What Works/What Doesn’t: Chunky Tweed Vintage Jacket

Readers,

It’s time to play another round of What Works/What Doesn’t. This is the game where I analyze a wardrobe item that’s been puzzling me. It could be something I made, or bought, or accepted as a gift or hand-me-down.  Some things about it appeal to me, but other things do not.

The Chunky Tweed Vintage Jacket dates from the 1950s. It has a zip-out wool lining.

The Chunky Tweed Vintage Jacket dates from the 1950s. It has a zip-out wool lining.

If a garment meets any of these qualifications:

  • I’ve worn it more out of a vague sense of obligation than of pleasure
  • I’ve passed it over not only when planning the day’s outfit but also when donating to charities
  • I keep thinking “This has potential!” but have never bothered to define what that is

then it is a great candidate for What Works/What Doesn’t.

I replaced the worn leather buttons with brick red buttons. I know there's a better button choice out there.

I replaced the worn leather buttons with brick red buttons. I know there’s a better button choice out there. I like the collar, which can be worn down or up, buttoned or open.

This game arose out of my aversion to the age-old advice to ditch wardrobe items you haven’t worn in a year. (Umm…that rant deserves its own post.)

Let’s get started.  Today’s garment is the Chunky Tweed Vintage Jacket. I’m guessing it dates from the mid- to late 1950s.

I bought this maybe ten years ago at a cute little antiques store that had a rack or two of vintage clothes and hats.

Impromptu modeling in the dining room.

Impromptu modeling in the dining room.

I remember marveling at the perfect fit and the smart lines. It had a wool zip-out lining in an improbably backwoodsy-looking plaid. I liked how I looked in it. And it was a very reasonable price, to my mind: $25.

When I saw this photo I noticed this felt like a good proportion for me. The three-quarters-length sleeves call out for gloves or bracelets.

When I saw this photo I noticed this felt like a good proportion for me. The three-quarters-length sleeves call out for gloves or bracelets.

I removed the beat-up, original, gray leather buttons and found the best substitute I could: these brick red buttons available in sizes to fit both the front closure and the sleeve tabs.  I knew at the time they weren’t a perfect choice.

Accessories! Now we're getting somewhere!

Accessories! Now we’re getting somewhere!

Either I didn’t know when I bought it or else I optimistically overlooked the fact when I tried on the Chunky Tweed Vintage Jacket that it scratched like the dickens. Which probably explains why it was in such great condition.  It didn’t get worn a whole lot.

Long gloves and a hat begin to make an outfit.

Long gloves and a hat begin to make an outfit.

Still, somebody, or a string of somebodies, kept it all these years, for sentimental reasons or because It Had Potential. And I carried on the tradition.

This tweed has flecks of other colors in it.

This tweed has flecks of other colors in it.

Oh, I did wear it a few times, to work on library reference desks, feeling equal parts smartly dressed and maddeningly itchy where the sleeve lining ended and the wool rubbed my forearms, and where the collar was in contact with my neck. I did find a maroon turtleneck sweater with three-quarters-length sleeves that solved the itching problem but made me feel like my own blast furnace.  I have never experienced a hot flash, but maybe this sweater-jacket combination gave a similar effect.

Now that could be another reason this jacket didn’t get a lot of wear over the decades.

I used to think gray was gray. Now I see that gray can have green or yellow in it...

I used to think gray was gray. Now I see that gray can have green or yellow in it…

So perhaps this jacket was meant to be worn outside–except that the sleeves were only three-quarters length. Now it’s obvious to me that the jacket was begging for long gloves.  A few years ago, though, I just didn’t get this.  I went around with forearms ungloved outdoors and unbraceleted indoors. Ignorant, I now know.

In short, I acquired a garment minus the operating instructions and fell short of understanding, much less fulfilling its potential.

Still, I sensed this jacket and I could have a fine life together if only I could figure out how. I would drop it in a charity donation pile only to give it a furtive reprieve and hang it back in the closet.

...or red or orange in it.

…or red or orange in it.

I finally told myself, Don’t keep not deciding.  Whether I was going to send the Chunky Tweed Vintage Jacket back into the flow or keep and wear it, I would have to understand the reasons why.

When my photographer visited three months ago I enlisted her in my quest. We pushed the dining room table and chairs to one side and pulled back the draperies. I donned the jacket over a neutral top and pants while Cynthia stood on a kitchen stool focusing her camera and encouraging me to act natural.

Instead of wearing black with the jacket, I can wear gray brightened up with yellow.

Instead of wearing black with the jacket, I can wear gray brightened up with yellow.

Be good enough to overlook my acting ability and check out this jacket. It does work. It just needs the right supporting cast. I’m realizing that after asking What works? and What doesn’t? it’s useful to ask “What does this need to work?” Because even a wardrobe item that’s wonderful on its own can be disappointing if it’s not part of an ensemble that works.

Rummaging around I found my only pair of long gloves, a gift from a vintage-loving sister. See how these gloves enhance this jacket? Such a difference.

Add the matching scarf for even more eye-popping color. What color gloves would be fun?

Add the matching scarf for even more eye-popping color. What color gloves would be fun?

Playing up the burgundy flecks in the tweed I wore my plush Ignatius Creegan hat. Now I can imagine having long burgundy suede gloves to match–maybe a whole burgundy theme: sweater or blouse, pants or skirt, hose, shoes.

I was drawn to the texture of the tweed and the lines of this jacket but had always had reservations about all the grays in it. It’s only recently that I realized that there are grays–deep ones like charcoal, and warm-toned grays based in the red, orange, yellow and chartreuse Color Tool cards–that work well for me.

I threw on this favorite yellow raincoat just for fun. I'm looking at the color, first, and the lighthearted feel. I want that feel in the outfits I create with the Chunky Tweed Vintage Jacket.

I threw on this favorite yellow raincoat just for fun. I’m looking at the color, first, and the lighthearted feel. I want that feel in the outfits I create with the Chunky Tweed Vintage Jacket.

I also recognize that, given my coloring (I’ve been identified as a “contrasting Autumn”) and style preferences, I’m happiest playing up contrasts.

This jacket has a lot of contrast potential:

  • Chunky lines over sleek lines: pair with very simple, streamlined pants or skirts
  • Coarse over smooth: play up the tweed against flat weaves or knits
  • Coarse with napped: pair the jacket with plush hats, suede gloves and shoes
  • Neutral shades with bright color, like greenish yellow
  • Neutral shades with deep color, like burgundy
  • Dark neutrals with a lighter neutral skirt or pants and a shot of color in the top and accessories

I may have missed a few possibilities, but still, I can see that this jacket could be an active part of my wardrobe. The coordinates I already have, and the ones I could add through buying and sewing, would work with a lot of my other garments in color, style and fit. That’s key: determining not only “What works?” but “What does it work with?”

The long version of this topper from 1956 bears some similarities to my jacket. Notice the short gloves.

The long version of this topper from 1956 bears some similarities to my jacket. Notice the short gloves.

Something else that’s key is noticing whether these coordinates and outfits I have in mind feel like a natural fit with my tastes, occasions, activities, roles I play, and where I see myself going. They do.

However, my ideas need to be road-tested. In 2014 I’ll post a follow-up about whether  the Chunky Tweed Vintage Jacket really has become the wardrobe staple I imagine it could be.

By that time I may even have learned how to act natural.

(Photographs of me are by Cynthia DeGrand.)

Packing with a Plan

Readers,

A month from now I’ll be in London for the Fashion and Textile Museum’s short course Tailoring with Savile Row Tailors.  More than a week ago I started thinking  about what to pack in case I needed time to sew or buy something for this trip.

I’ve traveled quite a lot and packed many a suitcase in my time. More than a decade ago, I saw how many preparations are the same from trip to trip and wrote out a stack of index cards as memory aids.

Before there were apps there were index cards. My travel reminders.

Before there were apps there were index cards. My travel reminders.

Nevertheless, every trip has characteristics that distinguish it from all the others I’ve taken that may influence what I pack. That’s the puzzle I still have to work out every time. What will be or could be different this time that I could plan for? (Would it surprise you that I scored high in foresight in that battery of tests I took at the Johnson O’Connor Research Foundation?)

Can my chart help me think about this?

Test-driving my chart. Can it help me plan a travel wardrobe?

Test-driving my chart. Can it help me plan a travel wardrobe?

Well, when I pack for a trip I think a lot about what I’ll be doing. What occasions will I or might I participate in? (I’m using “occasion” until I find a better way to describe activities governed by some kind of social rules.)

  • a class at a museum taught by a master tailor
  • going through airport security
  • flying
  • eating out with classmates
  • going to fabric stores with local sewing bloggers

What would I expect the moods of these occasions to be?

  • friendly
  • respectful
  • serious (airport security)

    A candidate for this trip: one of the jackets I made from a 1941 pattern.

    A candidate for this trip: one of the jackets I made from a 1941 pattern.

What physical activities will I do?

  • hoisting my suitcase on and off trains and up and down flights of stairs
  • walking miles of city streets
  • reading maps
  • sitting in airports, on planes, and in the classroom
  • sleeping (trying to, anyway) on planes
  • hand-stitching in class
  • photographing
  • writing by hand and on computer
  • doing light housekeeping at the flat where I’ll be staying
  • doing mat-type Pilates exercises at the flat

You get the idea.

Light, warm, washable--and I can sleep in it on the plane.

Light, warm, washable–and I can sleep in it on the plane.

What roles will I be playing on this trip?

  • passenger
  • student
  • classmate
  • tourist
  • diner
  • shopper
  • blogger
  • photographer

What physical conditions will I encounter?

  • On the plane: could be drafty, overheated or underheated, and cramped. There could be glaring light, or noise from passengers or the plane.
  • London: darkness. Short, overcast days. Chilly, damp, raw weather. Possibly windy, especially near the river. Rain, maybe even snow.
  • London Underground and train platforms: chilly
  • Indoors: probably fine, but could be drafty

    Wool jacket, cashmere sweater: a start to an outfit for London in January.

    Wool jacket, cashmere sweater: a start to an outfit for London in January.

Answering these questions helped me visualize my trip so much better than before:

  • Walking along the Thames on a winter day with sleet stinging my face
  • Sleeping in a cramped position on the plane
  • Being around people who sew at a high level, or aspire to

And that helped me start gathering clothes for my trip.

Packing is when I become extra aware of how versatile garments for travel need to be. When I pull a clothing item for a trip, I ask, What other wardrobe items could this go with, and are they appropriate? What are the gaps?

Maybe the gap can be filled sewing from my stashes. What patterns, fabrics, and buttons could I use?

Maybe I'll sew something for this trip.

Maybe I’ll sew something for this trip.

Some gaps may have to be filled with purchases. I may look for sturdy, warm and dry shoes or boots for this trip.

All of these questions so far are about what I can reasonably expect based on past experience and present circumstances. But what about the future? What could I be moving into?

  • What new occasions might I be initiating or participating in?
  • What new roles could I be playing?
  • What new activities might I be undertaking on this trip, or as a result of it?

I don’t know yet, but they’ll probably involve getting things sewn.

I’ll be ready.

Test, test, test: can these categories really help me plan my wardrobe and travel better?

Test, test, test: can these categories really help me plan my wardrobe and travel better?

Temperamental Journey

Readers,

It’s late August, the Minnesota State Fair is underway, and tomorrow’s forecast is for the upper 90s. But my mind has turned to sewing for fall.

Tomorrow I’ll leave on a ten-day trip to Ohio and New York. By the time I get back to the sewing domain, it will be after Labor Day. I’ll ride out any remaining summer-like weather with my present wardrobe.

Onward to the many months of cool and cold weather where I live, where it’s worth building tailoring skills to turn out wonderful jackets, trousers and coats in wool.

My fabric table at the annual Textile Center fabric garage sale, wearing a coat I made.

Wearing a coat I made, at my favorite table at the annual Textile Center fabric garage sale.

I love woolens. Horse blanket plaids, Harris tweeds, cashmere blends, crepes, flannels, houndstooths, herringbones and pinstripes–all inspire me. I have the wool stash to prove it, too.  I have pieces from sewing expo vendors; Textile Center fabric garage sales; travels to Chicago, Washington, New York and San Francisco; and local stores. In fact, my wools comprise the bulk of my fabric stash in more ways than one.

One might conclude that so much wool would afford me a lot of freedom in pattern-selecting and -sewing, but to tell the truth, I’ve become overly possessive of my precious yardage. Like the wine connoisseur who never finds just the right occasion to open that special vintage, I loathe cutting into particular fabrics even though I long to wear them!

A souvenir from my travels that's waiting to be transformed into a jacket.

A souvenir from my travels that’s waiting to be transformed into a jacket.

A ridiculous and self-defeating attitude, I know, which I’m determined to conquer.

Actually, conquering is the wrong approach.  Working with my temperament–not browbeating it into submission, which will only make it rebel–is the way to go.

This is waiting in the wings to be a jacket or coat.

This is waiting in the wings to be a jacket or coat.

It occurred to me that once again, the battery of tests I took at the Johnson O’Connor Research Foundation almost three years ago offers an invaluable insight that will form the basis of the solution.

My scores in divergent thinking were high. I have a rapid flow of ideas (nobody said they were good ideas, by the way) and a fair amount of foresight. My favorite way of starting a sentence is with the words “I could…”  I like possibilities and alternatives. I am what author Barbara Sher calls a “scanner:” someone who wants to do many, many things.

On the other hand, my scores in convergent thinking were very low. And I do find it difficult to draw conclusions or commit to plans of action without a lot of deliberation.

Will I EVER make up my mind?

Will I EVER make up my mind?

Hence, in spite of quite a few finished projects, the nagging stashes of unused fabrics, patterns and buttons that alternately tempt and taunt me.

So, what’s the solution?

I have an idea. How about leveraging someone else’s convergent thinking? Such thinking must acknowledge my liking for possibilities and alternatives but move me toward producing results.

I came across such thinking a couple of years ago in a book by image consultant Brenda Kinsel called In the Dressing Room With Brenda: A Fun and Practical Guide to Buying Smart and Looking Great. In that book she describes having a great wardrobe through planning outfits, or “capsules.” Individual garments and accessories can be combined in various ways to create capsules to suit every occasion and need. Kinsel then gives several examples including the Jean Capsule, the Traditional Work Capsule, the Accessory Capsule, and more.

A jacket I made that needs more coordinates.  (Photo: Cynthia DeGrand)

A jacket I made that needs more coordinates. (Photo: Cynthia DeGrand)

A simple concept, granted, and yet rarely put into practice. I myself have labored over numerous tailored jackets only to relegate them to the closet most of the time. I didn’t make the most of my efforts by planning capsules around them.

Well, that’s going to change. Brenda Kinsel’s idea of capsules is a gift to this divergent thinker, offering a balance of creative limits and creative possibilities.

I’m going to test this capsule concept, along with my chart, in the coming months. It’s not enough to produce individual garments. The next step is to make wonderful, functional combinations with them–and then take those combinations out for a spin.

After all, getting things sewn is just the prelude to getting things worn.

What Works/What Doesn’t

Readers,

The infamous green scarf.

The infamous green scarf.

Maybe you remember a post titled Anatomy of a Dud: The Green Scarf, in which I modeled a regrettable purchase.

I’ve rethought that post.

Oh, I still think the scarf is a dud for me. And I was imposing a look on myself, and that doesn’t work.

One thing the scarf has going for it: a great color. It matches a green sweater I wear frequently.

One thing the scarf has going for it: a great color. It matches a green sweater I wear frequently.

So, what does work?

If I want to do more than just avoid duds, but to find and make things to create a wonderful wardrobe, I need to distinguish what works and what doesn’t.

Obviously.

What I’ve realized since the green scarf post is that no item in my wardrobe is all good or all bad.  That almost everything has features that work for me and features that don’t. And that it’s extremely useful–even entertaining–to take one item and sort out what works and what doesn’t.

I tested this idea on the green scarf using the chart I sketched out.  For each category in the Individual and Context columns I asked myself, “What works? What doesn’t?”

Individual

  • Color: Does this color work for me?   It matches a shade on the Chartreuse card of the 3 in 1 Color Tool. Those yellow-green shades go great with my eye color. Yes.
  • Personality: Does this work with my personality? When I wear this scarf I feel upstaged. I feel like it’s getting the attention, not me. So, that’s a no.
  • Silhouette: Does this create a silhouette that works for me? It does bring the eye up, which is good, but because it overwhelms me, this gets a no.

    The scarf matches a shade on the Chartreuse card. The complementary colors of Red-Violet are also wonderful. But the great color can't overcome the other problems.

    The scarf matches a shade on the Chartreuse card. The complementary colors of Red-Violet are also wonderful. But the great color can’t overcome the other problems.

  • Style: Does this work with my sense of style? I like texture, and that’s part of what attracted me to this scarf. But actually, it doesn’t have a whole lot of texture. What it has a lot of is bulk.  I hadn’t made that distinction before. Aha!
  • Fit: Does the way this fits work for me? I thought this was a funny question to ask about a scarf. Then I thought, no–it doesn‘t fit. It’s the wrong scale for me. Too much scarf is crowded into too small a space.
  • Physical characteristics: Does this work with whatever physical characteristics apply? I get cold a lot, and I like warmth around my neck. This is wool and silk, so it should be warm.

    Two fabrics from my stash that have texture without the bulk.

    Two fabrics from my stash that have texture without the bulk.

  • What I’m growing into: Does this work with any new ways I’m seeing myself?  I’m certainly not seeing myself as a bulky scarf person. No.

On to Context.

  • Occasions. Does this work with the occasions I attend?  I keep seeing this as the kind of thing you’d expect to see at a gallery opening, or at an event at the Textile Center of Minnesota–places where artsy, handcrafted garments and jewelry are the norm. But I never go to gallery openings or Textile Center events. This is a big no.
    Not practical for my life in the sewing room, kitchen, or dining room.

    Not practical for my life in the sewing room, kitchen, or dining room.


  • Activities. Does this work with activities I do? I wouldn’t sew, or iron, or cut out patterns, or work in the kitchen wearing this scarf–it would get in the way. I wouldn’t wear it sitting at a dinner party or standing with a glass of wine or a plate of appetizers for the same reason. So, no.
  • Roles. Does this work with roles I play in social situations? Right. I can just imagine hosting a tea and getting jam and clotted cream all over this. No.
  • Physical conditions. Does this work with the kinds of weather or indoor conditions I find myself in? Yes-cold weather, and I can see myself wearing this on a plane that’s drafty and chilly.

    This sweater has lots of texture, which I like, and only a little bulk, which is good.

    This sweater has lots of texture, which I like, and only a little bulk, which is good.

  • Mood of the occasion. Does this work with the formal or informal, happy or somber, businesslike or casual moods of the situations I’m in? Good question. I see that I can’t quite figure out where this scarf falls on these continuums. I don’t know what mood it expresses, which is somewhat maddening.
  • Other wardrobe items. Does this work with anything else in my wardrobe now? Does it work with outfits in my wardrobe now? A resounding no. It doesn’t work within my present wardrobe at all. In fact, I can’t think of an ensemble it would be part of. This scarf is a classic wardrobe orphan.
  • Fabric, pattern and button stashes. Does this work with fabrics, patterns, or buttons I own, or inspire clear ideas of fabrics or patterns to find to complete an outfit using this item?  I’m stumped. All I can think of is to make very simple knit pieces as blank canvases for this scarf. And I don’t dress that way.
  • What I’m moving into: occasions, activities, roles, etc. Does this work for occasions, activities or roles in my future? I don’t see myself moving in circles where I’d feel average wearing this scarf. I’d always feel self-conscious. Trying to be something I’m not.

This exercise drove me to the same conclusion as before: this scarf doesn’t work for me. The difference is, I know much better why it doesn’t work.

Not only that, but now I know better what does work for me. Soon I could find myself thinking, “That green scarf: great color, but too bulky and fussy for me. But I have this red-violet, soft, chenille-like fabric in my stash that has texture but not bulk. I could make a simple scarf that would be smashing: warm, easy to wear, great color, and I can see it with some of my coats and jackets.”

Now that works.

IMG_2926 (460x345)

A soft, textured red-violet chenille will make a great scarf with two fabrics I’ve sewn into coats.

Planning Zones

Readers,

Part of getting things sewn (the activity) and Getting Things Sewn (the blog) is designing my sewing space.  I was going to write “redesigning my sewing space,” but that implies I designed it at one time.  I realize now that the most I’ve ever done is solve some organizing problems piecemeal.  That is not designing.

My fabrics are in reasonably good order.

My fabrics are in reasonably good order.

Now that I’m focusing with laser intensity on getting things sewn, I see how much the design of one’s workspace can dramatically help or hinder one’s creativity and productivity.

I have a finished basement space of more than 200 square feet that’s helped me produce dozens of shirts, skirts, pants, dresses, jackets and coats, shades, pillows, valances and draperies. So I already have a somewhat functional space.  Nevertheless, a little thought and planning put toward improving its usefulness would be richly rewarded. I’m sure of it.

As I look at my workspace now I see I’ve done a pretty good job with storage. I store my fashion fabrics on open shelves sorted roughly by season and color. Muslin, linings, interfacings are all sorted and have assigned spaces.  I’ve created pattern catalogues from photocopied pattern envelope fronts and backs, page protectors and binders. Sewing projects go onto full-size sheet pans on a commercial, wheeled baker’s rack.

My catalogues arrange patterns by year.

My catalogues arrange patterns by year.

Storage gets pride of place in my sewing space–but that approach has its drawbacks.  It’s as if my space is a holding tank for inventory first, and a place of production a distant second.

I certainly didn’t say to myself, “I’m going to deliberately design a holding tank for fabrics, buttons, patterns, books, magazines and DVDs and then underutilize them! Ha!” But that’s what’s happened by default.

And I didn’t say, “I’m going to buy a serger and deliberately not dedicate a space to it! Ha!” But that’s what’s happened by default.

My experience has been that whatever I dedicate space, time, energy and attention to tends to get done. If any of those things is missing, guess what?

So, as I consider how I can accomplish getting things sewn, I’m looking at how I can intentionally design my workspace to assist me.

Preparing for my planning corner.

Preparing for my planning corner.

I’ve looked at a lot of articles, books, and online forums specifically discussing sewing spaces. But nothing I’ve read has sparked my imagination and spurred me to action like Julie Morgenstern’s idea of identifying activities and creating zones for them from her 1998 book Organizing from the Inside Out: The Foolproof System for Organizing Your Home, Your Office, and Your Life.  Morgenstern calls it “the kindergarten model of organization.”

Yesterday morning I followed Morgenstern’s exercise for defining zones for my sewing space. In under an hour I had listed activities, the supplies to perform those activities, and the types of storage needed for those supplies. (In some cases, I haven’t decided on storage.)

The computer desk and the bulletin board-shelf unit in place.

The computer desk and the bulletin board-shelf unit in place.

In under an hour I’d identified at least a dozen activities: not only sewing, pressing and cutting but researching and planning projects and outfits, writing blog posts, serging, watching sewing DVDs, pattern-altering and -drafting, exercising (which I do daily in that space), repairing garments, photographing for the blog, and entertaining sewing friends.

I listed supplies and storage for each of these activities: work surfaces, tools, equipment, shelving, Peg-Board…not an exhaustive list, but a good start. I included lighting as a supply, too.

This was an enjoyable and instructive exercise that led to action steps right away. I started with the activities I wanted to perform in my space, not a generic list. (No article will advise me about including exercise space in my sewing space plan.) Seeing the activities written out reminded me that they matter, that they deserve room, and that making the room wouldn’t be difficult. It might even be fun.

It's beginning to feel like home already.

It’s beginning to feel like home already.

I love planning sewing projects, but this exercise showed me I had neglected giving it the importance it deserved. I needed a spot where I could gather patterns, swatches, clippings, magazines, and buttons. I’d want a table or desk, lighting, and the laptop, preferably close to my magazines and books.

It would be so easy to create a zone for this essential task; I just had to give project-planning as much importance as I’d given storage all these years. An underused corner of my space worth trying was about 22 inches deep, 45 inches wide, and about 6 feet high at its lowest point. A little desk and a bulletin board would raise my productivity and enjoyment ridiculously.

It so happened that yesterday over a hundred garage sales were going to take place in my neighborhood in a much anticipated annual rite of spring. I pocketed a little metal tape measure, the measurements of my planning zone, and some cash and strolled and browsed for a couple of hours.

The future home of my serger.

The future home of my serger.

An hour and a half into my leisurely search I found a sturdy little computer table 20 inches deep and 47 inches wide, with a desktop unit combining shelving and a bulletin board. A third piece, a matching 20- by 26-inch table, had held a printer.  The three pieces went for $75 total.

I paused. $75 seemed like a lot after seeing so many yard sale furnishings in the $3 to $20 range. Then I came to my senses. I could have my planning zone furnished for $50 and a table dedicated to my serger for $25! Such a deal!

Sold!

I don’t know who was more pleased, me or the owner. His daughter, a Harvard grad now toiling over her thesis at Cambridge University, had used this set. Her dad tried to peel off some stubbornly sticky masking tape placed on the shelving unit years ago that would be at eye level when one was seated at the desk. On it was written “The Communist Manifesto ↓” in the scrawl of a high schooler. (I wondered, “Why the ‘↓’?”)

A souvenir of the previous user.

A souvenir from the previous user.

“What’s she studying?” I asked. “The history of intellectual thought,” he said. “We’re proud of her.”

“Well, this set is going to the home of a sewing blogger. I can’t believe my luck. This is great.”

This afternoon I set up my planning zone. I call it my planning corner. It and I have been inseparable for hours. Within reach are my swatches, pattern catalogues, project binders, camera, laptop computer, phone, Threads magazines, my chart…and that’s just for starters. How did I ever get along without this?

How much better will I get along with this? is the better question.

I’ll do some research and get back to you.

Part of my chart. My wardrobe drives my sewing projects, which drive my sewing space design.

Part of my chart. My wardrobe drives my sewing projects, which drive my sewing space design.