Christmas Dresses Made For Two

Happy Christmas!

Too early? Well I have no problem with preparing for Christmas in November. In fact I originally planned to make this dress in October but then my fabric took a little while to arrive and then I had tonsillitis. I missed the deadline for the By Hand London's Hackathon but decided to hack-along any way.

So let me start with my dress:

The bodice is the holly jumpsuit bodice pattern. I loved the fit of this pattern on my tartan playsuit, flattering but not too tight and thought it would be perfect with a skirt for Christmas. I lost a little weight when I was ill so it's actually a little looser than I thought but it's pretty good. I probably need the extra space for Christmas Turkey any way.

I have fully lined the bodice, partly because the sequin fabric was quite itchy but also because it was a little see-through. I basically used this method for constructing the dress with the full lining. I lined with the viscose-rayon that I have made the skirt from. I loved working with this fabric, it has a lovely drapey and soft feel and it was pretty easy to work with. I wouldn't recommend it for a total beginner but if you are looking for something to sew with after a bit of practice with cotton it would be a good way to go.

The skirt is a full circle skirt so, of course, it is perfect for spinning:

And my daughter loved the spinning part too. So that brings me to her dress. I only bought 1m of the sequin fabric but it was more than enough to make the bodice and sleeves for mine and a mini bodice for a 3 year old. She has been so excited about this dress and I let her help me cut out the pattern pieces and do some of the sewing. Well I let her press down on the peddle while I guided the fabric through the machine but she thought she had made it all. Every one was happy.

Her dress bodice is from a book on making children's clothes that I've had for ages but not used much. The skirt is a half circle skirt, still good for spinning even if not quite as good as a full circle.

I also added a little flower to the waistband of her dress and hers doesn't have sleeves. I wanted it to be similar but not exactly the same. Now I just need to get her some sparkly shoes to wear with it.

So that is two dresses made ready to wear at Christmas. It was also a goal of mine to make something sparkly after Me-Made-May so I can tick another thing of that list too. 

I have a very small amount of the sequin fabric left and my sons want me to make them sparkly bow ties, what do you think - will it be too much? Well obviously I'll show you if I do. Happy Christmas! Hehe. Zoe x

Capsule Wardrobe Part 4: Sewing For Your Lifestyle

It's all very well thinking through a few style guidelines to do with what shapes look good on your body. But let us be honest here, we aren't all living a lifestyle of a celebrity. One where we one of our main aims with clothes is to look good and extend our personal 'brand' through our fashion choices. Most of us have other factors to consider when we make (or buy) our clothes.

For instance, you're a school teacher. On your feet a lot, bending down regularly and sticky hands follow you around all day. Full skirts maybe your thing but not so good in the workplace.

For instance, you're a stay at home mum who spends most of your time crawling around on the floor playing with your toddler or cleaning up after them. Not to mention needing momentary boob access to feed your screaming baby so dresses are off the list at the moment.

For instance, you have about 5 minutes to get dress in the morning before you rush off to catch a train. The idea of a capsule wardrobe is very appealing and you know that pencil skirts are great for your figure but they just don't allow you to run fast enough to get that train.

Not exactly glamtastic all day every day. But that's life. At least for us normal people.*

So you've got some ideas about what colours to wear and what styles look good but it'd clearly important to think about which clothes will actually be useful in your wardrobe, otherwise you're talking about making a bunch of stuff that never gets worn which defeats the point of what we were aiming for.

Have a think about your lifestyle. Are you outside all day? Do you need to look smart for work? Do you do lots of physical activity in your typical day? Do you mostly dress in casual clothes?

For me life should all be about the casual. To be honest I don't really enjoy wearing really casual clothes. Jeans, t-shirt and jumper just don't really do it for me. I try to smarten it up a little by either wearing a skirt with my t-shirt or a slightly more fancy top with my jeans. This is actually a great way to approach the capsule wardrobe. Lot's of separates, some smart and some casual, some plain and some patterned so you can mix them all up to get a casual outfit when you fancy and a smarter one when you need it.

Does your lifestyle require more casual or smart? This is the crux of the matter when we talk about sewing for your lifestyle. Take a look at your colour palette and your shape guidelines and see if you need to tweak it at all to make it more or less smart. Or simply make a note of how often you think you can keep it casual and how often you need to make more of an effort. This ratio should help you work out what ratio of clothes to sew.

Next Tuesday I am going to go through what I have in my capsule wardrobe already and what I plan on sewing next. I'll also be talking about some ideas for staples for your wardrobe and some ideas for how to fancy it up and make it more interesting.

Plus I've been making a christmas dress and it's ready to show you so keep your eyes peeled for that. Zoe xx

*I just want to point out that obviously celebrities are normal people. The important thing to remember is that we shouldn't compare ourselves to people that have stylists making them look good whenever they're making a public appearance. I have never had a stylist in my life.

Creating a Capsule Wardrobe Part 3 // Sewing for Your Shape

There is nothing more deflating than when finishing sewing up a garment and trying it on it just doesn't look right. A similar feeling is when you have seen something on a friend/model/manikin in a shop window, you love it so try it on but when you look in the mirror it doesn't look the same on you as you imagined and hoped. Of course this is because we are all different. Very few of us have the same figure as a typical model or a manikin on the high street. While it is more likely that you might wear the same size as some of your friends its very unlikely that you actually have the same shape body.

This is a good thing. Variety is the spice of life after all. But it presents us with a challenge when we choose what we are going to sew and wear- What will look good on me? If you want to create a capsule wardrobe it's incredibly helpful to have a few guidelines for which clothes look good on your body and crucially make you feel good in. But let me stress these are just guidelines!

So to work out which sort of shapes work well for you have a think about these things:

Which Areas Do You Love?
Which parts of your body do you always feel confident about? Maybe you've got some killer shoulders and you love to show them off. Perhaps your waist is teeny tiny (even if other parts are not so teeny tiny). Brilliant boobs? Bootilicious bottom? Long long legs? Delicate ankles? Amazing arms? Every body has some good bits! Don't fool yourself into thinking that you don't because you absolutely most definitely one hundred percent do! Write down a list of these good areas - it can be as long as you like!!
My list it this: waist, shoulders and legs.

Which Areas Are You More Inclined To Hide?
Sadly we all also have some areas which we aren't so keen on (well if you haven't good for you!). You might find this list easier to write than the list above but I encourage you try to keep this list as short as possible and definitely keep it shorter than you 'love list'. If you think of more things you want to add then you should come up with some more loves too! My list is my upper arms and my muffin top.

Which Clothes Do I Feel Confident In?
Make a list of 5 items of clothing that you feel really good in when you wear them. Try to work out what they have in common? Do they exaggerate your good bits and disguise your not so good? If you are struggling with this have a look at this website. There you can read about all the different body shapes, answer a quick quiz to figure out your own shape (without measuring yourself) and then have a look at their ideas for what looks good on a shape like yours. This website is really helpful figuring all this stuff out. Plus if you fall between two body types (I'm an hourglass/pear) you can look at the tips on both sections.

Use your answers to the questions to figure out a list of guidelines. Try not to over complicate your list but have a few things to look for and a few things to avoid. When you are armed with this list you'll find it much easier to figure out which sewing patterns will look good and which won't work for you. My list looks something like this: Look for scoop necklines, sleeves, fitted waists and not too much detail around the tummy. Avoid high necklines and pointy shoes.

So now you know what looks great, it's probably worth having a think about what actually works for your lifestyle. I could use my guidelines to sew 30 dresses, fitted at the waist, with sleeves and full skirts or pencil skirts. I could, but it would be terrible impractical for my day-to-day cleaning the house, kneeling on the floor to play with my children, going on the school run lifestyle. This needs to play a big part in our decision making for what to sew next. We will talk about this more next week when we will go though what could actually be in a capsule wardrobe. So come back next Tuesday to find out more. Zoe x

Creating A Capsule Wardrobe Part 2 // Choosing a Colour Palette

I love colour. In fact I have had almost every colour of the rainbow painted on the walls in my house at some stage. (I also love to decorate but thats a tale for a another time). Having such a huge variety of colours results in something a little messy and not very relaxing. On the other hand I have been in houses where every single wall, every piece of furniture and all the art on the walls is black and white, it may be very stylish for some but to me it's a little boring. The trick is to find a nice balance of colour and neutral. The same applies to the colours we wear.

If you're hoping to create a capsule wardrobe (read about that here) then choosing the colour palette is a very important step. By colour palette I mean a few colours that you know work well on you and with your other clothes. The colours in your palette should all work together and they can include any colour you like.

This post will look at some things to think about for your own colour palette. The idea is to write down your answers to each question and then compare them to see which ones occur often. I'll also work through an example (my own).

Question To Ask When Choosing a Colour Palette that is Right For You
When choosing a colour palette there are serveal things to consider. In the following questions I'll get you to write down some things about yourself in order to choose the right colours for you. Try to be specific but not too specific. For example if you want to write down 'blue' as an answer, try to narrow it down a little; light or dark? Just blue or is it slightly green or slightly purple? But try not to write down 'shade 630 from the pantone colour range', we are thinking more general than that. But if you answer is 'all the blues' than that's ok too.

Which Colours Do I Love
Most people have some colours they love, the ones that make them feel good when they see them or they will choose each time. They will also have some colours that they dislike or would never choose, the colours that make them think something is ugly (even if it's not). This should be a one of the main factors when you choose your colour palette. Are you always drawn to white or pale fresh colours? Do you prefer a deep shade of red or green? Do you love all the pastels? Do you hate a particular colour? Do you get a kick out of brights, neons, earth tones? Write down a list of colours you love and other colours you hate. It is ok to write down colours you love but would never wear on your 'love list'. Then put this list aside before you move on. Try to think with a clean slate before you answer the next questions.

Example: I love blue, red, green, orange, yellow and white. For all these colours I like a good bold and rich tone and for blue I love all the blues.

Which Colours Suit Me
You probably have a few colours that you know suit your complexion. You probably also have a few colours that aways make you look ill. To work this out if you don't know already think about your favour items of clothing, make a list of them and what colour they are. You may notice that your favourite items all fall into a similar category of colours. This might be in part because they are your favourite colours too but probably has something to do with what looks good on. If you can't see a theme then pop into a clothing shop and hold up a range of different coloured items near to your face. Do some make you look good and other not so much? Try not to just experiment with the colours that you like but also with colours that you wouldn't usually try. You might be surprised that some of them suit you when you wouldn't normally wear them. After you have thought this through, write down a list of the colours that look good and another list of colours that look bad. Keep this list with your 'Colours I Love List'.

Example: Black, red, blue, white and brown all look good on me, particularly navy and teal from the blue spectrum.

Which colours do I already own
Another important thing to consider is which colours do you already own. Have a look in your wardrobe and write down all the colours you can see. Then tally up the ones that occur often. You might see a theme emerging here. If you can't see a common theme try this: for the clothes that you know you wear often add an extra tick on your tally.

Example: In my wardrobe I have many colours. Blue, red, orange, white, green, yellow, pink, purple, grey and black. You name it I've probably got it. However I have more of navy blue, black, white and red in my wardrobe than any other colours and a fair bit of dark green.

At this point you can compare the lists that you have. You probably have some overlapping colours, if you have a colour on every list then this is probably a good place to start. Group your colours into 3 groups, one that has only the colours in all three groups, one that has colours that occur in two groups and a third for those you have only written down once.

Group 1: Red, Navy Blue, White
Group 2: Black, Green, Yellow, Light Blue
Group 3: Pink, Purple, Brown, Grey, Teal, Orange

Now to have a varied enough wardrobe without going wild its a good idea to have around 5-6 colours in your palette. Have a think about what the colours in group 1 (and 2 if you need more) have in common. Are they all pastel tones? Are they primary colours? Perhaps their 'earth tones'. Maybe you're all about the neons. I'll be writing a post with some examples soon so you can have a look to get some ideas.

Also think about whether they work together well, you might have a few that clash so play around with the ones you have and remove a couple that don't work. If you start with a limited colour palette now you can always add more colours in later once you have a working wardrobe.

Whatever colours you have chosen you can always add white, black and grey as these are total neutrals and go with anything.

Example: From my list I knew I wanted red, white and navy blue and light blue. I also added in black because I needed some more neutral colours. I consider these 5 colours to be my 'main palette' but I also use dark green in the Autumn/Winter and yellow in the Spring/Summer. Plus the light blue in the summer would be a much brighter more 'teal' shade. So if you cover over the two left most colours you'll see the summer palette, or cover over the two right most colours to see the winter palette. Cover over both to see the 'main palette.'

So do you have a chosen colour palette? Maybe now is the time to think about creating one so you can have a more meaningful wardrobe. If you have any questions or ideas you can leave a comment and start a discussion or head over to our community page. Speak soon, Zoe x

A Capsule Wardrobe Community

Wanna sew a capsule wardrobe too? Or perhaps you just enjoy drooling over others capsule wardrobe ideas. Then I have just the place for you to go. Check out the 'Sew a Capsule Wardrobe' community on Google+. Well so far there are just 3 of us, but I would love to make an actual community out of it.

If you aren't familiar with Google+ communities then you should definitely check them out. You sign up to Google+. You may have done this a few years ago and then never actually used it, but you should because it's a really great way of meeting like-minded individuals across the globe. I am in several communities on there to do with sewing, craft and baking and I love them. Then you can search for communities and ask permission to join them. Then you can write a post, share photos, share links and start discussion about the topic of the community.

So far it is just me posting in this community but I would love to see others who are interested join and make conversation. Share your ideas and goals and seek out others working on their own version of a capsule wardrobe.

So what do you think? If you are interested head over there now and sign up, I'll approve your membership and then you can start posting too. Plus you should absolutely start using google+ because it is a very well thought out and easy to use social network. It gets my vote any way. Looking forward to seeing you there. Zoe x

Creating A Capsule Wardrobe // Part 1

creating a capsule wardrobe

The biggest draw back to making your clothes instead of buying them is losing the chance to try something on before you buy. When I go clothes shopping I do a fair bit of trying before buying. I look at the item on the hanger a few times, check the price tag, hold it up to my face to see if the colour is right, try it on in two sizes for comparison, think about what else it goes with that I already own, recheck the price tag and then only buy it if I am happy it has met all my requirements.

This is clearly much harder to do when you don't have a garment in front of you. How do you know the style will be right? Is the colour something that will suit? How much will the finished garment cost? Which size will be best? All these questions are much harder to answer when you have to make the clothes and you can't see them right in front of you.

Sadly quite a few of my earlier makes now don't get worn. It isn't that my taste has changed or that they no longer fit. I just wasn't sewing the right clothes - I didn't have a clear idea of what I would to wear. During Me-Made-May last year I realised I needed to make a few changed and plan a little more if I wanted to make my own clothes rather than buy them. I needed to be a little more selective about the fabrics I bought and the patterns I sewed. I wanted to make clothes that I felt good in, looked good on and went with clothes I already owned. I decided to think of my new wardrobe as a 'capsule wardrobe'.

creating a capsule wardrobe- ways to wear stripes

Now I know that a capsule wardrobe isn't a new concept. For those of your who are unfamiliar with the idea the aim is to have items in your wardrobe that can all mix and match together and that are all flattering to your body shape so that on any given day you can pick out a couple of items and they'll work together and make you look and feel good.

Over the next few weeks I am going to share some ideas for choosing your own colour palette and for working out some style rules for the types of items to sew. I'll be doing it particularly with a handmade wardrobe in mind but the principles will work for any one who is thinking of creating their own capsule wardrobe. Here are just a few reasons why you might like to start your own capsule wardrobe:

A Capsule Wardrobe Saves Space
I live in a house where I have room for one wardrobe and one chest of drawers. This is plenty of space to fit all the clothes one person needs. But if I want to maximise this space to its full potential I need all my clothes to work well with each other and for them all to be things that I would wear.

A Capsule Wardrobe Saves Time
If all your clothes go together with each other then you will save time dressing each day. Plus if you have a set of guidelines for what to add to your wardrobe then it saves time on shopping too, you know which items will work and which items simply won't go with anything.

A Capsule Wardrobe Saves Money
In a similar way to 'saving time' have a set of guidelines for what you should wear will help you save money too. You'll be much less likely to make something you would never wear or waste money on something that doesn't go with other things you own.

A Capsule Wardrobe looks Good
Whenever I have seen people with a capsule wardrobe before, it makes me think they have a 'signature style'. It certainly doesn't have to be boring either, lot's of people assume capsule wardrobe means lot's of neutrals and no colour but this couldn't be further form the truth. It just means you always wear clothes that work well together but we can talk more about this in the next post.

If you, like me, find you don't wear all the clothes you own but still don't know what to wear each day then maybe creating a capsule wardrobe it a good idea. Follow along with me over the next few weeks to pick up some ideas of where to start. Zoe x
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