Tag Archives: wardrobe architect

The tyranny of a handmade wardrobe

Image from BurdaStyle

For as long as I’ve known him, which is nearly 10 years, the husband has been giving me a very hard time about the state of my wardrobe.

I’ve know women who have snuck bags of clothes into the back of the wardrobe and burnt the receipts in the vain hope of their other half not noticing that they’ve been shopping again.  I am not one of those women.

Neither am I one of those women who struggle to fit another thing in the cupboard and have no idea what delights lurk at the back of the closet.

Nope…I’m the girl with 6 things in her wardrobe and who, when an event comes up unexpectedly, genuinely has nothing to wear. I’m not even kidding!  I can wear a pair of jeans and 3 tops to destruction…and frequently have.  That’s why tumble dryers were invented!  And why hubby has been so frustrated with me!

Whilst I can in clear conscience say that during the early years of our relationship our finances meant that it was more important for the kids to be clothed well and for the husband to be kept in suits than for me to have an outfit for every event; or that, at 5 foot 7 and plus sized, clothes shopping isn’t the most fun because I sit squarely between standard and tall sizes and, well, everyone over a size 14 knows how tricky finding your size on the rack can be, these were really nothing more than excuses for not having anything to wear.

No. In reality, the single most significant contributor to the lack of clothing in my wardrobe is one small and seemingly innocuous phrase.

“I could make that.”

I could make that blue instead of lime green with pink dots. I could make that cheaper.  I could make that with a better fit.  I could make that better quality. I could make that and people in Bangladeshi sweatshops wouldn’t die so I have clothes on my back.

I could make that.

Except…I have 2 young children who have faced challenges due to the circumstances of their births.  Boy didn’t sleep through the night or past 5am until he started school.  It’s only in the last 3 months that he regularly sleeps past 6.30am. He used to sit and scream for hours on end.  Hours. I’m telling you…that makes for one tired mum!

Except…For the early years of their lives I was studying to finish my degree.  Then I was doing up the house.  And doing it again.  And now I’m studying to become an accountant.

Except…my husband works away from home all week.  He leaves at 6.15 on a Monday morning and gets home late on a Thursday evening.   It used to be Sunday to Friday.  This is bliss!

Except…I have a home to run and family and friends.

Except….

Now don’t get me wrong.  My life is exactly how I want it to be.  Well…apart from the husband working away bit, but we’re a team and it’s the nature of his work, so I’m not complaining.  And my kids are champions to have come through some much.

But adding to everything the desire to make every. single. item of clothing I wear. And for the kids too.  It wasn’t my greatest idea!

Let’s face it, though.  We are surrounded by people who do this.  Who sew fabulous garments one after the other.  Who have drawers full of beautiful handmade lingerie.  And stunning hand knit sweaters.

We are reminded that oftentimes the clothes we can purchase are made with the sweat and blood and lives of people who will never have the luxury of choosing whether their wardrobes are handmade, ethically produced and locally sourced. Sadly the tone is often one of reproach towards anyone who strays from this path.

I hasten to add at this point that I’m not advocating mass consumerism.  Regular trips to the shops is not my idea of fun.  I have never and will never purchase a thing from Primark.  £2 t-shirts cannot be considered a Good Thing for anyone.

I still want to get to a point where I’m making more than I’m buying. But let’s get real.  At the moment this ain’t gonna happen.

Over the last few months, however, as my thinking on this has shifted, I’ve been making a few strategic purchases.

So now, if the hubby wants to take me out to dinner, I’ve got a couple of nice dresses that do the trick.  Coffee with friends…jeans and a cute top.  Ditto cinema dates or a day out with himself.

I have cosy boots to do the school run and cute loafers for a lunch date.

It is wonderful.

I used my Wardrobe Architect knowledge to ensure that everything goes together. And something quite marvellous has come out of this.

I now have a very, VERY clear idea of what I want to sew. I know what it is I reach for in any given situation.  I know what colours garner the most compliments and what shapes I feel most comfortable in.

This has been a revelation.  Not only is this one less thing to stress about, but it’s also given me a plan for moving forward with my sewing.  I promise to share that soon in another post.

The moral of this story is that whilst the goal of a completely handmade wardrobe is a worthy and worthwhile aim, it’s ok if life prevents you achieving that right now.  It’s ok to cut yourself a little slack and shop a little.  Who knows…it might be as revelatory for you as it has been for me!


Grainline Linden….relearning a sewing lesson.

Wadder alert!

Whilst I love sharing things that have gone swimmingly…I think it’s also good to share the stuff that doesn’t quite work.  

I’ve learnt from this project…maybe someone else will too.

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I’ve had my eye on the Linden pattern since Grainline initially launched the pattern.

Linden

I love traditional sweatshirts but they don’t love me…I’m the wrong shape for them. Despite this I had high hopes of Linden opening up lots of opportunities for sweatshirt love.

Sadly…I don’t think it’s going to be the case.  Be warned…this ain’t pretty!

Cue massively unflattering photos.

Cue massively unflattering photos. Not helped by the sweater being dragged back by my hands…but you get the picture!

I’m going to start out by saying that there is absolutely nothing wrong with this pattern. It’s my first Grainline pattern and it’s immaculately drafted and the instructions are really clear.

This is a clear case of hope triumphing over experience.

I know that raglan sleeves aren’t the best for me because I have sloping shoulders that don’t support the top of the sleeve.

I know I need to be cautious of scooped necklines…if they’re loose then they tend to slip and slide.

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I knew I needed to do a FBA and that would involve adding a bust dart.  In this case it’s still a tiny bit long and a tiny bit low.  Which would be hidden in a plain fabric but isn’t on this striped fabric.

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The fabric comes from the “what the hell was I thinking pile”!

And I know I just need a bit more shape in a garment.

Whilst this is undoubtedly a trainwreck of a garment, it’s all good! This has been a great and worthwhile process for me.

Over the last year I’ve gained quite a bit of weight….you can hardly have missed it. Mostly this has been driven by medication impacting on appetite, quite a bit of it steroid based because of my repeated bouts of bronchitis and accompanying chest infections.

(Cue too many cakes and too much pasta!)

These chest problems have also severely limited my ability to exercise, as has a very frozen shoulder for the last 6 months.

My changed shape size has undoubtedly knocked my sewing mojo.  I’m not overly inclined to sew for myself at this size as I’m determined that this isn’t a permanent state of affairs. Getting back to full health/fitness is a huge priority for me.  It seems such a waste of fabric…which is frankly crazy.  I still need stuff to wear…

My judgement as to what suits me is also off at the moment.  The photos above evidence that.

However….I do know that I’m glad I tried this pattern.  I bought it on sale and the fabric was very inexpensive too.  So it was an experiment that cost me a little money, a little time, but has taught me to really trust my instincts.

If I listen to myself I know what suits me.  It comes back to the work I did with Wardrobe Architect last year.  I need to revisit this because, even with this fuller shape, the principles still apply.

So that’s what I’m going to do.  I spent some time this past week sorting fabric and patterns in my stash.  Some are to go into storage until I have my new sewing room up and running, hopefully by the end of the year.  These are mainly lovely vintage winter fabrics…I see some beautiful jackets in my Winter 2015 wardrobe.

Others are patterns that I’m planning to build my Summer 2015 wardrobe around.  I have a few fabrics that I’ve been hoarding for too long….and a pile of patterns that had me exclaiming over and over again “oh!  I’d forgotten I had that!”.

It’s time to build a plan, I think.  I’ll be back with that soon….and a much more successful make!