Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Mini-wardrobe 2014 summary and lessons learned

Okay, I promise this will be my last mini-wardrobe post. I'm sick of writing them, and I'm sure that you're sick of reading them. Plus, the challenge/contest ended on July 31st, and it's now August 6th. But in the interest of documenting what I've sewn, both for myself and anyone who happens across this blog in the future, I do want to do a wrap-up post.

The premise

Way back in June, I started planning for the Pattern Review mini-wardrobe contest. With no illusions of winning, I looked at it as a personal challenge, much in the same way many marathon runner are simply looking to beat a personal best time or break the 4-hour mark. The challenge was to sew five different garments during the month of July. The five garments had to be able to be combined in such a way as to create six different looks. While paper patterns could be cut out and patterns could be muslined before July 1st, cutting fashion fabric and sewing could only take place between July 1st and 31st.

I knew that we'd be heading out of town for a mini-break from July 30-August 1st, so I'd need to have everything done and submitted by late morning on the 30th.

The planned pieces

I initially set out to create a lightweight layering wardrobe for Seattle's varying summer weather. This has been my first full summer in Seattle, and it's been a change from San Diego's summers, which are simply, hot, hotter, and hottest.

I love the blue and white combinations that have been so popular in recent months, so I used that color combination as my initial inspiration. I knew that I wanted to make another Moneta dress, and that I wanted a knit maxi skirt, so those were the first two pieces that I scribbled into my plan. I built a few other possibilities around them, winding up with an initial plan (with several pieces still undecided) that looked like the following mood board:

Initial moodboard for mini-wardrobe
Yeah, so that plan was a little ambitious. Because of laundry accidents, time limitations, and simple changes-of-mind, here's what I actually completed:

Final mini-wardrobe moodboard
The look-and-feel is still similar, but I wound up introducing two new colors (coral and radiant orchid) into the mix. Here's what changed from the initial plan:
  • First out was the Archer blouse. I knew that I'd need to muslin that and wouldn't have time to properly fit and sew a button-down blouse on my figure. I initially planned to replace the Archer with one of two possible gray knit tops, but in the end, decided to introduce a bit more color into the wardrobe and went with the coral Mimosa blouse.
  • About halfway through the month, I realized that I wouldn't have the fitting time to do those ikat-print jeans justice. I swapped those out in favor of the easier-fitting rayon challis trackpant.
  • Finally, as you probably knew, I sewed a white hoodie. Said white hoodie was accidentally turned pink via a laundry cycle with a red t-shirt. Of course, this happened right before the final photo shoot for the hoodie. My husband and I tried a couple of rounds of Rit color remover on the pink hoodie but were only able to lighten the pinkness of it. After playing around with some fabrics that I had on hand and seeing how they'd coordinate with the other pieces, I opted to dye the pink hoodie "radiant orchid" (aka Pantone's "color of the year" for 2014).

The completed looks

It came down to the wire (particularly because of the hoodie-laundry-dye debacle), but I did manage to complete all five pieces in time and was able to get my husband to photograph all six looks.

Look 1 (Hoodie + maxi skirt):

Look 2 (Moneta dress):

Look 3 (Moneta + hoodie):

Look 4 (Mimosa blouse + maxi skirt):


Look 5 (Mimosa blouse + trackpant):

Look 6 (hoodie + trackpant):

Lessons learned

At the end of the month, I wound up having a few great new outfits to introduce into my summer wardrobe. Given that I work full time and have a 2-year-old, I definitely found it challenging to complete five pieces in a month, even if most of the pieces were fairly easy and didn't require extensive fitting. I also felt like a learned a few things about my "sewing self" in this process:
  • Having an aggressive short-term sewing goal was a huge motivator for me. As I started to fall behind, I found myself setting my alarm to wake up an hour before everyone else in the house. (I usually get up 30 minutes early to have some me-time/sewing time.)
  • Planning a mini-wardrobe like this helped keep me on track with creating a handful of wearable garments in a short period of time. There are no orphans here and no "frosting" pieces. While I've gotten off-track from the capsule wardrobe that I'd originally planned for 2014 (having sewn only 3 of 12 items at the end of July), a shorter version still fills wardrobe holes for me and doesn't seem so overwhelming.
  • Setting out a plan at the beginning of the month and holding myself accountable really helped me stick to that plan. I am going to try to do this on a regular basis. Planning ~4 pieces/month will still give me the flexibility to jump right in and tackle whatever bright and shiny new pattern catches my eye right away.
  • I have no desire to do anything like this more than once or maybe twice a year.
For those of you who did the mini-wardrobe challenge this year, how did it go? If not this challenge, have you done something similar, and did you find that it changed how you planned or executed your sewing projects afterward?


  1. That opening sentence almost made me spit my water :)

    As you know I sew a lot. Well...I manage to get a lot of things sewn because I don't even sew everyday anymore! ...I digress...

    I tend to sew "stuff and things" and "ooh look! shiny!!!" so the idea of the mini wardrobe makes me stop and take stock of what I need. I'm also glad that despite my fussing, I used the black/white/grey base because that makes the pieces extremely versatile with other things I own, either handmade or RTW.

    I love those pants the most!

  2. I love your wardrobe. So many cute (and versitile) pieces. I love the pants the most. Yours are the cutest printed/track pant I have seen yet. Makes me want a pair! Enjoy your new wardrobe!

  3. Thanks for the final thoughts. I love your combinations, and I LOVE the radiant orchid hoodie! Definitely a silver lining in that particular cloud :) . I think it really adds another great color "kick" to your wardrobe. Great job!

  4. Nice job. The track pants happen to be my favorite. Perhaps I need that pattern. I made my first hot pattern this past month (still not blogged) after finding out tha your liked them and I was so impressed with the fit and what not.

  5. Kudos to you for finishing your wardrobe! Everything looks great and I love how you saved the hoodie.

  6. I just found your blog yesterday and have been reading since.. I love this mini wardrobe you made! Changing the color of the hoodie to orchid was brilliant!