New Year, New Wardrobe Social Sew Round Up!

January has come to an end... as has the New Year, New Wardrobe Social Sew! Let's see what y'all came up with this month...

I love Lara Liz's concept of "Me Made Monday" in which she wears/blogs an all-handmade outfit every Monday. If you do this for a year, it would give you a much better idea of your handmade wardrobe than Me Made May, I think, since you hit all the seasons. I love her addition of a huge cape over staple Ginger jeans and Scout tee!

Tenille lives in Australia and it's the middle of summer for her, so she made a lovely black kimono dress as well as a vintage raglan sleeve top from the 80s (that reminds me of my 60s swing dress) and some dress pants. A whole wardrobe!

Carmen has a very cute short haircut (so cute, really) and a verrrrry cozy tried and true cardigan sweater.

Sewing by Ti has another cozy sweater to show off as well as another link up; did you participate in Watcha Wearing January?

Lassemista (which I can never spell correctly the first time!) has made a lovely Liberty version of the ever-popular Archer shirt. Staple is right!

Seam Racer has a three-piece layered outfit spanning four decades and three pattern companies and totally pulls it off.

Fellow librarian (hey girl heyyyy) Maddie made an Orla dress from the most gorgeous Rifle Paper Co floral ever. Also she loves tried and true repeat patterns. We have so much in common, y'all.

Kirsten from the Dress Bakery made an amazing pink skirt suit--very Elle Woods (so I am obviously a fan).

Thanks so much to this month's participants... I'm so pleased to see everyone's first makes of the year!


ps: i have one more (bonus) new year, new wardrobe post as far as my wardrobe planning/styling goes, so you're not quite done with me yet! :)

allie J.

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Simplicity Sewing Book 1958

Last time I was home, my parents gave me this Simplicity Sewing book a friend of theirs had picked up for me at an estate sale. I had seen these sewing books--really more like what we would call a "bookazine"--online before, but I was so excited to have one of my own! This one is from 1958, and I thought I'd give you all a peek inside... it is stuffed with all the information you could have wanted in those pre-blog days.

Since this book is a Simplicity imprint, it first details alllllll the different pattern sizes that were available in 1958--although the vast majority of patterns I see on etsy are the standard miss-woman I do occasionally stumble across the odd junior or teen sized pattern, and have several in my stash. The alternate silhouettes available seem so arbitrary to me--like, half sizes are for petite (5'3") pears, but there isn't a corresponding pear-shape line for 5'6" women (oh, how I wish there were!). And bless you if you were ever forced into a "chubbie" pattern as a child. 

I also appreciated the unfamiliar substrates in their long list of fabrics. There is cotton, wool, and silk, of course, then nylon, then... Dacron! Orlon! We don't see those often.

The bulk of the book is dedicated to walking the reader through construction of a few generic patterns in detail, including a button-front blouse, a gored skirt, a man's shirt, and a girl's dress. The idea is that you could use the instructions to help you sew any number of similar Simplicity patterns. I think it's a bit like the sew-along of its day, with a bit more detail than the notoriously sparse vintage pattern instruction booklet, and photos instead of sketches. I can see that if you were a beginner, this would be very helpful! I'm hoping to make one more coat before spring really sets in (we'll see) and I might use this and see how it goes.

It also has a tailoring section. I still haven't started in on my navy blazer because I've been so overwhelmed by tailoring, and I'm thinking that if I stick to the details included in this book and ignore the ten million other techniques I've seen online, I might be able to manage it without having a breakdown. Call it a vintage project, using vintage techniques only, or something.  

Finally, those of you who have been following my New Year, New Wardrobe exploration, or are working on a capsule wardrobe yourself, might find this section interesting! I took close ups of each one so you could see for yourself: what color does Simplicity think you should wear? (1958 edition.) 

I was pleasantly surprised to see how well my self-selected colors--white/cream/nude, blush, coral, camel, pale blue, lavender, navy, hunter--correspond to the "blonde hair - brown eyes" section. Blush and camel are definitely in the lineup, as well as a dark green and something that could be coral or could be bright, bright orange. (I'm going with coral.) The last color is a blue-purple, and while I've read before that you should wear purple eye makeup with brown eyes, and I like purple, I don't really know how to wear it. I think I'll stick to navy and keep my purple to the lavender end of the spectrum. Interesting how much overlap there is, don't you think?

That black hair - blue eyes is a winter color palette if I've ever seen one!

The woman on the left is so pretty, don't you think? And the lady in the middle either had a printing mishap or ingested a bit too much spice, her eyes are very blue. 

I really enjoyed the inclusion of these lovely grey and white haired ladies and the bold color palettes chosen for them. Gorgeous greens, especially.

Along with the suggested colors, there's a bit on "figure flattery" using optical illusions to make yourself appear taller and thinner. It has a lot of the advice that is still dished out in fashion magazines today, just featuring a different set of styles to help you achieve the desired illusions--no bootcut jeans in sight.

That's the 1958 Simplicity Sewing book! There seems to be no shortage of 50s and 60s Simplicity Sewing books floating around, and for reasonable prices. I think it's a pretty handy resource, even today. I'd love to get a copy from the mid-60s and see how much has changed--or not! 

What do you think of the colors suggested for you--would you wear them? Do you already? Would you take advice from a book that is 60 years old? Or would you rather stick to blogs and facebook sewing groups?


ps: thank you to my dad's gamer group who have caught on to the fact that i love anything vintage sewing :)

allie J.

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New Year, New Wardrobe: Week Four

I set a goal for myself at the beginning of 2016 and I been very diligent this year about posting every Monday, usually with a new project to share, and in total I made 42 things last year. That's about 10 pieces per 12-week season. I really enjoyed the structure of "a new item every Monday" but I think I'd rather cut back a little.

typical five piece french wardrobe basics--but not necessarily mine!!

The idea of the Five Piece French Wardrobe (FPFW) is a popular one in capsule dressing: you pare down your closet to basics (which can be anything but are generally the standard white blouse, black pants, dark denim, trench coat, etc.) and then limit yourself to 5 purchases each season. If you're limited to only five things, you're more likely to buy higher quality items that you really love, and not settle for something that's not exactly what you're looking for. I'd like to steal this idea and make 6 or 8, not 10+, items a season. That means two or three new items a month, instead of 4. This should give me time to work on fitting some repeatable patterns, and use up some of my stashed fabrics--there's a few absolutely gorgeous lengths I have, and I know what I want to do with them, but I just haven't had the time to devote weeks to those projects! Like, I've been talking about making a blazer and a tailored coat for ages and not gotten around to it yet. I'm sure there will always be fun, shiny distractions and simple projects to crank out in a weekend, but I'd also like to actually make that blazer, too, so I think aiming for a FPFW mentality will be a positive step.

My Five Piece French Wardrobe "wish list" for the first quarter of 2017 includes:
my cream boucle jacket,
perfect pajamas,
a white blouse,
a camel coat, and
a special surprise project (more on this soon).

I'd also like to make a first version of the Sewaholic Granville shirt. I mentioned in my shapes & silhouettes post that I wear my Ralph Lauren oxford cloth button downs frequently, and I'd love to have a hand-made alternative that I can make in any color I like. And speaking of colors... did you notice all those future makes fit nicely in my capsule color scheme? (Even the pajamas are cream with coral and pink flamingos!) Finally, I also said I'd like to make about 6-8 items, so I still have a little wiggle room if something pops up that I have to have, like pattern testing or a new release.

This would be way too much stuff to take on if I were still going to be trying for a new item every Monday, but I should be able to get a bit more done now that I'm not worried about making lots of new new new. Instead, I'm thinking of introducing a little bit of lifestyle content, and trying to revive my "what i wore" posts featuring older makes styled differently (like the one I posted this week). Let me know what you think of these as they get going, I always appreciate feedback.

Have you ever heard of Five Piece French Wardrobe or tried this method of capsuling? I'd love to hear what you think! What would be your basics? your first five pieces?


ps: continuing the FPFW thing, I'd also like to "invest" in a few high quality accessories once I have a few items of capsule clothing resting comfortably in my closet. a lovely French reader contacted me after my Louis Antoinette post and in chatting about French style, she mentioned two things the French do exceptionally well: classics, meaning lots of neutrals, and coordination, matching their accessories to their outfit for a cohesive look--so that's my goal for accessories!

allie J.

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Pink Coat & White Tights

for my non-sewing readers:

I mentioned in this post that I spent New Year's in Charlottesville with all my college roommates and our boyfriends, fiances, and husbands. You absolutely can not visit Charlottesville without visiting one of the local vineyards--regardless of whether or not you drink wine, the very best views in the county can be found at the beautiful wineries that dot the countryside surrounding the city. We headed over to Pippin Hill for some early-afternoon sunshine and champagne (well, blanc de blanc).

I'm wearing a few of my favorite pieces from last year: my leopard print swing dress (Simplicity 6820 from 1966) and my pink bow coat (Simplicity reprint 1197), and, in an effort to add a bit more vintage flair to my daily outfits, I've accessorized with my white and nude kate spade purse and white tights and nude Varas. Black tights and shoes are always good, but white tights are more decidedly 60s: think Twiggy or girls in little mod mini dresses. They can be a bit tricky to style though! Here are my suggestions:

1. The right shoes. In most of the period photographs I've seen with girls wearing white tights, they're wearing white shoes, but I don't think many of us in 2017 own white shoes! Nude shoes are a good choice, and wearing close colors lengthens the leg--important since white tights aren't the most slimming pick. I also love black or brown t-straps or mary janes for more of a schoolgirl look, if that's your style.  Without a strap detail, it looks like you're wearing the wrong shoes, but a white background can make dark straps pop!

2. The right hemline. This is such a 60s look, I think it looks best with a shorter 60s hemline! Since white emphasizes the curve of your leg, you wouldn't want to pick, for example, a midi skirt that hits at the widest point of your calf. An a-line skirt or babydoll minidress are perfect options.

I love this combination of a-line coat and dress, tights, and block heels--it'll definitely be popping up in my "New Year, New Wardrobe" planning! I especially like pairing the bow detail on my coat with the bows on my shoes, but really any time I wear this coat I feel great. It goes well with the a-line shape of Simplicity 6820, and luckily I now have two more in addition to this leopard one, so I'll be wearing this combination a lot!

White tights are going to be a bit twee no matter what, but I think they can look chic, too. Would you wear white tights, or do you stick to black? Do you wear nude hosiery? I never do, but then again Kate Middleton's sheer stockings always make her legs look incredible, so maybe I should. What do you think--too old-fashioned?


ps: i also think these kitten tights are adorable! i would wear them with a longer hemline to keep the secret all to myself :)

allie J.

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New Year, New Wardrobe: Week Three

Looking at my everyday wardrobe as well as my inspo from week one and pinterest boards, I can see that I have three basic silhouettes that I enjoy wearing: mid-thigh to knee-length a-line dress/cape/coat, a full knee-length skirt with a defined waist, and slim ankle pants with a boxier top half. Here's a few examples from my closet:

Last week's slim pants and boxy jacket fit under that third silhouette, and there are even more of the other two on my blog: any of these fit and flare dresses, or this mid-thigh a-line look. I'm drawn to these shapes so it make sense that I would have some of them living in my closet already. Another separates option would be this outfit featuring a full skirt

As far as patterns go, for dresses, I feel like I really hit my stride last year and found two patterns I absolutely love: Simplicity 4475 is a raglan sleeved fit-and-flare 60s dress, and Simplicity 6820 is a raglan-sleeved swing dress which I made here, here and here. I said in my end of year/#vintagepledge round up that I could make ten more version of my fit-and-flare dress and I really think that's true--so watch out! Honestly, I feel like my dress pattern collection is big enough that I can find everything I need to hack together an endless array of dresses, and I should really only buy dresses with one-of-a-kind details... starting tomorrow. (Or really good illustrations. Or, or...)

On the bottom half, I love to wear full skirts and slim pants. While in theory I like pencil skirts, they are much less practical for me than a fuller skirt, since my job requires a lot of bending, crouching, etc. For skirts I usually just make a simple gathered dirndl or a pleated skirt, neither of which really require a pattern, and I love my Gertie pants, Butterick 5895. I'm still looking for a perfect a-line mini skirt for non-workwear.

Finally, tops. Every year after Me Made May I complain about my lack of tops and pledge to make more. Looking at what I wear on a daily basis, I've determined that this should be really easy, since I only wear like, four types of tops!

1. V-neck tee shirts. I have very little interest in making these, and I'll probably continue to purchase from a sustainable producer like Grana or Everlane. I'd also like to phase these out somewhat--I don't think they fit with my inspiration words--ladylike, feminine, vintage? No.
2. Layering tanks, for wearing under crew-neck sweaters and cardigans. I already have my holy grail tank pattern, and I have little interest in making sweaters and cardigans (although I do have the seamwork astoria that I'd like to try out if I find a great fabric).
3. Oxford cloth button downs, of which I have a large collection with some dating back about 10 years (and looking a bit worse the wear of it). Unfortunately, I don't really like sewing these--I'm looking for an alternative option that is less fiddly.
4. Boxier-fit items like mariniere shirts, crop tops and cable-knit sweaters. I'd like to build my collection of these (well, I may be set for crop tops)! I have my eye on the Toaster #1, and just have to get some appropriate fabric!

I also have the idea that I'd like to add a fifth type of top to my everyday rotation: a blousey version of #4, preferably in a drapey fabric, to wear tucked into full skirts. I made a black rayon bettine top which I like, but don't love, so I'm still on the hunt for a perfect pattern.

What are your tried and true silhouettes? Are there any you have sworn off entirely? And do you have any very simple woven blouse suggestions for me?


ps: sorry these are so text-heavy! you can always scope my pinterest for more visual aids :)

allie J.

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Brunch in Boucle

One of my favorite parts about living in Durham is visiting the new spots that seem to pop up every week. The Durham Hotel is not new, it's been open for a year or so, but I just recently learned of their "disco brunch"--a monthly brunch party with a DJed set, bloody marys and mimosas (starting at 12 due to our absolutely draconian NC laws), and, of course, amazing food. I went recently with a few friends to see how it was and despite my rather boring/#basic resolutions to partake of no alcohol or animal products for the month of January, I had such a good time!

I got the vegan option, a pea patty sandwich--way better than it sounds! I've been off and on veg/pescatarian for years but I was nervous about eating vegan for a month and especially nervous about finding something for brunch--no eggs?! Overall though, I've been pleasantly surprised by all the vegan options you can find if you're looking for them (thank you, trendy avocado toast), and by how little I miss eggs and milk. (True confessions: mostly I just miss the embarrassing number of croissants I buy from the Fresh Market near my office...)

The second best part of brunch, after seeing friends (and also after brunch beverages February through December), is dressing up for it. My boucle motorcycle jacket is, believe it or not, Lisette for Butterick 6169! I got this pattern as part of a giveaway bundle a few years ago. I generally like Lisette patterns but the cover for this is not drop-everything-and-sew attractive so it sat in a drawer for ages until found this perfect fabric and thought of this j. crew jacket.

The boucle is from Mood and it's actually Oscar de la Renta! The subtle metallic flecks are so pretty--they aren't sparkly at all, but add just a little shimmer that I think the gold zip brings out. This too sat in a drawer--I wasn't quite sure how to work with the boucle. I went back and forth between interfacing the whole thing and underlining it in muslin and I went with the latter--I actually quilted it to the muslin (spacing the quilt lines about 1.5" apart) and I'm not really sure if that's the best treatment but it seems like it worked fine.

For the added peplum I cut the side front, side back, and back pieces at the waist line (marked on the pattern) and then slashed-and-spread the bottom half of each before adding seam allowances to the top of the ruffle and the bottom of the bodice pieces. If you don't want to do all that you could also just buy the SBCC Moto Chic Jacket which I realized after the fact is basically the exact pattern I hacked. (This pattern is for petites, fyi!)

I left the fit the same otherwise, so it's a bit roomy through the waist; with the peplum it's almost like a swing jacket. I'd like to make this again in a sexier fabric (by that I just mean black, probably) and take in the princess seams through the side and back for a really nipped-in look. I think if I left my peplum pattern pieces the same took in the waist by 6 or so inches it would be a pretty dramatic difference in silhouette. I also skipped the shoulder pads but I left a slit in my lining in case I wanted to add some in after wearing it for a day, and.. I think I'll add them in after all.

Do you make non-sewing New Year's resolutions? I don't put much stock in cleanse diets but I do notice a difference when I try to eat healthier overall, and it's nice to have January as a "reset" to start the year. On the sewing front, have you ever worked with boucle? I didn't clip as I went (shame on me) and all day yesterday I was finding threads on my jacket; it's impossible to tidy up! And so ravelly--but worth it, I think!


ps: there's a great write-up of Durham in the Feb/March Garden & Gun magazine! we just got a subscription and it's so worth it. and if you are ever in the triangle area let me know--there's not much fabric shopping but I'd love to meet you :)

allie J.

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New Year, New Wardrobe: Week Two

Welcome to week two of New Year, New Wardrobe! This week I'm tackling color palette before briefly touching on what I currently have in my handmade closet.

I have a pretty good idea of what colors I want to focus on for this year's sewing. Using a combination of my mood boards from last week, the colors I know I enjoy wearing and feel good in, and the colors that are suggested for my coloring (I'm a soft autumn--cheesy, yes, but effective), here's what I came up with:

neutral colors (to support and balance the other colors): white/cream, nude, camel, navy
core colors (the essence of your style, the color you love to wear): ballet pink, coral
accent colors (add variety): pale blue, lavender, hunter green
(categories from the Curated Closet)

As far as patterns go, I'm not too much of a prints person--just look at my archives! I much prefer a bold statement color or a wonderful texture to a wild print. The exceptions are anything leopard, a classic navy and white or cream stripe, and a beautiful floral, about which I can be super picky.

I have been working on narrowing down this color palette for the past few months, which I think is reflected in recent posts. One secret I'll let you in on: having a restricted palette makes fabric shopping much simpler--it's easier to resist impulse purchases! It also makes getting dressed a bit easier, since most things match. I saw somewhere that any three swatches of your color palette should be easily worn together, and I think I've accomplished that. For example:

navy, blue, cream/white  camel, blue, pink  cream/white, camel, navy  camel, coral, lavender

camel, coral, pink  camel, hunter, pink  cream/white, pink, camel  pink, cream/white, coral

As for what's already in my closet... anyone who has read this blog for a while knows that I love pink. I have lots of pink items, in shades from palest pink to bright coral, and in shapes from statement coats to full skirted dresses to floaty little minis. I feel good in pink, I feel pretty, and I feel most like myself. I also have a lot of navy (in solids and florals and stripes). I have a few white, cream, and camel pieces, but I think this is where my closet is currently lacking. Fortunately, I do have some camel and cream fabric in my stash, waiting to be made into clothes... I just can't keep getting distracted by new pinks!

Recently I've been trying to pull these colors from my closet when getting ready in the morning. I'll be posting some #ootds on instagram this coming week with this in mind, so be sure to follow me over there and if you're posting outfits in your colors or silhouettes, use #newyearnewwardrobe so I can see what you're up to!


ps: you may notice i'm ignoring through this whole process all things black--and my alternate nighttime persona, which has a whole board dedicated to it. we'll dip briefly into this in february, i promise...

allie J.

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8 Patterns for Beginner Vintage Dressmakers

While working on the round-up of my 2016 vintage garments, I started thinking about getting started in vintage sewing. Two of my first ever makes were vintage dresses, so I've basically always been interested in vintage sewing and the 50s and 60s in particular. The whole reason I picked up a sewing machine was that I discovered I could buy a sewing pattern from 70 years ago for $10, and make a dress exactly like the expensive ones at the vintage store--but in my size. This was my introduction to sewing!! I was super lucky, though, to have a mom to teach me not only how to use a sewing machine, but also how to use a commercial pattern! 

I've rounded up a list of easily-accessible patterns that you should be able to find at any old JoAnn Fabrics, all but the first vintage reprints! These are archived patterns which pattern companies like Simplicity and McCall/Butterick/Vogue (all one company, did you know?) have started reprinting, so they're as authentic as you can get without using a real vintage pattern, which can often be hard to track down in a given size. (You can read my interview with Deborah Kreiling about Simplicity's Vintage line here!)  It's organized by increasing difficulty... but I know you can do whatever you set your mind to!

(Note: I see a lot of people who are used to indie PDFs struggle with patterns by Simplicity and MBV, but... that's really what you find when you're looking at true vintage patterns. Patterns from the 50s often have way fewer instructions than even modern "commercial" patterns. If you, like I was, are interested in sewing vintage but are overwhelmed by following a pattern, I really think learning a commercial pattern is your first step. There are indie pattern makers doing vintage, but if you want the actual vintage patterns, like on crumbly old paper, Simplicity/MBV is what you'll find, so it's worth it to use their repros and get used to their methods.

There's a reason you would have started with an apron if you took home ec sewing: view E of Simplicity 1934 will only require you to sew straight(-ish) lines if you leave off the sweet pockets, or try tackling the trimmed hearts for a challenge. This is a wonderful first project, and despite the fact that it's the only truly "modern" pattern on this list, it will look perfectly at home protecting your vintage dresses... once you've made them! 

One step up from an apron and solidly in the realm of "real clothes" is this 70s apron dress, Simplicity 8073. With a tie at the neck and in the back, it has a flexible fit and there are no fastenings to worry about if you're shy of buttons and zips. I love the center one in denim! You can always leave the pocket off if it looks too apron-ish to you.

Simplicity 1252 (above, in rose pink) and Simplicity 1609 (below, in hot pink) are similar "Jiffy" (meaning simple and quicker to make) shift dresses from the 60s, each "with two main pattern pieces" as the envelopes used to say--excluding facings, of course!

Both dresses have center back zippers, fisheye darts in back (darts that don't run off a seam, they start and finish in the middle of the pattern piece) and bust darts in the front, with 1609 having an additional set of darts in the front for a closer fit. As you can see by the difference in looks seen here, both are super versatile: make it in a bold print for a mod look or a solid suiting fabric for an office-appropriate jumper. 

If you want that 50s/60s cupcake look (as you know, my favorite silhouette ever) Butterick has a few entry-level options: Butterick 5748 (the blue one above) is a sleeveless dress with a scoop neck in front and back and a circle skirt. Butterick 6318 (in stripes, and my version in chambray here) has a center back zipper, a gathered skirt, and kimono sleeves, a type of sleeve that's connected to the bodice--no extra pattern pieces required! It also has a built-in sash which you can either use, or leave out for a more streamlined look.

These are both basic shapes that you can make over and over, changing the whole look by choosing different prints and textures of fabric! Both are rated easy by Butterick, both have darted bodices, and the most challenging thing being is inserting a zipper. 6318 also involves (lots of) gathering. It will be worth it for that skirt!

Simplicity 1059 is another "Jiffy" pattern, this time boasting "only three main pattern pieces" (front, back, and sleeve). Although this dress is easier to fit than the shift dresses or full-skirted dresses I chose, I've put it down here in the more advanced section because it will look best in a drapier fabric like a rayon challis, not a stable cotton. It also has optional set-in sleeves--but if they aren't eased in perfectly and have some gathers, it will still look great.

If you want to try your hand at outerwear, a cape like Simplicity 8017 provides a great introduction to coat making, but requires minimal fitting since it basically just drapes over your whole body. The trickiest part might be the collar, but you'll also need to either tackle buttons and button holes, or purchase some sew-in snaps for a sleek look.

I hope one of these eight patterns is inspiring you to sew vintage! If you're new to sewing (or sewing big 4 patterns), you can ease in with an apron and progress to the more complicated patterns. If you're just new to vintage, I challenge you to tackle one of the vintage reprints--

If you're already somewhat experienced in sewing, but a little reluctant to dive into vintage, you can also read my article on finding inspiration in vintage patterns--and applying them to modern patterns--here!


ps: this vogue pattern is the first vintage reprint pattern i made... it was not the best choice for a first dress project, but i wouldn't change it for anything! 

allie J.

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