Sarah Gunn of Goodbye Valentino is coordinating another Ready-to-Wear fast, in which participants avoid purchasing any clothing from retail stores, instead making all their own clothing for a whole year!

I’m in! I did the 2014 fast and thoroughly enjoyed the process. As a sewist, it really stretches you, but the benefits are amazing – clothing that fits, a more coordinated wardrobe, the satisfaction of completion, and the total independence from retail!

First step is to start planning what I will make.  Rather than taking a willy-nilly approach, I’ll try to plan out an intelligent wardrobe that allows for multiple mix and match options, and that allows me to create several key pieces that will be wearable throughout the year.  Early thoughts for projects include lingerie (bras and panties), winter coat (truthfully, it’s a UFO from a couple of years ago, just needs to be finished), a French style quilted lining boucle blazer, and a fully tailored tweed blazer.  Knitted projects will include a merino pullover to help me survive winter, plus one or two knitting machine projects.

Looking forward to sharing this process with many other people, and learning lots.


There’s nothing I love better than the approach of a new season.  It means I get to start a very important process all over again:  capturing the essence of my wardrobe plan for the season.  I do it twice a year:  Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter.  Some people use Pinterest and create pins for their wardrobe.  Some use Polyvore to create a visual of an outfit or capsule wardrobe.  I do use both as sources of information, but I create my own PowerPoint presentation to capture my inspiration.

Each presentation has several parts:

Inspiration, which is a section that I use for photos of looks that I find inspiring or that I’d like to duplicate. It’s a bigger picture section where I try to find visuals that depict the look I aspire to.  Usually that means sophisticated, chic, relaxed, stylish put-together 50-something.  Sigh…don’t always get there.

Outfits, which is often things I put together on Polyvore specifically to identify what kind of items I will make or buy to achieve my look. Or if I have a piece in my wardrobe, I can play around with how to mix & match it for maximum use.  We all end up with orphan pieces that don’t have anything to go with, so this is an easy way to get some ideas.

A section each on Tops, Bottoms, Dresses, Coats etc. that have more specific visuals of things I like or things I’d like to try making.

Charcoal cardi slacks

Here’s an inspiration slide that I’m relating to stuff in my stash. Not sure where I grabbed this photo from – likely Pinterest.

These presentations can get large – Fall/Winter 2015 had 136 slides in it.  But reviewing them regularly is absolutely inspiring, and really helps me figure out what I want to make for the season.  I’ll spend a good couple of months researching, looking at my favorite designers (Ralph Lauren and Worth) and Chicos for casual wear. I’ll also check out what the people I follow on Polyvore are doing (they have way better style than me), and I’ll even search Pinterest for ideas. I’ll also check out Vogue Magazine runway shows. What happens after a little time is that you can get a sense for where fashion is going, and what is trend versus longer-term style. It helps me identify what trendy things I might like to make, and what quality pieces I’d like to invest in for the longer term (still making them of course, but with better fabric and more care & attention to construction).  It gives me such a boost to dream about what I’ll do – and if I’m procrastinating about sewing it’s a great way to rev up my motivation to get back at it!

Cardi and jeans

Here’s a slide that’s identifying how I can duplicate the cardigan in this outfit that I like (grabbed it from one of the people I follow on Polyvore).  I also have the striped fabric for a tee, and some shorter brown boots.  So the yarn goes on my “to buy” list, and the tee on my “to make from stash” list.

So that’s how I get my list of things to make or buy.  How about you?

Floral pencil skirt #2

Floral pencil skirt #2 by melaniemac featuring a travel purse

LE3NO crochet top
18 CAD –

Pied a Terre skirt
110 CAD –

Vionic shoes

Target travel purse
39 CAD –

Bling Jewelry silver jewelry
39 CAD –

Cuff bracelet
5.33 CAD –

Silky Smooth Pashmina
51 CAD –

Floral pencil skirt #1

Floral pencil skirt #1 by melaniemac featuring strappy sandals

Open cardigan
65 CAD –

Pied a Terre skirt
110 CAD –

Yves Saint Laurent strappy sandals
1,060 CAD –

Hand bag
32 CAD –

Silver jewelry
46 CAD –

Belk Silverworks silver jewelry
22 CAD –

Happy Yellow Cardigan

Happy Yellow Cardigan by melaniemac featuring Oscar de la Renta

Yellow top
12 CAD –

Jane Norman t shirt
19 CAD –

Oscar de la Renta shorts
1,050 CAD –

Leather sandals
105 CAD –

Crossbody purse
41 CAD –

Style Co bib necklace
48 CAD –

Clear earrings
12 CAD –

Keeping it neutral

Keeping it neutral by melaniemac featuring a rose gold nail polish

Des Petits Hauts relax t shirt
135 CAD –

Chicnova Fashion tartan coat
15 CAD –

Emilio Pucci jersey knit pants
1,200 CAD –

Pointed toe shoes
37 CAD –

ALDO quilted crossbody
58 CAD –

Pre owned handbag
55 CAD –

Marc by marc jacobs jewelry
62 CAD –


NARS Cosmetics rose gold nail polish
28 CAD –

I’ve been doing quite a bit of knitting lately.  Somehow I managed to get myself included in a charity fashion show happening on November 4 in Oshawa, Ontario.  I’ll be showing 8 knitted items. The goal is to show that knitting shouldn’t be scary.  With  few simple stitches – and some amazing yarns – anyone can make some really interesting pieces that add all kinds of style to outfits! All my knitted projects are documented on Ravelry.  Here’s what I’ll have in the show:  a girl can never have too many wraps, cowls or shawls!


At the beginning of 2014 I joined a Ready-to-Wear Fast, vowing to make all my clothes for the year.  I’ve been doing quite well, although my efforts have been hampered a bit by working away at my Fashion studies classes.  This year I took:

  • Pattern Drafting II, which had us manipulating bodice and sleeve blocks.  We designed and made a dress from woven fabrics, as well as a knit dress.
  • Corsetry and bra making.  This was a really fun class, although I spent a lot of time trying to get my head around shaping bra cups.  But between the course and the wonderful resources on Pinterest, it’s making enough sense that I’m comfortable drafting my own bra’s.  Just need the time…

What is pattern drafting?

At least at Seneca College in Toronto, pattern drafting courses work like this.  They offer three levels of pattern drafting, plus a custom block making course. Plus a draping course which I’ll do in the future.

Flat pattern drafting is about creating flat patterns for a 3-dimensional body.  It involves manipulating a standard size 10 block, using it to make various types of garments. Topics include use of traditional darted blocks, skirt and bodice, with special emphasis on dart control and manipulation, yokes, flaring techniques, fullness, facings and waistbands.

A block (aka sloper) is a flat pattern representation of standard garment pieces such as bodice, skirt, pants; with minimum ease added – if you were to use it to sew up a pair of pants for instance, you could stand, but definitely not sit! In flat pattern drafting, all garments start from a basic block – you then add ease, manipulate darts, and add other elements to create the pattern you want.  A custom block is one that’s been created based on your specific measurements.  Contrast this to “draping”, in which you drape fabric on to a body, pinching, draping and manipulating it into the design and fit you want.

I can’t begin to express how meaningful these pattern making courses have been to me.  For the last 20 years I have struggled with trying to get clothing to fit – it seems like there’s almost no part of me that corresponds to a standard size.  So instead of struggling with multiple fitting issues, now I start with a block that fits me, then draft a pattern for my garment of choice.  So far, I’ve made a vintage blouse, several tee-shirts, several tunic blouses, and some wonderful summer skirts.  My next project will be a Couture-style jacket – in that case I’ll take my block and use it to alter a commercial pattern, as I’m not ready to draft a jacket pattern quite yet.

What I really like about the pattern making courses is that they teach you to evaluate a design – whether a sketch, or a photo of a garment – and design a pattern to make that garment.  So no more looking around for the closest pattern:  if I like something, I can draft a pattern for it.

Even the bra making course had a large design element to it – we learned how to draft a bra and corset pattern from a set of measurements, as well as learning all the sewing techniques.  So going into that class without any pattern drafting experience would make it very challenging.

Think about it…

I know almost all of us have fitting challenges – why not consider pattern drafting instead of numerous “toiles” trying to get the right fit.  While pattern drafting won’t solve everything, when you start with a pattern based on your own measurements you’re bound to be ahead of the game. Here are a few resources:

College level courses – many colleges offer these types of courses in their Continuing Education school.

Craftsy now has several classes in pattern drafting.  I’ve taken a couple of them and they’re the next best thing to being in a classroom with the teacher.

There are quite a lot of online courses available:  Here’s a link to a Google search.

There are all kinds of books available on the subject. Topics might include pattern making, pattern drafting, or even pattern cutting.  But I’d be cautious – if you don’t have any experience with pattern drafting, you might find some of the information a bit challenging.  I bought a few books prior to taking classes – but couldn’t understand them.  Now, they are amazing resources.

If you have any questions,I’d be happy to answer them based on my experiences.  And if you have any suggestions, please chime in!  The more information, the better!

Happy sewing!


Jean Jacket #3

Jean Jacket #3 by melaniemac featuring a brown long sleeve t shirt

Cashmere shawl
$130 –

Naturalizer Monaco

Naturalizer Macia

Those shoes!

Those shoes! by melaniemac featuring Viyella


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