The Great Wardrobe Challenge

You know that you've taken your appetite for mince pies and chelsea buns way too far when your kindly father-in-law smiles at you sweetly and asks if you're about to announce a happy event!

Sadly, when I tried on last summer's clothes my increased girth (or burger baby as my sister calls it) was confirmed when I found that only two or three things still fitted. Still, I'm not going to moan about it - diet and exercise will do the trick in the longer term but while I set about the serious business of downsizing the issue remains that I need some things to wear.

When I was looking at the fashion special in a recent edition of canvas I was struck by the fact that although there are some beautiful pieces on offer for the summer season, created by the cream of our NZ designers, they have priced the average kiwi consumer completely out of the market for their merchandise.

canvas fashion supplement 13 Sept 2008

Take for instance the Wallace Rose silk dress in the rear of the picture. Very pretty, for sure, but is it $585 worth of pretty? Even if the fabric was spun from the thread of the oldest silkworm of time I wouldn't pay that kind of money for what is essentially a very simple frock.

So I decided to combine my need for some new spring/summer threads with a personal challenge - with a budget of just $50 at my disposal I will create a multi-piece summer wardrobe. When I post each item I will include a tally of how much the garment cost to produce and provide a running total at the end of each post until I reach $50.

Goals and objectives:

To end up with a summer wardrobe that suits me and fits well along with the satisfaction of knowing that I made it all myself and that it didn't break the bank.

I made a cracking good start over the weekend so here are the first two completed garments:

Project One:

First, I looked through my wardrobe for any op-shop items that I saw weren't quite right when I bought them but knew that with a little bit of deconstruction could be turned into something wearable. I had bought this rather matronly blouse recently - I liked the beautiful colour and the quality of the crisp cotton but the style itself was way too stuffy:

The trick to successful deconstruction is to proceed slowly and with care and to try on the piece after each subtraction. I find that in most cases you don't need to make the radical adjustments that you thought you would. In this case, I removed the collar and reshaped it into a v-neck. Then I removed the cuffs, took out the gathering, and hemmed the sleeves.

I ended up with a lovely loose shirt to wear to the beach.

or to dress up with a nice collar

Cost of item: $1.50

Running total: $1.50

Project Two:

Among my op-shop items I also found a Batik sarong, never used, which I fancied turning into a summer frock.

I saw that there wasn't enough fabric to make a whole dress so I used the sarong for the bodice and the lower band and used chocolate brown calico for the skirt. I amalgamated two of my old dress patterns to make the garment - the bodice pattern from Simplicity 4630 and the skirt pattern from McCall's M5313. Here's the result:

I'm very happy with this one - it fits really well and is super-comfy with a lovely floaty full skirt - I'll probably still get the maternity comments but never mind.

Cost of item: $7.50

Running total: $9.00

Not bad - less than 1/5 of my budget spent and two nice wearable garments to show for it so far.

Next weekend I'll be making a skirt or two so I hope you'll check in again for a progress report on the great wardrobe challenge. If anyone else is planning on undertaking a similar challenge I'd love to hear about your projects.


Lies said…
Excellent amalgamatinginening!
Woh don't you think that something weird and explosive happened to the beehive-hairs of the Canvas models?
Bronwyn Lloyd said…
I know!! Crazy hairdos

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