Archive | February, 2012

Chintz is in?!

15 Feb

I never thought I’d say that, much less with such delight.

One of my favorite online retailers, Shabby Apple, has presented a “Mad Hatter, vintage-inspired collection.”

And they’ve named the pieces after lines from the  poem Jabberwocky.

My favorite choices are the dresses “Frabjous Day”  and “Calloo Callay!”

The real joy is that these are all fairly simple patterns, and can be easily reinterpreted in a more quiet printed fabric, for those of us tempted , but not yet entirely convinced, by the return of vivid floral chintz prints.

Wardrobe Hacking

12 Feb

Not purchasing any new clothes has given me the excuse to be ruthless in my own closet. I have too much clothing I’ve been holding on to that I no longer wear, but that I find it hard to part with just the same.  Looking at these items as fabric–just piling it up, looking at it as material rather than finished garments, has completely changed my perspective. I realize that most pieces have great color or texture, some element that I really do like, even if the fit or the style is no longer relevant to my wardrobe.

Sometimes, the “makeover” can be accomplished as simply as taking out a scissors.  I had this stretchy, textured orange Spandex-y maxi dress. (Yes, I know: that description alone should have easily qualified said garment for the donation heap, right there.) But it kept surviving the closet purges. I held onto it, although I know I will never need a bright orange disco-dancing stretch dress, ever in my life (if indeed I ever did.)  But today, with scissors in hands, I was rummaging about looking for garments that might lend scraps of bright color to another project underway.  My hands landed on this dress. And I realized that I kept this dress for many genuine reasons: I love orange, it’s a hard color to find in the right tones, and I love texture–and this fabric offers both of those. I may not want a whole entire head-to-toe arrangement in orange, but it sure does make a good base of color for an outfit.


So with a few snips of my scissors, the transformation was complete.

Inspiration: Alabama Chanin

10 Feb

Every once in a while I’ll see a photo of some hand-stitched, hand dyed garment with a motif of floral cutouts, or an interesting texture created with a simple stitch, and I catch my breath and follow the links….

…and find Alabama Chanin.
I love the textures and the layers, and the way the raw handstitching is so often used in garments that end up being so much more elegant than a sum of their parts.  Of course, their items are also way out of my budget, so I will look, and learn, and as I’m thinking about ways to create, and ways to refashion things into new iterations, I will remember the way rough stitches look next to an unfinished raw edge of fabric, and can still be perfectly glamorous.

The End of Suitcase Challenge II

7 Feb

Once upon a time I made pants. It just so happens that they fit, right now, so for my last day of travel on Round 2 of my “Traveling Seamstress Handmade Suitcase Challenge” I am featuring my who-knows-how-old pair of handmade green pants, together with a cropped cardigan knit of Noro “Yuzen” multi-colored yarn.

AND, although my shell (worn under the cardi) is a factory-made piece, the bracelet on my wrist is one of my own fabric bangles.

Also, although you can’t see them, I think I get some extra-credit points, because under my boots I’m wearing my very own hand knitted socks.

Plus I’m wearing this outfit all the way home, which is always a good feeling, to be at that stage in any journey…it’ll be good to be back at my sewing machine once again, creating new things.


Suitcase Challenge Failure

6 Feb

It had to happen sooner or later. I just don’t have a full wardrobe of handmade goodness, at this stage, yet.

I’m wearing a handmade skirt (the one I called here my “Marginal Folded Skirt”) but the top is wholly off-the-rack and readymade.

I know 50% is a failing grade, and it’s going to bring down my “Handmade Suitcase Challenge” travel GPA, and I promise to try harder, tomorrow. But there’s only so much sewing I can squeeze in, sometimes.

(I admit, though, I am rather pleased with the way vivid teal looks next to navy. This skirt is a mostly-new color in my wardrobe palette, so finding things to wear with it is a bit of a challenge all its own. Sometimes it takes work even to get to that 50% mark!)

On the Road Again: Suitcase Challenge, Part II

6 Feb

Barely did I have time to unpack my suitcase and do laundry than I was off once more, anew. I wish I’d had had time to sew one more quick jersey fabric shirt, in between, or work on my blazer a bit more, or start my cape…but…such is life. I did not.

So I’m sticking to my resolution of wearing only handmade, as much as possible, whenever I leave town, so here I am, doing my best. Today, for travel, I’m wearing the corduroy skirt I made recently (and posted here) with the whipped-together cowl-neck tee shirt I made two weeks ago, for last week’s trip.

Meanwhile, sewing plans and creative projects pile up in my mind (and in my pocket-sized notebook) but I will have to wait to get to them for a few more days.

This is a short trip, anyway: three days, three outfits, and then hopefully I’ll be able to work on something brand new.

Meanwhile, I think I want to re-make the waistband on this skirt. When I wear something store-bought, I just make do with however it fits. When I wear something self-made, however, I fuss over every detail, never quite content. After wearing it a while, I always think I can improve on a thing.

I suspect this is why so many garments end up in my mending basket, as just  more work to be done.

Shoe Museum

2 Feb

First thrilling thing: there is such a thing as a shoe museum, the Bata Shoe Museum, in Toronto.

Second thrilling thing: they are having a “Roaring Twenties” exhibit,“Heels, Hemlines, and High Spirits.”  How much fun is that?!

I’ve heard such great things about Toronto…it’s probably lovely this time of year. 😉

Handmade Suitcase Challenge, on the way home!

1 Feb

Last hotel-room outfit update, for this little trip. (Off again, next week, though.)

When I packed, I thought this outfit was the most boring of the batch, but it turns out to be my very favorite of the week.

“Wear the Shift” shift dress, made by me.

“Que Sera” cotton cardigan, made by me.

-Bowtie Pendant, made by Cheri Lewis, of San Francisco.

I like that even though it’s all neutral colors, the textures play well together and the patterns keep it from being boring.

Houndstooth fabric against patterned tights and lacy knit cardigan, even the scalloped pattern on the bowtie necklace adds something similar, yet different. I will totally wear this again, and am happy that my mini-challenge led to new wardrobe discoveries.