Steely Seamstress

Sewing for life


An update – Christmas party clothing plans and decluttering action

I have realized I haven’t actually written very much this month. I think the rush to get my contributions for Independent Pattern Month at The Monthly Stitch on the blog resulted in posting everything all at once, rather than the pacing that I normally do.

This post is therefore more of an update on my current makes and what I’ve been up to recently.

My current make uses a beautiful silk fabric bought from Britex Fabrics in San Francisco when I was on holiday is California back in 2015. This fabric was expensive and has intimidated me for years! It has also taken me a long time to decide what to make with it. Well, obviously it needed to be a top, given that it is just 1 1/2 yards in length, but I couldn’t decide what pattern to use.

Eventually, I plumped for Lekala #4420. This top is a popular pattern and there are quite a number of these tops posted in the projects section on the Lekala site. The design is relatively simple; long-sleeves, relaxed fit, with pleats and a keyhole at the neckline. But simplicity is probably good with a light-weight, slippery fabric, like the silk I have.


Lekala 4220 Line Drawing

Lekala 4220 Line Drawing

Lekala 4420

Cutting out has been a challenge with the fabric, but I pinned it well, and made sure all my pins were only placed in the seam allowances as the pins leave holes in the fabric.

I made a couple of changes to the pattern. First I decided to cut the front on the fold, rather than cut two separate front pieces. I also, narrowed the billowing sleeves a little. This modification seems popular and has been used here and here.

The first steps have probably been the fiddliest – making the distinctive keyhole and the pleats. I’ve needed to also make lots of bias-binding out of the silk to use for the neckline.

Lekala 4220 neckline

Lekala 4220 neckline

I’m really looking forward to wearing this top. I plan for it to be ready for the work Christmas party. Oddly, I’ve never made anything specifically for the Christmas season before. It will be a first even if it’s only a top!

Lekala 4220 neckline

Lekala 4220 neckline

My decluttering progress has been slow and painful and I think I need to refocus on this. They say that the first step towards change is “awareness” and I’ve been aware for weeks that my decluttering strategy has not been freeing up space in my wardrobe, liked I hoped it would.

As a whole, the “Disney Declutter” strategy had been perfect for characterizing my clothes, but in terms of getting me to relinquish them it hadn’t really worked. I realized I needed more immediate and focused action and a strategy that would work for a working, time-starved person!

Decluttering (12-12-12)

Decluttering (12-12-12)

I read about the 12-12-12 challenge here. The idea is to locate 12 items to throw away, 12 items to donate and 12 items to be returned to their proper home. I think this is probably an American idea, so I think I can substitute “throw away” with recycle. I think placing the number 12 at the heart of this makes the challenge achievable and yet it does stretch me. I can easily locate three or four items in each category, but 12 makes me think a bit more. I also like the idea of returning items to their proper home. In my house, things do end up just lying around and this will be a good incentive for tackling this.

This weekend, I did my first run at the 12-12-12 challenge. I can’t say that I got up to 12 in each category and I didn’t just apply myself to sorting out clothing. But, I think strategy uses a far more achievable  I’ll make it an ongoing activity.








Can I see a wardrobe improvement? Aka Disney Declutter

Perhaps this post is better suited to the December slot where retrospectives are regarded as par for the course, however, I felt I couldn’t wait till then. September is here and Master Steely, is back at school, taking his associated chaos with him. This means I have some time in the house to organise things, without any organisation being undone within seconds.

What I want to do is a thorough wardrobe sort out. Already this year, my items out has exceeded my items in. I think that at last I’m truly letting go of my old clothes. Now I feel I have the ability to make all manner of garments, I don’t have to keep holding on to an item that is worn-out and old because I can’t replace it. But, I’m still finding it a hard process. I never thought I was one of life’s hoarders, but I find it hard to let go of old clothes.

Anyway, my plan is as follows:

  1. Give myself a clear couple of hours with a playlist and snacks to do the work
  2. Empty a drawer at a time onto my bed
  3. Classify the items according to the chart below
  4. Make sure the items reach their destination (keep, donate, set-aside for repair / refashion work etc.)
Classification Name Description Destination
Golden Goose

In frequent everyday use and still looking good Keep
Hansel and/or Gretel (alone and lost)

In use less frequently, Used with only one or two other items in my wardrobe Keep

In use unexpectedly, had been lurking neglected Keep

In use, but is old, worn out and ready for recycling Textile recycle / Use for rags
Mini-Donkeys In use, but is old, worn out. Want to make a direct copy of the garment Set aside

(Make a pattern from item)


In use less frequently (Smart office attire) Keep
Swan In use less frequently (Party attire) Keep
Glass slipper

Never used, doesn’t fit Donate
Glass slipper Never used, doesn’t fit, but want to create a pattern using this item as inspiration Set aside (Look through pattern collection and on-line, is there a pattern that is similar?)
Ugly Ducking

Never used, unsuccessful make or choice Donate
Emperor’s Old Clothes

Not used anymore, no longer wear this style, not likely to refashion Donate
Emperor’s Old Clothes Not used anymore, no longer wear this style, waiting for refashion or replacement Set aside

(Decide whether I am still likely to do the work)

As examples, here are a couple of items from my wardrobe and how they fit with the “Disney” descriptions.

Item Description Colour type RTW/ me-made Classification Comment
1 Grey wide-legged trousers Neutral (grey) Me-made Swan Frequently used trousers for meeting customers
2 Red ponte biker jacket Accent (red) RTW Glass slipper Never used and doesn’t now fit. May create a similar garment

So why I have used these “Disney” classification?

Just because it is easy to label my groups with a snappy name. I started off thinking about “Ugly ducklings” and “Swans” and then realized that I could harness a fairy-tale name for all my groupings.

I’ve now attempted one drawer, a small effort on my part, but it’s a start. I’ve separated the clothes into my classification piles. This drawer in question was mostly trousers and bed clothes.

Classification Count
Glass slipper 1
Donkeys 4
Mini-donkeys 6
Golden geese 12 (although 1 needs a new waistband)

It’s interesting to see that almost half the drawer is full of donkeys, essentially items that are old and worn and need to go. Do you know that several of these date back to my teenage years! So it isn’t as if they haven’t had loads of use.

I have found four out-right donkeys in here. Surprisingly I found it quite hard to even part with these (my usual failing), but 2 of them are definitely going. The mini-donkeys (6 items), could also go, but I need to make some provision for their replacements, at least find a suitable pattern for each or take them apart and make a pattern from them. Although, I can see that this is going to take a while. On the plus side, I already have the fabric for a replacement for one of my mini-donkeys and it is next on my list to make.

The glass slipper is a fantastic little biker’s jacket, but it doesn’t fit. I’m still debating whether I  would like a jacket of this design in my wardrobe. Realistically I don’t think it is a project for the near future, so that may be for donation too.

Disney Declutter

I’m hoping to go through another drawer this week. It will be great to have more breathing space in my wardrobe and drawers so that I can actually find the things I want to wear. Do you find it hard to let go of worn-out items?