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    Introducing the capsule wardrobe project at EWE

    Introducing the capsule wardrobe project at EWE

    You're probably familiar with the phrase "capsule wardrobe." Whether from your favorite fashion blogger, a sewing friend, or the NY Times Style section, the concept has been popping up everywhere lately.

    At EWE, we are committed to empowering makers with the supplies and instruction to create their own handmade clothes, and we've found that the capsule wardrobe can be a helpful tool for planning makes and sparking creativity. Read on to learn more about this concept and how we're using it this fall at the shop!

     

    What is a capsule wardrobe?

    The concept of a "capsule wardrobe" was first introduced by London Boutique owner Susie Faux in the 1970s and later popularized by American designer Donna Karan, who released a workwear collection in 1985 that featured 7 cohesive pieces that could be combined in multiple ways. The idea gained popularity recently in the slow fashion/making community when Canadian style blogger Lee Vosburgh created the 10x10 challenge — 10 pieces in 10 different outfits worn over 10 days.

    The basic idea is to maximize a minimalist wardrobe — instead of constantly expanding your closet by adding new trendy pieces, the capsule wardrobe is composed of a few classic, high quality pieces that won't go out of style and can be combined in a variety of ways to create multiple looks. Most capsule collections feature 7-10 pieces (sometimes shoes are included; accessories are not included).

    The point is not to go out and buy an entirely new wardrobe — it is to shift the way we think about clothes from individual, trend-based purchases to a mindfully curated, cohesive collection that reflects our particular styles, values, and comforts.

    So how is a capsule wardrobe helpful for makers?

    We think the capsule wardrobe can be a useful way of evaluating the clothes you already have and mindfully planning makes that supplement and expand your existing wardrobe so you get more mileage out of all your favorites. The first step is to spend some time reflecting on your current clothes and choose the pieces that you would include in a capsule collection.

    Here are some guiding questions:

    • What pieces do you wear most and why?
    • What pieces do you love but find yourself never wearing and why?
    • Are there particular things that make you feel uncomfortable in clothes?
      For example, some things that make me uncomfortable are: a non-elastic waist pants/skirts and gaping arm holes.
    • Are there particular things that make you feel comfortable in clothes?
      For example, some things that make me comfortable are: high waists or no waists and drapey fabrics.
    • Do you have things you would like to wear but you don't? Why haven't you?
    • Do you have any "summer" pieces that you would like to wear year-round? What do you need to layer them?

     

    The capsule wardrobe project at EWE

    This fall at the shop, we (Deren, Jacqui, Jessamy + Pam) are all going to be working on planning, curating, creating, styling, and supplementing our own capsule wardrobes, and we're putting together workshops and classes to help you do the same! 

    Here is a step-by-step guide for our process:

    1. Start by selecting the pieces you would like to include from your existing wardrobe. These can be pieces you've made, pieces you've bought, pieces your Great Aunt Muriel lent you — anything at all that you want to include!
      Tip: when I did this, I picked more pieces than I eventually decided to include, which gave me some room to adjust based on colors and what worked with the new pieces I want make.
    2. Imagine ways that you can combine these pieces to create multiple looks with the same piece. How can you layer pieces? What new combinations might you wear?
    3. What pieces might you add that would help you get more mileage from the pieces you already have?
      For example: Maybe you have only one pair of bottoms, but several tops and sweaters. If you made a skirt (or a dress to layer), you could combine your tops and sweaters in more ways.
    4. Look for sewing and knitting patterns for classic, versatile pieces that might fit the bill for the things you've determined you need. We have some recommendations!

    Our pattern recommendations for size-inclusive wardrobe basics:

    If you have other patterns you think we should add to the list, just leave us a comment.

    Over the next few months on the blog, we will all share our process, including fabric, fitting, and styling recommendations as we each work on our capsule wardrobes.

    Would you like help getting started on your capsule wardrobe? Join us on Saturday, October 12 for a workshop in the shop that will walk students through this process! We have partnered up with My Body Model for this workshop, which will teach you the skills to efficiently and practically plan your fall makes (both knitting and sewing).

    My Body Model is a wonderful electronic resource that provides custom croquis (fashion drawing templates) that correspond to your specific body measurements. These croquis are invaluable for visualizing how particular pieces will look on your body and experimenting with different combinations of pieces to decide what you most need to make to fill out your wardrobe.

     

    Rose Pants from Made by Rae

    Rose Pants from Made by Rae

     When not one, but TWO of our EWE staff test sewed — and immediately loved — the newest pattern from Made by Rae, we knew we had found a new go-to for a wardrobe staple. The Rose Pants are everything we want in a sewing pattern: well-drafted, offered in an inclusive size range, clearly illustrated and accessibly written, thoroughly tested, and with several options for customization. Oh, and they look amazing on everyone!

    About the pattern 

    Available as a PDF download from Made by Rae's site, the Rose pattern includes instructions for high waisted pants (long or cropped) and shorts. The design features slash front pockets, instructions for various pleats or gathers at the waist, and a flat front waistband with elastic in the back.

    We are especially excited that the Rose Pants pattern is the first to be released in Made by Rae’s new size range. The pattern includes 11 sizes, ranging from an XXS- 5X,  designed to fit hip measurements of 34.5” to 59”.

    Our versions

    Jacqui wears the size 3, based on her measurements of a 42" waist and 52" hip.  She used the Brussels Washer in Navy. Jacqui sewed the full length pants, and used the double pleats provided in the pattern for the pants front.    

    Jessamy sewed the XS based on her measurements of a 28” waist and 36” hip. She used the Viscose-Linen blend in Olive for the shorts version. Jessamy choose to use the single pleat option also included in the pattern.  Jessamy also preferred to use one piece of 1.5” wide elastic in the back casing instead of 2 pieces of 3/4” wide elastic.  The pattern has instructions for sewing a two channel casing using the 3/4” wide elastic or a single channel casing for the 1.5” elastic.

    Fabric ideas

    The Rose pattern is intended for light to mid weight woven fabrics. Rae recommends fabrics that have a good drape, and a looser weave, making linen and linen blends a perfect match for Rose. Jacqui sewed her pants using Brussels Washer Linen, which is 55% linen, 45% rayon blend. Brussels Washer is a great staple garment fabric, the rayon content provides a lovely drape, and prevents the fabric from becoming overly wrinkly throughout the day.  While the linen content keeps it light and breathable, perfect for a pair of crop pants or shorts for summer.

    Jessamy sewed her shorts in the Viscose-Linen in Olive.  The Viscose-Linen is also a linen blend, and it is made of 70% viscose (which is a bamboo rayon) and 30% linen.  It’s slightly heavier than the Brussels washer linen, but it also has more drape, due to the higher viscose content.  The slubby texture lends a soft hand to the fabric.

    Other fabrics in the shop that would be great for the Rose pattern would be any of these great fabrics, such as the Birch Organic Yarn Dyed linens, European Merchant and Mills linens, Tencel Twill and Silk Noil.

    If you prefer cotton, we also have a great selection of Ikats that are 100% cotton, handwoven in India. These Ikats are all mid to light weight and would make a stunning pair of Rose pants.

    Pattern difficulty

    If you are new to pants sewing, the Rose pattern is a great place to start. The style is easy to fit and comfortable to wear while still looking put together. Made by Rae’s patterns come with clear instructions geared to an advanced beginner. The pattern walks you through every step of construction, and provides you with many insights about pants fitting along the way.

    We hope we have inspired you to sew up a pair of your own! And if you think you need a little extra help, stay tuned — we'll be announcing dates for a Rose pants class at our shop in Charlottesville soon.

    *Our Rose Pants notions special had ended.

    Estuary Skirt by Sew Liberated

    Estuary Skirt by Sew Liberated

    (This blog was originally published on July 19, 2019)

    We are always looking for great, size-inclusive basics to teach sewing classes at the shop, and when Meg of Sew Liberated teased her newest pattern, the Estuary Skirt, we knew it would become a go-to pattern for us. The pattern features an elastic waist in the back and a clean, non-elastic waist in the front with a button placket that runs the full length of the skirt. 

    Sizing

    This is the first pattern released in Meg's extended size range — which goes up to a 30 (57" hip). We recommend sizing according to your hip measurement, and then adjusting the elastic in the back of the waist to get the perfect fit. Here is the sizing chart:

    Our versions

    Jessamy (below) has a 28" waist and 36" hips and she sewed the size 4. She used the Grey Pin Stripe Italian Cotton Shirting, and she sewed the pattern with zero modifications.

    Jacqui (below) has a 42" waist and 52" hips and she sewed the size 24. She used Pink Sand-Washed Rayon, and she hacked the pattern to make a maxi skirt with with side slits.

    Fabric

    You can use basically any woven fabric for this skirt! The fullness at the bottom of the skirt provides enough weight to make even relatively stiff fabrics look drapey — like the 100% cotton shirting Jessamy used for her version.

    Here are some of our favorites:

    • One of our favorite fabrics in the shop is also one that Meg recommends for this skirt: Robert Kaufman's Brussels Washer Linen. This linen-rayon blend brings the best of both fibers — the rayon provides great drape and counters any wrinkly tendencies from the linen, and the linen makes the fabric less shifty and easier to cut and sew. And the best part — the price is very reasonable for an all-natural fabric and it only gets softer with washing and wearing.
    • We have a number of 100% cotton fabrics that would achieve a drape and look similar to Jessamy's skirt: the Italian Cotton Shirtings, any one of our ikats, any of the lovely textured cottons from Diamond textiles, or if you want to splurge, a cotton lawn from Liberty of London. All these cottons are easy to sew with and only get softer and drapier with wear.
    • 100% rayon makes for a beautifully drapey Estuary, like Jacqui's skirt. We have the ever-popular sand-washed rayon, or for something a little fun and summery, we also recommend the printed rayon from Art Gallery.
    • We love the slubby viscose-linen Meg used for her samples. Our linen-viscose from Telio has great weight and drape, and we have it in stock in two great summer colors right now — Blush and Hunter.is very reasonable for an all-natural fabric and it only gets softer with washing and wearing.
    • We have a number of 100% cotton fabrics that would achieve a drape and look similar to Jessamy's skirt: the Italian Cotton Shirtings, any one of our ikats, any of the lovely textured cottons from Diamond textiles, or if you want to splurge, a cotton lawn from Liberty of London. All these cottons are easy to sew with and only get softer and drapier with wear.
    • 100% rayon makes for a beautifully drapey Estuary, like Jacqui's skirt. We have the ever-popular sand-washed rayon, or for something a little fun and summery, we also recommend the printed rayon from Art Gallery.
    • We love the slubby viscose-linen Meg used for her samples. Our linen-viscose from Telio has great weight and drape, and we have it in stock in two great summer colors right now — Blush and Hunter.

    Sizing Ursa & Ursa Minor

     Here at EWE, we spend a lot of time talking about how to knit sweaters that fit. There is nothing worse than spending all that time on a beautiful garment only to finish it and block it and find that what you created doesn't work for your body! In my knitting practice, I usually decide what size to make based on 3 factors:

    1. Any specific fit details provided in the pattern
    2. How the finished garment looks on other folks with similar measurements/proportions to me
    3. Any modifications I need to make for my yarn/gauge

    In this post, I will walk you through these steps for Ursa and Ursa Minor — my own patterns that will be released on Ravelry this Friday, March 29. The photos you see here are from my wonderful test knitters — to whom I am so very grateful! 

    Ursa is a cropped raglan pullover with a wide v-neck in a bulky weight yarn with half-brioche stitch detailing. The sweater is seamless, knit in one piece from the top down, allowing you to try it on as you go. 

    Ursa Minor is the same sweater in size and structure as Ursa, but instead of the half-brioche stitch detailing, it features broken rib and no triangle along the bottom hem.

    Yarn requirements in Ranger Bulky:

    (4, 4, 4) [5, 5, 6] {6, 7, 7}

    Yarn requirements by yardage:

    (450, 500, 550) [600, 675, 750] {825, 900, 950}

    Yarn requirements by meter:

    (415, 460, 505) [550, 620, 690] {755, 825, 870}

    1. Fit details for Ursa and Ursa Minor

    The sweater is designed to be worn with 2-6” of positive ease at the bust and +/- 2" of ease in the bicep. My vision for the design was to pair relatively fitted long sleeves with some subtle flare from positive ease in the body, which is cropped to end at your natural waist. Thus, if you are trying to decide between sizes, I recommend you consider the bicep measurements as well as the bust.

    And yes, if the cropped look isn't for you, the pattern includes notations to help you lengthen the body (and the arms) according to your preference.

    Ursa and Ursa Minor both include instructions for adding optional bust darts for 3 cup sizes: C/D, E/F, and G/H.

    To determine if you should add bust darts, measure your upper bust circumference (your chest at your underarms). If the difference between this measurement and your full bust measurement is less than 2”, you do not need to add bust darts. If it is 2” or greater, determine your cup size as follows: 2–3” difference = C/D, 3–4.5” difference = E/F, 4.5”+ difference = G/H.

    There is enough ease in both sweaters to accommodate a wide range of bust sizes comfortably even without bust darts. However, if you have 2” or more difference between your upper bust and full bust measurements, the front of the sweater will rise up unless you add extra length in the front, which is what the optional horizontal bust darts will do.

    2. Fit examples from test knitters

    Before I decide what size to knit in a given garment, I always want to see how the finished garment looks on other folks with similar measurements/proportions to me. So here is a roundup of some of my fabulous Ursa and Ursa Minor test knitters, with notes about the ease at the bust and bicep in their sweaters and links to their Ravelry project pages for more details.

    Jessamy –  size 34 (Ursa Minor)

     

    Ease at Bust: +1"

    Ease at Bicep: +1.5"

    Body length: 7.5"

    👉 Jessamy's project page on Ravelry
    👉 Follow Jessamy on Instagram

    Yasmeen – size 38 (Ursa)

      

    Ease at Bust: +5.5"

    Ease at Bicep: +2.75"

    Body length: 9"

    👉 Yasmeen's project page on Ravelry
    👉 Follow Yasmeen on Instagram

    Anoush – size 42 + C/D bust darts (Ursa)

      

    Ease at Bust: +8.5"

    Ease at Bicep: +2.25"

    Body length: 8"

    👉 Anoush's project page on Ravelry
    👉 Follow Anoush on Instagram

    Shasha – size 46 (Ursa)

      

    Ease at Bust: +4"

    Ease at Bicep: 0

    Body length: 9"

    👉 Sasha's project page on Ravelry
    👉 Follow Sasha on Instagram

    Kaylee – size 46 (Ursa)

       

    Ease at Bust: +5"

    Ease at Bicep: 0

    Body length: 10"

    👉 Kaylee's project page on Ravelry
    👉 Follow Kaylee on Instagram

    Valerie – size 46 + C/D bust darts (Ursa Minor)

      

    Ease at Bust: +4"

    Ease at Bicep: +1.5"

    Body length: 10"

    👉 Valerie's project page on Ravelry

    Rachael – size 50 + G/H bust darts (Ursa)

      

    Ease at Bust: 0

    Ease at Bicep: 0

    Body length: 9"

    👉 Rachael's project page on Ravelry
    👉 Follow Rachael on Instagram

    Madison – size 54 (Ursa)

      

    Ease at Bust: +5"

    Ease at Bicep: +3"

    Body length: 8"

    👉 Madison's project page on Ravelry
    👉 Follow Madison on Instagram

    Jacqui – size 54 + E/F bust darts (Ursa)

      

    Ease at Bust: +5"

    Ease at Bicep: -1"

    Body length: 8"

    👉 Jacqui's project page on Ravelry
    👉 Follow Jacqui on Instagram

    Whitney – size 58 + G/H bust darts (Ursa)

      

    Ease at Bust: +3"

    Ease at Bicep: +2.75"

    Body length: 9.5"

    👉 Whitney's project page on Ravelry
    👉 Follow Whitney on Instagram

    Pam – size 62 + G/H bust darts (Ursa)

      

    Ease at Bust: +3"

    Ease at Bicep: +1.5"

    Body length: 10"

    👉 Pam's project page on Ravelry
    👉 Follow Pam on Instagram

    3. Modifications for yarn/gauge

    Ursa and Ursa Minor were designed for Ranger Merino Bulky, a super squishy 90% Merino/10% Rambouillet wool with a loose ply and some drape. If you substitute a stiffer bulky weight yarn with less drape (like Quince & Co. Puffin) and you are between sizes, you might consider sizing down. Conversely, if you substitute a lighter bulky weight yarn (like Brooklyn Tweed Quarry) and you are between sizes, you might consider sizing up. 

    Of course, all these decisions depend on you first having a gauge swatch — yes, I implore you, do a gauge swatch before you finalize your size choice! 😏 

    Finally, about row gauge: there are notes in the pattern to help you modify your sweater if your stitch gauge is right but your row gauge is slightly off. 

    The Bulky weight wools we carry are:

    Ramona Cardigan Hack

    The Ramon Cardigan by Elizabeth Smith has long been one of my favorite knitting patterns. Most of the staff here at EWE have knit it (several times), and it is my go-to for teaching first-time sweater knitters. I was looking for an easy pullover to use in a class and decided it would be fun to knit the Ramona as a cropped pullover — which is my favorite sweater style this season!

     

    To knit the Ramona as a pullover, you will ultimately want to add 2 inches worth of stitches to the front of the sweater. If you are knitting at the pattern gauge this is 7 or 8 stitches, or equivalent to the width of the button band when knitting it as a cardigan.

    Follow the instructions in the pattern until you have finished rows 1 and 2 in Raglan & Neck Shaping Part 3 (you can find the pattern here). After these 2 rows cast-on your extra front stitches (7 or 8) and join to work in the round, doing increases on every other round (instead of every right side row).

      

     

    When knitting stockinette stitch in the round, you will knit every round, which is different from knitting flat, where you knit on the right side and purl on the wrong side.

    The other important change is knitting the broken rib detailing on the shoulders, side seams, and hem. For the armhole shaping you will need to alternate knitting and purling every other row between the raglan markers (the same goes for the side seam of the body). On the hem, the broken rib is knit this way:

    Round 1: k1, p1 repeat to end of round

    Round 2: knit all stitches

    Rpeat these 2 rounds until the hem is the desired length.

    You can do the shaping on the sweater the same way as for the cardigan, although I eliminated the shaping on my version since I knit it a bit more cropped than the pattern. The body on my sweater is 9". 

    I did not make any changes to the sleeves, and I simply picked up and knit the neckband in the round instead of flat.

    Good luck with your cropped Ramona pullover hack! We'd love to see what you make, so if you post pictures, tag the shop @ewefibers and #ewemakers so we can see.

    My sweater is knit in Quince & Co. Osprey in Honey. If you want to order yarn for your own cropped Ramona, call the shop at 434-409-9095 or email us at info@ewefibers.com. If you email us, please include the color/quantity and your billing/shipping address.