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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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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

And the last word on colour

Wasn't that interesting?

Colour seems to be such an important topic because it is so personal (see comments, and note that teal has more fans than anticipated). Colour seems to be  part of the decision not be be neutral or the personal decision to compliment a neutral.

All of your comments have me thinking.

Here are some of those thoughts, or questions really:


  • How many of you wear your favourite colours a lot, or at least give them a priority?
  • How much of our basic colours are those that manufacturing has presented us with? We all know that cutting one colour for multiple garments sure saves fabric. How much more fabric would be saved if the colour range is contained? Look at this very interesting article from today's NY Times on how we are trained to feel the "Colour of the Year"
  • Really I think a person would be hard pressed these days to sew a wardrobe without black if she wanted. In the winter at least black dominates. Try even finding navy leggings for example, or yoga pants easily in any thing other than black. Can you imagine how much even harder that would be if you were trying to build a wardrobe around teal or say plum?
  • Only sewists have the choice to swim upstream colour wise, but then they can expect to stand out even more in the RTW sea around them.
  • Coordinating is stil tough for many personal palette sewists, which is why many who decide to do this sew in "outfits" rather than separates, or use colour more for stand alone items like dresses and coats than basics. This would be me.
The other thing that impressed me from your comments is that a few of you mentioned that colour often attracted compliments and attention. Just yesterday in a Walmart I complimented a lady on her most beautiful shocking pink sweatshirt - she just looked so happy.

So if you accept the idea that colour can communicate or at least create emotional connection this is a tool of life worth considering.

I hope that none of you who saw this series were expecting a brilliant what French women wear type wardrobe plan in our discussion of personal style.

I am pretty sure that is being done elsewhere and being done well.

I think what's going on here instead is a conversation on how we use clothes, and as sewists we can define those, to talk to the world about who we are, or more importantly speak to ourselves about who we really are.

What's up next of course has to be body image.

Brace yourself for that one.

It's a biggy and will be something I will be pondering as we head west out of Texas tomorrow.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Finding your style series part two: inside colours

First of all, aren't the comments great?

I want to thank all of you who took the time to participate in this discussion. I am sure I am not the only one who has come away from reading all the thoughtful comments left here, with new insights, something new to think about.

In fact it was the mulling over that has taken me a few days until I was ready to write this next post, on colour, which I think is an important one too.

To recap though on neutrals here are my take aways:


  • a neutral based wardrobe makes dressing easier and more efficient
  • for many of us neutrals are comfortable - we feel less dominated by what we wear
  • neutral dressing, at least as a component, is key to mix and match (what a great 60s term too bad no one but us uses it any more) separates dressing
  • a colourful wardrobe is more challenging to construct as a cohesive unit
I certainly would add that neutral based dressing also tends to hit the suitable for the occasion mark more easily.

Now all that said I am not sure it is enough, at least for me.

Over time you come to terms with yourself I think. 

At some point if you are lucky you outrun the school system and societal standards (your body has flaws that need to be disguised for instance) that it was all about compensating for your "weaknesses" and realize that you will go a lot further if you just forget about those and build on your strengths. 

If you are a bossy older child become a manager, for instance rather than try to learn to settle down. If you ponder this long enough you are able to apply this to other people in your life too - see what they do really well as an expression of themselves rather than on the things you wish they would do differently.

Nurture their natures, as my daughter says about parenting.

Thinking about this has made my think about neutrals.

The thing is I don't feel neutral.

It has occurred to me that if you look at the above neutrals list of virtues that it is mainly about functionality and how clothes look from the outside.

But today I want to talk about how clothes feel from the inside and I think that's about colour.

About three years ago I saw a photo of myself all dressed head to toe in black - in my mind I was marvellously coordinated - but when I actually saw myself dressed like this it just looked so severe.

Not who I am at all.

I am just not that serious a person. The one quality I value in my friends is that they make me laugh. If someone is funny I more or less can forgive all other character flaws. I am random and am pretty sure things will all turn out. I eyeball it through life and get wound up about things I care about, about things I am making. I cry easily but not for very long. 

I think you get the picture. I am also sure that these aspects of me aren't going to change any time soon.

So within this context head to toe black, despite the fact it sort of suits my colouring, is not an accurate representation of me, a misrepresentation actually.

So about the time of this revelation I had to think about colour schemes for my book. The text of the book is pretty anecdotal and handy hinty and the one thing I wanted readers to do when they read it was to smile and to feel sewing was fun and not that hard.

As a result I decided to make all the garments bright, light and colourful. Probably more so than most people would wear (oh yes and a bowling shirt too, but I do like to bowl) but I thought it would look cheerful on the page. Maybe this was a dumb but at the time I thought this was a great idea.

During this process I decided to let myself just feel the colours I was drawn too. 

I realized this was a lot of colours I didn't often wear but just felt to me like a juice my insides craved. 

This ended up being a Lilly Pulitzer palette:



These reminded me of these colours, another thing that makes me happy, Bollywood dance scenes:



Yes I know this isn't heavy stuff but theses are the colours I feel inside.

So I am under revision.

I no longer wear black on its own. Best I can do is always wear it when I do with a lighter colour, like I did the other night when we went out, Jalie top, Style arc Brooklyn pants and Beshari jacket in off white silk:

 
Not really me but O.K.

I am also shifting over to grey as my base neutral. It goes with the palette above easily and I have discovered as far as one colour dressing different shades of grey look fine with each other, which is something you can't say about black or even navy.

I am opening myself up to colour these days and it resonates with me and who I am.

For example I was thrilled to see that the rivers here in Texas, Austin and area at least, are turquoise:


I have been swimming here in the unbelievable Barton Springs pool and you can't imagine how happy it makes me to be in water this colour.


Just like this shoes I wear to walk there along the river trail:


Now you tell me about colour.

What colours do you feel inside and how do they make you feel?

And even what is your favourite colour?

This so often the first question children ask when they are making conversation and something adults never ask each other. 

Think about that fact.

What is your favourite colour?