August 23, 2008

Thoughts on Sewing a Wardrobe

It is that time again--back to school time. I'm thinking about sewing a wardrobe (of course), but I wonder if I want to change my look a little as I go back to school. So, I was looking though old things and links and came across a few really good ones, that I thought I could pass along.

This magazine is fun to read, although it (sadly) isn't published very often. The pdf to look at is the first one on the list: Possibilities (a wardrobe for a trip). They work through a trip wardrobe, from idea to final pictures, using all Loes Hinse patterns, of course. I don't have an opinion on the patterns; I haven't tried them yet. But the concept is well thought through, and they discuss 'sewing challenges' like making patterns work with not quite enough fabric. The clothes are dressy casual, more in keeping with my lifestyle as a teacher. The concept is well executed. All the magazines are worth a look, but this one really stood out as 'good for a beginner' to start with, so they can see a wardrobe sewn from idea to conception.

Some of Diana's ideas in Wardrobe Magic are pretty standard, as far as wardrobe planning goes, but they are practical and well worked thorugh. She does go into 'dressing for your life' using a good planning model in wardrobe magic. I thought it was a good book.

Her Business Wear Magic e-book, however, is worth its weight in gold. It is the only book I have ever seen that discusses how different types of jobs have different types of wardrobe needs, and how to plan a capsule wardrobe for the different types and levels of jobs. It really hit the spot for me. As much as I love suits, I don't wear them in my job. They aren't appropriate at all for my job, unless I'm going to an interview. This was the first place I had ever seen a practical approach to wardrobe planning for someone not in an office. As well, when my computer died, taking everything into the great beyond including the ebooks I had just purchased, Diana kindly allowed me to re-download, something I totally appreciated at the time (and still do).

Summer sewing

It is a week before school starts, and I have to wonder where the summer actually went. Well--into a course or two (special education 1, and a really great classroom management course by Harry Wong, that is available on line here: which I am almost done).

That would be most of my summer (if not all of it). Except, I sewed a lot of stuff this summer. I actally won the 'Stash Contest' at Sewing Pattern Review, which was fun. The contest was to sew as much fabric from your stash as you could in 2 months (June1 to July 31). I sewed 151 m, not counting 3 suits, in that time. It was fun but challenging. My computer also died, and was replaced in that time, which was not fun. Particularly as all the pictures for the contest were on the computer at the time.

DD2 is modeling a 'fairy skirt' from the Fairy Skirts workshop we ran at Faeryfest Guelph 2008--we made 100 kits of various fabric, and had 21 kits left at the end of the weekend. Each skirt took 1 yard of elastic, and 8-12 triangles of fabric. Parents and children sat on the lawn around the tent and threaded assorted fabrics onto their elastic, and they looked beautiful.

I also made garb. Lots of Garb. Garb for 2 men, and 3 ladies for Pirate Fest 2008, and faires and capes (3 of us). Here is Patricia modeling her underdress and skirt for Pirate Fest 2008. The skirt is two lengths of fabric. The sides are sewn together up to about 8 inches from the top. The front and the back are then pleated onto separate ribbon waistbands that tie around the waist (first back and then front). The cream 'dress' is a period ladies undershirt that I made from a great tutorial pdf, that I found here:

I made 3 of them, and plan to make more. The third one was challenging, as I got down to the end of my cotton fabrics and we had to deconstruct a roman toga to get enough fabric for the third one. This would be an ideal gift nightgown, actually--it is totally adjustable, and essentially one size fits all. I made a mistake on the third one, and used the full 45" width of fabric for the body, and it worked really well. So, I am not sure I would cut any fabric down to 36" wide again.

My niece came to visit, and we used up almost every piece of tulle I had in the house making three 'no sew' tutus. These were totally wonderful, and aren't hard to make. I got the idea for them here: but I essentially just made them up as I went. It took the three of us one whole morning (and a lot of strips of tulle about the width of my hand, 4" wide) and a waistband of elastic to get this result:

Patricia discovered quickly that the fairy skirt was cute over top of the tutu. She even thought it made a great fairly cape around her neck.

To finish off the sewing, I also did skirts. The plan was to make three skirts, one for each girl and one for the younger sister of my niece, but I miscalculated a lot, and only ended up with two skirts, one of which barely went on my niece's size 0 hips! I used an e-book from you can make this to start:

The little one is the skirt I made following the instructions; the longer one is the one I made trying to 'upsize' the skirt instructions. Not quite the same look, but it is very fun. It fits me, and she loves it. I'm going to try again, this week.

I would recommend any of CarlaC Dolly's e-books. I have 3 now, and they are very clearly layed out, and the results are fantastic. I love her instructions, and I really wish they came bigger than a size 8!

Other than that, I didn't do a thing all summer.

Last, but not least, I started cloth doll making. I have made dolls before. I sold Raggedy Anns when I was a teenager. But I got interested in some cloth doll making when I saw a link for a totally cloth ball jointed doll by Judy Ward. Check it out here:

But my skill is nowhere near this doll yet, so I started with her Teaching Doll pattern here: . The doll is very cute when finished, and was a popular gift. Here is the first 'body'. Check it out--it has ears!