Wardrobe Planning: Mind the gaps

Wardrobe Planning: Mind the gaps

This is a long (yet fascinating!) post and there’s a fun and important sale announcement at the end, so you might actually want to scroll down at look at that first!

Sometimes all the clutter in my brain really gets in the way of clearing up the clutter in my brain. There are just SO MANY THINGS — so many patterns — I want to knit or sew and wear, but most of them wouldn’t be the right thing to make right now. As in, they wouldn’t solve my urgent problem, which is that between last year’s massive purge and this year’s lack of funds and growing aversion to store-bought clothes, I am lacking many of the core garments upon which functional wardrobes are built. So rather than starting with what kinds of outfits I want to be creating for myself, I had to start by whittling down my wishes to what are the pieces I find myself wanting to reach for every morning that simply don’t exist. That is the problem I need to solve first, and I also need to resign myself to the fact that I need to buy some of it, to get the problem solved soon enough. Here’s where I’m at:

TOP LEFT: The two most-worn items in my closet are the Endless Summer Tunic that Alyssa made me and that 20-year-old linen tunic I unearthed last year, which is now really looking like I wear it twice a week, because I do. Tunic-length tops are pretty critical to how I dress, but I’m also severely lacking anything with sleeves! So I’d like to make a couple of longish, oversized, split-hem, woven tees (likely tweaking Grainline’s Scout Tee pattern) along the lines of this Ace & Jig tee and this Madewell one. They’ll work under pullovers for now, with vests as it warms up, and on their own in warm weather.

TOP CENTER: That said, those two sleeveless tunics get so much wear because that really works for me, and at least one of them is not long for this world. I intend to make a pattern and successors for that top, but again, I need to concentrate on what’s most efficient right now. So I’m thinking of Liesl’s Gallery Tunic done sleeveless. I loved making the dress and feel like I could cut two or three of these at once, batch the sewing, and get immense year-round use out of them. (I’d love to have another Endless Summer or two; might enlist Alyssa to do that for me!)

TOP RIGHT: The utter absence of pullovers in my closet is as much of a difficulty as a puzzlement. How did the happen?! I literally have one pullover sweater, this cotton fisherman. Because it will be fabulous in its own right, and to step in for the missing sweaters right away, first on my list is this modified woven Hemlock Tee we talked about last week. In boiled/wool for now, and in linen a few months down the road.

MIDDLE LEFT: The sweater version of the previous entry. This one there are no question marks or mysteries about: It will be top-down, knitted in black Lettlopi on US10 needles. It will be quick, it will be warm, and it will be worn. But I can’t cast on until Bob’s sweater is done.

MIDDLE MIDDLE: The grey sweatshirt-ish sweater I cast on last month and set aside for Bob’s sweater. I’ll probably actually whip out the black one before getting back to this. Priorities.

MIDDLE RIGHT: I keep having the thought that if my Trillium were grey and my Acer were black, I’d be vastly better equipped to get dressed in the morning. I love both sweaters dearly, but I’m over the purple and have never really figured out the brown. I do have a camel sweater this shape (short and boxy) that gets tons of wear, and I really need another in either grey or black, preferably grey. I’m thinking charcoal with this sketch, but also thinking of attempting to dye my Acer black, which would solve multiple problems in a single, quick act. I have flashbacks, though, to trying to dye things black in the ’80s. That was neither fun nor successful, so if any of you who suggested it on my black yarn post have specific advice, bring it on!

BOTTOM LEFT: It’s crystal clear how useful this dress is, and I just need to make a cool-season version, plain and simple.

BOTTOM CENTER: I long for a skirt that is this exact shape and fullness, with pockets. Not too full, not A-line. This seems surprisingly difficult to accomplish. Please tell me I’m wrong.

BOTTOM RIGHT: Again, the wide-cropped pants (or jeans) we spoke of last week. I do have the idea of cropping a pair of denim trousers I already own and never wear, and I broke down and ordered another possibility, but basically I’m not sure what the solution is to this one. I’d prefer not to have to make them when there’s so much else to be done.

So those are my targets. Everything goes with everything (and with everything else I already own) — the pullovers can go over the dress, skirt or pants (or jeans) on their own, or can be layered over the tunics over pants or skirts. But it’s only that 100% versatile as long as they’re line drawings. Once you start filling in fabrics and colors/patterns, it gets harder to keep them interchangeable. So that’s my next job. I like a wardrobe that’s as close to Garanimals as possible. (Or as my friend Patsy says, “I like to be able to get dressed in the dark and not have to wonder if my clothes match.”) But I also want to use as much fabric from my stash as possible, and those are slightly conflicting goals. So we’ll see!

(Indispensable Fashionary Panels from Fringe Supply Co., of course.)

. . .

Give to Heifer International's Women Artisans in Peru ProjectHAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU! I mean, happy MY birthday to you. This year, I want to give a gift not just to all of you but to some people in need. So for today only, I’m offering you 10% off everything on the Bags & Baskets page* (note the Field Bag is excluded) with code GETGIVE, and 10% of all purchases today (bags or otherwise!) will go to Heifer International’s Women Artisans in Peru project. I’m a long-time fan of Heifer International and their mission to not only reduce hunger and poverty around the world, but to empower people in the process. And I’m sure you’ll see why I’m excited to support the Peru project in particular:

“Your gift will support Heifer’s work with groups like local craft cooperatives to help members learn the fair market value for their creations; connect directly to buyers so they don’t lose income to middlemen; and adopt clear standards for yarn, dyes and designs to secure their status as the world’s premier alpaca artisans. You’ll also help train farmers to produce more eggs, fish and green vegetables for family diets, and more fodder for the woolly alpacas and other animals that help them achieve sustainability.”

So to save and give at the same time, head on over to Fringe Supply Co., and use code GETGIVE on the shopping cart page for the Bags & Baskets discount!

*Discount cannot be applied to previous orders. Available on in-stock merchandise only, in the Bags & Baskets category (Field Bag excluded). Offers expires at midnight Pacific time, December 17th 2015.

45 thoughts on “Wardrobe Planning: Mind the gaps

  1. Sadly I have a closet full of really nice things I never get to wear. Every 6 months, I try on and discard what doesn’t fit or what is seriously outdated, etc. SAD.

  2. Have you looked at Liesl’s Everyday Skirt as an option for the bottom center? I have made one and I think it ticks every mark – and the pockets are fabulous!

  3. For the not full but not a-line skirt, I have vague feelings like cutting fabric into rectangles and adding a waistband might work? I feel like, back when I used to sew, I made several pillowcase skirts for myself in this manner. I was young, and skinny. Don’t judge. I basically opened up the top of a pillowcase and sewed in elastic. It wasn’t a-line, but was also not as full as a full skirt. I’m wondering if you could achieve something similar by figuring out how wide you want the bottom of the skirt, and then just making a big tube with a waist? And of course adding pockets.

    • I’ve been researching ratios for skirt proportions and have a plan to concoct a version that’s two rectangles, side pockets, gathered at the top into a flat waistband (probably elastic in the back). But I’m not at all certain whether I’m guessing right at how to calculate the circumference to get the result I want. If I could find a skirt I love, I would measure the hem. But alas, I can only guess. So I haven’t tested my theory yet.

  4. I love how conscious you are about your wardrobe. Wardrobe planning should be done to avoid unnecessary spontaneous purchases. Less is more! Love your style and vision!

  5. This post comes at exactly the right time. Having gone through a major purge myself, I’m down with a make/mend/thrift theme next year. I don’t know why, but it didn’t really occur to me that I should take a look at the items I wear the most to see what I might do with more or less of. Of course, I’ve got a lot of one-of-a-kind things in my wardrobe, but they should be able to play well with others. (I hope.) Happy Birthday, by the way (assuming it’s not metaphorical).

  6. For your top, I suggest you look at the Lou Box Top. It has an opening in the back. If you want a high neck, your going to need an opening to get it on. Your examples look like they have an opening in the back. I also think you should make the tunic length of the Endless Summer but put some sleeves for warmth. I was going to mention the Everyday Skirt but see that has already happened. Sonya Philip of One Hundred Acts of sewing has a free skirt pattern. I think it’s on the Robert Kaufman site. It is less full with gathers at the waist. If you dress in a neutral color (black), your purple sweater and even the brown should look classy. My Acer is Turquoise, so understand the problem. I do worry that your short sleeve sweater will be cute but not warm. Also do not forget when you make the Hemlock out of a woven, it will be smaller. Is there such a thing as stretch boiled wool? I would be really careful dying wool without felting. Since your Acer is O Wool, contact them to see if they know what would happen. They dye yarn all the time, so should have lots of knowledge.

  7. your drawing actually looks a lot like Leisl’s everyday skirt pattern. It’s a really simple make and the side panels pull some of the fullness out that you usually find in skirts like this – it’s ingenious like everything she does :)

  8. Happy birthday! I’ve always appreciated how Heifer International does things!
    You might think about cutting your skirt on the bias. That – depending on the fabric you pick – can sometimes help with volume and fullness (I’m remembering your Purl Soho pocket skirt and how full it was). You might also need a very, very slight A-line so at you don’t have huge gathers at the waist or a strange amount of volume at the hem. And, if you do try cutting rectangles on the bias, don’t forget to hang the skirt for 24-hours before hemming! And I’m terrified for the finished sweater dyeing! I love my grey Acer, though. I wear it multiple times a week. I recently found some 100% wool yarn in a crazy gold color that I’m going to dye black FIRST and then knit. Good luck! I’m also pretty sure you know some dyeing geniuses that you should enlist to help you! I need to do a quick gap check, myself. I know top of the list is more pants, and I need to finish my dungarees ASAP.

  9. Hi!

    I have found your site an inspiration and look forward to the daily posts. Plus you seem to always have time to comment in a thoughtful, kind way. I have coveted the Stowe bag and want to treat myself to that wooden gauge item so I am happy to buy some items and have it go to a good cause. Keep your ideas coming! I plan to knit with Alafoss Lopi in black and greys this sweater as I am still into chunky knits:
    Thank you!

  10. You read my mind! I’ve a list of 21 things to make this next year – my own capsule wardrobe. I’m planning on a lot of things by Grainline Studio, Sonya Philip, Lotta Jansdotter, Fancy Tiger (in my hometown – lucky me), Closet Case, and some Japanese designers. The Fashionary pages are awesome – I just ordered the pages and the sketchbook, as I think that will help a ton. I really appreciate your dedication to share your inspirations; thank you!

  11. This is a great post – and is inspiring me to do something similar to pin down the holes in my wardrobe – I’ve been getting rid of worn out and ill fitting clothes for a while now, so it’s time to replace the things I really need (a good hoodie might be first, and I really need more fine-gauge sweaters, 2016 might be the year I tackle a fingering-weight sweater. It might take the whole year, but that’s OK!)

    This sweater: https://www.everlane.com/collections/womens-sweaters/products/womens-rib-wool-turtleneck-sweater-navy popped up in my email a few days ago and I immediately thought of your recent turtleneck posts, particularly the Zac Posen jumpsuit/turtleneck combo.

  12. oh my! you mentioned garanimals…you really are the coolest cat out there!!
    Happy Birthday, to you!
    …and regarding your bags (and service)…ordered a field bag (on black friday right when the green was back in stock = phew!!)(received it lickity split: i love, love it and cant wait to gift it)…but you run your online bus. just as you do your blog : dead on! so thanks for your attention to detail, your communication, quick ship = grrrreat!!!
    so thanks for doing what you are doing…and for doing it so well! happy hollydaze!

  13. In the picture from the Acer post, it looks like you had some yarn left over. Could you knit some small swatches and try dyeing them before tackling the sweater?

  14. You read my mind! I’ve a list of 21 things to make this next year – my own capsule wardrobe. I’m planning on a lot of things by Grainline Studio, Sonya Philip, Lotta Jansdotter, Fancy Tiger (in my hometown – lucky me), Closet Case, and some Japanese designers. The Fashionary pages are awesome – I just ordered the pages and the sketchbook, as I think that will help a ton. I really appreciate your dedication to share your inspirations; thank you!

  15. I love reading wardrobe planning posts! I have been wanting to do a similar thing because I am growing more and more dissatisfied with store bought clothes. I have no idea where to start though especially since I am unhappy with my weight too. Please do more of these types of posts!

  16. Just saw a top I think you would like. It’s from the new book Everyday Style. Carolyn Friedlander has it on her blog today. The top is called Kiomi. It is sleevelss with a high gathered neck.

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