Friday, March 27, 2015

Crazy In The Wrong Direction

THANK YOU so much for all the helpful comments. I really appreciate the support. This new plan feels far more manageable, even exciting, and I'm trusting those of you with travelling experience to let me know if I suddenly start going crazy in the wrong direction. Right now, my focus is a collection of garments that are comfortable, wearable, and work well together. I'm lucky that upscale casual as the cruise line is suggesting is what I would normally wear.

One thing I've decided to absolutely not do is go crazy buying all sorts of things we won't use again once we get home. For instance, luggage. While our luggage does not have four twirly wheels, it does have two pull wheels and the only thing we have to do on our own is get to and from the airport in Vancouver. After that, the cruise line takes complete care of us. That's one trip into the airport and one trip out. For that, two pull wheels will do as will...

... comfortable and reasonably priced footwear which I'm already breaking in so they'll be perfect by the time we get to Europe. The closed shoes already are. I wore them all around Sew Expo and I've been wearing them to walk Ms. Chloe. It's good. There's no slipping and sliding in my shoes and they're very comfortable. I need warmer weather to wear the sandals on a longer walk but for now I'm wearing them around the house. If I can fit in another - dressier - pair of heels I will and if not, these will do. Besides - LOL - they do have stores in Europe.

One thing I would appreciate advice on is a coat. I want something light, windbreaker like, and somewhat water resistant just in case. I bought the taffeta-like reversible black and silver fabric above from Marcy and have the perfect zipper. It's black with shiny silver teeth. I'm thinking of something about knee length with a zipper front and contemplating Butterick 6141 or Marcy's Vogue 8934 or her Vogue 8876 dress pattern with sleeves. Thoughts?

Yesterday, I finished the blue linen skirt except for the waistband. There is a zipper in the back for ease of getting in and out and I think I'll add a narrow elastic casing at the waist for weight fluctuations. That would let me finish the garment now rather than waiting until closer to the date. It also ups the comfort factor. This is my favourite Burda 8213 skirt pattern. I have another sewn in a fuchsia and black print knit that would work as well if I needed it to.

The zipper is invisible. At one time, I wouldn't sew garments with zippers because I didn't know how and then I graduated to hiring someone to sew the zippers in and then I finally decided to learn how to do it myself. I mostly used lapped zippers at first but now the only time I use those are for a fly front. I almost always use an invisible zipper because...

... they are beyond easy with the right foot. The foot above is a generic one that comes with different shank heights. You pick the one that works with your machine and attach it to the bottom portion. The needle lines up with the small grove in the center and then depending which side you're sewing, you run the zipper through the groves to the right or left of center which pushes the zipper open and places the stitching exactly where it's supposed to be. When the...

... zipper is closed, the fabric folds over beautifully and the zipper is invisible. If you don't have an invisible zipper foot, this generic one was available at our Fabricland and not very expensive. And - the voice of experience - even if it was, it's worth every penny. I sewed this zipper in at 5:30 in the morning, perfect first try. It's that easy.

I stabilize the zipper opening with a strip of fusible interfacing first. Do you see a theme? That I stabilize anything that might possibly need stabilizing. Yes. It ups the accuracy rate and makes sewing so much easier.

There are enough remnants left from the linen skirt to possibly make a sleeveless top using my signature piecing method. I might need a bit more fabric and I knew there was a dress in the recycle box so I pulled it out and tried it on before chopping - that's always a good idea because... - other than shortening it, there was nothing wrong. Above, I cut off three inches and then decided it needed another two off. That's what I'm working on this morning. Chopping off two more inches and hemming.

I'm thinking of taking this dress to the Design Outside the Lines retreat and adding some painted details. Maybe. What fun that would be and I'm not sure BUT... the retreat is a great bonus for my cruise wardrobe. Like I said, I don't tend to take long holidays and for some reason I have two back to back this year. I'll be in Oregon for two and a half weeks and can trial run my Europe plan.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - packing advice

If you want something you've never had, then you've got to do something you've never done. 
- unknown


  1. I love the skirt. It's a really flattering style.

    1. It's my favourite - has been for years.

  2. You may not want to hear this, but I travel A LOT, and I sew quite a bit, yet I rarely take anything I’ve sewn when I travel. Altered/tailored, certainly, but rarely sewn from scratch. Why? Because I optimize for my simplest, easiest-care pieces when I travel, and I never pack more than 7 days worth of clothing, no matter how long the trip. Everything fits in one carry-on, or it doesn’t go.

    The rules: everything must work with everything else, or stand alone and be re-wearable with a change of accessory

    Irons are not always available in Europe, and who wants to iron on travel anyway, so no-iron or minimal wrinkling fabric goes to the top of my packing list. With that said, breathable (natural or sports) fabrics are the best for the climate in this part of the world.

    While I do make tweaks according to the destination and time of year I’m traveling, here are things that constantly make my packing list:

    Wide-leg, flat-front, elastic-waistband pants in solid, dark no-wrinkle fabrics
    (Cute) hiking pants (light, breathable, practical for walking, and surprisingly attractive with dressier tops)
    Bio cotton t-shirts (they seem to wrinkle less, and are so comfy)
    Solid or printed tops in travel-friendly fabrics. If I pack solid tops, I toss in some lightweight printed scarves; if I pack printed tops I skip these.
    Cashmere hoodie (color must work with everything). Obviously a regular sweater will work as well; it’s my luxe/comfort item.
    Ultra-light puffer jacket (warm but packs super small). Zipper pockets are a plus.
    Pashmina-style scarf (color must work with everything including hoodie and jacket)
    My most comfortable undergarments—walking all day makes this a priority
    Two pairs walking shoes (comfort over style here, definitely)
    One pair dress shoes or sandals only if I’m sure I’m going to a dressy event
    One set of jewelry that I’m not worried about wearing in tourist-targeted areas.
    Cross-body purse (theft-resistant zipper locks are a plus)
    One foldable duffle (it packs into its own small pouch) that becomes an emergency carry-on bag if I choose to check my regular bag on the way home

    Now, if you’re more comfortable in a dress or skirts all day, it’s easy to substitute those for the pants above, but unless I’m giving a performance or a presentation I’ve found I wear pants and tops the most on the road. Could I sew the stuff above? Most of it, sure, but it’s a good idea to keep the merits of rtw travel and sport fabrics in mind when selecting fabrics. I totally understand not wanting to waste money buying things just for a trip, and how fun it it to wear things you’ve created yourself, but it’s basics that make the best traveling companions.

    Do I get bored with my clothes on trips? Sometimes, but since everything works together if I want to switch something up, or make a last-minute change due to plans or weather, I can. And it’s worth it to know that I’m schlepping only the things I absolutely need. In Europe simpler outfits with just a touch of sparkle or jewelry read not boring but Chic.

    Packing for trips can be stressful, but if you look at it as creating a road-friendly capsule wardrobe it helps. Edit, edit, edit.

    1. thank you Paris Grrl! i always love hearing about people's travel wardrobes and the theory behind them. ha, i take me-made pieces because of the comfort factor - i'm so hard to fit in RTW.

      My current strategy is to make 3 piece outfits: bottom, top, jacket. I take two outfits for a weekend trip, 3-4 if longer. I add in a couple of layering pieces - cardi or shrug, scarves, leggings, outerwear. My wardrobe is 'cohesive' (boring?) enough that the pieces from the outfits will mix and match. Though on the whole i'd rather look the same and fantastic than different every day but 'meh'.

      Thank you again!

    2. I laughed when I read your first paragraph. RTW in my wardrobe includes on a few items - my winter coat, two pairs of jeans, a windbreaker, several cardigans, and three black t-shirts. Everything else, I've sewn myself and it's much easier to do that than to try to buy clothes that fit even with altering... especially upper garments or dresses.

      I can buy the right fabrics though. Actually, I don't need to buy them. They are in stash. I just need to pull them out and sew them.

      I really appreciate your packing list. I could pull most of that together from what's currently in my closet which is quite reassuring. I need to think about a cross body bag. That's not my usual style but I can see the value of it.

      AND... like Steph said... I 'd rather dress somewhat the same and fantastic every day and create that cohesive wardrobe as opposed to overdoing the frosting. That's too much work and better left for at home. Appearing chic sounds great. I'm enjoying figuring this out. THANKS for the help.

    3. I hear you, tinyjunco...I take me-tailored pieces because I don't usually fit off-the-rack either. I'd take more me-made pieces if it was easier (and cost-effective) to find the kind of fabrics that travel/sportswear makers have at their command; it's not unusual for me to buy travel garments secondhand for their high-tech fabrication and hack/resew them into submission. It's sort of the best of both worlds. Your wardrobe sounds great--I've also found a pair of wintersilks-style thermals can be handy both as a cold-weather layer and as a cold hotel pj. :-) These days I find myself picking the coat and sweater I want to take, choosing the scarf next, and coordinating around those... you could call it outside-in packing. If you can sew what you love for travel, go for it!

    4. Myrna, the bag I've carried all over the world is not the sexiest on the planet but it's one of the safest.

      It's not like I seek out unsafe places, it's just that I feel safer when my purse is secured and not a tasty target. I also love how organized this bag is...truly a place for everything and everything in its place. The locks are annoying until you get used to them, so if you get a bag with them it's worth carrying a bit before your trip. Crossbody is definitely the way to go, with or without the anti-theft features; keep your bag attached to you at all times and you won't have to worry about losing it.

    5. That's a really reasonable price too. Thanks for the link. I think I'll just go ahead and order that and it'll answer my questions. YES YES

    6. "... it's not unusual for me to buy travel garments secondhand for their high-tech fabrication and hack/resew them into submission." oooh, what a smart idea!!

      Really though your point of turning a beady eye on the fabrics/fibres is spot on. For me, so many 'technical' fabrics simply give me the heebie-jeebies so i go with naturals. Even tho i get wrinkly i'm just too uncomfortable otherwise - like your philosophy on shoes :)

      Happily silk and cashmere provide a lot of warmth for the weight ;) And thanks once again for taking the time to provide such useful information!

  3. "I sewed this zipper in at 5:30 in the morning, perfect first try. " Myrna you're going to give us all inferiority complexes!!! ha!

    My two cents - As much as i love Marcy's coat and 8876, i think the Butterick would be the smartest choice as it will layer easily over so many bottom shapes. If you make 8876 without the hem bands it plays better with other clothes (still can be dicey), but it is a lot shorter than you would expect. My one sadness about my dresses from that pattern is that they are really hard to layer with other pieces, like i usually do. Will not stop me from making it up again - and again - but it would not work at all with your trumpet skirt, for example. You'd be all strange fabric bunchings up from the lower thigh down to your ankles!

    That Butterick has really nice lines and the fabric is gorgeous! Massively useful garment, what a plus it will be smashing as well :)

    Give Chloe a hug for me!!! steph

    1. No inferiority complex needed. Once you've done it a few times, it's that simple. Way more angst went into that whole zipper application thing than was necessary. I'm glad to have figured i tout.

      Thanks for your two cents. I thing you're right that the Butterick would be more versatile. It's easy to fit, a flattering shape/length and easily layered. Too bad I don't already own that pattern - VBG - guess I'll "have to" buy it although I bet I have something very similar in stash. I'll look there first except I'm very fond of the pleat and I don't want to have to draft it myself so we'll see.

    2. ha! really sometimes it is just easier to have all that drafting done. I see posts on 'why pay for expensive indy patterns when you can get it from the big four on sale for $2"; of course the people writing those posts rarely mention the hours you would have to spend drafting in the lining, or pleats, or cuff and collar details which make the design, or converting the pattern from woven to knit or vice versa (and yes i have seen this).

      It's getting to be a pet peeve of mine!

      I do think that Butterick design will be extra pretty on you! have a great day! steph

  4. I was going to advise against the Butterick raincoat b/c it looks like the pleats would make it bulky to pack. I think given your selections I would make the Marcy raincoat and leave out the tucks along the hem. I found my Diane Ericsson Heartfelt coat raincoat very useful for traveling, although I had to add ties so that it would cover me up all the way and not flip open. I made it about knee length, but wore it with pants.
    For me the "big discovery" about travel wardrobes was realizing that what I wear at home - comfortable pants, a tank + cardigan or a long-sleeve t-shirt - was what I wanted to wear while traveling. It's the outfit I pick first when I get dressed every day so why not for travel too? On my recent 3-week (wintery) trip to Spain and Paris, I took two pairs of pants, three long sleeve t's, two tank tops, a knit tunic, a button up cardigan, and a fleece vest. (I know this isn't a big enough wardrobe for you!!) And a raincoat and a boiled wool coat (both Heartfelt). I had too many clothes! I barely used the vest, only used two of the long sleeve t's, and wished I had another tank top to layer under the long sleeve t's and the cardigan. The most important thing is to be comfortable (and be willing to visit a laundromat/send out laundry as needed). Very wise moves on the shoes too, Myrna. You will be very happy to have well worn in shoes for your adventures and seeing of sights! I took my travel purse - Marc Jacobs nylon cross body bag:
    It is quite roomy but I wished I had brought my next larger bag b/c I wanted both my camera and my i-Pad w/me and the bag got a little filled up! I also wished I had brought two more pair of socks! I packed once and assessed, then unpacked and packed again w/fewer things. I should have done one more pack/un-pack! But I still had room for several pieces of fabric from Paris!! You will have a great time in your fabulous and creative clothes!!!

    1. I'll check with the Butterick pattern to see how big the pleat is and if it's not on the huge side, it should work because the fabric is quite thin and should press nicely. I can also stitch down the pleat. If it's huge, the Marcy raincoat is probably the next best option except the part I really love is those tucks.

      When I wrote that sentence about what I wear at home, I had the same thought that I could probably just pack my current wardrobe and all would be well... which is a nice realization... that just lets me have fun with filling in some blanks.

      Yes... I'd like more clothes than that but I promise to think smaller. I'll make sure that everything I want to fit in my bag fits nicely in my bag and/or size up. For flying, I think I'll put a bag inside a bag just so I can bring a few more things but walking around I don't want much to deal with. My camera is quite small. I am ever so glad you had room for fabric from Paris. I keep patting my piece and imagining it as a top. It'll go great with the other parts and pieces.

  5. I've been reading all the travel advice with interest. We've been to Europe a couple of times and I fit everything I needed for 3 weeks into a roll around carry on size bag. I used a system I found on a Yahoo group I belonged to - of which Janice (of the Vivienne files) was a member. I've been rummaging around my old files and found it - thought you might be interested.

    Start with a base of 5 garments, no matter how long or how short the
    (1) jacket or cardigan
    (2) pants that match
    (3) skirt that matches
    (4) top that goes with the above
    (5) another top that matches

    Then you add one item for each day of the trip, up to a maximum of 15
    items of clothing NO MATTER HOW LONG THE TRIP IS!!!

    (Janice wrote this) I travelled for 5 weeks last year, from Greece and 80+ temps to
    Prague and near freezing, and packed only 16 items of clothing.
    (okay, I stretched the rule by 1 thing) The rundown was as follows:

    (1) black wool buttonless cardigan
    (2) black wool sleeveless sweater (making a set with #1)
    (3) black stretch pants
    (4) black knit short skirt
    (5) jeans (I know, I know, but I had 8 flights in 5 weeks, I WANTED
    jeans sometimes)
    (5) white tee shirt
    (6) black v-neck sweater
    (7) violet short sleeved wool top
    (7) black mid-calf wool knit skirt
    (8) black and white striped tee shirt
    (9) black short sleeved button front linen blend top
    (10) cream wool short sleeved top
    (11) light blue twinset (is this really 2 items?)
    (12) black wool crewneck sweater (yes, all of this knit stuff
    matches - it's from Eileen Fisher, and I love it)
    (13) brown cardigan - wool knit
    (14) brown short sleeved sweater
    (15) brown 3/4 sleeved turtleneck (all of the brown is also Eileen

    the only thing resembling a coat that I tool was an alpaca shawl
    which I put in one of those airtight bags and squished into my
    briefcase. 3 pair of shoes, tons of jewelry, about 10 scarves, and I
    hated every stitch of clothing I had with me by the time I got home.
    But I travelled with a briefcase and a carry-on bag for 5 WEEKS!!!
    almost all of which were spent working....

    I (Lorrie) manage to stay within the 15-16 items on any trip. I based my Paris and Avignon trip wardrobe on white, black and pink/red accents.

    thought you might be interested,

    1. VERY interested. I'm really enjoying these lists and the real world advice. Fifteen pieces is very similar to the 4 x 4 outline. I'm going to print out all these lists and compare them and see what works. Thanks so much.

  6. One small addition to all this excellent advice: a set of lightweight silk underwear. Perfect for sleepwear, great for an invisible layer under clothes for a windy or rainy day. I use the lightest weight from WinterSilks, full-length bottoms, three quarter sleeve or sleeveless top. They scrunch up to the size of a pair of wool socks. A comfy insurance policy.

    1. Sounds good. Where do you buy these from and how is their sizing?

    2. The on-line company is WinterSilks. They have a sizing chart which has been accurate for me.

  7. I'm having great vicarious fun watching your trip(s) wardrobe evolve, thanks for sharing. I did something along the same lines on a much smaller scale last year for an August week in San Francisco that included as well as the urban things a couple of day hikes. The main learning from that for me was that I should have packed a sun hat.....although it was overcast some of the time, and almost always chillier than this Virginia girl expected, it was also quite bright and I spent a morning that could have been more fun doing something else finding a sun hat in an unfamiliar city that doesn't have a lot of sunny days over all. SO maybe some light easy pack hat for your Euro trip?


  8. I travel a lot and I sew a lot. Your coat -- make the Marcy raincoat. I did the mods on the Marcy dress to make a jacket recently, lower armhole, wider side seams, much wider sleeves, a size up pattern, it is still a very fitted jacket. I don't think you would be happy with it for a long trip. Besides, for the Marcy raincoat you can use the reverse side cut crosswise for lower edge and buttonhole patches. Very fun! Thanks for letting us share in your adventure.



Thanks for commenting. I appreciate the feedback and the creative conversation.