My handmade wardrobe year – Jan 2014

Yesterday I announced on Facebook and twitter that my New Year resolution would be to only make my clothes and not to buy ANY for a whole year.

I also plan to blog about my progress and what I make every month. So here by way of a kick start, I thought I better set some ground rules.

Here are my rules:

1. I will only MAKE clothing for a whole year, including coats, jackets, dresses, trousers and tops.

2. The only items I can buy are underwear and footwear – including socks, tights, knickers, bras, shoes, sandals and boots.

3. As I don’t knit if I want a knitted item I can ask someone to hand knit it for me.

4. I can re-work items already in my wardrobe.

5. I can accept gifts of pre-made clothing for my birthday and Christmas only.

Them there are me rules!

Me and my wardrobe so far………..

I have had a life long love affair with clothes, as many of us do. I trained as a fashion designer and worked in the fashion trade for most of my career to date. I think I have got to the point now where I am more of a fan of style than fashion. I admire effortless style and I admire vintage style icons that still look as amazing today as they did in their day. I think classic simple styles stand the test of time and can be re-styled and bought up to date.


I love good quality fabrics, good quality clothing and interesting and clever design. I love mixing up vintage, new, designer with high street.


I’ve spent the last few years in and out of maternity wear which I wasn’t in love with. Returning to a normal wardrobe I tried to buy good quality classics that can be dressed up and down and become stables of my wardrobe. Sometimes I achieved this and sometimes it was a total disaster!

My style…..

These days I have to be realistic, I am a mum of 2 little ones, things have to be practical, washable and chuck onable! I am pretty practical anyway so I am a big lover of casual clothes, and understated style but I still like the quality to be there. Obviously I don’t have an office job where I am expected to dress a certain way but nonetheless I am a fan of a bit of retail therapy.

My wardrobe stables are very much jeans and a nice top or sweater. I like trousers the most but I do wear skirts a fair bit, I have especially enjoyed wearing my reversible wrap skirt recently.


I am a big lover of Toast and can’t usually resist a bargain or two when they have there mega 70% off sale around now! Since having kids actually getting to the shops for clothes shopping has been almost impossible and its a total no-go to go with them!!!! So I have found my way to quite a bit of online shopping. I am a big fan of Top shop and ASOS, both cover most requirements. Topped up with the odd piece from nice catalogues like Plumo and Wrap.



As for making my own clothes – I have to confess generally I buy more clothes than I make, I have made the important things in my life like my wedding dress. I make a lot of dresses for my daughter, infact she has more handmade dresses than bought ones.

So here starteth a whole new and exciting journey:

I had a quick dig around in my fabric stash and in my wardrobe and came up with a few ideas:

I’m thinking about a simple vest shape that is quite loose to wear under a cardigan with jeans now and on its own in the summer with trousers or jeans. I think I need quite drapey fabric for this to look good. I found 3 fab pieces of fabric in my stash…….


Semi sheer dobby cotton voile, lightweight piece of Liberty (I think its Liberty – completely forgot about it) and a really old piece of printed viscose. Along with these I found a couple of old treasures kept for the prints, a Georgette maxi dress and a satin maxi skirt, both of these might work well in the shape I am thinking about!



Then I found this 80’s wool jacket, which I loved for the classic shape and the fabric, but was shelved because it does have 80’s shoulders and the buttons and lining are not my fav!


With new customising classes coming up I thought I might see what I can do with a classic little beige cardy!


And a pair of jeans………..


This vintage dress might just be wearable, but it doesn’t fit or suit my shape so I am thinking a skirt re-work here,


and the same here……….


And lastly I quite fancy turning these curtains into slim fit trousers!


I’m feeling pretty pleased with the outcome of a quick rummage around! A few ideas that have been floating around and a few new ones and the possibility of a much bigger new wardrobe than I would have achieved even in the January sales.

I am also busy collecting ideas for my wardrobe and for classes on my dedicated Pinterest page. I am totally addicted to Pinterest if you haven’t already discovered it go now!

You can follow my wardrobe story here monthly and I promise to be completely honest 🙂

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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...

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