Chataigne Shorts (Deer And Doe)

I’m back with my first truly autumn make! As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve been taking a much needed break from sewing and blogging whilst attempting to cultivate some sort of balance between all of the competing elements of my life. Fortunately, my version of the Chataigne Shorts from Deer and Doe patterns is something that I finished back in the summer and, now that the weather has turned, I’ve been able to take them out for a spin…

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I actually ordered this pattern way back in June, just a couple of weeks before Deer and Doe announced that they were releasing it as a PDF. Living in the middle of the US has definitely made me appreciate the joy of PDF patterns. Since this pattern shipped from France, got lost en route, and had to be resent after a 30 day wait period, it ended up taking about six weeks for me to actually get the pattern to my door. Not ideal. However, this is certainly one of the risks of ordering internationally and, in future, I’ll definitely be using PDFs where I can! The long and short of this is that, what was originally intended to be a summer make, has ended up becoming part of my autumn wardrobe.

Fortunately, I’m someone who has always preferred wearing shorts in the autumn. Although the 100F heat in Missouri has necessitated that I embrace summer-appropriate clothing, I’m infinitely happier when I can pop on a pair of tights and plenty of layers along with my shorts. I decided to make my version of the Chataigne Shorts in a faux suede (that I bought from Joann’s), mirroring the pair shown on the model in the Deer and Doe photos. Not only does the heaviness of the fabric make these shorts nice and toasty, the colour also provides that perfect neutral tan for a lovely autumnal colour palette.

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This particular shorts pattern drew my attention largely because of the super unique details. The pointed shape of the waistband and the neat little darts add a wonderfully tailored look to the garment. There are also some lovely deep pockets on the front and, as you all know, I’m a massive fan of anything with pockets. They were particularly helpful here because it was below freezing when I was taking these photos!

Construction-wise, none of these details posed much of a problem. I did find that it took a bit of fiddling and multiple attempts to get the point of the waistband to line up perfectly with the crotch seam. In the end, I accepted that it was going to be ever so slightly off centre. My husband couldn’t even see the issue but I’m sure many of you will sympathise with the excessive fixation that can accompany those not-quite-perfect sewing moments. I’m getting better about letting them go but I still often feel like I can’t see anything other than the mistake. Tell me that I’m not alone in this! Aside from the waistband, everything else was pretty simple. The instructions were quite clear and easy-to-follow and the shorts themselves close with an invisible zip attached to the side seam. If you’re familiar with this insertion process, you’re already good to go!

There’s also an added cute detail of pocket flaps on the back of the shorts. Unfortunately not full pockets, but the lack of pocket on the butt really helps the garment to lie flat against the body without any lumps or bumps. I was a fan of this particular addition because it was quick, easy, and looks very sweet!

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Fit-wise, I simply followed my measurements and hoped for the best. It worked out because the shorts fit really nicely and comfortably. The top of the waistband sits at the waist and it is worth bearing in mind when fitting that adding the waistband will shift the shorts upwards quite dramatically. So, before attempting to gauge fit, make sure that your waistband is comfortably sewn in place. Overall, I think that the shape and detailing of the shorts makes for an incredibly flattering look. I particularly loved the length of the pattern. I’m always a bit concerned when buying short because, as wonderfully as they may fit when trying them on in a changing room, you never know whether the dreaded ‘ride up’ will occur when out walking. There’s honestly nothing worse, particularly on a hot and sticky summer day. Both with tights and without, the Chataigne Shorts are the perfect length to prevent this from happening. I feel like I could wear them all day without fear of them riding up my thighs (maybe nobody else actually worries about this, but it’s a major review point for me!).

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I would definitely recommend this pattern to anyone in the market for a unique and comfortable pair of shorts. The pattern also comes with an option for a scalloped hem at the bottom of the shorts, if you would prefer this to the cuffed legs. There is also an option for a higher waist! So plenty of choices to suit all styles. I’m very sure that I’ll be making another version of these shorts sometime in the near future. Although I think that the waistband attachment would make this a tough pattern for a beginner, it presents few challenges to sewists with a familiarity with basic techniques and a bit of courage. And, if you’re like me, autumn can actually be the perfect time to whip up some brand new shorts!

How To Find Your Personal Style

Today’s post was originally intended to be a pattern review and pics of my Sew Over It Lucia Top. The top itself has been finished for a while – in fact, I’ve already taken it on a couple of outings (when the crazy hot weather lets up a little and I’m not restricted to shorts and vest tops). Unfortunately, I’ve been struck down with a mega eye infection for the past week (super gross, I know) and, although I’m actually pretty much cured at this point, I’m still stuck in glasses. Despite my husband’s constant reassurances that I look “totally cute” in glasses, I really hate wearing them and basically avoid it as much as I can. And although my self-confidence has blossomed incredibly since starting Sew For Victory, glasses-wearing Laura is a very ‘unwilling to have her picture taken’ kind of girl. That said, I’m planning on getting the photos taken this weekend and should have a post about the Lucia Top coming up next week!

In the meantime, I wanted to post about something that’s been on my mind for the past few weeks (and a lot of this year, honestly) – the process of developing your own sense of personal style, whether vintage or otherwise. I’ve always admired people who have a very clear and concrete sense of personal style. As someone who spends far too much time trawling social media, I’m constantly confronted with pictures of people who obviously have a fully-realised idea of how they represent themselves through the clothes that they wear. As a member (albeit a casual one) of the vintage community, the need to have a very definite sense of personal style is particularly acute.

While I see nothing wrong whatsoever with having a clear-cut notion of your own identity through fashion, the image of ‘dressing vintage’ that we get online is very all-or-nothing. I generally come across few online personalities of the vintage persuasion who dress in anything but vintage outfits. Every photo, every #ootd, is very vintage specific. Don’t get me wrong, these images are incredibly inspiring and, ultimately, if what you wear makes you feel good, I say go for it! But in my own world, I’m constantly worried that what I present on this blog isn’t ‘sufficient’ because it is not exclusively vintage. I love vintage styles (and I’m aware that I’m using the term ‘vintage’ very loosely here) and I adore sewing vintage-inspired garments. They’re my favourite thing to make, without a doubt. However, they are not what I spend most of my life wearing, largely because it’s not totally practical given my lifestyle. However, vintage clothes also represent only a small fraction of the outfits that I actually enjoy wearing and in which I feel most myself.

When it comes to my own sense of personal style, I’m something of a split personality. On the one hand, I love vintage looks – circle skirts, petticoats, shoulder pads. It’s all beautiful to me! But another side of me is very much jeans, t-shirts, and generally pretty grungy (my hubs tells me I often look like I’ve rolled straight out of The Ramones). Where I used to dither about this – totally unable to reconcile both parts of the fashions I love – I’ve come to embrace it. Although Sew For Victory will always be largely vintage-focused, it’s also a personal sewing blog. And it makes no sense for me to narrow my own sewing projects to a niche that doesn’t represent what I wear most of the time. More than anything else, sewing my own clothes has helped my sense of personal style evolve dramatically. I pay far closer attention to things like colour and lines than I ever have before. And it’s so much fun. It also gives us the space to allow our own styles to change in parallel to other things in our life. This freedom is, I think, one of the major advantages of taking up garment-making as a hobby.

Vintage or otherwise, sewing has given me the tools to think about what I wear and how I want to portray myself. Although what we wear is a relatively superficial consideration compared to the most important things about us, it is still a form of communication with those around us. Playing with this is something that I enjoy massively. When I feel uninspired or am otherwise looking to plan out sewing projects that conform to the ways I like to dress, I have a few go-to methods for turning it out. These are techniques that apply whether you’re interested in vintage fashion or not, and they’ve all come in super handy for me over the past few months (especially in light of my 2018 goal to develop a better balance in sewing vintage versus everyday garments). So, here we go:

1. Find Inspiration

I’ve talked about this in other blog posts but I don’t think I would be half as productive in my sewing life if I wasn’t constantly searching out inspiration. Whether you do this online or through books, the world is a treasure trove of images and ideas! I’m generally not an advocate of spending too much time on social media – I definitely have to restrict my own time online because I tend to fall down a hole of self-comparison and general despair. But, used correctly and in moderation, social media can also be an incredible resource for finding outfit inspiration. I’m always saving screenshots of outfits I love and then searching out sewing patterns that would work to replicate the look. When you have a sewing machine, the world of fashion truly is at your finger tips!

I also make a point to visit second hand bookshops whenever I get a chance to see if I can find anything particularly inspiring. This is particularly the case when it comes to my vintage makes. I’ve had good luck on a few trips and landed some books with wonderful pictures and information about style during eras that especially interest me. If you have your mind set on any particular era, see if there are any used books you can get that might inspire or help you to develop a more concrete sense of how you might adapt the style for yourself. Sewing gives us an incredible ability of interpretation – with a photo or idea as a starting point, you can piece together a Frankenstein’s monster of an outfit that works for you. But inspiration will always be the starting point!

Really it’s all about exploring and seeing what ticks the boxes for you. If you’re not exposed to it, then you won’t know that it’s a possibility. Look at anything and everything that you think might interest you and you will find yourself naturally clinging on to images or ideas that come together to form a more defined notion of what you want your ‘personal style’ to be (even if it’s a thousand different things).

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2. Research Sewing Patterns

I’m obsessed with googling different sewing patterns. I pass many an evening looking at pattern makers and their patterns, noting anything that looks interesting. Once you’ve found some sources of inspiration, the next step is looking for sewing patterns that conform to this image – or might otherwise be manipulated to look the way that you want them to.

More generally, looking through sewing patterns (in person or online) is just another great way to find that inspiration. Part of the reason that my vintage sewing pattern collection has grown so large is because I find the patterns themselves to be super inspiring. Even patterns that I have no intention of making come together to form a bigger picture in my mind. It’s become a mini-education – I’ve learnt what I like, what I don’t like, and what I find interesting but wouldn’t necessarily what to integrate into my wardrobe. Part of the reason I loved getting the sewing patterns from my aunt was precisely because they don’t represent what I would normally make. Whether or not I get round to making them myself, I love seeing the patterns and thinking about how they might be interpreted to fit my own sense of style. It’s amazing what you can do with a pattern by choosing the right fabric and making a few alterations – it can become pretty much whatever you want it to be.

So have fun and explore what’s out there. If you’re of the vintage persuasion, I definitely recommend digging through the Vintage Patterns Wikia – although be sure to leave yourself plenty of time because you will likely fall down a bit of a vintage pattern hole.

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3. Lists Are Everything

Is anyone surprised that lists are one of my favourite tools?! You all know that I love planning, especially when I get to involve my bullet journal!

When I set out my sewing goals at the start of the year, I put a lot of emphasis on my desire to create more of a balance in the types of things that I was sewing. Sewing is a big time investment, particularly when I’m already juggling multiple things, so it’s important to get a good return for that time! Although I will always love sewing vintage (and gravitating toward vintage patterns will always be my default), I also want to make sure that I’m spending some time sewing things that will get worn regularly. This has meant thinking about practical restrictions (like walking the dog multiple times per day, doing yoga, and the crazy summers/winters in Missouri), as well as the sorts of clothes that I most enjoy wearing.

As part of my 2018 objective, I started creating lists of patterns that I felt had a place in my wardrobe. These are typically not lists of vintage patterns – since I already have so many in my collection and will pretty much always end up making one of these patterns for every one ‘everyday’ garment that I sew. But it’s come in super handy as a way to plan my makes, whilst also giving some direction to my regular pattern/inspiration searches. I’ve started a list at the back of my bullet journal to accommodate all of this. It’s not necessarily a ‘to make’ list. More of a place to record patterns I like, particularly when I have multiple patterns that I think would work together to create a complete outfit.

There are so many different ways that you can do this – and having a bullet journal definitely isn’t a requirement! But I think that having some way of recording your pattern finds and inspiration (even in the form of a scrap book or a folder on your computer) is really key to developing a concrete sense of your own style and plans to execute it.

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So there we have it! Some of the different methods I use for developing my own sense of style. Although so much of this has evolved naturally for me – and I think most of us just gravitate towards the things we love – part of the joy of sewing is in the exploration. I have things I’ve sewn that I look at and think ‘WHY ON EARTH?!’ But it suited me at the time and worked into the sort of identity I gave to the clothes that I chose to wear.

Ultimately, sense of style or not, you need to feel good, happy, and confident in what you wear. Taking some time to search for what’s out there in terms of patterns and fashions is just one way of figuring out what makes you feel your best and brightest. But we’re all constantly changing and learning, so it only makes sense that our style would evolve and adapt alongside us. Have you worked consciously to create your own personal style? Do you have any particular things you do (or have done) that have helped you to figure out what you most love to wear?