Monday, December 24, 2012

Reusable Grocery Bag: PASS

A few Christmases ago, I decided to make reusable grocery bags for all my friends and family members. I bought ripstop nylon in three colors and got to work sewing up BurdaStyle's Charlie Reusable Grocery Bag. You can download this easy pattern for free. I sewed mine on a regular sewing machine, using a zigzag stitch in contrasting thread on the opening and French seams throughout. This worked well, as the nylon unraveled like crazy.

What also unraveled was my grand gifting plan. I only finished enough bags to give one per couple. It seriously bummed me out. Not only did everyone have to share, but I hadn't made a single one of the lovely orange versions I was saving till last.

That year I learned that I need lots of lead time for handmade gifts. I stick to one gift per holiday now and start working a month ahead.

If I thought anyone still needed a new grocery bag, I would be sewing Charlie bags for birthday gifts. I love this design. The bag folds into its own attached pocket, perfect for stowing in a glove box or purse. When expanded, it can hold an ample amount of groceries, library books, or (as in my fantasy scenario, below) delicious coffee and tea from Roos Roast and TeaHaus. Maybe I'll make an orange bag for myself. I'm still using my husband's from that Christmas past.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Scoop Neck Dress: PASS

I ate the most incredible taco at Maxwell Street Market in Chicago last Sunday. It was a delicious jumble of colors, textures, and flavors. Then it all went wrong. (Which is why you had no post last week, for anyone keeping track.)

This dress was meant to be a practice run for a mixture of patterns from Built by Wendy Sew U Home Stretch (Get the Scoop crew neck + Tiny Bubble dress). I selected my most uninspiring stash fabric: a thin, beige, polyester with a tiny flower print. Expectations were low, poisonous taco low. After a couple hours and one pattern tweak (adding a gusset at the armhole), it all went right!

The shape of the dress elevated the appeal of the print for me. I like the scooped neckline, straight waistband, and full skirt. The cap sleeves make this office-worthy during the summer and also fit well under a cardigan or jacket. You can see a bit more of the neckline and sleeves below. (Is there a name for this type of hunched-over-the-computer photo? I feel like I've seen it A LOT.)

The fit is defined enough that I don't feel dumpy and loose enough that I can eat as many tacos as I like. Which is exactly what I did before the photo at the top of this post. Only this time at Chela's, where the food is always delicious and never makes me sick!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Wrap-Around Jacket: FAIL

Oh, wrap-around jacket 126 from Burda Magazine 9/2009. You're like the homely friend in an 80s teen movie who helps the audience learn heartfelt life lessons. Only there's no makeover montage and boyfriend in it for you. Sigh.

I did learn three important lessons from this homely wrap jacket.

1. A piece of clothing isn't going to change who you are. I love clothes, but I hate fussing with them. My favorite pieces to wear are straightforward and allow freedom of movement without getting in the way. A wrap-around jacket was a terrible choice. I felt uncomfortable every time I wore it. Open, it swished around and got caught under my chair. Wrapped closed, it made me feel like a trussed-up turkey.

2. Sometimes it takes time to recognize a bad decision. When I finished this project in May 2010,  thought I had created something fashionable, practical, and versatile. (Read my BurdaStyle project entry if you don't believe me.) It took a year before I realized this jacket was being pushed farther and farther back into my closet. And it took another year before I decided to ditch it.

Here's a sample of the many horrible looks I tried. (Notice how some look okay from one angle then, AAAGH! freak show.)

3. Mending has its payoffs. I love making new things. That's why sewing is such a thrill. But sometimes mending, which can be equal parts boring and frustrating, is a much better use of time. See that dress under the jacket? It's the bomb! But I haven't worn it in a year because the front interfacing that helps the dress hold its shape is ripped. Though it will probably only take an hour (if that) to fix, I have not yet repaired it. (But I have patched a few holes in the jacket with Mighty Mendit. Which makes zero sense.)

So thanks, wrap-around jacket, for helping me grow as a person. Sorry this story ends with me cutting you into pieces. After I repair the black dress, I might need bits of you for a new project.