Handmade Wardrobe: One Year In

September 7, 2017

The fall season always feels like the true New Year to me. It’s the time of year when I haul all my sweaters out of storage (a.k.a. the plastic tub under the bed) and go through my clothes, including my older handmade items. I spent the Labour Day weekend doing just that, as well as going through my fabric and patterns.

One year after starting my handmade wardrobe project, I have tallied up my makes and my remaining store-bought clothes. My current wardrobe consists of 69 items in total. At first glance, I was disappointed that my handmade total was only 55% (it feels like it should be higher), but when I looked back at my Before post and my first update, I saw a big jump.

True Bias Odgen CamiRifle Paper Co EspadrillesJupe ChardonGinger Flares Grainline ArcherSewaholic Oakridge BlouseSaunio CardiganDove BlouseToaster Sweater 2Bruyere ShirtPauline Alice Quart CoatCascade Duffle CoatCarolyn Pajamas in Rifle Paper Co FabricGinger Jeans 2Luna Pants 6Grainline Linden 1

Insights so far:

  1. I find it fascinating that my total number of garments continues to dwindle, despite my new makes. Part of this is due to the fact that some of my clothes are finally falling apart faster than I can replace them. But, it has also been interesting to see that I really don’t need that many clothes. My total number includes everything except shoes, socks, and underwear (although I do plan to make some of each of those), so the number of day-clothes is relatively small. I’m not someone who believes in a capsule wardrobe or a uniform, but it seems like I might end up with a capsule collection without meaning to.
  2. I need to sew a season ahead. This one isn’t really fun, but if I don’t, it’s suddenly September and I didn’t manage to make a bathing suit to use during our brief hit of summer. Making 2 winter coats in October last year turned out to be excellent timing.
  3. I need to capitalize on my enthusiasm for a pattern and batch-sew multiple items at one time. You know that saying “If you find something you like, buy it in several colours” Yep. I need to do the same thing for sewing.
  4. I love Named Patterns! In the past, Named would not have been my go-to pattern company, but my Sointu Tee, my Kielo Wrap Dress and my Saunio Cardigan have been some of my most worn, and most loved items.
  5. Everything takes longer than I think it’s going to. Everything.
  6. 99% of the time, I am wearing at least one handmade item each day.
  7. My sewing productivity still goes up and down, depending on my available time and the weather.  I am so happy to have this project to help me re-focus on consistency. I am more excited about my goal than ever. I want to make so many things! Each garment gets me excited for the next and I have a whole stack of different patterns I want to make.

Here’s the breakdown of the total cost:

 

Goals:

  1. I have been procrastinating on the scary stuff: bras, bathing suits, and bags.
  2. I want to make at least one party dress (or tuxedo type suit?) this year (something for Christmas Eve or NY EVE).
  3. I still need to work on knowing where my fabric comes from. I’m glad that some of the fabric stores are taking the opportunity to make the origin more clear in the listing online. I’ve got some Japanese flannels and some more American denim to use as well.
  4. A trip to Art and Sole Academy. I have been drooling over their workshops!

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11 Comments

  • Reply PsychicSewerKathleen September 7, 2017 at 1:54 am

    I really enjoyed reading this thorough description of your process in creating your own wardrobe. Something I’ve been working on for the past 2+ years too. I haven’t actually itemized it as you have but my experience so mirrors yours I was taken aback. I hardly go a single day that I’m not wearing something I’ve made – things do take longer than I would imagine – I have a ridiculous number of patterns I must say! I think this happened because for so many years I would like an item, buy it and wear it! Now I see an item on a pattern, I buy it then realize I have to make it and the space between liking, buying and wearing suddenly got rather huge hence my pattern stash got totally out of control 🙂 I’ve become better at identifying what I actually need however and now I’m making some of those things with more planning. I realized going into fall I hardly have any long sleeve Tees that are appropriate with pants (upper hip length). I only own one (RTW) and I wear it all the time! So I’m working on the Maritime top by Liesl Gibson, a pattern I really love actually. Liesl is fabulous on instruction and fit. Then I’m making the Ebony and a couple of Named patterns (I love those too!). You’ve nudged me to take a more detailed stock of what I own and what per centage of it now is handmade 🙂

    • Reply Erica September 7, 2017 at 11:53 am

      I know exactly what you mean. I think the time between buying a pattern, making, and wearing is key. I’ve had a pair of Carolyn Pajamas on the go for months now and I keep starting new things. Starting something new is always more fun than finishing an item that now feels like a chore. I’d be very interested to see your stats!

  • Reply Hilde September 7, 2017 at 8:38 am

    Such a great post, thank you for the insight in your wardrobe! From the collage it looks like your pieces work together really nicely!

    • Reply Erica September 7, 2017 at 11:48 am

      Thank you! I don’t plan anything out when I buy fabric, but this project has helped me to see what colours I am drawn to!

  • Reply Jenn September 7, 2017 at 2:40 pm

    Erica, I love this post! I have been following you on IG ever since Grainline Studio posted your Cascade coat! I love all your handmade. What is so interesting to me is that sewing has killed my desire for clothes shopping (something I used to do when I’m bored – it’s so easy to buy stuff online when they are on sale and thus I have a closet full of clothes). I fabric shop now haha – though in a slower fashion than clothes shopping with much more meaning since each fabric will get hours of attention during sewing. I’m also getting to recognize the styles that I like to wear, so I would not get distracted by the latest pattern or pattern sales and buy something I will regret later.

    • Reply Erica September 7, 2017 at 3:17 pm

      Thank you so much! Pattern sales are hard to resist! Have you listened to the episode of the Love to Sew podcast where they talk about their fabric stashes? It’s really good!

      • Reply Jenn September 7, 2017 at 8:33 pm

        Ooo I’m not big on podcast but I’ll check it out. Thanks!
        I re-read your goals. Bra is scary – but you’ve tackled a winter coat so I think that puts you at ADVANCED and you should be able to make anything :)).
        I’ve made the Runaround Bag from Noodlehead – it’s a beginner level one. It’s not scary. Her instructions are so good and easy to follow. I’m now making her Double Zip Wallet since I want a new wallet. The book is from the library (FREE!). I might end up getting the book though, there’s a lot of good stuff in there.

  • Reply Kyla September 7, 2017 at 2:42 pm

    I have been planning to make a swimsuit all summer also and just… didn’t. It would be for lap swimming, so I’ll use it through the fall/winter too, but I am disappointed how little sewing I did this summer.
    And I want to take a class at the Art and Sole Academy too! I’m even already in Toronto, it’s just a matter of finding the time/money.

    • Reply Erica September 7, 2017 at 3:15 pm

      I think I need to make a swimsuit when I don’t feel any pressure to have it done by the weekend. Do you have a particular pattern you would use?

      • Reply Kyla September 7, 2017 at 3:34 pm

        Jalie 971, because I like the longer leg on it – I made it once before, but the armhole was so deep and cut so widely into the front that it was far too revealing and impractical for actual swimming, so I need to alter the pattern first to fix that.

  • Reply Pat September 9, 2017 at 5:30 pm

    I just recently found your came across your blog and I think it’s just great! Loving the way you document your process and share the way you’re learning stuff. I agree with you about feeling like September is a beginning – I hope I can use some of your experiences to re-focus my sewing going forward!

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