Tuesday, January 14, 2014

She's got legs, she knows how to use them!

I just made you think of a ZZ Top song! Ha!

Well, I finished my first garment for the 2014 Ready-To-Wear Fast and I LOVE it!

Outfit Details
Blazer: Target (Purchased 2013)
Tank: Target (Purchased 2011)
Skirt: DIY
Purse: Vintage from Reneesance (Purchased 2011)
Shoes: Chinese Laundry (Purchase 2010)
Necklace: Orion Designs (Purchased 2008)
I have a job interview tomorrow and had NOTHING to wear that didn't make me look like a little girl playing dress up in her mother's clothes. Seriously, it was a major problem. I really try to look impeccable for interviews. It's my past career life in business and my perfectionist tendencies combined. I had the tank and blazer already. The blazer is a smidgen big but it's totally appropriate. The tank is actually a spanx style tank but because I've lost weight it isn't OMG SUCKING THE LIFE OUT OF ME tight anymore.

Originally I wanted to make a ponte knit wiggle dress for the interview, but the fabric I have on hand didn't go well with the blazer. The blazer was a must in my mind so I developed a Plan B. I pulled out Butterick's B5249 and started making a muslin of View A. Shockingly the muslin fit almost perfectly with no alterations! I couldn't believe it. It was meant to be! I have a variety of mid-weight stretch cottons in my stash and decided on my darkest brown stretch sateen. I figured it matched my shoes perfectly, contrasted the tan tank and cream/gold tweed blazer nicely, and I was pleased to see it perfectly matched my handbag when I shot my photos. Yeah, totally meant to be!

On to the pattern/construction details:

Pattern Used: Butterick B5249, View A (OOP, Available on ebay) - An unlined, high waist, princess seamed pencil skirt with belt, flounce, shirring and pocket options.
Size Cut: 16 for the back, 18 for the front
Alterations/Changes to Pattern: I took in front princess seams by 1/4 inch to give me 1 inch less in the front total. Also, I trimmed down the hip curve to suit my shape better as I have lower curves on my hips than the pattern was designed for. I made a 3 inch hem instead of a 2 inch one as the pattern stated because I wanted the bottom of the skirt to hit me mid-knee. I omitted the belt and carriers, but may add the carriers later. I have a leopard print belt that would look amazing with this skirt!
Instructions: Didn't use them. It's a pencil skirt with princess seams... A newbie could do it!
Fabric: Dark Brown Stretch Cotton Sateen from FabricMart (I think) purchased a few years ago. I have yards of this stuff left to make slacks and maybe even a jacket. 
Does it look like the pattern envelope? Yes, except I skipped the belt/carriers.
Will this be made again? ABSOLUTELY! This is now my TNT pattern for pencil skirts. The fit is AMAZING! I'll probably work with adding a lining and maybe a vent in future versions. This pattern is insanely versatile. It's a shame it's OOP!

Construction Details:
I SUCK at sewing zippers with a machine, so I decided to try handpicking the zipper for this skirt as my first time ever trying that technique. It's not perfect, but for a first time ever I'm seriously pleased! Next time I make this pattern I will use an invisible zip with the same technique. I'm seriously out of practice with hand sewing but I thoroughly enjoyed working on the zip while watching Downton Abbey and Sherlock (watching the episodes before Season 3 airs on the 19th).

I used a Hong Kong finish with all the seams and bound the raw edge of the facing. The facing is understitched and I hand tacked it down to the seam allowances on the skirt to keep it in place. I ran out of the darker bias tape so had to improvise by using a shade off, but I don't care, it still looks freaking awesome to me on the inside.

I did a blind hem with my machine. It turned out perfect!

I love how clean this skirt looks on the inside! It looks amazing now matter which way you see it! I did spend a good bit of time and put in a lot of work on it, but the end result is so worth it! I have a skirt that will really last. I know this will be a staple in my wardrobe for a long time! Such a classic skirt!

Friday, January 03, 2014

The whimsical seamstress actually has a plan!

I tend to sew based on whim and rarely finish anything. Sad, but true. I get a rush of inspiration, get through fitting and then realize "Ugh, I hate it!" Rinse and repeat... that was most of my 2013 sewing experience. I realize now that I desperately need a plan in order to accomplish anything. Otherwise I'll just do what I did last year and end 2014 with nothing to wear, again! I am NOT going to let that happen!

Today Patti, one of the other RTW Fasters, posted a brilliant blog post about figuring out what you love to wear and what you need in your wardrobe. Using those ideas (found here) I came up with a plan in 3 minutes. Seriously, 3 MINUTES! I can't believe how fast it was! The idea is to evaluate what you spend your time doing that requires clothing (um, pretty much everything but bathing, folks) and specify what clothing you need for those activities. Here's what I came up with:

Weddings/Birthday Dinners - Cocktail Dress
Plays/Date Night - Cocktail Dress, Skirt/Blouse or Slacks/Blouse
Sleeping - Pajamas and Robe
Working Out - Leggings, T-Shirt, Sports Bra, Hoodie
Interviews - Dress and Jacket/Blazer
Doctor Appointments - Dress, Skirt/Blouse or Slacks/Blouse
Lounging at Home - Knit Top or Sweater and Pants or Jeans
Cleaning House - T-shirt/Leggings/Apron
Entertaining at Home - Dress, Skirt/Blouse or Slacks/Blouse
Errands - Dress, Skirt/Blouse, or Slacks/Blouse
Seasonal Changes - Winter Coat, Dress Coat, Jacket

With that information I can definitely see what I need to have in my wardrobe! Some of them I have already, but not many. Based on what I already have, I need to make the following during the RTW Fast. I will need to buy new bras, sport bras, panties, hosiery and the like, but no actual garments! If I have time I want to try to make my own bras and panties. However, I can't go out in public with just those so I need to focus on my garments first.

1 Cocktail Dress
2 Dresses
2 Skirts
2 Slacks
3 Blouses
3 Knit Tops
3 Pajamas
2 Pants for lounging or Jeans
1 Dress Coat
1 Robe

So I need to sew 20 items! Whew! The cocktail dress is already well in progress and I'm about to start one of the 2 dresses because I will need it very soon. Once I get those done I will be planning when to make the rest of my wardrobe. I want to focus on basics that I can dress up or down as I need to and that can be mixed and matched to give me a variety of outfits.

I also have commissions coming up... A dress for my niece for Easter, a wedding gown for a friend, and flower girl dresses for my own girls to be in my friend's wedding. The wedding is actually in May 2015 so I'll be starting those around November. I'm going to try to get one more garment done in January to make 3 for the month and get as many done as I can in February so that March and April can be focused on the Easter dress I need to make. Then I'll have May through October to focus on everything else left for my wardrobe. Wish me luck, y'all! My sewing machine is going to be going into overdrive!

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

I lost weight, now I'm fasting!

Sounds kind of backwards, right? Well, actually, it's not. Over 2013 I didn't sew much because from July through the end of the year I focused on losing more weight. On January 2, 2011 I weighed my heaviest.. 200 lbs! I was depressed, in pain, and overall just miserable at that size. In 2012 I had lost 20 pounds to go from 200 lbs to 180 lbs. I decided in July 2013 it was time to get serious and get the body I want to have. I started drinking Shakeology daily and working out with Beachbody programs.

L- Me at my heaviest, 200 lbs
R- Me today! 156.2 lbs

I've gone from 180 lbs to 156 lbs in 6 months! I didn't workout as regularly as I should, but I steadily improved my habits and have been exercising more regularly for the past month or so. In 2014 I am taking myself to the next level. I'm working out consistently so I can reach my goal of 130 lbs. I want to be lean, strong, and healthy!

The best and worst part of losing almost 25 pounds this year is that none of my clothes (undergarments included) fits! Absolutely NOTHING! I saw a couple weeks ago Sarah and Goodbye Valentino was going to have another Ready To Wear Fast. I thought that would be the perfect inspiration for me to make my wardrobe of perfectly fitting clothes that I love to wear! I'm totally Fasting with her!


My goal is to complete at least one garment a month, but I'm shooting for getting 2-3 done per month. I have some commissions coming up that I will have to make time for so that's why my goal is just 1 per month. I will be posting my plans soon. I've been sketching ideas like crazy. It's so much fun brainstorming when I need EVERYTHING!