3.18.2013

polka dots

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It's really starting to warm up here. Today was one of those stupidly pretty days that makes you ride extra slow on your bike, wave at complete strangers and smile indulgently at screaming children in the supermarket. I had a dentist appointment today and even that couldn't dampen my spirits! And the icing on the cake has got to be all the jasmine thats blooming like crazy all over the place. The streets are heavy with their fragrance and I find myself taking detours on my ride home from work just to sniff them out.

Isn't springtime just the best?

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I finished up this blouse, McCall's 6436, earlier this week and I can already see it becoming a transitional wardrobe staple. In fact, the outfit you see here is pretty much my uniform these days (which means I need to make myself some new button-up shirts stat!) The fabric is an airy fairy silk habotai that I dyed this pale minty shade and then hand-painted with purple polka dots. It sewed up beautifully into this shirt, and I only had to use my glue-stick trick once!

You may have seen this pattern earlier this week on the ever so lovely Miss Heather Lou. Isn't her version just fantastic? Totally classic. Her chic, classic white shirt is what I always envisioned I would make, until my impatience got the better of me and I decided not to wait and buy a classic solid silk crepe, but to take the plunge with the habotai I had in my stash. But having Heather go first gave me fair warning about some of the peculiarities with this pattern. Mainly - the sleeves. I ran into the same problem she had with the sleeve head being far too large for the armhole. I'm pretty certain this is a drafting error, and not a user error, since we both had the exact same issue. However, since she gave me the heads up I was more than prepared to gather my sleeves and give them a gentle "puff". I actually think the puff sleeve works really well stylistically with the irregular polka dot print, so it was a pleasant surprise. 

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I ended up switching all the interfacing to silk organza, rather than the batiste I was originally going to use. Y'all were so kind giving me your thoughts on the matter and telling me you didn't notice any 'brightness issues' with the batiste interfacing, but, as many of you pointed out, if I thought it was going to bother me I had better go with the organza. In the end it didn't add too much extra time onto my sewing, and I am glad I made the switch. The color difference, though hardly noticeable before in the photos, is really non-existant with the organza. Plus, silk organza is just kind of nice in shirts like these, isn't it?

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Lately I feel like there has been a lot of talk around the sewing blogland about perfection.  Sunni wrote an excellent post on her belief that 'perfect fit' is a myth. The post, and the comments that followed, were really interesting and totally worth a read (if you haven't already).  And I often hear fellow seamstresses talk about how they are willing to rip something out a million times until they get it perfect.  Now, I gave up on perfection in all areas of my life a long time ago, but all these conversations did get me thinking about what my standards are in sewing. How do I measure the success or failure, technically speaking, of a garment? 

The conclusion I came to is perhaps greatly influenced by the fact that I was raised in a family full of teachers, or maybe it's from my own past as a teacher, but I realized that what I look for most in my sewn garments is whether or not they show improvement

"Shows Improvement". Wasn't that such a downer when you saw that scribbled across an essay or in a note on your report card when you were a student? Usually accompanied by some distasteful letter grade like a "C" or "B-"? But the thing is, showing improvement is really the most important thing! It means you're paying attention, learning from your mistakes, and applying your knowledge on future projects. And continually learning is always my main goal in sewing. And in life, too.

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I really felt like this shirt was an example of "shows improvement".  I've been sewing a lot of tricky narrow hems with silk recently, and I finally feel like I'm seeing progress - hems that are satisfactorily tiny with neat, even stitches. Even my edgestitching, while not 'perfect', is getting, well, edgier. And I recently used this technique (found through Gertie's blog post on the subject) to make my collar points, and I have to say, they are the sharpest, pointiest collar points I have ever made! So while this shirt is far from perfect, it is an accomplishment that I'm proud of.

Now I'm off to make about 3 billion more! Well, maybe not of this McCall's pattern, but do I spy an Archer in my future..? Yes. Yes I do.

xx

55 comments:

  1. That turned out fantastic...Looks great with the white pants:)

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  2. You're so right about the "shows improvement" mentality! Often times I'd rather just finish something (even if it sucks) rather than rip something out a bunch of times and try to re-do it. Then the next time when I start over from scratch I'll probably show improvement. With that said, I think your shirt is totally amazing and perfect and cannot show improvement in any way ;)

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  3. Lovely shirt! You look absolutely charming in white! I wore shirts quite often when I was teenager but now I think shirts are not my style at all. Or shall I reconsider? Suni's post was interesting indeed. But I think it all really depends on how people interpret the definition. If you check a dictionary, "perfect" and "improve" are synonyms. So, maybe a garment which "fits perfectly" is the one that "snows improvement"?

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  4. looks great. and even if we never have perfect sewing, the way you wear it is perfection!

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  5. Thank you for the reminder about showing improvement. I am currently struggling with a pattern that is a bit above my current sewing level, and am a bit discouraged. This was a timely reminder that it is ok for it not to be perfect, but to keep plugging on and learn while I go.

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  6. I love how the fabric and shirt both turned out. And yes, it was a stupidly nice day.

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  7. StunNING! Oh and the blouse is nice too. Teehee. I want to make one of these right away, looks like something you could wear every day. The right balance of casual and elegance. x

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  8. Beautiful! Could you tell me how you use the organza as interfacing? Obviously you sew it in, right? Great post!

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  9. Gorgeous! It's been warming up here too, though the weather has been finicky and unpredictable at times. This has that perfect airy spring vibe and I just love how your handpainted fabric turned out!

    I share your attitute about "showing improvement". I used to be a real hack and slash sewist (I was self taught and just dove right into it every time!) but since starting my blog I have struggled with figuring out when to seam rip and when to let things go. It's hard to find that balance but I agree that I ultimately just want to see that my skills are improving with each project. I feel like I'm not progressing quickly enough a lot of times, but I've definitely come a long way since I first started!

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  10. I'm so happy for you that the weather is warming up! New York has been giving us mainly snow and rain, and I look forward to sun, warmth and green leaves!


    Your blouse looks stunning, especially with those shoes! Oooh, those shoes!


    x

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  11. awe, beautiful blouse Sally!! You look lovely. And I'm totally on board with "shows improvement" :) well said.

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  12. How dare you taunt me by prancing in the sunshine and blooms. It misted and rained and spat dirty 35 degree spit on Philly all today. But I forgive you because your shirt is adorable. I love your hand painted fabric -- the most unique you can be! The Archer is a nice pattern but I like the back darts on this McCalls version, which is better for swaybacks and bedonks like mine. Man, autocorrect was not a fan of the word "bedonk" just now.

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  13. First of all, Sallie I love you but STOP WITH THE SPRING TEASE. Jasmine. Pfft. We are getting 16 inches of snow tomorrow! I'm dying! I am literally suffocating from winter madness! VITAMIN DEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! So these photos of you looking easy, breezy, sun happy squeezy, are beautiful and all, but also, heartbreaking. (Photos taken outside? In Montreal in March? HAHHAHAHAHAHAHA).

    Ahem.

    The shirt. The shirt is really great. This shape is just so classic magic, and I love the contrast between the freeform hand dye job and the clean lines. I am also very curious about what that habotai feels like.... is it heavier than a crepe? I'm happy I heads-upped you on the sleeves.

    Now, in honour of your jasmine bloom, I will share this with you even though it hurts my feelings to know something is blooming somewhere in the world.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZd-E6HFTEs

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  14. And I got so caught up in my winter whining I didn't even mention how much I love your shows improvement mentality. Perfection is a losing game. Getting better isn't.

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  15. I love your blouse. You have me wanting to dye and paint my own fabric, too. I am so into these silky button up blouses right now, just like everyone else!

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  16. LOVE this! The perfect spring top!

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  17. I just blogged my first Archer, it's such a good button up pattern.

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  18. i'm crazy about your new shirt :) those freestyle polka dots are adorable too (i might steal your print idea)

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  19. Loved this post for multiple reasons. The blouse is beautiful...

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  20. Beautiful shirt! And you're so right about "improvement" vs "perfevtion" - thanks for the reminder :)

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  21. Polka dots! I love me some polka dots (and silk) and this shirt is no exception.


    Shows improvement... I like that a lot. My bras are far from perfect but just like your silk hems, I feel like I've only recently STARTED to get good. When I finish each one, I spend anywhere between a day to a week researching the things that I messed up on. It's frustrating not being even close to perfect or satisfactory but looking back on the progression I've made makes up for it.

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  22. its so amazing. i just love it. i can't wait to see your version of the archer too so i can compare. there are a few things about this pattern that i wish that the archer had - the length, the thinner sleeves, and the back darts.
    amazing job as always.

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  23. this is beautiful! i love how airy and breezy it is (and since we're getting snow right now... a wee bit jealous!). whenever i feel bad about how my topstitching looks i just browse my RTW clothes for comparison. there are so many flaws we just don't notice because we haven't subjected them to the same level of scrutiny. i love the "shows improvement" gage; i will redo parts i know will annoy me, but i have to let go a little and realize not every bit will be "perfect." do try the archer, i just finished my first one and i think you would love it!

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  24. Steal away dear one!

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  25. Oh I am so feeling the jasmine love! There needs to be more falsetto in my life...
    And I'm so sorry to rub in our early spring - you have to understand though - in about a month I'll literally be melting and you'll have to scrape me off the asphalt! I gotta get my weather bliss in now, because shits about to get BRUTAL!

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  26. Hi Juliead! Yes, you just cut your pattern pieces that need to be interfaced out of organza and then hand baste them to the matching fashion fabric pieces in the seam allowance. Its not nearly as quick and easy as using a fusible interfacing, but on really thin silks like this one it works really beautifully. The organza adds just enough crispness without being heavy.

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  27. Oh! Also, I think this habotai is thinner than most crepes, at least from my experience (a heavy habotai is 12mm, which is a pretty thin crepe. The one I used is, I think 5 or 8mm? ), and it doesn't have the slightly crinkly texture that silk crepe has. It's a bit crisper, still relatively matte. It's also called "china silk" - you may have seen it at fabric stores, they sometimes sell it as a lining fabric.

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  28. So pretty! I think this is pretty much the perfect blouse for early spring, even though I don't feel like spring has sprung yet....

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  29. It turned out great. I knew that the polka dots would look really cute on this shirt! By the way, I looooove that street and how adorable the houses are!

    I have been thinking about perfection myself as well and I've noticed that I have slowly been letting go (a little bit, at least) of that part of me that tell me it must be PERFECT or it's no good. I've always been a perfectionist -and there will probably always be a part of my that crave a little perfection- but it's liberating to accept the idea that it's fine to aim towards something around "perfect" but that it's something unattainable because, who's really to say what perfect is anyway?. It's much better (and healthier!) to look at it as a learning experience, and improvement is a much better way to measure our success rather than how "perfect" it is. I am starting to get comfortable with that idea. And I really like your point of view about it. "Shows Improvement". Sounds nice.

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  30. asewingodyssey.blogspot.co.ukMarch 19, 2013 at 9:12 AM

    The first word that springs to mind about this make is...delicious! It looks so floaty and slinky to wear and you already know how much I love all your hand-dyeing! I absolutely love it, what a job well done!

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  31. Hey Anto! Looks like some of those houses are up for sale.. wanna buy one! Than we could be neighbors! Almost... I don't live on that fancy of a street! Hahaha ;)
    I totally agree with you on the perfection bit, I'm definitely a recovering perfectionist myself, which is why this felt like such an important thing for me to talk about. I think it's okay to every now and then listen to that voice in your head that tells you it has to be PERFECT, because that's what keeps us moving forward and making goals for ourselves. But, for me, perfection is never the end goal, showing improvement is! At least that's what I've decided, and it makes me feel like a much more balanced sewist, if not human being, to do so! Haha!

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  32. I really loved your archer! But I was kind of surprised by how much I liked the length of this shirt. If you ever make this McCall's pattern, be wary of the sizing. My measurements told me to make a size 14 in this, but I ended up making it in an 8! There is ALOT of ease in this, which would defeat the thinner sleeves and shaping from the back darts.

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  33. Very awesome and great job! I love your fabric

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  34. This shirt is just perfect for enjoying spring and sniffing out jasmine! I like the lift in the sleeve cap too. Your talk of showing improvement is really helpful. It can get so frustrating when you're still far away from the sought-after ideal, especially when sewing time is limited in the first place, and being able to appreciate and be proud of improvements really helps keep a positive attitude.

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  35. This is beautiful! You did a great job and it looks like the perfect shirt to usher in Spring time :)

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  36. This is so cool! Not only do you get to say, "I made this," but you also get to say, "I designed the fabric" too!


    I like the "shows improvement" bit that you go by. I try my hardest when I'm sewing, but sometimes I have to chill out and realize that I can't stress out on imperfections!

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  37. First, I love how your fabric came out in this shirt!!

    And, I have also been thinking about Sunni's post and perfection. Somewhere around 5 years after I started dancing, I got to this point where I felt like I was just starting to get it, and I just kept feeling that way, I still pretty much feel that way now, 10 years later, even though I was obviously (hopefully) learning more as time went on.

    It's taken longer, but I feel like I may be starting to get to that "just starting to get it" place in sewing too, I have a better idea of what will happen depending on what I do, and I'm getting better at fiddly stuff like edgestitching too. For me, "perfect" = I want to wear it. Bliss = I know the next version can be even better!

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  38. Oh wow. This shirt was on my to-do list, and now you've convinced me to put it at the top of my queue. It looks amazing!

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  39. I love your shirt! Gosh, you just really really know how to push my buttons - how dare you! It looks positively fabulous and the color goes so well with your coloring. Love!

    Additionally, I think your "shows improvement" mentality is a great one. I really loved the comment that you left about my crazy idea of mythological perfect fit! I feel like the biggest challenge that we face with this "perfect" anything, especially in sewing, is that if you get hung up on all of that you don't actually get anything done. And what you get out of it - aka one perfectly fitting garment - isn't really worth it. Not that I want to win the world's contest for whoever dies with the most clothes, but I do want to have stylish pieces that I'll wear and those don't get made when I get hung up on perfect fit.
    Great thoughts and such a lovely shirt. I am so jealous that you get to smell jasmine on a daily basis too.
    xx, Sunni

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  40. Haha, I wish. I would snatch any one of those right away! They are so pretty and picturesque surrounded by those beautiful palm trees.

    Absolutely! and it's great that you chose to talk about it. After seeing things differently and working towards perfection but not making it the end goal, I feel just a tad bit more sane ;) ha!

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  41. Really, really pretty, Sallie. And such a great year-round blouse. Thank you for sharing all the details and the dyeing, too. And seriously this weather... what the... I was in tanks all week!

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  42. So gorgeous, and it screams Spring!

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  43. Loves it!!! And I really love what you have to say about perfection!



    I try not to take sewing so seriously. There are SO MANY super serious aspects of my life, I don't need to complicate sewing by holding myself to an impossible standard.


    Sewing is my relaxation. It is something I do for joy and the feeling of accomplishment that comes with making something beautiful/wearable. For me, striving for "perfection" would destroy that.

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  44. Oh, wow, this looks great! I really, really, really like it. But what's all this talk about spring? What's spring? And where does it come from? I've been cold forever!



    I tend to be really slapdash in all areas of my life, so for me, I'm trying to make the effort to do things right, or at least better, when I know that something's not right. I'll never get close to perfection, but I like the idea of measuring growth in terms of how much we've improved and learned.

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  45. You look lovely and cheerful. No one would ever guess you have a dentist appointment. :)

    See you in my blog, maybe.

    xxx

    Nina

    http://trendsurvivor.com/

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  46. It looks great!Perfect timing for spring!I'm following the Archer Button Up sew along and it will be my first ever button up!Hopefully I'll conquer my fear of shirts!

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  47. First the satsuki dress, now this shirt - I'm having massive wardrobe envy.

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  48. Wow this is beautiful Salle, I can't believe you actually sewed the top too! It completely looks store bought. The topstitching and everything is perfect. And I really like the bit of puff to the sleeves too, I think it adds a nice touch. Can I also just say that I am in love with those polka dot shoes. Oh my gosh! Seriously where did you get those?

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  49. shows improvement!!! i always hated that!! i would say this shows OFF. you gorgeous silk organza interfacin' hand paintin' girl.

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  50. I'm about 15 years late to comment, but I just wanted to say I'm mad impressed with your top. And, I'm excited another is in your future. I recently cut an Archer, too!

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  51. Swoon. So, so lovely, and I can feel the spring in your photos!! I'm enjoying the opposite down here on the other side of the world, but I absolutely love when the season's change and it feels tangible :) It's a gorgeous blouse, so light and airy. Non-symmetrical polka dots make me smile for some reason - they're very visually appealing to me. Love it :)

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  52. Where's Sallie gone? I miss her regular posts. Come back Sallie!

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  53. Ann's Fashion StudioApril 29, 2013 at 4:30 AM

    Love your shirt! The fabric is perfect and just so fresh and clean!

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  54. Hi!

    This is a really lovely shirt! The polka dots turned out wonderfully. I love to experiment with textiles too! Also, I am searching for and contacting inspiring sewers to be listed on my eco blog www.igive2hoots.blogspot.com. I have been emailing everyone, but I can't find your email address. Take a look at the blog and let me know if I can list you as a creator. You certainly are an influential and creative sewer:) Let me know! ficklesense@googlemail.com

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  55. hey girl! can you shoot me an email at oonaballoona of the gmail sort? i've misplaced your address!

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