28 July 2016

30 Day Tiny House Challenge Days 1-3

This is a little out of my normal posting content range, but it is relevant! In the midst of all the house chaos, I am doing the 30 Day Tiny House Challenge from Let's Build A Tiny House. Things are just too crazy to try and KonMari, so this at least helps me feel like I am making a dent. It is mainly focused on downsizing, but it also has challenges like "Buy nothing all day" or "Take a shower in under five minutes".

Create a list of the top 10 reasons you want to live tiny.
This was harder than I expected. There are a lot of good reasons to go tiny, but some of them are so similar that I think I could have condensed my list to five reasons.

1. Mental freedom - not feeling like I am owned by my possessions or by consumerism.
2. Environmental impact.
3. I want to spend less time cleaning and picking up, as well as the larger maintenance involved in house owning (such as cleaning your windows twice a year).
4. Save more money/spend less money. When you're on as tiny an income as I have, you have to manage your money very carefully. I've gotten much better at this, but could do better.
5. Spend my newfound free time on quality experiences, such as getting more exercise, traveling and learning a new language.
6. To not have the stress I get when I have too many possessions that aren't useful or bringing me joy.
7. Have better relationships. I feel like there have been times when I have been so inwardly focused (for example, sewing all the things!), or obsessed over things (for example, not having the right outfit to wear out) that prevent me from going out and spending time with people or even just having the mental space to care about others.
8. I want to feel good about my lifestyle. I talk a big game when it comes to the environmental and mental impact of living a certain way, but I struggle as much as most people with actually following through. I believe strongly in walking the talk and want to live up to my own standards.
9. Get outdoors more.
10. Find self-worth in my actions, not in my stuff.

Ditch the junk! Donate, sell, recycle, throw out 2 items.
I was more successful than I expected on this day. 
1. I put a set of knives in a pile of items to give to my sister, who is getting her first apartment.
2. I listed a sewing pattern on Etsy.
3. I recycled the LL Bean catalog that came in the mail right away, rather than flip through it and then set it down somewhere where it would sit for a month.
4. I sold on Amazon a spare french press beaker we bought in the wrong size.

Recycle old newspapers and magazines.
This was a tricky challenge. We don't get a newspaper and currently don't subscribe to magazines. I had recycled all my home decorator magazines earlier in the year. So instead I made an effort to go around the house and pick up the random to do lists, flyers and receipts and recycle those, as well as do some more unpacking and recycle the paper from that.

25 July 2016

July Update: More Underpants

Folks, the summer is flying by! How does this always happen? We're still working on the new house, but spirits are low. It is hot, humid and with each layer of flooring you rip up it gets less exciting and more disheartening. I'm in the middle of filling in textured walls with joint compound while James is doing flooring. We're sleeping on a mattress on the floor, living out of our suitcases and cooking on the camp stove. Tiny houses are looking ever more enticing...especially the prefabricated ones.

In the midst of the chaos I did manage to do some sewing. In fact I'm trying to do something crafty every day to keep my sanity, but we have building deadlines, so sometimes I have to actually prioritize. I made some boxers from good old Simplicity 9958 for my Dad for his birthday. I believe I have made this pattern about 10 times now! I used some quilter's cotton from JoAnn Fabrics. It is very hard to find masculine prints at my local store, which is much smaller than my old JoAnns. However, I think I succeeded, I can envision this prints on Gap or Banana Republic boxers, no problem.

My biggest accomplishment this summer is finishing my Reef Knot Tank. I've been wearing it more than I expected, so that is good. I took some photos on Knit In Public day, when I wore it out for the first time. As I've noticed before, unlike when my sewing projects aren't 100% to my satisfaction, my imperfect knitting projects still get tons of wear. I'm not sure if it is because most of my sewing project errors are in the fit or because I am a little more free with my design choices when sewing and therefore don't always make things that suit me well.

My shirt dress from McCall's 6696 is still on hold, since I need more thread. In the meantime I've cut out James' linen pants from New Look 6876 and serged the edges. 

03 June 2016

Me Made May 2016: Final Week and Conclusions

I only got three photos the last week. It was extremely hot and humid and we had guests for four days so it was tricky making my wardrobe work around that.

Day 25
This is a 5 year old dress now (Simplicity 2591). I made it for a challenge back when the Sew Weekly was still going. I still think it is one of my best fitting and most flattering garments. Beside me is my progress on McCall's 6696. I wanted to finish it to wear on the 31st, but it just didn't happen. I'm also a little disappointed in that it is less flattering than I'd hoped - I think the waistband makes my short torso look extra short. So much for feeling elegant and cute like Betty Draper. Should I have known better? Yes. Waistbands are why I also usually don't end up wearing skirts and I don't think any of my dresses incorporate them.

Day 27
 I was so excited to be able to wear this. It is one of my favorite makes, but the high cut neckline and longer sleeves make it a bit warm. I haven't blogged it so I'll go ahead and do a quick blurb. It is Simplicity 6912, from the 1960s, a junior pattern with a matching bag and head kerchief. The whale fabric was an Ebay purchase and the Spongebob licensed ball fringe was from JoAnn's. It coordinates a little better in real life as some of the balls are green, not yellow. It is a bit more snug this year but the french seams made for a delightful fit with no alterations when I originally made it. I've found a regular misses size pattern that is similar if I ever want to attempt this style again.

Day 31
It's over! And for the most part I succeeded, surprising, given how many me-made garments I've donated. I celebrated by wearing my new Hey June Lane Raglan.

Lessons Learned
1. Stick to my color palette. 
I really do know what colors I prefer. But sometimes a pretty fabric (especially prints) get the better of my judgement. While I don't want to eschew such things completely, I want to buy them in mind with projects not for me. For example I can do home dec projects or sew for my American Girl Dolls with them.While this will probably leave me with a closet of almost exclusively blue things, I really never get tired of blue. To illustrate... 

Flattering Color Choices (and good hair days):
Unflattering Color Choices (and bad hair days):

2. Make garments more like what I would buy at the store.
Not to put down hand made or unique garments, but if I want more wearable me-mades, I am more successful when I look at a pattern and ask myself if I would buy that garment at a store. Why do I keep thinking just because I made it it will automatically be more flattering or fit my style? Too often I am attracted by a fun illustration or the idea that I will look like the model instead of being realistic about my body type. The Hey June Lane Raglan and the underwear I made this season was a great step in that direction.

3. In conjunction with above, sew more consciously of my body's shape and what is flattering to it.

Happy Me Made May! How was your experience?

29 May 2016

Me Made May 16 Week 3

I've halfway met my goal for MMMay16: I made one thing! And I'm still plugging away on my shirtdress, so hopefully that will get done too.

Day 16 and 17: On the 16th I buckled down and sewed up the Hey June Lane Raglan. My sewing mojo was very low at this point - two weeks of looking at 5 year old makes that don't fit anymore (or never did) and that are not styles I wear anymore was Bumming. Me. Out. I felt like I didn't have a good enough grasp of my style to make things I would wear and that I was a failure at fitting. This is doubly depressing when you are a costume designer for a living.
With some trepidation I cut into my precious, discontinued Girl Charlee fabric and hoped for the best as I didn't make a muslin or any adjustments. Turns out I got lucky! I could nitpick - the sleeves need a little hemming and could stand to bit a bit more fitted but overall it is comfortable, flattering, matches clothes I already own and definitely fits in my color palette without being boring. AND IT WAS A STASHBUST!!!! ALL THE WIN!!!!
And just for the record, I sewed a medium with no FBA. I had read lots of reviews before attempting this pattern and even though I am a DD cup, it sounded like the FBA was designed for ladies more endowed than myself. If I make it again I might go down a size, if I was using a more stable fabric or making a rash guard from it and then I might try the FBA. As it is, this shirt is a great everyday shirt or could even be made to be a sleep shirt.

Day 18: I wore my striped psychedelic pants from Simplicity 2373 then my me-made socks again later when it got chilly.
These pants stay in my closet because I really enjoy them, but in all these years I have yet to find a top that I feel actually matches and flatters them.

Day 19: The 1940s cycling outfit made its second appearance for biking to the college.

Day 20: This is a 1970s pattern, McCall's 5145 in delicious linen. It was getting hotter out so I mowed the lawn in it. Then I got my letter of acceptance to go back to college!

20 May 2016

MMMay 2016 Week 2

 Here's the week two round up!

Day 10: Simplicity 5935 ca. 1980s "Prairie Dress". I keep forgetting to add the hook and bar it needs at the waistline.

Day 11: Went out to dinner. Thought I might wear my (still unblogged!) Colette Macaron, but it was too dressy and warm, so James wore his Negroni and I carried my leather purse. The nice thing was that when I put on the Macaron I actually really liked it. I did not feel so affectionate toward it when I first made it years ago.

Day 12: 1940s bicycling 0utfit from Simplicity 1554 and 4981, both 1940s patterns. Worn out cycling around the town.

Day 13: Flannel Peasant Shirt again.

Day 14 and 15 were unfortunately skipped, because all day was spent sanding down the floors at the new house in junk clothes.

Halfway Thoughts
I don't have a lot of layering, every day pieces. I tend to like making "statement pieces", especially in prints that I wouldn't normally find in RTW - I think it is okay to have a few of those pieces, but if I really want to wear more me-made I need to make more things that look more like my every day wardrobe. In fact, sometimes it is easier to buy funky pieces because my body is so hard to fit that I have no ides what a new silhouette or shape will look like on my body - and if I spend a bunch of time sewing it and don't like it, that's a bummer and a waste.

Folks Serv