spring wardrobe planning

A lot of things have been happening in my brain/sewing space lately.

I’ve been thinking through a clear, simple capsule wardrobe for spring. It was introduced to me (at least this time around) by Colette’s Wardrobe Architect series, but TRULY clicked once I stumbled on the INTO MIND website. (Warning! You can quickly get overwhelmed by the amount of great content at both of those sites!)

First, I made a secret pin board (which is now un-secret) where I only posted outfits that were both appealing to my aesthetic and spring-weather appropriate. I posted things that either matched clothes I already have OR represented styles I’ve always admired but never attempted.

A few things I noticed:

-For dresses, I’ve got a good handle on what I like, what I look good in, and what I can make for myself.

I’m always going to love a fitted waist dress.

(How convenient that I’ve already made myself a similar version of this!)

I’m intrigued by a shorter knit sheath, but don’t know if it’s going to work for me.

My dress wardrobe is fairly extensive at this point – I wear dresses year-round, and a good number of them are handmade. So…basically I will make due with what I have on-hand, unless inspiration strikes.

-My separates wardrobe is a LOT messier, and I realized that one thing I want to do is continue wearing my black skinny jeans into the spring. How do I do that without a flannel shirt or a heavy cardigan?

Maybe with a lightweight button-up shirt?

I really want to make a button-up shirt one of these days (it’s a 2014 resolution), but I continue to be intimidated. AND, I don’t know how often I’ll want to wear one in the spring.. This might turn into more of a fall transition piece.

This is a cute top option:

I know I’m NOT going to have much luck finding a loose tank that’s long enough for my torso (in my price range), so this is on my short list of items to make. I’ve already failed one attempt, but it was merely a sizing failure, which can be remedied.

The other fun option is a peplum:

I’m still unsure whether this is a flattering option for me, but might shorten a favorite dress pattern to see if it works.

Finally (there are so many options here because my shirt wardrobe is the most pitiful), I’d love to figure out how to make a looser tent-like shirt that works for me.

After lots of studying, I think the best option with this type of shirt is to have something that fits very snug on my shoulders and arms, to balance the volume.

It still might not work, so my other solution is to just make a million versions of something I’ve already shared with you – the shape is interesting, but it’s still a slim silhouette.

Oh hey! While I’m talking about this shirt, here are the two newest versions.

Untitled I was cutting two shirts last night, and decided to finish the green instead of the blue!

-So what about the bottom half? Obviously, I’ll be wearing my skinny jeans a lot.

I’m always drawn to a full skirt with a wild print, but it’s not really something I want to wear more than once.

A better option is a neutral wrap skirt:

I already have one that I love and wear during transitional seasons. It might be time to make another.

I’m also going to give shorts another try – if I pair them with more interesting shirts, they might not be so boring to me. RIGHT? (Also, now that I’m running, I like my legs more than I used to.)

What my wardrobe REALLY needs are some straight/pencil skirts.

This is partly because I realized that the two skirts I wear constantly to work are 10+ years old (I bought them with a suit jacket for interviews WHILE I WAS I COLLEGE). They’re falling apart, and need to be replaced.

(Believe it or not, this is what I set out to talk about when I started this blog post.)

I won’t get into too much detail, but I’ve been evaluating all of the pencil/straight skirt silhouettes here:

I’m slowly trying to integrate a few more into my wardrobe.

So far, I’ve made an above-the-knee navy version:


And I’m probably going to make a crazy patterned one soon! What length should I make it?


9 books finished in 2014: The Beautiful and Damned

9 books finished in 2014


The title was Not Kidding! This book was bleak and depressing and a great example of How Not To Live Your Life.

Why did I read this?
-free kindle library
-it’s a “classic”
-Gossip Girl referenced this book (really)
-unconsciously trying to read everyone who shows up Midnight in Paris to discern how well their characters match their books



Clothing Destruction

I was a bit smarter about it this time. I actually took pictures of the garment before cutting it into pieces, so I could understand how everything went together.




Also, before the carnage, I sketched the pieces, and wrote out the order of assembly.


Then I cut it apart!

(There is always a moment where I think I’ll rip every seam and attempt to re-assemble the original, but that is far too tedious.)

(There is also a moment where I acknowledge that I could probably just trace the pattern without dis-assembling, but I’ve not had success with that so far.)

I pressed the pieces flat, laid them out on some freezer paper, and traced the seam lines.


And I pulled out a tiny ruler to add a 5/8″ seam allowance.


(Isn’t that sleeve ridiculous?)

Immediately, I whipped up a version with some thin cotton fabric I had on hand, stitched it together, so carefully, with french seams and everything! Then I put on the shirt and…remembered that the original was always uncomfortably snug at the bust.  (womp womp) Maybe that was one of the reasons it had been on my list for ripping apart?

Such a productive sewing day!

I tried wearing it anyway, because even though it restricted my breathing, it was SUPER CUTE and mostly flattering. AND it was long enough to wear with low-rise pants since I did remember to add a few inches to the length.

But after wearing it for a few hours, I had heartburn and strange upper-back pain. So I made a fresh new pattern piece with a Full Bust Adjustment (FBA FTW), found some more fabric (this time, a thrifted button-up shirt, which I cut so the buttons are on my back), and SUCCESS!

[No picture. Yet?]

My plan is to buy some cheap lightweight cotton solids and make up a few of these as spring wardrobe staples.

P.S. I also attempted to make this in a lightweight knit fabric, but it was NOT a good match. (I like to document the failures along with the successes, so you have a better sense of the process.)

8 books finished in 2014: Villette

8 books finished in 2014

(Picked up because of this, and now that’s two books in a row that were influenced by The Toast.)


The whole time, I had a sneaking suspicion that I’d read it before. Except whole portions of the book were utterly unknown to me. I still can’t say* whether this was my first or second time reading the book, but I can say that I loved it.

(Which, if I’m honest, is why I suspect it’s my first. If I’d read it before, wouldn’t I have remembered?) There’s so much gothic drama, and the heroine is so pitiful in that Bronte-specific way. I particularly adore that we begin by hating one character, but then begin to find him entertaining, and by the end he’s a full-blown hero. I also love Lucy’s awareness of her unspectacular looks. She is almost completely un-self-aware, and I appreciate that.

*After that, I did some deep searching and found a gchat convo from 2008 confirming that I’d read the novel and had SO MANY FEELINGS ABOUT IT! I’m going to put my forgetfulness in the “win” column for this book, though, because one of the themes of the book is how easily people forget Lucy, and the unreliability of our emotional memory.

Sewing Associations brought to life.

This inspiration dress plus this fabric line (with lots of internal debate about which color would be preferred), with a mash-up of the pink dress bodice (reworked once again) and the colette peony skirt (without pockets, because I’m a monster).

photo 2 photo

A few things I’m proud of, and would point out to you if we were standing in the same room with this dress:
-the side seams are french seams, the neckline is bound off with bias, and I will eventually encase the waistline and sleeve innards in bias binding as well – CLEAN SEAMS ARE SO NICE!
-the remade bodice has a better scoop-back than my most recent versions of the Pink Dress (apparently, I’d been taking in the center back seam to reduce gaping, which was also converting the u-neck to a poorly-drawn v-neck)
-adding sleeves has helped the boatneck to stay taut in front, and also adds an eau-de-ballerina to the back (sleeves are also from the Peony, with some length added)
-the Colette Peony skirt, with those tiny gathers, is so unexpectedly flattering and I’m tempted to use it for every sundress from now until forever (or, until I fall in love with another skirt, which is somewhat inevitable)
-INVISIBLE ZIPPER! I broke down and bought the invisible zipper foot for my machine, and never has a zipper been so painless! (Also, I used the original pink zipper from the dress that died for this pattern to live.)

A few self-drafting notes…

pink dress bodice

-if I hadn’t already thrown out, dramatically, all old versions of this pattern (there were at least three), I could show you a side-by-side and you’d be stunned by how wonky and weird that one was – it worked well and made some of my favorite garments, but it was definitely time for an upgrade!
-one of these days, I’m going to learn how to draft my own sleeve/armscye (I had to look up that word), but the franken-pattern method has been a great way for me to play and observe


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