So what’s with me knitting all the cuffs? Why do I want them to be greys and purples? And why did I spend time to make a whole colourcollage of them??
Well…. I’m planning a new wardrobe.
Now that I’m living more in the city again and feel more active I want to dress up. Show off the quality yarns I’m using. With quality clothing.
This is my inspiration board:
Clean lines, no ruffles. Functional garments. Natural fibres.
Nice details and well executed sewing.
Light coloured blouses and light coloured trousers/skirt (but not too light because I’m not planning on living a spotless life any time soon).
Wear a darker dress over it, a dress with pockets. A pinafore.
With a light shawl or collar on top, framing my face.
I’m going to make all these nice clothes myself.
Because that’s what knitting told me.
Knitting knocked on my door and said: “A good fit at the shoulders is everything. Mass produced clothes don’t fit anyone, you included. Better make things yourself. Using quality materials. You’ll love it.”
So, I’m studying sewing. Not planned in any reasonable way. I just stumbled upon a few things that interest me and now that they seem to fit so nicely together I can present it to you as if it were a well thought out plan.
It’s a two pronged approach. One prong is the fitting part: bodyshape, wearing ease, drafting patterns, altering patterns, draping fabrics, swiveling darts. The colour analysis helped in this. The knitting experiences help tremendously! I’ve been sewing some dresses the past few years and learned a lot from that.
The second prong is a subject I stumbled upon only recently: precision sewing. With that I mean tailoring techniques, haute couture techniques, pressing, hand stitching.
At this moment I’m buried into bespoke dress shirt making. This is the book I’m reading right now: Shirtmaking: Developing Skills For Fine Sewing by David Page Coffin:
Besides all this self studying I’ve also been taking a pattern drafting course since September. It’s a great source of frustration, being out in the real world trying to make thoughts work. You know me: brilliant in theory but not quite as adept in conjuring reality…
As you can imagine, the course has been a good mix of thrilling theory and bonking into the reality of measurements, teaching traditions and spending time with people who need more time than me to grasp concepts and hold onto them. I, on the other hand, slow everyone down with stupid ignorant questions about sewing basics. I feel quite the clutz.
This month we finally got to draft our body block into a pattern for a shirt, a pattern with wearing ease and all that. I’m still putting it onto paper (how wide should the cuff be? What kind of collar? How to close a shirt when you don’t have button hole help on your sewing machine??)
Once I have my shirt pattern finished I can turn any fabric into a shirt that fits me nicely!
I plan to crank out one shirt after the other this Summer, all based on the same pattern with just design changes in the details.
Last Friday I was pro-active and bought a whole lot of fabrics for my new wardrobe:
These will become shirts:
On top is a grey lilac cotton that will become my first real shirt, the one I’ll be showing in the next drafting class, on May 23rd.
The light grey and the soft lilac at the bottom are linens.
The white one is silk. The silk is for the end of Summer, when I’ve got this shirt thing down and might feel like venturing into shaping and draping a garment.
Here’s four meters of mid weight linen:
It was supposed to be the colour Mauseschwanzen from my cuffs but it’s a warmer tone than that, as shown in the top picture where the cuff is resting on it.
Not sure what to do with it now. Will think about it a bit. I bought it with the plan to make a shirt and a skirt or trousers. That’s why it already has a zipper. A zipper that’s too long for trousers with a zipper at the front, which was what I was planning… Clutz alert in aisle 2 of the haberdashery!
Either way this linnen will be flowing around my legs in some form or other this Summer. Trousers with a side zipper (or at the back) or a long skirt (with a side zipper, or at the back). And its colour will go well with the socks I’ll have made from all the sock yarn that magically appeared at my doorstep this week:
DROPS yarn is having a sale!
These are some darker and stiffer fabrics:
All intended for things to wear over a shirt and a skirt.
On the bottom is a denim and it’s for a pinafore dress, with pockets, which will be useful on a daily basis.
The dark grey linen in the middle will also become such a functional garment. It’s quite heavy! I think I bought curtain fabric… in fact I’m sure I did. Not a clutz move though, curtains are excellent for skirts. They wear well. I also like to use upholstery fabric for skirts. So sturdy! Yet with fun woven in designs.
(as a side note, I just read on the web that quality bedding sheets are excellent for dress shirts. High count Egyptian cotton? Why not. Just because it’s labeled “bed linen” doesn’t mean it isn’t a piece of quality fabric.)
Sourcing fabric with the qualities the garment needs to have.
Wearing garments that are functional to your life, not just decorative.
Patterns that flatter the body shape and provide ease of movement.
Thinking about colours and contrasts that suit my own complexion.
Not paying much attention to the current fashion craze.
Paying much attention to skilled professionals who know how to create with their hands.
It’s been done for ages.
Designer and bespoke tailor Ivey Abitz looks at historic dress and translates them into her collections of wearable, functional fashion.
She designed one of my main inspiration pictures:
pic by Ivey Abitz
Isn’t it great?! You can imagine this wears like a dream, not restricting you at all. With natural white long sleeves under it… yes please!
Although I don’t want my skirts to be so frilly, I’m not into the layer upon layer look. But I love the light-darker-light sequence of the design! That is exactly what I’m doing for me too. I bloggeded about the contrast my face has and how clothing/shawls help to flatter it. I mangled some pictures halfway this post to try and show you what I mean.
The smaller piece of olive green grey linen is intended to become an exact copy of this vest:
a design by Marcy Tilton, to show off her quality fabrics.
So many precision sewing details! How the back seam is bound with stripey band. How the inner collar differs in colour. Its shape! The round bib-shaped stitching. How the stitching in the side seam matches the bib-stitching. The button holes. How the vertical seams for shaping in the lower part are hardly noticable.
This is a garment very suiting for my body type.
If the “bib” shape is made stiff with underlining and topstitching it won’t present the breasts so readily to any pedestrian. Instead it will guide away the eye from them, upwards.
Below the bib there’s lots of inconspicuous shaping happening, right at the underbust, where I need it, without the pedestrian noticing.
The bib covers the bust and sets the stage for the neckline which in turn makes a perfect frame for whatever I’ve got going on there: a blouse with an interesting collar detail; a sparkling necklace orrrrr….a handknitted shawl!
There we are.
All this sewing plans with a particular goal of show off flattering (and functional!) handknits that I’ll wear around my neck and my wrists. In quality yarns. In the right colours.
Because I love it.