Is this Normcore?

Some parts of this post first appeared on the Cali Fabrics blog, and I received fabric in return for being part of the Cali blog team. 

Sometimes I want to dress to stand out, to establish my identity and stand apart from a crowd. That’s when I wear a something like my Oonapalooza maxi or my Sallie jumpsuit. But there’s a certain joy in normcore dressing too – the generic fashion that pervades Pinterest! This outfit is hella normal, and I kinda love it!

Durango Tank and Blackwood Cardigan

All I’m missing is a giant blanket scarf and a messy bun, right? 

How did it all happen?

Well, as part of the mini-capsule I worked on with my Cali Fabrics allowance, I picked this burgundy sweater knit and dusty rose print. The sweater knit is a lovely rayon, and reminds me so clearly of the Club Monaco sweatshirts that were so cool in the mid-1990’s! I’m so glad to find rayon sweater knits popping up more and more, because they sew nicely and drape beautifully. This colour seems to be sold out, but Cali carries it in grey, black,  and a gorgeous olive green.

Durango Tank and Blackwood Cardigan

It is, of course, a Helen’s Closet Blackwood Cardigan. I was a tester for this pattern back in the winter, and I wear my previous versions all the time! I like how all the edges are finished with folded bands, which means it is a perfect project if you don’t have a serger or coverstitch machine. I decided to change things on the fly though, and add a wide single-layer rectangle to my front neckline instead, giving it more drape. Turns out, the fabric is so heavy that the drape gave me a neckache and I cut half of it off!

Durango Tank and Blackwood Cardigan

Underneath, we’ve got the new, FREE Durango tank from Hey June. I’ve sewn more than 10 versions of the Santa Fe tank/tee that Hey June released last year, so I was pretty sure I’d like this one too! Durango is modelled after the shape of refashioned band shirts, with a high neckline and slight ease over the waist and hips.

I ended up shortening it 1″ at the waist and 1″ at the high bust to get my perfect fit. To be honest, this had some of the fit issues that the Itch To Stitch Lago tank had, so I’m not really sure why I like this one better! I guess because the neckline and hem shape on this one worked fine, once the extra height was taken out.

Durango Tank and Blackwood Cardigan

Like my recent Ilsa tunic, I’m using double brushed poly again for this tank! I like the combination of drape and soft fuzzy texture, with good stretch in all directions. It took me forever to narrow down which print to buy!

With such a simple shape, I wanted to add some interest in the back. I dug this rayon stripe out of my stash, and colour-blocked it in a chevron shape. My stripe-matching isn’t perfect, but from afar I really like the effect!

I have trouble sewing the perfect tight-but-super-stretchy jeans, so this is a pair of Old Navy knit jeans. I gotta say, they are super comfy and for $25 on sale, are cheaper than what I could sew! I picked up the boots for $22 recently at a new thrift store in town, and I think they are super cute… but after walking around this big park for 30 minutes, it was clear they are not comfy enough for everyday wear. What’s with slippery soles inside shoes? Who wants to slide forward and band their toes with every step? Anyway, the jeans and shoes are cute, but so very mainstream!

Durango Tank and Blackwood Cardigan

And yet… turns out I look good in these dusty shades! Who knew? I think it’s the shades of pink that are making my skin glow, and balancing out the darker burgundy. I mean, I love my maroon velvet Ebony dress from last year, but I’ve never though that the colour made my complexion sing. I do remember a few dusty pink tops that I’ve liked in decades past, so I guess I need to explore these colours more!

Durango Tank and Blackwood Cardigan

Next up I’ll be combining these new projects into a mini-capsule wardrobe based on the Pantone colours for Fall 2017. The burgundy and pale pink of the flowers fit well into the palette, as do the grey and warm brown “buttercream” colour in this print! If I’m stretching it, there’s some blue, too!


For all of you who spent decades struggling to find RTW clothes that fit – Does it ever feel subversive to be able to sew those trendy clothes in a way that actually fits? Yes, I love standing out sometimes, but it’s also fun to be able to fit in like everyone else.

P.S. Helen’s Closet patterns are on sale for 15% off for one more day, so nows the time to pick up the Blackwood cardi if you like mine!

29 thoughts on “Is this Normcore?

  1. Lovely colors and prints! The dusty shades are gorgeous on you. This might give you a chuckle re: normcore… Last night, my husband and I were walking down the street, both wearing totally plain jeans I’d made, black/grey t-shirts and brown shoes. We made our boring outfits conspicuous by twinning!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. AHAHAHAHA – you are perfectly matched!!! Every once in a blue moon I wear enough black to match my husband, but usually we are polar opposites in our fashion!


  2. The striped v is really cool. I always suspected you would look great in these softer dusted shades! They’re so pretty with your skin and your hair and look very natural on you. I’m not sure about normcore because this doesn’t strike me as unisex at all; the soft romantic feel of the tank and the drape of the cardigan seem highly feminine without being in your face girly with ruffles and bows.


  3. The back on that top is fabulous! I also love the idea of sewing ordinary clothes that people almost don’t notice. The best bit is that even though they might look like store-bought clothes, you’ve still made them to fit your shape, which means they look a ton better than anything from a shop.


  4. That chevron detail is really great! And to me, that looks like the sort of detail that would make it stand out from its RTW counterparts.

    Also, yes, the couple of times I made jeans that fit, I did feel like I was sticking it to the man, so to speak.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. A lot of the clothes that I wear are definitely what you call ‘normcore’–I can’t help it if what I like is in style, and since it’s in style, I’ma wear the heck out of it!
    On another note, that rose does really look good on you. I have a theory that dusty rose and teal look good on everyone, you just have to find the right shade. You have definitely found it!


  6. Yes! If I sew a floofy dress from some bright eye-catching print, it feels almost like cheating when someone asks if I made it. Much more satisfying when I’m wearing a head-to-toe outfit of dull, “normal” me-made clothes!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally impressed a colleague by wearing a me-made sweater the other day – which cracked me up because I think she knows I wear me made every day!


      1. Coincidentally, I just made a dress to wear to my sister’s wedding in a shade very similar to your cardi! Not a shade I wear often, but I also found that it looks surprisingly nice. 😊 Pics probably soon to come on instagram… Fun, I didn’t even think about that!


  7. You should definitely add those tones to your colour palette. You look gorgeous in them. They really make you glow (in a good way). I love your outfit. Sometimes you just want something that you don’t have to think about it just works. It is a lovely outfit and you look great in it. I love the boots too. Pity they are a bit uncomfy. Could they be a bit too big if you are sliding about in them? Maybe thick socks. It will be time for them soon anyway. Sewing is definitely subversive. 🙂 Xx


  8. Hi, I discovered your blog on the love to sew podcast. Im loving exploring it. I’m pretty new to sewing (especially knits), and I made the Durango Tank this week. I wanted to love it, but it threw up all sorts of gaping armholes. Like most newbie sewers I’ve avoided pattern adjustments, but after much research I think I might have to start thinking about FBA? (I’m about 2.5” difference between high bust or full bust- I didn’t even know these measurement existed until this week!). Can you even do a Fba in knit. Is it worth the effort? More research needed……
    Anyway you mentioned you made the Santa Fe top, could that be a better option/starting point for me? Did you have to make many adjustments to that tank?


  9. Coming back to leave s comment on boots sliding around… sorry for the delay or random comment. So, I have found adding small inexpensive shoe inserts solve a lot of issues with shoes for me. At least in the US you can find Dr Scholl products at grocery stores, drugstores and big box stores like Walmart or Target. Some shoes need a full sole insert while others need me to choose a ball-of-foot insert. I move most of them between pairs so I don’t need too many.


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