How far would you go for a new dress every day?

I am not a fashionista, primarily because I cannot afford to be one. I don’t have the money to buy the cute clothing I have seen others wearing, so I’ve reduced my fashion vision to purchasing serviceable pieces that are mix and match ready. Sounds boring, doesn’t it? It is, I have to admit, a pretty boring way to dress. It doesn’t reflect who I REALLY am, and over the years, my wardrobe has become more and more bland. It’s sad … I’m anything but bland, I think, but my wardrobe is just … well, it really IS sad.

So you can imagine my fascination with Marisa’s blog. I saw this on one of the news sites the other day and I have to admit that I’m still reading back, but I am absolutely fascinated. The premise of her blog is based upon her idea of dressing herself for one full year on $1/day. That isn’t $1 a day based upon a certain number of wears, that’s the garment she purchases cannot cost more than $1, and she wears a different one everyday. She then takes her garage sale & Goodwill finds and transforms them from some of the ugliest things you’ve ever seen into things that even the snobbiest fashionista would envy.

And that’s where the blog gets interesting. She takes muu-muus and dresses straight out of 1972 and makes them adorable. I read in the news article that Marisa had no mad sewing skillz when she started this project, but I can’t find that on her blog and I don’t know if I believe it, because she does a bang up job of cutting, pinning and sewing – and showing us what she’s doing as she goes. She transforms one garment every day and then models it for us – she even wears them out in public to get reactions, which she reports is almost always positive.

The first few dresses don’t see a major reconstruction, though. Some of them she shortens, she maybe changes the sleeves a bit, and other minor changes. They’re cute, but they don’t have the same WOW factor that her more recent rennovations have. You can see her confidence grow as she takes on more difficult alterations. It is amazing, cute and just plain inspirational. She’s a little wisp of a female, so I think it might be easier for her to take $1 finds and turn them into something cute, but it DOES make me want to drag out the pattern box, dig out some fabric and start sewing.

Check her out. I’m really hoping that when the year is over in November, she doesn’t stop doing what she does so well … I could take a lesson or two from her!

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Re-opening the blog!

OK, I tried to consolidate the quilting and the sewing into my regular blog, but the truth is … it just wasn’t working for me. I mean, it worked, but I felt like there were a lot of people who just aren’t interested in that aspect of my life. Well, I felt like it was probably boring a lot of people. So I’m re-opening this blog to chronicle my sewing & quilting expeditions. And since I’m doing this, maybe I’ll update this blog more often!

A sewing lesson to remember

I think I may have mentioned, though I can’t be sure, that I have been taking apart a pair of Chris’s pajama bottoms so I could make him more. See, Chris is a big guy, and clothing that he likes and finds comfortable – at a reasonable price – is difficult to find sometimes. I thought that since I have all these mad sewing skillz (said with tongue firmly planted in cheek) I would do something to get around that for certain things – like pajama bottoms.

If you’ve ever attempted to make clothing for a man, you know that patterns are few and far between, but they are non-existent for a man who isn’t 180 lbs and 6′ tall. Hence the reason why I decided to pull apart the pants to make my own pattern. Now, the pants were already damaged, falling apart, and after less than six months after we bought them, I was a little a put out by it. It took me FOREVER to pull apart these pants – they were put together poorly but in a weird way, so most of the time it took was because I was trying to not put new holes in them or because I was trying to somewhat preserve the basic design. This was, by far, the most time-consuming part of the exercise. It took me weeks of working on and off to get two of the four panels separated (two for the front, two for the back; I pulled one front and one back from the pants).

Once I accomplished that, I ironed the pieces and laid them out on some pattern “paper” I purchased at Joann’s … only it’s not really paper, it’s more of a cross between a paper and an interfacing – or at least, that’s what it feels like. I drew around the pieces and labeled each one, along with basic instructions, like where the fold lines were for the hem and the elastic casing for the waist, that each piece needed two pieces cut, etc. The only thing I haven’t quite figured out yet is how to get a straight grain line, but I’m working on that one. Then it was time to make the prototype.

I use muslin most often to make prototypes, and this was a soft, drape-y muslin that closely mimics the feel and drape of the madras fabric I bought for the completed pants. It only took an afternoon to lay out the pieces, cut them, and sew and serge them together. My mom taught me ages ago how to make pants in a super-simple way, and it’s the ONLY way I’ll make them now. Here’s the basic instructions …

Pin the front pieces together along the front/crotch seam and sew together. If you have a zipper that needs to be put in, stop at the marking for the bottom of the zipper, and insert as you normally would. Press seam open or serge. Then pin the back pieces together along the back/crotch seam and sew together. Again, press the seam open or serge it. Pin front to back along outseam (that’s the outside of the leg for those who don’t know) on each side and then sew together. Press seam open or serge. Next, pin together the inseam (inside of legs) and sew. I usually start pinning this at the groin area and work down each leg. As before, you’ll press the seam open or serge it. Then you continue on with your waistband and hem as usual. It’s very easy and I can turn out pants by the boatload.

But I digress … back to Chris’s pj’s, or rather, the prototype of Chris’s pj’s. Once they were sewn together, but before I hemmed or did any work in the waist, I asked him to try them on. He did, and I discovered that they were a touch too small, which was perplexing to me. I couldn’t figure out WHY they didn’t fit, when the ones I took apart had fit so well. While talking to my mom last night and explaining the problem, though, she pointed out the problem.

When I drew the pattern out using the pieces I’d pulled apart, I forgot to add back in the seam allowance. Usually a seam allowance is 5/8″, which will add back more than 2″ in the areas where he needed it most (the hips, mainly). Because the hem and waist were folded over and sewn instead of serged, I don’t have to worry about adding the seam allowance in those areas.

This was an important lesson to me, and I’m glad it occurred with the prototype and not the actual pants. This is my first time to attempt to draw my own pattern, but it wasn’t particularly difficult, and I fully intend to do it again. Next time, I’ll definitely remember to add the seam allowance!

Since I have to re-draw the pattern and make the new pants, I’ll try to do some photos to post here. Happy sewing!