Erica Bunker | DIY Style! The Art of Cultivating a Stylish Wardrobe
I'm a fashion sewing blogger who inspires the average home sewer how to look beyond outdated commercial pattern instructions, select fine fabrics and cultivate a luxurious home-sewn wardrobe inspired by luxury brands.
One thing I can always appreciate is that fashion is super cyclical. What goes around, always comes back around. I can guarantee that! That's why I pulled out McCall's 6279, that's currently out of print and from years gone by. Because for Spring 2019, "Utility Dressing", and trench styles falls under that -- is one of the major trends. And even though I would always think of a trench style as classic, the fact that it's considered a trend gave me a reason to dig out a pattern that I've planned to sew for years, but never got around to it.
It seems like everywhere you look, the trend of the moment is tailored womenswear. Pantsuits are back with a vengeance! However, trying to master the tailored womenswear trend isn’t always the easiest of tasks. You need to find the right way to rock this look for you. Here are some top tips to ensure you look as chic as can possibly be.
Look for inspiration
Whether you’re buying your clothes or sewing them yourself, it’s vital that you start scrolling for inspiration first. For example, when putting together my tailored jacket with double welt pockets, I had several images that I used as inspiration before I got started. This is the ultimate excuse to jump on Pinterest or spend a few hours flicking through magazines. Look at the styles and shapes, along with the patterns and colors. Make a mood board if you think it will help.
Make subtle swaps
Used to rocking a denim jacket in the spring? Simply swap it out for an oversized blazer. The best thing about the tailored womenswear trend is that you don’t have to go overboard. No one is saying you need to look like you’re about to go to work! Instead, swap out some of your usual pieces with something more tailored to create your own personal style – women’s jackets are perfect for this.
To pull off the tailored look, it’s all about the pants. You can play around with different styles, shapes, and colors, to bring your whole look together. For example, a pair of black, wide-legged women’s pants will match with pretty much anything else in your wardrobe. Tuck in a white tee and throw on that blazer to look as if you have just stepped off the catwalk. Alternatively, go bold with a bright yellow or red tailored pant.
Repurpose your shirts
Got some old work shirts lying around that you don’t wear anymore? Why not bring them back to life? You can cinch them in at the waist to make them more fitted (or try a peplum look), change up the color from white to pastel shades of pinks and yellows, or even sew on some accessories. This way, you can keep the majority of your outfit plain, and let your shirt do the talking.
Accessories are your friend
If you don’t want to play around too much with colors or patterns in the clothing items themselves, then you should consider adding something a little extra to your outfits using accessories. Keep your suit simple, with a plain white tee underneath, then go wild with layered necklaces or dangly earrings. It’s amazing how such little add-ons can elevate your tailored look.
You’ll want to consider the shoes you’re going to rock with your new tailored outfits for more than one reason. Firstly, what kind of pant leg is going to look best with those shoes? Will a wide-leg swamp a dainty heel? Secondly, what about the color? If you’re a fan of fluoro shoes or bright colored heels, then perhaps you’ll want to keep the colors and patterns simple on the suit itself. Always consider your outfit as a whole before you start sewing (or shopping).
Tailored womenswear is making a big comeback, and it’s an exciting time for those who love making their own clothes and rocking the latest trends. Follow these tips to make sure you master both the sewing and the wearing of this iconic look.
Any other suggestions to add? Drop them in the comments.
I'm so late to the party on this pattern. I've seen so many wonderful versions. I knew I would make it when it was first released, because I'm always looking for cute, easy to wash and wear tops. And this one is perfect.
This is McCall's 7836. It's tunic length, with an asymmetrical one shoulder cut out and a mock turtleneck. It's a great alternative to a plain sweater or basic sweatshirt.
My fabric is an ivory ponte knit with stretch. I emphasized that because a lot of them are stable knits with no spandex/lycra. I like for mine to have stretch for the sake of "recovery".
I wouldn't want this to bag out at the elbows and the bottom, since I'll obviously be sitting will wearing this. I picked this one up at Joann's.
I cut the 14 and graded to a 16 at the bottom. I decided to add a band because I knew I'd want to wear this untucked and I just didn't like the way it hung.
I took in the shoulder cutout by an inch. When I put it on, I found that it was gaping somewhat right at the collarbone. Enough to make me feel like if someone was standing over me as I'm sitting, they could look down my top. And I want to be comfortable in my clothes. I don't want to feel fidgety or have to always be adjusting.
This was such a quick project that I wish I'd bought more of this fabric in multiple colors. I hope I get around to make at least one in black and possible gray. These are great throw-on-and-go tops that will work perfectly with trousers, jeans and even leggings!
I'm officially feeling like it's 2019. Every year, I tend to take the entire month of January to acclimate to the new year. All of those goals and new year resolutions kind of stay shelved until February. I guess that's just how I'm wired. I feel like I'm coming out of my seasonal funk... the one that makes me want to cuddle up with a good book (I've been reading A LOT - find me on Goodreads.com) and great wine. I've also been binge watching shows and I'm currently rewatching "Game of Thrones" before the new season starts. It's amazing how much more cohesive the stories flow when you're watching everything back to back. So now, I have that "I'm ready to roll" feeling. I'm going to attribute it to the days being a little longer now, and it's not dark at 4 pm!
I was due for another jumpsuit in my collection. It's been months since I've made one. So I needed a fix. This one is McCall's 7872.
As with any jumpsuit, there are a number of alterations I have to make to the pattern. And this one was no different. There will never come a day that I can wear a jumpsuit sewn right out of the envelope. Here are my alterations:
Here's my latest top I'm adding to my wardrobe. It's McCall's 7868. I cut the size 14, and added one inch to the length of the bodice.
My fabric is this beautiful Black Peachskin Polyesterfrom Mood Fabrics.com. I like tops that look good, but are low maintenance. And this fabric goes from the washer, dryer to wearing with the greatest of ease. I never allow clothes to linger in the dryer and always take clothes out and put them on hangers while they're hot and I rarely have to iron. Because who wants to iron outside of actually sewing?
I like this top because it's an easy pullover, but it still has the cuffs like a traditional button front shirt.
I love the look of the high collar with the keyhole opening. But I plan to wear this into the spring, so I used the view with the neck bias binding and the hook and eye. And even though I added the hook and eye, I doubt I’ll ever actually close it because I love the deep v.
I shaved the cuffs down by 1.5 inches, because they were swimming around my wrist.
The alteration made them fitted and that's the way I like to wear my sleeve cuffs.
When I lengthened the bodice, I lowered the waist also.
So, I moved the casing and the elastic down one inch.
This was an excellent top to add to my wardrobe and end the year on!
Every now and then, you have to pull out an oldie but goodie. And that's what Vogue 8939 is for me. I made this dress back in 2014, in a solid black ponte.
Like I previously said, Vogue 8939 (currently out-of-print), is an interesting pattern, being that if you weren't looking for this design you would totally miss it on the pattern envelope. The pattern was just that bad and probably why it's no longer in print.
Just like with my original dress, I added 12" to the length to achieve that midi length. And 2" to the length of the sleeves.
Matching the print at the seams was pretty simple because it's a bold enough print that it was pretty effortless.
I wanted my collar to be solid black, so I used a ponte remnant that was in my stash.
I wore it on Christmas Eve as I was running my last minute errands and picking up additional groceries. I don't sew a lot of knits and every time I make something that I love, I always question why? This was such a quick and easy dress to sew and even easier to wear. So, I'm feeling like I'll be making a conscious effort to create more garments made of jersey.
Happy Holidays! I'm so excited about releasing my second step-by-step video tutorial. The first one took a loooonnnngggg time... but now I feel like I have my sea legs, so it's on and upward!
In this tutorial, I'm teaching how to line pants. I used one of my favorite pants patterns -- Vogue 9181. It's really simple because there are no pockets involved. It's drafted for stretch wovens, so that means the pants fit super comfortable. See, you can be comfortable and polished at the same time! And most importantly, it's a custom fit bottom pattern with back pattern pieces for flat, average and curvy backsides. Pants fitting pose a challenge to most unless you're straight as an arrow with minimal curvature in the back. So, this patterns gives you a great running start on fit.
And who wants to go into the hot months having to wear a pair of these? They're my go-to for pants that are not quite opaque.
I decided that the next pair I made would be fully-lined. My fabric is this gorgeous Italian Ivory Wool Suiting. It's described as "Excellent three-season fabric that's perfect for any number of tailored applications. Lightweight with a hint of lycra for wearing ease". So, I'll be wearing these throughout spring! And since the fabric has stretch, my lining had to match it. I picked one of my other go to favorites: Donna Karan Warm Beige Italian Stretch Silk Georgette. I picked a nudish color lining instead of a tonal lining because it hides my underwear.
Trying to find a pair of RTW lined in a normal price range is almost impossible.
So, y'all have been asking me for years to do these step-by-step tutorials, so I have! I started on YouTube last year doing video techniques that I found interesting that I wasn't seeing in any commercial patterns instruction that I knew you guys would like. Going into 2019, I decided I'm going to branch out and do full-blown tutorials -- well, more like courses. There are simple steps that can elevate the look of a garment that I want to share. I want to encourage more home sewist to "level up" their sewing and know that every thing doesn't have to be rushed through and sewn in a single afternoon session. It's okay to take your time and put in a little extra work.
Made at home doesn't have to look "homemade".
Am I an expert? That's subjective. But what I am is someone that spends absurd amounts of time sewing various garments in a multitude of fabrics. And that makes me highly experienced. I've followed the pattern instructions, I've studied different reference books by different authors and I've picked up so many amazing techniques over the years. This has allowed me to create my own methods of putting it all together and creating my own way of doing things that works. So now I get to share my knowledge and experience with you, with my tried-and-true methods.
For my pattern choice, I had to reach way back in my pattern collection. I wanted a longer style double-breasted blazer. The only current alternative is Burda Style 09/2018 #117. I own this one and one of these days I'll feel like tracing and adding seam allowances! But for now, I went with an easier option, McCall's 8638. It's from 1997, and the wide shoulders sure did prove that. I had to cut them down to this decade by removing 1 1/2" off each. But other than that, this one fit the bill with all of the tailored jacket details I wanted. This particular cut is all over the place right now. Maybe by Fall 2019, the pattern companies will have caught up. And when they do, remember this tutorial is available!
The only thing I would've done different was add a back vent. And I'll probably go ahead and make functioning surgeon's cuffs. Mine are mitered, but I just didn't go with functioning buttonholes.
My favorite detail are the welt pockets with flaps. I'd mentioned a few weeks ago how welt pockets were one of my least favorite sewing things to do.
But once I taught myself a fail-proof method for both double welts and single welts, there was no looking back.
One of the key things I talk about is pressing and pressing tools. One of the main ones I recommend that a lot of people may be skipping is a Pressing Cloth. I have the one from Dritz and I also use a cut of silk organza.
In the tutorial, I will teach you step-by-step how to construct a tailored jacket with tips and guidance applicable to any blazer pattern of your choice. In this premium tutorial, you will get:
Places to interface and stabilize that the pattern companies don’t tell you
The Classic Button Up Shirt has always been one of the most essential workhorse wardrobe staple in my closet. I create some version of a great white shirt at least once a year.
This year, it's Kwik Sew 3555, and I'm literally kicking myself for overlooking this amazingly drafted classic shirt for as long as I have. Sometimes, Kwik Sew patterns come across as "matronly". But they have a great selection of basics that every home sewist should have in their sewing arsenal. Basics that you can easily "zhuzh up" or hack.
Over on BERNINA's WeAllSew Blog, I've created a 3 part sew-along series where I will be guiding you step-by-step in a tutorial along with providing you with my favorite tips to successfully sew your best ever button up shirt.
Separates are so necessary in building my home sewn wardrobe. They’re interchangeable and can be rotated throughout so many looks. I'm always adding low maintenance tops to my wardrobe, because it seems like I never have enough. Also, each cool weather season, I gravitate towards a faux leather legging. It's one of my wardrobe staples. A couple of years ago, it was faux leather jeans that I was obsessed with. This year, it will be these faux leather high-waist tapered leg trousers that will look amazing with everything from heels, flats, ankle boots and sneakers. Go on over to the Mood Sewing Network to see how I created Kwik Sew 3555 Button Front Shirt and Simplicity 8749 Faux Leather Pants.