Mar 1, 2012

Sewing Clothes You Actually Wear

Dear readers, like so many of you sewers/seamtresses/sewists/sewasaurus rexes, my closet is stuffed with things I painstakingly sewed only to wear once or twice. It pains me to no end, because like all thin-skinned sewing bloggers, I live for the "You MADE that?!"s.  But I work from home and spend most of my time with this kid here:

So I can't spend my days dressed like this:

Or this:

Plus I sadly have numerous items that I just don't wear because for whatever reason they don't feel right, or ride up, or otherwise annoy me. And there there are the errors in judgement...I won't link to those for fear of forcing you to question why you're even reading this blog.

Of course separates are key to creating a wardrobe of every day clothes for layabout hacks like myself. And I'm like every irritating biddy on "What Not to Wear" whining about wanting to be comfortable. Yet I don't go to the gym or otherwise exercise (are those of us who hate working out finally allowed to admit it? I'm 33. I also hate flossing and washing my face before bed. There. I said it), so I don't typically wear yoga pants and sneakers like so many of the moms I see in my 'hood. 

I do, however wear jeans like everyone else on the planet. SO something I want to do this year is learn to make a great pair (that hopefully fit better than my first attempt at jeans, which had front rise issues that I turned into back rise issue by trying to fix them. I bravely tried to wear them a few times, but after spending the day tugging up the rear, and pulling down my shirt, I tossed them). So I'm looking for some feedback on the Jean-ius Reverse Engineer Your Favorite Fit class at If you haven't already seen this, it looks brilliant. Without even taking them apart, Kenneth D. King shows you how to use your best-fitting jeans as the blueprint for a pattern to make any number of fabulous jeans, trousers, shorts, capris, whatever you like. We don't judge (OK, we judge the capris, just a little). You also learn how to construct jeans, which is not easy peasy lemon squeazy. Flys are no joke. 

So jeans cover the bottom half. But what of the top?  

Luckily I have a serger. I see a lot of people admitting they don't know how to use their serger, or are scared of it (which you kinda should be: IT HAS A KNIFE! And everybody knows you don't mess with knives). 

But look around any store in which you regularly shop (ladies, that is) and you'll see many, if not most, of the separates are sewn from stretch fabrics: jersey, knits, leopard-print spandex...

So one of my goals for this year is to sew mostly garments I will actually put into rotation. So that means no dresses sewn from another seamstresses castoffs just because I want something to do. No Halloween costumes for ungrateful children. And no lace, ruffles, anything itchy...I could go on and on.

All I'm trying to say is, check out my new favorite tanks I sewed from a self-drafted pattern using printed jerseys from Hart's Fabric. I wear one of these two tops every other day. (If you're wondering how I can wear something so summery mid-winter in NYC, you should know our pre-War apartments are pretty much always overheated. When we visit friends in their houses elsewhere, we freeze. Seriously, don't even get me started on basements. If you make me sleep in your basement, I will surely catch my death of a cold.)

My friend Penny once said to me, "Why don't you ever wear anything tight?" And I was like, "Don't I?" But I guess it's true. I do belt, however:

Or not:

These two top were sewn from the same pattern though the Ikat jersey top is longer and more mini-dress-like. Also, it had a touch more stretch to it, so it's a little different in the end.

And now, since I've been carrying on in recent days about Sewaholic's great Minoru pattern, I should note Tasia's new Renfrew Top pattern is exactly the kind of everyday clothing I'm talking about. You don't need to use a serger, though you really should if you have one! Lift the knife if you're really scared.


  1. Hey, I just bought that same feather print jersey in a different color palette. It arrived yesterday. Twins! Sometimes I think having a sewing blog makes me forego the wearable-but-boring sewing for the prettier display-worthy sewing. I do have several barely-worn handmade items in my closet that got the blog hits but just don't work for my actual lifestyle. Oh dear.

    1. I love that feather print! Where did you buy it in a different colour? The Holy Grail would be wearable but also display-worthy...I think that feather print could be the ticket. I can't wait to see what you make with it!

  2. Suzanne, you make me laugh. We are kindred spirits. I hate working out, too. My only pair of yoga-ish pants have paint all over them because they got delegated to the painting clothes pile. I ALWAYS make shit I never wear. Usually because the cheap clothes I buy at Target and Old Navy are nicer than what I sew. I love that tank, though. It looks totally wearable.

    1. Yes!!!! Someone else who will cop to hating exercise. I used to always "forget" my gym clothes during high school.

      Funny how it's so much harder to make clothes you will actually keep in rotation.

  3. Those are some seriously cute tops! My sewing skills are subpar though I do try on occasion I've yet to make anything my kid or I could actually wear!

  4. well hello, my dinosaur friend. (ruggy is now linked, there will be no dealing with him.)

    i'm jonesing both those tops but my maniacal serger is in NY... and "No Halloween costumes for ungrateful children"? i'm glad to see you've got your priorities in order.

  5. Just found your blog and spent WAY too much time perusing your older posts. Absolutely lovely projects!

  6. Hi - I just found your blog, too - clinked a link from Dixie DIY - and thought I would comment on the Kenneth King class. I am enrolled in it, and I am loving it. I have gotten my pattern drafted from my pair of jeans that fit me well, and have made up a muslin, which also fits me well! I haven't gotten to the 'real' pair of jeans yet - but I am optimistic that they will fit nicely. Why not? I am waiting for my fabric - I bought a turquoise denim that I am kind of excited about - hope I like it. I somehow got the class for 25.00 but I don't remember exactly how. I somehow got a coupon ... so maybe look around for something like that.

  7. Hello! I just found your blog and I must say I absolutley love it! It has gotten me inspired to start sewing more and maybe start up my own blog :) On a side note, has anyone ever told you that you look like the actress Alex Reid? You could be twins!

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