RTW Fast?

A bunch of sewists are going on an RTW fast.

What does this mean? No buying any ready-to-wear clothing, with a few narrow exceptions:

  • Wedding gown or bridesmaid’s dress (or any event where everyone has to dress alike)
  • Bras, underwear, stockings, socks
  • Uniforms for work
  • Belts, handbags and shoes

Could I do this? Probably.

More because I don’t buy much than because I am an awesome sewist. ‘Cause I am not awesome. Reminder here. And here. And here. And some photo evidence for good measure:

Sorry – are your eyes OK?

Now that I’ve slipped that ugliness out of the way, let’s go through my closet to take stock of  all the garments that I bought in 2018:

  • Two pairs of jeans
  • Two sweaters (a pullover and a cardigan)
  • A big puffy down coat
  • Winter hat and gloves
  • Long-sleeved button-up blouse
  • Sleeveless top
  • Two dresses (a shirt dress and a knit dress)
  • A skirt
  • A knit jacket – “jardigan” thing
  • A blazer

Also, I was given two T-shirts for participation in charity fund-raisers. Gifts are OK to receive under the RTW Fast challenge. And I bought two bras, eight pairs of underwear, several pairs of tights and socks (not sure how many) – but these are exempt anyway.

Of all these items, I really needed the coat, and that’s not something I could have made if I’d wanted to. I bought the hat and gloves on vacation because I was freezing in Scotland, so I don’t think that’s fair to hold against me.

I could have made the rest, I suppose:

  • I have made a few cardigans, so yeah, that’s easy.
  • I have not made a pullover yet. I don’t think that a sweater sewn out of sweater knit fabric is as nice as a regular knitted RTW sweater, but I see so many sewn sweaters that I think they must be worth a try.
  • The button-up blouse is made from silk georgette. That stuff would be a nightmare to sew. I needed a blouse like that for work, so I bought one.
  • I needed the blazer for work, too. Could have made one, I guess,  but this fit so well and it was so nice, and I needed it on short notice, so I bought.
  • Jeans. Sigh. I WILL make jeans in 2019.
  • One dress, the skirt and the “jardigan” came from one of those clothing subscription box services. I got a $100 tryout as a gift. Of course, I spent $350. The jardigan is nice but the dress and skirt fit is bad. I seldom wear either and can’t find the motivation to make alterations. These two items are the only things I bought needlessly and regretfully in 2018.
  • Oh, actually, that sleeveless top. Yeah. I didn’t need that either and I could have sewn something similar in an evening, but I liked it and it was on sale and it was good quality, so I bought it. So sue me.
  • And the other dress… well, I wanted it and I loved it and I bought it. So there.


Looking ahead, what do I expect I will need in 2019?

  • A suit. I have many coordinating jackets and skirts, but I don’t fit into the two RTW suits I have. If I had a job interview tomorrow, I’d be at Lord & Taylor right now instead of typing this. I surely would not be sewing up a tailored suit. If I had time on my hands, maybe. And If I did want to sew a suit, I’d sew this, from the Italian magazine La Mia Boutique
Sara outfit
La Mia Boutique Aug/Sept 18 line drawings
  • Pants for work. I think I have solved that dilemma with my Style Arc find. Two more pairs are in my sewing plans for this winter. I am semi-confident I can pull it off.
  • Button-up blouses for work. I need a basic white blouse at least. I have had the famous Butterick 5526 blouse pattern in my stash for a year. (Seriously, I bought that pattern in January 2018.) I was thinking about ways I could make the bottom right or top left views jibe with my edgy wardrobe plans – maybe with a collar detail and metal buttons?

Butterick 5526

  • Another blazer for work. I have plenty of patterns. The simplest would be another Grainline Studios Morris Blazer, but I’d need to work on the fit. The Morris I have is worn out – the ponte is pilled up. Maybe I could make the La Mia Boutique jacket out of something that would coordinate as a suit or a separate with the black pencil skirts I already have?
Grainline Studios Morris Blazer
  • More jeans. OK, already! I will make jeans in 2019!
  • Shorts. I will need things for a cruise this summer. I am more of a skirt gal in hot weather, but I will need two pairs of shorts for hiking, birding and boating.
  • T-shirts. Most of the RTW ones and a few me-made ones I have are getting kinda sad.
  • A dressy dress. I have a summer wedding and an early fall bat mitzvah on the calendar already. Maybe I could get by with one dress for the both, with a jacket for the fall event.
  • Sweaters. This will be the last winter for some RTW sweaters that are a little faded, pilled up and stretched out.

OK, so that’s a list… What fabrics do I have in stash already?

  • Suiting for the suit or blazer – Some gorgeous wool suiting I got from Mood’s remnant sale. I also have 4 yards of black wool twill I scored at a vintage shop.
  • Pants material (these have already been planned for) – a stretch wool twill and a stretch pique.
  • Shirting for the white blouse – I have some white menswear pique and ivory batiste.
  • Jeans – I have some cheap stretch denim from Joann for a muslin and some beautiful Cone Mills denim for the real deal.
  • T-shirts – I have 1-2 yard lengths of various jerseys.

I would need to buy:

  • Material for the shorts – Twill? Linen? I also have some seersucker in stash, but it’s probably not suitable.
  • Sweater knits. I have some linen knit for a lightweight cardigan but nothing for pullover style sweaters.
  • Dressy dress material – Oy. I have a lot of material suitable for a dress that could straddle summer and fall, but nothing really fancy:
    • Three different knit/jersey lengths for a wrap dress, in prints and solids.
    • Navy and white print poplin for a shirt dress – more office than party.
    • Navy batiste that’s also very much for officewear, not party wear.
    • Lightweight wool houndstooth tweed in white and cranberry, with some suedecloth bought to make a jacket to match. There is only enough of the houndstooth for a shift dress and it’s very summery.
    • I have silk dupioni in red, gold, black ivory and navy for a jacket to coordinate.

This sounds like a lot of potential “needs” and some serious fabric purchases. If I actually sew half this stuff in 2019, that would be  an accomplishment. I think it’s time for another Magic Quadrant of Sewing Projects to determine what’s worthwhile.

I am going to think about this overnight.




Author: shoes15

I live in Connecticut, USA with my husband and my dog, in an old house outfitted with a sewing room, a garden, an orchard, and a big liquor cabinet.

4 thoughts on “RTW Fast?”

  1. That’s an ambitious plan! I hope you do make jeans. They aren’t as difficult as they look. I skip adding the rivets which makes it easier and no one has ever commented on it.


  2. Do it! I did in 2015, with the exception of the items you mentioned, and I was so happy about it. Not only did I learn more about sewing but I realized I could do a lot of things if I tried. I also realized that shopping for clothes was not as fun as sewing things that I liked and fit better!


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