Summer Capsule Wardrobe: A Necessary Dress

After a few weeks of planning, I’m starting to sew on my summer capsule wardrobe. I first busted out a couple no-alterations-necessary basics to give me something to cover myself with while I work. Now I’m buried deeply in the piles of tissue paper required for pattern alteration. Because honestly – if I’m going to pour this kind of time and money into sewing for myself, I want to be sure I like the outcome. Especially right now as I’m going through so many body transitions after pregnancy. I love the result – my sweet little Reid!- but pregnancy and nursing are definitely hard on my body. I’ve been doing lots of measuring, followed by re-measuring, sewing test garments, adjusting those test garments, more measuring…

There was a good post on Free Notion on “where do I start” to help establish priorities. For me, our family schedule dictated my top priority – a wedding, followed by the dedication of our son at church, followed by another wedding, then business travel the rest of the summer. I was desperate for a good basic dress that 1) fit and 2) is easy to work on. Goal accomplished!


This is the Jocole Crossover Dress. I made it last summer as a sort of “wearable muslin.” Based on that I made a couple minor tweaks to the pattern – I added 1/4″ to the upper bodice area and cut the armhole out a bit larger to better suit my arms. I also added 5″ to the length (just added it to the bottom) to get the length I want for a little more formal dress.


I have a last thought to share. Becca’s most recent post on the capsule wardrobe sew along is all about fitting for your own unique, extraordinary body. These little adjustments seem so small. They would be easy to skip – after all, the dress was wearable straight from the pattern. Not perfect, but wearable. And yet they made me self conscious and super aware of my clothes, not in a good way. In my mind the best outfit fits well and is well suited for the activity of the day to the point that it blends into the background. You put it on and never think about it again.

By taking the time to measure myself and carefully adjust the pattern, I achieved that on this dress. I’m so glad I did. The way I feel in this dress is the motivation to take the time on some of the other patterns I’m using this summer that require *a lot* more fitting. Pants. Woven tops. Things that won’t just stretch over my mommy tummy and look decent even if they’re perfect. This is my kick start to get sewing on everything else!


If you’re wondering, here are the main reasons for my own #extraordinarybody. These two crazy kids are the sunshine in my day! Grace Abigail, age 4 and Reid Isaiah, 6 weeks yesterday. They’re worth every bump, bulge, and stretch mark!



Summer Capsule Wardrobe: After the Purge

I’m sewing along with the Summer Capsule Wardrobe project hosted by Free Notion. This week I purged my closet. Then, I searched my pattern collection to start filling in the holes.

This has been a therapeutic experience: 2 garbage bags full of clothing removed from my life. Things that never fit or will never fit again, things that haven’t been worn in the past 2 years, things that I bought thinking they might work but didn’t, things that did work – 6 years ago – but are now well beyond the line of being acceptable. Since they weren’t being worn anyway, it was literally all trash taking up space in my closet and slowing me down trying to find the few pieces that do work.

So what am I left with? Not much, but what I do have is guaranteed to fit (mostly at least) and be worn on a regular basis. You know, the way clothing should be.



3 short sleeve tee shirts, 1 3/4 sleeve tee shirt, 3 open front cardigans (1 short sleeve, 2 3/4), and one denim jacket. Clearly I will be making a bunch of tops for my wardrobe. The capsule wardrobe “recipe” suggests 15 tops and 2 jackets; I currently have 4 tops, 3 cardigans, 1 jacket. Of those four tops, the pink and white are made by me so I will be reusing those patterns (after I do a FBA, much needed now that I’m nursing Reid). This is my ideal sewing list; we will see what reality allows:

  • Jocole quick dress, extended sleeve (print)
  • Jocole quick dress, sleeveless (probably 2 – one neutral one print)
  • Jocole quick dress, top yoke version (neutral, with detailing)
  • PAB Santa fee tee (probably 2 – one neutral one print)
  • Liesl + Co Metro tee (neutral?)

Bottoms and Dresses


I own 2 pairs of pants, and they’re both maternity. The only bottom currently missing is 1 navy blue maxi skirt – that’s a total of 3 bottoms when the recipe suggests 9. This is a dismal situation – the jeans don’t even really fit but I’m hanging on to them to avoid nudity. They will be rotated out as soon as replacements are available. I am already working on muslin to make Jocole skinny jeans. I also whipped up a Tie Dye Diva chocolate chip skirt that will be finished today, naptime willing. Here’s what I need:

  • Jocole skinnies, basic denim
  • Jocole skinnies, cropped gray twill
  • Jocole skinnies, shorts dark denim
  • TDD chocolate chip skirt, dark chambray (already sewn, waiting for elastic)
  • TDD chocolate chip skirt, print
  • Jocole crossover dress, something acceptable to wear to multiple weddings and church

Shoes and Scarves


5 pairs of shoes: flip flops, black flats, white and denim flats, sneakers. Plus two light weight scarves that I wear year round. The black flats are due to be replaced and I could really use a pair of heels and some decent sandals for when flip flops don’t cut it. The capsule “recipe” recommends 9 pairs – this is my closest category!

And that’s it! Well, not counting a random assortment of pajamas, camisoles (I wear them under everything and go through a couple a day – thank you nursing a sloppy baby!), and gym clothes. I wear those at home or working out only; I have a thing against gym clothes in public. I also have one small box in the closet with winter clothes – my favorite boots and a lot of dark clothing. It will be interesting to see if I even pull it out, especially as we are relocating to Florida before next winter.

Clearly I have an awful lot of work laid out in front of me – 12 garments currently listed above, and that’s still far below the “recipe”. The realities of time and finances may dictate a Target run to fill in some of the worst gaps. I can envision my ideal capsule wardrobe – realistically I will have to build as I go, piece by piece and season by season. But now that all my old clothes have left the house, I’m committed! Let the sewing begin!

Summer Capsule Wardrobe: Style Analysis

I’m sewing along with the Summer Capsule Wardrobe project hosted by Free Notion. This week I have a big task to accomplish – figuring out my basic style. What do I like? Why do I like it? What should I spend my limited time sewing? You can read Becca’s post explaining our “homework” here.

It’s only been a few weeks (3 tomorrow!) since I delivered my son, so my body is definitely in a season of adjusting. I need my clothing this summer to flatter that as well as be flexible to my changing size. With that in mind, I hit my closet to find my favorite pieces – the few garments that I truly like and want to build my capsule around.

For each piece, these are the questions to reflect on:

We’re going to start with a few questions. Look at the items you selected, and jot down your ideas about each piece:

  • Why do I like this piece? Most answers will fall into one – maybe more – of these categories: “the color!” “The print!” “The fit!” “Sentimental!”
  • Why do I wear this piece? “The color brings out my eyes.” “I love floral prints.” “The fit is really flattering”. “I spent a lot of money on it.” “I spent a lot of time making it.” “It’s from (insert special memory here).”
  • What prevents me from wearing this piece more? “I outgrew it” “It looks faded or over-worn.” “It’s too cold/hot/wet/etc to wear it now.” “I have nothing to wear with it.” “I don’t know how to pull it off.” Others? Share them below so I can add them here! 


Black open cardigan

  • I love the length and sleeve length. I pretty much always wear my sleeves at my elbows, even on my cardigans with longer sleeves. Also it’s a little longer than most of my shirts which I like – breaks up the lines of my clothing.
  • This is a wardrobe staple. I pull it on over tanks and tees all the time, with everything. It rarely even gets put away.
  • I’m not thrilled that it’s maternity, since I gave birth a few weeks ago. It doesn’t show in the picture, but there is an empire line and extra material in the front. It has buttons but they scream baby bump. I had a white version too but that one looked much more maternity (and had holes in it) so it’s gone now. I’d love to replace this with something similar in feel but you know, not maternity.


White knit top

  • I like the lace yoke – it’s sweet and a little showy without being overwhelming. The pleats add a nice detail plus a little extra fabric – important for nursing. When I pull it up it drapes just right so I don’t need a nursing cover.
  • I wear this a lot because it’s the only top I have that actually fits right now…
  • I don’t like the length. It’s too short for my comfort. I think the yoke cuts too high which makes my chest and arms look funny. It’s definitely wearable but also far from perfect. I’m planning several “inspired by” tops though – it’s a good starting point.


I love this whole outfit; it was my go-to all last summer.

Khaki Skirt

  • It is  the perfect basic. It started as a strangely calf length thrift stoer find that I cropped off to just above knee length. I think this is a great length for me – long enough to be decent, short enough to be comfortable and flattering.
  • I can’t wear it anymore :( It was always tight at the waist because I am very rectangle and it is more hourglass. Since having a baby I am certain it won’t fit. I’m planning a replacement for my capsule.

Pink top

  • One of my first knit projects! This is the metro tee from liesl and co
  • I don’t tend to grab bright colors but I surprised myself with this one. I love it!
  • I will get back to wearing this again very soon. It fits but isn’t easy to nurse in.


  • Favorite. Wardrobe. Item. ever. Even in the summer! I love the colors and the softness. I don’t tend to grab prints so a scarf is a “safe” way to introduce them. This is the inspiration for my colors for my capsule.

Now I get to go ponder all this to decide what pieces I need in my capsule wardrobe!

I’m Back!

Hey friends! I’m here!

I took a 9 month break from blogging, and honestly, from most creating. In addition to our usual busy life I ended up crafting this little dude:


This is Reid Isaiah, and I think he’s a pretty stinking cute excuse for not getting a whole lot accomplished! I did make a couple maternity tee shirts and a dress or two for Grace, but nothing particularly interesting or blog worthy. I have Reid’s quilt top made but it’ll be another year or three before it actually gets a back and quilted; I will show it once it’s actually done.


But! I’m back in the swing of things. Little Man is 3 weeks old and my creative mind is spinning again. The main focus this summer? Selfish sewing – I have almost no clothes. Everything either wore out, doesn’t fit right post-pregnancy, or got caught up in a giant clothing purge. I’ve spent the past couple months pondering the concept of a Capsule Wardrobe. Then I saw on facebook that Becca Duval of Free Notion (she’s tested basically every woman’s pdf pattern out there) is hosting a Capsule Wardrobe Sew Along. I’m IN! Check back occasionally for updates :)

And one more darling picture – these two are going to be best friends!


Rainbows and Unicorns Travel Quilt

It seems like ever since Gracie learned to talk, she’s been asking me for a rainbow quilt. With unicorns. That covers her toes. She’s extremely specific! Thankfully, she considers anything with stripes of various colors to be a rainbow, so choosing the pattern was easy – the Travel Quilt from Little Things to Sew.


Finding the just-right unicorns took much longer. Do you know how many ugly unicorn fabrics there are available? Lots. I finally found it though from Michael Miller – Magic Unicorns in the Sorbet color way. I pulled the colors for the front of the quilt from the novelty print. Matching colors isn’t my strongest point; I simply picked my favorite unicorns from the back and did stripes in those color pairs (with a couple exceptions to make my eyes happy).


I love piecing quilt tops. I love the puzzle of making it all fit together; starting with tiny sections and building and building all the way to a completed top. I love the math involved. Piecing quilts definitely appeals to my inner nerd.

Quilting them, however, isn’t my favorite. I guess the repetition gets to me. Plus the bulk of working a giant quilt around the bed of my regular home machine is nothing if not awkward. That’s probably why I’ve only completed 3 quilts in my life. I have a double top down in my stash with its batting and back that may wait until I’m 60 to actually get quilted… if then. [Hey Mom, if you get that long arm frame I’ll keep you busy!] So I kept the quilting pretty simple – I traced the colored bars 1/4″ inside and outside, then filled the white sections with straight lines at a 45 degree angle to the colored bars, each 4″ apart. Simple and striking – the diagonal lines really make the bars pop.


My only modification to the pattern was to skip the overlap section – instead of cutting a little piece, I simply cut the 2nd bar to match the 1st. Clear as mud? You can see it in the pictures better than I can explain it with words.


This project is part of the Little Things to Sew Cover to Cover Challenge (Flickr pool). I didn’t get as far as I would like, but this quilt was my #1 Must Do. Since it’s done, and I probably never would have completed it without the challenge, I’m counting it as a success! I’ll probably do a couple more but it may not be by the Aug 31 deadline. Want to see my completed projects? The list is here.

Everything is Cuter with a Face

I love to embroider – it’s a quick pick up and go project that doesn’t require a lot of supplies or planning. In the midst of a busy life schedule and a never ending pile of sewing projects, I appreciate the nearly instant gratification embroidery provides. So this summer I’ve found myself grabbing a needle and floss again and again. I just need something *done* as I wade through a quilt and a fancy dress (organza. satin. circle skirts. It may never be finished). Introducing: my new kitchen buddies!

For a while now, I’ve been obsessed with the embroidery work of Mollie Johanson of Wild Olive. She draws the cutest sketches, then puts faces on them! Everything is cuter with a face. I’ve stalked her blog for a while and finally decided what I needed – new towels decorated with the “Baker’s Best Friends” sets.

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Coffee. My kitchen runs on coffee. Let’s be honest, some weeks my life runs on coffee.

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Timer. Equally adorable; equally necessary. I’m known for baking “by smell” – meaning, I run to the kitchen when I realize that wonderful smell floating through the house is food just nearly over cooked. Timers help, when I remember to set them. Don’t you love how ambivalent this little guy looks?!

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Mmmm eggs. I could go on and on about eggs. The eggs in the picture are from our sweet pet hens; we have 2 younger hens about to start laying in the next couple weeks. Yummy!

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Last for now – a hot pink mixer! A pink mixer is on my wish list for some day. Probably a long long time from now as my white one works perfectly well. She stitched up so happy! She must be making cookie dough or cake or something equally yummy.

I have a couple more dish towels and a couple more cute little designs traced off. But they’re heading to the “to do” pile for now until I get a couple of the bigger projects accomplished. Unless you know, I get bored and need a sweet little smile to get through the day.


Plain white bar mop towels from wal-mart

Coffee pot:

Mixer and Timer:

Eggs: Baker’s Best Ingredient Friends, not currently listed for sale

Fireworks Fourth Dress

Posting only 2 weeks after the holiday! Our life has just been too busy lately. With what? If you’re interested, you can visit our family blog here.

I’ve never been a big one for holiday clothing. I like looking at it, I just don’t tend to make things for one specific day.

Except when my sweet 3 year old begs me and I happen to have all the supplies already in the house and 3 free hours before we have to be at a party. Then I’ll make an exception!

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It’s a fireworks dress! This is PERFECT for the fourth! Which is good, because it was completely NOT perfect for what it used to be – a shirtwaist dress for me that I’d tried and tried and tried to make perfect but just couldn’t make work. In the words of Project Runway, it looked “tortured.” It was technically finished except for buttons but it was never going to be worn anyway so I saved myself the trouble and made something for Grace.

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As soon as I saw this little flutter sleeve sundress pop up during 30 Days of Sundresses, I knew I would be making it. Probably a dozen times! It’s a simple peasant style dress with elastic at the waist. I added lace on the sleeves and hem to at a little detail. The red bow is safety pinned in place so I can remove it for washing.

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She’s a little ambivalent on this dress, mostly because it doesn’t have butterflies OR flowers on it. That’s basically a crime in her universe. This girl… she has an opinion! She’s currently in a 4T so I was able to use the PDF pattern available in the post instead of drafting a pattern myself (adding 3″ of length). Next time I’ll need to lower the armhole a little; she was tugging at it telling me “it BOTHERS!”

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This isn’t a look of pain, I promise! She’s singing some song and twirling in a circle, which is how she spends most days lately. It’s the best way to spend summer <3


Pattern: Girl’s flutter sleeve sundress from It’s Always Autumn

Fabric: navy print quilter’s cotton from Joann’s (in 2009); white cotton lace trim from