My handmade wardrobe year – December!

Here its is one WHOLE year tomorrow since I wrote a post that I planned to only make my clothes and not buy any!

Each month I have written a post about how I’ve got on, I am very pleased to say I have not purchased one single item of clothing.


This month my only completed make is this navy blue dress made from the same pattern as the wood print one I made last month. I wore this to the December Sew Sociable event. I loved this fabric as soon as I saw it and liked the idea of the birds ‘flying’ around the hem. This dress looks so simple but inside it has interlining which the pleats are attached to and layered gathered frills for lining the skirt. All the work involved is worth it I am very happy with the dress.

Looking back over the year it has been quite an interesting and thought provoking exercise.

I am far from being rich but I love my clothes and have always managed to buy some new clothes throughout the year. I was slightly unsure if I would be able to stick to my rules especially at the change of season. This is usually a time when I would inject my wardrobe with a few new items. However by the time the weather started to change I found myself in a new mindset. I have become really happy with making all my own clothes.

From the point of view of style I know my taste fairly well now and the styles that suit me and the ones that don’t, therefore I haven’t really made any style mistakes, which potentially might have sent me back to the shops.

I’ve made my decisions carefully as to what to make and been quite organised. It obviously takes a lot longer to make a garment than to buy one. I have found I needed to think about what I would need to wear and what I wanted to wear well in advance, by doing this I have realised I probably bought way more items than were necessary in the past.

One of the highs has been owning dresses, I have never been a standard shop size so I’ve bypassed wearing dresses unless they were made from stretch fabric.



I really wanted to wear a dress to the first Sew Sociable event so I made this one and I love it!


I had a few problems with this and vowed never to make it again, but it has turned into one of my favorites.


This dress shape has a wrap around apron detail, I like the effect of the zigzags changing direction when tied.


I really liked the style so I made it again with a longer skirt, a perfect summer dress.


I have also become quite fond of using furnishing fabrics or fabrics slightly out of context for clothing. This white top was a vintage linen table runner, I think it once belonged to my Gran. It was just the right length to make a simple top and I nearly wore it out in the summer!


I developed a pattern from a pair of very expensive Paul Smith trousers that I owned and made lots of versions including these charity shop curtain fabric pair.


And my scrap box ombre patchwork trousers.


Some of the styles I develop from scratch are with a class in mind. In August I completed 10 tops based on one pattern, with the idea of running a course that would show how to fit and then create new styles from one simple pattern.


Last month I played with pleats mainly trying to work out a formula to suppress the right amount of fabric into a waist size. I worked out that I need to go back to school to learn maths!

Now the year ahead……

I am not writing any rules for this coming year but I do plan to continue writing my blog posts about what I make and I will also write about anything I buy.

It has been great to hear that some people have been inspired by this idea its good to hear from you. I have loved teaching the dressmaking courses this year and seeing the well fitted results. I have several new courses already scheduled in for the new year.

I wish you a very happy and productive sewing filled new year.

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Julia Claridge

I was about 6 or 7 years old when I had my first go on a sewing machine, it was an old hand crank machine that my mum used with her patients, she was an occupational therapist. I still vividly remember watching with amazement as the tiny perfectly formed stitches were created as I turned the handle. I Grew up in the 70’s and 80’s when buying clothes was less affordable and dressmaking was an answer to updating your wardrobe more regularly. My own mother was a talented dressmaker who made most of my clothes and my sisters clothes as well as a many for herself. I soon got involved with making my clothes, I loved the whole experience of picking out fabrics, trims and a pattern to create a new outfit, then going home to make a new garment or outfit. When it came to leaving school I visited a careers advisor who asked what I wanted to do next. My answer was ..Sew! Read more...


  1. Audrey Watt on December 31, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    I have thoroughly enjoyed following your blog, and have been inspired to take up dressmaking again. I even made a friends 50s inspired dress for her renewal of wedding vows (40 years). Plus a cape for myself and a dress (from a £2 remnant of fabric) to wear to her celebrations.
    All the best for 2015.

    • juliaclaridge on December 31, 2014 at 7:56 pm

      They sound like fabulous makes Audrey, its great to make things from super cheap remnants it makes it even more worthwhile 🙂

  2. Tracy on December 31, 2014 at 7:44 pm

    I have found reading your blogs inspirational and encouraged me to make more of my own clothing.

    • juliaclaridge on December 31, 2014 at 8:01 pm

      Thanks Tracy, what you have achieved with your wardrobe is fantastic, so pleased to have been on part of the journey with you and very excited about our embroidery collaboration soon…when I settle on a colour and shape 🙂 So many exciting projects on the go for the coming year!

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