It happens so that every half a year I end up writing an insights post, and that is exactly what I decided to do this time again. This November I’ve celebrated two years anniversary of my blog. Am happy to report that I still enjoy sewing and blogging, arguably that’s longer than one could have expected. And yet, here we are – majority of my clothes are now me-made and I’m definitely planning to continue!
I’ve chosen this name for the post inspired by my dear online friend Diane of Dream.Cut.Sew who has encouraged me since the very beginning of my sewing journey and continues being an inspiration to me. Diane once had musings, I loved the expression, often I have musings, too. This time around I’d like to share with you how I go about my decision making process when planning my projects and my wardrobe, and also what I do with some of previously made garments that might not be loved all that much or end up being damaged.
Recent findings and revelations
This year it was so curious to observe my choices and decisions evolving. Few years ago my thoughts were all over the place, partly caused by share abundance that had hit me in the sewing world. I’d purchase all those crazy colorful fabrics, I wouldn’t think through all that well which pattern would work for which fabric. It excited me too much to just be able to make almost any garment there was, and in the process I failed to work out any sort of consistency across my projects. This slowly started being obvious this year, when I realized that many of me-made garments do not match with much else in my closet. It’s probably ok to have a screaming color summer top that you can dilute with neutral pants. But that’s not the same in colder seasons when there are more garments in the outfit that should preferably match.
Slowly but surely I started narrowing down colors and designs meant for my projects. This season neutrals feel the most comfortable to me. For some reason I lean more towards blacks, greys and at times navy hues. Last season that was more Earth colors, but that’s no longer the case this season. From time to time I would still make a colorful garment or two, and that’s mostly because of my fabric stash being collected over the course of several years (one more reason not to hoard fabric!). There still is bright raspberry coating in my stash, it’s cashmere blend, so I’d better find ways to use it! But otherwise, my fabric stash slowly turns to less screaming hues and that’s something that comforts me quite a bit.
Another lane of considerations is related with fabric content. I’m still crazy about natural fibers and rarely purchase anything else. But few revelations appeared during last year. Interestingly enough, it is actually possible to be too warm in an outfit. I have never believed I’d say so, but here we go! I would usually be cold anywhere I go. That’s why it was amazing to be able to make many different pure wool garments as I believed they’d increase my overall level of comfort during colder seasons, which essentially is 9 months of the year in our climate. However, when I wore my recent houndstooth tweed jacket on alpaca sweater to the office, I became so hot, that I had to conclude I’d overdone it. Apparently there might be too much wool in the outfit, and now I know! 🙂
One more revelation is related with silks that I had accustomed to use as linings. I had considered an ultimate luxury to line wool garment with silk, and perhaps it really is! But silks may be different, and I had to learn that in a difficult way. The last time I used silk fabric as lining was for my beautiful trench coat, and that lining is gorgeous indeed. The problem though is that this particular silk is not slippery enough, which means that it does not add enough wearing ease to the garment. Since then I’ve become so much more careful, and haven’t used silk as lining to any of my recent garments. There are still few silks purchased meant for linings, but I’ll test their suitability for that purpose so much more carefully.
I’ve written in few of my previous posts how I had realized that dresses were not the answer to all the questions in the wardrobe. I still stand by this. There are some 15 me-made summer dresses in my wardrobe, whereas I’ve made only 4 colder season dresses and do not plan many more. I love making dresses, but during cold seasons I do not wear them much, so there is no point in making loads of them. Instead I sew many coats, and should now turn more to jackets. Have recently rediscover skirts. Skirts have been undeservedly forgotten item of the wardrobe, perhaps due to me not owning many of them. However, making a skirt is an excellent way to use up wool fabric leftovers, and I have many of those after previous jackets and coats projects. So here we go – skirts have started appearing in my closet as an unintended consequence of making coats!
This summer I discovered up-cycling as the way of creating something new out of something unloved. All of the garments that I’ve remade are worn so much more than initial garments were, so I guess – yay! As part of my considerate fashion efforts I’ve also recently mended few of my garments for the first time.
In general I hate mending! If I bought pants which were too long for me, I’d most likely get them shortened for a fee instead of doing that myself. It’s ridiculous in a way as I’m perfectly capable of doing that myself. On the other hand, I no longer purchase anything that would require mending, so this argument is quite irrelevant.
But recently two independent situations happened that required some sort of solution, and one of the options was to throw the garment out. I did not want to do that, and so here let me share two short stories of rescue work that I’m pretty happy about.
Autumn dress transformation story
Last autumn I made this dress that turned out really well. It was of very nice color scheme, and fabric content was a joy to wear. The dress was light and unrestricting, so in all respects – Ultimate autumn dress. The only problem with it was that in the process of making it I screwed up the length of the skirt. It was designed to be longer, but I made a mistake in cutting it, and eventually ran short of fabric for a longer skirt. That’s how I ended up with length just below knees, which is the least flattering skirt length on me. This dress was worn, but was not loved much. After several considerations on how to style it, I realized, that it looks really well with a wide belt (although it was not designed to be worn with a belt at all – its waistline is higher up than natural). When I put the belt on, it became clear that the dress was too long, and hey – whatever is too long can be shortened! So that’s what I did. I cut 5 cm off of the skirt length and created a proper wide hem for it. Initially the hem was minuscule rolled hem as I was trying to squeeze every centimeter of skirt length. And now I like the dress so much better! It looks so much more fun and flattering, and I’m pretty sure will be worn so much more often than before!
Tweed coat rescue story
This spring I made this glorious unlined tweed coat that I absolutely loved and wore all the time. One day couple of months ago I came back from my workout session, started hanging the coat into the closet and with peripheral vision spotted something unusual at the back of the coat. I looked straight at that something, and it was this:
I was startled. It quickly dawned on me, that I probably wear my coats more often in a car than outside. Of course, majority of me-made coats are long, because, you know – style! So what happens is that each time I get into my car, the coat gets pulled in all sorts of awkward ways. Lined coats are perhaps more flexible, and it is easier to sit comfortably on them, whereas unlined coats, like this one, get abused more harshly. And apparently, unlined and uninterfaced tweed is not too happy to take abuse!
While making this coat I interfaced all the seams that would be hidden. However this horizontal back waist seam was very much exposed, and I did not want the interfacing tape to show up inside the coat, so it was left uninterfaced. Continuous pulling of this seam each time I’d get into the car ended up pulling those delicate warp threads, and eventually the area thinned so grossly.
I was really upset about what had happened. My first thought was that I would most likely need to throw this coat out. This was very disappointing to comprehend as the coat had just recently been made. Next I promised myself to always interface tweeds. Something I am true to from then on. But then I recalled that for some inexplicable reason I had kept a small piece of this fabric, and started wondering if the coat could somehow be rescued. That leftover piece was too small to make anything out of it, so there had really been no point in keeping it. But I did, as though knowing that I might need it shortly.
Let me share how the rescue operation went. First I unpicked 15 cm long side seams portions at the waist. It was tricky to do as the seams were very well concealed in that busy fabric pattern, and also there were multiple seams there as the belt parts had been sewn into side seams too. Next, I had to unpick all bias tape finishes of those portions of side seams that I had just unpicked. It was an annoyingly lengthy process, but there was no other way for me to achieve what I wanted. I was planning to cut out the damaged portion of the back waist seam and install a properly interfaced insert that would be of the width of the belt.
So I cut out 4 cm wide damaged area out of the back (2 cm up and down from the back waist seam). The edges of that hole were interfaced using interfacing tape. I no longer cared that the interfacing tape would be visible. Then I cut 8 cm wide insert out of the leftover fabric and properly interfaced it. What was left to do was installing the insert, which I did using 1 cm seam allowance. To hide those two seams I stitched on a piece of lining the lower part of which was slip-stitched in place by hand.
Finally I was able to stitch back previously unpicked bias tape in order to patch the finish of side seams. The ends of the belt were attached to that newly created back waistband. And finally side seams were stitched back to where they were. The slide show below demonstrates the rescue process.
With this extensive rescue operation I managed to salvage my so much loved coat, and continued wearing it this autumn. I hope this patchwork will hold and I’ll be able to enjoy this coat for the years to come!
I hope you enjoyed this post! It was a bit different than many other posts on my blog, however I thought that it could be interesting to share some of the recent thoughts and especially this latter coat rescue project. I am currently working on one more coat and will of course write a post on this project as soon as the coat is finished!
Let there be peace in the world! 💙💛
8 thoughts on “Fixes and other musings”
Excellent rescues on both garments. Interesting to hear your musings as well. I am guilty of being attracted to pretty fabrics and have quite a stash to show for it. I need some of your discipline in working my way through it.
Thank you so very much for your kind comment, Vicki! ❤️ I “slip” at times too and end up purchasing some funky fabric, but less and less so now. I try to follow some kind of disclipline really, and try not to purchase something I would have a hard time using. Regardless of all my pragmatic efforts, it is very tough, still🙈😁
Great episode! Your idea to repair is brilliant and you executed it so very well. Thankyou. The end product is amazing.
Aww, thank you Jane for your kind words! I think I was on a mission with this coat rescue situation, and the determination to succeed helped me big time! It is a small thing, but I couldn’t be more proud with the end result ☺️
Firstly Giedre, I just want to say thank you for your kind words about me at the beginning of your post. I’m so happy that we’re online friends.
I really enjoyed reading your ‘musings’ 🙂 I really empathise with your thoughts about seeing so many garments online that end up encouraging us to make so many bright things or styles that don’t suit us. I’ve travelled that path also.
Your idea to narrow down your colour choices is very wise and to also look at some previous makes that can be up-cycled. Love what you did with your dress and coat.
I’ve learnt so many things from you, Diane! ❤️ And not only about sewing. Like, for example, how about that Sigma 35mm f 1.4 lense that has become my main lense anywhere I go, or how to use Lightroom to edit colors of the photos, and also few other super important things – all of that is your wisdom you kindly shared either in your blog or simply while chatting. I am so happy to have become online friends with you!
Perhaps all of us have to make one or another common mistake before finding the best way forward. And it’s perfectly fine – it is part of the process of creating. I am glad I made those neon clothes – I’ve learnt something from every garment I’ve ever made. Making the wardrobe as wearable as possible is now the next step in the evolution, and I am so curious to see where it’s gonna lead me!
Great post! I too am sometimes like a butterfly attracted to great patterns or colours, although I buy usually plain clothes. I have tried to develop a colour story for an annual collection and that has helped at bit, although it is difficult to match colours exactly with online shopping. I think you did a great job on the tweed repair. I think of tweed as loosely woven and tend to interface and line coats for that reason. Having said that I do repair damage like yours and get a lot of satisfaction from having saved a favourite garment, even though I can’t say I love alterations.
And yes, peace.
Hi Abbey, thank you so much for your nice comment – I so enjoy reading your comments on my blog! I guess, we all have to go through the same or similar phases in our sewing journey. And we never learn from others mistakes 🙈
As for tweed, while sewing this coat I did contemplate how to stabilize this fabric. However, the wish for clean inside finish won and I decided not to interface the back. Well, it has definitely served as a lesson and now I will interface tweeds forever!