Monday, 24 February 2014

Victory Hazel dress and signs of spring.

So for the last few weeks I have been enjoying doing the Wardrobe Architect exercises on Coletterie and having a lot of fun with Polyvore doing colour palettes and outfit combinations.  So I think I have in mind my ideal spring wardrobe.  The reality might be a little different, however ..... well because it's real life and there are budgets, time factors (if I want to make some of it) and, of course, our lovely spring weather!  Whilst I absolutely love my boards I created and would enjoy wearing all of those clothes and jewellery,  I have also to be realistic.  Reality - the weather here will probably not be that great until the end of May'ish, also my lifestyle is a lot more casual than some of the clothes I picked.

One of my Sewing New Year resolutions was to try and make more fitted-type dresses.  I have made two dresses neither of which are fitted, but I love both of them.  (I do have plans, however, for an Emery dress which I think will fit the bill)

The first one is the Victory Hazel dress which I downloaded last year but only got around to making now.  My hubbie and I were going to an anniversary dinner so I thought it would be ideal.

I chose two fabrics I already had in the stash, both from Tessuti fabrics, the upper body is a silk/rayon mix which was rather slippery to work with and I had to unpick the collar and redo it as there was an unsightly pleat in it, most annoying! The lower shell is a heather grey silky crepe mix.  I can't remember exactly it's mix, but unfortunately it creases big time.  I had originally bought these fabrics with trousers in mind so in retrospect I'm glad I didn't use the fabrics for that.  It does have a lovely two tone sheen off it, however.

Apart from the creasing, I am really pleased with how it turned out.  I used the size 14 and graded down to a 12 in lower dress.  I think if I was making it again I would lengthen the upper bodice by about an inch. As you can see I made this version sleeveless as it was an evening semi-formal dinner.  I just used black satin bias tape around the armholes.  The lining fabric I used was a lightweight pale blue chambray which gave the dress a bit of body.

The beauty of this pattern is that it has no closures, just an over the head job, so it is really quick and easy to make it up.  (unless you fall out with your silk fabric)  I would love to make this again in more 'everyday' type fabric.  It has a touch of the 'Mad Men style' about it with the bow detail, mine actually stayed tied the whole evening, but I think it could work just as well for a dress for work especially with the sleeves.  I have seen lovely colour-block version and chambray or Liberty prints would be great too.

Not sure what I'm looking at there, just wanted to show you more of the lovely venue which was the Harbour Commissioner's Offices in Belfast.  Lovely to get the chance to see such an old and historic building which dates to 1854.  It has beautiful ceiling cornices and coving and a marble mosaic floor. Amazing to think of the skills involved in these trades in years gone by.

So that is my first dress of the year, I have made a second one (an everyday easy type dress) which I will share soon.  There are signs of spring and I will probably be going into mega seed sowing mode in March so less time possibly for sewing.  As regards knitting.... oh dear, I have only got as far as knitting a swatch for my new spring sweater and it was a bit small, so I will have to get moving on that!

Friday, 21 February 2014

#Wardrobe Architect - Colour Palette

#Wardrobe Architect - Colour Palette

So I have been having some fun on polyvore this week with my colour palettes.  This has been great for me as I love colour.  Having had a Colour me Beautiful 'analysis' done years ago I was told I am a 'Winter' colouring and in particular on the 'Cool and deep' side of things.  This is probably even more pronounced now that I have ditched the hair dye and embraced the gray.

So these colours are what I will be wearing this spring and summer.  Deep blues (which seem to be 'in' anyway this year), baby blue, light gray and bright blue-red.

#Wardrobe Architect - Colour Palettes

#Wardrobe Architect - Colour Palettes
This is another colour combination I like, especially in the summer.
Camel, red, black or gray.

#Wardrobe Architect - Colour Palettes

#Wardrobe Architect - Colour Palettes
These would probably be my favourites, deep blues, pinks and purples.

#Wardrobe Architect

#Wardrobe Architect
These would be my statement colours.

Reds, pinks, deep blues and greens.

#Wardrobe Architect - My neutral colours

#Wardrobe Architect - My neutral colours

These are my neutrals, light grey, charcoal grey, black, white and camel.

Nearly neutrals are navy, pewter, pine green, spruce and teal.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Silhouettes for me - Wardrobe Architect.

I have really been enjoying the process of the Wardrobe Architect on the Coletterie blog.  Last week we filled out a chart including a matrix of elements to help determine what shapes make you feel comfortable and happy.

As a quick summary these were my preferences:

1. Ease - I like neither baggy/loose nor too fitted, somewhere in the middle.
2. Length - Dresses/skirts knee length, also wear tunic dresses at mid thigh length.
3. Fullness - Prefer straight or A-line, definitely not gathers or full skirts.
4. Waistline - Mid natural waist line.
5. Necklines - cowl, scoop, V, square, sweetheart, jewel.
6. Sleeves - Full, 3/4, sleeveless.

Boy it's not rocket science and yet last year I succumbed to so many patterns that just aren't me, like full circle skirts.  It's good to have this written down as a personal guide now.  You would think you shouldn't have to do this, but there you go.

So the next part was to decide on your own personal silhouettes.  Sarai split hers into fall/winter and spring/summer.  As the way I dress doesn't vary that much throughtout the year (I do live in Northern Ireland after all) unless we get a heat wave or we are on holiday, I kept mine general.

Silhouettes - #Wardrobe Architect

Silhouettes - #Wardrobe Architect

Silhouettes - #Wardrobe Architect

Silhouettes - #Wardrobe Architect

Friday, 7 February 2014

Spring pastel knitting.

As I have two lovely sons, it is so nice now that I have a little niece to be able to knit in pink!  Yes I could even possibly start sewing in pink too in a while.

Anyway before my niece was born (when we didn't know she was going to be a girl) I did a bit of lemon, white & turquoise knitting, but this is the first pink.

I had forgotten how quick and easy it is to knit for babies.  This is knit in Snuggly Baby Crofter DK shade  159 (Tilly) and the pattern is 1391 from the Baby Crofter Girls book.  The Snuggly yarn is as you would imagine very soft but can be washed in the washing machine, so very practical.  It has what you would call a fair isle effect.

The flower is a cute addition and I had some Liberty buttons which I thought went well.

I have some nice pink cord somewhere so maybe a skirt or tunic top will be next.  I see there are some lovely children's sewing patterns like this little tunic from Oliver and s.  After all there are only so many items of clothing I can wear, surely!

However, still on the pastel theme which, of course, is very in for spring, I am about to start a new spring sweater for myself... well, you can get bored wearing the same sweaters, can't you?  I am afraid I did succumb to purchasing more yarn, tempted by another blogger (it happens a lot).

It is this beautiful French merino yarn in a pale blue shade and I hope to knit up a pattern I have had for a while, the sprig sweater by Alana Dakos.  The pattern was released first and I think the rest of the patterns will be released soon in the form of Botanical Knits 2. Looking forward to starting it, probably should do a test swatch first.

On the sewing front, I am in the middle of making a dress for a function I am going to later in the month.  If I say part of it is in silk (and I have never sewn with silk before) you can imagine it is a slow process! I had to unpick the neckline as I had managed to get fabric caught in that shouldn't have been....bad words may have been uttered!  Maybe I'll finish it by next week, here's hoping.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Wardrobe Architect, Designing and building thoughtful attire.

I thought I would share my thoughts on doing the Wardrobe Architect worksheet which I sort of started on a whim. This is a series of exercises on the Coletterie blog from Colette patterns to help us ascertain our own unique style and help us to wear attire that reflects who we are as unique personalities, shapes and so on.  I reckoned this would be good as we are (as a family) attempting to really downsize all aspects of our life and just have less stuff.  In particular I am seeking to put together the perfect capsule wardrobe for spring.

However, now maybe I am overthinking this all too much, but it was amazing how emotive I found the whole experience, not in a bad way, I hasten to add.  I guess how we dress is a big, big part of who we are.

So the first worksheet asks us to write down how various life experiences and background circumstances effect how we dress.  For this I returned to a lovely gift my mum gave to me on my 40th birthday.  She made it in her women's group and it was a snapshot of highlights of my life up to that point.  Little did I know at that time that mum wouldn't be around by the time I reached my next birthday, so I guess the photos are all the more special.

Anyway it was very useful for this exercise, here are my answers.


My gran on my mum's side was a dressmaker and she regularly made my mum and her three sisters clothes especially for special occasions like weddings.  As I was a child in the 70's I remember short dresses but also going into the era of maxi dresses and flared trousers.  I often would be with my gran in the factory that her and her sister worked in, surrounded by lots of haberdashery, fabrics like tweed were used a lot and lots of bright colours (which I love)

My mum was never happy about high street purchases as she reckoned they weren't that good a quality and I think that has stayed with me.

However I was a bit tom-boyish and didn't like the embellishments like lace, frills, made-up fabric flowers that my gran loved putting into her work.

In the 80's (late teens, early 20's) there were the music influences of Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet with their frills in the 'new romantic' era, the influence of the then Lady Diana and all her frilliness but I'm afraid all of that was not my thing.

I did take part in Ballroom and Latin American dancing so that required dressing up which I enjoyed but definitely no frills, quite smooth lines was what I preferred.

In the 90's I mostly wore straight skirt suits and trouser suits in work which worked quite well for me.


Very short skirts were frowned on and I even remember my dad being 'funny' about me wearing jeans at first.  I was always encouraged to buy clothes that were good quality and would last.  Now I like to use very natural and sustainable yarns and fabrics.


Wasn't too sure about this one, I don't think culture has influenced me too much.


I was always encouraged to be an individual and not follow the crowd.  I think this has stuck with me as I am not influenced by friends or communities.  I would have been influenced by my mum in the past.


Meet with clients (wear something smart like trousers, top, jacket)
Work from home
Household tasks
Gardening/working in polytunnel
Social activities - theatre, dinner functions, friends houses, holidays.
Walking, cycling
Mostly I need my clothes to be smart, but functional, that is keep me warm when doing outside activities.

Toast style


Where I live is wet for a lot of the year, also cold and windy so need clothes that are warm, cosy and water repellent.

Body Image


Clothes that make me feel good are those that compliment my shape, feel uncomfortable when wearing low waisted trousers, clothes that are tight, clothes that are too big and clothes that aren't the right colour or the right length.

Also things I think of as 'twee' like Peter Pan collars, frills and too much fabric.

Worksheet 2

I will keep this a bit more brief.  When I was thinking of whose style I like I came up with:

Jamie Lee Curtis
Claudia Schiffer
Farrah Fawcett
Diane Von Furstenburg
Charlies Angels
Kim Delaney (actoress)

Clearly a much bigger 70's influence than I was aware of.  Interesting

You can see my influencers on pinterest here.

Some of my words that describe me are:

Light & bright                          Simple
Natural                                    Subtly sexy
Warm                                      Unique
Comfortable                            Understated
Drapey                                    Elegant
Sleek                                       Practical
Unfussy                                   Quirky
Minimalist                               Subtle patterns
Quality                                     Ease
Classic                                     Neat
Unrevealing                              Sporty

Five words that I think best describes my style

Simple, practical, bright, sleek & understated.

So there you go, an interesting exercise so far.  Who would have thought that my style preferences in my 40's reflects the style slants of the 70's.  Am I having a mid-life crisis or is everyone a bit like that?
Who knows?  Am I any closer to my perfect capsule wardrobe... will let you know soon.