The Things We Make and Keep


I’ve been thinking a lot about my handmade wardrobe lately.

What is the difference in the things I make and keep wearing and the things that I just can’t bring myself to wear?

What do I want to wear?

What do I enjoy wearing?

What do I want my style to say about me?

Things like Me Made May, thought up by So, Zo, and the Wardrobe Architect series by Sarai over at Colette Patterns have really gotten my wheels turning lately.

About two weeks ago, I stumbled on the blog Un-Fancy. And her idea of a minimalist capsule wardrobe has really hit home with me. I’ve been feeling really frustrated with my clothes and my house lately. I’m chronically unable to keep my house clean and I always feel like I have NOTHING TO WEAR.


I own way too much stuff. For a while, it was a product of being broke as a joke. So, if I have it now, and I keep it, when I need it and can’t afford it, I can just pull out the thing that I kept for so many years that I have no idea of where I even stored it (let’s be honest, I probably never even remembered I was holding on to that thing, either). After that, I kept holding on to things just out of habit of keeping stuff.

To be honest, I have a harder time than usual with organization and getting rid of stuff. I was diagnosed with adult ADHD about a year ago (yes – also meaning, I went undiagnosed as a kid with ADHD). And suddenly, my whole life makes sense. People with ADHD usually have significant impairments in their executive functioning (see: organization). But, organization and routines are two things that can drastically improve your ability to function like an adult, in spite of your ADHD. So, I’m learning organization, even when throwing out something threatens to send me into a panic attack. I’m reminding myself of what I have to gain: calm, peace of mind, feeling excited to get dressed, knowing where things are.


I decided to take a look at all of my clothes I’ve made over the years and to evaluate what went well and what I could improve upon. The things we make and keep versus fashion failures. My goal is to see if there are any commonalities amongst the things that make it into wardrobe rotation land so that I can plan and use my sewing time better. I’d love for everything I make to end up making it into the wardrobe rotation. So, I’m also going to be looking for any common threads amongst the things that just don’t quite make it. I’ve got a few ideas about why those things don’t make it into regular wear. But, we shall see.

Today I’m starting with two of my oldest makes.

imageWhen I was in college, many years ago, I took a clothing 101 class. I’d been sewing random things since I could hold a needle in my hand, but I’d never actually made any people clothes. I had made quite a few Barbie doll outfits, though.

In this class, we were taught seam finishes, closures, and shaping devices. After that, we were to make two garments using what we had learned: one for the top half of our body, one for the bottom half of our body. The specific details of the garments were up to us. My bottom half garment was a pair of jeans-style grey pants, inset zipper and everything. I’ve since grown out of them, but I keep them in my Sewing Hall of Fame – a place for all of those me-made items that have too much sentimental value to actually throw away.

My top half garment was this fully lined wool pea coat. My teacher sort of scoffed at the idea that I’d be able to finish a fully lined pea coat in the time she had allotted. Which, had the effect of making me work as hard a possible to prove her wrong. I made this coat in the Fall of 2002, I think. I’ve worn it OUT. It’s missing a button on the front, the pockets have worn through and need replacing. I have extras of those buttons, I need to fix it soon. I also need to dry clean the thing, I can’t remember the last time I had that done. Gulp. The pockets won’t be too hard to replace, I don’t think. And, I should probably just replace the whole lining soon.

This was and still is a MAJOR home run in the make department.

  • I LOVE the color (and the pop of red!)
  • It filed a gap in my wardrobe at the time – I didn’t have a good winter coat
  • it’s made of natural fibers – wool outer, cotton flannel lining (sort of a pain to get on, but it’s pretty warm!)
  • It’s sized perfectly – I’ve gained and lost weight over the 12 years since I made this, but it’s always fit fine (except for that one winter when I had a broken arm – humerus – and no coats fit over my arm), and I can wear layers and it still fits.

With a little work, I may be able to get this coat to last another 12 years. Any tips on fixing the cloth at the cuff where it starts to wear out over time?

imageNext up, we have my Amy Butler fabric kimono-style robe. I took a pretty long break from making clothes after that sewing 101 class. This was one of the first things I made after that class, about 6 years ago now.

I don’t know about you, but I was OBSESSED with Amy Butler fabrics when the first came out. OMG SOMETHING THAT’S NOT MY MOTHER’S QUILTING FABRIC!! Not that her quilting fabric was bad, but something young and modern was a shock, in a good way.

So, I had Amy’s books, and in one of them was this kimono-style bath robe. I found an amazing fabric store in Nashville, TN, where I lived that carried all of this amazing fabric. I spend more money on this fabric than any other fabric to that date (other than that wool above, I guess). I was soooo excited. And, I used sharpie to mark all of the dots and notches and such. Hot pink sharpie. I didn’t have any chalk. WHAT WAS I THINKING??? And, I forgot about all of my seam finishes. So, all the edges are raw inside. I also used HOT PINK THREAD. I’m sensing a trend. I had a serious hot pink obsession for a while. I even wore hot pink eyeliner. No, they didn’t make hot pink eyeliner. Me and my best friends at the time used hot pink lip liner for eyeliner. OMG.

But, back to the robe. I’ve worn it a lot over the past 6 years, but I’m filing it under a fashion failure now because:

  • you can totally see the hot pink sharpie and thread
  • NO SEAM FINISHES! This thing is really close to unravelling at the seams because of that. It’s been a good run, but I think it’s time to send it to the Sewing Hall of Fame Heaven.
  • I’ve totally grown out of florals. I want simple patterns, geometric patterns, neutrals.

So, I’ve got two questions for you:

  1. What do you notice about the things that you make and keep versus the things that are fashion failures?
  2. What do you do with your fashion failures? How do you let them go? I’m still not sure what I want to do with a few of these things I’ve made that I know I’ll never wear. I’m boxing them up, for now.

Pattern Crushes

I have lots of patterns, but there are still a few that I really, really want to get my hands on. And soon!

Here are some of my favorites…

Colette Patterns' new Clover Pant

I really want to make some cute skinny pants. And this pattern looks to have the fit I want. Plus, all the pictures I’ve seen lately are amazing!

Check out the Colette Patterns Flickr group for tons of inspiration. There are several Colette patterns that I’ve decided I may make after all once I saw them made up!

Colette Paterns' Jasmine blouse

I’ve really been crushing on semi-sheer silk blouses with bows on the front lately. And then Sarai had to come and release the exact pattern I needed! I still can’t believe I don’t own this pattern yet. I’m probably going to make about 27 of these: burnt orange, cream, polka dots, stripes, peacock blue, etc.

Colette Peony dress

This is one that I really didn’t find all that flattering until I saw several on the Colette Flickr page. Check out lladybird’s version here. Holy crap, she’s so cute! And from Nashville, too!

This next pattern really surprised me, also.

Sewaholic's newest, the Minoru Jacket

Um, if you haven’t seen this jacket yet you owe it to yourself to go search for some pictures RIGHT NOW. I’ll be honest, I haven’t liked the other 3 patterns that Tasia has put out at all. But, I’m a bit bustier than she is. But, OMG I WANT THIS JACKET! And a girl can never have too many jackets, can she?

And, check out this tutorial on sewing waterproof clothing! EXACTLY the information I’ve been looking for for a long time.

I know I’ve mentioned this next one before. Remind me why I don’t own it yet?

Vintage Vogue Reissue V8728

There are some really cute versions of this floating around the intertubes. I want one in peacock blue. To wear under sweaters and with boots this winter. And by itself in the summer. Basically, I would never take this dress off. Oh, and can I please have those bangles the model has on? They are my favorite shade of yellow.

What patterns are you crushing on right now?

Sorbetto top

Wow, I’m about a week behind.

Colette Patterns Sorbetto top

from Colette Patterns blog, the new free Sorbetto top


Colette Patterns just posted this super cute new FREE pattern last week, the Sorbetto top. I can’t wait to make a few myself! It looks super fast and easy (especially if you use pre-made/store-bought bias tape).

I think it would be just about perfect in a cotton lawn for this summer. I have a few lightweight cotton fabrics in my stash right now, too.

And it should be super cute with the Ruby shorts from BurdaStyle that I have planned.

Also, count on seeing at least 2. I realized as I was looking at my clothes for MMJ that I tend to make multiples of the same pattern. Usually multiples of 2.

Thoughts on a Summer Wardrobe

I think it’s no secret that I LOVE making things.

One of my friends recently dubbed me a “ninja of doing shit.” So yeah, I pretty much have to always be doing something.

Right now I’m making plans for a summer wardrobe that will probably NEVER come into existence. Or maybe about half of it will. I always aim high.

Colette Violet Blouse

Colette Violet Blouse

The first item on my list is about 12,689 different versions of the Colette Violet Blouse. I just finished my first one this past weekend (pics to come soon!) in red and white gingham. I have discovered that I loathe facings. For me they make wearing the garment very frustrating. I just can’t ever get facings to lay flat when I wear them. So I altered the pattern a bit. I added a button placket and doubled the back yoke.

Now that I have one, it’s my favorite shirt. I’ve worn it 3 times in the  4 days since I finished it. So I’m thinking another 2 or 3 would be awesome. And I have some vintage fabric I’m thinking about for those 2 or 3.

Vintage Vogue 8728

Vintage Vogue 8728

I surprise myself with this one – I don’t usually go for dresses like this Vintage Vogue reissue. But, I really want to make this pattern out of cotton jersey. Maybe in a grey or a peacock blue. I think it would end up my favorite summer dress in a lot of ways. But only if I added pockets. Cute, jersey, easy to wear, pockets, what more could you ask for in a summer dress??

Colette Crepe Dress

Colette Crepe Dress

I finally picked up some fabric to use as an underlining for this fabulous but quite sheer fabric I found at an estate sale a few months back. So, I’m totally making the Colette Crepe Dress this summer. Another candidate for best summer (or probably year-round) dress ever. Pockets strike again!

Colette Parfait Dress

Colette Parfait Dress

I’ve made this dress twice so far. I want to make it about 50 more times. It’s my favorite dress to wear. Ever. Whenever this dress is clean (and I’m not working), I always put it on. It’s pretty fast when you’ve made it at least once already. So I’m thinking this will be a definite for this summer. Again in a nice vintage fabric I picked up at an estate sale.

And so far it looks like all I want to wear this summer are dresses. But that’s not quite true!

BurdaStyle 6005 Ruby Shorts

BurdaStyle 6005 Ruby Shorts

I also have these shorts on my wishlist. But I’m not sure what kind of fabric to make them in. And I think I need 2 back pockets. I’m probably going to make them in dark selvedge denim. And maybe a grey linen or something light weight? I don’t actually own any shorts right now so I’m kind of at a loss for fabric ideas. What do people make shorts out of??

BurdaStyle 6006 Anita Jeans

BurdaStyle 6006 Anita Jeans

I’m really looking forward to making my own jeans. I’m going to attempt this at the END of the summer. I want to make a pair of jeans for both me and Nate out of selvedge denim. I think I’ll try to use the BurdaStyle Anita Jeans pattern. The technical drawing above makes me a bit nervous though. Why is there a button flap on the waist band that is not aligned with the fly? That does not look right to me.

I think this is MORE than enough to keep me busy this summer. The only thing is, I also want to make some new pieces for work while I have so much time this summer. The dresses could probably double as work wear. But we have a below knee length dress code (yes, kneecaps are scandalous to teenage boys and girls). So we’ll see what I actually get done and what I throw aside for more appealing projects.