Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Experiment in dyeing

I've been toying with the idea of dyeing some of my clothes.  The ones that I like but for one reason or another I don't wear, like this RTW top.

I love the design and I also love that it's a plain fabric not a print, making it a great basic.  What I don't like is the colour.  Well, that's not entirely true - I do like the colour but the colour doesn't like me; it washes me out and makes me look sick.  So a date with the dye bath was in order.  Choosing a colour was difficult because I didn't know how the underlying colour would affect the outcome of the new colour.  Eventually I decided on blue.  The fabric label said it was made from Lycocel so I chose the iDye Poly thinking it was a man-made fibre as opposed to a natural fibre.   I didn't want it to be too dark so I used only one teaspoon of dye.

As you can see it turned out a bit duller and with a slight blue tinge than before the dye bath, but the result was not entirely unexpected as I had no idea what this fabric was.

See the blue undertones remaining from the dye

Pretty blue stitching and label

I thought the iDye poly would be the correct dye to use.  Clearly that was not the case, however I did get some lovely blue stitching and labels, so I turned to my good friend "Google" and did a little research.  Turns out Lycocel is a man-made fibre made from wood pulp.  Now I'm thinking that's more natural like cotton or linen so back into the dye bath using iDye for natural fibres.  After all what can I lose except that the info said it has a natural reluctance to take dye.  I went with navy this time expecting it not to take again.  I couldn't have been more wrong!

Same pretty blue stitching and label

With only one teaspoon of colour again it came out so dark it's almost black.  Totally not the colour I wanted but still, I like it and I still have blue stitching and labels which I kinda like too.  It will work with my wardrobe but not as well as a lighter blue would.  At least now I have a top that will be worn instead of languishing in the wardrobe.

So in conclusion to my experiment in dyeing I learnt that I need to research what a fabric is made from when I don't know in order to choose a colour and the correct dyeing process.  However, I do  know that when dyeing over a base colour the resulting colour will often be a surprise.

Have you had anything like this happen to you or were you clever enough to know what fibres you were working with beforehand?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Decisions - How will it work?

Having resolved to make my wardrobe work better for me this year and I've now evaluated what I actually have to work with, it's decision time.  If I want this to work I must consider what I like in terms of what kind of styles suit me that I like and also the types of fabrics and colours I feel comfortable wearing.

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I like styles that are easy to wear.  This doesn't mean it has to be sloppy but it does have to be comfortable.  I like fitted and semi-fitted styles; styles that skim the body without being too tight nor too loose.  I love trousers and absolutely adore vintage styles, particularly dresses.  I also like skirts and tops but I'm not so inclined to wear them.  Being short-waisted they tend to make me look out of proportion.  Dresses are much better as they give an uninterrupted line making me look taller.

What about fabrics and colour?  Well, this is something I know and am very definite about.  I don't like stiff fabrics nor bulky or shiny fabrics, to my eye they just make me look fat and I feel uncomfortable when I wear them.  I like natural fibres but I'm happy to wear fabrics blended with polyester.  What about colours...  I've previously written about the colours that suit me here.  Luckily these are the colours I like to wear, they always have been.  (I think we are all drawn to colours that suit us instinctively.)  Then we have prints versus plains?  I love prints!  Particularly geometric prints however, recently I've taken a liking to florals.   I'm drawn to prints whenever I enter a shop.   My wardrobe and fabric stash are testament to this but I need plain solid colours to make things work together better.  This is one thing I need to give priority to.

Thinking about how to make the best of this evaluation I have come up with a list of criteria I need to consider each time I want to add new garments/items to my existing wardrobe which is, in no particular order:-
  • It must be comfortable
  • More plains than prints
  • It must work with other items in my wardrobe
  • Does the style suit my figure
  • Is it 'glamourous'
  • It must fit well
So where do I start?  Do I start with something that I really need to fill a gap, or something I want?  Obviously I should start with an item I need but then I'm not necessarily rational like that.  We'll see...

During my wardrobe overhaul it became very obvious that I don't  have many dresses, in fact only a couple that I actually wear and only one that I like.  Recently I've been wanting more dresses so keeping in mind that I want to glam myself up I've decided I need to add/replace a few.  Using my criteria as a guide I've chosen a lovely vintage dress from 1948 - Simplicity 2617, to start implementing my plan.  As it's summer I will be making the short sleeve style.

Now I know I said more plains than prints, but this pretty navy and white print was already in my stash and I think it will look lovely made up as this dress.   (I promise I will make something in a plain colour next time.  Really I will.  I promise.)  Working still with my criteria, I have at least three cardigans that will work with this fabric.  I've already cut it out and hope to sew it up this weekend.

Do you have any criteria for adding garments to you wardrobe?  Or, do you add things because you like them without giving any thought to how they work with the rest of your wardrobe like I've been doing?

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Wardrobe cleanout and evaluation

I had no idea I was taking on such a mammoth task when I decided to evaluate my wardrobe.  I have so many things in there I really didn't quite know where to start.  It all seemed so overwhelming, so I thought the best place to start was by looking at my wardrobe as a whole.  What does it consist of? What do I see when I open it?

I see a lot of random items.  Heaps of black and a mish mash of colour and prints.  Some made by me and lots of RTW.  Some things I love and wear all the time.  Some I like but hardly ever wear, some that I don't really like but still wear and yet others I don't wear at all.

A mere portion of my wardrobe

Breaking it down seemed like the best way to really evaluate whats in there.  First we have colour and prints.  OK, black is good.  It works with everything but it can become extremely boring when there is no other choice.  I love colour and I always gravitate towards prints, but I don't like mixing prints.  I know others mix and match different prints and most times it looks great but lets say, it's just not for me.  Solid colours are good basics but they are not very exciting if the only things I have to wear with them is black.  You'll notice I have lots of colour in my cardigans but the problem is that I don't have anything to wear them with that's not black.

In order for my closet to work everything in it needs to work together therefore, when I make something new it must either fill a gap or I need to make an 'outfit' (ie. several pieces - a bottom and top, dress and jacket) to prevent those closet orphans from taking over and above all else the colours must work with those already in my wardrobe.

Now lets look at the styles I currently wear.  Mostly I wear trousers and jeans.  I mean. really. lets face it. I live in jeans!!  They are the first thing I reach for when I open my closet; my go to item.  I also wear t-shirts/knit tops and cardigans and the odd dress or two.  My Summer styles include jean shorts and tank tops.  As you can see my current style is very casual.

What about the things I don't wear? Why don't I wear them?
I've given a great deal of  thought to this and decided that most of what I don't wear is either not flattering or doesn't fit me well.  For those of you who don't know, I'm quite short and along with that I'm also short-waisted so all my RTW items are too long in the waist or just plain too long altogether.  The rest I feel just isn't "me" anymore.

How does my lifestyle affect all of this? 
I work part time in an office and at the time I was to start my employment the decision had been made that uniforms were no longer required.  Being a somewhat casual workplace I am able to wear my beloved jeans, however I don't feel they are suitable attire.  Everything else that occupies my time is similarly casual.  So, even though I lead a relatively casual lifestyle I really want to move on from that casual 'surfer chick' kind of look and try to start adding some glamour to my wardrobe and include some vintage styles as well. 

How can I make this happen?  What needs to change in order to achieve this?
First and foremost I need to stop wearing jeans and jean shorts all the time and start wearing my trousers instead.  That's not to say I won't wear my jeans; just not all the time.  Add a pretty dress or two (vintage of course) and some blouses as well.  Today I've taken out all the garments I don't wear, after all I wont miss them because I never wore them anyway, and this has allowed me to see where there are gaps.  I've also put things aside for re-fashioning in the hope that they will become more wearable.  And, I've considered how I can extend what I do have by pairing different combinations together.

In conclusion of today's efforts I can now see several gaps and only wonder how I have ever survived without owning a white button down.  This is definitely on my list of things to make, sooner rather than later.

Now, just to choose a few patterns and fabrics to make a start on my goals for 2014 which I will discuss later.  If you have any suggestions of things that are great items to include, please let me know so I can consider if they will enhance my plans for extending my existing wardrobe.

Till next time, happy crafting.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Thoughts for the new year

Happy New Year everyone!

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Whether quietly or at a raging party, however you chose to welcome the New Year in, I hope you all enjoyed your celebrations and I wish you all a wonderful and creative year.

I must confess that in recent times I haven't been motivated to sew or in fact, for that matter do any type of crafting other than a bit of knitting (which I might add I haven't even finished, just added to my pile of UFO's).  I didn't want to blog as I felt I had nothing to blog about and wasn't even sure where I was going with it anyway, so I decided to take a break for a while to see where it lead.

During this time I've been giving some thought to what I really want to blog about.  Will I continue to keep it strictly about my sewing (which was my original plan for the blog) or will I include other things like the many types of craft I dabble in or my thirst for knowledge about the 1940's, especially the WWII era.

My decision: Both!  I will keep this mainly about sewing but I will add other snippets of things that occupy my time as well.


OK, where do I go from here?  I was reading a recent post by Tasha sharing her thoughts on having a full closet with nothing to wear in which she stated exactly how I have been feeling about my wardrobe, giving me the boost I needed to consider what I should do about it.  So to start the new year, I will be doing just that; going through my wardrobe first, to learn what I like and do not like.  What I wear, what I don't wear and why I don't wear it.  Does it work with my lifestyle?

I will look at ways of extending the items I do have by pairing them in other combinations; things I would not normally choose together, ie instead of wearing the same top with those brown trousers or that pink cardigan with my little black dress.  Next I will decide what I want but don't have to make my wardrobe work for me.  Do I need a new necklace or earrings, maybe a new pair of shoes?

I will choose patterns and fabrics and only make things which will work for me that I will wear.  No more making things that languish in my wardrobe for one reason or another.  This will be an ongoing project; one which will take a lot of consideration but will be worth it in the end.

So what are my goals for 2014?  Simple really.  Only make things I will wear and make my wardrobe work for Me!

What about you, do you have any goals for the new year?