sewing with a plan: summer capsule wardrobe

I was so excited to get back to sewing, after all the cancer, & bronchitis, & ear infections, & blah blah blah. I cut out a new dress last weekend & had it all ready to be sewn on Monday while Ramona was at preschool. & then I woke up on Monday morning with some sort of excruciating hip situation that made the act of moving my right leg close to unbearable. I got out the serger anyway to finish the fabric pieces (it’s a jersey dress, so I’m just going to zigzag the seams & press open). Luckily, Jared had taken Ramona out for a bike ride, so they weren’t around to be disturbed by my screaming & weeping as I shifted my foot on the foot pedal. I did manage to get all the edges finished, but then I had to go lay down. No sewing was done this week, alas.

But! I did plan out my summer wardrobe! It’s somewhat ambitious, considering the small amount of sewing I’ve been physically capable of achieving in the last several months. I think I’ve completed five projects so far in 2017, & they’ve mostly been pretty simple: lounge pants, a raglan tee, a tea towel.

There are thirteen garments in my summer queue, but I am so excited about them! If it all pans out, I will be doing a lot of pattern hacking, a lot of drafting from scratch, a lot of playing with prints, & a lot of playing with different textiles. Plus a lot of embellishment (of course, my new obsession), & some really different silhouettes. I’m experimenting with layers, maxidresses, & cropped looks in a way I never have before. But I took the time to really think about exactly what I want to make & how the different colors & silhouettes will work together (& with the stuff I already have) to create different outfits. No closet orphans here!

I’m planning four dresses (I wear a lot of dresses when it’s hot outside), two skirts, one blouse, one summer sweater, one pair of shorts, one pair of pants, one bag, one sun hat, & one pair of shoes. I’m hoping to embellish with beads, ribbons, buttons, applique, some cross stitch &/or embroidery, & lace. I’m using jersey, linen, seersucker, canvas, shot cotton, lawn, & chambray. I made a list of outfits that can be created with these pieces (an “outfit” here being defined as three items worn together that won’t get me arrested for indecent exposure, so swapping out one accessory for another counts as a new outfit) & came up with more than sixty combos, & that doesn’t even factor in the looks I can make with these new items combined with the stuff I already have!

I’m going with my trusty Ciara-approved color palette: gray, black, pink, yellow, & turquoise. Maybe a few touches of green & purple here & there. Of course there will be some gingham involved. It’s summertime! Of course there will be unicorns involved! I decided to get rid of my unicorn print Cambie dress because it has never fit properly & is not very well-sewn (it was like the third dress I ever made, so no shocker there), but Ramona loves the unicorns so much, she actually mentioned it in the Mother’s Day card she made for me. It said, “I love you, Mommy! I love the unicorns on your dress, & walking with you, & playing with you! Happy Mother’s Day!” (transcribed by one of her teachers, of course). So I’m replacing the Cambie with a new dress with a unicorn print. There will also be roses, because I am tired of fighting the fact that I am really drawn to rose prints. They seem so mumsy, but I love them. I am secretly hoping that Jared will get me a miniature rose plant for Mother’s Day.

I kind of freaked out for a minute over how much I was spending on fabric, notions, & patterns for everything, but then it occurred to me that buying similar items off the rack (if that is even possible with some of the embellishments I am planning, & of course the customized fit) would cost ten times more, minimum.

My goal is to get everything sewn up by the end of July, when we move to our new house. The hot weather usually lingers in Kansas straight through October, so summery items will get plenty of wear beyond “summertime”. Plus I’m making the effort to make sure everything can be layered & combined with warmer items to be worn in cooler weather.

A lot of this was inspired by the posts the Curvy Sewing Collective has been doing about capsule wardrobes. I’m attracted to the theory because I love things like “curation” & “collections”. It’s just never seemed like something I could really mesh with my personal aesthetic, which is big on prints. Like, I guess I could make a capsule collection of a few pairs of jeans, some t-shirts, & a hoodie (my current cold weather uniform). It’s just never grabbed my attention. But the Curvy Sewing Collective has had a lot of really useful posts on coming up with a vision for a capsule collection, incorporating dresses, & thinking about how to combine garments in unusual ways. I found it really inspiring (obviously!). Marrying it to the season & using it as a way to experiment with new silhouettes really motivated me to think outside the box. I’m especially excited to be using so much pink in these garments. Pink is my favorite color but I have often avoided sewing with it as much as I’d like because it would be easy for me to go all in & have a completely pink wardrobe. I decided to just really go for it this time instead of challenging myself to go with a color less “expected” of me (by myself, Jared, & Ramona, pretty much the only people who know how fucking much I love pink).

So! Those are my big plans for once I can use my leg again! (Which will probably be this weekend; I am feeling a lot better now than I did at the beginning of the week.) I can’t wait!

Re: the leg thing. I saw my doctor yesterday & we discussed the whole mess of health issues I’ve got going on these days. She conducted one of those neurology tests where you have to follow the person’s finger, stop them from pushing your leg down, walk heel to toe in a straight line, etc etc. I failed everything SPECTACULARLY. Part of it is standing still with your arms out in front of you & closing your eyes. Easy peasy, right? Go try it right now. Did you fall over instantly? Because I did. I was so utterly lacking in balance & coordination that I almost joked, “Whoops! Guess I shouldn’t have swigged that bottle of tequila in the parking lot.” (For the record, I literally can’t remember the last time I had an alcoholic beverage. January, maybe? I think I had a beer at a book club meeting. I don’t think I’ve had actual liquor since before I got pregnant with Ramona.)

So they’re doing some more bloodwork to rule out an auto-immune disorder (lupus, for example), & I’m having another MRI done next week, this time of my neck. The doctor said it was to check for pinched nerves, but I’m no dummy. They are also looking for lesions on the spinal cord. & after that, a referral to a neurologist. I get that this all sounds kind of scary, & I’m certainly dealing with a lot of symptoms that are affecting “the tasks of daily living,” as they say, but you know. I’m used to it. This ain’t my first goat rodeo. So I’m just trying to keep a sense of humor about it.

Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

11 thoughts on “sewing with a plan: summer capsule wardrobe

  1. I love your attitude, your positivity and lack of self pity, what you’re contending with would floor most people. Fwiw, I’m cheering you on from the sidelines.

    Capsule sewing, if one is realistic about what one wears, is the best way to get more bangs for your buck and it’s very satisfying. The pieces can be simple too, I’ve made four or five bog standard skirts, nothing fancy, but I wear them for work all the time and I love the tunic dress with leggings look, that can punch well above it’s weight and can be made quick as you like.

    1. Thank you! I am just really trying to remember to laugh through all of this. Humor helped get me through my pregnancy complications & Ramona’s time in the NICU, the whole cancer thing, & plenty of other lesser catastrophes. I’m hoping to have another fifty years or so left on Earth (an ambitious goal!) & I don’t want to spend them wallowing. I am inherently a very anxious & depressed person. Gloom is my go-to. I’m very lucky to have a partner who always sees the joke in everything. He has really helped me enjoy the sillier side of life.

      I think being realistic about what you wear is really key with sewing. I’ve been culling my closet lately & it kind of kills me to get rid of these pretty dresses I was so excited to make, but they just don’t get worn! I know some people will make elaborate, impractical garments for the sheer love of making, & I get that. I love experimenting with new techniques & pushing my skill level. But I also love finding ways to incorporate those techniques into garments that will be worn & enjoyed in my busy circuit of preschool-doctor-home, lather, rinse, repeat.

  2. I’m excited to see the capsule wardrobe. I’ve never gone through that process. I just sort of sew whatever is shiny at the moment. lol.

    I think that is the best attitude to have with your health. I hope they figure it out soon. I had to laugh when you are describing falling when you are closing your eyes and holding your hands out, because I literally do the same thing. Even when I concentrate really hard, I wobble like crazy.

    1. Oh, I can so relate to that “oooh, shiny” thing. I do that too. It’s only recently that my thinking has started to shift. I am really enjoying the process of thinking more strategically, & it’s helping me get my “sewjo” (I kind of hate that word) back after having taken such a long break due to all my health problems.

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