The Wayback Machine, Pt. 1

Before Crab&Bee, which was born in February of 2011, I blogged here. It was a quiet little blog, but I was writing there when I started getting serious about making my own clothes. I’m sharing my pre-Crab&Bee creations in a few posts, as well as a bit of my sewing history.

Have I ever told you how I started sewing? Buckle up, the shortest I could get my story was fourish paragraphs! Right out of college, I worked as an in-house graphic designer for a few years. I loved my coworkers and it was a great company, but I was, in retrospect, in the midst of a quarter-life crisis. I’d done everything right from pre-school through college and I had a dream job right out of college before I could appreciate it.
After a few years there, a horrible and strangely wonderful thing happened to me: I got laid off. I felt like I’d been broken up with. I was terrified. But I also felt exhilarated, and my now-ex employer had given me some severance pay. What happened next was miraculous.* My lifelong desire to make my own clothing overwhelmed my financial austerity, and I decided that what I really needed in those uncertain times was a sewing machine. I had my most sewing-savvy friend (who also made my wedding dress) take me shopping and trusted his strong urgings that I buy a Bernina.

*I’m glossing over a lot of scary experiences – not going to the doctor when I smashed my finger in a closet door because I only had catastrophic insurance! – and a lot of great ones – staying up until 3am every night because I could! – for the sake of focusing this post on sewing.

Anyway, the first year with my Bernina involved a lot of thrifted sheets (which I still love for fabric) and a lot of awkward projects. But I kept at it, and by 2010, I started making things I felt like sharing, some of which you may have seen glimpses of during the me-made months or on burdastyle.

Fall 2010 {Butterick 5418}

This is one such project, from the fall 2010. I used Butterick 5418, in spite of the very mixed reviews it got. It was my first experience with knit fabric and a huge struggle. This is the project that brought home the need to look at the finished size measurements; the dress was gigantic, and I scrambled to size it down after I’d finished most of the bodice! Even though I liked it well enough at the time, I can tell the bodice is just too big.

Fall 2010 {Simplicity 2497}

During the entirety of 2010, I was in a HUGE Simplicity Cynthia Rowley phase. I struggled through all those boxy woven tanks, desperately hoping they’d be the floaty, simple garments I dreamed of (they were not). I finally hit my stride with the dresses. I tried this pattern as a possible wedding dress base before realizing that the unstructured bust area was not the bridal look I was seeking. Nonetheless, I liked the pattern enough to make this linen version (from thrifted curtains!) It’s a little difficult to find the right occasion to wear this – it’s low in the front and the ruffles fit strangely under most cardigans – but it’s very cute and I’m keeping it around.

Thanks for taking this trip back in time with me! Do you find any value looking back on your older creations? I’m feeling so much appreciation for my past self who kept on sewing through challenges!


The Fourth Week, MMM 12: Grey Days

The title says it all; I wore a significant number of grey garments this week! I think it’s interesting that I started with all of my brightest reds, oranges and blues and worked my way down to the greys (with the exception of Day 25).

Day 21: I wore a refashioned cotton sweater. It used to have really unflattering batwings, so I re-made the sleeves and took in the armpits. (Gross, “took in the armpits.”) I’d hurt my back from too much desk work and sewing, hence the shorts. Also wearing my Savage Salvage necklace.

Day 22: I made another Burda sleeveless blouse! As I said in my Flickr description, I make everything in twos.  I really liked the other blouse (worn on Day 17 and Day 10), but had a few things I wanted to improve on. I made it longer with a pointed hem, and didn’t nip the sides in so dramatically but compensated by adding darts in the back. The fit is great! And, I was lucky enough to find this polka dotted cotton at the thrift store.

Day 23: I’d bought this tunic at the thrift store because I liked the fabric so much, but it was too big. I took in the sides and re-did the sleeves and hem a bit. Worn with thrifted jeans and the coolest necklace ever (found at the Goodwill). And no, I’m not using hyperbole.

Day 24: The third Simplicity 2451 makes an appearance! I made this one in tribal cotton twill from Gorgeous Fabrics. Worn with a store-bought shirt and tights, as well as a vintage necklace.

Day 25: My trusty blue linen tank made a reappearance (also seen on Day 5 this month). Worn with a thrifted bolero and jeans, and a favorite pair of shoes that had been at the cobbler until recently.

Day 26: Saturday was so lovely in Seattle! I put on my tunic/dress made of linen curtains with Simplicity 2497, one of the Cynthia Rowley patterns. I find this piece a bit challenging to wear because of the low neckline and lofty ruffles. It looks pretty good with a shirt under it, but that would have been too warm yesterday!

I can’t believe there are five days left!! There is a slim chance I’ll have a new project before the end of MMM ’12; otherwise, get ready to see some previously-seen, lovingly hand-washed favorites!