Winter Travel Wardrobe for Barcelona

In my last post, I showed you my travel wardrobe and a few hints as to where I was going to wear it.  And the correct answer was:  Barcelona, Spain!!!   My family and I were in Barcelona for 11 days at the end of December.  It was our first time ever in Spain, and we were very excited because we were going to get to see our daughter, who has been in the Peace Corps in Madagascar for the last 10 months.

The first two days it was raining, and I definitely needed the centerpiece of the wardrobe, this coat- made from a double knit, trimmed in leather, using Butterick 6384.

The above shot is at an outdoor Christmas market where they were selling all kinds of greenery, flowers, nativity scenes, Caga Tio's and Caganers.  Caga Tio and Caganers are very unique Catalonian traditions.   I won't go into them here, but definitely check it out if you don't mind a little potty humor.

When we travel, we always stay somewhere where we have a kitchen, so that we can cook one or two meals a day at home.  We could spend hours in supermarkets, just fascinated by the different foods, and deciding what to cook. Wine figures predominantly in the Barcelona culture, and you can buy really good wine straight from the barrel for $2 a bottle at the supermarkets.  I love how they've wrapped the wine barrels in garland for the holidays.

There are crazy sculptures everywhere you turn in Barcelona.  This picture is in front of a very famous sculpture called the "Barcelona Head" which is on the waterfront. Barcelona is on the Mediterranean and is a historical port.  After the first two days, the sun shone every day, and I really had no more need for the coat!  The weather was gorgeous, but still a little chilly, so I was really reliant on the fleece vests. This red one is made from a quilted knit and Butterick 6388.  It doesn't have any pockets because I didn't have enough fabric, so I liked wearing it with this striped top that had patch pockets.  When traveling, pockets are incredibly useful.  As long as something has pockets, you feel secure!  I did carry a purse, and never felt like I was a target for pickpockets, but that might be different in the summer when there are more tourists.  Audrey from SewTawdry did a great post about how to add hidden pockets, which I would like to do for future excursions. 

I wore each outfit 2-3 times, so here you see it again in the Els Quatre Gats bar, having Spanish hot chocolate and churros.  Their hot chocolate is really like a hot pudding.  Out of this world delicious, and muuuyyyy fattening!  We tried to have this every day, it was so good.  Els Quatre Gats means “The Four Cats,” which is derived from a Catalan expression which means “only a few people", or nobody important.  This is where Picasso hung out when he lived there with his cool artist buddies. It's ironic that many of the "cats" that hung out here became really important.

Here I am in the same outfit at the Boqueria Market on the Rambla, eating fresh scallops still in their shell.  Seafood is really popular here, as is paella.

There were quite a few fabric stores, and really nice ones too!  I think that Ribes and Casals is like their Mood- two stories, lots of really beautiful sequined fabrics, laces, etc.  You could spend some serious dinero here.  And this place was hopping- lots of customers and activity!  The business hours in Spain are frustrating for Americans.  Many shops open at 10, close at 1, then open again at 5, and stay open until 10 pm.  This gives the employees a chance to go home, have a nice lunch and be with family and friends.  We would often seek out a cafe and have more coffee or hot chocolate during this period.  Which was good because it gave us time to catch up with our daughter who has been in the Peace Corps in Madagascar for 10 months.  Barcelona was a halfway point between us, so she met us there.  Here we are catching up while the Barcelonians are on siesta.  Notice, here is my brick tunic, from Simplicity 8265. 

Now, I do have a funny story regarding this daughter.  Coming from Madagascar, she didn't have any clothes appropriate for the cooler climate in Spain, so before we left, she asked if she could wear my clothes.  Even though she's smaller than me, she has always loved wearing my clothes.  I said, "I've gained weight since you saw me, and my clothes would be way too big for you now, so no, you can't wear my clothes!  I'll pack a suitcase full of some of your old clothes that will fit you."  The very first morning, I went to wear the dress that I had made, and it was missing- and I found it on her!  She said "You really didn't think that I wasn't going to wear your clothes, did you?"  So the travel wardrobe got worn by both of us, the whole trip! She hardly wore anything that I had brought specifically for her.   Here she is in my brick dress with her sister, having some sangria and tapas.  This dress was probably in use more than any other piece in the wardrobe, mainly because she kept wearing it!

 And this is what tapas look like in Barcelona.  Tapas are little snack plates that you eat in between lunch and a late dinner at 10 pm or later.  They are pretty economical- usually between 3-5 euros a plate. 

And here I am in the same dress at Parc Guell, the masterpiece park of the architect Gaudi. Gaudi's work is all over Barcelona, in apartment buildings, parks,and an incredible cathedral.  Barcelona has 9 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and most of them are designed by Gaudi.  He is truly one of a kind.

Here my daughter and I are in front of one of Gaudi's apartment buildings in the "Block of Discord", so named because of many unusual buildings just in that block.  I'm wearing the black fleece vest and brick tunic.  The black fleece vest got worn equally as much as the red one.  Both were smart picks.

I  brought the black tunic for wearing when I felt like something a little dressy was needed, and on Christmas Eve, I wore it to a Flamenco performance at the Palau de Musica, another must see spot in Barcelona.  Flamenco is a traditional Spanish dance, and the costumes were gorgeous.

And I wore the black tunic again when I went fabric shopping in our neighborhood. This is in a store that was filled with beautiful woolens, floor to ceiling.  I haven't ever seen such a selection of wool!  Which is kind of surprising, as I don't think it ever gets very cold there.  But based on the clothes I saw in second hand stores, wool, leather, and fur are all quite popular.  I came home with the blue and purple piece that my arm is resting on.

The most spectacular place in Barcelona is the Sagrada de Familia- the Gaudi cathedral that has been being built for over 100 years. Words cannot describe it- you really have to be inside it to appreciate it.  Our apartment was just a couple of blocks away from it, and this is the breathtaking view that we had at night.

Regarding the other items, absolutely everything got worn at least twice, most 3-4 times.  My one regret: I should have taken more comfortable shoes.  I really was being vain not bringing tennis shoes, and I paid the price for that with sore feet!  The only thing that I would change regarding the clothing is to have made everything out of synthetic fabrics.  We did do laundry a couple of times, and there are no dryers there- everything has to be line dried.  So, my cotton french terry tunic took almost 24 hours to dry.  Everything else dried quickly.

I was pleased that the color palette I chose was spot on.  Just about all of the stores were featuring some combination of black, grey and red.  Here is a look at a wall in the Barcelona brand- Desigual:

I wish that I had the opportunity to do more snoop shopping for ideas, as the city is really filled with interesting boutiques. A lot of the apparel that I saw was made in Spain, and the quality was a notch above what I see in stores in the US.  I brought home some incredible second hand finds, cuts of fabric (of course), and some issues of the Spanish pattern magazine- Patrones.   And best of all, I am still wearing the heck out of this travel wardrobe here in Illinois!

So, all in all it was an incredible trip, and I feel so lucky to be able to have all of our family together for the holidays.  If you've never been to Barcelona, watch the movie "Vicky, Cristina, Barcelona" for a great view of the city and Javier Bardem!

Happy Sewing!


  1. I was SOOOO wrong about where you went, LOL! No matter, it looks like you had a blast in Barcelona! I'm glad all your pieces got worn many times. I also think it is amazing that your daughter is in the Peace Corp. I would love to hear more about it. When I was in 5th grade, we wrote letters to a Peace Corp. volunteer in Fiji. It is still memorable to me today.

    1. Thanks for the idea Vanessa! I work at an elementary school, and my daughter did go speak to the 4th grade classes before she left. I should ask the 5th grade teachers to have the students write her some letters for her birthday coming up! Here is a link to her blog:

  2. What a wonderful trip for your family! Thanks so much for the travel summary. You looked great in your Barcelona wardrobe (as did your daughter!).

  3. I found your blog through your PatternReview review, and am so impressed with the stylish, comfy and versatile wardrobe you made for your trip to Barcelona! It looks like a fabulous city to visit, and it's awesome that your daughter is in the Peace Corps. Thanks for sharing your wonderful trip and wardrobe, I really need to think about a color scheme for my makes and create more pieces in solids that work together!

    1. Thanks, Randi! Yes, I love working with a color scheme- it makes things more likely to get worn.

  4. What a wonderful find for me today - your post, photos of your beautifully coordinated travel wardrobe, and the photos of local fabric shopping in Barcelona. It looks so beautiful there in Barcelona. Your color scheme makes so much sense and clearly worked for you and your daughter. What a fun vacation for you.


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