Finding my style… and it’s not what I thought it would be!

I’ve mentioned in the last couple of posts that I’ve started working through the exercises in Anushka Rees’ The Curated Closet as part of an ongoing mission to figure out what my style really is. It’s something that’s become more and more important to me since I started making my own clothing. When putting that kind of time investment (and a financial one too, sometimes) into making something, it’s really disappointing if it doesn’t feel “me” once I’ve finished. My hit rate has been getting better, but I’m still only at about 50% so I have a fair way to go.

When I was younger getting dressed was easy. I chose a subculture and bought the clothes that fit. First I was an indie kid, then a hippie, then a crusty (yeah, not the best look), then I got more into dance culture and dressed accordingly. When I started teaching I bought clothes that typified librarian chic: A-line tweedy skirts with tight but covered-up tops and cardigans.

Then I had a kid and everything changed. My body size changed, and for a few years I dressed mainly in hand-me-downs from my mum and sister who had both lost weight. I wasn’t all that fussed at the time as I had enough on my plate bringing up a kid with Downs, but eventually I started to look around me and wonder why I looked such a dog’s dinner compared to other women. Why were some stylish and others not? Was it simply something they were born with?

So I started thinking more about clothing, and learnt how to make my own. I was initially drawn to retro style party dresses, but of course I couldn’t really work that 50s pin-up vibe into my everyday wardrobe. It was a high maintenance look that was just for occasional dressing up, and I was okay with that. What I needed was a wardrobe suitable for being a mum and working from home. Comfy, practical clothing, but that suited me perfectly. The search was on…

Over the years I’ve tried many ways of figuring out my style. I read numerous books (Trinny and Susanna and Gok Wan were prime offenders) that gave me lists of clothes I had to own, or styles that would suit my body shape (somewhere between hourglass and pear, apparently) I had a Colour Me Beautiful colour consultation, where I found out I suited soft, cool and deep colours, and I even paid for the Dressing Your Truth online consultation where I found out I was a Type 4 (bold).

However, none of this really helped. Sure, there were some good bits of advice in amongst all of it, but I still wasn’t one hundred percent convinced I was dressing my best. Perhaps that’s because the one place I hadn’t really looked was my own preferences…

More recently I’ve been drawn to the idea of capsule wardrobes and have been trying to let go of any clothes that don’t bring me joy (yep, thanks, KonMari!), but although my pared down wardrobe made me feel much happier, I still struggled to put good outfits together with what I had. I needed to build my wardrobe up again, but where to start?

Finally, I took the plunge and bought a copy of The Curated Closet. Weird it took me so long as I’ve been reading Anushka’s blog, Into Mind, for years and always had the idea I would buy a copy someday. Well, that day came. I read it through, felt excited, then started to do the exercises. Documenting my outfits for two weeks revealed I was in a bit of a rut and wearing the same few items in pretty constant rotation.

Then came the exercise I was most looking forward to: gathering inspirational images. Rees encourages you to devote a solid few hours to this, allowing yourself to go down rabbit holes to find things that really speak to you. I was expecting to come up with some variation on current trends with lots of neutral and muted colours along with flowing silhouettes. And there’s a bit of that, but what I kept coming back to were two of my old faves: librarian chic and rockabilly/pin-up. Two looks I’d thought were too tricky to pull off as a busy mum. But then I realised there were more accessible ways of making it work, and blending the two styles (three if you count the whole maxi skirt thing I have going on) could create something new. Something I’ve decided to call… wait for it:

Off-Duty Rockabilly Librarian

Yep, that about sums it up. It’s a low maintenance version of 50s glam mixed with more contemporary geek chic, and it’s geared towards everyday outfits I’ll find easy to wear. The colours are strong, with plenty of black, navy, cherry red and purple. And the patterns are bold stripes, polka dots, plaid and leopard print. Silhouettes are fitted, waistlines are high, skirts are long, trousers are cropped. Here’s the mood board:

Mood board

I’m so pleased I’ve taken the time to really think about what I genuinely like and feel good in. It’s already helping me with planning sewing projects. I realised I have a whole book full of suitable patterns: Gertie Sews Vintage Casual, and I’ve now made two of them. I’ve also realised that I have a fair few items already that will work with this style. And I’m now working through the exercises to help plan what I need to fill in the gaps.

This is even going to help me clear out some of the clutter in my loft. I can see now why certain items of clothing and stash fabrics just aren’t inspiring me, and it’s time to let them find new owners.

Yep, I can see the way forward. I’m already putting together outfits that feel more “me” and people are noticing. I feel confident and a bit sassy, channelling my inner Rizzo (been watching a lot of Grease lately as I’m going to see a local production next month).

Now, excuse me. I’m off to watch Grease again while tracking down some leopard print jersey and sewing myself a red, polka dot headscarf!

 

March round up and April’s sewing plans

You know what, I honestly think I might finally have cracked sewing productivity, and over the past couple of months have managed to make one easy (knit) garment a week. It comes down to planning, folks. Simple as that. Last month I took the time to plan out some things I wanted to make in the month ahead, and I achieved most of them! Here’s last month’s post, in case you’re wondering.

I’ve also done a bit of housekeeping on the blog and have finally added a few static pages. You can see them in the blog sidebar. There’s a contact page, a few pages with each year’s blogged makes linked with handy pictures, and another ego-trip page all about me. That last one features a pic of a teenage me modelling the first item of clothing I ever made, back in the 90s. Oh dear. Fashion disaster!

March makes:

I’ve already blogged a couple of my March makes, although most of my March blogging was playing catch up on the first couple of months of the year.

L-R: Craftsy tee, Daisy’s dress

And the next two projects are completed but not yet blogged:

L-R: Seamwork Aurora top, Sew Over It Heather dress

I did also work on the velvet top refashion, but it didn’t work out well. There might be a post in that at some point, if I can finish it off so Daisy can wear it.

Money spent: £15.56

£10.78 for some ponte for making a Heather Dress

$6.00 Seamwork subscription (approx £4.78)

Pretty thrifty month. Yay for using up stash fabrics!

April sewing plans:

February round up and March sewing plans

I’ve decided to shake up my “monthly” crafting posts and make them more structured. And more about sewing than crochet or knitting, because let’s face it, that’s what I do most of these days.

So, without further ado, here’s what I made in February:

L-R: Tilly and the Buttons Cleo dress, Seamwork Neenah dress, Colette Aster blouse

That’s three complete garments in the shortest month of the year. Go me! At this rate I could be sewing one garment a week before long–speedy Gonzalez, that’s me!

I’ll be blogging all these February makes really soon, I promise. February was also the month I started a proper sewing journal, and already I’m finding it’s helping me to focus on my sewing more and make better plans. I might blog more about that in the future…

March sewing plans:

I’ve got t-shirts on the brain at the moment–partly because of this month’s #WardrobeBuilder challenge, but also because I desperately need some new tops. I’m planning on using up stashed knits to begin with and will hopefully have a bit of fun playing around with patterns and techniques. The Plantain tee is probably going to be first up as I’ve made it before, in a hot pink interlock with short sleeves. Perfect for wearing under my Cleo dress!

I also really want one more longer sleeved knit dress in my arsenal, and so I’ve got the SOI Heather Dress pattern printed out. My eye is on some pink and purple ponte at my local fabric shop–colourblocking ahoy!

I’m also thinking about cami-style tops for the warmer weather that will hopefully just be around the corner. I would like to use up the leftovers from some of my knit projects to make the Seamwork Aurora top.

I also have a “going out” top to refashion from an old velvet tee that was cut into by someone (can’t remember who, but they gave it to me years ago). Should be a really quick make and will hopefully fill a wardrobe gap for warm yet fancy clothing.

And last but not least, another knit project, but this time for my daughter, Daisy. She wants a dress made from some fabric she picked out before Christmas. It’s black with flowers, and she wants a copy of her favourite short sleeved dress. I’m feeling confident enough with knits to attempt this now, and what’s more, it will be my entry for this month’s #dressmakingbloggerchallenge, as that’s all about florals.

That’s nearly all from stash, so March should be a thrifty sewing month for me 🙂

What are you planning to make this month?

2017 sewing plans (#2017MakeNine)

 

I’ve been following Rochelle’s blog for ages now, and I really like her approach to creating a wardrobe of handmade items that really fit with her lifestyle. So this year I thought I’d give her #2017MakeNine sewing challenge a go. Nine items shouldn’t be too many to make in one year, and the idea is to keep the list fluid, changing things as and when I see fit. I’ve been thinking hard about capsule wardrobes and the garments I feel a need for when rooting around for something to wear. Rather than picking just nine patterns I’ve instead picked nine types of garment, with several pattern options for most of them. The idea is that I will hopefully find a pattern in each category that I like enough to want to make several versions of it in different fabrics and colours.

Dresses:

Dungaree dress

cleo

There’s only one contender here and that’s the Tilly and Buttons Cleo Dress. I’ve wanted a dungaree dress for ages–I last had one when I was pregnant with Daisy (who’s now 11!) and I wore it to death. I have been seriously inspired by alisesaye‘s gorgeous version pictured, and I have some aubergine needlecord in my stash which would be perfect for this pattern. It that works well then I’ll want to make a denim version too. Continue reading 2017 sewing plans (#2017MakeNine)

Top 5 sewing hits and misses of 2016

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So, this is my second (and final) response to the #sewingtop5 prompt over on Crafting a Rainbow Even though I haven’t sewn that many garments in 2016 I decided I wanted to take part in the hits and misses anyway, because it’s a good exercise to reflect on the things I’ve made, particularly what works and what doesn’t. Here then, are my top 5 sewing hits of 2016:

Top 5 Hits:

Ladybird skirt

Me Made May (15) (Copy)
I haven’t blogged this one because it seemed to simple to warrant it. It’s just a self drafted maxi skirt in a lovely viscose jersey, with a self-fabric waistband (no elastic). I never wear it out of the house as the fabric has pilled and just doesn’t look right, but it’s so wonderfully comfy I wear it pretty much every day as loungewear. Recently I even upgraded the waistband to one made out of a black lycra as it had much better recovery, and I took a couple of inches off the skirt at the same time to stop it dragging on the ground. It’s now better than ever! Continue reading Top 5 sewing hits and misses of 2016

Top 5 of 2016: Reflections, goals and even some non-sewing stuff!

I really love reading these kinds of round up posts, but when I first saw the #sewingtop5 prompt over on Crafting a Rainbow I thought I had no business taking part as I’ve only sewn about a dozen things in 2016. Okay, I’ve sewn more than that, but only about that many garments for myself, so a list of my top 5 hits and top 5 misses would cover just about everything I’ve made.

But then I thought how much I love year-end navel gazing, so I’m doing some of the challenge anyway 😛

Actually, this is replacing my rather long winded yearly round up posts, so it’s got to be a good thing all round. Less waffle.

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Top 5 Reflections Continue reading Top 5 of 2016: Reflections, goals and even some non-sewing stuff!

My Capsule Wardrobe: first attempt

lolcat-fashion

I’ve now got all the rest of my family sick with a tummy bug. Well, that’s not strictly true as Gabriel is pretty much better now, but he still needs to stay indoors and away from other children for another 24 hours.

Anyway, I’ve had a fair bit of thinking time over the last few days and one of the things I’ve been thinking about is clothes. Specifically, what I need to stay cosy and reasonably stylish for the winter, as after clearing out the stuff that’s now too big for me my wardrobe is sorely lacking in appropriate clothing. Back in 2015 I spent some time trying to wrap my head around what a capsule wardrobe would mean for me–I devoured the Colette Wardrobe Architect posts and was a regular visitor to the blog Into Mind–but for some reason I never quite figured out how to whittle my clothing into any kind of coherent capsule. I’ve never been a particularly minimalist person, and while I’m increasingly drawn to the idea it’s tough to figure out how to downsize my possessions. I also have a fair few items of clothing that I’m attached to, but that only go with one or two other things. I KonMaried my wardrobe a couple of years ago, but it was in need of another overhaul.

Yesterday I reread this post on Un-Fancy and suddenly something clicked. Continue reading My Capsule Wardrobe: first attempt