Small Black Capsule

Adding beige, gold, gray, cream to the mix

Adding beige, gold, gray, cream to the mix

I know that black is not one of my best colors, or so I’ve been told, but I can’t help myself. It is just too easy to work with and sew into great go-to pieces for reliable, pulled-together looks. With my fascination with capsule wardrobes, I have a Pinterest board filled with many variations of what constitutes a ‘capsule’. I’ve noticed some pins that claim ‘9 pieces, 9 outfits’. This doesn’t seem like a winning formula. I prefer the 12 items creating 96 outfits or some kind of math equation like that, ¬†stemming from my reading of Nancy Nix-Rice”s book, Looking Good Every Day: Style Solutions for Real Women..

From my daily stalking of Pinterest and book reading, I have learned that a ‘capsule’ begins with core pieces in one or two neutral colors consisting of interchangeable tops and bottoms such as pants, skirt, tank, jacket. Next, add in some coordinating prints in the way of tops or scarves, colorful linking jewelry connecting the colors together and Viola! Easy Breezy dressing. Another great source for capsules is the website Vivienne Files. covering clothing and color combinations galore.

I spend a lot of time planning out the right fabric with the right pattern and I when I am thinking about wearing pieces multiple times, I want them to go the distance and last from season to season.  Trendy pieces are downright fun to make and wear, moving in and out of the wardrobe. This was an effort to make some practical pieces that fit my lifestyle making it easier to mix with my wardrobe.

Here are three pieces I recently finagled out of 4 and 1/2 yards of 60″ wide fabric. The pants = 1 and 1/2 yards, top = 1 yard, shirt = 2 and 1/8 yards making for a small capsule with many possibilities. ¬†Due to careful pattern placement, I was able to squeeze more pattern pieces onto the 4 and 1/2 yards, when technically I was short an eighth of a yard. If I have a large expansive piece of fabric, I can usually be a bit more conservative about pattern placement and conserve fabric.

Here are the three patterns I chose: McCalls 6613, Loes Hinse Cruise Pants – similar, and Burda 8987 out of print (OOP). (A favorite tank pattern can be cut on the bias to recreate this idea.)
The fabric is from my stash, pre-serger, because when I pulled out the 4.5 yards from my cabinet, I noticed that I had not serged the raw edges. I religiously do that now as I find it reduces the wadded up fabric disasters in the dryer. The fabric content must be a linen blend with a white slub thread running through it in a cross hatch pattern. It has great drape, is 60″ wide, resists wrinkling, and comfortable to wear. ¬†I can’t even remember where I bought it, but my tip is to buy the fabrics that feel great to your hand.

A few tips I can pass along when shopping for the easy care fabrics: Do they wrinkle when you do the squeeze and release test? How does it hang vertically or on the bias? Since buying fabric can often be a gamble, I look at content, care, drape (hand) of the fabric and it’s future versatility with other garments in the wardrobe. Will it go with at least 3 other items in my wardrobe when finished?

McCalls 6613 Palmer Pletch

McCalls 6613, View C, Palmer Pletch

The reason I picked this shirt was that I wanted a yoke and back pleat resembling a man’s shirt. ¬† I wanted it roomy and able to be worked as an outer piece (shirt + jacket = shacket? or jirt?). ¬†Anyway, I knew I would be giving up the bust darts, which are a favorite for me to get the right fit. I sacrificed that for the other features like those of View C which offers bias pockets and a bias front band. With a camera flash, this shirt looks like a charcoal gray, but it is black. Can you see the bias detail?
The sleeves are rolled up with a tab buttoned to the outside which is how I will wear the sleeves most of the time.

The tank is a V neck, seams to be more forgiving than the tanks I have cut on the lengthwise grain, and the armholes are drafted just right. Have I mentioned how much I love bias cut garments??

The pants are pull on with the addition of self drafted pockets placed on the outside, not in the side seam, and more toward the front of the pant. This kind of pocket adds NO bulk to the hips.

Now for some accessories. After reading Imogen Lamport’s Inside Out Style blog post on getting more mileage from beauty bundles, I realized that I have plenty of black/white/gold accessories that could be grouped together to make for easy selection based on what the day’s activities hold. The inspiration for Imogen’s post came from the book by Brenda Kinsel, Fashion Makeover: 30 Days to Diva Style. ¬† I provided the link to Amazon because it is available at a reasonable cost, has great tips and wonderful illustrations. ¬† It is just a jumping off point. ¬†Take from it what you can.
Here is a grouping that blends with my yellow hair a bit better….

Adding beige, gold, gray, cream to the mix

Adding beige, gold, gray, cream to the mix

A dressier look with pearl cluster necklace from Macy's clearance table

A dressier look with pearl cluster necklace from Macy’s clearance table

This mixed pearl cluster necklace has a gold chain and is a larger scale piece, so I would choose smaller gold accessories.
I might put a white cardigan, or a black jacket with this combo…..

To see more about the accessories, click here to see the slideshow.

A warm red, gray, white scarf

A warm red, gray, white scarf

 Simplicity  short jacket with drawstring neckline

Simplicity short jacket with drawstring neckline

This Simplicity 1621 jacket has no hanger appeal, but is actually pretty cute as a shrug/jacket.   I will post about this in the future as I have plans to alter the pattern a bit.  I want to leave the front the same but lengthen it to a cardigan length or duster.  The fabric is a linen look, which is a rayon/linen blend.  The front hangs a bit on the bias.  I finished the edges with a rolled hem.  The sleeves are simple;  rolled up thereby keeping the look casual.

For more ideas about accessorizing, see more on my post Accessories: Black/White/Gold/Silver.

Do you have some patterns in your stash or in the recent pattern books that could be made up into great capsule pieces?

Winter 2014 Pattern Peek

I wish my local Joann’s store was a little quicker on putting the latest pattern catalogs and pattern magazines out on display. ¬†I get all excited only to find the store hasn’t gotten around to putting any of the patterns in the drawers. ¬†What to do? ¬† Visit Hancock’s instead!! ¬† Pour over these pages and get your list ready!

The reality is that I have so many projects in the Que, that there really is no rush.  I will be plenty busy with life, work, chores in the coming days that I need to just breathe and wait a bit longer.

I won’t be reviewing patterns in this post but rather assisting in the planning for your winter sewing.
Check out the latest VOGUE WINTER 2014 Patterns from some of the major companies.  I think I live in the wrong part of the country sometimes because I look forward to the wonderful coats and layering pieces for the colder months.  We have had such a long, hot summer in Tucson that I am ready for a change!!  No need to get in the car and drive to the fabric store just yet.  Due to the wonders of technology, feel free to flip through the pages of the mini catalogs and select your favorites.

Here is a quick peek at the McCALLS WINTER 2014 patterns for the chilly winter. There are holiday fashions, some for little people, and great outer wear and separates for my favorite topic–core wardrobe capsules.

How about KWIK SEW  I have a few winners from Kwik Sew over the years that I sew over and over. Since being purchased, they now offer tissue pattern paper instead of the old butcher paper. Also, the envelopes allow the instructions to be read before purchasing. Before, the old envelopes were sealed. They are priced somewhere between the Big 4 (on sale) and independent patterns.

There are some great Fall/Winter options in Butterick so here is a link to the BUTTERICK FALL 2014 patterns. I already possess the newest of these and can’t wait to get started. I think I will run out of cool temperatures before I finish my projects.

Let’s not forget our independent patterns. ¬† Here are a few lovelies for the colder months. ¬†LOES HINSE has designed a new jacket/cardigan called the Barcelona Jacket and can be found on the Casual Elegance website (shich is on my blogroll). It features a deep V neck and longer length and can be made up in a variety of fabrics.

There is also SERENDIPITY STUDIO Dakota Jacket that offers a great outer layer with a slightly vintage feel. I have ordered this and am making it up in teal velveteen. Can’t wait to see if it will work out. If you haven’t seen the array of Kay Whitt’s clothes, you are in for a surprise. She has a great eye for color and fabric combinations. She has a specific style that she pulls off beautifully.

Another great resource for a more ‘artsy’ or angular styled clothes is THE SEWING WORKSHOP. Linda Lee has a unique design style and these outer wear jackets can be made up in a number of ways. ¬†I am particularly curious about the new Chicago Jacket because it has a big shirt look and could be made out of light weight or heavier fabrics.

How about some Style Arc Jackets and Vests?  Talk about a great selection.  I have not used these patterns yet, but have read about some success stories on other sewing blogs.

If you are interested in a comprehensive list of independent pattern companies, click here.

Happy browsing and sewing!


Loes Hinse Sewing Seminar

005I debated back and forth with myself about writing this post because although I had a great time with my mom at this seminar, my little point-and-shoot camera was new to me and I wasn’t in the habit of taking commemorative photos of the event. ¬† I hope the photos are enough to give you an overview. ¬† We attending about three years ago, but the seminars are still taking place and I (we) would recommend checking this out for yourself.

My mom and I had been contemplating which sewing seminar we wanted to attend together and this one came out on top as a way to spend time together sharing our sewing, lunching, shopping. ¬†The format of the seminar appealed to us. ¬† Five days of open sewing with Loes’ (pronounced ‘Loose’) supervision and instruction in Carmel, California, and Sharon providing fabrics for purchase from Casual Elegance Fabrics. ¬†Their partnership also was intriguing…how does that work? ¬† Loes in Carmel, Sharon in Chico, CA?

I had been introduced to Loes Hinse (pronounced ‘Hin-sah’) years before when she came to Tucson to do a trunk show at a little fabric store called Buttons & Bolts (great name) now-defunct-fabric store. ¬† I started with a few of her patterns and got hooked. ¬† I wanted to learn more from her. ¬†Mom was game. ¬† The seminar lodging was within walking distance to shopping, dining, and the beach. ¬† Beautiful surrounding area accompanied by gathering with ladies who sew..what could be better? ¬†To top it off, ¬†it was more affordable than other seminars….let’s try it.

Since the time we attended, both websites have undergone big changes and Loes’ prior website had a little more information on it about the lodging and seminar details. ¬† Now, the information is on the new¬†Casual Elegance Fabrics¬† website directing you to call either Loes or Sharon for most details.

Anyway, all questions were answered by Sharon, who was warm and friendly.   The recommended lodging was a local and quaint Dutch-inspired motel,  where the seminar would be held.   We packed our sewing machines up and shipped them to the hotel, where the staff were more than happy to store them until our arrival.

We landed in a small airport in Carmel and took a taxi to the motel. We arrived a day before in order to get checked in and walk around a little.   After settling into our rooms, we ventured by foot to the local deli for snack foods for our room and then lunch.

The seminar room was a conference room overlooking the pool with large tables set up for machines and all the accompanying sewing paraphernalia.  I think there were 8 women total?   Not sure, but we all squeezed in with enough room for Loes to do demos and for Sharon to set up her portable fabric store.
Hinse class copy orig

Sorry for the fuzzy pictures.   I hope you get the idea anyway.   This is the conference room with a professional iron, cutting tables, and a few of us getting set up.   It was quite messy by the last day after we had been working feverishly on our projects.
Hinse class  2  orig size
Talk about time flying! ¬† The objective for everyone was different. ¬† For a few ladies, completing as many garments as possible was the goal, some wanted to have one-on-one fitting assistance, some wanted to be in the company of other sewers and so a little sewing, and others wanted to be there to get as much out of the whole experience as possible. There were a few women who were ‘returners’–this was their third or fourth trip back for more.

One of the many exclusive benefits for attending the seminar is the access to Loes’ newest pattern(s) recently drafted. ¬† These may be designs that may or may not ever make it to press, but we could get to trace it anyway (for free). ¬†She had the pattern pieces prepared out of the manila pattern paper there to trace onto whatever paper you brought with you and then sew it up right there with her verbal instructions. ¬† The collection of all patterns were there for sale and she offered ‘tweaks’ to change up some of the design details to some of the patterns. ¬† Because Loes’ training is in European pattern design, fitting and construction, you can help but be inspired by her quick approach to building a timeless, classic wardrobe in limited time. ¬† She also shares so many tips on how to care for the fabrics, the reasons for not using interfacings, wardrobe planning concepts with her patterns, and new ways to approach sewing in general.

I learned of a simple pattern weight idea using huge washers.   When I arrived home, I showed my husband these and we purchased some from  an industrial supply store to pick a few up. When not in use, they hang on a peg hook in my sewing room.
There were so many tips and product ideas to take away from the experience. ¬† We found the environment cozy and intimate with enough time for everyone to get a little of Loes’ personal advice, coaching and humor. ¬† The interplay between Sharon and Loes was great-an example of opposites attracting and complimenting one another.

On our off time, we walked down to Loes’ store front shop where she sells the garments for retail. ¬† Most, if not all, of the garments she sells come from her patterns. She also sells coordinating jewelry. ¬† We had to take a peak.

Binny taking a photo of shop

Binny taking a photo of shop

Dana in front of Loes Hinse shop

Dana in front of Loes Hinse shop on arrival day

My suggestion would be to try a Loes pattern out and get a sense of how her drafting, fit and instructions work.   Although I have almost all of her patterns, my favorites are The Gore Skirt Group, The Tango Skirt, The Tank Dress Group (which includes tank tops), The Sweater Set, The Oxford Pant, The Perfect Tee, and The Kimono Jacket. Many of these styles are in my wardrobe.   Whenever I want to whip something up quickly to get that immediate satisfaction, I sew up one of these favorites.

I really enjoyed going with my mom and having someone with whom to pal around, although it isn’t necessary to go with a companion. ¬† Going alone suited many of the ladies because it was a creative get-away. ¬† If you are interested, check out the sites and learn more about Loes Hinse and Sharon at Casual Elegance¬†and also by signing up for the newsletter, “The Look”.