Wardrobe Architect

Lumia 800_000473So today I want to talk about personal style. A few things I’ve read and heard recently have made me think about my own personal style. A post on Tilly & the Buttons (yes I’m mentioning her again, she’s amazing) from a while ago spoke about having your own personal brand of style and I was trying to work out what mine was. Are the garments I never finish just not Bonnie enough? In an episode of Judge John Hodgman I listened to last week he kept asking one of the litigants if his vast collection of socks brought him joy, or if he was just hoarding them. This may be a comedy podcast, but he has a point – why would I ever wear something that doesn’t give me joy? With sewing becoming a growing hobby, I need to make sure I’m making things I truly love and want to wear. I mean, I know I’m not going to get it right every time, there will always be some failures, but I want to make as many clothes as possible that give me that burst of happiness when you wear it out for the first time, but also continue to come out of your wardrobe time and time again.
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So, with this all swimming in my head, I came across a series called Wardrobe Architect by Colleterie. This is a series of articles and worksheets to help you discover your own personal style – I’m a bit behind the times discovering it, but better late than never, eh? I like to think that I have some idea what fits into my wardrobe and what doesn’t, but I know I can be swayed by a fabric because it has elephants on it with no thought for whether it will make a nice garment that I’ll wear. This is why I’ve decided to embark on this journey of discovery. I’m going to document here each exercise and see what happens. Colleterie are currently doing a monthly 2015 version, but because I’m behind the times I’m going to do the 2014 ones. Maybe I’ll catch up and be able to join in for the autumn! Have you tried Wardrobe Architect? How has it helped you?

Sun, Sewing and Sushi

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It’s been so sunny here in Oxford! Finally able to get my head into floaty summer dresses and stop dreaming so much of chunky knit cardies. Anyone else got cotton lawn on the brain?

I had an eventful weekend shopping, watching the Boat Race (woo, we won!) and then making sushi with my friends. When I said in my first post that I might bring up food I hadn’t anticipated I wouldn’t make it past post 3 before mentioning it again, but when there’s sushi to show you, what’s a girl to do?  We had lots of fun making them and we were SO full afterwards – don’t they look delicious? We filled the maki (rolled up ones) with aubergine, avocado, tofu and omelette. Yum!

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Anyway, I may have had a lot on this weekend, but I still found time to sew up a simple summer dress. I wore it this afternoon to “road test” it and I think I still have some tweaks to do to it, but I’ll hopefully be able to post about it this week. I also had an online fabric binge this morning and ended up ordering this lovely organic knit from Birch Fabrics. I have spent so long with my Featherweight only being able to do straight stitch that I haven’t tried knit fabric, so I’m looking forward to giving it a go now I’ve got some zig-zag action! I’m thinking a t-shirt dress at the moment, or maybe a batwing top?

skinnychevcoralSo I’ve been thinking of doing Me Made May. I’ve been aware of this going on in sewing circles for a couple of years, but I’ve never had the time or the wardrobe to consider taking part myself. This year, though, I think I might be able to do it! I haven’t pledged yet because I’m still torn between the five day or seven day challenge. I have a little while to go, so I may see what garments come off the sewing bench in the next couple of weeks. I promise not to panic sew though, I know that’s not allowed!

Getting the Hang of Velvet

Red Velvet Knot Dress

When I think of a winter wedding I immediately think of velvet. I love velvet, just going to put that out there. It’s so decadent! I have a vintage velvet jacket, which is one of my all time favourite items of clothing. When I’m really good at sewing I’ll have to recreate that jacket because I couldn’t live without it. I tried to get a photo, but it’s black and you couldn’t see any of the detail – I’m going to get better at photography on this journey as well, I hope! Anyway, so I went to a winter wedding this year and I knew I had to wear velvet. This berry coloured crushed velvet immediately drew my eye and the drape is gorgeous. I decided to go with this knot front dress from BurdaStyle.com, which is a pattern I’ve had my eye on for a while. The pattern is “tall”, which I did not notice when I bought it, so I had a LOT of altering to do to the pattern, but once altered it fit really snugly and I’m so pleased with it. There’s a bit of stretch to the material, so I had a bit of leeway there.

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One thing I would change if I made it again is to reduce the amount of material hanging down the middle. The pattern is for lightweight material and using this heavier material meant that there was a heavy drape down the centre. I think this would be easily corrected though. I found velvet a bit of a slippery character to work with, but once I started pinning and basting like crazy I managed to tame it and it hasn’t put me off using it again. I made this whole dress on my Singer Featherweight, but I bet a walking foot (or the IDT system on my new Pfaff) would help out as well.

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As for the wedding, it was really lovely and I had a great time, but would you believe it, someone else turned up in a red velvet dress (okay, winter wedding, not too surprising) that was also handmade! It was in a pattern that I very nearly made as well, so I’m very glad I didn’t use that in the end. Sadly I was too busy enjoying myself to get any pictures of my outfit on the night! I’ll have to make more effort to get pictures if I’m going to keep up this blogging thing.

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So I just enrolled in a course on pattern cutting and garment construction at a local college, which I’m very excited about. I really enjoy getting a bit of formal training and I also really like the geometry of patterns, so I think this should be really interesting and hopefully I’ll come away a bit more confident that I can get the perfect fit. I bullied the boyfriend into getting all my measurements yesterday, so I’m ready to go!