Thursday, 2 October 2014

Wardrobe sewing: The winter work 6pac demonstrating unusual virtue

I think a lot about  my wardrobe. I find this an engaging pastime. Unfortunately, most of the thinking seems to avoid the fact that I spend a considerable part of my time at work, which necessitates trousers. I have not yet overcome my aversion to sewing trousers. Thank goodness, I can force myself to sew them by joining in a sewing project. (I assure you, buying them would be more work, and with no chance of success, but still, wasting valuable sewing time on trousers is deadening to the sewing enthusiasm)


To entice myself to sew dull work clothes, I started with my fabulous-almost-a-disaster winter coat.  I told myself in October last year, when I finished it just in time for warm weather,(as one does when the sewing ambition outstrips the available sewing opportunities), that I would definitely wear-it-all-the-time in order to distribute the cost of the fabric over many occasions of use. This is how I manage to convince myself that pricey designer Winter fabric fits into my tightwad fiscally responsible life in the subtropics.
Unusual virtue 1.
Completing the entire project

I report success. Not only have I actually (although belatedly) completed a dull work 6 pac mostly according to my plan, I wore the coat nearly every work day for 2 months (assisted by a particularly cold Winter), on my pleasant, short but sometimes frosty walk there, because these 3!! pairs of trousers all co-ordinate quite nicely with it. (Sewing trousers is the second unusual virtue - I can't bear to write a post solely about the trousers so they are previously unblogged -2 Burda Style 04-2009-118 variations, one self drafted and all tropical or lightweight wool, all lined with cotton batiste).

technical drawing from
 You can probably see that my personalised versions are rather different, I don't do cuffs, and the zip is on the side (blue pair) or at the back (grey pair).

 I do admit that the third pair, grey, has been languishing in a partially sewn manner on my sewing table for at least 2 months and has not actually been worn with the winter coat- yet. I wore them today though.


Fortunately, you can't see any of the blouses when I wear the coat, so I didn't have to think hard about that element of co-ordination. Blouse 1 here, Blouse 2 here and 3 here, Burda Style (when it was BWOF) 01-2008-106/7
(I have also worn the coat quite often over my lone pair of denim trousers in my soccer mum role). I am loving having a knit coat that bears no relation to polar fleece other than its flexibility.

Unusual virtue 2.
Stash and scrapbusting
The blue and grey trousers are not my usual colours, but I am quite happy with them for work clothes with some warmer shades in the blouses to prevent a terrible sallow appearance from scaring off all my clients. As I have purchased a few fabric bundles (see fiscally responsible self reporting above - it takes creative self accounting to convince oneself that purchasing a fabric bundle is really saving money, but I am quite accomplished at this aspect of fiscal irresponsibility), there are beautiful quality fabrics in my stash that are not necessarily perfectly suited to me, and I don't want to palm them all off on my long suffering daughters. All the fabrics used in this wardrobe (cough, except the fabric of the coat) are from 2010 or earlier stash - or are remnants from other projects.

Unusual virtue 3.
Wardrobe culling
I actually threw out one dismally faded pair of trousers and  one pair with unfortunate signs of insect affection. I don't think I've ever thrown out a pair of trousers that  fit me and had mostly intact fabric/hardware before. This unfortunate tendency to retain clothing has led to occasions of unsuitable scruffiness in the past. I now only have respectable and presentable work trousers in my wardrobe - not even an laundry emergency pair lurking in the top of the cupboard.( I may regret this)

 Unusual virtue 4.
Thinking about the accessories. As my (inside whilst at work) work wardrobe is invariably a pair of trousers and a blouse, my opportunities to accessorise are limited.
I made an accessory. This is a leather version of the Hot Patterns Nombad Hobo Bag. My accessory mostly co-ordinates with my new work wardrobe. This is much smarter looking than taking one's lunch to work in a supermarket bag. I also already have work shoes to co-ordinate with the trousers (one pair black, one pair dark brown). There will be no new trousers languishing in the wardrobe because I don't have the right shoes.I may be learning something from all these wardrobe planning threads after all.

Unusual virtue 5.

Cutting my losses when the inner layer cardigan did not look good with a collared shirt and trousers. - Formerly, I would have made a different cardigan, or different tops, or gone off on a tangent to force the cardigan into the 6pac. Instead, I worked out that I did not really need it to complete the wardrobe for my needs, and kept to the core plan of trousers and shirts for work with something to wear as an outer layer for commuting. I virtuously made a third pair of trousers to make sure it really was a 6 pack. See my halo?. I have left the inner cardigan in the "wardrobe" shot because it will remind me not to make it again in a work colour.

Unusual virtue 6
Not starting a new project in the middle of the schedule. Unfortunately this is a very unusual virtue for me, I failed to display this virtue.
I was very distracted by the Vivienne Files posts about a starting from scratch wardrobe, and the discussion concerning this that started in July. I feel it is an unusual virtue to have restrained myself from instantly starting a 4 piece collection in the same colours that I would never wear for work anyway. However, I did make the blue trousers without any pockets, belt loops or details, to make them unnoticeable, as the Vivienne Files suggest, and unfortunately, I find them not only boring, but impractical.
The other pairs of trousers have at least one pocket for my phone, which sometimes needs to be on my person whilst both hands (and shoulders) are free. This is how I did it.  I think my  pleasure in wearing hand made clothing is more "non boring basics" as described in Imogen Lamport's post here.

To reward myself for all this virtue I am planning a lovely virtual shopping trip with some vivid prints- or maybe I should put in some more work on that formal dress.


Here is the walking to work look, which I probably should not admit to, as I allow my hair to dry on the way there.... I promise it looks OK by the time I get there (you can see why I wear a hat in the top photo ;)


Anonymous said...

Wonderfully entertaining post, and, of course, a great work wardrobe.

I envy your hair that looks good without any attention apart from drying whilst walking!


liza jane said...

I'm impressed! I attempted some work trousers this summer before I went back to work and they were a bust. I can't bring myself to try again.

Uta said...

Your wardrobe is fabulous! My work clothes are getting scruffy, and I can't bring myself to buy new ones - or sew them either. I'm certainly motivated though after seeing this!

EmSewCrazy said...

Ooh it looks so good! Great job persevering through! I need to do something like this soon...

Mary said...

What a wonderful that coat!

Lyndle said...

Thank you for the best read I've had in ages. I am glad you didn't complete the last virtue, or I would have begun to suspect you were either not entirely real or not entirely honest with us. I totally agree about pockets. If you don't want to take your handbag with you when you cross the room, you need a pocket.
Well done! I Look forward to seeing your new fabric acquisitions. I have stopped buying but I like to look, as they say.

Paola said...

So much in this post I can relate. I am also in the "trousers for work" camp, and find sewing trousers pretty uninteresting, especially since I eschew pretty much all design details. All your virtues are goals I have in mind to achieve one day.

Gail said...

I'm trying to imagine what work would necessitate trousers - agronomist? social worker? Your trousers are never boring BTW.

Juliet said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Juliet said...

Very well done. I too have acquired many trouser lengths in fine wool at very good prices (14 at the last count!). As you’re wearing you’re wearing the trousers regularly for work I presume they are washable, even machine washable?
How many prewashes do you carry out of the wool and cotton fabric?
Do they ever shrink at different rates?
How easy are the trousers to iron?
Sorry for so many questions but you may be able to help in “liberating” my stashed woollen trouser lengths into the real world! Losing a few kilos might help with this endeavour too but that’s a different topic! Many thanks.

Anonymous said...

Yes I was wondering why trousers are necessary - going up ladders? Riding a horse or tractor? Do please let us know. I had not seen your post on the coat, but it turns out to be a fascinating story, especially the holes. I really like it. The colour and the softness of the look and feel. You are amazingly productive, capable and - appropriately dressed. Bravo!

kbenco said...

Juliet, yes, you are right, I wash these trousers in the machine (front loader, 30*C delicate "hand wash" cycle, using wool wash.
I pre wash the wool this way, once, I pre wash the batiste on a regular 30*C wash, once. I line dry.
I've not had any trouble with shrinkage, other than that caused by excessive consumption of chocolate ;)
However, this regular machine washing is hard on the clothing.( I wear trousers once per wash, or twice if I have an unusually low contact day: for the curious, I work in health and my job can be rather messy, particularly when in a hospital situation, and indelicate in posture at times, hence the need for frequent washing and my personal no-skirts-at-work rule. I don't feel my clothes should limit my clinical examinations ;). The trousers do not have fantastic longevity under this treatment, but I can always make more...

SewRuthie said...

I am very impressed with the practicality of this wardrobe and your ability to actually sew up ALL of the pieces!

fabric epiphanies said...

I feel your pain with the trouser construction. I work in an all male office so trousers are indeed more practical but I have yet to find a truly me pattern. Yours look great and I am sure there will be more.

Sue said...

Ha, ha! - seriously if your hair is wet when you go out walking it ain't cold! Lovely 6 pack and coat and I admire your virtuosity!

Carol said...

I, too, dislike sewing pants and I dislike wearing them these days. I've had a day of boring sewing, but it's oddly rewarding, particularly when you can use up stash!

Anonymous said...

*awed* you've just done what I always think I should do but never actually do.
I gave up and went to the op-shop. Now why (for once) does adjusting rtw trousers to fit seem so much more interesting than making trousers from scratch that fit? I have NO idea.

Anyway I am deeply awed by your unusually virtuous sewing!

Sharon said...

You have produced a wonderful work wardrobe and love your post!