Friday, February 26, 2016

My winter uniform

I should have titled this post "4 skirts from the same pattern + 1 with a slight variation".  However, the reason I sewed 5 skirts in the past 1-2 months is due to a "perfect storm" of three independent events:  on-going discussion I've been having with my good friend of mine + an epiphany I had recently + a tear-inducing haircut, which all added up to = my winter uniform 2016.

My friend Edie has been talking a lot about the idea of a wardrobe uniform.  At first I was very much against this idea--wearing the same thing every day? Gah!--but then I started to like the idea, especially if the uniform was something I could sew (preferably fast).  A tried and true pattern to create an entire wardrobe?  Hmm....

So the epiphany part.  Even though it's not really cold in Northern California in the winter, it still looks silly to wear dresses or skirts with bare legs.  But I hate tights, so I was in a bind.  Until I "discovered" boots.  Boots!  The missing link to wearing skirts and dresses in the winter without looking like an idiot.  I purchased 2 pairs to add to the pair I already owned.

And then there was that day I got a terrible haircut that was so embarrassing that I wore a scarf everyday for 3 weeks, and my uniform was born: straight skirt (from self-drafted, tried and true pattern), fine-gauge sweater, boots, and a scarf.  I almost feel like I should apologize to my students for looking the same every day, but I'm not really sorry.

All of these skirts (except the one noted) are sewn from the exact same, self-drafted pattern that I used to make this skirt for my Patternmaking II class.  You can even watch a video of Tiina instructing her classes how sew it.  I made none of the other garments, except the white "necklace" made from an entire skein of cashmerino wool knitted into an i-cord and then fanagled into a necklace.

You want pictures, eh?

The first skirt is made from vintage viscose yarn-dyed woven fabric, with rayon Bemberg lining.  It's very lightweight and lovely, and will transition to spring well (with cute flats and a short-sleeved top).

Skirt 2 was actually my variation.  I lowered the waistline by an inch, created a contoured waistband, flared the skirt slightly and added a center front seam (which I top stitched).  Boden was a major inspiration for this skirt, which is in 100% wool, with rayon Bemberg lining.

Skirt 3 was made for the unfortunate event of my grandfather's funeral.  I own almost no black clothing, so I was grateful I had a quick pattern I could whip out to make something.  I did wear this with tights--super thick, heavy Smartwool ones--to brave the -20F temps of NY.  The fabric is amazing: vintage black silk, in a subtle plaid pattern.  It's so subtle probably no one can see it.   (Note: for the funeral, I had a black sweater and scarf.)

The waistband was cut from the same fabric with which I sewed a tie for my grandfather and in which he was buried.  I feel so grateful I can sew, so I can do that kind of stuff.  I was also pleased to have been able to press this skirt in my late grandmother's sewing room.  She would have probably been unhappy with my plaid matching, but I think she would have approved of the skirt otherwise :)
While buying the black fabric, I gave in to a temptation I've had for years for this nubby, Chanel-inspired vintage red and cream plaid fabric.  At $19/ yard, I don't know why I waited so long (only a yard is needed, after all!).  I lined this 4th skirt with a heavyish 4-ply silk, because why not?  

The final, 5th skirt came about as I was moving my unsewn winter fabrics back into storage and taking out my summery fabrics from last year in preparation for a new season of sewing.  I remembered wanting to make a pencil skirt from this crazy vintage Hawaiian barkcloth after sewing a pair of shorts a while ago.  This one is lined with rayon Bemberg.   Notice--no boots!  We've had a week of 70s, so I think I can go back to heels or flats for another 8 months.

I've got construction of this skirt down to 2.5 hours, from fabric cutting to hand-stitched hem.  Boom. Unfortunately, in a month I'll be done with teaching and will need another uniform.  Maybe a closet full of these or wrap skirts with boatneck Ts?