Sunday, 30 March 2014

This is what I do while sick (or, The Fantasy Summer Wardrobe)

Still pretty much sick and miserable. I had to cancel the class I teach Saturday mornings because while I can just about manage moving around my apartment, there was no way I could stand and lecture for 2 hours yesterday. I can't really work on my PhD because the side effects of the medication make me mentally fuzzy, and all the sewing projects I have are up to a point where I would have to do something strenuous like stand around and fit bust darts or press hems into fabric that REALLY doesn't want to take a crease of any description. I've been reduced to inventing fantasy wardrobes and thinking about sewing as a result.

I've borrowed a little bit from all over the place for my fantasy wardrobe. It's a little bit based on Project 333, which I tried a modified form of last September but didn't really love. It's a little bit based on some ideas from The Vivienne Files, who also does a version of P333, but also posts capsule wardrobes. And it's a little bit based on some ideas from around the sewing community about how to put together capsule wardrobe and a couple of style bloggers I follow who seem marginally more like me and post marginally less content I would categorize as "utter bollocks" compared to other style bloggers (I shall name no names, since "you write less bullshit than most!" is hardly an endorsement).

It's still too cold and wet here in Ireland to really break out the spring clothes, so my imaginary wardrobe is for an imaginary life between May 1 and say about mid-September -- the exact date when summer ends is more determined by weather than anything. I say it's an imaginary life because in fact I finish my teaching contract, bar my marking requirements, at the end of April and I have literally no idea what will happen to me then. Certainly I won't need the kind of everyday work wardrobe I've laid out here. I also don't own these clothes and, because I chose to go looking for a lot of them on sites where I like to snoop window-shop the clothes rather than sites where I actually buy things, I definitely couldn't afford to buy them all in one year, and couldn't afford some of them at all, ever. (There's a dress on here that costs £650. There are bags that cost £2000. I don't even WANT to buy clothes or accessories that are that expensive.) Money and actual practical use this summer aside, this actually is a pretty good description of how I want to dress. These are my favourite summer colours (white, blue, turquoise, navy, green) and my preferred styles.

This is REALLY MASSIVE, so click on it to see in more detail
The split is approximately 45 items that are mainly for work and 15 that are mainly for casual and weekend wear, although in reality in my experience a lot of tops do double duty for casual and work, depending on what you wear them with. I have never actually owned that many pairs of shoes in my life, I just threw a bunch on that I would LIKE (Though, that's the other thing I can't afford. There's a ton of Fluevogs on there, at like, US$250 a pair. HAHA, as IF.)

That all seemed like fun, so then I made an example four weeks of outfits:

Example four weeks of outfits
Some of the outfits look kind of weird because I can't get the images to line up or like, a knit top that would be fitted in real life looks unfitted here, so you just have to kind of hand-wave that and accept the fact that I actually wouldn't go out in anything that appears to make me look like a brick with no waist. I didn't bother to try to put the blazers/cardigans on because it got too complicated from a Pixelmator point of view (the photoshop equivalent that I use on my Mac). Also, I would probably attempt to wear accessories with some of these outfits but again: too complicated, pictures too small.

Some points to make about the difference between my imaginary wardrobe and my actual real wardrobe:

1. In real life, I carry the same ugly brown and black bag with every outfit and pair of shoes that I have for the last 5-6 years. I don't even like it, but it refuses to wear out and it was (a) a gift; and (b) expensive, so I carry on using it. I have sometimes briefly carried my own bags that I've made, but I actually don't love fabric bags because in the UK/Ireland they get wet and then so do the contents.
2. In real life, I'm not sure I own this many nice clothes.
3. In real life, I probably have normally worn trousers more often in summer despite finding them too hot, mainly because I have always historically been uncomfortable wearing skirts and haven't been able to wear dresses because buying them is such a trial given my body shape (1-2 sizes larger on top than bottom, depending on my weight at the time of purchase). More recently I've been wearing skirts a lot more for work and am growing more comfortable with it.

On the other hand, this is a reasonably good reflection of how I'd like to dress for work both in terms of overall style and level of formality suitable for my work environment (our dress code is "business casual" but the women dress much less informally than the men. The men wear jeans to work on days when they are not lecturing but none of the women are EVER in jeans). It's also a pretty good example of how many prints I'd like to own vs. solids -- which is to say, mainly solids with a few pretty prints in the mix here and there.

I have to be honest, I'd kind of love this wardrobe. If it all arrived magically in my apartment, in my size, with the fit the way I imagine it, I would be thrilled.

The more interesting question is though: if I really wanted this wardrobe, how much of it could I reasonably expect to sew for myself? How much would I WANT to sew for myself? I figure that ultimately, probably about two thirds of this I would want to sew for myself: in the work section, I'd have no concerns about making all of the tops, dresses and the non-suit skirts (although I'm handwaving the part where I've not yet got that much experience making a lot of the TYPES of tops in question, like button-down shirts. Those are skills I am actively working towards acquiring, so if next summer this were a less imaginary plan and more one that I wanted to put into action, I'd hope to be able to). Similarly in the casual section, I'd be happy to make shorts, skirts, a dress, and some tops.

Where I'd rely on RTW is: cardigans and other knitted items; suits (because I feel like I am YEARS away from having the skill level I need to make a really beautiful suit); trousers; jeans; polo t-shirts. I'm not saying never with trousers, and actually if I were going to make ANY of the trousers in my imaginary wardrobe, I'd probably start with a relatively easy type of trouser like a pair with a relaxed style in cotton/linen like I have included in the picture. Similarly, I am not saying never to making my own jeans, but definitely not any time soon. Then there are some marginal items that I think would be exciting and hugely challenging projects. For example, I have this amazing ex-Burberry shower-proof cotton fabric with which to make a trenchcoat, which I bought before I quite understood what I would be asking of myself with that project. I REALLY want to make one, but yeah, that would be a step up for me.

So there you have it: this is what I do when I am home sick.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Purple monstrosity update

About a year ago I was highly enthusiastic at the prospect of knitting my own jumpers. It amuses me that the last time I posted an actual photo of my first ever jumper was 11 March 2013, so, as you can tell, my jumper knitting has been going well! In the interim, to be fair, I did make a seemingly endless array of scarves and cowls, as well as a pair of socks, so it's not like when I periodically abandoned this particular project I didn't knit at all. I just didn't make the progress I expected on the jumper. Or any progress at all, for long periods of time, if I'm honest.

So, here it is as of today. It's been this level of complete for about 10 days now but I've been struggling with a return of my Medical Mystery illness and so I haven't really felt like taking photos and writing blog posts, other than to laugh at Burda earlier this week.

As you can see, the body is complete and I've picked up the stitches for one of the sleeves ready to knit. The distance of the camera hides many flaws, and it's really pretty terrible if you get at all close to looking at it. Even more problematically, it's basically a TERRIBLE fit. It's long enough, but my weight has changed enough since I started knitting a year ago that it's not at all the right size, plus it's really not the right shape for my body. I've more or less decided to knit short sleeves and an inch of ribbing, then do the ribbing at the neckline and call it done just so I can "finish" it, rather than knitting proper long sleeves. My reasons for this decision are based on:

Things That I Have Learned From Knitting My First Jumper (So Far)

  1. Cheap yarn is a waste of money and effort. It's taken me forever to knit this jumper and the single biggest problem with it is that the inexpensive acrylic yarn I used that felt so soft as a yarn ball quickly starts to acquire a plastic-like texture as you knit and, worse, actually started pilling while I was knitting. I still love the colour of the jumper, but I hate the texture and clearly, if it's already pilling now, it's not going to improve any with wearing and washing. All this time and effort, and at the end of it a sweater that already looks shabby? Ugh.
  2. Don't start to knit a long project on cheap needles. I bought a very inexpensive set of circulars to try them out and they haven't been all bad, but I knit about a quarter of the body with sellotape holding the needles together and eventually had to replace them. The original needles were so cheap that I don't consider them to be a bad buy, irrespective of this failure, because if you're just doing a small part of a project on a different needle size, and you're just starting out, it doesn't make sense to buy expensive needles in a dozen sizes. But I wouldn't start a major project on a cheap set again.
  3. The trade-off between time spent knitting and yarn weight is way more critical than I realized. The problem is, basically, I really only like wearing fine gauge knits and almost all my RTW jumpers are fine gauge. That's mainly because I'm a big fan of layers and would rather add warmth through many thin layers than one thick layer. I do have a couple of RTW jumpers that edge into DK weight, but I tend to wear them less often and I would probably never wear a sweater made in e.g. chunky weight, because I just don't like them (and, to be honest, they're just too bulky on me, given that I am top heavy to start with). However, just the thought of how long it would take to knit anything substantial in e.g. 4-ply or lace weight fills me with horror. I kind of knew this intellectually before I started, but it's taken actually making a sweater in DK for the real force of this trade-off to become apparent to me: I haven't got the crafty stamina to knit in the weights I like to wear best; I hate the idea of knitting in heavier weights where I'm more likely to finish before I get fed-up because I'm much less likely to use the output. I'm such a utilitarian with my sewing, and it's clearly also the case with my knitting. If I make something, I expect to use it, I WANT to use it, and I will consider my project a failure if I don't.
  4. Whereas with sewing I feel an urge to learn about technique and improve how I do things, I feel a bit impatient with knitting intricacies. I can see why people are into it, and why it could potentially be fun to get into all the ins and outs of patterns and fitting and technique but... I don't really feel like I want to. Basically, what I'm saying is that I am happy doing basic, easy knitting and I feel lazy and unmotivated to achieve a higher skill level. I'm actually OK with that.
  5. I really really hate WIPs and wasting time and resources making things that I don't want to wear or use. This jumper hanging about in a bag for a YEAR has actually been like a rock in my shoe -- a tiny but highly irritating nuisance. I feel like I am probably better off with shorter, smaller projects, and also with putting my money into better materials so that I WANT the thing I finish.
Funnily enough, not all that long ago I wrote a post about the things I do and don't want to sew and knit for myself, and on the knitting side I've had a complete reversal of opinion. At the time I did really want to knit jumpers (despite the fact that my purple monstrosity was already proving problematic) and I was TOTALLY opposed to the idea of knitting socks. It turns out my Socks Of Terribleness improved 100% when they were washed and dried, in terms of the knit tightening up and the flaws becoming less apparent. They're still terrible, of course, but I love them to absolute pieces and can't wait to make more. Maybe I'll just become a really really good sock knitter. :D?

Monday, 17 March 2014

Five things make a blog post

1. I desperately needed new jeans (and have little interest in making them just yet) so while I was home in the UK I went out to buy some. In the same spirit of enquiry as my Great Dress Trying-On Experiment, I tried on all sorts of cuts in addition to the bootcut style that I most love. I ended up buying not only a pair of bootcut, but also, since they were only £5, a pair of skinny jeans that were on super special sale. I have always loathed skinny jeans when I tried them on before, and I am not 100% convinced I love these except tucked in boots. However, in order to get a pair that fit over my thighs I had pick a size that are too loose at the waist and hip. If I decide I like this look, I will definitely need to either find a different brand that are shaped more like me or else sew them, because ugh, I really hate wearing clothes that fit so badly. Also, I took this photo and basically decided I looked completely and utterly terrible and should never leave the house. Body image issues >:(

The only concession to sewing content is this photo are my boxes of fabric. Oh, and my blue top is one I made before my break, I guess. I just wanted to play with my new camera remote.

2. On my return to Dublin I fished out a pair of too-short black bootcut corduroys from my pile of recycling. My old black cords had suddenly tipped over the line from Acceptably Slouchy to These Are Just Too Big and gave me elephant ears at the hip as well as saggy bottom syndrome. On the other hand there is nothing more stupid looking than bootcut trousers that finish somewhere around mid-ankle, even in flats. Up to this point I had decided elephant ears were the lesser evil. However, ankle length skinny cut don't look too bad, especially if you're wearing them in boots, so I skinnified the legs using my new jeans as a template. Again, not 100% on board with it, and it doesn't help that I kind of half-assed the job as well so they don't really look brilliant.
3. I also fixed my turquoise top that I scorched by taking about 4cm off the hem. It's now a little bit shorter than I like, really, but I guess it's better than having a massive burn mark on it. I am so frustrated though by my coverstitcher. The thread keeps breaking while I'm sewing. I don't know whether it's something I'm doing wrong (tension settings maybe?) or whether it's just the thread I am using is crap. The thread also broke when I used it in my overlocker on this top, so I'm half convinced it's the thread/fabric combination.
4. I have traced the patterns I want to make up next: one tee and one woven tee, both from Ottobre 02-2014; and one skirt from an old issue of Burda (02-2007) for my half-assed Year of Burda challenge. The tee and the skirt should be fairly straightforward, but the woven tee will involve some fairly significant fitting work & probably multiple muslins because of the need for an FBA of doom and other alterations, so I am not expecting to finish it quickly.
5. I am the actual worst at keeping my fabric purchases to a minimum. I just bought 2m of fabric (for a total of 5m this month) because I just HAD to have this fabric I found on Tissu, in spite of the fact that (a) I had no money left in the theoretical sewing fund pot for the month; and (b) I really need to not buy any more fabric. Hopefully I can at least break even for the month with the projects I have planned, I guess.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Made: Two more New Look 6150 View D/knit sloper

Sewing apathy definitely dealt with! In the last two days I whipped up two more plain scoop necked tops with elbow length sleeves like the black and white top I made last month. It really doesn't take long at all to make these, although I wished, in retrospect, I'd spent longer on the hems of each. It seemed to take forever and I still feel I am getting a substandard result from it, though that could just be lack of experience with my coverstitcher still.

New Look 6150 View D tops, modified with my knit sloper for fit and a scoop neckline
The top on the right is made from the same fabric as my favourite iteration of Ottobre 02-2013-02, the little kimono sleeved tee I made a million of last year. I had something like 5.5m of the stuff, though I have only about a third of it left now. It was very cheap, just £2/m, and I actually made parts of this out of the remains of a failed attempt at another knit top pattern (also from Ottobre, unblogged because it was depressing).

The top on the left is a sad story. This was a piece of fabric I bought at the Dublin Knitting and Stitching Show last November, from the MichaelH stand (a shop in Dublin city centre I despair of ever going to, since the opening hours are so peculiar and inconvenient).  I fell in love with the colour, which is actually 100% nicer even than in this photo, which suffers from poor lighting. It wasn't particularly expensive (€6 for a piece just a smidgeon over a metre, minus a large swatch cut from one corner) but I quickly ended up moving it into the "too good for the likes of me to sew!" box. However, in my most recent middle of the night sewing resolution ideas, I decided that no! That is RIDICULOUS. I need to just SEW. This was the first victim of that resolution and actually it all went really well, even the binding looks really great after I coverstitched it (which I feared because of my most recent binding disaster) and then the bottom hem went HORRIBLY wonky when I coverstitched that, and THEN, WORST OF WORST, I scorched it with my iron a little bit near the hem when I was trying to steam out the imperfections. I am the saddest sewist (and tragically, proved right that it was too good for me to sew!) :( :( :( :( I am not sure what to do. Neither dodgy hem nor scorchmark are visible from the all important metre away, and obviously not at all if I tuck my top in. On the other hand, I could make the hem shorter. The top is actually quite long on me so taking it up would not be a really big concern to me.

Either way, I am going to have to leave it and think about it when I come back from my travels, as I'm off tomorrow morning. I'm taking the accoutrements for more sock knitting and also, all my recent thoughts on dress patterns to go with my Great Dress Trying-On Experiment, and also my more recent evolved plans about woven tops, and I will probably report back from the field on one or more of these topics while I am away!

Friday, 7 March 2014

A change of plan

Just before the start of the month I posted about how my plan for March was to make a fitted blouse, and potentially enter it into the PR competition. I was, briefly, enthusiastic about this project, because the fit I get from RTW fitted blouses is execrable: anything that fits at the bust fits nowhere else, and vice versa. I genuinely, honestly want to make fitted blouses at some point this year as my frustration with RTW on normal fitted clothes that I wear every day is a big part of why I switched over to garment sewing from bag sewing in the first place.

However, having traced the pattern, I promptly lapsed into sewing apathy: the traced pattern sat on the floor of my sewing room while I used my daily sewing time to pick up and put down the refinement of my knit top block, try on dresses, re-organize my pattern magazines, and set up a new way to write and keep all my pattern notes (Evernote! I love it!). While perfectly entertaining in their own right, none of these things actually got me closer to having more clothes. I am now into the very last bag of 'too small' clothes that I had in storage, and apparently the last time I was at or near this size I mainly wore either t-shirts and jeans or else clothes only suitable for high summer. Since I am now working, and it is currently March, chilly and often damp here in Dublin, unproductive apathy is not the outcome I need from the time I can allot to sewing. I'm not exactly walking around in threadbare rags, but I don't have much variety and I see no point in having piles of fabric, time specifically allotted to sewing and no clothes to show for any of it.

Then a couple of days ago, it finally occurred to me that my apathy was actually well founded. Among the only useful things that were in the final bag of clothes in storage were three fitted blouses which, while no better than any other RTW I've owned, were not noticeably worse either. Plus I have several others that I suppose are technically too big for me but that are in fact perfectly wearable, so really, I don't need any more for the time being. The PR competition of itself is no particular inducement for various reasons. And finally, I just don't WANT to get into learning about collars and cuffs and buttonholes and everything right now. I don't feel like I have the bandwidth to do a lot of reading about techniques and methods right now, and I definitely don't have the mental fortitude either.

I therefore consulted the great oracle of my wardrobe planning spreadsheet for what I should make, and I concluded that in reality, what I need are tops that are NOT traditional buttoned formal blouses: lightweight pullover woven and knit tops that I can wear on their own or under a cardigan. Plus, I need to start making a few things that can transition to spring when (if) it arrives.

Somehow, just seeing how my wardrobe gaps were playing out kicked me back into gear: I put away one pile of fabric and patterns, and started a new one. Last night I worked properly on my knit top block again and figured out how to fix a couple of little problems I had with the first heavily modified New Look 6150 that I made based on it. I have another one mostly cut out and will probably get that finished today and tomorrow. It's not exciting sewing, but it's necessary sewing. I do get a charge from wearing my me-made clothes, and I feel like continuing to try to improve my sewing technique on these not-very-exciting garments can only help me when I try to make more exciting things later. Plus, I feel like working on fit in smaller chunks rather than jumping straight on to a highly fitted pattern will probably work for me better. Next week I'm off home for a few days so no sewing will get done, but after I come back, it'll be full steam ahead with my newest plans.

Monday, 3 March 2014

The Great Dress Trying-On Experiment

Today I went and did something I have been meaning to do for months: I went to a department store  and tried on a TON of dresses with an eye to figuring out what shapes of dress, if any, suited me. And since I am ridiculous, I took a lot of dressing room selfies to illustrate my experience, which I am now going to force upon you.

The shop I chose had some HIGHLY questionable fabric and design choices. I mean, seriously questionable. Don't think I was there going OH THIS IS CUTE, I MUST HAVE IT. More often I was going WHAT AM I PUTTING ON MY BODY, DEAR GOD. I tried on a bunch more than this, but some of them were just variations on a theme, so I picked out the better (still not great) phone photos, and the funnier failures. I was concentrating on shapes/styles of dress only, so I really didn't pay any attention to the colour or to design details like the fabric or the neckline, since all of those are well within my control when I come to make anything myself. I also didn't get the size right a couple of times but I didn't bother to correct this, so a couple of the dresses are kind of ill-fitting.

I am going to lead with the most flattering looks, of course!
So the biggest winner was the dress on the left (for sale here, if you want better images!) . If it hadn't had a really annoying cowl neckline, I might actually have bought it because it looked so good on. It was a straightforward one piece knit dress with a straight skirt and three quarter sleeves. The two big design features were that first, it had a sort of metal clip affair, over on the left of this image, which ruched the bodice over the abdomen. I LOVED that features and found it really flattering. The other thing was that it had a cowl neck, which I hated. It came up really high on my body and sort of sat on a boob shelf plus, ugh, even moving around enough to take the photos kept making the facing flip up. REALLY cute other than that though.

The dress on the right (for sale here) was also a pretty big win for me despite the fact that the actual dress is seriously hideous in my opinion. One of my friends said it looked like I had hunted and killed a grandad armchair, and I think it looks like the flock wallpaper my grandparents had in their house c. 1981, so, you know, I was never EVER going to buy this one. However, the princess seam and colour block look really worked for me. I really would never make anything with a neckline that high and the hip fit was tight while the bust fit (which is weird for me), but the general idea was good.

Still pretty good!

Surprise of the day -- the dress on the left is a classic shift shape. It's sort of alarming as a dress -- a ton of lace and huge heavy white collar and cuffs -- but I loved the shape on me. Again, I would never buy this particular dress, but I was instantly sold on the body shape. I pretty much came home and instantly looked for a pattern to replicate the shape of this dress. This is very weird because normally I would never have dreamed of even trying on a classic sheath dress, since I've always heard they were very much made for the kind of long lean body type or else full hourglass, of which I am neither. It gave me some really nice hourglass shaped curves though that I liked a lot.

On the right is a fit and flare dress with a sweetheart neckline colour blocking (for sale here) -- basically a Collette Macaron but with a slightly fuller skirt. It's also a size too big -- they didn't have my size -- so it really doesn't fit at the waist or above the bust. I already knew I liked fit and flare (although that look is overall a little more girly than I aspire to, which is why I'm excited that some of the more tailored options look good as well) but I've always wanted to see what a Macaron looked like on me but never wanted to make one. In conclusion: just say no to the Macaron, for me at least.

Dubious. Also, dalmation spotted
This is the dress I am most dubious/unsure of (for sale here). It's more of a sundress, very casual. It has an elasticated waist and it's just a little pullover dress with a slightly blouson top. I didn't feel like it had a huge amount of volume in the front of the dress but, uh, the effect on me is not great. I actually think it looks ok from the front, but as soon as you look at it from the side it's like WOW, I HAVE A LOT OF BUST, OK. Plus, the waist pulled ALL the way up until it was almost an empire seam on me. I feel like I would probably have to really think about how to get a pullover dress like this to work on me -- surely there must be a tipping point between THIS IS REALLY A LOT OF UPPER BODY VOLUME and like, sure, the upper part of this dress is unfitted but I'm not actually going to fall over from being top heavy.

Dress on the right? Seriously the most unflattering thing ever. I look like a brick. SO much upper body volume. Waist pulled up. No shaping at all. AWFUL. I guess those square/totally unfitted styles are not going to be my thing, ever. And the one on the left is just awful too, not just because of some design features but because I just can't look past how hideous it was! It was allegedly the right size, but I needed to up a size for SURE. The actual shape isn't entirely bad given it was too small, but (not really visible in this shot) it also had a wide waistband that hit me right where my abdomen has a bulge, and clung to it. REALLY not flattering. At all. Also, it was made of this hideous neoprene fabric that was like wearing a pink lace swimsuit. Vile!

So, next post on this topic will be me trying to match some patterns and ideas to my dress-related findings. My big picks so far: I'm suddenly coming to LOVE everything wrapped, and am definitely planning on some wrapped dresses and faux wrapped dresses. This is based not on anything I did today but the experience so far of wearing the New Look 6150 top (surprisingly wearable with jeans despite the problems) and Burda wrap cardi that I made. For YEARS I resisted wrap tops/etc and now I feel like this was probably a mistake. I HAVE SEEN THE LIGHT. Also, fit and flare is probably always going to be a big thing for me, also some empire waists (but not all). Based on this though, I am definitely adding sheath dresses with good waist shaping to the mix, proceeding with caution on anything remotely blouson, and definitely DEFINITELY nothing shapeless.

Thins I still have left to consider: they didn't have a shift dress in my size to try on. My feeling is that unless it had some serious waist shaping (french darts, maybe, rather than side seam darts?) shift dresses plus my bust wouldn't produce a look I liked. I didn't bother with any of these dresses that are like long t-shirts or tents. Every like that just hangs straight from my bust and looks terrible (and also: pregnant). I have ZERO idea if drop waist would suit me and strangely feel a strong aversion to finding out. Not sure what, if anything, that leaves!

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Bits and Pieces

1. Tonight I traced out all the pieces of McCall's 5522, the blouse I am (possibly) making for the PR Fitted Blouse competition. It's a lot of pieces. I'm having major second thoughts about using a dart to fit the bust though -- I am definitely NOT using gathers, ugh, so it would have to be a princess seam. I like princess seams though, and surely my previous fitting with princess seams will provide SOME kind of template. My bust measurement is smaller than it was when I last did a woven princess seam fitting (by 14.5cm, or 5.75", so a not insignificant change) but it's still more or less in the same proportion to the rest of me.

2. I also did a tiny bit of work to tweak my knit sloper this weekend. Wearing my black and white top the other day, I realized I needed to pull the neckline in closer to the neck by 1 to 1.5cm, just to be absolutely certain it stays put covering my bra straps. I'm still working on making sense of the armpit seam and how to sew extra space in the bust while not ending up with a triangle of fabric in the underarm. I tried one thing and it really didn't work, but I have another idea. I keep having to remind myself that the shape of the finished sloper doesn't matter so long as it fits me: weird is fine!

3. I feel like I have a lot to say about my coverstitch machine and no time to say it. Maybe I will get to my review of it sooner rather than later. Actually, I have a lot to say about a lot of other things and no time to say any of them. Why must my work and PhD get in the way of my blithering about sewing this way?

4. I managed to be at fabric stash parity with 1st January for like, 3 days, and then spoiled it by accidentally buying 3m of black cotton lawn. I really mean it was accidental this time. It was in my eBay shopping basket by mistake and I checked out without taking it out. Annoying! Not that I didn't want it, because I did. I just didn't need to buy it RIGHT NOW. It's going to be blouses, assuming this month of fitting and working on woven slopers and tops works out for me. Specifically, it might well be a Carme blouse, the new pattern from Pauline Alice. Or something similar. The rest of it I will stash temporarily before I make a short-sleeved blouse this summer.

5. I really want a dark blue shirt dress and a green corduroy jacket for spring. I have the fabrics for each of them, and I don't have any of the skills I need to make them. Well, I will maybe have some of the basic shirt-making skills after this month, we'll see how I get on with making a regular shirt first. And surely jackets are an extension of shirts, in many ways? This is where sewing is no better than shopping. If I shopped, I could look forever and probably never find the perfect blue shirt dress, especially since dresses are nearly impossible for me in RTW because of the upper/lower body size discrepancy in RTW, nor the perfect cord jacket. However, I am just as unlikely to be able to MAKE a perfect anything. :|