Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Planning a Handmade Travel Wardrobe

I've got two separate sewing queues going on at the moment. As well as the change in weather inspiring new sewing plans I've been thinking about warmer climates as I'm heading to South Africa and the Philippines in January and February! I'm incredibly excited about it as it is the kind of trip I've wanted to do for a long time. My boyfriend and I will be in South Africa for a month and are going to be travelling around and spending a fair bit of time on safari in Krueger National Park so practical clothing is key. We are then heading to the Philippines for two weeks for a wedding so although warm weather clothing is still appropriate there will be a lot of beach time and party time too so this is going to require a slightly different wardrobe. I will have two days back in the UK between trips to do bit of a wardrobe swap!

I hit briefly on the topic of slow sewing in my last post and am trying to put this into practice with my travel wardrobe too. I don't want to take vast quantities of clothing with me so I've been giving what garments, patterns and fabrics will be really useful some serious thought. I've tried to make use of fabrics in my stash as much as possible and am pleased to say it should be vastly depleted by the time I've made all this! Of course there are garments I've already made that will certainly be coming with me; my short Sallie Jumpsuit (heroine of my warm weather wardrobe!), checked linen Flint Shorts and burnt orange Erin Skirt to name just a few. I don't think I'm quite there yet with the plan but this is my starting point. I'd really love your suggestions on what other garments and patterns you think would be good to include.

For South Africa I'm thinking about comfortable, practical clothing in natural fibres to keep me cool in the heat. Muted tones of lighter colours and some designs which provide me with coverage from the sun and mosquitos. I'll be taking some of these things along to the Philippines too but would like to add in some more vibrant colours, more beachwear and some more dressed up outfits for the evening and wedding.


First up The Fabric Store added this amazing big cat cotton shirting to their online selection a few weeks back and I pounced on it straight away! I'm not usually one for novelty print but wearing little big cats whilst looking for big cats on safari? I'm in! I'm going to use it to make a shirtdress using Hot Patterns 1237. I had a rummage through their designs on the Sew Box stand at the Knitting & Stitching Show and was really impressed by the quality and detail in the styles. The fabric is nice and light and breathable so I'm going to make it with long sleeves for coverage. I'm looking forward to sewing this one up.


There's a few Halfmoon Atelier designs I've got my eye on, the first of which is the Tofo Jumpsuit. I think it will be great to throw on on really hot days when I need to get about easily and will be great over swimwear. I've got a length of this beautiful ikat from The Fabric Store to make it in.


A project that I didn't get around to making this summer but definitely want to get done before holiday is a Tessuti Bondi Dress in this pine green linen I've had stashed away. The colour is a little richer in reality than the photo. This is such a great easy to wear design that I think will be really comfortable in linen and I've been keen to try out another Tessuti pattern since I made my Oslo coat.


I'd like to make a couple of pairs of shorts and have selected some paprika linen from my stash (its the heavyweight linen from The Fabric Store) and some denim left over from my Cleo Pinafore for these. I was thinking about the shorts variation of either the Lander or Persephone Pants but a pattern soon to be released has since caught my attention so I'll have to keep that pattern choice secret for now!


To go with the shorts and some of my existing skirts and linen trousers I want to work on my collection of handmade t-shirts. I'm still on a quest to find my ultimate t-shirt/casual top patterns and would like to use designs which have a bit of interest to them. At the moment the contenders are the MIY Collection t-shirt patternCommon Stitch Sparrow Tee, Named Selja Knot Tee and Style Arc Como Top. I also think a couple of basic tanks using the pattern just released by Halfmoon Atelier could be useful. Fabric wise I loved the milano viscose jersey from Fabric Godmother when I visited their open day last month and they have it in some lovely warm, neutral colours. I prefer my tees to have a little drape and viscose will be lovely and cool in the heat.


For coverage I'd love to make some kind of lightweight kimono to throw on over anything. I'd love your pattern suggestions for this! I'd like it to work thrown over shorts and tees on safari but also over bikinis on the beach. I've been looking at this zero-waste tutorial from Elbe Textiles but think maybe I want something a little more detailed than that. Perhaps something that can wrap and become a dress? Fabric-wise I'm also undecided but am quite drawn to this lovely printed double georgette.


Of course I'm going to require an assortment of swimwear and I'm excited about this as there have been so many great swim patterns being released lately. I've got a Halfmoon Atelier Wells Bay Bikini cut out but haven't decided on which other patterns to use yet. I've been looking at designs from Swim Style and Sew Swimmingly and considering the Vernazza Two Piece from Friday Pattern Company and the Greenstyle Creations North Shore Swimsuit. I've got a little stash of Liberty swim fabric squirrelled away and ready to turn into something special.


This amazing fabric I picked up in Misan West on Goldhawk Road. Its actually a cotton but has the drape and smooth hand of a silk or viscose. Amazing! I'm just going to hem it and possibly shape it a little to use as a sarong.


For the wedding I'm torn between making a Named Anni Jumpsuit (the variation with the short sleeves, trousers and cut out neckline) in one of these beautiful plain double viscose crepes from Fabrics Galore or a Closet Case Patterns Amy Jumpsuit in a dramatic print. I think both would be lovely and cool and just the right amount of dressed up for a tropical wedding. Perhaps I should make both and the other can be worn as evening wear?!


I've had a small piece of this amazing vibrant jacquard in my stash forever and am thinking to turn it into either a pencil skirt or little pair of dressy shorts to wear on a night out in the Philippines, what do you think?

I've been looking at more designs from Elbe Textiles and Common Stitch but can't settle on any further additions yet. Perhaps I should get on with this lot and see how much time I have left! Do you guys have any suggestions?

21 comments:

  1. Hello Fiona!

    I'm a long time reader of your blog and love all your makes, and I was thrilled to see you will be traveling to (very) sunny South Africa. If your travels include Cape Town and you need someone to show you around, let me know!

    Very excited to see how your travel wardrobe comes together!

    Kind regards :)

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    1. O fantastic! I should have known that wherever in the world I go there are lovely friendly sewing people to meet up with!
      At the moment our plans are still a bit up in the air but I think the intention is to stay in the northern area around Krueger and Johannesburg but Cape Town has certainly come up in discussion so if plans change I'll be sure to let you know
      Lovely to hear from you and delighted to know that you enjoy the blog!

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  2. Great plans for your travel wardrobe!

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    1. Thanks Linda, I'm almost as excited about the sewing as the holiday...almost!

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  3. I love the items you've selected to sew and can't wait to see them made up. How do you keep your linen items from becoming irretrievably wrinkled from packing in a suitcase? I know linen is cool and comfy to wear, but I hate looking like I've slept in my clothes. If you have a secret method for keeping them presentable, please share. The trips you have planned sound like great adventures. Enjoy!

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    1. Ah wrinkly linen is forever an issue isn't it?
      I tend to embrace the wrinkly look! After a few hours of wear the garments tend to look all creased up anyway and if I'm in a safari truck I don't mind being a bit wrinkled! I'll probably avoid any styles in linen which would be better off looking crisp and will generally try to hang them as much as possible. But as I'll be camping a bit on this trip that may be tricky!
      I'm excited to see these made up too!

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  4. Love all these travel wardrobe ideas! I love my Seamwork Catarina for traveling. I made it in a lightweight printed silk so it packs to nothing, is beautiful, and easily worn with a cardigan over it (I wear mine with our Burmese Jacket from 134 South Asian Tops and Wraps) when you need the extra warmth. I also love Folkwear's 129 Hapi Jacket for a kimono-like beach cover up. But, Folkwear also has 157 Moroccan Djellaba which I love as beach cover up and goes to dress for later.
    I love your travel plans. Can't wait to hear more about them (and your travel wardrobe)!

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    1. Thank you so much for these suggestions, I'm quite taken with them all! The Catarina looks like a great comfortable basic that still has a chic vibe. Perfect for my needs I think.
      I'm quite in love with the 129 Hapi Jacket, I think it might be just what I'm looking for! I particularly love the drama of the true kimono sleeves but think I might have to restrain myself and make the more practical version!

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  5. That's so cool that your travelling to South Africa! Please remember to always wear sunscreen and pack a hat! I was going to suggest sewing natural fibers before reading your blog post, but then saw that you're all over that. I hope you have a great time.

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    1. Thanks very much for your comment Magdel! The sunscreen and hat are high on the packing list don't worry!
      Yes I'm all over the natural fibres, I want to be as comfortable as possible!

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  6. Hi Fiona, firstly I wanted to say that I really enjoy your blog and have picked up so many little tips and tricks from you. I grew up in the Lowveld around the Kruger National Park. I love this part of the country and I'm very excited for you to visit. I just wanted you to be aware that it is likely to be very hot in Jan/Feb round these parts. You'll need plenty of sunscreen and water to keep hydrated. We basically live in shorts and tees. The heat can also be different depending on where in the park you will be. If you in the South (Skukuza, Lower Sabie, Malalane etc.) it will be very humid. If you more north (Satara, Mopane, Letaba, Pufuri etc.) it will be incredibly dry. That makes a big difference to how the heat feels. Natural fibres are definitely the way to go, but you may want super loose fitting stuff too. I find that the feel on too many clothes on my skin makes me feel more hot if that makes sense.

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    1. Hi Kierryn, thank you so much for the lovely comment! It is wonderful to hear from someone who knows the area so well.
      I am preparing for heat for sure! My skin is quite prone to burning in the sun so I'll be taking lots of suncream and also some lightweight cover ups to keep my skin away from the direct sun as much as possible.
      The plan is to spend around two weeks in Krueger so we're hoping to go all over the park. I'm trying to make and pack a whole variety of options as I'd heard that the weather can be quite varied in different areas at that time of year. Preparing for every eventuality so we can just relax and enjoy the trip!
      The loose fitting tip is a great one thanks, makes complete sense.
      Can't wait to explore your part of the world!

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  7. Rebecca @sew_everyday24 October 2018 at 11:22

    So fun! I do love planning (sewing!) for trips. I recently visited Singapore and a few great pieces I packed were my denim lander shorts (great to see that on your list!) and two Tessuti Ruby dresses (which are basically the same as the Bondi dress). Very versatile for daytime with flats, or night time dressed up! And obviously worked well with the climate. So I think your plans look great! One thing I made was a knit pencil skirt in a grey ponte- I used the Megan Nielsen Axel. I could dress it up for drinks out, but it looked equally good with sneakers for days of touristy walking! It was also nice to have something comfy to wear (and didn’t need ironing). Happy planning & sewing!

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    1. Thanks very much for your helpful comment Rebecca! I'm counting down the days until the trip but it feels like a long time away so planning what to make and pack is making the wait more bearable!
      I love your ideas and am glad to see the I'm on a good track with the Lander and Bondi patterns. A knit pencil skirt is a great idea for the Philippines portion of the trip when we might be having some more nights out. Thanks!

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  8. Make sure you check up on all the innoculations you'll need, first up. Second the loose clothes - forget anything fitted in humid heat, even in linen or hemp. Hard to wear and also to put on and take off.... the Bondi dress is the type of thing I live in in our Maltese summers. Oh, and knits will drive you crazy unless they're fine and linen. Believe me on this one. Even Art Gallery knits which are super fine are unwearable in our summers, so it will be worse in both of these countries. Oh, and whatever the received wisdom of silk being all seasons, in real heat (and especially in humidity) it is most definitely a no-no!

    Be very, very careful with Hot patterns. I've bought loads of them, and they tend to be gorgeous, but rather carelessly drafted. Check patternreviews.com before you cut any of them out - that saves me loads of time when I'm using one of their patterns. And if you don't find any detailed reviews, check seams against each other and muslin carefully. Oh, and they run big. I wasted some gorgeous Italian viscose ponti on one of their dresses. So sad.

    Phillipines are mostly CAtholic so if it's a church wedding, no sleeveless for the ceremony. A light wrap in linen will do;).

    Don't forget the sunblock, big hats and drink loads of water:)

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    1. Thanks very much for your helpful comment Francesca!
      I've already had my travel vaccinations and sorted all that kind of thing. Just the fun wardrobe planning and making left for me now!
      Glad to hear I'm on the right track with the Bondi dress. I feel like I've got a good grasp on what works for me in the heat now as we had an incredibly hot and humid summer here in London, weeks of over 30 degree temperatures and on the tube it hit 40 more than once! In a city not built for the heat I learnt how to deal with it quickly!
      Thanks for the tip on Hot Patterns. I've got the pattern now and Susan from Sew Box very helpfully suggested I size down so I've measured out the pattern pieces and done so. Am going to try a quick toile first as it is the first time I've made anything with their patterns. Luckily this is quite a loose fitting style so fingers crossed I'll be ok and I'll probably appreciate the extra room in the heat haha!
      I don't the wedding is a church one but I'm still waiting on the details so I'll bear that in mind thanks!

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    2. Susan at Sewbox is the best:). It's a really cute pattern. When I said carelessly drafted, I should have clarified. Their drafting is clever, and it isn't bad. It's just that there always seems to be a slip up somewhere. I still buy their patterns :).
      I forgot one huge essential : mozzie repellent. Not sure if either country is a malaria zone, but Kenya was - and I'm a magnet. I used Deet there but have since become allergic to it. And it's quite toxic anyhow.

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  9. Good luck with your sewing plans! The travelling sounds like it’s going to be wonderful.

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    1. Thanks very much! I'm incredibly excited about it!

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  10. I'm Australian, and I've traveled a lot across Australia; but I'm guessing that some things are similar. If you are a fair way inland in South Africa, it may get quite cold at night; and mosquitos can be quite bad around dusk. Long sleeves and long pants will help protect against mozzies; even if you don't catch anything from them, the bites can get very itchy.

    And I always wear long pants and closed-toe shoes if there is any chance of snakes :-)

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    1. Thanks very much for the helpful comments! I've been thinking a lot about the mozzies as I tend to get bitten quite a lot in these climates! In London in the heat I usually go short and sleeveless to keep cool but am definitely incorporating longer sleeves and legs in these plans! I'm going to take a couple of cover ups for the evening or to protect me from the sun in the day too, I have very English skin which doesn't do well in the sun haha!
      I hadn't even thought about snakes!!

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I love hearing from readers of my blog so please feel free to leave a comment letting me know what you thought about this post/make! Any hints or tips to improve my sewing are always much appreciated too!