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Category: wardrobe planning

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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the florida collection

There’s nothing more rewarding in sewing then when a plan comes together, when weeks of thinking and organizing and fitting and cutting and sewing finally come together. In February, I posted my thoughts about a few new pieces I wanted to have for a trip to Florida. The trip has since come and gone (and it was fantastic!), and now it’s time to see, of the things on the list, what came together and what didn’t.

You know I love to sew in groups or collections of garments, and sewing for a specific event or trip is my ultimate project. It is so much fun! I always appreciate a collection with a clear and cohesive color story with coordinating prints, and this particular group is lacking in that respect. The blue top sticks out like a sore thumb and I’ve got three very different prints going on, but this project was more about specific garments for specific events, so from that perspective I’m very pleased.

In the planning post, I mentioned that I needed the following: a couple comfy tops to travel in, a swimsuit cover up, a cocktail dress, a couple of sundresses, and an outfit for exploring Miami.

Garments successfully made: tops, cocktail dress, sundresses, Miami outfit

Garments not made: swimsuit cover up

I had big plans for a wrap skirt swimsuit cover up in this yummy rayon challis, but time ran out before I could get to that project. (I ordered a navy sarong from Amazon and called it good.) As we got closer to the departure date I had to prioritize my unfinished projects, and this one got left behind. I’m okay with that though, because I think this fabric will be great for another project in a summer/4th of July collection I’m planning. Maybe a maxi dress?

I finished this dress first, and I wore it to dinner one night. I am completely and totally in love with this little gingham number, and it was perfect for this trip. It’s linen so it wrinkled quite a bit and required some ironing after we got there, but that’s okay with me. It was so comfortable, and I got loads of nice compliments on it. For more about this dress, see this post.

Full disclosure: I made this dress last summer. I knew it would be a great dress for this trip, and it was. I wore this to the welcome reception on the beach. Loved it. For more about this dress as well as a tip for a better fitting bust, see this post from last week.

I made three tops for this trip, all using the same pattern. This one is my favorite of the bunch. The floral trim is just so pretty! It wasn’t ridiculously hot in Florida yet, so I could still wear jeans and not be uncomfortably hot. My travel outfits and the exploring Miami outfit were the same: one of these tops, skinny jeans, a hat, and sandals. It was great. For more about these tops and a tutorial for the ruffle, see this post.

The cocktail dress: easily one of my favorite projects. I got more compliments on this dress than I’ve ever gotten on any other project, ever. So not only was I glad other people liked it as much as I did, I was proud to tell them that I made it. (You should have seen some of the reactions that got!) Read about the cocktail dress here.

This is by no means a sundress, but it came in handy for another dinner event. This is one of my all time favorite patterns, and this is fourth time I’ve made this dress. Read about the others here and here. This is Vogue 8825 in a coral rayon ponte knit from Mood.

I also planned to make a pair of white linen pants, and while I did make them, I didn’t take them to Florida. They didn’t really work with the tops I made, so you’ll see those soon with a top that makes a little more sense.

I was so excited to get pretty blog pictures on the beach (what a great opportunity, right?), but a funny thing happens when I get to a beach: I don’t care about pretty pictures. I’m much more concerned with how quickly I can throw on a swimsuit, get to the beach, and swim my little heart out. There were also a lot of people there, and taking selfies and blog pictures in front of a bunch of strangers isn’t my idea of a good time. At any rate, the trip was a wonderful, and I couldn’t be happier with the collection I made for it.

Now, on to more projects!

planning the Florida collection

I usually decide what projects to make next with a few unsurprising factors in mind. Things like the weather and what fits into my lifestyle and what fabric I have in my stash often steer my sewing in one direction or the other. The mild Texas winters have kept me from making a tailored coat for years now, yet I’ve gone out of my way to make a couple tulle skirts and one of the most sparkly sequin skirts ever simply because I wanted them. Both are equally as practical as a wool coat in Texas but here we are.

Sometimes, an event or trip comes up that requires a little more thought and planning. Next month, Ty and I are going for Florida for a long weekend at the beach. It’s a company sponsored event for select employees based on performance in 2016, and I’m so very, very proud of Ty and his hard work. We are really excited for this little vacation.

There are a few events over the course of the weekend with a specific dress code, which means it’s time to make some new clothes. I was just about to dive into spring sewing when we found out about this trip, so I rearranged my production timeline a little, added a couple of items to my project list, and I was ready to hit the ground running. Luckily, we’re going somewhere warm where a lot of what I already had planned will be appropriate.

Besides a couple billowy tops with fun sleeves to travel in (interesting sleeve details are huge this year), I need a beach cover up, a sundress or two, an outfit for an afternoon of exploring Miami, and a cocktail dress. I can hardly believe this myself, but the one item I still haven’t finalized is the cocktail dress. I have the fabric, but I can’t seem to settle on a design. But, look! I already have the shoes and handbag. That’s progress, right?! This is a floral brocade from Promenade Fabrics. And yes, it’s on the pricey side, but what else is a girl to do with her birthday money but spend it on fabric for a pretty dress?

Whenever I sit down to plan a collection, I have a process in place to help me get organized and inspired. Because this is the first group of projects for spring, it was easy to dive in and get excited for bright colors and florals and linen and ruffle tops and sundresses and all the things that make spring the best season of all the seasons. I’m doing a lot of coral and white and the Pantone color of the year, greenery. My interpretation leans a little more Kelley green than the moss green of greenery, but I’m all in for the green this year. What a fun, refreshing color. I got 6 yards of this green gingham linen (yes, it’s linen!), so I can make a dress and a top. This Butterick pattern is new for spring, and I absolutely love it. Fabric can be found at Fashion Fabrics Club.

Whenever I make a list of projects, I always include pattern numbers or other notes about the design in my design journal. Most things are straightforward, like if I’m using a commercial pattern or my own. In some cases, it’s a combination of the two, which I call “hybrid” garments. Again, still a big question mark next to the cocktail dress.

I’ve posted about Vogue 8825 twice before (here and here), and it’s such a fantastic dress that I’m making it again in coral. I have a feeling the coral dress will be my favorite. Fabric is a rayon ponte knit from Mood. (Tip: rayon/nylon ponte knits are better quality than their polyester cousins, and they feel better too.)

One of the things I love most for spring and summer is linen pants. Like many of you, it’s been a challenge to find pants that fit properly. Enter, this Vogue pattern. I’ve had it for ages, and I even cut it out in ivory linen about two years ago. Never did finish those pants (now they’re a size or two too big), but I’ll finish this pair for sure. If making pants is something you’d like to get into, I’d recommend starting with a design with a wider leg. That way, there’s less fitting to worry about. This pattern is out of print, but I found it on eBay a while back. I like it because it sits at the natural waist, which is flattering on my body type. It’s worth finding, for sure. This fabric is 100% white linen from JoAnn. These pants and a pretty top will probably be my Miami outfit.

For one of the blouses and a sundress, I’m using this gorgeous floral sateen from Fashion Fabrics Club last year (sold out). I made a dress last summer and had about two yards left over to make a top. So, I’d say that worked out well. This fabric is magical. The pattern is another oldie but goodie, McCall’s 7163, and I cut view D, because I like my shoulders and upper back covered.

The last item on my list is a swimsuit cover up, and mine will be in the form of a skirt. I have a few scars to cover up (and I absolutely have to protect my skin from the sun) so my swimwear needs are unique. I got this incredible long sleeve one piece from J. Crew (and it’s my favorite color!), so my idea for the cover up is a flowy, swishy skirt. I designed a wrap skirt a few years ago, which I think I’ll use to make the cover up. I might add elastic in the back waistband for a little extra comfort. I found this star print rayon a couple weeks ago that I think, paired with the navy suit and gold sandals, will be the cutest thing ever. I also have a red swimsuit and rash guard, so it will work nicely together. It’s almost like I planned it . . .

You can find this fabric here.

That’s it! I’m about halfway finished with construction for these projects, so I’m making great time. Only a few weeks to go and we’ll be beach bound!