Purge like a boss

The recent storms in Sydney dumped an unprecedented amount of rain and left more than 200,000 homes without power, reason enough to instigate yet another wardrobe purge. When I arrived home Monday morning to find a strip of our bedroom wallpaper had slid to the floor from its position on the wall, I knew it was wet, damned wet! On opening the wardrobe 1 out of my approx. 5 leather belts was mouldy. If anyone knows why 1 belt rather than the whole lot goes mouldy, I’m listening?

I was Inspired by  Kate’s Kondo posts and Ada Spragg has been reading Kondo too. Its been bothering me for some time that I hate everything in my wardrobe. The ‘handcrafted’ are a huge part of that. When you spend 3 weeks couturing a jacket only to find that its unwearable due to 80s shoulders and top stitching that elicited quite strong opinions from more than a couple of critics (who knew topstitching on cashmere coating could inspire such wrath?), when my wardrobe reflects ‘working 9-5’ me rather than stay at home, gardening, writing, sewing me – its time to cast off those shackles.

My wardrobe is now much less full and I don’t miss seeing the ‘3 week jacket’ or the ‘school marm dress’ or any of the things I never wore anyway. I still have challenging items I must make myself wear, but less of them. In all honesty, I probably won’t wear them and will toss them to charity next purge.

You lot out there are contributors to this villainous plot (see how I am not taking responsibility?!). You post images of delightful summer dresses when I’m getting into cosy and comfy. You release new patterns diverting me from MY PLAN, enticing me with the new and shiny when what I need to be sewing is basic and boring. I just have so little tolerance for boredom. Moreover, I’m lacking self discipline, constantly drawn to the sparkly, shiny and new. Its a tussle between the practically necessary and the necessarily impractical.

The issues are:

Sewing the practical wardrobe staple vs. sewing whatever is gong to teach me a new technique

Sewing what I’ve learned in patternmaking classes vs. sewing what I need in my life right now

Sewing the basic and boring vs. sewing the swoon worthy and exciting

Sewing from what I have tested and know fits me vs. sewing that new collection from Papercut Patterns (and I can justify this because its a NZ Co. I love to support the local product).

Sewing from THE PLANNED LIST ( I do have a list, its 2 pages long and now reflects summer rather than winter) vs. sewing inspired by our northern hemisphere friends who are in the opposite season and posting such lovely things.

Sewing garments that are spectacles in their own right, that will have people asking “where did you get that?” vs. sewing the stuff that goes unnoticed. Negative feedback loop = poor motivation to continue.

Sewing ALL my clothes vs. buying basics and sewing the attention seekers

I’m really at odds with myself over this. Over the past 3 years I haven’t worked. I started to sew with the intention of sewing ALL my clothes, I’ve noticed a creeping resentment brought on by this self imposed deprivation. Perhaps I need to admit I must shop for some things or maybe I can really do with less? Bottoms are easy for me to buy, but they’re also easy for me to make. Tops are hard to buy because boobs, but similarly they are hard to make because fit is so crucial. I posted some time ago that I intended to make 3 tops for every bottom, so far naddah!

So I’m off to the dungeon to whip up not 1 but 2 pairs of culottes that have been in my ‘to do’ pile for eons. Yesterday I stalked a girl around the cheese section of Coles just to compliment her on her absolutely gorgeous culottes. I thought I spied other voyeurs admiring them too, but it may have been my stalking that had them worried.

No one will ever compliment me on a white T shirt – ever. Maybe thats the real reason I don’t sew the boring staples, can I live with that?

Me Made May 2015 could possibly be the undoing of me. Am I expecting too much? I have failed monumentally to live up to my pledge so far. The pledge was to wear at least 1 thing ‘Me Made’ each day. That would have been possible in summer but not now its winter.

reworked from Burda shirt - 7136
reworked from Burda shirt – 7136

This dress went unblogged – whoops! Its another rendition of that much tampered with Burda 7136
shirt seen here,  and 2 versions here. I love the topstitching, the buttons are gorgeous, but the Kauffman tencel is so weak. I’m sure you’ll agree there is plenty of room in the back of this shirtdress.


The fabric is tearing down the CB seam. Anita McAdam, (my patternmaking teacher) told me that tensile strength is something designers spend a lot of time discussing. She said that if the tensile strength is insufficient, once that seam starts going, there’s nothing can be done. Good grief there are a lot of potholes in this sewing lark! Honestly, this fabric seems to be as strong as anything I would make a shirtdress from. What more could I do? Not buy Kauffman?

contrasting collar and cuff facings
contrasting collar and cuff facings

In other news

Have you acquainted yourself with the dripping honey that is Alec Baldwin’s voice? His podcasts are fanbloodytastic – seriously. I found this one yesterday but wholeheartedly implore you to subscribe to them all, they’re free.



Add yours →

  1. Culling is just great. I do a little bit all the time and I love it…but sorry to hear about the water issue. The best part of “Kondo” for me is the way that she suggests folding clothes in drawers, so I can immediately see everything that I have (which makes me want to have much less, so I can focus on the nice things. It’s funny…since I have started sewing I find I don’t want to wear my store-bought clothes. I am more interested in what I’ve made myself. I think that’s why I like sewing basics, as I’m going to reach for those more regularly. I like the shirt dress quite a bit – reminds me of one I had a number of years ago – and I also like those shoes. That’s an interesting factoid about the tencile strength of the fabric. I’ve thought about it with silk quite a bit but not with denim so much. Hmm.. Are you sewing the Burda culottes or drafting your own pattern?

    • But S, how do you stay interested in sewing basics? How do you get enthused about them? Thats the key I think. Perhaps you are a very disciplined person. I thought I was buecause I too am a finisher no matter what. But I need to fall in love with what I’m sewing to do a great job! The conversation about tensile strength actually came about because I showed Anita a piece of silk I had fused to strengthen it because it was so thin. She said they usually judge the suitability by weight amongst other things. I’m shocked that the dress is splitting and really sad – such wasted effort. The culottes are a Style Arc pattern – Erin. Lovely origami like pleats.

      • Well I think I’m not a great example because I’m very new to sewing. Basics seem plausible and I also like making things I will definitely wear from day to day. I was thinking about something though: I think you’re wrong that you’ll never get complimented on a white t-shirt. What about focusing on making the best white t-shirt ever? Even the top designers do white t-shirts, but choose different fabric contents, design details. Doable, I think. The tensile strength thing still has me thinking….thanks re. the pattern. I’d like a pair of culottes this summer.

      • Hmmm, “best white t shirt ever”… Can you hear the cogs turning?!

  2. Really great shirt dress – top stitching, buttons and shoes – and what a shame about the spitting and I never knew tensile strength was an issue. Also sliding wall paper is not something I have experienced despite a long career in social housing.

    You raise exactly the issues which are consuming me at the moment (with a few personal variations – obviously we have glorious sunshine at the moment [not – it’s foul, freezing, wet and miserable]).

    Having checked just how much fabric I have (maybe 70 pieces, having given a lot away) I am now wondering what to do with it. It would take me two or three years just to sew it up, if I stopped buying completely.

    I hope you will write up how you resolve this.

    • Thanks Kate, I love those shoes bought in Melbourne, but they are such scene stealers! I have a cupboard full of fabric, some I love, some I hate but can’t give away. Since I had my colours ‘done’ I can see I make a lot of mistakes with buying unsuitable fabrics. I have considered putting a lot on eBay, but reckon it’d be terribly time consuming. Other than that there’s jewish lightning! I’ve tried so many times to resolve my conundrum. Usually it goes, write a list I can stick to, make those garments, then a workshop or a class happens and I need to toile other things. Or I find a completely new focus and want summer clothes in winter and winter clothes in summer – inspired by you guys in the north. Then I had a thought today. What if this is how its meant to be for me because when I sew plain clothes they don’t feel artistically expressive – what would I prefer? Artsy wow pieces or everyday basics that cover my body? Heavy stuff! Perhaps we should organise a swap? Somehow the loss isn’t so great when someone you know will appreciate it is on the receiving end.

  3. Yes, that’s a great shirt dress with fab stitching. The switch from summer to winter is hard on us sewists. I couldn’t do MMM in winter. Soon as the temperatures drop whenever I’m in the house alone (i.e. reluctant to put the heating on), I invariably reach for Couture de Berghaus. But you’re doing fine; your sewing is quality and no need to get overwhelmed by a big picture.

    While living in Sierra Leone, it was the cheaper leather that went mouldy which I guess was more raw and less treated. Also leather-bound books, album covers (which were paper)… I still have some; they still smell.

    • Thanks for your encouragement Marijana. The rain was soo heavy and the temp being high made it sooo humid – I can just imagine Sierra Leone! We rarely use heating too, it’s not centralised so we do it room by room – I’ve been known to watch TV wrapped in a Doona (duvet) rather than heat the loungeroom!

  4. The pothole remark made me laugh and how very true it is. Personally I would not worry about what sewing choices to make. I say, go with the flow – make whatever inspires you. This is my policy anyway, which is probably why I could never manage to do a RTW fast.

    • Hi Sheree, my hubby said something funny about the potholes that have appeared after the heavy rain… “The pothole was so big I had to change gears to get out”!! 3 cheers for ‘free spirited’ sewing!

  5. I had another thought about the seam slippage you are suffering. Is it possible that you have a small stitch length on this garment? Hard to tell in the photos but sometimes too many tiny stitches can also damage the cloth. Beautiful shirt btw. Maybe there is a way to save it from the bin. 🙂

  6. I’m resisting the urge to purge for now. But I do need to rationalise my wardrobe – more block colour basics, less prints. Love your denim dress – very wear anywhere.

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