Not Busy

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As I mentioned in a post last year, I have tried to remove ‘busy’ from both my vocabulary and mindset as much as possible.

I have spent the last 3 days occupied in one of my favourite activities – sewing. It has not been just any sewing but specifically dressmaking clothes for myself.

The first project was a dress which was modelled on an oft-used shirt pattern.

I bought the fabric which is a cotton drill from a local thrift shop for $5. I have yet to source suitable buttons and finish the hem.

Another dress. A simple, lightweight shift which will be perfect for hot summer days at home or the beach. The fabric for this one was leftover from a previous project. Of course, both of the dresses have pockets.

A navy linen shirt made using the same pattern as the first dress. This is an extremely versatile pattern which I have used numerous times. The contrasting binding on the neckline and armholes is not visible when the garment is being worn but I think it adds a somewhat whimsical touch. Making my own bias binding allows me to indulge ideas like this. Once again, buttons and hemming are required to complete the shirt.

I have another linen shirt cut out which is black.

This has barely put a dent in my stash of fabric and I am looking forward to making more items to add to my wardrobe.

It is almost 2 years since I last bought any brand-new clothes apart from underwear. In that time I have bought less than 10 pieces from thrift shops and recycle boutiques and made a few items. Some of the clothes that I wore to work are still suitable for some occasions, however, I find that I am gradually changing the mix of clothes in my wardrobe to reflect my retirement lifestyle.

Chairs, Clothes and Other Bits

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We have recently replaced the protective felt feet on the legs of our kitchen chairs.  There are four high chairs which fit around our large return bench/meals area.

This project was undertaken two chairs at a time so for several weeks there have only been two chairs in the kitchen at any given time.  I realised how much less cluttered the area felt with only two chairs.  Since there is only GMan and I here most of the time, there is really no necessity to have four chairs.

The next question was, where could we store the other two chairs so that they would stay clean and be easily accessible when we had additional guests?  We found that the wardrobe in the guest room would be perfect but the space was currently occupied.  My off-season (summer) clothes were hanging on the rail and the floor was filled with about 100 magazines which are some of my retirement reading material as well as 5 large photo albums.

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I set about working out how I could re-arrange things.

The clothes were moved to the empty hanging space in the third bedroom which is used primarily as my sewing room.

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The photo albums provided the impetus to continue working on sorting and culling my photos – both digital and hard copy.  You can read more about that in my post from yesterday.  They will live in the library/study until they are no longer required.

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The magazines have been relocated to the drawers of the dressing table in the guest room.  I intend to make a start on reading them and expect that once I have finished reading them I will pass them on to someone else who may be interested in them.

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The chairs are now in the wardrobe but easy to retrieve when we need them.

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I am pleased with the final result and as an added bonus I have been spurred into doing some more work on the photos as well as making a start on reading my large collection of Australian Geographic magazines.

Patterns and Pants

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Dressmaking can be a challenge when trying to get a perfect fit.  One of the best methods I know is to disassemble a garment which you love and fits well and then use the pieces to make a customised pattern.  I did this several years ago with a sleeveless, collared shirt and have made numerous shirts from the pattern.  Here are a couple of examples.

This time it was the turn of my white cropped pants which I have had for about 9 years.  They are starting to get a bit thin in places.

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I generally use non iron-on interfacing for tracing the pattern. It is reasonably sturdy and stands up to repeated uses. However, on Sunday I discovered that I did not have any left so I had to think laterally.  I had a scramble through my stash and found several large pieces which had been part of a donation to Boomerang Bags but were not suitable.  The fabric is medium-weight, cream synthetic with no stretch so I decided to use it for the pattern pieces which worked perfectly.  It was easy to add markings and instructions, too.

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This is the fabric that I had earmarked for my first attempt with the pattern.  About 3 metres of a medium-weight cotton drill that I had bought last year for $4 at the local Salvos thrift shop.

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I am very pleased with the result.

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The only variation I made from the original was not to add belt loops.  I never wear a belt with these pants and the absence of the loops makes for a smoother silhouette.

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I call them my ladybird pants and you certainly won’t lose me in a crowd when wearing these.

I have a black, fitted t-shirt which I will be able to wear with them and I plan to make a black linen shirt using the pattern I mentioned at the beginning of this post.

Now that I am happy with the construction and fit of these pants, I am working on a pair of lightweight dark navy linen ones.  They will be full-length rather than cropped.

I have several sewing projects underway or planned and I will show you more in future blog posts.

Back in Town

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We have been home for 4 days and things are returning to normal.  While I don’t suffer greatly from jetlag, I did feel generally tired for the first couple of days which I think is simply travel fatigue.

Yesterday I had a peek in a couple of op shops (thrift shops) and picked up this top for $1.  It was marked as $4 which seemed reasonable to me but when I took it to the counter it turned out to have a blue label and was reduced to 25% of the original price.

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The top appeared to be in excellent condition with no marks or wear.  It was several sizes larger than what I wear so my plan was to refashion it.

This is the result of a couple of hours work.

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It is a little shorter than would be my preference but otherwise I am very happy with my handiwork.

I also bought this maxi-dress for $8.  It was brand new with the original tags which showed the price as $60.

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Once again, it was not my size, however, I could not resist the jade green fabric.  I unpicked the dress to maximise the amount of usable fabric and I now have the equivalent of about 2 metres of 120cm wide jade green viscose fabric.

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I am still debating as to how I will use it but it will probably be a dress or perhaps a pair of wide leg trousers.

What would you do with the fabric?

Wardrobe Audit – Another Month

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I am a bit slow on reviewing my wardrobe this month but here goes.

2019 is now 10 weeks old and I have worn all of my summer clothes apart from one sleeveless top.  I like it and it is an identical style to two others so there is no good reason for not wearing it.  Anyway, we still have plenty of hot weather ahead so it will definitely get an airing.

There have been some milder days so I have even worn some of my jeans, 3/4 sleeve shirts, boleros and a cardigan.

The following photos show what remains on the backward-facing hangers.

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The sleeveless top is at the extreme right hand end.  The remainder are mostly jackets, long-sleeve and 3/4 sleeve tops and shirts as well as a trenchcoat.  The exception are two dresses – an emerald green lace frock and a black sheath.  These are rarely worn but serve a purpose and deserve their place in my wardrobe.

There are some 3/4 sleeve tops and cardigans folded in the drawers which have not been worn either.

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The lower hanging rail is almost devoid of clothes as I have now worn all six of my skirts, three pairs of cropped trousers and three pairs of jeans.  All that remains are my green jeans, good black dress trousers and two pairs of fitted trousers (black and charcoal) that I only really wear with my knee-high boots so they are definitely winter attire.

The exercise of turning the hangers has been a useful one for me.  I am confident that everything I own will be worn during the course of the year, with the exception of the two special occasion dresses.  I am happy that I generally have enough, but not too many. clothes.

I bought three items in January from the local recycle boutique but nothing since.  I am sewing a couple of new sleeveless shirts so they will probably be added during the next month.

Have you tried turning your hangers backwards in order to see what you actually wear?

Use it Up, Wear it Out……

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……Make Do or Do Without.

So, the saying goes.

It is relatively easy to ‘use it up’ but ‘wear it out’ does not seem to occur very often.

However, today I have an example which caught me completely off-guard.

I have a  black short-sleeve cashmere/merino top.  I have had it for several years and wear it regularly with different skirts and trousers.  It even gets worn with shorts.

After carefully handwashing the top I was placing on the hanger to dry when I noticed a hole just below the underarm.  It was not moth-eaten but simply worn out!  On closer examination I discovered that the other side was in an almost identical state.

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A closer look.

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I am not sure whether there is any purpose for which I can use the remainder of the garment.  Padding of some sort?  Otherwise it will be binned.

Will I replace this?  Probably not. It was mostly worn to work and I only have another 7 months of work and I am also looking at having less black clothes in my wardrobe.

 

A Capsule Wardrobe

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Over the past 10 years I have flirted with various versions of a minimalist wardrobe.  There seem to be as many versions of how to tackle an over-abundance of clothes as there are people on the planet.

After looking into Project 333 some years ago, I decided that the best option for me was to continue to keep a streamlined, mix-n-match selection that I wear most of the year round.  This works for me because I am fortunate to live in a fairly temperate climate.

However, I have recently joined a Facebook group focused on capsule wardrobes.  Someone posted about creating a Spring capsule based on the principle enunciated in The Vivienne Files.

One of the things that bothers me about many of the pieces chosen in limited collections tend to be pale/soft/neutral colours which are definitely not my style.  It would not matter how many pieces I had to choose from, I would still not be able to find anything to wear!  For those who follow the principle of colour analysis, I am a ‘winter’ which means I can wear black and other strong, clear blue-based colours.  When I had this analysis done back in the early 80s it really just confirmed what I already knew and I very rarely deviate from my preferred palette.

Based on this knowledge and the selection in my wardrobe, I chose the following 16 pieces for my capsule for the next 3 months.

The suggested configuration was:

Neutral – 2 bottoms and 2 tops, 1 of which should be a cardigan or jacket.

Naturally, I chose black.

Shorts and jeans.

A cardigan and short sleeve top, both in cashmere/merino.

Choose another neutral with the same configuration of 2 tops and 2 bottoms.

I am not sure that red is a neutral but it is definitely a base colour in my wardrobe.

capri pants and shorts.

A long sleeve knit top and a ‘denim’ jacket.

The next suggested category is 4 more tops which obviously need to mix and match as well as meet the vagaries of the local weather.

The final 4 items are open to personal preference and any categories you feel need an extra.

As the weather warms up I will definitely need these white cropped pants.

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A couple of patterned tops to add interest.

And a dress.

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While I followed the guidelines as suggested, I also know that there are dozens of outfits that can be created with this selection because I regularly do it.  Almost all of these pieces are several years old and are well-established in my wardrobe.

I am not entirely convinced that these will cover a couple of short holidays and special events that fall in the next 3 months but they will definitely account for 95% of my day-to-day outfits.

I will do a follow-up post in the next few days about a couple of accessories and the shoes that I will add to this collection.

A Versatile Piece

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As I have minimised and streamlined my wardrobe over time, it has become increasingly important that individual items are able to be worn in a multitude of ways.

Everything is multipurpose to some degree but I think this piece is a clear winner.

We live in a relatively temperate climate where the maximum temperatures range between about 15C and 35C and the minimums between about 5C and 20C.  Consequently, we can wear variations of the same outfit for much of the year.

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The skirt shown above is a lightweight seersucker cotton fabric which is lined with an equally lightweight lining.  On the hottest days I can pair it with a sleeveless white cotton shirt and a pair of strappy black sandals.  Conversely, I have also worn it with a grey cowl-neck pullover, red trenchcoat, scarf, tights and knee-high black boots.

There are plenty of options that fall somewhere between these two extremes as I have a fitted black tshirt as well as a short sleeved black cashmere pullover.  A couple of different white shirts and a black cardigan complete the mix of tops.  A pair of black heels provides another option between the sandals and boots.

These are just a few of the possibilities which work with this skirt.

A relatively small selection of clothes means that each piece needs to really earn its keep.

New to Me

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Sometimes things are just meant to be.  A couple of weeks ago my mother told me that had some casual clothes – mostly tshirts which were now surplus to her requirements.

In the spirit of my relatively streamlined wardrobe and a lack of need, I refused most of them.  However, this one caught my eye.

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I had no intention of rushing out to buy a pink and white striped rugby top but when I saw this in the pile I simply fell in love with it.  This top is very lightweight and perfect for our generally mild weather for about 6 months of the year.

After wearing  it for a couple of days when I first received the top, I washed and ironed it.  While ironing it, I noticed that there was only one button on the placket.  The button was white and I searched my collection of numerous white buttons but could not find any suitable ones but discovered that I had 2 pink buttons that were the right size.

When I was planning what to pack on our upcoming trip to the UK I decided to include this top.  Even though it is quite light, it is loose enough to wear a thermal top underneath it and with the addition of a warm jacket I would be quite snug when out and about.

Even though this was an unplanned addition to my wardrobe, I am confident that it will  be perfect for my needs and get plenty of wear.

What I Wear – 6 Month Update

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It is now 6 months since I began tracking what I wear.  June signals the beginning of winter in the southern hemisphere and we finally have some weather that can be regarded as appropriate for the season in our area.  Therefore, some of the clothes I wore in the past month are ones that had barely been touched since I began recording what I wear at the beginning of December.

I have had a net increase to my wardrobe as I added 4 new items and discarded 2.  One is not actually new, just new to the list.  I can’t believe that I completely forgot to list my turquoise cardigan.  Anyway, it is now on the list.

New additions:

The dress was actually bought in April but I had not added it to the tally since I was not sure that it would be a long-term addition.  I have now decided that I will keep it.  You can read more about it here.  The trousers are slim-fitting pull-on tailored trousers that will be the mainstay of my work wardrobe during the cooler months.  I like the fact that there are nor buttons, zips or other fastenings to spoil the line of tops worn with them.

Discarded:

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I have now worn 79 of the 93 pieces in my wardrobe.  I expect that there will be less than 5 unworn ones by the end of the month.

This is the selection that have yet to be worn during this experiment.  They are mostly winter clothes with the exception of the cocktail dress and the formal dress.

I will miss half of the southern hemisphere winter this year as we will be in the USA and Canada for the latter part of July and almost all of August.  By the time we return spring will be just around the corner and my small selection of winter clothes will not see the light of day for another 9 months.

What I have discovered is that I can probably streamline my wardrobe further to around 80 items to cover all weather and all occasions and activities.  I also know that it is dynamic – an ever-changing process as pieces are worn, discarded and updated.

Until next month………