May 2010 Archives

Me Made May: Week 2


Week Two of me-made clothing documentation! I think everything after this week is very likely to be re-runs. Perhaps I should have spaced out my "new" outfits better, but apparently that's not how I roll.

Saturday, May 8


Last weekend the beautiful warm weather descended on Portland, just in time for my birthday! It was actually Sunday, but my folks took David and I out to dinner, then to dessert, and in between the two we had a glorious book-shopping trip at my home away from home. It was great. I wore my Vine Bolero with a little sundress that my mom made for me, as a present for my sixteenth birthday!

Sunday, May 9


Spent my real birthday lounging around the house in guilt-free laziness, in my new blue cords and a tank top from local indie boutique Moxie (I'm linking them because I like them, but this tank top is six years old, so they're unlikely to still, you know, carry it in stock).

Monday, May 10


This is how I usually wear the jacket I made from Vogue 2870: paired with knee breeches and thin, storebought socks for that 18th century mariner look. In the winter I even add a cravat!

Tuesday, May 11


This is one of my favorite work outfits for warmish/transitional days: a cotton gingham dress (which I didn't make myself, but which I'd like to find a similar pattern for) and my Betty Jean McNeil cardigan. Classic 1940s.

Wednesday, May 12


Wednesday I went a bit more casual, with my olive green cords from back in January, and a simple button-down shirt.

Thursday, May 13


I know this is a goofy photo, but you can get a sense of what I'm wearing, and more importantly WHAT is Mr. Bingley doing? Maybe burping? He has such a funny posture going on here. This skirt is my first try at Simplicity 9199 (I wore my second try last week), made with organza and some mysterious green fabric I picked up at Goodwill. Although it's aged OK and I've certainly gotten a lot of wear out of it, I have to say I think my days of shopping for fabric at Goodwill are over. This stuff pills in a really weird way that makes me feel compelled to pick all the pills off one by one. And then there was the unfortunate incident with the pink corduroy I got there to make a "wearable muslin" for my pants pattern, that ended up actually wearable for all of 30 minutes before developing a random tear right through the middle of the butt. There is a limit to my frugality: mill ends, yes. Potentially rotten Goodwill yardage: not anymore.

Also pictured: a silk peasant blouse that was a gift from my mom 9 or 10 years ago.

Friday, May 14


Finishing off the week with another beautiful warm day, I opted for a summery skirt and shell with my Liesl thrown over it. Also decided to accessorize this outfit with a new haircut! Very exciting. I always wait SO long to get my hair cut that when I finally do it, it's like a revelation.

So, that's week two. We'll see how I do during the second half of the month, when I will have to start mixing up my standard outfits to stay interesting. Maybe I'll resort to some of these amazing WWII-era tricks!

Influence: Part 3


At last: the third part of the Influence series! In case you forgot what all this is about, I'm designing a new, original sweater inspired by an old favorite of mine. Last time I modified a found cable motif and paired it with garter stitch, for a look that's a little more rustic and "cushy" than Kim Hargreaves's Breeze design, but which takes the nautical feel of Hargreaves's cardigan in another direction.


Now, one of my absolute favorite things about Hargreaves designs is the organic flow of ribbing/finishing into body:


It's not like Kim Hargreaves invented this technique; she and Eunny Jang just happen to be the designers I learned it from, but there are plenty of others who make it a priority as well. Which actually brings up an interesting question: an artist (say, Beatrice) can be a strong influence on another artist (say, Chris), for reasons which don't originate with Beatrice at all. A casual observer, in fact, could assume that Chris's primary influence must have been Beatrice's mentor Abigail, when in fact Chris could be totally unaware of Abigail's existence except through her influence on Beatrice. There's also the possibility, of course, that Chris, Beatrice and Abigail all just worked toward similar conclusions independently; from the outside, there's often no way of telling. (We were just having a conversation about this over at my other blog; some friends and I read a short story by Borges that reminded me strongly of Nabokov's Pale Fire—but had Nabokov read Borges before writing his book? Does it matter?)

Anyway, in this case I'm claiming a strong Hargreaves influence: even though Kim didn't invent the whole ribbing-into-cables idea, she certainly put it to good and consistent use. When I was first learning about sweater-knitting, her patterns were always so pleasing for the smooth way all the elements come together: ribbing into cables, sleeves into armscyes, collars that tied everything together by repeating a motif from the cuffs. So I wanted to be sure that my homage sweater included this detail of Breeze. Since my chosen cable is built off a modified 4x2 ribbing, that seemed like a good finish for the lower edge, with the full-blown cable emerging organically from it:


Obviously, this is shaping up for a much different feeling than Breeze. Chunkier, less linear and more three-dimensional, with chewy textural qualities in place of Breeze's Deco sophistication. I kind of like the idea that Breeze, which set me on the path of tailored Deco-inspired garments, is now helping me to explore a different kind of cardigan. Despite all the differences, though, I think the influence is still visible when you look at the completed back:


Since my cables are so much chunkier than the ones in Breeze, I omitted the center-back repetition, but retained Hargreaves's basic idea of locating the left and right cables just at the place where the armhole decreases end. Despite the bulkiness of these cables, I think the final effect, with the narrow-ish column of garter stitch between the two cables, will end up giving the impression of slenderness.

The waist shaping is understated, but hopefully effective (in this photo it's pinned out into more or less a straight line along Gertrude's curves):


I based the pattern of decreases and increases on measurements I took from my Breeze sweater, which decreased about an inch relatively quickly, then increased slightly more than an inch much more gradually. For this new cardi I actually exaggerated the gradualness of the increase, spreading it out over almost the entire length of the body prior to the armhole decreases, but kept the slope of the initial decreases more or less the same. So far, I'm quite pleased.

Up next: the completed torso!

Previous posts in the series:

Me Made May: Week 1


Here's how I spent the first week of Me Made May! I'm kind of loving how documenting my outfit each day tells a little story about how I spent it.

Saturday, May 1


Last Saturday David and I went to a production of Othello with my folks (the tickets were a generous gift from my coworkers! And the play was fabulous!) and I wore this fun Issey Miyake dress that I made in my pre-blogging days, along with my prized green Fluevog boots. It's a super-fun pattern (Vogue 2556), but be sure to have enough room to cut out: as I recall there are only three or four pattern pieces, and all those gathers means lots of extra fabric!

Sunday, May 2


On Sunday I finished my new cords, and for the rest of the day I bummed around the house wearing them and this cute thrifted t-shirt my cousin picked up for me when we were in college. Reading IS sexy!

Monday, May 3


On Monday I was so stoked on my new pants that I wore them again, this time slightly dressed up with my Dansko mary janes instead of my Tigers, and a dressier top that my mom gave me years and years ago (I think it originally came from Anne Taylor). Love the light blue/dark brown combo.

Tuesday, May 4


Tuesday saw a doubly me-made outfit: this double-layer skirt made from Simplicity 9199 (which I've made a couple of times in various fabric combinations) and my Breeze sweater, which I'm still wearing until my "replacement" cardigan is finished. I must be standing oddly in this photo; the hemline of the skirt is not actually longer on one side than the other.

Wednesday, May 5


On Wednesday I paired my Maxine Elliott shell with a button-down shirt (a hand-me-down from my mom, originally Coldwater Creek), short pants (five-year-old J. Crew), and matching argyle socks (Sock Dreams), along with my trusty Danskos. As a side note, I wear the same shoes to work every day, because I walk a mile and a half each way to get there. So although I have a whole closet of cute heels, it's the supportive shoes that get the wear. I've had the pair featured here for seven years, and they still look and feel pretty good, but on Wednesday David and I picked me up a supplementary brown pair. Hopefully they'll last another seven.

Thursday, May 6


I love this combo, which regular readers have seen before: it's my modified version of Kim Hargreaves's Darcy pattern, with a plaid skirt I bought in Milan, my new Danskos (yes, they look exactly like my old ones except brown), and the Paul Atwell Socks. A slightly wintry outfit for this time of year, but our office has been having some...temperature regulation issues.

Friday, May 7


Every first Friday of the month I have an early-morning meeting to which I have to drive, which means I can wear heels! So here I am in the houndstooth skirt I made from a vintage Simplicity pattern, a thrifted button-down, and my heavily-modified version of Kim Hargreaves's Aimee pattern, with some Franco Sarto heels. You may recognize this outfit from David and my engagement shoot; it's one of my favorites.

Whew! This kind of blogging feels so narcissistic, but hopefully you'll find it somewhat interesting.

A cold and rather soggy Spring has sprung here in Portland, and what better way to celebrate (while still remaining warm) than with a nice new pair of robin's egg corduroys?


Regular Family Trunk Project readers may be getting tired of revisiting this pattern by now; it's my old pants standby, Vogue V2907, altered to fit me the way I like. But if you are tiring of them, I don't know what to tell you: I'll undoubtedly be making more versions of it, because I wear my two previous attempts on these pants ALL. THE. TIME. So often, in fact, that my olive-green cords are nicely worn in at this point, and it feels great to have a fresh new pair with which to ring in the new season.


The details on this version: I made them with the little ornamental tabs, as you can see.


These are adorable, and a great use for a set of four cute buttons (these are vintage, a gift from David's aunt Marcy), but I haven't yet made a set with which I'm entirely satisfied. Every tiny difference in size and shape is somehow magnified, and they never seem to match perfectly—a little wider, a little narrower, a little pointier, a little get the idea. Ah, well. They're still cute, and I love how they're lined on the back sides with the same fabric used for the yoke facing and the pockets:


This particular fabric was also a gift: part of a super-thoughtful Partnership Celebration present from Anne's friends Etsuko and Yoshiko: they picked out a whole series of gorgeous cotton Japanese prints, in quantities perfect for lining pants, dress bodices, shirts, and so on. I'm so excited to put them all to use! They'd also be great for a wide stripe around the bottom of a skirt, or for an appliquéd pattern on a larger project. I love this crisp, tessellated kimono pattern: I have some left over, and am thinking of making some largish self-covered buttons with a kimono at the center of each. How cute would that be?

In other news, this iteration of the pants is slightly longer than previous ones:


I'm learning that when it comes to pants, I actually like them slightly longer than I think I'm going to when hemming. The thing is that when I'm actually wearing them, they're usually in action (walking, running, sitting), all of which makes them ride up slightly. My only complaint about my olive-green cords is that they're ever-so-slightly shorter than I'd like. The length of the blue ones, I think, is pretty perfect. Nice and cozy.

One of my favorite changes from Version 1 to Version 2 was the substitution of jeans-style patch pockets for the original welt ones on the back of the pants, and I repeated that change on these. I actually like these even better: the smaller wale on this corduroy means that they look smoother, and I lined up the grain so that it coincides better with the lines of the pockets. I don't know if I'm imagining it, but the patch pockets feel so much sturdier and lower-maintenance than the welts.


All in all, a great little project. I've been living in these since I finished them a week ago, and since they're made from mill-end corduroy from a pattern I've used three times before, this is probably about a $14 pair of pants. Score!

Inspiration, lately


Yay! A clean new look to the blog! Took a little longer than anticipated and there's still some work I need to do on categorizing old posts to show up in the sidebar (not to mention, I foolishly held off posting until it was done, so now have a back-log of posts), but I'm so pleased! Let us know if anything's broken on your ends, will you?

And now, a brief break from the Influence Series, before plunging back in: I've been running across some seriously inspiring things on the interwebs lately, and wanted to share. Sometimes the internet/email feels like a vast, many-headed monster that is gobbling up all my time and energy, but other times it reinvigorates me and makes me see my own habits and life in new ways.

  • Firstly, have you heard about Me Made May? A fun project started by Zoe of So, Zo, the goal is to wear more of one's hand-made clothing items out and about. Zoe herself is dressing in nothing BUT Zoe-made articles throughout May, but other folks are pledging various levels of participation; lots of people, for example, are saying they'll wear at least one hand-made item every day.

    This is such a cool challenge, and although (let's be honest) nearly every month is "Me Made Month" around Family Trunk headquarters, I thought I'd play along by documenting my outfits this month & maybe doing a weekly post about them. Since I make so few tops I won't be able to commit to entirely me-made outfits, but I can definitely commit to at least one handmade garment every day. You will also get to see how HORRIBLY REPETITIVE my work outfits are, but hey - a girl can only sew so fast.

  • Secondly, are you familiar with Susannah at Cargo Cult Craft? She's doing this amazing Fashion on the Ration project where she attempts to "spend one year shopping and sewing within the British wartime clothing ration imposed in 1941."


    In addition to being crazy challenging and a fascinating history lesson, this brings up SO many interesting ideas about impact and cost of clothing. Since rationing worked on a coupon system which applied equally to, for example, a cheap wool skirt and an expensive wool skirt, and a person couldn't (theoretically, leaving out the black market) buy either skirt without the requisite coupons even if she had enough money, there is a huge incentive to buy only high-quality clothing, stuff that's likely to last for a long time. There's also an incentive to recycle, trade, shop thrift stores, and, famously, "make do and mend." On the other hand, there is little incentive to sew from un-recycled fabric, rather than buying clothes new, since both raw materials and finished goods were rationed; the goal is to reduce consumption across the board. This is a slightly different perspective than my usual one, which focuses more on knowing where my materials are coming from than on reducing my bottom-line consumption, and I've been thinking about Susannah's project a lot since I discovered it. Her blog also features all kinds of cool stuff on austerity Britain, a place and time I find fascinating; I highly recommend checking it out.

  • And lastly, as a fellow dachschund-owner I feel compelled to point out that Pamela Wynn of Flint Knits is trying to pay some steep vet bills for her super-cute puppy, and designed an adorable tiny sweater for babies & kids in order to raise some cash. Although I am normally not a knitter-for-babies, Mr. Bingley insisted that I spring for a copy of this. So cute! Look at the little sewn-on ear!! And there are already some cool-looking variations on Ravelry! On a more serious note, I love the idea of being able to so quickly leverage a fairly obscure skill like sweater design into a real benefit for one's family—one of those moments when I truly feel lucky to live in the internet era. All my best wishes to Crush, Pamela!

That's all I got. Back soon (really & truly, this time) with the completed back, and then the completed front, of the Breeze-influenced cardigan I can't WAIT to wear.