The 2014/15 Janus Post

Hello everyone. I hope you all had a most wonderful Xmas & festive New Year! Or at least a relaxing holiday!

Mine was a bit stressful: First time catering solo for 7 (we don’t usually celebrate). Plus having to finish up cleaning & home decorating that I’ve been avoiding for ages. But none of that compared with losing my beloved Sewing Room to a visiting teenage boy (sob). I didn’t realize how attached I’ve became to my sanctuary from male messiness. For close to 4 weeks the door was literally shut. The few times I sneaked in to retrieve something or other, I found the room messy, stuffy, & festering with leftover food. I was in shock. The head knew it would happen, but the heart wasn’t prepared to witness it actually happening. I guess it’s just something that those with children get used to. Gradually. Anyway, I hope day or two of airing and cleaning once I get the room back will make it decent & welcoming again. At least no wild party took place in it I suppose. (Respect to all you parents of teenagers out there.)

OK, rant over. Let’s get back to year end review.

Looking Backward

I wasn’t planning on do a round up originally. It’s just too depressing how few projects I finished in 2014. I actually regressed, achieving 2 less than the year before…

2014 Total: 13 makes
Garment types
1 Dress
3 Tops
4 Skirts
3 Sweaters (not blogged yet)
1 Jacket
1 Bag
Pattern brands
9 Self drafted
4 Burda

Oh how optimistic I was back in Feb when I thought I could “easily whip up my New Year Resolution list of…3 pencil skirts, 3 straight skirts, 3 A-line skirts, 3 long sleeve woven tops, 3 short sleeve woven tops, 3 long sleeve knit tops, 3 short sleeve knit tops, 3 dresses, 3 jackets.” That’ll teach me to make NY Resolutions.

Could I at least claim quality if not quantity? While I’m proud of most of my 2014 makes design-wise, I can’t say they’re all that successful in terms of frequency of wear, which is my main criteria of success.

So the winners of 2014 are…

  1. Once again the Self-drafted Tote v2 took the top honor. Finished late in the year it still manage to get more use than all the others combined.
  2. Runner up has to be Franken BS 2013-11-117 Reversible Moto Jacket, despite it’s unwieldy floppy big collar. It has shape without the constricting innards, making it a comfy top-up for never-too-hot London.
  3. And my Self-Drafted Martin Margiela SS 1997 Wannabe Top / Jacket just about made it into the winners circle. Despite being a bit tight, I nonetheless insisted on wearing it (relatively) often. Because it’s neutral-ish, kinda of classy and kinda of edgy. Just my cup of tea.

And the 2014 misses…

The ones I’ve had time to stew on anyway…

  • While I do like how my Self-Drafted Flocked Denim Pencil Skirt looks, it was a mistake not to line this one. When I wear it with tights the front hem hitch up & get caught between my legs in the most unflattering way while walking. I’m not entirely sure why. My unlined RTW wool pencil skirt doesn’t do that. I haven’t checked if it also happens with the Self-Drafted Reversible Pencil Skirt. It doesn’t happen when I go bare legs. I could wear it with a half-slip. But I don’t own one & it’s a fussy solution. I rather just line the damn skirt & forget about it.
  • Franken BS 2012-04-128 Camisole‘s wart was always there. I’ve already talked about it & made peace with it in the write up. The new year hopefully will bring more successful heirs to the Camisole Saga.

2014 in closing

  • I think I’ve laid some good foundation for self-drafted patterns. So while they haven’t panned out into much wearable clothing this year, fingers crossed they’ll make 2015 makes more interesting.
  • I mentioned earlier this year about it being Year of the Skirt. And while I didn’t make 3 of everything, the skirts did win out by a miserly 1. So there, kept my word.
  • I still owe you 3 write-ups for 2014. These are the sweaters I managed to squeeze in just in time. Two are from my F/A Swap Plan. The other is the Michelin Man remade as promised. I’m just waiting to get my Sewing Room / Photo Studio back from teenage boy messiness first.
  • You can see rest of my 2014 makes in my new Finished Projects by Year page (minus the 3 yet to be blogged of course).

Looking Forward

Yeah, I’m not tempting Fate again by making resolutions. Yes I still have my F/W SWAP Plan. But I shall treat it like a menu to keep me from the paralysis of limitless choices & infinite possibilities. Maybe I will add S/S SWAP designs to the menu. Then however the weather changes and whatever mood I’m in I’ll still have a beacon guiding me down the road of …dare I say it…many many makes!

Next on my plate to make I think shall be knit block redux. I’m hoping to get a cardi block sorted so I can whip out 7 in a batch: 5 eminently useful but boring browns & blacks, 1 SWAP, and maybe even 1 rather tame entry for Jungle January. Wouldn’t that be great? Buys me time for half the year just in case productivity fall way down again.

one-piece-patterns

I’ve already drafted & muslined the defunct Stretch Pattern School’s One-Piece Block (with 12% horizontal & 0% vertical negative ease) as a starting point. Once I figure out whether their instruction works for me or not I will derive a 0-ease stretch block, then derive my cardi block from that.

And next on my plate to blog shall be my Tunic Block which one of the SWAP sweater is based on. Wish me luck that it’ll take no time to clean out, freshen up, & reclaim my Sewing Sanctuary!

Fall-Winter 2014 SWAP … batch 6 designs

OK, almost there. More leftovers from the Summer: Some themes & variations on the camisole I made earlier this year.

batch 6 designs
Inspiration from Etsy

This time I will be charmeusing. And I want to finally use the gorgeous black lace I got from Pacific Trimming last year. I actually went back and got more, plus white version too. It’s tempting to put black lace on black charmeuse. But A) I haven’t got any. And B) that would make the lace disappear. And that would be a real shame. So I picked golden charmeuse to contrast with the black lace. I might use the white one with the baby blue charmeuse. (Both are from the Stash. So gold stars for me!) The inspiration is the same as for the camisole I made earlier – this Esty find that’s also demonstrated in Draping: The Complete Course. I’m playing around with a few variations to see what’d look good and stay on the shoulder.

I also want a matching slip for the golden + black lace combination. Hopefully it’ll look good both under other skirts as well as on its own.

Now if only London would heat up by the time I sew these…

Fall-Winter 2014 SWAP … batch 5 designs

Next up, tops which if I can’t get to soon enough I can always roll over to Spring-Summer 2015 SWAP.

batch 5 designs
batch 5 inspirations

 

Actually, the red striped top inspired by Dolce & Gabbana S/S 2013 is a leftover from S/S 2014 SWAP anyway. I love the styling. Even the short short. But it’s not practical. Not for London anyway. So I might eventually make matching skirt if I have leftover fabric. How to get that fitted bodice with matching stripe when one’s bust darts are more D than B will be the challenge.

The olive cut-velvet chiffon is a fabric whose origin has been lost. I had a real hard time deciding what to do with it. On the one hand I want to show off the pattern, so thought smooth fitted shape with minimum drape would be best. But on the other hand the chiffon base makes it drape gracefully, so maybe a looser style with drape would be better? It’s not knit, so that’s one against fitted shape. But then I came across the black sleeveless top inspiration photo. That plus the D&G striped top gave me courage to go fitted. If I only use it for the bodice I might have enough left for a drapy skirt? I’m still debating whether to go sleeveless or add illusion net sleeve. I quite like how Clio’s Ts & dress with translucent sleeves turned out (McQueen tattoo motif T, BCBGMaxAzria Wannabe T, Sew Sexy Sew Along Lace Dress). Sleeves would also be more in tune with London weather.

Last but not least, one that I didn’t plan for. While flipping through my pattern pile, this Burdastyle 2013-08-114 lace panel top caught my eyes. There’s something awkwardly peasantish about it. Borderline twee. But not entirely. Especially when paired with the black leather puff sleeve jacket that’s my inspiration for the blue fake suede jacket from SWAP batch 2. Then it’s kind of edgy. Plus I have a couple of home decor chamomile embroidered silk organza from Silk Trading Co which I haven’t figured out what to do with because of the width-wise motif repeat. I could use this paneled design to showcase the embroidery while hiding the repeat. There are a couple of other translucent fabric that I can bring to the mix for that Balenciaga S/S 2006 look (ad in the mood board). It will be a tricky one with my short-waistness. I played with the proportion on my Croquis, adjusting the style lines to avoid looking too square. I will have to remember to adjust the pattern with reference my body lines rather than sew up the pattern as is. I’m also thinking of softer drapier chiffon for the sides and the sleeves to cut down  sideway spread. BTW this Burdastyle design seems to be a Balmain wannabe.

Fall-Winter 2014 SWAP … batch 4 designs

OK, talk about indecisiveness, this batch is the worst.
And I blame it on all on Chanel.

batch 4 designs
batch 4 inspirations

This one starts with the fabric. Dark olive bouclé from B&J I believe. I can’t remember why I got it. topshop-boucleIt may be been inspired by a Top Shop coat with fake fur collar that I wore to death. (The lining is in tatter. I’ve meant to redo the lining for the longest time. But who like doing such mend & alteration right?) Anyway, 8 years later and I still haven’t done anything with the fabric.

Now bouclé is a fabric with such heavy cultural baggage. Have you seen much that isn’t the Little French Jacket? And the Little French Jacket has been so done on the sewing blogsphere that I feel I’ve made thousands of them already even though I’ve made none. Besides, this green doesn’t really scream Chanel to me. I have another bouclé (a magenta) that I might eventually make into a Little French with a Twist. But only after the craze has died down. (Any chance of that?)

The only alternative I’ve seen a few times is biker style jacket. I’m not really feeling it with this color. So trolling through my magazine clippings I uncovered a couple of gems that seems like the perfect (literal) matches (I’m very imaginative that way wink wink). They’re the inspirations for Design 1 & 5.

  1. I really like Design 1 from Peter Som. I can’t quite decide if it’s edgy or dowdy. I like that tension. I’m even inspired to incorporate chamomile organza contrast binding into mine.
  2. Continuing on the slightly retro theme is Design 2 inspired by an Advance sewing pattern illustrated in Blueprints of Fashion: Home Sewing Patterns of the 1950s. I like the sack in the back with slim belting in the front. Best of both world? But Croquis is not looking lovely.
  3. Another retro look is Design 3 a proper 60s (?) suit for the Lady who Lunches. I’m sure I got that yellow suited inspiration photo from Tatler the UK society mag. But Croquis is looking tubby.
  4. Design 4 is my reluctant attempt to give LFJ a go. I won’t I can’t do bog standard LFJ uniform. This shrunken one featured in Vogue (?) at least is a tad rebellious. But not sure about the buttons on the breast pockets. Might be a bit too in your face. And I’m not sure it works in the dark color I have.
  5. Design 5 I like (probably partly because it’s shown on an Asian model that I can pretend to be). But I can’t see the rest of it. So I’m imagining that it looks something like Simplicity 2508. It’s a design that I can potentially add a detachable fake fur / shearling collar to (if I have enough left over from the fake shearling aviator hat!) But do I have enough of this bouclé fabric for a coat length jacket? Because I do also want to make…

Tada! Another princess pencil skirt. Don’t ask. I don’t even wear them that much lately. But I did make another textured (boiled) wool pencil skirt a long time ago that again I wore to death. I’m hoping for a repeat success. I’m thinking of continuing the chamomile organza contrast binding from the jacket / coat into the skirt.

And the candy cane stripe is just thrown in to remind myself I need to make more of those classy Breton Ts that I wear to death (again).

I’m leaning towards Design 1 or 5. If I wear the Breton  stripe T with Design 1 and the pencil skirt, would I look ready for Santa’s Elf Crew you think?

Fall-Winter 2014 SWAP … batch 3 designs

So while we have the green jersey leftover out, on the off chance that there’s more leftover after the green fake suede jacket, we have more designs that make use of it. I’m really going for it now – Stash busting that is. Three of the fabrics in this batch have been in the Stash since before I even moved to London. They must be over 20 years old now!

batch 3 designs
batch 3 inspirations

So step up candidate heather blue sweater / rib jersey, dark teal jersey, and whatever’s left of the apple green jersey. I think all three were from NY Elegant.

I’ve always wanted the rib one to be a cardigan. But I’m not sure if I could make it work. Normally cardigans have two sizes of knit – bigger ribs for the hem, cuffs, and maybe collar / front button band; and finer knit for the bodice & sleeves. It’s neigh on impossible to find such made-in-heaven pairs from fabric stores. (I’ve tried recently with plans for brown and black cardigans. So many different browns. So many shades of blacks!) I’m not sure yet how I’m going to solve this one. I might just cut the hem & cuffs smaller and ease in the bodice & sleeves. Or I might try this fake ribbing technique from an old Threads article which The Sewing Diva demonstrated here.

In any case, the inspiration is Vivienne Westwood (again!). Her orb logo cardigan and cardi-short (???) I’m obviously turning the cardi-short into a cardi-skirt. I highly doubt I’ll get much wear out of a cardi-short. The skirt I’m planning fake front opening. Don’t want any wardobe malfunctioning now do we.

The dark teal jersey I’m thinking a Sybilla F/W 1989 inspired tie-front jacket. And another shrug collar top which I might be able to wear under the matching jacket? And if I’m really lucky and have enough leftover, maybe this color-blocked zip-front top inspired by Peter Pilotto S/S 2012 and based on Burdastyle 2013-06-124 zip-up tank.

Going back to the fake suede theme, the last two in this batch is for the most heavenly fake suede like drapy fabric I found in NY Elegant. So soooooft. Not sure the designs I pick are right for it. The fabric might be too limp. On the other hand maybe a limp drapy fabric would be the best candidate for experimenting with blocky oversized top like this Dolce & Gabbana F/W 2013 drop-shoulder T inspiration. Maybe it’ll mold to the figure rather than box it. And I’ve been yearning for a fake suede or leather slim pants. The inspiration here is Patrone 325 #15. (I’ve been rather unlucky with my Patrone subscription. The year I subscribed they have hardly any that seem designery or editorial. Lots of casual wear which doesn’t really inspire me or suit my lifestyle. Where did all the designer knock-offs go!!!???) In any case, OMG, imagine the feel of this buttery fabric on my legs, OMG, will I be able to get anything done while wearing it? And isn’t it about time I face my fear of pants fitting?

Fall-Winter 2014 SWAP … batch 2 designs

Now in no particular orders, the rest of my SWAP inspirations & designs batch by batch. This batch is all about fake suede!


It started long ago with an A-line real suede skirt I owned. I loved its casual chic but couldn’t cope with the exorbitant cleaning bill. So when it became unpresentably dirty I donated it to the charity shop for someone more resourceful to clean and enjoy. But I vowed to replace it with a fake suede version.

faux-suede-bolero-08The next step was getting the fake suede fabric. I found it in the home decor fabric shop that used to be in the basement of ABC Carpets in NYC.  Perhaps it’s not the best fake suede for garments – it’s a bit stiff and spongy, even after many washings. But I got seduced by the soothing colors and velvety texture. I ended up with 4 colors! One I actually already made into a self-drafted bolero jacket that I didn’t blog. It was a style without much drape, so passable in this fabric. I think my A-line skirt should be OK too. The rust color skirt in mood board above looks fairly similar to the one I’m trying to recreate.

But what to do with the leftover green fake suede? Because it was bought for the skirt, I’m not sure I’ll have enough for a full matching jacket. So I’m thinking a moto jacket like the brown one in the mood board, with sleeves cut from a green jersey leftover from this top.

For the pale blue version of this fake suede I decided to go pencil…well, because I get easily bored? Two similarly shaped skirt in the same fabric in similar tones seems too much of a good thing! I picked princess line shaping again because I’m worried darts will look pointy in this stiff spongy fabric. Again for added interest I’m going for a single front princess slit. And since this adds asymmetrical already I went the whole hog for asymmetry at the waist as well.

Actually, it looks a lot like Burdastyle 2013-09-105 slit skirt apart from converting all darts to princess lines. I might make the matching belt removable so I can get a smooth line under untucked tops and add the belt back for tucked tops. Without the belt details the design just looks a bit off. Even for me!

And since I have a bit more of this blue fabric than the green one, I think I should be able to make a matching jacket as well. But I’m undecided about which design to go for: Burdastyle 2014-02-115 structured peplum top/jacket or Burdastyle 2013-08-113 puff sleeve jacket. I’m leaning towards the puff sleeve despite being paranoid about having wider shoulder than hip (and therefore theoretically should avoid anything that exaggerates the shoulder). In my croquis drawing at least, I tried hiding my shoulder width in the puff sleeve – ie bring the shoulder points in a little bit so the puff goes over the natural curves over my arm joinst rather than stick out & away. Not sure if the fabric would behave this way in real life. But if I succeed, then maybe I’ll look as tall & trim as this virtual me. Comparing the two croquis, I think this one creates a more upward visual effect by breaking the body into a series of narrower vertical blocks. That’s it for my design theory of the day anyway. What do you think? Have you ever abused design tricks to reshape your body without the knives?

Fall-Winter 2014 SWAP … batch 1 designs

I had these design & inspiration posts lined up for ages now, but got distracted then lost the mojo to finish them. But as Me-Made-Tote the Second is from this batch, and possibly the next two projects, maybe it’s time to finish them.

batch 2 designs
- SWAP2014aw-2-inspirations

So you’ve seen the tote already.

The fake fur shawl should be dead easy. But I’m not sure how useful it’ll actually be. I love the glamor & already bought the fake fur ages ago. On the other hand, it’s so fiddly to wear & isn’t really that warm as it only covers the shoulders. I’m not one who need only spot protection from the cold. Chunky short sleeve sweaters have never made any sense to me either. The other fake fur (shearling) shawl I made a while back has been languishing in the closet collecting dust. So maybe this one can wait.

The fake shearling aviator hat on the other hand would be so timely as height of Winter approaches. This would help me use up the rest of the fake shearling.

But I think I’ll probably make the two white ‘sweaters’ next. I’m losing my sewing room to visiting relatives over the coming month. And for these two I plan to add knitted ribs to the woven gauze bodice. So I can do the knitting while the sewing room is out of commission. I would have loved for both garment to be made from knits entirely. But I couldn’t find any plain mohair sweater knit in a neutral off-white color. What I ended up getting was loosely woven mohair gauze from Moods in NYC, and matching mohair yarn to knit the collars and ribs for the sleeve and bodice hem. The sweater proper is to replace a RTW I loved that I mistakenly shrunken in the wash & dry. I’m hoping there’ll be enough left of the gauze to make the long sleeve shrug.

Lastly are designs for the loveliest double-sided mohair sweater knit I got from NY Elegant. I love both sides of the fabric. And I could really do with some black garments. I’ve been going all browns & colorful lately that my black wardrobe is in seriously neglected state. But it would be a sin to hide the sumptuous orange mohair side. So more reversible garments it is. I’m thinking princess pencil skirt to cut down on the bulk. But I wanted a bit of variety in my pencil skirts. So this one will have asymmetrical front & slit. I haven’t decided on the top. I was originally thinking another cowl sweater, but now think a sweater jacket would be more versatile. Either the Burda option which is quite simple and potentially boxy, or the Vogue option which is more shapely, but might not be as versatile as it might not look as good worn unbuttoned. The other problem with the Vogue option is that it has waist pleats. That might look weird reversed. In any case I won’t have to decide until I get my sewing room back post-holidays.