Thursday, March 27, 2014

Being my Wardrobe Architect

Anyone else been following the Wardrobe Architect on Coletterie?  I thought it was cool at first, but wasn't really following until my great closet purge of '14.  I realized I want to be waaaaay more intentional about my clothes, both purchased and made.

So, although there have been ten "assignments" so far, I would break it down into 4 categories (excluding the beauty post, because I don't think that one really helped me).

Defining your style, Identifying silhouettes, Identifying your colors and prints, and creating a capsule wardrobe.

Defining my style

I'll be honest.  Reading the first questionnaire (Making Style Personal) is what turned me off this whole thing in the first place.  It just seemed...over the top?  I didn't think my family or culture really had an affect on my style.  And while I'm still not sure they do, I think this step helped inform the weeks to come.

But while my style is very, very different from my family and friends, I do think my personality, which is what draws me to certain items, is informed by them.  I come from a big extended family.  There are a lot of us, we are loud, we like to have fun.  Our last Christmas celebration was a night of karaoke, booze, food, and love.  I love us.  Between that, and growing up in the performing arts, I am not afraid to be expressive with my clothes.

I have also found that my mental health affects the way I dress in a huge way.  Dark, neutral, knits = low.  Bright, structured clothes that take a bit more effort = high.

Some other things that I think affect my style

  • Climate.  It's hot, y'all.  I think the biggest effect this has is the lack of seasonal changes.  I don't have seasonal clothes.  The addition of tights, cardigans, and light jackets is really enough to handle our winters.
  • Comfort.  I don't wear heels.  I won't wear heels.  I don't really like to wear pants.  I like to be comfortable.
  • Animals.  I really, really, really love animals.  A lot of the prints I choose reflect this in a big way (this is also evident in my house.  LOTS of animal themed art).
  • Philosophy.  This is something that is relatively new, but I'm trying to focus a lot on limiting my consumerism and being an intentional consumer.
For the second week, we had to choose style icons and words that described clothes we like, clothes we hate, how we want to feel, etc.

My icons had a lot in common.  Feminine, comfortable, easy.
Zooey Deschanel, Taylor Swift, Alexa Chung, Dianna Agron
I had a lot of words, but these are the five I eventually narrowed it down to.  This is how I'd like my style to be described.

Identifying Silhouettes

This section was really pretty simple for me.  I know what shapes I like.  Fuller skirts with slim tops and cardigans.  Skinny pants with slouchier tops.  Slim dresses with cardigan.

And sometimes boots, but nearly always - ballet flats.

Here are a couple of mine, but there were no surprises for me.

Identifying Colors and Prints

The most fun part of this whole thing has been the colors.  I love color, I love coloring, I just loved this.  I made my color chart on my iPad using the Paper app, which makes it really fun and easy to mix colors.

I have three of those colors on today (poppy, royal, and putty).  So I think it's a pretty good indication

Now, I love bright colors, but I also love prints.  Like most beginning sewers, I went crazy buying a bunch of novelty prints when I first started sewing.  Some of these were really great purchases, and things I'll get a ton of wear out of.  But it makes putting separates together a real challenge.  Still, I love a good novelty print and I'm not giving them up (I actually bought two more yesterday, and am psyched to put them to use!).

So I put these together to illustrate the types of prints I love.  Yes, novelty prints, especially involving animals (and especially especially involving cats).  But I also love florals, stripes, and abstracted geometric shapes.

What I'd like to focus on soon is what I call "effective solids."  So, not a solid, but something I can mix with other prints easily.  Keep in mind, one of my words is loud, so this may not be everyone's cup of tea.  But I would consider the stripe, the polka dots, and probably the watercolor floral in this group to be effective solids.

And talking percentages, I would say at least 50% of my wardrobe is prints, and that's how I would like to keep it.  I wear prints almost every day.  They make me happy, and the clothes I reach for over and over again are prints.  The sheep print in the bottom right, that makes up my very favorite dress, that I grab as soon as it comes out of the wash.  I have another novelty print coming that I'm going to make into the same pattern (which is very similar to the yellow dress above).  I just love it.

Creating your Capsule Wardrobe

So this is the next step.  It came up while I was on vacation, so I haven't really started yet.  but I do have a lot of plans for clothes to make this spring/summer.  Too many really.

I'll probably do another post with those plans, but I'm starting this weekend with a dark olive green silk pleated skirt that I'm SO psyched about.  I think, now that I'm nearing the end of this process, it is really cool how all of the steps came together to help plan a wardrobe.  It's really helping me to think about things in an intentional way.

I have 16 pieces in the planning stages.  All are perfectly suited to our weather (including a cream terry sweatshirt that will be great for the air conditioned tundra that is the Southern movie theater).  5 are solids, 5 are effective solids, and 6 are prints that range from the novelty-est of novelty (the cat portraits above) to a small scale floral that's not quite so bold.  And many of them can work well together and work with things I already have.  I'm really excited about the plan coming together like this!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Look what's new at ModCloth!

Great minds, I guess?

ModCloth version:  $79

My version:  I'd say under $15

I haven't worn this one in a while.  I've found that my skills have increased so fast since I started making clothes, and when I go back to the first few things I made, I they just don't feel as good as the newer stuff.  Maybe I'll wear it tomorrow!  Still, it makes me want to take mine apart and make it gathered instead of pleated.  I think it would be way more flattering than the irregular pleats, which I was never a huge fan of anyway.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

One Sweet Blouse

I'm back!  After a looooong and wonderful vacation, I'm back home and slowly emerging from my pile of e-mails.  I had an amazing time and so enjoyed seeing the differences in fashion between the US and UK/Ireland (Super short skirts, leggings as pants, madness all around).  But now that I'm home, I'm excited to get back to sewing!  I have a project for this weekend already picked out, and I'll be working with legit expensive silk for the first time.  Here's hoping I won't fuck it up!

And now for a project that I finished right before we left.

There were two things driving me to make this blouse.

First, a recognized need for more solids in my wardrobe.  I actually didn't own a white blouse before I finished this one.  Second, I bought these crazy adorable vintage milk glass buttons on Etsy and needed to make something with them.

I chose a plain seersucker because let's be honest, it's real hot where I live.  And I think this will work perfectly throughout the summer.

This is not something that I would reach for in a store.  I tend toward brighter colors, prints, and usually avoid button downs.  But that's exactly why I needed it in the first place.

I am really, really happy with how this turned out.  I muslined it first, and was super frustrated by the sleeves.  They fit, but it was really uncomfortable to move my arms up/to the front.  After a lot of research, I was able to figure out the issue.

Basically, when you look at a shirt laying flat (or a pattern illustration), the more severe the angle between the sleeve and the shoulder, the less room you'll have.  So a t-shirt where the sleeves basically stick straight out?  Lots of room to move.  A blouse where the sleeves are set in at a low angle?  Fat man in a little coat.

With that in mind, I redrafted the sleeves with a much more flattened sleeve head.  I was skeptical, but it totally worked.  It's WAY more comfortable and flattering.

This is SUCH a good basic.  I love how it's pairing with all of my skirts and bottoms.  I do wish it had just the tiniest bit more length so I was more comfortable wearing it with jeggings.

The best part, though, is the detail.  The seersucker is just so sweet, and the little detail of the glass buttons makes it.  This is one of those items that really doesn't "seem" handmade in person, and it looks pretty expensive.

I am going to use this pattern to make a blouse with some gray/white stripe shirting, and I'm really excited about it.  I think I can make some improvements in the fit at the high bust, and I'm going to add a cute bias detail on the back yoke.

I am really proud of the quality of my work here.  This was the first collar I've made, and I think it turned out pretty darn good!  These are by far the best buttonholes I've made.  And I'm proud of the finishing as well.

So, the stats:

Project:  White seersucker blouse
Pattern:  Colette Violet
Fabric:   Plain white seersucker, bought at High Fashion Fabrics in Houston (my fave fashion fabric store)
Notions:    thread, interfacing, 7 buttons (I had 6 so I just redid the spacing)
Skills involved:  setting sleeves, gathering, buttons/buttonholes, attaching a collar
Changes made:  Changed the button spacing to eliminate one button, redrafted sleeves for freer movement of arms.  I don't remember exactly the sizing changes, but I know I cut at least 2 sizes smaller at the shoulders than at the waist/hip.
Fuckups: None, actually!  I concentrated on taking my time here and I think it paid off.