Building a wardrobe capsule

Posted September 12, 2020 by sewingplums
Categories: co-ordinates, wardrobe planning

A ‘capsule’ wardrobe is a small group of co-ordinating clothes that can be mixed and matched to make different outfits.

If you only have a small number of clothes, you want to be sure they all fit the needs of your lifestyle. And that they’re all items you love to reach for in the morning – they suit your personality and make you look and feel good. Hence the whole area of ‘wardrobe planning’.

There are many on-line style advisors who suggest the items to make a capsule. For example, Leanne Blackmon at Classy yet Trendy suggests seasonal capsules in 6 different styles.
The styles are mainly ‘normcore’ so it’s easy to find patterns to copy the suggestions.

These stylists have good success because some people find it daunting to make a capsule for themselves.
But actually doing-it-yourself is not difficult.

Wear what makes you feel special

It’s not difficult so long as you have some clothes that you love, and feel good when you’re wearing them.

If you haven’t got about 20 items you feel like that about, then finding some clothes that warm your heart and lift your spirits has much more priority than developing a capsule.

Only follow style advice that makes you feel life’s possibilities are expanding.
The important thing is not to wear any garment (or follow any style advice) that pulls you down, makes you feel lesser or uncertain, diminished or defensive.

As April Grow of Stunning Style says : “If you’re trying to talk yourself into anything you don’t genuinely love, just put it away.”

Another similar saying seen on an FB board : “In case of doubt, there is no doubt.”

Tips for building your capsule

A ‘wardrobe’ capsule is about 25-30 items, which could provide you with enough different outfits for an entire season.
Some stylists insist a true capsule is smaller, see later about a travel capsule.

Go through your current clothes and pick out items that you love wearing : 7 tops, 5 pants/skirts, 5 layers, 5 shoes, 3 bags.
If you can’t find these numbers, then find one less. Or pick items that are okay – not ideal, but not ones that make you feel or look bad !

Next remove any item that cannot be worn to make a good combination (one that you are comfortable with) with at least 3 of the other items (not all at the same time!). E.g. does this skirt look good with at least 3 of the tops, at least 3 of the layers, at least 2 of the shoes, at least 1 of the bags ? If not, replace it with something else you like.

If you find combining difficult, consider simplifying :

– choose one main neutral, such as :
– – black or navy if your skin colouring is blue toned,
– – brown or beige/tan if your skin is yellow toned.
– – grey may be either blue or brown toned.

A colour is called ‘neutral’ if it’s a colour that can be worn with everything else in the capsule, so makes a good starting point for many outfits (so your starting point colour could be shocking pink if your other colours are lime green and purple 😀 ).
Another criterion for a ‘neutral’ is that you would be willing to wear pants in this colour.
And your ‘neutral may depend on what you are choosing your capsule for – so shocking pink for a holiday trip but not for a business one !
You’re always wearing this colour, so it needs to be flattering and well-loved.

– add a lighter neutral – how much lighter could relate to the natural level of contrast you have in your colouring.
– add not more than 2 accent colours or prints.

– choose everything with the same silhouette, such as :
– – top and bottom the same width,
– – wide tops over narrow bottoms,
– – narrow tops over wide bottoms.

Imogen Lamport has written a whole range of posts on issues that may come up in choosing items for a capsule wardrobe. But try to keep things simple. And :

Hey Presto, your first capsule 😀

Some comments

Trying to build a capsule for the first time is not something that’s instant. Make small steps and enjoy your discoveries.
No need to get an ‘ideal’ capsule from the start. It will gradually ‘improve’ as you try things out.

Of course different stylists have different criteria for what a capsule should be like. Imogen Lamport of Inside-Out Style has fewer layers (she lives in a warm climate) and insists that everything co-ordinates.

This capsule idea doesn’t work for everyone. You may be someone who needs to choose an outfit on the day, whatever feels right at the time. What felt right yesterday evening when you were planning may not feel right this morning !
But you can pre-plan outfits, take photos of them, and choose which suits your current mood. Many people find it useful to take selfies of successful combinations, so they don’t have to do much experimenting in the morning.

Even a few steps towards achieving a part capsule can be useful and interesting. A ‘learning experience’. There’s no need to rush.

As you make progress, and learn more about your favourite garment colours, shapes, styles, co-ordinates, many people find that new items fit in without having to give it much thought.
Or if they don’t, don’t buy them !

Put these items at the front of your closet, so they’re the only ones you choose from when you’re getting dressed, and see if you find the capsule idea helpful.

If you love wearing makeup or jewellery, sprinkle on your favourites for even more joy and fun 😀
You could include them in try-out sessions too.
Or would you like to add into the mix : 5 hats, 5 scarves, 5 belts, hair ornaments, gloves ?

A small travel capsule

Choose 3 tops, 2 bottoms, 2 layers, 2 shoes.
In 2 different styles, such as casual + evening out, or work + dressy evening out.
With such a small number of items, it’s best if every possible combination looks good.
Take heavier items with you by wearing them for travel.
Jewellery, scarves, make-up are small light-weight ways of adding more looks.
And if you’re away for more than a few days, what about clothes care – do you mind hand washing in a hotel room ? If you would hate that, add more light-weight non-bulky tops.

In this post, Imogen Lamport insists a true ‘capsule’ is less than a dozen items.

I’ve mentioned a few capsule stylists I’ve enjoyed following. Many more come up if you do a web search.
Enjoy your discoveries 😀

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Click on red header to access entire blog.

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Download Craftsy/Bluprint classes

Posted June 13, 2020 by sewingplums
Categories: sundry messages

The new Craftsy site has opened.
So happily this post is just of historic interest.

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Big graunches and groans that Bluprint/Craftsy is closing down.

One of the problems with the Craftsy business model has been the huge team of professionals making the shows. So each class takes $000s to develop.   Compare to one-man-band teaching sites which film themselves using fixed camera angles and do their own editing.  Maybe some DIY effects, but it is more financially sustainable.  Creative Bug celebrates this DIY style as a sign of their overall attitudes.

Another problem with high teaching costs in this industry is there are so many good free sources of information. It’s difficult to build a big business with many staff if helpfulness is your only income stream, as people can usually go elsewhere. 
I’ve noticed some UK companies doing much to develop customer loyalty by providing extra free services during this virus-shutdown-time.

There must be dozens of on-line tutorials on every possible sewing technique, with hugely variable quality. And different people prefer different styles of presentation. I link to ones which work well for my preferred sewing quality and learning style, in my Aim for Quality blog. I’ve found there is no one source which is good for everything.

Although Craftsy/Bluprint has never been unique as a source of good information, you may want to download your classes so you don’t loose your ‘lifetime access’ to much good material.
I’ve been through an extended and convoluted process before finding something that works to do the downloading.

What doesn’t work

The download app at Bluprint-Craftsy only works for iOS/ Android (instructions here).
So what about downloading the videos to a laptop/desktop, especially a Mac ?

For those of you who are interested in using VLC to download the videos, here are the instructions for Windows.
I don’t use Windows so don’t know how well it works.

I tried several video download apps that are supposed to run on a Mac, but most of them only download YouTube. Here’s a list of the top 10 download tools for Mac – well, they do run on a Mac but they don’t download Bluprint/Craftsy.

So, many attempts and failures – including some mind boggling options needing you to go down into the depths of code, which is not one of my strengths.
Here is an example from someone who has kindly taken the trouble to sort out how to do it.
I found some instructions about installing curl on a Mac.

Allavsoft for downloading videos

Setting up the software

At last and happily, AndSewForth at Stitcher’s Guild posted about Allavsoft, which works for both Windows and Mac.
$20 for one month, not a big investment – I already had enough GB of free storage. You also need an .mp4 player. On my Mac, QuickTime does that.

Allavsoft’s instructions
Sewmodernbags instructions (more detailed)

Best first to buy and then contact Allavsoft, giving the receipt and your Bluprint a/c information, for personalisation before downloading the software.
The software downloaded from the link in the email you get from Allavsoft is the personalised version which works for downloading Bluprint videos.

Allavsoft have to manually set up the software to your Bluprint account, and not surprisingly they are very busy at the moment, so expect to wait some hours before being able to download, install, and use the software.

The instructions don’t mention it, but if you need to re-install the software, do un-install the existing version first, otherwise it just defaults to ‘Token Invalid’ again !
I worried whether I would use up my download limit, but I think if you did that while trying to sort out a version that worked you would have a valid reason for demanding more.

Downloading the videos

Using that software and the Sewmodernbags instructions, I have downloaded my class videos, I’m very happy to say.
I chose 50 of my classes to download (206 GB). 420 download files in all.
I haven’t got the fastest internet service, and it took about 12-1/2 hours.
I downloaded to my hard disk, and backed up on an external disk (about 3 hours).

On my desktop Mac, the only thing different from the Sewmodernbags instructions was that it set up a download folder : Movies > Allavsoft.

Allavsoft downloaded the files for each lesson into this folder.
There are 3 files for each lesson : the .mp4 video, an .srt file of the subtitles, and a .vtt transcript of the voice-over. Each file is labelled with the class number, lesson number, and lesson title.
So on my Mac in this folder after the download there was a list of 420 files sorted by class number and lesson number.

If you are using Windows, I suggest you set up a special folder instead of downloading to your desktop. See the Sewmodernbags Step 3 for where to change the ‘Save to’ to your own folder.

You do just get the class videos, not the support framework provided by Bluprint – index/menu, Q/A, etc.

Sewmodernbags has instructions at the end about what to do if the download is interrupted – looks as if it’s best not to quit Allavsoft until the download is finished.

When downloading – use the time remaining, at the bottom of the download window, only as a very general guide. It jumps to and fro – it went up to 6 days at one point for me. . .

If you change your mind and want to download some more classes, the Sewmodernbags instructions tell you how to download a single class (also see next section below). You can also download a single lesson, as each lesson has a different url.

Though you can no longer buy a class you’re sorry you missed !  The deadline for that passed before I knew it could be possible to download. . .

Do I have to say that I’m not affiliated to Allavsoft ? There may be other apps for Mac which do the job as well, but I haven’t come across them, and it was a great relief to find something that works. (See the Comments for more options for Windows.)

Sorting the videos into classes

As each lesson is downloaded separately, when the downloading is finished you need to sort out what you’ve got – see Sewmodernbags Step 7. 
Hmm – sorting 420 files into 50 classes.
Perhaps it would be less trouble overall to download one class at a time, rather than all in one go. That is a possible option as each class has its own url.
Sewmodernbags Step 4 screenshot – paste the url for an individual class here rather than the url for your whole class library. Then it will just download that class and you can take a pause before working on the next one.

Downloading each class separately needs more attention during the download process but less sorting out afterwards.
Fortunately on a Mac, items in a folder are listed in numeric order, so they’re easy to link together.

Support materials

Video download software does only download the videos. There are also .pdf written instructions, supplies lists and sometimes patterns associated with each class. I downloaded most of them when I first got a class, but I need to go through those as I find I haven’t got them all and some have been updated.
Download direct from the Bluprint site.
There’s a button labelled ‘Resources’ above the left side menu for each class. This time just touching the button for an item starts the download ! Though it just downloads to your browser. I need to transfer the file to a .pdf reader to save it as a .pdf.
There are still links to buying patterns and materials but they don’t work any more.

Good Luck for carrying out a hefty task, but it does mean you can retain your investment in these classes.

And do it soon – Bluprint have not announced when they are going to shut down completely, but expect it to be months not years.

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‘Planning’ my sewing ?

Posted March 1, 2020 by sewingplums
Categories: style and planning

I haven’t written anything here about planning for some time, but I’ve just been taking a ‘sew your own wardrobe’ class which ended with advice and examples on making written notebooks with specific plans for your wardrobe and future sewing.

And there are all those stylists and indie pattern companies which sell printed or free-gift pdf books for writing out your sewing project plans, with one page per project. They’re often not loose-leaf so you can’t even mildly change your mind. And they never have space to record what I think is important.

Oh dear, I can’t work that way at all.

One of my difficulties with sewing plans is I’m a ‘100 ideas before breakfast’ person about what I would like to make. 
Also I’ve found in real life if I start on a plan, I wake up a week later to find myself doing the complete opposite (I gave up on making New Year resolutions for this reason some time ago – according to my notes here it was in 2013). 
 
(And I was amused to hear a talk which said recent research shows if you tell people about your goals you’re less likely to reach them ! Though I don’t think that applies to written goals. It’s thought the reason is when you tell people your goals you get the same sort of enthusiastic feedback as you were looking forward to getting when you’ve achieved the goal, so that uses up some of the incentive – you can celebrate without actually doing anything 😀 )

I have managed to train myself to write my ideas down, instead of actually starting projects and then changing my mind, which began to be ridiculous –  a home full of boxes each containing a pattern and notions, and a huge fabric stash. 

The point at which I realised I had to stop starting projects was when I organised all my ‘to make’ pile into project boxes, and so was face to face with the fact it was beyond helpful. . .

”project

Each of those 12 drawers is a separate project. There are also several project start-ups which are bulkier so have an individual tub.

I now have a computer full of ‘make next’ lists instead.  Each time I take a sewing or wardrobing class I end up with extensive ’make next’ lists.  My ‘make next’ list from the most recent class contains about 70 items. . .  (Meg McElwee’s Mindful Wardrobe class, thought provoking.)
And my lists change so often, I find it much easier to use word-processing rather than a paper notebook/journal to record them.

I’ve also found it a great help to be secure about ‘my personal style’, so I’m not rushing after other people’s wardrobing lists and ‘develop your sewing skills’ pattern lists too ! 
 
By comparison, my actual sewing is very slow. So my focus needs to be on enjoying making, rather than on getting an ideal ‘me made’ wardrobe.

I’ve found it helps to have a good RTW wardrobe, so I’m not under pressure to make anything specific.  So I can just settle down to very slowly making items I’m fairly confident I will enjoy making and then using 😀 My making is best done in a ‘follow what I feel like doing now’ way, pre-planning and prioritising do not work for me here.  

And I’m also a quilter, and enjoy using my embroidery machine. Have just fallen for yet another Block of the Month quilt, but have managed not to purchase. Unmade BoMs made another big pile in my previous home ! Long list of embroidery machine quilts I’d like to make too. . . My embroidery designs folder is also huge. There too I’m now managing to buy designs for a specific project rather than scooping up every design I like the look of. Like patterns, they’re a good low-cost option for a little treat 😀 I’ve never been a compulsive shopper for clothes, but patterns, fabric, embroidery designs all need restraint I’ve had to learn ! Now I’m making lists on my computer of what catches my eye in those categories too, instead of buying.

Well, that’s my approach to recording sewing ideas and choosing between possible projects.

But, although this sounds like the opposite of what I’ve said so far, once I start working on a specific project I do find it essential to make a detailed list of each step involved in making it, especially any step that involves changes in tools or processes.  Those lists are on my computer too. 

’Sew the shoulder seams.’ Looks like a simple small step but – hmm, how many different sub-steps does that involve – pin, baste, test fit, alter, repeat, stitch, finish seams, press – and there are changes of tools used and/or position in sewing space between each step.

Also I note my progress in detailed ‘e-diaries’ rather than on paper. 
So my sewing records are all on computer.

The organisers of the wardrobing course I’ve just taken are staunchly hand-written-paper-journal users. Ah well – that course has made me think I’m unconventional in an unconventional way. . .

Also ’sewing’ as the focus of my hobbies doesn’t just involve ‘making’.
What about all those very enjoyable ’sewing related’ activities which don’t get any making done : watching sewing videos, surfing pattern sites, reading sewing books, reading pattern instructions, changing patterns, blogging about sewing technique and about how to use my embroidery machine. Wandering between all those certainly is not planned. . .

There are other aspects of my life which are better sorted out on paper rather than computer, such as when I need lots of arrows to show connections, and would find doing it on computer very constricting. Especially using diagram-making software, which may be good for showing business plans, but I find very much constrains creative thinking.

And when I have deadlines I do much pre-planning and prioritising. But for fun hobbies, definitely not.

So what best to do to support my sequence of activities does very much depend on specifics of the task.

Best Wishes for finding your own way through the ever-expanding maze of possibilities for sewing, planning, and making records of both. 

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Finding your style 1 : using style categories

Posted August 22, 2019 by sewingplums
Categories: personal style

Do you feel good in your clothes ? Do they help you to feel you ? to feel special ? to feel confident ?

From my patterns of spending money and time – I would have to say that exploring style advice is one of my hobbies ! So as usual my opinions on this topic kept spreading, and I’ve divided this discussion into sections. This first section is about using the style categories that stylists suggest for us.

(And if you don’t want to be bothered with all this faff about clothes, then that is your style. Stop reading this immediately, and go and do something you do enjoy 😀 )

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Using style categories

Personal Style consulting is a big industry these days – in person, online, and in books. The consultant has a way of deciding what style category you come in, and then suggests clothes a person in that category may like to wear. The 4 styles usually included are classic, casual, romantic, dramatic. Then most stylists add other styles they think many people wear, such as boho, chic, cute.

Ignore it when stylists say you ‘must’ or ‘must not’ wear some styles at a particular age. You probably combine several styles, and you probably find the balance of styles changes with changes in life style in different decades.

If you’re anything like me, you don’t fit cleanly into anyone’s style categories. I’ve tried the systems listed in the next post (and many others), and I don’t fit neatly into 1, 2 or even 3 of the categories suggested. I’ve never found myself liking everything suggested for a particular style. Or I like the clothes but have a very different body shape or colouring from the typical shape or colouring described for this style. In the past I’ve spent too much time trying to force myself to fit into various simple ‘types’, instead of realising that the key to decision making is how I feel about it all.

Stylists suggest options for you to try, in your clothes and in your life. They give you permission to try things you may not have done before. But these suggestions are just a starting point, you choose if you want to go further with them.

The important issue is not which category you are in, it’s how what you wear and do makes you feel : when you wear this do you feel special ? do you feel confident ? do you feel true to yourself ?

The categories are just a guide in getting to that happy position. The stylist has picked out, from the rich range of clothing possibilities, some styles which may be more likely to help people in this category feel that way.

It doesn’t matter if your favourite garments and accessories are spread around in someone else’s categories. When you feel good about yourself, you’re too busy living your life to be bothered about what label describes you. At best the label just becomes a shorthand way of remembering your priorities, in clothes and in life. Such as : “I’m a 2/4 so I’m a double introvert and prefer very quiet clothes”, “I’m an INFJ so have a constant tug between kindness and perfectionism”, “I’m Soft and Sporty so I need practical clothes with flowing lines”.

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Starting from what you love

After years of exploring stylists’ suggestions, I know that my clothes need to be comfortable, easy to move in and care for, with soft lines, ‘modest’ body coverage, of high quality in design/fabric/fit/make, in textured light neutral fabrics. For detail I like ‘heirloom’ stitching and cargo pockets. I wear bracelets and pins/ brooches, and flat shoes, and carry a basket rather than a handbag. My ‘uniform’ is a frilled blouse and slim pants with an oversized or smock-style layer or a padded vest.

Which of those descriptions did you respond ‘yes please’ to ? or ‘aargh, not for me’ ? 😀 What does that tell you about your own style ?

Clothes like that ‘say’ quite a bit about me.
some Personality words : practical, value quality, private, a little quirky.
some Style words : Casual Chic with a touch of Ingenue.
I don’t look child-like or dainty, but ‘Ingenue’ is a style word near to some of what I do like.

Many stylists don’t mention ‘Chic’, ‘Ingenue’, or ‘over-sized’. I also love smock styles, and I have yet to find a stylist who mentions them at all. Most stylists also don’t mention vests, another staple of my closet. Or my favourite jewellery items. . .
So most stylists don’t suggest what to wear for those styles, and don’t even remind people that some of my favourites are among the styling options.

”soft
A photo of favourite things, which I made years ago as a style exercise. These are embellishments, I wouldn’t wear them all at the same time 😀

It’s not surprising that stylists only mention styles that at least 10% of people wear. But that does mean that if you have some less popular elements of your own personal style, the big style advisors aren’t the people to look to for help with finding out more about your styling options.

The second post in this group focusses on some big styling sites.
Happily, there are many millions of us buying clothes and sewing patterns, so even minority styles are worth the attention of designers. The third post has some ideas for exploring beyond stylists’ categories.
And the final post has a little about looking at how well the clothes work for you.

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So choose your clothes according to how you feel when wearing them, not according to which style category they might fall into. The categories are tools. They help the stylist point you towards clothes you are likely to feel happy wearing, they are not an end in themselves.

Of course it’s good to have that ‘this is my tribe’ feeling. But it’s not good to wear clothes that we don’t feel happy with, just because they’re in a category we have identified with. There are on-line presenters who identify so strongly with one of the style systems that they treat the person who devised it as a guru who can do no wrong and must be followed to the letter. But there is no ‘absolute truth’ about style. I don’t find that extreme attitude is helpful for many of us.

Use the categories for suggestions about things to try. And don’t expect the categories to include all your preferences. Make your own decisions about what works for you.

Going through all this is definitely not a quick fix, but it can have a big pay-off.

Very Good Luck with your explorations 😀

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There are 4 in this group of posts about personal style. The others are :
2. on-line style advisors.
3. exploring styles.
4. trying on clothes.

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August 2019

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