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I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Saturday, December 15, 2012


Listen. I love watching other sewists develop their own Sewing with a Plan Wardrobe. 

It is inspirational.

I have even attempted a few in the distant past and was either a) a drop out b) ended up with a wardrobe that suited the contest rules but not me.

This year's rules are much more liberal. So I am jumping in with the intention of only getting together some Useful Clothes.

This will be a real challenge for me as I am a sort of go-where-the-mood-takes-me sewer and what I don't really need in my busy life right now is a pile of things that has to-do written all over it. 

However I have decided that if this is not my only sewing but just my directed sewing, and if these are all garments I need and will definitely wear, this is an exercise worth doing.

Of course there is a major appointment coming up December 25th and I have some Christmas sewing/knitting/cooking to get done first but I can start this project in my head can't I?

That is after all where I do my best sewing.

O.K. here is the current plan.

I figure I will do the most boring combination, four bottoms, six tops and one other that works with all separates.

This I really could use. 

Today I will talk about my bottoms patterns, do the tops tomorrow, and my struggle with an coat/jacket thing Monday.

Feel free to give me advices.

My bottom garments are going to be pants. 

Since the refinement of a basic pencil skirt and the revelation of the Magic Skirt I am skirted out for a bit, and of course when you move ahead in one area you fall behind in another.

I have looked at my current favourite pants patterns and they are of course the StyleArc Lindas:

and the pants from this Vogue pattern, which I have in black gabardine and wear whenever I can:

These last pants are sooo comfortable and the fit is great but of course I made them first time as per pattern and they are really short. 

In the warmer weather with flats this is fine but when I want to wear them with short boots or in anything a bit cooler there is the bare leg thing to deal with. I have compromised with some fishnet knee highs which are good but not tremendously cozy, and since these aren't lined, anything longer in a sock or tights has those sticking to the leg things going on and I struggle enough with lack of cool to be dealing with that.

So clearly I need these exact same pants but with about 2-3 " more in length.

I have some black and some navy gab I am going to be making these up again. 

I am doing a black based subset and a navy based subset (2 bottoms and 3 tops in each) and a neutral coat to tie them together. So happy the SWAP rules this year allow that and don't require 11 garments in one colour family which is a condition that more or less makes my head explode.

I want to give a shout out to gabardine pants. 

If you do a good clapper type pressing job a pair of gab pants  you can get through any day looking pressed, and if you let them hang out on a good hanger, they can be reworn without repressing. I really appreciate anything I can haul out of the closet and can put on without having to go down to the ironing board again.

This pattern is also more stylish looking that it should be given that it is roomy in the hips, thighs, and stomach and but still has the slim legs. This is an elusive combination but makes me feel as comfortable in these as jammies, always a goal.

OK so that's two TNT pants patterns. 

I would also like to nail down a stretch woven pant that had a similar comfort level and a slim leg. The Linda pants are good but they are widish at the bottom which means you can't wear a widish top without looking like a fridge.

I tried the StyleArc Elle pant but that was skin tight as in leggings and in them I looked like an eggcup.

A tall eggcup.

Enough said about that.

The Elles were not TNT material obviously unless I was going to give up all self-respect, something I don't have on the agenda.

I am having another kick at the ideal though with this new pattern (I do love the SyleArc crotch fit) the Claudia:

I will be making an actual muslin for this (something I generally don't take the time to do) because I really want a pattern like this. 

It has some good features like a higher waist ( I am so over the belly overhang thing) and I am wondering about the dart at the back leg.  I mean there has to be a reason, I just haven't figured it out yet.

And SyleArc I am noticing the ankle length which I will be fine-tuning to work with my reality.

So that's what I am hoping to have done before the sewing opens on the SWAP competition December 26th. My bottoms cut out and the Claudia pant either on the cutting table or the garbage can.

Sounds like a plan, or at least the thin edge of one.

Now off the do the tree.

Oh and BTW for spam reasons I am asking for comment moderation, hope that is alright with you. I watch for comments like a hawk so if you are an actual sewer and not someone trying to sell me Ugg boots or worse your comments will appear shortly.


Sheila said...

Knee high boots with heels worn either under or over the short pants look stylish and are warm and comfy. Great posts. Sheila C from NZ

Jodie said...

Hi Barb:
I think your plan is a great one. I love having a teaching/working "uniform" so that I look put together and don't need to re-iron/fuss with the outfit somehow. As my classroom ranges from freezing to overly warm (and that's the classroom, not me)layers are a good thing. I've got a few pants patterns but need to do some fitting.....maybe I'll use my Christmas break to work on that.....but you're right, got that big Dec. 25th deadline to deal with first!
Take care!

Bunny said...

I'm a SWAP aversive but if this works for you I might consider it. I just don't know if I can focus on that much that long. Your plan sounds like a good one. I'm also intrigued by the pants that are slim but accomodate all the upper "stuff". Once I get my sloper done after Christmas that one might work as a first try. As always. thanks for the smiles and inspiration.

debbie said...

I always hated the idea of a swap because I looked at it as something that had to be done in a finite amount of time. Then I fianlly got tired of feeling I never had anything to wear because I was sewing so many orphans.

Last fall I really got serious about trying to have a bit more cohesion in my wardrobe. I worked w/black and grey and already had a few tops that would work with it. I'm finishing the last top now (yes, it took me awhile) and really only got bored at one point so I took a little detour.

While working on the black/grey swap I've been slowly gathering fabrics for a brown based collection.

It's so much easier getting dressed now. No more staring at the closet looking for something to wear.

Count me in as a convert!

Anonymous said...

Love your plan. I like the style arc willow pant. Since I also don't like pants that hit below my real waist, I just added a few inches to these pants at waist and they worked out fine. I think you can do this to any pant pattern. Nora

Anonymous said...

I made these and love them. Being shorter I had to decrease the top of the pants, you won't have to do that. I thought the "dart" at the bottom was an open slit! I need it to have the pants go over the boots that I wear. Maybe it is a dart and I didn't do it right! haha me.

SewRuthie said...

Yay! I lurve SWAP and lurve what you sew so am very happy you are joining in too :-) :-) :-)

Belinda said...

Love your blog! I know I don't comment that often, but I enjoy every post. Your sense of humour is right up my alley. LOL. I, too, sew which every way the wind blows me. I'm going to try to be "a little" more organized this year by sewing for the orphan pieces i've created (because of the way I sew).

You've got a good plan. I'm interested to see how well it works for you. Good luck.

LinB said...

Closest I ever come to SWAP is when I find a great deal on a basic fabric, buy up 10-12 yards of it, then spend time shopping my vast pattern horde to come up with units that will play well together, and play well together with the things already in my wardrobe that are not completely threadbare. Haven't had a good fabric buy like that in a while. Am sewing from other people's stashes that were gifted to me, which leads to an interesting wardrobe, but not a planned wardrobe.

Anonymous said...

Is the Vogue pattern that you use for pants still available? What number, please?

I made a pair of pants for a friend - they fit her PERFECTLY. I even had to mess with an existing pattern to end up where she wanted. It worked!!

Wish I could do the same for myself. Maybe this Vogue would be my pattern dream come true.

Barbara said...

The Vogue pattern is 1264' still in print.