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:

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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:

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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.)

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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?