sewing

sewn: Ann Carolyn Smock

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If you have been listening to makerRadio, you may have heard me talking about the idea of a Daily Uniform or Daily Handmade Wardrobe. The idea is very similar to a capsule wardrobe with a bit of a twist. An ‘ah-ha’ moment occurred one afternoon when I was listening to a thought my sister-in-law was having about her wardrobe. She was reflecting on the fact that she has four (yes, you read the correctly: 4) outfits that she rotates through over the course of a week. Now, I know for a fact that she owns more than 4 outfits worth of clothing but she’s on maternity leave with her second child and won’t be returning to work for a while. Like me, she spends a lot of time in the kitchen, outside and crafting with her kids. In other words? Gettin’ dirty. The last thing she wants to worry about is whether her $200 pair of jeans is going to get wrecked. So she doesn’t wear them. This was the impetus for my thoughts about a daily uniform and what that might look like.

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Above: Embrace Cowl by Romi Hill coordinates beautifully with this Smock! Win!

Basically, a Daily Uniform takes the concepts of “handmade wardrobe” and “capsule wardrobe” and kind of puts them together to begin to think about minimizing how much ‘fast’ fashion we are buying and consuming, as well as thinking about pieces we gravitate to daily. How much of our closet or dresser do we actually wear? My problem with my wardrobe is that it doesn’t necessarily coordinate, I tend to pull the same dozen pieces out day-after-day, and I don’t want to feel overdressed next to the moms I interact with weekly who wear mostly Lululemon pants. I can’t stand wearing them myself but they are kind of a uniform here in BC. Or at least in the Greater Vancouver Area of BC.

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Daily Uniform: Williamette (jacket) by Amy Christoffers paired with Smock; jeans & (not pictured) boots

My plan, rather than setting the unrealistic goal of starting from scratch with a handmade wardrobe is to slowly add piece by piece and donate articles as I see fit to “lighten the load” in my dresser and closet. The first item I decided to add is the Ann Carolyn Smock by Ellen Mason. Given the opportunity, I would made the size smaller next time but this piece is absolutely wearable and comfortable. I love it. The smock piece in the yoke is of course the ‘It’ factor for this pattern – it makes the smock/tunic/dress stand out among other patterns. It is indeed fiddly but after ripping out once and re-doing it, I think I did a pretty good job. The rest of the pattern, with Ellen’s instructions, was incredibly intuitive and easy. I had no problems. As I continued, I tried it on my dress form a few times, really pleased each time with the progress. This took me one afternoon of sewing! The only modification I made was to shorten the sleeves by 2 inches and next time, I will shorten them even a little more.

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When I make this again, I will change how the neck bias finishing is done. I really like the method of making a closed casing and fitting it rather than creating a faux seam at the back neck. I found this method fiddly and not necessary. Regardless, the  finishing is pleasing. Because I am just getting back into sewing, I am finding my skills need some tweaking and I have to go back and re-work things often a second time. It’s part of remembering and re-learning. But it’s also realising I need to learn some new skills too!

Do you have a daily uniform? I’d love to hear about yours and how you built (or are building) your wardrobe to reflect your daily life needs!

5 thoughts on “sewn: Ann Carolyn Smock

  1. I wish I could say that I was making my daily wardrobe, but in reality it’s mostly storebought these days. I work in a business casual office, so most days I wear plain black pants and some sort of colored shirt. During the winter I do wear my hand-knit sweaters quite a bit, but in the warmer months, it’s usually just a t-shirt (either short or long sleeved, depending on the temperature). I don’t sew (other than sewing buttons on a sweater), so if I want to wear handmade, it’s mainly cold weather clothes at this point.

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    1. I’m finding​ it difficult to work towards handmade wardrobe as I make more of a commitment to it – materials aren’t available, I don’t have time to sew and I usually choose spinning over anything else so not much else gets done :) I hope over time it becomes more attainable to work towards but in the meantime, I’m being kind to myself!!

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  2. I think your smock is really cute! And practical at the same time. It layers and unlayers with style. Good choice! Now you need to make another. 😊

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  3. I have been gradually adding hand made items to my wardrobe over the last couple of years so that now every day I wear something I have either sewn or knitted. It brings me such joy to wear something I’ve made and I get a lot of positive comments, one kind friend recently told me she really admired how I wasn’t afraid to look different to everyone else and wear only things I love. This comment took me aback as i spent most of my last three decades trying to be like everyone else. I’m in my early forties and in a different season to you, my kids are 12, 12 and 9, so I have more time and headspace to put in to developing my handmade wardrobe but I think you’ve made an excellent start, each piece will build on the next, trying to create an entire wardrobe all at once would take all the fun out of it I think! Happy creating,

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