Saturday, November 10, 2012

It Lives!!!!

This blog, that is ;)   Life continues busy in a good way, just not much extra time. I would venture to say it does look like i'm getting towards 'caught up' with enough things to be able to post more regularly - except i'm nervous about jinxing it.  So no public comments.

I may not have been blogging, but i've been a busy wardrobing bee. In the process of researching patterns and fabrics to create some wardrobe workhorses i ran across Marcy Tilton's website and have been obsessing around there ever since. Marcy sells fabric on her website and does an excellent job of talking about how to use the various fabrics successfully with different patterns, which as a notoriously slow fabric shopper i find very helpful.

Marcy Tilton also showcases different ways other women have made up her many designs for Vogue Patterns.  A true love of creativity comes across in the pieces she shows made by other seamstresses. And i love that the more a person has tweaked her original design the more Marcy loves it! While inspecting all these wonderful everyday garments on Marcy's site I've fallen head over heels with the capsule wardrobes and outfits made by Nancy Murakami. Nancy Murakami is a designer/sewist who helps out in the Tilton booth at the Puyallup Sewing Expo. Good grief, does this woman knows how to dress the part! Scroll down a bit here to check out her gorgeous capsule wardrobe based on black and white. Her pieces blow away any and all stereotypes about boring: capsules, repeating, black and white, etc.  In Marcy's March 2012 Newsletter you can drool over four more of Nancy Murakami's outfits. In this grouping Nancy added a bit of a paprika orange to her black, white, & grey palette. Yow!

In mulling over how to use these influences in a way that makes sense for me and my daily life, I have found myself working more with Sewing Plum's type of personal style questions (this is an invaluable post for anyone finding their own style and working towards expressing it in their wardrobe). I have been thinking over my own personal style/clothing/wardrobe priorities and while i don't have them absolutely nailed and written down in a neat little list, i did end up achieving most of these goals in this wee jacket. It's designed by Marcy Tilton for Vogue Patterns, #8795. In these pictures from the Vogue Patterns website you can see some of the details better than in my black version, such as the center front flounce.

these photos  make it easier to see the flounce detail - Vogue 8795

One penny which continues to drop is that i need to feel physically comfortable in my clothing AND this does NOT have to dictate a sloppy, mushy look.  Plenty of 'comfy looking' clothes are actually a pain to wear, whilst clothing with a sharp design edge may well be smooth, soft, a dream to wear. I actually manged to pull off this seeming conundrum in this jacket. The crisp lines, sharp black and white contrast, the stripes, the utilitarian look of oversized metal snaps all contribute to a sharper, edgier look. At the same time, this piece is constructed of two different velvets and lined with fine cotton jersey......aaahhhhh. Like floating in a silky bubble bath!

Jilly & me at our meetup - she's wearing her V8795 jacket + Trippen boots, i'm in my new V8837 skinny pants

Or like my mom said the other day about my Katherine Tilton for Vogue Patterns skinny pants, "They're old lady pants that don't look like old lady pants!" I'm wearing these pants in this picture with Jillian of Jilly Be Joyful (taken during our sewing meetup - more on that below). I made these pants of stretch twill with a pull on elastic waistband - pure comf. At the same time, they look cute cute cute and up to the minute with their 'equestrian' style seaming. Now i am aware that i have been harping on this concept of 'comfort level is not  related to style' for over a year now on this blog. But i keep kind of 'getting it' at deeper levels. It goes to show how deeply various stereotypes and 'wisdom' or 'common sense' get ingrained into our psyches. It takes a long time to dig out the various tentacles!

A few years ago mom bought me a wonderful little jacket - embroidered velvet lined in loose weave rayon jacquard. It adds the structured feel of a jacket to outfits, while wrapping me in the cuddly warmth of a fuzzy sweater and providing just the right amount of warmth during much of our year.  Ever since i realized it's wonderful usefulness i've been interested in copying this idea - velvet jacket lined with a nice natural fiber. Using cotton jersey as the lining instead of a woven was a great idea, as it adds to the warmth while being smooth enough to glide over any tops underneath. I also used this jacket to add some different textures to my wardrobe (the velvets), as well as to showcase a great bit of concentrated detail in the snaps over the stripe bands - two more of my personal style priorities (more variety in texture and some concentrated details).

snaps, stripes made with color, stripes made in three dimensions.

However, i did break one style resolution - to use new fabric instead of continually cannibalizing old garments for fabric. It takes more time and it's a hassle and the resulting garment usually has less 'life' left in it than if i had used new materials.  Almost a decade ago i bought a pair of stretch velvet bootcut pants from Carushka. Stretch velvet, worn right next to the skin with no lining, is cold cold cold in winter! And hot in summer.....i only wore them a handful of times, but kept them as i knew i would find a use for the gorgeous fabric. I cut the front, backs, collar and flounce from these pants. The stripe is a beefy cotton lycra from a Goodwill tee. I did buy new yardage for the sleeves - a velvet with a very fine dimensional stripe. I cut one sleeve with the stripe along the line of the sleeve, the other with the stripes going around. I enjoy the very subtle effect this makes in black - it adds a bit more texture, besides. And the lining material is new. My resolution was half achieved.

no need to carry a scarf - or worry about losing one, either.
This jacket did take me quite a while to finish in calendar-time, what with all the other hoo-ha occupying my days. I also decided to just relax a little, enjoy the process and do it right, instead of worrying about a 'deadline'.  My meetup with Jillian of Jilly Be Joyful to compare notes on this jacket's construction added even more enjoyment. We found out we were both involved in making up this pattern at the same time via the Stitcher's Guild Forum. Her jacket took even more fussing than mine, as she made FIVE MUSLINS in order to perfect the fit. Dang! And how worth it was that - she looks stylish, edgy, the blue-grey makes her incredible eyes even more mesmerizing, and the utilitarian hook-and-eye tape rocks and rolls! (heehee, i managed to snag a couple of yards of that tape meself - on sale. w00t!) I also highly recommend checking out Jillian's amazing Trippen booties - i had to keep remembering not to drool.

After all of the planning, plotting, researching, scheming, dreaming, experimenting i've done towards developing my wardrobe it's so rewarding to see things starting to take shape. I would be perfectly happy wearing this outfit and the parts in it for years on end. They fit my body, they fit my style, they fit my life and make me happy. It's invigorating to be moving from the 'preparation and finding out' stage to the 'okay this is the real deal stage'. I still have plenty of work to do, especially since really the clothes i love the best i make for myself. (Adrienne of Wear The Hat may be coming around to this viewpoint as well. Not that i'm biased!) But it's all very much within reach.  Whodda thunk it?  And where are you in your own journey of dressing yourself?


  1. That jacket is stunning in person - absolutely wonderful. Made me smile all day to see you in it. 8-)

  2. Great to see you back! Love the jacket.

  3. I've been searching for a new fabric place! thanks~

  4. You look wonderful, Steph, great to see you again. You've given me a lot to ponder re: structured garments and clean lines can be very comfortable. And the links to the black and white wardrobe are fantastic!

  5. Such a thoughtful post! I love the jacket you made but now I am inspired to recreate out of something I already have. I have this African print fabric that is just a big caftan. Nothing fancy but I love the colors in it... I think I could make something really interesting out of it if I were to use it as trim or as an embellishment. You have really gotten me thinking. I am grateful for the other bloggers who you linked to they are especially interesting. Oh and before I forget thanks for the mention of me!! The jacket is coming along. I will be hopefully posting it before Thanksgiving.

  6. Fantastic results!! Are the touches of red hidden, or did you decide to not use them? Your placement of the stripes is SO eloquent, and I adore your entire outfit. Well done!

  7. That jacket is amazing! This is really a feat in upcycling! I love the contrast of all the different stripes and textures of the fabric.

  8. Oh, i love! The styling, the shape. Oh, yeah, this is why we sew.


  9. Amazing design achievement. You are brilliantly creative. If that exact jacket were available commercially, it would go viral.

  10. I agree with everyone else, the jacket is stunning and what an accomplishment. You inspire me to learn to sew.
    I am glad to see you back with us again.

  11. First, i am always so happy to see all of your names and faces - i miss my blogging buddies when life gets so hectic (hug)

    aw, ma :)

    Hi Sheila!! of course, it's all the more wonderful with my beaut of a Noa Noa top underneath :) tytytytytyty!

    Hullo Paula! oh, you will have FUN! happy to enable ;)

    Hi Patti! i am glad to give food for thought - it's definitely a 'concept habit' i fall into myself. And, wow! you and Nancy Murakami are so physically different but i think you also would be stunning in so many of her creations.......kind of wild to think about how that works, isn't it?

    Thank you Adrienne :) your musings on your African caftan sound very intriguing! i can really see those type of colors and patterns working beautifully on your coloring and figure, great idea! And i am very glad to hear you liked the links - i'm sure people will appreciate yours, too :) i'm sending you all type of jacket mojo - exciting!


  12. Hi Jilly! thank you! you know, i ended up with no red and frankly i'd forgotten i'd considered it. Good thing you remembered it! and your compliments are too kind.

    Hullo Veshoevius! thank you! i have to say that this jacket does make me think of you, which kind of astonishes me as it is 'homemade'. lucky me!

    Welcome prettynpink! "Oh, yeah, this is why we sew." yowza, THAT is a compliment! and i agree, being able to get so much of what you want along with nuthin' of what you don't is basically my definition of luxury.

    Oh, Phyllis, you really have the knack of making me blush. in a good way! thank you, and i owe a lot to various teachers, and inspirers, and plenty of mistakes too :)

    Thank you Debbie! i am very happy to be here, too. And sewing is really great, i can see you getting into it and having a blast. What with the internet combined with the increasing popularity of apparel sewing, this is a fantastic time to give it a whirl!

    Again, not that i'm biased ;)

    Happy Sunday Everybody! steph

  13. Many thanks Steph for your mention of my style questions post. I greatly agree about comfort. I'm so used to wearing over-large RTW so it isn't uncomfortable on my non-average shape - it's taking me a lot of 'practice' to realise when clothes fit properly they can be much closer fitting and still comfortable :D Love your creativity with this jacket !

  14. This jacket is quite an accomplishment I think. You've integrated so much information from a wide variety of sources, thought through your own needs and preferences in such an insightful way, designed your interpretation so creatively, and used beautiful fabrics with such skill. It just suits you perfectly! Elle

  15. It's a really sharp looking jacket--totally worth the effort you've put into it.

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