I was sent an eBook free, for review.
This book, published this week, is by Lisa Comfort of Sew Over It. It’s key features include:
- A small, but flexible wardrobe, using patterns that can (through the use of a few horizontal lines) create a range of outfits
- For example a dress made from a pattern that can be cut through at the waist to create a T shirt or blouse. This is in the best tradition of the old Vogue “wardrobe” patterns (jacket-coat, mini-maxi, trews-shorts etc).
- The idea of this selection (two dresses, a skirt, jeans and jacket) is that it will see you through two nights in a European city
- pdf patterns
- Fabric suggestions
- The more difficult techniques explained with colour photographs
My initial reaction to it
- I love the idea of a travel wardrobe
- And packing light
- And creating a wonderful wardrobe with a few items that all work together – the essence of SWAP
- Does this collection work for me – and would it work for others?
I am going to judge this book in the terms it is presented as – a wardrobe for weekends away. Of course some of these items are perfectly OK for work and for weekends, but I decided to judge their value and suitability for a long weekend in Paris (where the book has been beautifully photographed).
If you are visiting a city in Europe and it is not the height of summer, planning your travel wardrobe around a pair of jeans is a great idea. Jeans can be dressed up or down, the comfort factor is high, the colour is good to go with just about anything, they don’t show the dirt or crease, and the flatter most figures (if you get the cut right).
What about the Lisa’s actual jeans pattern?
The trousers include top stitching, a front fly and a silver button, and they are made in denim, so they are jeans-like. Or even jeans-light. However I find the absence of front pockets weird. These look more like slim line trousers to me; I think with such a high waist they need pockets. With a flat front they might have been better with a lower slung waist and maybe even the zip at the side or CB seam (for a 1950s or 1960s look).
Molly T-shirt/Jersey dress
T shirts. Yes. My go-to top at the weekend and for short holidays. The Molly is a good T shirt with a nice little twist – the sleeves are cut on the cross grain to create some interest. I would make and wear the T shirt, definately. Would I wear a dress that is effectively a long T shirt? Probably not. Even in Ponte Roma. But it’s a nice pattern, and it works particularly well in stripes (Lisa has three striped versions in her suitcase).
Alex Blouse/Shirt dress
Next up is the Alex shirt dress and blouse.
Now blouses are not my favourite thing. I do wear them for work sometimes but the problem with blouses and shirts is – they take a long time to make and they take a long time to iron. And I generally prefer the look and feel of a T shirt. My poor little four year old grandson has to wear a shirt, with a collar and tie, to school.
I wear a blouse for work: I would not dream of taking one along to Prague or Amsterdam. They will crease and I don’t want to be pressing anything on a short break (or a longer one actually). This is why the T is better.
On the other hand I might consider a shirt dress – they are a great classic style. Nice in chambray too. My thought here would be that I want a dress on holiday but it needs to be easy to pack and it has to be versatile. For a city break dresses have to be good for day, night, walking, and sitting in the sun. I tend to pack a knee length dress with thin straps that I can wear as a sun dress, with a T shirt underneath or with a T shirt over the top, and a cardigan if it is chilly.
In terms of the actual pattern I find it a bit under designed – why there is no bust dart? This has an impact on the fitting of the sleeve and obviously across the bust. The fold up sleeves on the other hand are rather fun and save having to make a cuff. The shirt curve at the back is OK if you like that kind of thing, but the front split (given the button placement) is very high. If I was looking for a shirt dress style I think I could find a better one, and I would probably opt for one with a waist line rather than bunching the skirt up at the back with the brown leather belt. Vogue 8028, has a proper collar, a top button, bust darts and really nice in-seam side pockets which I much prefer to a breast pocket (not the best place to store your Euros – now worth the same as a pound).
I would also pack a skirt for a city break, but probably not a slim fitting pencil, a garment I associate with work. I like an active weekend break, but even if I was mainly drinking coffee and eating I would want something more comfortable than the Erin. I would choose an A line for striding about. I think the sample skirts (and jeans) were made up in stretch denim although I did not see this advice being given. In a non-stretch fabric I would say that this is not a practical skirt for a city break. And while I like the T shirt is grey really a great colour for a holiday wardrobe? Why not go for emerald, red or even a pattern?
Turning to the jacket I am unenthusiastic. Waterfall edges are a bit dated, if you ask me. I would have offered an on trend bomber jacket instead, or even a cheeky update of the Chanel jacket, or maybe a stylish hoodie with interesting pockets. I would have liked to see a wow jacket to set off the collection and this doesn’t really do it for me. Had it been in a brighter colour or a patterned fabric it might have won me over. But I would have passed this jacket up in M&S or Primark.
I applaud the concept of this ebook. Lisa is very photogenic and the outfits are carefully considered. She is very popular and has a wide following. The patterns are pared down to make them more accessible to beginner sewers and they are probably fairly quick to make. This style of product is aimed at young people who like the idea of the cool, vintage inspired pieces with lots of stripes. It has immediate appeal and the reaction to date has been very good, and I wish her well. I imagine quite a few will buy this book and then not make up more than one or two garments. The ebook costs £20 which is £5 per pattern, but you have to print and sellotape them. It is only good value if you make them all.
I remain fascinated by the idea of the capsule wardrobe, and I would like to see the wardrobe pattern coming back – where you get lots of garments in the package rather than just one. In the 1980s Vogue did lots of Wardrobe patterns for working women, and they were great (although now rather dated). They had a casual range too, Five Easy Pieces, which are worth a look at, if you can see beyond the colours and styling. Overall my verdict is this: These patterns are relatively easy to sew but lose something in the simplification. Overall I find the styling, colour and fabric choices and designs a bit too conservative and middle of the road for me. I know the French like their neutrals, stripes and classic cuts – but let’s give them some English sass when we drop by for a macaron.
What do you think?