The Wardrobe Architect Project, Week 12: Accessories!

First of all, thank you all for the kind comments on my tea dress! I’m a little overwhelmed, in a good way, at how much love it got. This seriously might be one of my most-commented-on projects ever. Including the wedding dress.

Normally, I’d do a monthly roundup here, but to be honest, my crafting has been very slow this month, and the tea dress is my only finished project. I do have two other sewing projects in the works, and am hoping to have a little more to show for them soon. Knitting has ground to a complete halt for now, particularly since I had a whopping 5 rehearsals in the span of a week last week, plus my retail job that is very office work-heavy (read: computer-intensive) for me this time of year, and consciously taking some time off of that was the best thing I could do for my hands. It worked–my carpal tunnel has been surprisingly well-behaved! Though I do hope to get back to that soon as well. In the meantime, since my MMM pledge is built to include handmade accessories, I figured it was high time I dealt with that particular Wardrobe Architect assignment.

Sarai divides them into functional vs. decorative accessories, so I’ll do the same.
Functional Accessories:
Shoes: I have to admit, I’m not much of a shoe girl. Mostly by necessity. I’ve lamented about how hard it is to find shoes in my extra-wide size many times on here before, thanks to a bony protrusion below my big toes that I’ve had my whole life. And when you’re looking at easily spending at least $80-120 a pop just to find functional shoes that fit, it definitely curbs your enthusiasm for buying them! (I get really excited on the rare occasions that I find shoes I like at the thrift store that fit!)

In fact, I can quite easily fit my entire shoe collection into one picture. And that’s including my slippers and my wedding/reception shoes!

I tend to gravitate mostly towards sandals in the summer, except for the garden center job (closed-toe shoes are required, so I just wear my sneakers). During the cold weather, I mostly wear either my boots, or if it’s not too cold and/or wet, a couple pairs of basic flat casual shoes. As you can see, the majority of my shoes are either black or brown, so they can go with as many things as possible. I also have a tendency to wear them to death. Those brown boots are the newest addition, and that was because the brown boots I’ve had since partway through college were finally starting to kick the bucket–we’re talking multiple tears in the shaft lining and an actual hole through the soles on top of the heel. (It was sobering to realize that the boots were over a decade old, but at least I got my money’s worth out of them! Hopefully the new ones will last just as long.)

So in short, my general requirements are neutral, well-made, fairly reasonably priced, and comfortable. (Did I mention my feet are also ridiculously blister-prone?) You have no idea how many times I’ve been tempted to look into shoe-making as a hobby. At least then I could have some shoes in fun colors.

Bags: I tend to just carry one purse around, usually ones that my mom has made from fun print fabrics. I usually switch it up every 6 months or so, and do brighter colors in the spring/summer and more neutral/earthtone in the fall/winter. She’s perfected one particular pattern for me that fits all three of my requirements: cross-body strap, plenty of pockets, and big enough to carry a book or my Kindle. For the retail job, I’ll just stuff the entire purse into a tote bag to keep it from getting dirty/give me extra space for my lunch and drinks. My flute bag is also frequently a factor, though it’s a backpack style one. (Which is why I like the cross-body straps, because then I don’t have to worry about balancing them.) Sometimes I’ll downsize to a smaller purse for day trips to reduce the weight, though I still like them to be large enough for my SLR camera.

Hats: I mostly wear these in the winter to keep my head warm, and my only requirement is not wool, due to the allergy issues. I probably should wear hats more in the summer to keep the sun from burning my face, but I honestly think they make me look pretty dorky.

Gloves/handwarmers: Again, mostly a cold-weather thing, and I’m sure I will continue to knit lots of these, since my hands are generally the first thing to get cold.

Scarves: I rarely leave the house without the functional knitted ones when it’s cold.

Belts: When I wear them for functional reasons, it’s generally to keep my jeans in place.

Sunglasses: I have one pair, which I keep in my purse and mostly use for driving or walking around outside on a sunny summer day.

Decorative Accessories: 
Jewelry: Love me some jewelry. Aside from clothes, this is what I’ve been DIYing the longest. I’ve got 4 jewelry displays in this picture, and that’s not even all of it! I have another full rack on the other side of the mirror, as well as a box for bracelets and such.

I mostly like chunky or beaded necklaces, dangly earrings, Celtic knot designs, stuff like that. Most of my chain-type necklaces are silver, though I do have a few things in a more matte/antique gold or copper. I also almost always wear simple silver studs in my second ear piercing. I used to wear a lot of rings, like almost every finger, but have slowly gotten away from that in the years since college and now just wear my wedding/engagement rings. I’m also getting more into bracelets, though I’ll only wear them on my left arm because I’m right-handed and they’re less in the way there.

Even though I obviously have a lot of jewelry, I’m kind of missing making it now. I really should bust into the bead stash and make some new earrings or something. I might need something to help me get through my pledge this month!

Belts: I have a few that I wear more for waist-cinching looser tops, like those wide elastic-type ones. I’d like to get a few more decorative belts in different widths and colors.

Scarves: It’s really only been in the last year or so that I’ve started playing around with the more fashionable ones. My go-to was always necklaces, and I was worried about them getting caught on my flute. Which they sometimes do, tbh. But I’m also starting to like the extra warmth on my neck, and I’ve learned a way or two to tie them that makes them shorter and less prone to snagging on my instrument. Plus I’m kind of loving that infinity scarf I made from the Plantain leftovers.

Honestly, I’d like to try out some of those little knitted shawl/scarf things, too. The small ones that don’t look granny. But I need to finish a few knitting projects first.

So I guess that pretty much sums things up for now! As far as things to add go, I know I could use a few more pairs of earrings in my palette colors–black and the warmer tones in particular–and a few more scarves and decorative belts. I’d also like to dye my wedding shoes, since it’s my one shot to have a fun color! Though I wonder if the crystal embellishment bit makes them too fancy regardless…

everyone deserves a tea dress

It’s no secret that tea is my favorite beverage in the entire world. I grew up spoiled on home-brewed iced tea made from real tea bags, and branched out into hot tea in my college years when I discovered that no matter how many all-nighters I was pulling, I will never, ever like the taste of coffee. It all started with discovering chai in the coffee shops, and went uphill from there. I started going for nice loose-leaf teas somewhere within the last 6-7 years, and I literally have an entire drawer in my kitchen that is dedicated to tea.
tea drawer See? (For the record, Doug is the one who organized this for me. He’s really good at that sort of thing.)

I love my tea drawer.

Tiny teacupI also love this dress! You may recall that this fabric was part of my Christmas haul, and only being in the stash for less than 4 months is pretty amazing for me. I wanted to get to this quickly anyway, and the Sew Dolly Clackett event was pretty much the perfect excuse. So it’s the perfect dress to sip a cuppa in.

Real teacup!Just kidding….THIS is what passes for a cup of tea in my world! The mug even says so.

The dress is the Cambie, of course, to continue my theme of all things Sewaholic that seems to be happening this year. Though this is the first “real” Cambie that I’ve made, since the wedding dress version was so heavily altered and didn’t even use the skirt. This time, I cut a straight size 10, because I was going by the bust size and figured the skirt would be ok. I also decided right off the bat to use Tasia’s tutorial for the “slightly less sweet” straight neckline, because it looked like it would fit better with the more-or-less linear pattern. I took in the back darts a little bit after the muslin stage. When I got to the point where I was ready to sew the lining in, I discovered that the neckline was gapping. Odd, since it didn’t do that on the muslin! So my quick fix for that was to add some darts at the top, right around where the sleeve/strap things meet the bodice.  Whenever I end up making this again, I’ll probably just go back to my wedding dress fix and convert the top to princess seams.

Tea CambieThe pattern matching could have been better, I guess– I did try, and did fairly well in several places! But I didn’t think to factor in the flare of the skirt, and that skewed things a bit. In my defense, the teacups aren’t exactly in a straight line, either. I checked. With a 6″ wide ruler. It’s not as fitted as I usually make my dresses either, but I think that will actually be a good thing. I recently had to weed several of my handmade dresses that I’ve had for years out of the closet, because slight post-honeymoon weight gain means they just don’t zip up anymore! But those dresses were overall very fitted at the waist, and wovens, and so I think a little extra wiggle room will be a good thing. Especially for things like breathing while playing my flute, and the mid-Atlantic heat/humidity. You know, if it ever actually gets warm and stays there.

Tea Cambie closeupThe dress is completely lined in the ivory cotton sateen that I’ve already used to line two other dresses. And I still have about a yard left! I also have about 1/3 yard of the teacup fabric left, which will be perfect for something like jeans pockets. So here’s my stashbusting totals:

Total fabric out: Approximately 5 1/4 yards.
Total stash left: Approximately 312.19 yards. Though this total will be going up soon, sadly, because I had a box of stuff I accidentally left at my parents’ come home with me recently, and there is some actual yardage in with the scraps. So I need to measure and update.

Oh, and before I forget: I’ve been going back and forth on this, and I’ve decided to go ahead and sign up for Me-Made May anyway. So my pledge:

I, Becky, pledge to wear at least one handmade garment and one handmade accessory every day, for the duration of May. (I think my focus is going to be on testing out what I’ve been playing with in the Wardrobe Architect series, particularly the palette and silhouette picks. Incidentally, with the navy and ivory, this dress fits right in!)

Wardrobe Architect, weeks 9-11: The Capsule Wardrobe

I’m combining the last few weeks, since it makes sense to put them all together anyway. Plus I got kind of stuck on the silhouette thing for a bit. I came to the definite conclusion to not worry about spring in my wardrobe plan. Honestly, I’m still wearing a lot of my winter clothes, and it’s April! What’s up with that?! Plus I know I have limited sewing time for awhile, so I’d rather work with what I have now and sew for the next season. I also thought it best to try to work with fabrics and patterns that I have as much as possible. Because, you know, stashbusting.

So with a focus of summer into early fall, here’s what I have in mind for my capsule wardrobe:
1. Fitted to semi-fitted top, knee-length flared/A-line skirt. I figure this can be either dresses or separates, and I’m thinking along the lines of this, minus the seasonal transition half on the right side:
"Summer Silhouette #1" by sunnyb64 on Polyvore

2. Maxi-dress! This one shows with a denim jacket, which is probably good for summer layering as needed. Alternately, a maxi-skirt with a fitted top would work well. I do love me a flowy skirt in the summer.

Very cute maxi it paired with the denim jacket.
3. Fitted top with fitted to semi-fitted pants/jeans. I may have to throw shorts into this category– I avoid wearing them when I can, but sometimes you really do need a pair or two for situations where a skirt is overdoing it. Like hanging out at the park. Or my retail job where I’m sitting outside in 90-100+ degree temperatures for hours. Ugh. And I really don’t have many shorts at all by this point.

"butterflies are free..." by sunnyb64 on Polyvore

Color palette: 
Like I said, I wanted to go with things that are in my stash as much as possible. And I already had several projects in mind. Mainly involving these 3 fabrics:

Fun, right?

So this is the palette that I pulled from here:

The yellow is mostly going to come through in the prints, but I do need some warm colors in my wardrobe! And no green this time (aside from what’s in that one print), surprisingly, but I do have quite a few green things by now, and I’ve been feeling a need to have more purple in my closet for awhile now. And royal blue, because I don’t have a ton of that at the moment either.

The pieces:
Sarai suggested going through your closet and seeing what you already have that fits the palette and silhouettes first, so I’m going to start with that, and then make my sewing wishlist.

What I have:
Tops: my purple Sadie tank, my French Vanilla knit top, black and ivory camisoles, a basic black v-neck tee and tank, a longer/flowier black tank with ivory trim, a drapier cowl-neck ivory tank, a black semi-fitted pullover blouse, my knitted Odyssey tank, a thrifted plum-colored short-sleeve knit top, a couple of graphic t-shirts
Bottoms: A basic black a-line skirt, a shorter dark denim skirt, my TARDIS skirt, my charcoal and navy Thurlows. (Charcoal’s close enough to black for this purpose.) Also a couple pairs of jeans. I’ll throw my sunflower skirt into this as well, because it does have the blue and purple.
Dresses:  None that fit the palette. Honestly, I had to recently get rid of the majority of my dresses due to some weight gain/fitting issues. (No, I’m not pregnant, I just gained a little weight after the wedding, probably from basically eating out at fancy restaurants for every meal during our resort honeymoon–and maybe a few too many strawberry daquiris–and I’m having trouble getting it to go away again.) So this is an area of my wardrobe that could use a few things for sure.
Layering pieces: a plum 3/4 sleeve jacket, my reconstructed black short-sleeved cardigan

What I hope/plan to make: (all from stash unless otherwise noted)

Pile o’ stash!!


  1. A navy daisy-print tank, most likely a slightly modified Sorbetto.
  2. A royal blue button-down blouse, from a Burda mag. I’ve had the idea for awhile now, but I’m too lazy to look up the pattern.
  3. A navy Archer blouse, which will probably be closer to the fall.
  4. A striped ivory knit tee–hoping to use the Plantain but we’ll see if I have enough fabric. Done, cardigan-style.


  1. Fitted/skinny-ish jeans. I think I’m going to attempt to use up the denim from the TARDIS skirt to figure this out, because I have an idea for how I can make it a design feature if I need to make them a bit roomier, thanks to the shiny side.
  2. Thurlow shorts. I think I might have just enough of the navy and charcoal denims from the pants to squeeze some out. And it’s not like I don’t know how to fit this pattern by now, am I right?
  3. Solid black Thurlow pants, which I do not currently have fabric for.
  4. Possibly some black Clover pants– I have fabric that will work, but have not tested this pattern yet. So we’ll see if I get to it.
  5. If I have time, a Pavlova skirt. The fabric I have is currently white with black polka dots, but I’m planning to dye it.
  6. I also have a plum skirt that I can do a quick refashion of to make it a better skirt.


  1. A navy/ivory Cambie (which is actually going to be one of my next projects) Done!
  2.  A plum/yellow/royal/white Darling Ranges. This may be closer to fall, it depends on whether I decide to stick with the elbow-length sleeves or make them shorter.
  3. A yellow/white/turquoise Reglisse dress. I’m planning on fully underlining this in gold Bemberg, both for opacity and in hopes that it gives the white a little more of an ivory tone.
  4. A plum/green/white/ knit Tiramisu maxi-dress Done!
  5. A black tank knit maxidress, from McCall’s 6559. (I know, it looks a lot like the Mission Maxi, and normally I’d be all about supporting the indie designers, but I got the pattern from less than $1.)

Layering pieces:

  1. a 3/4 sleeve jacket, from the ivory/black embroidered twill I got at Mood and Simplicity 4491 (which I’ll modify to shorten and cuff the sleeves.)
  2. An ivory Carmine shrug. I wanted to make the jacket, but I only have a yard of the knit. Oh well.
  3.  a yellow knitted cardigan, which I already have yarn and a pattern for, but starting it will have to wait until I finish my grey cardigan.

I’m hoping this isn’t horribly over-ambitious of me. Especially since I still have some costume sewing to do (or start– I just finished cutting the one part of my Tauriel costume out on Tuesday), some refashion projects I’d love to get to on the side, I do need some summer pajamas, and I also would love to get a Cooper bag made up before the end of the summer. And I do have a winter coat that will need replacing, which I really should try to start by the beginning of September. I figure the knits will go fast, especially since they’re mostly patterns I’ve used before. So we’ll see how this goes.

Happenings in my corner of the internet

No pictures this time…just a few things of interest lately.

First of all, I wanted to thank those who responded to the Spring Cleaning swap! Out of the 16 patterns I offered up, I got requests for 6 of them, which is not bad at all. My work hours for the next 2 days are shorter, as I had some rearranging with my lessons and only have the garden center job tomorrow, so I plan to get those packaged up and out in the mail by the weekend. I think I’m going to put the remaining ones up in the Flickr group, since there’s still the ongoing swap for the year there and one of them was actually requested through it anyway.

I have a little package of my own to look forward to–Gail had this cool piece of bamboo-printed rayon denim that she offered up, and my name got picked! Thanks, Gail! I’m already plotting what I can do with it, though I’ll have to check my own pattern stash for yardages and all.

Now that it’s April, I finally have some tangible progress on the March Sewcialist theme. Haha. I haven’t sewed a stitch yet, but I did finally finish cutting out the first garment for my costume yesterday. I guess it’s something. 

Saving the best for last, because I got good news today…Pattern Review’s independent designer spotlight of the month was for Sewaholic Patterns, and they were running a contest to get some more reviews of her work up there. The prize was that two randomly drawn people would win a voucher for 3 Sewaholic patterns, and I found out today that my Robson coat review was one of the ones picked! Which leaves me with the question: what patterns to choose? Honestly, I might have to wait for her to release some more, because I already have almost all of them…