Three Renfrews in Laguna jersey and Art Gallery knit

Three Renfrews in Laguna jersey and Art Gallery knit by Allspice Abounds

The fact that I’m sewing basic t-shirts and couldn’t find any time to photograph them in natural light pretty much sums up the state of my sewing right now.  Such is life!  With that said, I find these simple knit tops extremely relaxing to sew, and I wear one almost every day in the winter, so this is total win in my book.  Hooray for my everyday wardrobe!  Plus, I have some thoughts on my first time sewing with the new Art Gallery knits, so hopefully you’ll find something interesting in this plan vanilla post.

Now you may be thinking, “Carolyn, didn’t you mention something about drafting your own pants a few weeks ago?  Why are you showing me boring t-shirts when you could be writing a juicy post on pants?”  Umm, ok, you’ve got me there.  Let’s just say that the pants have been sitting in the corner of my cutting table, patiently awaiting the day when I have enough brain power to revisit them.  The fact that this post is about t-shirts should give you a clue about the brain power I’ve been able to dedicate to my sewing lately.  🙂

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Casual pattern inspiration for the non-girly sewist

Interview at SeamstressErin

Everyone has their own personal style, and it’s wonderful to see so many sewists expressing themselves through personalized clothing.  Today my thoughts on sewing and style are featured over at SeamstressErin (many thanks, Erin!), and I’ll talk a little more about them here.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been telling people that “I’m not a girly girl.”  I used to think this was a personality flaw, but thankfully I’ve grown to embrace my love of practical, streamlined styles.  I don’t paint my nails, I barely wear makeup, and a gathered skirt is almost as rare in my wardrobe as a sweetheart neckline.  Jeans and t-shirts forever!

As many of you have been posting your fall/winter style inspiration, I’ve been thinking about my own ideal wardrobe and how I might create it using currently available patterns.  So, to join in the fun, I’ve compiled a list of patterns that I’ve had my eye on, most of which are suited for colder weather and women with a more masculine or androgynous style.  Let’s dive in!

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Everyday wardrobe: four Renfrews with coordinating Archers

Four Renfrews with coordinating Archers by Allspice Abounds

The image above is the culmination of a grand sewing strategy.  Are you strategic with your fabric and pattern purchases?  I’ve been trying to get better at planning ahead with the goal of creating a wearable, everyday wardrobe.  The idea is to create comfortable, easy-to-wear pieces that are functional in my daily life, and to create new pieces that work with existing pieces.

I had identified a few problems in my existing wardrobe:

  • I needed more long-sleeved t-shirts for layering in cold weather.
  • Wearing an Archer with a tank top underneath doesn’t keep me warm enough.
  • My existing knit tops don’t match with my Archers.

The solution: Buy some jersey in colors that match my Archers, and sew up a bunch of Renfrews!

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My personal color palette

Allspice Abounds color palette

On the heels of my Me Made May reflections, I stumbled upon Gillian’s tutorial for creating your own personal color palette, and I decided to give it a try.  I was a little intimidated about picking the right colors at first, but once I got going, it actually came together pretty quickly!

I used my Finished Project Gallery as inspiration, along with random outfit photos I’ve taken in the past year.  I tried to squint my eyes and look at my handmade (and some RTW) garments as a cohesive wardrobe, and I chose the colors that stand out and are most often repeated.  I also chose to leave out some colors that I’ve tried wearing and just didn’t feel like myself in (brown, I’m looking at you).

So what do you think of the finished palette?  It’s brighter and more colorful than I had anticipated, but I quite like it!

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Me Made May 2014: How did I do?

Me Made May 2014Me Made May is over – hooray!!  Congratulations to everyone who participated!  Although I wasn’t an official participant, I played along on my own, just for fun.  🙂  Here were my personal guidelines:

  • Write down what I wear each day, including all handmade garments and accessories.
  • Consciously think about wearing at least one handmade garment each day.  I asked myself each morning: “What handmade items can I wear today?”
  • If I didn’t feel like wearing anything handmade, I didn’t force myself.
  • As the month went on, I tried to wear handmade garments that hadn’t been worn earlier in the month.

Not too bad, right?  I didn’t want to give myself hard and fast RULES to follow, because I really dislike sewing-related rules, deadlines, etc.  I did, however, think about my handmade garments a lot, and I wound up wearing a lot of them too!

Are you ready to see how I did?  Being a scientist by day, I made a bunch of nerdy charts.  Enjoy.  🙂

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2013 Year In Review: Reflections

Top 5 of 2013

Continuing with Gillian’s year in review series, today I’ll share my sewing reflections.  I’ve chosen overarching statements that sum up the “lessons learned” from my hits and misses posts, and hopefully they’ll serve as guidelines for my sewing in 2014 (and beyond).  If I had to sum it all up in one sentence, I’d say that 2013 has made me realize that my handmade garments should be fashionable and functional and well-made.  And really, who wouldn’t agree with that?  : )

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I made my entire outfit today – yeah baby!

Handmade outfit - Renfrew and BeignetHalfway through the day today I realized that I had made my entire outfit.  How awesome is that?  I really wanted to bust out a little happy dance in the middle of my lab, but thankfully I managed to restrain myself… and wound up doing it in the bathroom instead.  : )

I wore my burgundy V-neck Renfrew with my navy Beignet and cream sash, along with an infinity scarf I crocheted last winter out of some awesome Manos (unblogged) and my blue and white handmade earrings.  I knew when I got dressed in the morning that I was wearing a me-made top and skirt, but I had totally forgotten about the scarf and earrings.  What a nice surprise!

A few weeks ago I talked about working on my everyday wardrobe and being more thoughtful about the garments I choose to sew, and slowly but surely, it’s all starting to come together.  Granted, my outfit today is pretty similar to the one I wore on Tuesday, since I tend to make multiples of the same patterns.  But you get the idea.  Handmade multiples are still better than RTW, right?

Fun fact: I wore this outfit to work all day, came home, changed, ate dinner, and settled in for the night… and then decided I really wanted a picture after all.  So I dug it all out of the laundry and got dressed again, at 10 pm, just for you.  You’re welcome.  And my face is totally covered in zit cream.  : )

Working on my everyday wardrobe

Summer in Portland MaineI’ve had a pretty good year (granted, my first year!) of cranking out handmade garments, and I’m finally starting to feel like I have handmade items that I can grab and wear on a regular basis.  As my old clothes are starting to wear out, I’ve been replacing them with handmade ones.  Although I love sewing pretty dresses, I’ve been trying to think more about what I actually wear everyday and making an effort to sew more casual and practical pieces.  Let’s face it — I work in a lab, often doing physical labor and spilling things on myself, and pretty dresses are just not in the cards!  Maybe one day I’ll have a fancy office job again.  : )

Anyway, a few weeks ago I started taking note of how many handmade garments I had worn each week, based on the pile of laundry that I tackle every Sunday.  It’s been about 3 pieces per week, consistently, for the past month or so.  Not bad!  I’ve been feeling good about my progress, and yes, even feeling a little smug when I do the laundry.  : )  Considering I had zero handmade garments just a year ago, I’m calling this a success.

A big part of my success rate is my drawer of Renfrews, currently holding at 6 (with fabric for 2 more in the stash).  These tops are just so easy to wear and care for, and they fit perfectly into my everyday lab uniform.  They may not be sewing masterpieces, but they’ve been a great push in getting me to a 100% handmade wardrobe (which is still very far away, but I’m getting there).

I’ve also been wearing my skirts and dresses, like the yellow dress pictured above, which I wore to a work event earlier this week with black tights and a black floral cardigan.  Skirts are generally reserved for the weekend, but I’ve been making a concerted effort to wear them every Saturday.  And seeing as how my first Beignet is now finished (photos coming soon!), I now have more winter-friendly options.

All in all, this whole handmade wardrobe thing is pretty liberating.  : )

What percentage of your wardrobe is handmade?  And if you have a 100% handmade wardrobe, how long did it take you to get there?