Let’s Banter



Post-12What if what you want to sew and what you want to wear are not the same thing? From time to time you may have heard me wine about the un-wearability of my hand-made wardrobe in it’s current state. While simultaneously working on a two-piece-set made from fabric printed with eyes. Maybe it’s the change in season, maybe it’s sheer coincidence that I started reading Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up right at the start of Me Made May. But something has shifted, deep in my waters. If I look back over my sewing journey of the past few years and summarise my general approach it would be: AUTOPILOT. I sew what I want, when I want. I’ve happily been a slave to every creative vision and whim that’s popped into my head! That’s half the fun, right? Bringing forth an idea from your imagination for a piece or an outfit in a combination of fabrics that has never existed before you. Exercising that creative muscle (which only gets stronger ) while visualising the outfit-to-be  right down to the details and the finishes…and then transforming a piece of fabric into that vision…pure magic, voodoo, witch craft right there!


So perhaps my style has had some growing up to do. Or maybe it’s coming into winter and suddenly being aware of the serious lack of comfy, cosy, basics in my closet. Either way, there’s a change in the air. I’m always admiring fellow sewists (Katie, Beth, Elena to name a few) and bloggers who’s hand-made wardrobes just work together as a whole. I imagine them opening up their closet every morning and being greeted by a whole bunch of old friends, clothes you know you love to WEAR, clothes you’ve made, specifically for the purpose of WEARING. From patterns you’ve gone back to one, two and three times because they just work for you, for your shape, for your lifestyle. My wardrobe on the otherhand, is like the diet of a teenager who’s parents have gone away for a naughty weekend. Here’s an admission: there are hand-made clothes hanging in my closet, that I know I don’t wear but I keep there because they look nice hanging next to the piece beside it…endlessly curating. I blame Pinterest.Post-3And where does Japanese de-cluttering expert, Marie Kondo and The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up fit into all this. Well, it’s just a book and it’s not just a book. The whole premise is to go through your entire house and possessions with the view to clearing up your physical space which in turn filters down clears ‘space’ in all other realms of your life, emotional and physical. It really is magic! You go through specific categories of possessions one at a time, starting with clothes, holding each piece in your hand and asking: ‘does this spark JOY’? Sounds ludicrously simple! Except as expected I came to a my own personal crux… the beloved hand-made clothes. What do you do with hand-made items that don’t spark joy? Can you / should you part with them / donate them? I think I know Miss Kondo’s answer. Previously I’ve been stowing my loved-slightly-less hand-made clothes in a pile in another cupboard for um…prosterity? A record of where I’ve come from on the sewing journey? To show my grand-children?

…too silky… too good…can’t move my arms…ugh, too printy…

And what if your non-joy-sparking pieces amass a good portion of your hand-makes? The pile is pretty big. I haven’t yet gone through the ones hanging up, but I know there will be more to add. And it’s got me thinking…why so many? What is happening during the creative process that there is this big gap between clothes that I just love to sew (and look at) and clothes I actually want to wear. Just know, this is not a wardrobe bashing, nor a print funeral. I LOVE looking at my hand-made closet, I love the colours and the prints, really I do! And sewing your own clothes IS the perfect opportunity to experiment with personal style, which means you’re not going to hit the mark every time. But what I would like is to close this gap, piece by piece so that I get to enjoy more of my hand-makes ON my body, rather than just as an exquisite piece of wardrobe installation art.Post-9I’ve concluded there’s a battle going on here. And possibly between the left and right hemispheres, perhaps? Righty spends her days bobbing up and down on her back in a sea of the most beautiful, delicious, printed fabrics. She’s not particularly concerned by the practicalities of daily life. I suspect she also exclusively wears two-piece sets. Her motto, tattooed in hand lettering, on her forearm: Sew for the Life you want to LIVE. Lefty, opens the door to a closet FULL of clothes every morning with: ‘where did all these fucking prints come from?!’. Lefty is very much aware of the practicalities of day to day living, in fact, right now she’s running late and just got out of the shower to discover that her only ONLY current pair of workable bottoms, her black skinny jeans, are in the wash. She grabs them out of the basket anyway and starts flicking through her wardrobe for a top… ‘too silky… too good…can’t move my arms…ugh, too printy…not suitable for vacumming’. And on it goes. She needs her clothes to just do their thing so she can get on with her thing. Her catchphrase: ‘I just wanna be comfy…is that too much to ask? Is it?!’. She will not be getting this tattooed on her forearm any time soon.Post-7Where to from here? There’s nothing like the annual sewing event of Me Made May to bring to the forefront what is and isn’t working about your hand-made closet. It’s also a tricky time of year here in Brisbane because it’s all summer, summer, summer, still summer, BANG! Winter. And that’s May. Last year I got caught out and had to sew a hundred Nettie Bodysuits (three). Since then I have only topped them up with one store bought navy tee and one grey thrifted singlet. That is the sum total of my ‘basics’, no lies! On the bottom half, I have my black skinny jeans. Period. This is all actually quite perfect timing because I am REALLY super duper excited to make another attempt at a Capsule Closet for Winter. I feel like I’m ready.  Ready to make more conscious choices with my hand-made wardrobe. Ready to take the time to sew the PERFECT fitting jeans. I’ve created a Winter Sews moodboard, started collecting fabric samples and acquiring fabrics one by one. I’ve been giving a LOT of thought to what I would like to wear, what fabrics I want next to my skin, what colours are going to make me feel / look alive. How I can build on what’s already there, so that gradually, piece by piece my closet starts to resemble a thoughtfully created and workable collection of pieces I LOVE TO WEAR and love to sew.


Sewing Prints vs Solids

I have this dilemma right now and when I say right now I mean since the beginning of all this sewing a hand-made wardrobe business. I like prints. I like them a lot. But the situation in my closet is this. I open it up in the morning and do you think I feel inspired? No, I am bowled over by the print army. To be fair, the culprits are not just hand-made items but this is them alone, so you can imagine what the rest is like. I’ve just finished off a few bits and pieces and attended to a 6-month old pile of mending so a fresh space is cleared for a whole new batch of projects. Only, I want to make good wardrobe choices and know that I will love to wear these things I’m about to slave over. Time for a little pre-sew closet research….

This, my friends, is the print situation. Is it any wonder I sometimes feel pukey in the morning? (not pregnant!)

And the solids. All seven of them and two not even blogged. I’ve never seen them all lined up like this but can I just say, wow I have made some truly excellent color choices. Totally nailed an autumn palette without even realizing! The things is, I love solids and this winter almost passed I reached for the chocolate skater dress, moss green Briar and rust merino skirt daily. And sometimes I had to be like ‘Hey girl, you know you wore that yesterday… and the day before’. So, it’s all very well buying, making and loving prints but if you’re not actually going to wear print-on-print then there needs to be solids to balance them out. And since I am mostly still sewing instead of buying clothes (with the exception of underwear, good fitting jeans and pre-menstrual impulse buys) it’s not surprising that the wardrobe in it’s current state is quite un-wearable. Solution? Instead of giving up prints (absurd idea) why not commit to a small chunk of time to only sewing in solid colors?!

Okay, so here is my commitment: the next four pieces of clothing I sew will be solids. No stripes, no florals, no ikat, no ponies, no tribal and no woodland critters. What about printed lining…does that count? See, loopholes already. But seriously, who doesn’t love a little self-imposed regimen. And rather than feeling closeted I cannot wait to go look at the stash a-fresh and get sewing. Anyone else living in a silent print-omatic nightmare? Perhaps you could play along with your own solids experiment…

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