Archives For Curious Handmade Wardrobe Challenge

We’ve got a little over a week left of the Curious Handmade Wardrobe Challenge. There’s been so much sewing talk over the past few months, and it’s been fabulous to stretch those creative muscles.

 

As we’ve shared our projects in progress and our finished objects over on Ravelry in the Curious Handmade Group, I know that more than one person has wished that there was a similar site for sewists. It’s been a big gap in the internet for years. Two brilliant women have recently stepped up to try to fill that gap.

 

Kate and Rachel launched The Fold Line on the first of October, and the community is growing rapidly. Obviously comparisons to a well-established and beloved place like Ravelry are huge pressure for a newborn website, but The Fold Line is off to an amazing start. Those of us who were there in the early days of Ravelry remember the joy of watching it develop, the celebration over each new feature, and the growing sense of community over time.

 

It’s so exciting to watch The Fold Line beginning their journey. I’m absolutely thrilled to see the progress they’re making, and I wanted to invite them over to Curious Handmade to introduce themselves, as a part of the CHW Challenge. I interviewed Kate to find our more about the dream that turned into The Foldline, how things are going for them, and what’s in store for the future. Welcome, Kate!
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katerachelWhy did you decide to build The Fold Line?
We wanted to set something up where sewists could come together and chat about what they were up to. We don’t know about you but we found trying to keep up with all the latest pattern releases and news was really difficult as you had to go to so many places to get it. We thought if we have all the sewing news in once place, with a option to chat to like minded people and a database of patterns to peruse we would want to use it! It started out as a idea and we spoke about it for months and then we decided to go for it. We did a lot of research and planning into what people would want but it’s hard to know what would be popular. “e decided to build a very simple social part of the site to start with with the idea to build on the features everyone wanted. 

What are the now 2500 “early adopters” most excited about?
I think everyone is really excited about hanging out with lots of people who are also sewing mad! My favourite thing has been chatting about everyone’s sewing stash: it’s hilarious and every sewist’s guilty secret. We set up a group called sell your stash which people have started selling off fabric they don’t want to other users which is really popular!

 

Are you knitters?
I used to be a knitwear designer so although I know quite a lot about yarn and the different blends I could probably only knit you a scarf! I’d really like to get into it, I like the fact you can take it with you and do it anywhere, unlike sewing. Rachel does a bit of knitting but is also a keen crocheter. She is making a lot of the animals from the Toft book at the moment, which are so cute and I keep asking her to make me one!

 

Do you have a sense of what sewists (who are not knitters) are looking for? And what about sewists-who-are-also-knitters? Do these 2 groups of members seem similar/different? 
I am pretty sure all the sewists/knitters have come from Ravelry, as they knew the format and got stuck into the groups and started chatting with everyone straight away! We were worried that because we don’t have all the features that Ravelry has that they would all be a bit disappointed but it’s been great because they told us what features they wanted which is what we’d hoped. We’ve booked in our developers to start on stage two next week which is really exciting.
The pure sewists have arrived and are really excited – having all the patterns in one place alone seems to be really exciting and a place to ask for help on fitting issues and a platform to share their makes with like minded people. 

Are efforts underway to recruit more designers and/or invite members to help build the databases? 
Yes we are starting to chase up all the designers that didn’t get back to us about being featured, we spent a long time making a pretty comprehensive list of everyone so this will be easy enough to do. I think how the site us up and running it’s much easier to show them what’s its all about! In terms of members we are hoping this to grow organically. We’d far rather have a smaller amount of really interactive users than lots of dormant ones!

 

What are the features you’re looking to add? Do you have a timeline? Is there a way for members to provide input?
Because of the way we planned it we have got a build starting next week and we are getting the following features added:
Pattern keyword search
Pattern wishlist to store patterns to like
Review Library  – to store all your reviews
Review page – so you can see all the latest reviews in once place
Reviews – featured on the homepage
We have a group on the site called ‘website wishlist’ and this is where everyone had been putting in their suggestions, pretty much the entire second build has come from members ideas – it’s been great! We are thinking about adding a voting poll for ideas too so members can add ideas and other members vote on it. Finally we really want to build an app as we think it will make it so much easier to talk to everyone, but we need to think about how we can do this: but it is on the cards!

Coming from the Ravelry experience (sorry, you’ll never get knitters to not use that as a reference)—I think one of the single most desired thing we’re looking for is a place to store our projects. For instance to be able to document that I started the “Washi” pattern by Made by Rae on 10/1/15 using “this fabric” (picture). I made the following adaptations, and had this specific kind of success or failure. I’d do these 3 things the same, but would definitely make an adjustment to narrow the scoop neck. If someone liked what I make (followed me), they’d be able to see over time what I’m making. On the other hand, if I were looking at the Washi pattern-they could see a link to all who had made this (to their projects). Do you have something like this in the works? 
Ravelry is SUCH and amazing site and you can’t find anyone with a bad word to say about it. A bit like them we are going to build gradually! We want to add all the features you are after but unfortunately neither Rachel and I are coders, so we have to build in stages because adding new features is really expensive. We really want to get everything in there but it will take time. The idea of a project store is great!

Do you plan to add the ability to search for a pattern by name of the pattern?
Yes we are adding this in the next couple of weeks!

How can we help you? We want this to be a great site that supports the great sewing community! 
I think it’s spreading the word! Although we have had an amazing response we have only dipped our toes into the amount of sewing enthusiasts out there. Also a bit more chatting in the groups. I think the Ravelry crowd know what to do but the newbies need a bit of warming up!

A huge thanks to Kate for visiting us, and most of all, to both her and Rachel for starting The Fold Line! It’s a wonderful gift to the sewing community, and I’m really looking forward to watching them grow.
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Today I start the episode with a little round-up of how our -alongs are doing, and then I have a lovely interview to share with you. I sat down with photographer and author Leigh Metcalf, who has just released a wonderful new book. London Stitch and Knit is a guide to the most beautiful and beloved sewing, knitting, and haberdashery shops here in London. We discuss the (impressively quick!) process Leigh went through to bring her book from dream to reality. It was a really inspiring chat for me, and I think you’re going to love it too. Enjoy.

Show Sponsors

Today’s show is sponsored by The Fibre Co, and their beloved Acadia yarn.

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Acadia is named after the oldest American national park east of the Mississippi river, a place of natural beauty where the sea and mountains meet, slopes are densely forested and wild blueberries abound. Acadia National Park is in the state of Maine, The Fibre Co.’s birthplace.  The yarn inspired by this beautiful region has a rustic look and a soft hand. A subtle tweed effect is created by the silk noil that is combined with a heathered base made from fine merino wool and brown baby alpaca. The yarn is a classic DK weight and makes a beautiful textured fabric that is perfect for next to the skin accessories as well as garments.

You can find Acadia at our other sponsor’s shop, Meadow Yarn:

Meadow Yarn 

Meadow Yarn is an inviting online retailer selling yarn, needles and notions. It’s a small, family business based in rural Suffolk in the UK. Meadow Yarn was born out of a passion for beautiful yarn and knitting accessories and aims to bring you a range of great products. Yarns stocked include madelinetosh, Eden Cottage Yarn, the Fibre Co and many more.

What’s in the WIP

Summertide Shawl MKAL

Just a couple of weeks left! We already have more than 70 gorgeous shawls in the FO thread, and I’m sure we’ll see that number grow dramatically in the coming days. The whole MKAL process has been exciting and extremely satisfying, but there’s nothing like seeing the pattern come to life in so many unique, beautiful ways.

Curious Handmade Wardrobe Challenge

I’m so impressed by how many amazing finished objects are showing up in the Ravelry Group. Everyone has really stretched themselves, and the results are amazing. As for my personal challenge, I finally finished my Merchant and Mills Dress Shirt, and I’m thrilled!

Next, I’m going to be making a brand new pattern that Squam has just released.

The West Water Tunic is designed by the wonderful Sam Lamb (who also has also written very sweet blog post about how it came to be.)

There’s an affordable and supportive video tutorial available, as well. If you order the paper version of the pattern before midnight on Nov. 1st, you’ll get the tutorial as a gift. At the moment they are only shipping the paper pattern to the US and Canada.

They’ve very generously given us a version of the paper pattern to give away, so be sure to listen to the episode to find out how you can win!

Show Links

London Stitch and Knit: A Craft Lover’s Guide to London’s Fabric, Knitting and Haberdashery Shops

Leigh’s website and blog

Leigh mentions the sewing class she took at Sew Over It, which has locations in both South and North London.

She also talks about the Oliver and S Fairytale Dress which she made for both her daughters.

In our conversation about how the book came to be, she mentioned a very helpful Tilly and the Buttons Post on Craft Book Proposals

When Leigh decided to start working on a book, she was inspired by the size, shape, photography and layout of Paris Made By Hand and by Amsterdam Made By Hand
by Pia Jane Bijkerk. I have both these gorgeous books so I could see why she liked the style so much.

Paris: Made By Hand: 50 Shops Where Decorators and Stylists Source the Chic and Unique
Amsterdam: Made By Hand

We talked a little bit about some of our favourite shops, and two we mentioned by name were

DM Buttonholes

and

Ray Stitch

Leigh is letting us give away a copy of London Stitch and Knit to someone in the Curious Handmade community. Details in the podcast! I’ve written a separate book review post, which you’ll find here.

Upcoming Events

Leigh’s Book Launch

You’re so welcome to join Leigh at one of her little celebrations over her book launch weekend. Feel free to bring a portable project to work on while you chat. There will be cake!

Saturday 17th of October:

Fringe, Muswell Hill: 11:00am to 1:00pm

Stag and Bow, Forest Hill: 3:00pm to 5:00pm

Sunday 18th of October:

Rye Books, East Dulwich:  2:00pm to 4:00pm

Online Reveal Party for the Curious Handmade Wardrobe Challenge and Summertide MKAL

Save the Date! Tuesday November 3rd

We’re all getting together on Ravelry and Instagram to showcase styled photos of our completed items from both of these projects. They’ve been such a huge part of my life for the last few months, and I want them to have a proper send-off. I’ll be starting a thread on the Curious Handmade Ravelry Group, and the hashtags should be hopping!

#CHWchallenge

#SummertideMKAL

There will be prizes and lots of oohing and awwing and generally a big celebration of our creativity. Can’t wait.

That’s all for this episode. Thank you so much for listening, and until next week, happy knitting.

Week two of Slow Fashion October has just finished. The prompt for this week, “Small” was actually a big one for me.

From Fringe Association:

Week 2, October 5-11: SMALL
handmade / living with less / quality over quantity / capsule wardrobe / indie fashion / small-batch makers / sustainability

A lot of those words have been coming up for me over and over again this past year. From my interview with Ben Hole a few months ago about his family’s ultimate small-batch one-flock yarn to the ongoing Curious Handmade Wardrobe project, I’m diving into these themes repeatedly. What’s funny is that when I saw the prompt “Small” my mind immediately went to a slightly different place. I remembered a project I made eight yeas ago: my very first pair of handmade socks.

socks

The pattern was Falling Leaves by Jessica Landers, and I’ll never forget about it. It was definitely a slow project for me! But I gained a totally disproportionate amount of joy from such a small garment, I learned how to knit a sock, started to learn how lace operated…I’m pretty sure I followed the chart upside down and back to front and it was years later before I realised why I could never get it to look like the picture (slow process alright). I also used a completely inappropriate yarn for socks but loved the project so much anyway that it didn’t matter that I could only wear them around the house and to bed.

With my current projects, I’m still stretching myself. Learning is still a slow process for me, and the results are still incredibly satisfying. I have just finished a single tunic dress. It’s a simple piece but the fabric feels wonderful. It’s a classic navy colour, which wasn’t the easiest to sew (at least not at night) but it will be a perfect capsule wardrobe piece. As a beautiful neutral canvas, it will look amazing with all my lovingly-knit shawls. After all the planning and talking about less being more, and quality over quantity, this piece feels like a real achievement…one small step closer to my ultimate goal of living with less.

Now I’m planning a skirt out of The Fibre Co (Dry Goods) woollen fabric. This fabric is a new venture for The Fibre Co and is currently very small batch! With this project I really want to relish every small detail of the process, from start to finish. I plan to draft the pattern to fit me and take my time designing it exactly how I want it. This is a garment I want to suit me and and make me happy and no one else, without having to care if its “fashionable” or not!!

I wrote a lot last week about my desire to live with less, and a more recent part of that process has been serious decluttering process. I went through my wardrobe pretty carefully, and selling/giving away so many clothes I didn’t love was a real lesson in not making rash, un-thought-out purchases. There were lot of things bought on sale because they were a good deal or in a rush because I was desperate for an event or change of size. They didn’t bring me joy. (A quality Marie Kondo talks a lot about in her wonderful book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.) Taking my time means I need a lot less things – and having a smaller wardrobe means it is much easier to see what will coordinate with what I have. It has dramatically shifted my shopping and making habits for the better.

Resources/links

Slow Fashion October: Week One

Helen —  October 5, 2015 — 2 Comments

As I’ve mentioned on the podcast a few times, I’ve been really excited about Slow Fashion October, a movement that Karen from Fringe Association is hosting this month. I’ve already been thinking a lot about the subject of slow and handmade fashion throughout the Curious Handmade Wardrobe Challenge. Karen’s invitation has led me to dive a little deeper into my own journey on this path. I’ve decided to blog my way through Slow Fashion October with a series of weekly blog posts in response to Karen’s prompts. I’ve been really enjoying the chats on these subjects on the Curious Handmade Ravelry group, and I hope the added richness of Slow Fashion October will spark even more wonderful conversations.

Here’s Karen’s prompt:

“Slow Fashion is a big subject, and I want every week to be inclusive of everyone who might be interested — from sewers and knitters to thrifters and menders and anyone just trying to be more mindful and informed about where their clothes are coming from and what environmental impact their buying habits have. So I’ve broken the month down into weekly themes that encompass everyone, hopefully—

Week 1,  October 1-4: YOU
First let’s introduce ourselves: Where are you at with all this / What first got you interested in Slow Fashion / What are your skills / What do you hope to get out of Slow Fashion October / What are your personal goals for the month / Do you have a special project you plan to tackle this month?”

It all started out wanting to live with less about 7 years ago. It was something that started in a very small gradual way and there have been several different influences and reasons for making changes.

A few years ago I started to get disturbed by my increase in consumption — partly prompted by the birth of my children — each affected me in quite different ways.

When I had my first child I foolishly spent a LOT of my precious maternity leave (and pay) shopping both in shops but mostly online, with one hand while feeding/patting/held captive with a sleeping baby on me, too scared to move. I thought I could solve every child rearing problem (that wasn’t a problem at all, in retrospect) with a gadget or soothing device. We survived the first couple of years of parenthood and my rate of shopping eventually slowed down a bit.

When I had my second I had started to think a lot more about environmental issues (something about having kids often prompts this awareness and it certainly was true for me). So by the time Lexie arrived I had a very different mindset

I had kept most of my baby clothes and stuff in the hope of having a second child – but before she was born I actually started selling and giving a lot of the extra things away. I knew that I didn’t need or want a lot of the extra stuff and that it actually just got in the way and slowed things down a lot of the time.

Then I returned to work but found I really didn’t enjoy my job any more. I started thinking that if I didn’t need to buy so much “stuff” then perhaps I didn’t need to earn as much.

I was very influenced by Leo Babauta at Zen Habits as well as other blogs on minimalism. I remember sitting at my desk reading them and starting to change my thinking and increase my awareness of my own behaviour. I started noticing that a boring or upsetting day at work meant a treat: ie shopping.

My best friend also passed away after losing a 4 year fight with cancer around this time so I had been investigating lots of topics around being healthier and less stressed. It seemed to make even less sense to be working in a job I didn’t enjoy to pay for childcare and a bunch of disposable clothes and stuff I didn’t really need.

Now I’m interested in dramatically reducing my and my family’s consumption generally but especially of plastic items.

I am still a long way from where I would like to be in this regard. I find it very difficult to avoid buying plastic and I still enjoy shopping and buying clothes. But I’m happy that I’ve also come a long way and have a lot less in my wardrobe and hope to make more of my clothes myself. I have all the skills I need to sew, knit and make things. For me the bigger challenges are finding time and not just quickly buying things for convenience sake. Also a challenge that we all face is sourcing the sustainably produced materials such as yarn and fabric.

I have sewn my own clothes since I was 7 and was taught by my mother, but stopped sewing when I was in my 20’s. I’ve been knitting and designing for a few years now but haven’t made many garments (yet!).

I will think about whether I can add another special Slow Fashion project to my making list this month but I think realistically, and to keep things nice and slow, I will stick with my Curious Handmade Wardrobe challenges of sewing the Dress Shirt by Merchant and Mills and knitting the Times Square vest by Norah Gaughan.

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I’m so thrilled to have my Curious Handmade Wardrobe Challenge collaborator Susan on the podcast today. Many of you have met her on Ravelry as Kizmet, and through her wonderful guest posts here on the blog during the challenge. We have a wonderful chat about Susan’s journey to sewing for herself, about how struggling through the lessons is such a valuable part of any process, and about how we and many other participants are doing with our declared challenges so far!

Show Sponsors

Today’s show is sponsored by The Fibre Co, and their beautiful Acadia yarn.

TheFibreCo_Logo CH

Acadia is named after the oldest American national park east of the Mississippi river, a place of natural beauty where the sea and mountains meet, slopes are densely forested and wild blueberries abound. Acadia National Park is in the state of Maine, The Fibre Co.’s birthplace.  The yarn inspired by this beautiful region has a rustic look and a soft hand. A subtle tweed effect is created by the silk noil that is combined with a heathered base made from fine merino wool and brown baby alpaca. The yarn is a classic DK weight and makes a beautiful textured fabric that is perfect for next to the skin accessories as well as garments.

You can buy your own Acadia at our other sponsor’s shop, Meadow Yarn:

Meadow Yarn 

Meadow Yarn is an inviting online retailer selling yarn, needles and notions. It’s a small, family business based in rural Suffolk in the UK. Meadow Yarn was born out of a passion for beautiful yarn and knitting accessories and aims to bring you a range of great products. Yarns stocked include madelinetosh, Eden Cottage Yarn, the Fibre Co and many more.

What’s in the WIP

Summertide MKAL: Clue 4, the final clue is just out now! I’m going to be planning an end-of-KAL online party to celebrate our finished shawls, and if I can manage it, I’d love to have a little in-person party here in London. If spoilers don’t bother you, check out the hashtag #SummertideMKAL on Instagram. Lots of inspiration there!

We have three wonderful sponsors for the MKAL:

Skein Australia

Meadow Yarn

MariaElenaBliss

they will all be offering wonderful prizes at the end of October. Believe it or not, it’s not too late to join us! You can do it!

Show Links

Susan and I mention a whole bunch of influences and resources that helped her start thinking about learning to sew.

Project 333 (starting today!)

A Playful Day’s Interview with Sonya Philip

Curious Handmade Interview with Beth Kempton of Do What You Love

Do What you Love Course

Paper Fifty Three App

Cal Patch’s Classes on Creative Bug [affiliate link]

Nicole of Stash and Burn

Elizabeth Doherty Sleeve Construction

The Washi Dress

Libby from Truly Myrtle’s Guest Post for Curious Handmade

So many adorable finished objects are showing up in the Curious Handmade Ravelry Group…check out the threads to see all the great makes we mentioned.

Alabama Chanin

Events

Fringe Association Slow Fashion October

I mentioned this wonderful event hosted by Karen Templar last week, and I’m excited to take part. It’s going to be a beautiful exploration of the handmade. She’s just written a lovely opening post on her blog. Join us! The hashtag is #slowfashionoctober and I expect Instagram will be hopping.

Truly Myrtle’s Spoil Yourself Stitch Along

Just a couple of days left in this event, and she has some amazing sponsors providing wonderful prizes. If you’ve been making anything for yourself in the last few weeks, post your FO to the Ravelry Thread

The Pebble Beach Workshop: This is for any listeners within traveling distance from London! I am going to be hosting my first in-person workshop at Makelight Studios. It’s a beautiful space, and I’m very excited.

On Friday the 23rd of October I’ll host a lace-knitting workshop based on Pebble Beach. I’ll take you through all the basics and most frequently asked questions. It’s a great way to stretch yourself creatively in a supportive and inspiring environment. Places are very limited, so if you’re interested, please do book early!

That’s all our notes for this week! Thank you so much for being a part of the Curious Handmade Community. I’ll speak to you next week. Until then, happy knitting!

 

Today I’m really happy to share another guest post from my wonderful Curious Handmade Wardrobe Challenge collaborator, Susan (aka Kizmet on Ravelry.) When you start talking about creating a mindful wardrobe, you run into a huge amount of terms and trends. Susan has been courageously exploring them for us, and today she takes on what may be the most revered notion of all: the capsule wardrobe. It’s something I’ve been interested in for ages, and this post is packed with so much great information. Susan will be joining me on the podcast tomorrow, so be sure to drop in for even more handmade wardrobe goodness!

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One of my finished Curious Handmade Wardrobe Challenge pieces!

One of my finished Curious Handmade Wardrobe Challenge pieces!

When I started to explore the idea of a creating a thoughtful wardrobe with a focus on “handmade wardrobe”-I came across a couple of terms frequently. I wrote earlier about one of them-the uniform. Smartly, I chose the easier concept first.

The other term that comes up even more frequently is the Capsule Wardrobe.

Here’s the Wikipedia definition:

Capsule wardrobe is a term coined by Susie Faux, the owner of a London boutique called “Wardrobe” in the 1970s. According to Faux, a capsule wardrobe is a collection of a few essential items of clothing that don’t go out of fashion, such as skirts, trousers, and coats, which can then be augmented with seasonal pieces.  This idea was popularized by American designer Donna Karan, who, in 1985, released an influential capsule collection of seven interchangeable work-wear pieces.

You can find scores of information and resources on capsule wardrobes–on YouTube, in blogs, ebooks and on Pinterest.

At the highest level, I think the idea of a capsule wardrobe is as tool for achieving a rational vs impulsive approach to acquiring and wearing clothes. I’d like to be more deliberate in my choices–particularly about wearables what to make. Making for me is more time-intensive than shopping, and in some cases more expensive, albeit with better materials and an end-product that is unique.

Will the capsule approach help me in this journey?

I’ll provide some examples of capsule wardrobes, my analysis of them, a brief list of capsule wardrobe methods and a couple of in-depth methods of how to do it. And if you’ve stuck with me that far, I’ll provide a bit of color–commentary on my experience with the process.

Pinterest is probably the easiest way to find examples. I gathered a number of them–you can see my collection here. I analyzed the capsules I collected into Tops (things you’d wear on top that don’t require anything else on top), Bottoms (pants/shorts and skirts), Jackets (tops that really require you to wear another top under them), Dresses, and then Shoes and Accessories.

Tops

Pants

Skirts

Jackets

Dresses

Shoes

Accss

Total

Lucky Dozen

5

2

2

1

1

2

13

One Suitcase?

6

3

2

1

2

5

19

15 Adorable Outfits Target

4

2

1

2

3

12

Christina Sparkle

7

2

1

1

1

3

2

17

9 pieces 9 outfits

4

3

2

9

Project 333

15

7

2

2

4

3

33

Vivienne Files 4×4

4

2

2

1

9

Bee Organize

5

2

2

2

1

3

2

17

13 going on 30

4

2

2

1

1

2

1

13

The Minimalist Mom

4

2

2

8

Capsule Wardrobe on a Budget

4

2

1

2

2

4

15

Outfit Posts

6

2

2

3

3

1

6

23

 

As you can see, the number of pieces varies overall with the size of the capsule. What I learned from this analysis is that they all have more top pieces than bottoms. Obvious perhaps, but still good to know. My other observation is more visual than mathematical: they all appeared cohesive to me with a very high mix-and-match factor, but consequently, the outfits were a bit similar due to that cohesiveness.

For capsule methods, Carrie LeighAnna’s YouTube video Which Capsule Wardrobe is Right for You, gives a really nice overview of a few of the common approaches:

  1. The No-Brainer Wardrobe by Hayley Morgan. There’s the ebook on Amazon for $7.99 and the workshop (ebook plus videos and more) for $29.

  2. Project 333: 33 items that you wear for each 3 month period of time.

  3. The Dozen Formula: sadly the links for this no longer work-but Carrie described the concept. 4 bottoms, 4 jackets, 4 blouses. That’s it. I find it quite appealing.

For each of these you can find lots of resources online. But there’s even more in the form of in-depth “how-to” instructions. These are instructions aimed at helping your overhaul or design a big and broad approach to your wardrobe, rather than focusing on the capsule solution.

  1. Wardrobe Architect: this is a free, 12 week program offered by Colette.

  2. The Personal Style and Perfect Wardrobe Workbook by Anuschka of Into Mind: this is a paid ($22) e-book with a 17 step program. But she also has a lot of good, free content on her site as well. The Quick Fix for Busy People a is very approachable and has an example of a PhD student who works in a casual office and wants to overhaul her “everyday wear.”

Comparisons of the steps in these 2 how-to processes:

Into Mind ($22)

Wardrobe Architect (free)

Dissect your Current Wardrobe

Making Style More Personal

Identify Style preferences

Defining a Core Style

Analyze Lifestyle

Exploring Shapes

Color Palette

Building Silhouettes

Select Key Proportions

Your Color Story

Map out your style concept

Organizing your Palette

Develop a signature look

Exploring solids and prints

Work out a basic wardrobe structure

Hair, Makeup and Beauty

Build your capsule wardrobe

The Capsule Wardrobe

Inventory your wardrobe

The Capsule Palette

Write a helpful shopping list

Planning your pieces

Explore fit and fabric preferences

Adding Accessories

Write a brand guide for your style

(bonus) Overcoming Editing Hurdles

Discover new item combinations

Style 10 perfect outfits

Build a travel wardrobe

Upgrade your wardrobe organization

I found across Into Mind first and have been working my way through it.

I’ve gotten quite a bit out of some chapters:

  • Sorting my closet into what I love, what I don’t and then analyzing why to identify themes

  • Collecting shapes or silhouettes, analyzing them to see what realistically would work for me in terms of lifestyle and how they look on me. This one actually had me “hacking” my current clothes into pinned shapes of the silhouettes I was attracted to, as well as going to RTW (ready to wear) shops and trying on some new shapes.

But I’ve gotten stuck in the middle where all of these themes, shapes, colors, looks, etc. are supposed to come together. I’d like more examples, or a support group, or some images of women who are older, rounder and comfortable with being older and rounder making this concept work.

So in the end (or in the middle, which is where I’d describe myself in this journey)–did the capsule approach help me?

I haven’t given up on my goals of having a wardrobe with more handmade items that go well together and that I wear for most of the days I’m working at home or out and about in the world with friends. The process helped me hone down which part of my wardrobe (work vs casual vs workout, etc.) I’m focusing on. Analyzing what I have that makes me feel the way I want to vs not-liking, and then looking at other sources of inspiration online, etc. has helped me identify the look I want. I’ve learned I don’t really want a closet of clothes where everything goes with everything else–that’s just too structured and too cohesive for me.

  • I’ve learned that my style is comfortable, casual, pulled-together and pretty.
  • I’ve identified my colors as gray, black, dark purple, pink, denim and near-white.
  • Rather than having a everything-goes-with-everything-else, I want 2-3 silhouettes, with a few mix and match items within each silhouette, and a couple of outfits that are off the grid for when I don’t want to look like I’m wearing another version of the same.

The  3 silhouettes that I’m pursuing these days: t-shirts with jean/shorts (with a cardigan or a shawl), tunics with leggings, and skirts with tops. Using the dozen formula concept I’d have “4” of each piece for each silhouette.

Silhouette

Tops (#)

Bottoms (#)

Other

T-shirts and Jeans

2 plain t-shirts

2 pretty-flowy t-shirts

1 jean

1 capri denim

2 shorts

Shawls-I have dozens

Tunics and leggings

Grey leggings

Black leggings

Denim leggings

4 tunics

Short cardi

AC bolero

Skirts and tops

4 tops (these can overlap with the tops I also wear with jeans)

2 A-line knee length skirts in solids

1 floral skirt

I below-knee skirt

2 “waterflow” cardigans

Miscellaneous shawls

I think by approaching it this way I have identified the missing pieces I want to make. And on any given day, I’d be able to choose which silhouette fits my day’s schedule and my mood, and then which of the options in that silhouette are calling me (and are clean.)

For the moment, this is enough for me, perhaps even a bit more than enough. It’s great to know that there are many people in the world way more dedicated to this endeavor than I am–they will provide endless inspiration anytime I want to go get some more!

CH 90: Heartfelt and Summertide

Helen —  September 4, 2015 — 3 Comments
Play

Show Sponsors

Today’s show is sponsored by The Fibre Co, and their wonderfully soft and gorgeous Acadia yarn. If you want to see how wonderfully this knits up, take a look at the two tone sample of my pattern Whispering Island!

TheFibreCo_Logo CH

Acadia is named after the oldest American national park east of the Mississippi river, a place of natural beauty where the sea and mountains meet, slopes are densely forested and wild blueberries abound. Acadia National Park is in the state of Maine, The Fibre Co.’s birthplace.  The yarn inspired by this beautiful region has a rustic look and a soft hand. A subtle tweed effect is created by the silk noil that is combined with a heathered base made from fine merino wool and brown baby alpaca. The yarn is a classic DK weight and makes a beautiful textured fabric that is perfect for next to the skin accessories as well as garments.

You can get your hands on some Acadia of your own at our other sponsor’s shop, Meadow Yarn:

Meadow Yarn 

Meadow Yarn is an inviting online retailer selling yarn, needles and notions. It’s a small, family business based in rural Suffolk in the UK. Meadow Yarn was born out of a passion for beautiful yarn and knitting accessories and aims to bring you a range of great products. Yarns stocked include madelinetosh, Eden Cottage Yarn, the Fibre Co and many more.

Introduction

I talk about an article in the Independent – 5 practical ways you can help refugees trying to find safety in Europe

Also the Childhood Bags fundraising effort.

What’s in the WIP?

Summertide MKAL

Hold on to summer with 8 weeks of knitting, camaraderie and mystery!

Summertide MKAL

CHWChallenge-button

Curious Handmade Wardrobe Challenge 

Announcements

September 5th is the Great London Yarn Crawl! There will be a special pop up marketplace, and there’s going to be an Indie Designer Spotlight stand. Several up and coming designers will be rotating through, and I’m lucky enough to be among them.

I’ll be there from 4pm to 5pm at the Chelsea Old Town Hall.

Stop by! It’s going to be a really fun event.

Thanks again for listening! Happy knitting ….until next week.

 * * * * * 

I am a Craftsy affiliate so if you would like to support Curious Handmade when you are buying supplies or a class, click through the Craftsy banner below: it means I’ll get a small commission. Thank you so much.

Craftsy

As all the excitement around the Summertide MKAL continues to grow, I’m stealing a moment to return to our ongoing Curious Handmade Wardrobe Challenge. I have another great interview for you, this time from one of my handmade wardrobe heroes, Karen Templer from the exceptional Fringe Supply Co (The shop’s tagline “Nice things for makers” is an understatement…her things are gorgeous.) She also writes an insanely inspirational blog, Fringe Association. Karen agreed to share her knowledge and journey towards a handmade wardrobe with us today, and I’m so happy that she did. Welcome Karen!

*****

Photo credit: Kathy Cadigan

Photo credit: Kathy Cadigan

Tell us a little about why you’re interested in having a handmade wardrobe.

First and foremost, I’m a control freak. 🙂 I want what I want, when I want it. But there’s also enormous creativity and joy and peace of mind in making one’s own clothes.

Which came first: Knitting, crochet or sewing?

My mom taught me to sew when I was young enough that I don’t really remember it, so I feel like I’ve just always known. But I have sewn only very sporadically during my adult years. I definitely knew more about sewing when I was in junior high school than I know right now, but I’m relearning pretty quickly.

I also was shown how to knit when I was a kid but I didn’t take to it. I did love crochet as a kid. But a friend taught me to knit in October 2011 and I was instantly obsessed. Have been knitting like a maniac ever since.

How often do you wear something you’ve made?

In the winter, you’ll find me wearing a hand knit sweater most days. I have fewer warm-weather clothes that I’ve either sewn or knitted, so less often in the warm months.

Do you want to have more of your wardrobe be handmade?

Photo credit: Karen Templer

Photo credit: Karen Templer

I’m in awe of people who are able to wear handmade every day, and love the idea of an entirely handmade wardrobe, but it’s not realistic for me. I run a business (Fringe Supply Co.) and a daily blog (Fringe Association), have very little free time, and I’m very slow — especially when it comes to sewing. I always have a lot of big plans about all the clothes I’m going to make and then manage to produce only a fraction of them. But I’m pretty committed at this point to not buying clothes made in faraway factories under unknown conditions, if it can be avoided, which is a big shift after a lifetime of mall clothes. I’m wearing things longer, buying less, and spending more per item to get things that are produced by known humans in known conditions. That might be a piece by a local designer sewn in a studio I’m able to visit, or something by a brand that isn’t local to me but is transparent about how and where production is happening, and ideally also about where the fabric comes from. I love supporting makers and small businesses, and want to be able to feel good about every garment in my closet, whether I made it myself or not.

Photo Credit: Karen Templer

Photo Credit: Karen Templer

Do you relate to “fashion” or “style” /or “capsule wardrobe /Or uniform? Do you have a uniform?

I have fairly limited tastes, so that does lead me to some semblance of a wardrobe. I’m mostly denim and neutrals, classic shapes but maybe put together in slightly unconventional ways here and there?

My house was built in 1953 and has old-school closets — not walk-ins. My closet has a little door, behind which is a shelf above a hanging rod. It’s small, in other words, and I’m determined not to exceed (or even max out, actually) its capacity. When you have fewer clothes, you want them all to work together and to be of good, lasting quality. So I do lean toward the “capsule” concept.

How did you start on your journey to a HMW?  

In the 80s, my school years, I did a lot of alteration/customization of store-bought clothes. Fashion was a ton of fun then — pegging your mens 501s, tailoring hospital scrubs, embellishing everything. But I didn’t make a lot of my own clothes from scratch until I started knitting sweaters. (I cast on my first sweater in the third month that I knew how to knit and have been knitting mainly garments ever since.) Making sweaters made me long to make other clothes for myself as well, which led me back to sewing.

Who inspires you in this journey?  

Beautiful Japanese sashiko thread, available from Fringe Supply Company. Photo Credit: Karen Templer

Beautiful Japanese sashiko thread, available from Fringe Supply Company. Photo Credit: Karen Templer

The entire handmade community, truly. As soon as I learned to knit, I started scouring the web for good blogs, which led me to lots of inspiring knitters and sewers both. Instagram is so awash in talented people I wish I could spend whole days just combing through hashtags. It’s so inspiring, all of it, and there are a lot of clever, thoughtful individuals who either got me thinking or taught me skills or whatever the case may be. Way too many people to name. But at the moment, I’m spurred on a daily basis by some really good friends in the industry who are incredibly prolific makers: Jaime and Amber of Fancy Tiger Crafts; Kate Gagnon Osborn of Kelbourne Woolens, who also sews most of her non-knitted clothes; Jen Beeman of Grainline Studio, who is also a knitter; and Anna Maria Horner, who is also about to get me started on quilting! Because that’s what I have time for, right?

When you choose a pattern, do you think about how wearable it is? Do you think about how well it will go with your other clothes?  

Absolutely. Obsessively. Like I said, my closet is really small and I only want stuff in there that can pull its weight. And again, I’m slow, so everything I choose to spend precious time on really needs to be worth it. I’ve always had a shopping rule that I’m not allowed to buy anything unless I can instantly make at least three great outfits out of it with other pieces I already own. With handmade, I’m trying to follow the same general rule, but at the same time I can actually plan out a whole wardrobe — calculating how an array of pieces will work together once they all exist. Of course, the challenge is to get them all to exist! But I do spend a lot of time sketching and planning and choosing the right fabric or yarn. Planning might be my favorite part.

What’s the most wearable item you’ve made?

Probably my charcoal grey Bellows cardigan. I can literally put it on over just about anything I own! And would wear it every single day from October through March if that were socially acceptable.

bellows

What pattern(s) would you nominate as “highly wearable”?

I’m not often one to make patterns as written/drafted – I tend to find things that are in the neighborhood of what i’m wanting and then bend them to my will. I think the key is knowing what’s wearable for you and then finding ways to get there.

Do you have any suggestions of great resources for new sewists?

Jen’s blog, Grainline Studio, and the Colette site are both chock full of great info. I’m not as well-versed in sewing resources as I’d like, but those are two I feel like i’m always learning from. But I also say find people on Instagram whose taste you vibe with (check hashtags like #handmadewardrobe and #memade and #knittersofinstagram and such) and pay attention not only to what they have to say about the patterns they’re posting about, but also the comments from everyone else. There really is a lot of wisdom in that crowd.

So many thanks to Karen for joining us on the blog today! I really love hearing people’s stories: it spurs me on in my own quest for a more creative life. For even more inspiration and wisdom from Karen, you can find her online here:

Fringe Supply Co.

Fringe Association

Instagram

*****

So, are you onboard with the Curious Handmade Wardrobe Challenge yet? There’s still lots of time, so take a peek at our very active thread on Ravelry. #CHWChallenge

Play

Curious Handmade Podcast 89

As we near the end of August – there is a definite end of summer feeling with more than a hint of autumn around the corner here in the UK. I always feel a bit stirred up around this time as I love hot weather and lazy summers BUT on the other hand…..knitting season right?!!

My guest on the show today is wonderful knitwear designer Elizabeth Doherty of Blue Bee Studio. We chatted back at Squam in June and I’m excited to be sharing it with you today.

Show Sponsors

Today’s show is sponsored by The Fibre Co, and their wonderfully soft and gorgeous Acadia yarn. If you want to see how wonderfully this knits up, take a look at the two tone sample of my pattern Whispering Island!

TheFibreCo_Logo CH

Acadia is named after the oldest American national park east of the Mississippi river, a place of natural beauty where the sea and mountains meet, slopes are densely forested and wild blueberries abound. Acadia National Park is in the state of Maine, The Fibre Co.’s birthplace.  The yarn inspired by this beautiful region has a rustic look and a soft hand. A subtle tweed effect is created by the silk noil that is combined with a heathered base made from fine merino wool and brown baby alpaca. The yarn is a classic DK weight and makes a beautiful textured fabric that is perfect for next to the skin accessories as well as garments.

You can get your hands on some Acadia of your own at our other sponsor’s shop, Meadow Yarn:

Meadow Yarn 

Meadow Yarn is an inviting online retailer selling yarn, needles and notions. It’s a small, family business based in rural Suffolk in the UK. Meadow Yarn was born out of a passion for beautiful yarn and knitting accessories and aims to bring you a range of great products. Yarns stocked include madelinetosh, Eden Cottage Yarn, the Fibre Co and many more.

What’s in the WIP?

Summertide MKAL

Hold on to summer with 8 weeks of knitting, camaraderie and mystery!

Summertide MKAL

CHWChallenge-button

Curious Handmade Wardrobe Challenge 

Interview with Elizabeth Doherty from Blue Bee Studio

Blue Bee Studio

Top Down: Reimagining Set-In Sleeve Design

Quince & Co

Squam Art Workshops

Elizabeth’s designs on Ravelry

Lina – the pattern that Elizabeth referred to that came out while we were at Squam

Elizabeth’s latest design Helvetica

Announcements

There’s just A FEW DAYS left to vote for Curious Handmade in the finals of the UK Podcasting Awards! It only takes a few seconds to vote, and every vote counts! and I’d be really grateful if you’d take a moment to vote for us here: all you need to do is scroll down to my photo and click!
ukpodawards-winners

September 5th is the Great London Yarn Crawl! There will be a special pop up marketplace, and there’s going to be an Indie Designer Spotlight stand. Several up and coming designers will be rotating through, and I’m lucky enough to be among them.

I’ll be there from 4pm to 5pm at the Chelsea Town Hall.

Stop by! It’s going to be a really fun event.

Thanks again for listening! Happy knitting ….until next week.

 * * * * * 

I am a Craftsy affiliate so if you would like to support Curious Handmade when you are buying supplies or a class, click through the Craftsy banner below: it means I’ll get a small commission. Thank you so much.

Craftsy

As we explore both the happiness and constraints of a handmade wardrobe various ideas have come up. Today Susan (Kizmet on Ravelry) is sharing a guest post on her thoughts around “a uniform”. My current uniform is definitely the jeans and t-shirt kind. And a pair of ballet flats as they are the fastest to get on and off as I am in and out of the house all day. It could definitely do with some work!

Thanks for a thought provoking post Susan.

* * * * * 

To be honest, until 3 months ago, I didn’t have a wardrobe. I just had a closet with clothes. Now I’m exploring the concept of a Handmade Wardrobe along with Helen, other podcasters like Libby from Truly Myrtle and designers like Cal Patch, as well as dozens of challengers in the Ravelry Curious Handmade forum. While exploring this concept-two words keep reappearing: Uniform and Capsule. I think they offer two related but quite different approaches to a curated wardrobe.

In today’s blog post, I want to explore “The Uniform” with you.

The definition of Uniform includes:

1)   The same, as in character or degree; unvarying;

2)   An identifying outfit or style of dress worn by the members of a given profession, organization, or rank.

When you think of uniform, what does it conjure up for you?

For me, it’s-

– Nurse’s uniform (I started my nursing career in a hospital wearing uniforms. Now morphed into “scrubs”- which don’t only stay in the hospital anymore)
– Police uniform
– Doctor’s white coat
– Military uniform
– Bowling shirts, athletic team-wear in general
– School uniform

In other words-I think of work clothing that distinguishes the wearer with a particular profession, team-sport or school. One day’s outfit is pretty much the same, even identical, from day to day.

When I think a little broader, I remember my grandmother wearing her “uniform”-a cotton housedress with full-length apron over it. I have no idea how many of them she had-it could have been 2 or 10; they were memorably indistinguishable one from another, but they were definitely my grandma.

ways to look best

I’ve had friends who were both relieved and tortured when they first encountered a uniform requirement for their children’s camp or school. They claim to be cheaper and foster less competition in their wearers. And I know knitter-mothers who lament the coming school year’s need for yet another red sweater they feel compelled to knit for their growing child.

I worked with a woman who wore a uniform in the corporate world, and I of course noticed this. Every day, she wore a navy skirt, a light blue collared, button-down shirt and a navy cardigan style (collarless) blazer. Every day. I started to watch and confirm and then I watched how I first found this curious and intriguing. It was definitely a professional, polished “signature” look. I also noticed that I wasn’t noticing the men in the office who always wear their uniforms.

 

And yet among us, many are dreaming of their own uniform. In her Six Items or Fewer experiment, Heidi Hackemer found four reasons that drew volunteers to participate in this project and one of them was the desire for a uniform.

 

“Oh gosh, sometimes I just want a uniform.” What do we think a uniform would do for us? Would solve or improve for us? I’ll share my theories but really would also love to hear yours.

1)   Relief from decision-making: wouldn’t it be nice to open your closet door and pull out the next thing on a hangar, or one top and on bottom from the shelf and just put it on without a lot of thought and angst? It would fit, it would be “you” and your day wouldn’t start with an elaborate mix-and-match game.

2)   A distinguishable look or style-once selected, the uniform would be “you.”

3)   Ease of making (or focus in shopping)-my colleague surely selected her 3 piece uniform from ready to wear. Depending on what you selected for your uniform would shape whether you can go buy it if you choose, or make it. If you choose to make it, by making the same uniform pieces over and over, I think you’d better be able to get the fit down, buy the right amount of materials and make them efficiently (if that’s one of your goals).

4)   Creativity within constraints: once you have your basics down, you could play with the additional frills, aka accessories. This could be a real bonus for makers, as shawls, scarves, jewellery, even socks all could be the accompaniment to the basic uniform

What could be some of the possible uniforms?

Obviously, they could be anything. But some common ones that occur to me are:

  • T-shirt + jeans/shorts
  • Tunic + leggings
  • Dress + cardigan
  • Shell + waterflowy cardigan + skirt/pants

How about you? Do you have a uniform? What is it?

Do you want a uniform? Why?

We look forward to continuing the conversation over in the Curious Handmade Wardrobe Challenge group, share your Pinterest pictures and join the Instagram Game with #CHWChallenge.