It is two years this month since I took a sewing class at a local college and learned to use a sewing machine. In that time my skills have developed enormously and I have been able to sew a whole range of clothing. I've made plenty of mistakes, and I still have a lot to learn but I am now at the stage where I feel confident enough to make handmade items the basis of my wardrobe. So, I have decided to begin to sew what I am calling 'A Mini Capsule Wardrobe.' The idea is that this small collection of items can be worn with each other, but will also go with items I already have.
During the last two years I have made my decisions on what to sew based on finding a pattern I liked and then selecting fabric, without really considering what items I wear the most and what things might go with items I already have. There is nothing wrong with this, and I have made some items I really love and wear frequently. However I now want to take the opportunity to approach my sewing differently. If I am serious about having a wardrobe of useful homemade clothes, I need to consider what items I will realistically wear.
I'm sure I am not alone amongst sewing bloggers in feeling this way. When I read the Colette Sewing Handbook, it all clicked into place with me. Sarai writes:
"Of course, it's nice to sew the things we love, but it's even nicer if we can sew things we love and will get to wear."
It seems obvious, but this sentiment really resonated with me, twinned with the fact that I struggle to wear handmade when I'm looking for separates or casual wear. Then, when I picked up some gorgeous wool check fabric to use for the Colette Peony dress, I realised that the colours in it were so very 'me' that I could use it as the starting point for my capsule collection.
So, I have put together 6 items which I will make in the first three months of this year. I have included smart and casual items as well as separates and all of the patterns and most of the fabric will be from my stash:
1. Colette Peony dress in green/blue/grey check wool.
I have been coveting this classic dress since the pattern was released and it would make a great winter dress for work. The colours in the fabric are the basis for the mini capsule wardrobe.
2. Simplicity 3196 1950s pencil skirt in dark green wool mix fabric
For work, as pencil skirts form the basis of my work wardrobe.
3. Blouse with tie collar in unknown man-made fabric with 1930s-style pattern
I need more separates for work, particularly tops that don't need ironed, since (being honest here) I iron very rarely. I haven't sewn much with man made fabrics as I dislike like the lack of breath-ability, however the 'easy to care for' aspect is attractive.
4. Sewaholic Crescent skirt View A in lightweight denim
A skirt to wear at the weekends instead of wearing jeans all the time. I love the Crescent skirt I made in the summer and wore it a lot.
5. Other top - Jasmine blouse, fabric undecided
I always need more tops to wear! Also, I'll be able to look for some fabric during the Crafter's Ceilidh!
6. Knitted item - Kate Davies' Manu cardigan.
Image from Kate Davies' Ravelry page
Why do I need this?
I have two long cardigans with pockets from the high street that I wear frequently and would like to replace. This will probably take more than 3 months to knit so it might not fit the timescale, plus I still have to buy the wool, which I would like to get from New Lanark. And let's be honest - since I live in Scotland this cardigan would get year-round use.
I'm quite excited about my list of items and about the possibility of having a more useful and workable handmade wardrobe. There's every chance that some of my choices will not work out as I planned but I think that it's a good place to start. All being well, this will be just the beginning of a more thoughtful sewing plan. With the different seasons I hope to do something similar, and build up a number of garments that are useful, wearable and lovely.
What do you think? Have you ever sewn a capsule wardrobe?