October 15, 2012


Before I even start with this post proper, I'd like to apologise for the bad quality of the pictures. They are all phone pictures, taken in the mirror. I know that never has worked well, and never will, but it was the only way to illustrate my point without turning it into a major project.

I have been asked in the past to share more about my process. Of course, I understand this question, it makes sense to wonder where one starts. I sometimes post sketches to give a bit of an idea but I tend to be a "spur of the moment" kind of seamstress. I've often started a new project before even thinking about writing about it. Except for a few well-documented cases of long consideration, obviously (like the pinstripe dress).
I will often have some ideas for garments in my head which I may sketch to make sure I don't forget them and to work out options. Sometimes, I'll know which fabric to use for such a project, sometimes I'll go through my stash and sometimes I just know I don't have the right fabric. I usually pride myself at knowing fairly well what's in my stash. That is, until I actually start sorting through it.
Just as often, I start with fabric. I will get ideas about what to make just by seeing the fabric on the bolt and I often look through part of my stash when trying to decide on a new project.

Today, I did just that. I haven't sewn a lot lately and I spent a frustrating afternoon this weekend trying to knit with my new yarn. I don't know what I'm doing wrong, but I keep either dropping stitches or breaking the yarn (even at what should be a too low tension). I didn't manage to get past 7 rows. It's time to get back to what I know best: sewing. But what?

I decided to ask my (huge) stash of wool(-ish) fabrics. I'm showing you some of the things I looked at. All the colours are brighter or more intense in real life.

There is quite a bit of colour in my stash nowadays. This is a fairly stiff and heavy blue-purple wool with a noticable diagonal weave, 2 m of it. 60's coat for in-between weather or 50's suit with half-circle skirt, I think. I love the colour of this fabric and I think it suits me, but I'm not sure enough what it wants to be yet.

These 5 m are mystery fibre purple crepe (I think there is wool in it, but other things as well, things which cause more static cling). I always thought it was the exact same fabric as I used for my purple dress although I bought this lot later. And the colour is the same, however, this unused fabric seems to be ever so slightly thinner and have a bit more drape. I had some big skirt ideas about it, but I'm now also considering it as an option for a 40's inspired design with draped bits.

No stash-shopping exercise would be complete without a couple of "what the hell was I thinking" issues. Like this one: Orange with assorted autumn colours, a vague sort of plaid which is insanely loosely woven. The colours work for me, but that's about it. I suppose this is the sort of stuff one would use for a Chanel-style suit, but I'm not interested. 

This is another fabric which has already made its way into my wardrobe. The mustard yellow which I used for two skirts. I still love those skirts and I still love the colour. I have been thinking a lot about also using this fabric for a jacket or a dress but, looking at it near my face, I think I won't. So close to my skin, it makes me look a bit ill... I might try belt pleated trousers though, if I'm feeling brave.

I seem to have an unfortunate liking for yellow. This is a bright sunflower yellow. It's a fairly lightweight fabric with a lot more drape than the mustard colour. It so doesn't work near my face but it's so beautiful. It might be just what I need for a skirt with draped bits. In fact, I do remember buying this stuff with that in mind...

In fact, I have another yellow fabric, of which I didn't take a picture. It's a coat fabric and it miraculously works a lot better near my face. It's a bit darker and just a tad more muted than the one above which seems to make quite a difference. It will be a coat at some point. 
I have enough fabric for at least four coats and this is the newest, so I think I should use some of the others first.

Please don't think I'll only make skirts this winter but here's another fabric I can only see as a skirt. In fact, I want to sew this one up pretty soon. It's bright pink cotton. Fairly heavy stuff with a sort or flower texture woven in.

This is one of my few vintage fabrics. It's a strange one. No more than about 80 cm wide of good charcoal grey wool with lengthwise stripes which get wider and more colourful from left to right. Not easy to make that one work. I think I'll just turn 2 m of it into a scarf.

And what do you think about a half-circle skirt?

Reading what I've just writen, I seem to do nothing so well as illustrate the principle of "when in doubt, make a skirt"... 
I should mention that's also down to the choice of fabrics I took pictures of. There are also browns, greens, blues and of course blacks which I can wear near my face.
I have also been surprised at how often I seem to buy wool fabric thinking I'll make a suit. I love the idea of a suit, I like making suits but I don't really wear suits, so I shouldn't I keep stocking up for them. I may try again though.
And I have been playing with ideas for wool dresses, partly using those same suit fabrics, but I keep shrinking back from that as well. Dresses with longer sleeves in sensible colours... That would be frumpy, right? They would have to be either in bright colours or have something crazy and I have to sort out to lining problem (linings which are suitable for skirts are usually not the kind of thing you want to wear on your skin... and I refuse to buy silk to line bargain fabrics). And only use the thinnest wools, central heating you know...
There will also be another jumpsuit, I think. I have two ideas and the fabric for one of them.
Oh, and it's not just yellow and suit fabrics I buy to much of. My affection for plaid is rather unjustified as well. I have two plaid skirts, a bias cut one and one with pleats. I gave away a good length of plaid wool fabric in a fabric swap last year, because I couldn't image making anything from it. And I have two heavier fabrics with large-scale plaid lined up as candidates for coat-making. And yet, at the sale this spring, I bought 3 m of mainly grey and burnt orange plaid with a set as big as my head.... Really, why?
There are lots of pictures of adorable plaid dresses in vintage magazines but I'm not so sure any of those would translate well to the 21st century. 

The exercise did help to get me excited about winter sewing though. I've got some really nice fabric. I may still make a practical pair of black cotton twill trousers first, but then, there will be that bright pink skirt. And a New Look inspired coat in pale blue/grey, maybe from a Marion pattern. 


  1. Make suits, maybe pants suits, and then only wear them as separtes.

  2. That first blue-purple *needs* to be a coat. The colour looks fabulous with your colouring. The autumn coloured plaid would look great as a pair of (underlined if the weave is really loose) wide-legged trousers. I totally agree that the pink needs to be a skirt, and soon. I love having a few brightly coloured skirts in my wardrobe over the winter that I can wear with black boots and a black coat.

    I think I want nearly all your stash except the mustard yellows - I have similar colouring to you (although my red hair is somewhat faded and shot with grey now) and mustard has no place in my wardrobe.

    I haven't worn a suit for over 15 years, but I still look at (and occasionally buy) fabrics that would look great as a suit - even though I never wear them.

  3. I would love to read about you making some coats jackets and suits. I'm a bit jacket obsessed at the moment and have at least 4 patterns I want to try. 3 are vintage but the one I want to try first is the minoru jacket by sewaholic.

    I have never finished a jacket before because I always get cold feet when it starts to get a bit hard but reviews say its very straight forward.