Reflecting on personal style

Actually this post should have been on the blog three weeks ago and I should already being preparing the third post of the Wardobe Architect Series. I have to say I’m not able to keep track regarding the schedule for posting, but I’ll try to do as many of the WA Series’ excercises as possible.

The first topic in the WA Series is called “Making style more personal” and is to make reflections on your personal style: “How has your personal history informed the way you dress? When did your tastes crystalize” and “How has your cultural background shaped the way you look?”are some of the questions to start thinking about what kind of clothing you have been wearing at different life stages and why.

I began to delevop my own taste at about the age of 13 or 14. Since then, my clothing habits have always been influenced by my music taste, by subcultures and pop culture. I had always loved music and as a 14-year old, I started collecting vinyl records and getting interested in subcultures. At that time (it was the mid to late 90s), the Internet was only accessible to few people and did not offer a lot of possibilities, so to get information on music and music cultures you had to read magazines or fanzines, go to the local record shop (if there was one in your town), to concerts and youth centres.

Clothing has always played a role in youth culture and subcultures, to show that you belong to a certain group and to distinguish you from the mainstream. Indeed I didn’t want to be like the popular girls at school. Through my style I tried to communicate my music taste. When I started buying records, I was into HipHop and Reggae, later on I discovered rare Soul records and got interested in British subcultures, especially the Mod scene. Though, I never really felt like belonging to the regarding scenes. Nowadays, I often think about this “belonging to a scene (or not)”-thing, maybe I’ll write a post on that later on.

As a young person, clothing can have a significance for figuring out who you want to be, to deal with your identity and body image. Between 13 and 16, I never wore skirts or dresses, I dressed rather “baggy” as I didn’t feel comfortable with my physical changes and the way people at my age defined or stressed “feminity” and beauty.

Through subcultures and also through films I discovered styles of the 1970s and 60s, which in my opinion looked so much better than the stuff that was fashion in the late 90s and early 2000s – ugly platform shoes? Cropped tops with elastic straps at the back? No, thanks! I started looking for vintage clothing (back then it was just called “second hand clothing”) but seldomly found something I liked or that fit me. So I relied on the high street shops having something “retro” in their current collection. I also discovered brands that were popular in the scene, and having started an apprenticeship at the age of 16, I disposed of some money to spend on records and clothing.

I think over the last years I’ve found a style to stick with: I mostly like dressing smart with 60s style dresses, skirts and shirts, no matter if I go to uni, work or a party. I rather like the early to mid sixties fashion than the psychedelic late sixties style many people associate with 1960s clothes.

Two to three years ago I started sewing my own clothes as I still found it hard to find clothes suiting my taste and budget and that also fit well. Furthermore, the poor quality offered by high street shops to relatively high prices annoyed me – and it still does!

Having moved from Hamburg to Barcelona, I faced a new problem: Chelsea boots and button down shirts are not at all practical during the three months of summer heat we have over here. So in one of the next steps of the Wardrobe Architect Series I’m going to figure out how I can translate my taste in a appropriate summer wardrobe.

Are you a person who is into a subculture or has a certain taste in clothing and started sewing for a lack of approppriate clothing? Would love to hear your story.


Wardrobe Architect 2016

Writing a blog has something in common with sewing: Both are things I like but unfortunately, I don’t spend as much time on it as I would like to. Maybe I can change this with participating in the Wardrobe Architect Series 2016. So what is the Wardrobe Architect Series? It’s a project started by Colette Patterns in 2014 with the objective to design and build “a thoughtful attire”. The project’s single steps guide sewists through a process of figuring out their needs regarding clothing (e. g., does your current wardrobe actually fit your life?), planning and finally sewing garments they really are going to wear, suitable to match each other and / or other clothes in their wardrobe.

My reasons to join the WA Project 2016 are the following:

1. In 2013, I moved to a region where the summer usually is longer and hotter than in my home country and I noted that I really need more clothes suitable for this weather. I sewed a few summer garments last year but I think I still need some more.

2. I have lots of nice fabric in my stash as well as sewing patterns I haven’t used yet… And  I really want to shrink my stash this year.

I hope that participating in the WA project will help me to sort and prioritise my sewing a little so that I’ll have a proper wardrobe for summer.

As far as I understand it, the current edition of Wardrobe Architect is not hosted by Colette Patterns, but by Christine Haynes who scheduled it into 13 steps.

Every second Tuesday, there’s a topic to be treated in your blog posts. I’m already a little late, but I hope I’ll get to write my post on the first topic until the end of this week.

Coco dress

On my bucket list for a long time, I finally made a Coco Dress by Tilly and the Buttons.

I used a striped organic cotton jersey from Lillestoff. Breton stripes would have been nice, too, but these kind of stripes (sailor stripes?) really are my favourite. While Coco  in general can be a quick project (I think that depends on each person), I took a lot of time to match the stripes when laying out the pattern pieces – and I think it was worth it, it turned out almost perfect. You can find a very useful guide on matching stripes and other patterns in  the September 2015 issue of Seamworkmag.

The pattern recommends knit fabrics with little stretch and my fabric has 5% Lycra, but I think it still works fine. I made the long sleeve version and sized up the sleeves as I have rather ‘sporty’ upper arms and I wanted the sleeves to have the same easy fit as the bodice. Nevertheless, I had to shorten the sleeves quite a bit.

Sewing the neckline and the hem with a twin needle on my very basic sewing machine turned out a little difficult. The next time sewing with knits, I’m going to use a light hemming tape to stabilise when finishing hem and neckline.

Overall, I’m quite happy with the result, I love the shape and that it’s a quite comfy dress.

I’m going to make the shirt version, too. I was thinking about narrowing the sleeves but as I’m not very experienced with altering patterns and the dress is intended to be worn rather loose, I thought it might be not that that important. Anyone has experience with narrowing the shoulders on this or similar patterns for knit fabrics?

P. S.: I will add more photos later on, at the moment I have a very slow internet connection..

Nautical Megan Dress

I made a sleeveless version of the Megan dress from Love at First Stitch by Tilly and the Buttons. The top is made from an organic striped jersey I had in my stash for a long time. The skirt is made from a double knit fabric I bought for this project.

I reduced the neckline and armhole (the upper part, not where the armpit is) by 0,5 cm on my pattern – I wasn’t sure if that was ok because somewhere I had read that if you change a pattern’s neckline too much you also have to alter the bodice. So I’m very pleased that it worked out well.

The back neckline stands a little off where the top of the zip is – maybe I should have lined the zip or topstiched the fabric on the left and right side of it? Actually I don’t dare to try this because I don’t want to ruin the fabric. Anyway, I don’t mind this little imperfection.

Anchor buttons, striped bodice and navy blue skirt make a perfect nautical 60s summer dress and I think the fit is really flattering. I will definitely make more Megan dresses in the near future.

Megandress front  Megan dress side  Megan Dress back 

Polka Dot Sorbetto Top

So here’s my first blog post! I wanted to start this blog ages ago, but never took the time to do so.

At the moment I sew lots of summer clothes because I moved from northern Germany to Catalonia last year and recently found that my wardrobe is not appropriate for the heat we are facing for about two months now… 😀 So I’ll post more of my summer makes soon!

I made a breezy top from the Sorbetto pattern which you can download for free from Colette Pattern’s website. The top has a straight, 60s inspired cut, a pleat on front and is finished with bias tape. It was the first time I sewed bias tape to a garment and thanks to the easy to understand instructions of the pattern, it worked out quite fast.

Added a bow made from leftover bias tape to the pleat – it’s a little off-centre which I’d like to correct, although my boyfriend reassured me that no one will notice.

The fabric is a beautiful, lightweight Japanese cotton lawn, just perfect for summer tops and blouses. I had not expected it to be so delicate: finishing the seam allowance was annoying as the fabric frays very easily. I finished with zig-zag stitch which didn’t help so next time I work with a similar fabric, I might try to finish the seam allowance with a kind of binding or the like. Do you have any tricks to prevent cotton lawn from fraying? I’m curious to read about!