So now that it’s spring… here’s an outfit from my winter capsule wardrobe! I’ve been meaning to get a photo of this skirt ever since I sewed it last fall, but here we are already in April. I figured I had better post this outfit before Easter at least!
I sewed this skirt along with this plaid one, last fall to create a “capsule wardrobe” of sorts. I absolutely loved my wardrobe this past season, and I’m kind of sad to have to start packing winter items away, switching them for spring and summer items. Although, I am happy to have warmer days ahead!
I bought a bunch of this brown and black houndstooth fabric more than ten years ago with the intention of making a 1950’s suit. I didn’t feel confident at the time to sew a suit jacket though, and as it turns out, it was just as well that I didn’t go to the time and effort to do that. While I absolutely love the pattern and colour of this fabric, I would never buy it today. It’s synthetic, with an elastane woven through it, which made it terrible to sew without puckering (imagine trying to sew a collar!) and sadly, even though I only wore it for one season, it’s already pilling. I’m going to see if I can rescue this skirt with a shaver, because it’s been a great piece for my wardrobe since it coordinates so well with other pieces in my closet. It’s got a bit of a greenish undertone to it, which doesn’t come through in the photos at all, so it doesn’t work with most of my other browns, but I love how it looks with black, and it also pairs nicely with the antique brass of this necklace.
This sweater was a recent thrift store fine (one of those rare occasions when you find a whole bunch of beautiful pieces to bring home!) and I’ve already worn it a few times because it’s so lovely. It’s by the brand Tanjay, which I always think of as a “mature” brand, but the best thing about buying pieces from those sorts of brands is that they tend to be good quality, and not “fast fashion”. This one has a beautiful french knot detail across the front…this would be a lovely way to spruce up a plain sweater, wouldn’t it?
Well, that’s pretty much all I have to share for this outfit. I’ve been wearing a lot of these simpler, pared back outfits..not even adding in a hat. As much as I love accessories, it’s been a nice change.
We’ve still got lots of snow cover, as you can see, so I’ll be wearing these cool weather clothes for a while yet, but I’ve already started on some new summer sewing projects in anticipation of warmer days!
ps. if you notice that in all of the photos I am looking at the ground or squinting, that’s because it was so incredibly bright out!
It is a truth universally acknowledged that outfit photos are hard to get in the Winter…or maybe I’ve just gotten weak? Years ago I used to brave wind and sub zero temperatures to get photos for the blog, but the past few years I’ve opted to take indoor photos, or none at all! But, finally this past week I braved the cold (and of course the wind started blowing as soon as we went outside) to get some photos of my new Fall/Winter skirt.
Over the past couple of seasons I have decluttered a lot of clothing and accessories, significantly reducing my wardrobe. I sold a lot of pieces that didn’t feel like “me” anymore, as well as items that didn’t fit, keeping only the items I absolutely, without-a-doubt loved to wear. While this was great, it did leave me with a slightly too minimal wardrobe for winter, consisting of only a few tops and a single black wool skirt! So, I decided that I needed a few more pieces to get through the season.
I’ve had this plaid fabric in my stash for over 10 years, but I’ve never had enough yardage for any of the projects I planned (a jacket, a cape etc. It must have been a remnant, because there was only just over a metre or so.) When looking to sew a few new pieces for my winter wardrobe, I realized that it would make a great skirt. I did have a few hiccups in the process, and if I was sewing it again today, I would definitely make some changes to the process.
Did I plan to have the zipper on the side, but then discovered that the fabric didn’t fall properly that way, so I had to switch to a back zipper after I’d already cut and sewn the waistband on?
Did that cause the waistband plaid pattern to be misaligned with the skirt? But then it couldn’t be picked out because the fabric was too loose of a weave and had started to fray?
And then, once I sewed the zipper in, did I realize that the skirt was about 2″ too big, so I had to unpick the perfectly sewn zipper, and then redo the back, and then the zipper didn’t go in as nicely as the first time?
Sigh, the joys of sewing.
However, despite the fact that the waistband really does bother me, the most important thing is that I finished the skirt and have been wearing it quite a lot this season. I also like how the plaid pattern falls on a curve (this is one of my favourite tricks for dressing my body type.) I love the movement the circle skirt gives to the plaid pattern!
As for my winter wardrobe colour palette, I went with a main colour of brown, with accents of taupe and black; basically all of the colours in this skirt. I chose to add in tops and accessories that can mix and match; such as this chocolate brown pullover sweater. My capsule consists of three skirts, one dress, five stand-alone tops, three shells/layering tops, two cardigans and a myriad of accessories. I have really enjoyed going to my closet to get dressed and instantly being able to put together several possible outfits, because almost everything goes with everything else!
And then of course I keep it from getting repetitious by changing up the accessories. At least now most of my accessories coordinate with the majority of pieces. For example, I was finally able to pair this fur collar I got two years ago. In the pictures they don’t quite look like they coordinate, but in real life the colours go well together. I’ve also paired this same brown sweater and skirt with my green cape and felt hat, or even switched to a black sweater, shoes and beret for a completely different look.
As for these accessories, they are all items I’ve worn a lot, and continue to love wearing. The earrings are Pika and Bear and were a gift, the purse is from Top Vintage, the shoes are from Earthies and the fur collar was a vintage one that I sewed a ribbon tie onto.
Well, I can’t say that I’m going to be any quicker to get outfit photos for the remainder of the winter weather, but I will try to at least get some of the other skirt I sewed.
I hope you’re all having a great week, and staying warm!
When you have a minimalist or capsule wardrobe, it really is all in the details! If you’re wearing a combination of the few same pieces over and over again, changing your necklace or shoes can make it feel like a whole new outfit. Well, sort of?
To be honest, I sometimes wonder whether I should even post these kinds of outfits, since there isn’t much of a difference to see from the last few times I wore it… but since most of us don’t have the wardrobe of the Royal Family, wearing outfits again and again is reality. And while most of us own more than a single “Sunday best”, when you come up with a new combination, or add a new accessory, it definitely feels noteworthy.
It’s actually kind of hard to have a blog and not get sucked into the trap of thinking you need to post something new every time. But posting about the times I re-wear pieces is not only more realistic, it’s also so much better for the wallet…and the landfill. And besides, when I put hours of time into sewing a piece, or saving up to buy an item, I do want to wear it as much as I can!I don’t understand our culture’s obsession with fast fashion. I want even my cheaper items to last forever, and am sad when inevitably “moth and rust destroy”.
So, regarding this outfit, I’ve worn this favourite homesewn rayon-linen skirt many times this summer, but this time I paired it with a new thrifted geometric patterned t-shirt, a brass snake pendant I bought at a craft sale from Burlap Sac, and these laser cut peep toe heels for a fresh look.
Sadly, these shoes are no longer a part of my wardrobe because when I wore them, I remembered why I never do. While the outers are leather, the insoles are not, which makes them really uncomfortable. My feet couldn’t slide in them properly, and so they felt very pinchy and stuck, even though the footbed fit well. It reminded me of why I always buy good quality shoes: life’s too short to wear uncomfortable shoes. (Ps. not only are quality shoes more comfortable, but they will instantly elevate your outfit.) I only paid a dollar at the thrift store for these, so I don’t mind sending them back!
Well, I can’t believe that we’re already in October and I’m still able to wear lightweight skirts and open toed shoes; we have had a delightfully warm and long Fall. But, the leaves are almost all gone, and the bare trees are sweeping the sky, which means it’s time to finally pull out the Winter woollens. My Winter wardrobe is pitifully bare at the moment and, while I like having a capsule wardrobe, I don’t think I want it to be quite that minimal. It’s time to sew some more pieces or I won’t have much to mix and match this season!
Anyways, that was a bit of a scattered and rambley post, but I’m just getting over a head cold and I can’t think of anything else to say or a better way to say what I have written, so I guess I’ll leave it as such!
Do you tend to repeat outfits? What are your favourite ways to freshen up your outfits? Are you excited for the seasonal changes of outfits, or are you sad to say goodbye to the last season?
“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
The leaves are going quickly. Only days ago this row of trees in our backyard were covered in bright golden colours and by today they are mostly gone. Bare branches are left in stark contrast to the pale azure autumn skies. The bright yellow leaves are slowly deepening in colour, and the days are cool and crisp. I love this time of year and, like Anne, I am glad I live in a place where I get to fully enjoy Octobers.
I am also happy that my sister was able to get these photos for me when she did, since I think this is the last time I’ll be pulling out this linen wrap skirt for this year. It’s time to reach for the tights and woollens and scarves!
This is the patchwork purse I mentioned that I was making. It took quite a while to finish, since I decided to hand stitch it to give more control over some of the very tiny pieces of fabric. I’m not a skilled quilter, and since I didn’t follow any pattern (each piece was fitted in place as I sewed) it ended up quite quirky! I think it gives it a rather authentic 1970’s feel though, don’t you?
After I finished the quilt, I then appliquéd it onto a canvas backing and then lined the entire thing to give it some strength, especially since the last one I made came apart. I was able to use so many unique pieces of fabric that I’ve saved over the years- you can even see in the picture above that I used a piece of the fabric from this skirt! Well, at least I know that this bag will coordinate with almost everything in my wardrobe…
Friendship necklaces used to be such a “thing” when I was a kid, but they kind of went out of favour, didn’t they? A few years ago I found this friendship necklace; the heart cut out of the centre of this piece forms the other necklace! I like that it’s so delicate and minimal.
Why is it so hard to find brown shoes? Have you ever noticed that? Since deciding that brown is my “neutral” I have had the hardest time finding nice shoes that aren’t black. I was so glad to be able to find these from Vionic. I think it’s about time to put them away for the season, though. They are perforated, which is lovely for warm days, but a bit chilly for autumn!
I hope you are faring well and enjoying your October, whatever it’s looking like for you!
Today’s post is a revamped edition of one I wrote several years ago as a guest post for Jessica of Chronically Vintage about how to refashion a hat. I came across it again recently and decided that I wanted to revisit it with some new photos and give it a home here too. And, since Easter is this weekend, it’s the perfect time to share these techniques and inspiration in case you have a hat that you’d like to refashion!
I don’t actually own very many true vintage garments, and many of my “vintage” garments are actually ones that I have sewn myself or altered from thrift store finds. I mostly rely on making or refashioning clothing to give it a vintage vibe (whether that means adding embellishments, changing buttons, hemming to a better length or altering the fit) and then adding in accessories for the final touch to get that vintage look.
The sad, but true, reality of vintage is that there is a finite amount of it left in the world, and as time goes on it just gets more and more scarce and, thus, unaffordable for the average person. This definitely doesn’t mean that those who can’t afford or find true vintage have to miss out on this fashion style, though! Just as with any other trend or style, as in centuries past, women have made for themselves what they couldn’t afford to buy or couldn’t find in the shops, and I live by this principle today too. Thrift stores are great places to rescue cast off pieces of clothing or accessories and then refashion and embellish them so they’ll fit your own style.
Hats are great accessories for really pulling an outfit together, but sometimes it can be hard to find good hats that are not in disrepair (shattered veils, stains, moth holes…) and putting together a hat collection, when a hat that is in good shape costs a lot, is just not feasible for many of us hat lovers. This is why I have turned to making and refashioning hats: so I can get that unique vintage look, without spending a lot. If you pick up mildly damaged or ugly/boring hats that have potential, and are willing to use your creativity to alter them, you can easily build a hat collection for a fraction of the cost. This also gives you a chance to try out different styles of hats and see whether you like them before investing in the “holy grail of all hats” (whatever that might be for you). When I first started getting into wearing hats, I invested in some beautiful vintage ones that I didn’t end up liking on me. For example, over time I’ve discovered that I like my hats to have a higher crown like 1960’s style pillbox hats, rather than the flatter Juliet cap style of the 1950’s. I learned this the hard way, after I had already bought several beautiful vintage hats, and I ended up having to sell them because I just never wore them…at least they went to new loving homes! Now that I have an idea of what kinds of hats I like to wear, though, when I see one for sale at antique malls or second hand shops, I have a good idea of whether it will make a good candidate for refashioning.
My checklist for hats that I would be willing to take a chance on or pass by would be:
A hat that is not smashed out of shape, unless you think it can be steamed back into shape. If the hat is very crushed, it’s not going to turn out well. If you decide to try and reshape it, you’ll need some kind of hat form to do so, depending on the style of the hat.
One that doesn’t have large stains on it, unless there is some way to cover them up with new embellishments without it looking odd. While I don’t mind some “character”, I don’t want it to look dirty.
If the veil is torn, which is very common, see if it could be removed entirely. Most hats will look totally fine without a veil. Also, you can still buy Russian netting at many fabric stores, so you may be able to simply replace the damaged veil with a new one.
If the hat is lacking in embellishments, or the current ones are ruined, you can definitely make new ones (one example I am going to share today).
I picked up this little black felt hat for a song, from an antique store, along with a couple other hats that really needed some help. I remember seeing this hat several years ago in West Edmonton Mall (I recognized the label) so I know that this hat is not actually vintage. When I saw it new, I thought the embellishment on it was so boring that I passed on it. It seemed like they had a good thing going with the veil and the leaves. . . and then ran out of ideas, so they just plunked a little brooch on top. However, when I saw it for sale second hand, in good condition and at a much better price point than it was new, I picked it up thinking, like Lydia from Pride and Prejudice, “Look here, I have bought this bonnet. I do not think it is very pretty; but I thought I might as well buy it as not. I shall pull it to pieces as soon as I get home, and see if I can make it up any better.”
Soon after buying this hat, I came across this image from Philip Treacy’s Autumn/Winter 2015 collection, and absolutely fell in love with it. In case you are wondering who Philip Treacy is, he is a UK milliner who counts the Royal Family among his clients. I absolutely love this hat: it is so outrageous and over the top, and really what’s not to love about mint? As soon as I saw it, I started thinking about how I could make something similar, and I decided that a large flower on this hat base would be just the thing.
Here is how I created the flower, and how I styled the finished hat for an updated 1940’s look.
I made my flower out of chiffon, since we had a bunch left over from a past project. You could use stiffer organza too- which would give you the rounder pompom shape that Treacy’s has, or tulle or netting, which would be softer. I cut out a ton of circles, 5 inches in diameter. You will need 30-50 circles depending on the material and stiffness, and how full you want the flower to be. Don’t worry about being too precise, as the edges will be melted and the pieces will be gathered for the final flower. And definitely do cut your circles through several layers at once, to save yourself time!
I didn’t want the fabric to fray to pieces, so I singed the edges to finish them. Singe the fabric by CAREFULLY holding the material over a candle until the edges start to melt and curl. Be very careful with this, since you are holding a meltable material over top a flame!
You will need to hold the fabric about 6 inches away from the flame and slowly dip in and out and across so the heat starts to curl it. You don’t need to bring the fabric very close, otherwise the heat will start melting the entire circle, rather than just the edge. (Voice of experience. . . ) You should probably do this in a well ventilated area too, by the way.
Once you have singed the fabric, you will be left with curled lily pad shaped petals. Take a circle and fold it into quarters. Stitch through the corner of the folded piece, catching all 4 layers, and loop to tie a knot so it won’t pull through the fabric.
Continue to string together the folded circles using the same method, until the flower is at your desired fullness.
Once you get a fuller shape, you can gather some of the centre petals so they are fuller, as the soft fabric likes to “flop”. If your fabric is stiffer, you can continue stringing until you get a pompom shape. For mine, with the softer chiffon, I gathered the entire flower together in my hand and stitched through the entire bottom of the flower to give it some shape. Just play around with the fabric and arrange it into a nice shape- there isn’t a hard and fast method.
If your flower is softer and going to lay open, you can sew a button, a bead or other embellishment in the centre of the flower to cover up the stitching. If your fabric is stiff, you can just keep adding to it and you will get a lovely round shape and won’t need a button at all.
Sew a little round felt disk to the bottom, to keep the flower in shape. If possible, do not glue the flower onto your hat, since the glue may seep through the light fabric.
Sew the flower onto the hat with cotton, or other natural fibre, thread. If possible, don’t use a polyester blend thread, as over time polyester can cut natural fibres, and you will be left with holes. You could also add a brooch pin to the felt disk, instead of sewing it directly to the hat, so it is removable, in case you want to use the same hat base for multiple embellishments. And then you’re done!
I don’t have a before picture of this hat on my head, because it was severely unflattering, but here is the after! A giant flower is really what this hat was missing. Mine turned out a lot smaller than I was originally planning for and less pouffy because of the fabric I chose, but I think it works well for the style of the hat. By simply adding some embellishment, this hat is now completely transformed!
Here are some other ideas for how to refashion a hat with a different look, which might work for you if a giant pompom/flower isn’t really your thing.
From Chapeaux Élégants, 1942
Bows. I’ve seen this kind of hat with a giant stiffened bow, upside down bows, bows made out of contrasting fabric or coordinating, ribbon bows, right side up bows or a myriad of smaller bows…the sky really is the limit when it comes to bows. I’d really like to make a giant sculptural bow one of these days!
Loops and twists made out of wool, or sculptural ribbons. This is a really simple, yet architectural embellishment. I’ve also seen where the wool is looped back onto itself in all sorts of different shapes. This is a much simpler hat decoration, but one with a lot of impact. If you can find a similar colour of fabric, or a contrasting colour, this is a very easy embellishment to create.
Sears Catalogue 1947/48
Feathers. You can use smaller feathers, or even large curled ones. I have a pheasant feather that I want to steam into a curled shape and attach to a hat, but I haven’t got a hat yet to put it on!
A cluster of artificial flowers. You could either group purchased flowers, or make your own ribbon or fabric flowers. I’ve seen so many different types of flowers on hats, it all depends on what you plan to wear the hat with.
If you’re looking for some hat inspiration, here are my favourite places to look:
Online vintage shops. This is a great place to look for true vintage inspiration.
Pictures of the Royal Family, the Duchess of Cambridge in particular, who are often seen sporting beautiful hats.
Allport Millinery is an Australian milliner with such amazing hats- her website is just full of gorgeous pieces.
Of course, we can’t forget Philip Treacy, where I got my original inspiration from.
And if you’d like to see more “hatspiration”, I’ve created a Pinterest board of the lovely hats I come across while browsing!
I love how this hat turned out; I’ve styled it in many ways over the past few years. This outfit I paired it with is one that definitely has a Classic vibe to it, rather than overtly vintage, but I’ve worn the same hat here and here before. It’s quite a versatile accessory!
I hope this has inspired you to look at the garments and accessories you have, with an eye towards how to make them work for you. Maybe it will inspire you to pick up that ugly hat or other item you would usually pass up in the thrift store, and refashion it to become your new favourite piece. Maybe all it needs, like this hat, is a new embellishment!