Small closet chronicles: lessons from donations

Donations

It doesn’t really seem like spring yet, but I’m already feeling spring cleaning fever.¬†Part of my reorganization and revitalization efforts include moving clothes out of purgatory — that pile or box where I’m trying to decide if they should be scrapped, sold, or returned to my wardrobe — and into new homes.

Have you heard about the glut of giveaways, the sea of secondhand clothing?

The short version of the story is that pace of consumption is so fast and price of clothing so low, that donations are flooding secondhand stores¬†but the prices are barely competitive with fast fashion shops. I’ve certainly noticed a shift in what I find at thrift stores over the past 15 years, and in my own purchasing power — I started shopping at thrift stores when fashionable options were out of reach, when silk blouses, wool skirts, and cotton jeans filled the racks, and then H&M came to town at the tail end of high school and suddenly I had so many more choices, yet now the secondhand racks are bulging with cast-off trendy tops and misshapen synthetic blends.

So, I try to be very careful with what used goods I’m putting out in the world — of course that largely begins with bringing in a lot less and shopping secondhand¬†in the first place. But still, sometimes it’s time for things to move on — to free up some physical space, and reduce mental and emotional clutter too.

As I drove a box of donations to Goodwill last weekend, I thought through each item in the box and realized I could learn something from what I was getting rid of — something to carry with me, a lesson learned in lieu of the thing itself:

3 party dresses: align your wardrobe with your lifestyle, and choose versatile special occasion clothes.

I don’t really go to parties anymore, neither of the college campus nor the business casual happy hour variety, and after several years going unworn in my closet I can confidently say these clothes can go. When I do have a special occasion on the horizon, I prefer to dress up the pieces in my existing wardrobe, and if I need something new I will remember to keep it classic and versatile (or maybe rent it? That seems like a fun option for events).

1 clothing swap sweater: just because it’s free and intriguing doesn’t mean it’s right for me.

I actually picked up this particular sweater before I had ever knit one for myself, and I’ve realized how much I’ve learned about my preferences in knitwear shape and style since then. Thanks knitting!

3 plain cotton thrifted tees:¬†trust that when you’re ready to make a project, the right supplies will be available.

I picked up a few shirts at the thrift store when I was obsessed with an Alabama Chanin book; I made one garment and may someday make more, but for now these shirts were just taking up space so I decided to release them back into the secondhand ecosystem.

2 half-priced craft books: it’s better to save the small change and request the real deal.

This winter I’ve been really into my non-fiction library queue — when I hear about a craft, art, or design book I’m interested in, I place a request online and then wait for it to arrive. Borrowing it first allows me access to the skills I’m trying to build or inspiration I seek, and time to decide if I really need it in my home library, rather than settling for a discount version that won’t quite satisfy the need.

5 miscellaneous activewear separates: bodies change; it’s ok to let go.

My current approach to athletic wear is pretty similar to my special occasion clothes: I want things that are versatile and actually get used. Workout clothes (and bathing suits) are tricky because I think there’s an element of materialized aspiration, but I no longer see the value in holding onto items purely for motivation or guilt. (yuck)

A shower caddy:¬†avoid organizational “necessities” until you figure out what your space really needs.

This one’s not clothing related, but it’s an important lesson for me, especially as I continue to move apartments. Plus, Goodwill often has tons of these types of racks and baskets, so I endeavor to scout those out first (with measurements on hand!) to find the right fit next time.

A bag of miscellaneous craft supplies: trust your gut and keep striving to stash less.

There’s an amazing annual event here, a communal garage sale for all things textiles and fiber crafts, and I volunteered last year and found it completely overwhelming. I took home some lovely textiles but also grabbed a few things that in my gut I knew weren’t quite right (like the giant embroidery hoop) so I’ll be returning them into the sale and hoping they go to a better home. An annual event provides a good built-in guideline — haven’t touched it and still have no plans for it after one year? Back it goes.

Personally, I think that if you truly can’t use or refashion an item in your wardrobe or home, it’s still better to donate it than send it to the landfill. For vintage or natural fiber items, maybe it will make its way into the hands and heart of an eager thrifter like me, but ¬†just know that it’s probably not going to a needy closet somewhere, it might just go into the rag trade or even get bundled and sent overseas.

Taking the time to reflect on what I’m getting rid of helps steer me toward shopping more responsibly and reducing waste in the long run.

 

 

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!

Fall wardrobe & capsule planning

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By mid-summer, I was pretty desperate for fall to breeze on in and cut the humidity, but now that it feels like fall is in the air, I’ll admit I’m a little sad to see¬†the sunshine waning. But what better way to embrace the changing season than a little wardrobe shift?

I feel like my original notes on using a capsule wardrobe planner to plan projects were rambly to the point of being unhelpful, so I thought I’d share my current wardrobe planning & project planning process in practice, broken into two posts.

Taking Stock

I find it’s helpful to start by getting a full view¬†of what I already have. I printed out the Un-Fancy wardrobe planner (which is called Capsule, but doesn’t necessitate that you actually¬†make¬†a capsule wardrobe, if you’re not interested in that sort of thing) and decided to focus on planning for mid-September through end of November. In this part of the world, fall can be long meander toward winter, or a sudden plunge into cold, so I’m curious to see how well a capsule wardrobe will work. Using the planner, I’m framing the upcoming season in terms of:

  • Weather: I literally wrote “who knows?!” but most likely “crisp, breezy” and mid-70’s to high 40’s over the course of the next few months
  • Lifestyle: the largest portion of my pie chart is working, but I either work from home, at my co-working space, or at cafes, so it’s pretty casual. I want to continue biking and walking to work as much as possible, so that’s a consideration for my wardrobe, and then in my free time I have: sewing/knitting/dyeing project time, exercise and weekend adventures, and lounging.
  • Special events & travel: an exciting work trip to the east coast at the end of October, and then another fun work trip to the Bay Area in mid-November. My goal for both trips is to have a few simple options for looking put-together and representing¬†sustainable fibers/textiles (or at least, not fast fashion).

With these factors in mind, I like to pull all my favorite things from my closet and any storage boxes, and into neat piles on my bed — whatever I’m most excited about gets pulled first, which basically fills the “pieces I own + love to wear” section of the capsule planner, I jotted those down, and then kept adding to the piles.¬†I did this on a Saturday afternoon and made sure to open the curtains wide and put on some music I love, so I can see everything in good natural light and enjoy the process.

Then I turned around to my closet and looked at what was left, which generally fell into two categories: summery things that I want to save for warm weather, or things I’m not excited or able to wear. I made piles for donating, selling, or packing away different items, and then made piles for laundry (hand wash or block, gentle cycle, and regular) and mending to get everything into shape before moving on.

I used the capsule planner to note “pieces I own + never wear” which included two pairs of jeans that don’t fit well (selling & donating them), a vintage chambray tunic that I¬†want to like but have never actually like the fit of (sell if possible),¬†a Hemlock tee I sewed a while ago that has an¬†awkward sleeve fit (alter), and some fancy dresses that hang in the back of the closet (donate and gift a few, keep two I’m not ready to part with).

Lastly, I took¬†stock of the pieces I love and am keeping — do any need mending or alteration? Based on this selection, do I have any holes in my wardrobe? The obvious thing is¬†that my favorite pair of vintage boots (purchased last fall) are totally destroyed and need to be re-soled¬†and likely replaced sometime soon too (a cobbler actually told me that the boots aren’t worth fixing, but I’m unwilling to give in). Less obvious but notable on closer inspection is that my three favorite jeans have all ripped in substantial places in the last 6 months, and each has been mended, some more visibly than others. Since these are the only ones left, after parting with two that didn’t fit well, I want to prioritize more pants and skirts so I have something more durable, and presentable if needed.

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Capsule Planning

Overall, I really enjoyed my summer capsule wardrobe experiment (which I reflected on¬†here), so I’m giving it another shot for fall. I already pulled together some inspiration from the fall styles I’m gravitating toward, but I used the capsule planner to expand it a bit:

  • Word association: layered, casual, creative, contemporary
  • Brands I admire: Elizabeth Suzann (minimal, chic), Lauren Winter (F/W campaign especially – creative, layered), Study NY (upcycled, quirky), Hackwith Design House (contemporary, minimal), First Rite (creative, “cool”), Caron Callahan (utilitarian, interesting)… I save favorites from these talented designers and more here.
  • Brands I draw from to make my wardrobe: Grainline Studio, Sonya Philip, Fancy Tiger Crafts, A Verb for Keeping Warm, Brooklyn Tweed, just to name a few.
  • Colors: neutrals (cream, black, natural/undyed tones) and grays (as noted here), deep indigo, and warm and bright accents in red, maroon, and yellow/mustard/gold tones

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My “top 8” pieces for this capsule are:

  1. Black silk blouse (thrifted)
  2. Ondawa sweater (handmade, details here)
  3. Hackwith Design House tunic (purchased at sample sale)
  4. Linen pocket tee (handmade, noted here)
  5. Khadi Prism dress (handmade, posted here)
  6. Chambray vintage dress (flea market purchase)
  7. High-waisted, cropped jeans (thrifted, modified)
  8. Sven clogs (purchased)

Based on my favorite pieces, what’s working for me? Definitely boxy, loose tops, either cropped or tunic-length; vintage denim and chambray; and details like split side seams, kimono sleeves, or dropped shoulders. Fabrics I love to wear are natural fibers including silk, tencel, denim, chambray, linen, wool and alpaca.

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Since I decided I wanted to go ahead with a full capsule wardrobe, I basically turned everything I had put onto the bed into that list:

  • 3 pairs of jeans & 1 pair of pants
  • 6 dresses (5 made by me)
  • 8 short-sleeved tops (4 made by me)
  • 6 long-sleeved tops (2 made by me)
  • 5 warm layers (all made by me: a cotton knit Linden sweatshirt, Escher sweater, Hayward sweater, Ondawa sweater, and Liv Light cardigan)
  • 2 jackets¬†(1 made my me)
  • 4 pairs of shoes (sneakers, clogs, chelsea boots, loafers)

All of the above steps and contemplation laid the foundation for planning out a few items to add to my wardrobe, which will fit with my fall capsule, my goals of reducing my stash, and my love for making things. More on that next!

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:

CK recap

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?

Fall style inspiration

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1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Layers

I know, shocking — fall inspiration & excitement¬†over cool weather layering possibilities. After a hot and humid summer across most¬†parts of the country, I think this is a daydream shared by many. I’m looking forward to¬†the usual suspects in denim, linen, wool, tights, and boots, but perhaps some new proportions this fall & winter. A bit¬†lagenlook, a bit ’90s nostalgia, a bit of exploration and play for a contemporary mix.

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Beanies

Because I really miss wearing hats, and also just generally being wrapped in wool. I just finished knitting the bright red Diode hat (left), which was a seasonally inappropriate summer project but a satisfying travel knit and a terrific shape and fit. Coming out of storage will be my Lilian beanie (middle) and my Jul hat (right) which to be honest needs to be re-knit at a smaller gauge because I never swatched and it has grown a lot in size. For me, hand knit accessories are a great way to top off (pun intended!) a neutral outfit and wardrobe with bright colors, and it’s also much easier and less resource-intensive to dye a small item a bright hue than to tackle, say, a vibrant oversized sweater (for Diode I used madder extract, for Jul I used fresh coreopsis flowers).

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Warm neutrals

My warm weather color palette skews more toward cool colors, lightwashed indigo and white. For fall, I’m looking forward to drifting back to neutrals and a bit of warmth: grays, darker blues and black, rich¬†browns, and apparently, I’m very drawn to that peachy nude (in inspiration images 1, 2, and 5 above). At first I thought I have nothing in that color in my stash or closet, but then I remembered the bag of avocado pits in my freezer… maybe a cool weather dye project will make that happen.¬†(My previous avocado pit and iron dye experiments shown above).

p.s.¬†I haven’t written off the end of summer — in real life, where it’s perfect bike riding weather, or in terms of writing here — and still plan to post about my best woman dress and reflect on my summer capsule in the coming weeks.

Self-drafted crop top, times two

A scrappy little crop top has been one of my hardest working garments this summer.

It’s sleeveless and breathable, but structured and cut with enough coverage that it doesn’t feel skimpy. It’s simple and chic with¬†something high-waisted, and surprisingly versatile when layered over a dress or jumpsuit.

And, it’s custom made & fit for me, by me.

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In one of our early summer heat waves, a crop top suddenly seemed essential, and I fell in love with the wider shoulders and hem band of this one by Elizabeth Suzann. I had a length of thick, cream-colored linen on hand in the form of a curtain that fit the windows in our old apartment but none in the new one (go figure), and while cleaning my sewing space I unearthed my bodice and skirt sloper.

Do you have a sloper? I made mine in a class last summer and really enjoyed the process, but then left them untouched for a year. A crop top, it turns out, is a very simple first project to make from a bodice sloper.

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My process was very intuitive, so if you have tips or techniques that you swear by, I’d love to hear! I relied a lot on measuring existing clothes and patterns to get my¬†target measurements, and then traced from my sloper (far right) onto Swedish tracing paper to create the pattern pieces (far left is the final piece).

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I made two muslins out of an old sheet, and each time I tried on the garment I wore it around a bit to get a feel for the fit, and then adjusted with pins and pen marks as needed. With each muslin I decided not to add the seam allowance to the arm holes and neckline, that way I could see where the final lines would lie on my body. The hardest part to get right was the width at the hem, because I didn’t want it to hug too closely nor swing out; it started out too wide, and then I pinched out the excess. I also carefully considered the bust dart placement (in the mirror and in my inspiration images) and ultimately lowered it by half an inch.

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Once I had the fit right,¬†sewing it up was a breeze! When I posted a progress photo on Instagram, my friend Anna asked if I would consider making one for her, and after emailing back and forth we set up a trade — a crop top for some homemade bath and body goodies (Anna has been exploring¬†zero waste living and developed some favorite recipes to replace products like makeup and lotion, and I’m excited to try them).

I don’t often sew things for others because I tend to have higher standards than when I’m just making for myself — like if the top stitching is wonky on my own shirt, I can deal with it, but for someone else I don’t want to mess it up, which can get stressful. So I explained to Anna (who lives halfway across the country) that I couldn’t guarantee a perfect fit or finest stitching, but I would be interested in trying.

Aside from a fun handmade swap, I thought it would be a good motivation to try grading my pattern. I looked up a few tutorials online and luckily Anna’s measurements were an even¬†1″ smaller than mine. I calculated that I needed to take .5″ out of the front and back each, and thus reduce the pattern pieces by .25″ each (since they’re on the fold). The guide I found online suggested dividing the pattern piece in thirds and overlapping or spreading at those lines to get an even grade.

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So I duplicated the pattern out of scrap newspaper and I think it worked well! Above you can see the original is slightly larger than the graded pattern piece beneath. I didn’t have any more of the linen I had used for my crop top, so I offered Anna a few options from my stash, and I think she chose the best one for this garment – a plain woven mid-weight organic cotton that I found secondhand (and then discovered it had an original label confirming its content). I shipped the finished crop top off to Anna and am looking forward to hearing what she says.

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Summer wedding dreaming

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An indulgence: putting¬†words & images to the summer wedding look I’ve been daydreaming about…

  • A silk shift dress in deep navy (inspired by¬†this¬†and¬†this)
  • Simple sandals, a bit fresher than my current pairs (these arrived just in time)
  • An airy, earthy handknit shawl
  • A little bit of shimmer
  • Messy-chic hair (like this)

My brother’s wedding is just around the corner and I’m thrilled to join our family and friends to celebrate in a little mountain town in Colorado. They are keeping the ceremony quite small and I was honored when he asked if I would stand with him in lieu of a traditional bridal party; I’ve taken to calling myself “the best (wo)man”

Then, of course, came the question of what to wear. My soon-to-be sister-in-law is so lovely and relaxed, and was open to pretty much anything. Still I wondered,¬†anything¬†anything? So I’ve been collecting and sharing ideas with the bride and her sister, who is the bridesmaid. My ideas really started to take shape when I found an amazing length¬†of deep navy blue washed silk crepe de chine at a local fundraiser full of donated supplies and cast-offs.

Then¬†I had to narrow down the exact form¬†I was going for: something I could re-wear, something understated but elegant, flowy but flattering. I’ve settled on a simple shift shape inspired by slip dresses, with a scoop neck on one side, deep V on the other, and side slits and a midi hem for a modern twist.

To complement: neutral sandals (to re-wear with casual attire), a handmade shawl for when the sun drops, minimal jewelry that I already own, a bit of shimmery highlight and a low-key hairstyle to polish up the look.

Later this summer I’ll put together a post on self-drafting the dress, as well as details for¬†the resulting dress (sneak peek over here) and shawl.