Sew Paradise

why I thrift, sew & shop consignment

This morning’s news was all about the (crappy) economy. Michigan’s been the single-state recession now for years, so nothing really new. And my personal economy is pretty good. But I also know there’s no way we’d be able to save for the baby’s college unless I was thrifty.

Budget fashionista author on CNN suggested a 70/30 rule – 70% should be classic, 30% should be trendy wear in your wardrobe. And I’d say that’s about what I have. Today I’ve got on skinny jeans (yeah, i heard they’re going out) and a classic cashmere turtleneck in a bright sunny coral. I also have on a lime green jeweled bracelet, and a gold chunky chain necklace. It’s my saturday chic. And it’s basic – but the jeans are trendy.

As I shoehorned in my down jacket into my coat closet I marveled that I do have a ton of nice things, and just getting them out of the closet to wear is important. Shop local – and shopping in your own closet is really local.

I was bequeathed a slate blue buttery leather skirt. But it’s below mid calf, and I’m not sure that’s a great look for me. I’m considering cutting off the bottom, hemming it to mid knee and using the remainder to make a cute clutch purse to match.  Now a knee length leather skirt is classic. Worn with a turtleneck and boots, and a cozy sweatercoat? mmm.

Plus I have a couple pairs of super tapered dress pants that cry out to be cropped pants worn over boots. Must get to the alteration/sewing side of my closet.

So, why do I sew, thrift, consign and take in orphans from friends? Simple. My bank account is rich. I have no debt (and my house will be paid off in 5 years). My daughter’s going to a great college, and possibly grad school, I’ll retire early, and I can *feel* luxurious because I can spend, but not spend a lot while doing it.

I thank my mom for my sewing skills, my thrifting skills and my love of shopping. I hope to pass these things down to my daughter. You can live rich, and yet live small.

Sew Paradise

Consignment goodies

I stopped in at my fave consignment boutique the other day and picked up a superb burgundy long leather coat (my winter coat for work), and two really outstanding pairs of heels – a pieced suede number in fuscia, plum and red, and black ankle strap heels with haircalf toes. Yum. All for $80.

The reason, in part, that I work is multifaceted. First, I love my work; helping clients really makes my day. Second, I like wearing nice things. And shopping for them. Third, I have to think about retirement (we save like crazy) and for the baby’s college.

So that’s why I don’t mind making 100% of my shopping be discount, secondhand or sewn. It just makes sense for me.

As I packed up the coats I didn’t like (the old black pilled one that was never warm and showed dog hair), I realized even the gray one was shabby and not in a chic way. As I stood, with my colleagues from neighboring PR firm, I realized how I felt shabby, and that was not good. So I promptly went out and got these new chic pieces and stepped up my game.

After the first of the year, I have to go back for a new pant suit in my new size.

Sew Paradise

two sides to the same coin

On my Firefox tabs is a link to the Elizabeth Lee nursing and babywearing coat. And another tab is the Hot Patterns Metropolitan Criterion blouse. I’m going to lengthen the babywearing coat to a more modern, less parka-like length so it’s less casual. The fabric is very chic. And the criterion blouse? Well that’s just hip. I can push it up, wear a nursing tank and be a happy, hip mama.

I wondered what I’d be like as a mom – would I sew? Would I still consider fashion a highlight? Yes, and yes. In fact, I sew more now than I have in a long time. And I still love fashion. And I consider it my duty to be fashionable as a mama. If I show my baby that I care about myself too, that shows her that women are to be valued, motherhood is a desirable option. The women that schlump around in bad sweats and ponytails (when they are not at the gym) are doing themselves – and their children – a disservice.

I’m all for cute, well-fitting yoga pants with a hoodie on your way to yoga, or walking the dog. But when you go out to the store, unless it’s to get running shoes, put on a nice outfit!

A friend admitted to me that her last month of pregnancy she wore men’s sweats as often as she could (and I’ve heard this from more than one person, too). I’d have run out and bought a brand new outfit for my preggo body before I’d be caught dead in men’s sweats! In fact, I think I did, in January or February, buy new maternity wear knowing full well I had a month or two left and that was all. But not everyone thinks fashion is important.  That’s why there’s What Not to Wear.

I, on the other hand, do. I think it says to the world, I respect you and I respect myself. So, that’s why I’m making nice flannel pajamas. I might be in my robe at 8pm, but it’s over matching PJs with matching slippers.

Off to cut out the purple flannel nightie with nursing openings. Hip mama indeed.

Sew Paradise

Ooh oooh oooh, the patterns came!

The Vogue Patterns

Oh they’re wonderful. I think the nursing top idea will work great for the pattern I was thinking of. I needed something to do with all these knits right? (left side, double wrapover on view B on left of pattern).

The ponchos, well they were all back in Paris so I’ll make another so I’m ahead of style again. And, the wrapover top and knit pants. Yummy.

But stacked up in front of these are three pairs of pajamas from an OOP McCalls pattern (that even smelled like my Grandma’s house) that Gram used to make for us as (big) girls. A nursing and babywearing coat, and the Burda jacket in progress.

Sew Paradise

more patterns

Yes, I know, I know, I said I wouldn’t but i couldn’t resist Vogue Patterns freebie offer.

So i got these:

A great poncho pattern. Love the poncho.

I like the wrapover of view B, good for hiding a nursing opening I think

I couldn’t resist anything here, the cardiwrap that turns into a wrap top, the knit straight leg pants and the fitted pencil skirt all in knits. YUMMY.

Sew Paradise

French fashion report

Wide leg pants in menswear fabrics

Scarves, scarves, scarves

Wraps, capes and ponchos

flat tall boots

wide soft belts over fitted jackets with wide trousers

Sweatercoats, especially with ruffles and details

big soft satchel handbags

Ballerina flats

cropped swing jackets

mod swing coats

nursing tops and dresses Sew Paradise

Another cross wrap nursing tee

I finished the pale blue one. I basted the side seams (there are, at one point, four layers to get right) and realized the bodice, which is the closest to the body, was on top. OOPS). Thank goodness I basted first!  Ah at least I never serge first any more. That’s what being slightly sleep deprived will do for you.

I nearly finished the Christine Jonson flare leg pants in a heavy ponte knit – I just have to try on, and hem. I omitted the back zip and they are looking VERY fine if I do say so myself. Next up, in this pattern, the superdark wash denim (with iridescent gold on one of the weft threads).

I should interject in here I bought skinny  jeans today. Not just a size 4 (was I ever a size 4?) but slim jeans. And I think it’s been 23 years since I wore a pair of jeans like that. But again, they look mighty fine on 😉

But next up, first, are two flannel nightgowns. Yeah, they’re not the sexiest things (but frankly, neither is the ratty tee and boxers hubs sleeps in). I am going to make some classic PJ’s with piping on the collar as well. Probably two pairs of each type (gown or pj) and a lightweight flannel robe for travel. We are on the road constantly.

As I was nursing the baby (for whom the pajamas are partly for) I thought about years from now, how there will still be nursing openings in those gowns, and how I might pass them down to her when she has a baby. It made me sad, so incredibly sad to think my baby girl is growing up! Not sad in a bad way, but sad in a ‘no! don’t stop this beautiful time’ sort of way. But they’ll be the sorts of pajamas that I’ll pass down to her. And maybe her grandmother will make her some too. I must get with my mother about sewing again.

Sew Paradise

more breastfeeding stuff

I have another of the Jalie 2787 tops to sew (pale dusty blue). And I bought some incredible double sided coat fabric the other day. The outside is a red tweedy knit, and inside is a faux sherpa/fleece in black. I’ll post a photo of the swatch I cut to do a test wash. The pattern I’m making is this one It’s a casual coat, but that’s the intention. A coat to wear walking with baby.

But tonight I have to go do something sewing or knitting since babe is asleep. Off to knit the baby shrug from the Debbie Bliss Simply Baby book.

nursing tops and dresses Sew Paradise

two more nursing tops

So I made two more breastfeeding tops. One, a cardigan ‘faux twinset’ with chanel styling, is based on a Basewear Two from Christine Jonson. And the other is Jalie 2787.

img_2742.JPGFaux twinset for breastfeedingJalie 2787nursingopening.jpg

Pretty nice eh? I think so.  I have another Jalie 2787 cut out in a pale dusty blue. And then there’s still the floribunda nursing one too. So many things to sew, so little time!

We’ve started a jacket sewalong on Sewing Refuge. I’m doing Burda WoF 106 from 9/07. Cropped sixties style raglan sleeve jacket. I have traced, that’s all so far.

In between all this, I do need to sew a pair of travel pants. CJ patterns flare leg pants in a brown ponte knit (I think there’s enough crossgrain stretch to forego the zipper, but we’ll see). Ah so many things to sew!

Sew Paradise

i love blogs

I found the fabric district in Paris listed on an expat’s blog. Montmartre in the 18e. Haven’t yet found anything similar in Avingnon but I’m sure I’ll find something. There’s a piece of Provençale fabric with my name on it coming home with me.

I’m just about to turn in, and to fall asleep dreaming of sewing projects. Do you do this too? I imagine them step by step and then the finished product. The swing of a swing coat. The sweep of a ruana with curved ruffled hem, the swish of the perfect inner-Katherine pants. I chuckle – Burda refers to these as Marlene Dietrich pants, but I’m sure Kate made them popular first. At some point, I fall asleep, usually as I’m wearing them (which is probably how I got to the Addams Family dream).

What will I dream about tonight? A curved-hem ruana in an aubergine sweater knit.

See you in the morning!