color blocking

From left to right: Nanette Lepore, Milly, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Alexander Wang, Carolina Herrera

In case you haven’t noticed, color blocking is everywhere!  I thought that this was a trend that had gone away, but apparently I was wrong when I cracked open my spring fashion magazines (or when I said to one of my coworkers that “color blocking was so last season” and she pointed to the new pairs of color blocked shoes that we got in the store.  Oi.)  This trend was surprisingly easy to find patterns for from every major pattern company.  McCall’s new spring line even included a few patterns that allowed for color blocking variations.

So how do you wear this loud, bold trend and not look like Rainbow Brite?  Keep the maximum number of colors to three.  Based on the runway pictures above, it seems the easiest color combinations are with a white or black added in to the mix.  Or, keep the colors in the family – try mixing different shades of blues together to get a monochromatic but still color blocked look.  Depending on the pattern shapes, this can also be a figure flattering trend utilizing the technique of “trompe l’oeil” – some of the dresses and skirts below have a slenderizing look to them.  Below is a compilation of patterns that you can use at home to try out one of the easiest spring fashion trends.



The “Big 3” sewing pattern companies introduce new pattern lines each season and I’ve always wondered how on-trend they are.  In this round, I’m seeing what patterns could be used to copy current runway trends.  First up: the peplum.

Spring 2012 - Peplums

From left to right: Jason Wu, Alexander McQueen, Aqua, Giambattista Valli

A peplum is essentially a short overskirt attached to a fitted garment, such as a skirt, jacket, or top.  In modern day clothing, they became popular in the 1940’s (hello, Dior New Look), faded way after a few years, and then came roaring back in the 80’s and 90’s with power suits and shoulder pads.  Today’s peplum seen on the spring runways is a slightly longer version of what was seen in the early 2000’s.  What I love about peplums for my straight-up-and-down body type is that it gives the illusion of an hourglass shape.

After some scouring, here’s a compilation of patterns that could be used to achieve this runway look at home:

In an abstract sense, these Leanne Marshall (love her!!) dresses could be considered peplum dresses, especially Simplicity 1877, which is similar to the white Aqua dress above.  They each have different layers of skirts that fall over each other and create that hourglass look.  For both patterns, the top skirt layer could be kept and the under layers eliminated to get a truer peplum look.

The peplums on these tops are more restrained and modest in shape than the leopard print Giambattista Valli top above.  Maybe they could be redrafted to have more fullness by making the peplum pattern pieces wider, which would result in gathering more fabric at the waist.  I think the sleeveless version of the Simplicity pattern with the ruffles down the front is darling.

New Look is not one of the “Big 3” but falls under the Simplicity umbrella, and since I wanted to feature a skirt pattern this is the only one I could find.  The peplums on these skirts aren’t dramatic and mirror the shape of the skirt underneath closely, so no worries about added bulk and width to the hip area.  I’d love to adapt one of these skirts to recreate the Honeyed Peplum Skirt from Anthropologie.

If you’re looking for a peplum style jacket, Bellville Sassoon and Chado Ralph Rucci have you covered.  Vogue 1296 is full of drama and perfect for a fancy evening out, and Vogue 1269 would be a great office outfit – love how the peplum echos the sleeves and skirt.
All in all, I was impressed with how many options I found to recreate this spring 2012 fashion trend.  These peplums definitely feel more RTW than runway but are a great springboard for pattern alteration.

Will you be sewing peplums this spring?



Michelle’s Version:

I like the original Narcisco Rodriguez dress, but I’m really not that crazy about Michelle’s requested version. She also is wearing a cardigan, which only confuses the lines and proportions of the dress. Michelle is always on her game when it comes to dressing well, but I found this to be a surprising “no.” It just doesn’t seem to be flattering on her. But props to her for a bold, gutsy move on such an important night. What do you think?

Read about the dress controversy at


In case you missed the article in the New York Times this week, has launched a fabulous app for the iPhone just in time for New York Fashion Week, which begins today. Starting today, you can keep tabs on up-to-the-minute photos and video of new looks on the runways and coverage of every collection on the catwalk. The app even allows you refresh your memory of the Couture collections that showed in Paris a few weeks ago. I really like that you can also access the blog through the app as well. I’ve been checking it throughout the day and so far, no updates yet. But I’m sure they’ll start to pour in any hour now. Finally, an easy way to check out the newest styles and it fits in my pocket. This really doesn’t help my addiction to fashion!

Oh, and the best part? The app is free.