One is enough!
Pattern :: Bantam (lengthened to dress length) from Merchant & Mills Workbook
Fabric :: Liberty of London made into a dress once before, picked apart + sewn again :)
I love simplicity, + I'm often on the lookout for the simplest way to do something. This is a step in that direction...one warm weather piece of sleepwear. I've found that Liberty of London fabric is lightweight, cool, durable, + quick drying. This dark fabric is also opaque. The Bantam pattern produces a loose fitting garment with a higher neckline that I like for sleeping. I wash the darks most often, so I have ample opportunity to wash this piece. All of our clothing is hung to dry + this piece...hung on a hanger in my bathroom, dries by bedtime, no problem.
One is enough!
Pattern :: Bantam (lengthened to dress length) from Merchant & Mills Workbook
Fabric :: Liberty of London made into a dress once before, picked apart + sewn again :)
Once I bring a piece of clothing into my home, it is my responsibility. Hopefully, I've made a conscious decision to buy something that serves a purpose in my wardrobe + hopefully my plans work out the way I envisioned. In that case I will love + wear the piece over + over + over. I will repair it as needed...and keep right on wearing it.
If I decide that a piece is no longer necessary in my closet, I work to keep it in use + out of the waste stream. It might find its way to etsy or ebay as I feel that this is a good way to get it into the hands of someone who will keep it in use. Sending items to the thrift store is a last resort, since I know that they may end up clogging up a foreign clothing economy (though I appreciate finding treasures there).
When this vintage, cotton, striped, long-sleeved, button down didn't sell on etsy after a couple of weeks, I decided to turn it into a State style smock. The amazing Adrienne Antonson + her team make her versatile smocks from thrifted button-downs. What a great way to refashion a shirt in a way that results in very little left over waste (mine shown above). The sleeves get turned into giant pockets + the cuffs were used as the bias binding at the arm holes on mine. I'm 100% for supporting creative, independent, female owned, fair job creating, waste + sustainable materials conscious businesses...so I feel a bit conflicted about sewing + posting this. I love + want to support State, so I hope to own a State piece at some point!
Here are some subpar pictures of the before + after. :)
I really like refashioning things into new (or just a little bit different) things. Apparently I have a limited attention span, so it's great if one thing can become a different thing. A long sleeved top can be made into a shorter sleeved top...a dress can be turned into a less substantial dress, top or pajamas. Sewing a jacket from a well-loved dress + its scraps might be a little more time consuming, but also rewarding. Pants can be shortened or tapered. A jumpsuit can be made into pants. My made link holds a lot of simple refashions.
Bottom line: get it worn! :)
On a whim, I typed here that I would try to make any new clothing that I added to my wardrobe in 2017. It was a somewhat loose challenge (though not as loose as it became in my mind over the course of the year, now that I reread that post...hmmm...), because I already had clothes + didn't want to make a list of things to make just for the sake of it. While it probably would have been a whole lot more interesting to say that I was going to make a t-shirt in February + a pair of jeans in August...I just wanted to go with the flow...and not make things that I didn't need. This was an interesting exercise. Here's a bit of what I learned:
1. I made 17 pieces for myself this year. That's more than I needed. (My list will help decrease numbers.) :)
2. The stash is a good place to start. My stash yielded 2 garments (+ 1 for Julia).
3. As always, letting go of the unnecessary is freeing. I released a bunch of fabric + patterns from my stash to others who can use them (via etsy + donations to a craft reuse store).
4. Zero-waste pertains to making clothing too. I was able to make 6 pieces from existing garments + scraps left over from other projects (+ 2 for Julia). No new materials were bought, and something better always resulted. (Yay!)
5. Trial + error are part of the process. 10 of this year's 17 made pieces remain in my current wardrobe (+ 1 remade into something for Julia). I don't feel very good about the 6 pieces that I made and didn't keep...and that's one of the major drawbacks I have with making my wardrobe. It can be difficult to know exactly how a certain fabric will work as pants...or how a certain style will sit on my particular body...until after it is made. Hopefully someone found those donated pieces + is enjoying wearing them...but I still feel like they were wasteful. Bottom line: I don't need pieces in my small wardrobe that don't earn their spots.
6. I wasn't great at sticking to this challenge. I bought some thrifted pieces...a few fair pieces...and one pair of not verifiably fair shoes...without trying to make them first. I couldn't find suitable sweatshirt fabric + matching ribbing...I knew t-shirts would not come out looking great...and I found two pairs of vintage pants that are durable + fit. No promises were made about buying nothing ready-made, so I don't feel too bad about this...although, again, I know that the list will decrease the numbers.
7. It is still difficult to find suitable garment fabric...especially ethical fabric.
8. I could be a pattern minimalist. :) Two patterns yielded 6 of my kept garments.
9. As I've known for quite some time, it is easier to sew for warmer weather rather than colder weather. I've knit sweaters, but just haven't found a keeper. Out of the 11 pieces of clothing that I am currently wearing for winter (+ shoes), only 2 are handmade. My current summer collection includes 6 handmade pieces out of 11 total (+ shoes).
10. Trying to make something just to say that I've made it holds no great appeal for me. My goal is to have clothing that I like to wear...whether it is handmade, thrifted, or supports a maker doing good work. Some pieces (in my opinion) just look better when made with access to tools that I don't have access to + am not willing to invest in...a cover stitch machine or industrial machines. It would be great for local fabric stores to offer access to/sharing opportunities for these (+ I would imagine some do). On the other hand, making some garments by hand can result in a higher quality finish.
11. Sometimes sewing saves money + sometimes it doesn't. The main thing, for me is that it fits my budget + results in a quality piece that I will wear.
12. I'll continue to make, because I like to do it. For a bunch a reasons, however, I don't think that an entirely handmade wardrobe is my preferred version of a fair wardrobe. I still think that thrift is the best source of clothing in terms of "fair". It already exists + the waste that came from making it has already been spent. We can often try on thrift to see if it suits us. There is so much pre-worn clothing out there that we could surely clothe ourselves for our entire lifetimes with it. Trading, repurposing + reinventing what already exists is good for the environment, our wallets, + our creativity.
13. Making clothing requires skill. We all wear clothing...so we all depend on garment workers. Perfectly sewn zippers, button holes, and topstitching require an expertise that I have not perfected in all of my years sewing. Garment workers deserve compensation for their skills that will allow them to shelter, feed, clothe, educate and provide health care for themselves and their families.
made in 2017 (for myself) ::
pants- 5- green, clay tencel, red, block print sarouelles, rayon sarouelles
jackets- 2- denim linen, little patchwork
dress- 1- stripe
shorts- 3- clay tencel, denim tencel, voile
top- 3- white linen, block print, voile
jumpsuit- 1- denim tencel
pj's- 1- black liberty
robe- 1- linen
Most of my 2017 makes + some more of my lessons learned can be found under the "made" tab on the right. :)
Bento bags have their origins in Japan (like so many useful, beautiful, simple designs). I love their possibilities in relation to a zero-waste lifestyle. Although a bandana tucked into my bag works well for impromptu bulk buys, a bento's bag shape is a bit more spill proof. In this season of giving, I am really looking forward to using these bento bags for reusable, zero-waste gift wrap!
SweetKM's bento bag pattern came out just in time for Christmas giving +/or wrapping! I scooped it up the moment it was offered, because I've been wanting a pattern like this for years. The pattern offers a variety of sizes to make, and works up beautifully. I love that all of the edges are enclosed, so it will wash well. While this bento is the smallest size, I look forward to making a few in larger sizes too. Putting together PDF patterns is not always my favorite activity, so I really like this one. I didn't actually print out the pattern, but instead simply used the provided measurements to mark + cut the fabric.
For gift wrap, I like to use truly opaque fabrics...which often means darker fabrics, but heavier linen or quilting cotton would also work well. (This fabric is from an old favorite shirt.) The pieces needed for each bento are on the larger side, so many of my scraps are not quite large enough. Instead of buying fabric especially for these bentos, I plan to use what I have + to piece together the bits that are too small. I love using every bit of these gorgeous fabrics, + I think that pieced bentos will feel quite special.
These bags would make lovely gifts as well as wrapping. Bentos could be used as project bags for individual craft projects, lunch sacks, bulk grocery shopping bags, travel sacks to separate laundry, toiletries or shoes, or even as a purse. Of course one could be used for all of the above! :)
I'm in love with these bentos for gift wrap + finally think that I've found a wrapping to love (and reuse) for years to come!
A few other ideas for wrapping zero-waste:
-reuse packaging collected thoughout the year (my favorite is brown paper...tied up with string)
-last year someone's birthday inspired a magic gift box (a nice sturdy box that once opened acquired a new gift + was tied with its bow once more) (my laziness sometimes = laughs)
-accent with greenery, cinnamon sticks, tags made from last year's Christmas cards...
Japanese sewing pattern books are a wonderful source of simple patterns + inspiration. When I mentioned using one for Julia's pajama pants, I was asked if I might share some of my favorite books...so here are my two current favorites. Happy Homemade :: Sew Chic contains a few shapes that I might like to try at some point. My favorite pattern is for the pants on the cover.
In order to trace the patterns, I use compostable parchment paper or tissue paper as I usually have some on hand. Don't forget to check if seam allowances are included on the pattern sheets or not (often they are not with these patterns, because smaller pieces fit better on the sheets).
I think this jacket would be a perfect summer layer to throw into my bag + could be worn over just about anything.
I've written about Japanese sewing pattern books a few times before. This is maybe the most comprehensive past post. They are one of my most favorite sources for little girl's clothing patterns in particular.
The jumper on the right is just the sort of easy, simple shape that I like...and the tunic on the left could make a lovely top as well.
Since I don't have everyday access to brick + mortar shop where I can browse through these books, my library is the most accessible place to look. Our library system has a small selection, but both of these were requested through interlibrary loan.
Stylish Dress Book also contains a few patterns that I'm intrigued by.
Amazon can be a good source of both the books + peeks inside the books. Another good source is Etsy. This shop + this one in particular offer a lot of books + peeks...but there are others as well. Search "Japanese pattern book".
This dress looks put together while having the most comfortable looking shape.
The shape of this top is appealing as well...simple + comfortable.
These two books have been translated into English, while some of the others are in Japanese. All of the diagrams + numbers are simple enough to follow in either language (in my opinion).
The last time I put this jumpsuit on, I just couldn't keep from changing. Maybe a jumpsuit (for me) needs to be a little bit more subdued...maybe it needs to have a little waist definition. I'm not exactly sure why, but this jumpsuit...while having a good shape, fit, + drape...being very comfortable...and pretty much what I thought I was looking to make...just wasn't quite me. The pictures of my outfits taken throughout October revealed that I'd only worn it twice. I knew that the second time I wore it...it just didn't feel quite right either.
Just a few days prior to this discovery, Julia showed me a hole in one of her pairs of pants...in a place that would not be a welcome spot for showing off a patch. Those pants will be patched + worn in the house...but she needed a new pair of pants.
So one thing turned into another. I ended up spending a few hours picking the jumpsuit apart in order to fit the pieces of the pants pattern on the legs. The pockets were picked off + sewn back on...just a little bit smaller in size. I was able to use the same Japanese sewing pattern that I'd used earlier for pajama pants. Julia likes her new pants...there was surprisingly little fabric left over...+ no money was spent.
I may make another jumpsuit with the pattern that I was able to fit by making this one...maybe in a breezy, lightweight lawn or a darker colored linen...when the temperatures warm up again. Nothing lost. I'd rather have this beautiful, soft, drapey fabric loved + used + valued. Mission accomplished.
Sewing pattern from Simple Modern Sewing by Shufu To Seikatsu Sha. This copy is from the library. I love all the surprising things we can find there! :)
One of the signs that confirms to me that I've found a sweet spot with "stuff" is that improvising starts to come into play. The accomplishment of using what is on hand rather than taking a trip to the store is quite invigorating. A few ways that I've had to/gotten to improvise lately:
In my wardrobe:
-I was told that I needed to attend a wedding (as the + 1) at the last minute. With no dress in my current wardrobe, my black jumpsuit + flats worked out just fine. I threw my handmade denim linen jacket over my arm just in case it was chilly. This isn't what I would normally think of wearing to a wedding, but I think it was probably a better choice than most I could have shopped for.
-Temperatures dipped + I needed a little-bit-warmer-something to throw over my tank + leggings on the way to exercise. I'd normally wear my long-sleeved indigo tee, but it was air drying. I stole a long-sleeved tee from Mr. Tribe's side of the closet. :)
In the kitchen:
-Crushing hot peppers called for gloves, which I didn't have. Instead, a pint jar used to crush them in my large bowl worked well.
-Julia outgrew her cold weather pajamas. Her old sheet had just enough good spots left to cut a pair to sew (above). A Japanese pattern book from the library supplied the perfect pattern. (I love that lots of people get to share it!) The "free" t-shirts that she gets from her Youth Symphony work well as pajama tops.
How have you been improvising lately? I'd love to hear!!
I recently completed my second pair of saroulles. These sarouelles are making me really happy right now. I know that they are not conventionally stylish, but they just work for me. I like how the gathers come not from the waist (where I need no extra poofiness), but lay closer to the top of the thigh. I like the interesting construction that brings the side seam around further toward the front + across the leg as it moves toward the ankle. I am so happy that I was able to find this rayon + also the voile fabric, both light + drapey enough to pull this pattern off.
This second pair of sarouelles was less of a gamble, since I know that I love my first pair. I know how to make them fit the way I want them to...a bit of length added to the top to make them hit at my waist + a little length off the bottom for a cropped length. I also feel that the fabric choices make each pair different enough to earn a space in my simple wardrobe.
This summer I sewed five versions of the same tank pattern. With fewer items in my closet, I've really been focusing in on shapes that I like to wear, that flatter (to my taste), and that work with the way I wear clothing. I didn't feel the need to try other tank patterns once I'd found the one that worked well. Linen, voile, block print, + Liberty fabrics in addition to varied hem lengths (from cropped to dress) made each iteration unique.
I know that my inspiration will convince noone that sarouelles are particularly stylish or a wardrobe staple meant for everyone, but here is a little of what these pants feel like to me...and also a few ways they can be worn...
Plus this little sneaky peek...seen just hours after the completion of my pants...put a smile on my face. Not identical by any means...but the spirit has something in common. :)
I loved reading these words from Adrienne at State :
"Is it just us, or does style seem so guided these days? Some days it feels like we've all been anesthetized to our own tastes and predilections in favor of a more widespread and sanitized look. STATE believes, at its core, that dressing communicates something about the internal world of a person, speaks to the world on our behalf, and should not be negotiated."
While I have always felt quite free to express myself through clothing, these words stuck with me. Whether we choose to dress in the prescribed way of the group we are trying to fit in with...or march to the beat of our very own drum...or wear a personal uniform...or dress with a small number of pieces...we get to choose. It is just so freeing.
So, two lessons learned/reaffirmed while stitching these pants:
1. There is great satisfaction in finding a sewing pattern to love + sewing on repeat.
2. Style is up to each one of us + there is joy to be found in wearing it.
Pattern :: Folkwear 119
Fabric :: rayon from Blackbird Fabrics
All images, except the first, via links provided.
I finally cut into this vegetable dyed, Indian block print fabric that I've been saving for just the right project since February. I always have a project in mind when I buy fabric, but often my inspiration wanes between the time the online order is placed + the package arrives. I try to counter this by waiting to buy until I am sure...but...for some reason I often change my mind.
This fabric is my favorite piece I've found in quite some time, so that just seemed to make the stakes higher. I'm glad that I waited for the connection with saroulles. Folkwear makes a beautiful pattern for them. I like wearing these with tank tops now + imagine them being just as great with sweatshirts later. These pants are super comfy, with an interesting shape. I'm thinking a pair in a sort of sueded rayon challis is next (if I can find the right fabric). (Later the same day: I think I found it via listening to this podcast!)
Fabric :: Indian block print from etsy
Pattern :: Folkwear 119 (slightly cropped)
Maybe the greatest accomplishment pictured here is what this is not. This is not the new jeans that Everlane released that I was tempted by...but know I will not choose to wear daily. This is not that Ilana Kohn denim jumpsuit that I found on sale...but after catching a glimpse of the insides of...realized is simply a sewn garment...not the holy grail of the jumpsuit of happiness. (Yes, writing this makes me feel like a hypnotized sheep.)
This is a jumpsuit that I have imagined sewing for years...and have finally managed to bring into the realm of good. Last autumn, I attempted it. Last winter, I tried to fix that attempt. In the spring, I bought a tank top pattern to combine with the bottom of the jumpsuit pattern...made a muslin of the top + decided that it didn't suit me. All summer, I couldn't bring myself to try again.
And then there was yesterday, the motivation came to me...I seized it...made a muslin...considered...adjusted...hoped...cut...and sewed...and sewed. I think I have finally made something that pretty much meets my expectations. It feels good. :)
Fabric :: denim tencel from Blackbird Fabrics
Pattern :: a combination (Butterick 6312 + Bantam tank) + tweaks
Fueled by :: Scene on Radio podcast series, Seeing White (so, so good + a must listen)
P.S. Yes, I was sitting on the couch next to a straw hat. This was right after Julia indulged me in a lengthy (at least 4 min.) photo shoot in which I struggled to not come across as a Telly Tubby + nearly decided that this whole jumpsuit thing is not for me. Oh well. A little more over there. :)
on a journey toward zero-waste, simplicity, + compassion :: daring to choose fair one choice at a time