Saturday, 16 January 2016

Preparing a handmade winter capsule wardrobe...

When I found out that I was moving to Stockholm for 6 months, my thoughts soon turned to packing!  I've been pretty static these past two years because I've moved so much between 2009 and 2014. The climax, if you can call it that, was spending over a year on the road between late 2012 and early 2014, when I worked backstage on a touring show. Living out of a suitcase isn't fun at all! Your clothes have to work much harder, and meet several functions. You've also got to get used to having very little choice!

Although I'll (hopefully) get to stay in the same digs during my time in Stockholm, I'm anticipating quite a variation in weather conditions. Freezing at the beginning, but going into spring - and maybe even a glimpse of Scandinavian summer! Luckily I spent a week in Gothenburg in June 2015, so I've got an idea of what to expect towards the end of my trip. Well, wildflowers, cold outdoor swimming, and mild rain! Very sadly, I won't be packing any of my lightweight summer dresses, extravagant vintage clothes, dramatic hat collection, or wide selection of coats, shoes, and clothes which might be otherwise be described as costumes. For the first time ever, I'm going to commit to being practical, even if I loathe to embrace 'normcore'!

I took a week off over Christmas and New Year to do a little sewing. I soon had to scale back what I'd planned to make, but the crux of my winter capsule wardrobe rests on these four patterns:

Ginger Jeans by Closet Case Patterns

A good pair of trousers is the foundation stone of any wardrobe. My go-to trousers used to be a pair of high-waisted, leopard print, velvet leggings that my mum bought in a vintage shop in the 1980s. Unfortunately, they are now truly showing their 35+ years of wear. There are only so many crotch holes you can sew up; I had to retire them a few months ago.

This pattern has got to be famous by now! If you haven't heard of it, it's a skinny jeans pattern made for stretch denim. It's had rave reviews for everything: the cut, the instructions, the online sewalong...Denim is really not my thing, but the enthusiasm for this pattern from the sewing community has proved infectious. I'm going to streamline my look by sewing up a pair of Gingers in black stretch corduroy. I can't wait to share my version!

Nettie by Closet Case Patterns

I've grown to really like wearing bodysuits - but hate the fact that 95% of them on the market come without any crotch fastenings, making it nearly impossible to go to the toilet! I am constantly baffled by how we still wear so much restrictive clothing today, hence things like my mission to add pockets into everything I make.

The Nettie bodysuit has lots of neckline options, and I know it'll easily be a fabulous transitioning piece, between underwear and outerwear. Layering's always a good thing, and I think that a couple of Netties in my suitcase will slip straight into regular rotation.

Watson bra & bikini by Cloth Habit.

Last but by no means least is underwear. I've been wearing my toile Watson at least once a week, and now actually find myself unable to wear any bra with underwires for more than a couple of hours. I desperately need to make another Watson bra in a different colour before my sewing machine and I are parted for six months!


Socks are going to be a focus next year as I'm planning on taking my double-pointed needled in my suitcase. I love this simple pattern by Purl Soho. I've learned from experience that lace handknit socks don't really work for me (too thick, but holey!) so I'll be looking at ribbed and cable patterns.

Aside from these items, I've got the various hand-knitted sweaters I've made in the past. I'm lugging along a selection of knitted hats and scarves, and invested in a down-filled waterproof parka. The hardest part now is choosing which shoes to pack!

What are your best pieces for a capsule wardrobe? Any tips for travelling light?

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