Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Sometimes Its Just the Shapes

The shapes of the clothes, that is. Instead of the shape of my body. I loved the shapes this tunic and these britches made, and how it was only tangentially related to 'my' shape. I only realized late in the afternoon that this outfit echoed the suits ladies wear in northern India. How feminine and ornamental those outfits are, how spare and worn out this one is! You know i'm the last woman who could resist pairing an ultra-feminine idea with an antique, ruggedly utilitarian one. Needless to say, i enjoyed wearing this look a lot!

Even more fun to pair beat up, oversized jeans with ladylike patent leather heels, pearls and hat. Where did i acquire this love of the perversely contradictory? I can only say it goes back as far as i can remember. It's no use fighting it!

I've been putting a fair amount of time into planning and sewing these days. After the wee spell of disorientation i referred to in my last post, i'm experiencing a feeling of, well - being oriented! I have a grasp of what i require to get dressed for my life in a smooth, enjoyable way. My closet is resolving into understandable categories. Some are more populated than others, but i have concrete pictures of what i need in order to bridge any gaps. Vague concepts about 'well-edited, functional wardrobe' are starting to come into focus as particular garments.

It's taken a fair amount of thinking, experimenting, and researching to get to this point. And who knows how long it may last! But taking the leap of developing a real functioning wardrobe for your own unique life, body, mind, and heart goes so much further than just buying a couple of 'top ten lists' and leaving it at that. It's a lot more intellectually challenging, for one thing. Even more challenging, you have to be honest with yourself about where you are, what you do, what you will commit to, your own resources, what works with your own body......the opposite of what the fashion industry sells us, come to think of it. "Buy this gee-gaw and be a different person, if only for a little while....."

Along those lines, i've cut out my first Sorbetto top. Wow! Here you see it pinned up, with a little strip of cream crepe de chine under one side of the center pleat (i'm trying to decide if i want to do that all down both sides of the pleat or just leave it plain). This is only very slightly altered from my suggested size cut out from the original pattern sizing. Really cute! Also comfy, and the slight a-line cut means no zips or buttons, just slide it over your head. Easy! When finished the top will have cream bias trim on the neckline and around the armholes.

If the material looks familiar, it's because i cannibalized a skirt i made a couple of years ago. I loved the skirt pattern, i love the print - but i just never wore the completed garment. Maybe the fabric was a little stiff? I kept the skirt in the bottom of the hamper and threw it in the washer every couple of weeks to soften it up, but still - nothing. Happily, the Sorbetto takes so little fabric i cut it out of the skirt without even needing to piece it. Yow! Yesterday i bought some cotton lawn to make another Sorbetto - with sleeves.

And yes, i've been living in these jeans. You know when you just are feeling one garment so much? How nothing else you put on is right?  It's wonderful to be in that type of thrall, well.........at least for the person in-thralled. The non-thralled? Maybe not so much. Which is why i'll be wearing something different next post. I promise.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Smooth Sherbet In Summer

My Fairy Godmother picked this top out for me about a month ago and i love it! It's 100% cotton dotted swiss from Talbots and fits my criteria for summer tops in every respect.  When i was planning and scheming about my summer wardrobe needs i hit on the idea of 'structured tops'. This top doesn't have much structure, yet it fills the bill. So i've tossed the idea of 'structured tops' for 'tops with presence'.   Basically something that has the outfit-making capabilities of a jacket without the heat (and longer sleeves).

The top is a tasty light sherbet-orange. So refreshing in the heat! I love the way it sparks against it's opposite on the color wheel, the indigo blue of the denim jacket. It's also fun to have two different silhouettes in one simple outfit, simply by donning or tossing the fitted jacket.

I recently ran across this free blouse pattern by Colette Patterns. It's simple but with just enough shaping and detail to have that 'presence' and only takes about a yard and a half of fabric. A couple of sewing bloggers have even drafted a wonderful sleeve add-on to increase the flexibility of the Sorbetto. In the original spirit of the thing, the sleeve pattern is also free. The Sorbetto top has taken the sewing world by storm - check out the infinite variety and beauty of just this one top (by the way, perfect for beginners!) at this Flickr stream.

Of course i've already printed out my Sorbetto pattern, though i've yet to tape it together. I have my eye on a sweet cotton voile - it's dove grey with dandelion puffs shadowed in white.  The well-documented, stunning success of the many Sorbetto ladies on Flickr and around the web is encouraging me to think that my plans to develop a nice bunch of tops with presence is within my grasp!

Now i'm off to a day of birding along Mines Road in Livermore, CA. Possibilities include eagles (bald and golden), orioles, tanagers, phainopeplas, roadrunners, grosbeak, lazuli bunting, swifts...be still my heart!  Go out and find something heart-stopping to do for yourself today, okay?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

"All Right, Mr. Cohen, I'm Ready For My Close-Up...." *

A week ago, Elle left a very sweet comment on my last blog post: "I know you're not lost, but are you wandering? Elle"  That is so considerate of you to ask! I'm not either, it's just that real life got very very busy last month. A lot of it was fun (free tix to Giants beating the Padres at PacBell), some of it not so much (rear-ended with moderate damage to car, but all the people were fine and looks like the insurance won't give us a hassle, fingers crossed).

The main reason i've not been posting is because these activities involved driving, riding in cars, lots of walking - all of which aggravates my left leg's nerve troubles. Thus, i also spent a lot of time flat in bed resting my leg. After the number of years i've dealt with this, you'd think a person would get used to it. But i have to admit it puts me in a really cranky mood! And this blog isn't named "The Interminable Ranter" ;)

I have been active on the wardrobe/clothing/style front as well, though. I made this shrug out of a unflatteringly bulky waffle-crew. I double-lined the back and cut strips out of the remainder to hand stitch to the edges - et voila! My first Alabama Chanin inspired project! I've been nervous about shrugs for years because i was afraid of how they would interact with the bust, but so far so good. It's really cute with my little cami-tops (heehee, if i say so myself), comfy and just the right weight for so much of our Bay Area weather. I'm looking to make more. Oh, my shoulders really show in this pic! I finished a top from Hot Patterns' Essential Shift Top and Dress pattern (i'll post it later). It's fairly fitted, so i can report that according to their sizing scheme my hips are a size 12, waist 4-6, bust 12-14, and shoulders clock in at size 18. No wonder i sew!

And weirdly enough, I've been heavily re-obsessing over ideas on uniforms and the best structure for smaller/edited wardrobes (heavily influenced by The Vivienne Files and this article by rontlog, who posts on HubPages and at her Chic and Minimalist Wardrobe blog). For a couple of weeks there i felt like i was falling into some type of wardrobe ignorance black hole, tidal forces pulling me in unknown directions. Such a strange feeling after so many years of studying just this subject! I'm finding my footing now, if still a bit disoriented. Who knows what's next!

In the meantime i've been experimenting with Alabama Chanin style stenciling and embroidery.  This tee was my first stencil/embroider project. The cotton is so soft and thin, and i thought the lettering would mesh well with the rose stencils. I also wanted to try out the fit of this for future tanks/tees/knit camis. I like it, and it's more wearable than i would expect from an experiment - a nice surprise.

We also stopped by Johnny F's off Union Square. Aren't these Wonder Everest's adorable? And so perfect for walking! At $265 they should be. Here's hoping they go on sale! (Anyone with mondo bags of cash lying around, i take size 9 1/2 ;).

Thank you all for reading and checking in even when i take an unannounced hiatus. It's such a nice feeling that people still take the trouble, especially considering how crazy-bizzy our world is these days. I can't believe a couple of you even signed up to follow during this fallow period - i'm sending all of you readers a big internet hug!  Elle's comment was especially sweet. I don't know if she knew but it was posted on my 50th birthday! Sheer kismet timing, Elle!

*Yep, i'm now officially eligible to become a member of the Advanced Style set. While i am old enough, i fear the urban animal that is Ari Cohen much prefers an edgier, more sophisticated look to my own mix of cobwebby Victorian and the ruggedly ultilitarian, all emanating a whiff of the cornpone. Well, it's diversity that makes this world so fun, and staying true to one's one self that makes it liveable. There's space on the servers for us all. Here's hoping you are having fun creating some spirit of your own, and i'll be back sooner than i was last time!