Thursday, 30 April 2015

Summer sewing plans

Let's not even talk about how I am sublimating my extreme frustration with the continuing medical drama of my life by (a) buying fabric; and (b) pretending I have an unlimited budget (spoiler: I don't) and the effect this has had on my fabric stash numbers in April and my budget for the year to date. Okay? Okay.

Instead, let's talk about the fact that no matter what I didn't get done from my Spring sewing plans, since tomorrow is the start of May, I can now feign amnesia about previous plans and move on blithely to some summer sewing. Well, I did in fact get several things done that I wanted in April: I made a pintucked shirt, finished my faux leather/faux suede bag (which I have been using regularly -- it is great!), and made a pair of PJ shorts. I also made a supposedly wearable muslin of the HotPatterns Weekender Sunshine Tee, and, just as an update, I must confess to you that it's turned out not really be all that wearable. In normal wear the low neckline turned out to be positively indecent unless I wear something underneath it. However, I like almost everything else about it and since I received some very useful suggestions on how to fix the neckline I might revisit the pattern at a later stage. Probably not this summer though, since my recent spring cleaning efforts and subsequent summer wardrobe planning suggested to me that although I have several knit tops on the cusp of needing to be replaced, I should probably be all right for this season and don't need to make more.

As always, I like to start my sewing plan from my actual life and what my normal wardrobe needs are. I've FINALLY recovered enough from my November relapse (hurray!) that I am getting out of my house a lot more and therefore spending less time in PJs/almost-PJs. However, I'm unlikely to even start looking for a job until the autumn at the earliest. For now I am better, but I'm not actually well, and the serious possibility of another relapse is ever present. A return to actual normal life depends on how/if/when the new medication I am waiting for is finally made available to me and starts to actually make me well again. From a practical perspective, I don't therefore need any more summer work wear for this year -- I have just enough garments that fit and are in good condition to get me through any kind of one-off requirement for that kind of outfit. I won't be travelling this summer so I won't need anything out of the ordinary like beachwear. Although my weight is actively in flux (manly due to medication changes plus being able to take up exercise again) many of the things I made last summer still fit pretty well, plus I have a decent pile of clothes left from other summers when I was a similar weight.

All that leaves me with then is filling in holes in my casual wardrobe for a summer probably spent pretty much entirely in the north of England. Barring a freak summer, that means temperatures that generally hover around 20-22C (around 70F) with occasional warmer days, and plenty of days when it rains, especially in August. Most summers I live in linen trousers with a knit or woven top and a cardigan, or a maxi skirt and the same. On warmer days I break out shorts or knee-length skirts.

The green shirt on the right is one of my sleeveless shirt options I am considering (from Ottobre 02/2013)
The biggest hole in my wardrobe by far is a total lack of short-sleeved and/or sleeveless woven tops or shirts. Since I'm very into shirt-making at the moment my present plans include at least a couple of classic button fronted shirts with collars but short-sleeves or no sleeves. I've also been digging through my pattern collection for some other woven top options. Fabric wise, I have some drapey viscose to use and I've earmarked a couple of smaller pieces of crisper plain cotton that are the perfect length and fabric for sleeveless classic shirts. I also have one piece of seriously gorgeous green and blue checked shirt-weight linen that I bought in Ireland for the express purpose of making a summer shirt and then never dared to cut into last year. This summer I am determined to use it!

Maxi skirt from Burda Classics 2013
I don't need much in the way of clothes for my bottom half -- I made shorts last year that still fit, and I was able to thrift several great pairs of linen trousers earlier in the year when nobody else was buying them. I do want one maxi skirt, and I'm thinking about maybe using a pattern from Burda Style Special: Classics from 2013. The pattern uses an insane amount of fabric -- even more so since my fabric is at best semi-opaque and I therefore had to buy something to use as a lining -- but I love how full it is and also that it has a wide yoked waistband. I also have one piece of burgundy cotton sateen fabric just right for a knee length skirt, but no idea about pattern yet.

Style Arc Stacie

I'm still thinking about outerwear patterns. I do want to make the Grainline Morris blazer, as previously mentioned, and now they are popping up all over on a variety of figure types I am more determined than ever as people are getting really nice results. I've also got a yen for little red jacket in corduroy. I was thinking seriously enough about pairing my fabric with the StyleArc Stacie jacket that I dug out my pattern and did a ton of measuring (it's the only paper StyleArc pattern I have ever bought, though I have a couple I received for free and a couple of e-patterns -- I can't say I'm overly excited by single-size patterns). The other possible outerwear project is the navy trenchcoat I've been talking about for what, 2 years now? However, I'm not even thinking about that with any real intent until towards the end of my summer sewing season, if then.

This dress from Burda (03-2015-127A) is my front-runner for a wrap dress as I've been in love with this pattern since I first saw it
The other category I am contemplating dipping a toe into is woven dresses. I have so many hesitations about wearing dresses (and therefore about making them), and yet at the same time it's the single largest category of patterns that I own. The mismatch is kind of ridiculous. I picked out a handful of fabrics from my stash and now I am trying to match them to simple, casual summer dress patterns that I hope I won't feel too self-conscious to wear. My current plans are to make some kind of shirtdress (my obsession with shirts is never-ending!), some kind of wrap dress, and maybe one other. My fabric choices run the gamut from "I don't care what happens to this" to "this is one of my favourite fabrics that I own so I will probably wear anything I make from it no matter what".

I made this satchel in 2013, and I plan to use the same pattern again (Lisa Lam's Too Cool For School Satchel)
Also in my sewing queue for the summer: a satchel bag in turquoise; woven nightdresses for summer; a bag made with a metal closure that I've been hoarding for years; some smaller bag projects including some embroidery projects; and, if I can work up any enthusiasm for the dull sewing, some Roman blinds for my hallway and landing. I've been taking a break from knitting partly because I felt my hands needed it, but partly because I got bogged down in an incredibly tedious knitting project that consisted of an actual stocking stitch rectangle (which is still not finished, but almost) for felting/bag-making purposes. However, my summer knitting project is a solid (non-stripy) Backshore jumper (Ravelry link). I cast on a month ago but then got no further than my cast-on row, so I am planning to really concentrate on getting moving on it over the next few weeks. Of course, with my knitting luck, I'll finish just as the weather gets too cold to wear an elbow-length sleeved jumper!

Phew, all that sounds like a lot of work, but all things that I am actually quite excited to have in my wardrobe by the end of my sewing season! :D For May itself, I am thinking that I'll most probably work on woven shirts and the last pieces of replacement nightwear that I'll be doing. One thing you might notice is that I am NOT doing Me Made May. I thought about it last year but I was too sick, and this year, eh. I get why people do this, but for me personally, I wear the things I make all the time anyway, and I feel like I already understand my make/buy mix and how my wardrobe fits together. Plus, I have to be honest, the people doing the daily/weekly outfit photos are beyond boring by the end of the month and I therefore feel no need to emulate them!


  1. "since tomorrow is the start of May, I can now feign amnesia about previous plans and move on blithely to some summer sewing."


    I love your plans!! I got a floral cotton for a lightweight jacket but it's too light. I felt very brilliant when I decided it should become a floral sleeveless shirt with chambray contrasts in the collar stand and under collar. Swoon.

    That bag is fantastic!! So jealous of your ace bag making skills!

    1. Ooooo. That shirt sounds amazing -- look forward to seeing how that comes out!

      I kind of over-dosed on making bags at one point but I feel really into it again. They are fun to make, so long as you don't think too hard about having to do all the interfacing. :D

  2. I'm not a huge dress wearer, but I've found that I wear my me-made dresses far more than I ever used to wear RTW dresses. Why? Because I can actually sew a dress that fits me, so I just feel more comfortable in them. If you've got a ton of dress patterns, give one a try and muslin it--you might be surprised.

    1. I have SO MANY dress patterns, it's kind of ludicrous when I've made like, three dresses so far. I definitely think some muslining and trying things out is called for. Like you, the big problem for me in RTW has been getting things that fit, so really anything I produce that fits even a little better is likely to be a win for me.

  3. My unexplained medical issue has appeared to just disappear unexplained. I don't even know what to say except "okay."

    I really hope you get some relief soon! In the meantime, don't look to me to not enable fabric buying. I did some retail therapy late last night. =)

    1. Glad to hear you're recovered, even if the medical mystery remained entirely mysterious! Long may it remain absent!