Archive for the ‘style and planning’ category

Style elements

January 29, 2017

This is such a visual topic, but yet there are no images in this post as there’s no easy way of summarising 100s of style elements. So here are quick links to my pinterest boards :

Jackets / coats
Cardigans
Tops
Yokes / smocks
Pants / trousers
Skirts / dresses
Jumpsuits

– – –

I have a huge pattern collection – I’m a pattern nerd – and I enjoy them in their own right, as a treasure trove of style ideas, pattern making solutions and sewing instructions, rather than actually using them to make things ! I’m one of those people who reads the instructions and looks at the pattern pieces for fun 😀 (and gets upset with mistakes). I do know this is the opposite of many people.

The starting point I sew from is influenced by several factors.

I have a good collection of body shape features which are not ‘average’, so my personal fitting blocks are nothing like the base blocks used as starting points for commercial patterns. This makes it hard work to adapt commercial patterns to fit.
I find it much easier to start from my own personal blocks, and add style elements to them, often taking information about silhouettes / proportions / details from commercial patterns.

Admittedly it helps with this problem that I’m interested in pattern making, and have a good collection of books and on-line classes on it. As well as patterns to copy the style elements from. People who don’t enjoy pattern making would need to find a different solution for this situation.

So what style elements are there to choose from to make your own design ?
And what did I learn from collecting them together ?

Style elements and proportions

I’ve recently been using pinterest as a way of collecting information about style elements, very easy to do as several sites have done a good job of pulling them together.

I’ve made several pinterest boards of my own.
Of course these images only cover representative versions of each style, there are infinite possibilities for varying proportions and combining details.

Those boards show clearly different styles, such as high or scooped neckline, flat Peter Pan collar or high banded collar, dolman or fitted sleeves. Within these styles, quite small changes in the proportions of silhouette and style elements, and in the fabrics and support structures used, can make a big difference to the look of the final result.
For an example, see my post on my ideal shirt.

Which is why many of us prefer to use other people’s designs rather than make our own. We can see from their illustrations if the proportions they’ve chosen are the ones we’re looking for.
Usually photos give the most reliable information about proportions. Fashion drawings and line illustrations may be good for seeing style elements, but they’re sometimes quite mis-leading about the proportions used in a pattern.

Specific style elements

Jackets and coats

After I’d collected these together I realised several things.

These lists must be compiled by fashionistas, as there’s a distinct lack of basic formal classics like the French/‘Chanel’ jacket, or basic casual classics like the jeans jacket or the waterfall collar. So I added some images of my own.

These lists are about styles for woven fabric, I didn’t find any ready-made lists of casual knit cardigan styles, so I compiled my own. And some hoodies, as they’re also rarely included in the lists.
Another oddity, the only section of BMV that has many patterns for cardigans is McCall’s !

Cardigan styles

Tops, including blouses and shirts. Also knit tees and tops – it’s not so obvious that their features are included, but they are there :

Tops
Use these necklines and sleeves also for the bodice part of dresses and jumpsuits.

Again the fashionistas don’t pay much attention to a personal favourite, which is yokes. So I’ve added a board of patterns which show the variety of options.
Yoke styles

For bottoms I prefer wearing :

Pants / trousers

For completeness I’ve added :

Skirts / dresses
although I rarely wear them myself.

And I haven’t seen guides for fashion students about jumpsuits. So here’s a selection of patterns for them, though only ones with sleeves and waist seams.
Jumpsuits

What I’ve noticed about my own style

Once I had made these pinterest boards, I had several interesting realisations.

There are many styles missing from the stylists’ reference lists. Many of us feel most ourselves when we’re wearing styles which are ignored by the fashionistas and the sites which support fashion design students. It’s not surprising that some people feel un-recognised, even alienated, by ‘fashion’.

And I have realised there are very few of these silhouettes and proportions or details which I want to wear myself.
I wouldn’t say that I’m a classic dresser or a conservative dresser, as those words imply a particular type of style elements, which I don’t wear.
But I am a very ‘unvaried’ dresser, repeating the same proportions, silhouettes and details rather than exploring all the possibilities.
I’m the same about accessories, nearly always wearing the same shoe style, bag shape, necklace length. I get uncomfortable with too big a change. Though I do admit to a variety of scarves and brooches/pins !

Well, I could wear most of the yokes and many of the cardigan styles – some of the styles the fashionistas ignore. . . So perhaps I do like variety, it’s just within a smaller range than the fashionistas consider, and styles they don’t think of !
Have you got your own ‘signature’ style element ?
Have you made a pinterest board to celebrate it 😀

So there aren’t so many variations that I want to make. That’s another reason why it’s easier for me to start from my own blocks, rather than needing ever more patterns.
I’m a quiet person, and I like subtle variety. I get my interest from small changes in proportions, and subtle changes in fabric colour and texture.

Again I know that many people are the opposite of this – and want to explore all the possibilities and wear / make something different every time.

Where do you come on this ?
Do you find looking at these images and picking out the ones you like and enjoy wearing is a good guide to your personal style ?
Or is what you like to wear missing altogether from these images ?
Or is your style eclectic, and you like all of them 😀

– – –

Links available January 2017

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The Vivienne Files wardrobe plan : ’Starting from Scratch’

July 17, 2014

Janice of The Vivienne Files has been running a wardrobe building series which is simple, clear and step-by-step.

I brought the links together for my own use, and am posting them here in case anyone finds it helpful.
There has been an active discussion at Stitchers’ Guild.

The main sections here :
– list of links to the Scratch wardrobe plan.
– other wardrobe building plans from Janice.
– grouping the steps into capsules.
– some suggestions on personalising the plan.
– a few tips on co-ordinates,
– some designers and styles.

So many situations where building a wardrobe can be an inspiring idea :
– choosing a travel capsule,
– revising your wardrobe when you have a change in job/ lifestyle/ size/ climate or want to explore a different personal style,
– ‘shopping your wardrobe’ to check if you have any big wardrobe gaps.
– when you feel you have “nothing to wear”, your closet is full of clothes that don’t go together.
– when you feel your clothes are just tired out, or you’re tired of them.

– –

Build up a wardrobe

It’s good to take at least a day on each step, as Janice did with her posts. Every time you add a step, explore the outfits you can make by combining these with your previously chosen items.
I think this is especially important early on, when you’re establishing your own best colours, styles and clothing needs.
Imogen Lamport’s mantra at Inside-Out Style blog is “Love what you buy, and only buy what you love and what loves you back.” Take the time to find these items, if need be.

Choose colours that flatter you and that you love, not just colours that go together.
Pick styles which make you feel and look your best.
Don’t try to mimic Janice’s choices exactly unless they are what makes you happy.
Think about what clothes you need for your climate and how you spend your time.
(A little more about these decisions in later sections.)

Step 0. choose 5 colours – 2 neutrals, ‘white’/ best light neutral, 2 accents
click here

Janice has a colour planner available for purchase, showing a huge range of possible combinations, see here.

Step 1. pants – main neutral
click here

Step 2. shoes – same neutral
click here

Step 3. cardigan; tee – same neutral
click here

Step 4. jeans – same neutral; shirt – ‘white’
click here

Step 5. accessories I – bag, watch, bracelet, earrings, scarf – same neutral
click here
(other suggestions – belt, necklace, hat, vest)

Step 6. 2 tops – 1 in each accent colour; mixed colour scarf
click here

Step 7. layer; pants; shoes – 2nd neutral
click here

Pause for review
click here

Clarifying preferences
click here

Step 8. 2 tops – any of colours, may be print; necklace – accent
click here

Step 9. dressy [winter] outfit : skirt; top; shoes – all in main neutral
click here

Step 10. casuals : jacket – neutral; top – mixed colour print; casual shoes – neutral or accent
click here

Step 11. personal style outfit : layer; top; bottom, to fill in your needs – both neutrals
click here

Step 12. winter outerwear : coat; boots; scarf – mainly neutrals but your choice
click here

Step 13. accessories 2 : bag, watch, earrings, necklace, brooch/ pin – mainly neutrals
click here

Step 14. leisure wear : 2 tops – any of the 5 colours or prints; 2 bottoms – mainly neutral
click here

Step 15. dressy summer outfit : dress – neutral; layer – may be accent; sandals – neutral or ‘flesh’
click here

Step 16. evaluating and balancing neutrals (complete core groups of both neutrals)
click here
Sort your wardrobe by colour, plus ‘bridging’ garments which combine colours. Too many or too few of one of your colours ?

Step 17. finishing touches
click here
Many examples of things you might feel are missing.

Step 18. simple neutral tops as background for accessories
click here

Final summary, no new items
click here

Worksheets available
click here

Supplement : Summer wardrobe, all the steps in one post
click here

– – –

Alternates

Janice has previously posted several wardrobe building schemes with different perspectives.
Some of them add some other considerations, which can be confusing. On the other hand, if they‘re more like your style, they may make things simpler !
Just pick one to start from, as a way of building up a basic group of clothes. You can branch out from it later.

Alternate 1 : a 15-piece wardrobe for Agnes
– 5 layers, 5 tops, 5 bottoms.
click here
Buy all 15 items from the same department at the beginning of the season, and no need to think about clothes again. . .

Alternate 2 : Four by Four casual wardrobe
– four groups of four
click here
Janice has many versions of this – click on Four by Four in the labels section of her menu.

I wrote a couple of posts about this at the time :
Wardrobe of relaxed basics
Variations of the relaxed wardrobe

Alternate 3 : the common wardrobe
– 12 neutral casuals
click here
This is rather different from the Scratch wardrobe. Here a small group of neutral casuals is used as the background for interesting accent colour accessories.
In the Scratch wardrobe most of the accessories are neutral in colour.

Again I wrote some posts about this at the time :
Common wardrobe
Accessory styles
Where do you like your outfit variety ?
I gave up on listing all the colours Janice explored, but you can find them if you click on ‘A Common Wardrobe’ in the Labels in her menu. An amazing example of Janice’s wardrobe gifts in action !

Alternate 4 : building a working wardrobe after college
click here
Another simple group of classics built up a few items at a time.

Alternate 5 : a two-suit wardrobe
– 24 items
click here
More basics using 2 key colours.

For someone else’s recent suggestions on wardrobe planning, there’s the Wardrobe Architect series from Colette Patterns.

– – –

Sewing this wardrobe a capsule at a time

Elizabeth (ejvc) has grouped the Scratch Wardrobe items into 6PACs for ease of sewing. Each 6PAC has its own reduced colour focus.
In a ideal world you sew a 6PAC each season. 6PACs are groups of items which make a capsule, so you have plenty of wearable outfits even if you only make these 6 items. There are active discussions each season at Stitchers’ Guild.
Elizabeth calls the main colours ‘base’ colours rather than neutrals, as some people aren’t happy in neutrals. She counts a colour as a base/neutral if you’d enjoy wearing a pair of pants in it. So if you love shocking pink pants, shocking pink is a ‘neutral’ for you 😀
click here for ejvc’s post

Some people are happy to follow Janice’s Steps. Others feel they have a clearer overview of the process if they group the Steps in Capsules and then the Capsules into a Wardrobe.
I’m a ‘one step at a time’ person, so long as I know there is a flexible overall plan which works out in the end. But some people instantly relax when they see Elizabeth’s scheme.
So do whichever works best for you.

– – –

Personalising the plan

Love dresses and skirts ? lace and frills ? studs and skulls ? Need many layers for warmth ? Have greyed warm colouring ? Many reasons why the items Janice picks may not be ideal for you, so try not to get stuck on specifics. If you’re not a city-dwelling working classic with clear cool colouring, it may take a bit of thought and experimenting to adapt this wardrobe to your own needs, but the basic ideas are very simple to deal with.

My e-book has some suggestions on identifying your own wardrobe needs.
click here

And there’s this post with some questions to get you thinking about your personal style.
click here

It’s also important to dress for your colouring.
Which describes you ?
light – dark
cool (blue based) – warm (yellow based),
clear – muted
low contrast – high contrast

The approach to colouring which works best for me is ‘signature colours’ – colours from your hair, skin, eyes, blush, veins.
I enjoy Imogen Lamport’s posts on this ’signature colours’ approach.
click here (search for signature colour)
But some people don’t look good in their personal colouring, and prefer the ‘seasonal’ approach. So try both.

For choosing clothes which enhance the details of your body shape, there’s the excellent and fascinating workbook ‘Flatter your Figure’ by Jan Larkey.
click here.

– – –

Co-ordinates

And then there’s the art and skill of choosing clothes that co-ordinate.
Several of my posts with suggestions on co-ordination linked to from this page.

Basically – you’ve simplified co-ordination by using only a few colours and a few prints.
Also just use a few silhouettes and a few style elements.
It’s easiest to have collars on tops and not on jackets, or collars on jackets and not on tops.
Make sure your layers are big enough, especially at the armholes and sleeves. Many fitted jacket patterns have sleeves that only work over a sleeveless top or camisole. Raglan and dolman sleeves fit over most other sleeve styles, but not vice versa.

– – –

Designers and styles

One way of making it more likely your clothes co-ordinate is to use patterns from only one designer.
Of course I can’t resist having fun with patterns and styles, so here are some of the possibilities.
(Instructions hugely varied in quality.)

simple classics with advice on easy pattern alterations :
Angela Wolf : patterns plus Threads videos on how to alter them : One Pattern Many Ways One, and Two.
Nancy Ericson : patterns with newsletters, booklets about variations.
Silhouette Patterns : patterns for several cup sizes, with DVD on pattern making,
Sure-Fit Designs : basic fitted slopers with booklets and videos about style alterations.
See also my posts on wardrobe pattern books linked to from this page.

modern classics :
Burda Style,
StyleArc

chic couture :
Claire Shaeffer
Marfy
Ralph Rucci

dramatic, high fashion :
Bootstrap Fashion
Lekala

softer :
Hot Patterns,
Loes Hinse

dresses/ ‘vintage’ :
Colette
Eliza M

loose and frilly :
Folkwear
Tina Givens

knits and active :
Christine Jonson
Jalie

crafter/ artisan :
Indygo Junction
Merchant & Mills

arty :
Cutting Line (under shop tab),
Marcy Tilton
Sewing Workshop

– – –

After all the thinking involved in writing Sewingplums, I have a fairly clear idea of my wardrobe needs and my personal style, my colouring and body shape, but I still learn something new from most wardrobe plans. I much enjoyed exploring this one. And am looking forward to using it as a guide for what to sew.

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Combine fabrics, embellish

November 2, 2013

The first ‘avant garde’ post was about architectural shapes.
This post is about adding interesting and unique design elements using all the possibilities of textile surface art – combining fabrics and adding texture and embellishment.

There are so many options for creativity. This post has these sections :
– patterns with basic shapes for fabric combining and embellishment.
– embellishment techniques.
– multi-fabric combining :
. . . different main pattern pieces in different fabrics.
. . . fabric combining in patchwork and other shapes.
– high fashion in ‘artistic’ colours and prints.

There’s many exciting and inspiring ‘art to wear’ sites and blogs, this is just a short guide to a few starting points.
And sorry, just some suggested links. Lots of attractive images if you follow up the links, but I haven’t included many visuals here. I wouldn’t know where to stop 😀

– – –

Basic garments for embellishment

There are several patterns with simple shapes specifically for adding your own fabric combination or embellishment.

Fit for Art Tabula Rasa jacket (includes help with fit, other patterns for style changes)

Yvonne Porcella Jacket from The Sewing Workshop (simplest shape, terrible instructions) (gallery here).
There’s also a pdf guide to embellishment for it (not free).

Kayla Kennington has patterns built from rectangles. Her site is not active at present, but her patterns are available from sewingpatterns.com.

Or decorate the simple shapes of peasant workwear such as from Folkwear patterns.

If you just like doing the embellishment without doing the garment construction, use basic existing garments (such as from BlankApparel.com). Though that isn’t a way of getting interesting garment shapes.

– – –

Embellishment Techniques

Many many internet sources of advice on :
– fabric painting, dying, stencilling, stamping, foiling. . .
– hand and machine embroidery, appliqué, texturising, couching, beading, heirloom stitching . . .
– plus sources for delicious ribbons, motifs, trims. . .
And dozens of books too.
Sorry I’m not going to attempt to pick out the good ones !

Perhaps work through a CD by Marcy Tilton on Surface Design, or her many on-line tutorials.

Several Craftsy classes to try :
Decorative seams
Edge finishes
Creative closures
Sewn texture
Stupendous Stitching
Machine embroidery, hand-stitched looks
Hand embellishing knit fabric
Designing details – pockets

Several McCall’s patterns for making fabric flowers.

Here’s a pdf from Shirley Adams of Alternatives for making multiple different shells using different decorative techniques.

Multiple fabric combinations within one garment

This is the current ‘multi-media’ approach to clothes.

See the Style.com Fall 2013 trend reports Crazy Fur section (click on right centre photo) for designer inspiration on using fur, some in combinations.
and Style.com Spring 2013 trend reports Collage Degree section (click on left centre photo) for designer inspiration on combining patterned fabrics.

I love combining fabrics in a quilt, but find it much more difficult in clothes.
Easiest to use fabrics from quilt fabric designers, which are issued in groups of prints specifically designed to co-ordinate.

Whole pattern pieces

The most seen ‘high-street fashion’ multi-fabric look is to have whole pattern pieces in different fabrics, especially in princess seam styles. Many Big4 and Burda patterns in which this is done quite simply, with solids in ‘colour blocking’. ‘Texture blocking’ or ‘multi-media’ print combining are the newest idea.

At the extreme, if you add a CB seam and a waist seam to a princess seam jacket, you’ll have 16 different fabric areas to play with in the body alone. Then add on more fabrics for sleeves, collar, facings 😀

Try these sources for more casual patterns in this style :
Design and Planning Concepts
Indygo Junction
Serendipity Studio

Patchwork and other fabric shapes

If you love piecing and quilting, there’s plenty of fashion inspiration for using smaller areas of each fabric too.

There’s a Craftsy class on making a Quilted jacket

And there are many independent pattern designers who provide patterns for ‘wearable art’ pieced and quilted garments. These are just some of them.
Dana Marie
Grainline Gear
Lorraine Torrence Designs
Pavelka Design (sewing patterns link at bottom of page)
Rag Merchant
Taylor Made Designs

Here are a couple of examples.

Silhouette 4013 dress for knits.

”silhouette4013”

McCall’s 6712 top and circular skirt.

”m8712”

The king of print combination is Koos van den Akker at Vogue.
Here’s a slide show of his styles to click through.

– – –

‘Artistic’ high fashion

There’s another route, for people who aren’t so interested in architectural shapes and embellishment.

And that is to wear high fashion shapes in strong prints and strong colours.
YouLookFab gives an example here, from one of those style bloggers who appears to have an unlimited clothing budget.

As in the combining of contrasting prints and textures (see my post with an example), this requires a gifted artistic eye.
There’s a good article on mixing prints and textures here. [Ignore their Style Personality quiz, which only has one style.]

Note there’s no combining of colours or prints within one garment. They’re dramatically combined from separate garments.
But it is a rather different approach to wardrobe building than wearing a couple of neutrals and one accent colour with one quiet print 😀

Lots of attractive and dramatic prints around. But take care if you have low contrast colouring or a quieter personality – perhaps these fabrics will swamp your own looks. It is possible to choose prints, textures, colours which ensure people look at you, not the fabric !

– – –

I grinned while pulling this list together. I delight in all clothes. But the styles I actually wear myself are a bit like this – though very quiet versions !

I’m definitely a follower not an innovator in this area, but I’m fascinated by all the possibilities.
I’m particularly entranced by an old embellishment set I have from Lois Ericson, which has stencils and machine embroidery software for the same shapes. Almost infinite potential.

– – –

If you love this sort of jacket, enjoy being at the forefront of fashion this season 😀

There’s so much rich creativity available for clothes making. If this is your style I’m sure you have your own sources of delight and inspiration.

Do you show your personal style in the jacket shapes you choose ? This season there are quiet or striking versions of :
– tailored blazer,
– drapey or curvy shapes,
– assertive edgy shapes of bomber/ biker/ military,
– architectural shapes.

Or do you prefer simple shapes but delight in the bold or subtle combination of colour, print, texture, embellishment ? There’s a huge range – from overwhelming, challenging, sublime through to modest in scope.

No end to the delicious possibilities 😀
Apart from the pleasures of looking at all this – when it comes to what you wear yourself, which makes you feel most happy, comfortable with and true to yourself 😀

– – –

Patterns and links available November 2013

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Stylish fleeces and hoodies

October 26, 2013

I seem to have been going through a phase where I disagree with everything said by stylists.
Ah well, perhaps it’s a test that I’m clear about my own style.

A style book I looked at recently (Wardrobe Secrets by Emily Neill) said there are no rules about what to wear, except you must never wear a turtle (polo) neck, and it’s good to wear a V-neck.
Oh dear, I feel the cold and with my long neck and long head, I think I look much better in a turtle neck. And I haven’t worn a classic V-neck since school uniform – with my face shape and flat chest they don’t look anywhere near the best I can be.

And Imogen Lamport of Inside-Out Style has a couple of recent posts in which she appears to be anti-fleece and anti-hoodie.

Oh. Hmm. No doubt I’m over-reacting, but there seem to be several sub-texts here :
– that it’s impossible to look stylish and trendy in a fleece or hoodie,
– that everyone wants to look stylish and trendy,
– and that it’s impossible to look stylish and trendy when wearing protective winter outerwear.
(The people who buy Chanel ski jackets would be surprised to hear that 😀 There’s even a Lands End ‘down to -40 degrees C’ padded jacket in the style worn by all the trendy girls round here.)

Well of course that set me off on a whole lot of trains of thought. Happily there are many recent patterns for ‘Easy Luxe’ elegant fleeces and hoodies.

– – –

Stylish hoodies

McCall’s 6444

”m6444”

Butterick 5791 (includes elastic waist pants)

”b5791”

Vogue 8854.

”v8854”

McCall’s 6603

”m6603”

McCall’s 6849

”m6849”

(Or shorten this dress, Vogue 8806.)

– – –

Stylish fleeces

Some new patterns could be cosy and comfortable in fleece, yet look ‘stylish’ rather than ‘sporty’ (Though why not look sporty-casual if you want to – there are plenty of new patterns. It’s a very popular look round here.)

McCall’s 6658

”m6658”

Vogue 8924

”v8924”

Butterick 5961 by Katherine Tilton

”b5961”

Simplicity 1543 by Patty Reed

”s1543”

Butterick 5816 is said to be for light fabrics. But it was a summer pattern issue, and I think it could work well in warm fabrics too. (Pattern info doesn’t mention using 2 fabrics, very trendy but not clear that there are instructions for it.)

”b5816”

– – –

Well, this is obviously a topic close to my heart, as I keep returning to it.
See my previous posts on
fleeces and hoodies
and on the vague borderline between ultra-casual and loungewear styles.

Hurrah, lots of options for those of us who love ‘Easy Luxe’ 😀

And here’s YouLookFab on wearing a hoodie with a blazer – she definitely doesn’t think a hoodies are not for the stylish 😀

– – –

Patterns and links available October 2013

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