sewing in collections

Hello! First things first, thank you so much to everyone who entered the giveaway. You guys are so observant and thoughtful! Your comments were a pleasure to read, and I appreciate your taking the time to write them. (I especially loved it when you mentioned Harrison!) Giveaways are so much fun, but they also bum me out a little – I wish I could give all of you a prize! Alas, we’ve got just one lucky winner this time, and her name is Tania S. Congratulations!

Just a reminder that quite a few of the pieces from the Sew Ready collection are on Amazon, which is a great option for those of us without a Studio Designs retailer close by. The Eclipse sewing table is available, and so is this sewing and craft table (great for cutting, and it folds down for easy storage).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Well, I guess that pretty much does it for January. I would say that I’m surprised how quickly this month has gone by, but I’m not, not at all. We’re to the point with our remodel that cabinets are going in and walls are being painted, so there’s been a flurry of activity here recently. So while that’s happening, I’m squeezing in as much sewing as I can. Lots to share in the coming weeks, and I’m really, really exited about all these soon-to-be-finished projects, both for the house and my closet.

We have walls and cabinets now! As I type this, the cabinets are being prepared to be painted, the walls have been primed, and countertops are being measured. We’ve picked out flooring and lighting, and I’m just so happy with all the progress. It’s starting to look like a house again!

The black and white collection is coming along nicely. All but one thing have been cut out and are in various stages of completion, and I’m excited to bring it all together in the next couple of weeks. I’m working on some of the usual suspects (skirts, blouses, and a dress), but there are a couple pieces that I’m especially excited about in this lineup. There’s a striped jacket I didn’t plan but is probably one of my favorite pieces, and an embellished blouse that is just really, really pretty and special. It’s all about the details!

You may have noticed some changes to the blog over the last week or so. Nothing major, I’m just adding a few relevant ads to the sidebar and finally working on links and navigation. Next on my list is giving the logo a little makeover and updating the Meet Emily page, but I’ve intentionally saved that for last. (Updating that page means that I have to change the line about Ty and I having two dogs to one dog, and I just haven’t had the heart to do that yet.)

It’s hard to write about yourself. It is for me, anyway. All the “I did this” and “here’s why you should follow this super awesome blog” stuff is kind of . . . weird. Even though all of the accomplishments and what-have-you are true and relevant it’s no less awkward to put it all out there. When I first started this blog in August (ish) of 2016, my goal (if you could even call it that) was simple: to use this as a creative outlet and share my handmade garments with whoever was interested. I was a year out from closing my business, and I was ready to get back into sewing for myself. I began sewing my clothes out of sheer necessity, because I had next to nothing in my closet. I had sold or given away nearly everything I owned, and I was down to shoes, sweats, a couple pairs of jeans, and a few tees. Initially, I made things as I had a need or when I just liked a pattern. It was only after I started to get into a routine and make more things and people started to respond to the content that I realized what my unique perspective was, and that’s sewing like a fashion designer.

The fact of the matter is this: I have a degree in apparel design, and I worked very hard to earn it. (Gah! See, does that sound icky, or what?! But it’s still true!) What I know is fashion and design, and I’m in a unique position to share a lot of interesting things with you. In college, we were encouraged to explore whatever design niche spoke to us (menswear, couture, children’s clothing, accessories, etc.), but no matter the category our professors emphasized the concept of designs being wearable, marketable, and consistent. Those things, along with the process of building a collection (who will wear this? what fabrics am I using? is the theme cohesive?) have stuck with me – and it’s where my mind goes when I’m thinking about my next projects, except I am my only customer or target market (which does make things a heck of a lot easier). The more things I made, the more my wardrobe grew – which meant projects started to build on one another. This blouse will be perfect with that skirt I made last spring! These pants will go so well with that cardigan I made a few months ago!

I’m also always thinking about things in terms of color story. That’s another thing that you consider when designing a collection, but it’s also something that makes sewing your own clothes just really, really fun. Be your own fashion designer! This really hit home for me last summer. I dabbled in collections last year, but they weren’t as cohesive or comprehensive as I would have liked. By the time summer rolled around, I had some very clear ideas about what my needs were for the season and what I wanted to make. I got into the swing of it, and I’ve never looked back.

I’m writing this post today because I think it’s high time I clarify what exactly I’m doing here. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately: what my message is, what makes my little corner of the sewing blogger community special, and what I want to share. The concept of sewing capsule collections is not new, but I like the idea of taking that idea up a notch to include a color story and an expanded collection (capsules are typically small and very basic). Why should there be limits on things? Instead of thinking about a sewing a handmade wardrobe piece by individual piece, let’s think about it like a designer would: how well things coordinate and wear together, what colors work best for us and our lifestyle, and how new garments fit in with the rest of what’s in our closet.

Probably the best part of this message is that people are starting to respond to it and put it into practice. I’m seeing more and more coordinating fabric purchases and pattern groupings that include separates and dresses and accessories that all work together, and I can’t tell you how wonderful I think that is. (Hey, Brittany! I see you and I love it!) If you’ve never approached sewing like this, with an eye on a group of items all together, I encourage you to try it. Start small, with two or three pieces, and go from there. It’s so much fun to search for fabrics for a color story and look through your pattern stash for all the things that will help bring your vision to life. The cherry on top is when you start to see your handmade wardrobe grow – and it’s all thanks to your hard work.

I’ve been playing dress up my whole life. As a young girl, I would try on all the evening gowns on shopping trips with my mom and grammy. As I got older, I liked to set aside time to try things on every once in a while and put outfits together. (There was also music and dancing involved, as one does while playing dress up. No shame.) I still do that, and it really helps to know what looks good on you and what makes a great outfit ahead of time, instead of the morning of the meeting or day at the office or special occasion or whatever the event is. I have more fun than I ever have before when I do that now because so much of what’s in my closet has been made with my own two hands. It’s so rewarding!

–Emily

P.S. I’ve never been too into Valentine’s Day, but this year I’m thinking about putting a post together that includes some fun ways to incorporate the theme of love into what your wear that day. Pretty much, you can’t go wrong with red or pink! I bought the most charming poplin print last week that will be perfect for Valentine’s Day or the days around it, and I thought I’d show it to you before I cut it up and make something out of it. (What I do with it is still TBD.) I also love this print in the navy colorway. I will totally wear this in the summer too, with some wide leg linen pants or a full skirt.

Telio Playtime Cotton Poplin Kiss White

I also got some red rayon challis, because this will make a gorgeous maxi skirt and I can wear it with a bunch of different things, especially in the summer when I wear so much navy and white. I used this fabric (in emerald) last fall to make this dress. It’s gorgeous!

Telio Viscose Bastiste Red

Have a great week!

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18 COMMENTS

  1. Jacquie Johnson | 1st Feb 18

    Howdy Emily! My question is about choosing the right size pattern. I also love McCall, Butterick and Vogue patterns.
    I’ve been sewing for my granddaughters for years now and it’s high time I think about my lacking wardrobe. Thank goodness I found you!! Are measurements true for these patterns because they size me quite a bit larger then I would purchase off the rack!
    What are your suggestions??
    Thanks and I simply love your style!

  2. Gena Harakal | 31st Jan 18

    Emily, this was a very informative post. I appreciate your story on collection designing. I’m usually guided by color when I search for fabric. I love your “kisses” fabric. Don’t know if you are aware, HV has a similar embroidery design. It’s an included design with the Ruby Embroidery machine.

    • Emily | 1st Feb 18

      Hi Gena! I’m so glad you liked the post. I did know about the kisses embroidery design – it’s adorable! It’s on my Epic, and I’ve used it to test colors before. I had to take the easy route this time and just buy the fabric with the design already on it. Ha! And we’re just alike in terms of fabric shopping – color is almost always my guide! 🙂

  3. Vava | 31st Jan 18

    Yes! Do a post on collars! I avoid patterns with the standard collar because every time I’ve tried making them they turn out AWFUL.

    Love your blog. I don’t say that lightly, either. Lately I’ve been getting annoyed with certain fashion bloggers because them come across so snooty and vain. You are never like that, much appreciated!

    • Emily | 1st Feb 18

      Hi Vava! I can totally do a post on collars. That’s been something I’ve been asked about for some time now. I’ll put something together and publish it in the coming weeks. 🙂

      I totally hear you on the fashion bloggers. All bloggers, really. I think we all have different skills and things to offer, but I am so over folks acting like experts – and the egos are too much for me. I don’t have time for that mess! Ha! I appreciate your comments! Thank you so much for reading the blog! <3

  4. Penny McEntire | 31st Jan 18

    Emily I love your work, especially your blouses. Please do a tutorial on collars and collar stands. Mine always look awful.

    • Emily | 1st Feb 18

      Hi Penny, I’m happy to! It’s probably a combination of practice and my unrelenting precision, but nice, crisp collars are absolutely achievable. I’ll have a post ready in the coming weeks!

  5. Diane G | 31st Jan 18

    I love how you work Emily. Such attention to detail and cohesiveness. When I see a post of yours pop up on Bloglovin’ I leap to open it. Keep up the good work. Oh and thanks for the link to Brittany…I’m following her now too 🙂

    • Emily | 1st Feb 18

      Hey, Diane! You made my day! Thank you. I appreciate that very much.

      I’m so glad you found Brittany – she is so charming and happy and enthusiastic. I love following her!

  6. Brittany | 30th Jan 18

    Love this post Emily! Your site looks awesome! I tell you all the time but thanks so much for the inspiration! I’m excited to sew more collections this year, and really create my dream wardrobe! And thank you for the shout out sew sister!!

    • Emily | 1st Feb 18

      Brittany! Believe me, the inspiration goes both ways! I truly love following you, and I’m happy to tell everyone about you. Keep up the great work, and have fun sewing those collections!

  7. Heather Myers | 30th Jan 18

    Thanks, I’ve been thinking about collection type sewing too. Luckily I buy fabrics in colors I like that work together – mainly green, orange or peach, tan to nutmeg- and like texture. I’m pondering your idea and can’t wait to hear more about it, from idea to completion! And looking forward to seeing the house.

  8. Martha | 30th Jan 18

    I usually just keep up with you on Instagram, but I really enjoyed this blog post! Thanks for sharing.

  9. Kathy Bruckman | 30th Jan 18

    I love your blog. You have me thinking in groups now for my clothing makes. Thank you.

  10. Lisa G | 30th Jan 18

    I was just wondering what led you to do “collections,” and then you told your story! It’s a great one, and none of it sounded “icky” to me! Thank you for sharing!

    I’m excited to see your finished kitchen! We just built a home – living in a “vintage ” double-wide that was on the property for 2 years – so I know the thrill of completion quite well!!

    • Emily | 1st Feb 18

      Hi Lisa!

      Oh, wow – your remodel was no joke! I finally understand what it’s all about now. It’s messy and a huge pain, but it is all worth it once it finally starts coming together. I’m excited to see the kitchen too – ha! We’re getting close! <3

      So glad you enjoyed the post!

  11. PsychicSewerKathleen | 30th Jan 18

    I always love to see your makes Emily! Your blouse is truly a work of art as so many things are that you make. I didn’t realize before this post that you are a professional designer! (I know I’m as guilty as the next person for not READING!) Your designs are so gorgeous I would wonder if you’ve ever considered designing commercial patterns? I’m sure they would be very popular… said by an unabashed fan 🙂

    • Emily | 1st Feb 18

      Hahaha! Hey, it’s totally okay! I’m as guilty as the next gal of not always seeing what’s right in front of me! 😉

      I have thought about possibly designing patterns down the road, yes. I feel like most everything is already out there, but skirts is definitely a category that could use a little love. You never know what the future might bring!

      Thank you for the kind comment!

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