2.10.2014

a little bit country

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Hey kids! So... I really debated whether or not to post this project, since I wasn't sure if people really wanted to see another Archer from me, but in the end I decided it was totally worth it.  If for no other reason than to muse on what it is that makes me want to make a pattern again, and again, and again...

This could be a long post (ha! All my posts are long posts! Sorrryyy...) so I'm gonna give the details up front - this is my third Grainline Archer (you can check out my first here, and my second here). I used some super soft and cozy plaid flannel from Mood (here) and decided on pearl snaps instead of buttons, which I had a helluva good time hammering in! I enjoyed matching the plaid (a big thank you to my plaid goddess,  Lauren, for her de-mystifying tutorial!) which was a first time for me, and made this a bit less of a mindless sew than it could have been. I made no changes to the pattern since the last time I made this shirt. I loved sewing it, it went together without a single hitch, and I've literally been wearing it everyday since I finished it (which, by the by, was over a week ago. And I'm pretty sure I don't stink yet. Or maybe that's just denial...)

Cool! So for those of you that were just curious about the details of this make - there you have it!! For any one else that feels like meandering with me through some thoughts on creating my own wardrobe, and the makings of a Tried And True (TNT) pattern... git on in!!!  This train's a'leaving!

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I'm pretty sure that every sewist, in her (or his) quest to create their own, unique, handmade wardrobe comes to that point where they look at all the lovely clothes they make, and then look at the clothes they reach for day in and day out, and notice a discrepancy.  This has been well trod territory for the online sewing community (think Tasia's cake vs. frosting post, or Sunni's Everyday Wardrobe project ) and yet I still think many of us find ourselves in that dreadful paradox where you have a closet full of beautiful, handmade, clothes, and yet nothing to wear.

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I've been trying for a long time to close this gap, and it's led me to make things like jeans and shirts and simple, loose dresses - perhaps not the most glamorous of clothes, but I'll be damned if I don't wear them week after week and day after day! But yet I still find myself thinking that I have nothing to wear. Some of this could just be a deeply ingrained dissatisfaction with all things that I own, and a desire to acquire something new - just for the sheer newness of it. Sure. Some of it could be that... Or some of it could be that I don't do my laundry nearly often enough (stop giving me that look, Mom!) Okay. Yeah. It could be that too... but.... but

Couldn't some of it also be that I actually don't have enough of the clothes I actually wear? To be sure, making a great, basic, top that you know you'll want to wear every day is a great step towards making a wearable wardrobe - but that's only one top! That gets you, like, one day! Ideally you'd have enough of those tops to fill an entire two weeks worth of I-have-nothing-to-wear moments!

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Which leads me to the TNT pattern. My longterm sewing goal is to build a pattern library of weekly go-to's - the sort of things I wear on a day to day basis, when I'm not taking blog photos, or doing anything more glamorous than making dinner. And then actually make them! Again and again ad nauseum. Pieces like I'm wearing here, in this post. Consider this my rather unapologetic 'real me' look.

I love skinny pants and loose fitting, button-up shirts (in the summer I also love my silk dresses). I feel good in this look - confident. I don't feel over-dressed. I can take on pretty much all tasks that my day might throw at me. And I like the versatility of the look - pair it with a blazer and nice shoes and I'm ready for a meeting.

But I've made lots of patterns that I've loved. They looked good on me. I've enjoyed the experience of sewing them. I wear them pretty regularly. I've even sworn I'd make them again. And yet I don't... which has led me to ponder: what makes a TNT pattern?

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So far, I've made my Built by Wendy pants pattern 4 times (the most recent iteration is this pair of jeans I'm wearing here - in all their saggy knee-ed glory - and no, they haven't been laundered recently either) and the Archer 3 times. And I don't think they're going anywhere anytime soon. I've decided that they share the same properties that, for me, makes them TNT patterns:
  1. They look like RTW things I already own, love, and wear, or have already worn, literally, to shreds. This winter I wore the same, old, ratty, red plaid shirt pretty much every day until it dawned on me that adding another to my closet might not be a bad idea!
  2. They can be made in a variety of fabrics and patterns without losing their integrity. I've made my Archers in lightweight linen, sheer silk, and now thick cozy flannel - and each one worked beautifully.
  3. It's easy to tweak the pattern to make it, truly, made for me. Sometimes you stumble upon a pattern that just fits you, but more often than not you have to make that pattern fit you. Let's be honest, I'm not going to wrestle with an ill-fitting pattern to make it work for me - I have better things to do (and sew) and besides... been there, done that (ahem! coughcoughclovers... ) But if it's just a matter of straightening out the hip curve here (BbW pants) or narrowing the shoulder there (Archer) than we're in business.
  4. They can easily be used to create a different style of garment. I haven't tried this yet with the Archer, although I have plans to, but I've used my BbW pattern to create shorts, pants of different leg widths - even leggings! And they have never failed.
  5. I reach for earlier iterations of the pattern day after day, especially when I might not be feeling so great (bloated, tired... hungover... you know... generally kind of blah). As I said, this look is pretty much my daily uniform.
  6. It can't be so simple that it bores me to even think of making it. There will always be a time and a place for easy patterns that come together in just a few hours, but, generally, I like a little bit of a challenge when I sew. Whether it be perfecting my topstitching or matching plaids, or finding the best way to finish a collar stand, I need something that's going to hold my interest.
And there you have it! Hopefully throughout my sewing life I will find more beloved patterns, and maybe one day I'll get to the point where I can open my closet and know exactly what to wear!
But maybe first I need some to see a shrink about that 'newness' issue, and get my laundry habits up to par? ... Nah!

So what are your TNT patterns? Or what do you look for in a TNT pattern? And do you have the perfect wardrobe yet?

xx

43 comments:

  1. That's a great description of a TNT pattern! I have the opposite problem to most people which is if I'm going to spend time and money sewing something it's really tempting to make something I KNOW that I love.

    I have two TNTs:

    Simplicity 2343 - the perfect pencil skirt! Now adapted for maximum wiggle, sitting ease and pegged-ness (I think I just invented that): http://cashmerette.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/if-it-aint-broke-make-it-in-japanese.html

    Christine Jonson's wrap dress pattern... I have so many!
    http://cashmerette.blogspot.com/p/wrap-dress-central.html

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  2. Um... this rings true for me. Have you seen the top and short set that I've been working on since, oh, November? I posted about my "failed" attempts twice. Side note: what's with the quotation marks, today?!? Well, I'm hoping it will become a TNT pattern. I love the silhouette - I think it's quirky, retro, and will be an easy outfit to put together like a dress (a one-stop-shop). Rather than making my TNT out of simple fabrics over and over again, I think mine will be made in standout, wild fabrics. As I grow into the seamstress I want to be and look back at the projects that were successes, all of them were simple but made with interesting fabrics (i.e. the yellow Japanese dress). Many times, they're made with home dec fabrics too!

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  3. i'm completely in agreement! this was my goal at the start of 2013, and i've been building on my every day wearables ever since. grainline's archer, scout tee, moss mini... sewaholic's renfrew and thurlows... those are my most used patterns. and (largely due to your inspiration) i've been tackling my first pair of jeans.


    love this archer, it's a pattern i just never tire of seeing!

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  4. GIRL. I love that you made the Archer in that fabric because I have the same freakin fabric also planned for an Archer (as in, I'm just waiting for a spare moment to swoop in and start cutting! I already have the fabric prewashed and everything, ha!). ARCHER TWINS YAY

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  5. Love it! Great Archer and great sentiments too.

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  6. This shirt is so cute, with great details. It should be a wardrobe staple. I know I would like to grab it out of my computer and try it right on!

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  7. I agree with you on TNT patterns. I myself have very few patterns and reuse them often. On an everyday basis I wear loose dresses (like Washi or knit dresses), tees (all made from renfrew, that pattern is very adaptable) and jeans. When I'm stressed I like to sew knits and when I have more time and concentration I make jeans or jackets(love sewing jackets ;) ) This way, my wardrobe consists only of cake and I have to learn to make frosting :) But on the other side I can wear my handmades everyday.
    Btw, your jeans look stunning, with so much rtw styling.

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  8. I guess my best TNT pattern is the Grainline maritime shorts- they're not really fun to sew (for me anyway! Those flys get me every time) but they are what I want to put on when I'm lounging around at home, or heading out for errands. The Archer, too. (I love your plaid version! It just says "effortless" style & comfort) to me!

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  9. Almost everything I make is everyday or work wear. I have a lot to choose from each morning, but I still always like 'new' things :) I agree that you need a good variety of clothes that suit 'blah' days and comfort is a must. I love your Archer too. I think I've made 4 now :)

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  10. Great Archer! The Archer pattern is quickly becoming one of my tnt patterns.. I've been thinking about which patterns could become my tnt patterns, and I think the saltspring dress should also be on that list. I'm going to start with the Colette wardrobe architect this week and try to figure out a better way to get a more 'put together' wardrobe. So far I often just make something because I feel like it, not even thinking about being able to mix it with other pieces or wearability..

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  11. Interesting thoughts Sallie. Having not really sewn anything I can wear for what feels like a lifetime now, I'm noticing the gaps even more because buying RTW stuff just kinda sucks. Don't hesitate to blog the basics, though! We love everything you made. Plaid rocks :)

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  12. Looks comfy casual cozy - three "c's" I live by! I just read an article about how women are much more influenced by the revolving door of style trends rather than establishing a wardrobe of quality staples they keep for years. Hence their wardrobes become ones of transitory throwaways. All if you creating your own closet are going to be very much the antithesis if this trend. You're not going to have the huge bag of unwanted clothes for Goodwill every season as each of your closets occupants are like good friends - you've chosen carefully, tweaked them to fit you just right and can depend on them to be what you need. How lucky you are!
    You should, however, still do your wash more often! :)

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  13. This is such an interesting post. I'm aiming to get myself some TNT patterns as I've realised the things I wear most are the simplest - Colette meringue without scallops, V1247 skirt, and Grainline Scout & tiny pocket tank. I agree that it's the endless fabric choices & variations that make something a TNT.

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  14. erm. can one of you archer ladies just make me a shirt already? KTHX.


    a TNT for me is a pattern with a perfect fit-- then i know i can play with fabric choices till the cows come home.


    (does it take a long time for the cows to come home?)

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  15. What a great plaid shirt! Completely cozy.
    I realized I had plenty of fun stuff, but not the basics that tied everything together. Last summer I did 4 linen button down shirts from that Jalie pattern in colors that went with everything. Immediately it seemed to triple my wardrobe.
    I'm trying to do the french capsule wardrobe thing - with American comfort, of course! I like the idea of a bunch of quality neutral basics that make the colorful stuff work.

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  16. Such an adorable plaid, so cute on you! I would have to say my most TNT pattern is the Built by Wendy dress 3964, I made it 4 times! I have slowed a bit in wearing it, so my new goal is to make myself up some silk blouses to wear to work, and as you said, I am always reaching for the jeans, so using the BBW pants pattern as you did to sew myself up some is also on my to do list. I do get much wear out my Gerard coat, and would love to make up another, my mom has asked me for one as well .

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  17. YAY ARCHER TWIINNNZZZZ! This plaid just screams "ARCHERRRRR!!!" From, like, a mile away. You were totally my inspiration for this, btw!

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  18. Haha, I have this same fabric, too, but Blake picked it out for a buttondown. :)

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  19. I love this on you! It's the perfect shirt! This would be the perfect TNT pattern for me if I could find the time to make it again! I have nearly a week's worth of plaid buttondowns from Uniqlo that get worn over and over and over again, but I'd like to have another week's worth of handmade shirts. Somehow I always get distracted from making more! I also love the BHL Victoria blazer. It's just what I want to throw on over a buttondown or t-shirt to feel more jazzy. If I can bite the bullet and make a pair of jeans, I'll be set with those three patterns for most of my everyday wear!

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  20. www.tresbienensemble.comFebruary 11, 2014 at 8:13 AM

    I totally agree that most of us who sew strive to have a personalized me-made wardrobe. Similarly, coming to terms with the types of clothes we wear vs. the types of clothing we're sewing is a process I think most sewers go through. I think you're walking down the right path with the Archer blouse. Having a dozen or more of these would be a great foundation for a daily wardrobe.

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  21. Your shirt is so something I would wear! I've been dying to make a plaid flannel Archer! Les sigh.... It looks so comfy! Lovely plaid matching too!

    I loved reading this because I'm very very passionate about this sort of everyday wardrobe thing. Seriously. I had a closet full of clothing that I never wore because they were the types of things that I didn't reach for all the time. I reach for pjs, so a cross between the comfort of pj's and appropriateness for everyday is so important to me. I lead a life where I have to wear so many business hats and that means I have to have a versatile wardrobe. One that can cook, clean, go to the shop, fill shipping orders and the like. I can't trot around all day in a frock that is binding, constrictive and fits perfectly before lunch tummy! I finally had to get real with myself and make things that still looked chic and beautiful but that I could still move around in. And just as a side note, I find it terribly interesting that when I meet people who do wear over the top things on their blog, they are never wearing that stuff in person. Not sayin I don't love the over the top (cause I do) or that its bad in any way, I just find it interesting. And I had to realize that this is not me. I want to make things that I reach for all the time. All. the. time. And not those things that I slaved over that I've only ever worn once - and that was for the blog shoot.....

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  22. great post! and i love this sneak peek at the dressed down you. :-)

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  23. OMG, I just posted this exact same shirt, we could be twins, same fabric, same pattern and same bias use! I am with you I want garments I can wear and use in my daily life. Thanks for a great post.

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  24. Ha!!! I don't think we're the only ones, either! This fabric + pattern combo was a match made in cozy-shirt-heaven!

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  25. I'm so happy you posted this! And so happy you went full country with the pearl snaps. I really gotta make this Archer already. If only I could invent a time machine. That made time. Speaking of TNTs, you should give the free Dear & Doe t-shirt a try. I made a short sleeved one out of rayon jersey and its a total love affair.

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  26. I love it - you could do some serious living in this outfit! I am in thorough agreement with your assessment of a TNT pattern. When I first started sewing, I kept on making sleeveless dresses and felt puzzled as to how I could be sewing constantly and still find getting dressed difficult! I think another sneaky sign you've got a TNT on your hands is that nobody asks you if you made whatever you're wearing.

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  27. Oh that's a super good point! I couldn't agree more!

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  28. Oh gosh I really need to give it a go! I definitely need a drapey t-shirt pattern in my TNT arsenal.

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  29. Haha! As I was making this Nick kept asking "is that for me?" But I decided my flannel needs were greater than his this winter!

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  30. The only thing missing is my top knot, which really is my day to day look!

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  31. Dare you to buy more and be twinsies! ;)

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  32. !!!! Next year's Christmas Card.

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  33. Love this! You look so relaxed and happy wearing it, so it must be a winner. There are a couple of me-made patterns I basically wear nearly every day now. I feel comfortable and stylish in them at the same time - what more could I ask for? The Archer shirt is inching towards the top of my to sew list...

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  34. I admit to have a closet full of handmade clothes and nothing to wear. Sewing more practical clothes had been in my mind for sometime but I keep pushing it away and sew more pretty dresses. After reading your post, I intend to find ways to have more everyday clothes. I should start with a shirt because I don't have any button down shirt! Thank you for your post!

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  35. Firstly, this is your blog, so you should post as many Archers as you want - we'll never be bored of reading about them! :) Secondly, great post! I have read a lot about TNTs but never given much thought as to what makes one. I think the only one I have so far is the Grainline Scout, which I've made in 3 different fabrics: voile, silk and sequins - I think that pretty much covers your points 2 and 4! i think a lot (probably most) sewists are guilty of sewing "pretty things" without much thought about what they wear. I mostly make things that I can wear to work (dresses, skirts) and I've always been happy about that - but now that I am pregnant and about to go on year's maternity leave, (body shape changes aside) I know that none of those will be worn, and I'll revert to my standard weekend RTW uniform of skinny jeans, tees and cardigans. There are a number of bloggers ruminating on much the same thing right now, and while it never bothered me before, it is something I am starting to think about. Thanks for your insight on the subject!

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  36. I love this make, and I think you are just spot-on about what qualities make for a real TNT pattern. I'm with you on the Archer love too - I'm wearing my third one today, and since I've found that I want to wear them every single day, I now have fabric bought for a fourth and fifth at home that I can't wait to prewash this weekend! I've adjusted the pattern a little each time (narrowed the shoulder, graded up a size at the hip, drafted a new sleeve placket), and now it is *perfect*. There's something so relaxing about knowing you can just start cutting and sewing a new project without worrying over the results not living up to your expectations, and I love seeing my skills improve with each make (my collar construction is finally starting to look semi-professional!).

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  37. Never apologize for sewing more Archers lol. It's an amazing pattern and you could sew it 1,000 times and make it slightly different almost every time. I'm feeling ya on the whole "nothing to wear" issue. I'm generally uninspired by clothing lately ...maybe it's the weather. I'm really looking forward to sewing for Spring! I suppose I should look for inspiration in that. I'm also dying to find a TNT pattern that I can reach for on a "blah" day and sew something I love and feel instantly better! ...I don't have one of those yet lol. Here's to TNT patterns for warmer weather :)

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  38. A Stitching OdysseyFebruary 12, 2014 at 4:20 PM

    I've got my 2nd Archer in the pipeline and I couldn't agree more about what a lovely and versatile pattern it is! You version above is perfection! Also, I think you hit a nerve with us all regarding the 'nothing to wear' predicament! I've been sewing almost 4 years and I still don't feel I've got wardrobe (handmade or RTW) that I'm happy with. I may have to undergo a similar analysis like you have done...really useful! Lastly...how long is your beautiful hair?!? The length kind of snuck up on me as you often wear it up on the blog...it's lovely!

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  39. I've done five Archer's, with another up next week. No joke. I won't even lie. I also stalked your jeans post, got the Built by Wendy book, and I'm planning to do another pair of jeans this spring. So, yea TNT for the win. I think the only simple one in there is the Renfrew, but now I'm off to start on the Plantain. So . . .

    I really like this Archer . . . I just bought some black checkered because I spotted a Coldwater Creek Ad and said "Hey, that's an Archer and I want it!" No, with your blue plaid I might get the blue checkered print too.

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  40. justine, sewcountrychickFebruary 15, 2014 at 2:41 PM

    Cute top! I've made a few Colette patterns multiple times, the Oolong and the Wrap one. Lately I'm experimenting with making variations of tops based on my basic block. I know they will always fitbecause the blockfits perfect.

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  41. I was just thinking about this very subject again, and I love your thoughts on it. Especially #6. If I repeat a pattern that works, it has to have some sort of challenge or it ends up in the UFO bin! This is super groovy and I love when you post repeats! I get to see all the little things you changed to make it fresh and yours. Gotta try this pattern some day!

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  42. First I just wanna say that you look HAWT... as always - I lurrrve your casual cowgirl look :) And totally hear ya on the TNT front - it's the holy grail of sewing for me to have a handful of TNT's I keep using over and over. Even after almost three years of sewing I've only managed to find a couple, and I am still in that place where my need for effortless outfits grossly outweighs my actual closet contents. There are still WAY too many days I have nothing to wear, and too many weekly repeats of the same items (I need a TNT pants pattern BADLY!!!! LOL) I'm very encouraged by your progress at finding some great TNT's that work for you - perhaps I'll get there too someday! ^__^

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