I've learned a lot so far during my Wardrobe Architect series, and one of those lessons is that I really need more classic basics in my closet. Michelle, the owner of Style Maker Fabrics, has been following along with my progress, and kindly asked me if I wanted some of their lovely fabrics to begin the process of rebuilding my wardrobe, then post about my experience during their spring canvas blog tour. After browsing her website a bit, I saw loads of fabrics that I would love to call my own, so I said yes!
I have a few patterns in mind that I know I want to use for my new closet of clothing, so with those in my mind, I looked at all the fabrics so see what would be a good match. I immediately fell in love with this white cotton with teeny tiny black polka dots on it and knew that I had to sew it into a Grainline Archer button-down shirt. After I picked it, Michelle encouraged me to select another fabric to pair with it, so I jumped at the chance to sew up a skirt to go with the top, and I chose Robert Kaufman Essex in black.
When the fabrics arrived, I was surprised to find that the white cotton for the top was a stretch cotton and had spandex in it. Not to worry though, the stretch worked perfectly with the Archer and gives the shirt a lovely ease as I move in it. The weight is similar to a quilt weight cotton, but ever so slightly lighter. Not as light as a lawn, and the spandex gives it a crisp hand, making it a great choice for something woven and fitted.
I've sewn the Archer for others (I sometimes do contract sewing for fabric companies), but I'd never sewn it for myself. I started a shirt ages ago and just never got around to finishing it. In hindsight, I think it's because it's made of a novelty fabric and as much as I think it's a fun choice, I know I'll only really want to wear it at home because of the print. These are those obvious lessons I'm learning during my WA process! The pattern sewed together perfectly, just like the other Grainline patterns I've used. I sewed a straight size 12 and made no alterations. There are a few changes I think I'd like to make to my next versions. I'd like to narrow the shoulder, which is a super common alteration for me, and I need to shorten the sleeves, as they are waaaaay too long on me. But as I'll likely roll the sleeves up most of the time anyway, it's really no big deal that they're too long. The only other change I will likely do is to make the pockets a little smaller, as I'm so short waisted that there isn't much distance between the bottom of the pocket and my natural waist. But this is really a minor thing and probably only bothers me, and of course isn't noticeable at all when the shirt is worn untucked.
I'll be honest, when I finished the shirt I had a range of emotions. I thought that a) the shirt totally looks store-bought, b) I kinda forget that I can make classic things like this, and c) hanging in my studio, it looks really boring. But then as soon as I put it on with my jeans to work in the studio yesterday, I realized that this is exactly the type of shirt I need 1,000 more of. It was as easy to wear as a t-shirt and yet I felt totally pulled together when the FedEx guy came to my door. He looked surprised that for once I was in clothing and not jammies! HA!!
So lesson learned right there. What might feel equal parts classic and boring, proves to be a wonderful basic in your closet. Yep, I am making more.
When it came time to make a skirt, I knew I wanted to make something simple and pleated. I looked at every single skirt pattern on the market, and none of them were quite right. So, I drafted my own! I got a lot of questions about my pleating process when I posted this on Instagram, and the steps are quite easy. First, I used the waistband from my Anya Skirt, and then figured out the math from there.
The pleats are inverted pleats, so the fabric is folded right sides together, then stitched on the wrong side of the fabric, from the waist to the point at which you want them to end. Then the pleats are pressed flat on the inside with equal parts of the fabric on either side of the center of the pleat. There is more to drafting the skirt itself, (the pleats are sewn at a slight angle to allow them to hang properly with a curved waistband) but that's the general gist on how these kinds of pleats are sewn. There is an invisible zipper up the center back and a simple double folded hem. I originally put pockets in the side seams, but since the skirt is rather fitted around my middle, they bowed out a little bit, and well, that only makes you look wider! And since that's not what I'm after, I removed them!
The fabric, Robert Kaufman Essex, is not new to me, as I've used it many times in the past. If you have never used it before, it is an industry favorite for a reason. It's heavy, but fluid; and soft, yet sturdy. It's a linen and cotton blend and everyone I know that uses it loves it. It has a fantastic woven texture and really is one of my favorite fabrics to sew with.
I wanted to try the shirt with jeans, the skirt with something fitted like a t-shirt, then try them together. Really I feel like I'm learning how to dress myself all over again! So that's why the photos show each item in a variety of outfits. But I think it illustrates to me that they can be worn in a range of ways and that they really are great wardrobe basics.
The fabric was given to me for free by Style Maker Fabrics, as participation in the Spring Canvas Blog Tour, but all opinions are my own!