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Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Autumn Pyjamas

I actually need Autumn pyjamas more than I need Autumn clothes. I also need relaxed gym clothes.
I therefore have a cunning plan which is to make yoga pants, leggings, knit tops etc in various fabrics and wear the loud ones as nightwear and the more 'normal' ones to the gym. I can try some new patterns as wearable muslins which become PJs. I am particularly interested in slim pants and leggings in PJs as I think they would be less prone to creawl up the legs, flap about and be cold. I am cold at night so need long sleeves and long legs in things, none of this cami top nonsense, I am also planning on making the rainbow psychadelic cat fleece fabric into a dressing gown (aka robe).
Aren't they jolly? And of course if there is any left over..... I foresee hat, scarf, fleece booties and all other manner of hideous fleece-age. I can't wait and of course will be super toasty this winter if I do so :-)

Colour Seasons

Rhonda asked about the colour diagnosis's I've had.
I self diagnosed from the early CMB books as a Winter in about 1990. This seemed to be the only matching category for mid brown hair, green eyes and light skin. I wore Winter colours for years and can't have looked all that great, though I favoured red and teal by the face.
Then in about 2000 I got into a now defunct message board which looked at the indviduals colouring. Here I worked out I was definitely one of the Warm undertoned categories though not one of the obvious ones ie not a classic original Autumn or Spring. I concluded I was a Soft Autumn (which is Autumn with a Summer influence) and sent off for a swatch packet from an online site which sold them. This was a little disappointing and whilst it contained some great colours it also had loads I could not wear near the face.
3 or 4 years ago I decided to pay to get my colours done with UK Colour Me Beautiful andwent to see a lovely consultant who declared me to me Clear and Warm (ie Clear Spring, or Contrasting Brunette Spring). I wore my contact lenses for this session, and I'm sure the fact that my eyes are large and green was one of the indicators for her. (I also wear glasses, and as I am very short sighted, this makes my eyes seem much smaller behind the strong lenses, so the overall effect of the green eyes is diminished somewhat, anyway I digress).
I took my 'Clear and Warm' swatch booklet home, though as ever becuase its a generic and only partly personalised palette it doesn't work 100 percent for me.
The Clear Palette which is half Winter/half Spring is used as the basis of the swatches for the Clear and Warm and the Clear and Cool. They then add in extra strips from the secondary areas, in my case one of Warm and one of Light I think. The consultant then marks the colours which are your best ones.
I discovered for instance that I can wear some really quite warm colours which are not in the C&W palette (its deliberately fairly neutral), and have got a little leaning towards Autumn - ie a little bit of that soft/rich. Its obviously not the main factor though as the consultant dismissed this as an option when I suggested it, and I agreed that the Clear and Warm drapes were better than the Soft and Warm.

I also colour my hair with semi permanent rinses in various shades of medium warm browns. Sometimes these are more auburn and the cooler colours are less good. Other times I've picked a slightly darker plainer brown (no red undertones) which is closer to my natural haircolour and then the slightly cooler colours work better, as do the higher contrast options.

I carry both the old Soft Autumn and the new Clear Spring palettes with me, and try to see if something has both the warmth, richness, contrast and clarity that somehow blends with both.
Perhaps I should be a little creative and destroy both palettes and just take the best swatches from both.... or somehow try to create my own custom palette, but for the moment this works well enough and I'm happy getting dressed in the morning.

Opinion varies a lot as to whether you colour palette changes with age, and I can see that as your hair colour changes with greying and/or whatever colouring you do with your hair this has to impact your best colours. I suspect you stay broadly in the same category since you skin vs eyes contrast will remain similar but you need to soften and maybe cool your colours slightly, and I should think look at what is your 'Key Neutral' as this is based on your hair, or lowlights within your hair.
I knew a bright ginger haired lady who had then gained creamy white hairs as she aged until she was a variegated caramel blonde, she was still warm, but the strength of the colours that suited her had changed to those with less strong pigments. She had a natural understanding of her best colours and tweaked accordingly and always looked lovely.

On another note I bought myself another cardigan and blouse following some of Nancy's recent advice.
The cardigan is the same style as the cream one, though this time in a Warm Navy, a new colour for me, but one which I think will work well with my darker navy separates.
And this print blouse which I think would be a GREAT linking pieces. It contains rust, cream, navy and several shades of brown in the mini squares pattern and I think will be very versatile.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Autumn Sewing

I've been thinking for a little while about sewing for the upcoming Autumn Season and have fabrics laid out in the sewing room ready to go. Whilst it was still technically summer (though not massively summery weather here in Derbyshire - cool and rainy) I didn't want to get down into the brown fabrics straight away so I started with what turned out to be 2 orange tops, and have followed up with the cardigan coat and a cream top. I've already worn the orange tops, though the cardigan coat is too heavy still. I've already bought some dark brown leather shoes and handbag (purse to the US folks) and am still looking in case I find a suitable belt and watch in the same dark brown (I may have to head to the men's department). Here's a mood board showing some of the garments and fabrics. Unfortunately the colours are a little off but hopefully the general idea still works.
 Hopefully the dark brown print fabric will be a great key in to the rest of the wardrobe. The question is whether I sew a top and dress or a top and skirt from it. Nancy would have the top and skirt to give the maximum mix and match opportunities, but I'm not huge on knit skirts.

To get the look of a dress from a top and skirt is I think quite hard, though if the skirt had a smooth faced waist rather than elastic (even though its a knit) would that work? You could then tuck the top in and belt everything......

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Personal Style

If you've read a few of the style/colour type books which have come out since the 1980s (and of which I have an entire library! well a bookcase anyway), there are 3 things which come out over and over.
- flattering colours (variations on Color Me Beautiful)
- body shape and what clothing styles work for that shape.
- personal style e.g. natural etc (and to a certain extent lifestyle)

Building a successful wardrobe needs you to have started to find the answers to the above whether you are going to sew or buy your clothes, or a mixture of the two. I sew, thrift and buy RTW to get my wardrobe and this works well for me. I also do a bit of jewellery making but don't knit.

Flattering Colours
I'll come straight and say that I have spent a lot of time on this and in the end did spend the money to go and have a fairly basic consultation with the UK Colour Me beautiful people. For me that was worth doing as my colouring  - medium brown hair, pale ivory skin, green eyes can be seen in lots of the different categories. Some of my confusion came from some of the techniques in the books - which looks better - light baby pink or warm camel? - answer neither, so not very helpful!
When I went for my consultation the lady said emphatically that I was Warm and Clear  - Clear Spring or Brunette Contrasting Spring. I already knew that pastels (baby blue, baby pink etc were hideous) and black was bad by the face, but I'd been all over the place colourwise (as can seen in my stash!!). Some of the colours I had worked out were good myself were in the palette, and with a little tweaking I am really enjoying my colours now.
If you don't already know which are your best colours its worth trying to find out what works as it saves you a lot of time when sewing or buying clothes.
Nancy has several posts on finding your colours.
Color Cues,
Using your colors
Color Contrast

Body Shape.
There are various different approaches to body shape, good old HOAX and the different sorts of fruit. I'm not sure we all clearly fit into one or another and some of the more complex ones like Trinny and Susannah's Body Shape Bible are still not perfect.
Nancy has a few posts on this - Figuring out your Figure
and Styles for your shape
I don't really match any of them exactly, so decided I'd go with the most prominent bit of me - ie the widest bit as the indicator. Viewed from the front the sides of my thighs are the most prominent thing, and I always carry excess weight however much I manage to lose. Viewed from the side I have a little bit of a rounded tummy (made more obvious by a tipped pelvis) and a very round bottom. I don't have much bust, but I do have relatively broad shoulders. This fits most into the pear or “lower body dominant” shape as I also have 'sturdy' legs, though it is offset a little by the broad shoulders. I think Nancy's 5 categories are pretty useful as long as you then personalise it for yourself.
I also had the opportunity about 2 years ago to be a guinea pig for 2 ladies training as Style Consultants with UK Colour Me Beautiful, and somewhere have a little booklet of the flattering styles for me.
I took lots of clothes with me so I could try them on and they could say why things worked or not. I deliberately took some items I never wore to discover WHY they were wrong and that was very useful. There are loads of books on this topic. I found the original Trinny and Susannah book, and Style Rx most helpful out of my huge library :-)
Nancy now slightly dated book 'Looking Good' is also pretty good for this sort of stuff.
You can work it out though by looking at what clothes you have that make you feel great, or get you those 'have you lost weight' type comments.
Examples from my journey are short neck/broad jaw/forward head, so need open necklines like V, scoop, cross over, loose cowls etc - no turtlenecks or classic round jewel necks for me.
Because I am heavy in the butt/hip/thigh area I keep my pants/skirts in fairly plain/dark fabrics and always avoid shiny, print or bias cut on the lower half. I also keep my hemlines below mid calf whether crops or skirts as I just don't have the legs for it. In the winter with opaque tights and fitted knee boots I can take the skirts to just below the knee I discovered this last winter.
I therefore keep all my interest in tops - either knit tops or jackets in bright coloours, prints, texture etc and tie them into the bottoms with colours in the print, necklaces or scarves.
Obviously for those with different body shapes than mine you need to find your own set of best shapes.

Personal Style
This needs to take into account the first two categories but also both the lifestyle you live but also your personality. Lots of places have categories like Tailored Classic, Sporty Natural, High Fashion Dramatic and Feminine Romantic (examples from Nancy's book 'Looking Good'). Nancy hasn't covered this yet, but still has 20+ weeks to go of the 52 :-) so she's probably got some planned.
I found my best fit in the horrendously flowery and 80s book 'Metamorphasis' by David Kibbe. This has a wierd yin/yang scale basis but basically allows some mixing of the usual categories and in short I am a Natural with a big dose of Dramatic. ie my shoes are comfy, but heck they are leopard or red or something, and my tops are natural fibres like viscose (rayon) knit but in very bold prints teamed with enormous necklaces.
I wouldn't necessarily recommend Kibbe's book unless you can find it for 5p on Amazon used books, as its very based on body shape rather than personality and is dated, but my category works very well for me so I am pretty pleased with it. I reread it last week after several years and its still spot on.
Of course this needs to take into account your actual lifestyle - again something Nancy has a good section on in her book 'Looking Good' and I daresay will therefore appear in her posts at some point.
The basic approach is drawing a 'Lifestyle Pie' and a 'Wardrobe Pie'. The 'Lifestyle Pie' shows the proportion of your life that is Professional, Social, Sports, Family for example and things like Anytime Casuals, Classic Sportswear, Evening Dressy, Active Sportwear as cothing categories. The idea being that you need to have clothes to fit the life you actually have, which is pretty obvious but we don't always do, especially if life changed a lot.

Phew that turned out a lot longer than I expected! I realise I have used myself as an example here, but that's becuase I've had lots of years dressing myself now :-) and pretty much none with anyone else. Hopefully there are some useful bits for people there though.

Capsule wardrobing - opinions please

Hi all :-)
I've generally used this blog to write about my sewing on a day to day basis, but I have an obvious bent towards wardrobe sewing - ie sewing items which work together and adding in the accessories etc to do that. I haven't particularly majored on that here on the blog, but I wondered if that's of particular interest to people who come and read here.

So for instance my various old wardrobes - which just have little sidebar sections, would you like them to open up to have more detail?
Or would you like to see more detail on how the accessories are put together with the clothes on my current projects and the wardrobes mixed with each other and RTW?
Would you want to see me wearing the clothing and accessories in an 'outfit of the day' type way? (Not sure I could sustain this tbh, but hey I'm asking). I'm very ordinary and have a non-glamorous life working long hours in IT and living in a not quite ideal rented place, I'm also not a model in any sense - I'm 40 pear shaped and a size 14-16.

If there's no feedback I'll just carry on posting whatever I fancy as I do now, but if you would like to see something specifically, please let me know and I will see what I can do to try and meet that.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Cream Tee 1 - nearly done

Here's the first of the Cream Tee Collection.
I've used my classic TNT scoop neck tee pattern with two small changes.
The first is the neckband is cut slightly wider and then twisted an inch before being sewn in place. The second is I sewed some knit leaf shapes on the front on one side as a little bit of tonal interest.
Hemming still outstanding, and I'm in a battle with the Coverhem which seems to have overly aggressive tension and the thread keeps breaking. Not quite sure what the problem is.
Anyway here's progress so far.
For some reason the front is 1/2" longer than the back. I think due to cutting out on a table with stretch knit yardage pooling on the floor. I think the others will need cutting out on the floor until I get nearer the end of the 5m of cream jersey I bought from Totally Fabrics some months ago.
(I bought multiple times from Totally Fabrics and only had the occasional fabric which wasn't what I expected. I totally recommend them! I'd still be buying stuff from the 'Lycra Jersey' pages except I'm a bit skint really)

Hat, gloves, belt and Leeds Fabric

I had some bits left over from making the cardigan coat and felt compelled to put them to good use. On that basis I made a narrow belt from sections of the less stretchy ribbing. As this had a raw edge I made it into a tube and turned it through. I think I might give it a press to make it a bit flatter. You can see the tiny sections of stretchy rib at the ends of the belt. I left this open and sewed the overlocker threads back through the seam allowance for neatness.
I also made a knitted fabric hat. It has darts in the upper section to draw the width up to the point. I couldn't make it come to a gathered point, so it has 4 little seams which meet at a point. These have then been hand gathered inside. The ribbing (more of the less stretchy sort) was applied separately, partly becuase of the way the ribbing ran compared to the cables of the knit, but also to draw things up.
I still had some bits left over, so made some matching mittens as well. To get these from the scraps I've had to have the thumbs as separate pieces. I was out of ribbing by this point, so used some of the main fabric cut shorter and stretched to fit.
The scraps leftover are too small for anything meaningful, so I felt I really got good use from this sofa throw.

The week before last I bought some beautifully soft knits on Leeds market, which I'd not photgraphed earlier - here they are.
Left: red and white stripes, Centre: chocolate brown, Right: white and black stripes.
I don't currently have particularly clear ideas what I want to make with them :-) tops probably.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

The gym and a strange hat.

Today I went to the gym for the first time in 10 years. I did a class called Body Balance which is one of those stretching pilates type classes. I loved it, though I was not at all good at standing on one leg like a star or whatever it was. My legs felt like quivering jelly afterwards so it must've worked.
I wore my navy Burda leggings and a big old oversize t shirt. It looked pretty hideous, but since it was in the room for classes away from the main gym, I was there to exercise and the rest of the class (and the teacher) were ladies older than me I didn't fret too much. Seeing yourself in those mirrors round the edge is quite interesting, much better than I get to see in my sewing room mirror at home. I shall be back at least twice a week.

I don't currently have a lot of plans for gym stuff but will throw in the odd pair of leggings and maybe some better tops as I'm sewing other things.

Meanwhile I decided to use some of the teeny scraps left from sewing the cardigan coat to make a matching hat. The band fits OK but the rest of it is huge and I think it'll need darts to get the hole to close at the top as the cotton knit fabric is very bulky and a drawstring approach didn't work very well. I may need to reduce the length a bit as well.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Cream tees

Yes that's cream tees not cream teas!
The idea being that a few different cream coloured tees would be great in the wardrobe.
A more wearable version (and easier to sew!) of the 5 white shirts challenge that was about in sewing blog land a few months back.
My plans are to have
1. A plain scoop neck with 3/4 sleeves. This would be a super basic with no fancinesss.
2. Next up a mock wrap princess seam from Simplicity 2977 with added sleeves.
3. Then a version of the HotPatterns top with a draped neckline. I made this before in a poly slinky which looked great but was very sweaty for me to wear so I donated it. It worked with loads of outfits though so I need another one in viscose (rayon) knit instead.
4. Next up a loose fitting top with a soft cowl, YorkshireLass has leant me a pattern for this (I think a Loes Hinse).
5. Since by this point I will have probably lost the plot and never want to sew cream again there probably won't be a number 5, but I've previously made the Jalie crossover top in the same fabric, so may sub in a previously made piece.

This coming weekend is a 3 day holiday in the UK (August Bank Holiday) and I took some extra days off work planning to go away. Instead I think I will stay home and have a Cream Tee Staycation! I could do all 4 new tees in that time :-)

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Taupe Sweater Knit Cardigan

This knee length cardigan is made from a cotton cable knit sofa throw from Dunelm Mills (UK home dec store). I'm not sure what I'm going to do yet for closures. Possibly giant press studs with buttons sewn on the outside, or maybe just left with no closures.
I used the ribbed edging of the sofa throw for the hem on the cardigan and sleeves and the side ribbing as the front band. I think its worked out quite well and is pretty wearable.
I think a soft roll collar top would be great under this with the wool trousers for Autumn, add a crazy print scarf and brown chelsea boots, and would be very comfortable.
I have some funny shaped scraps left, plus a little bit of the ribbing used for the front band, so might see if I can cut a knit beany hat or some other fun things!
This was made from the cardigan jacket in my old favourite New Look 6735. I added 7 inches (plus the 1.5" hem) to the length to get the knee length cardigan coat look I was after.

Building up my neutrals

One thing the Nancy plan showed is that I actually like colours and prints way more than is practical for maximum wardrobe mixing and matching, so I have made a little bit of effort to increase my neutrals quotient.

Since my stash doesn't necessarily reflect this, I decided to use some purchased items as a starting place, and then add in some sewn garments as well.

I started with the trousers and cardigan I bought last week, then added a crinkle blouse and faux suede skirt in similar colours. These last two were thrifted yesterday and both required alterations, so I decided to do the alterations promptly today, put the garments through the laundry and then I would be ready go.
The blouse just needed the sleeves hemming a bit shorter, but the skirt was too long, too loose on the back waist and too tight on the hips, so I did a lot of messing about shortening from the top to give more hip room, making the shaped waistband narrower and shorter, adding back darts, a back invisible zip etc. The end result looks good, and I couldn't have purchased the fabric for the price so it was worth doing.
The skirt and blouse are in shade between the light brown trousers and the cream cardigan and I suppose could be called champagne, sand or similar.
Next item is a knee length cardigan made from a knitted sofa throw. I'm going to go and cut this out now and get sewing it up. The colour is what I would call taupe and is darker than the trousers, though the different shades of beigeness all seem to work quite well together. Entire beige outfits are VERY boring on me, but I understand the flexibility of these neutral item.
After the Taupe cardigan I am planning on making some plain cream knit tops, including a plain scoop neck as well as some more adventurous designs. I quite often find I'm looking for a cream top to work with other wardrobe pieces, and only have colour and pattern, so although boring these should be useful.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

New You: Wardrobe Plan

Nancy's just posted the last part of the current wardrobe plan, and she says that going forwards "we'll talk about where you might go from here to build in more variety And after that we'll spell out the concepts at work here so you can get similar results in your own wardrobe whether you follow this specific formula or not."
Summary is as follows:-

Dark neutral colour e.g. Chocolate brown - Trousers, Skirt, Cardigan/jacket/shirt, Top
Lighter neutral colour e.g. Camel - Trousers, Skirt, Cardigan/jacket/shirt, Top
Accent colour e.g. Turquoise - Cardigan/jacket/shirt, Top
Print including all 3 colours - Skirt and Top

Dark neutral colour e.g. Chocolate brown - Shoes, bag and belt
Lighter neutral colour e.g. Camel - Shoes
Both neutrals together - Bag, Necklace, Scarf
All 3 colours together - Necklace, scarf, pashmina
Accent colour e.g. Turquoise - Necklace.

If I try to interpret this in my chosen colours it looks something like this....

Dark neutral colour e.g. Chocolate brown - Trousers, Skirt, Cardigan/jacket/shirt, Top - yes except top
Lighter neutral colour e.g. Mocha - Trousers, Skirt, Cardigan/jacket/shirt, Top - yes except skirt
Accent colour e.g. Burnt Orange - Cardigan/jacket/shirt, Top - yes
Print including all 3 colours - Skirt and Top - no but could sew from existing knit fabric

Dark neutral colour e.g. Chocolate brown - Shoes, bag and belt - yes though belt is a little casual

Lighter neutral colour e.g. Mocha - Shoes - well nude ones
Both neutrals together - Bag, Necklace, Scarf - bag no, necklace and scarf yes
All 3 colours together - Necklace, scarf, pashmina - yes I think so
Accent colour e.g. Burnt - Necklace. - definitely yes :-)

The Madison Avenue Collection at CC  could be made to work in a Nancy type plan, in shades of chocolate, camel and ochre with accessories and everything.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011


I bought fabric on Leeds market.
They are red and white stripes, white with black stripes, and a lovely soft dark brown. All are knits.
They might get their photos taken another day, since I need to go to bed.


Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Buying entire outfits

I did something today which I have never done before - ever.
I went into a store and bought a whole outfit, all full price, all from the new season collection, just as it had come in. I tried the pieces on together.... until I had an outfit that worked. I then also bought a belt which fitted in the belt loops. It wasn't an expensive store so the dent in my budget isn't huge.
Here are the pieces that I bought.
The wool mix trousers, a chiffon animal print blouse and this cardigan only in cream (not grey) which is slightly lighter than the brown trousers. I also added in black leather belt from the menswear section.

Capsule Summary

I've tried to summarise the most common options in the CMBLYB wardrobes and have come up with this:-

Jacket:     Neutral1
Jacket:     Neutral2
Dress:     Colour1 or Neutral1 or Neutral2
Skirt:     Neutral1
Skirt:     Neutral2
Skirt:     Neutral1&2 weave
Trousers:     Neutral 1
Blouse:     Colour1
Blouse:     Colour2
Blouse:     Neutral1&Colour1
Blouse:     Neutral2&Colour2
Sweater/Wrap:     Neutral1

When I then plug in my planned colours of Chocolate, Taupe, Orange and Ivory I get....

Chocolate Jacket
Taupe Jacket
Dress in Chocolate or Taupe or Orange
Chocolate Skirt
Taupe Skirt
Skirt in Chocolate and Taupe weave
Chocolate Trousers
Orange blouse
Ivory blouse
Blouse in Chocolate and Orange
Blouse in Taupe and Ivory
Chocolate Cardigan

I'd swap out lots of the skirts for more trousers, use a weave which has all 4 colours in it, and have knit tops for the blouses. My planned dress is probably in a print also with a chocolate background.

More Capsules

These Capsules are taken from the book Colour Me Beautiful: Looking Your Best which is from the early 90s I think so getting a little dated now.
However it does do a 12 piece wardrobe plan for each sub season. These don't quite follow any rules that I have managed to codify into a spreadsheet, and none of them quite works for me as is, but I thought it might be useful.

Deep Winter
1. Jacket: Black
2. Jacket: Red
3. Dress: Red
4. Skirt: Black
5. Skirt: Red
6. Skirt: Black /red Pattern or blend
7. Trousers: Black
8. Blouse: White
9. Blouse: Red /lemon /white pattern
10. Blouse: Lemon
11. Blouse: Red and white
12. Sweater/Wrap: White

Cool Winter
1. Jacket: Navy
2. Jacket: Stone
3. Dress: Magenta
4. Skirt: Navy
5. Skirt: Stone
6. Skirt: Navy and stone weave or pattern
7. Trousers: Navy
8. Blouse: Magenta
9. Blouse: Magenta and navy
10. Blouse: Navy and stone
11. Blouse: Navy
12. Sweater/Wrap: Navy

Clear Winter
1. Jacket: Charcoal
2. Jacket: Royal blue
3. Dress: Royal blue
4. Skirt: Charcoal
5. Skirt: Royal blue
6. Skirt: Charcoal /Royal clue pattern or blend
7. Trousers: Charcoal
8. Blouse: White
9. Blouse: Icy blue
10. Blouse: Charcoal and Icy Blue
11. Blouse: White and Royal blue
12. Sweater/Wrap: White

Soft Autumn

1. Jacket: Olive
2. Jacket: Khaki
3. Dress: Bittersweet
4. Skirt: Olive
5. Skirt: Khaki
6. Skirt: Olive/Khaki/Ivory Weave
7. Trousers: Olive
8. Blouse: Ivory and olive
9. Blouse: Bittersweet
10. Blouse: Bittersweet and olive
11. Blouse: Ivory and olive
12. Sweater/Wrap: Olive

Warm Autumn

1. Jacket: Golden brown
2. Jacket: Bronze
3. Dress: Light Clear Gold
4. Skirt: Golden brown
5. Skirt: Bronze
6. Skirt: Golden brown and bronze weave
7. Trousers: Golden brown
8. Blouse: Light Clear Gold
9. Blouse: Bronze and Light Clear Gold
10. Blouse: Buff
11. Blouse: Bronze and buff
12. Sweater/Wrap: Bronze

Deep Autumn

1. Jacket: Black brown
2. Jacket: Rust
3. Dress: Marigold
4. Skirt: Black brown
5. Skirt: Rust
6. Skirt: Black brown / Rust weave
7. Trousers: Black brown
8. Blouse: Rust and Ivory
9. Blouse: Rust and Marigold
10. Blouse: Ivory
11. Blouse: Marigold
12. Sweater/Wrap: Black brown

Light Summer
1. Jacket: Light charcoal
2. Jacket: Medium blue
3. Dress: Rose
4. Skirt: Light charcoal
5. Skirt: Medium blue
6. Skirt: Light charcoal / Medium blue / Soft white weave
7. Trousers: Light charcoal
8. Blouse: Soft white
9. Blouse: Soft white and grey
10. Blouse: Medium blue and soft white
11. Blouse: Medium blue and rose
12. Sweater/Wrap: Medium blue

Cool Summer
1. Jacket: Blue charcoal
2. Jacket: Soft white
3. Dress: Raspberry
4. Skirt: Charcoal blue-grey
5. Skirt: Soft white
6. Skirt: Blue charcoal and Soft white weave
7. Trousers: Blue charcoal
8. Blouse: Soft white
9. Blouse: Raspberry
10. Blouse: Raspberry, Blue charcoal and Soft white
11. Blouse: Icy Pink
12. Sweater/Wrap: Soft white

Soft Summer
1. Jacket: Pewter
2. Jacket: Amethyst (pinky purple)
3. Dress: Dusty Rose
4. Skirt: Pewter
5. Skirt: Amethyst
6. Skirt: Pewter /Amethyst /Soft White
7. Trousers: Pewter
8. Blouse: Dusty Rose
9. Blouse: Soft White and Amethyst
10. Blouse: Pewter and Amethyst
11. Blouse: Pewter and Dusty Rose
12. Sweater/Wrap: Pewter

Clear Spring
1. Jacket: Charcoal
2. Jacket: Warm pink
3. Dress: Purple
4. Skirt: Charcoal
5. Skirt: Warm pink
6. Skirt: Charcoal & Warm Pink weave
7. Trousers: Charcoal
8. Blouse: Purple
9. Blouse: Warm pink & charcoal
10. Blouse: Ivory
11. Blouse: Warm pastel pink
12. Sweater/Wrap: Charcoal

Warm Spring
1. Jacket: Golden Brown
2. Jacket: Buttermilk
3. Dress: Rust
4. Skirt: Golden Brown
5. Skirt: Buttermilk
6. Skirt: Golden Brown/Rust/Buttermilk Weave
7. Trousers: Golden Brown
8. Blouse: Yellow gold
9. Blouse: Golden Brown and Buttermilk
10. Blouse: Buttermilk and Rust
11. Blouse: Rust and Yellow Gold
12. Sweater/Wrap: Golden Brown

Light Spring
1. Jacket: Ivory and Camel
2. Jacket: Camel
3. Dress: Ivory and Camel
4. Skirt: Camel
5. Skirt: Ivory and Camel
6. Skirt: Camel and Ivory Weave
7. Trousers: Camel
8. Blouse: Ivory and Camel
9. Blouse: Ivory and Clear Aqua
10. Blouse: Clear Aqua
11. Blouse: Peach and Aqua
12. Sweater/Wrap: Ivory  

Monday, 15 August 2011

Capsule Wardrobing

Not a sewing post, but I've been enjoying the articles in the Capsule Wardrobing section at ThriftyChick.
Its all very sensible practical advice. In fact its all common sense, but its nice that she wrote it all down so we can read it and realise its common sense. :-)
She is also MILES away from the everyone should have a black dress approach.

When I find articles like this I print them off and put them in a book of plastic pockets and can then read them at my leisure.

There is a bit of bad language though, so if you are a very sensitive soul please don't click on the link. Ta.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

What's next?

I was interested to see if I could actually make anything with the bits cut off the bottom of the tunic and the dress when they both reverted to being tops, but unfortunately not, or at least not something I'd want wear (ie I could make a strappy top or halter neck, but not something with proper sleeves without adding from another fabric).

Maybe I should do
- a different orange top
- a cardigan from a mocha sofa throw
- tweed trousers or skirt


I have HUGE pile of possible patterns, fabrics, random pattern pieces, scizors, some random paperwork, Burda Magzines, fashion magazines all piled up on the sewing table and its so bad I can't work on any projects.
I have too much inspiration and no clarity.

Any suggestions on a way forward?
What do you do when the sewing space gets like this?

Wardrobe Spreadsheet

I put the Nancy Nix-Rice plan into a spreadsheet. Its a very simple idea. Once tab is called Colours and on this one I overtype the names of the colours in the second column.
The other tab is a list of all the garments and accessories in Nancy's plan. Here the second column is a formula which looks up on the colours tab to tell you what the garments and accessories would be with that plan. Here's an example of one of the most complex formulae for a scarf which has all 3 colours in it.
And finally here's what it looks like when you put the two together. Your whole wardrobe list for those colours.
If you want to see what a Khaki, Rust and Coral wardrobe would look like, you type those colours in on the 'Colours' tab and then pop over to the Wardrobe tab, where its laid out for you.

Ladylike clothing

September's UK InStyle magazine has a great article about what they call the 'new' demure, which is all about how the influence of the Middleton sisters, plus the current financial climate is making wearable and 'proper' women's clothing more fashionable/widely available.
It was a huge relief to read, this is stuff you can wear to work and look like you made a bit of an effort.
The article concludes "Its OK just to want to look nice, to look pretty and neatly put together."

As ever I'm only going to take the parts of this trend (approach?) which work with my taste, lifestyle and body shape, and ignore the rest, something that now I'm over 40 is more important than ever.
Loads of my patterns are spot on, and I'm planning to make the Vogue 8679 skirt in tweed soon, though will be adding pockets. I'm also going to go back after pay day and try on these classic wool trousers see if the fit is passable, since they are channelling the Chloe vibe I loved months ago.

Wool Trousers

Chloe Outfit

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Nancy Adds Colour!

Nancy's next post is out, this time she's beginning to add colour into the previously very neutral palette, and its starting to really appeal to me. The colours she's choosing are also very suitable for my Clear Spring colouring, so I might try to interpret her plan very much as she's outlined it.
First of all she starts with the 'Core 4' this is basically a top, jacket, skirt and trousers all in pretty much the same neutral colour, she uses coffee brown. This should be your 'Key Neutral' which is basically a tone found in your hair colour.
She then adds basic accessories to this of a matching bag, shoes and belt. Also a necklace which includes this 'Key Neutral' and also a lighter neutral.
After this she adds in and underlayers and overlayer top in the lighter neutral colour, plus animal print scarf, bags and necklace which have both the original neutral, the light neutral and if possible black (to tie with black basics you already have),
After this she also adds the light neutral as 2 more bottoms, plus some light neutral shoes if desired.
After all these neutral pieces she finally starts to add colour - an overlayer and underlayer top, plus a simple scarf and a pashmina and another necklace, but now having all 3 colours present to continue to tie things together.
A hint at the end implies she's going to add at least one print piece in next week, which will be interesting.
I've done myself a little spreadsheet which lets me change the colours and it automatically updates the colours in the list of items, so I shall try a few of my wardrobe favourites and see what comes out and if I can do it with clothes I already have, As a pear shape I tend to avoid dark tops and light bottoms, so it may not work too well, I shall have to see......

I've plugged Bitter Chocolate (a very dark brown), Mocha Brown (a more medium but not particularly warm brown) and Orange into my sheet and get.....

Bitter Chocolate Trousers
Bitter Chocolate Skirt
Bitter Chocolate Cardigan
Bitter Chocolate Knit top
Bitter Chocolate Classic Bag
Bitter Chocolate Shoes
Bitter Chocolate Belt
Bitter Chocolate and Mocha Brown Necklace
Mocha Brown Trousers
Mocha Brown Skirt
Mocha Brown Shirt Jacket
Mocha Brown Knit top
Bitter Chocolate and Mocha Brown Scarf
Bitter Chocolate and Mocha Brown Bag
Bitter Chocolate and Mocha Brown Necklace
Mocha Brown Shoes
Orange Shirt
Orange Knit top
Bitter Chocolate, Mocha Brown and Orange Scarf
Bitter Chocolate, Mocha Brown and Orange Necklace
Bitter Chocolate, Mocha Brown and Orange Pashmina

Revisiting the Linking Accessories idea again

Just revisiting the Linking Accessories idea again, I've noticed that most of my necklaces and the ones generally available tend to be just one colour, or one colour with a neutral, but not the netral I want. This is fine but doesn't actually do the linking part as Nancy's examples do. I've also noticed that quite often I want a combo of bead colours in a necklace which doesn't exist - ie I'm wearing red with navy, but my red necklaces are either all red or red with black, similarly wearing orange with navy, necklaces tend to be orange and brown. I also have quite a lot of necklaces which are too long and need the appliance of pliers. I probably need to take some time to be quite deliberate about the colours in the necklaces (and earrings) to tie outfits together.
Below some random ideas gleaned from the web.
If you don't like to bead your own necklaces, a google image search with the colours in it are good, and try different combinations of the words so if you want a lime green and grey necklace, trythat but also green and pewter, apple and anthracite etc - also good for ideas for your own beading if you are not inspired.
I find my necklaces which have 2 colours in them ie turquoise and orange are not that useful, its better to have turquiose and navy or orange and khaki.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Lovely jewellery from 'PrettyCool'

My Autumn Wardrobe Collection needed some jewellery, well perhaps it didn't, but I succumbed to a fabulous UK accessories web business - loads of stuff I liked on their site PrettyCool.
My purchases arrived very quickly and I am very pleased with them as they as nice quality in reality as the photos. (I know I've been disappointed when buying from catalogues when the things are not as exciting when they arrive as they look in the photos.)

Bold necklaces are my accessory of choice, closed followed by relatively small earrings (I have a short neck and broad jaw) and then by giant bright coloured pashminas from September onwards. I even took necklaces camping :-)
I've given up on bracelets and dress rings as they just catch on stuff and particualrly get in the way at the computer/desk, so I take them off and lose them! I have a few cuff style bracelets which I wear occasionally, but the other bracelets need to be recycled for beads or given away.

The silver coloured is my favourite and is heavy and lies beautifully against the neck. Its a bold statement and not for everyone, but I love it!

 2 fun flowers which can worn as brooches or clipped in the hair.
A plain dark brown necklace of flat beads - great for tying any colour top to work with dark brown skirt or trousers.

I was also hugely tempted by this leaf necklace as leaves are one of my favourite motifs, perhaps next time!

Orange dress is history

The orange dress's requirement for a special slip was annoying me, clothes shouldn't be needy, they should assist you! I also wanted an orange tee this morning to wear with my dark indigo jeans and orange snakeprint belt......
And shortly after that I was cutting the dress into a top and rehemming accordingly!
Ahhhhhh :-) I am now much happier.
(I wonder if there are enough bits left from the various offcuts from the dress and tunic to make ANOTHER orange top?)

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Orange dress and top

I sewed the orange fabric up first as it seemed more summer than autumn, and the sunny nature of it just appealed to me :-)
Vogue 8679 dress lengthened by 10 inches.

Orange tee with ruffle emelishment

Original tunic length tee with side flared bits, this was hilariously hideous on my pear shaped self and has beenshortened to a more flattering length (picture above)

On the hanger the flared version is more attractive, but you have to believe me that it was NOT a good look on pear shaped person with saddlebags. The length and flared wings just emphasized this so they had to go!

A slight problem with the dress is that its a little sheer. Its not offensive with nicely fitting skin toned underwear, BUT with light behind the outline of my legs show. So I need some sort of slip/lining for it. I have two pieces of nude knit fabric it could use, though no clear ideas what to do. One is a very thin poly, the other is thicker but cotton or viscose so nicer to wear. Am undecided if I should try to line or make a separate knit slip dress......... maybe a half slip would work best.

P.S. I have added pictures of all the fabrics to the previous post for the lady who was asking :-) you'll need to scroll down a bit more.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Ongoing wardrobe

Both Nancy Nix-Rice in her 'New you in 52' plan and Elizabeth from Stichers Guild in her 6 piece collections encourage building a useful clothing wardrobe for your lifestyle. The current thread on Stitchers Guild is here.
I've not really been as organised as this but since I have been sewing collections of clothes in a deliberate way and now have a fairly good grasp of my colouring a figure type I am getting towards having the wardrobe I want. I still have a lot of purchased clothing - some new, some thrifted as well as my home sewn items. I also have a huge collection of necklaces, scarves and shoes and a smaller one of bags with which I accessorize everything.
Over and over I find I can mix and match my pieces because of the way I've bought and sewn clothing. My stash is longer lived and rather more eclectic, and I have added warm lime type greens to my wardrobe most recently, but on the whole there is a consistency to things.

Generally in my collections I have a dark neutral, which is black, navy or dark brown for the most part. I actually prefer navy or brown over black as they are in my personal colouring. I have mid to dark brown hair and a navy circle round the edge of the coloured part of my eye, so these colours work with me. I do also wear black but it is really a little harsh on me.
Next I have a colour. As a Clear Spring my colours tend to be warm and strong, and I generally pick one from clear red, strong coral pink, reddish orange, turquoise, bright teal, bright lime green. I don't do pastels or things with too much blue. (The turquoise and teals are blues but have a lot of green in them also which makes them OK).
Lastly I have a lighter neutral, normally an ivory or cream, though sometimes a little bit of white. White isn't great on me as the whites of my eyes and my teeth are not very white, particuarly when contrasted with my naturally pale skin tone. I can sometimes do a softer bluegreen for this lighter neutral, as I have lots of these tones in my eyes.

With those thoughts in mind I then go hunting through my fabric stash with a particular season in mind, and a few pieces of existing jewellery/clothing also to hand.

Because my wardrobe does boil down to those colours on the whole, its fairly simple to find things to wear with any new creations to make an outfit.

So for the Autumn 6PAC, I had already purchased a new pair of leather shoes, and a new leather bag in a dark brown colour. I bought these half price in a closing down sale and paid for good quality leather as this is what Nancy calls my 'Key Neutral' or non-black "black" which is close to my hair colour. Now I do colour my hair but I choose colours close ot my natural colour and am just covering the greys :D.

Next I remembered that in my stash I had two pieces of fabric with this dark brown colour in them. One was a tweed like fabric in dark brown with flecks of orange and cream, the other a dark brown knit with a print of orange leaves. These went well together and triggered off my thoughts on an Autumn wardrobe collection. I added in to the fabric pile a plain cream jersey for tops and a orange slubbed knit for a top and a dress and the whole started to gel nicely.

 Here's the 'Tweed' which doesn't feel like it has any wool in it

Here's the John Kaldor knit with dark brown background and mocha and orange leaf print

 Here's the fabrics all together, at the top is the plain orange knit, and on the left the plain cream jersey.

These all work with other brown, orange and cream garments already in my wardrobe as well as my dark brown leather and suede boots and suede bag. So even if I don't get all the way through the wardrobe this late Summer/Autumn I can still wear all the pieces I make.

And that's where it is the ongoing wardrobe, I'm building on the things I already own which makes it nice and easy to make outfits. I can incorporate sewn items with purchased, and have established my own style that works well for me. I even have inexpensive fleece jackets to wear at home in the winter in the co-ordinating colours - brown and orange are already waiting in the cupboard!

Saturday, 6 August 2011


I've been away on holiday, camping at New Wine which is a Christian conference. I had a great time with family and friends, and lots of healing and new challenges with God. The camping part was mostly OK except for the getting sun burnt and then it raining and my tent leaking. The family part was great as I went with my parents and my brother's two daughters. Of course this made us Auntie Ruth, Grandma and Grandad for the week, but we had a great time in those roles.
Following my divorce I've been a bit sad that I've not had any children, so decided to be positive about it and make the most of being Auntie Ruth to my brother's kids, godmother to my friend's son, sponsor a child in the devloping world through Compassion and volunteer to help with the teenagers at church rather than being sorry for myself that I'm not a mum. And I probably wouldn't have the time and energy to do all those things if I had kids of my own.

Anyway I've not really been focussing on sewing stuff, though I did draw out some ideas for the 6 piece Autumn Collection at Stitchers' Guild. This slightly baffled my 8 year old nieces who asked 'But why sew Auntie Ruth when you can just BUY clothes?', I turned this over to my mum (their Grandma) to explain about creativity, choice, the joy of creating your own garment, fit, colour etc. They didn't seem hugely convinced, but we have time yet to work on them! They have made some simple sewing projects with Grandma, though we mostly do crafts with them.

When doing laundry when I got home from holiday I decided to use a pack on Navy Blue Dylon machine dye to overdye some slightly tired blue jeans to be a nice dark blue. They are in the washing machine as I type so I don't know if that's successful yet, but I did something similar with some faded black jeans and black machine dye and it gave the jeans a whole new lease of life.
(Update: the dying seems to have worked quite well although I've done the wrong pair of jeans by mistake - these ones were already a nice dark blue, D'oh!!!!) 

Tomorrow I'm out and about and seeing my godson, and then I'm back at work, so sorry no new sewing projects at the moment :D