Friday, 28 March 2014

The ten item wardrobe and the Yasmin Yoke Skirt

Over the past couple of years I have been attempting to have less 'stuff' in general and certainly in the clothing area of my life.  I am afraid I will have to admit that I have been and still am excessive in the amount of clothes I have, but I like clothes and I like variety. However, I am not alone in desiring the perfect capsule wardrobe especially as people are becoming increasingly aware of being eco conscious and minimising harmful effects on the environment.  There are a lot of books, blogs and websites supporting and encouraging these ideals, some even going as far as getting rid of their cars and living in tiny houses.  Whilst this interests me, I don't know if I could really take it that far.  However, the more I read about minimalist living, the more I like the sound of it and I have come to the conclusion that more clothes perhaps equates to less style.

Liberate Yourself with the ten item wardrobe....10?  Yes 10!

One very motivating book is Lessons from Madame Chic by Jennifer L Scott.  Amongst a whole lot of other ideas one major part of her book is the 10 item wardrobe.  This is where every season you review your clothing and select 10 main items,  this consists of skirts, trousers, dresses, sweaters and blouses.  You are also 'allowed' outside of this 'extras' which are things like jersey tops, cardigans, jackets, fancier dresses and shoes.  I love the ideas and yet it's so simple, in fact, it's really how I remember my mum and her sisters dressing when I was young (in the 70's and 80's) when people had less stuff because that's how far the budget went.  However, the premise of Jennifer's idea is that, where possible, buy the best that you can afford.  So if you are to do this and have a ten item wardrobe (or even 20) you would want to be sure that you loved every item and it really suited you in both style and colour. The results are that there is no more wondering what to put on in the morning, every item in your wardrobe should go with all the other items and your wardrobe is neat and clutter free. Yea!

Whenever I decided to do all this, I also started sewing my own clothes mainly to try and get clothes that fit me better.  So minimalism is not easy when you sew, well there is so much lovely fabric out there.  However, I have sold nearly 50 items on ebay and given a lot away to charity so that's a good start.  I have also been doing the Wardrobe Architect exercises from the Colette patterns website which has been great.  So, on paper, this is my twelve item wardrobe for spring 2014 (well it doesn't have to be 10 exactly!)

2 skirts
Trousers 1 wide leg trousers, 1 cigarette trousers
Perfect fit jeans
2 sweaters
2 blouses
3 dresses

Will I be able to stick to this?  Honestly I doubt it, but I am going to really try.  I am pretty sure there are a lot of lovely spring/summer sewing patterns about to be released and I know I won't be able to resist.

So I think I may have made one of my items on my list now... one of the skirts.  It is the Yasmin Yoke skirt by Maria Denmark and I am very pleased with it.

It is a slightly A line skirt with two hip pockets and an invisible zip closure at the back.  I have had the pattern for ages, but only getting around to making it now.  It was a quick and straightforward make.  I used a darkish blue denim for this.

Yasmin Yoke skirt worn with Deer and Doe blouse.
It was only my second invisible zip and it went in very well.

Can you see the zip?  Ha ha.

So I guess if I am to have two skirts in my spring attire, they have to be a great style for me and suit my life and I think the Yasmin works for me.  Just have to get the rest of the items sorted now.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Party Coco

So having made my Coco dress which I love and has had lots of compliments on the few times I have worn it, I decided to make the top version.  I had just received some lovely merino fabric from in the most gorgeous royal blue shade which I hoped would work well. So just in time for Tilly's Coco party.  What a great idea and wouldn't it be lovely if we could all meet up for real in our Coco's.

Cheers Tilly and all the Coco girls!

This time I made the Coco top with 3/4 sleeves & cuff and the funnel neckline.  I also took about 1.5" off the length which seemed a more flattering length for me, I thought.  The merino is gorgeous, I love the colour, but it has turned out more like a nice top than the 'sweater' weight I had hoped, but don't fret, it will still get lots of wear.

Better get on the coffee now, been partying all day!!. Ha, ha! and it's lovely to see so many different versions of Coco.

Music I would fancy is Yes Sir, I can boogie. With Coco having a 60's, early 70's vibe I thought it would be good.  I wonder if Tilly could design a dress like the ones they are wearing..... no problem.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Loving Coco

Part of my sewing resolutions for 2014 was to sew more fitted woven items and less jersey items.  This was partly because last year I sewed a lot of stretchy things and also because I want to try and acquire more practice and skills in techniques like putting in zippers and achieving good fit.  So far I haven't really achieved this... oh well. 

Also it's tricky when patterns are being created by all these great indie pattern designers and let's face it, there is nothing perks you up more than a nice quickly made dress.  And so, I succumbed to Tilly's Coco pattern.

This is yet another one of those patterns that I am likely to return to again and again.  It can either be a dress or a top with a round neck or one with a slight cowl neck.  It really has a lovely overall shape.  Normally I tend to wear more straight styled clothes, but I really like the more A-line almost flared shape of the skirt.  I might have to try the Miette skirt pattern too now.

I had purchased this black and white stripe ponte jersey at my local fabric shop,Craftswoman, thinking of some sort of Breton style top or dress and the girl serving me said that it made her dizzy (this was after she had cut it).  So having seen a lovely red with black and white stripe dress on pinterest I thought that was the way to go whenever Tilly produced her pattern.  I see Tilly also had a similar version just this week (I had already started mine, honest).  I have to add though that I get were the girl in the shop was coming from... it was quite dizzying cutting the fabric out.

As you can see I went for the red bodice as opposed to a red yoke (like Tillys).  I cut the size 6 for the top part of the dress and tapered in to size 5 in the skirt part.  I probably could have taken it in another bit from the hips down but I quite like the flared skirt. It's actually a very balancing shape for someone like me who has broad shoulders.  Now why didn't I think of that before? I could be acquiring more flared skirted things this year. The pattern instructions are A1 (I have the pdf version) and I'm sure the paper pattern is lovely with the coloured photograph instructions too and would be an ideal way to start sewing with knit fabrics.

Spot the new red ballet pumps specially to go with my Coco.

This is the sort of dress you just throw on, a great addition to the spring wardrobe. I might have to look at my hem a bit (seems to dip slightly at the back) but other than that I love it.  I have a non-stretchy merino lined up for the top version.  Then maybe I will get to my fitted woven dress project.

I will leave you with a nice sunset from the kitchen window.

Monday, 10 March 2014

The Camber Set dress pockety style.

So having made the Camber top from Merchant and Mills a couple of months ago, I thought I would give the Camber Set dress a little try.  The fabric I used is 97% wool, 3% spandex which I got at in their sale.  It is basically a light weight wool with a tiny bit of stretch and was a joy to work with.  I would have been a bit nervous on working with wool previously (I suppose because it can be pricey and I don't want to make a mess of it) but now that I have done a few projects using wool I can say that I really like it.  It is easy to cut and very easy to sew with.  Anyway back to the fabric - it is navy, green & sort of limey beige check (would have preferred it to be more white).

The dress has the same neckline details and back yoke, but is a little more shaped than the top.  I cut the 14 and gradually reduced to a 12 from just under the bustline and I am very happy with the fit.

I also decided to add in-seam pockets to the dress - it's just nice to have them, I think.  The beauty about the Merchant and Mills patterns is that they appear to be very simple and classic in design. Don't let that fool you though, they are not to be rushed.  Though there certainly is nothing difficult in them, I think it pays off to take your time on the details, like the bias on the neckline, getting the yoke just right, the darts and even the top stitching details.  They are definitely the type of patterns you will return to again and again especially if you like the simple, classic styles.

I think this is a great work dress and extremely comfortable, but it would be great in the summer made in double gauze or linen fabric, especially if you were travelling somewhere hot.

I think it is maybe slightly long on me, I might take it up about an inch. Length of clothing can make the difference between flattering and well.... not so flattering.  It's all a matter of taste, I suppose.

My twelve year old informed me that the belt didn't quite work and you know I think he may be right.  Think it's better worn plain and simply. Excuse the shadowy photos, but I guess that must mean there is sun around.  So what do I think of the Camber dress?  If you want a simple, classic style dress, then this is it.  Honestly, on me, I don't think the neckline is really right for my shape, I think I prefer a lower neckline (it really is quite high) but the rest of it is great.  I have worn it and will continue to wear it and it is really ideal for this time of the year with a cardigan or jacket over it, but I think I prefer it as a top.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

A cosy spring Lola.

So last week I said I had another dress which is still not a fitted type dress.  I promise I will give one a go soon.  For cosiness and ease of wear it had to be another Lola dress from Victory patterns.  I had made one last year in plain navy sweatshirt fabric and loved it, it definitely got a lot of wear in the winter-spring months.

So for this one I used a patterned wool-type sweatshirt fabric that I had bought in the autumn sale at  It is a lovely mix of colours of duck egg blue, royal blue and taupe, with not a lot of stretch but just enough for it not to go 'seated'.  The colours are perfect for spring, I think.

This make was very quick to do as I had made it before.  I had really wanted to use my new overlocker (christmas pressie) but I just could not get the tension right.  After several trial scraps of fabric, lots of dial adjustments and a broken needle later I had to give it up as a bad job.  Very disappointing but I think maybe the fabric was just too thick, so I resorted to my faithful 16 year old Brother sewing machine and the fabric sewed up like a dream.

I love the way this dress comes together and the shaping of the seams is great.  The pockets run from front to back around the side and are very deep.  You could put lots of trivia in there but I don't think bulging saggy pockets would be a great look, but they definitely add a bit of style to the overall look.

I had hoped to use a royal blue ponte for the trims, but just didn't quite have enough, so I used the reverse of the dress fabric which colour-wise tones in very nicely, but I had to stretch it maybe a bit too much especially at the neckline, so it gapes forwards slightly, but a necklace soon flattened it down. I also left off the little triangular detail at the front neckline this time.

If I get half as much wear out of this as I did the first one I will be doing ok.  I have worn it a couple of times and it is so comfortable and cosy.  I think I will probably be making one of these every season and it is casual but I think you could make quite an elegant dressy black version which could be nice with heels too.  I love these versatile patterns, so there are two 'Victories' in a row.

Next up is a run of Merchant and Mills sewing.