Wednesday, June 24, 2015

This May Be the Best Summer Dress Ever

This may be the best summer dress I've ever made.  Seriously.  Especially since my folliculitis infection on my legs will most likely take all summer to heal.  Grrr.  So, while a tiny portion of me shakes my fist at my depressed immune system, the rest of me is concentrating on making maxi length garments for the summer.

I need to take a moment to pay myself on the back for this.  I combined a total of 4 patterns to get the look I wanted.  I know this looks like a really basic t-shirt maxi dress - and it is - but I wanted it to flow a certain way and have certain features.

I used the Renfrew top for the neckline, the Laurel dress for the bodice, the Anna dress for the sleeves, and vintage Simplicity 7341 for the skirt.  I wish I had taken a picture when I was cutting this out! I had previously merged the Laurel dress and Anna dress neckline and sleeves into a new pattern and I laid this over the skirt portion of the Simplicity pattern.  Then I folded back the Anna v-neckline and laid the Renfrew over that.  It may have been unnecessarily complicated but it made me feel like a sewing rock star!

I added an elastic waistband and can wear it with or without a belt.  Of course, if I have a chance to wear a pink bow belt, I will.  And my stripe matching? Pretty good in my book!  Finding out that my folliculitis infection isn't going away any time soon has made me reassess my capsule wardrobe.  I am going to need to add a least one more maxi skirt and maxi dress.

Over the past week that I've been using my capsule wardrobe, I've already made some changes.

Old Navy Anchors tee - I felt washed out wearing it.  It's been relegated to the jammie drawer.
Short sleeved white cardigan - I don't need two as I have the cream shrug.
Periwinkle linen Meringue skirt - it's too short.
Yellow gingham Sorbetto top - it's just not right for me
Floral linen Vogue dress - too formal for my daily wardrobe
Pink gingham Washi dress

Charcoal v-neck tee
Black pin dot tee - a favourite of mine that was in the laundry when I was choosing my pieces!
Charcoal Miette cardigan

Trial Basis
Old Navy red linen shirtwaist

Planned projects
Black and white stripe maxi skirt
Pink jersey maxi dress
Navy linen maxi skirt

I am enjoying working with less and populating my wardrobe with pieces that make me feel joyful and bring a smile to my face, much like this new maxi dress.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Enapsulate: Summer Bottoms

Oh, this portion was much more of a challenge than the other two.  Traditionally, I live in summer knee-length dresses but a recent folliculitis infection has prevented this.  Of late, I have been relying on leggings and maxi skirts for seasonally appropriate wear that prevents my leper legs (as I call them) from being put on display.

Thanks to my friend Cass, I have really fallen in love with leggings.  In fact, during the cold months I wore these much more often than my tights.  They are warm and the waistband has been kinder to me of late than those on my tights.  These are handy little things to have.

For this season's capsule wardrobe, I stuck to my basics of navy and white and added a pair of black leggings for contrast.  The cream ones are one of my very favourite pairs and feature this terrifically gothic print of Victorian buildings which reminds me of Glagow, one of my favourite cities.  The look great with my solid linen tunics and are handprinted.  Check out the Etsy store here. On the far right are a pair of lightweight skinny jeans that I thrifted for a mere $7.99.

It wouldn't be my summer wardrobe if I didn't include my beloved Pants of Perfection.  Both the navy and the pink pairs definitely made the cut.  I have some of the same linen in a beautiful teal which will become the last pair to complete this trouser trifecta.

Skirts have been a bit of a challenge for me.  In the cooler months, I essentially live in my Meringue skirts with various tops.  However, denim and twill are too heavyweight for summer.  I recently made a periwinkle linen Meringue skirt and it's in this capsule on a trial basis.  Its a bit shorter than I normally wear my skirts and I am not sure how the colour will integrate into my wardrobe, even though I think periwinkle is completely beautiful.  Time will tell.  I do have some lovely bright yellow cotton in my stash but I am still deciding if it will become a dirndl or Meringue skirt.

I did purchase some really amazing Tardis fabric which is destined to become a Meringue without scallops.  A Tardis skirt is a definite necessity in my capsule wardrobe.  Geek will not be denied!

Two maxi skirts for necessity are in this capsule.  I made the raspberry one by fiddling about with the skirt portion from vintage Simplicity 7341.  It has an elastic waist, which is simply blissful, and I added long waist ties to act as a sort of obi style belt.  I sewed the entire thing with French seams.

The second maxi skirt is a recent thrifty find. I found it with its original tags still on.  It's by the Canadian RTW company Joe Fresh and is made of stretchy rayon.  It has a pretty tulip style front and wears easily.  I am a little unsure about a maxi skirt in all black and may substitute it for another Simplicity 7341 in navy linen.

So, that's my summer capsule wardrobe in its entirety. I am enjoying working with it so far and have found it relaxing to have less choice in what I wear.  Everything I've chosen, with the exception of a few trial or place holders bring me joy, which I think is a pretty good start.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Encapsulate: Summer Tops

After boring you to tears detailing the dress portion of my summer capsule wardrobe pretty thoroughly, I thought I'd go easy on you this time and make it simpler with my separates.  Obviously, dresses are the backbone of my wardrobe, regardless of its size, but my separates are also a necessary component.

Unfortunately, this is the area where I struggle the most.  Trying to hit on that perfect combination of fit, comfort, and style seemed to elude me until very recently.  Over the last few years, I have donated more of my separates than any other items in my handmade wardrobe.  It's definitely a ratio I would like to improve.  An ideal scenario would have me replace items from wear rather than disappointment.  With that in mind, I carefully chose only the tops and bottoms that bring out my joy, are completely comfortable (and forgiving when necessary), and appeal to my style.

White Laurel tunic made with linen/rayon blend fabric.
Linen tunics have become the mainstay of my separates wardrobe.  I can wear them with leggings (eternally grateful to Cassandra for reintroducing me to those - bliss!), skinny pants, wide leg pants, and slim skirts.  Over the past few months, I have made a few in patterned cotton, but it's consistently these plain linen/rayon blend tunics that make the cut.

For this capsule wardrobe, I have chosen two in two different lengths in white linen.  I've made them from my favourite Laurel dress pattern shortened to tunic length.  I wear them so often and feel so happy inn them that I went and bought more fabric to make more.  I did this prior to deciding to start this project but I have included them in my final count.  I plan on making black and pale blue versions.  I am in the process of removing the sleeves from a hot pink linen shift I made last year.  I do have 3 tops functioning as place holders until the new ones are sewn.

My $5 cowl tee made with hot pink sequin jersey.

Tees and Tanks
Hot summers mean comfortable tees and tanks.  I have made several short sleeve Renfrews but none have survived the cut.  This is due to poor choices on my part.  I have, however, had great luck thrifting lately and did discover a new tee-style pattern that I really love: McCall's 6563.  That hot pink top above was made using this pattern and cost me a mere $5 for one metre of 60" wide sequin jersey.  Sequin.  Jersey. I am in love.  I recently thrifted a lovely striped Ellen Tracy tee and an Old Navy white tee printed with blue anchors.  I had overlooked the anchor tee but my daughter insisted I try it on as she was convinced it was just the thing for me. She was absolutely right.

Left: Banana Republic tank (thrifted), right: Sequin tank (RTW)

From the tanks point of view, I do have a few Sorbettos to choose from (it wouldn't be my summer wardrobe without them), including my La Muse Francaise top.  I have a consistent colour palette and was pleasantly surprised when this yellow gingham (buffalo check?) Sorbetto spoke up to be included.  Gingham isn't something I gravitate to but I really like this one.  It feels as though I'm wearing sunshine.

White Blouses
I love a good white blouse.  In fact, I have a Pinterest board dedicated to them.  To add to the two white tunics I have, I've chosen a staple Peter Pan collar blouse I made last year and a long-time favourite peasant blouse.  I love embroidered blouses but am not an embroiderer.  So, I thrifted an embroidered cotton tablecloth and turned it into this blouse.  The colours in the embroidery match all my solid pieces.

Simplicity 4179 (left) and McCall''s 5451 (right)
Finally, I got to have cardigans to chose from.  I've included my favourite short sleeve white one (thrifted) and the second cardigan I ever knit, a pink Miette made from a cotton/bamboo yarn.

Shrugs have also become a staple for me so I have included two I made from Simplicity 2478, View D.  The cream is leftover from fabric I used to make a Perri Pullover and the teal is left from my Lady Skater dress from a couple of years ago.  

* * * * *

Even when I had an excess of summer tops, these were the ones that I gravitated toward.  Most are from last year, with a couple lasting over two years.  Making smart staple separates for each season is a long term goal for me, as well as replacing items from wear and not from frivolity/disappointment. I do have the Wiksten tank pattern and I am, quite frankly, curious to see how it stand up to the  Sorbetto.  Any thoughts?

I may have to start sewing muslins!  Perish the thought!