Archive for the ‘specific capsules’ category

Casual chic holiday wear – dresses, wardrobe

December 8, 2012

More casual partying clothes for the 2012 holiday period from Eileen Fisher’s Holiday Tool Kit.

Eileen Fisher

The folded red item is a simple dress.

My previous post on this capsule was about patterns for the tops and pants.

This is about patterns for the dresses, plus some of my own ideas for expanding these 6 items to a holiday travel wardrobe.

There aren’t patterns to copy the dresses exactly, so they need a little pattern work. But again they’re mostly quite simple makes.

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Drape front jersey dress

Eileen Fisher

A loose shift dress shape with cap sleeves, rather than a fitted sheath, though it does taper slightly to the hem. Like the tops, that means it’s based on the casual dartless block.

The neckline is like the popular DKNY knit, Vogue 1250.


But that DKNY dress is rather fitted. The shape of the Eileen Fisher dress is more like this DKNY for wovens, Vogue 1300.


So some pattern combining may be needed.

Or you might prefer to lengthen this top for wovens, Vogue 8816.


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V-neck sleeveless A-line layering dress in velvet with silk trim

Eileen Fisher

A low-thigh length overdress with flare and a shaped hem.
Made in velvet, with silk charmeuse for side panels and trim on neckline and armholes.

The pattern is basically a v-necked a-line dress with shaped hem.

Here’s a Fashion Star pattern, McCall’s 6553. It has seams for side panels, though they are much wider than the inspiration.
Alter the neck line and hem line shapes to copy the inspiration, or to what’s most flattering for you.


Butterick 5655 View B is simpler.
Use the outer-layer pattern pieces only, and change the neckline and length.


Kwik Sew 3802 is for knits, and has another way of achieving an interesting hem shape. Omit the sleeves and change the neckline.


The Eileen Fisher version is made in two fabrics, velvet with contrast shiny trim for neck and armhole edges and side panels. If you want this texture change you’ll have to make a pattern for adding the side strip from underarm to hem. Quite easy pattern work. Just draw a line on the pattern where you want the new seam, and remember to add seam allowances. Combine the front and back side pieces into one pattern piece for a neater result.

For many sewers the sewing is more difficult than the pattern making. Combining velvet and charmeuse is a bit of a challenge. So you might like a simpler fabric combination. It’s easiest to combine 2 of the same fabric type, just different in colour or print.

And remember this is an overdress, so you need a size larger than usual for a dress, to allow for comfortable layering.

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A possible wardrobe

These 6 items – 2 dresses, 3 tops and pants – could make a good “dressy casual” party wardrobe capsule.
Easy wear shapes, but in shines and velvets. See end of my previous post on this capsule for more fabric suggestions.

For a complete holiday period travel wardrobe, I think you need to add some more fitted tops, to layer under the over-dress or give a different silhouette. Or to layer under these over-sized tops if you need more warmth.
Tees, blouses, shirts – keep up the quality with the fabrics.
And more than one pair of pants. Plus a slim skirt of any length.

Add a cardigan jacket if you want more layering options.
McCall’s 6084 is a quick pattern for both wovens and knits which I’ve suggested for previous Eileen Fisher capsules.
This gives a change of silhouette, it’s not wearable over those wide tops. Make it thigh length for a different look.


There are many similar patterns in another of my posts on Eileen Fisher styles.

For a heavier jacket : Eileen Fisher’s key jacket style for this season has a funnel neck. There are many patterns for these. Here’s one with very dropped shoulders, Very Easy Vogue 8539.


Remember your coat needs to be generous sized to wear over those loose tops. So a poncho or cape might be a good idea.

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Add scarves, socks, jewellery, a hat. . .
‘This year’ shoes : ankle boots or decorated ballet flats. Eileen Fisher also has mid-heeled pumps and wedge heel sandals.

‘This year’ bag/ purse : a duffle bag or big clutch. Oversized clothes cause problems for shoulder and cross body bags. They need very long straps so the bag hangs at low hip/ thigh level – not a flattering spot to emphasise for many of us.

Duffle bag and clutch are easy shapes to make your own patterns for, if you have a little experience with bag making.
If you’d like some support for your efforts :

Studio Kat Cordicella duffle bag.
Make it in bling fabrics for a party bag 😀


Hot Patterns Out to Lunch clutch.


Eileen Fisher has a clutch in suede. There are several BMV patterns for smaller clutches, if a big bag/ purse isn’t a flattering proportion for you, or you prefer a small bag for parties.

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Of course choose your own celebratory style if these boxy garments aren’t to your taste 😀

And you haven’t got to wear red, black, grey – extra important to wear flattering colours on special occasions!

What is your key to special festive wear ? It’s probably obvious from my comments that for me it’s the quality of the fabrics. How about lots of extra embellishment ? exuberant use of fabric ? or wild colour ? is a skirt essential ? or a very close fit ? bare skin ? heaped-on bling ?

Have fun with your choices 😀

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Links and patterns available December 2012

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Casual chic festive capsule – tops

November 24, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving to those in the US who start their festive wear needs this week. Here in the UK we have to wait ’til Christmas 😀

These are casual partying clothes for the 2012 winter holidays, from Eileen Fisher’s Holiday Tool Kit.

Eileen Fisher

Some quite easy makes for a relaxed special occasion capsule.
As usual this got much too long, so I’ve made 2 parts : this on the tops and pants, and a later piece on the dresses (here).

So, what about patterns ? The tops are all based on the casual dartless block. But if you’re full in front, you may want to add a dart.
Some lengthening or shortening of pattern pieces needed to match the inspiration (even a couple of changed necklines), but otherwise the patterns are straightforward.

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Velvet cowl neck box top

Eileen Fisher

What Eileen Fisher calls a ‘box top’ is like a poncho with side seams, very wide.
This one is about hip length.
And has about elbow length sleeves. With the very generous size, the side seams and armholes come about half way down the upper arm.

The key to party wear here is to make everyday over-sized casual styles in special fabrics.

The indoor poncho-like McCall’s 6603 has about these proportions. Make the collar on View A (upper left) continuous and wider, and use the lower left sleeves.


Or there’s the Sewing Workshop Hudson top – in your usual size or one larger, and shorten the sleeves.


If you prefer something less dramatically sized, there’s Butterick 5816, with a choice of cowl or draped necks.


If you prefer a close fit, here’s a cowl neck knit top from Katherine Tilton, Vogue 8793.


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Ballet neck boxy tunic in shiny knit

Eileen Fisher

A little narrower and longer than the previous top, but otherwise much the same. The sleeves also end at the elbow, but are longer because the body of the top is a narrower.

This is a shiny knit fabric, with a contrast texture rib band used for the sleeve cuffs.
I think this would work just as well in a heavy satin fabric. Perhaps crepe backed satin so you can use the contrast.

There are multi-fabric versions of a shape like this in new Butterick 5855.


Or use another size of the previous pattern. This is still a style based on a casual dartless block.

Many casual wear patterns can easily be adapted for party wear simply by using party fabric, a party neckline, and elbow length sleeves.
Try one of these :

Katherine Tilton’s loose tunic for knits Vogue 8690 could look very different in shiny fabric with a ballet neckline.


Cutting Line Designs 2×4 includes both necklines.


Have a look at my post on stylish sweatshirts for more pattern options.

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Jewel neck merino knit tunic, yarn with a bit of shine

Eileen Fisher

Upper thigh length, with over-wrist long sleeves.
A conventional tunic in silhouette. Still a dartless shape, but not so oversized.
Raglan sleeves. Difficult to see on the photos, but the sleeves have an inset strip of slightly more open weave fabric which runs from neckline to wrist.

For a pattern, possibly lengthen Butterick 5679 View C and omit the side pocket section.


Or Kwik Sew 3954 is another raglan sleeve choice, this one with fitted upper body and flare below, if that’s better for your body shape.


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More designer patterns for tops

Not exact copies of the inspiration but in similar style.
From wider to narrower :

Katherine Tilton’s Vogue 8748 big shirt for wovens is even more over-sized, with ‘armhole’ seams at elbow level.
Many variants possible. Omit the cuffs and/ or the collar. Close the front opening, and add your most flattering party neckline.


Loose fitting knit tunics from Alice + Olivia, Vogue 1261. With raglan, fitted and cut-on sleeves, choice of necklines and hem shapes – just the thing.


Or slimmer-fit knit tunics from Katherine Tilton Vogue 8817 with interesting seam detail and fabric combining.


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Slim pants in ponte doubleknit

Large tops are best worn with slimmer pants, so your clothes don’t make you look gigantic. Make the tops long enough to cover your hips, so you can wear pant legs slimmed as far as they will go for you, without worrying about what’s happening at hip level ! My lumpy legs are not good in tight fitting leggings, but slimmer pants are possible.

For stretch knits, you might use McCall’s 6173 View A. Use an elastic waist if you prefer – no one’s going to see it under these tops.


If you prefer stretch woven for pants, there’s Melissa Watson’s McCall’s 6405.


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Your choice of style and details

Would any of these tops make a good relaxed special occasion outfit for you ?
Or make all three tops and the pants for a holiday season capsule, covering most situations where you don’t need to be really dressed up. Add a long slim skirt or very full palazzo pants and you might manage many black-tie events too.

If you’d prefer to copy Eileen Fishers’ simple dresses, I have another post coming on them.

There’s a party clothes sew along at Stitchers Guild, if you’d like some other ideas !

These wide boxy shapes are definitely not everyone’s best shape or favourite style.
Perhaps you have other favourite casual patterns you could make in festive fabrics.
And clothes based on the casual dartless block are not fashionable “body con” party wear.
If you’re at your best in a more fitted styles with body shaping, there’s plenty of choice in the pattern catalogues.

If velvet and shine don’t make you happy but you do like variations in texture : lace, sequins, brocade, and touches of fake fur are current festive options.
Or these ‘this season’ prints can be good for parties : chinese, baroque, flowers on a dark background, computer generated abstracts.

Eileen Fisher uses a current berry shade of red, with black and grey. Happily if we make our own versions we can choose her shapes but aren’t limited to her colours. Especially if we have warm-toned personal colouring. Choose flattering colours that make you feel festive.

Remember Eileen Fisher clothes are usually very simple in cut. It’s the quality of the fabrics that makes them luxurious.

Enjoy whatever you make and wear for the holiday season 😀

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Links and patterns available November 2012

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Trendy Autumn Capsule 2012

November 3, 2012

What if I wanted some trendy clothes this autumn ?
I fell in love with the Cosy Fall Wish List suggested by The Blush Chronicles.

from The Blush Chronicles

Fairly easy to reproduce.
Of course use your own best colours.

I’ve added notes on :
– simple pattern combining when you can’t find exactly what you want,
– add-ons to take this from capsule to wardrobe,
– some other sources of wearable trendy inspiration for this winter.

– – –

Sweater top

Butterick 5679, View B.


Slim pants

Pair with the ubiquitous slim pants, such as Palmer-Pletsch McCall’s 6440.


Collarless biker jacket

Burda 03/2012-116.


Though I wouldn’t wear this in leather. Not for moral reasons, I’m just not happy in heavy stiffness.


With my rear, I don’t look good in a short fitted jacket and pants, so would add a long straight skirt. Use the best length for you. Wearable with both jacket and sweater.

Perhaps the one in Vogue 8841.



Butterick 5367, View A.


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Cape coat – combining patterns

No pattern exactly the same as the inspiration. A bit of pattern work needed here.

There is a recently oop cape-sleeved coat pattern, Vogue 8678.


But there isn’t much of the year when I would be happy in a coat without full length sleeves !

So add some capelet pieces to a shoulder princess coat, as in the inspiration.
Perhaps start from Burda 7855.


Try a mock-up of the capelet pattern pieces to get the length and width you want, starting with a half circle. Or adapt from a cape style with shaped shoulder seam, such as Vogue 6776 (better for getting the cape hem on-grain).

The cape-coat inspiration is double breasted. One of the many advantages of a shoulder princess pattern is – it’s easy to adapt the centre front panel to different styles.

And the inspiration has a trench style collar.
So swap the notched collar and front opening of the Burda coat for something like McCall’s 5525, View D.


To combine the patterns – overlay the front pattern pieces and match up the shoulder seams and centre fronts.
Then trace the style elements you want.
Do the same with the back pattern pieces to check if the back neck shapes are different.
Straighten out the front edge and add more buttons, if you want your coat to close up to the neck.

Or simply use this trench style in dark fabric with military buttons for another of this season’s coat looks.

– – –

From capsule to wardrobe

First stage of additions. The coat and pants photos in the inspiration include :
– long sleeved knit top,
– print top (possibly a short sleeved blouse),
– vest.
Second stage of additions :
– long sleeved blouse/ shirt,
– second pair of pants – straight leg or boot-cut.
And a self-fabric strip for one of the blouses/ shirts so you have a bow-neck look.
All in basic shapes. Vary the surfaces and textures.

That makes :
3 layers (jacket, sweater, vest),
3 tops (long sleeved tee, long and short sleeved blouses).
3 bottoms (2 pants, 1 skirt).
1 coat.
10 garments in all. The 9 indoor clothes give about 40 outfits if they all co-ordinate.

Including accessories :

Haven’t mentioned the shoes 😀 That’s the one piece of the starter capsule that I already have, as flat ankle boots are a favourite of mine. Many people round here are wearing knee high boots with their slim pants. Add a dressier pair of shoes to increase the range of opportunities for wearing these clothes. You haven’t got to wear the current sky-high stiletto heels to look dressy. Try pretty ankle boots with medium heels. Or decorated ballet flats.

Add some indoor and outdoor scarves, a narrow waist belt, warm hat and gloves, favourite jewellery.
Well, that looks like an effective collection 😀

– – –

For easy-wear current looks in ‘modern classic’ style, see YouLookFab’s Pinterest board – copy many of these outfits using this wardrobe, and her comments on what she’s wearing this season.
And here’s a list of current items from StyleMakeover.

For a wide range of current styles, see Nancy Nix-Rice on wearable current trends and suggested outfits (no they’re not the pure classic styles which she uses to illustrate her wardrobe planning posts).
Next stage of additions : add blazer, cascade jacket, big top to your wardrobe, and you can mimic many of these outfits too.
Next additions : drape, cowl, turtleneck tops – and so on 😀

Enjoy the new season !

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Links and patterns available November 2012

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Change in proportions

October 27, 2012

One of my key garments is a shirt-jacket. I had fun recently looking at older shirt-jacket wardrobe patterns on Etsy. There were dozens of very similar patterns published in the 70s to 90s.

Here’s one from the 70s. McCall’s 3280, 1972.
(Goodness, that summer I bought this house, so lived on crusts for several years. And I finished my thesis. It wasn’t a time I was thinking much about new clothes !)


This look was popular for decades. A recent pattern like this was only discontinued a short time ago, Butterick 4811.


In the late 80s to 90s, there was also another popular look for unlined casual jackets – oversized and collarless. Here’s McCall’s 7501, 1995. Huge oversize supported by huge shoulder pads, worn with a small skirt or full pants.


So, what is it about these styles that makes them look not quite up to date ?

Well, some designers have been showing oversized jackets in recent seasons, but usually without the huge support structures, and worn with slim pants or leggings. You Look Fab has a post about these here. Jackets like this haven’t reached this suburb (except for the students who buy men’s overcoats from the charity shops).

These days there’s so much freedom in fashion, you can find at least one designer who uses any given look. I’ve tried to focus on what’s frequently seen.

Here’s what I might replace those looks with.

New wardrobe pattern for wovens, Butterick 5821.


For a less casual jacket look, use the wardrobe jacket, but thigh length and without the hem casing. Add a waist casing for this season’s waist emphasis if that suits your body shape. Lots of seams for adding hip width if you’re pear shaped.

Or Nancy Zieman’s knits wardrobe McCall’s 6247.


I want a shirt-jacket wardrobe so would add McCall’s 6606, especially lower right.


– – –

What are the differences compared with earlier styles ?
Ignore the curved versus straight style elements, a matter of personal style.
I think the key is proportions and silhouette.

Shirts and tops

Shirts are now often not mid hip length but low hip or thigh length.
Several common proportions :

The trendy shirt look is slim with slight waist shaping, such as Butterick 5678.


A narrow belt at waist is ‘this season’.

Or oversized but without the huge shoulder pads, such as Katherine Tilton Vogue 8748.


Or for overlayers, try the indoor poncho look in a woven fabric, see McCall’s 6603.
Actually, in the trendy mail order catalogues I’ve received this season, there have been knit sweaters this shape and ponchos, but not shirts. (The ‘arty’ catalogue always has an oversized shirt.)

Both slim shirts and big trendy tops are worn with slim pants/ skirt or leggings.

The current casual shirt look is looser fitting, as in McCall’s 6606 shown with the wardrobes above. Straight not shaped to the body, but not very loose fit. Even the new Palmer-Pletsch unisex shirt (McCall’s 6613) has 4 inches of ease not 8.
Worn with straight or boot-cut pants.

The ways style elements are used to emphasise the shoulders has also changed.
We no longer wear :
– huge shoulder pads or very dropped shoulders,
– wide spreading or high collars.
These days unlined casual jackets rarely have shoulder pads. And shirt and notch collars are usually not emphasised. Instead we have :
– yokes or epaulets,
– fitted or slightly dropped sleeves.

Shoulders dropped well down the arm are coming back as they’re essential for over-sized styles, but they’re not generally used. Though dropped shoulders are featured by some boutique designers – like the Katherine Tilton shirt – as arty rather than trendy personal style.
Raglan sleeves rather than dropped shoulders are currently used on gear for easy movement like sweatshirts.


Skirts are now usually straight or slightly tapered (pencil),
or subtle rather than full A-line.
Knee length or shorter, or below knee, or calf length.
Or short and flirty pleated (one of the very, very few styles I think is best worn only by the young).

You can wear a full skirt if you like the ease of movement. Make it in soft fabric so the silhouette isn’t wide and stiff (unless you’re going for a vintage look), and wear at lower calf length with a fitted top.
Such as Butterick 5650.


Pants are now usually slim,
or straight,
or boot cut rather than flared.

All styles in new Butterick 5818.

You can wear very full or very flared pants (with a high-hip length top) if you have the body shape for them, but happily we haven’t got to wear them if we haven’t !

P.S. Lovely new post by Imogen Lamport on what is in/out of style – letting go of trends.
Key question : “Could you go into a store and buy a similar garment today (if not, it’s gone out of fashion) ?”

– – –

Nowadays there aren’t many full wardrobe patterns in shirt-jacket style.
There are many patterns for shirt plus pants. Add a simple top, and a skirt if you wear them.

Would this be a good casual look for you ? – or do you feel as miserable in a shirt as I do in a blazer 😀

– – –

Links available October 2012

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