London: Summer Travel Wardrobe

Getting Ready

Getting Ready

The Packing Challenges:

As the London departure date was fast approaching, I had to pack something for my trip…. for thirteen days…in the summer…and in a carry on. ¬†Okay, so London is typically rainy. ¬†Even in the summer. ¬†Easy. Just pack what should be London-wear.

Guess what? No rain and sweltering heat instead.  Actually, any travel location can leave you staring into your suitcase wishing you had packed different items.

I only used my umbrella once and that was to block the sun from my dewy brow. ¬†Looking back, ¬†packing the umbrella wasted valuable suitcase space. ¬† I rolled, ‘cubed-packed’, stuffed and crammed. ¬† It will be fine….traveling from late June to the beginning of July should¬†be better than Tucson in the summer, right?

So what did I do? ¬†Packed LAYERS. ¬†Living in a hotter climate and being sensitive to the heat, I’m usually a one layer gal….maybe two if it is cool in the morning and night. ¬†¬†I gathered a collection of thin long sleeved tees, camisoles and tees to provide options. ¬†If the temps were warm or hot, I knew I wouldn’t want to lug around a coat while walking, on the Tube, or in a taxi = dewy brow for Dana.
Below is the (clickable) photo gallery of clothing and accessories I sewed, bought, or made for the trip.

*Camisoles in white and tan, not shown.

As you can see, my color scheme was white, tan, bronze, gray, black, chambray blue, and olive green.   Everything was neutral and could be mixed and matched to be worn together.   I ended up wearing everything but the black merino sweater and the Jacket in a Pocket.   I was still too warm overall but enjoyed wearing my newly made vest for a few cool mornings.

Enjoying London with Mom

Enjoying London with Mom. ¬†Crossbody bag from Kohl’s.

Other Preparations:
1.)  I packed and weighed my rolling bag to the 22 pound international airline limit.  Turns out, nobody cared!   Maybe I was just lucky.

Headed to the airport

Headed to the airport

2.)  Toiletries were simple when packed in zip top bags.  Not glamorous, but effective. I had all of the liquids in one (upper right) and the remaining three bags contained all other essentials.

Toiletries divided up in four 1 quart bags

Toiletries divided up in four 1 quart bags

3.)  Self-packed snacks of trail mix and string cheese.   Sharing these with my mom helped stave off hunger at the airport, on the plane,  and in our hotel room.   Another benefit as we ate them was the extra space they afforded for packing souveniers.

4.) Empty water bottle.  I packed an inexpensive one that clipped to the side of my bag.  It was convenient to have for post-security.  The opening was big enough to fill with ice cubes, which I love in my drinks.


What I brought on the plane:
-My rolling suitcase carry on measured 22″ x 14″ x 9″. ¬†It is a older Samsonite from Costco. Here is something similar.
-The under the seat ECOSUSI carry on from Amazon measured 18″W x 8″H x 11″L. ¬†This was a lifesaver bag! ¬†I LOVED the sleeve on the back to slide over the telescope handle of my rolling bag.
-Neck pillow was a MUST since I want the option to sleep on the plane as much as possible.

Most important items I packed: ¬†Padded inserts for shoes. I thought my shoes were comfortable before I left, but the padded inserts from Dr. Scholl’s were invaluable! My handy little Fitbit clocked in over 20K steps one day, so I’m glad I had extra cushion.

Second most important item: Portable battery charger  There is nothing like the horrible feeling of being lost and having a dead phone.  If needed, I could charge my phone in my purse quickly when relying on Google Maps and the Citymapper App. (Available for Android and Apple).
Third most important item: The Yubi Voltage Power Converter.  This was used every day after returning to the hotel to charge up the extra batteries.  It was a bit overkill for this trip, but we hope to use it for other trips in the future.

Fourth most important item:  Olive green anorak jacket.  This is still one of my favorite makes.  It was a great coat to have on the plane to keep warm and use as a pillow.

What I would have packed instead: ¬†Cotton or rayon dress or skirt that could have been worn with comfortable walking shoes or sandals. ¬†I’m not sure I have ANY sandals that could have passed the 20K-steps-a-day test, but in hindsight, I would have begged, borrowed or stole for a pair.

What worked and why: ¬†Tees and camisoles! ¬†They saved me. ¬†I’m so glad I threw a few in my bag at the last minute.

Biggest lessons learned:

1.) ¬†I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that it was the too-big-for-my-phone recommended SD storage card. ¬† To allow for videos and tons of pictures, we wanted a new SD card. ¬†We were misinformed by the phone salesperson where we bought the new phone and should have double checked. ¬†I didn’t figure it out until a few days into the trip. ¬† I was happily clicking away, a few pictures were stored, but the phone was not capturing any future photos. ¬†I was pretty bummed, to say the least. ¬†So take it from me. ¬†Verify for yourself on the largest SD card your phone can handle BEFORE you leave for your trip and make sure it is storing the pics!! ūüôĀ

2.) ¬†Carry on luggage. ¬†No checked bags. ¬†I can’t imagine what it would have been like to try and to get around with a heavy checked bag. ¬†Being self sufficient and ready to go was so convenient. ¬†I only regret not packing some lighter weight dress/skirt items. ¬†This will be my new goal for all travel going forward.

Travel outfit:

When in London, you MUST take a cheesy tourist-y photo in a phone booth.

I hope this post was helpful on some level.  More tips can be found in the companion post about travel jewelry.

Have you had packing fails for your trips?  Or do you have any trip tips you want to share?   I want to hear about it!  Please leave your comments below.


Jewelry For Travel

The topic of this post is simple jewelry designs to help pull your looks together while travelling.   Of course, these can be worn at any time and necklaces add a little interest while coordinating with basic clothing pieces.   These are me-made, and more inspiration can be found on Pinterest.    The post I wrote about my London trip better shows my overall cohesive plan.

The necklace on the left is a wire wrap technique, which means that wire is wrapped with a loop on each end. The bead is in the middle.  A series of loops link together forming a long necklace.

The necklace on the right is a simple stringing project where beads and spacers are strung in a pattern with a closure in the back.

Variation = Versatility
Both necklaces complimented my wardrobe pieces by combining neutral colors. To offer the most versatility, I constructed them by varying the lengths and varying the bead size.   Although I love scarves as an alternative to spice up a neutral outfit, I prefer to wear necklaces if the temps are warm.

Questions To Ask 

What kind of trip will it be? ¬†A beach vacation, a work conference, or a family reunion all require specific wardrobes, so the jewelry included (if any) will be different. ¬† I want simple and easy ‘go-to’ items that add detail that makes the outfit looked finished and that I put a little extra time into the overall look. ¬† I don’t pack items of great value, but I do ask myself if I would be really disappointed if the item(s) broke or were stolen. ¬†Although I would miss these pieces if something happened, I also ask, ‘Can I remake or replace this jewelry?’ ¬†If yes, then in the bag it goes.

Assorted beads from my bead stash

Assorted beads from my bead stash

40 inch assorted bead necklace

40 inch assorted bead necklace

Discover Your Preferred Necklace Lengths
Trends in jewelry come and go. Classics like pearls and gold chains seem to remain strong, but it is the length that is important and very individualized.   I like more substantial pieces and have a shorter and longer length I keep coming back to that seem right for me.

If I want a longer necklace that has the potential to be doubled up, I have discovered that 40″ is a good length for me, especially if I include a closure in the back. ¬†That way I can unfasten it and place the closure in the front, avoiding pulling it over my head. ¬† Another length I prefer is at the collar bone. ¬†I have written about it here¬†and here. ¬†Toggle closures are bigger and can be fasten easily.

Navy, gold, silver, light pink, shell, pearl beads

Navy, gold, silver, light pink, shell, pearl beads

A closer look. Most beads from Joann's

Many of these beads are from Joann’s and from my stash

Design and Composition

Sometimes it helps to take a closer look at the beads, their arrangement and the tiny beads or spacers in between. I have written about going into stores and making a beeline to the accessories to check out the jewelry designs. Keep an eye out for jewelry that can be re-purposed or re-designed to your taste. ¬†If you like to bead, you may recognize in the picture above some of these beads from the Joann’s. ¬† Often the collections are a blend of beautifully colored beads. ¬†All that is needed is to string them up!

Small lobster claw closure

Small lobster claw closure used with a split ring

Metals Used Instead of Color
Using colored beads is not the only way to add interest in a bead design. Sometimes adding metals does the trick.   Adding the wonderful warmth of copper or the cool tones of silver and pewter translate as color and can add so much to the overall color scheme our eye sees.   Gold can be used instead of yellow and blackened silver can add the black to ground a design and add some shine.

Since mixing metals is a current fashion trend, I used gold square spacers on the sides of the navy blue stone beads and pewter/dark gray spacers (above photo) to incorporate a dark gray into the design.

Gold pewter toggle closure

Gold pewter toggle closure

I didn’t get many outfit posts recorded, however, here is one taken while walking late across the Westminster Bridge toward Big Ben.

Dressed for Big Ben

Dressed for Big Ben

Other simple choices for travel were the earrings I packed.  All of them were purchased and could be worn interchangeably with the necklaces.

Do you have some versatile jewelry pieces you like to pack? ¬†Do you even bother to pack jewelry? ¬†Would you consider making your own jewelry? ¬†Please share your comments below, cuz’ I want to hear!:)

Happy sewing , creating, travelling, packing, etc.!:)



McCalls 5890 Coordinates

IMG_2349If you are looking for a coordinates pattern that has casual and a bit dressy,this may be it. There will be more about this pattern to come but for now, this post is about the dress because it features princess seams resulting in a great fit. This must be a successful pattern for McCalls because I have seen it in the books for quite a while. (Something I use to determine successful patterns).IMG_2357IMG_2384I’ve added a picture of my doggy-eared pattern for a quick look and a link to check it out from the pattern book. The newest pattern book features this pattern made up in a geometric fabric in addition to the leopard print and it made me take a second look. Talk about great components for a travelling capsule! I have also made the sweater from the pattern (blog post coming soon) but chose to wear a shrug from Old Navy (old) instead to see if I liked it better. I think the proportions are better with flat boots. But back to the dress…
IMG_2351The sleeves are cut outward toward the shoulder which helps with the hour glass shape of the dress. The neckline is scooped just right. I cut the size 14 and took it in a little through the waist. No zipper, just pull it over the head. I serged the hem and did a blind hem to give it some weight.
IMG_2354Okay, so the back view is not too complimentary, but you get the idea of the dress silhouette. I prefer wearing heels with most dresses, but since winter is approaching, my flat black Target boots (also old) are just too comfortable for all-day-on-my-feet activities.
IMG_2378I purchased this fabric at my local mill end store in two remnant pieces. The all over knit print of the dress has pink, aqua, white, fuchsia dots in various sizes. Notice they are not the colors of my palette? Oh well. I was drawn to the simple print because it would not be interrupted by the princess seams. Hemming it at the knee gives me more options for year round wear. Too short would mean only leggings and I wanted to be able to wear this with booties and tights, flat or heeled boots, pumps and a structured blazer, etc.

As you follow my blog, you will notice I gravitate to quick and successful sewing projects that can be worn year round. I live in a hot climate and need separates that are great for layering. Like most women, squeezing in sewing time is a challenge. Sewing projects need to be fun and rewarding. I have a short attention span for each project and I am always tempted to start something new. There is too much fabric and not enough time!