Personal Collections and Block patterns, as introduced by my Ultimate Denim Dress.

You may have noticed on IG, I’m deep in collection making territory. For years, I’d tried to put one together but plans always fell through, or the project didn’t work, or the fabrics… Finally, I think I’ve reached that sewing sweet spot. Projects work, lately. Garments fit, lately. Fabrics match. There is coherence. And when there isn’t, it just doesn’t bother me anymore and I move back to the good stuff, without flutter.

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Every season I try to aim for collections (something I distinguish from capsules), but my vision had never been so clear, nor my skills and patience where they might have needed to be.  You might be thinking, what do you mean, you sew so much? Yes, true, of course. However, my long-term goal of making a collection sits somewhere in between a 10×10 capsule or individual garment aspirations. My collection goal is a creative one which would allow me to execute my sense of style and design in a wearable ensemble. But, as I’ve learned, my execution of a personal collection is slightly different than I imagined, and my sense of style continues to surprise me and evolve.

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There are a few things I attribute to finally being on my current sewing path. First, maybe surprisingly, is that I actually have very little time to sew. I have to be strategic about my time, which means I also have to be strategic about the projects I make. I’ve pulled the throttle back lately in terms of the skill level, or I’m being selective about when I can take on a certain type of intensity and involvement. And being clear with myself about what I can make, what materials I have available to be, then forces me to be quite clear about what I want to make and what I want to wear. The less I am attached to the idea of “practical” sewing, the more wearable my personal homemade wardrobe actually becomes. I may never sew a t-shirt again.

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Enter the Named Clothing Anni Building Block pattern. At first glance, I thought…that pattern is boring. It didn’t speak to me, not until the wrap versions came out. I gradually warmed up to it, and seeing a real version on the designers at their London book launch of Breaking the Pattern helped me visualize the pattern as clothes. Then, after being a little frustrated with the amount of time I was spending taping PDFs rather than at my machine, I decided to let myself get comfortable with the Anni block. Once I settled into thinking about the possibilities with the Anni pattern, I quickly came up with a plan for fabrics I’d been long saving. That sparked my collection idea. You can have a look at some of the plans on my IG story highlights. For now, though, let’s get to this denim dress.

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I bought this fabric a year and a half ago at Ray and Stitch, when Katie first introduced me to the shop. It was a coveted fabric—a classic example of loving a fabric so much you can’t decide on what to do with it. But, finally I did. I used the Anni V neck bodice, short sleeve, and pencil skirt to make this dress. Simple enough. The stripes, though, that was another story. After not knowing how to use this fabric, I just went for it on a whim. The design of the stripes wasn’t even determined before I finished cutting the fabric. I gradually put this look together just by playing around with the stripes. Some pieces, I cut out more than once.

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Thankfully, this experiment worked. And the dress fit…cause I didn’t make a muslin. (Although I have since been working a lot on it and am gradually improving on the fit as I go). I sewed the dress up in a short amount of time and wore it out the same night…even before blog photos. I am teetering in stating what I think might be the case–this might be the most beautiful dress I’ve made….so far.

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I quickly learned that the Anni pattern was full of potential, mostly because it makes me feel so creative. I’ve been sent on my way to many more experiments with this pattern…another dress, another dress, another jumpsuit and onwards. You’ll see! We’ll see! There will be more to come about fit and construction of the Anni, and much more on my developing collection plans, in later blog posts. Take today’s post as a simple introduction!

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