2012, The Year of Making Things

  • 49 items sewn
  • 14 sewing projects started but not completed (not including ones I muslined but never cut into the fashion fabric)
  • 12 knitting & crocheted projects completed
  • 3 knitting projects started but not completed

A record breaking year for myself. My sewing skills have dramatically improved over the last few years (in particular this year) as I started reading sewing blogs & following patterns. Stepping down from working seven days a week to part time really helped too.

But before I go further, a little info on my numbers. These are just the projects I’ve kept track of. I’m certain there are a few more out there that have not been accounted for. Many of these have not been blogged about either- I didn’t start my blog until February & as you probably know I haven’t been doing the best of jobs posting about all my creations. That being said, 22% of my sewing projects became UFOs while approximately 13% of my knitting projects are currently UFOs (I’m not counting one I started a few days ago as I’m 99% sure it will not end up a UFO). Must do better on actually finishing things.

Top 12 of 2012 (In roughly chronological order, it’s a miracle I narrowed it down this far)

  • Eames Dress– I love design & having a dress with chairs designed by Charles & Ray Eames just puts a smile on my face
  • Flying Foxes Twirl Skirt– it’s bright & it twirls, oh & it has bunnies riding bicycles
  • Mad Men Dress– another twirling skirt, love the color
  • my Sketchbook– wrote & sketched in it nonstop
  • The Ironic Boxer Knitting Hoodie– so pretty & trimmed in ribbon depicting hand knitting diagrams, but I’m heartbroken the fabric got splotchy stains in the wash- this is a must remake
  • Biking Capris– patterned them myself & made my first gusset!
  • Veggie Dirndl Dress– vegetables, twirling, built in bra, the end
  • 1912 Corset Cover Becomes a Modern Wrap– my favorite color of the year and very flattering
  • Hedgehog Socks– cute & comfy
  • Handspun Cowl- soooo warm, besides how could I it like it when I spun the yarn myself
  • Gray Gingham Circle Skirt- twirls away a drab winter wardrobe
  • Twist on the Beach Pullover- excellent design, wear it twisted around your neck or loose & hanging

The 9 Saddest & Loneliest Creations (In roughly chronological order)

  • Criss-Cross Circle Skirt– the pocket pokes out funny & if there’s the littlest bit of water on the ground the hem gets soaked in an instant
  • Bob Marley Bag– I was in the mood for upcycling experimentation, but the bag is not entirely my style & the strap is much too long
  • Hill Billy Hot Dogs Bag- received a t-shirt for X-mas last year as a gag gift & being at a loss as to what to do with it I decided to continue my up cycling experiments
  • 1912 Scalloped Skirt– I sewed on the wrong snaps so they would always pop open, the skirt really needs to be lined even though the pattern didn’t call for it
  • 1912 Corset Cover– I used muslin so of course this isn’t a top I can really wear a lot
  • Busty Bunnies Dress– I made the egregious error of lining this in cheap poly so now it’s much to warm to wear during the summer
  • Brown & White Reversible Swirl Skirt– an unfortunate stain removing incident ruined the white side of this skirt
  • Gray Sports Top– it just wasn’t well made
  • Kilmeni Socks– much too tight at the top & they keep falling down.

All in all a good year for making things. I started this blog, for months kept up with making at least one new thing every week, worked with fabulous ladies around the world on the 1912 project, met other great bloggers not only virtually but in person, ran Frosting Fornight, learned basic glass blowing, & I’m currently working on a secret long term project that I’m very excited about. To top it off I had a very fiberful X-mas with a dress form, support spindle & rigid heddle loom chief among my presents- I’m a pretty lucky person. I also learned many new sewing & knitting techniques as well as figuring some out on my own. And very importantly, I learned that I can make a big difference in my day-to-day mood if I always wear the things I make.

2012 was a tough year, but crafting & blogging pulled me through. I’m so grateful for having started this blog; it’s kept me making things on a regular basis & has introduced me to so many wonderful people. Thank you everyone for taking the time to read my blog & comment. Hope to see you in 2013. Have a fabulous new year!


The Importance of a Good Lining

I rarely wear some of my favorite dresses. They fit & need no mending. I can even wear them most places, including work. Frosting Fortnight is helping me confront the reason I don’t often wear these dresses.

Pretty in Polka Dots Dress

The problem is I used cheap-as-sin polyester lining. These are summer dresses.

The Eames Sheath

Linings help form the foundation of the garment. Using a poly lining is like using as cheap of materials as possible so you can build your house larger than you could otherwise afford. You took the time & care to make the house just the way you want it, so it should last. On a smaller scale, the same can be said for your self-made garments. Too much time goes into planning, cutting out the pattern, stitching everything together, & getting a good fit. Using a cheap lining is like taking your hard work, smacking yourself in the face with it & tossing it all in the trash.

The Busty Bunnies Dress

Your clothing may not need to endure hurricanes or tornadoes, but it should stand up to occasional abuse (like old washing machines & children playing dress up). Cheap poly linings can fray before you even wear them the first time.

After a couple of washings the lining has started to fray near the zipper & come apart at the seams by the waist.

In the southwest it’s common to build houses out of adobe, a wonderful material that regulates temperature so your house doesn’t get too cold or too hot. In the southwest it’d be a bad idea to build a house that’s all windows & doesn’t have any blinds. Your air conditioner would have to run double time to keep up with all the sun rays being turned into microwaves as they passed through your glass walls. Likewise, poly linings make things too darn hot.

The slipperiness of the lining helps me get it on over my head- no zippers or buttons. But because the lining is made of polyester, it’s too hot to wear in the summer, which is the perfect time to wear a white dress.

Quality linings, like silk, can be too expensive (although on fabric.com you can often find silk on the cheap). And if all you have in your town is a chain fabric store, chances are you won’t be finding any silk remnants. In that case you may have no choice but to compromise.

I took the quick route on hemming the lining by just serging the raw edge. After washing the dress maybe three times the line of serging has started to pull away & the lining is fraying.

Rayon is a nice alternative. It’s cheaper than silk & breathes well. If you’re opposed to rayon because it’s a bit squiggly & harder to control than cotton, give it a shot anyway. Rayon really isn’t much harder to control than a cheap poly lining. Just take your time & use a big, clear space to lay everything out. Pattern weights, pins & a sharp rotary cutter are your friends.

After my very poor lining decisions earlier in the year, I decided that if I’m going to use synthetics, they have to be satin. Even cheap satins are more heavy-duty than those $1/yd bargain bin linings. They can hold up to more wear & tear without coming apart at the seams after just a few washings. Plus, they’re absolutely fantastic when it comes to polishing your glasses.

Mad Men Inspired Dress

Still, satin doesn’t breathe & even a winter dress lined in poly can be too hot. If you’re like me & you HAVE to make something when inspiration strikes, but the thought of trekking to the fabric store is too painful you might have to use whatever cheap synthetic you have on hand. In such cases, I like to line the bodice in cotton & only do the skirt in poly. We retain a lot of heat in our torsos, so that’s the area that needs the most breathability. If your skirt is nice & big (room for air circulation) a poly lining might not matter so much when it comes to heat retention. And if you have poor circulation in your legs, you might want that polyester there.

Quilting cotton lining the bodice & poly for the skirt has made for a breathable & comfortable dress. It’s also held up to numerous washings without any tears or visible weakening of the seams.

I’m still learning when it comes to linings. If you have any other suggestions on good, alternative fabrics, please let me know (do those breathable poly linings really work?). Also, in the knitting community silk is seen as something that retains heat. In sewing circles I’ve only heard it mentioned as something that is breathable & good for hot weather. Anyone know what the real skinny on silk is?

Free Basic Patterns for Embellishing

The Bishop Method of Clothing Construction

Cindy’s guest post on embellishment ideas was very inspiring. Creative use of bias tape & cording can make for little doses of frosting to spice up your wardrobe. Here are some free patterns that can serve as a good jumping off point for your embellishment experiments.




Designer Dresses

For more ideas, here are some tips on changing patterns for different looks. Also, Burda Style offers a free pattern every Friday. This week’s is a pleated skirt that doesn’t lend itself as well to embellishments, but you can expect future patterns to be good for adding a bit of frosting flair.

If you loved the designer dresses, search showstudio for free designer patterns that aren’t basic.

Vegetable Dresses

We’ve had a lot of sugar so far during Frosting Fortnight. To keep our teeth from completely rotting, here’s some low sugar frosting made with vegetables & a few other food groups. Generally much less revealing than chocolate, but also less fantastical (no bird cage skirts), veggie dresses are still gorgeous. And despite not being moldable, these creations are no less inventive than their chocolate counterparts.

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The Rules of Frosting Fortnight

Join us in our celebration of all things frosting while we rescue wardrobe orphans from locked up lives in dank closets as we pretend to be sartorial Princes Charming.

The rules are simple:

  1. During the two weeks of October 18th- 31st wear the garments you’ve made that never see the light of day or that you consider to be too out-there/over-the-top/fancy-schmancy/crazy to be worn as part of your everyday wardrobe.
  2. Participate as little or as much as you like, be it one day, none day, some day, or every day. We’re happy to have you around for as long you can be here.
  3. FF culminates in Halloween, aka International Frosting Day. But since this year that’s a Wednesday, feel free to wear & share your wacky Halloween costumes the weekend before or after.
  4. If you blog, grab a blog button & add it to your site. Or, grab the poster & add that to a post. Get these goodies at the end of this post
  5. And if you’re so inclined, share your creations with us on various social media platforms.

Social Media Platforms:

  • Flickr, the main home of the FF online community. Upload photos, start discussions, see what everyone else has made. Take the FF pledge!
  • Facebook, the beatnik bistro of choice for those of you who want to share your frosting exploits with friends & family.
  • Twitter, the local diner, where you can catch up on the latest FF news & gossip. Follow us at @DDisciplines & @3HoursPast, #FrostingFortnight
  • Pinterest, a drive through movie theater featuring a board with some of my favorite outfits culled from our fantastic group members.

Spread the frosting love:

Copy the code  for the blog button (available below each button) & add it to your widgets bar. If using WordPress, paste the code into a text widget (under the Appearance menu). If using Blogger, paste the code into the ‘html/javascript’ gadget (under the Design tab).

125×125 pixels
<div align="center"><a href="http://disparatedisciplines.com/2012/10/16/the-rules-of-f…ting-fortnight/ " title="Frosting Fortnight" target="_blank"><img src="https://disparatedisciplines.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/neu-draw.jpg" alt="Frosting Fortnight" style="border:none;" /></a></div>
200×200 pixels
<div align="center"><a href="http://disparatedisciplines.com/2012/10/16/the-rules-of-frosting-fortnight/" title="Frosting Fortnight" target="_blank"><img src="https://disparatedisciplines.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/175-ff-blog-button.jpg" alt="Frosting Fortnight" style="border:none;" /></a></div>

Right click on the poster, select ‘copy image address’ or ‘save image as’ & add to your blog’s photo gallery.

Things start off in just a few days, so make sure to check back here & at Steph’s for the latest goings-on. 

My Foundation Garment Challenge Plan

I’m very excited about my Foundation Garment Challenge & have already gotten started on it!

Since I won’t have time to make everything I’d like to this fall, I will focus on three foundations garments to solve my most pressing wardrobe problems. Why three? Three is a lucky number in Chinese & it’s a manageable number, given the rest of my work/life schedule.

I’ve been fantasizing about having a nice jacket & have mentioned this one more than a few times, Issey Miyake Vogue 1186. 

In a previous post I mentioned the expected versatility of this fabric as a camisole. I also want it because I’m tired of my single color camis & have been craving something fresh. The only hiccup is I don’t yet have a pattern in mind. I may draft one. Do you have any ideas?

My work cardigans are boring, bland & ughghghghh. I like this one by Cookie A as a replacement for my snooze-inducing work ones & as a good all-around wardrobe anchor. Plus I’m thinking of making it in a bold orange, an new color for me. 

The Foundation Garment Challenge


The Foundation Garment ChallengeWhat is a foundation garment say you?

  • A garment that goes beyond the simple, solid colors, materials, or construction of basic garments.
  • Any garment that can anchor multiple outfits as the focal point.
  • Often a garment upon which you can layer other things.

The first criterion is the basic standard & can be paired with any of the others. For example, a solid colored t-shirt made in a pattern that emphasizes the seam lines of the segmented bodice would be a foundation garment based on the first criterion. A simply constructed dress in a standout, patterned fabric that can easily be paired with other things in your wardrobe to make multiple outfits is a foundation garment because it meets all of the criteria. But a simply constructed & solid black camisole? Not a foundation garment. That’s a basic.

Read this post for more on how to use foundation garments in your wardrobe.

Will You Play Along?

If you’re interested in updating your wardrobe, will you play along with me? The main rule is that whatever you make has to be a foundation garment for you. What one person defines as going beyond the simple cut or color of a basic garment depends on their own closet & sewing experience. As for numbers, you need to make at least one, but more would be ideal. If your schedule allows, don’t just make a single garment, try to make a foundation for your entire wardrobe. Finally, finish your garments by the end of December so you can begin the new year headed in the right direction.

A good way to start is to assess your wardrobe, see what holes you have, then decide how you want to fill them. Questions to ask yourself include:

Now you’ve found your wardrobe holes, go down the list of things you’d like to make & think of ways to make those items more special. Perhaps you find that you lack a basic shift dress. But how can you make it  a foundation garment? Look for a pattern that has interesting seam lines & that can be easily layered with a few jackets or sweaters you already own. Next, pick fabric in a bold color &/or a luxurious fiber like a silk & linen blend.

This challenge is all about making things you will love & wear on a regular basis. The goal is to help form the foundation of your wardrobe.

Let me know if you’re keen on participating! If people are willing to hop along with me I’ll figure out how to make that little image up top into a blog button. Or maybe you can help me think of a better button design.

Combining Aesthetics with Foundation Garments

Since I decided to re-make my wardrobe, I started gathering all the patterns I like to see how they’d fit together. I didn’t get far.

Wardrobe planning, wardrobe, pinterest, clothing, sewing, knitting
The top row is mostly full of Jane Austen Knits patterns & the bottom is full of designer Vogue sewing patterns.

It seems I’m doing a Jekyll & Hyde act with two distinct aesthetics: sleek & modern, antique & very feminine. The divide also separates media, with my chosen sewing projects being modern & my knitting projects decidedly un-modern (save one).

Basics v. Foundations

Basics are generally simple separates in solid colors- i.e. a regular black shirt or a-line skirt. But in my Dressing to Alter Your Mood post I talked about making special pieces. I want to go beyond the simple basics you can find off the rack & instead sew interestingly cut patterns. I want to sew foundation garments. Disclaimer: I’m not saying that foundation garments are better than basics. For me a good wardrobe is a balance of things that includes both.

Foundation Garment

  • A garment that goes beyond the simple solid colors, materials, or construction of basic garments.
  • Any garment that can anchor multiple outfits as the focal point.
  • A garment upon which you layer other pieces.

Foundation garments should act as bridges between the two aesthetics so my overall look is more cohesive.

Silk, fabric
A silk fabric from Mood I have dubbed shattered tundra although looking at it from this angle I can see a chicken taking up the right side of the frame.

Take this beautiful silk, a fabric that’s been waiting almost a year for the right project. It will become a camisole. It can be paired with a multitude of things like skirts, pants, under a jacket, under a sweater, with a scarf, etc. It will become a foundation garment not because of an interestingly cut pattern, but because of the design on the fabric & the yumminess of the silk. Since I should be able to pair it with modern patterns like the Issey Miyake jacket & separately with Miss Morland’s Neckcloth, it can also bridge my aesthetic divide. And it should be able to hold up (mostly) on its own too (don’t worry I won’t be roaming the streets in just a cami & skivvies!). I should be able to pair it with a plain pair of pants or skirt & have it be the focal point of the outfit, no need to layer anything on top of it. It can stand on its own.

Wardrobe, camisole, scarf, jacket, Issey Miyake, planning, Vogue patterns, Jame Austen knits
Once this fabric becomes a camisole it will be able to go with both pattens separately, bridging the divide between my two aesthetics. The neckcloth will be made in burgundy & the jacket in a similar color to that in the picture.

While basics are mainly separates, foundation garments can also be dresses. The black DKNY dress will probably work with the Issey Miyake jacket & as a different outfit with a cardigan I already own. Its interesting design will allow it to function separately as its own outfit without anything layered over it.

DKNY, dress, vogue patterns
DKNY dress, Vogue 1280

The design won’t just separate this dress from other little black dresses, the fabric will too. I’m planning on making it in a moisture-wicking fabric by Nike. Why aren’t more things made with such fabric? Every summer I see business people sweating it out in their suits & I think they’d be much more comfortable if their jackets were moisture-wicking. Ditto bras- no one likes a sweaty boob! But back to the dress, the moisture-wicking fabric will make it wearable beyond the fall & into the summer.

Shifting Color Foundations

It seems my color pallet is changing as well. I’ve decided to make up many of my basics in black & gray, whereas the previous year saw brown as my foundation color. I don’t want to ditch my brown things- I really like them! And while I’ve combined black & brown in the same outfit before, I generally wear them separately. The solution will be to make my accessories in colors other than black or brown. That way, I’ll be able to pair them with my old things & new.

I also seem to be taking a shine to colored pants. The brightly colored skinny jeans that were popular awhile ago reminded me too much of the leggings I wore in the 90’s & I really don’t want to go back to my childhood. But the other day I saw a woman in forest green skinnies & they looked fantastic. I had been planning on making a pair in black or gray, but after seeing the green ones on the street & the burgundy ones by Katherine Tilton, I think I want to make some pants in jewel tones.

Katherine Tilton, pants, Vogue 8837
Katherine Tilton pants, Vogue 8837

The jewel tones would let me coordinate them with my black & brown wardrobes. A solid pair of pants could also span my sleek & feminine aesthetics. Do you think colored skinny jeans are passé now? I think I might make them anyways.

I like where my wardrobe is headed. I’m off in a new direction but incorporating what I already own & combining my love for different styles with quality pieces. Never before have I made such a conscious effort to evolve my wardrobe. This planning is fun! Come on over & see my evolving wardrobe ideas on Pinterest.

Your Thoughts

Do you agree with my definition of foundation garments v. basics? I’d love to hear your definitions. I only just came up with this one & I’m sure if I looked around I’d find more thoughtfully written articles on the subject. Please pass along any you know of.

Dressing to Alter Your Mood

A Call to Remake My Wardrobe

I’ve been thinking about making over my wardrobe for awhile (probably since Me Made May). Many of my basics are getting old & you can’t wear a black shirt & look good once it’s faded to gray. White shirts look awful all pilled up. Elastic waistbands become pretty dowdy once the elastic has stretched out. These things can also wear on your self esteem.

I don’t want to replace my run of the mill shirts & skirts with run of the mill me made garments. That’s not why I sew. I’m on the lookout for interestingly cut patterns.

Dressing to Fit Your Mood

Oak Alley, dress
I was ecstatic to be at Oak Alley Plantation (inspiration for Twelve Oaks in the book “Gone With the Wind”, not the location where they shot the movie, but much prettier). This special occasion called for a bright & twirling dress, the one I made for my college graduation.

When I’m happy I wear bright & often form fitting dresses & skirts. When I’m depressed I wear looser solids in darker colors. There’s a special outfit for when I want to blend in.

Sometimes wearing something I’ve made can give me a boost all day long with plenty of good warm & fuzzies.

When I’m really depressed though, I don’t want to wear anything I’ve made because I want to wallow. Pity party for one. Warm & fuzzies not welcome. I’m no fan of martyrism, but I think everyone feels bad for themselves at some point. When I’m in a depressed mood I wear baggy & sometimes frumpy things- jeans with big sweaters are great for this. Consequently, I feel dowdy & a bit slovenly all day, which just feeds into my inner sturm und drang.

Audrey Hepburn, jeans, sweater
If only we could all look as chic & energized as Audrey when we don a plain sweater & jeans.

If I re-make my wardrobe so it only has things I love, will that help keep me from wallowing as much when I’m having a bad day?

Will making my own sweaters & jeans bring me closer to happy Audrey & further from looking like a stressed collegiate slob? Sure, it won’t magically turn my frown upside down as all my woes vanish in the breeze, but can it make a tiny difference? Small things add up to big things.

My Plan

If my closet is only full of interesting designs that are almost exclusively made by me, I won’t be able to “punish” myself & indulge in my mopey feelings by not wearing an outfit I’m proud of- although I suppose I could still sabotage myself by wearing things that clash, but I don’t want to know how down in the dumps I’d have to be to do such horrid things. Sidebar, planned clashing can be very fun.

This RTW top has interesting sleeves & is the type of thing I’d like to make.

Shirt, sleeves
Look at the sleeves on this RTW top, they’re segmented into three parts.

I made this Vogue top this summer because of the interesting cut of the raglan seams.

t-shirt, raglan, sleeves
These raglan sleeves run parallel to the shoulders & plunge downward to the armscye. A seam runs down the top of the sleeves as well, helping give shape & lessen wrinkles.

I love this Issey Miyake jacket. The side front seams by the pockets subtly curve away from the body because they’re not sewn down. The pants also appeal to me, but I’m not sure how or where I’d wear them. Issey Miyake, Jacket, pants

Another Issey Miyake that I have to make, but I haven’t been able to find fabric with a big enough grid. Has anyone seen any?

Issey Miyake, tunic, grid

I like this LiaLia dress, but am unsure if I’d wear it because of the exposed back- I refuse to let my bare skin touch the dirty Chicago Transit Authority seats. Perhaps a cardigan.LiaLia, dress, Vogue, pleats

I’m drawn to the intricately folded bodice on this DKNY dress, but have been having difficulties finding stretch cotton wide enough.

DKNY, dress, Vogue

I’ve got my fabric ready to go for this dress, but it seems like it will take a long time to complete & I have so many projects to work on. DKNY, dress, Vogue

Everything you’ve seen so far have been basics that aren’t basic. Taking a unique design & making it solid or in a few different shades of the same color makes it basic for me. Solid colors will give my wardrobe versatility as I’ll be able to mix & match more things. The interesting designs will help me love what I’m wearing, which should help buoy my mood. This will especially come in handy as the days get darker & the dreaded holidays approach.

Your Plan

If you buy my idea that self-made clothing can help boost your mood when you’re glum, will you start planning your sewing projects around things that could make you happy on a daily basis?

What’s your favorite color? Go through your closet. Do you need to make more things in those shades or do you have plenty already? When you walk down the street & see someone wearing something you’d love to have, what about it catches your eye?

Think about the things you wear all the time & how you can make them more interesting. Would changing the cut of things appeal to you like it does to me? Or maybe you need to use different materials, like sewing up a very basic camisole in pure silk.

If you’re always drawn to prints on other people, but don’t think you can pull them off, try incorporating little bits. You know those dresses that have a band, or a sash, just under the bust but above the waist- make the main fabric in a solid & choose a matching print for the sash. Or, you could edge your shirts & skirts like I did with this top.

t-shirt, trim
Detail of green trim on a scoop neck t-shirt.

Conversely, if you wear a lot of prints but are drawn to the solids you see on other people, take one of your favorite patterns & reinvision it as a solid or color blocked. I used McCall’s 6561 for my veggie dirndl dress, but it was designed to be color blocked. It would be a nice pattern to try out more solid fabrics if you’re used to working with prints.

color block, dress, McCall's
My version is much less wrinkled on the bodice than what you see on the model, so don’t let that picture put you off. Plus it was pretty easy to sew up all the different pattern pieces.

So what do you think? Is dressing to alter your mood a bunch of phooey? Or do you think those small changes add up?

Sewing for the Life You Want

There has been a lot of talk around the blogosphere about sewing cake vs. frosting, ie basics that you can wear in your everyday life vs. fun things that you can’t wear on a daily basis. I understand this sentiment- it’s why I sewed a few basic t-shirts & skirts this summer. However, I also find some of it a little difficult to understand. If you’ve been following my blog, you may have noticed I have a habit of making highly patterned & colorful things. I also have a tendency to wear vintage dresses as everyday dresses, where a lot of people I’ve met stick to jeans & t-shirts for their basic wardrobe. My skewed view has helped me realize there’s an important & valid reason to sew fripperies in addition to the necessities of life.

I enjoy wearing 50’s inspired dresses to work when others are used to wearing basic jeans or skirts with blouses. This has inspired one of my co-workers to wear more dresses & I only get weird looks occasionally (alright, really just from the one lady, but we all know someone like her).

We sew fun things because that’s the life to which we aspire. We want to be able to go to a grand ball in a lovely gown or attend regular fancy parties in smashing cocktail dresses. Why not? Why not sew those things & strive for the life that goes along with them?

You know you’ve had dreams of dressing up & dancing with Mr. Darcy at a glittering ball.

So many times I’ve seen people write or talk about wanting to be that woman who always looks smashing & well-dressed, even at the grocery store. Sewing beyond basic jeans & t-shirts can help achieve that desire (not to say that a good pair of jeans & t-shirt can’t make you look great, but that’s another post- the topic of putting together a cohesive wardrobe is touched upon here).

I like my sewing to have some utility & don’t want to make something I’ll never wear. But sewing is supposed to be fun too. It’s fun to make outlandish outfits. Just because they’re outside our normal, everyday garb doesn’t mean we shouldn’t sew them anyways. Sew your basics, but don’t not sew a pattern you love just because you don’t think you’ll be able to wear it anywhere. Only sewing basics can take some of the fun out of sewing if you’re always itching to make something more grand.

Incorporate your outlandish outfits into your lifestyle.

Go to a fancy dinner so you can wear your fancy pants outfit. Can’t afford a restaurant because you spent all your dough on silk taffeta for your 1950’s reproduction dress? Have a black-tie potluck party at your house or go on a fancy picnic instead. Yes, picnics can be fancy.

When one of my sister’s childhood friends was moving away she threw a surprise picnic for him. Decades prior they had had a candlelight dinner on the beach post-prom with a spectacularly romantic view of downtown Chicago. She recreated that picnic in the same spot with a folding table (covered with a tablecloth), fancy food from a fancy grocery store & me as a waiter. Why not do the same thing for an excuse to wear your special dress & to create a fantastic memory? Making an occasion special & personalized, even if you spend a fraction of the money that you would at a high-end restaurant, will make for a more memorable event.

But you don’t need a party as an excuse. Going to the grocery store might feel a whole lot less like a chore if it means you get to wear your special outfit.

Just because you wear a nice dress to the grocery store doesn’t mean you’ll look like one of the Stepford Wives.

You don’t even need a destination in mind to enjoy your fun clothing. This one I’m working on: taking walks. I really like walking, but feel like I always need to have a purpose, ie a destination. I would like to start walking just for the enjoyment of it & think this might be the perfect time to don some of my not so office appropriate garb. Sure, I wouldn’t go for a walk in a ball gown, but a loud print &/or revealing cut that I shouldn’t wear to the office, why not?

No one wants to end up like Scarlett & go to a casual & homey birthday party looking like an attention-starved sexpot because you’re wearing an inappropriate frock that your husband forced you to put on. This is not the kind of thing I advocate taking a walk in on a whim, but a nice 50’s dress sans rhinestones with some wearing ease might fit the bill.

Change your basic wardrobe to match your sewing proclivities.

I have a thing for suit patterns. Looking at unique jackets makes me think about how much I’d love to make them. But then I think about how I almost never ever wear jackets or blazers & that they’d just languish in my closet, a waste of time & money. Wrong. I’m changing my style. I’m going to sew jackets & wear them. Why not? My work place is a mix of casual & dressy; I can wear a jacket & not look out of place. This doesn’t have to be limited to the office. I imagine I’ll like wearing nicely tailored & unique jackets with the brightly patterned skirts I’m fond of. I’m hoping to turn what would be a “specialty” item in my wardrobe into an everyday thing.

Take what you want to sew & make it work for you.

If you like sewing fancy things but have a casual lifestyle, find ways to make them as fancy as you want, but dress them down with a casual purse or jeans. Choice of materials & embellishments can make a big difference too. For a basic, everyday hoodie I used a lace knit & elevated the whole thing by edging it in some unique ribbon. Instead of ending up with a ho-hum hoodie I made something special.

A basic hoodie becomes special with the right fabric & embellishments.

Maybe your bent lies less towards silk gowns & more towards sewing office inappropriate patterns. Sew up your office sanctioned attire, but add a fantastically outrageous lining to it (right now I’m imagining fabric fit for a bachelorette party- let me know if you hear of such raunchy fabric). One of my go-to skirts is a plain brown a-line with some white edging. The lining is blue penguins. I can’t help but smile every time I put it on & know that there’s a secret in there only I can see. It helps brighten up my days in the office.

Office sanctioned on the top, fun on the inside.

You can also seek out interestingly cut patterns. Need an office appropriate black suit but think you’ll be more bored sewing the plain thing than you would be working at the office? I recommend looking at designer Vogue patterns. Issey Miyake has very interesting & complicated patterns that can also be modest enough for work. Channeling your energy from a complicated dress to a complicated suit might be just the thing. And doing it all in a solid color will let the interesting seam lines stand out.

Vogue 1186, an Issey Miyake design

Do you absolutely have to sew basic camisoles for work? Choose luxury fabrics like wool & silk blends. I saw a gorgeous & simple linen shell that was elevated by two rows of wing stitching down the center. Need a sports top? When I bought high-performance moisture wicking fabric the whole project feel more special & exciting, even though my pattern was basic. Make otherwise boring items fun to sew by being very choosey with your materials & embellishments.

If you you have the opposite problem & like to sew basic things but have a life that calls for fancier events, sew your basics & dress them up with great shoes or jewelry. For instance, I took my veggie dirndl dress (not office appropriate on top & I suppose not all that basic given the patterned fabric I used, but it’s basic for me) & paired it with a cardigan to make it modest enough for work. Now the dress can do double duty as a summer day dress & as an office outfit. Choosing a nice fabric or a simple embellishment can help people with this problem as well by being an easy way to dress up your basics.

The office appropriate version accessorizes with a cardigan & ballet flats. The hopping around town version goes with sandals & no cardigan, revealing the skinny bra straps that hold the dress up.

Sew for the life you want & make that life happen.

As I said, I’m making jackets & changing my wardrobe. I’ve already got my first one cut out. Also, many of my dresses are short sleeved or no sleeved, so I’ve been sketching up some interesting cardigan designs to keep me warm at work. I’m tossing the boring cardigans I dislike & making ones that I love. I hope this will extend my summer dresses into the spring & fall. Plans are also in the works for a fancy pants house warming party so I’ll finally get the chance to wear this gorgeous vintage dress. Will you follow along with me & change your wardrobe? I think aspiring to the life we want & making it happen can make us happy. When I wear something special it gives me a boost all day long.

It may not look like much on a hanger, but this 1950’s dress is gorgeous. The pattern you see is embroidered, while the neckline & pockets are piped in velvet. Usually I’m not a fan of sparkly shineys on my clothing, but the studs on this dress add to its beauty. This dress goes with the life to which I aspire: simple glamour with good design & excellent fit, helping make every day special.

Your thoughts are much appreciated. Do you think we shouldn’t sew those big, costumey dresses or is it OK to embrace the frosting & go all out? Have you found a happy middle ground & are you planning on making your sewing proclivities match your lifestyle?