Wardrobe Orphans

God, I hate February. Every year it’s the same. Several months into winter but knowing that there’s several months ahead of you. Everyone’s sick. It’s cold, dreary, grey and you’re constantly getting sent pictures from your brother, who lives in Sydney, of blue skies, blue water, sunshine, beaches and tans.


And this year it doesn’t look like we’re going to get any snow, so there’s not even that fun to look forward to. I really think I was born to live in a place with year round summer - or at least close to it.

Sorry, envious, self-indulgent moan over.


Anyway, moving on from misery, let’s talk about Wardrobe Orphans. Those loved items of clothing that languish in your closet despite your affection for them because you just can’t decide how, or with what, to wear them.


Enter this shirt. It’s TPC20 from Trend Patterns (which can be made into a shirt or a dress) in a really lovely striped Bengal cotton shirting from the The Fabric Store online. I absolutely love it. The large statement collar, the wide elbow length sleeves, the huge cuffs, as well as the volume of the shirt. All of which make a big statement and coupled with the dramatic stripe, I think are really striking.

Although, after my wonderful, but perennially and proudly and highly amusingly inappropriate and rude brother-in-law mentioned, it looks like something a referee would wear, I can’t get that image out of my head. This doesn’t help with the below.

The problem is I’m incredibly particular about how colours, silhouettes and styles work together and with this I just don’t know how to wear it.

I think this type of volume on top requires a slimmer or tapered leg. Enter the only pair of pants I have that fit vaguely this description, but then the hem hits me at exactly my widest part and I don’t think looks particularly great.


To resolve this, I think I might remove the hem-tie and wear it tucked into high-rise pants, but again all my slimmer leg pants are RTW and the supposed high rise is never high enough on me to actually fit the high-rise requirement.

Perhaps greater contrast in colour would also help.

I think, therefore, I need to make some more pants: which, as much as I love making pants is an annoying situation to be in. Having said that I did just order some gorgeous bull denim from Blackbird Fabrics to make the TPC Utility Trousers, again from Trend Patterns. Sophie and Shauni’s versions are totally wonderful.

I also have a plan to make another version of McCalls 7754 View C in black denim (I have a bubblegum pink pair I made in the summer which fit so beautifully but never made it to the blog), so with a proper high rise and tapered leg, we might be in business. Eventually.


I’m also going to make the dress version of this in the Spring. It’s gorgeous. And won’t require outfit back up.

I’ve a few of Trend’s patterns and I really like her aesthetic. Modern with interesting shapes and details. The instructions aren’t hand-holdy - assuming you have a fairly decent sewing knowledge already - but they are really clear and very easy to follow. The covered placket on this, for example, was a doddle.

The only thing I didn’t love was the sleeve construction. The turn up is made - really cleverly I might add - before the sleeve inseam is stitched which means you end up with the seam running all the way to the end of the sleeve. This in turn means you have to be super precise to ensure you have a smooth line around the end of the sleeve, which is normally avoided by the hem or cuff being stitched as the final stage of the sleeve.


Due to the sleeves’ wide design this can be seen when waving ones arms around - which is absolutely within my overly expressive, hand gesticulating nature. That all said, with the cuff made the way it is, I’m not sure there would be another way to finish it - or at least I haven’t tried to figure one out.

I have very few Wardrobe Orphans. It makes me happy that I usually get the balance of what I need with what I want to make about right. So I suppose the only solution to this problem is to keep on making things that fill the gaps. Oh well, that will help dispel that February malaise somewhat!

Do you have wardrobe orphans?

How would you wear this shirt?

See you soon x


Some orphan trousers

Trousers. Pants. (I'm english, let's go with trousers.)

Trousers have a bit of a bad rep when it comes to making them for yourself.  I was blissfully unaware of this until I immersed myself in sewing blogs.  As a lanky teen who could only ever buy trousers that swung unattractively somewhere between mid-calf and ankle (cropped was a no-no back then), they were one of the first things I learnt to make.  Being in that oblivious teen frame of mind, they never fazed me, nor did the fly front.

However, looking back, I realise that none of them fit me very well.  I didn't really appreciate that fitting was part of the whole sewing game.  I just found my usual size, added a few inches to the hem and cut them out.  This is probably why they were pretty uncomfortable and very tight in parts where they should definitely not have been very tight.

I used the same wide-legged pattern over and over: electric blue, grey pinstripe, a camel-y colour (the latter was probably quite apt given the fit) and then diversified and made one comfortable pair in red plaid, baggy with an elasticated waist, that I adored and loved to wear with my equally fetching fisherman's jumper, but the less said about them the better.

So these ikat trousers (I think ikat pants sounds better) continue my attraction to loud fabric clad legs, but the fit is considerably less upsetting and they are a heap more flattering.  They should be, I made FOUR muslins.

As soon as I saw this fabric I wanted to make some skinny trousers with it.  I deliberated on which pattern for a while and finally opted for Clover by Colette Patterns and then proceeded to make a huge amount of changes. One of the reasons for the above mentioned discomfort is that I have a big curvy bottom and to get non-stretch fabric around that and still get them to sit at the waist, means everything gets a bit, shall we say, squeezed.  So, using the amazingly instructive pants-fitting guide on Coletterie which helps you identify your specific fit issues, combined with my trusty 'Fitting for Every Figure' book, I deduced I needed to add some length to the rise - as I wanted them to sit at my waist - and needed to make a 'full butt adjustment'.  Well that's the nicest way I've ever heard that put!

I should have written it down, but I think in total, using the slash and spread method, I added about an inch to the rise and an inch and a half to the back crotch.  Stupidly, I added two inches to the rise before doing the full butt adjustment, which made them overly roomy so muslin number three had me removing some of that again.   I also removed some excess from the front. I then added some length and slimmed down the legs as I wanted them to be pretty skinny.

It was a pretty lengthy process but I'm happy with the end fit and the really great thing about all that work is that because it is a no-frills pattern and they are close fitting, I can use the amended pattern pieces as a sloper for other trousers and take out all the work.  Which is exactly what I have recently done with the Suzy Pants I'm working on, which may never see the light of day as the waistband is a total #@*!* nightmare. 


After that I realised I needed to be pretty careful with my print placement and try and match it up as much as possible.  I'm so happy with this across the centre front and the hidden (totally useless) waistband pockets, although much of it is utter fluke!  I'm also pretty pleased with the insides.  I used flat-felled seams on the crotch and the inner legs and then, as it was impossible to do those on the outer leg, I turned and stitched the seam allowances.  I used some of my ridiculous orange binding to finish the waistband facing, but I'm not sure I'll do that again.  I much prefer the finish when it is turned under and slipstitched. I like a bit of hand-sewing; when you get in the zone, the repetition is so meditative.

I really really like these trousers, but since finishing them in May I've hardly worn them as I didn't have anything to wear them with - hence them being orphan.  And now it's getting too cold.  Although, I took these photos last week and it was such a glorious sunny and warm day I got a final wear out of them before the winter and found they actually go quite well with this top, which I also finished a while back.

The top is a modified Belcarra Blouse by Sewaholic.  This is the third time I've made this and I absolutely love the pattern.  It is so adaptable and I love love love raglan sleeves.  Many other comments I have found about this pattern suggest the neckline is a little wide, but on me, with my broader shoulders, I think it sits ok.  The first version in a cotton silk mix was consigned to scraps as I managed to cut a huge hole in the front of it when trimming the neckband.  The second I combined with the bottom half of McCalls 6083 to make a playsuit in the summer, which may get blogged about one day. 

For this third iteration, I used a beautifully soft ivory sweatshirt fabric.  I squared off the side seams, removing the shaping, and cut off about five inches to make it more cropped.  I'm not very happy with the pocket placement, it needs to be further towards the side seam but I can't move it without leaving marks and despite inserting the neckband three times and shortening it every time, it still stands up a little.   Still it's a fun top and when I figure out what else I can wear it with (hello Ginger Jeans view B), it will hopefully see the light of day more frequently.

So, trousers.  If you give yourself lots and lots of time, summon up some patience, draw on all the resources that are available to help you with your fit and use a muslin fabric very similar to the one you will ultimately use (this is a stretch twill and I found something very cheap and very similar to use for the muslin), it is totally doable.  Even by me.

Trousers:  Colette Clover in navy and white ikat stretch twill
Top: Belcarra-ish in ivory sweatshirt stuff, both from Mood Fabrics.
Shoes: Maguba Valencia clogs
Location: Prospect Park, Brooklyn

Sadly my photography skills aren't up to capturing the beautiful colours in the park right now.

See you soon x