Thursday, February 18, 2016

How do you decide what to sew?

That has been my challenge lately...

While I'm readjusting my creative mind/eye to see the beauty & challenge in sewing casual clothing, I'm unsure at times about what to sew when.  Does this happen to you?  It seems like a new space for me to be in along with all of the other changes that losing weight and changing jobs have brought me. Tired of hearing that type of sentence yet? Well sorry but it will be a bit before it totally disappears from the blog...

Anyway, I bought another bunch of patterns (though I really wish Simplicity would learn to discount patterns online the way Club BMV does!) not because I don't already own ALOT of patterns but because I'm still searching for my Chico's Chic style.  

Of course every once in awhile I stop and completely use a pattern in a way that wasn't thought of but I know quite a few of you do the same since I'm watching you do it!

There are times I feel as if I know where I'm going and what to sew next...but then there are periods like this last month where I'm so lost I don't know what to sew next. So how do you decide what to sew?

This is the question of the day...so talk back to me! I'm truly interested.

Oh and one more thing, March is going to be unselfish sewing month especially since I don't need a Easter outfit this year. I'm going to wear this unworn suit with a big ole hat.  My daughter and granddaughters are in the church fashion show so I promised to make some outfits for them...yes with even a matching mother 'n daughter outfit.

So talk back to me peoples...

52 comments:

  1. I have not really needed much in the way of dressy or professional clothes since I retired 10 years ago. So, like the new you, I sew casual clothes. I love new tops that update old pants and skirts. I also keep an eye on the style and wear on my pants and skirts to make sure they are not becoming tatty.

    So, my decision on what to sew is driven by the look of new patterns or a pretty fabric that I just want to make for the tops. Sometimes I see a garment I love in a magazine or store and for whatever reason (usually because I am short) it won't work for me as it is and I set about making it the way I wish it was.

    The other thing that drives my sewing is need. Worn and frayed garments get replaced.

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  2. I totally get what you're saying. Sometimes I don't know what to sew even though I have a stash of patterns and fabric waiting to be made up. Right now I'm working on the most unpractical garment I could make for a Canadian prairie winter and that won't fit into my work life wardrobe but I'm loving this project because I'm learning techniques that I haven't never tried before. It is kind of scary and fun at the same time. Sometimes sewing for me is more fun when it's about learning and trying new techniques more than coming up with something to wear (that's more of a bonus!). Can't wait to see the outfits for your daughter and granddaughter.

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  3. Needs always come first, and most of the needs are the family or clients. I'm finishing a jacket for my sister, who wore the old version to pieces. I needed a new pair of jeans (changing shape) and need a new raincoat with more pockets than they come with (working on muslin #3).

    I think more of my 'sewing' has been altering patterns for projects that don't work out. A lot of tracing paper under the bridge.

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  4. If there is nothing I really need, or am just not excited about making then I just play. I play making pjs, bags or kiddies clothes - I may even just concentrate on my knitting projects until a sewing for me idea bursts through the mist, then everything else gets dropped to let my sewing mojo bloom again :)

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  5. My problem is I like fitted smart clothing. But I have no need for such outfits, casual clothing sewing patterns I zoom in on are loose fitting and not that flattering for me. I can see the appeal of making dresses, you don't have to match it up with existing wardrobe, just see away. I think I may pick out a favourite piece and work around it creating a mini wardrobe. I'm in a quandary like yourself, trying to change a habit of a lifetime.

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    1. I love this idea of picking a favorite garment and sewing to compliment it!

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  6. LOL Carolyn! Yes I think a few of us suffer from "not being able to make a decisionitis"!! For me it explains sometimes why the long distances between blog posts too! Usually what sparks it for me, is a need for something I don't currently have in my wardrobe or something I see somewhere else that I would like to have. Recently, that has not been the case and I'm simply just running out of time during the day to complete the things I want to make! Is truly hard for sewers, we can basically have any article of clothing we want in our closet, so it makes it very hard to decide what to create next when you have a closet full of just about everything already!! We have to get creative and be inspired by our outside influences!

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  7. At the start of a season, I look at what I have and then evaluate things I might need. I am getting to a point where I don't *need* anything (by *need* I mean I have plenty of outfits to take me through the season) so now I can make a list of *wants*. (like, I ~want~ a velvet jacket for winter, so it will be on my list for next winter season)

    I find if I keep a list, even if it takes me a year to get to something, it keeps me focused and when I get a block of time to sew, none of it is wasted figuring out what to sew, I consult my list and bingo! I am off to the races =)

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  8. My fabric collection is nowhere close to as extensive as yours lol So that's how I choose. I pick out fabrics that I want to wear in that particular weather, then I search through patterns to match with it (style for season, yardage,etc)

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  9. I sew whatever the heck I want. :-) Sometimes that means a basic t-shirt to go with something I already have. Usually, though, it's either a pattern or piece of fabric that suddenly must be made up right this second! I just sew whatever I want to on that day. I've learned that if I fight it, I end up with more UFOs.

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  10. Lately I'm just trying to sew what I think might be fun. I've been trying to get a trouser pattern to fit -and I've become bored with the effort. So I have put that away for now and I'm making some fun knits -a sweater and a dress -if I don't get sidetracked by something else first.

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  11. I get bored easily. It's an issue I've always had and now that I sew, it is reflected there! Today I stood in front of my closet and didn't want to wear ANY of those things. Not that skirt, not those pants, not that dress, ugh not that jacket...nothing felt right. :)

    2016 is bringing about some change for me though and I think for now I'll continue to sew in my whatever/whenever format. And probably in the second half of the year I'll try to cultivate a better wardrobe. It seems I know what style I want but like my current closet doesn't quite get me there.

    I have to learn to move past instant gratification projects too. I want a nice, fitted, lined blazer darn it!

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  12. No, Carolyn, I am not tired of hearing you talk about your search to sew casual clothing for your Chico Chic new style as I'm doing the same. It is an adjustment and I, too, am perplexed as to what to sew next. While working in the corporate world I would buy a piece of fabric knowing I would simply make a new jacket from one of my TNT patterns. It was easy. Now, retired, I have lots of freedom to sew whatever. I find I am now inspired by interesting patterns first then search through my stash for an appropriate fabric. Today I'm sewing Sandra B's new tunic pattern V1456 which is definitely unique. I don't know if it will work on my body but it's fun to try. I so enjoy reading about your new journey. Karen

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  13. A matching mother and daughter outfit, ooh, you know we are going to want pictures of that. Please and thank you.

    Theresa in Tucson

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  14. I'm still a long way from making garments I like & they fit me . I'm hoping to make this my focal point this year. I seem to choose patterns & fabric that don't fit my casual lifestyle .
    This is a great topic for discussion & I love following your sewing journey & those of your other followers !

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  15. http://sewingpatterns.com/
    They put Simplicity patterns on sale all the time.

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  16. In general, I have a small wardrobe (and a larger fabric collection), and recently I've been sewing to fit my temperature needs. As a woman of a certain age, those needs are changing! Things like teaching in a classroom with a projector that throws off a lot of heat but where the building's HVAC was not designed to handle it changes my outfit needs. I'm wearing a lot of A line dresses at home and at work and figuring out how to easily layer (leggings, jackets & sweaters) that are easy on/off as needed. My other challenge is to work with the stash to pair fabrics and linings to get a flattering outcome.

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  17. I'd like to say that I make a list and stick to it... but that really doesn't happen.

    I flit from project to project, as I have interest in them. Right now I'm sewing up a series of fit & flare dresses for my daughter, as her closet is getting a bit thin.

    Next? Um. There are a few candidates. I could get my husband and son measured and try the bootstrap men's shirt pattern I've been wanting to get going... or I could get a slim skirt going for my daughter... or I could sew up the length of fabric I bought for my own Easter dress... and really, it's going to depend on what hits me when I'm done with what's in my hands right now. How much energy I have for pattern changes, etc.

    I'd like to say that I'm saner than I am... but so much no.

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  18. Usually an occasion demands that I sew for it: holiday party wear (rare); trip overseas (once in a lifetime), needed work wear when my size/shape shifts. Sometimes a piece of fabric speaks to me, sometimes a pattern (either glimpsed in a blog online, or when I go through my vast stash on a nostalgia jag). Sometimes others ask me to sew for them. If I like them, I will. I try to sew a little bit every day. Days when I finish an object are reason to celebrate!

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  19. As someone who hasn't been sewing for a while, I find that I'm pulling out colorful fabrics that instantly cheer me up. That's the threshold requirement -- no preconceived garment goal, just start pulling out a few gorgeous pieces. Then I hold them up one at a time and ask what each piece wants to be. Tunic? Simple top? Dress? The answer is usually immediate, easy to see. Then delve into my pattern stash. If I find an "Oh, PERFECT!!!" match, the pairing gets bagged in clear plastic (so I can still see the happy happy colors and interesting textures, of course) and gets moved to the "fully conceived and awaiting action" shelf (where I'll gradually add matching zippers, trim, buttons, lining, etc. to the bag as I unearth or buy them). I find that if I'm magnetically attracted to the fabric and don't have a preconceived notion of what garment I want to make (and that is key to this exercise), the fabric really does tell me what it wants to be. Sometimes the answer is astonishing and quite different than what I originally bought the piece for, but it feels totally right and often is hugely energizing. A surprisingly well-matched mini-wardrobe starts to emerge when this process is followed, too. While doing it, I also extract fabric that's become less interesting to me and, regardless of how nice it is or how much I may have spent on it (and how guilty I may feel about that fact), get it to a new home. Sewing is supposed to be a joyful endeavor, so guilt and guilt-inducers are banished. And because the remaining winnowed-down fabrics are just the ones that I truly adore at this exact moment in time, choosing a pattern becomes easy. They really are a chatty lot. Cindy, Creative Hormone Rush

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  20. The big dilemma! It's so much easier to have the constraints of a corporate uniform. I've never had to wear that kind of clothing and I am always struggling to find that chic, fashionable pattern or idea that I can knock off that also looks good on me. So much of what is stylish is just not flattering on my overweight, aging body. I have my favorite designers that I go to for ideas and I love Pinterest for that. I also do a lot of sketching on my croquis. I find that, along with a fabric mood board help me make decisions on what to sew.

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    1. Some days I really miss that uniform...*sigh* I might have turned out a lot of "boring" TNT dresses but they worked and I knew who I was when I got dressed in the morning. Now some mornings I don't know who I am when I walk out the door. I'm missing that security and I need to sew my way back to it.

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    2. LOL - I just wrote you a big long answer and it disappeared. Hopefully I can remember what I said... which is that developing some core patterns might be a good starting point like a tshirt, flattering blouse, jeans or other appropriate pant styles, a skirt and a cardigan. From there, you can use the online and snoop shopping inspirations you worked with before to personalize and be creative. What do you wear the most? Why not start there?

      I haven't lost as much weight as you but enough to make my clothes unattractive plus where I'm living now is a different "clothing culture" so I'm having to re-invent myself somewhat too. I'm taking what I know about myself, developing those core patterns, playing with design... and when I'm bored, trying a new style just to see. My friend calls it trialing and I think that's fun. Just a quick muslin to see if this is going forward or not.

      HUGS - it's hard but you are making progress and it is going to click.

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    3. I like this response, Myrna, and will work on some core patterns that reflect my new lifestyle. Thanks to you and Carolyn for this discussion. Karen

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  21. If my inspiration is depleted of sewing for myself (I can't figure out what I want to do next) then I sew for my hubby or granddaughter or occasionally another family member until a 'want' for myself hits. I am NEVER without something to sew since I make all of hubby's professional business and casual clothes. And I can't keep up with the demand of the 20 month olds growth.
    It doesn't take much of sewing for them before I start itching for something for myself.

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  22. Sometimes I see things on other people, or I'll see something styled so beautifully on a site like Net-a-porter.com and I have to have something similar. Right now, I'm sewing out of necessity. I need a new crisp white shirt, so that's what I'm making. My list of needs is endless. Now if only I could stay disciplined and on track and complete the necessary items before I sew the "Ooohhh, that's pretty"!

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  23. I'm constantly daydreaming of pattern/fabric matches I could sew up. When it's time to cut out a new project, I have plenty of ideas in mind. I try to balance sewing projects from stash with buying new fabric. It usually comes down to whatever pattern I have that looks the most fun, that I have supplies on hand for.

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  24. I sew a lot of casual clothes and for me, inspiration comes from Pinterest and entertainment. If I see something I like I find the pattern and fabric in my stash to create my own version.

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  25. Funny you should ask. I was just in my sewing room yesterday looking at fabric and patterns that I bought for winter clothes. Kept thinking it was too late, our California spring is going to be here very soon. So I have been knitting hats for a charity that donates them to foster kids. I just needed to satisfy the need to be making something with my hands.

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  26. I get overwhelmed with too many choices. Back in the day I used to look through pattern books, buy a pattern and fabric, notions, etc for a single project. Now it seems I have fallen into the trap of buying patterns and fabric when they're on sale, but with no particular vision. Then when I go to my stash I can't decide where to start. I have half a mind to donate it all and go back to my old system of one garment at a time. I appreciate your question because I struggle with it too!

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  27. My sewing is shaped by two things: gaps in my wardrobe and a desire to learn new sewing skills. I keep learning new things about my body as I sew. At the moment, sewing princess seams is my big thing. The sewing of the said princess seams isn't terribly difficult, but learning to make full bust adjustments on princess seams is more challenging. I've been trying to sew up my fabric stash until I'm down to nothing, and then I can sort out the scraps that have been floating around for ages and then ... go fabric shopping.

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  28. I often struggle with this, I enjoy making things, it's my hobby, but I really don't need a huge amount of clothes in my wardrobe. Also often the things I really enjoy making are not the things that actually need replacing or get worn often. If I stop to think about these points then I get really stuck. If I just see a piece of fabric and know what I want to make it into or pick up an interesting pattern without giving too much thought about when and where I will wear it then it all happens much quicker and is much more enjoyable if I'm honest. Hmm, it's good to stop and think about your question and write down the answer.

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  29. Yes, I am going through this, too. I am not tired of hearing you talk about it, in fact I felt relieved when I saw the topic! It takes time and prolonged effort to adjust to life changes. Like others have said, there is the type of sewing that excites me and that does not necessarily translate to the wardrobe I really need and use. Lately, I am taking advantage of how casual my workplace is and I am wearing jeans almost every day with long sleeved t-shirts and fleece vests! It tends to be very cold in my office. In the past, I took advantage of that situation to wear tights and layers of clothing sewn from wool wovens. I didn't care if I dressed a little more formally than my co-workers. Now ... I just want to be comfortable! I think the cold weather is contributing to my malaise. However, I am excited about sewing things like the wedding stuff for a friend, maybe some draperies for my big chilly window ... Keep looking for that Chic style Carolyn. I will do the same.

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    1. I've been in jeans a lot this winter too especially since I can. It's cold and like you said I just want to be warm and comfortable. But some mornings it means I'm less smartly put together and I miss that because I am that woman.

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    2. AH - jeans. To continue what I wrote earlier, why not develop a great pant pattern that could be sewn in denim too, a t-shirt, and a cardigan. I'm guessing some of what worked for you before could work again with "casual-ing" variations. Smart and casual can work together.

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  30. I am that woman too. My office is very casual. Jeans and a top seem fine for many if not most. Fleece is quite prevalent (I am in Portland OR. We are casual people here). I am not that woman unless I'm lazy. I am Chico's casual but put together. Three pieces and accessories. I noticed a while back that chico's often uses the same patterns over and over. Or at least they did for a while. I have a "jean" jacket that is a funky pattern out of a sortof shiny rayon brocade that matches with everything I own. I also have the same "jean" jacket out of a tropical print silk chiffon. Both fit well and go with a ton of stuff.

    I struggle with not wanting to use "my good fabric' on my currently hefty self. As if I won't ever find fabric I like anymore? As if I don't have enough fabric? wth? So I went the other way in the weight department, and that's the uncomfortable change I'm working with. I don't mind hearing about your struggles with change at all. It helps me through mine. :) Can't wait to see your pics of the Easter outfits. And the hats!!! I love hats, and was informed the first day that I wore one that it was forbidden at work! My outfit was built around that cute little wool newsboy cap with a felt flower and I couldn't wear it. My hair was flat and my outfit incomplete for the rest of the day. Ugh.

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  31. I'm all over the place on this one. Sometimes its something for an occasion, sometimes the pull of new fabric (today) sometimes the guilt of a project sitting in the closet and sometimes I've had such fun making a project I just want to make another (jeans I'm looking at you).

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  32. My mind races between crafts or clothing. So for a quick sewing fix I will sew a fast craft.

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  33. For me sometimes it's a good old fashioned coin toss!

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  34. ah, getting started on a new style can be one of the most difficult parts of sewing. For me, i'm constantly evaluating/honing my own personal style (including studying various aspirational designers, right now Ivey Abitz is big for me). I also keep running checklists of optimal wardrobes, with type of garments, numbers of each, color and fibre palettes.
    After all this it's usually pretty clear what i need to sew next. I also tend to sew slowly, so if i futz around a lot my closet shows it. Interesting question, and appreciate the responses!

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  35. I sew to fill wardrobe gaps but also just to satisfy an interest. It's pretty, or I saw something like it that i loved, etc. My office is sort of casual, no jeans, but khakis or dress pants. It is also very cold. But I sit at a computer all day so there is not much need to dress up. Casual jackets with khakis work for me. But I am trying to find a way to make those casual jackets keep me warm and allow me to move at the computer. Warmer wool jackets are no easy to move it. So I am working on adapting patterns to use with heavier, warmer knits that are more comfortable. I am also doing a bit of fabric mixing in patterns, much like Marcy Tilton. So while I have a lot of fabric in the stash, I am trying to get more basics that will mix with what I have -dots, stripes, checks.

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  36. I sew for the gaps in my wardrobe and try hard not to get caught up in sew-along that will take me in another direction. I now finding my new style for work took many years and even now I am still a bit overdressed.

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  37. I am not a sewist with a plan person. I can and have sewn with a plan for a dress and jacket combo, or top and skirt combo. That is short term plan. As long as I have been reading your blog, I know you are a plan person and you have always sewn lovely classic garments; you are now in a work world where that no longer fits and can feel your struggle. I have to wear a compression stocking on my right leg because of a medical issue called "venous insufficiency supply. Thus I chose to wear pants more than I ever have and I am skirt/dress kinda gal. Switching to sewing tops and eventually getting to making pants that fit has been a real struggle for me. I see your sewing situation to be similar yet different. Perhaps mixing some casual with classic and being your own stylist maybe that will help inspire you to figure out your next sewing journeys.

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  38. Your current state of flux, both life and wardrobe wise, really speaks to me and where I'm at. It used to be fun projects only. Now that I'm shifting entirely to me mades I'm currently stuck sewing to fill in holes so I try to determine what will fill the most holes and sew that next. A few more holes and I'll be ready for some more fun, more me sewing. I do favor projects that allow me to learn new skills too, it helps keep me motivated while sewing basics. Thanks for sharing your journey. You are very inspiring.

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  39. First, let me offer congratulations on being chosen for Most Inspirational *and* Best Basics of Madalynne's Best Sewing Blogs of 2016!! I was thrilled to see that you were chosen. But as far as the subject at hand, I'll be honest in that I enjoyed seeing your more professional garments in years past than your newer more casual garments. I think my preference has to do with my own internal struggle of preferring dressier styles, but having a lifestyle that requires more casual clothing. I think if I can ever figure out how to balance those two issues, my preferences vs. my needs, I would be better at deciding what to sew next. Right now I'm having to learn to sew standing (spinal issues) so I'm just sewing easy stuff (like pj's & pillows) until I get the hang of it. I guess my long term goal is to find a way to take my causal staples up a notch so that even if they are a more casual style they still "look" dressier.

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    1. Thanks Nadine! Honestly I prefer my more professional outfits too. But I'm working on building a closet full of wearable classic casual clothing.

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  40. I'm with you on the weight loss, new job (retired), and having a hard time motivating myself. I started sewing because nothing fit, was comfortable, or looked good in RTW. I've gone from too big for an XL to a M. When I worked I had to wear clothing which would allow me to climb, crawl, and get snagged on things. So my sewing has slowed to a crawl and my closet has become full of RTW, silk especially. I'm enjoying being a girl! One of my problems is finding good fabric. Why can I buy a flannel shirt, t-shirt, blouse, etc. that looks great and is wash and wear, but make one that costs more than buying and ends up a wimpy ball of wrinkles after laundering, requires ironing, and just doesn't look like a quality piece? I can buy an opaque silk blouse with great drape, hand,colors,patterns, but only find crunchy, funky colored, or transparent silk fabric. It's frustrating to spend all the money and time then end up not wearing it, and a bummer because I enjoy sewing. I'm trying to make special things with the few really nice pieces of fabric I have. We're supposed to enjoy the journey, right? Haha. I'm confident we'll come out the other end of this....ah, soon....but in the mean time maybe we can relax a bit and let all the changes soak in.

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  41. Nothing to do with sewing, but ... I love that you have President Obama's picture on your site. He makes me proud to be American.

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  42. Hi Carolyn, I really enjoy your blog and have a question that is totally off this topic. I don't have a fabric stash. I have a pattern stash and buy fabric when I have a pattern chosen to make. But sometimes I have seen fabric that I would love to buy without knowing what it will be made into but when it comes to purchasing I freeze because I don't know how much yardage to buy. Do you have a set amount of yardage you buy of each piece when you are buying for your stash? What do you think is a usable size piece. Does this change with different types of fabric e.g f it is a ponte you would buy x amount but if it was linen you would buy y amount? After so many years of the pattern envelope telling me what size I need I can't work out good amounts for stashed fabric.
    Kind regards
    Kellie

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    1. Kellie - lately my number of yardage bought is 3 yards because I can make a topper, a dress, a maxi and/or a skirt with the leftover. However, when I'm buying for coordinates (jacket/topper, dress, skirt or pants) it's usually 5 or 6 yards. Just a dress 2.5 yards for 60" wide fabric, 3 yards for 45" wide. If I just like something and have no idea what I want 3 yards is the minimum. I don't know if this helps but my numbers are in flux now just like my sewing.

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  43. Interesting answer to Kellie, Carolyn. I am the other end of the spectrum I think. I usually buy two metres. If it is just a skirt or little top I get 1m. And sometimes if I know I want a long sleeved dress or coat I get 3m. But never more unless it is calico, or plain white silk (which I use for linings, dying or painting). I am sometimes short for a project but I work hard to make the pattern work, even using a second fabric if necessary. But also I wanted to say to Kellie that maybe not having a stash is a good idea - just buying what you need rather than stuffing every cupboard with fabric is a better approach.

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    1. Yeah but Kate a metre is longer than a yard so you are getting a little more fabric. :)

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