Wednesday, April 23, 2014

action shots and stash envy.

My sweet husband loved my new "wearable muslin" when I showed it to him this morning.  He had gone to sleep before me, so it was a surprise when I was getting ready for work.  When he picked me up, he was waiting with his camera for an action shot! Google was so clever, that it make the pictures into a little gif.
It was cold and rainy today, but he also took a couple of pictures in the lot too.
 I like this dress for its practicality. The sleeves are not too puffy to layer a sweater over & it is very comfortable.
 Here it is without the sweater and with a little vintage belt at the waist. I also took a selfie just now of my waist.  That's a first.

I wore it with this belt to work today and I was felt cute and comfy all day... but it wasn't designed to be worn with a belt.  It's one of those smock things I am currently fascinated with, though dubious that they are really suited to my shape.
Here is a funny picture of me without the belt just for reference.  It makes me look even more oddly proportioned than I am because my husband is about a foot taller than I am and he is taking the photo from a strange angle... but you can see how the Chelsea pattern is meant to hang free.

I was surprised how fun it was to wear something I made for myself.  I felt a little jazzy sparkle throughout my day, even though it was a gloomy rainy day at the office, like just so many others.  No one asked me if I made my dress, which I took as a good sign.  If it looked like just some of my other clothes... then it must fit in with my regular wardrobe without looking glaringly "home-sewn." (...the ultimate insult on Project Runway!)

Last night when I had the idea to use this floral cotton that I'd had for about a decade, I was lamenting the fact that I have such a measly stash of fabric that I barely had enough to make an intermediary muslin.  I definitely want to collect some more fabric in a hurry, so that each new project doesn't send me out to the fabric store.

To this end, I spent my lunch break browsing around etsy and ebay for lots of vintage fabric.  I found myself wanting to *buy all the fabrics*  but I realized that this frenzy to get a whole bunch of flashy and quirky fabrics impulsively all at once was exactly why I got sort of adrift with sewing for myself over a decade ago & why I eventually stopped.

I came to a realization about thrift store shopping a few years ago that has made me much wiser about my wardrobe.  Just because you can, doesn't mean you should. There are so many pieces of clothing that are interesting as objects.  Especially vintage pieces.  When I was a size 2 18 yearold with blue hair, I wore clothes like they were performance pieces of art... I collected strange and wonderful individual pieces.

But over time, this doesn't work out so well for building a balanced wardrobe.

I learned this same "just because you can doesn't mean you should" lesson with knitting & I basically stopped knitting because I realized that the things I wanted to knit were not things I wanted to wear and the things that I wanted to wear were dreadfully boring to knit.

I am obsessed with colors.  I think I am mildly synesthetic because I get a huge range of emotional feelings from different colors that I am fond of... regardless of whether they look good on me or not.  Maybe that isn't especially synesthetic, it's just human.

At any rate, I know I cannot always be trusted to choose things on a whim because I get emotionally attached to fibers and garments that have absolutely no business anywhere near my person.  So I have counselled myself over the years to be harsh and calculating when I shop for myself.  Even so, I always have things in my clothes that I bought on a whim and wore once and are now waiting for the semi-annual purge to find a new home. That's why I am also a bit of a penny-pincher on what I will pay for clothes I wear around.  For yoga clothes, I will invest $40 in a tiny little bra top that I just wear to sweat profusely and throw in the wash more times than is good for any garment... but that's because I know that I will get every dime of wear and worth out of the garment.  I will wear it until it's completely worn out. But for a dress to wear on a special occassion?  I am so fickle... I wear it a couple of times and then I want a new one.  A new cheap thrill... it doesn't make sense to invest, if that is what you like.  The thrill of the new.

I am clever and I find nice things at thrift stores, vintage stores, and consignment boutiques... but I always find these few pieces among the madness of my ever-evolving wardrobe, that are mainstays.  They become anchors... till the disintegrate.  Then I spend years remembering them fondly and searching for replacements that never quite measure up.  I had 3 interations of a vintage black riding jacket with velvet collar & cuffs... and also maroon velveteen fitted blazers from the 70's - seems like you could always find one of those in Goodwill in the early 90s... but no more. Also, how many identical navy cashmere cardigans from the 50s an 60s did I have... and vintage slips.  But I do digress...

What I mean to say is that there are certain essentials that I have come to identify over the years. They are the things I always want to wear.  The silouhettes that fit my shape well.  The garments that are comfortable and comforting.  The types of clothes that make me feel beautiful, cute, safe, cozy, powerful, effective, festive, etc.. I want to get rid of the dross and focus on making every piece of clothing that I put on one of my favorite things.

Isn't this the beauty and glory of aging?  Getting to know ourselves? Becoming aware of my own life and habits is like figuring out an intricate mechanical contraption that does something sort of alchemical and fantastic... my teens were a time to play.  My twenties were a time to experiment.  My early 30s were a time of getting serious about cutting things away and clearing a path for myself.  As I prepare to enter the second half of my 30s, I feel like it's all about self-care and self-knowledge. This is a peak time.  My mom always says - "the 40s are glorious!"  I am getting ready.  I am getting ready for my goal of being the best me I've ever been when I turn 40. I have 5 years to get ready.  For my year of turning 40... right before I do that, I would like to do the Me-Made May challenge (if it is still even a thing!) and have 5 years worth of garments that I love in my closet along with accessories and basics that pair well with my hand-sewn pieces.  Who knows, I may even knit something plain in an impossibly small guage that I like to wear.

In short, this long musing was just another way to say, I didn't buy any impulsive fabric on the internet today.  I am carefully planning, researching, and deliberating for a trip to the fabric store on Sunday.  While I do want to collect a working stash, I want to be very thoughtful and judicious about the process of doing so.

In the meantime, I am just going to cut into my blue/white floral gauzy cotton and ink blue linen/cotton to make another iteration of the Chelsea.

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