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.
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.
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.
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.
Pattern: Tacara by Seamwork
Size: 4? 3? Does it matter?
Fabric: Plain black knit remnant I bought at a fabric scraps store
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!
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.
If I had any perspective on my own life or personality I could have seen this one coming a mile away.
The pattern of behavior:
Notice that pinafores are a thing
Scoff at pinafores
Declare that I will never make a pinafore
Repeat steps 3 and 4 – until –
I see an example so awesome I drop everything immediately to make one
My distaste for a thing makes it interesting to me and that interest turns at some point into appeal.
That’s such an unflattering introduction to this style and project that I hesitate to link to the specific maker who tipped the scales, but I will list the confluence of circumstances that led to this make because it takes more than hate-turned-to-love to make a thing. The stars must align. In order:
I already had some fabric that would work well enough sitting in my stash that was not earmarked for a more practical make.
The Pippi Pinafore pattern happens to be drafted to different cup sizes. I was unwilling to take a lot of time fitting a trendy garment I was’t sure I would like or wear, but with this pattern I could live dangerously and not make a muslin.
So I gave it a go.
Pattern: Pippi PInafore by Jennifer Luaren Handmade
Fabric: Robert Kaufman linen
Mods: Lengthened the bust 1.25″
Did you see that mod up there? Where I lengthened the bust 1.25 inches? That’s because when I was sewing the bib it was to teeny I thought, “Oh, hell no” and cut out a new longer one. Good call, me, I’m pretty sure that as drafted the bib would only have come to … I’ll let you figure it out. Long torso is long.
Not bad! I’m pleased. Now that I have made one I worry that I will fall into a different, equally predictable, pattern of behavior:
Worry that wearing this makes me look like I’m trying too hard to be more on-trend than I am
Worry that only home sewists wear pinafores and anybody who is not a home sewist will think it’s strange
Worry that wearing this makes me look like I’m trying too hard to appear younger than I am
Not wear the thing
In spite of my worries I did wear it and nobody laughed or pointed or mistook me for a 12-year-old or told me the style is too young or I’m too old. So think I’ll try to establish a new pattern of behavior:
I’m always learning new things when I sew. This time I learned how far ahead of the needle my serger’s knife cuts and why you don’t serge seam allowance after sewing inseam pockets.
After a long time out it turned out to be an easy fix. I removed the pocket, cut an inch off the width of the skirt, and started fresh.
It’s the same pattern as the dress I made MJ last year. I used the same button loop placket and cap sleeves, but added the i-cord and used inseam pockets because I thought I ought to mix it up a little bit.
I’ve sworn off Joann Fabrics. Again. Joann, why can’t I quit you? Oh yeah, because you are the only place anywhere close-ish that I can reliably buy notions which is something I re-remember every time I need buttons. I got super lucky, though, and hit a timely and unexpected jackpot at Urban Mining: vintage buttons!
Unbelievably I found buttons that were a perfect match in the quantities and sizes I needed. And I needed 4 smaller and 3 bigger, so let’s take a moment to acknowledge the improbability of finding these buttons in a space mostly dedicated to furniture and knick-knacks mere blocks from my house, no long, trying to trips to Joann necessary!
MJ, of course, would have been happiest with Minnie Mouse buttons. Here is the godawful dress I made at her behest also out of clearance Joann fabric that MJ spotted, adored, would not let go of, and insisted be made into a dress immediately upon arrival home. She will surely wear this dress instead. Ah, well, more power to her. The girl knows what she likes.
I’ve cooled on this fabric since I saw that someone online used it to make a privacy curtain for her cat’s litter box.
Also, it wrinkles like, well, like cotton would. I’m not usually bothered by that – I love linen and live with its characteristic wrinkles, and I’m bad at laundry and choose to wear wrinkly clothes rather than properly micromanage the dryer-to-hanger pipeline – but these wrinkles are deep and right across my lap. Meh.
I rather like its fashion’s style, but I’m not sure it will fit into my life’s style so well. I don’t tend to “dress”, which here means owning a variety of clothes suitable for various specific occasions and, this is the part I’m bad at, remembering to use them rather than wearing the same dress over and over because it’s comfortable and already ironed (I refer you to my statement above about being bad at laundry). So while I look at this and think it’s perfect for a BBQ or pool party, I haven’t been to a BBQ or pool party since finishing this dress and probably wouldn’t have thought to wear it if I had been.
I haven’t worn this once since the day I finished it excepting these photos. It seems too casual for the office, too short for chasing after kids, too loud when I’m wearing it, and yet when I look at these pictures it isn’t too casual or too short or too loud, is it?
Maybe if I can disassociate this print from kitty litter boxes it could still stand a chance.
The last time I wore my Wiksten Tova Tunic I had a series of revelations:
Hey, this style is pretty flattering!
Didn’t this pattern have a dress option?
That fabric I bought way back when for a skirt that never happened would be perfect!
I should make a Wiksten Tova Dress!
And I did and it is SO GOOD.
Pattern: Tova Top + Dress by Wiksten
Mods: added 2 inches to the length*
Last week I found myself awake at 2 a.m. too angry and upset to sleep (work stuff) so I got out of bed and sewed it up but for the cuffs. I coulda gotten it all done, too, if I hadn’t tried to get back to sleep between 4 and 5.
I just love this. It’s comfy and casual, but nice enough for the office. I wore it to work with my red saltwater sandals and on my walk to the car after work I saw another woman wearing a denim dress with red sandals. “We match!” I said without thinking, immediately relieved I hadn’t instead blabbed “we’re twins!” to a black woman.
*Folks, as written this dress would be seriously mini. I was surprised when I pulled out the pattern to see that the dress was not a whole lot longer than the tunic. I wonder if the dress is actually an extra-long tunic intended to still be worn with leggings? Or could be that I’m a prude who’s uncomfortable in short skirts; with the extra 2″ this is as short as I can imagine comfortably sitting in. And I really like sitting! I do it all day! Preferably without feeling the seat on the underside of my seat.
I recently contacted my former boss to ask if I could use him as a reference. I had not had contact with him in years, but he was gracious and kind and I found out he’d had a daughter since we last spoke. If you’ve ready recent posts you know that I like making things for babies. This child is not a baby, anymore, she’s a toddler, so I went to the stash and fell back on my tried-and-true, often-made, always-cute Geranium Dress pattern. I kept the sewing simple: no notch, no sleeves, just a piping detail to add a little oomph.
No major mishaps in this make, unless you count the fact that I forgot to cut out two bodices, but then I forget to cut the bodice lining when using this pattern so often that I congratulate myself when I do remember.