A Wardrobe Planning Epiphany for a Casual Girl


I really enjoyed this post from tifftoffee. Personal style and getting control of one’s wardrobe. Back to Basics, a sewing revolution/revelation!

Originally posted on tifftoffee's happydashery:

One of my 2014 informal resolutions is to get my wardrobe under control.  It’s out of control with clothes that I don’t seem to often wear, even though the amount of clothes I have is technically quite small.  In other words, I have pretty much been wearing the same two pieces of clothing every day for the past month (stripe shirt, skinny jeans, repeat).

I’m not optimistic because I’ve had this resolution for the past 3 years.  It’s not for lack of trying – it’s not like my yearly resolution to “exercise more” but I won’t get off my lazy ass to do it.  I’ve actively cleaned out my wardrobe tons of times, made millions of Pinterest boards for my style and tried only to buy clothing that was my style.  Yet I seem to fall into the same trap of having clothes I don’t wear.

Anyway I recently had a few…

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Polka Dot Renaissance AKA I drafted a top in gifted fabric

I found myself drafting and sewing a polka dot blouse. I’m not sure how this happened.

I have a long-standing love affair with black and white with a red accent thrown in, it’s so sharp and clean. Even my cats are monochrome. You like that red accent? Happy accident. I started making the short version of Colette’s Hawthorn. It looked a bit too wacky in that print so I had to salvage what I could and ended up with a centre front join.

Self-drafted top

Unfortunately, the centre front didn’t match up (fabric salvage problems) so I hid it with the red binding. Worked out alright though!

Self-drafted top

I used the bloody brilliant Winifred Aldrich’s Metric Pattern Cutting for Womenswear to draft this. This is the dropped-shoulder easy fit bodice with cap sleeves. Honestly, I wish I’d bought this years ago. You know that thing you get when you can sew and you find yourself looking at clothes in a shop saying “meh, I could MAKE that, and make it better”? This book has me thinking that when I look at patterns. Yeah, I know, get me and my Delusions of Grandeur. I still enjoy having patterns and download them and all but I like to think of them more as starting points now and use them as inspiration.

Self-drafted top

The back lines up better than the front. I’m all about the back these days, too much watching Project Runway I think. Everyone knows it’s the point when the “garment” turns round at the end of the catwalk that gets the applause. I won’t be getting any applause for these jeans. They bowed out with an undignified split in the arse a day after these pics. New jeans search? I’m gonna need a drink.

Self-drafted top


I’ve never thought of myself as a polka dot fan but the talented Rosie Martin (of DIY Couture) was having a fabric clearout and I came home with this lovely black and white cloth. Thank you Rosie : )



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New Look 6429 faux wrap dress

New Look 6429 Dress. I make this look good. Really, you should see how they’ve styled it on the pattern envelope. I’ve got one foot in the drain outside my flat and it still looks better than the image they’ve put together. Faux wrap dress, to go with my faux boasting. Faux boasting and showboating. 

So blah on the envelope but such a versatile dress. How can you use such a lovely model, nice enough fabric and just end up with frump? Don’t judge a book (or something) by its cover.

My very talented and generous friend, Fleur, over at Love Me Do, had won a competition and used it to gift me this lovely printed jersey all the way from the Netherlands. Excellent choice of colour, it reminds me of animal print and it’s kicked off a new found love of blue and green. It took me a while but I finally settled on using it to make the New Look 6429 dress. I’d had the pattern for ages, years in fact, but I’m really pleased with how it works with the cloth.

It’s rated “easy” and it was pretty straightforward to put together. The only time -consuming bit was attaching the binding round the neckline and armholes. I had to reduce the fullness of the skirt as I had a limited amount of fabric but that was an improvement. The bodice follows a princess line cut but it gets a bit lost in the print I’ve used. I might make this again but using contrasting colours on the bodice to highlight the cut.


The cut at the back is lovely but, again, it’s lost in the cloth and the colours. This is the point where the bodice joins the skirt.

RocknRoll Cat couldn’t resist the opportunity to photobomb me yet again. Blurry, furry little rascal.

New Look 6429

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Excuses, excuses, excuses. I’ve got ‘em.

I had started a post listing the reasons why I had been so lax on posting but I managed to delete it all. It’s probably for the best.


My tea bullies me with wisdom.

The short version is that basically I’ve been doing the thing rather than writing and taking pictures of the thing. That thing being sewing. With Emil working abroad for the last few months, I somehow got around to transforming the flat into a sewing workshop. Complete with the one necessary can of Polish beer, an essential element in my creative process. Witness the creative process. The creative pro-mess.

That was the state of the flat the night before he was due back. I had about three things I was working on and at least one cat in the way at all times. I kept negotiating with myself, “just one more hour, I’ll just finish cutting this out then I’ll stop. Oh wait, it’s cut out, I may as well pin it together…oh hey, there’s no one living upstairs at the moment so I may as well keep sewing. How the hell is it 2am already?!”  I believe I was trying to distract myself that night as I was so very, very excited by the idea of having Emil home again. Four months not seeing each other is a long time. I was that excited there was no way I was going to be able to sleep.

I’ve made a load of stuff and some of it I even got round to finishing, I know, right?

These are just a few but there’s a half circle skirt I’ve just finished (the one I may have bitched about unfairly on twitter) and a couple of other bits and pieces I’m getting round to photographing.

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Your body doesn’t hate you, you should return the favour.

The whole body issues topic isn’t exactly new so I’m not expecting to break any new ground here. However, a couple of things have come up this week and I’ve had this idea rattling round my head about how we start turning on both ourselves and our very own bodies. Perhaps we allow ourselves to be manipulated, this could be the case.

To put it bluntly, I keep hearing about Real Women and it’s getting on my tits.

I’ve been many sizes and I’m pretty sure all of them have been very real. I’ll probably be a lot of different sizes in the future and none of those will make me into an imaginary woman. The fact that the phrase “Real Woman” is often followed by “not like those stick insects” is just plain insulting to everyone. No one wins here.  It’s a bit like the Bukowski poem about the bucket of crabs trying to get out by pulling each other down. So let me be very clear that I would never want to add to the body-shaming bullshit. Be whatever size you are.

I get it, I really do. The media has a disproportionate representation of lithe, young, beautiful women (and perfectly toned, young, beautiful men, let’s not forget that). But you can’t claim “Real Woman” as a label. Really you can’t. It’s divisive and serves no purpose but to get us squabbling amongst ourselves.  I’m probably adding to it now, if you want to interpret it that way, but it isn’t my intention. Who decided we should use Real Women to define anyone over a certain size thereby denying anyone else existence? 

Online and in real life I have friends who are all sorts of sizes and, unless one of them has a broken limb or has accidentally tucked her skirt in her pants, I barely notice their bodies. I’d go so far as to say I egotistically assume they’re all about the same height and size as me. I honestly give that much of a damn. Most of the time I spend with my friends I’m within about three feet of them so I never get a full length view, they could well have replaced their legs with springs and I wouldn’t realise. I bet you feel the same.

If you’ve read this far, I’ll push on. A few things brought this post on.

This morning I was accidentally watching TV and there was a segment trying to tie it into London Fashion Week. The presenter refered to the models as “chunky” in one breath and (no doubt after having the producer screaming in his ear) called them Real Women in the next. To which I thought, oh for fuck’s sake, keep digging why don’t you? You probably heard of Wayne Sleep describing the dancers in the Big Ballet as “fat” earlier this week too. The dancers took him to task, and deservedly so, but the R word was dragged up yet again to distinguish the dancers from “stick insects”.

I’ve been overweight, I was teased terribly as a child and it still stings to think about*, I also put on loads of weight in my 20s so I’m not a stranger to being the “wrong” size as an adult. I’ve also been one of those “stick insects”. But I’ve been pretty real whatever number was on the tag of my shirt and so has everyone else.

I’m deviating from the sewing with this post but I think it all ties in. I’ve deliberately kept this brief and there’s a lot more that needs examining but I needed to get this down to stop myself having endless debates in my head. Having a twitter chat with Kate helped. The fact that I was cutting through a cemetery at the time gave me pause for thought too.

To paraphrase a friend and all round good guy, “I’ve spent a long time hating (my body) but it’s never said a bad word against me”

* 32 years later and still, fuck you both, Natalie M and Kara W.

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Last-Minute, Fake Fur Shrug for New Year’s Eve.

Around 4pm on New Year’s Eve I posted this tweet.

But hey, who am I to give to advice? Or listen to it? At the same time? I can’t be doing all that multi-tasking when I’m trying to sew, dammit. Around 7pm that same evening I sent this liver-damaged-hued pic to my boyfriend. He’s great, the only thing not so great is that he’s working in Saudi Arabia for AN ENTIRE YEAR. Sigh. But at least I finally get to live out my dream of being that woman who lives with all the cats. Lower case “yay”.


If you’ll stop looking down my dress, you’ll notice the little fake fur shrug I made. I’ve never used fake fur before but I got it in my head that I wanted something to wear that would keep me warm (ish) and wasn’t a cardigan. 


Making this was easier than I thought. I took an existing garment, put it on to the fabric and cut. It was only three pieces and having an overlocker/serger made the whole process a lot quicker. It also means the seams inside are raw but, you know what? I don’t care! I was on a very strict time constraint, besides I can always fix it later. But I won’t : )

ROOOAARR SEAMS! Raaaw!? No?  Moving on…..


Of course I had  few issues making this. In my haste managed to cut two left front pieces rather than one left and one right, I had a swear, had a vodka and ginger ale and got over it. The worst thing was the mess, fur everywhere! Have another vodka, don’t look at the floor, worry about it later, to quote my mother  “it’s not going anywhere”.


Gillian from Crafting a Rainbow wrote a post a while back about Evolving Personal Style and it really struck a chord. I tend to get so seduced by fabric and colour and texture that I end up with lots of fabric and often lose sight of what it is I want to make. I’m getting a lot better at this though and this top, as simple as it is, is something that I will wear and wear again. It’s the sort of garment that fits in with the silhouette I like.


Had a bit of an audience while taking these photos. Tinkle Tits, the furry little freak, was sitting on the fence above my head. Bit disconcerting. And he’s not even my cat!


Fabric from Mermaid Fabrics, in Hackney. Surprising little shop, loads of stuff, great staff, cash only but there’s a cash point nearby.

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Remnant Sparkles via Vogue 8411

Picked up this fabric from Cloth House on a whim and ended up making this little number.

Vogue 8411

“What sort of fabric is it Vanessa?” Baby, it’s cheap, sparkly and holds together in a crisis. And you can see straight through it. Much like me (cough).


OK, I’m being facetious. I honestly have no idea what this fabric is. It’s got wicked stretch, doesn’t need hemming and makes me feel happy. Is it lamé? Probably.

Vogue 8411

I used Vogue 8411 to make this but I think it was unnecessary. All that fussing round with pleats at the yoke line, was it worth it? Meh, not sure but I think it adds something to the way it falls.

Vogue 8411

Does it work better with a belt? The jury’s out.

Vogue 8411

I’ve made this pattern before in a gorgeous printed cotton but I’m still unsure about it. Perhaps my fabric choices have been wrong for this design, or maybe I just don’t like the extra bulk around the bust. (Ew, “bust” sounds so squeamish. I only ever say bust when I’m sewing. It’s a measurement, not a body part.)

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