Category Archives: wardrobe planning

New year, new direction?

I hope you are all off to a good start in this new year, sewing up the stash and thinking up cool new things to make.

Here we are just two weeks into January and I’m in a completely different space creatively than back in December. I had been thinking about sewing a wardrobe of separates, as part of the annual SWAP contest on Stitcher’s Guild. But this month, I started a new job that comes with a uniform requirement – a dark gray jacket. Scrub jacket, to be clear, so it’s not like I can just sew up some of my beatiful gray wools and call it good.

Color wheel

I’ve decided that if I have to wear a dark neutral cut-as-unisex jacket, everything else should be bright colored and feminine. So I’ll be wearing, and making, bright colored dresses with a matching scarf and bracelet. I’ll be working with the colors above with the aim of creating a capsule of two dresses (one long-sleeved and one sleeveless), one or two scarves, and a couple of bracelets, in each color family. Because the jacket is fairly dark, the dress colors will mostly be on the lighter end of the spectrum for contrast. This should also be a good time to experiment with various trim ideas and color-blocking.

The sewing plan then is to work with a couple of TNT dress patterns all year and refine my preferences in terms of fabrics, trims, and style details. On the polymer front, I’m planning to make bracelets to go with the dresses, and because I want to perfect the process, I’m going to make a new bracelet every two weeks.

I’ll be back soon with a finished knitting project. See you then!

Me-Made-May, week 2 roundup

Second week in and I’ve already started repeating outfits. More on this later.

May 8

On Sunday, I wore the multicolored top that started my obsession with Burda 6695. I paired it with the off-black denim skirt. I have a hard time telling the difference between it and the black denim in pictures but in real life, the colors are quite different.

May 9

On Monday I wore my new red top with the black denim skirt. The top is the first piece in my Summer 6-PAC.  I accessorized with me-made bracelets and necklace (polymer clay, of course).

May 10

I had been busy sewing on Monday so that I had a new outfit to wear on Tuesday. This is the heathered red top and white denim skirt, both part of my Summer 6-PAC. Me-made bracelets again. I just love them.

May 11

Back to old (ha!) clothes on Wednesday – red denim skirt and black/white newsprint rayon jersey top. Same bracelets, three days in a row. I’d never know this if it weren’t for the pictures.

May 12

On Thursday, there was still red but less prominent. Off-black denim skirt and a mostly gray/black print top, and those bracelets. Seriously, I do have other bracelets.

May 13

Winding down the color for the weekend, hehe. On Friday I opted for the black denim skirt and silver metallic (sparkly!) top. As it turns out, I had paired the same pieces together just six days earlier. Maybe that says something about me.

And no picture for Saturday because I spent the day playing with polymer clay and I was totally in the zone. When I finally looked up, it was dark. But I did take note of what I wore: black denim skirt, red/black ITY poly top, black wool jersey cardigan, and the red me-made bracelets. It was a cool day and sometime in the afternoon I swapped the skirt for a pair of RTW black pants to keep me warm.

I’m happy to have clothes that I enjoy wearing. And even happier that they are made by me. I am starting to feel like it’s a lot of clothes though. I can’t quite explain it. I mean, it’s a SWAP plus two older and three brand-new pieces, so 16 pieces total. I enjoy having a variety of colors in tops. I’m not so sure about the skirts. I always reach for the black one first. It takes a conscious effort to pick the red or off-black one. So maybe I need three black skirts instead of black, off-black, and red. But I’m already wearing a uniform of sorts so do I want to eliminate the color element from the bottom half? I’ll have to think about it.

It would make getting dressed easier. Also, I was thinking that for winter, I could have a few black dresses and wear them with bright-colored cardigans or Viajante. Something to chew on.

In other news: I’ve been playing and claying and I will show you some polymer clay pieces next.

See you soon!

Me-Made-May, week 1 roundup

First seven days down and I’ve been wearing me-mades every day. And here’s photographic evidence:

May 1

The week started off cool, with temps in the 60’s. On Sunday I wore the black denim skirt from my recent SWAP, a red long-sleeved top (M6355) in Sophia double knit, an altered RTW scarf , and a me-made bracelet and earrings set.

May 2

Still cool on Monday so I swapped the colors. Red denim skirt from the SWAP, gray mystery knit top with long sleeves (M6355), same altered RTW scarf as the day before (this scarf has been getting a lot of wear in the last six months or so), and the same bracelet and earring set again.

May 3

On Tuesday it was warmer, but still cool enough that a cardigan was welcome. I wore the black denim skirt with the multicolor rayon jersey top (Burda 6695) and black wool jersey cardigan. All three pieces from the SWAP.

May 4

On Wednesday it was plenty warm and I wore the off-black denim skirt from the SWAP with an old RTW asymmetrical top. It was this top that inspired me to look for a pattern with cut-on cap sleeves when I was sewing the spring 6-PAC.

May 5

On Thursday, back to red. Red denim skirt and red/black ITY poly jersey top (Burda 6695) from the SWAP.

May 6

On Friday I was testing a new me-made bracelet and it doesn’t go with the reds. So I wore the black denim skirt and the silver metallic rayon jersey top (Burda 6695) from the SWAP. The bracelet turned out to be a step in the right direction in terms of sizing so there will be more bracelets soon.

May 7

For Saturday’s running around, the red denim skirt paired nicely with the dark gray rayon jersey top (Burda 6695) and a me-made bracelet with earrings.

Most of these clothes were from my recent SWAP, mostly because that’s pretty much all that’s wearable in my closet right now. I’m working on sewing up more pieces. I made a rich red rayon jersey top today and I’ll be wearing it soon. I also have a piece of white denim for a skirt that I plan to make tomorrow so there should be a bit more variety coming up.

In other news, I’ve been feeling an overwhelming urge to knit another Viajante. But I had a slight mishap with the business end of a clay blade a couple of days ago so one of my main knitting fingers is currently, er… on light duty, shall we say.

See you soon!

SWAP wardrobe finished

Or perhaps a better title would be “The Unintentional SWAP Wardrobe”. I didn’t start out sewing a SWAP (Sewing With A Plan). In fact, I started out without much of a plan at all. I just needed clothes. So I made some. And then some more. And then more still. Until I had more than enough to call it a SWAP.

SWAP 2016 - 1

This year, the rules (on Stitcher’s Guild) called for sewing coordinating pods. I was really short on tops so my pods are one bottom and two tops, plus more tops in the combo pack.

SWAP 2016 - 2

By some miracle, I hit upon the combination of a denim skirt with a short-sleeved top when I was sewing the 6-PAC. It was instant love and I started envisioning a closetful of colorful denim skirts, printed and solid-colored tops, and a few cardigans. So I had, well, if not a plan, at least a vision.

SWAP 2016 - 3

The combo pack is two garments that coordinate with both Pod 1 and Pod 2. Above and below you can see how this worked for my pieces.

SWAP 2016 - 4

The wildcards could be just about anything but had to follow the pod rules. I stuck with one bottom and two tops. The black skirt works with every top and the multicolor print top works with both of the other skirts. I’m not keen on combining the silver top with the other two skirts, but it works well with either cardigan. I think it would look great with a white denim skirt and together they may form the basis of the next 6-PAC.

SWAP 2016 - 5

For an unplanned SWAP (ahem!), this is quite a lovely collection, if I say so myself. I’m super excited! I haven’t been this productive in at least a decade, and the joy sewing has brought me in the last two months defies description. These clothes are very comfortable to wear and they are very me. I love them.

Happy sewing!

Mini wardrobe finished

Yay, I have clothes to wear! The mini wardrobe is finished. I suppose it counts as a Spring 6-PAC. Or rather, with two skirts, four tops, and a cardigan, it’s more like a 7-PAC. Anyway, here come the pictures and details:

Four tops with black skirt

The tops are all prints I ordered last year from Michael Levine but by the time they arrived, I was back to sewing solid colors. And so they waited patiently until the time was right. I had actually started with Jalie 3352, the dolman top pattern, because I wanted cut-on cap sleeves. But the neckline was just too plain for me and I decided I wanted some drape in that area. Enter Burda 6695 – exactly what I had in mind. It’s an easy pattern that takes just under 2 hours from flat fabric to finished garment. (Probably less if you’re not fiddly with your hems and such.)

Four tops with red skirt

I made only a few alterations to the pattern: shortened the back and lowered the back neckline to account for my erect posture and low neck base, and shortened the hem 1″ all the way around. I left the front neckline as it was because 1. I didn’t want to fiddle with the complex-looking piece, and 2. it’s going to drape anyway. Once I made the first top, I knew I had a winner so I just kept cutting and sewing.

The fabric that is mostly red is a poly/lycra ITY jersey. I actually made two tops using it, same pattern. It’s comfortable and feels nice, if a little bit swimwear like. The other three prints are rayon/lycra jersey. I don’t know what rock I’ve been living under that I never knew about this fabulous material. It’s awesome! I’ll be ordering and sewing up more.

Cardigan

The skirts are my own frankenpattern of BWOF 3/02 #125. I copied the shape of the part below the waist, then brought it in a bit at the waist using a curved ruler and some guessing. I used the existing darts in the back and left the front plain. The waist is finished with elastic. I was going for the same concept as Pamela’s Magic Pencil Skirt, only without her pattern and without any tapering at the hem.

The skirt fabrics are both denim. The black denim is a cotton/lycra blend from JoAnn’s. It’s very comfortable but it does seat out a bit after spending an hour or so in the car. I don’t mind it much; it was a test version that turned out very wearable. The red denim is a cotton/poly/lycra blend from EmmaOneSock and it’s awesome! It has excellent recovery so no seating out. I have ordered more.

Back views

For the cardigan, I wanted to use Simplicity 1945 view A but when I compared it to the top pattern, it was clear that the batwing sleeves were just much too big. So more frankenpatterning ensued: I took the BWOF 3/02 #125 for the back and most of the front, then merged the waterfall part of Simplicity 1945 into it. I think it worked out quite well. In the next iteration, I will bring the shoulder seams closer to the neck by a half inch or so, to keep the neckline from feeling too wide.

The fabric for the cardigan is a lightweight wool jersey from Elfriede’s Fine Fabrics in Boulder, CO. It feels like forever since I visited it. The jersey is perfect for this cardigan – just the right weight and warmth.

Well, this is all I can remember right now. I have a bunch of other fabrics in the queue, just waiting to join this mini wardrobe in the closet. I’m really loving all the prints and the comfy skirts so there will be more of them. I’m thinking about making some solid tops with patterned skirts to see if that works just as well. If not, I’ll go back to printed tops and solid skirts. We’ll see.

Happy sewing!

Checking in

I’m still here and sewing. Only “here” is no longer in Germany, but in Oklahoma. (For now, anyway. We had barely gotten settled into our new home when we got news about our next assignment, coming up in less than six months now.) When the movers packed up and crated my sewing studio early last December, I missed my machines dearly. And since I unpacked and set up the studio at the end of February, I’ve been giving them a lot of love.

Mini wardrobe

Above is a peek at my work in progress – a mini wardrobe that might blossom into a full SWAP because spring is in full swing here and summer just around the corner. On the right side is a black denim skirt, then three tops in colorful prints, and on the left you can see another print for a top, red denim for a skirt (which has become a reality between when I took the picture this afternoon and now when I’m typing this), and black wool jersey for a cardigan. I’m expecting a few more fabrics before the end of this week that will work well in this wardrobe.

I just wanted to check in briefly so you all don’t think I fell off the face of the planet. More soon.

Happy sewing!

Rethinking the wardrobe plan

Earlier this summer, I decided that for at least the next year, I want to work only with certain colors, and only specific hue angles within those. Here they are:

Color wheel

I’ll be working with the colors where my Bright Winter palette and my custom palette from John Kitchener overlap.

Now the question is how to plan a wardrobe around these colors. In the past, whenever wardrobe planning came up, whether as a SWAP, 6-PAC, wardrobe capsule, or one of those minimal wardrobe concepts, the idea has been that everything should go with just about everything else. In other words, totally mix-and-match. I’ve worked with it many times, making plans complete with pictures and fabric selections. But I rarely finished any of these plans. And when I did, I ended up not wearing several of the pieces. So it’s time for a rethink.

I am not a mix-and-matcher. I have certain outfits I like and wear often. I’d like to have some variation, mostly in terms of color, but not so the whole outfit is different. I love bright colors but I don’t wear more than one bright color at a time, preferring instead to combine each with black, white, and/or gray. I’m also not big on separates. So let’s say the base of an outfit is a black dress. What I need is different colored collections of accessories that work with this dress. A red collection. A yellow one. A green one. You get the idea.

Yellow collection 1

The beginning of my yellow collection.

Right now I’m working on the yellow collection. It started in June when I ordered a custom hand-painted scarf in yellow and black, and some custom-dyed yellow fingering merino yarn as well. When I started working on yellow jewelry ideas, it turned out that glass beads are not quite right. So now I’m playing with polymer clay. I have made a pair of earrings, a set of two bracelets, and a matching necklace. The black and yellow Cameo shawl belongs in this collection too, and I am currently knitting a tweedy cardigan in black, gray, and yellow.

I have yarn in all of my selected colors, and fabrics in most of them. Polymer clay colors are easy enough to mix up to match just about anything. Over the next year, I’d like to get a reasonable start on each of the colors – a set of jewelry, a scarf, and a cardigan or shawl (or some other shoulder warmer). I’m going to give it a good try to see if this way of wardrobe building will get me further than the mix-all-match-all way.

Stay tuned for some colorful polymer clay news.

See you soon!

SWAP 2015

Occasionally over the years, I’ve planned a neat-looking SWAP and even made a few pieces, but I’ve never actually completed the whole thing (as far as I can remember, anyway). The closest I came was in in 2004, when I made three skirts and six/seven knit tops (seven sewn but one was a wadder).  I have photographic evidence, hehe.

This year, I need some basics. Simple shapes, easy color scheme, that kind of stuff. I’m going with red, white, and black. Most of them are already in my fabric collection.

SWAP 2015 fabrics

A little bit of analysis of my previous SWAP attempts leads me to believe that my best bet this year is to focus on one silhouette and make multiples of only a few patterns. So, I’ll be making pants – it’s time to update my pant pattern to a narrower leg and adjust the length to somewhere near the ankle so they will work with both heels and flats. I’ll make three pairs: black, white, and red.

To go with the pants, I will make five tank tops: black, white, red, white/black stripe, and white/red stripe. I was completely wintered out by Christmas so all this sewing will be with spring and summer in mind. I am almost always cold so layering is important. That said, I do not like the feel of two sleeves inside one another so my preference is for a sleeveless top with a long-sleeved cardigan. The five tank tops should give me a pretty good start.

SWAP 2015 plan

The other three items in the SWAP are wildcards and those will be two cardigans and a dress. The two cardigans are RTW that need a little refashioning. One is solid black, the other black with white polka dots. I plan to cut them shorter, reshape the neckline, and add white trim like I did on the red one. The dress will be solid red and sleeveless.

I am actually going to limit myself to just two patterns – one for the pants and one for the tops and dress (both of these patterns are TNT).  I am hoping this will help eliminate any analysis paralysis so that I can just sew. Let’s see how well it works.

See you soon!

New jeans

In one of the recent wardrobe posts, I wrote that the wear-at-home side of my closet needed its own capsule. And it does. I’ll spare you the gory details. Suffice it to say that the need is dire and I have taken the first step to fill the gaping hole. I’m thinking two pairs of jeans and 4-6 tops. I’m starting with the jeans because I wanted to try Angela Wolf’s pattern.

Jeans - Front view

My measurements are between size 4 and 6 so I went with the 6. I wanted a straighter leg so after adding ⅛” to both the inseam and side seam at the knee (to match an old favorite pair), I dropped both seams straight down to the hem. Then I tested it in muslin. Muslin doesn’t stretch so this was a stand-up only pair but it was enough to show what other adjustments were needed:

  1. I took out ¾” from the upper edge of the yoke at CB, tapering to nothing at the side;
  2. I added ¼” to the inseam at the crotch level on both front and back, tapering to nothing about 8″ lower;
  3. I scooped the front crotch curve ⅛”.

Then I cut it in stretch denim to make a wearable prototype. That’s what you see in these pictures. For this particular pair, I taped the back yoke to the jeans back piece – there’s no shaping involved, just a straight line, and no grain change either so this was okay and it allowed me to position the pockets higher. I omitted the belt loops because the stabilized curved waistband will stay put without the help of a belt.

Jeans - Back and side view

I am not too keen on the amount of wrinkling on the back of the legs. I’ll see if I can fix some of that in the next version. Otherwise, I am pretty pleased. The pattern has very detailed instructions, which I followed almost to the letter. I used regular white Metrosene for both seaming and topstitching. No doubled thread here. I think it shows just fine. The serger was threaded with blue from a previous project so I just used that. I opted for a contrast waistband facing, using the same bright green quilting cotton that lines the pockets and serves as the fly shield.

Jeans - Closeups

I’m not entirely sure about the stretch denim. It feels weird, how it moves with the body. I think I prefer regular non-stretch denim. There should be a few yards coming in the mail soon. That said, this pair is perfectly wearable for around the house.

There’s so much more I wanted to tell you but the words aren’t coming because my brain is ready for the movers. They’re coming tomorrow. It’s a local move so somewhat less stressful than our usual transatlantic move but still far from fun. I expect to be unpacked and fairly functional early next week. And now I’m off to pack up my machines because I don’t want anybody else’s paws touching them.

See you soon!

Wardrobe from scratch – part 3

We left off having completed step 13, the second round of accessories, and had what looked like a reasonable wardrobe. I mean, I probably could have stopped there and done just fine. But there are more steps in Janice’s plan so let’s work through them.

Step 14 is leisure wear. In other words, clothes to wear at home. This is a good place to add some colorful pizzazz. I already have the two pairs of pants – one is a cotton woven wide-leg style, the other a stretchy knit yoga style. I’d need to make the two tops. In reality, I need a separate capsule for homewear so I will leave these out of the subsequent slides.

Step 14

In step 15 we’re adding a versatile dress, an accent cardigan, and a pair of shoes. Janice made them on the warm weather side, with sleeveless dresses and sandals. I already have a dress in this wardrobe plan and it’s a long-sleeved one so I’ll add a sleeveless one here. I was debating between a really neat black and white houndstooth and this solid black one. The black one won because I already own it. I really love the idea of a houndstooth dress though so it might make an appearance next year. We’ll see. No sandals for this fall/winter wardrobe. Instead, I’m bringing in my knee-high boots – they’ll see plenty of wear. Rounding out this selection is a red cardigan, which I already own. It will require a slight refashioning but it’s definitely serviceable.

Step 15

In step 16, Janice looked for a “core of four” in each of the neutrals – two tops and two bottoms that can make four outfits. I can do that with the black pieces. The gray capsule only has one bottom so I’m going to add another skirt here but not in gray. I won’t wear gray pants so there’s no use putting them here and the only skirts I wear are pencil style so adding another gray pencil skirt won’t lend this wardrobe further versatility. But a black and white houndstooth skirt would be perfect here.

Step 16a

I am also seriously short on white items so I’ll add a white sweater and a white cardigan. I don’t own any of these three items and will have to make them.

Step 16b

Below I included the three new pieces so the white section looks more in balance with the rest. It’s starting to look like a really large wardrobe but there are only 23 garments and that includes two coats.

Step 16c

This wardrobe is just about done so in step 17 we add some finishing touches. Let’s take another look at the garments in the picture above to see if there are any obvious holes. Janice is aiming at 24 pieces. I’m good with what I see, but will add a black leather skirt and a ribbed V-neck sweater because these two together were one of my favorite outfits last year. The black short-sleeved tee shirt looks like an anomaly here, among all the sweaters, but for now I’ll keep it. We’ll see how it works out in real life.

Step 17a

I have separated the clothes from the shoes and accessories to get a better idea of how things look. I think the wardrobe is looking pretty good now.

Step 17b

Step 17c

In step 18, Janice checked her wardrobe plans against her Common Wardrobe to ensure nothing was missing. The Common Wardrobe has too many pieces I wouldn’t wear so instead, I’m using this step as a reality check. First, there are two dresses and five cardigans I’d wear with them. It sounds like ten different outfits but in reality it’s only five different looks because the sleeves or lack thereof under the cardigan won’t make any difference. Depending on the weather outside, there will really be only one reasonable dress choice on any given day.

Then there are six bottoms and nine tops that work well with them. Each top goes with at least two bottoms so that’s another 18+ outfits. I also have the black T-shirt here but the chances of it being worn without a cardigan on top are practically nil. There is a bit of crossover between the two groups in that I might wear the pants and jeans with the white shirt or the black T-shirt and a cardigan, but we’ll see how realistic that is.

Step 18

So, pretty decent wardrobe plan, I’d say. I’m going to give it a try this fall/winter and see how I fare. There are a few pieces in this wardrobe that I will need to make or buy:

What to make and buy 2

Pretty cool, right?

See you soon!

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