Monday, February 2, 2015

In Which Our Heroine Valiantly Tries to Get It Together — January Recap

So January didn't go so well. I have patterns, fabric, and everything I need for my HSM Foundations challenge, but a few days into the new year, I hit a rough patch and slid into some depression. All I could manage was to go to work, do laundry for work clothes, and sleep (hahahahaha... I didn't sleep well at all). The stress in my personal life and at work was very overwhelming and I had no energy to do anything extra. I haven't even opened the shipment of fabric for my February challenge. Last week on my two days off, I spent literally 48 hours in bed except for brief necessary periods. I just wanted to lay in bed and listen to sad music. Then, once I started feeling "better" last weekend (stuffing down my emotions and shutting stuff out just so I can try to get some things done), our clothes dryer broke. So there went my plans for the fabric that needed prepped. There is absolutely no way to air dry 10 yards of muslin inside the house in winter ESPECIALLY with pets!

/deep breath

So, the dryer was finally fixed yesterday, so I'm going to do some sewing this week. I really think starting slow, with a simple Victorian chemise, is the best thing for my emotional level right now. I may make some split drawers as well, but I'm not going to rush myself on them. I need to get back into the Zen of sewing without forcing myself.

And now for something completely different!

Lately, my wardrobe has been mostly work uniforms and stuff that is... dated, to say the least. So I decided to spruce up my wardrobe and find some sort of cohesive, adult style. I find people whose style I like and I look for similar things. (If you're curious, I settled on a combination of the Duchess of Cambridge and Gemma Teller from "Sons of Anarchy". Hush, it works!)


I also get really bad anxiety. I don't like crowded places, public places, people in general. So I have fallen in love with online shopping. What I'm getting at, why I'm posting this on my sewing blog, is how useful it has been to know my measurements so I can buy online and be sure of fit. I really think everyone should know their measurements and how to take them. It has really cut down on the hassle of guessing which size I am. I can just look at the sizing chart on the website, know if I can size up or down if necessary due to the fabric being a stretchy knit or not.

When it comes to sewing, having your measurements is even more important. As anyone who has used a commercial pattern will tell you, the pattern sizes DO NOT correspond to store dress sizes! I am blogging here in size 8 trousers, but by my measurements, Simplicity patterns put me at a size 14. Different parts of the body can fall under different sizes. You can be petite on top with petite/average legs and petite in the rise of your trousers (I am). I can tell you from experience, no one wants to recut a pattern that was sized wrong. Sometimes you draft your own patterns and need accurate measurements. The pattern generators at the Elizabethan Costume Page flawlessly draft patterns based on measurements. If you have awkward proportions like me, learning to tailor to those measurements is pretty much required.

So whether you sew or shop online, know your measurements, know how to take accurate measurements, and keep track of changes if need be. It will save you a lot of time, energy, frustration, and work.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Historical Sew Monthly 2015

I am a bad, bad seamstress. Ever since financial difficulties led me to move back in with my dad in March, I haven't sewn. My sewing space is all set up and I've done some pattern prep here and there, but I haven't constructed anything. I got unto a sewing slump and I've been disappointed in myself.

Fast forward to the end of 2014. The lovely Dreamstress, Leimomi Oakes, made the decision to revamp the Historical Sew Fortnightly, with challenges due every two weeks, into the Historical Sew Monthly 2015, with one challenge per month. Personally I feel a lot less intimidated by monthly challenges, though there was no insistence on creating something for every challenge in the prior version. I plan way too much and get overwhelmed.

Also, a friend of mine lives in an apartment in a big Victorian house built in 1892, and that has given me a jumping-off point on a new era to branch out into, and away from my usual medieval and Tudor. I've done a bit of research and joined the Victorian Costuming Bees group on Facebook in addition to the Historical Sew Fortnightly (still under the old name) and Costume Pattern Reviews.

So without further ado, here are the challenges for 2015 and my plans:

January – Foundations: make something that is the foundation of a period outfit.
— An easy start is a Victorian chemise and/or split drawers. I have easy patterns for both, and I already have white muslin. My 1890's character is middle class, so nothing too fancy is required. She is also forward-thinking and has a sewing machine (win). If possible, I want to start on petticoats as well.

February – Colour Challenge Blue: Make an item that features blue, in any shade from azure to zaffre.
— I'm not 100% sure what to do here. I want to make a new Victorian corset, but my old one is blue too. A corset is the next logical step since anything else would need to be fitted over it. Perhaps petticoat(s) with blue detail?

March – Stashbusting: Make something using only fabric, patterns, trims & notions that you already have in stash.
— This may end up being my corset, since I want a green striped Victorian corset and I already have the perfect fabric in my stash.

April – War & Peace: the extremes of conflict and long periods of peacetime both influence what people wear. Make something that shows the effects of war, or of extended peace.
— This will require more research if I want to keep constructing for my late Victorian character, but I do have a pattern for WWII Era trousers from Wearing History that I want to try.

May – Practicality: Fancy party frocks are all very well, but everyone, even princesses, sometimes needs a practical garment that you can DO things in. Create the jeans-and-T-Shirt-get-the-house-clean-and-garden-sorted outfit of your chosen period.
— Anne's apron here:

June – Out of Your Comfort Zone: Create a garment from a time period you haven’t done before, or that uses a new skill or technique that you’ve never tried before.
— Late Victorian is completely out of my comfort zone already, so I think continuing the theme would be appropriate, perhaps with a shirtwaist (easy enough not to get me overwhelmed).

July – Accessorize: The final touch of the right accessory creates the perfect period look. Bring an outfit together by creating an accessory to go with your historical wardrobe.
— Hat?

August – Heirlooms & Heritage: Re-create a garment one of your ancestors wore or would have worn, or use an heirloom sewing supply to create a new heirloom to pass down to the next generations.
— I am lucky enough to have a photo of my Sicilian lots-of-greats-grandparents from the very early 1900's, and my lots-of-greats-grandma's jacket looks like a pattern I've seen from Truly Victorian.

September – Colour Challenge Brown: it’s not the most exciting colour by modern standards, but brown has been one of the most common, and popular, colours throughout history. Make something brown.
— Easy enough to make a practical brown skirt.

October – Sewing Secrets: Hide something in your sewing, whether it is an almost invisible mend, a secret pocket, a false fastening or front, or a concealed message (such as a political or moral allegiance).
— This is where I do more research to get some ideas, perhaps something for the late Victorian women's movement.

November – Silver Screen: Be inspired by period fashions as shown onscreen (film or TV), and recreate your favourite historical costume as a historically accurate period piece.
— This is where I have more fun with the Anne of Green Gables movies! I love Anne's face (and hat, and entire outfit!) in this screenshot:

December – Re-Do: It’s the last challenge of the year, so let’s keep things simple by re-doing any of the previous 11 challenges.
— Whatever I didn't get done, or more petticoats. I'm certain there will be something I skip out on.

So, I have high hopes for getting myself out of my sewing slump.  We just had a snowstorm drop several inches of snow on us, so maybe that will be the reason I need to just stay in and have a tea-and-sewing day!  Wish me luck!