Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Two skirts and a cropped Linden

Exciting news guys!! I made two more office-appropriate skirts and a top that goes with!


OK, so there's nothing earth shattering to see here.  But still, these three makes have had a disproportionately monumental impact on my wardrobe.  Here's the nitty gritty:

  • Top: Grainline Linden sweatshirt, view B, straight size 12, sleeves extended to three-quarter length. Made in a wool sweater knit from Paris that I gently washed and dried in order to deliberately felt it slightly, resulting in the absolutely perfect combo of body and drape for this sweater. It's all spongy!
  • Skirt 1, above: Betty from La Maison Victor 1/2015 - the pattern isn't available separately (yet) but if you want more details, they're selling fabric kits with a clear picture of the style here. Fabric is a stable medium-weight herringbone knit I picked up at The Fabric Sales last autumn. I'm not 100% sure but I think it's a wool mix.
  • Skirt 2, below: another Colette Zinnia v.2 in denim. Shortened, I can't remember by how much. The only other change I made was to do an exposed zip, mainly so I didn't have to go out shopping for an invisible one.

Pretty pleased with how that turned out, if I do say so myself - first exposed zip ever!

So anyway, I don't really have anything to say about the construction of these, they were all straightforward and turned out fine.  (Side comment though, every time I use a pattern from La Maison Victor I realise just how well put together the whole magazine is - the pattern pages are clear, the instructions are in tutorial format with diagrams and, give or take the odd blooper, the designs are usually pretty on trend and wearable. All good!)

No, the real deal here is the silhouette.


Basically, these two skirts are not that different from this one. (The denim one is not at all different!) They're high waisted and, with either gathers or pleats, flared. But while I'd always previously paired flared skirts with a fitted cardigan or top, as modelled in my previous post, ever since making this Linden I've chosen to wear all three skirts with it exclusively. Nothing else gets a look in. And it doesn't get boring - as you can see here, it's very easy to mix things up, just by changing shoes and jewellery choices.

Now I'm not sure I could say why I like this look of things so much. I just find it more comfortable, more fashionable I suppose, and in any case definitely more ME. The boxy, slightly cropped cut works for my shape in the way I want things to. I have to be honest though - this was a totally random, if pleasant, surprise.  Trying out Linden view B started as an experiment; I had no idea beforehand if I would like it or not.

I've never really felt fashion-literate. All that stuff about shapes and cuts and textures and styles, and that's all before we get to on trend or off. I know series like Colette's wardrobe architect are specifically there to help sewers think through many of these things, but I don't even know if I could have identified this silhouette, or any other, as 'my style', before actually wearing it.

It's all got me wondering. Is it inevitable, if we sew our own wardrobes, that we end up as our own individual fashion designers? And do we need to know what our own unique look is, in order to carry that off?


Friday, 6 March 2015

Big gingham Zinnia

Haha you guys - see how much I like wearing office clothes again?  This much:

That's my face for "f*** this getting appropriately dressed at 7am sh*t".  Yes, back to the office = back to the dress code. In my case it's not a particularly demanding dress code, but there is nonetheless a line - it falls somewhere in the middle of business casual - that can't be crossed. As I've expanded slightly around the waist since last winter (outrageously and inexplicably!*), some new clothes have been called for.

(*ok it's not inexplicable. I'm outraged nonetheless).

Now here's the thing. While I was off work last year, I enjoyed a long run of highly successful sewing. Almost everything I made during that time was a hit one way or another. I chalked it up to good luck and did my best not to tempt fate by getting smug. And, as expected, in the end that luck has started to turn: recently, the inspiration-sewing-wearing process hasn't been turning out quite so serendipitously well. Not badly, but still. And as I was sitting down to write this post, it struck me that that's probably not a total coincidence.

You see, from May until December I'd pretty much had time and free reign to both sew and wear whatever I wanted. Which I did. (I was going to say that I did so with relish - but honestly, relish didn't come into it. At some point in early June my incredibly helpful doctor advised me to find a hobby or creative pastime to keep myself occupied, not knowing that I was already spending my days obsessively, maniacally sewing as if my life, or at the very least my sanity, depended on it. I just sat there thinking: oh, I'd laugh - if only I could.)  It's hardly surprising really that with the time to plot, fit and sew, I turned out a bunch of things that could be worn immediately, comfortably and often. The clothes I sewed last year were clothes to put me at ease and make me happy.  While I won't credit them with saving my mental health (thank you, pharmaceuticals and therapy!), they did give me a real sense of my own style: those clothes were and are 'me' in a way I'd never quite been able to identify before.

They're also, pretty much without exception, not office appropriate.

This might sound blindingly obvious, but I'd never really thought about it before: I don't have a 'me' to wear to the office.  For all the time over the years I've spent there, I've never been able to just get up and get dressed for work without agonising over it. I know what I want and what makes sense - some kind of uniform of my own, a mix and match bunch of things I like that'll take the stress out of dressing - but I just can't quite get there.  And those recent makes, the ones that've felt like my luck's running out?  Of course, they've all been attempts to fill exactly that gap.

Take this skirt.  It's a Colette Zinnia. I've made it before and really like it - the shape of those pleats really works for me.  And woop woop check matching!  I won't exactly call that a disaster.

Indeed, all elements of this pointed to success. Inspiration hit immediately when I saw the big gingham in Ikea - I KNEW it was meant to be a mini-ish Zinnia. The pattern was tried and tested, the shape pairs well with cardis & simple tops, and in monochrome too - this should all add up to an ideal work skirt. And yet... I re-measured myself and went up a size. Guess what? It's slightly but irritatingly too big. The fabric of course is meant for upholstery, and as I should probably have guessed, it neither holds the pleats nor drapes particularly well. Worse, it wrinkles and doesn't iron nicely either.  My buttonhole placement isn't great and all in all it feels a little, er, homemade.

None of which means I don't wear it.  Maybe none of it is even that bad. I have come to realise that part of my problem with 'waisted' skirts is that I need the waistbands curved when they're frequently not (coincidental recent tutorials on that by Heather and Sunni). Or perhaps it's simply that given the choice I'd ALWAYS rather be wearing jeans, a sweatshirt and loud trainers instead of pretending to be tasteful in dresses.

Either way, I think it makes perfect sense that ambiguous feelings about the wearing will translate into mixed success in the sewing.  While I can muster up plenty of enthusiasm to sew pretty things for work - wrap dresses, shirt dresses, and plenty of excuse to wear them! - I can't help but feel that my underlying feelings about office wear in general might let these projects down.

What do you think? Would you agree? And what do you, wise readers, think I can do about it??

Because, let's face it - business casual is never going to get as casual as I want it to.