March Wardrobe Architect Challenge

I can’t believe it’s time for another Wardrobe Architect Challenge post! Mind you, my February project was a wee bit late, but it does seem like yesterday that I shared it! If you go back to my original Wardrobe Architect Challenge post in January, you’ll see that in March I was planning to construct an accessory. But if you recall back to February, you’ll see that I had to make some adjustments to my original plan. In February (or I should really say early March) I focused on making a tote bag and now later in March, I took on the challenge of the Violet Blouse. My original plans changed but that’s okay, I allowed myself some flexibility in the challenge and I’m glad I saved the blouse for a month where I had a bit more time. I’m very excited to share how everything turned out this month!

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The Violet is a pattern by Colette that I picked up a couple of months ago when I first decided I was going to participate in the Wardrobe Architect Challenge. I choose the pattern for the pretty peter pan collar but also because it looked like a piece that I would actually wear. In addition to that, when I took inventory of my current wardrobe, the major gap was tops, so it seemed like a good plan to tackle the Violet.

This time I went with a lightweight cotton voile fabric. I took a bit of a gamble when I ordered this because I’d never touched a voile before and wasn’t sure how I would like it. I knew it was an apparel specific fabric (one of the mistakes I’d make with my first blouse was using a quilting weight cotton), and I knew it was supposed to have a nice drape to it, making it shape easily. I couldn’t have been happier when my fabric arrived because it was so soft and lovely and I knew it was going to be perfect for my blouse (it actually feels exactly like those Liberty of London lawn fabrics I love so much). About 5 minutes in to sewing with the fabric, I was very pleased with how easy it was to work with. I didn’t take a gamble at all on the fabric print because I had previously used this print in quilting weight for making aprons and I knew I loved it.

Colette Violet Blouse

Anyway, on to the project. I was a bit nervous about measurements for this pattern because I thought I was between two sizes (read more on that later), so I decided to go with the larger size and make adjustments later if needed. I made sure to wash my fabric before I started cutting just in case any shrinkage were to occur after the first wash  Рthe last thing I wanted was to spend all that time on making something that would shrink after being washed.

This was definitely a whole day project (although I spread it out over a couple of evenings and then about 1/2 day on the weekend). The pattern was fairly simple but just time consuming. I had to look a few things up which made the whole process a little longer than it needed to be (like how to use the automatic button hole function on my sewing machine – I’ve avoided it until now but it was painless once I figured it out). This was my first time using a Colette pattern and I would highly recommend them to others – they are well put together and easy to follow. Altogether, the blouse wasn’t an overly complicated project I think it is a good project for the beginner apparel sewer (like me! I have lots of experience sewing, but just not apparel).

Colette Violet Blouse
Isn’t that collar adorable?!

I’ll touch on cost again as well as I think it is important to know this when going in to a project (although I’m pretty guilty of not looking at a project cost until after I’ve completed it). The voile fabric was a bit more expensive than the fabric I normally buy but I think it was worth it – it was $13.50USD/yard, plus shipping costs (about $2.00USD/yard), so translated in to Canadian prices, it was about $39 for the fabric, including shipping. Plus the cost of fusible interfacing, thread, and buttons came to about $10. So not a cheap project by any means – altogether costing about $49. Oh and lets not forget the cost of the pattern, which was another $20 (it can be used multiple times so this cost will spread out over time).

I’m fairly pleased with the end result of my Violet but the only thing I would change for next time is actually making the smaller size. I went with the larger size because I wasn’t confident on sizing but when all was said and done, I should have gone with the smaller size. The blouse does fit and I can wear it for sure, but it is slightly loose. This style does work best on me tucked in to a skirt with a cardigan over top (I just don’t really look good in loose button-ups over jeans, I wish that style would work for me). But as I said, I am pleased with how this blouse turned out and I would use the pattern again.

Colette Violet Blouse

So what’s next in the challenge? Luckily the next challenge combines the months of April and May, so I have a bit more time to complete the dress project. I have two dress patterns to choose from and I’d love to hear your feedback on whether I should sew the Dahlia or the Crepe – and also your suggestions for fabric. Leave your feedback in the comments!

If you’d like to follow along with the Coletterie Wardrobe Architect Challenge, check out their blog (it’s also a great resource for any level of sewer).

Fabric is Budquette voile in Nightfall by Bari J. Ackerman from Hawthorne Threads.

February Wardrobe Architect Challenge

A few of weeks ago I posted about the Wardrobe Architect Challenge. In the first month I constructed a mediocre blouse using no pattern, but for the February part of the challenge, I decided I was going to try my hand at another blouse, this time using Colette’s Violet blouse pattern. Well, this is the part where I tell you I did exactly as I said I would and finished the blouse. But it is not. The first week of February we went on vacation. Then a giant metaphorical storm rolled in at work and I was exhausted. Then my sister joined us for the long weekend and we had way too much fun doing non-project things. So then there were about 10 days left in February. While it wouldn’t have been impossible to tackle the Violet, I hadn’t gotten around to ordering my fabric at this point. So I decided to switch the February and March projects and instead work on my accessory first and save the blouse for March. This is also the part where I tell you I actually completed this part of the challenge in February, but that would not be true. I completed the February challenge in March.

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The timing actually worked out. I’d realized just after my vacation, and after buying two new purses, that I should have also purchased myself a nice heavy tote bag while I was on my bag buying spree. The reason is actually practical: I often bring two bags to work with me; one purse for my wallet, phone, etc. and one larger bag, usually a canvas tote or a baggu for carrying my lunch, shoes, sweaters, etc. I have a lot of baggage. The canvas tote and the baggus work fine, but are more suited for groceries. I really kind of had a bag like this in mind, but without the heavy price tag (after all, I did just blow a ton of money on nice designer purses!). The main reason the February challenge didn’t get finished by the end of the month is that I waffled too long on materials. I wanted a leather bag but I was just unable to find exactly what I wanted. Feeling a little bit defeated, I pushed the challenge to the back of my mind. After about a week or so of avoidance, a little inspiration hit and I decided that I would use some fabric that I already had on hand and add the leather touch I wanted through straps.

I mentioned in the first Wardrobe Challenge post that I already owned several bag patterns, but I actually decided to instead wing it, because that’s what I kind of like to do with personal sewing projects. As much as I do like making the bags with patterns, I didn’t really have anything that was exactly what I wanted. Making a basic tote bag is really simple using two pieces of fabric that are the same size and then attaching straps – it is unbelievably simple to alter your bag however you would like. I decided to give my bag some extra stability by using leather straps and then adding a fusible interfacing to all of the pieces of my fabric. In addition to this, I also boxed the bottom of the bag so it I could easily stack lunch containers in the bag without the containers falling over (Purl Bee has a great tutorial and bag pattern for free that you can use).

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I also wanted my bag to have hidden pockets on the inside, as well as the ability to close at the top. I considered a zipper or a magnetic snap but instead opted for one of these adorable little button closures and some scrap leather. I didn’t do any finishing to the leather edges because I really love the look of raw leather.

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I want to talk for a minute on costs. I didn’t mention cost at all in my original wardrobe challenge post because I didn’t think about it much until I started this month’s challenge (my January project did not incur me any additional costs because I already had all of the materials in my stash and I made my own pattern). This month I only had a few of the supplies on hand, so I needed to purchase a few things. The entire project cost about $59, which includes fabric ($16), fusible interfacing ($18), leather straps ($20), and thread and finishing accessories ($5).

In addition to the cost of the materials, the project took me about 2 hours from start to finish – which isn’t too big of a time commitment for a sewing project (I estimate the Violet blouse will take me about a whole day).

Now that the bag is finished, I’m feeling inspired again for the next month’s challenge. Also, even though I didn’t stick exactly to this month’s challenge, I think it is okay to be flexible. The blouse is a little bit daunting for me and I was feeling a bit stressed out, especially about time constraints. Instead of immediately failing the challenge and crawling in to the fetal position, I decided to make adjustments to the challenge and do something that I was more comfortable with and that I knew I would enjoy making. After all, what’s the point of the challenge if I’m going to be stressed out and hating every minute of it?

 Outer main fabric and inner fabric by Bonnie Christine from Hawthorne Threads, outer secondary fabric from local fabric store, leather and brass accessories from Tandy Leather.

Wardrobe Architect 2015

I don’t know if anyone has heard, but one of my favorite sewing bloggers and pattern designers, Colette, has started a build-your-own wardrobe challenge. And I’ve decided to participate.

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The idea behind the challenge is to think about your clothes and how you create your wardrobe. Most people that I know (myself included), purchase their clothes from the mall or online, not really thinking much about where they came from or the quality of the product. It’s convenient and affordable. But the problem I’ve been facing lately is that I am not able to find the things that I really want. That’s where the challenge grabbed my attention. I’ve been experimenting with sewing apparel lately and while I wasn’t crazy about jumping in to it without a pattern, I’ve come up with a rough outline for my challenge. Please note: this is not the exact outline presented by the Coletterie, but I feel like you’re allowed to be flexible and adjust things to suit your own needs.

January – I’m going to consider my blouse the first part of the challenge completed. Not because it was highly successful, but because it was the first attempt at anything.

February – The Violet blouse. I’ve already picked up the pattern and chosen the fabric I want to use (I’ve gone with a voile this time). I’m excited about this blouse because unlike the first blouse, I’m not going in blindly.

March – An accessory. After sewing a blouse, I wanted to give myself a bit of an easier project. I’ve sewn a few bags in the past so I’m leaning towards that – and I already own tons of patterns.

April/May – Using another Colette pattern, I’m going to finish a dress. I have two patterns to chose from that I already own so that narrows down the choices a lot. I combined two months for this part of the challenge because I needed to be realistic about the time commitment. This usually marks the beginning of a really busy gardening season for me, so the next few months will be similar.

June/July – I’m still thinking about this one, but I’m pretty sure it is going to be the Amy Butler rain jacket. I’ve had both the pattern and laminated fabric for this pattern for several years and this is the kind of push I need to go ahead and make the jacket already.

August/SeptemberWool cape by Burda. This is another one of those projects I pinned ages ago and have always looked back on thinking I need to make it.

October – a kimono robe. I know the exact fabric I want for this as well.

November/December – I decided to put these months together as well since it is another really busy time (I need to be realistic here). I haven’t actually decided what I’m going to do for these last months of the project and I think I’ll leave it open ended for now.

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I am really excited about this challenge. I normally do not go for challenges of any sort, mostly because they do not appeal to me and almost seem more like a punishment that anything else. But I’m all for this one because I kind of wanted an excuse to do more personal sewing this year (I like sewing for my Etsy shop, but it isn’t challenging and sewing the same thing all the time can get to be a little dull). Although my version of the challenge is not exactly the same as the Coletterie, I had fun making it my own. And I’ll be sure to post my progress, challenges, and hopefully successes. Are you taking on any challenges in 2015?

And to help myself along the way, I’ve added a little button on the side panel of my blog as a daily reminder!