Sunday, November 24, 2013

A New Capsule Wardrobe: Choosing Patterns and Adding Ready-To Wear

Vogue Pattern 1132
First of all, any time you  see a pattern that has  multiple pieces, often shown combined in different ways  (like Vogue 1132 shown above) that is a capsule wardrobe ready to go.  No additional thought required, really. You just have to make up the patterns in a choice of colors that  look good together, and perhaps make up one pattern (like a dress, or the skirt) twice.

In the images shown above you have a vest and pants made in solid grey, a jacket made in white, and a skirted suit (skirt and jacket) in a grey plaid.  The jacket is made twice with minor variations.  pair this with  different shirts and you can create a large number of looks  with that one pattern envelope.

It happens to be a style I am very fond of: I love the riding jacket look of this set, and I prefer my skirts to be full and rather long.

That set is rather  formal; here is one that is more casual (but can still be worn in an office):

Simplicity wardrobe 2539

 This pattern includes a long or short  jumper/dress, a vest, a jacket and a pair of pants. In one look (all in beige) the jumper is being used to create the look of a skirted suit, in the other its shown in a print over a turtleneck.  This set would change character rather drastically depending on your choice of material.  As shown it is a  rather casual, but still office acceptable, look... Sew this same outfit in hand painted batiks,  pieced silks, and  the look changes.

So, to get back to a more classically styled set, we have Simplicity 1784 (I already told you I like my skirts long):

Take a good look at the suggestions shown in the line art (on the right side)... a textured grey skirted suit, a white  blouse, a pink blouse, a patterned pink/white/black skirt, and a pair of black pants.  With just the items as shown you could combine  this into a variety of looks.

Most of the time, you will not be so lucky as to have an entirely self contained "wardrobe in a single pattern set".  Perhaps  the entire  planned wardrobe will not  be to your taste, or it could just be you need some more options to  fill the set out...

As mentioned, most of the time you will either use  items you already own, or buy items that are  outside your interest or skill level to make (For instance: I have NO interest in sewing a turtleneck sweater, but I do like to wear them).

Most  people, even experienced seamstresses,  find certain items to be easily available  for purchase, and  annoyingly difficult to sew.  (I did mention the turtleneck, didn't I?)  For this wardrobe items like a black  cardigan sweater and a few  other  tops  would fill out the Simplicity wardrobe  quite a bit, and you would easily expand the number of  looks.  I would be far more likely to buy a cardigan than try to sew one, and  blouses and  knit tops are easily available at most stores.

Or you can sew...

You can obviously mix and match from different  pattern sets...perhaps you like the blouse from the 1784 set shown , the jumper from 2539 and the skirt and jacket from Vogue 11322.  You can also  look for patterns  for a dress, or a knit blouse or a different skirt" to add to your these:

McCall's 6841 knits only
McCall's 6604 pullover top in a woven material
See and Sew  B5938
Adding a dress (with a different looking skirt) to one of the  packages that  has a skirt and jacket, increases the number of  options, and even if you wear the jacket over it creates a different skirt silhouette.  Seen under a jacket this dress would create the  impression of a pencil skirt, but could be worn  alone.

Always try to aim for different  styles and shapes in your "new" pieces to increase variety when you can.

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 Now as I am sure you have guessed, these were my top contenders  for my initial  wardrobe collection.


A slight emergency has forced my hand a bit on the choices, namely the fact that this Thursday is Thanksgiving, and I have nothing suitable to wear.  So sometime after I finish my homework (due Monday, it is currently Sunday) I will be sewing like a mad woman and trying to  come up with  at least something suitable to wear to a big family dinner.

True to the idea that  you should sew items that  make use of  what you already have that works for you, I will probably be making a skirt and jacket to go with a blouse I already own. (besides, I hate sewing buttonholes)

Wish me luck!

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Links Post 1 in the series, explaining the capsule or cluster concept. Post 3 in the series.

and My Pinterest board, with all sorts of useful links and concepts.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A New Capsule Wardrobe: Choosing a Second Cluster of Fabrics

To recap my last post:
My first cluster of fabrics (or my first capsule wardrobe selection) was chosen in very neutral and subdued tones shown here:

The idea being that I could take it more into the  blues, easily, but also in to  the berries and purples when I expanded the set.

this print  has small patches of precisely the same shade as the tan.
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Last minute  changes:

I added  some heavier  (and dressier) fabrics because I suddenly realized I had nothing to wear to Thanksgiving dinner this Thursday! 

No pictures yet, but I found a micro suede  that was VERY close in color to  my darker brown  fabric (the color is called potting soil ), and a pretty exact match for my cornstalk (I found out it is cornstalk, it just looks different because of the different fabric.)

So I will be making something out of that to wear  for this Thanksgiving.... pray for me.

(Note:micro suede or ultra suede is a polyester fake suede, real suede is leather.... which may or may not be cool with you, but real suede doesn't come in  standard widths and  multi yard lengths.  )

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So, given the  berries and purples I will be adding into that first cluster to expand it.... where could I take that to create a second cluster that would  use some of these pieces?

Well, what about white?

The purple will obviously go with that....

but interestingly so will this print which has both white and black in it....

and even this print which has no black at all, but a surprising amount of white:

Of course white naturally goes with black....

 Add in a black and white print and you  have an obvious second  cluster

I happen to have a fair bit of black already in my wardrobe, so adding more white would perk that up a bit and brighten it. If you are wearing  just plain black and white then of course you can add any color at all, since there is nothing to clash with it, which will let me  wear not only the berry and pink tones already discussed, but the bright red, bright blues, and almost any other color that doesn't  pair better with brown.

So there you have it, fabrics for cluster 2,  which take some of my secondary fabrics from cluster 1 and move in an entirely different direction.  The overlapping  fabrics can be worn with either  set as long as I am careful about any trims or  embellishments.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------  The previous post, in which I choose the first cluster (group) of fabrics. The first post in the series, where i try to define a capsule wardrobe and  what I am doing....

Friday, November 22, 2013

A New Capsule Wardrobe: Choosing Fabrics

Following the advice of Judith Rasband (Conselle Institute of Image Management) one of the easiest ways to begin building a capsule  (or cluster) wardrobe is to start with a print.

Once you choose a print that looks good on you, you can be confident that any of the colors IN that print will work reasonably well, and you can  simply choose colors from the print in solids to expand your wardrobe.  This concept works well in both  ready to wear and sew your own clothing.

This print is one I chose to begin with for my  new wardrobe cluster. (I had a tough time choosing where to start, I own enough fabric to start my own store!)  I plan on making a skirt, and a blouse or two out of this fabric.

Here is a larger section of the  fabric:
The blue is a bit more muted than I usually wear, but is in the same family as my typically brighter  blue, so this print will work with many items I already own.  That is important since  I didn't want to have to start completely from scratch!

I then needed to select  a neutral color  to  go with  this, and I luckily already owned one!  A nice rich brown linen:

Awesome!  This would make a great casual Jacket and full Skirt, maybe a straight (pencil) skirt and possibly a Dress.
I am not too sure if I would want a pair of Pants in this, since it would wrinkle badly when I sat down.

I want another neutral so I can  mix and match a bit more... and  sure enough I found just the thing:
pardon the shadows, its the lighter color toward the bottom

This is a  moderately heavy cotton in a color called "cornstalk".  It matches the pale cream/tan in my print exactly, and works well with the brown linen too!

This is a heavier and less  draped fabric, so I plan to make a heavier  A-line skirt, perhaps  a straight skirt, a heavier Dress perhaps, Pants could be made in this, and so could a casual Jacket.  I can then mix and match the  two  neutrals with or without the print... and with a lot of other items in my closet already.

I do want  to add one more thing to start with; I want to add a knit.  So far everything has been a woven, if I add a knit  I can make some different styles... but  I do want this to stay "neutral".  Just adding another brown or beige would be boring as all get out though...


The solution is a "fashion neutral" aka leopard print

There you have it, the  4 fabrics I will be using to START my new wardrobe cluster.

I have plenty of room to expand out, based on either the print I started with, or the solids!

Just to give you a few ideas of where you can take  this collection....
obviously you can add blue. 

Believe it or not these two blue fabrics are NOT the same. One of the fabrics is a slightly shiny knit, and the other is a moderately stiff woven.  They are just a tiny bit brighter than my  print, but  they do work well together.

But where else can I take that basic cluster?

Here is a fabric with that same cornstalk color, plus a vibrant pink, and a berry purple!
Cornstalk fabric shown with  light cotton print

 I just happen to have a purple textured fabric to make  something to go with that....
(Trust me they match, cameras do odd things to color, so do  artificial lights)

Now that purple will NOT go with my original print ... but obviously it goes with the cornstalk, and lets me take a  new direction with PART of my  capsule wardrobe.

Or how about this?

This goes with the brown linen, and JUST might let me wear that purple with the brown as well...


This fabric goes with either of my neutrals (and my blues)

in a totally different way than my original print...AND there is my  berry purple again! Awesome!
So far the only thing I cannot mix into this  is white, or black... and there is a bit of white in that  last there is one thing I could wear white with... no way to bring any of my existing black clothes into it though...

And then I found this:

As you can see, by building off one or more of the  4 fabrics in my first capsule collection, I can go in quite a few different directions, and still be sure MOST of it will work together.

I was originally not too thrilled by how "boring" it looked, but it obviously has some potential!

This  therefore will be  the first cluster collection.

I will be  either continuing on to show you the second cluster collection (taking a few of these fabrics in a different direction) or  a few pattern choices, depending on what I finish writing next....
Links:  My previous post explaining the principles of a capsule or cluster wardrobe.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A New Capsule Wardrobe: what is a capsule wardrobe?

What is a capsule wardrobe (or cluster)?

A Capsule, or Cluster Collection, is a set of clothes that can be intermixed to create a large number of  outfits from a few pieces.

The goal is to have every top in the collection go with every bottom, and every jacket or third piece go with everything else. In practice it doesn't always work so  neatly... but in order to make a group work well, every item should go with as many other items in the cluster as possible.

If you had an "ideal" cluster, 5 to 8 items of clothing  could carry you through  two weeks of work without repeating an outfit exactly.  A typical cluster  has more like 10-12 items (weighted toward more  blouses or tops), and can therefore make far more outfits.

In order to make the MOST of your capsule wardrobe, each item in a color should be very very different, so if you wanted to have two skirts, they should be two different colors or styles (or both).  You will get the most  different looks if  you don't repeat a shape or style  within a small cluster.

To give a very simplified  example:
Black Pants, Skirt, and Jacket (3 items)
with a white blouse (4)
and a print cowl neck top (5)
and a black top (6)

can obviously make a number of slightly different outfits (the black top creates the appearance of a dress when worn with the skirt)

If you then add in a  white skirt in a different style (say the black skirt was a pencil skirt, and the white skirt is a full skirt) you multiply your options...
add a white  sweater? again...

Since so far the only color has been in that print top ( item 5) you can also  add  items in that COLOR... and increase your options again!  If that print top had a green color in it, and you start adding in green options.....

A capsule wardrobe obviously lets you  pack a lot of days  worth of clothes into  a suitcase, but it also make getting dressed a lot easier, since you already know EVERYTHING you can put together in that set works!

If you are choosy about  picking only colors that really suit you, then you will be able to  dress well without having to put much thought into it in the morning.

Having just come back from Judith Rasband's Fabulous Fit seminar with my brand new custom for me patterns ....I am re doing  my wardrobe, starting with a simple cluster.

In my case I will be sewing a cluster of at least 5 items, and then filling it in with a lot of store purchased  items I already own!

In my next post I select my fabrics....

LINKS: My Pinterest board about Capsule Wardrobes. Wikipedia , of course Judith Rasband, CEO of Conselle Institute of Image Management has some really wonderful resources and classes.