Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Moving to More Courage Than Skill!


Hello, lovelies! I've been long discontented with the lack of vision I had for Darling Autodidact. My two current fascinations and frustrations-- pattern drafting and dressmaking-- are occupying so much of my brain that I've decided to move over to a new blog that can better feature my efforts. You can find my new ramblings over at More Courage Than Skill.

Even if you're not a sewing person, I would love to see you there. I'm sure there will be plenty of non-sewing madness to go around!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Hello from today





Unlike every other blogger since the dawn of time, I don't feel particularly apologetic about neglecting this blog. But the more I draw and design and get behind the camera, the more I want to tell the story of this period in my life in images. This week, my focus is patternmaking. Here's what it looks like:

Being supervised by a sleepy little cat
Tweaking my tiny cache of hard-won patterns 
Hypothesizing, scheming, and sketching out the garments I want
Expressing skepticism and cautious optimism over my new dress form

It's tempting to turn these snapshots into a narrative about learning or frustration or the advantages of a go-getting attitude, but I'm trying to check the inner editorializing.

So yeah. This is what I've been up to.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Needlessly Opinionated Recipe: Refrigerator Pancakes

stack of pancakes, refrigerator pancakes

farm fresh eggs

the perfect pancake breakfast

You! Must make these pancakes!

Note well that I do not say "you must spend all bloody morning measuring mixing, frying, flipping, and storing the extra pancakes, taking forever and getting hella crabby by the time you're out of batter, all because there are only two of you in the household and despite your most valiant efforts, your stomach's capacity for flapjacks is finite." 

Whew. No. I like you better than that. 

This recipe neatly sidesteps a lot of the above nonsense. You do all the recipe-concoting the night before. In the morning, you cook exactly how many pancakes you want and put the batter back in the fridge. The batter lasts forever (okay, for about three days) without fizzling out, so you can have fresh pancakes all weekend long with minimal effort.

It's pancake liberation! Follow me!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Finished Project: Red Gingham Dress


Guys. Guys. GUYS. (Ladies.)

I made this dress. Not only did I start with fabric and turn it into a garment-- oh no. I made the pattern. I took my measurements and did math to them and now I can make obsessively personalized clothing. 

I'm overusing italics, but even that doesn't convey how excited this makes me. 



I've been struggling with Jack Handford's Professional Patternmaking for Designers for a couple months. The process to making your own patterns is surprisingly simple. You:

  1.  Take some detailed measurements, 
  2. Draw your pattern according to the book's directions,
  3. and fiddle with your pattern until 
    • It fits, or
    • The sun explodes and the earth disintegrates into a pile of ash. (Whichever comes first. It was a near thing for me.)
If you've ever tried to develop your own pattern blocks, you'll know that my frock here is certainly not Vionnet-level brilliance. Creative patterning this ain't. The print doesn't match very well. The sleeves still need some rotating and the bodice darts are crying to be fixed.

But I couldn't've dreamt of doing anything like this a year ago. I put the zip into the lined bodice without swearing once. I wore it out of the house. 


This is visible progress and encouragement to keep going. Hooray!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Finished Project: Yet Another Dang Skirt + Cowl


What hail, gentlefolk! I've been seriously neglecting you all this autumn, and I have little to show for all the time I've spent not blogging. But look, at least there is this skirt!



Fabric: 2 yards free cotton sateen-ish stuff from Fabric Mart
Pattern: All drafted by me, right down to the pockets
Year: 2012
Notions: 9' invisible zip, $.25, some interfacing, maybe $1?
First Worn: August 2012
Wear Again: Obviously!
Time to Complete: 3 hours
Total Cost: Less than $2-- hooray!

Circle skirt + Botanical Gardens is totally a pre-Thanksgiving tradition, now-- I made a similar skirt and a similar visit during this week last year! I am delightfully predictable. 

I am an easily frustrated lady. It's easy for me to think that I learn too slowly or can't do things well, so it's an incredible relief to have concrete proof that this year's projects are infinitely better than last's. 



Maybe I'll even show y'all how I did these slanty side pockets! I forgot to grab a photo, but I'm obnoxiously pleased with 'em.


This scarf-- cowl? loop? thing? is an old, old finished project-- from last Christmas, in fact! It's literally the first (and to date, only) thing I've ever knitted successfully. 

If you would like to whip up one yourself or for a buddy, the pattern is Jen Geigley's Gap-Tastic Cowl, available on Ravelry. It seemed like a really fast project, even for a remedial knitter like myself. Make one for the winter, make one for Christmas presents. Hooray!


Now it's your turn-- what are you makin'? Warm things for winter? Christmas presents? Plots for world domination? Inquiring minds (re: I) want to know!