The Capsule Wardrobe: Take 2

Last August I was fed up of not achieving anything with my sewing and I decided to take part in Seamwork’s ‘Design Your Wardrobe’ program. The result was six planned outfits and an experience that was enormously freeing. I felt like I was ready to take over the world with my collection of interchangeable separates and yet, when I stumbled across the folder again this week, I realised that after more than half a year I had only completed three garments out of the ten that I had planned.

Whatever the matter was, I had quickly fallen back into my old trap. I would fill my head with plenty of bright ideas, but never get around to the ones that excited me most. In fact, I rarely complete a garment at all. Usually, I complete the majority of the construction and then abandon it when I reach a difficult step, or spend so much of my time scrolling on instagram that I don’t actually get a chance to sew.

So, when this quarantine began, I told myself that I was not going to spend it sat on social media, or in front of the TV. I wanted to feel as though I had at least made something of the time inside and I set my heart on another capsule collection. I decided to use Seamwork’s program and all of their worksheets again as even though I had failed to produce the garments I said I would last time around, I really enjoyed the designing process and the way the program gets you to think about why you want to create a collection before throwing you into making a moodboard.

One of the things the program gets you to do is give your collection a name and I called mine ‘Romantic Glamour’. I wanted to create a collection that was elegant and filled with feminine details, largely inspired by my visit to the Dior exhibit at the V&A last year, but naturally translated into an everyday context. Last year, my first attempt at a capsule collection was centred around a ‘work-wear’ wardrobe for school and this I think is maybe where I fell short. This time I’ve chosen to design for a more casual context, with the hope that it will keep me motivated to make clothes that I want to wear, without being restricted by a dress code. Here’s some examples of the outfits I was inspired by and used as part of my moodboard below:

I ended up with 6 outfits, composed of 10 different garments. I wanted to mostly focus on separates, so that I could mix and match, but the first project I chose (which I’ve already cut out) is a Nina Lee Kew dress. I’ve made this dress twice before, having only just finished a version in our Myriel print, but it is perhaps my favourite pattern ever and definitely the epitome of what I am aiming for with this collection. I already knew that I wanted to make it out of our Rebekah Linen and chose the Periwinkle colourway, which I used for the basis of the collection’s colour palette.

The Nina Lee Kew Dress (version 2)
Our Rebekah Linen in Periwinkle

I also chose Sew House Seven’s Burnside Bibs having seen a version made up on Instagram. I loved the workwear vibe of this pattern, although it probably fits the least with my general mood for the collection so I think I’m going to make them in a tencel twill to give them a nice drape.

The Burnside Bibs
Our Chambray Stripe Tencel Twill in Indigo

This is the Tencel that I think I will use. It has a lovely weight and the subtle stripe makes for a really understated look. I’m also going to use French Navy’s free t-shirt pattern to make an ivory t-shirt to go underneath.

I also took inspiration from this year’s Sewing Bee. In the first week, Liz made a fantastic 90s inspired full-length dress for the final challenge and I knew that I had to make one similar as soon as I saw it. I’m going to be using the True Bias Shelby pattern (I think this is the one she used), but I am still slightly undecided on what fabrics to use.

The Shelby Dress from True Bias
I love the back tie feature!

I’m also going to make a few self-drafted tops and I’ve ordered a skirt and a paperbag trousers pattern from Apolline Patterns which I’m very excited about! It’s a French pattern company based in Paris and they make the most gorgeous designs. I believe the instructions in her latest collection have been translated into English, but the ones that I’ve ordered only come in French. However, as I speak Spanish I’m hoping that combining that with diagrams and my limited secondary school French will be good enough. I’ll just have to see how that goes!

The Lou Skirt by Apolline Patterns
The Gabin Paper Bag Trousers

I’m excited to get started on this new project and I’m absolutely determined to finish all ten garments. I’m hoping to detail each one on the blog as I go as I think that will help me stay on track and hold myself accountable to completing them. I think what I have learned so far from my first failed attempt is that simply designing the collection isn’t going to make the clothes magically appear in my hands. I do actually have to make them!

Stretch Crepe Trousers

A month ago, I had taken on a new lease of life. I’d just finished the self-guided version of Seamwork’s ‘Design Your Wardrobe’ and had convinced myself that I was going to be uber-organised from now on and, most importantly, I was going to sew one project at a time. No more UFOs for me!

Well, I guess I was kidding myself. The ‘Design Your Wardrobe’ process has certainly revolutionised the way I design my sewing. Thinking in collections rather than ad-hock, spur of the moment choices has made me feel like I’m achieving more and has resulted in a far more useful everyday wardrobe. Still, it hasn’t managed to tame my wandering eye, always in search of the shiniest new project. Although, whilst my Pulmu skirt from last month is waiting dutifully for its finishing touches, at least I managed to get something finished.

I made trousers! And I’m insanely proud of myself! Trousers and I have been in a battle of wits pretty much since I started sewing and up until now they’ve easily been winning. In all my previous, failed attempts, no matter what I did I always ended up with a skirt! But now, I think I’ve finally hacked it. This is actually my second pair of these that I’ve made in the past month – the other being part of a matching set – and I absolutely adore them

The pattern is actually an old Threadcount pattern (#1605} that I got out of a magazine years ago and to be honest, I wasn’t exactly expecting much. I’ve used patterns from magazines several times when I was younger and have always found it a little tricky to get a good result. Well, I can safely say that this pattern has bowled me over and completely surpassed all of my expectations.

I made the size 14 in our gorgeous Navy and Mustard Stripe Stretch Crepe with very little adjustment. In fact the fit was almost perfect! Although I did opt to slim down the legs by 1.5cm on each side simply to make them a little sleeker. I couldn’t be happier with the result! The crepe is a gorgeous weight for dressmaking, just heavy enough to feel substantial without dragging you down, and that little bit of stretch is perfect for making a sleeker garment. And, for my own little finishing touch, I Hong Kong bound the waistband in our Atelier Brunette Crepe Bias! This technique is super easy to do using a stitch-in-the-ditch foot and really adds a little bit of class to your final garment.

These beauties only took me a day, excluding cutting out, even with my little attempt at waistband pattern matching and in-seam pockets. I would definitely recommend this to beginner sewers looking for a challenge or those on the more intermediate side. The concealed zip in the back is so much easier then tackling a fly front and you end up with a really fab looking garment without too much of the rigmarole. And the result definitely is fab! I really hope that I did this wonderful fabric justice, but I definitely feel incredible wearing them. And in the end, isn’t that all that really matters?

Aster Shirt

Spring is most definitely in the air and with the warm weather sweeping in, although who knows how long it will last, I’m definitely in the mood for some summer sewing. However, as much as I love to make summer dresses, sometimes both warm weather appropriate and work appropriate clothes are needed. This month one of my main projects has been the Aster Shirt, here’s my take on it.

Difficulty: Intermediate

Shown in: Dovestone Mustard Rayon

Size: 6

I love this shirt pattern by Colette; it’s so versatile, able to be worn casually or professionally depending on what you put with it. For me, this is a nice invitation into the world of making shirt, which can often seem very daunting. It has many features of a traditional shirt, but the collarless design gives it a softer, more feminine feel. 

Here, I chose to make version one, which has short, cuffed sleeves, in our Dashwood mustard rayon. Mustard is definitely one of the great loves of my life and, as we are now approaching spring, the lightness and fluidity of the rayon is perfect for keeping me cool in the warmer months. 

I made the size 6, without any alterations, but I would recommend checking the finished measurements of the pattern against your body measurements thoroughly before you cut out. The pattern has a relatively boxy design, but is sized up fairly largely and you will likely find yourself making a size much smaller than you are used to.  You may want to consider slimming down the sides of the pattern if you prefer a more fitted look.

The pattern is self-bound around the neckline, however I chose to deviate slightly and engineer a facing, as I had not left myself enough fabric to make bias binding. However, you may choose to self-bind or even add a contrast bias. Finally I added these beautiful, flower-patterned shell buttons from The Textile Garden to fasten the final garment. 

This was a fairly uncomplicated make, the rayon handles beautifully and the instructions are clear. However, some of the techniques, buttonholes, attaching the yolks and binding may be new to some beginner sewers. However, this issue can be easily rectified with a few handy articles or YouTube videos and the result is fantastic. I would definitely recommend this project to anyone wanting to improve their sewing skills 

Nica Print Sundress

Hi! Welcome to our brand new, revamped blog. In January, we announced the release of our first pattern kit, the Nica Print Sundress, and to christen this new site I’d like to talk a little about this dress. You can purchase this kit here.

Lucy modelling the sundress

Difficulty: Beginner

Shown in: Nica Cotton Batiste

Size: 12

This is an absolute gem of a dress, and I would definitely recommend it as a beginner project. Even with the lining, it only took me about a day and a half to make. It’s simple but, most importantly of all, it looks fantastic. 

For this project, I chose to make option C of this pattern in our mustard and navy batiste as I wanted something bright and fun to put a dent in the winter blues. The dress works perfectly with a t-shirt underneath, but could definitely go without in the summer. 

The batiste is lightweight and absolutely needed to be lined, so I paired it with a paisley Jacquard lining in matching colours. Both are beautiful to work with, but the lining especially is brilliant for beginners as it is surprisingly stable and easy to work with, without compromising on a lovely finish. 

Beautiful Paisley Lining

I made the size 12, without any alterations, and was very pleased with the fit. It comes up a little wide over the hip for my body shape and it would be very easy to slim it down if you preferred something tighter fitting, but I think the slightly boxy lower half makes the dress a little more casual. 

One of the brilliant things about this dress that it required practically no faffing about – a simple cut out, sew and go. As someone who practically makes a hobby of underestimating the amount of work that goes into a sewing project it was fantastic to do something so easy, quick and straightforward. This is definitely a dress I’ll be making again and again.