Project planning for fall

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Back to my point about project planning: whether or not you actually want to make/use/live with a capsule wardrobe, the free Capsule planner can be a helpful tool to plan wardrobe addition. I’m going with a fall capsule wardrobe, but I think the foundation of taking stock of what I have, identifying what’s working & what’s not, thinking about weather and lifestyle and any needs for the upcoming season allows me to easily identify and prioritize pieces I want to add to my wardrobe, capsuled or not.

From my wardrobe planning process, I have a clear color palette, an idea of my favorite silhouettes, and an inventory of what I have and what gaps exist in my wardrobe. I have a good number of boxy tops that I love, but am pretty low on pants and skirts to pair them with (especially pieces that are in good condition and can be dressed up a bit).

The Capsule planner also offered a nice time to reflect on my goals: moving slowly, keeping my closet pared down, and working with my stash. So now, the part I daydream about the most! What to make? How will the things I make pair with what I already have and love?

Since I generally enjoy making most of my wardrobe, I use the shopping list part of the Un-fancy Capsule planner to think about what projects to prioritize. But, considering my current need for pants and the learning curve to make a pair (which I don’t have time for just yet), I decided to invest in a pair of Clyde pants after many many months of contemplation and budgeting. I also need another pair of shoes, ideally boots, which is a bigger budget item, so I’m trying to keep my project budget lean and finish up a few WIPs.

Roughly in order of priority:

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Loose inspirations & interpretations: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

I wouldn’t say this planning method is totally foolproof — I could still end up with clothing that doesn’t quite fit or isn’t durable, or doesn’t ultimately move into regular wardrobe rotation. But I have a natural tendency (ok, borderline obsession) toward planning and I think laying it all out ahead of time is really helpful.

I also know that this fall — really, the rest of 2016 — will be very busy for me, and there’s a chance that I won’t get through even half of the items on my list. Through my summer capsule wardrobe experience, I learned that making one full garment per month is a reasonable pace, so with my fall planning I’m trying not to set my expectations too high, and by prioritizing, I can focus on each item in due course. Still, if I don’t get to making or finishing the items on my list, I know that I have plenty to wear and lots of great options in my fall capsule.

This is my current practice of balancing excitement, inspiration, and desire, with gratitude, responsibility, and time management. Do you have a fall list? I love learning about how others plan (or don’t!) their projects, and welcome your thoughts in the comments!

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khadi chronicles pt. 2

khadi prism_1Around the same time I bought the striped khadi, Verb received new stock of gorgeous, lightweight, colorful cloth which was also listed as khadi. Though both tags said khadi, these new bolts had a much finer hand. Not all of them were organic cotton or naturally dyed, but I believe they were still hand loomed, and I couldn’t resist this voile-like fabric so I picked up a fun take on navy & white gingham to make into Verb’s newest sewing pattern, the Prism dress. I love the way the checks came together on the diagonal because of the raglan sleeve, though my pattern matching was imperfect since the stripes and checks are irregular.

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The Prism dress has become one of my favorite pieces of my wardrobe — it’s easy to throw on and dress up or down (I’ve worn it to a fancy cocktail party for work, and on  bike rides around my new neighborhood), and the slim sleeves balance the shift shape. I know a lot of people love the Grainline Studio Linden pattern and use it for easy raglan tees and dresses, but I think Prism has subtle design differences that make it a worthwhile addition to your pattern library: the raglan sleeve is cut in two pieces which is really beginner-friendly, the split seam on the side is a nice construction twist, and both the body of the dress and the sleeves have slight shaping that I really enjoy. I already have another prism in mind, with short sleeves and pockets!

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I lengthened my Prism by 3″ (my standard for dresses), and added 2″ to the sleeves I think, while grading from a size 41 at the bust to a size 43 at the waist for a little extra room. I also stitched it up with french seams to reinforce the construction and prevent fraying. While living in Oakland I was able to visit the Verb store where you can try on the sample garments of their patterns — such a treat! The staff always choose excellent fabric and I would pretty much wear any of them straight out of the store… Anyway, that’s how I knew I wanted a little extra room around the waist and hips. Also note: Verb patterns are sized by finished garment measurements (i.e. size 41 is a 41″ bust, about 2.5″ of ease for me).

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One of the reasons that I think Verb is such a special shop is because Kristine Vejar, the owner, is very intentional about the inventory, from US-sourced yarns (both their own lines and companies like Brooklyn Tweed) to using natural dyes, and finding interesting and beautiful fabrics with a strong story. When I first learned about khadi I was coming to terms firsthand with the ramifications of global supply chains, from touring a sugar factory where workers where squatting in an unsafe campground nextdoor, to visiting villages reeling from farmer suicides due to the volatile commodification of seeds. I know it’s not always easy to find ethically sourced materials (let alone any supply chain information), but khadi cloth was and is a powerful lesson in the meaning and potential of material processes.

I’m thankful that Verb stocks khadi, which you can find in their online shop or order by calling their store — sometimes they are able to send photos of what is in stock, and sometimes it’s featured in their newsletter. I’ve also done a quick online search and found some khadi available by the yard on Etsy, and pinned a few swatches that caught my eye:

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p.s. One more way you can support khadi cloth is by contributing to the Indigo Handloom Kickstarter. Indigo Handloom is a small textiles company that began as a wholesale importer (I am fairly certain they supplied Verb with the khadi I used for this dress) and is working to create their own fashion line of finished goods, dubbed “the world’s greenest clothing” because the handloom process requires no electricity and much lower resource inputs. Healthier for us and the workers, and you can get a beautiful scarf, tunic, or dress in exchange for supporting their fundraising.

khadi chronicles pt. 1

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when I came across khadi by the yard for sale at A Verb for Keeping Warm I was enchanted. To me, khadi is powerful cloth. Incredibly alluring, especially if you like the feel of course linen and natural colors and small textural reminders that human hands made your cloth, but beyond that it is politically potent. Five years ago I had the opportunity to participate in an incredible study abroad program which traveled from the US to India, Tanzania, New Zealand and Mexico and explored the impacts of globalization and grassroots resistance — it was a pivotal journey for me intellectually and emotionally, one which I am grateful for every single day. I first learned about the history of khadi while in India, so seeing and touching it was a visceral reminder of that journey and the (positive and negative) transformative potential of textiles.

khadi chronicles_8Khadi is a term for handspun and handwoven cloth, but it is also emblematic of the movement for Indian self-reliance and freedom from British colonialism. Gandhi advocated for each person to spin their own cotton and each community to weave their own cloth so that the Indian people would create home-grown textiles rather than buying fabric back from the British who held tight control over the cotton markets. Gandhi encouraged a daily practice of spinning with a foldable spinning wheel or charkha and community-scale fiber farmning, weaving, dyeing, and block-printing; a true example that the revolution begins at home. (This cursory overview of the history of khadi was imparted by my teacher in India, Saatchi, and a brief stay in the village and ashram of Sevagram; this website is another resource). While I doubt all khadi cotton is still spun at home on a charkha, some of this cottage industry remains, both for educational purposes and cloth production.

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I bought a meager yard and a half, maybe even just a yard and a quarter, of organic cotton, naturally dyed khadi that day at Verb, and at the time I wasn’t really sewing clothing. I guess that khadi was the start of my stash, and I treasured it, saving it until I had dusted off my sewing skills. Even then, cutting into this plainweave, turquoise fabric made my heart jump! But this simple Wiksten tank has become a wardrobe staple for me.

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I chose the Wiksten tank pattern because I wanted a garment with a modern, simple design that would be straightforward for my beginner sewing skills and showcase the beauty of this cloth. The yardage had natural color variations including a large faded streak that I intentionally placed along the center back.

Nearly a year later I felt more confident in my sewing skills and I was fortunate to have a slightly larger fabric budget, so I returned to Verb to buy more khadi — this time gray and brown stripes of the same thick, organic, naturally dyed cloth. On the eve of Me Made May I sewed up a Scout Tee with added volume in the back (using Jen’s great tutorial for slashing & spreading the pattern) and lengthened sleeves (+2″ I think?). When I bought the fabric I had a Scout tee in mind because again I wanted a classic, modern wardrobe staple, but I definitely thought that the stripes went horizontally. Not so! The stripes run along the grainline and the cloth is pretty narrow, so I forged ahead with vertical stripes, and I’m very pleased with it.

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Both of these tops are now part of my core wardrobe, and I love that each time I wear one I’m reminded not only of my own travels but of the incredible journey from field to garment. With this narrative in mind, I made sure to wear my khadi Wiksten as part of my outfit for Fashion Revolution Day:

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Stay tuned ~ tomorrow I’ll be posting another khadi garment & a few more words about my love for this cloth!

lately

I’ve been pretty quiet around these parts, but not for lack of making things! I just don’t have any “finished” photos yet, so I thought I’d post a quick roundup of what I’ve been working on, reading about, and dreaming of:

Making:Blocking Ondawa in Radius YarnMy first Watson bra, which is a muslin for sure, and I probably won’t do a full post on it because the inside stitching is really kind of embarrassing. But I will definitely be making another! For this one, I upcycled an old american apparel spandex-y dress and purchased all the elastic and components at Stonemountain & Daughter in Berkeley. They have quite the elastic aisle! I really like the strap elastic, but the scalloped edges make it a bit of a struggle to adjust. Once I had the pieces cut out,  the sewing only took one weekend morning, and it was my first project using a new-to-me vintage Visetti sewing machine (a refurbished giveaway from  my boss – score!). The machine is beautiful and stitches much more consistently than the all-plastic Kenmore that I have. It has quirky vintage dials for adjusting the zig zag length and width, which I thought would be great for the bra since you have to switch back and forth between narrow and wide zig zags. The zig zagging was not the problem — I think I incorrectly assumed there was a ball point needle in the machine! Oops. The messy stitching doesn’t bother me because the fit is ideal. I made view B and can’t wait to make more.

IMG_3395I have a few treasured Feral Childe textiles in my stash from their Oakland studio sample sale, including a super funky “thieves” print cupro. Cupro, the designer (Alice Wu) explained to me, is a woven fabric made from the woody parts of cotton plants, so it’s a bast fiber but very silky. It’s completely machine washable and apparently a good silk alternative for vegans. I had planned to make it into a sutton blouse but then A Verb for Keeping Warm released the Nell shirt and it seemed like the perfect fit. It’s a versatile popover style and a great take on the classic collared shirt. I love the shape and can’t wait to make a cotton or linen gauzy summer variation.

IMG_0039I think I’ve been bitten by the Brooklyn Tweed bug. My first sweater took me probably close to 6 months to finish (with a hiatus for holiday gift knitting) but since then I haven’t been able to stop thinking about Ondawa by Michelle Wang. I spent a long time considering different yarns because I had a vision for a camel hue, but still wanted a tweediness. Then I discovered that Knitterly was expanding their local yarn line and featured some luscious worsted weight options, and I became obsessed with the tan/cream marl variation, an alpaca and wool blend from Windrush Farm. I’ve been furiously knitting this pattern and it’s truly a joy. I’ve been worrying off and on that the cabling and stitch pattern will be lost amongst the marled coloring, but I still love it so I stuck with it and just have the seaming left to do. I think the marled cables will either look crazy or crazy good.  Above, a photo from blocking it (on an old yoga mat, which seems to work pretty well – does anyone else do this?)

alder shirt detailAn alder shirt in a chameleon-colored linen-silk blend, with tiny turquoise glass buttons. This is just about done! I need to make some bias binding and finish the inside waist and lower side seams. This is actually my second alder and oh how my topstitching abilities have grown! My first alder is a view A dress, so I wanted to try view B as a shirt, but I think the combination of the stiffness of this fabric and the fact that it’s a tad shorter than I was envisioning makes it an almost peplum silhouette and I’m not positive that it really fits with my style. I’m also on the fence about the color of the fabric, so I may overdye it with indigo at some point. Lastly, there’s a slight fit issue with the bust, which is a combination of my french seams going slightly wider than the seam allowance and, well, some hormonal fluctuations leading to a more ample bust… I think I’ll wait that out a little, and if it’s still too tight I may unpick the seam and stitch it more narrowly.

Reading:
Design*sponge on being nice on the internet (can grace Bonney do any wrong?! I think not)
This is moonlight on solar natural dyeing (on my list of things to try for the One Year One Outfit project!)
Fast Company on “alternity” wear for androgynous pregnant folks  (this makes my heart swell! someday I’d like to write down my thoughts on queer/LGBT visibility in the land of mom blogs)

Dreaming:
Turia dungarees look like a lot of topstitching but oh, how I want them.
Rachel comey esque patchwork top from closet cleanout scraps
All the new linen & khadi at AVFKW
Me made may !
A new post — on my first sweater! Should probably get that together before I finish my second sweater…

In the meantime, you can find my writing over on the Fibershed blog, where I had the pleasure of interviewing local weaver & inspirational community member Ama Wertz.

Happy weekend!