Mid-Century Modern

Sometimes you don’t even know that a fabric is perfect in color and scale until the thing you’re making is finished and you put it on and it’s the somehow the most YOU thing you’ve made possibly ever.

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Pattern: Matcha Top by Sew Liberated
Fabric: Aerial Lawn in Pacific by Carolyn Friedlander, purchased at Sarah’s Fabrics

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I’ve made Matcha twice before. I get the most use out of my sleeved version and had had in mind to make another like it, but didn’t check yardage requirements and there was just no way.

Mods-wise, I skipped the shoulder detail and sewed the center front to halfway between the lower and upper neckline notches. Construction-wise, I flat-felled the center front seam, french seamed the shoulders and sides, and hand-sewed the inside of the collar down. It’s easier to find satisfaction in fine finishing if you’re pretty sure your project is going to work out.

 

The woman who helped me at Sarah’s Fabrics was so kind and persistently lovely that she wore down my antisocial attitude and got me to confess to all kinds of indie pattern makes and intentions. She also told me she’d used this fabric to back a baby quilt for friends who live in a Mid-Century Modern home. I live in a 1908 hulking box of a cube of a battleship of a house. but I like to fantasize about having  Mid-Century house, or maybe about being the kind of person who can live in one fabulously, minimally, uncluttered surfaces gleaming. I don’t, and I’m not, but I have a pretty blouse that’s a call out to that fantasy.

Disciplined

I went on a job interview this one time and my interviewer asked me what drove me. What got me out of bed in the morning?

“Habit?” I responded, nailing the lid on the coffin of that job opportunity.

I spent that afternoon obsessing over analyzing my response. It was an honest answer. I’m not filled with passion for accounting standards when my alarm goes off. If I hadn’t been flummoxed by my waaaay too literal brain’s complete inability to come up with a more appropriate response I may have been able to save myself by explaining that I’m really very philosophical about habits. I think about them. I actively try to make them good ones. I ask myself if my habits are helping. I use use them as a tool to try to make life’s necessary tasks as pleasant and brainless as possible.

As someone who bangs on about making clothes you might might be surprised that I  hate deciding what wear each morning. I do like sewing . I do not like dressing.

Enter the work uniform. Or: the habitual wardrobe.

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So professional!
Pattern: Farrow Dress by Grainline Studios
Fabric: Chambray? I’m a terrible sewing enthusiast who forgets to make notes.

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I’ll blather on some other time about how a vision for my ideal work wardrobe coalesced. Suffice for now to say that I have a vision and one of my goals for 2019 is to create it. If successful, instead of feeling vexed or vaguely annoyed by having to decide again what to wear to work I’ll open my closet and mindlessly pick from a variety of similar-but-different dresses that strike the right balance between comfort and business casual.

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Later, as I continued to let my idea of habit marinate over a few weeks, I realized that I had developed a habit of thinking of myself as “habitual” and it really bringing me down. Boring. Uncreative. It lacked agency. I decided to re-frame how I talk and think about myself. I am not habitual. I am disciplined.

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Bitten

I had a friend in high school who told me he didn’t like my name. It was “too biting”. My “biting” name suits me, or maybe I’ve grown to suit it since I never gave it any thought until this person offered his rude, insulting, irrelevant, unsolicited opinion.

My name is biting, my nose is sharp, my chin is pointy. As I age I see my aunts’ angular features emerge. I would be pretty if I wore makeup. Or smiled. I used to be cute before I cut my hair. If you’re a woman you know the drill.

My name, my features, my bare face, my expression all subvert traditional notions of femininity, or so I’ve been told explicitly and subliminally all my life. I’m an invisible middle-aged woman, now, and the drop off in scrutiny emboldens me to try clothing styles I never would have when I was younger.

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Pattern: Tacara by Seamwork
Size: 4? 3? Does it matter?
Fabric: Plain black knit remnant I bought at a fabric scraps store
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The idea of a cocoon comforts me.

This dress is unmistakably femme, but subversively so. The unusual shape and loose drape are the opposite of feminine. I had expected those features to hide my figure, but it emphasizes my curves more than closer-fitting styles. Surprising!

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Motion makes this dress beautiful.
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I weeded the crab grass out of our front lawn and seeded it a few years ago. No grass has grown since, not even weeds. Oops. 

And it is Oh. So. COMFORTABLE. It’s a dress I think I’ll like and possibly grow to love, but it’s also a dress that will take some practice wearing just because it’s so different from anything I’ve worn in the past. I forget that I like wearing this dress until after I already have it on – I just have to remember to take it out of the closet.

2018 Make 9 Retrospective

I wasn’t going to do any sort of 2018 retrospective. I especially wasn’t going to look at my 2018 Make 9 list. I was sure that I completely missed the mark. I hadn’t thought about my list in, oh, 7 months or so, except for the nagging sense of guilt I felt about not making as many pairs as pants as I hoped.

  1. Juniper Pants – 2018 was supposed to be my Year of Pants. It wasn’t.
  2. Weekender DuffleI made this!
  3. Belladone DressI made this!
  4. Ginger Jeans – I made these! And then never blogged about them.
  5. Boxers – Got stuck sourcing elastic.
  6. Some sort of denim skirt – I made most of one, Ginger, but I sewed the invisible zipper in too closely (who knew this could be a problem?!) and it doesn’t zip past the start of the waistband. I’ve ignored it for months.
  7. YorkI made this!
  8. Moneta DressI made this!
  9. Lander Pants – I made a muslin and it was so, so bad I was put off of pants completely. I’m still working up the gumption to deal with the mysteries of a crotch curve.

A mixed bag, to be sure. I don’t look at this and feel good about the things I’ve made, I feel bad about the things I haven’t. Unmet goals weigh heavily on me. I won’t be repeating this experiment; its specificity doesn’t jive with my more lackadaisical attitude towards making. Or maybe I need to reframe it and conceptualize it as a direction or theme for the coming year rather than a than a to-do list. I’m still learning about what I wear, what I feel good wearing, and what I make, and I hope I’m getting closer to a Venn diagram of the three that’s a single overlapping circle. I pecked a bit at putting together a Make 9 for 2019. I couldn’t commit to 9 patterns to sew, but it did help me realize a theme for 2019: developing and making a work uniform.

Last Year’s Preparations Pay Off

My mother is a guesser, not an asker. What’s more, she’s a guesser who is uncomfortable asking anything of anyone, ever. Pause for a moment before taking that sip because I have something shocking to tell you: I’m the exact same way. In ourselves we call it independent. In one another we call it stubborn. In Granny we call it ornery. With love, folks, WITH LOVE.

You might think our respective guessing and *ahem* independent natures are at constant loggerheads, but it only seems to be a recurring problem when it comes to buying things for the kids. Mom guesses at what we need and I guess at what she has or hasn’t already purchased while we both try to avoid being presumptuous or hurting one another’s feelings. This has played out in several different ways over the years with different results, most notably the time I decided to ask, just ask, for an Easter dress and my mom gave us SEVEN (I haven’t mentioned, yet, that gifts are my mother’s love language which complicates these transactions even more), but this year somehow we just didn’t talk about it. At all. I didn’t ask if she’d bought or would buy Christmas clothes for the kids, she didn’t ask if she should or give me a big bag of them. I honestly didn’t think about it until I picked the kids up from my parents’ and realized that I wouldn’t be seeing them again until Christmas Eve church service and for the first holiday ever we had no clothes for the kiddos.

What to do? I scanned my imperfect memory of the kiddos’ wardrobes. This is another problem, neither my mother nor I remember all the things we buy or where we put them., but I clearly remembered Chuffy having 5 Christmas sweaters to choose from and decided that if MJ were to wear a pink Minnie Mouse dress, well, that would be OK.

I also remembered the fabric I had ordered last year when I thought I might make MJ’s Christmas dress … and Mom bought her one, instead. 🙂 I used a big swath of that fabric to make myself a Christmas skirt. Did I have enough left to make a dress?

I did! I also had all the notions. This wasn’t the pattern I had intended for this fabric, nor is it a traditional holiday style, but I’ve had it on deck for a long while and there’s nothing like the holidays to remind you that time is running out and if you’re going to make your daughter all the dresses while she’s still young you better get cracking.

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Pattern: The Louisa Dress by Companie M
Size: 4
Fabric: Quilting cotton aw yeah

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Read on to find out who chose the buttons…

I didn’t choose this pattern for its simplicity, but I was grateful for it. Not too many pieces, no gathering, straight forward pocket construction, the loud fabric doesn’t compete with the design, and the seams are all finished before you piece it together which was a refreshing change from usual routine. I didn’t have enough fabric to worry over which to use where or pattern placement and matching. So I didn’t! And it was all so easy.  I couldn’t believe how fast it came together. Hubs said he’d thought the same thing, but didn’t want to say anything. No, I assured him, it was legitimately and surprisingly quick.

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This year’s Christmas miracle: unintentional yet PERFECT PATTERN MATCHING

MJ liked it well enough to not fight me too much getting into it Christmas Eve and the fight she put up was I think inspired by Chuffy’s tantrum over wearing not sweatpants. She choose the buttons, but it was the giant pocket that won her over – even little girls love a dress with pockets – and she voluntarily choose to wear it all Christmas Day. Chuffy, on the other hand, stayed in his pajamas. Fair enough, kid, I’ll give you that one.

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Even the full lining went in like a charm.

I could have worn my coordinating outfit, but I’m not into mother-daughter matching. If that’s your thing, cool, no judgment. I’m not yucking your yum, it’s just not my thing. Instead in a funny twist I wore the Christmas dress my mom bought me this year.

Oh, my stars and garters

Who didn’t see Gillian’s Scandinavian Fabric Stars tutorial and immediately order a short stack of fat quarters to make a quick 27 or so?

I know it wasn’t just me.

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These were really satisfying to make.

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Perfect for plopping down in front of the TV with BIG glass of wine and a delightfully terrible made-for-TV Christmas movie.

All they need is hangers. The ribbon is in a small bag possibly in a bigger bag tossed into an even larger bag (it’s bags all the way down, folks) with all the unwrapped Christmas gifts and I keep thinking I’ll dig it out when I get around to starting the wrapping, but I keep postponing that chore until “tomorrow” in favor of another Christmas movie and requisite boozy accompaniment.

More of the same, but different

Friends, I have come up with a corollary to the Christmas pajamas: Thanksgiving pajamas!***

As you are by now well aware, the sleepover pajamas from Oliver & S are my go-to pajamas pattern. HOWEVER. This flannel fell into my virtual shopping cart a while back. It was super cute, on sale, and I figured pajamas are always something I’ll make eventually and therefore not real “stash”. I didn’t have a coordinating flannel for the sleepover pajama’s distinctive exposed facings, nor did I want to think too hard about turning them inward. It should be easy as pie, but pie is deceptively hard, and I hadn’t yet refamiliarized myself with the pattern and sometimes even minor changes can be a mind meld so the last time I was at Joann’s I picked up the first basic children’s pajama pattern I came to in a book. It has a collar, see, and is therefore TOTALLY DIFFERENT.

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Pattern: Burda Style 9747
Fabric: Supernova flannel by Dear Stella
Size: 7*

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The light was so yellow the day I took these.

I thought this was a good plan. I thought it would be easy. I underestimated and reaffirmed my extreme distaste for paper patterns.

Now, I can handle paper patterns in certain circumstances. Circumstances like when a PDF is not available (WHY Merchant & Mill, WHY?). Or like the time I went to pick up my mom’s sewing machine after repair and the shop was clearancing out their paper patterns and I bought, oh, 8 or 10 indie patterns at $3-5 a pop. Good stuff, too: Thread Theory, Colette, and Sewaholic. I hate tracing, but I’ll trace if it means I’m saving 75% off suggested retail prices.

It’s worth mentioning, too, that all paper patterns are not created equal. I was genuinely surprised by the quality of indie patterns. The paper is thick, the instructions are comprehensive, the packaging is interesting and unique to the brand. The pajamas pattern I bought, though, was a tissue paper pattern, the kind that’s impossible to fold back into the envelope whence it came. The kind that make me hate everything and wonder why I’m even bothering sewing because it’s so dumb and why do I do this to myself and what’s the point? The kind that comes accompanied by brief, incomplete, sometimes inaccurate instructions printed on huge pieces of paper that are always in the way. I still have no idea what I was supposed to do with the back of the collar.** I drafted a back facing to sew to the front facings and sandwich it all together, but no such pattern piece was provided and the pattern instructions were to sew the front facings to the shoulder seams, so??? Yay me for knowing enough to come up with a solution.

 

*My kiddo is only 5, but he’s a largish 5 and I made a size 7 based on his measurements. These pajamas are enormous. I can’t tell you how oversized they are because he has’t tried them on, yet. There will definitely be some cuff and sleeve rolling.

**A cursory google search to identify this pattern tells me that I am not dumb and that the collar is meant to be finished with bias tape which the instructions neglect to mention. OK then.

***Thanksgiving pajamas seemed like a good idea until my mother pulled out a dozen pairs of new pajamas to give us the day before. Why do I even bother?