2018 Make Nine Plans and Wardrobe Goals

Hello everyone! Blogging again in less than a week? It can't be!

I blame it on the sub zero - ok fine, sub 30 - temperatures in my barn that manage to defy the strength of my puny pellet stove. (Later today I'm meeting with some heating contractors, wish me luck!) Part of it may be that I'm quite excited to share my sewing goals for 2018. My personal, mostly non-blueprints projects to help round out my own personal wardrobe.

I've written really, really extensively about my wardrobe on this blog. It's an ever evolving process but I feel like I'm finally catching up to it. Either I'm speeding up or it's slowing down. I think that's part of moving into the adult realm.

Here's what I confirmed about my style in 2017.

I say confirmed, because many of these are things I already knew but have now crystallized in my brain, big time.

1. My style tends to shift and my love for garments waxes and wanes. This is my biggest challenge as somebody who covets the idea of a capsule wardrobe. I blame ADD and an overactive imagination.

2. However, I'm very content wearing pretty much the same color palette at all times. In fact, I prefer it. The more earth tones, the better. Here's my color palette for 2018:


I taught a graphic design class this Fall and one of the things that I had fun reviewing to teach my students was color theory. (Here's the powerpoint I made for my class if you want to check it out.) My personal color scheme is one of mostly analogous colors, so colors that are next to each other in the color wheel. It's got some complementary colors thrown in for contrast too.

It's pretty similar to my 2016 palette. Here are some outfits from 2017 that really capture this palette well:


3. I'm constantly searching for balanced items that are quirky and designed but still timeless and professional. This is a hard one too. I'm trying to make more basic items to pair with funkier stuff.

I've started to figure out the whole curator/designer/artist uniform thing and had a lightbulb moment about embracing the color black as a neutral. I always thought of wearing black as being essentially an aversion to color, perhaps from watching so many designers on project runway struggle with using colors in their designs. But I realized it can be a perfect canvas for colorful accessories and outerwear (I'm looking at you gigantic ochre scarf with fringe and tassles and embroidery!) So, as you'll see in my plans, some basics are a must to achieve this.

4. I need different types of clothing for different parts of my life. Nice stuff for teaching, rugged stuff for gardening and chopping wood, and those magical items that do both perfectly.

2018 Make Nine plans

For 2018, I'm joining in the Make Nine Challenge. Rochelle has set up this challenge to be very open and low pressure which is just what I need. My plan is not to make a specific nine items, but rather to make at least 9 items for my own wardrobe (aka not samples for Blueprints, though I'll most likely sew a few blueprints patterns and share them. So, win-win.)


Some of these might change along the way, but here's what I'm planning to make so far.

Row 1 is purely functional stuff

1. Desperately need pajama bottoms. Will most likely draft my own due to my prodigious booty.

2. Also really need a silky, not cling short slip for wearing under dresses. I'm 100% a slip gal and have plenty of vintage ones I should probably refashion. Most of them are weird pastel colors, so perhaps a dip in a dye bath is in order. But something about a really simple slip dress that can be underwear but also worn on its own is appealing too.

3. I would like to make a bathing suit that I actually feel comfortable and like the way I look in. I found a crazy dalmatian print lycra last year and I think I can make it work.

Row 2 is tops I don't really need, but can't stop thinking about

4. I'm envisioning a woven pullover that is super boxy to layer over collared shirts and dresses. With loose sleeves. Kinda like a woven sweater/sweatshirt type deal.

5. I've realized that my wardrobe desperately lacks pullovers. I want to knit one from something puffy like Quince & Co Osprey. Also considering carrying a lace weight yarn in a color I like for a subtle marled effect like this scarf.

6. Last year I saw the work of Lorena Marañon (you're welcome) at Quiltcon and my feelings about appliques changed forever. I can't stop thinking about a top covered in appliques (#stashbusting!)

Row 3 is stuff I need to round out my wardrobe and are currently missing.

7. My singular, go-to pair of jeans are getting ragged. I'm waffling back and forth between making 'business jeans' or more of a work pant. Also thinking about employing creative strategies for achieving a better fit. I'll most likely start with the Morgan or Ginger Jeans as a base and go from there.

8. Is pretty straightforward. I need another neutral-ish A-frame skirt. It's my go to perfect skirt pattern. Trying to decide between a dark grey denim or a brown linen-cotton blend.

9. I don't have a LBD (Little Black Dress). I've finally realized that my wardrobe can benefit from one. Just need to find the perfect fabric. I'm still trying to decide between a fitted sheath and a shift dress. Maybe I'll make both?

And something fun on the horizon!

Many of you asked about the capsule wardrobe workbook I created for a class back in August. I'm happy to say I'm working on developing it into a full fledged zine to release early this year! I'll be sure to share more updates and would love a few testers as well *wink wink*.

What are your 2018 wardrobe goals? Are you participating in #2018MakeNine

Shapes and Shades March Update

February flew by. So did March (which, I know is not over yet, but I can't believe it's half over).

I hate to say it, but when things are really cooking in the real world, this blog goes dormant. Such is the balance of work and social media, I guess. Even my instagram feed, with which I try to be a diligent post-a-day woman, has grown suspiciously sporadic*. But this is all for a good reason, my friends. A new pattern is coming.

I'll keep my details brief, since I like surprises, but this one is fun. I can't wait to share it with you in April.

Earlier in February I posted about my plans for re-evaluating and honing my wardrobe. Today I'm going to report on my progress with this!

*I can't help but associate this word with the movie Clueless.

Shapes & Shades March Update: Color Balance

For the last few weeks, I've made a concerted effort to think very intentionally about my outfits. I'd say this intention came to full fruition about 50% of the time. Since I work from home a lot, and the weather is still cold, there were plenty of days where a sweatshirt and a pair of flannel lined pants sufficed, though I didn't feel particularly stylish at the grocery store. I focused my energy on days where I taught, or had meetings, or went out. Here are some moments:

  • Vintage Bobble Sweater
  • One of Jordan's old EMS T-shirts, re-cut and refashioned.
  • Green french terry pencil skirt
  • Ceramic bead necklace (from a lady at the farmer's market)

A friend/former student gifted me this incredible vintage sweater. It's fussy in all the right ways. I was almost skeptical of its wearability but somehow it works. I think it's best when paired with simple solids. I decided I love cream as a color. And I also love bobbles. Another thing I realized is that texture is like a better version of print for me. More subtle and versatile.

I also discovered that sometimes I like plain tshirts. And I like that stiff, cottony jersey men's shirts are made of (this is a shirt J was giving to goodwill when I rescued it from the bag, intrigued by its color.) And I also really, really like grey. Need more grey.

What works: The color combination. The balance of colors. Texture as print.

What's next: Work more with texture. More grey pieces and perhaps work with some 100% cotton jersey like the Alabama Chanin variety.

  • LL Bean Button Down Shirt (2nd hand)
  • Uniqlo wool sweater (shruken, hand me down)
  • Levis Jeans
  • El Naturalista Boots

Sometimes it's just one of those days that you reach for the RTW. I didn't wear jeans for about 10 years until I discovered that Levi's makes a 'Bold Curve' stretch jean. No more waist gaping. Mid rise. The quality of the denim is pretty poor, and the polyester content forces me to launder them more than I'd like to, but they work. They are very wearable. I admit that I have become one of those people who defaults to jeans. It's weird.

But since I love to sew, I fantasize about replacing all of these pieces with handmade versions. The blue sweater is on its last legs...very mothy and pilly and stretched out. Again, not the best materials, but the color & cut are spot on. The shirt is a boys button down from LL bean circa 1992. I bought it used and it shows its age. I made a rub off pattern from it, but it needs some tweaking. I go back and forth on button down shirts. I think I'm for them.

What works: Boyish (but not too much so), rustic, comfortable, functional.

What's next: Ginger jeans to replace the so-so Levis. Knit a blue sweater to replace this one. Sew some button ups.

  • Cashmere/Silk grey v-neck pullover
  • Slouchy cotton slub tee from
  • Handknit Shawl (FunFunFun by Andrea Mowry)
  • Green French Terry pencil skirt
  • Black wool tights
  • El Naturalista Boots

This one's about the colors again. And the fact that really, really comfortable clothing makes me feel good. There's no reason to wear things that are stiff or uncomfortable. Though I don't necessarily want to make everything from knits (far from it) I want to prioritize making things that feel good physically, as well look good. And more grey.

I also love this shawl. I was on the fence basically the whole time I was knitting it. But once finished, I was in love. I never thought I'd say this, but I think I want to make another one. Perhaps in yellow?

This pencil skirt gets so much wear! I've started to seek out other fabrics in this color, because I LOVE it. And to think, this piece was an afterthought when I had fabric left over from making a shirt...

What works: Colors. Comfy Stuff.

What's next: Grey is a theme. Perhaps weeding my stash of fussy or uncomfortable fabrics. Knit another shawl.

  • Handknit Sweater (thrifted)
  • Tweedy Knit Skirt (hand me down)
  • Black Tights
  • El Naturalista Boots

I bought this sweater in the summer of 2010 at a goodwill outlet in Austin, TX while my band was at SXSW. I bought it for my partner, but it didn't suit him. I ended up throwing it on at a party on a chilly night and decided it worked as an oversized pullover. It's incredibly comfy and the best colors. I love how it's graphic but still simple. And I love brown. This sweater is a love letter to the color brown (and to wool).

I often wear it with a tweedy knit skirt that my Aunt gave me. Why haven't I ever knit a skirt? Knit skirts are brilliant and probably easy. Plus, remember how to talked about texture?

What works: Brown! Handknits!

What's Next: Knit a skirt. More brown.

  • Handknit Vintage Swacket (sweater-jacket)
  • Green french terry shirt (yes, same fabric as the skirt!)
  • Handmade Necklace (by me)
  • Grey knit skirt (thrifted)
  • Red tights (gifted)

I'm on the fence about this one. I like all the colors. I like all the pieces. Maybe it's something about the red legs that feels unbalanced? If the skirt were red and the tights were grey? The robin's egg blue is not usually a color I wear, but the sweater is too cool. So perhaps I need to work through some outfits that highlight and complement it better.

What works: The individual pieces

What's Next: Play around with other pieces to see what works best with pieces I like but aren't in my usual palette.

The Plan

So far, I have determined that I have a few holes in my wardrobe that would help expand my outfit possibilities if filled. My goal is to have many of my pieces go with the others. I have my color palette worked out pretty well, but I think really honing in on the combination of colors will be key. So far, my most successful outfits pair a neutral, earthtone, and pop color. In theory, if I have a few items of each color in the top, bottom, and outerwear category, my combos will be endless!

With spring in mind, I don't want to focus too much on coordinating with wintery outfits, but I think a lot of the concepts from these outfits will translate to spring/summer sewing. Of course, now that it's warmed up a bit, I'll be looking for similar combinations in current wardrobe and plan sewing projects for what's missing using my color palette. I hope to report back soon with some projects! I already have a few in mind, including some Closet Case Files Ginger jeans, a few button up shirts using my own pattern, a Merchant & Mills Factory Dress, and an A-Frame skirt in grey.

Have you be updating your wardrobe this year? Have you been able to nail down any key ideas that stem from successful outfits?


Indiesew Fall Collection

Lately I've been trying to create more outfit friendly garments. I've been having a bit of a waxing/waning wardrobe identity crisis lately (don't we all every few years?) which feels funny since 80% of my wardrobe is me made. Where did I go awry? I'm definitely guilty of making pretty things that I like in theory, but don't go with any of my other clothing. There are many reasons for this...style changes,  color palette realizations, and more. I've been working towards a more thoughtful sewing list (as I have seen many others do as of late!)

When I received the email that Cabin would be part of this year's Indiesew Fall Collection I was beyond psyched. The collection includes 2-4 other awesome patterns that pair perfectly with Cabin.

The mini collection features Cabin, the Laurelhurst Cardigan by Straight Stitch Designs, and the Sloan Leggings by Hey June.

The full collection includes those three patterns, plus the Beatrix Blouse by Made by Rae and the London Backpack by LBG Studio.

When I saw the collection I felt compelled to hop on the blog tour (bus? van? train?) and create an entire outfit from the mini collection! If I had time, I'd have gone for the other two patterns as well. In the future perhaps!

For my Cabin, I decided to use a Nani Iro print from last year that I'm pretty sure I bought with the intention of making a Cabin, but before I had my color palette realization. I don't think neon yellow and pink qualify as earth tones...though I suppose a pop of neon here and there is alright. But I'd bought the fabric and it had to be made. While it may not go into weekly rotation, I think it turned out quite well! And it goes nicely with earthier colors.

I had a heck of a time finding fabric to coordinate for the bias binding and pockets. I didn't want it to compete with the print and I couldn't find a solid that felt quite right. You know what I ended up using? Muslin! Scraps and cut up samples from my stash, no less! With some neon pink top stitching, it looks quite lovely. Here's to recycling!

   Who knew I had neon pink thread in my stash and that I'd ever use it!


Who knew I had neon pink thread in my stash and that I'd ever use it!

I also decided to use one of my little cabins (free embroidery pattern here) to embellish the back.

The Laurelhurst cardigan is a breeze to make! I think I cut and sewed the whole thing in an hour or so. I made it in a fairly stable knit - limited stretch -  so I added a 1/4" width to the sleeves to make sure they weren't too snug. Otherwise, I sewed up the pattern as is all on my serger.  This cardigan is super earthy and it makes a great counterpoint for the neon Cabin shift. At first I wasn't sure about all the front drape volume but once it was sewn up, I loved it. I can see this getting a lot of use in the fall! 

The fabric came from one of those discount fabric online retailers (specifically Fashionfabricsclub.com). I almost never order fabric online unless I know very specifically what it is, especially from these kind of sites. I bought this jersey on a whim because the color looked quite nice and seemed to have a texture. I have to say, I was really pleasantly suprised! I had bought it originally for the Sloan leggings, but it didn't have enough stretch. Luckily, it turned out to be the perfect fabric for the Laurelhurst. I think the fabric is still available here! The color could best be described as Texas Dirt, rusty colored with flecks of black and orange. The interior of the fabric feels slightly brushed...like a very light sweatshirt fabric. 

The Sloan leggings almost didn't happen, but I really wanted to make them! I've needed a good leggings pattern for running and wearing under shifts and this fit the bill. I made the capri version, the perfect length for having a little something under a short skirt on a hot day. And no, they're not hemmed yet. I couldn't make up my mind about adding a cuff this morning so I folded the excess under and they stayed. So it works for now.

 I really wanted to find an unusual fabric for these that would look neat without competing with the nani iro print. I searched high and low for the just the right fabric but couldn't find exactly what I wanted. Anybody know a good source for an indigo hue medium weight organic cotton spandex jersey with a slight slub? Didn't think so. I think I definitely struggle with the never quenchable desire for "the perfect fabric". I think for my next pair, I'll pick up some undyed heavyweight jersey and try my hand at Indigo (Indiesew has a fun tutorial on indigo dying, btw.)

Since the rust colored fabric didn't work for the leggings, I used a lightweight 4 way stretch jersey in my stash, in a nice cool grey that complemented my statement print. I wanted to utilize the contrast design, but without the right fabric to pair I couldn't see it happening. Since I'd already printed out that version of the pattern, I decided to use the seams as a design detail, figuring they would really show on the light colored knit. I think it worked out.

A friend helped me take these 'gritty back alley' shots (the alley behind JP K&S of course!) She always makes me laugh and catches it on camera!

A friend helped me take these 'gritty back alley' shots (the alley behind JP K&S of course!) She always makes me laugh and catches it on camera!

I'm looking forward to making this pattern again (with a few alterations, it will d be my go-to leggings pattern) in a tech fabric for running and - hopefully - in a midweight indigo dyed jersey...perhaps even thick enough to venture into leggings-as-pants territory! We'll see.

Allie, as usual, has put together such a great collection: all the patterns work beautifully together! I'm looking forward to making up Beatrix, perhaps in the long sleeve layered over a Cabin, and the London backpack as well.

Be sure to check out all the other stops on the blog tour!

Monday, August 24th: Lauren |  Right Sides Together

Tuesday, August 25th: Lori | Girls in the Garden

Wednesday, August 26th: Kimberly | Straight Stitch Designs

Thursday, August 27th: Trine | Groovy Baby and Mama

Friday, August 28th: Taylor | Blueprints for Sewing

Monday, August 31st: Erin | Sewbon

Tuesday, September 1st: Elena | Randomly Happy

Wednesday, September 2nd: Tara | Girl Like the Sea

Thursday, September 3rd: Lola | Love Lola

A Color Palette

I'm chugging away her at BFS headquarters getting the next TWO patterns ready for you all. That's right, two.

I'm so excited to announce these patterns this month. One pattern will be release both as a PDF and as a printed pattern, while the other (a simpler design) will be released as a PDF only. Perhaps in the future, the digital pattern will be available printed as well, but for now, my plan is to release a simple PDF only pattern with each larger printed release as a way to keep my business sustainable. But I'm really excited about the opportunities these patterns present and the possibilities of creating an outfit from separates :)

In the mean time, as I crunch numbers, edit, and devise pattern release strategies, I've been thinking about color. In this month's issue of Seamwork (an awesome online sewing magazine from Colette Patterns) there is an article about creating a personal color palette.

I've definitely gone through color phases. As a punk sixteener, I was fond of black and every possible combination of neon and animal print. In my late teens and into college, I made a complete 180 and confined myself to earthtones only. I wore quite a bit of brown, along with colors like avocado, moss, and harvest gold (and any other colors usually associated with 1970's home decor palettes).

Some pre-'selfie' selfies from my college days with my first phone camera

Some pre-'selfie' selfies from my college days with my first phone camera

Though they seemed silly after the fact, I'm actually quite glad I took these for clothing documentation purposes. I often get nostalgic for some of my wacky art school garb

Though they seemed silly after the fact, I'm actually quite glad I took these for clothing documentation purposes. I often get nostalgic for some of my wacky art school garb

After college I tried to expand my color repertoire and found myself gravitating to blues. Indigo, chambray, lavenders, mauve and other cool tones. Perhaps it was part of a post-college re-invention. Changing your wardrobe and palette is tremendously transformative as part of a life change.

Rochelle over at Lucky Lucille wrote recently about being a blue-gravitating gal herself, but discovered that in spite of her attraction to the color, she felt she looked better in warmer tones: Golds, greens, orange, etc. As a fellow pinkish-toned person with dark hair, I was at first defiant. As an anarchist of style rules in most contexts, I felt the need to balk against this concept.

Saffron cardigan, black check, daffodils

Saffron cardigan, black check, daffodils

green french terry

green french terry

Then I bought some warm, olive green french terry. After putting on the top I'd made from it, I noticed my features pop and my overall look and complexion improve to me immensely. It was quite the opposite of what I expected. I also rediscovered a saffron yellow cardigan as the weather warmed up...low and behold, that same effect. Then I looked back at old photos and realized that I was indeed on to something with the earthtones in college.

More college earthtone selfies. Here's a clip from a video piece featuring a fantastic orange sweater.

More college earthtone selfies. Here's a clip from a video piece featuring a fantastic orange sweater.

I feel like this former pullover (gone now, sadly) is on its own the basis for a color palette.

I feel like this former pullover (gone now, sadly) is on its own the basis for a color palette.

This was a crazy sweater dress, plus copper cateye glasses.

This was a crazy sweater dress, plus copper cateye glasses.

I posed with this guy on tour with my old band in PA. I wore the striped tshirt pictured for years until it literally disintegrated.

I posed with this guy on tour with my old band in PA. I wore the striped tshirt pictured for years until it literally disintegrated.

Now, I don't know about you, but I read once that fair skinned folks should stay away from yellow and green, lest it make them appear wan and sickly. Friends, I found this to be quite the opposite. And thus, my spring palette reinvention begins.

Out of my strong desire to power sew a whole compatible wardrobe in a flash (ever had that feeling?) I looked in my fabric stash: Navy, indigo, mauve, lavender, pops of red and pink. I'd say nearly 75% of the fabric I have stashed fits that criteria. Mostly cool. In my closet, the same was clear.

So now I'm on a mission for my summer wardrobe and it falls into 3 projects:

1. Take loved garments (good shape, cut, print) that don't flatter and dye them!

We have a proliferation of Dockweed and Pokeberry in the garden, and an industrial sized spice container of turmeric and anatto. I think this is the summer I try some natural dyeing.

2. Make some garments in warm tones to wear with/complement my cool tones

I'm not getting rid of some of my faves, but perhaps they just need some warmth to balance them out.

3. Create a color palette for fabric shopping/project planning.

I'll follow the Seamwork instructions and create a swatch booklet. I love this idea. Also plan to give each color appealing food-related name. So far I know I need: Olive, Saffron, Paprika, Pecan, Blood Orange, Cream, Salmon.

Are you planning a summer palette? Do you change your colors to be harmonious with your complexion or do you defiantly mix and match? Or do you just wear all black and call it a day?




Thinking about personal style

One's personal style is constantly evolving (I've talked about this before) and before you know it, you need a whole new wardrobe to accurately outfit who you are in the present, feeling as though you're only left with articles of clothing from the past. This is particularly challenging when you are embarking on a new chapter in your life. This, however, is not a terrible conundrum to be in, my friend. It is one of the major reasons I got into sewing. I have always felt that there was something special, spiritual, and intangible to me about clothing. As I grow older, I slowly unfold these mysteries. I have realized that quality of materials explains in part the depth of tactile feeling I experience. For example, feel a nylon knit slip and a silk charmeuse chemise- you'll know what I mean then. As a lifelong patron of the used clothing trade, I have always felt the histories of the clothing I wear, though I have learned the rich stories behind different styles, materials, and wear&tear. Overtime, my personal history of learning clothing effects how seriously I take wearing clothing now. It is because of this that I find the challenge of outfitting an ever changing style to be so complex. Not only do I take it seriously from an aesthetic perspective, but I feel it when my outfit is not quite right...like I'm subtly misrepresenting myself. It also makes it INCREDIBLY hard to get rid of clothing, especially things I have made. (The Coletterie has done some great posts on this topic, check out their wardrobe architect series as well!)


Holding up some lovely fabric

My style is constantly changing. I discover new sides of my aesthetic personality. Though these new feelings tend to take center stage, parts of my short-in-comparison personal history still cling. In my teens, I was very active in the punk scene and was particularly enamored with the diy aesthetic, iconoclast imagery, and performative costuming. The art school punk scene of the early 70's had a spirit of experimentation that to this day is a component of my personal stye.


Me and my high school station wagon (and platinum blonde hair)

After college I also worked in a Vintage clothing store and amassed an excellent collection of vintage stuff. The craftsmanship of the pieces, as well as their aura of time, drew me to them.

Screen shot 2012-03-19 at 7.09.31 PM

Posing for a goofy ad campaign at 'Mercedez Benz Fashion Week'. 1960's wool dress and coat, 1930's handbag, shoes

Finally, some bits have crystallized - I always maintain a touch of vintage and punk - but others remain fluid. The more I read and research and experience life, the more history I have to draw from. As my life and lifestyle changes, I find new ways to incorporate these old loves into a style that feels right in the present.

One thing I've thought a lot about lately is being 'understated'. I've been very visually flamboyant in different times of my life. Nowadays, I'm interested in dressing more 'conventionally' for lack of a better term, but with something strange or special to set it off. I find these nuances more compelling at my age than 'making a statement' like I did when I was younger... though I may be so deep in a weirdo fashion bubble that my dressing 'conventionally' still looks weird to most people. I have been especially curious since moving out of the city.

These days, I am a pretty utilitarian dresser. (One of the things I have been negotiating lately is how to relate to athletic activities. I've never been big on the aesthetics of athletic clothing, and frequently make my own running gear. There's still a learning curve for me there, but it's progressing. ) The problem comes for me in how to dress simply while still maintaining a unique style. I'll tell ya, it's pretty tricky. I'm not a jeans and tshirt kind of gal, but that tends to be the uniform in rural New England and I've found myself gravitating in that direction. I actually bought a pair of stretch jeans, which I have been adamantly opposed to in the past (BUT OMG they are so COMFORTABLE and make your butt look awesome). If you'll ever find me in a Patriots/Red Sox/Bruins jersey is yet to be seen...

This month I wore some of my Cabin samples around and found them to work well with my new lifestyle. I see myself making a few in different fabrics to update my wardrobe for my 'new life' in the country. I know, the suspense is too much to bear. Hang in there! Cabin comes out in October!

How often does your style seem to evolve? Do you have a solid uniform or do you like to mix it up? Do styles of your past still find themselves in your present look?