I just knew it!
It is very, very hard in November – when the trees turn yellow and brown, and the nights are drawing in, when it is dark and cold in London (and snowing in Lancashire) – to turn your mind to summer dresses. The shops are full of coats; magazines display wool, fur and boots; pattern companies and blogs are full of pea coats and ski wear. Except the Australian’s – bless you! I am finding it almost impossible to think of summer outfits (another reason I could not be a designer!).
I have joined in the SWAP for two years now, and both times I have sewn wintery, autumny outfits. Mainly because I am planning and sewing during November to April, which, generally, is when it is cold, dark, wet and a little bit depressing. I think I sew much more at this time of year than in the summer, when I want to go out and play. And sewing, especially with bright, colourful fabrics is very cheering in these dark days. And for at least nine, if not ten, months of the year I tend to wear some woolen clothes to keep me warm (I do feel the cold). I don’t have much call for summer dresses and cotton skirts. But of course in June, July and August, and when we go to hotter countries for a holiday, I love wearing breezy, happy clothes that let the sun get to the arms and legs and allow me to undress for the gym in a matter of minutes. (Currently I have to take off a waterproof coat, a down jacket, a work jacket, a jumper and a blouse, a skirt, tights, shoes and underwear. And then, after a work-out and shower, put it all on again).
What I am trying to say is that it is hard to envisage summer in depth of autumn and winter.
So, at exactly the moment when I was modelling my mainly wool 2015 SWAP on a warm day in early May, very deliberately, I made a pledge. I said to myself “Wouldn’t it be nice to have a set of summer clothes that you could wear for three months, from now on? In lighter colours that are currently missing from my wardrobe – pinks, mauves, light blue, white? Some drapey silks, some lightweight linens, cotton lawn and something sheer? All these lighter shades work well with my navy and grey neutrals, so some lightweight items might be useful all the year round.”
If you are in London and thinking of a summer SWAP you will have a limited selection of fabrics. Our shops are full of wooly cloth, coatings and evening fabrics for Christmas parties. So, with SWAP 2016 in mind, in July, when the shops here were full of soft summer fabrics, I bought a few pieces . I planned ahead. I really did. I got some nice pieces of silk and linen for my SWAP. This pile includes a few items that have been in my cupboard for longer – especially the green velvet which I bought to make a winter cape but didn’t buy enough.
You may remember my sweet pea inspiration.
Now I am here I don’t really fancy it. There is something bugging me about this idea. Somehow these colours together lack the clarity and purity of the flower inspiration.
I think it seems wishy washy. I thought of some lighter softer shades, but I enjoy brightness. I am not fully signed up to my Summer Wardrobe plan. Should I persevere knowing I will probably feel just fine in May? Or should I go with the Westwood inspired set, which is where my love lies?
Here is my sweet pea plan. I have yet to choose suitable patterns but I may have a couple of draped skirts in there – the green velvet one maybe a pegged skirt, and perhaps a bustle skirt for the aubergine. I am making jeans at the moment so thought of putting them in there, perhaps enhanced with silver (inspired by Bunny!). In fact I think I want silver to play more than just a supporting role in this collection.
Pod 1; Mauve: Linen dress, wool coat, hand painted silk blouse
Pod 2; Pink; bright pink dress, aubergine skirt, light pink jacket
Combo: Blue jeans, White lace blouse
Wildcards; Green velvet skirt, silver recycled top, hand painted silk skirt
I promise (myself) I will make up my mind by next weekend and then flesh out the plans. Life has been a bit trying (emotionally and professionally) so letting this decision simmer was the best response. Then I might plunge into something I could wear for Christmas – perhaps the bright pink dress – which will encourage me to carry on, knowing I can adjust the plans as I go.