75

Friday chatter: How often do you clean out your closet?

ballerina-slip

I had a major closet cleanse this past weekend.

I am pretty bad at getting rid of things, especially things I like or feel sentimental attachment to. I know I’d feel better without the clutter of stuff I don’t use, but it’s just. so. hard.

So my strategy this time was to challenge myself. I told myself that I needed to get rid of 30 individual items. These could be anything, from dried out nail polish I hadn’t gotten around to throwing out to cheap sparkly hair pins I’ve had sine I was a teenager.

Then a funny thing happened. When I got to 30 items, I decided to make it 50.

I got to 50, and I decided to try for 100.

By the time I was done, our living room was full of trash bags for donation, mostly clothing I never wear. I was even able to move all my clothing onto a single garment rack for the first time ever. I think I might start hunting for a pretty vintage armoire to put it in, now that it will fit!

Decluttering is addictive. psychologically, it makes you take a closer look at what you really need and what acquisitions are made on flimsy emotional pretext instead of true benefit.

I’ve also noticed that for the past week, whenever I think of acquiring something, I immediately think about how easy it will be to part with down the line. I went to the thrift store this week and didn’t buy a thing. And I was fine with it. I wasn’t disappointed that I didn’t find anything. I was almost relieved.

I do not aim to live a spartan, minimalist existence by any means. But I think it’s good to jolt yourself once in a while.

How often do you go through a major clean out like this?

PS: The slip above with embroidered ballerinas in tiny lace tutus is one of the things I really couldn’t bear to part with.

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12

Weekend reading: decluttering tips, homemade cleaners, rhinestones, and Italian fashion

camelia-petals

You guys, I am so excited for this weekend.

My parents are coming into town, and my dad and I are going to run a 10K together! My mom and a couple of her friends here are also going to walk the 8K at the same time. I’m hoping for good weather, though it looks like rain.

Hope you all enjoy this Spring weekend. Here are some good reads you might peruse with your morning coffee:

[image above from my instagram stream]

36

The Wardrobe Architect Week 11: Planning your pieces

wardrobe-architect-week-11

Are you ready to make your sewing plans?

In the last couple installments, we talked about choosing silhouettes for our new mini wardrobes and defining a color palette.

With those two things in mind, along with all the work we’ve done before on defining our style and prints that we like, it’s time to decide what pieces we need to create a coherent little wardrobe.

I’m going to outline the steps I went through. See if they make sense for you too.

1. Shop your closet

Before diving into all your dreams for the brand new wardrobe you’re going to sew, take some time to see what you already have that fits.

Again, here are my silhouettes. I’m also including variations on some of these silhouettes: the shorts could be swapped out with a mini skirt, and the slim pants with a slim pencil skirt.

capsule-silhouettes

After going through my drawers and closet, I found that I had several items that are in my chosen palette and fit into these silhouettes. Here are some things I found (items are similar, not exactly the same).

things-i-own

[images: see my set on polyvore]

2. Find the holes

Once you know what you have to work with, figure out what you need to complete your silhouettes.

This is a good time to decide how big you want your wardrobe to be. If you don’t have most of what you need in your closet already, are you comfortable with buying or making a lot of new stuff? If not, it’s best to keep your wardrobe very small for now and build from there in the future. If you anticipate having lots of sewing time and a big fabric stash to shop from, go to town!

For me, I found that I needed strappy dresses, strappy tops and tanks, and sundresses.

3. Shop for inspiration

This was the fun part for me. I looked around for inspiration that fit within my palette and came up with tons of ideas.

If you want to get really precise and technical, you could list out exactly how many of each type of piece you need and assign colors to each based on your palette. For me, I found that a more organic approach worked better.

4. Make a list

Finally, list out the pieces you need to make or acquire. Here are mine. You can do yours as an inspiration board like this (I used polyvore), sketch, or just make a list.

things-to-make

[images: see my set on polyvore]

Ok, so here are my lists.

To buy:

  • 1 ivory silk button down (I could make it, but I really just like the ones from everlane. Or I’ll try to find a vintage one.)
  • 1 pair of minimalist black flat sandals
  • 1 pair of sneakers – I like these linen topsiders

To make:

  • 1 ivory camisole top
  • 1 peach silk sorbetto tank
  • 1 tan camisole top with kitty print (from the fabric I bought recently)
  • 1 black silk camisole top
  • 1 simple full skirted dress in black and ivory window pane plaid.
  • 1 black silk slip dress (I’m just about finished sewing this already)
  • 1 blush pink silk slip dress (got this cut out and partially sewn already)
  • 1 pencil skirt with black and white geometric print of some kind
  • 1 ivory lace/eyelet full skirted dress
  • 1 silk kimono wrap in a pretty print (maybe sheer? I want something to cover my skin from sun but still feel light and airy)

Yeah. I know it’s a lot. But most of these are really quick and easy to sew, and some of them I already have fabric for or have begun working on, so it’s not as much as it looks.

I do need one new pair of flat sandals, because I completely trashed my last pair in Mexico City last October and had to throw them away before getting home. Similarly, I need new sneakers for my more active days (as much as I’d like to, I can’t ride a bike in clogs). I always seem to need new sandals and sneakers every summer.

Exercise

Try following the steps above to come up with your list of projects. I really enjoyed using polyvore for this, but you could use any tool you like: Pinterest, a sketchpad for ideas, a physical scrapbook or moodboard, a written list, whatever!

Next week, we’re going to be adding in more accessories since those are important too. After that, I’m going to have a very special free download to help you plan individual sewing projects. Fun times!

Discussion

I’d love to know what you come up with from this! Do you find that you need to make a lot, or just a little? Are there things you’d rather buy than make? How’s it all coming together for you?

63

Sneak Peek: The Colette Guide to Sewing Knits

knits-cover

I learned so much in the course of creating this book.

This was my first time acting in the role of a producer rather than an author. One of the awesome things about this is that I got to immerse myself in someone else’s expert knowledge for almost a year.

Apart from hand knitting, I’ve always been a wovens gal. I came into this project with some basic experience in sewing knits. I knew how to use my serger to put things together, I could figure out how to finish edges (like necklines), and I knew a few home sewing tricks (like using a twin needle to hem knits).

By the time we wrapped this book up, I could tell you:

  • Which knit fabrics are best for any project, and what to look for when fabric shopping.
  • Ten different ways your could finish just about any opening, like a neckline or armhole.
  • If you don’t have a serger, what kinds of stitches work best for edgestitching, topstitching, or seaming.
  • How and why to use different serger stitches for different parts or types of garments.
  • All about the myriad options there are for adding details and trims to knit clothing.

I also learned that I really want to buy a coverstitch machine someday. I’m in love with the chainstitch! Sigh.

Today, I just wanted to share the cover (above), and a few peeks inside the book.

knits-book-01-materials

knits-book-stretch

knits-book-tension

knits-book-edgestitch

knits-book-lace

Learning from Alyson was like taking a class from a master and I’m so glad we got to document it all into this book for you guys.

The book comes out April 15th, and I’ll be sharing more behind the scenes, knits tutorials, and book details throughout the month.

If you’d like to get a free chapter of the book before it’s released, enter your info below. We’ll be sending it out April 8th!

Get a free Chapter:


62

Friday chatter: Do you have time set aside for sewing?

oatmeal

I am definitely a creature of habit.

This is something I’ve discovered over and over in the course of running a business for the last five years. When I first started, I was on my own, working out of a spare bedroom in my house, setting my own schedule and doing things at my own pace. I had total control and freedom.

And it was tough. It was hard to know when work began and ended. Prioritization was difficult. I felt like I was always working and always not-working at the same time.

Since then, things have changed dramatically. I have a wonderful studio to commute to (via a short walk), a fairly set schedule, and a somewhat more well-defined role, not to mention three other people to help share the burden.

Of those things, creating a routine for myself has been the most beneficial thing I’ve done for my mental health and wellbeing. There is time for work, and there is time for life. I don’t freak out about work when I’m not there. This in turn has given me more space to appreciate everything else: my home, my marriage, my friends, my family, my garden, my spiritual practice, my health, my hobbies, travel. You know. Life.

I have routines built around other things too. I meditate every morning at the same time. I make breakfast (usually a smoothie or oatmeal, like the yummy baked cinnamon oatmeal shown above that I ate this week). I exercise almost every day after breakfast. Right now, I’m trying to learn some Spanish, so I do my lessons every day while I drink coffee.

Far from feeling confining, these routines free me to make fewer decisions and just do the things I want to do every day. There’s no agonizing or fighting with myself or balancing priorities.

This made me wonder if others have routines built around their hobbies and interests? Do you have time you set aside for sewing? I’m curious if any of you have created a sort of sewing “practice”?

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