What to Make?


For most of my life I remember sketching clothes I wanted to have. When I was about 8, my sister and I would sit in the basement for hours and draw evening gowns. I wonder where we were going to wear them.

When I was in college, I would find my eye wandering during lecture, and I would fill up the margins of my notes with sketches of blouses or dresses or skirts that my fellow students were wearing. Thank goodness nobody ever wanted to borrow my Chemistry notes.

Ever since adulthood, I have kept pages torn from magazines and catalogs filed neatly in a blue manila folder, with photos and sketches of clothes, fabrics, embroidery details, accessories, and other wonderful things I Am Going to Make Someday. Some of them I have made, cobbled together from existing patterns and sheer stubbornness. Many have even been wearable! Other things I have not gotten around to making. I didn’t have time, money for fabric, or whatever.

I cull the file from time to time, and sometimes wonder, “What the hell was I thinking?” The style clearly went out of style before I ever did anything about it. Lately I’ve realized that with my changing body over the years, something that might have looked smashing on me once is going to now accentuate every wrong curve, ahem. I like to keep some of the ideas because I still do love them, even if they aren’t right for me. Others I ball up in disgust so they stop taunting me: “You’ll never wear me, you’ll never wear me!” Goodbye, piece of paper, you can’t hurt me.

My other inspiration has always come from shopping. I walk through the local fabric or yarn store and fall in love with a Lovely Thing that must come home with me. Who among us doesn’t have stash, right?

In the last year I have found blogs (I know, I am a late bloomer), and here is a whole new source of ideas and wishlists. How fabulous to see garments already made up and reviewed! I have spent many hours following a rabbit down a hole only to end up 17 blogs away from the original site where I started. Did I say 17? How about 37?  I’m sure you have no idea what I’m talking about.

I have had a revelation in the last week, that I can actually PLAN ahead about what I want to make in order to have a collection that works together. I know this sounds so simple, I can’t believe I’ve never done it before. I spend a lot of time in my closet. About twice a year, I try everything on and do a critical assessment. Does this still look good on me? Is it still in style? Is it worn out?

However, two significant things have happened to me in the last three years, stylistically. First, I am retired. I no longer need work clothes. Second, I have gained 12 pounds and gone up at least one size. I have slowly been giving away things from my closet to friends, Goodwill, etc. It has been very sad, giving away beloved Things, some that I have had for over a decade, some that I made myself, some that have special memories associated with them.

Goodbye Wardrobe

Goodbye perfect jacket for Yellow Beetle Convertible

I have now given away just about every stinkin’ thing in my closet. I am recovering from the devastation of feeling unhappy about my weight gain and losing my favorite articles of clothing. I am seeing the sun, and the opportunity in being able to make that wardrobe plan! I went through my closet and wrote a list of every single thing that I am keeping. I was ruthless. If I did not have anything to wear with it, it was crossed off the list. If I did not love it, it was crossed off the list.

Sad, right?

Note the little hearts next to favorites

Then, I started my list of Things I Want in My New Wardrobe. This list is now guiding my sewing and knitting. I have borrowed from my blue file folder, and I have carefully reviewed my stash to see what I truly love (and in fact also got rid of fabrics and yarns during the purge). I have decided to keep the teal blue shrug, even though it doesn’t go with anything, and on my list is a dress that matches teal. (Honestly, why did I knit a teal shrug to begin with?) How divine to have a Plan!

Who needs a teal shrug?

Thanks are due to some wonderful bloggers who I appreciate for their wardrobe planning guidance. Snugbug in particular has a lovely swatch board, and is the one who gave me the final push I needed to make my plan.

How do you decide what to make? Do you have a plan for each year or season? How big is your stash?


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