Sewing Challenges

Good news and bad news as of late. Good news is that my sewjo is running at high gear. I’m on a roll constantly sewing something or other these past couple weeks. I have several projects going on right now which is good because if I get bored or frustrated I can work on something else for a bit while still feeling productive.

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I’ve been thinking about what got me so inspired lately and I really owe it to a bunch of great people I met recently. Susan, Miss Lulu and I took a trip to Dallas to see Oonaballoona perform in a new musical (she’s amazing!). We had lunch together and I was really excited to meet her, she’s like the sweetest person ever. I left with lots of ideas brewing in my mind about fun things to make. Hi Oona!

And before that I was lucky enough to meet a bunch of Austin sewing bloggers. I had lunch with Lauren of Rosie Wednesday, she’s super nice, too!

And then I met Melly from Melly Sews and Miranda from One Little Minute (who just moved here! yay, more Austin sewists!). Miranda and Lauren even came to our meet up group last night for a sewing party.

All of this has made me so grateful for the friendships I’ve made (and have yet to make, I swear it’s my goal to get every sewist in this city to come to our meet ups, haha!) through this hobby. I definitely feed off of other people’s creativity. 🙂

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Bad news is I’ve had a sewing epiphany – I think my handmade wardrobe has reached critical mass. After sewing consistently for about two years I’ve filled all my wardrobe gaps. This is tough because normally when I begin a project I ask myself “what do I need?” Lately the answer is “not much.”

Without having a real need I’ve felt less excited to sew clothes for myself. I still am sewing clothes, I’ve got an Archer shirt and an Anna dress in the works at the moment, and I love wearing what I make but I think I don’t feel challenged enough. I think I need to try something new. I still want to sew clothes but maybe I can mix things up a bit? Make the clothes I do sew nicer or more creative.

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When I think of the “challenging” garments I’ve made I think of all the swimsuits (I have like, 8, now. I think that’s enough…), or the couple coats I’ve sewed or the bras (which I’ve kind of lost interest in, mostly because it’s still more cost effective for me to buy them). Those were all fun but I still feel like I need to spice things up, ya know?

I’ve come up with a few ideas on how I can challenge myself to sew better and more creatively and expand my creations beyond casual everyday clothes.

Project Wedding Dress and Couture techniques

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I bought Susan Khalje’s couture dress sewing class on Craftsy and now I feel like I get to use some of the techniques. Nothing crazy but for my wedding dress I’m underlining the body in organza and doing a ton and a half of hand stitching. It will definitely be the nicest dress on the inside that I’ve made. I’d love to try to apply what I’m learning to other dresses, maybe even really fancy gowns??

Handbags and leather

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I’m currently working on Amy Butler’s Weekender Bag pattern. I’m probably 40% done but I’m liking the stiff, structured look of the bag. You know it’s an Amy Butler pattern when it calls for 3 layers of interfacing on one pattern piece! It’s going to be a traveling essential, I can already tell.

I want to try making some nice professional looking handbags, complete with metal hardware and leathery bits. Nothing says “expensive bag” like leather bits – handles, straps, buckles, zipper tabs, pockets. Plus, although I technically know how to work with leather I’ve never had much practice.

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True Bias’ lovely version of the It’s a Cinch tote has really inspired me. How freakishly gorgeous is that bag!??

Quilting

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I just finished a quilt top using a pattern and now it needs to go get long arm quilted. I think I might be ready to start experimenting with modern designs and even free-form patternless quilts. Ya know, throwing scraps together into something cool. Sure, I have no idea what I’m doing but that’s part of the fun, right?

Sewing and fitting others

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Susan, Miss Lulu and I are working on a challenge where we design and make a garment for eachother. I’m really excited about this because I never make clothes specifically for other people (besides babies…) and I’ll get to do a real in person fitting rather than just having measurements, sending the garment off and hoping it fits.

I know it sounds silly but I never get to do cool stuff like full bust adjustments so fitting someone with a completely different shape than mine will be a fun challenge and I can try out fitting techniques I’ve never had the opportunity to use before.

Sewing for dudes

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Ok, I’ve made one article of clothing for my man, this shirt, which I’m not in love with. Justin has kind of an odd body shape – long torso but short, stubby limbs, a thick neck and, ahem, some junk in the trunk. I kind of think he has the body of an oversized hobbit. Just don’t tell him I said that…

Anyway, I think I want to dive back in to guy sewing but this time I want to make something he’d actually wear – aka, t-shirts and shorts. So I’ma give the man what he wants! I have a t-shirt pattern that I think might work and I bought Thread Theory’s Jedediah trousers/shorts pattern which with a lot of tweaking I think might fit his odd shaped lower half… I hope… we’ll see. I’ll definitely be putting my skills to the test with this one.

Costumes
And finally, the coup de gras of my sewing challenges – costuming! Ok, hear me out, I’m not crazy, at least I don’t think so. I want something challenging, right? What better than costumes? I’m thinking more in the historical vein… I figure I’ll get the most enjoyment out of making something I can wear to an event of some sort so the most obvious would be Renaissance Faire or Civil War Reenactment dress. Ok, so which to make first? Well, Butterick patterns were on sale so the winner is… Civil War!? (Yes, that’s as good a reason as any to choose one over the other).

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I bought the simplest Civil War era dress pattern (which still eats up nearly 9 yds of fabric, eek! thank goodness for joann’s 40% off coupons) and some teal and cream gingham. I still have to find fabric for the bodice lining.

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(so much fabric!!)

Even if I finish just this dress it’s not enough. I’ll need lots of extras to complete the look – petticoat, hoopskirt, chemise, drawers, corset, cuffs, collars, shoes and socks! I’ll probably just buy a hoopskirt online, maybe even a petticoat but the chemise and drawers should be pretty easy to make and I think making a corset would be pretty fun, right? Or am I crazy?

Anyone else into historical dress/costume making? Any tips, patterns, suppliers you recommend?
Any other suggestions for ways to challenge myself and grow my sewing skills?