Inspiration is great. I feel inspired by lots of things, all the time. I’m a fashion history nerd, so nothing makes me happier than looking at illustrations and photos of what people wore during the past 300 years.
Lately, I’ve been watching oodles of period pieces on tv. Downton Abbey is a good one. I LOVE the costumes. I can’t get enough of those great clothes. I also saw The Great Gatsby with Toby Macguire and Leonardo DiCaprio, and delighted at the wardrobe of Daisy. I watched Miss Fisher’s Mysteries on Netflix, too, and about died in ecstasy at the gorgeous wardrobe of Phryne Fisher. Solving murders was an added bonus; her clothes were divine! I’ve been surrounded by the 1920s lately. Delving into a more modern show, Once Upon a Time is back on with a new season. I love Regina, the Evil Queen. While I can’t wear her Enchanted Forest dresses, I drool over them in every flashback. I want to raid Mary Margaret’s closet, because her clothes look just like stuff I wear! All that lace, those soft textures and pretty skirts- that is so me. I call it Romantic Retro.
Inspiration is also to be found cruising around on the web, visiting my favorite blogs like Lucky Lucille, The Coletterie, and Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing. I also got really interested in Etsy, looking at the cool fabrics and trims and laces available. Many places sell small lots of leftover fabrics with a yard and a half here, two and seven-eighths of this, three-quarters of that. If you sew, you realize that’s not a large amount of yardage, however, it’s 60″ wide. So, you figure it’s about 60″ by 27 or 30″ wide, roughly. I’m a bit on the small side. I can make a tee-shirt from three-quarters of a yard at 60″ wide and it won’t be tight or short. That’s good because fabric stays out of the landfill, I stimulate the economy while saving the planet, and I get shirt. That’s a win-win-win, right?
Then, the shoe dropped. I’ve been wearing a uniform to work for the last 14 years. But in February, they announced we were getting rid of the uniforms and going for a less formal look. Companies spend a fortune outfitting their employees; and with the economic funk, the uniform is vanishing from stores as companies seek to save money.
I think this is cool. I can express my personal style at last. I can dress for the weather. No more shivering in a too-light polo shirt in January! Heck, I can wear skirts! The trouble is, I don’t really have stuff to wear to work. Why would I? I wore a uniform! I didn’t have to think about something being an inappropriate neckline for work before. I didn’t think about having more than a few sweaters and pants because I only wore my own clothes for a couple of hours after work or on my days off. I scrutinized my wardrobe. Steps needed to be taken. There are some pretty big gaps there.
All this has inspired a me to create The Little Top Project.
The LTP is a way for me to work on different ideas in a small format. I can experiment with my own ideas by modifying existing patterns, drafting my own patterns, and adding parts. I could take a tank top pattern, and change it to have a cowl neck and cap sleeves. I could make that same shirt again out of something plain, but give it layers of silk ribbon, sewn on, overlapping one over the other. I could make it a third time, but with a lace overlay, and so on. I just love the possibilities. I’ve been itching to try out some basic pattern drafting. I think I might be ready.
For my first foray into the LTP, I got a nifty remnant of a jersey textured sweater knit from a shop on Etsy called Fabulace. It was a three-quarter yard piece. So I got McCall’s #M6796 and tried out my new knit skills.
The Pattern: McCall’s M6796
Did I like this pattern? Loved it!
Difficulty: Easy. It even says so on the envelope.
Would I make it again? Oh yes. In fact, I have plans to make it again this year.
I opted to make design A but with the sleeves of C.
And you know what? NOTHING WENT WRONG.
I think this might mean my skills are improving.
I can only hope.
It made up very easily. I kept my jersey needle on the machine from a previous project (which I’m working on a post for but this one got done first) and I used a regular presser foot.
My first fitting revealed that it was a little too wide for me, so I ran it in. This pretty much happens with anything I make, so it’s nothing that I’m not used to doing. I had to adjust the sleeves, but I always have to adjust the sleeves. My shoulders aren’t as wide or as thick as the pattern’s average standard and the sleeves are always too generous for me. So, I ended up chopping off a couple of inches of material.
It was done relatively fast- I think it took me about four hours. That’s one thing that I l ike so much about knits- they’re really, really fast compared to other types of sewing.
When I finished it was beautiful!
This is what sewing is meant to be. I was so excited, I wore it to work as soon as we had a 50 degree day. I got some compliments, too. Yay! Few things are as rewarding as someone else telling you they like something you’re wearing that you made.