Style rules: do they help fight temptation?

Hi peeples,

I’ve been lucky enough to have been featured as a “Style Blog” (really?  who me?! go check it out, it’s true!) I bashfully shrink with modesty to think the lovely Susan at Pocketchange considered my mutterings, japes & experiments with cloth & rick rack worthy of such a description, but anyway it got me thinking about style.  And then that got me thinking some more.

2012: Spotty New Look 6000

I’ve been thinking about sources of style & how I decide what to make.  You are probably bored of hearing about my aims for a totally self stitched wardrobe & it is now perhaps 19 months since I have bought anything ready to wear (wow! that’s a nice reflection ) But what makes a great working wardrobe?  Do I have one yet?  There are so many opinions & questions about this subject that pop up with regularity online, even on sewing blogs which makes sense when others like me are thinking about what to sew & why.  Recently Shivani posted the very same question, “Wardrobe essentials and do I need to make anything else at all” & came up with someone’s answer to the “50 essentials for your closet”.  ( This 50 includes accessories as well by the way).  How big is my closet? Easily exceeds 50…  I think Me Made May demonstrated that I easily have enough me mades to wear & that is what I do in preference to almost every bought item I still cling onto.  Of my me-mades I have more than 14 summer dresses but only 2 pairs of trousers that fit me.  I seem to wear these trousers the most at weekends & the dresses hang on hangers or linger in the ironing.

Colette Patterns Crepe spin

Colette Patterns Crepe: it’s for posh

Is my wardrobe a workable one?  I don’t think I can truly answer that.  Some things get worn more frequently than others, I have favorites in terms of frequency & favorites in terms of special-to-wear-almost-always-provoke-comments-from-strangers.  I don’t think I am after a capsule wardrobe – yet.  I do have a wardrobe that is actually coming to the point where some of my me mades are losing favour, that is how far I think I have come.  You know what I mean?  You know,the things that no longer meet your current style/ fit standards, or have worn out, or even look sloppy compared to the soaring heights of sewing standards you now achieve?  And what about the clothes I have bought that will need replacing.  My pledge to not buy what I can sew will extend to coats, jackets & you know my (bought) undies are getting in a sad & sorry state.  The two pairs of successful me made undies do get worn in rotation – I have had some degree of success despite the post I wrote!.  Luckily the awesome Zoe from SoZowhatdoyouknow is posting free pdf patterns first for vest/camisoles & knickers to follow…. I shall revisit sewing undies, it’s a promise in line with my goal!

These did not make the grade

Another casualty of my seamless pledge – bonkers crazy fabric stashing as if any minute all fabric shops that currently exist are going to evaporate &/or I suddenly lose my job  & have to live on beans to afford thread, sewing machine needles and the electricity to power my laptop and my sewing machine …(you agree with my priorities though, don’t you?).  [PS July there will be modesty in  this department.  ]

So rambling on, how do I make my decisions?  Fabric buying decisions & pattern style/shape decisions come from having had my colours & style for body shape done by my friend who is an image/style consultant.  I tell you it focuses temptation when in fabric shops -  I only have eyes for those colours that fall within my “deep muted” set.  And that means that all the fabric that I choose should in theory complement each other – my brain doesn’t have to engage very hard.  It doesn’t mean that I spend any less time in fabric shops making my decisions however!  Similarly looking at shapes & styles on sewing patterns also has some theory behind it for me & with this I know when I am breaking my rules which is better than not understanding why I look like a sack of spuds.   Having rules like this is what made the Susannah & Trinny phenomenon a revelation to many (& having £2k to go clothes shopping had something to do with every girl’s dream- just imagine having that amount to spend on fabric & patterns!)

Click pic for Daily Mail source & discussion on 12 body shapes: which one are you?

OK, so I have my rules & this helps me fight against the temptation, the inspiration I get from reading so many sewing blogs.  I have to say that I am not a real follower of style or fashion blogs, & looking around pocketchange made me think perhaps I should have some kind of an eye on what’s happening in the real world…lots of interesting little pieces eg Finding shorts for your shape and height – well I had never thought of that before… I have stored it in my bookmarks to dip into.  It will always be the sewing bloggers that inspire me however & offer ideas that I am desperate to try.  Take this morning’s breakfast read:  Rochelle’s rick rack / bias neck facing on the most cutest dress at Lucky Lucille

Go check out the story for this dress at Lucky Lucille & meet Lucille too!

SO need to have a go at this myself…..& such cute Alexander Henry fabric.  Lauren at    Lladybird has a severe effect on my willpower, continually throwing temptation at me.  Choosing a favorite from her recent handmade wardrobe is just impossible – this dress is totally typical of the fab style & wondrous makes ….& I wish I was as productive & stylish as her

Shirtwaist Dress

Lladybird’s shirtwaist dress

Go find out more about this dress & so much more at Lladybird’s blog 

In fact temptation is everywhere highlighted during Me Made May when you get to see the fruits of everyone’s labours being worn IRL from Shivani’s perfectly stylish wardrobe, Roobeedoo’s coats, wide leg trousers, stylish 70s patterns, scalloped shorts & heirloom self knitted cardigans festooned with colour, zing & joy inducing prints…

 Go see Roobeedoo’s Me Made May

Karen’s V1247 at Didyoumakethat has resulted in me making 4, I kid you not FOUR versions of this as gifts for friends

 Read more about Karen’s French seams here.

And can I let you into an inspiration-yet-to-be-realised?

Yes Handmade Jane, maker of delicious Peony dresses, your sailor pants are in view, I have not forgotten.  Go see more at her blog here

 So, how to cope with so much inspiration, even when I know what my own rules are?  Shivani has her three “Ws” for decision making:

  • What? 
  • Why? 
  • What will I wear it with?

Mine is similar, & attributable to my image/ style consultant friend.  It is the rule of three:

  • Can it be worn with three or more things?
  • Will it be worn more than three times?
  • Can I envisage still wanting to wear it in three years time?

How do you cope with all this inspiration & temptation?  Any tips of yours that you’d like to share?

Now, onto some sewing :-)

44 thoughts on “Style rules: do they help fight temptation?

  1. didyoumakethat

    Ack! Seeing my lovely skirt before it was torn makes me want to mend it or at least make another version. Sob, sob! Skirts and cycling – when will I stop being tormented?! I think you raise some extremely good points about sewing and shopping. Yes, good to buy fewer clothes from the high street. And yet, and yet… The need to purchase seems to simply become absorbed in other areas. I am currently battling huge guilt at my recent merry online purchases of a sewing nature. A pattern here, a fabric purchase there -when does this start to become quite as repulsive as the addictive shopping in high street stores? I suspect I buy impulsively when my need to make is being frustrated by other commitments – it allows me to feel still connected with my creating. But I fear it can be misguided. I ramble!

    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      Make the skirt V1247 ….it works with the top & is similar to your torn one ..
      Your comment sees through to my guilt too – I have also been a bit of a sewing consumer under the guise that it’s my passion….but you’re right, it is usually compensating for a deficiency or life frustration. I’m treting it as a habit I can break, much like ignoring thhe old draw of the word “SALE” on the High Street shops!

  2. Lizzy

    Great thoughtful post! I would love to have my ‘colours done’ but fear it is something I never will get to. So I mainly focus on colours that I always receive compliments in.

    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      I think that’s a good enough place to come from – it’s so useful having an outside view on things like colour! I think we are naturally drawn to colours that suit us & some people have a better sense of it than others. When I had mine done there were a few surprises, but many of the colours I went “Oooh, lovely” to.

  3. agirlinwinter

    Interesting post! As a new sewer/sewist I am trying to take the long view with the clothes I make – will I still want to wear them in a year or two? How do I define ‘my’ style? I’m massively inspired by sewing blogs, but also frustrated because I see so many amazing garments and I know I’m not good enough to make them. Still, it never hurts to dream. I love your black and white dress, pictured above. So chic!

    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      Well at least knowing what you can sew helps you decide what’s on your list – it is one of your rules- but a rule that will extend your options as you develop your skills :-)

  4. Rochelle New

    Hey, that’s me!!! Thanks so much for the blog love :) I’m glad you’re inspired by my use of ric-rac . It’s actually a very easy little detail to add! All you need is some double fold bias tape and the ric rac. You slip the ric-rac under the top fold of bias tape before top stitching it down. …though you probably came to that conclusion on your own. I can’t wait to see how you incorporate it into your next project!

    p.s. I’m inspired by EVERYTHING you make!

  5. Sigrid

    Congratulations, you really do have your own unique and inimitable style so I am not surprised that you have been featured. Sometimes I think that it might be better to turn a blind eye to fashion and cogitate a bit more on style. Also, yes, it takes some discipline to build a wearable wardrobe, yet isn’t it strange how sometimesthe fun stuff becomes a staple?

    1. Jessica

      “Isn’t it strange how sometimes the fun stuff becomes a staple?”

      Music to my ears! Truly though, I agree with Sigrid on everything she’s said. I love both your style but even more than that, the sheer joy that just comes through the computer screen at making and imbuing your handmades with, well, “you”ness.

      Sometimes I pop my head up and look at what’s “hot” these days, and then I think about Chanel or the Hepburns and other ladies who had a timeless style and think, “right, personal style it is!”

      My personal rules tend to go more by 5′s:
      Does it match 5 things in my wardrobe?
      (If purchasing) Can I get it under $5/wear (admittedly, this becomes a bit of a cheat in the thrift shop but usually I knock it down to $1/wear threshold)
      Can I wear it 5 months per year? (in that I like my clothing, except for extreme summer heat or frigid winter pieces, to stretch through more than 1 season. Like, can this spring dress also layer into fall, can this summer skirt pair with my spring cardigans, could this color go both fall and early spring?)

      1. scruffybadgertime Post author

        Both you & Sigrid have hit it – it’s about style & not fashion isn’t it. And it is true about how style, & one’s personal style reflects your personality if you allow it – ie the fun things become a staple. Lovely!
        I do like your 5 rules – the 5 months of the year is a genius addition & the $5 thrift price is a great target to have …I might have to extend my rules to 5s now …

  6. Ginger

    Gal, I love your style! I’m so glad you were featured! And I love this post! It’s so interesting to read about how your wardrobe is evolving and how you’ve focused your color palette to what flatters you! I’m so excited every time you post something new! And I can’t WAIT to see you attack sailor trousers!!

  7. Tanit-Isis

    Great post! I have my own set of “style rules”, mostly derived from trial and error, but finding ways to break them that don’t make me want to hide under a blanket can be loads of fun (like my project drop waist). I struggle a bit more with colour—I was draped as a child, but I have a really hard time just sticking with those colours. And then I wonder whether one can change seasons as one ages… (no, my hair colour hasn’t changed.)

    Style is so odd.
    Now I’m off to read up on shorts…

    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      Style is odd isn’t it….according to my style friend your colours stay with you regardless of age, hair colour or deep suntans ….surprising maybe?!
      I love what you say about it being fun to break them as well – that I think comes from a lot of confidence & willingness to take a risk & maybe have the odd fail. And that equals fun, as you say, as you’ll also make some exciting discoveries by experimenting :-)

  8. Sam

    Very interesting post!

    I’ve got pretty good at sticking to certain rules when it comes to buying clothes, but I find it harder when choosing what to make. I think it’s partly because there are so many gorgeous items featured on so many blogs! I see someones finished top/skirt/dress and think “I must have one like that” without really thinking about whether it will suit me or fit in with my existing wardrobe.

    I also need to think about sewing or knitting items that I actually need. For example I love to make dresses, but have loads already, whereas I could do with some tops/blouses, but find it hard to choose patterns I might like. I must conquer my fear of buttonholes!

    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      Everything you say Sam sounds SO familiar!! There is abundant temptation on sewing blogs, & they are my main source of inspiration….
      I’d give buttonholes a try, but there are patterns (eg Simplicity 2599) that don’t require button holes and have quite a few variations.

      1. Sam

        I’ve actually just pinned a couple of buttonhole tutorials, so I’m going to find a cute top with buttonholes and give them a go. I have made them before, so I know I can, but they’ve never looked that neat. Hopefully the tutorials will help!

  9. Jane

    Thanks for the shout out re the sailor trousers! I can totally see you rocking a pair!

    I think you have a fabulous sense of your own style, it’s very diverse (which is probably why you inspire so many people) but still manages to be cohesive.

    I too have my own style rules which I’ve only really arrived at since I’ve started sewing. For a few years I wondered around in a bit of a style wilderness, just buying what was featured in magazines regardless of whether they suited me or not (usually not). Starting to make my own clothes has definitely brought out my own style and certainly within the last year, I only sew what suits my figure and colouring. For example, much as I’d LOVE to make Tilly’s Picnic skirt, I just know the gathers won’t do much for me so I’m having to pass on it. When I first started sewing, I’d have made it anyway, just because it was popular. Really interesting discussion….

    By the way, I studied the Trinny and Susannah body type thingy and I think I’m a vase….! x

    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      Cool! You’re a vase! But inside you know that when you choose what suits you, you just have a label for it now ;-)
      I think you have a strong sense of style too, & it’s interesting that you say that it has come through sewing – it’s the same for me – sewing sets you free to be who you want to be…..

  10. Jane

    Me again! Forgot to add, interestingly ALL my style inspiration comes from sewing blogs nowadays, in fact I don’t even buy fashion magazines any more. x

  11. Janet

    Thoroughly well deserved mention. And on a bit of an unrelated slant, but since I hold you responsible for encouraging my love of ric rac (so that I now use it on my own clothing and not just stuff for little girls) I thought I’d tell you about what my friend gave me for my birthday yesterday. Two little brown paper packages tied up with string: one jar of nicely chosen buttons, and another jar crammed full of ric rac – she knows me well! Many would think me a bit daft, but I think you will relate to my excitement. I have no idea what I’m going to use them for yet, but for now I am going to enjoy admiring how nice they look in their little jars. Sad, I know.

    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      Happy Birthday belatedly Janet! You have a friend who understands you – how fantastic!! What a cool present for a sewster – I am sharing your joy!! Rick rack too – awesome – so glad you are spreading the zigga zigga aah through your sewing!

  12. Sew Little Time

    I have sewing envy with all the ladies featured above (including you winnie!). people choose such great combinations of shape and fabric and i love that it makes everything unique! I came across this lady on another blog and i love her summaries of body types and clothes shapes. she also got some great tips on cleaning out your wardrobe to make sure you love everything in it, and how to develop (well for most of us it’s probably more about articulating and confirming) a signature style. i have found that as i have got older, i try on less things in shops as i know that empire lines or non-waisted things do nothing for me, if i hold it up and the waist is in the wrong place or it’s too short, i don’t bother. maybe it’s about being more realistic and accepting of your shape?

    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      Absolutely – I think I understand a lot more about how I look & accept it for better/ for worse- & that’s an age thing for me – how mistakes I made when I was younger!! I will check out the link – thank you

  13. Stevie

    I am constantly thinking about this kind of thing! Thanks for an awesome post I will totally use those questions before I start running up a million and one maxi dresses, knowing full well I live in England and wear mostly jeans and cardigans.
    I am currently making myself a little file so I can realistically look at what I’m comfy wearing to try and reign in my fantasy sewing! x

    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      Ha ha! I am so with you there Stevie! My fabric for a summer maxi skirt feels very low down the list of sewing priorities. In fact I am even thinking about coats (but dont worry, far be it for me to make something that is ahead of seasons)
      A style file seems like a great idea – I suppose Pinterest can help organise this also

  14. LinB

    Oh, congratulations on being chosen as a featured writer! I think it is your willingness to let us see failures as well as successes — and your delightful writing style — that led to this honor. Your enthusiasm for our craft jumps off the screen. It is also refreshing to see an attractive woman who is normally shaped (not like those malnourished-looking giraffe girls, poor things) model real-life clothing choices. I can imagine my friends wearing what you make and model. I need to emulate other body types for my own clothing choices, but I can be inspired by your color combinations and print choices. After the Ellie the Elephant series of garments you did some months ago, I broke down and fashioned a blouse that has elephants, zebras, butterflies, and striped cats on it. I have worn the blouse in public. No one’s eyes were damaged by seeing me in it. And isn’t that what most of us aim for, relative modesty and no bleeding eyeballs?

    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      Yes! Go wild & wonderful print wearing! It sounds awesome Lin! And how did you feel in it? Fun, creative & a wonderful individual I suspect (which is certainly the impression you give with your comments) . Thank you for your lovely views too, so kind of you…I’m glad my ramblings can be entertaining to fun, creative and wonderful individuals!!

  15. Katy

    Great post – I like your 3 questions when deciding what to make. I was thinking about your second question and when applied to my summer makes it’s like: “well it would be if we had some decent weather!”. Then again if our summers are going to be so bad in the UK perhaps the summer makes should be more limited so that the question can be answered affirmatively!

    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      You’ve got a point – Jessica above came up with rules of 5 including a rule I might adopt – can it be worn 5 months of the year? That would be a useful one (although like you say, perhaps too depressing this summer!)

  16. Karen

    Useful things to think about, Winnie; thank you!

    Most of my clothes I’ve had for years; at least 1.5 yrs since I’ve been shopping. But that’s more a function of feeling fat, and not buying anything in that state! No fun to try in clothes when you need to lose a stone!

    However, I do try to keep in mind my stash.. Which is equal to 2 office file boxes. I was in crate & barrel outlet yest & they had marimekko cotton on sale for $6/yard (usually $45), and I resisted…I know I’ve got other nice cotton to use up first!

    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      That is some willpower when such a bargain was to be had Karen – I think I might have caved….but it’s good – I think resistance also becomes a habit – I’ve just got to develop mine for buying fabric!!

  17. Katrina Blanchalle

    You have such a wonderful way with words. Giving us the hard truths with lots of humor!
    I have tried on a few different sets of rules now, but none of them have really explained why I still look like a sack of spuds. Seriously though, I think a year of sewing insane shapes and colors has helped me get it out of my system and I’m starting to get a better grasp of what suits me. It’s still a long way to a working set of rules though.
    Anyway, I love your blog very, very, very much and I would like to nominate you for an award:

  18. scruffybadgertime Post author

    Thanks Katrina! Sounds like you’ve had a really creative year & your wardrobe sounds crazy fun – & isnt that what sewing’s about too? Having fun & experimenting – & now you’ve got some rules to develop.
    Thank you for your nomination :-) It’s so kind of you :-)

  19. Tamsin W-P

    I’ve said before that I tend to make stuff because I like it, not because it will go with anything else! I am trying to change that by starting to ‘sew with a plan’ albeit one that is in my head! If I write it down I feel I may ‘fail’ if I go off on a tangent and I take so long to make anything I’ll be rewriting it in a few months anyway!

  20. Roobeedoo

    You’ve got style in buckets, Ms Badger! Slightly discombobulated to see myself featured in your post with all those fizzy bouncy words alongside: “zing and joy-inducing prints”? Hee! I am off to stick my head in my wardrobe to see if I come out again feeling Tiggerish! ;)

  21. shivani

    you are a v stylish lady and I love everything you make! Can’t wait to see your sailor trousers! I really like the rule of 3 – I’ve added it to my decision-making process. thanks also for the mentions, and the compliment! :)

  22. Pingback: A new year in sewing

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