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?

The Busty Bunnies Dress

The Busty Bunnies Dress is so named because, clearly, this dress shows some décolletage. It’s also made out of a novelty 1930’s reproduction line entitled “Toybox” with little bunnies on it. I like irony.

I also just plain like bunnies. I’m a bunny, at least my zodiac sign is. Growing up, there was a tiny rabbit warren outside my bedroom window. So, until the day I get a pet bunny of my own (an albino with glow-in-the-dark pink eyes like Bunincula, which is one of the best children’s books ever), I will be snatching up fabric with little bunnies on it.

Vogue 8718’s dress pattern is a pleasure to sew. For one, I was actually able to use my “real” pattern size. The only modifications I had to do were bringing in the bust a little & the back a fair bit. I wish all patterns were this easy!

Here’s my review of the pattern for the Natural Fibers Contest. This is the first contest I’ve entered for sewing- fingers crossed- although there is some tough competition out there!

Pattern Description: Fitted, mid-knee, lined, sleeveless dress (option C) has pieced front bodice, darts, back zipper and back slit.

Pattern Sizing: 14-20, I made a 14.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes!

Were the instructions easy to follow? I didn’t refer to them.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I like that I was able to use my “true” pattern size with minimal modifications. I wish there were different bra sizes for the bust though.

Fabric Used: A 100% cotton 1930’s reproduction with little bunnies on it.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I shaved down the bust cups a bit. To get a better fit I also took in the bodice just under the bust, where there are mirrored darts. I can’t remember the technical term, but they’ve taper down on both ends instead of just one. For the part that tapers to just under the bust, I made it end like a regular dart so I could take up some excess fabric. I also lowered the hem by about an inch. Finally, I contoured the back where the zipper goes to match the curve of my back.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes! The dress just about fits like a glove, but has enough room to move. It’s very flattering & makes a great date night dress.

Conclusion: What else can I say? I love it. It fits well & the pattern on the fabric is so cute. 

The Seventh Make It Monday

Water kefir made with brown sugar.

This week I made water kefir for the first time. I’m not a big fan. I love coconut milk kefir & hoped I’d like regular water kefir. Thank gosh the boyfriend enjoys it. Next I’ll try making coconut water kefir & hopefully that will taste better.

What I made this week that I really like is the Busty Bunny Dress. It’s Vogue 8718 & it’s a fantastic fit. The dress highlights my curves in all the right places while being slenderizing. The fabric is a 1930’s reproduction print of little bunnies. I enjoyed contrasting a cute little print with an adult pattern.

If you’ve made anything this past week let me know! Check out the Make It Monday rules & come join me.

My best dress yet!

My best dress yet- apart from the wrinkles after wearing it all day.

I worked an entire weekend on this lovely dress & I am thrilled with it.  It’s very flattering, the colors are pretty & contrast well, the pattern (Vogue 8701) is a lovely retro inspired design, plus the skirt twirls!

I only had a 1/2 yd of Maude Asbury’s Kitchy Kitchen quilting cotton in bright orange & I couldn’t figure out what to do with it. So pretty & soft. I decided to use it for the lining of the bodice & it works perfectly- it makes me smile when I see it & it’s breathable. But best of all, it looks great against the dark purple of the fashion fabric. Speaking of the fashion fabric, it’s a substantial twill with a light, burnt umber grid on it. The lining helps bring out the orange tones in the grid.

When I attached the lining at the neckhole, the orange peeked out & winked at me. So I stitched it down to be visible from the outside & added a belt of matching fabric.

Oh the belt! I had tiny, teensie, itsy-bitsy scraps of fabric left from the bodice. Not enough to make a belt, at all- but I did it!

I used fashion fabric on the back & interfacing instead of belting. I did not want to go to the fabric store & spend more money. I had a 1-1/2in buckle & tiny 1cm buckles, but I thought the belt looked best at 1″ wide. So, I made my 1″ wide belt & used two of the smaller buckles. Bingo!

I am very proud because I managed to make it so that none of the backing shows around the edges of the belt. I also hand stitched much of the two 1 cm wide parts of the belt.

As for the rest of the dress, getting the fit right was a little challenging. I accidentally bought the pattern up to a size 12, when I’m a size 14. This was my first time grading a commercial pattern. I started sewing by creating my own patterns & only recently began using commercial ones, so grading is new territory for me.

I’m not sure how well it went. I think next time I might just cut out a size 12 since I had to take in so much of what I graded out. Although it would probably behoove me to first measure the flat pattern & see how well that matches up to my own measurements.

Since the dress pattern called for a full lining & I didn’t have enough of the cotton, I used some cheap, red poly lining. It was on hand & saved me from spending more money. One day though, I dream of using only nice linings like silk.

However, the lining works well enough. Sometimes when I twirl I can see bits of the red, which is a nice surprise.

In these photos I’m wearing a crinoline, although obviously not a very poufy one. It added a nice hint of shaping, but the dress also looks very good without it.

I have yet to make up the same big four pattern twice, but I just may have to redo this one in summer weight material.

Twirling Time