The Wardrobe Architect - Organising Your Palette

This weeks exercise in The Wardrobe Architect series had us organise the palettes we created last week.   The goal is to identify neutrals - colours that go with just about anything, near neutrals - colours that act a bit like neutrals but have more visual impact and statement colours - these don't necessarily go with everything, but have a lot of visual impact.

I have again split my colours into a Winter palette and a Summer one.

First my Winter palette.

I've included both my greys in the "neutrals" category and the wine, pine and peacock in the "near neutrals".   My statement colours are mustard, grape and cerise pink.

I currently don't have a lot of the wine or pine shades in my Winter wardrobe, but they are colours I'll definitely be looking to add next Winter.

My Summer palette looks like this:

As you can see, I've added camel to this palette.  I was slightly concerned that I only had one real neutral - navy blue.  I've included the electric blue and watermelon as near neutrals.  They seem quite bright, but I have trousers in both these colours and they actually go with a surprising number of other colours.  My statement colours are cerulean blue, jade green, fuchsia pink and cherry red. 

Even with the addition of camel as a neutral I still think this palette may evolve slightly over the coming months.  I feel I need to add another real  or near neutral, but I'm not sure what it will be.  I wear very little white or ivory - and don't feel comfortable in those shades - so I wouldn't want to include either of those. 

It was suggested we could add metallics to our palettes at this stage.  I haven't shown any, but for both Winter and Summer I would add silver and dull gold.  I know many people only wear either gold or silver, but I like both, depending on the circumstances and the item.

So there we have it, my two colour palettes.  They are pretty reflective of what I like to wear, there were no real surprises when it came to picking the colours, and in reality most of my wardrobe already falls into one or other of them. 

Inserting an invisible zipper - a new method

I recently stumbled upon a tutorial for a new way (to me) of inserting an invisible zip, by sewing the seam below the zip BEFORE inserting it, rather than after.  

It gave me such good results that I wanted to share it with you, however when I went back to find it again I couldn't, so I decided to write my own.

Start by applying a strip of fuseable interfacing to your zip opening.  The strip needs to be slightly wider than the seam allowance so for a 5/8" seam allowance 3/4" is about perfect.

The next step is where we really deviate from the way most people insert invisible zips.  We're going to sew the seam below the zip.  Make sure you back stitch to secure the top of the seam below the opening.   Once you've done that, set your machine to it's longest stitch length and machine baste the zip opening closed.

In the photo below I've marked the transition between the basting stitches and the finished seam with a pin.

Press the seam open, then pin the zip in place face down over the basted opening.   Make sure you only pin into the seam allowance, not through the main fabric.

Now baste the zip in place and remove the pins.  Again, make sure you only attach the zip to the seam allowance.  Turn the piece over to the right side and remove the machine basting from the zip opening.

To stitch the zip in place you can use either an invisible zip foot or a normal zip foot, whichever you prefer.  I've used my invisible zip foot in the following photos.

Open the zip and position it under the foot so that the machine needle stitches into the zip tape and seam allowance of the fabric.

If you're using an invisible zip foot you may need to lift it slightly to get it to run smoothly over the little plastic stopper at the top of the zip.   Stitch as far as you can go, then backstitch to secure the bottom.

Repeat on the other side.

Secure the bottom of the zip tape to the seam allowance on each side, either with a few hand stitches or machine stitches.   Remove the basting stitches that held the zip in place while you machined it in. 

Sit back and admire your beautifully inserted invisible zip!

I will admit this is not the quickest method I've used, but I think it's the best!  I've inserted zips into 2 dresses using this method and they are both perfectly invisible. 

I hope you've found this tutorial useful.  If you try it, leave me a comment and let me know what you think to it.  I know I'll be using this method from now on.

Minerva Crafts Blogger Network - Cosy Burda Dress

It seems ages ago that I made this dress, and in fact it was last year.  When I chose this fabric for my February Minerva Crafts Blogger Network project I was going to make a loose tunic top.  However, a few days before New Year’s Eve I suddenly decided I needed a new dress to wear and that this was the perfect fabric to use.
The fabric is lovely.  It’s stretch velour, which makes it both posh and comfortable.  Perfect for a dress to be worn to a New Year’s Eve do at a friend’s house, one of those occasions when some people turn up in sequins and some people turn up in jeans!
So I delved in my pattern stash and found Burda 7043, a vintage reprint.

I used view B as I love the boat neckline, and lengthened the sleeves to full length.  In truth, I could have lengthened them a tiny bit more, but they’re fine.

Unfortunately the large print on the fabric hides some of the lovely design lines on this pattern, but the curved under bust seam and darts make for a lovely shaped dress.

You can see the seaming better in this (rather overexposed) photo. 

The dress went together pretty easily, the only thing that slowed me down a little was that the edges of the cut fabric tend to curl a little bit, but that’s not a problem in the long run. 

The bodice was lined with some black lightweight jersey I had left over from another project.   

The kit includes a reel of Metler Seraflock stretch thread in black.  It was the first time I’d used this thread, and I would totally recommend it for sewing stretch fabrics on a normal sewing machine.  As this fabric is not too stretchy, I was able to use a straight stitch throughout with this thread. 

If you have a need of (or just a desire for) a posh but comfortable dress, then you can buy a kit to make your own here. 









The Wardrobe Architect - Your Colour Story

I'm very excited about this weeks task on the Wardrobe Architect series - we get to look at colour.  I love colour, and have in fact been collecting colour palettes for some time.  I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to colour palettes, you can find it here if you're interested.

Most of the palettes I've pinned just because they caught my eye.  They might not be colours I'd actually wear, so now it's time to narrow things down a bit to those I would and do wear.

I'll start off by saying I don't do pastels, or pale colours at all generally.  They make me feel uncomfortable, almost in a skin-crawly sort of way.   If I was to go out wearing a pale coloured dress, or white trousers or skirt I would feel very strange.  I love white on others, it just doesn't feel "me".

So, what colours DO I like and feel comfortable in?

Here are a few palettes that I could see my ideal Autumn/Winter wardrobe falling into.

They're all pretty similar, aren't they?  I also plum and pops of bright magenta pink.   I guess the collection below would be a pretty accurate representation of my preferred Winter colours.  Kind of muted jewel tones on a grey backdrop.

For Summer I tend to favour a fairly classic nautical type palette, as long as the red isn't too bright or overpowering.  

I would omit the pale pink in the first palette and replace it with a minty/jade green.  Not too bright, not too pale.  Then I'd add a bit of coral for good measure to end up with something like this.

You'll notice I haven't included black anywhere.  I don't very often wear black - 5 to 10 years ago I used to LIVE in black, but now I find it tends to drain me.  I much prefer navy or grey for my base neutrals.

I know I've said it before, but I'm really excited about this little project.  I can see a lovely new, coordinated, mixable wardrobe developing in my head.   I've loved clothes forever, but this is the first time I've really sat down and thought about what I like and why. 

What do you think of my colours?  Are they colours you could see me wearing?  Is there anything else you'd pick for me?

The Wardrobe Architect - Building Silhouettes

This week's post on the Wardrobe Architect series asked us to look at silhouettes and proportions, the overall lines of the clothes we feel comfortable in.   Accessories were not to be included, just garments in the shapes we like, grouped as outfits.

This builds on last weeks exercise of looking at shape, both in the ease and fullness of a garment and in neckline and sleeve shapes.

Here are the silhouettes I've come up with.

Obviously I would not wear the 2 dresses together, my collages just looked nicer with them grouped together.

As you can see, mine are all fairly simple.  I've come to realise that while I love full skirts and fussiness on others, I dislike them on me. 

I would LOVE to have the bottom 2 outfits in my wardrobe. 

I'm really enjoying this process, and can't wait to see what the next step is.

Introducing Anna-Danielle

Last summer you may remember I made 2 By Hand London Anna dresses in quick succession and loved them both.  Ever since I've been wanting to make more and I've finally got round to using at least part of the pattern again.

I'm not the first blogger by a long way to make alterations to this pattern, and it was in fact other people's changes that inspired mine.

As you can see, I lengthened the sleeves to just below elbow length.  For this, I followed the tutorial from the By Hand London sewalong, and it took all of about 5 minutes to make the necessary addition to the pattern.  That's the sort of alteration I like!

The skirt took slightly longer.  I knew I wanted a straighter, or certainly less flared skirt.  I toyed with the idea of a pencil skirt, but I don't have a pencil skirt pattern that fits me well, and I didn't want to start trying to fit one. 

So I flicked through some of the patterns I already own and have used, and hit upon Danielle, which is a free pattern from the Burdastyle website. 

I've made this before - in fact I think it was the first dress I blogged about and I find the skirt shape really flattering on me. 

I had to make some alterations to the skirt, but they were quite straightforward once I put a bit of thought in.  Danielle has a high waist, whereas Anna doesn't.  So the first thing to do was to bring the waistline marking on the pattern pieces into the correct place.  I did this simply by measuring where I wanted it and folding out the excess.   I then cut the skirt pieces out, adding an additional inch to the bottom to account for the piece I'd folded out at the top.  (I actually folded out more than 1 inch, but I'm not very tall, so I knew adding just 1 inch at the hem would be enough).

The other alteration I made was to change Danielle's one pleat each side to 2, to match the bust pleats on Anna.  This took a bit of thought and measurement, but again, wasn't difficult. 

I plan on doing another post showing exactly how I made the skirt alterations, in case anyone is interested in doing the same thing.

The back closes with an invisible zip, inserted using a new method I discovered.  I'm so pleased with how this went in, it took a bit longer than normal, but it was definitely worth it.

The only thing I'm slightly annoyed about is that I had to use a black zip - so you can see the black zip pull - because according to my local fabric store "they don't make navy ones".  I can't believe that!

Inside, the finishing is fairly simple.  I used handmade bias binding for the neckline finish - handstitched down so the neckline remained clean - and used the same binding to cover the raw edges of the waist seam.  The sleeves and hem were turned once and machined, then turned again and handstitched. 

I already have plans (and the fabric) for another Anna-Danielle mash-up with short sleeves (and possibly the V-neck) for Spring. 

The Wardrobe Architect - Exploring Shape

This weeks exercise in the Wardrobe Architect series was all about shape.   Specifically what shape garments we prefer to wear.  The worksheet consisted of a list of clothing types together with different options for ease, length, fullness and waistline.  All I needed to do was to enter a number from 0 (being I hate wearing this) to 10 (I am happiest wearing this).

Really there were no surprises.  Deep down, I know what I like and what I feel and look best in.  I do however get easily distracted by things that I see other people looking fabulous in.  Kind of like "Oooh, shiny...  I must have it". 

So, what do I like?

  • In general, garments that are somewhat fitted, although some of my choices did extend into the somewhat loose area as well.   I think that depends on other factors, fabric, what they are paired with, the occasion, etc.
  • I like either very long or knee length skirts and dresses.  No surprise there... I love maxi dresses, but only wear them in summer.
  • I also like mainly A-line or straight skirts and dresses, although I love fuller skirts on other people.
  • In skirts and trousers I like a natural waistline, while in dresses I like either a natural waist or a high waistline.
The second section of the worksheet concentrated on neckline and sleeve styles, with the same marking system.   Apparently I like very few neckline shapes, scoring boatneck and halter 10 each and V-neck, cowl neck and scoop neck 5 each.   Styles such as turtle neck, strapless and spaghetti strap scored a resounding 0.

I'm not quite as fussy about sleeves!  The only type to get 0 was spaghetti strap.  Cap sleeve and long sleeve got 10 each, 3/4 sleeve scored an 8, and sleeveless, short sleeve and above elbow sleeves all got 5.

According to my answers, this outfit is my idea of heaven. 
One of the commenters on the Coletterie post raised an interesting point about fabric weight, which was something I haven't consciously thought of.  She prefers similar shapes to me, and also mentioned feeling more comfortable in fabrics that are heavier and crisper.  Reading her comment, I realised that I do too.  While I love thin, floaty garments on others, if I wear them I feel undressed. 

Whilst I haven't actually learned anything I didn't already know this week, I feel that this exercise has helped to remind me about what I do really like and feel best in.  Now all I have to do is stop myself getting distracted by everything else!

Any tips on how to do that!?