After a Fashion?



The inside of my winter wardrobe.

I don’t often post on this blog: I’m usually to be found thinking about quilts at She Sews You Know , but as my thoughts are wardrobe related I thought I’d write them here.

Lately, I have been reading a few things about minimalism, capsule wardrobes and having the clothes you need for your life. Project 333 is one you might like to look at if you are interested.

There is nothing minimalist about my wardrobe. Running kit, scruffy clothes for walking the dog and cleaning out hens are all in drawers and of course there is the extensive laundry pile.

There’s also nothing fashionable about my wardrobe.

This is still my favourite coat and it makes me easily recognisable. No one else has one like it and that’s my aim where possible.

There are only two items hanging there bought new from shops – a green maxi dress bought in Berlin and a camel maxi coat bought about fifteen years ago. There isn’t much of a colour theme: if I think it suits me I will wear it. Sometimes I find or make a piece and it has to wait a few months until I find or make a piece that goes with it.

I recently filled up a bin bag of clothes for the charity shop – I make mistakes and I go off things. I’m hoping there’ll be other people out there who aren’t too worried about up to the minute fashion so they’re not wasted.


This is my evening skirt, made of silk, lined with silk and worn once, maybe twice. It didn’t get added to the bin bag because I’m planning to reuse the fabric for other projects. The silk top is already in the unpicking pile.

I am trying to build a wardrobe I can actually wear year in year out until it wears out – I get fond of clothes and I don’t want to trash the planet. I love clothes  but I don’t want to be dictated to. I want to wear clothes that represent who I am, brighten up my life and let me get on with that life.

I’d love to hear from you if you are working on the same lines…..

Norma x

PS. Yes, still wearing them!


Author: norma

Hello, I'm Norma and I live in Wales. I love animals, baking, growing veggies but my big loves are sewing and history.

27 thoughts on “After a Fashion?”

  1. I like the grey coat and yes it is one of a kind–in a good way. The silk blouse is very pretty and I love the ball buttons. I think it would look lovely on you. But if you are inspired to make something else from it then go with the feeling.

    I don’t have much leeway to buy high quality fabrics so I have to make good with middle quality blends. For me it isn’t so much an over abundance of clothing but an over abundance of other people’s influences. Norma, I hate the couture bug inside my head. I have to mentally scale down on my approach to sewing. I’ve always loved hand finishing a garment. My Gran taught me a combination of sewing by machine and hand that was always enjoyable. But once this couture thing infiltrated home sewing I began to feel that somehow my output was inferior. Then when I didn’t want to serge/merrow anymore I thought I was being silly. I decided to pare down on all the machinery and couture books. The factory machine and merrow machine and books were donated to a Senior Center. The guy who helped me move to a smaller apartment in the early 1990s facilitated moving the machines there free of charge. He took the customized worktable off my hand, too. I’m now a happy minimalist in terms of equipment. I need to pare down the ideas and influences from other places on the web. It’s not the quantity but the quality.

    In terms of a wardrobe it is a challenge to come up with interchangeable pieces and color schemes but it is exciting. Even sticking to just three basics like black, white and red can yield fascinating clothes. Style is all about you as Mom told me. So simplifying and clearing out what isn’t about you is a good thing to do.

    1. Sadly the silk top won’t fasten properly anymore and that’s despite the fact I am much fitter and training for a half marathon. At least I wore that one quite a bit.
      It’s a shame that the couture bug got you. I still like the combination of machine and hand sewing and it produces something far better than even very good ready to wear clothes if practiced carefully. I don’t have much of a budget either now and I missed it a lot when I had to start doing things differently. The evening clothes featured were the sort of whim I couldn’t give into now and I’m not sad because it’s been more fun making do.
      I don’t suppose you could face a sew a long with me or something like that? No couture allowed? Or is that going too far?

      1. Norma, I’d love a sew along. Sorry if I gave the impression that I’m against couture. I agree hand and machine sewing are excellent together. What gets me isn’t the techniques of couture but how the term is used everywhere with so much sanctimony. For awhile we even had “Juicy Couture” labels on the back pocket of jeans. So many techniques our Mom’s or Grandmother’s used were common sense and commonly used. Now everything is called couture. I’m using the terms dressmaker and dressmaker finish more often. My paring down comes to remembering what the word means and not feeling compelled by commercial websites and forums to purchase expensive equipment, threads, etc. just because somebody said it’s “couture.” This is off the direction of your posting but in many ways I understand your feelings to keep things simple and to suit your needs and personality. Sorry if I veered off.

      2. Oh, I see and I do agree. I guess it was all another marketing ploy to make us feel inferior and if we had “couture” stuff we’d be better – usual thing.

      3. Yes, that’s it correctly. This post has me thinking about simplicity–not just the sewing patterns, but what that approach can do for us. There’s a book called “Simple Abundance” that I’m working through each day. It’s about living better with less clutter. It’s a challenge to simplify mentally, emotionally and physically. I think you’re doing good in your efforts. It is not always easy to recognize a mistake or know when something has to be let go or redesigned. Thanks for giving me some space and a topic to think about on an otherwise very long and uninteresting day!

      4. I will have a look for the book as it sounds interesting.
        Do you want to think about a sew along? The only easily useable fabric I have at the moment is my Welsh wool but it’s checked and there isn’t enough of it to do anything exciting. I was planning a simple skirt.
        I’d like a dress really, one that I might wear and wouldn’t just sit and stare at me in the wardrobe. I imagine my 1930s tryout dress in navy wool crepe…..

      5. Do we have to make the same thing or can we compare what we’re doing on a recurring basis? I have a navy blue poly gabardine that would make a divine trumpet skirt. That looks very 1930s but I’d have to do the pattern and toile first. My only worry is my work schedule. I can get scattered because of travel and conference participation. It would be fun to post at Retro Glam. I’m still working on the sheath skirt but can fit in something simple.

    1. I will have a look at what’s around, I think. Maybe you could look too and we might find something we both like.
      I am really only set on navy crepe as I think I could wear a dress like that – and I like my knees to be well covered!
      I would also need time to get everything together – it’s not easy to get good fabric around here.

    2. I think we could do differnt things if that’s what suited us. Similar era and colour maybe and then discuss difficulties,techniques etc. My 1930s pattern is out of print so we couldn’t both do it easily. It has scarey pleats, a bound button hole and would need refitting because my shape has changed. How does that sound?
      I’m not in a hurry. Let’s just think through things a bit.
      I’m not worried about timing at all.
      I have just sent for a secondhand copy of the book. I’ll let you know how it goes.

      1. I like this very, very much. I’ll follow through your blog and post updates as comments. You pick out the era. I have a very modest stash of fabrics that are very basic and no fuss. Once you formulate the era and colors you like I’m fine to follow your lead.

      2. Just to let you know that I’m going to post the pattern I’m going to make and what we are doing tomorrow (GMT) and asking anyone who wants to sew 1930s to link with us. Ok with you?

      3. Yes. I’m slowly-very slowly finishing my sheath skirt and have tutorials for the lining in progress. My laptop that works with the camera is in for repairs. We’ve had a big snowstorm and since the repair shop is a distance from here it will be another two weeks or so until I get it back and post those pictures. In the meantime, I’ll post the images I’ve taken from Pinterest and other sites to show what I’m getting inspiration from. This will be a very leisurely journey from concept to creation. I have ideas for the pattern drafting and draping. I’ll blog about that when I put the images up.

      4. That sounds good. I am not in a hurry. Just got an 8 week old pup so I’m pretty tied up and shops likely to have suitable fabric are more than 50 miles away.

      5. Oh, sounds like you have a baby to care for. A puppy can be so energetic. You’ll have to post a pic somewhere and let me know. I’m busy with marketing calls so don’t Twitter much. Send me a notice or comment and I’ll check the photos out.

  2. Norma, you wanted to see my crochet flubs and successes. I’ve integrated the photos into a posting at the family history blog for Mom’s side. I chose this one because Mom learned from her Mom. I learned from my Mom. Hope you enjoy the photos. All were taken with an Android camera phone. I’m very pleased with the quality.
    The one that was a mess was the one Heather models. The neckline was too wide and the doll’s neck didn’t look right. I added the cream stitches to bring the neckline up to where it should be. The sleeves were too short so I added cuffs. I just winged it. The peplum stuck out in the front. I ended up making pleats by sewing the excess into place using small stitches and poly/cotton thread.

  3. I like your color palette. All this talk of sewing makes me quite envious–but I will vicariously through y’all. I too have clothes I just love and wear until they shred. I am sentimental in a weird way.

  4. I like what your bring up in your post. Although I can’t say I’m a minimalist. Even with a blog called Project Minima! I luv your distinctive coat. I don’t care if things are fashionable, on trend or whatever. I care if I like them, I feel good in them, and if they fit me well. Which is why I stopped buying any clothes at all over 5 years ago and started making them all and/or refashioning from what I already had. I luv it. It’s given me a sense of style that I didn’t know about before. I also don’t have a color theme, but don’t want one. That seems too restrictive. If there’s a downside to this, it’s I now have a lot of clothes that I’ve made and I like, feel good in, etc. and a lot of fabric, not to mention the old clothes that I’ve kept to remake/harvest/refashion that I no longer care for, don’t fit…blah, blah.
    So that’s the dilemma of Project Minima. I’ve thought I should call it Post Minima.

    1. I like your sense of style: you are very definitely you, if you see what I mean.
      Your Post Minima is very interesting. Is it a mistake to keep fabric that you probably will never want to use? That’s something i’m grappling with at the moment. If you’ve got thoughts about it I’d love to know.

      1. hmmm, sometimes I give fabric away that I think someone would like that I don’t mind parting with. But that doesn’t happen often enough to make a dent in the stash. What I am starting to think about is parting with the old clothes I’ve kept to refashion or harvest from. I’ve done a lot with them initially (in the first few years of Project Minimia), but less and less as time goes on. So they might as well go somewhere they can be used rather than simply hoarding them. yikes. Now that I’ve written it, it sounds really bad and like it’s really time for it all to go to a good home(s). Thanks Norma!

      2. Oh dear, I do know what you mean – “hoarding” makes it sound so much worse. Time I started looking through the to do (one day!) pile.

  5. I’m sure this will shock and horrify everyone but I decided at 12 or 13 years old when I weighed 110 lbs (i’m now over 40 and very overweight…) that I’d buy x-large pieces of clothing of what I could, mainly tops, so they would fit me as long as I wanted to wear them. I still have some timeless-type tops and gobs of t-shirts I still wear 30+ years later….. Not many things from when I was 12, but I do have some lol. My ‘recent’ decision to make myself a new wardrobe is going slow mainly because it’s so hard to break from my old clothing and newer thrifted pieces. I can honestly say I wear what I like, but I DO need to force myself to go through a mid-life makeover soon I suppose. hmm…

    1. I like that the young you did that. Wearing things 30 years old is good – you could tell yourself vintage?
      My Dad used to wear 30 year old teeshirts and was very proud of it – is it different for men or should we all just do the same. I don’t know why new clothes are so important , I need to think that through myself.

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