Tag Archives: clothes

Love What You Wear – A Year of Not Buying Clothes

Some of you may remember that last November, I signed up for the Love What You Wear Project – a challenge not to buy any new clothes for the duration of a year (except underwear and shoes!). The challenge ran from 1st November 2012 until 1st November 2013. Next Friday the challenge ends and (assuming I don’t go on a mad spending spree between now and then) I will have successfully completed it. Woohoo!

Initially, I was hoping that the challenge would spur me on to start making my own clothes. And it did, sort of, but then I got a bit disillusioned when making my own clothes failed to result in anything that I would actually consider wearing. There was the skirt that made me look like a lego figure:

front of skirt

Then the top that made me look like a milkmaid:


Oh, well, at least I did get some bargains from charity shops, like this Monsoon top:

thank goodness for oxfam monsoon

And a Boden one:

thank goodness for oxfam boden

And luckily, my mum rekindled her dressmaking and made me several garments including this fabulous Vogue dress:

vogue dress

All in all, I’m glad I undertook the challenge. I have had fun hunting down charity shop bargains and I think it has definitely altered my attitude towards buying clothes. I think I will be a lot less impulsive with my purchases and carefully choose those clothes that I think will fit in with my existing wardrobe and that will last well. Having said that, I am looking forward to shopping for a brand new frock for my Christmas night out with the girls 🙂

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Colour, Corduroy and Sensible Shoes: My Style

Following on from my “Help me dress myself” post, I’ve been giving a bit more thought to defining what is my style. I’m not sure how I ended up there, but I found Retrochick’s series of posts quite useful. There was the usual advice about putting together pictures of looks you like and so forth but I found her advice to think about what you liked to wear as a teenager “when you weren’t dressing for anyone else” especially helpful. I think my teenage style was best described as anti-fashion. I refused to wear what other people wore, but instead went for my own eccentric mixture of things. I liked wearing pretty dresses but coupled with army surplus stuff and DM boots. I liked stripes and crazy colours. But most of all I would never, under any circumstance, have even considered the possibility of wearing high heeled shoes. Not to a wedding, not to a nightclub, not to an interview. High heels? No thanks. I understand that some women find wearing heels makes them feel sexy. Wearing high heels just makes me feel awkward. Awkward is not sexy. Comfortable in your own skin (and shoes) is much more sexy I reckon.

Anyway, after thinking about the teenage clothes thing, I started to think about the clothes I have or have had that I like to wear and make me feel good, and this helped me to put together a doodle of what I think is “my style” and what I think is “not my style”. Please excuse the terrible drawing (especially of the shoes ;-))

My Style:

my style

The necklines are all ones I have found flattering to my somewhat skinny upper body.
I like things that are floaty and drapey, but they need to have some shaping under the bust, or they just drown me.
Colours are good.
So are spots & stripes.
Corduroy is my favourite fabric. But I also like linen & velvet & chiffon.
Sensible shoes are the way to go.

Not My Style:

not my style

As I have mentioned before, I am an introvert. My hobbies include such wild and crazy activities as sewing, drawing and reading. I am more likely to go to the library than a party. And I am a stay at home mum. As such I don’t have a lot of call for satin dresses or smart, tailored clothes. And there is no way I want anything in my wardrobe that needs dry cleaning *shudder*.
I don’t have the bosom for halter necks or deep V-necks.
I’m too old for very short skirts.
I’m too short for very long skirts.
And I like to be able to move in my clothes – ride my bike, run for the bus, reach books off the top shelf.

I think these lists are going to help me understand what it is I want to sew for myself. My McCalls M5050 pattern fits my criteria (it was just the fabric that made it a bit “milkmaid“) so I am going to remake it in some lightweight green polka dot fabric. After that, I am going to have a shot at Deer & Doe’s Robe Sureau. It has shaping round the bust, isn’t too short or too long, would look good in corduroy, and doesn’t seem to require high heel wearing to look good. Check out the Flickr pool here.

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Help Me Dress Myself!

I have never been interested in clothes or fashion (aside from a brief obsession with a Lady Di paper doll dressing kit – but that was when she was still Lady Di and still frumpy :-)). For me clothes shopping is a pleasure equal to – oh, I dunno – a visit to the dentist, say. So, having signed up to the Love What You Wear Project, and committed to learning to make my own clothes, I am struggling on more than one level. Firstly, there is the technical stuff – how to cut, sew & fit the damned things. But also, with being able to choose exactly what to make in terms of patterns, fabric & style, comes the question

“What on Earth do I want to wear?!”

It’s shameful that I have reached the age of 37 (see pitiful note below) without really having any idea of what I like to wear or what suits me. Which is where you come in, dear reader. I give you, as evidence, my latest dressmaking attempt. Please bear in mind that this is a toile – ie I have no intention of wearing this dress-made-from-a-sheet in public (especially since standing in front of the window reveals that it is somewhat see-through) but have made it to see if the pattern fits. As you can see, it’s not hemmed and I haven’t sewn in the zip, but I think you can get the idea.


Made in a nicer fabric, does this have the potential to be a pretty summer dress? Or is this shape just not right for my uncurvy figure? Do my clothes need to have more shaping in order to give me more shape? I just don’t know.

I did experiment with the cord from my husband’s dressing gown (classy, huh?) to ascertain whether something with a bit more of a defined waist might be better. Waddya reckon?

how about a belt

What I want really is a summer dress that is comfortable to wear & suits me & isn’t tooooo difficult to sew.   Pattern suggestions on a postcard please.

And now to the pitiful note: having eschewed Facebook (see this post) I discovered one big disadvantage when I celebrated my birthday this week. No warm and fuzzy feelings resulting from a flurry of happy birthday messages in my inbox :-(. Feel free to replicate the warm and fuzzy feelings by leaving me some belated birthday messages below 🙂

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Looking for a Milk Maid? (McCalls M5050)

My latest sewing project has been McCalls M5050, a peasant-style top. I’ve nearly finished sewing it (just the hem to do) using some eyelet fabric that was my Nan’s. I am guessing the fabric is some sort of polyester blend, cos it was a bit of a slippery customer, and frays a lot, and the sewing machine wanted to suck it into the needle plate every time it hit a hole. So if nothing else, I have learned some patience!!

I was planning to use this as a wearable muslin. When I say wearable, I don’t necessarily mean wearable outside my own house ;-). I think the fit is fine, and I quite like the style. Unfortunately the fabric it is made up in makes me look (thanks to my husband for pointing this out!) somewhat like a milk maid. I think my raised eyebrows convey my mixed feelings:


I do think I will make another version of this, in some slinkier fabric, so definitely not time wasted. But don’t expect to see me wearing this particular version anytime soon – unless I am attending a fancy dress party dressed as a milkmaid perhaps 🙂

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I Made a Skirt!!

I finally got round to completing my first skirt for the Love What You Wear Project! An A-line skirt, made following Butterick pattern B4461. Yes, it could do with a good press 😉

Here’s the front:

skirt front

and the back:

skirt back

and look – it even has a zip!

it has a zip

Making this has made me really appreciate how much work goes into making even a simple garment, which has made me even more determined to avoid buying cheap, fast fashion. I have also learned new skills like:

  • transferring pattern markings using tailor’s tacks
  • sewing darts
  • inserting a zipper
  • constructing a faced waist

That’s the good news!

The bad news is that, frankly, the skirt doesn’t suit me at all.  The A-line shape is probably flattering on someone taller and curvier, but does not suit my figure.  And I don’t like the way the fabric drapes either.  I am still pleased I made it though, because of all the things I have learned.  But I think, before I make any more clothes, I am going to have to have a long, hard think about what sort of clothes I really like and what suits me.  This dressmaking lark really is the opposite of fast fashion!  But I think that I will end up with fewer clothes, but more flattering clothes, so that’s got to be worthwhile, right?


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Love What You Wear Project

Just lately, I’ve been reading a bit about the fashion industry and it doesn’t make for pleasant reading. I started with Elizabeth Cline’s “Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion” and I have now nearly finished Lucy Siegle’s very thorough expose “To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out the World?”  I’m not totally naive.  I did realise that the fashion industry wasn’t what you’d call ethical, but I must admit I didn’t have a clue just how bad it was.  Exploitative labour practices; a total disregard for the environment; shocking wastage…not a pretty picture.  The more I read about it, the less I want anything to do with it.  As well as supporting such organisations as Labour Behind the Label and the Clean Clothes Campaign, I feel that I want to change my own relationship to clothes and clothes  buying.  So when I read about the Love What You Wear Project, I thought “Yes! This is it!”  In a nutshell, the project involves a commitment to buying no new clothes for a year, running from 1st November 2012 to 3oth November 2013.  So, we’re looking at buying secondhand, mending or repurposing what we’ve already got or making clothes ourselves.  Just what I had been wanting to try in any case 🙂


I want to use this opportunity to really learn how to look after and mend my clothes.
I want to use this opportunity to think more about my consumption.
I want to use this opportunity to learn a new skill – dressmaking.

First things first, though, I have to finish Waif’s pyjamas. Then, I have promised some pyjamas to my husband. After that, maybe I’ll have a go at making myself a skirt with this pattern:

butterick skirt pattern

Watch this space 🙂

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