living handmade

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Closet clean out

Tomorrow I will become 35 years old. Thirty-five years old! How did that happen? It feels pretty good though, getting older and wiser…
Although, I’m finding myself slightly lost at the moment… It’s been five years now that I have spent changing diapers, never having time for myself, hardly time to shower, grabbing the only clean piece of clothing I can find, playing with Duplo and getting dirty, seriously- getting dirty as in: you.have.no.idea.unless.you.have.kids.yourself. The substances I’ve been covered in… uhhhh, you really don’t want the details! Anyway, my point is that I’m done with this baby life now. The kids are in school now and I can start living again. And as any girl, I seriously needed a make-over / wardrobe rehab.
I’ve been doing a closet clean-out for a few days and it’s a really inspiring thing to do if you like that sort of thing. I really do. Clean out your closet, organize, give away, re-make old stuff… This blog is partly about environmental fashion, and I think that environmentally, the best thing you can do is to know your style. If you do, you will never buy unnecessary items that will end up in a dust pile eventually, but you will only buy garments that fit your body and can spend some money on good quality (handmade things for example!) It’s true what the stylists say- we only use 20% of our closet, the rest could go away to charity or could’ve been saved in money and production in the first place. Sale at H&M, for example, is dangerous! We go in to look for what we need, and we come out with lots of cheap items, bought on impulse.
So that’s what I’m trying to do at the moment. I already have a box of DIY-items. Clothes that I love, but are just wrong in fit or slightly broken. I have less than 30 garments left now in my closet, but I feel very free and I found lots of nice styling combinations that I never thought about putting together before. Hope you will give it ago as well, if you don’t end up giving away half your closet, at least you get a huge energy boost, ego-kick and some new ideas for styling. My best advice before you start this huge project is to make a little sketch like this:

It will help you guide you through your closet clean out. It can be pretty hard to see yourself and if you make a few sketches of what you tend to wear in your life, it will be easier to set some “ground rules” in your personal style, and it will finally help you to throw out or give away those tops and pants you have kept for years without actually wearing them. Above are the outfits I wear the most and as I’m crazy about lists and “creating within frames”, I’ve named them to remember the different styles. If I found something in my closet that didn’t fit the above styles- it went straight into my eBay second hand shop or to charity. Never mind if you feel like you can’t draw – it’s just for you, so anything will do. Have fun!

Steps to clean out your closet:

– Take out everything from your closet and your drawers, even underwear, stockings, bags, hats, shoes and jackets (get them if they are stored in the hallway). Put it on the floor or on a table. Separate it all into different piles if you wish- cardigans and sweaters, t-shirts, shirts, pants, skirts, dresses etc. – Literally clean out your closet. Wipe drawers, take out hangers and storage boxes. Try to imagine how the closet should be arranged for you to quickly find a nice outfit. Knickers, pants, t-shirts, tank tops, socks in drawers, dresses, thin jackets, skirts, tops and blouses on hangers is the way I do it. – Try on everything! This will take you some time, but it’s worth it, you will feel much better knowing that you only have close that fits you like a glove and that makes you look gorgeous! -Start by hanging back the items that you feel really makes you you! Cause “no one is you’er than you” as Dr Seuss says. That is the clothes that you probably wear most of the time- what makes them special to you? Is it the fit, set silhouette, the style, the color? – Clothes in the the wrong size, or if you haven’t used it in 6 months (apart from winter or certain summer clothes), if it hangs too funny on your body, doesn’t flatter or just doesn’t make you feel “damn, I look good in this” toss it in a “get rid of it-pile”. Be tough! For things that needs some fixing, throw it in the “DIY-mend pile”. Some clothes might be out of fashion or in the real world, or slightly broken or with a tiny stain… these items can be re-used in the bedroom as a stylish pajama for cold nights instead.

the get rid of it-pile
 – give away to charity (don’t throw anything in the bin, even broken clothes can be re-used or appreciated by someone)
 – sell on Ebay or cheap to friends FB (the stuff with a little bit of a value, vintage)
 the DIY or mend it-pile
– the items you can re-make by dying it, copy (harvest a pattern), up cycle or adorn with beads or embroidery for example (I will show you lots of ideas later on)
 –  the items that you can mend yourself with a little sewing, or that needs to be take to a tailor, dry cleaner or shoe-repairer.
Once you’re done with these steps, you should have a clean closet of only a few very nice items that all go very well together and that fits you perfectly. These are probably your basic items, your staples. The 20% that makes you look gorgeous! These are the kind of clothes you should look for when buying clothes in the future.

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Jacked curves and cut down corners

When you make a jacket or something else with a lining, that you need to turn around, it’s important to do some inside work. To avoid that the seam allowance “bulks” inside on a convex curve, see top picture, you need to take away some excess fabric. This is achieved by cutting out small triangles on the curved area very close to the seam, but don’t cut off the seam!
And the opposite if the seam allowance “pulls”on a concave curve (i.e.. there is not enough fabric). You need to cut small jacks to give the fabric a better chance to “move” and stretch.
In pointy corners you can cut away the seam allowance to a point, leaving maybe 2-3 mm (second picture).
Hope this was helpful ๐Ÿ™‚ As usual, if I forgot something or if you have questions, just drop a comment below. I’m planning to make all of you happy clothes-makers!

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What is seam allowance?

In this post I will try to explain a little about Seam allowance.ย ย Seam allowanceย (sometimes calledย inlays) is the area between the edge of the fabric and theย stitchingย line on two (or more) pieces of material being stitched together.ย 
Seam allowances wary depending on where on the garment you put them. For example, in the fashionย industry it’s common to use about 0,7-1 cm for curved areas (like the neck line, the armhole, the sleeve head, the crotch on pants, collars etc) and 1,5-2 cm on areas that require extra fabric for final fitting (the center back, side seams in pants etc).
You can either add your seam allowance ON the pattern pieces (I always do that, see above). ย I think it makes the job so much easier, especially if you might use your pattern again. You can also add it once you’ve pinned your pattern piece down, with a fabric pen or tailor’s chalk, but I always thought that took so much longer time ๐Ÿ™‚
If you have a good pattern cutting ruler, it is easy to make the seam allowance out in advance, or you can tape two pencils together, creating a double line. One pencil will follow the seam line (1.) and the other pencil will follow the seam allowance edge (2.)
The last thing I want to say is about number 3 in the picture above: it’s very important, when you cut out your pattern pieces, that you fold as you will sew… see the fold-down on the pocket up there? If I would’ve continued that seam allowance line (3.), there would’ve been some excess fabric there. When you fold and cut, the seam allowance will follow the correct angle.
Good luck!

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What is the grain line?

The grain line is the direction that the woven threads run. The most simple weaved fabrics are made of horizontal and vertical threads.
The threads that run end to end are the lengthwise grain. The threads that run from selvage to selvage are the crosswise grain line. The selvage is the firm edge that run along the length of the fabric and follows the fabric roll. 
There is also the true bias grain. It runs at a 45 degree angle to the lengthwise and crosswise grains.
It’s very important to understand the grain line when you sew. All pieces has to follow the same grain line, see the cutting lay out for pants above. The garment will look very funny if the grain line has been ignored ๐Ÿ˜‰
The true bias is slightly stretchy as it runs diagonally between the threads. Dresses on the true bias grain was very popular in the 30’s and as they were stretchy, the dresses could be pulled over the head without using zippers.