Project planning for fall

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Back to my point about project planning: whether or not you actually want to make/use/live with a capsule wardrobe, the free Capsule planner can be a helpful tool to plan wardrobe addition. I’m going with a fall capsule wardrobe, but I think the foundation of taking stock of what I have, identifying what’s working & what’s not, thinking about weather and lifestyle and any needs for the upcoming season allows me to easily identify and prioritize pieces I want to add to my wardrobe, capsuled or not.

From my wardrobe planning process, I have a clear color palette, an idea of my favorite silhouettes, and an inventory of what I have and what gaps exist in my wardrobe. I have a good number of boxy tops that I love, but am pretty low on pants and skirts to pair them with (especially pieces that are in good condition and can be dressed up a bit).

The Capsule planner also offered a nice time to reflect on my goals: moving slowly, keeping my closet pared down, and working with my stash. So now, the part I daydream about the most! What to make? How will the things I make pair with what I already have and love?

Since I generally enjoy making most of my wardrobe, I use the shopping list part of the Un-fancy Capsule planner to think about what projects to prioritize. But, considering my current need for pants and the learning curve to make a pair (which I don’t have time for just yet), I decided to invest in a pair of Clyde pants after many many months of contemplation and budgeting. I also need another pair of shoes, ideally boots, which is a bigger budget item, so I’m trying to keep my project budget lean and finish up a few WIPs.

Roughly in order of priority:

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Loose inspirations & interpretations: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

I wouldn’t say this planning method is totally foolproof — I could still end up with clothing that doesn’t quite fit or isn’t durable, or doesn’t ultimately move into regular wardrobe rotation. But I have a natural tendency (ok, borderline obsession) toward planning and I think laying it all out ahead of time is really helpful.

I also know that this fall — really, the rest of 2016 — will be very busy for me, and there’s a chance that I won’t get through even half of the items on my list. Through my summer capsule wardrobe experience, I learned that making one full garment per month is a reasonable pace, so with my fall planning I’m trying not to set my expectations too high, and by prioritizing, I can focus on each item in due course. Still, if I don’t get to making or finishing the items on my list, I know that I have plenty to wear and lots of great options in my fall capsule.

This is my current practice of balancing excitement, inspiration, and desire, with gratitude, responsibility, and time management. Do you have a fall list? I love learning about how others plan (or don’t!) their projects, and welcome your thoughts in the comments!

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Summer capsule reflection

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What I wore

Looking back, I had a few clear summer silhouettes:

  1. Sleeveless, boxy cropped shirt + high waist + sandals. In heavy rotation were my self-drafted crop top, my blue striped t-shirt, my knit beach tank, mixed and matched with my cut-off jean shorts, vintage linen wide-leg pants, thrifted high-waist non-stretch jeans, and paired with my Birkenstock sandals or Zuzii sandals (which I bought for a wedding and have proved quite versatile).
  2. Breezy dress with pockets + sandals or sneakers. For me, dresses are the easiest thing to wear in the summer, and can be styled a little differently (more casual or a more refined) depending on shoes or jewelry. My most-reached for this summer were my wabi-sabi Dress No. 1, my hacked V1482, and my Charlotte Kan tie dress (see below). I love me-made dresses because I can make sure the length is in my comfort zone, and I can always add pockets.
  3. Wide-legged jumpsuit (sometimes layered under a top) + sandals. For hot and sticky weather, and bike riding all over town, my two jumpsuits were perfect and fun: one is a vintage linen style that I bought on ebay and dyed in indigo, and the other is a black organic cotton Sallie jumpsuit that I made last summer.

And a quick shout-out to a couple of me-made favorites that were in heavy rotation but never got a full blog post: tops and dresses made from Charlotte Kan Pocket-T and Tie Dress patterns:

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From left: I first made the Tie Dress in a linen-cotton blend last summer as a birthday present to myself, and then I volunteered to pattern test the Pocket-T (so I received the pattern in exchange for my review; I used deadstock Cupro from Feral Childe) last July. Last fall I made a cropped version (with split side seams) of the pocket tee in Merchant & Mills Irish linen, and in the spring I used the sleeve shape and waistline to create a heavily modified V1482 (a.k.a. Rachel Comey sack dress). If you’re interested in more details on any of those, feel free to ask in the comments, or let me know if a full post would be helpful.

What I didn’t wear

This summer was non-stop heat and humidity at home, and really didn’t cool down in the evenings at all, as it does in other places I’ve lived. This meant that I rarely/never wore any of my warm layers (light sweaters or jackets) except for travel. I also hardly wore my stretch denim jeans or my Prism dress because long sleeves and pants just never seemed like something I wanted on my body. Since my summer capsule extended into early September, I was able (and excited!) to bring these items into the rotation at the very end of the time span.

I didn’t wear my black high-waisted shorts often, but I still love them so much. They’re just a little too short for riding my bike or workwear but they’re great for going out with friends or dates. I also pretty much never wore my wrap skirt! I need to make it a faux-wrap skirt because it always feels too fussy so I don’t reach for it.

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What I made (and what I didn’t)

  1. Just before I officially committed to my summer capsule, I made a self-drafted crop top and it was easily a summer fave (also made one for a friend), worn alone or layered over a jumpsuit or dress.
  2. At the start of June I also finished knitting a lightweight shawl, which I intended to wear for my brother’s wedding but didn’t really end up needing. I think it will be great for fall and spring layering though.
  3. In June I made a rather wabi-sabi Dress No. 1, which exceeded my plans and expectations in how fun it was to make and wear (dressed up for a friend’s wedding, as well as my brother’s wedding rehearsal party, and dressed down for daily wear).
  4. In July I braved the unending humidity to draft and stitch my “Best Woman Dress” (full post coming soon! Inspiration post here)
  5. For a quick travel project and stash-buster, I knit a bright red Diode hat
  6. In August, I cast on a new sweater for my partner as part of the Fringe & Friends Knitalong.
  7. In the very first days of September I finished a set of silk Lakeside Pajamas

I had hoped and planned to draft and sew a tunic that I had envisioned when I received a beautiful piece of khadi from A Verb for Keeping Warm as a Me-Made-May contest prize (which I didn’t even realize I had entered!). I can see how the tunic would have fit into my capsule and silhouettes, but I didn’t necessarily feel that it was glaringly missing. I just didn’t have time, and I’m sure it will still be inspiring next spring/summer.

I also didn’t finish the Penny Raglan I had planned. I actually started making it, and it’s not too far from being finished, but I just don’t think I’ll wear it. I love the penny raglan shape but I made it out of a linen-cotton blend curtain I found at Goodwill, and it’s too sheer for my comfort level. I’m debating between tossing the unfinished garment in the scrap bin, or finishing it and giving it away.

Looking at this list, I essentially made one garment per month, with one smaller project added in or wrapped up. It’s really helpful for me to better understand my pace so I can be realistic with planning my projects and purchasing supplies, and it’s also nice to realize that I posted about nearly all the finished garments here.

This feels good as in the past I’ve been somewhat on the fence with blogging, but I’ve really been enjoying it as a writing outlet and a place to record notes (like this post, which has been a running draft for several weeks now) and inspiration. Sometimes I just don’t want to spend any of my free time on a computer (since my work involves a lot of screen time — that’s why my tactile hobbies are so nourishing for me), and other times I’d rather move into the next project instead of re-hashing what I finished, but I value the opportunity to appreciate each project and learning process.

10 x 10 outfits

What I learned, and notes for next year

My biggest takeaway is that I actually didn’t feel limited by my capsule wardrobe — I had plenty to wear, and even felt a bit more adventurous trying to experiment with new ways to wear what I already love.

Toward that end, I played with styling by trying a 10 x 10 challenge while on a 10 day trip, and it was really fun! I love layering and that can get tricky in the summer. Honestly, I have no issues with repeating outfits, but the 10 x 10 challenge to make 10 items feel like 10 different styles was really interesting and showed me that my clothes have greater versatility than the way I typically wear them. It also allowed me to pack a light carry-on and still dress appropriately for a few days at the beach, a wedding weekend, and a few days in New York City. I thought about doing a full post on it but then I fell behind (and subsequently gave up) photographing the 10 outfits. The items from my 10×10 experiment are featured in the collage at the top of this post, and the first two looks are shown above (travel day and beach day).

Part of what draws me to the capsule wardrobe exercise and using capsule planning to pare down my project list a bit, is that I get stressed out when I’m growing my stash by buying things I don’t have time to use or make. My summer capsule was successful in helping me hone in on a projects I really wanted/needed to make, and stick to working through my stash!

To be completely transparent, I did buy a few things during this capsule stretch, like the Lakeside Pajamas and Penny Raglan patterns. And when I visited Fancy Tiger Crafts I bought lots of underwear elastic, and two cuts of hemp knit for shirts for Jenn. But I didn’t buy any new fabric for my own wardrobe. And I fought a very intense urge to throw my plans (and budget) out the window to make a stripey Fen dress — that was a fascinating rollercoaster of desire to witness within myself, and might become its own post soon.

My summer capsule wardrobe also affirmed my love for jumpsuits: if I had to live with only one item of clothing, it would probably have been my indigo linen jumpsuit this summer (it’s a vintage Flax jumpsuit that I bought on Ebay and overdyed at home). I recently read an interesting post on the question of whether a love of styling is at odds with a minimalist approach to fashion, and the author brought up how garments that are versatile don’t have to be basic. For me, jumpsuits are a prime example. You know all those “wardrobe essentials” lists on Pinterest and in fashion magazines? They often include items I don’t own or rarely wear, like a classic blazer or pencil skirt, whereas because I love the jumpsuits I have, they’ve become essentials.

A few notes for next year’s warm season:

  • My Nisolo sandals are really a half-size too big, and wearing them in very wet grass for an evening didn’t help that. It might be wise to replace them.
  • I’m pretty good on lightweight sweaters — I have three that I love, which cover different shapes, and meet my needs for this climate.
  • I love my Zady linen tee but it shows wear more quickly than other items, so it would be a good item to duplicate. Either with another of the same – maybe in black or stripes so I don’t need to worry about staining so much, or I could knit a similar shape in Quince & Co. sparrow (I’m looking at you, Moon Tee).
  •  I think another shift dress in place of my Prism dress would be good, and especially one with pockets — I’m head over heels for Lily Schlosser’s Fen dress in stripes, so that might jump to the top of my spring/summer list for next year.

So there you have it – my first official capsule wardrobe and wrap-up. I plan to keep going with this pattern for a while because I’m enjoying it and I think it’s a valuable tool for my goal of a maintaining a small closet. What do you think — are you interested in a capsule wardrobe, would you try one? Do you plan your wardrobe and/or projects in other ways? Do you love having an expansive stash?

A year in stitches: One Year One Outfit Recap

 

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To write one summary post for all these projects hardly does justice to how much I love these pieces, how much I learned making them, and how knitting with local materials has deepened my connection to my local landscape and community. Alas, we’re nearing the end of January and it’s high time to round up what I made for my One Year One Outfit challenge. Spoiler alert: there is no true “outfit” but there are 3 sweaters, 1 shawl, and one hat, which truly reignited my love for knitting and led me to explore local fiber and local dyes, resulting in hard-working wardrobe staples.

A note: I wish I had the time or foresight to photograph these pieces outdoors, in the actual fibershed environment, but at the time I was able to shoot them, the day’s high was 1 measly degree (F), so here I am in my sunroom. I modeled each of my local fiber garments over my favorite and very special dress, which is not hyper-local, but it is made of organic cotton fabric grown by Sally Fox, milled and woven in Japan nearly two decades ago. The fabric was imported last year by Kristine of A Verb for Keeping Warm in collaboration with Sally Fox, and the pattern is the Prism dress also by A Verb for Keeping Warm, with the in-line pocket addition I wrote about here. I told a bit more of this dress’s story on Instagram during Slow Fashion October, and it seemed fitting to wear it as the foundation for my local knitwear.

And now, a lightning tour of 2015!

January

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Garment: my first sweater!
Fibershed: Northern California
Pattern: Hayward by Julie Hoover for Brooklyn Tweed. Mods noted on Ravelry.
Fiber: Twirling Petals yarn in Earl Grey, Drunken Ollie in Eucalyptus, Indigo on Muffy
Farmer: Mary Pettis-Sarley (photo below via Tolt Yarn & Wool)

Twirl by ToltNotes: This sweater reignited my love for knitting. I learned to knit about 10 years ago, made a few small accessories, and drifted away from knitting during college. In 2014 I lost my favorite hand knit cowl and sought a creative outlet from my job, which was nearly equal parts very stressful and very rewarding. So in the fall of 2014, after meeting Rebecca Burgess and getting to know the Fibershed community, inspiration overcame intimidation and I decided to knit my first full sweater. I decided to look for a Brooklyn Tweed pattern with a low difficulty rating, because I liked the contemporary designs and heard that the instructions were detailed. I settled on this simple pullover, and searched for a local yarn alternative to Loft. I heard great things about Twirl, and loved the whimsy of the logo and the yarn names, so I took a day trip to Knitterly in Petaluma and spent a long time looking at color combinations. There wasn’t quite enough of any one color that I liked, so I decided to color block the pieces. Around this time, I had been living on a very small budget and had mostly bought secondhand clothing for the past few years, so saving up for and purchasing a sweater’s worth of yarn felt like a big investment – it was probably the most I had spent on any one item in at least five years. It was so rewarding to spend those savings in support of local businesses run by inspiring women. Yarn in hand, I started my sweater. I knit in the mornings before work, I knit on BART, I knit some days on my lunch break on a patio full of business people, and I knit a lot in the evenings after Jenn went to bed (at the time she was a baker and worked very early mornings) — I was hooked! Finishing this sweater in early 2015 felt triumphant – and exuberant! I love it to pieces and am keeping it out of rotation this winter to preserve its longevity (it’s the perfect spring/summer/fall layer).

May

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Garment: marled Ondawa
Fibershed: Northern California
Pattern: Ondawa by Michele Wang for Brooklyn Tweed. Mods noted on Ravelry.
Fiber: Radius by Knitterly Petaluma in Alpaca/wool marl
Farmer: Mimi Luebbermann, Windrush Farm (photo below via Fibershed)

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Notes: After finishing my first sweater I was hooked on knitting once again, and really drawn to knitting this pattern, which I had tried on at the Brookyn Tweed trunk show at A Verb for Keeping Warm. In my mind I pictured it in the perfect shade of camel, but I had a hard time finding the right color, until I came across the new Radius offerings by Knitterly. I got really excited about this marled alpaca/wool blend (I think it’s basically an alpaca single plied with a wool single) and from there the knitting went much faster than I expected. This sweater is so warm and soft, and practically a security blanket for me. I love the cream color and the way the busy cables and subtle marl interact, and I just wish it wouldn’t pill quite so much (the downside of very soft fibers and a lightly spun yarn), but I can’t see myself stopping wearing it any time soon.

October

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Garment: Pure transition shawl
Fibershed: Northern California & Twin Cities
Pattern: Pure by cabinfour. Mods noted on Ravelry.
Fiber: Radius by Knitterly Petaluma in Alpaca/wool blend; local merino by Rach-Al-Paca Fiber Mill
Farmer: Various; Photo below of Rach-Al-Paca Mill in Hastings, Minnesota

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Notes: I knit this shawl as the temperatures shifted from mild to cold, and the dry fall air lent an urgency to the changing seasons. My grandmother passed away, not unexpectedly, and I spent two days wrapped in my favorite afghan that she knit, watching this shawl take shape, melding the places I’ve recently called home. The lighter, silvery-brown is a blended yarn from the Radius yarn that was actually sent to me by mistake when I needed an extra skein for my Ondawa sweater. I used the stitch pattern sections as my guide for alternating the yarn with a naturally-colored, chocolate brown Merino raised by a small farmer who lives right down the road from Rach-Al-Paca Fiber Mill, where I purchased the yarn. The color is rich and the yarn is squishy but hearty. This shawl is might just be my signature winter accessory, and I wear it almost every day, usually wrapped around my neck as a giant kerchief. It makes an excellent barricade against sub-zero wind chill.

November

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Garment: flockalong cardigan
Fibershed: Northern California
Pattern: Liv Light by Carrie Bostick Hoge. Mods noted on Ravelry.
Fiber: Flock, 1st Edition by A Verb for Keeping Warm, in granite
Farmer: Various; learn all about how Flock was made here (photo below via AVFKW)

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Notes: I actually knit this sweater after moving to Minnesota, when I probably should have focused on a Minnesota fiber project. Instead, I became totally smitten with the gorgeous yarn created by Kristine and the team at A Verb for Keeping Warm. I have no regrets. It took me a very long time to knit this fingering-weight cardigan, but I love the simplicity of the top-down pattern and the way the yarn changed from white to cream to shades of gray. The color variations are natural and due to the way distinct fiber (Cormo, Corriedale, and Targhee) from three different flocks was blended while spinning. I actually had the opportunity to tour Green Mountain Spinnery, where Flock was spun, while visiting friends on the east coast this summer, and it was magical. Peeking behind the scenes at the spinning process added another element of depth to this knitting project, and I think this yarn is a great example of how to incorporate different fiber properties and embrace the diversity of local sheep breeds.

December

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Garment: coreopsis Jul
Fibershed: Twin Cities
Pattern: Jul hat by Wiksten. Notes coming to Ravelry soon.
Fiber: Alpaca/merino blend by Rach-Al-Paca Farm and Fiber Mill, dyed in foraged coreopsis
Farmer: Rachel Boucher

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Notes: I started working from home this summer, and have found it both freeing and overwhelming. I find it important to take breaks and get outside every day, and one day on the cusp of early fall, I rode my bike up a local trail, searching for dyestuffs. I found neither black walnuts nor pokeberry (as I had hoped), but a patch of wildflowers in the parking lot of an office complex caught my eye. I pulled over, and immediately recognized the yellow flowers with blood red centers as dyers’ coreopsis. I harvested quickly and tried to explain to a confused receptionist exactly why I was loitering in the parking lot (note to foragers: go after work hours). I created a solar dye bath and took a chance on dyeing a whole skein of yarn (about twice the weight of the dyestuff). The resulting golden color made a cheerful hat that is slouchy, warm, and super soft thanks to the alpaca. The fiber was raised in Minnesota and milled in Hastings, Minnesota by Rachel Boucher, a passionate and prolific farmer and small business owner.

 

& in case you’re wondering what the full “outfit” looks like…1-2016-01-18 17.12.06

 

End note: Here is where I should tell you that I contribute to Fibershed’s non-profit educational/advocacy work with research, communications, program support, and general operations. It has been a joyful and exciting journey to get involved with the organization, and I’m thrilled to support its mission and vision. These knits, and this blog in general, are my personal projects and all opinions stated here are my own. I love taking part in the One Year One Outfit challenge — which I am personally extending into a 2 Years 1 Outfit challenge (wink) — and I think Nicki  is doing a tremendous job energizing people around the world with the One Year One Outfit challenge to explore what it means to dress locally. I just want to be completely honest about my bias in support of this project and Fibershed in general, since I am sort of wearing two hats as a staff member and affiliate member — two hats that are locally grown, naturally dyed, and locally made, whenever possible!

 

 

anatomy of a travel capsule

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Last week’s theme for Slow Fashion October was small: 

handmade / living with less / quality over quantity / capsule wardrobe / indie fashion / small-batch makers / sustainability

I thought I’d document my own small travel wardrobe. I think I first heard the term “capsule wardrobe” about a year ago, and I was fascinated by projects like the 333 Wardrobe and the blog Unfancy, but at the time my wardrobe was mostly a hodgepodge of thrifted items which tended to have a little too much personality to be compatible in a pared-down capsule.

While I haven’t been purposefully working toward a capsule wardrobe, I’ve found that since I started making the majority of my clothes it’s been much easier to live with a smaller wardrobe, because I can make exactly what I want (within the realm of my sewing/knitting skills), my clothes are a more flattering and comfortable fit, and I know much more intimately how each piece functions and how it can play a role in my wardrobe.

Travel is such a good way to test this. What better “capsule” than a suitcase? In the past 6 weeks I’ve had the good fortune to take 3 trips of just over a week each — each with a unique climate and different dress code.

Here is what I packed, what worked, and what I could have done without:

Trip 3: Oakland, Berkeley, and Marin County, California (9 days) (pictured above)

  1. my favorite pair of cut-off jean shorts. They are high-waisted, light wash, and from a thrift store.
  2. 2 pairs of Hudson pants. One is of hemp/organic cotton knit, fabric was made in China by Pickering International, purchased online through Spool PGH. The other is of woven tencel fabric made by Feral Childe (fabric was probably made in China, but I know they screenprint most of their collections in the US) and purchased while visiting Fancy Tiger Crafts in Denver. I wear the knit pair as my pajamas and the woven pair has become an indispensable casual trouser — coming to the blog soon!
  3. a pair of black Virginia leggings in a heavyweight organic cotton/spandex knit from Organic Cotton Plus, US grown cotton, fabric made in the States (in the Carolinas or Tennessee if I had to guess), dyed using low-impact synthetic dyes. I sewed these the night before I left for England and they were a perfect fit for my body and my travel needs! I made them extra long and it feels like a luxury to have a little bit of fabric scrunching at my ankles.
  4. 5 shirts: one khadi Scout Tee (blogged here), one woven sleeveless Hemlock Tee (blogged here), one black Everlane v-neck, one white linen tee from Zady, one organic cotton graphic tee (free from a volunteer gig) that I wear as a sleep shirt. I absolutely love what Zady is doing with transparency and timeless pieces – check them out if you’re looking for ready to wear clothes! I’m pretty over Everlane’s faux “radical transparency” so I won’t be purchasing from them again, but a classic black v-neck does come in handy. I would recommend CA Cloth Foundry (US grown & made with Sustainable Cotton Project fiber) and Be Good Clothing (organic, Indian grown & made) for basic knit tees.
  5. a cocoon-shaped tunic from Hackwith Design House, purchased at their sample sale this summer. I really admire this Minneapolis-based brand who produces all their clothing in their St. Paul studio and releases pieces in limited collections, bucking the typical fashion season system. They don’t use organic materials (that I’ve seen) but have an eye toward sustainability and source a lot from a deadstock fabric warehouse in the Twin Cities. This tunic feels like a tencel blend, and even on sale it was a big purchase for me but I am so in love with it.
  6. 2 prism dresses. One long-sleeved in khadi from A Verb for Keeping Warm (blogged here), the other short-sleeved in organic cotton fabric that was grown by Sally Fox, made in Japan, and purchased at A Verb for Keeping Warm. What can I say, I love this simple dress pattern. The short-sleeved dress is my new “special occasion” dress that I made in part for this trip; check back for its origin story.
  7. 3 Northern California Fibershed sweaters. One pullover, color-blocked Hayward sweater in Twirl Yarn Twirling Petals, purchased at Knitterly Petaluma, the first sweater I ever knit! One pullover, cropped Ondawa in Radius Yarn (sourced from Windrush Farm), purchased at Knitterly Petaluma. One cocoon wrap/shrug Escher in Twirl Yarn, purchased at Knitterly Petaluma and one skein at the Fibershed stand at the farmer’s market.
  8. my jean jacket. boxy, 3/4-sleeves, from the thrift store.
  9. a cashmere beanie, also from Everlane, very warm and soft but would not purchase again (would knit my own or purchase locally).
  10. Sven clogs & Birkenstock sandals.
  11. underwear & socks, nearly all old & unremarkable, but hopefully to be replaced by handmade versions soon! While in Oakland, I purchased a Pansy bra after at least 6 months of deliberating — I’m in love with it!

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(leggings + clogs on a rare rainy day in Oakland. Also wearing: Hackwith tunic, Escher)

Trip 2: London & Plymouth, UK (9 days)
Nearly the same, but I swapped:

  1. raincoat instead of jean jacket. Purchased from American Apparel several years ago, pockets are unfortunately wearing out.
  2. 2 light dresses instead of jean shorts. One is an organic cotton Alder shirt dress made of remnant fabric from a Feral Childe sample sale (available online here!). The other is a Charlotte Kan tie-dress in a striped linen-cotton blend, purchased from Fabric.com with a certain amount of guilt (no idea where/how it was made, but I could not get those stripes off my mind!).
  3. ankle boots instead of birkenstocks. They are sort of oxblood color, purchased on clearance at Free People, made in Spain I believe. I’ve had them resoled and fixed up twice and they have lasted longer than previous pairs, but they start to pinch my toes after a whole day of walking.
  4. loafers (thrifted, resoled) as a back up pair of shoes, but I didn’t end up wearing them.
  5. a kanga/cotton shawl/large scarf, purchased when I was in Tanzania. Helpful to have a big rectangle like this as a multipurpose item – I wore is as a scarf, a blanket on the plane, and wrapped up food and small items in it.

Trip 1: Eastern seaboard (CT & RI), USA (7 days)
Nearly the same as trip 3, I think (I didn’t document it at the time), but I hadn’t made the leggings or short-sleeved Prism dress, so I packed the striped linen-cotton tie dress. I also added:

  1. a bathing suit from J.Crew, one piece V-neck.
  2. a sun hat gifted/handed down to me from my mom 🙂
  3. my Sallie jumpsuit in black organic cotton knit purchased at Verb a really long time ago (probably made in China by Pickering?). I love this jumpsuit but it collects all the dust and cat hair really quickly, so it’s not that helpful for traveling (without a lint roller, at least).
  4. Nisolo Ecuador Huarache sandals in the color almond, I think ? I saved up to buy these this summer as lightweight but close-toed shoe, and I love the style but unfortunately they’ve stretched out a little too much. Not sure what to do about that… Alas, we’re heading into cool weather here pretty fast.

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(jean shorts + linen Zady tee + Escher sweater in Oakland, also basically my summer uniform. Worn with clogs)

the takeaway

  • I could have gone with 1, maybe even 2 fewer shirts for my California trip, but I was afraid that one or two would get smelly from a few days of physical labor, so I packed extra.
  • To pack even lighter, I could have left my Hayward sweater at home for my California trip, because I wore the Escher wrap/shrug most days and Ondawa when it was cold (the heavy alpaca-wool blend was a lifesaver when I camped one night).
  • I only wore the beanie once in California (while camping, and it did keep me warm!), so if I weren’t camping I could have left it at home.
  • I wish I hadn’t waited so long to buy a Pansy bra, it’s my new favorite thing! I also wish I had budgeted to get some of their undies too, but I do hope to make some cloth habit ladyshorts with scrap knit fabric.

The big takeaway is that I think I’ve been basically wearing this “capsule” all summer, hah! It’s been very liberating to not have to dress for an office (and a bike commute) every day, so I’m lucky in that respect. The leggings are a huge help toward transitioning this capsule into cooler weather, but I’m starting to get nervous that 3 years in California has left me without much of a winter wardrobe. I’m planning out what to knit and sew pretty furiously, but of course, trying to keep it slow!

khadi chronicles pt. 2

khadi prism_1Around the same time I bought the striped khadi, Verb received new stock of gorgeous, lightweight, colorful cloth which was also listed as khadi. Though both tags said khadi, these new bolts had a much finer hand. Not all of them were organic cotton or naturally dyed, but I believe they were still hand loomed, and I couldn’t resist this voile-like fabric so I picked up a fun take on navy & white gingham to make into Verb’s newest sewing pattern, the Prism dress. I love the way the checks came together on the diagonal because of the raglan sleeve, though my pattern matching was imperfect since the stripes and checks are irregular.

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The Prism dress has become one of my favorite pieces of my wardrobe — it’s easy to throw on and dress up or down (I’ve worn it to a fancy cocktail party for work, and on  bike rides around my new neighborhood), and the slim sleeves balance the shift shape. I know a lot of people love the Grainline Studio Linden pattern and use it for easy raglan tees and dresses, but I think Prism has subtle design differences that make it a worthwhile addition to your pattern library: the raglan sleeve is cut in two pieces which is really beginner-friendly, the split seam on the side is a nice construction twist, and both the body of the dress and the sleeves have slight shaping that I really enjoy. I already have another prism in mind, with short sleeves and pockets!

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I lengthened my Prism by 3″ (my standard for dresses), and added 2″ to the sleeves I think, while grading from a size 41 at the bust to a size 43 at the waist for a little extra room. I also stitched it up with french seams to reinforce the construction and prevent fraying. While living in Oakland I was able to visit the Verb store where you can try on the sample garments of their patterns — such a treat! The staff always choose excellent fabric and I would pretty much wear any of them straight out of the store… Anyway, that’s how I knew I wanted a little extra room around the waist and hips. Also note: Verb patterns are sized by finished garment measurements (i.e. size 41 is a 41″ bust, about 2.5″ of ease for me).

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One of the reasons that I think Verb is such a special shop is because Kristine Vejar, the owner, is very intentional about the inventory, from US-sourced yarns (both their own lines and companies like Brooklyn Tweed) to using natural dyes, and finding interesting and beautiful fabrics with a strong story. When I first learned about khadi I was coming to terms firsthand with the ramifications of global supply chains, from touring a sugar factory where workers where squatting in an unsafe campground nextdoor, to visiting villages reeling from farmer suicides due to the volatile commodification of seeds. I know it’s not always easy to find ethically sourced materials (let alone any supply chain information), but khadi cloth was and is a powerful lesson in the meaning and potential of material processes.

I’m thankful that Verb stocks khadi, which you can find in their online shop or order by calling their store — sometimes they are able to send photos of what is in stock, and sometimes it’s featured in their newsletter. I’ve also done a quick online search and found some khadi available by the yard on Etsy, and pinned a few swatches that caught my eye:

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p.s. One more way you can support khadi cloth is by contributing to the Indigo Handloom Kickstarter. Indigo Handloom is a small textiles company that began as a wholesale importer (I am fairly certain they supplied Verb with the khadi I used for this dress) and is working to create their own fashion line of finished goods, dubbed “the world’s greenest clothing” because the handloom process requires no electricity and much lower resource inputs. Healthier for us and the workers, and you can get a beautiful scarf, tunic, or dress in exchange for supporting their fundraising.

khadi chronicles pt. 1

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when I came across khadi by the yard for sale at A Verb for Keeping Warm I was enchanted. To me, khadi is powerful cloth. Incredibly alluring, especially if you like the feel of course linen and natural colors and small textural reminders that human hands made your cloth, but beyond that it is politically potent. Five years ago I had the opportunity to participate in an incredible study abroad program which traveled from the US to India, Tanzania, New Zealand and Mexico and explored the impacts of globalization and grassroots resistance — it was a pivotal journey for me intellectually and emotionally, one which I am grateful for every single day. I first learned about the history of khadi while in India, so seeing and touching it was a visceral reminder of that journey and the (positive and negative) transformative potential of textiles.

khadi chronicles_8Khadi is a term for handspun and handwoven cloth, but it is also emblematic of the movement for Indian self-reliance and freedom from British colonialism. Gandhi advocated for each person to spin their own cotton and each community to weave their own cloth so that the Indian people would create home-grown textiles rather than buying fabric back from the British who held tight control over the cotton markets. Gandhi encouraged a daily practice of spinning with a foldable spinning wheel or charkha and community-scale fiber farmning, weaving, dyeing, and block-printing; a true example that the revolution begins at home. (This cursory overview of the history of khadi was imparted by my teacher in India, Saatchi, and a brief stay in the village and ashram of Sevagram; this website is another resource). While I doubt all khadi cotton is still spun at home on a charkha, some of this cottage industry remains, both for educational purposes and cloth production.

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I bought a meager yard and a half, maybe even just a yard and a quarter, of organic cotton, naturally dyed khadi that day at Verb, and at the time I wasn’t really sewing clothing. I guess that khadi was the start of my stash, and I treasured it, saving it until I had dusted off my sewing skills. Even then, cutting into this plainweave, turquoise fabric made my heart jump! But this simple Wiksten tank has become a wardrobe staple for me.

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I chose the Wiksten tank pattern because I wanted a garment with a modern, simple design that would be straightforward for my beginner sewing skills and showcase the beauty of this cloth. The yardage had natural color variations including a large faded streak that I intentionally placed along the center back.

Nearly a year later I felt more confident in my sewing skills and I was fortunate to have a slightly larger fabric budget, so I returned to Verb to buy more khadi — this time gray and brown stripes of the same thick, organic, naturally dyed cloth. On the eve of Me Made May I sewed up a Scout Tee with added volume in the back (using Jen’s great tutorial for slashing & spreading the pattern) and lengthened sleeves (+2″ I think?). When I bought the fabric I had a Scout tee in mind because again I wanted a classic, modern wardrobe staple, but I definitely thought that the stripes went horizontally. Not so! The stripes run along the grainline and the cloth is pretty narrow, so I forged ahead with vertical stripes, and I’m very pleased with it.

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Both of these tops are now part of my core wardrobe, and I love that each time I wear one I’m reminded not only of my own travels but of the incredible journey from field to garment. With this narrative in mind, I made sure to wear my khadi Wiksten as part of my outfit for Fashion Revolution Day:

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Stay tuned ~ tomorrow I’ll be posting another khadi garment & a few more words about my love for this cloth!