Summer Capsule Sew Along: "..So Where Do I Start?"

Welcome back! It's Wardrobe Wednesday! No, it's not. It's "tardy" Thursday, because I had lots of doctors appointments yesterday and never got around to writing this!

The title of this week's post might be a bit counter intuitive to a lot of you...

"Where do I START? What do you think I've been doing for the last 3 weeks!" 

In which case - go you! You took the bull by the horns and blazed your own trail. Rock on!

If you're like me,  you are sitting in front of a pile of patterns and stacks of freshly laundered fabric, unsure of how to proceed.  Because so far? This "Sew Along" hasn't yet discussed a single stitch. It's really been more of a "Plan-Along". Now we know our colors &  personal style, and talked body type & pattern selection, and fabric choice. We've even started thinking about accessorizing! But we haven't SEWN. And for a lot of you, this next step is scary. WHAT did you get yourself into?

So let me take this moment to say.... we are ALL in different places in our journey. And that's totally OK, because we're not all trying to end up in the SAME PLACE. This means our sewing skills differ drastically... as do our ambitions, the size of our wardrobe, the materials we're confident working with, and our abilities to fit a garment to our frames. You may understand every word of what I'm about to share with you, you might not know a single one. As I told a woman in our facebook group this week: all of these things will only be new to you ONCE. They will only be outside your skill level ONCE. And if you're starting with zero apparel sewing knowledge, the rest of this post will be like ripping off a bandaid. Don't get overwhelmed, don't give up, let some new friends walk you through the questions you have

Step 1: Prioritize your projects. With your "must sew" list in hand, we'll break our capsule project into phases. Start thinking about which pieces...

  • You NEED right now. You can't keep leaving the house in your robe! I get the most miles out of my separates, so I'm starting there. 
  • You can WEAR right now. Weather, occasion, and undergarment-permitting. 
  • You can PAIR right now. Your "statement pieces" might not make the cut just yet. Focus on those neutral pieces that can stretch the wear-ability of your existing pieces first.

Of these, my "Phase 1" list includes patterns I have already printed, taped, and muslin'ed, and those that I will be sewing multiple of. Patterns like the Jocole Quick Dress and Greenstyle Taylor Shorts have several design variations built in. I can maximize my efficiency sewing pieces from the same pattern, because I already have the pattern pieces assembled/collected for fabric cutting, and the instructions are still fresh in my head. This is also where I prioritize my FAST SEWS.... because come July I'll be naked if I only have a handful of time-consuming pieces made!

"Phase 2" is the overflow from phase 1, those remaining pieces I don't already have assembled pattern pieces for or muslin-fit-confirmation. It's also where I have my "moderate" time-suck patterns - like my jeans, or button ups (because... button holes. And their buttons. And ALL THE STABILIZER!).  These pieces promise to serve me well this summer, and they're transitional into fall and winter. So while they may not be fast, they do give me quite a bang for my buck. 

"Phase 3" is everything else. The statement pieces, the solo-pieces (like dresses and rompers), the hard-to-wear (either because I don't have the right undergarments, or a regular occasion to break them out of the closet), as well as the super-season-specific items that.... If I don't have them by July, that's ok. I can sew them after my July deadline without feeling like there's a giant void in my closet. 

Now, I will give "phase 3" the alternate title of "sprinkle". Because these are most likely the FUN sews you're excited to do. Vibrant print fabrics, super saucy date night pieces, etc. Between the muslin-ing and the pattern assembly - you might need to "sprinkle" these pieces in to keep your sew-jo alive. I know I will! And there's no harm in that. I am a firm believer in moderation - and fun - and you won't have either if the pieces in phases 1 and 2 are so uninspiring you don't make it through them!

Step 2: Measure yourself. PROPERLY. None of this "If I hold my breath, or tilt my pelvis, or heave my bosom..." nonsense. We're dressing the body you HAVE, and we're going to dress it WELL so you feel phenomenal - not IN SPITE of your body, but INSIDE of that body. You'll be the most comfortable in garments that fit you, and they'll flatter your figure that way too. A complete pattern will include information on how to do this, but you can find a million tutorials online - like this one from Sewing in No Man's Land

Step 3: MUSLIN. This is a run-through of your pattern, using cheap fabric, scrap fabric, or traditional "Muslin" fabric,  with the intent on fitting your garment before you cut into your real fabric. This is ESSENTIAL - because the vast majority of us do NOT fit into the standard measurements use for pattern drafting. If we did, we could just pick up well-fitting clothes from the department store! We're making them ourselves because our bodies come in CUSTOM sizes, and your muslin will tell you yours. Your HONEST measurements are critical here. Blending sizes to accommodate each measurement ensures the best "launching pad" for your alteration process. You can learn more about that from  this post by Oliver + S

"When do you need to muslin?" Have you made the pattern before? No? MUSLIN. Have you made it in the last 6 months? No? MUSLIN. Have you made it recently, but plan to use a considerably different fabric? (more or less stretch, heavier or lighter weight, etc) MUSLIN. Muslin your knit garments, muslin your woven ones, use a fabric that matches the makeup of the fabric you chose for the finished garment.

5 Reasons why muslins aren't as irritating as they sound:

  • YOU CAN USE UGLY FABRIC YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY DUMP ON YOU
  • THERE IS NO HEMMING
  • NO NEED TO FINISH RAW EDGES
  • BASTING STITCHES ARE FINE. In fact - you can pull those basting stitches out after you've confirmed fit, and use these in place of your paper pattern pieces! They don't TEAR!

A photo posted by Becca DuVal (@beccaduvalphoto) on

Step 4. Recognize what a GOOD FIT looks like. Growing up, if I could pull it on in the dressing room, and it didn't slide right back off my body, it "fit." But to FLATTER, your garments have to fit properly. This means.... side seams are lined up at the side body, and run perpendicular to the floor. Waist lines hit at YOUR waist. Shoulder straps rest comfortably on YOUR shoulders. Petite and Tall people recognize pant length and sleeve length issues, but true fit is understanding ALL of your proportions: short torso, narrow shoulders, long legs, no hips, big booty, etc. 

FIT RED FLAGS:

  • There is gaping anywhere - specifically necklines and armscye. 
  • There is pulling anywhere - like lines between the breasts, "smiling" lines at the crotch of pants,  etc.
  • There are wrinkles anywhere - excess fabric that sags at the knees ("elephant knees" as we're calling them in the sew along group!), folds in the front center of pants, fabric that sits bunched above your hiney.
  • Garment falls off your shoulders.
  • Darts that do not point at the apex of the bust.

Step 5: FIX those fit problem areas. I'll be honest, the hardest part about this step will be learning the terminology. Professors Google and Youtube can very well walk you through how to fix anything... once you know what to call it. You can ask your fellow sewists, or consult some of the alteration resources below: 

I'll add more through out this process, including any you link below in the comments!

Step 6: GRAB A PAPER BAG. Breathe heavily into it. If this has made you question your participation,  it might be time to SIMPLIFY. There are over 300 of you sewing along with me, and no two of us will end up in the same place - different journeys, remember?? Your expectations should be on par with your skill level, budget,  and available time. Set yourself up for success. Stress has an awful nasty habit of spoiling fun, and this should be FUN. 

Alternate Step 6: Cut out phase 1! I started this morning, and I'll be cutting and bagging probably 10 pieces before I start sewing them again. This is my most loathed part of sewing, so if I don't do it while I'm motivated, I might never do it at all!

So - Which step are you on?? Keep me updated! Share your anxiety, excitement, questions, or helpful tips below! 

AND, because I have some SERIOUSLY generous sponsors, Greenstyle Creations has agreed to give away a choice of TAYLOR SHORTS, KATIE DRESS, OR BRASSIE JOGGERS to...

THREE lucky winners!

To keep it fair to followers on all platforms, I'll pick one random winner from the comments below, one from instagram, and one from the facebook group. Post or comment on any or all platforms with #summercapsuleupdate to enter! All submissions between today (May 14) through monday morning (May 18th) before I finish my tea will qualify. (Let's just say 8am EST for good measure!)  

Make sure you thank Greenstyle Creations for their generosity! Like them here, join their facebook group, or follow them on instagram and be sure to tell Angie how much she rocks :)