Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Five Easy Pieces

Last Fall I read an article about the slow clothing movement, in which the author wrote about a year long fast-fashion fast she undertook. I was inspired to try it, and made it about four months before buying some new jeans and boots on a recent trip to New York. But I'm certainly thinking more about my clothes: where they come from, what they're made of, who made them. And I'm pausing before making new purchases, and putting a lot more things back on the rack than I used to. The truth is, throughout the winter I mostly wear jeans and a blue Uniqlo puffer just about every day. I don't need most of the clothing I buy.

I'm also trying to make more clothing for myself, which is infinitely more expensive, time consuming and impractical than buying them. But I really like to sew, and it's really satisfying to make a pretty blouse myself, so I'm working on a few new things for spring. Here are five pieces of clothing I've made recently that are fairly simple to make (I consider myself an intermediate level seamstress, so "fairly simple" might be a relative descriptor.) None of the clothing below requires sewing buttonholes or installing zippers, so if you can sew a straight line you can probably handle these patterns.

Probably my favorite of the five pieces, this pattern from the folks at the mecca of making aka Purl Soho is very well illustrated and written, so worth trying to make even if you're a beginner. The trickiest bit for me was sewing the bias tape around the neckline; I always find it tricky to do. This pattern calls for making your own bias tape, but if you've never done it or don't feel like trying, you can just buy a pack of readymade. This tunic was made with double guaze cotton on the front and arms and a Liberty cotton back. This was a pricey piece: the pattern was $18.50 (about £12) and the fabric and notions together were roughly $70 (about £47), though I do have enough fabric leftover to make a little something else.

2) The Schoolhouse Tunic by Sew Liberted
I love tunics for their versatility and comfort and this one is very pretty, made from a simple purple linen. I have to admit that I found the instructions tricky; I would've liked more illustrations and at one point in the pattern I couldn't reconcile how a right side piece and wrong sided piece were side by side. I emailed the folks at Sew Liberated and they kindly tried to help me through the issue, but really they just reiterated the written instructions that came with the pattern. I'm not sure if I actually made it correctly in the end, but it's pretty anyhow. This tunic was a lot less than the Purl one; about $14.50 for the pattern and about $35 for the fabric or about £35 in total.

3) The Taproot Tunic

This pattern was by far the easiest to follow and a great beginner's piece to try. It was free in one of my issues of Taproot Magazine, which you can buy here. I made this tunic from a linen sheet I bought at an antique store (the tag said "antique french linen", so, fancy). The pattern calls for adding a pocket, which I left off, and instead I added some pretty embroidered flowers and bias binding on the neck and cuffs (I know-I just said a minute ago how much I hate working with bias binding.) This was the least expensive project: $9 for the magazine (I get a subscription, so add a little more for shipping to the UK) and about $9 for the linen, though I have a lot of that left over from the big sheet after making the tunic. About £12 in total.

4) Liesl and Co. Everyday Skirt from Oliver + S
My rubbish photo doesn't do justice to this pretty skirt, which has nice pleats in the front, an elastic waistband in the back, and pockets. The pockets were a first for me, but I find the instructions and illustrations on Oliver + S patterns to be reliably clear and accurate, so it was worth the extra time to add them. This skirt was made with a Robert Kaufman chambray cotton I picked up at Purl last year. The pattern can be digitally downloaded, costs $14.95, and the fabric and elastic were about $25 (about £27 total). Worth it.

5) Nicole Blum's Pretty and Full Skirt, from the Sew Mama Sew blog
This skirt is very similar to the Liesl and Co skirt above, with nice pleats and an elastic waistband, but doesn't have pockets. It calls for an unfinished hem, but I finished mine. Another bonus: it's free online and the instructions are clear and well illustrated. I would suggest making a few of these at a go and you've got your skirt situation wrapped up for the season. I can't remember where I got this stripy red and white fabric, which has a bit of a stretch to it and works great for this skirt. I'd say it cost me about $10 or £6.50.

Though signs of spring are all around me, at the moment I'm still wearing the jeans and puffer coat. But you might see me wearing some of these things in the months to come.

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