Sunday, November 9, 2014

A Palette Cleanser - Simplicity 1541

This week a friend IRL asked me if, after finishing my jeans, have I given up blogging.  Well, no, I'm just preoccupied with new projects and thinking about new projects, and frankly, a new obsession.  It's been fun, and I have written a dozen blog posts in my head, which haven't actually made it to a keyboard.  Writing is mostly thinking, so I like to believe I've done the hard work, just where no one can see.  As usual.

Cleaning up after the Jeans Project took a lot of time.  There were a half dozen patterns to sort and store, fabric scraps to deal with, and a very messy sewing room.  Once that was done, I began the dithering over what to do next.

A fall coat came to mind.  After making the Gertie coat last year, I was enthused about another, less complicated, autumn coat.  My Gertie coat is made of camel hair, which is really warm, and the big circle skirt is great for the dead of winter, but I want something less . . . well, just less.  I have a Pendleton plaid coat for fall (my favorite season), but it's five years old now and starting to show some wear.

I wanted something easy.  And I wanted to use a pattern from one of the many sewing books I own.  I recently noticed that while I buy a lot of them, I never actually make anything from them.  I'm not certain why.  Probably there's the pressure to trace, which I'm not all that excited about.  And there are so many big 4 patterns that are cheap and easy.

So I found a coat pattern in Sew Serendipity:

The coat patterns are essentially one pattern consisting of different lengths:

I was interested in the green wool coat (middle photo), with the bottom photo length.  This is an easy coat pattern - easy collar, no lining (but I could make one easily), and only three buttons.  The search for the perfect coat weight wool commenced.

The wool needed to be coat weight, but supple.  Not finding what I wanted, I went ahead traced all the pattern pieces, and made my lining from the same fabric I used on the Gertie coat (I bought 7 yards so I may be sewing with this stuff for YEARS to come.)  The size small fit well, and I finally found a wonderful quality wool locally (at the expensive fabric store in town) for a great sale price.  I told myself it wasn't teal, it was cadet blue, and brought it home.

But then doubt set in.  While the Sew Serendipity coat is cute, maybe it is a little too . . . cute???  I'm 50 years old now.  What I love, and have loved, has suddenly felt too young on me, which has left me feeling vaguely ridiculous.  

Not surprisingly, I didn't want to give up on this pattern, having traced it and made the lining, but obviously continuing on with a coat that I won't actually wear defies reason.  I cast about for another, perhaps more sophisticated, easy coat pattern.  I ordered this from the interwebs:

The coat comes in various lengths, and reminds me of the Tippi Hedren jacket.  It is easy, and as a bonus it includes a lining pattern.  I thought I was all set.

But there was the fabric.  While gorgeous in weight and drape, I had to finally admit to myself what I had denied:  the color is teal, dammit.

(This photo makes it look more blue than it is in real life.  Unfortunately.)

I don't care for teal.  And yet, I keep ending up with it.  I can only assume it's a cruel trick of the universe.

So I gave up and ordered a fall coat from Boden.

With the cooler temps finally coming our way here in Virginia, I pulled out my favorite wool skirt, the yellow skirt I made last January, McCalls 3341.  And not surprisingly, I found it a little too tight.  Another little nasty side effect of turning 50.  Ick.

I bought the yellow wool at Mood while in NYC last December and I bought a bunch of it, so the solution was to just make another.  I wanted something less A-line and longer, more of a pencil skirt, which is more in vogue, so I went with Simplicity 1541, which I made in a stretch jean fabric this summer:

I made it the exactly same way, except I mitered the french pleat in the back as illustrated in Singer's "Sewing for Style" I recently found in a thrift store for $ 5.00.

Here are the instructions:

Easy enough, but mine doesn't lay as flat and shows slightly in this wool:

If I made this skirt again, I probably won't bother with the mitering; it lays flatter just folding up normally, and no one cares how I manage my kick pleat. 

I had planned to line it in silk but ran out of enthusiasm and just decided I would wear a half slip with it.

I used the same tablecloth fabric for the waist facing that I used on the original yellow skirt:

Also, this time I put in a centered zipper rather than the lapped; it is just easier for me:

I used the same 3/4 seam allowances I used on the last skirt, but this one is tighter because of the lack of stretch.  If I make it again in wool, I'll use 5/8 seams instead just to give a little more wiggle room (literally).

I do enjoy topstitching:

So yay, I like the skirt.  But my sewing these days is in flux.  Not only do I have way too many clothes, I have too many that I don't wear.  Remember my last count of 46 skirts hanging in my closet?  Something had to be done.

There are a ton of blogs out there dedicated to minimalist wardrobes, but this is what is working for me:

1)  For every garment I make or buy, I get rid of two.  So for this skirt that I added to my closet, I eliminated two skirts.  This has helped me reduce the 46 skirts down to 29.

2)  No more black.  I saw, and wore, enough black in the '80s and '90s to last me a lifetime.  I'm tired of it.  And as I age, it looks too severe on me, making me look pale and tired.  Still, of those 29 skirts I still have, six are black.  Clearly more purging is necessary.

3)  I've discovered I'm both emotional and practical when it comes to clothes hoarding.  I keep some clothes because I used to love wearing them, even though I don't wear them now, and I keep clothes because they are practical (it was cheap! it was expensive! I might need it some day!), even though I don't wear them.  One example:  I have a black suit with two skirts that I can't bring myself to get rid of because, what if, God forbid, someone should die?  Obviously, reason should tell me that if that happens any store in America will have black clothes suitable for the impending funeral.

4)  For the first time in a long time in my adult life, I have put on weight and some of my clothes are too tight - this is a real bummer.  Keeping them in my closet isn't lifting my spirits, but getting rid of them feels like waiving the white flag of defeat.  I know that admitting it is the first step in dealing with the problem.

5) I'm only sewing what I feel passionate obsessed about.  If I'm dithering, I'm probably not sufficiently enthralled with it, i.e. see coat story above.  If this is the case, I'm buying what I need and calling it a day (see also, Boden solution above).  

6)  Here's an interesting article about discarding everything that does not bring you joy.  I'm hoping looking at my clothes about whether they bring me joy will liberate me from the emotional/practical considerations in keeping and tossing clothes.

7)  The clothes I have removed from my closet haven't actually left the house.  They are in storage in an unfinished attic room which helps me remove them them from the closet.  It's sort of a half-way house for unwanted clothes.  I'm separated from them, but if I ever need them, they are recoverable.  I hope this helps in ultimate separation in the future.

8)  My goal is to own less clothes which I actually wear that allow more creativity in how I wear them.  And, of course, good quality, whether I make them or buy them.

Coming soon:  my new obsession and why I'm sewing it.


Vicki W said...

I like that yellow skirt a lot. I'm glad you didn't make that coat. I think it adds about 40 lbs to the wearer. Maybe we can dye that blue wool to make you like it better. I could mix you some dye and get you some instructions so you could do it in yo washer.

Angela said...

I love your yellow skirt. I need to take a leaf out of your book and sort my wardrobe out. I don't make my clothes but I do own a lot. As a plus size lady my weight is always fluctuating and I always have a tonne of stuff in my wardrobe that doesn't fit 'at the moment' but I keep hanging on to incase i drop a size or go up a size ......time to get ruthless and have a good clear out I think!!

Anne said...

Thrilled to find a post!! Love the 'halfway house' thought....know it. You're never too old for cute or too cute, but there does come a time to bid farewell to the tube top :)