in which I prove that I haven't just been TALKING about sewing, I'm actually sewing (a bit!)

There has been so much intense conversation and wonderful reflection around what we wear and how we come by it, thanks to people like Karen Templer and Helen Stewart. I've got so much swirling around in my head right now that I'm not even sure how to get my thoughts articulated here in a cohesive way. Fast fashion vs. slow fashion, handmade vs. practicality for busy parents, egregious work conditions vs. employment opportunities and lack thereof. There is just so much to think about for those of us privileged enough to do so in the first place. 

This month has been busy, all in good ways, but I have a lot of balls in the air and it's admittedly been really exhausting switching gears from work to kids to ongoing renovation issues (going well, but slowly, thanks for asking). It all leaves me in the rather difficult position of desperately needing time alone to create and decompress, and not really having that time. And then if I reach the end of my tether, I get all impatient and then feel guilty for being selfish and demanding. This whole cycle of mom guilt REALLY sucks but it's a hard habit to shake.

Yesterday morning, I found myself wide awake at 5:30 listening to rain pound on the roof and the wind whipping the Tyvek wrap (not yet under a layer of siding, I might add with gritted teeth), so I got up, crept downstairs, and finished the Marmalade Jacket I started in August. All it needed was the collar attached and the lining tacked down on the inside of the sleeves. I was able to work in 45 glorious minutes of solitude before Anya woke up and joined me, but she happily worked on a knitting project while I finished the top stitching on the collar.

This morning, I had a rehearsal canceled last minute, so I begged and pleaded with the family to take a walk to a nearby conservation park/prairie restoration for some photos. It was a bright morning, so a lot of the pictures were splotched with shadows (yesterday would have been better had it not been miserable with drizzle and wind), but the oak and maple leaves were stunning and the fresh air good for all of us. I wore my new jacket (and brought a few knits along, but I'll show you those later) and the kids were sweet and didn't throw sticks at each other. Take what you can get, right?

I tried so very hard not to squint.

I'm really, really proud of this jacket. It is by far the most complicated sewing project I've attempted  (that is, when I successfully block out a certain nautical-themed jumpsuit with trimmed collar and ankle cuffs from my days in 4-H in the early 1990s...but I had help with that one) and I LOVE it. I love the color (red!!) and the fabric (soft corduroy probably from Joann's but it's still pretty nice, plus beautiful rayon lining you can't see) and the gathers in the front are SO cool (though it would be nice if my boobs were bigger to fill it out - yes I said that) and the fit is perfect. Spot on. The sleeves are roomy and comfy and it's flattering and I can't believe I didn't totally screw it up.

That said, it wasn't easy. This pattern isn't for the faint of heart. There are lots of pieces to cut out and many, many steps in the instructions, and the lining is all separate, so there is a lot to keep track of. Plus, the instructions are translated (from Japanese, I think), so you have to know what you're doing and stare at the pictures for a while before it makes sense. It does, though, and as long as you trust the pattern and take your time it will turn out. I don't have the cajones to make a second one just yet, but I might. 

Aren't they dear? We tried to find places for photos that weren't too crazy bright or entirely shaded. Daniel happily wore the shirt I made him for picture day. He only has track pants to wear with it, but never mind. I'm happy he's so willing to wear it.

The fabric is some kind of shirting I bought on sale at The Sewcial Lounge a couple years ago, back when the shop was located on Monroe Street. I was going to make it into a top for me, but it's a perfect pale blue for Daniel.

The pattern is Oliver&S sketchbook shirt. I made a practice one out of different fabric and I'm glad I did, because the pattern as written is incredibly short. The neck and shoulder fit well in size 10, but Daniel's ribs peeked through the bottom. Not. Good. I added 3.5" (!!) to the length for this one, and it turned out perfectly. It's odd, because I normally find the proportions of Oliver&S patterns to work out very well, even if they run on the small side, but the sketchbook shirt was way out of whack. As long as I'm pointing out imperfections, I was completely befuddled by the yoke instructions. Again, so atypical of Oliver&S to have confusing instructions! Every other pattern I've made - including a complicated messenger bag from their book - has had crystal clear instructions, but I could not make sense of the yoke instructions, even though I think it's a typical construction. In fact, I know it is because I've seen it before, but I couldn't do it. It was like staring at a Rubiks cube and willing it to solve itself, with a similarly disappointing outcome. I am not by any means an experienced shirt maker (this might have been the first one I've ever made on my own), so I'm sure that was part of the problem. I ended up doing an online search and using this tutorial from Grainline Studio, which was a different approach, but worked really well for me.

The collar came out acceptably well, though I definitely have room for improvement there.

So that's it. I have actually been sewing, not just pontificating about it and wringing my hands about the fashion industry. I'm DOING. I'm MAKING. And I'm happy about it. Now it's time for me to publish this post, get offline, and get back to it. I've got a sweater to finish.


butnostephanie said…
That jacket is beautiful! I want to try sewing one day.

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