Special guest blogger Jacqui Blakemore, fabulous host of the Sew Mindful Podcast, shares her wardrobe goals for the new year: sewing a capsule wardrobe that is comfortable, smart, and colorful, while also being weather appropriate for winter in the UK.
I was delighted when Erica offered me the opportunity to write a guest blog for MyBodyModel. I love my custom croquis from MyBodyModel, as I am only 5ft 2in and it makes such a difference to be able to design for my height and body shape.
It also gave me a goal to get a head start on the designs for my New Year 2021 mini collection and further hone the skills that I started with the #mybodymodel3x3 challenge: sewing a capsule wardrobe by creating outfits, as opposed to individual garments.
I am not great at sketching by hand so my comfort zone is using digital designs. I learnt to use Adobe Illustrator when I went back to college as a (very!) mature student a couple of years ago. To draw my garments digitally, I take a copy of the technical drawing from the pattern and scale it roughly to my size. I make it a bit transparent and then create my outline using the Illustrator pen tool and finally I move the points in the outline to more closely fit my croquis. This gives me flexibility to change the length and things like waist position to suit my shape.
My planning process for sewing a capsule wardrobe, step by step
The first step was to pick a starting colour palette and some style inspiration from Pinterest and my stash of sewing patterns and assemble them in my digital moodboard. In the UK the start of the year can be quite chilly so I wanted some warming colours. I work a lot from home but also do a lot of videos and Facebook lives so wanted to create outfits that are smart but comfortable. I also wanted outfits that I could mix and match with jeans/jeggings while still feeling dressed up.
To help me decide on the combination of garments to create, I used a formula from Imogen Lamport of Inside Out Style. In this YouTube video she shows how to put together a mini holiday collection with 72 outfits from 12 garments (thank you Erica for sharing!). I love a good formula so I decided to give it a try for my New Year collection.
The formula combines 4 bottoms (2 trousers and 2 skirts), 6 tops and 2 jackets or cardigans. I am still learning the best way to combine colours so I paid particular attention to her use of neutrals and accent colours. There are 5 colours in the formula and they include combining neutrals with colours inspired by our own body features such as eye, skin and lip colours.
In putting together my plans, I did make some changes along the way. Whilst brown is my favourite neutral I have been wearing my jeans and jeggings and wanted items that would dress those up. The brown felt less dressy so I swapped it for the navy and that brought the collection together and also meant I didn’t have to make brown trousers!
To help me decide which tops, bottoms and layers to make I used 5 pinterest outfits for inspiration. I then mix and matched the pieces to create outfits similar to those I had found. I recently discovered the indie pattern brand Itch to Stitch and wanted an excuse to try out their patterns as they come with a variety of cup sizes which means it will save me the job of doing a full bust adjustment.
I am really loving wearing longer jackets and this image of the long jacket and shorter dress has been on my inspiration board for a while. As I am trying to create more separates I decided to use the colour to tie the top and skirt together for my first outfit.
The skirt is a hack of one of my tried and tested makes – the Margo pencil skirt from Seamwork. The top is a new pattern for me from Itch to Stitch (ITS) – the Crystal Cove Cami – which has a lovely cross over back. To keep me warm my layer option is a hack of the Itch to Stitch Hvar jacket which is normally hip length. I love the small waterfall collar so plan to add length to make it work with this outfit.
My second outfit has more of a vintage feel. I love the use of a cropped jacket from the same fabric as the top and skirt in this image. For my version I am making the original length version of the Seamwork Margo pencil skirt and adding to it another two ITS patterns – the Dana Point Top and the Aveiro cardigan which comes with a huge number of style variations including this bolero option.
Outfit 3 is inspired by the stylish Megan Markle. Again to create the feeling of a dress but use separates I have paired the Seamwork Margo skirt with the ITS Chai Shirt and the longer version of the ITS Aveiro Cardigan. I like the waterfall coat in the photo but as the shirt has a collar I wanted a cardigan option with no collar.
Outfit 4 is a more relaxed combo combining the Hvar jacket hack with my Ready-to-wear Next jeggings. I love jewel colours and so can’t wait to make the ITS Lago tank in the emerald turquoise to compliment the teal of the jacket. I think this will be a staple when I am not filming and I may even get me some of those animal print shoes!
My fifth outfit is my interpretation of this lovely summery image translated to the UK winter! As can see from some of the previous outfits I love a scarf but sometimes it can get in the way so I figured that this cowl neck jumper would be a fab alternative. This is the ITS Bellavista top which has options for a cowl neck and bell sleeves. I have some jacquard cable jersey from Sew Wardrobe that I have been dying to put to good use and I can’t wait to try it with this pattern.
And just for good measure I had to include just one dress – this is the gorgeous ITS Antrim dress bringing both style and comfort. The original pattern for the dress is knee length but I want to wear it with boots and so wanted it to be a bit longer, so using my outline I was able to experiment with changing the length until I found one that I liked.
It took me a few iterations to get to my final collection. Using MyBodyModel makes it so easy to test out and change ideas and I love how it has turned out. Sewing a capsule wardrobe feels so achievable after going through my planning and visualisation process. I already have some fabrics in my stash to get started so I know what I’ll be doing over the holidays!
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For more capsule wardrobe planning inspiration, check out these posts:
- “12 outfits, 6 garments: Capsule wardrobe sewing, sketch to finish” by Raylene
- “#mybodymodel3x3 Capsule Wardrobe Sketch Gallery” by Devon
- “Chic, Easy, & Fun: My Fall Sewing Plans” by Sierra
- “Fall Capsule Wardrobe Planning with my 3×3 Sudoku Grid” by Sarah A.
Sources for Inspiration Photos: Inspiration 1: Knit dress, long jacket and thigh boots (from Pinterest, original source unknown); Inspiration 2: Jeans, t-shirt and long cardigan (from Pinterest, original source unknown); Inspiration 3: Megan Markle (from Hello Magazine); Inspiration 4: Claudia Schiffer vintage outfit (from Pinterest, original source unknown); Inspiration 5: Linen pants outfit (from Soft Surroundings).
Jacqui Blakemore lives in Nottingham, UK and started dressmaking in her teens inspired by and learning from her mum. After 20 years working in software and project management she left corporate life to go back to college to follow her passion for making clothes. It’s never too late to start something new and in the year that she turned 50, Jacqui became the host of the Sew Mindful podcast, interviewing fabulous guests about style, sewing tips and mindset. She also started running virtual live dressmaking training on her website and Facebook page. Jacqui believes that what we wear can impact how we feel and that everyone should have the opportunity to have fun learning how to make clothes that feel fabulous. If we feel great in what we wear that has a positive ripple effect on all those we come into contact with. And there’s no greater compliment than hearing someone say “Wow I can’t believe you made that – it looks amazing!” When she is not sewing or teaching she loves to watch rugby, go walking and listen to rockabilly music. You can find Jacqui @sewmuchmorefun on Instagram, Facebook and on her website.