Friday, February 3, 2012

A Wardrobe in a Week?

After planning my fall color palette, and then the winter one, mooning over patterns for months, and digging through my fabric bins, I ended up sewing nothing winter-weather-worthy except for two skirts and a dress. This is perfectly okay since the temperature is back in the 70s now, and we don’t expect much in the way of cold fronts or rain here. Ever. (This is not meant to taunt those of you still digging snow and scraping ice. Rather, it is for us to remember come summer, when I can’t leave the house for three straight months due to the heat.)

But there’s hope! Next week I’m going to San Francisco! It might be cold there! It’s my last chance for a winter wardrobe. I threw out all my previous ideas for color palettes and coordinates, and went to my least favorite color: brown. I don’t hate it, it just doesn’t seem to look very good on me. Yet I have accumulated many fabrics in shades of brown, plus I have a long knit skirt in light brown and wide-leg corduroy slacks in a dark chocolate color. This past Sunday, I decided to see what I could do with all the brown in a week.

I was very organized and focused: I cut all my fabrics at once, got all my notions ready, and even wound all the bobbins ahead of time. I sewed all the knits first so I wouldn’t have to remember to change the needle over and over again. I did a couple of small projects first – a T-shirt makeover and a scarf repair – and then I was ready to dive in.

Item #1: the drapey knit top. This is a very soft rayon jersey from Mood. A wonderful earthy print like tree bark, in gorgeous grays mixed with all shades of brown (Mood calls it “Grey Rocks”). This pattern is for wovens, and very loose fitting, so I cut it a full three sizes smaller than my usual 14. Easy to sew, fits perfectly, and looks great with brown, gray, black, white, tan, etc.

#2: the fitted pullover. This is a fantastic polyester double knit that I got on eBay. Probably from the 70s, it does have that vaguely grainy feel of the double knits of that decade, but it’s not at all stiff. I think the design is little Foo dogs, eagles, and turtles, but it could be something completely different. I love this Vogue pattern! I scooped the neckline an inch lower instead of doing the keyhole cutout. I like the cutout but I didn’t trust that it would look that nice when I was done with it. The vertical seams are not visible in the busy print, but they make for a perfect fit for me (cut a 12 at bust/14 at hip). I’ll be making this one again, and may well try the dress version.

#3: the wrap blouse. Another amazing 70s fabric find, also from eBay. I had to have it, even though it’s weird slinky poly, because of the teal and coral parrots hidden in the flower print. This has enough brown in it to count as part of the wardrobe. Of the dozen or so wrap tops in my pattern collection, I decided on this 1993 blouse because I liked the coverage (most wraps are pretty skimpy on the top). It’s kind of floppy if it’s not tucked in, so I also made a tie belt. This blouse screams “Grandma” to me – the polyester, the flowers, the pastels. I think it will be okay as long as I don’t start wearing peach polyester stretch pants with it.

Next time: two more pieces to round out the winter wardrobe in a week!


  1. Wow! Very impressive output! Quality too not just quantity. I've never been big on brown either but should give it a try. Lovely wearable patterns and great prints. Love the wrap top - more kimono than granny I'd say.

  2. Nice work, Katrina! You put a lot of thought and care into your designs. I really love top #1, it looks easy to wear and very flattering. Love the vintage fabrics too!

  3. I find brown to be a hard color to wear also! But when we get it right, it's just stunning. It looks like you got it right here! I love your pattern and fabric choices, especially the wrap blouse. Wrap dresses and tops are my favorite thing to wear, and I particularly love the way the front of that blouse drapes. And that fabric is to.die.for! Love it!
    xo, Anita

  4. Thank you all very much for your compliments! I put some extra effort into these pieces, rather than my usual haste-makes-waste approach, and I'm so glad it shows. More to come!