Cake, judicious op-shopping, and a challenge

21 Sep

A story of cake and icing …

I had a wonderful time visiting  Kerryn’s Fabric World, of Australian Dressmaking with Stitches fame, when in South East Queensland the other week!

A few years ago I had my ‘colours done’ by Kerryn. I’m a Summer who is ‘cool, muted and light’ in Kerryn’s system. It’s not the first time I’ve encountered the concept of seasonal colouring. At age 14 I read Colour Me Beautiful by Carole Jackson, (I loves me my local library!) and ascertained I’m a Summer. It’s informative to go through my photo albums and see the difference this book made. Before 14, the colours I wore were a bit hit-and-miss. I’m naturally drawn to blue, purple and green, which are so plentiful in the Summer palette, so a lot of clothes were in colours that suited me, but there were some real doozies too O_O. But from 14 onwards, I’m consistently in colours that suit me. It makes such a difference!

The Colour Me Beautiful author said Summers in particular, benefit from learning what colours suit them. From observing myself in different colours over the years, I think this is because I either look great in a colour, or so ill people have an urge to call an ambulance and cart me off to hospital. There’s very few colours that are ho hum on me, not great but not terrible. It’s either/or! So I’m very grateful I went through the worst of my teenage body-cringe-years in colours that really flattered me!

My ‘basic’ colours in my colour-swatch palette booklet. The idea with these basic colours is that they’re a bit boring, kinda non-entity colours, so people won’t notice if you wear clothes in these colours day in, day out, so they work well to form the basis of your wardrobe. Cake colours, if you will. I find them calming and soothing, which I like 🙂

These are the ‘Icing’ colours, the bright, fun accent colours, but they’re also the ones where most of my extra-flattering colours come from, like eye colour or eye or hair intensifiing colours.

Some of what I learnt from having a colour consultation with Kerryn:

  • A more refined understanding of how to interpret the Summer palette for my own colouring – Kerryn works with 16 different palettes. My palette in her system is ‘cool (as in cool tones,) muted and light. There were a number of colours I’d never thought of wearing, but that do indeed look great on me, like coral pink, and the ‘basic’ beigey browns.
  • What colours are extra-fab on me, and why, for eg, the reason I gather compliments wearing a slightly warm red is that my eyes are a cool blue. A warm red is the complimentary (opposite on the colour wheel) of greeny-blue. Of course, complimentary colours intensify each other, so the blue in my eyes brings out the beauty of the red I’m wearing. The red brings out the beauty of my eyes. Basic colour theory, but I’d never thought of applying it to my own colouring!
  • How to ‘break’ the guidelines and wear colours not in my palette without my friends calling an ambulance. (eg, keep it away from your face, or wear prints with no more than 25% non-palette colours, use them in accessories – pumpkin-orange shoes anyone?!Chinese Laundry Moving On Pumpkin Suede Women ShoesMy own additions are using them in soft furnishings and my garden too!)
  • How to use your palette to assess if a non-palette colour will also look nice on you (for eg, if it’s a bit lighter or darker than a colour swatch, or in between two of them, it should work well too.)
  • Ideas for working with my short stature such as using diagonal or curved hemlines rather than horizontal.
  • Realise my preference  for organic prints – florals, spirals, paisleys, butterflies! which also work well with my curly hair. (Great money-saver. I might adore a super-geometrical pattern, but I no longer am drawn into buying it because I know I just won’t wear it. Unless it’s gingham ;-))
  • Some great tips for working with my slightly-pear-ish hourglass shape.

But … identifying my style preference was much harder. Kerryn gave me good guidance and a booklet detailing different style preferences, such as classic, natural, romantic, dramatic, along with how to work out which yours are. I just kept coming up with ‘a bit of all of them.’

Ok, don’t get me (or Kerryn!) wrong. It isn’t like there’s a Rule to say you have to be predominantly one or the other style, just like you don’t have to wear colours and shapes that suit you. But I was at a total loss as to how to draw so many style preferences together into an actual wardrobe. One suggestion Kerryn had was using accessories to reflect different styles, but even so, I struggled.

Pinterest came to my rescue a couple of years ago. I created My colour boards (below the sewing ones 🙂 to explore my style preferences.

For example, my Pink and Black board is full of romantic, feminine clothes like this:



Baby Blue is full of creative clothes, often with a dash of dramatic.


Verdigris has mostly classic lines with a bit of a retro feel, and subtle fabrics:

jacket and dress

It took time, but I’ve figured out some important things:

  • Accessories really do help express a certain style. And best of all, that there are far more wonderful accessories in the world than those I can find in Darwin. *cough* Etsy *cough*
  • Some colours (the ones my pinboards are named for) are very important to my moods. Even a simple t-shirt or pretty necklace in one of these colours allows me utilise its effect on my mood.

However my wardrobe was still chaotic. I hate dealing with a chaotic wardrobe. I want to be able to open it, feel for a few moments what style I want to reflect for the day, grab something suitable, stick it on, then close the wardrobe again. 1 minute max!

It wasn’t until I went back to Kerryn’s shop again a few weeks ago (She remembered me! How awesome! That curly-haired summer-coloured girl from Darwin must be memorable :-D) that she helped get everything into the right perspective. I told her my pinterest style adventures, and she said ‘Ah yes, summers do tend to prefer a classic style.’

And DUH!!! I suddenly could see that the basis underlying all those different styles, IS, for me, a classic style.

I prefer to wear cake!

A few more day’s thought and I realised why I’m struggling to have a mostly-classic wardrobe.

I hate sewing cake!

It’s so incredibly BORING.

I love sewing the dramatic, the delicate, the natural, the retro/vintage, creative … anything but classic. And no matter how many ‘classic’ styled clothes I cut out ready to sew, it takes years to finish them or, more likely, they become UFOs because sewing them is a real chore 😦 It’s also exacerbated by the fact that if I do finish a classic garment, I wear it all the time so it dies more quickly than my ‘icing’ clothes.

So … I did what any sensible, planet-loving girl does. I hit the op-shops and got myself some jeans suitable for shortening to clam-digger or 3/4 length, every white shirt in a natural fibre (anything else is just too hot) that fit, and stocked up on cute little t-shirts and singlets.

Oh boy, *heaves a huge sigh* I can’t tell you the sense of relief I have! The backbone of my wardrobe is now classic. Thank goodness! I don’t have to sew anything boring anymore! I can use all my creative energy into making accent clothes of creative/dramatic style, delicate style, natural, romantic, feminine and and and …! Yippeeeee!

That’s where the challenge part comes in. I need to let my bank balance recuperate after my shopping trip to Kerryns store. Her store is incredible. It’s carefully curated to have something for everyone. Every colouring, in every style preference, in fabric suitable for many different climate and lifestyle needs. *drool drool* Needless to say I had a much fuller suitcase on the way home than there 😀

Now I’ve freed myself up to sew as much cake as I want, I am hungry to sew up all the icing fabrics I bought at Kerryns, and icing fabrics in my stash that I haven’t been sewing because oh dear I really need to make some bermuda-style shorts and basic shirts first. But, no longer! Weeeeheeeee! Freedom!

So I’ve decided to go on a Fabric Diet till christmas, not buying any more and really focussing on what the beautiful icing fabrics I’ve been collecting but not sewing. My fabric storage space and bank balance will appreciate this. So will my creativity 🙂

As my reward for doing this challenge successfully, after christmas I’m going to email Kerryn and say ‘hey, I wanna make a (very very icing-y!) ‘hunting jacket’ in the style of this pinboard, classic/natural, organic, plain, or maybe plain with a highlight in matching print. Natural colours in my palette in fabric weight suitable to disgustingly hot and humid weather.’

Much as I love Spotlight, with all its flaws, I’ve never found quite the right fabric for it. I am very sure Kerryn will be able to help me!

Capuche médiévalelove the shape of this surcoat.Ranger Short Dress

5 Responses to “Cake, judicious op-shopping, and a challenge”

  1. Becky September 30, 2014 at 2:53 am #

    I’m glad you explained the names of your Pinterest boards– I’ve been rather confused to see things on “baby blue” that didn’t have a single drop of blue in them!


    • Tropical Threads September 30, 2014 at 3:04 pm #

      heh yeah it would be confusing without the explanation. I might go and write an explanation on each board. They’re definitely style rather than pure colour boards, though the colour they’re named for tends to dominate the style 🙂
      I loves me my pinterest boards!
      Last night I was devouring this website here
      I think it’s going to help me figure out how to pull all the styles together into one wardobe.


  2. dottiedoodle October 12, 2014 at 2:02 am #

    Very interesting post. It is so freeing to stop trying to sew everything!


    • Tropical Threads October 12, 2014 at 4:37 pm #

      Thankyou for following my blog!

      It is freeing, isn’t it.

      And the crazy thing for me is I just finished a very cake-like sew of plain brown TNT 3/4 trousers. Like as if deciding I was only gonna sew what I really liked to sew freed me up to just finish a fairly boring project? *feels very sheepish*



  1. A comfortable-sized stash | Tropical Threads - October 10, 2014

    […] officially on a Fabric Diet, after my er, being honest, delicious fabric binge while visiting Kerryn’s Fabric World. This […]


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