We had a week or so of wonderful spring-summer weather. It started me thinking about summer and got me sewing a 3 Piece Coordinated Blouse set.  First, although sewn 2nd, is this camp shirt:

using a Rayon Challis and Connie Crawford 5047.  I like the fit of this and don’t plan further changes.  I do realize that different fabrics may affect the fit and of course, I do want to copy details from RTW. But it’s good. Just like it is.

Next, although sewn first, is this flirty, layered, quarter-sleeve blouse

I used my basic block developed from Connie Crawford’s 1201 and two silks. Lower level is a pongee that is darker and has a subtle nap. The upper is plain weave, light weight silk but I don’t know what it is called.  I had fun with this garment. Spent a long time playing with the layers and tucks.

Last sewn and shared, is a sand-washed silk blouse

for which I modified Louise Cuttings Hearts A Flutter shell.

All 3 blouses make a grouping appropriate for my life style and climate. I’ll wear the camp shirt a lot during the next few weeks (late spring) transitioning to the quarter sleeve and tank tops as the weather warms.  At that point, the camp shirt won’t be put away. No it will become a summer jacket much-needed in highly air-conditioned spaces like doctors’ offices.

Worn here with black jeans:

but this 3-some works well with my blue and brown basic bottoms which for summer are light-weight, long pants and shorts.

I’ve been sewing ‘collections’ for so long that it’s the way I think.   I mean I look at the fabric and envision not only what it will become but what I will wear with it. Consequently, I do find that most of my collections become extensible i.e. I planned to wear these with navy bottoms but quickly accepted that the black and brown collections were also possible.  I have a few yellow garments that will mix nicely with this set as well. I found a pair of olive-y green pants that I thought orphaned, also look nice.

I think putting together a wardrobe is multi-faceted. You can’t just choose your colors. You also need garments that work in your life. For example, I have no prom gowns. None. Because I’d never wear them. You also need fabrics that work for your lifestyle. I have few wools and even less fleece. I love wool. But I’m not willing or easily able to provide the care wool requires. As for fleece, let’s just say it has limited use. A little more casual than I prefer.   Then there is fit. My nemeses. You can have a beautiful wardrobe but it looks ugly when it doesn’t fit. So when I look at this collection and say I’m happy. I want you to understand, I’m really happy even if I can make some criticisms. It’s my color; my style. Fits relatively nicely and works well with other garments in my closet.

Aren’t I just too cool?


Spring 6PAC: Wait there’s more!

After discovering the coordinating Bog Coat, I couldn’t help but look to see what else might coordinate with the turquoise/cream/beige scheme.

I found 2 more tops,

Ebb blouse;  LH1011 Rochelle

Two  more 3rd layers

Otto  Water Fall Cardigan 2015/5;  NL 6528 Vest

and surprise surprise 2 more pairs of pants.

Cotton/Lycra Eleanor;  RPL Jalie.

The 4th pair of pants  (RPL Jalie) is exactly the same color and fabric as the Dark Turquoise RPL of the initial 6PAC. The difference being that this previously sewn pair has the faux fly in front and the separate yoke in the back.  To my sorrow, this pant is already pilling. It has been worn maybe once every other week since constructed last fall.  I  will try shaving to extend its life span, but I’m afraid that it won’t be in service long.

The final tally is 4 tops, 4 bottoms and 4 3rd layers which explode into  to 80 outfits in this collection:

Pant 1 (Bengaline)

Pant 2 RPL

Pant 3 Cotton/Lycra

additionally there is Pant 4 which is too similar for most people to tell apart but that would add another 20 outfits or EIGHTY possible combinations. Again it would be possible to wear the Bog Coat or WaterFall cardigan over the two vests.  I’m not even going to calculate that because I’m unlikely to do so. If I get that cold, I probably want to don one of my coats.

This is a wardrobe I could work in. Yes there are enough changes to take me through a month without exactly repeating .





The 2016 Spring 6PAC

Happy to have all pieces completed, I set up the camera and snapped pics of the various combinations possible.

It’s not just a matter of possible combinations, I’m also checking to be sure they work together. I mean the bog coat is worthless if it doesn’t easily slip over my tops.

My two tops

Two Bottoms

and Two layers

Which make 12 possible outfits:

It would be possible to wear the Bog Coat over the Vest adding 4 more outfits to my collection. But I’m not likely to do that. If I need that much extra warmth, I’m pulling out a coat or fleece lined jacket.

Also note that I wasn’t wild about the fit of my Eleanors. When the whole outfit is put together, I don’t even see the wrinkles to which  I really objected.

This is an excellent travel wardrobe. I would add shoes and purse (of course) a little jewelry.  I might through a warmer layer into the car to have ‘just in case’. Overall it is very satisfactory.   I anticipate adding a short sleeve T-shirt for the our one  week true spring i.e. too warm for long sleeves but too cool for sleeveless. This color combination is so nice, I can also see adding more pieces for a Summer wardrobe and even extending through Autumn and parts of Winter.

Spring 6PAC: the 3rd layers

To my delight, I realized that I had just sewn the perfect vest for Spring:

Loes Hinse Venetian Vest 5104 I was not completely happy with this vest. It has at least a hint of the side swags I’m always complaining about and it was not proportioned for me. I think the proportions happened when I added 3″ to the hem to replace the sewn on band and then bound the hem instead of folding it up to equal the finished length of vest with band.  I think I’d like to do something that would disguise the swags. Maybe gather the back and sides which would add a little shaping and with additional gathers the swags would not be so apparent. But I”m not sure. I am sure the length needs to be adjusted. It either needs to be coat length or my typical vest length.  I opted to attach strips of Steam A Seam along the bottom edge and fold it upward 1.25″ into a hem.  I’m unlikely to launder this 100% boucle wool. I might however want to adjust the hem just a little bit more. SAS while not holding forever, will make it easy to adjust the hem more.

Then I discovered the perfect spring jacket was already in my closet!  This Bog Coat

constructed several years ago and hardly ever used. Spring is such that I rarely need a light jacket. I’m mostly happy with a vest and even that isn’t necessary every day. OTOH from time to time,( remember those 35 mile per hour winds I mentioned yesterday?) my winter coats will still be pressed into service. The bog coat was fully lined and possesses substantial shoulder pads even though it is lightly interfaced.  Love it and love having another garment collection to use with it.

2016 Spring 6PAC

So I’m seriously considering sewing a full 6PAC this spring. To my delight,  steady participation in 6PAC sewing at Stitchers Guild, has given me a wearable wardrobe.  Generally, I have the clothes I need for all the occasions and activities in my life. I’m most pleased that travel is not a horrendous packing experience. I grab whichever 6PAC is  clean and I’m off. Whichever? Well after a few years of 6PAC sewing, I discovered that I really like to keep 3 basic color groups

  • Navy blue
  • Black
  • Brown

The groups can be extended to encompass shades. For example, I consider charcoal and grey part of the Black Group; or, while Navy Blue is a given for Fall, Winter and Spring, it morphs easily into lighter shades of blue for summer.  It is my accents along with style changes that keep my wardrobe fresh and stimulates my interest in sewing .

Having established these 3 basic color groups, I find sewing a for the next season is a matter of evaluating the core wardrobe items; replacing as needed and then adding new accents.  I actually don’t need to do a lot of sewing for any upcoming season.  Yes, it’s wonderful but keep in mind this has been in the works for  decades.  It has taken me this long to discover who I am, what I like to wear and what clothing my life requires.  Just saying, I’m in a good place. Don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t yet achieved the same wardrobe status. It takes time…

and for the first time in several seasons I’ve decided I need to sew a complete 6PAC for Spring 2016.  Despite knowing that spring in South Dakota means changing ice and snow for rain and mud, I’m longing for lighter colors.  There is a big downside in giving into my desire. Clothing made in lighter colors will probably be ruined during a single season.  But I’ve decided that since (1) I’m still struggling with fitting my sloping, asymmetrical shoulders and (2) have as yet not developed a reliable pant-fitting routine, it’s most likely that none of the clothes I’ve sewn this year will be wearable next year.  I’ve decided to indulge in color.  From my stash I selected this light turquoise, taupe, cream sateen for my core garment:

This is the only fabric which my camera perfectly captured color.

It’s not a heavy sateen. I wouldn’t make pants.  I’m hoping to make a blouse that can also function as a 3rd layer.  I’m hoping to be able to slip it over T-shirts or close-fitting blouses. I’m calling this my Core Fabric.

Most of all, I’m hoping that my newly acquired  Cutting Line Design pattern, the Pinch, will fill the bill for me.

The Pinch is modern and trendy but still has classic lines. Not to mention, Louise’s excellent perception of the image women-of-my-age want to project. I don’t want to reveal every curve or spot of  cellulite I’ve managed to acquire. Also my body hurts. I wear support layers (AKA spanx) not to look young and sexy but to hold up my frame and relieve some of my aches and pains.  I appreciate garments with sufficient ease to skim across extra lines and lumps that may occur around supported area i.e back and knees.  I’m hoping that the Pinch has enough ease and a long enough armscye to slip over any underlayer. I will be measuring. Lots and lots of measuring.

From the stash emerged 3 really good possibilities for pants.  This bengaline

and a cushy microfiber knit

Both exactly match the colors of the core fabric. I’m sorry that my camera did not catch the close match. I’m not sure that I want to wear the very light blue while I’m still slogging through mud. So as an alternative I have selected another microfiber knit (same composition as the light blue)  in a dark turquoise color

Actual color is much darker; almost teal.

I plan to make only 2 pairs of pants.  At some point I will have to decide which fabric gets sent back into the stash.  The bengaline was a purchase from the Mitchell SD fabric store. The other two fabrics came from Hancocks in Sioux Falls.  All three were purchased in the last 2 years.

I want a combination of tops which will include woven and knit fabrics. I’m loving this rayon batik (from Nancy’s Notions)

although I think it might be a little dark. Again, the camera didn’t catch the colors accurately.   High on the possible’s list is this cotton interlock

and an ITY knit

I had a hard time narrowing my fabric choices down to these. It was more than just looking at the colors. I also considered the shapes in the designs as well as the density of the fabrics.  I will still need warm coverage for quite some time.While the temperatures will be warmer, I won’t see 70’s before June.  It’s just the way it is in my eco system.  I finally whittled my selections down by reminding myself that the “also ran’s” would be available  if any of the garments were ruined by weather or if I finally happened onto fitting perfection and wanted to replace less than perfect.  I put two stacks of 8-10 fabrics each back in the stash because their colors didn’t match the core fabric.  I’ve got a place where I stack the fabrics I’m working for the current projects which now contains the fabrics above.  Next to it are the other possibilities; the ‘also ran’:

another ITY knit


Cotton Print


Rayon Challis Print


Transparent Sweater Knit

You know, I feel comforted that I can sew the 6PAC as planned above or if anything goes wrong, I can switch to another fabric; another pattern.  I also could extend this 6PAC into summer by sewing some of the fabrics above using summer styles and maybe changing pants for shorts.

Whoops, still haven’t chosen my patterns. Well, I’ll get to that.



My Almost Autumn 6PAC

Apologies for the garbled post.  I write my posts a day or two before actually publishing so that I have a chance to re-read the post with fresh eyes before you can read it. Even with that, I will still catch errors and omissions later on.  In this case, I didn’t get back to read the post before it went live, hence I’m editing and republishing now. 

So sorry to admit that I didn’t complete a 6PAC for Fall 2015. I had good intentions and started fine, but along the way fell apart.

Perhaps it was the way I started.  I was sweating through the summer heat  trying to think of cool weather and warm clothing all the while sorting through fabrics to configure my fall group.  My first downfall may have been the color selection. I’m so far out in the sticks that acquiring coordinating fabrics is challenging.   Often I buy through the internet after navigating endless pages of less then illuminating descriptions.  Thankfully, color is much better represented today than it was in the past, but that doesn’t help with fabrics acquired previously or with fabrics that are not fully described.   The blue above is one of those. It’s a lovely color but not one that I would buy had I been in the store. Nonetheless,  I thought I had enough of this muted blue color and the coordinating ginger brown to make a 6 PAC.  So I started sewing.

The blue pants, a cotton/poly fabric, were constructed using my TNT PP113 pattern. Because I had used the pattern so much, I did a small amount of embroidery (not visible in the pic) along the hem.

The blouse is the same shade but lightened so much that it appears white.  I used Louise Cutting YED pattern and chose embroidery colors to coordinate with the next pair of pants a cotton/lycra constructed using Trudy Janen’s Designer Jean pattern 906. For the plaid silk vest/3rd layer, I chose the sleeveless version of Conni Crawford’s 5793.

So far not bad. The 5 garments work together for a late summer collection.  Then I blew it.  I had chosen a cotton/poly sheeting to make a long sleeve blouse. I ruined it. I dunno. Bad day.  I didn’t have a replacement fabric.  My 6th piece and the one which would have made this a transitional collection could not be completed.

I’m miles and miles away from any fabric store  I waited for months until I could get to a real fabric store. I should have just called it done when I realized I had ruined the final fabric/garment. But I didn’t and I preserved the completed garments unworn for weeks  in the closet. That turned out to be another mistake because…

the YED top which I lovingly embroidered because I thought I had it fit was pretty bad when worn. It was amazing for the 10 minute photo shoot and initial wearing. But  during the first actual wearing, I found I’d made a terrible mistake. The back pulls from underarm to underarm. Almost like something sawing back and forth and very uncomfortable.  The front armscye binds.  It’s not that the garment is too small; rather it is too long between shoulder and underarm. I’m not sure by how much. I am sure that when fitting a bodice I shouldn’t select the initial size based upon my hip measurement. Yes, I’ve finally adopted the view point of many of my peers:  fit a bodice by starting with the bust measurement then adapt to fit the hip.

The ginger jeans also turned wicked during wear.  They had felt large during fitting and I had accordingly stitched the side seams a little deeper until they both looked and felt good. But wear warms the fabric and encourages it to stretch apparently in all directions.  The jeans which fit beautifully during pics and in the morning, became rumpled and dumpy when worn.  A good hot wash shrank them back to size but now I’m reluctant to wear them. “Dowdy” is not my sewing objective.

Thankfully the plaid, silk, over blouse/vest/3rd layer is fine  during wear.  However, it doesn’t work well as a 3rd layer.  It doesn’t provide the warmth I need in the grocery freezer section nor the protection I need when the sun blazes upon my arms.   It is too warm to wear a 3rd layer during d most of late summer/early fall. I’m hoping rescue it by converting to a blouse next spring.  I  take away the knowledge that the short sleeve vest positively does not work in my lifestyle.

Sigh.  I made a 5 PAC instead of a 6 then effectively lost one of the tops due to fit and one of the bottoms due to the way the fabric stretches during wear; and lost my 3rd layer because short sleeves don’t work as on over blouse in my life style.  So I don’t have a collection at all. I have a pair of pants in an odd blue color and a hope to fix my 3rd layer into a wearable short sleeve blouse. I might have an outfit since I can combine the pants with other neutrals in the closet and wear either my navy blue or white  summer jacket pieces as a 3rd layer.

You know, that’s just how it goes some times.



This Collection pointed out a very real problem I have, that of acquiring coordinating fabrics when I am so far away from fabric sources. I’m already formulating a goal for 2016 to use or dispose of the several small groups of fabrics which were purchased thinking they were one color when in truth they weren’t.  I need to know how to avoid these odd pieces and how to select fabrics from my on-line sources that will work. At the same time, I don’t want to look in my closet and see a coordinated mass of black and white. I do want to see some color in there.

PP113 Black White Stripes

With this pair of jeans my core Black pieces are ready for summer:

Of course that means that entire collections are done!

I still haven’t tried on all the tops.  Which means that some of the tops may need to be replaced. But as it stands now, I have 2 more Collections that I can pack whenever I travel. And for those of you keeping track that’s a total of  7 Collections I can select from.

My Dress Blues


finished! Sewing details here.

I’m happy to have them completed because they make my Basic Blue’s complete:

…or at least ready to start summer.

I checked my sets of accent pieces and find that I have also completed the Orange and Royal Collection:

The Royal Red and Yellow Collection:

and the Odd Blues Collection:

I’m pretty stroked!.  One garment and I have 3 Collections to choose from. Yahooooo!

Finished Brown and Orange Summer 6PAC

After I evaluated my wardrobe I started sewing. First needed garment: Brown shorts. Done!

Which completes my basic brown set of  dress pants, jeans, shorts and 3rd layers:

I look at my accent pieces and I have 2 completed 6PAC’s.

It hardly seems fair to complete  a 6PAC’s so quickly. Please don’t think you need to compete with me.  As I said before, I’ve been sewing and dressing this way 6-8 (?) years.

Also you’ll note that these are not “trendy” sets. You won’t find 2015’s Hottests Colors in my closet.  I sew in colors that flatter me. I sew clothes that are comfortable for me which are classic and even a bit dated. I always look decent but not like I stepped off the runway. And that’s OK. I personally don’t need to compete in that arena.  I live in an area that is very casual. Generally, new jeans are considered dress pants. Clean jeans are more than acceptable for church.  With the 2 sets above, I can pack and go everywhere from mountains to the desert or even out to a 5 Star Restaurant in Sioux Falls. Never been and don’t intend to visit New York City.  I’m set for where I do go. I’m ready for my life. And that’s why I love 6PAC sewing.

Read details about the my new brown shorts here.

Collection Thoughts

Finally I was left with a large group that didn’t really look well in any collection. They were OK in places. But why settle for OK,  when you can create great?

I titled them Orphans but it’s not as if they don’t work with any of the clothes in my closet. Each looks good in one of the basic collections with the 3rd layer in the basic blue, brown or black collection just not in one of the previous collection by accent color. Several were sewn for transition (spring and fall) or winter and could be hibernating (in winter storage) or set in the depths of the closet waiting for when (all too soon) autumn will begin. Truth is I’m at home most of the time and collections are at their best when traveling. So most days collections are not an issue. I will wear a top with a coordinating bottom. During parts of the summer, like rain storms, I will throw on a 3rd layer.

In the end, as long as these garments are in good condition, I will find ways to wear them.   And there’s the rub for all the tops, not just the orphans:  Are they and how long will they be in good condition. Many pastels and white (especially) often don’t survive the season.  The rest  last about 3 years. It’s rare that these tops last more.  Partly it’s my laundry habits. Clothes worn close to the body get worn once and then washed. Rayons are horrible for continuing to shrink and rarely last into the next season. Cotton fades or turn grey in the laundry. Knits pill. Some knits pill more than others, but they all pill.  Point is, all the garments are at least 1 season old. Most are 2. A few are 3. None is more than 3 years.  While I start the summer with these wonderful collections, if I don’t plan and sew replacements, I won’t be using the “collection” at the end of the summer.

There is one other catch.  I have not tried-on most of the tops  and I know that I’ve gained weight and changed shape. Interestingly enough, I’m sewing the same size. I need a deeper slope to the shoulders and more length over the front. That’s the two issues, I’ve solved. I have other unsolved issues. When I do, nearly all the tops regardless of sleeve length will, happily, be replaced.

The plan at the moment?

  1. Fill out my 6 packs with the missing bottoms
    1. Brown: shorts
    2. Blue: dress slacks
    3. Black: jeans
  2. Continue to work with Connie Crawford’s patterns to make basic
    1. Blouses
    2. Tank/sleeveless tops
    3. Knit Tops
  3. When 2 is done, consider new accent collections such as
    1. yellow and brown
    2. blue and orange
  4. Evaluate existing clothing and replace to keep the Accent Collection in place but maybe not so large (thinking of the Black/Pink)