TheSecretCostumier - Wardrobe Architect
From scratch, Ready & waiting, Wardrobe Architect

Week Zero: Why start building a handmade wardrobe?

     At the beginning of this year, while I was slowly getting ready to plan how to…well, plan a new wardrobe, Sarai at the Coletterie has already started doing that. She came up with a brilliant project, The Wardrobe Architect, which takes you along the steps of dreaming up an ideal wardrobe and realizing those dreams, by analysing shapes, colours, silhouettes and examining how we feel about our bodies wearing the clothes we choose to wear.

      I think if you get a little serious about making your own clothes, sooner or later you come to a stage where you buy less RTW and more fabric. Then you realize that you are making things that are interesting to sew or just pretty, but they don’t quite fit into your existing wardrobe. The next step is the reality check, when you promise not to buy anymore shiny new fabric and to make clothes that will fit well, and will fit well into your lifestyle. That’s where I am right now, and looking at the discussion about the Wardrobe Architect, I am not the only one here.

      I’ve found 3 projects in the past few years that have really inspired me to turn my hobby (sewing, obvs!) into a more useful part of my everyday life, as well as to end the daily struggle to find well fitting, comfortable clothes in my closet that make me feel good about myself and reflect who I think I am.

TheSecretCostumier - makeshift

     Fashion designer and artist, Natalie Purschwitz, decided to get rid of most of her clothing and only wear what she makes for an entire year. This included everything from clothes to underwear, any accessories and even her shoes. I loved the project as it was as much about showcasing her distinctive style daily, as about exploring what works or what’s useful. It also looks at the process/habit of creating every day, not for pleasure or work, but to fulfil the very basic need/urge to dress up appropriately for every occasion. I also felt that it was a strong statement against the fast fashion culture, and it can be viewed as a proof of one’s ability to rely on herself as much as possible. (Images: makeshift)

TheSecretCostumier - Uniform project       

      1 Dress. 1 Month. 1 Cause. Actually it started off with 365 days of wearing the same little black dress by a girl called Sheena Matheiken, “as an exercise in sustainability and a fundraiser to support the Akanksha Foundation— a non-profit organization providing education to underprivileged children living in Indian slums.” In it’s second year, the UP welcomed different girls, different dresses and different charities for month long periods, which made it even more interesting, by providing several views on the challenges of wearing the same dress every day, and the amazingly creative ways to do it.

      The idea of ditching the casual/formal labels and the ability to transform one piece of clothing into something extremely versatile  is the most appealing aspect to me in this project (these dresses can be worn front-to-back, for example!). Being able to wear the same dress for very different occasions, eliminates the need for “special” clothing, which leads to a smaller wardrobe. Which brings us to the last bit of inspiration… (Images: Uniform Project)

TheSecretCostumier - Everything I Have

       When I was a kid I wore one of my pyjamas until only a few threads held the back of the shorts together. When my mum binned it, I took it out and kept it under my pillow as long as I could… I guess that’s what they call an emotional connection to objects, right? That’s probably how I ended up with a wardrobe of which 78% of the clothing only gets worn less than 5 times a year!  I know that number, because last summer I took a picture of every item of clothing and shoes I own, before we moved flats. I was inspired by an artist called Simon Evans and his project where he photographed everything he had. This is another reflection on consumerism and I think cataloguing your possessions is a great way to turn unused objects into memories and make the decision to give it to someone who would happily use it. (Images: on the left : my own photos, one on the right: Stylecouch’s Blog)

Here is my plan of action, before I start planing my future closet by following the Wardrobe Architect project:

  1. I will assess my existing wardrobe, select the useful/rarely used pieces and sell/donate the latter. (Before the end of February!)
  2. I will stop buying any new clothing AND fabric without a plan, and will keep reminding myself of the consequences of such actions… (Until the end of 2014, at least.)
  3. I will build my new wardrobe around the existing pieces and will try to design a few multifunctional pieces.

Is there anyone else as excited about following a route to an organized wardrobe, or do you already have a good system for  that?

From scratch

Dream coat turned real

Long time no sewing! There is a good reason for that though. I gave up my life in Budapest, resigned from my comfortable Administrator position, waved goodbye (for the 100th time) to my friends and off I came back to London – for good. I brought only my most cherished clothes with me, so my cute Primark winter coat (that was a plan B last year) didn’t make it here.

Since the weather turned chilly over a month ago I started planning THE DREAM coat after I saw this pattern in the September issue of Burda. I was planning on making a coat in a similar fabric that’s in the magazine but in black, but ended up buying this grey wool one, as it looked the best in my price range.TheSecretCostumier - Dream Coat Turned RealThe pattern did not prove to be a tricky one until I got to the neck part, obviously. Unfortunately I did not quite master it as there is still something weird going on there, but I was way too lazy to take everything apart and after working on it over a one month period I decided to just line the coat and use it as it is. I need to make a belt from the remaining fabric or get a similar leather one, as I do not want to put buttons on it as suggested by the pattern.TheSecretCostumier - Dream Coat Turned Real TheSecretCostumier - Dream Coat Turned Real TheSecretCostumier - Dream Coat Turned Real TheSecretCostumier - Dream Coat Turned RealI wanted a coat that looked like a vintage men’s coat and I definitely succeeded with this as the coat is a wee bit big and feels just like I took it from my grandpa’s wardrobe… So here it is, the first coat that I’ve ever made (and the last for at least a year for sure)!

Ready & waiting

1920’s perfection

A-m-a-z-i-n-g dress. Beautiful details. I haven’t seen anything this perfectly put together in a long time and at first I thought it was recent design it looks so timeless. Oh, enough already, right?! 🙂

1920s Blue Silk Devore Beaded Flapper.


Thrift Store Thursdays #2

Yet another batch of my thrift store finds. The balance this time was roughly £7.00.

This jacket was actually for free. A dear colleague of mine who was about to embark on a journey to live the American dream, brought some clothes she was bored of into the office. In spite of being about a size larger, this was the piece I was interested in. I really like the unexpected mix of colours in the checked pattern, the neutral base colour, that it’s double-breasted and the pockets. It’s a very light fabric with no lining in it so it would make a great summer jacket with little dresses after the necessary alterations are made. (Although fitting a bigger sleeve seems impossible right now as I started to sew a shirt and ended up taking it all apart as it was too big, and haven’t been able to correct the mistake ever since, so this might just be a project for Autumn.:))

The dress above is from Next and was £40 originally, according to the tag that is still attached. I have never worn this dress, but I loved the ’40s style and bright red colour of it. I have a thing for red dresses, even though unlike the little black/white dresses, it’s very hard to find an eye-catching yet simple one that lets the colour do all the talking. Something like this gorgeous Lanvin one:


Image source: Pinterest


From scratch

That backless dress

Drumrolls please…Here is the backless dress that I wrote about previously.TheSecretCostumier-backless dress front TheSecretCostumier-backless dress backI bought this fabric to make harem pants out of it, but changed my mind and used a very simple pattern from Burda to make a dress instead. As I was playing around with the fastenings (the zipper broke the moment I finished inserting it) I realized that it was too dull the way it was, so I cut triangles out of the back part and made it into a backless dress. inserted an elastic waistband and a button holds the whole thing tight on my back.

I haven’t worn it yet, since I didn’t really feel like wearing heels in this very hot weather, but I definitely should as the fabric is very light, so it really is a great summer dress.

From scratch

The birth of a(nother) backless dress

Even though there is nothing easier to wear and make than a dress, I constantly find myself redesigning the ones I sew from scratch so that they turn out to be sexy, but VERY-hard-to-put-together backless dresses.

I got this blue fabric to make harem pants of it, but soon realized that:

  1.  there is a reason why I don’t have any navy blue trousers;
  2.  it would look cheap made of this wrinkled fabric.

So I took some paper with me to the sewing class that I’m taking (maybe more on this later?) and copied an extremely simple dress pattern from one of the Burdastyle magazines lying around. It was simple as it only consists of 5 major parts (2 of them are the squares that make the skirt up).

Image source: Burda Magazine 2010/11

But how does a rather boring classic dress turn out to be a hopefully head turning backless dress one might ask…

Well, once you try it on you just start playing with it. You cinch in the waist here, pull the skirt up there, and the next thing you know you’ve replaced the zipper with an elastic band and cut out the back part almost completely. Obviously the fact that the zip broke the moment I tried to pull it up speeded up this process.TheSecretCostumier - backless dress previewAt least I knew it then and there that there is no way I am using another zipper in this dress, and probably saved myself a lot of time as it is very unlikely to arrange a zip in a way that it can hold up the upper part of the dress from below my waist. Or so I think with my very basic engineering skills.