Archive for October 2011

Nancy Nix-Rice : carefully chosen garments : extras

October 22, 2011

Nancy’s ‘core’ wardrobe consists of 12 mix-and-match items (4 under-layers, 3 over-layers, 5 bottoms). Of course she does’t expect us to live in just 12 garments ! Even though she shows so many variations we could wear a different outfit every day for a whole season.

Nancy also shows how to add items so they expand the wardrobe options. Instead of becoming orphans. She relaxes the rules : extras don’t have to co-ordinate with absolutely everything you already have ! Basics are clothes that mix-and-match without much thought, and can be worn on most occasions you find yourself in. Extras still need to make part of several outfits, but they can be more individual.

Nancy’s examples continue with the same classic shapes, and add some classic relaxed styles : jeans, shirt, and a drape front knit cardigan. Three new colours and another print !

– – –

First four extras : two more pairs of tops in accent colours
(end of Lesson 24)

Here’s something for people who long to have more colour 😀
Under- and over-layer in accent colour 2.
Under- and over-layer in accent colour 3.

The key point Nancy makes is you get better use from these added items if they’re :
– pairs of related under and over layers.
– colours which combine with the colours you already have.

Nancy chooses two more sweater sets. Sleeveless shell and over-layer that closes to the neck. Such as Silhouette Patterns 195 Sweater Set.


Nancy chooses knits with texture, frills, and sleeve length variations for added interest.

You haven’t got to continue with the same styles as your original core. This could be the place where you add tops for different occasions – tee and hoodie for exercise, knit top and shirt-jacket for relaxed casual. Keep your blouse and jacket for looking competent or formal.

– – –

Fifth extra : print shirt
(Lesson 26)

Add a shirt which can be worn either as an under- or an over-layer. Gives a huge number of options. For this, the shirt needs to have unfitted waist – made from a casual-dartless block.

There are many many shirt patterns, from beginner’s camp shirt casual such as Kwik Sew 3475


to sublime elegance such as Chado Ralph Rucci Vogue 1215 (below) or Vogue 1054.


Male Pattern Boldness has had a shirt sew-along with many tips.

For fabric, Nancy uses another print that combines your first colours (darker and lighter neutrals and accent), for maximum co-ordination and interest.

– – –

Sixth extra : casual pants in your first darker or lighter neutral
(first paragraph of Lesson 27)

Nancy chooses corduroy jeans.

Jalie 2908 jeans was the top Pattern Review pattern for 2009.


Pattern Review have 85 pages of tips in a jeans sew along for this pattern. Male Pattern Boldness has also had a jeans sew-along. There are tutorials on making the front pockets here. And Jennifer Sterns’ jeans pattern gets many good reviews for the instructions.

Judith Rasband in ‘Wardrobe Strategies for Women’ says jeans aren’t basic, because you can’t wear them at any time in any place without wondering if you’re appropriately dressed.

Your preference for casual pants might be chinos, such as Palmer-Pletsch McCall’s 6361. Or yoga pants, perhaps Palmer-Pletsch McCall’s 6082.

– – –

Seventh to tenth extras : a complete Core 4 in a second darker neutral
(Lesson 27).

Your second darker neutral does need to ‘go with’ the first, if you want maximum co-ordination possibilities. But it gives you the option to add a new frequently-worn colour.

For styles, Nancy repeats the basic classics. Her ‘Core 4” consists of under-layer, over-layer, skirt and pants, see first post in this group.

You might choose any wardrobe pattern which includes all your core items.

But you could use this opportunity to add a different style. All in denim ? all in a pretty print ? all in sweatshirt fleece ? Just :
– make all four items in a closely related colour group.
– link the colour and textures to what you already have.
– choose styles that make the look more casual or more professional, prettier or more edgy, but not so different that they look incongruous combined with the other clothes in your main ‘core’ wardrobe.

And take care with co-ordination. It may be dull to repeat shapes, but it does make everything interchangeable easily ! (Here are some thoughts on reducing the number of shapes.)

– – –

Eleventh extra : drape front cardigan
(Lesson 27, after the new Core 4)

Nancy’s final piece is a drape front knit cardigan. In a lighter colour related to your second dark neutral. This is a modern casual classic, with many patterns.

Jalie 2919 was one of Pattern Review’s top patterns for 2010.


Simplicity 2603 was one of Pattern Review’s top patterns for 2009.


These patterns both have a long front drape. A short cascade front looks better on me, see my post on cascade jackets.

– – –

Nancy ends Lesson 27 with a summary of the complete wardrobe. In Lesson 28 she makes some suggestions about choosing your group of clothes from your own closet or shopping.

– – –

Nancy has added 11 garments to her core 12. Making 23 garments total. All fit onto a short hanging rail ! And she stopped counting how many hundreds of different outfits she could make.

Nancy’s choices for these additions continue the same basic styles as the core wardrobe, but with added colour :
– two sweater sets in accent colours.
– another ‘Core 4’ in a second darker neutral or ‘basic’ colour.
That adds 8 items.

She also adds :
– casual pants (jeans) in your first darker neutral.
– ‘casual/ dartless block’ shirt, in a 3-colour print.
– drape front knit cardigan, in a lighter colour related to your new ‘Core 4’.
Well, don’t leave these ’til last if you need casual clothes !

As usual, all Nancy’s ideas for combinations and styling with accessories are thought provoking and inspiring.

If you follow Nancy exactly, you’ll have 7 shells, 8 over-layers, 4 skirts, 4 pants. In 3 neutral/ basic colours and 3 accents.

Want to go in another direction ?
There are several interesting suggestions for small groups of garments, ‘capsules’, in the Wardrobe Builder section of the Petite Plus patterns site. These ideas can be used by anyone, not just people who’re that shape.

Nancy hasn’t included ‘statement’ pieces. These are of course very individual. Instantly recognisable, not co-ordinates. But they still need to relate to your basics in colour and shape, so you can wear them !

23 Garments in Nancy’s scheme ? Why not make it two dozen ? What do you dearly miss ? What would you like for your special free-choice Bonus Item 😀

– – –

Patterns and links available October 2011

– – –

Other posts in this group :
Neutral Cores, colours, personalising
Accent colour and print
More thoughts
And related post :
Two-piece dresses

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October Vogue patterns

October 15, 2011

I’ve been getting oppressed by all the classic examples in Nancy Nix-Rice’s wardrobe plan – will I never learn – I got daunted by all the blazers earlier in the year. . . Was surprised by how much I’ve cheered up by looking at the new Vogue patterns with all their interest. Several more posts on Nancy’s wardrobe plan are in preparation, but here I am skiving off for the week 😀

– – –

Tunics / shirt-jackets

A marvellous crop of new tunics.

Guy Laroche Vogue 1268 is a dress. But I see it made shorter as a tunic. Or with the fronts separated as a light jacket.


Issey Miyake tunic Vogue 1278 has a good collar for drawing attention to your face. Much more to it than Vogue’s photos show. That outer layer is sheer, an interesting idea.


And I do love Lynn Mizono’s shirt-jackets. Here’s Vogue 1274.


– – –


Several options for cozy warmth. Two of them are hidden in coat patterns.

Vogue 8775 is good as I like a snuggle-up collar.


Another is a hoodie by Sandra Betzina, Vogue 1276.


And Vogue 8776 is called a cape, but without all the draughty cold problems of wearing a real cape. UK In Style magazine November issue has a whole section on this style. Looks like wearing a hot water bottle cover ! I can see myself in a fleece version of this feeling really toasty in winter. Not sure how easy it is to move your arms, but it looks fun to try 😀


– – –


Marcy Tilton’s Vogue 8779 jacket goes with the new oversized styles I”m thinking of writing a post on. Short jackets aren’t good on me, I would probably make this thigh length.


Vogue 8780 has a upper cascade front and a longer back with more shaping than usual. A combination that’s right for me. Though for me an open front jacket is more a warm-weather style.


– – –

There are a couple of attractive Katherine Tilton patterns, but they also don’t meet my winter needs. Patterns perhaps for people in a warmer winter 😀

This Vogue 8778 picture collar top is good for drawing attention to your face, but I wouldn’t find it comfortable to wear a thick coat over.


And a cascade front vest with interesting back, Vogue 8777. But I wear a vest in winter for warmth, so need one that closes up to the neck.


I may take another look at these in spring.

– – –

Relating these new patterns to Nancy Nix-Rice’s wardrobe plan : if your core wardrobe items are like Nancy’s examples (shell top, jacket, skirt, pants), there’s an elegant raglan sleeve fitted wardrobe pattern for you : Vogue 8781 with a shell/ dress, notched collar jacket, skirt and pants.


And if your core items are (top, skirt, dress, jacket) there are plenty of attractive modern dresses for you, and a couple of vintage dresses – one with jacket. But I rarely wear dresses myself.

My personal core items are (shirt, tunic, vest, casual jacket, pants – with many sweater knits).

These new patterns do include a useful fitted shirt-blouse with 4 sleeves, classic shirt and bow collars, in blouse and tunic lengths, Vogue 8772


There are some very slim pant patterns here. Not good on my legs. I always wear slightly tapered classic pants, like the ones in the wardrobe pattern. There is a new 5-pocket jeans pattern with both slim and straight legs, Vogue 8774.

If I was going to pick a skirt it would be like this Vogue 8773 slim gored skirt with 2 lengths, 2 slit positions. I would lower the raised waist, or I’d look as if I have no upper body, but long waisted people will love it unchanged. Replace the slits with pleats to make it like Nancy’s skirt examples.


– – –

Of course this isn’t all of the new Vogue patterns, just my favourites. This batch includes some lovely party dresses.

All the wardrobe planning has made me realise how much I wear vests, and how few I have. So these vests are the patterns I expect to be going for first 😀

– – –

Patterns and links available October 2011

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Two piece dresses

October 8, 2011

The Japanese call a dress a “one-piece”. But many wardrobe planners suggest a two-piece dress, as it adds more options. Look at these pieces from Butterick 3037.


In a solid light wool or linen, they might be called a suit. In a pretty print, a dress. The print top with the linen skirt would be separates. I don’t think it’s helpful to worry about the words. Just think whether a top and bottom made from the same fabric, but too light and unstructured to be called a suit, would be useful in your wardrobe.

And what pattern to use ? Of course you could just make your favourite blouse/ top with a simple skirt in the same fabric. But what about specific patterns for 2-piece dresses ? Here are some pointers.

– – –


Butterick 3037 in full has a good range of choices. A top with 2 necklines and 3 sleeve lengths. Straight and A-line skirts in 3 lengths.


If you like classics you could base a whole wardrobe round this. Remember an over-layer needs to be larger. Add pants with the same waist style as the skirt, to increase the options. Learn how to change necklines and hem shape (see my post on pattern variations), and you’ll never need another pattern 😀

There are some similar patterns in the evening sections of the catalogues. Skirt and bodice options. Make a knee length skirt and they’re wearable for day too. Here’s an example : Butterick 3843


There are few two-piece patterns in the dress sections of the catalogues. The best source is wardrobe patterns. Many contain a top and skirt that can be made in the same fabric. Not all, often the top is knit and the skirt woven. I’m not listing these patterns because there are so many, especially at Simplicity and New Look.

Here’s one example, Butterick 5147.


Tuck that top into a big New Look skirt for a vintage 50s effect.

– – –


The trendy version of a two-piece dress is a tunic top over a short skirt. Here are some examples.

McCall’s 6288 by Rebecca Turbow.


Simplicity 2305 by Cynthia Rowley


Simplicity 2059 by Lisette.


And what about this, which intrigues my pattern loving self 😀

Donna Karan Vogue 1259


– – –

Separates in different fabrics

Interesting, there are some patterns which include a top and skirt that the designer wants made in different fabrics. They are in the ‘separates’ sections of the catalogues.

Rachel Comey Vogue 1170.


Rachel Comey Vogue 1247


– – –

Other styles

Try the two-piece approach for other personal styles as well. It may be easier to combine favourite blouse and skirt patterns.

If you like ruffles and wraps, how about Kwik Sew 3474 for example, with a mock wrap skirt.


A casual person might prefer a tunic over a longer skirt in a knit fabric. Simplicity 3568 perhaps.


For lovers of the arty oversized : here’s a wide top combined with a long handkerchief skirt.

from Wall London.

Perhaps copy this using the largest size of The Sewing Workshop Hudson top. And a DIY handkerchief skirt pattern. (or see this tutorial by Shams on her ‘tablecloth’ skirt.)

– – –

I used to think two-piece dresses are dowdy. But now realise I was looking in the wrong direction. This is just a sample of the interesting possibilities if you look beyond the dress sections of the catalogues. Check the separates. Or combine blouse and skirt patterns.

Two-piece dresses can also be good for someone like me, very different sizes above and below the waist. Easier to make two different size items than to try to join them together at the waist !

Judith Rasband has whole DVD, Look Changers, on the different ways you can wear a 2-piece dress. The particular styles may be dated, but the general styling ideas apply in any decade.

Doesn’t matter whether you call the two pieces a dress or separates made from the same fabric. Two items made from the same fabric have a stronger visual effect than the same two items made in different fabrics. Is that effect an option that you want to have available from your clothes ? If so, a top and skirt in the same fabric are garments you’ll want to have.

– – –

Patterns and links available October 2011

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Nancy Nix-Rice : 12 carefully chosen garments : colour and print

October 1, 2011

Were you bowed down by all the neutrals that Nancy Nix-Rice started her optimum wardrobe plan with ? (previous post on the neutral core). I wear mainly neutrals so was happy with it all. But here at last, something for people who love colour and print. Nancy adds 4 more items, and shows how to integrate them with your basic Cores.

– – –

Fourth step : a pair of tops in an accent colour
(Lesson 24)

Nancy next adds two tops in colour, both in the same or a closely similar accent colour.

Her example uses 2 garments in woven fabrics :
Under-layer – wide strap camisole.
Over-layer – long sleeved unlined blazer jacket.

Surprisingly difficult to find a wide strapped camisole pattern. Here’s Kwik Sew 2498.


Would you like a change of style for your over-layer ? Nancy Nix-Rice’s scheme uses over-layers with a closable front opening. Buttons or zip. So the garment can be worn alone for another look. The popular cardigan jacket styles with a continuous neckband or a cascade collar can only be closed with a belt, so won’t give you the number of alternative looks Nancy is going for.

You could use the long sleeved version of the Butterick blazer pattern I mentioned before. If you’re not a blazer person, Nancy (not Nancy Nix-Rice !) in a comment suggested Burda 8503. A good possibility with several necklines, sleeves, pockets – could be made in both blouse and jacket fabrics.


What accent colour are you going for ? Choose a colour that makes you feel good. A colour from your eyes will make them sparkle.

– – –

Fifth step : a 2-piece dress in print
(Lesson 25)

Finally, Nancy Nix-Rice adds a two-piece dress. Two pieces so they can be worn separately to give other combinations. In a print that combines your three colours : darker and lighter neutrals and accent.

Nancy’s choice for top is a sleeveless shell with bow neckline. A couple of bow collar blouse patterns in the new patterns for this autumn. Here’s Simplicity 2151.


And Simplicity 2154 is just the thing ! Provides you with two over-layer designs too 😀


Make sure the bow works with the necklines of your over-layers.

Nancy uses a ‘slim’ skirt, though not tight.

I have a post planned on two-piece dress patterns. Though the challenge is not finding the pattern but finding a print in the right 3 colours and your favourite print style!

Nancy has good previous lessons on colour neutrals, contrast and prints. She has added excellent advice on choosing prints and accessories according to your facial proportions and facial structure (angles or curves).

– – –


So that completes your basic 12 wardrobe items. Which Nancy makes into 95 different outfits.

– 4 under-layers, in each of the 3 solid colours and the print.
– 3 over-layers, in each of the 3 solid colours.
– 2 pants, in each of the solid neutrals.
– 3 skirts, in each of the neutrals and the print.

Nancy Nix-Rice has chosen very basic classics, essentially only 6 styles with slight variations :
– knit sweater set.
– woven sleeveless shell.
– woven jacket with short or long sleeves.
– woven skirt and pants.

So these key patterns, in your own choice of fabrics and sleeve lengths, plus a little knowledge about adapting them to different versions, are all you need to build your wardrobe 😀

On the other hand, Judith Rasband in ‘Wardrobe strategies for Women’ thinks you get most variety from a few clothes if each piece is clearly different in style as well as colour : “of two tops, one might have short sleeves and the other long sleeves; one might be made of woven fabric and the other knit; one might be a blouse and the other a shirt. . . Of two skirts, make one shorter and one longer, one pleated and one gathered, one a solid color and one patterned; of two sweaters or vests, make one a pullover and one a cardigan; of two jackets, make one a blazer and the other a wrap style.” (p.247)

Do you like variety ? Would you prefer similar or different ?

– – –

I have some comments on possible co-ordinated pattern sources and personal style, but these posts are getting so long I’ve separated that section off for later. Meanwhile, Nancy does give us a lot to think about. . .

– – –

Patterns and links available October 2011

– – –

Other posts in this group :
Neutral Cores, colours, personalising
Adding extras
More thoughts
And related post :
Two-piece dresses

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