the second-chances top + a pledge

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I’ll tell you the moral of this story in advance: I’m an idiot.

But hey, an idiot with a really cute top, eh?

(Please, God, don’t let high-low hems go out of style now that I’ve finally jumped on board. Cause you know I’ll wear this anyway.)

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sometimes you just need a [expletive] sundress

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[ hat optional]

One of the best sewing decisions I’ve ever made was to spend three or four hours on a weekend afternoon fitting the bodice of Simplicity 1873. That was about a year ago, and I’ve thanked Yesterday Sarah many times since.

The phrase TNT gets thrown around a lot — including by me, often erroneously — but this is one case where it really applies. Going through the boring part of fitting has paid off with, essentially, a sloper for a sleeveless bodice. I can play around with variations (like wrap-back and scoop-back) without worrying about making adjustments for my narrow back or deep armscye or whatever.

So when I need a quick win in the sewing category to make myself feel better about a recent failure, I went straight to Old Faithful. Because sometimes you just need a f–king sundress.

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it wasn’t meant to be

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I had high hopes, guys, SUCH high hopes for this dress.

It was going to kickstart years of sewing vintage patterns. It was going to add some unique flavor to my wardrobe without detracting from my personal style. It was going to live in that sweet spot between effortless-casual and pulled-together-work-appropriate.

Or, you know, not!

I haven’t really posted about THIS kind of project before; my posts tend to be about my favorite makes, the success stories. But that’s not really a realistic portrayal of sewing, is it?

So here we go: I made this dress, and I really don’t like it. Let’s punctuate that with many, many GIFs of Liz Lemon, even though I haven’t watched “30 Rock” in ages and can’t remember where they all come from.

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unselfish sewing: finlayson

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I’ve never sewn anything for my husband. Well, that’s not entirely true; I did once sew a tie for him, but it was kind of a disaster, and even I had to admit the fabric was totally wrong. I think it’s crumpled up under the bed now.

So I’ve been leery of sewing him anything else. But I have to admit, I still wanted to. So I settled on the Finlayson sweatshirt because really, not even I could mess up a sweatshirt, right?

(Yes, I could, and I definitely could have done a better job, but he’ll never notice. I think.)

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wardrobe architect: march

[ I call this Still Life of Broken Sewing Machine in Spring. ]

Here’s the tricky part of March’s challenge for Wardrobe Architect: How do identify the holes in your spring/summer wardrobe and plan out your sewing projects for the season when your summer/spring wardrobe is still in a plastic tub in the basement of your building?

(Also, how do you sew said items when your sewing machine is on the fritz AGAIN? BLAARGHH)

It comes down to a plan. At the end of last summer, I talked about how the end of a season is the best time to plan for the next one. All your recent wardrobe gaps are fresh in your memory, since you’ve had to deal with them week in, week out for months.

And that’s exactly what I did at the end of last summer, before I let myself get all excited about fall sewing — I made up a list of the things I lacked. I drew on that plan pretty heavily to make up this post, and I’ll make notes for next fall/winter at the bottom.

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staple sewing: summery blouses

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Well, I’m still working on my vintage shirtdress, but as I got to the end, I realized I was out of snaps and ordered more. Then when the snaps came, I realized I’d lost my snap tool and had to order one of those.

So while I waited, I jumped into my next spring/summer project — lightweight, drapey, lovely blouses to wear to work. The kind that feels like you’re not wearing anything.

I cut out three tops at once and dove in.

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wardrobe architect: february

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You know about Colette’s Wardrobe Challenge, right? Right. January’s challenge was satisfying, but easy. The real work begins now.

February’s challenge: Inventory and clean out your closet.

I didn’t exactly follow the challenge — there’s a worksheet that I didn’t use — but I followed along with the spirit of the thing: Get rid of things you don’t love to wear. Not things you don’t love. There’s a difference.

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vintage amazeballs

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[ Lewiston (Pa.) Evening Journal, Sept. 13, 1947. Image via Google News. ]

So, let’s talk about vintage patterns for a minute. Not those reproductions that the big pattern companies do, although I’m ALL in favor of those, and not the vintage-inspired indie patterns you see out there, like Tilly and the Buttons’ Francoise or Colette Patterns’ earlier designs. I’m talking about really, truly vintage patterns that someone bought in a store or by mail 60 years ago (crazy thought).

I’ve been sewing up my first one, and I’ve learned something important: Old newspaper ads for sewing patterns are delightful.

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staple sewing: the simple shift

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I feel like I’ve said this a thousand times, but here it is again: I can’t believe I didn’t think of this before! After poring over my ideal silhouettes via Wardrobe Architect, I realized shift dresses are the perfect answer to my personal style, which can be summed up as basic, basic, and boring, with lots of dresses. I’ve always steered clear of them because I’m a pear shape. I mean, can this style really work if your hips are two sizes bigger than your waist?

Spoiler: It works. It skims everything and looks effortless. Only downside is that even my dress form Constance can upstage me in pictures if she’s wearing a flashier fabric. Thanks, Constance.

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wardrobe architect: january

WELL DUH ISN’T THAT WHY WE’RE ALL HERE, RIGHT? Building a wardrobe?

Well … in theory, yes, we’re here to make clothes we’d wear.

Yet I’ve got all sorts of garments malingering in the closet because I got all excited about an idea and it turned out to work better in my head than in real life.  Not that getting excited is bad. It’s what makes sewing fun and worthwhile. Trying to avoid that would make this a pretty joyless pastime.

So what do we do? We balance excitement with an assessment of what works and what doesn’t. We point our excitement in the right directions. That’s where Wardrobe Architect comes in.

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