Sunday, May 19, 2019

Weekend Review: Clothing Care & Repair

Singer Sewing Reference Library: Clothing Care & Repair
Minnetonka, MN: Cy DeCosse, c1985.
127 p.
This is an older book -- straight from the 80s in fact! But it is a very useful book even after 30 odd years. And it's easily found in thrift stores and online if you want to check it out yourself. 

This is full of useful information; the pictures are dated, but excellent mid-80s examples of clothing choices! 

Even though there are new products now that make mending and altering clothes quicker and easier in some ways, this book has solid info on a lot of topics. And unlike most other books on mending, even modern ones, this also goes over how to care for your clothes.

As stated below, "Care Extends Wear", and we are hearing today that "the most sustainable piece of clothing is the one already in your closet." So let's learn how to care for our clothes well so we can wear them longer.

The text is broken up into 3 main sections: Care (including washing & drying, hanging & storing, even packing advice... and an extremely useful nearly 4 page spread on stain removal) -- Repair (all the usual suspects - zippers, patches, mending tears, seams or hems, and discussion of different kinds of fabrics and their needs) -- and Customizing (quick changes to styles to keep things current and wear them longer, and even though the specific changes are aimed at an 80s silhouette, the techniques are still applicable and handy today). 

Have a stain? This book will help you with that. 

There are also some tips on creative repair or customization to make something your own. Those of us who already make our own clothes to start with could really run with these ideas. 

Patch It! 

This is book is one of those "oldies but goodies" that I keep on my shelf alongside my old and much used Readers Digest Guide to Sewing. I really like the clarity of instruction and the many, many clear photos in this book. I've found the answer to nearly every wardrobe malfunction emergency in here, and really do recommend it even though it is a little older. It covers basics to more involved information, and offers ideas for mending techniques that aren't visible if you aren't into the modern trend. Really solid. Enjoy the 80s hair while you're at it.

Friday, May 17, 2019

MeMadeMay at the Halfway Point

So it is already halfway through May! I can hardly believe it, just like always I wonder where the time goes.

I've been wearing a few favourites since my last MMMay update. And I've reached for a second wear of some of them already. Here's what I've been wearing:

Left Column:

Stretch & Sew 305

New Look 6299

Colette Moneta


Simplicity 1593 vest (over another KwikSew 3559)

Right Column: 

Blue Mystery Dress (no longer a mystery; it's McCalls 7522, in Shelli Segal's 'Laundry' line)

Stretch & Sew 345

Butterick 5388 

I repeated a wear: Vogue 9329 (not pictured) And I also wore another favourite, though unblogged, KwikSew 3559 top twice - it's blue and faintly sparkly.

I haven't been taking photos this year very much; I keep forgetting. So once again most of these are older  pics from when I first made these items. It's kind of interesting that some of them are a few years old but still in regular rotation in my closet.

I've noticed that I am wearing things over again which are comfortable and flattering, and which feel like me when I put them on. The weather has been very variable so I still had a chance to wear one of my favourite colder weather dresses, the purple houndstooth Stretch & Sew.

But I also noticed how many nice pieces I have that I still want to wear. I'll have to get some laundry done and a batch of ironing underway so that I can wear all of my cotton dresses next week!

And I have one UFO now in process, and one fairly large mending project at least moved on to the sewing table, so I feel like I'm on track for my MeMadeMay goals this year.

Are you still enjoying MeMadeMay, if you have joined in? Are you meeting your own goals for the month?

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Tuesday Pattern Thoughts

A quick catch-up for a Tuesday! I have been so busy I haven't finished much sewing this month, but I certainly do have a lot of plans. I've pulled out some Indie patterns that I need to trace before I can cut them; I print them and store them in envelopes until I can trace them off so have a very large stack of manila envelopes in my sewing room currently.

I also have lots of new ideas thanks to a trip to the city that netted me the May issue of Burda magazine and a simple Simplicity pattern (that one was unexpected since Simplicity is not sold in Canada...) I'm hoping to get to at least ONE of these plans before the end of May! How does time go by so quickly?

I also had a good thrifting week. I found this amazing patternmaker's ruler for $7 and couldn't say no. 

And I also came across two patterns from first gen Indie pattern companies: the "Flounce About Jacket" by Saf-T-Pockets, and the "Kusamba Dress etc" by the Batik Butik, for $1 each. I'd never heard of the second company so when I eventually get around to trying these out I'll have to see if they're worth exploring further! I like finding unusual things when I'm thrifting and changing up my sewing room a little.

Hope you've been having a wonderfully creative sewing week as well. 

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Weekend Review: Visible Mending

Visible Mending / Jenny Wilding Cardon
Bothell, WA: Martingale, c2018.
80 p.
This book is much shorter than the previous mending book I just reviewed; but I liked it just a shade more. This book is not so much about the philosophy or politics of mending, it just tells you how to do it. It's practical and to the point. I appreciate that.

It also has a wide variety of instruction -- from boro stitching to embroidery, patching, and darning. The author has a colourful sensibility; this isn't all denim and white sashiko mending. Thank goodness! I like the colours and the variety of styles and options shared in this book. It's also nice that the author uses fabrics and items which are not denim -- there are ideas for tea towels to tote bags! And she includes some ideas for mending a sweater as well.

And she also goes beyond hand stitching options, which I haven't seen talked about as often in this area. The last chapter covers machine mending -- really useful for when you want to repair something in a hurry. Machine stitching also gives a different look and feel, which is nice for people who aren't so much into the folksy hand stitching look.

Overall this short book had quite a few great ideas, and shared lots of examples. Again, the examples are the author's taste so may not appeal to all readers. But the techniques are solid and are shared with good visual and text instructions. I'm sure that readers interested in these techniques could adapt them to their own style. I liked this one a lot -- short and sweet and useful.

Friday, May 10, 2019

The Amazing Technicolour Thrifted Fabric Top

photographic evidence that I do sometimes wear pants!
I've met one of my goals for MeMadeMay this year -- to finish up at least one of my UFOs! I've had this project cut and waiting since January. I paired this thrifted Stretch & Sew pattern with a piece of thrifted poly fabric when I was going through my stash in early January, cut it out, and there it stayed. But this week I got busy sewing and this only took a night to sew up. 

I made View B, the straight top in the middle. View A is a blouson top with a ribbed band at the bottom and View C is the dress. I like the fit and think I might try the dress view next! 

The most interesting part of this pattern is the shoulder yoke element. You could really play with this to add interest to the top. In this case, I thought that changing the direction of the stripes would be a perfect use for this fabric. 

It was a simple construction process, with the shoulder yoke stitched on to the front and then the middle hem folded down and everything topstitched, then the same in the back. There is a folded sleeve cuff that is sewn in on the wrong side then folded over to the front, which adds a nice extra touch to the simple lines of this top. 

I did grade out from a 38 at the shoulder/bust to a 44 at the hem -- the sizes are based on body measurement so I had to adjust for my more pear shape figure. But the grading doesn't change the lines of the pattern, and it skims the body well at the right size. I might take a 1/2" pinch out of the centre front bodice on my next try but otherwise I really like this bright, cheery, sample top and am so glad I finally sat down to finish it!

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Me Made May: a beginning

Well, it's the end of Week One of Me Made May and what have I learned so far? My pledge was to look at what I most often reach for and what gets worn -- style, fabric, patterns all under the microscope this month!

I haven't made any plans around my wardrobe, I'm just dressing as I normally would, and noticing what I feel best in. So far this week I've worn the following:

Left Column, top to bottom:

Kwik Sew 3559
McCalls 7597
McCalls 7251 (Tracy Reese Plenty blouse)


Vogue 9329 (Marcy Tilton)

Right Column, top to bottom:

Simplicity 2927
Colette Moneta
New Look 6602

What have I learned from this? I reach for clothes I feel comfortable in. I like a looser fit, sleeves, lots of knits or softer wovens like rayons or linen blends. Also, obviously I love dresses ;)

It has been cooler than usual in these parts most days this week, so I haven't been able to get away with many lighter dresses unless I'm also wearing a cardigan or tights. But that also means I can wear things like my Vogue 9329 or any of my Monetas.

I still have some of favourites to wear, but have found that dresses that shift around on my body or don't fit quite right (like the beautiful Simplicity 2927 "Carnival Rose" dress) aren't fun to wear even though they are beautiful. Sigh.

I'm still hoping to alter or adjust things that I love but that don't fit right; and get rid of things that I wear that end up not feeling like me at all. Nothing so far this week is that bad!

How is MeMadeMay going for you?

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Weekend Review: Mending Matters

Mending Matters / Katrina Rodabaugh
New York: Abrams, c2018.
224 p.
I read this book a while ago now, when my library got a copy in. It's a lovely book; beautiful photos, thoughtful essays on why mending and slow sewing is important, useful techniques for patching and slow stitching, and a very nicely produced book overall.

Although I love the look of sashiko mending and denim patches and so on, it's not really my own aesthetic -- I don't really wear jeans or even the kind of casual jeans & tee style very often at all. But the ideas in this book are still relevant. Think about your clothing use, consider buying less and mending more, think of mending as cool and fashionable and we'll increase its frequency among more than just dedicated sewists. I can get behind all of those things, and I do mend and upcycle, though not that often in this specific visible mending way.

Rodabaugh's own story is interesting and weaves its way in and out of the essays and the techniques. She went on a clothing fast and ended up repairing and renovating her wardrobe to keep it going, and found that it was satisfying and not that hard to do. Her style is quite minimal, lots of blue and white, denim and sashiko. It's visually lovely even if it's not my own style.

I feel like this is a book for the moment -- with increased interest in sustainability among younger people and many people who haven't thought about it before, this kind of beautifully made, stylish and modern approach to the art of mending shows it up as a feasible and stylish thing to do. That alone is important, to change the mindset of those who aren't already convinced.

Personally I felt that the book was inspiring both in concept and in projects. There are 6 essays alongside the 22 projects, and the tone of the book is consistent and achievable for beginners. It does feel a tiny bit repetitive because of the themes being covered in a few different places, but that's also likely most noticeable when you're reading the book in one go. It's the kind of book that might be used more in a project by project way. She talks about patches (interior & exterior), darning, slow stitching and weaving. There are a few other techniques that she doesn't mention at all, but one book can't cover everything, and the focus of this one is on visible mending and entirely wovens, too. If you're looking for knit techniques, well, perhaps that'll be her next book, who knows!

This book has gotten a lot of hype, and has been sold out more than once. It's a pretty good one, and I think it has captured the zeitgeist in some way. If you have never thought about mending before, it could be an illuminating read. If you mend regularly you'll recognize most of the techniques - but it's still worth a good perusal, especially if you can find it in your local library like I did.