This Consciously Spending Less To Create More 12 month fashion project is in its 4th month and it’s becoming harder and harder. I wouldn’t say the “no spending money on clothes” thing has been the issue, mainly due to the fact that I’ve never been a big shopper or spender when it comes to fashion. What has been trying and testing though is the designing, drafting/ pattern making, fitting, sewing and finding time to create in general… and lemme tell ya, it’s taking its toll! Before I started the project, I knew it would be difficult to find time to make but holy hell, I didn’t think it be this hard!


One of many outfits designed and sewn over the duration of CSLTCM project.


This is the first outfit (above) I designed and made for the #CSLTCMProject. I wore it to Brisbane Racing’s Spring Carnival – Caulfield Cup race day in late October, 2017. As per my fashion challenge, I chose to use existing fabric from my sewing cupboard – some yellow and white checked, slubby silk gingham which I inherited from my Nana’s sewing room.

When it came to designing the outfit, I adopted the “KISS” (Keep it simple, Stupid) mantra because I had left it until the last minute and only had 3 nights to sew – Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. I knew I didn’t have enough fabric for a dress so I chose to make a pencil skirt. Scrounging around my fabric cupboard I found some offcuts from my Sister’s wedding dress fabric which could be used for the top. I checked that the white of the wedding dress fabric matched the white in the gingham and that the two textures worked well together. Tick!


Machine sewing the yellow and white silk slub gingham skirt.


I set about drafting skirt and top patterns to my measurements, cutting the fabric and sewing. Time didn’t permit to make a headpiece as well so I messaged Martina McGrath on Instagram to see if she had the capacity to design and make a turban to match my outfit. The brief I gave to Martina was loose because I hadn’t finished making the outfit. Instead, I sent her a photo of the fabric and my necklace and said I was thinking of a Dolce and Gabbana- esq style turban.

Martina sent me photos of a beautiful Spanish fabric she had picked up on her travels which had subtle notes of colour which mirrored the tones in my raffia necklace. Delicate, hand embellished clusters of Czech crystal, hand painted Chinese porcelain beads and semi precious stones such as pink agate adorned the turban. Martina is a professional and credible designer and whilst I trusted her completely, I initially found it difficult to stay out of the design process. There is a point in the design process when the client has to trust the designer and their eye, style and experience. Thankfully, I gave up my control quite easily!


The fashion illustration used to design the outfit.


It was a stretch to make this outfit in time, with many impatient moments, much questioning if I’d left it too late and a lot of deprivation of precious sleep. However I’m so thrilled I stuck to my guns and finished sewing the entire outfit. It reminded me that I’ve got some mad skills when it comes to design, pattern making and sewing. The satisfaction I felt in creating something from scratch was immense, incredibly immense actually, which is pretty extraordinary given I create most days. I also have two, brand new pieces of clothing to wear which no one else in this world has (I find that pretty bloody cool) and I’ve worn both of them again since! 


How each individual piece come together!


A few people have asked me throughout this project, where I learnt to sew. I studied fashion design, it’s my ‘trade’ so to speak. However my Nana and my Mum taught me how to sew when I was about 7 years old and I’ve honestly been sewing ever since then. I went to sewing schools, smocking, knitting and cross stitch classes as a child in the school holidays. If you want to learn how to sew, most fabric shops have sewing classes or will be able to put you in contact with someone who can teach you. It requires patience, yes. It requires time, yes. Two things which most of us can forget we have sometimes. I assure you though, you have the time and can find a large portion of that time in your phone settings under the setting of “Screen Time” or through your Netflix account!


Over and out!

About Penelope

I’m a fashion illustrator, designer, storyteller and ambassador who helps brands in the fashion, lifestyle and travel industries, build brand recognition, credibility, loyalty, and trust whilst offering a fresh perspective.

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