learn how to sew collars and facings and zippers (this list could go on forever) and sewing with only navy fleece and jersey would be very dull indeed. My conclusion is that although home sewing is better than shopping at chain stores it is not entirely without waste, especially when it is also practiced as a hobby rather than solely for function. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013


Since I was about fifteen I have known exactly what I wanted to do with my life, I had every last detail planned for the next fifteen years- I was going to design sets for period dramas then meet my husband around age thirty and have our four children. I didn't, however, think about how I would maintain my career while caring for said offspring. I lived up to my own expectations in that I did pursue a career in film, it just didn't suit me. Working fifteen plus hours a day, on my feet, often outside and far away from home was not what I had envisioned. I had to work for free just to gain experience even though I wasn't necessarily doing more than manual labour rather than learning relevant skills. 

I landed my first well paid job as an art director for a tv show, it was ultra low budget and I was expected to work on the weekend without additional pay. The crew were fun, as most crews I worked with were, and many of my closest friends are from film sets. I had just been swept off my feet into blissful matrimony by Husband and after spending our first week of marriage separated as I was on a film out of town and then not being able to see him during the week to not at all, I decided that I could not hack the film crew lifestyle. The potential career satisfaction was not worth the sacrifice of a social life /spending any time at all with my soulmate. On top of which after having met Husband eight years ahead of schedule the idea of waiting ten years to start a family was unbearable and film set conditions are not conducive to a large family lifestyle, especially while breastfeeding.

I then decided with the help of Husband to switch careers and work as a textile print designer. I loved the design work, even designing and editing prints for the trashy throw away fashion brand I worked for was challenging and inspiring. But soon I became aware of how under valued and very underpaid I was, this on top of a daily office grind which I had not experienced anything like since high school and an abusive superior led me to take up a better offer. This one was not much better paid but my boss was friendly and not only aware but appreciative of my design skills. Still the nagging feeling that I was using my designs and getting a very minor percentage of the profit was depressing. Of course I realize that there is a place for in house designers and team work but it just doesn't satisfy my need to have ownership of what I create.   

Now I am faced with the decision of what to do about it. Right now I am in the very lucky position of being able to stay at home and care for my fourteen week old son. It feels like nothing could be better than nursing, playing and singing to him but I know myself well enough that the idea of returning to the professionally creative world might be something I want to reconsider in the future and I always plan ahead. Husband and I agree that a home run design business is the best option for me to maintain my dream of a four children family, but then every way I look at it something has to give, either I won't put in the hours necessary to achieve a successfully run home business or I will feel like I don't give my children the attention they deserve and I am, hopefully, financially able to give. 

After initial research the universally acknowledged factor seems to be the underestimation of how many hours are needed to run your own (even small home based) business. Will I be able and willing to dedicate the time required? I never shied away from hard work but does having children change that completely? Also will what I gain in professional endeavors render my enjoyment of 'free time' impossible? My son and I sit together while he plays and I can bake/sew/blog and watch period dramas that Husband would never want to watch at the weekend (thankfully for our marriage we like a lot of the same current shows) This all may seem like a ridiculous thing to worry about now, or at all since I am not forced to work. Watching other mothers begrudgingly tear themselves away from their three month olds to rejoin the overworked American work force after a practically non existent maternity leave makes me feel guilty to consider doing so voluntarily even if it is a long way down the road. I guess what it boils down to is can you have a successful home business and give your children the best upbringing at the same time...

On a lighter note the polka dot skirt is finished and I will be posting pictures soon.