Saturday, 31 August 2013

What happened next...: Skirts

Maybe it's just me, but I always wonder how people get on in the longer-term with the things that they make. The reason I think about this is that historically I was a serial purchaser of things that looked nice on the hanger, looked good when I tried it on, but that I never wore more than once or twice because after wearing it for a day it turned out that whatever it was was profoundly uncomfortable/didn't work out/something else. And then there are the things I bought that hung, unloved, in my wardrobe for YEARS before I admitted I was never going to wear them and either sold them or gave them away. Surely I can't be the only person in the world to do this? And surely I can't be the only person who thinks sewing would probably pan out the same way, only with more blood, sweat and tears in the acquisition phase?

Anyway, as I was organizing my wardrobe for the new season (autumn being thoroughly upon us here in Ireland) I was specifically thinking about skirts, because, for various reasons, I have almost none in my wardrobe for the coming season. I found myself wondering how that could be when, compared to every other category of clothing in my wardrobe, I have made so many skirts. So, here is my "... many months later" update of what happened with all the skirts I made.

Simplicity 8664

Simplicity 8664
I made Simplicity 8664, a classic and simple straight skirt pattern twice. Unfortunately, I've never worn either of them outside of the house, though for different reasons.

On the left, a pencil skirt I made with Simplicity 8664 in navy pinstriped wool. It's actually a really nice skirt both inside and out, although of course not without flaws. However, the mistake I made was that I tapered the side seams by a total of 4cm to make it more pencil-shaped than straight and as a consequence I just can't seem to put together an outfit that doesn't look terrible. I never wear tapered/skinny trousers because they look terrible with my top heavy, broad-shouldered body shape. It turns out that tapered skirts produce the same problem. I definitely just should have made it straight, which looks much better on me. This particular skirt is still hanging in my wardrobe because I really do like the idea of it and I keep thinking I'll figure out a way to wear it, that there's some magic top somewhere that I can wear that will make it look good. However, barring a sudden magic top, it's not really something I'm going to reach for often this autumn and now, due to weight loss, it's getting to a point where it's teetering on the brink of too big. Status: Still in my closet but future in doubt.

On the right, a straight skirt with a front vent made with a different view of the pattern, this time without any tapering. It's taken me a long time to acknowledge this, but I'm never going to wear this and I should have called it as a wadder way back when. I've tried and tried to rescue it -- I unpicked all of the hem and sewed it again, twice; I unpicked and re-sewed the side seams several times while I was making it; I struggled for hours with the vent edge and the hem edge. It always looks OK for about 3 minutes after I press it, but then a minute later it subsides into looking like a horrible, unflattering rag. Fundamentally, the problem is that it's made from this incredibly fine, drapy wool that won't hold a crease, which in no way suits a pattern that needs lovely crisp pressed edges at the vent, hem and seams, plus there's some really dodgy sewing as well. I've reached the conclusion that nothing is going to rescue it and I should stop trying. It's more than a bit annoying, not least because I wasted a really nice piece of lining on it, which I will try to harvest before I throw it away. Status: In the rag bag.

McCall's 5431

I made two of this pattern as well: McCall's 5431, a semi-circle skirt with yoke.

On the left, a brown version in a really nice synthetic self-patterned fabric. I wore it a few times this summer for work. At the time I made the skirt I used a size 20 and said in my review that really I needed an 18. It turned out I really needed an 18, especially as this fabric loosens up a little over the course of the day. Even before I lost weight, I found that the skirt started the day just below my natural waist and ended it at my hips. I was constantly aware of it being too big and it had a tendency to swivel around until the side seam was half way round me. At my current weight even fresh from the dryer it's dangerously low on my hips, so it's essentially unwearable. This is a real shame because I hoped this skirt would transition into autumn if worn with with tights and boots rather than bare legs and sandals. For the time being I've stored it with other, similarly sized clothes as, for several reasons, it's not an ideal candidate for alteration. Status: In size storage.

The second version is part of the wedding outfit. I had no other events this summer and didn't wear it again, but I was actually really happy with it throughout the (very long) wedding day/reception experience. It is an 18 and it still fits, although now at my hips rather than my waist. It's a skirt you can't really wear for any reason other than for an occasion or even outside of spring/summer though, so it's gone into seasonal storage. Status: In seasonal storage.

Ottobre 05-2007-03

Another twofer: this Ottobre A-line pattern with minor variations from 2007 is really quick and simple, and great with a cotton fabric.

On the left, a purple polka dot skirt, which I wore less than I intended this summer. I wore it less than planned not because I don't like it -- I really do! -- but because I didn't have a top to go with it. The purple tops I had all clashed with the purple polka dots, I don't like wearing all black in summer, and the white tops I had were the wrong shape -- this skirt is so markedly triangular that to look good on me I needed a top that nipped in at the waist. All my white tops were more voluminous or straight sided and just didn't work (and I never got around to buying/making anything that DID work.) Alas, this too was earmarked to transition into autumn but I have exactly the same problem as with the previous pattern: I made it in a 48 and noted at the time that this was probably too big, and being a stretch woven it too turned out to grow horrendously over the course of the day. I was constantly aware that it was too big and very slightly uncomfortable, and now of course, with a little weight loss, it's unwearable. For the time being it too is put away in size storage, pending a decision whether I want to refashion/alter it.  Status: In size storage.

On the right, a bright turquoise cotton print version. I wore this a LOT this summer, helped by the fact I had several tops that went perfectly with it. This is a size 46 and it fits a little lower on my body than it did originally, but it's definitely wearable. However, it's not really autumn-wear, so I've put it away for now. One minor flaw: I did a rolled hem and it started to shred, so if it fits next year I will need to hem it properly. Status: In season storage.

A pair of mistakes: Simplicity 3881, Simplicity 5351

Ugh, neither these are good.

On the left, the grey flounce skirt (Simplicity 3881) is another example of something I made without really thinking about whether it would suit me. I was never in love with it, to the extent that even though it was light enough for summer I didn't bring it with me to Ireland at the beginning of the summer. Now it's almost too big and I have consigned it, having never worn it, into size storage. I probably could actually get a couple of wears out of it because it's not really big enough to be unwearable but I already have some nice grey skirts and I just... don't like it. I'm not sure I'll ever like it, but I am not quite ready to just put it in the recycling bin either. It looks so cute in this photo, even! I did a great job on the inside and the finishing! Why do I not like it? The conclusion I keep reaching is that it's something to do with the shape of the top part of the skirt combined with that hard horizontal line that hits fairly high on my (large) thighs, but I honestly can't quite put my finger on exactly why I dislike it so. On the plus side, the cost of making this was close to zero, so I don't feel too bad about it overall. Status: In size storage, but future in doubt.

The other skirt, a version of Simplicity 5351, a gored skirt in brown wool mix, is a wadder and never should have pretended to be anything else. I'm not going to claim the problem here was all the fabric (there were some painfully obvious sewing errors as well, and I just could NOT get a decent hem at all) but the fabric really did not help. Most recently, trying for the fourth time to fix the hem, I managed to burn/melt a big patch on the front of the skirt (and really, wow, what kind of fabric MELTS ONTO YOUR IRON?). You can't see the mark but the fabric is all crunchy and weird and really, no, time to give up. Status: In the bin.

Skirts for the summer: Lorenna Buck Maxi, Ottobre 02-2010-15

Just so I can finish on a high note, two skirts that were definite wins.

On the left, the summer maxi skirt I made with sari fabric was great. I just wish I'd made it earlier in the summer as I didn't have too many really nice days on which to wear it. There were a couple of little problems with it, of course. I left the hem as a raw selvedge hoping it would hold but after a couple of washes this started to fray. It never got bad enough that I did anything about it, but I definitely need to if I want to wear it again. I also really did a terrible job with the waistband at the front. It's not uncomfortable and I rarely tuck my shirts in so nobody else can see, but I still ~~~know that it's a right pig's ear. I made it to fit at the waist at the time, and it now sits a bit below. This is actually good because it solves the slight concern I had that it was just a few centimetres too short. It's definitely a summer and/or vacation skirt, although I wore it to work on a couple of epically hot days when I was teaching. Really not something I can wear into the autumn, so: Status: In seasonal storage.

On the right, the khaki straight skirt with side pockets looks like nothing at all. It's absolutely bland and dull and the pockets on the side, while both nice and functional, and which you can see properly in the original entry, are not all that interesting. On Pattern Review it is the most unloved review I have written. And yet! This is one of the most successful things I've made so far. I wore it and wore it and wore it this summer, and it washed and wore like iron. Partly I wore it so often because it took the place of shorts. I had anticipated a typical Irish summer and only brought one pair of "sunbathing in the garden" shorts with me, and nothing I could actually be seen wearing in public. As it turned out, this skirt looked equally good with a white blouse and colourful tank for work as with a brightly coloured t-shirt at the weekend. It looked good with almost every top in my wardrobe. I loved it even though the buttonhole/button at the back is frankly AWFUL and the skirt had a slight tendency to tilt at the front due to poor waistband fit. Alas, this is not a colour I wear in the rainy autumn, and it is with the greatest sadness that I put it away for the summer. Status: In seasonal storage.

To sum up:

Ten skirts total.
Four successes: (wedding skirt, turquoise A-line, maxi skirt, beige skirt with pockets) -- I wore them, I liked them, the inevitable sewing flaws weren't a problem.
Two qualified successes: (purple polka dot skirt, brown circle skirt) Both of these were fine, but they were just too big, even before I lost weight. Plus, the purple polka dot skirt needed tops to go with it.
Two "but does it suit me" items: (navy pencil skirt, grey flounced skirt) I liked the idea of these, but in implementation I just can't seem to find a way to wear them.
Two total failures: (black straight skirt, brown gored skirt) Bad fabric choice. Bad sewing. Bad everything.

Things I have learned from this exercise
  • I probably am getting better at sewing. Although I can pick out flaws in the four successful skirts, which are all the most recent skirts I've made, they're actually very wearable, particularly in comparison to the skirts I was making 9-12 months ago.
  •  If I am making something and trying on as I sew, it's probably better to stop and reassess something that seems like it's going to be too big, and fix it before I finish it. "Too big" is just as uncomfortable as "too small".
  • It's probably a good idea to either try on something similar in a shop, if possible, or make a sensible muslin if I am trying a new shape out. I mean, skirts are pretty limited in shape and materials/time, but I'd hate to have that "oh wait, this style looks terrible on me!" moment if I'd spent 3 months making a coat.
  • Fabric choice is really REALLY important. REALLY. **REALLY**. Both the brown and black skirt failed partly because of poor sewing, but really a lot of the problem was just that I used totally the wrong fabric. And on the other hand, part of the reason the successful beige skirt was such a hit was that the sturdy cotton twill was exactly what I needed for a hard-wearing summer skirt.
  • It's a waste of time making something if you don't have anything that goes with it. I've already started to address this by doing the 6PAC thing, but it's REALLY obvious when I have it laid out like this and I have two things I've barely worn all because I haven't got a single top that properly goes with them.
  •  Sometimes the simplest and least exciting patterns produce the best outcomes. See also:

I said that beige skirt was one of the most successful things I've made,clothes-wise so far, but in fact BY FAR the most successful things I've made are the six different versions of Ottobre 02-2013-02, the Summer Basics Tee. It's such an unassuming little pattern but I wore the five tops pictured above, plus the original turquoise wearable muslin over and over and OVER, to the point where I've had to take them out my work wardrobe because the inexpensive fabrics I used just didn't hold up to being washed that often.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Well, that was a disaster of a week

Let me just sum up my week by saying I spent four days in the hospital from Monday to Thursday and leave it at that. Ugh. What a vile, awful, hard week. I'm fine, more or less, and I'll be 100% fine in a few weeks with the help of some drugs, but just, wow, tough week that I'd prefer not to have to go through again.

The knock on effect, from a sewing perspective, is that there's no way I'm getting my sewing area set up any time soon. My second bedroom at the new apartment I moved into is going to be my sewing room (and also where visitors sleep should I have any -- I don't generally have a lot of overnight guests though, so most of the time it will be totally in sewing room setup).  At the moment, the room is full of assorted junk, plus all my sewing stuff still in boxes and bags and whatever. The only thing I have managed to do so far is put all my sewing books and magazines on a bookshelf. Where I lived before they were just piled up in various places, so it's nice to see them neatly organized on a shelf. My fabric though is still all in tubs inside the wardrobes and there's barely room to move around the room because of all the empty boxes and whatnot currently filling up the space.

As a consequence, I am abandoning any plan to do the Mini Wardrobe competition, even though I've been looking forward to it all year long. It's just not in the least bit feasible, between the sewing room situation, my current health situation (though I should feel totally 100% myself again in a couple of weeks), stuff going on for work and the fact that my weight is actually changing rapidly right now. I am so bummed about it though. :(

To cheer myself up while I was in hospital, though I spent quite a lot of time looking at patterns, bought a couple, and allowed myself to get excited at the thought of a couple of others.

First up, the Autumn/Winter issue of Burda Plus turned up this week, which was mildly entertaining. I was in two minds whether to buy it at all, but in the end fell victim to my usual completist mentality and thought I would regret not having it later if I didn't and then people started making amazing things from it.

Here are my top picks from the issue:
Burda Plus 02-2013-421
I think the fabric is probably part of the appeal of this dress, but the actual line drawing is really interesting as well:

I don't love the neckline -- I hate high necked anything, it just looks terrible with my very large bust -- but I find the darts in the small of the back really interesting. There are a couple of other versions in the magazine as well and they all look really elegant.

Is it weird that I like this? I know I am the first person to bitch about Plus patterns that are giant sacks, but somehow this layered dress really appeals to me:

It's slightly 20s looking without being full on flapper or drop waist. I don't know, something about it appeals to me. Maybe I just wish I looked like this model.

Other than that, there are a few things I kind of like, but am not hugely enthusiastic about. I saw a coat-dress like this one in a shop the other day and it actually looked amazing, but I don't know that I'd wear it. I also quite like these three variations on a jacket/coat pattern, but I am not really up for thinking about making coats this year. 

A lot of the styling and fabric choices left a lot to be desired in this issue (what is this outfit, Burda? Why would anyone go walking in the countryside with their dog in a purple glittery top and trousers that look like someone threw up on them?) but the absolute worst shot in the whole magazine, from both a pattern and styling perspective, is this one:

WHAT IS THAT DRESS? This is the same model as in the first pattern I picked out -- she has a pretty classic hour-glassy looking figure in that shot. She looks a totally different shape in this dress and not in a very flattering way. And the COLOUR. And the random CHINA RHINO ON THE FLOOR NEXT TO HER. Just. What is going on in this shot?

So that was Burda Plus. Probably not worth the money I paid for it, if I'm honest. I like to have three solid possible makes in an issue before I shell out for it and this I really shouldn't have bought under those rules. I also probably shouldn't have bought either the last issue of Burda Plus or the S/S of Burda Easy, either. Burda, why must you suck the money out of my pocket this way? :(

However, the previews for the A/W Burda Easy are really exciting. You can see the pretty pictures on my favourite Russian blogger's site already (I don't know how she gets them, but she's always the first with Burda previews!). I won't hotlink the photos but wow, there's a TON in this issue that I already really like -- in fact, I like most everything except some of the colour blocked stuff. Plus it's Burda Easy, which means real pattern sheets and actual instructions. So glad this is available in English again! I pre-ordered it the second I saw the previews so it is actually WEEKS from arriving, but I am really looking forward to when it does. I will probably review it a little more when it eventually turns up.

Meanwhile, probably my favourite magazine at all, Ottobre Woman, also released a new issue, 05-2013. I LOVE Ottobre for the classic, simple patterns they produce, the quality of the drafting and the fact that they not only size most garments for 36-52, but they show women in larger sizes in their garments in the magazine. Sure, it's not the most fashion forward magazine, and I know people bitch that the photos are badly styled or whatever, but if you want a solid set of basics, you just can't go wrong with Ottobre.

My two top picks from the magazine are:

This jersey top. The one thing I really liked about the Rose Tee I muslined, even though it went kind of wrong, was the rounded V-neck, and this has the same look to it. However, it's also ruched at the side seams and has a curved underbust seam, all of which I find really interesting. I really need smart long-sleeved jersey tops for work and I am very very tempted to make one of these.

I love literally everything in this shot. I love the jacket most of all. Her arm kind of hides the little design feature of some tucks that define the waist. I like the little peplum blouse although I am not sure it is really my style I'd be willing to try it. And I really like that little banded straight skirt as well.

Overall, I am super excited by the new Ottobre and absolutely can't wait to get it in the post.

And finally, I actually bought a couple more envelope patterns recently because I'm ridiculous. I finally got around to ordering the A/W issue of MyImage. I'm not super excited by the issue but see above re. being a completist about things. I decided to pick up the last Imagewear envelope pattern I wanted as well, IW1003. They're currently (since I bought it, of course!) on sale for €1 each, so if you've ever fancied the patterns now would be the time to buy!

I keep a close eye on the UK Simplicity official reseller as well. They had a pattern I'd fancied for ages as the "Pattern of the Week" selection two weeks ago (which means it's £3.50 inc p&p, which is pretty good. The pattern was Simplicity 1652. And then RIGHT NOW, Simplicity UK are doing a half price deal on all Simplicity patterns so I ordered a couple of others I've also had my eye on for a while: 2247 and 1754.

And finally, I've been mainly indifferent to the pre-Fall catalogue releases by the Big 4, but I do like this peplum jacket from New Look and although it's a total basic, I am tempted by New Look's new knit pencil skirt pattern, since I've been looking at how to turn one of my existing woven patterns into something suitable for a stable knit for weeks now. If I lived somewhere where Butterick patterns were cheap I'd probably pick up quite a few of their new collection as well. There's nothing I'd want to spend €10 to acquire, but if I lived in the land of the $2 pattern I might well want several of them.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Giveaway winners!

Since only one person wanted to enter the Simplicity 2773 draw, the winner is SewLittleToSay!

And the winner of the Cake Tiramisu pattern, as determined by the random number generator, is BeaJay!

Please get in touch in a comment or on PR (username: westmoon) to let me know where to send your patterns (Which I have located, even though my pattern box is literally the only sewing box I have opened!)

Monday, 12 August 2013

Two Year Sewing-versary! (and a giveaway to celebrate it)

Two years ago today a shiny new sewing machine was delivered to my house.

The start of even wanting a sewing machine was this post, which I was linked to by one of the (many) people I know who are involved to a greater or lesser extent in body acceptance movements: Why clothes fit celebrities and not you. The point, I think, of the article is probably more about worrying less about not getting a good fit from RTW clothes, with the implication being that celebrities can afford to get every single damn thing made or tailored to fit (and have to, in fact, because their livelihoods are partly dependent on looking well put-together) and most of the rest of us can't, and that is why even simple items like a white tee look great on them and not so much on us. However, what I took away from the article was this: maybe I could learn to sew, and then alter my own clothes. At the very least, maybe I should stop relying on my mother to take the hems up when I buy trousers that are too long for me.

That is NOT AT ALL the trajectory my actual sewing has taken and I have no more idea now than I ever did how alter RTW to fit (although I would indeed be able to take my own hems up now). I mean, I could probably figure out how to take in a skirt waistband to fit with some help from google, but it's definitely not been the focus of my sewing. At the time I bought the machine, though, I sort of had this hazy idea that I would do a lot of refashioning, but I've only ever done one project that could even remotely be called a refashion. The main problem is that I don't know where these mythical charity shops are where people "thrift" and get wonderful deals to start their refashion, but let me tell you where they aren't: the rural north-west of England. In every charity shop I ever went into all that was for sale was the SAME EXACT dreck that was in the high street shops -- because it came from them originally -- only 2 years out of date and worn and oh, by the way, still AT LEAST a fiver for a cheap blouse that probably only cost £8 to start with. Maybe it's better here in Dublin, given that it's a major city, but I've not even seen a charity shop to go into yet. The other problem is that, I have to be honest, I have seen some amazing refashioning projects but they are far, FAR outnumbered by refashioning projects where all I could think was: nope. I'm not saying never for refashioning, but it's definitely not likely to be my Big Thing. (I also don't think it's co-incidence that the most successful refashioners I've seen are all small women -- both in terms of weight and height. You can make almost anything smaller but your choices are limited to the (very few, mostly drecky and expensive) plus size clothes and large men's clothes in stock if you're tall and plus-size.)

At any rate, when I actually started sewing, what I really made was bags. I don't know why, because I am the LEAST interested in handbags of almost any woman I know. Nevertheless, that's what I made. Here are all the things I made in 2011, the year I started sewing, to give you some idea of my progression. The bag I'm most proud of, after two years, is probably the ChrisW Designs Olivia I made for my sister-in-law last year in denim. I have plans to make one for myself this autumn in navy blue and white, but every time I think about it I remember that this is a 20+ hour project and sort of crumble under the idea of making it again. (Nothing against the pattern, which is amazing, its just a long, long, LONG make.)

At the time I started sewing, I was adamant that I would not ever sew clothes. When I originally learned to sew a bit, in home economics class aged 11-13 before I gave it up to take German class instead, I had to make a patchwork pillow case and an A-line skirt. They're both in one of the (frighteningly large number of) boxes that are arriving tomorrow with the rest of my belongings, and I must remember to take some photos of them at some point for the sake of amusement. Suffice to say the patchwork was bad, the skirt was a sad endeavour that never fit me, and the whole thing turned me right off the idea of sewing. This time around, the idea of making clothes crept up on me gradually. I took about 4 months off sewing last summer because I was too sick at the time, and that was when my enthusiasm for sewing garments really ramped up. The thing is that my first love is learning, and there came a point where all the bags I made were just increasingly more of the same thing over and over. Garment sewing was a new challenge, with tons of new things to learn. I'm not going to lie, it's been more challenge than I expected sometimes, but it's still loads and loads of fun, and there's loads and loads to learn, and that pretty much guarantees my continued interest.

I'm probably most proud that I TRIED to make a jacket for the wedding I attended earlier this summer, although my actual feelings about the jacket have taken a sharp reversal. I don't have any photos of me from the day of the wedding (I hate having my photo taken, which is why Flossie models most of the garments I've made) but I am pretty sure the jacket at least looked terribly home-made and grim. Probably it looked no worse than a badly fitted RTW jacket, though, so I refuse to worry about it overly. It's not like I ruined anyone's wedding photos since I was just a friend of the two brides and therefore not in any of them!

In conclusion: two years of sewing! It's gone so fast! I've learned so much! I'm still so shockingly bad at it! It's all kind of awesome.

To reward you for reading this far, I have a tiny giveaway to offer. I don't really know how many people read this blog -- maybe 20 or so, based on my stats -- so maybe this will be a case of me offering a giveaway and then crickets chirping in the ensuing silence. However, on the off-chance that any body is out there, I'm offering a pattern to each of two randomly selected persons:

Giveaway #1: The Tiramisu dress pattern by Cake patterns

Have a look at the pattern for sizing, because it's a bit unusual. I've seen versions made by women of all kinds of sizes though, so pretty sure it will work for a lot of people.

Brand new, not even taken out of the envelope. I have the original version which has a printing error in it, but the errata are included in the envelope and I don't think it's significant.

Giveaway #2: Simplicity 2773 - Knit co-ordinates - size 18W to 24W

I really loved this pattern of knit co-ordinates but the sizing doesn't work for me (take a look at the sizing to see if it will work for you!). Again, completely new and unused, although I think I took the instructions out of the package at some point.

If you would like to win either pattern, just tell me which you like best (if you would like to enter for both, you can do that too, since I am thinking the number of entrants will be SMALL.) I will post to anywhere in the world. I will make the draw on Friday and post them, um, whenever I actually manage to dig them out of the box they are currently stored in.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Mini-wardrobe thoughts

I'm having a very troublesome August so far, even though it's only the fifth. I've had a painful (and possibly expensive, I'm still waiting to hear) technology failure that may or may not mean I've lost everything on my laptop. The only reason I'm not weeping inconsolably in the corner is that the one really truly important thing on my laptop -- my PhD thesis -- is safely backed up in the cloud and on multiple other devices. As it is, I'm facing the loss of all my photos and a million bookmarks and -- tragically the thing I am presently most irritated by -- my spreadsheet full of information about all my fabric and patterns, where I bought them and how much I paid. Who knows, I may get it all back -- I have EVERYTHING crossed that I will -- but if I don't, ugh, well, next time I'll have to make sure I back THAT up to the cloud as well!

Meanwhile, there are various irritating little things happening in my professional life, I've got 71 essays and 71 exams to mark in the next three weeks, and oh yes, I'm finally being reunited with all my worldly goods when I move into my new apartment next week. I'm not especially looking forward to the move itself, which will be two long days of hauling boxes around, trying to remember what the hell I owned when I packed up my kitchen equipment in 2007 and discovering whether it's survived being in storage ever since.  However, I am looking forward to being reunited with my belongings, particularly the (distressingly large) portion thereof that relates to sewing. The house I've been subletting for the summer has been fine, in a lot of respects, but I do miss the feeling of home that comes from being surrounded by my own possessions.

However, on to the actual purpose of my post: my initial thoughts on the mini-wardrobe competition, to be held on PR through September. Since I've been doing these mini-collections for myself in the recent past, it seems right up my alley. I know for certain fact I could never win, because I've seen the wardrobes that win, so I'm not even going to think about that! However, it's still a great excuse to put together another collection for myself and, because the timescales are so short, to deliberately make some quick and easy projects. We've still not seen the rules for this year (and they change a bit every year) but they're usually some variation on a theme of "make four things".

Here are the additional, non-rule problems that I have:
a) Not only are the time-scales short but my actual personal free time is going to be really limited through September.
b) My weight is not stable at the moment, so I need to make stuff that is either in a knit, isn't fitted and/or can be altered relatively easily.
c) As far as possible, I'd like this to be a stash-only mini-wardrobe, with no new fabric purchases.

At the minute, I'm thinking one skirt, one dress and two tops, though it depends a bit on how the competition is structured, rule-wise. Here are some of my ideas so far:

Butterick 5862
Butterick 5862 is a mock wrap dress. The big problem with it is that the wrong side shows (at the front skirt) and I only recently realized I had something in my fabric collection that would work with that constraint. The other big problem is of course that I have not made this pattern or any dress in a knit before, so it might be a bit of a stretch, skill wise! Still, it's very pretty and it would definitely work with my other constraints, so it's a possibility. I'm a little perturbed that nobody's reviewed the pattern at all, but I shan't let that stop me.

Burda 02-2007-113B

This skirt is rounded bias cut godets is Burda 02-2007-113B. It's a pattern from an older Burda magazine I picked up when they were cheap on eBay (since the Sewing Bee aired they've absolutely shot up in price!). (Ignore the blouse -- except that it points to a fitted cut being a good match for the skirt.)

I think this would be a great skirt for autumn. I've seen a few tutorials to how to add elastic to a regular waistband to make it more weight-fluctuation friendly, and I might have to investigate that in more detail.

The two tops I'm a bit unsure about. One of them would definitely need to be a knit top, and I'm erring towards the idea of yet another Ottobre 02-2013-02 top. I've worn the previous versions over and over and OVER this summer, so I would definitely get the wear from it, and if I cut the hacked, slimmer version it would still look nice with the full skirt I've picked out. Since I can turn out one of those tops in a couple of hours, it would also be a really easy pattern to include in a wardrobe.

The last item though, a second top, I'm really not sure about. The easiest thing to do would be to make another knit top, and I have a few options written down for that. On the other hand, there are some woven options on my list too.The problem with making a blouse is that other than that one Burda muslin, I've not really made one before, and I definitely don't have a handy TNT pattern to pull out at use (although I do have both a dart and a princess seam sloper that I could use). I suppose it depends on how complicated making that knit dress turns out to be.

Those are my plans so far then, although of course if the rules are radically altered this year then all this thinking will be for nothing! Still, it's not like I don't derive entertainment from thinking about my mini-collections, so it's not totally wasted effort even if the mini-wardrobe contest rules make me throw everything here out the window.