We’re about halfway through July, and there are no ifs, ands, or buts, about summer being well and truly here. But my plans for infusing my wardrobe with summery clothing? Feeling a little stuck in the muck at the moment.
So I thought now would be a good time to take a step back and look at the whole picture.
My Original Summer Wardrobe Infusion Plans
In case you don’t remember (because I certainly didn’t) my original plan was:
: tank tops & camisoles
: PJ bottoms (!?)
: maxi sundresses
: my well-traveled sweater
Not sure what the PJ bottoms were about, but whatever, they’ve gotten nixed.
So how’s the plan going?
Tank tops & camisoles
Status: drafted the pattern. Made one. Tweaked the pattern. And have fabric for more.
Next Step: make a second to test the tweaks to the pattern (and to have another tank top).
Status: pattern drafted. Cut one.
Next Steps: sew first shirt together. Tweak pattern if necessary.
Sundresses #1: the no-longer-really-an-Anna Dress
Mental Status: bogged down in over thinking.
In the Fabric Status: the skirt is cut & sewn, the skirt lining is cut & sewn, the bodice was decided on, the bodice fabric & lining were cut.
Next Steps: buy a zipper. sew the bodice together.
Sundress #2: the Plaid Sundress from SFO Fabric
Status: waiting in the wings.
Status: Finished!! Just in time for summer…
It is the perfect weight for sometimes chilly summer evenings, so I’m sure it’ll get worn this summer, but I did manage to finish it just as spring turned into summer.
And then there are the unplanned clothing projects
Of course some of the reason that my summer wardrobe infusion plans aren’t going quite as planned, is because of the clothing projects I’ve worked on that weren’t part of the original plan.
Mended Uniqlo Jeans
Status: Finished! Washed! Fantastic!
Lady Bat Sweater
Status: on the needles.
Getting ready to add more length to the front & back pieces.
I have the feeling that this sweater will be slow going for awhile. The yarn is pretty fuzzy, which makes knitting with it in high humidity weather rather horrible.
Summer Wardrobe Infusion Next Steps
I know from my self-made wardrobe project, that I prefer sewing when I have an extended period of time to concentrate on a project. I like sewing in multi hour chunks of time, and prefer sewing during the day, rather than in the evenings.
So, I think the next step for this wardrobe project is to see if I can do some schedule flipping about and find an afternoon to devote to this project. Where that afternoon will come from, I’m not entirely sure, but I’ll find it somewhere.
Another possibility is spending a day alternating between scribbling out Shawl Geometry edits, and sewing. Which, now that I’m thinking about it, feels far more doable than freeing up an entire afternoon in my schedule.
If you sew, or knit, or otherwise craft, you know that requests for “favors” – mostly that start with “can you make…” or “can you fix…” – are not uncommon.
Every crafter responds differently, and my general rule of thumb is “no to makes. yes to mends.”
The flip side of this being, if someone asks mend something, or fix something. I’ll almost always say yes. Usually they’re not time consuming or complicated fixes, so I’m happy to.
The one general exception to my “yea sure I’ll fix it for you” response being jeans.
Will I hem your jeans? Sure. Will I fix a hole in your jeans? No.
Why? Because mending jeans is not so simple.
As a general rule of them, denim is an incredibly durable fabric. Of course some denim is more durable than others, and some is just downright delicate. But taken as a whole category of fabric, denim = durable.
That means that when your jeans get a rip in them due to age (by which I mean, you didn’t sit on a nail in a brand new pair of jeans), you need to fix the whole, as well as, reinforce a significant amount of the surrounding fabric.
If you’re ever patched a pair of jeans (or a flannel shirt for that matter), and had the patch, or stitching quickly rip away again, it’s because the stitching was sewn to weakened, or compromised fabric.
The pair of jeans I wanted to mend, had a (relatively) small rip in the crotch. It was, maybe, two inches long, and would have taken 5 minutes to whip stitch closed.
However. If I had mended these pants that way, the fix would have also lasted about 5 minutes.
Because, that small rip is indicative of weakened fabric in the whole surrounding area. The original fabric is very soft & thin, there are creases where it’s (almost) threadbare, and along the seams the fibers are beginning to wear away.
To create a mend that lasts, I needed to reinforce the fabric in the entire crotch area. So I used a patch of black cotton twill, and Sashiko inspired stitching to reinforce all of the weakened fabric.
Sashiko, is a traditional Japanese quilting technique, that uses rows of running stitches. Traditionally, it was used to reinforce fabric, prolong the life of garments, and stitch together patches of fabric into new clothes. It can be entirely utilitarian, or decorative. But either way because the stitching itself is so simple it’s incredibly quick to execute, and because it’s an all over quilting technique it creates exceptionally durable (and warm) fabric.
As with any mending, or fixing, or repair project, the trick is seamlessly blend the old and the new. In this case, blending the patch (which on the inside of the pants) and the worn fabric.
My first attempt went ok in the beginning, but as the project went on, I started getting some pretty epic rippling. Which translated to binding around the top of the leg. Which I was not about to live with.
So rather than leave it half assed, out came the scissors, and into the garbage that stitching went.
Take number two, went much more smoothly. (In multiple senses of the phrase.)
Rather than simply doing single rows of running stitch, I worked two perpendicular lines of running stitch to create crosses. I did this by first working lines of running stitch in one direction (being sure to off set my stitches), and then working a second set of lines of running stitch at a 90º angle to the first (being sure to cross the first set of stitches).
It’s not the prettiest, or the most even, stitching I’ve ever done. But my hope is that it’ll last for a good long while to come.
I’m not sure if a mending job can be considered “visible mending” if you can’t really see it while I’m wearing the pants, (and the stitching is black on black), but there has been something tremendously satisfying about combining my love of blackwork embroidery, with visible mending, with elongating the life of a pair of much loved pants.
- 1 pair of much loved Uniqlo bootcut black jeans (which they stopped selling ages upon ages ago) (these are also the pair that I based my self-made jeans on)
- 1 large scrap of black cotton twill fabric to use as the patch
- 1 skein of black 6-strand embroidery floss (I split the thread and used 3 strands)
- 1 embroidery needle
- some pins to hold everything in place
Choosing a lining
Considering that my No Longer Really An Anna Dress is turning into The Dress of Many Rethinks – it may surprise no one that I chose a new lining.
The fabric for the outer shell of the garment is a navy with white, small windowpane plaid, lightweight cotton fabric.
I picked up a deep blue (not quite navy), medium weight cotton last week that I was planning on using to line my (no longer really an) Anna Dress, it was fine, and would have made a perfectly good lining, but I didn’t love it. It was a little bit stiffer than I would have liked as a lining for this dress.
Then I was at work the other day, and happened upon a lovely lightweight, navy, poly lining with an excellent drape that is much more suitable, so I got it. I’ll use the medium weight cotton for a different project.
If you look closely you’ll be able to see the difference in drape between the navy blue in the middle photo, and the navy blue in the bottom photo. The first lining (middle photo) stays flat like a photo background with no difficulty at all – no lumps, no bumps, no wrinkles. While the second lining (the final photo) has much softer folds, and a quite lovely drape.
Knitting projects hardly every call for a lining, but sewing projects often do, and one of the trickiest things about writing a multi-craftual crafting blog is terminology & jargon.
I think jargon & specific terminology – especially in “making” fields (knitting, sewing, crochet, ceramics, woodworking, metal working, glass working, even computer building) – is incredibly useful, but only if you know what it means…
So I figured I’d take this rather abrupt change of lining plans to talk a bit about what a lining is, what they’re useful for, and what to look for in a lining (for those of us around here who don’t sew).
What is a lining?
A lining (in sewing) is a layer of fabric, (or fur, or other material) that goes inside of a garment, (or bag, or hat). Often a lining is a thin, lightweight fabric. It can be a variety of fibers, but most modern linings are made from a polyester, acetate, viscose, rayon, silk, cotton, or a blend of any of the above.
You can think of a lining a little bit like a second version of the outer garment, turned inside out, then placed & stitched inside the outer garment (aka the shell, or fashion fabric, or a whole variety of other names).
What use is a lining?
Linings can serve a variety of uses, including:
- adding warmth
- backing a semi-see through fabric, to make it no longer see through
- concealing the “guts” of a garment, or hat, or bag (the seams, interfacing, interlining, etc.)
- adding body, or structure to the piece
- elongating the life of a piece
- protecting your skin (or hair, or belongings) from itchy, or scratchy, or simply not pleasant fabric
While a lining can serve any (or all) of these uses in a garment/hat/bag, it doesn’t have to.
Obviously in this sundress I will eventually finish making, I’m not looking to add warmth. And since I’m aiming for a flowing garment I’m not looking to add much body (aka structure) to my garment. And the cotton I’m using as my “fashion fabric” isn’t scratchy, or itchy, or in any way uncomfortable next to my skin, so that’s not a worry either.
The main things I’m using a lining for are a) to back a semi-see through fabric, b) extend the life of my garment, and c) conceal the “guts” of my dress.
Most of the time I’m not terribly concerned about concealing the guts of my makes since most people don’t see them, but on this dress, I’m still debating (it is the dress of endless rethinks after all) whether or not I want to do a slit in the skirt or not. If I do decide to do a slit, then I’ll definitely need the lining to cover up the guts of the skirt.
But regardless of hiding the skirt guts or not, I’ll still need the lining both to extend the life of the garment, and to make the semi-see though fashion fabric no longer any sort of see though.
What to look for in a lining
What to look for in a lining depends, in large part, on what you need your lining to do.
If you’re looking to add warmth to a garment, you obviously look for a warm lining.
If you’re looking to add body to something, you look for a lining with a little more structure.
If you’re looking to protect against an itchy fabric, you look for a soft lining.
If you’re looking to make a semi-see through fabric less shear, you want a lining with a tight enough weave to not let tons of light in.
If you’re looking to conceal the guts of a garment, or want to extend the life of the garment, you’re pretty good with any sort of lining.
Really, these two uses of a lining, concealing the guts & extending the life, work together. By that I mean – concealing the guts protects them from wear, which in turn extends the life of the garment, and by extending the life of the garment (by protecting the guts with a lining) you’re also using a lining to conceal the guts.
Since, on this dress project, I’m looking to conceal the guts of the garment, extend the life of the garment, and make the semi-see though fabric less semi-see though, I was looking for a lining that would do all three of those things without adding warmth, or body (structure), and without needing to be protective.
The first lining vs. the second lining
Like I said earlier, the first lining would have been more than fine. It was a medium weight cotton in a deep blue (but not quite navy) – the only strike against it was that it would have added body (structure) to the garment.
The second lining I picked up has a far better drape, and does all the things I need this dress lining to do – without adding additional body to the dress – which will in turn allow the dress to drape, and float, and flow better.
In hindsight, I sort of knew when I was buying it that the first lining wasn’t quite right, but I was impatient. And it’s not like this was the most rash fabric purchase I’ve ever made.