February was a whirlwind month, a juggling act of a full-time job, a part-time job and a part- part-time job. There were great professional successes and terrible family emergencies. Needless to say, I didn't get much sewing done, but how'd I do otherwise?
I've got the zeal of the newly converted (let's see how I do six months down the line!). First, I bought this book, recommended by Heart Handmade:
Sucking Eggs: What Your Wartime Granny Could Teach You About Diet, Thrift and Going Green ... by Patricia Nicol compares modern day life to wartime living, providing a fascinating glimpse into forced austerity which she claims had many merits. There's much about this book I'd like to share with you this year, but briefly, it was eye-opening to read about austerity as an imposed regulation by the government, which fettered over the coupon-price of women's undergarments and whether sanitary napkins would be rationed.
For the public, it was a mark of pride and patriotism to show creativity and ingenuity with your slim coupon stash, representing two-thirds of what an average woman would buy in peace time. There were Make Do and Mend Sewing Centers for women who wanted to drop in and brush up on their sewing skills, since necessity dictated it.
I also enjoyed this book (I have many from the series):
GettyImages: 1940s. Really, if you were to read these small photography books—one is available for every decade of the century—it would give you a wonderful overview of history.
Sewing-wise, I realized I really needed to up the ante in the quality department. The two things I've consistently overlooked is fabric choice and fit, so I bought these two books.
More Fabric Savvy by Sandra Betzina
Though I've yet to use it as it just arrived, I bought it because it has detailed info for each type of fabric, from cutting, interfacing, needles, presser feet, seam finishes etc. I've also been visiting fabric stores to get better at fabric recognition.
Finally! The oft-recommended book for fitting.
In addition to books, I went a little crazy in the cardigan department. My neighbor was moving back to Spain and was selling these lovelies for $2 each, way below my thrifting threshold.
Cardigans and shoes are sometimes the only flashes of color in my outfits and three of these have already become standbys. They've also helped me understand what kind of fit I'm seeking in a cardigan -- I really don't want one that's super figure-hugging, it's not flattering. I may alter one of them using Casey's "how to refashion a cardigan" tutorial.
I hit up the thrift store on President's Day for the 50% off sale, snagging a fleece robe and these three items, a cute retro-ish looking red cardigan (much nicer than the photo! Inspired by Kate Spade).
The others are a very large cream polyester blouse and a black Eileen Fisher linen tunic that I snagged for a planned refashion.
Speaking of refashions, I did this lovely with lace from Debbie:
Then I tried to use the legs of my self-drafted pants pattern to alter the fit of existing trousers and also fix the facing on last year's refashioned blouse using Simplicity 3263.
Though it looks sort of okay in the photo, and it's definitely the style I'm going for, the pants were a bust. I tried to refashion a pair of men's pants -- no hip and butt curves, low crotch, etc. So I think I'm going to combine my self-drafted pattern with the BurdaStyle Ruby Shorts pattern (which I've sewn twice) and cut up a very large pair of women's black pants. Cigarette pants, here I come!
I love the shape of the blouse above: The scoop collar, the front and back darts. Here's the original pattern:
It really needs a small bust adjustment to fit correctly, so armed with Fit for Real People I plan on refashioning the cream and black thrifted tops above using this pattern. I can't imagine anything more versatile to have in my closet.
I've also begun the Uniform Project sew-along with Debbie and Kristin. We're in the muslin stage. Incredibly exciting dress, very frustrating construction.
Like tops, I've been thinking about versatility in the skirt department. I keep mentally coming back to the one I put on my work capsule/inspiration board, this blue crepe number, Valentino Roma Pleated Skirt, ~$900 retail. It's the flat waist, the versatile color, the fullness at the knee, and the bit of rock-n-roll embellishment on an otherwise plain skirt:
So I bought this pattern, from 1943. In 1940s sizing, I'm a perfect 16 (34-28-37) and that just rocks my world. By the 1950s and 1960s, I would've needed a smaller waist or larger boobs to fit a pattern out of the envelope.
Mary jane dreaming (So Toria's fault). These were an old pair I loved, bought for $7 at a thrift store three years ago and have had the heel tips replaced once. They'd worn down again, so I found a local cobbler and had the heel tips replaced and a sole guard added to give it a bit of longevity. Total cost:$25.
Finally, I've signed up for Zoe's Me-Made-March challenge.
'I, Ali or the wardrobe, reimagined, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-March '11. I endeavour to wear at least one me-made or refashioned garment each day for the duration of March 2011'
I'd originally planned to up my commitment from Self-Stitched September to two garments, but given the difficult previous month, my planned sewing, and an East Coast business trip, I opted for just one. And I likely won't be posting photos daily but will try to take photos and perhaps share with you my best/worst outfits each week.
Garments/shoes in ready-to-wear condition acquired: 9
Coupons spent: 0
Coupons left: 66
How was your February?