Shirt No. 1 in Silk Noil

I recently did a pretty sizable closet clean out. We rent an old house (built in 1925) and although it’s had a fair share of updates, the closets are just tiny. I decided to take on this task for multiple reasons –  1. I LOVE organizing, 2. space was feeling very limited, and 3. I knew I wasn’t wearing everything I owned.

I donated over five bags of clothes, sold some shoes and purses, and found new homes for my vintage items I can’t part with yet. My closet feels really good now and the process allowed me to identify the types and styles of garments I wear most often, AND what I should focus on making this year.

Even though I’ve only been sewing for three years and some change, I never went through that phase of making fancy dresses, or using exciting novelty fabrics. I always went into a project knowing that I wanted whatever I was making to be worn often and to speak to my overall aesthetic of neutrals and geometric patterns. I don’t want my garments to look handmade and I want items to mix and match easily.

Enter simple tops! Part of my 2018 making plans is to use patterns such as Shirt No. 1, Lou Box Top, and the Maya Top to build a collection of coordinating shirts out of silk noil, linen, and ikat. These patterns are also a great canvas for block printing.

Pattern: Shirt No. 1 by 100 Acts of Sewing

Fabric:  Silk Noil in Caramel from Stonemountain

Size: XS

Mods: None

Last weekend I was able to finish the first top for this goal. I decided to use the smallest size even though my bust measurement put me in between a S and M. I was hoping the XS would achieve a slightly more fitted look but still maintain the pattern’s relaxed silhouette.

The size choice overall feels good, but there is some slight pulling on the shoulder seams that I’d like to get rid of on the next one. I’m not entirely sure how I’ll accomplish that.

I had a brief moment when I first started sewing where I wanted to achieve an entirely me-made closet. I don’t want that. I do want to have mostly me-made and secondhand, with a dash of investment pieces from boss women makers, like Elizabeth Suzann, and ethical companies like Nisolo.

My new Shirt No. 1 pairs nicely with my ES Clyde Jacket in clay cotton canvas, no?

2018 Goal

I’m not much of a resolutions person BUT I do think it’s important to ponder what you need more of in your life every once in a while. And maybe what you need less of too. And let’s face it, a new year is a good time to reset. Or, you know… late February ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

Sketches from a visit to the University of Michigan Museum of Art

Goal: Draw More!

For me, I’d like to dedicate more time to drawing and painting. Ever since college (maybe even late high school), I’ve wanted to have a sketchbook practice. It’s been a long, hard struggle to get past the fear of the blank page, but it appears sewing has helped me get there. Having a partner who truly enjoys museums and encourages me to sketch while visiting has also been immensely motivating. And I think age makes you realize no one is looking at you in public, so sketch away!

If you’re interested in sketching out in the world, I highly recommend blind contour drawing. It’s a drawing exercise that, in my opinion, always produces great results. Here are a few I did while visiting the Cantor Art Center at Stanford.

I filled my first sketchbook last year and the one in the video above is almost filled. It felt really good to get to that last page and be able to flip through the whole book. A sketchbook is such a great way to document life.

I’m thinking about doing a 30 day drawing challenge and looping in my co-worker for accountability. We’re still hammering out the details, but I’m sure posting my progress here will be part of it. My parents also started a Drink & Draw evening with friends, which I’d like to join remotely.

Assembling an on-the-go sketching kit has been extremely helpful in keeping up the habit. It consists of my Creative Maker Supply Case made with my favorite Spoonflower fabric, which holds mostly pens and markers. This kit comes with me almost everywhere now.

As a birthday gift to myself I attended one of Case For Making‘s watercolor making workshops in December. I now have a beautiful, high quality portable watercolor set. THAT I MADE!

What goal(s) have you set for yourself this year?

Pattern Test: Mitchell Jumpsuit

Pattern: Mitchell Jumpsuit

Fabric: Black linen from Joanns

Size: M

Mods: None

Way back in late 2016 I pattern tested the Mitchell Jumpsuit by Paddle Boat Studios (Hannah Miley). It was really exciting and I’m hoping that in the future my job allows me to say “yes” to more pattern testing opportunities.

The jumpsuit sews up quickly and the pattern allows for some play with the tie lengths and widths, which is fun. As I was under a deadline, I didn’t have the time to make a muslin and learned I’m SUPER SHORT. If I were to make this again, I would significantly shorten the legs (probably by about 5″ or more).

The pattern includes both the jumpsuit and dress pattern!

Pattern: Mitchell Dress

Fabric: Gold Hopscotch by Merchant & Mills

Size: M

Mods: Shortened sleeve length by 8″, finished the dress with mitered corners.

After laying my eyes on Merchant & Mills’ Gold Hopscotch fabric, I knew the Mitchell Dress would be the perfect pattern to showcase the fabric’s four different prints.

As usual, I planned everything out in my sketchbook and began patiently waiting for the yardage to cross the pond. I bought about 4 yards of it since it has a large repeat and I wanted to get them ALL. There’s enough leftover that I’ve been thinking about making a cropped Willow Tank, or Maya Top.

I initially didn’t change the sleeves, but after trying the dress on, they were just too long for the lightweight fabric. I hacked 8″ off and never looked back. Since the sides of the dress are open and wrap to close, I thought it would be wise to miter the corners for a clean, less-bulky finish.

Sadly, I don’t wear either of these makes very much. I don’t reach for the jumpsuit because the legs are too long and with both the ties and the back zipper, it’s just a little too complicated for this teacher’s bladder.

I’m shortening the the jumpsuit’s legs right after I hit ‘publish’ and I’m bringing the dress to the front of my closet!

UPDATE: I shortened the jumpsuit legs by 5″ and they are the perfect cropped length now. I wore both the dress and the jumpsuit this week!

Quilts

I’ve made a grand total of three quilts in three-ish years of sewing. I’ve noticed there seems to be a little divide among the sewists out there – you’re either a quilter or a garment maker. I think you should be both!

The first quilt I made was the Timber Quilt by Alison Glass and Jamie Naughton. Was it too complicated for a first quilt? No. Did some blocks cause frustration? Yes. Is the binding a little weird? Yup. Was it worth it? ABSOLUTELY.

I firmly believe that if you’re a beginner, you should be making patterns that excite you with fabrics that make you drool. My motivation goes out the window if I’m not inspired by both the fabric and pattern. And you’re not going to want to sit at the machine and work through some bumps if you’re not completely jazzed about the possible product you’re making. When you boil it down, sewing is just following steps (and Googling when you hit a roadblock… Oh, and seam ripping. Lots of seam ripping).

After finishing my Timber quilt top, puzzling out the basting process, quilting it on my dinky intro machine, and binding it, I was elated! I gathered a bunch of graphing paper and began playing around with designs, because after one quilt, you can totally design your own. You just have to break your design into sections, or blocks to assemble it. Seriously. You can design your own quilt.

I made this little crib quilt for a friend and would love to make it again, but bigger! The color palette is just so yummy (to my eyes). The only thing holding me back is that 98% of these fabrics were thrifted bed sheets, so I need to track down a quilting cotton (or another sheet) that is that perfect green/brown color.

My third quilt is where I lost steam and it goes back to what I said about needing to be really excited about your fabric. I made this a WHOLE YEAR after friends had a baby. There was just something about the pink that made me not want to work on it. I also chose the most labor intensive quilting pattern possible to “hide” some mistakes in lining up all the blocks.

When I finally finished this quilt, I also made a rope basket with quilt scraps as an additional I’m-sorry-this-is-so-late present.

I haven’t made a quilt in over a year, but I’ve got the itch. My plans are to make this FREE pattern – Dear Gunta.  It is based on Gunta Stölzl’s work, who was a bad-ass, Bauhaus textile designer. I just have to narrow down my color choices, but I’m planning to use pops of metallic linen leftover from my Farrow Dress!