Monday, September 12, 2011

Sewing (and Shopping!) With a Plan

Those of you who sew a lot are undoubtedly familiar with the acronym that's become popular on sewing websites, SWAP - Sewing With A Plan.  After reorganizing my fabric collection (a.k.a. "stash") last week, I decided I need to start Shopping With A Plan.  How can one person accumulate over 20 pieces of purple fabric and find only a few pairings that work?  SWOAP - Sewing WithOut A Plan - that's how!  Buying fabric because it's beautiful, it's a natural fiber, it's comfortable, and, most of all, because it's :) PURPLE :).  Now, purple might not be your color, but I bet there's one that gets you every time you shop.  A color that calls your name, begs you to take it home, even though you already own fabric and garments in every other possible shade of it.

So, sorting and organizing my fabric stash proved to be a very useful exercise.  I now know what I own, what can be worn with what, and which colors and types of fabrics I need to purchase to turn my stash into clothing that I will wear (and love).  I also learned which colors and types of fabrics I should never, never buy again for my personal wardrobe.  Warm tones, no.  Muted or muddy tones, no.  Dressy fabrics, no.

Which leads me to Sewing With A Plan.  I've never been one to plan and sew a capsule wardrobe, where everything goes with everything else.  But after pruning and organizing my stash,  I'm going to work with the SWAP concept a little this season.  I pulled together several fabrics that look great together:

Now, don't worry.  Not all of the garments made with these fabrics will be interchangable.  No red with teal (Christmas, anyone?).  Here's my plan:

  • The middle fabric is a heathered brown/black stretch twill (lightweight denim-like). It will become pants, which I'll wear with all of the other fabrics shown.

  • The rippled brown is a drapey linen/silk blend that I'm using for an unstructured cardigan-jacket. 

  • The brown and natural leaf print will become a top to wear with pants and cardigan.

    • The shibori-like jersey in browns and pale blue-gray will be another top to wear with pants and cardigan. 

    • Crancherry red double knit, cotton on one side, rayon on the other. The rayon is slightly darker, so I will design a cardigan that incorporates both sides. 
    • Solid brown rayon jersey, for a top to wear with the red cardigan.

    • Teal jersey, another top, to be worn with the brown ripple cardigan.  It's the same fabric shown in my current blog header. 

    • The striped knit in the header is a vest I am knitting.  Cascade front, vertical stripiing.  It doesn't follow my rule of "no warm colors", but I love the combination and it contains enough clear tones that think I can get away with it.  I'll wear it with the teal top and jeans.
    If these colors look good on me, I'll be on the lookout for a dark brown knit for pants, and a heavier fabric for another solid brown cardigan or jacket.  I have a teal linen that would make a great funky vest to wear with the solid brown jersey top, if I have time to sew it before winter.  But first comes an autumn/spring weight coat out of a wonderful crinkled brown woven from Marcy Tilton.  It will be a big project, so I'll need to get these other garments completed soon. 
    So, will I feel good in these colors?  They should be a good fit, as my hair is cool brown, and these cool dark brown fabrics are very close in color to my hair.  My skin is quite pink, and my eyes are warm brown/gold/green.  I'm a color consultant's nightmare, not easily categorized.  When the Color Me Beautiful concept came out in the 70's, I was told I was an autumn.  After revamping my wardrobe and looking drab in muted fall colors, another consultant diagnosed me as a summer.  So I changed to cool tones - much better for my skin - but pale and muted made me look washed out.  A few years ago some pals on an internet color forum helped me come to see that I am a soft winter, or clear, strong summer.  Jewel tones look great on me.  Black looks horrible next to my face.  It's just too much contrast.  I've grown to love my "winter" wardrobe, but since I don't wear black next to my face with much success, I've wanted to find another neutral.  Navy is good, but hard to find shades that match.  So that's why I'm trying cool brown.  I've got the fabrics, so I might as well give it a whirl!
    I started working with the ripple linen/silk this weekend, making Marcy Tilton's Vogue 8088.  I'm adapting the pattern a bit, and loving the drape of this fabric.  You'll see the completed jacket here, if it's a success.  Stay tuned!

    P.S.  Why all of this fuss about colors?  Because I simply don't feel good wearing colors that are not harmonious with my coloring.  It's that simple!

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