Planning a handmade wardrobe

How do you decide what you are going to sew? It seems I always have a million ideas for the clothing I want to make for myself, and until fairly recently I was pretty spontaneous (me: “Ooh pretty fabric!!” or “I can make that!!”, commence sewing, etc). But in the past couple of years I have tried to be more intentional about the clothing I sew and how those things will work together to create a coordinated handmade wardrobe for a given season (or two). This is still not the most cohesive or structured method, but for me just having any roadmap is helpful.

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Because I am most inspired by colors and prints, I usually use fabric as my starting point. I try to choose fabrics that will work together, and consider what patterns I want to use for each one. I’ve learned in recent years that twenty newly sewn things that don’t match or coordinate in any way isn’t the best use of my time. Shown above are the some of the swatches I’m using for my spring/summer 2016 handmade wardrobe.

Lately I’m trying to remember to choose simpler shapes and more solid fabrics for my separates, because they result in more versatility when it comes to putting outfits together. Even though I wear this dress ALL. THE. TIME, separates work together better if they aren’t all crazy prints, all the time. This can be difficult, as I love me some loud prints. But since many of the newly sewn items in my wardrobe this year are Luna Pants, solid tops to coordinate are on the list. Unless I’m up for going full faux jumpsuit and calling it a day? Never out of the question.

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I like to sketch out all of the things I want to sew (in this case, for spring/summer ’16) on a page or two in my sketchbook so I can see the outfits and how everything will work together. I really like having all of my sewing ideas in one place so I can refer back to it later.

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You have to be living under a rock not to have noticed that the capsule wardrobe has been a hot concept lately, and I think this ties in with that idea nicely. The idea behind the capsule wardrobe is that you have a limited number of items in your wardrobe — items that are of higher quality and therefore could stand to be worn more than a handful of times — that you can mix and match to create all of the outfits you need for a given season. I think one of the reasons I like this sketch-and-swatch method is that it allows you to design a capsule wardrobe at a glance if you want.

This isn’t a complete capsule wardrobe thing for me (yet), but I think it could be. A pair of well-made, store-bought jeans or a nice cardigan made with high-quality yarn is a good investment and, honestly, I don’t really want to make all of the things that I wear, so when I decide what to sew, I’m usually also considering things I already own that will match or coordinate. I love the idea…but…know thyself, you know? Maybe someday I will make jeans, but for now I’m fine with incorporating my purchased items with handmade items.

If you want to dive into wardrobe-building in a more structured way, you should check out the Wardrobe Architect series over at Colette. It’s a great way to really nail down your personal style, shapes, palettes, and so on through a series of exercises and worksheets. My friend and fellow pattern designer Christine Haynes is currently working through the process and documenting it with a series on her blog which I definitely recommend checking out! As you can see, my process isn’t quite as detailed or thorough, but I think it would work alongside the Wardrobe Architect process quite nicely.

So, tell me, how do you plan what you are going to sew?

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Creativebug Outfit for Hugo

Sewing for little ones set / Creativebug + Made By Rae

I have always felt that the two most essential garments in a child’s wardrobe are a basic pair of pants and a tee shirt. It was on this premise that I designed my two children’s patterns, the Flashback Tee for knits and the Parsley Pants for woven fabrics, and it’s also the reason that my Sewing for Little Ones series on Creativebug begins with how to make basic pants and ends with how to make a Trace-and-Make tee.  I love being able to whip up a tee and pants for my own kiddos; it’s such a fun and gratifying thing to sew an easy outfit in an afternoon (also: Elliot, at 9, still prefers my “soft pants” to store-bought).

Sewing for little ones set / Creativebug + Made By Rae

I made this little outfit for Hugo when I was writing my outlines for the Creativebug classes, and as you can see, the result is completely wearable and cute. I used the dog print from my Small World corduroy fabric line for the pants, and that soft yellow knit (I swear this is the PERFECT shade of yellow) is from Cloud9’s knit solids collection. Cloud9 provided ALL of the fabrics I used to teach the classes, by the way; I’m partial to their fabrics, as you probably already know.

Sewing for little ones set / Creativebug + Made By Rae

The first class, Sew Beginner Pants, takes you from start to finish on a basic pair of pants. I love the utility of pants, how simple they are (one pattern piece!), that it is a gender-neutral clothing item, and how quickly they can be sewn. It walks you through setting up your sewing machine for the first time, cutting out the pieces, and sewing them together. The video allows you to sew along and learn all those little tips and tricks you’d learn if you could take one of my classes in person. I also figured out a way to sneak seam finishing into this class because though pants can be sewn lickety-quick, if you want them to last through multiple wears and washings, seam finishing is essential. The class also includes a printable download with two sizes of the Parsley Pant pattern, a newborn size and a toddler size. The larger size is labeled size 3, and I also included a size 2 hemming line (and I’ve got them hemmed up even further for these pics of Hugo, since he’s not quite in a size 2 length-wise). And of course, if you needed more sizes you could use the same instructions for any size of my Parsley Pants pattern. Here’s the class description:

Begin your foray into sewing for little ones with Raes Parsley Pants pattern. Rae shows you how to work with multi-sized patterns and covers tricky techniques like sewing curves and adding an elastic waistband. This pattern is practical and simple, and you will get the satisfaction of seeing an entire garment come together in just a couple of hours. Start building your basic garment construction skills with this class.

Learn How To:

  • Set up your sewing machine
  • Select size and cut out your pattern
  • Sew curved seams
  • Add an elastic waistband and ribbon tag
  • Finish hems

Sewing for little ones set / Creativebug + Made By Rae

The tee was made as a sample for the Trace and Make Knits class, the third and final class in the series. “Trace and Make” means you start with a piece of clothing that fits your child, and you trace it to make a pattern from the garment so you can make even more (sidenote: I do this to make clothes for my kids to wear, but never for a pattern I intend design and sell). In this particular class, I demonstrate how to trace and construct not only a tee but a pair of leggings as well, another essential item for children. The class also includes an introduction to knit fabric and sewing with knits, and shows you how to sew the tee and leggings from start to finish…I mean, for the price of the subscription, I can’t even… Let’s put it this way: all of this content would be a $100 workshop if I offered it locally, you know? Not to mention, the principles of tracing, making, and constructing tees and leggings are exactly the same for kids as they are for men, or women, so I personally think this class has a HUGE value and I’m so glad that I can point folks who are interested in sewing with knits to it! Here’s the class description:

Tracing and making is a great way to learn about clothing construction. In this final part, Rae shows you how to trace a favorite t-shirt and pair of leggings to create your own patterns, which you can use to construct custom garments. You will also learn all about working with knit fabrics—a staple fabric for kids. This class rounds out the wardrobe nicely, teaching you more skills like working with shoulders and sleeves and how to add a double-fold neckline.

Learn How To:
· Work with knit fabrics
· Select a tee and leggings to trace
· Trace tee and leggings for pattern
· Create a pattern on Swedish tracing paper
· Construct a tee-shirt shoulder seam, sleeve seam and double-fold neckline
· Add tags to tee and leggings
· Insert elastic waistband in leggings

Sewing for little ones set / Creativebug + Made By Rae

I have even more to say about the second class (“Sew a Beginner Dress”) yet, but I’ll save that for a later post. I couldn’t be more thrilled with how these classes turned out and I really hope that you will subscribe and watch them if you haven’t already. I’ve known for a long time that I wanted to offer video somehow, to make an extra instructional resource available for people who wanted to try my sewing patterns but maybe needed a little more support (and I’ve done a handful of campy how-to videos for a few of my sewing patterns), but but holy sh*t is it ever hard to film, edit, and publish video on your own. I’m still a little gobsmacked at how adeptly the editors whittled down an entire week’s worth of shooting into these three thorough yet concise classes that can each be watched from start to finish in one sitting (and, Bonus Miracle: manage not to make me look like a total idiot!). I can’t say this without sounding like a total fan-girl, but it was such an honor to have had the opportunity to partner with Creativebug on this thing and I’m proud to be able to put my name on such a high-quality project.

You can sign up for free and take my classes by clicking on this image:

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Note: all Creativebug links in this post are affiliate links, which means I earn a small amount if you subscribe via one of my links.

Feather Washi Dress

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This lightweight feather lawn caught my eye when I taught the Luna class at Dry Goods Design in Seattle last month, so I bought a few yards along with a handful of other lovely fabrics. Keli finds some really amazing apparel fabrics and they often move fast, so it’s always a good idea to pounce when you see something you like. A few days ago I got inspired and turned it into a tea-length Washi Dress with a bow.

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I am so thrilled with how this turned out. I was worried that the fabric might be too busy for a big bow (from the Washi Expansion Pack), but I shortened it so it can hang down without being tied and I love it.

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I’ve been sewing a lot this week at the expense of many other things that need to be done, but being able to fully immerse myself in creative work is restorative. Creating beautiful things is exhilarating for me. It reignites my passion for my work and reminds me to be grateful to be able to do it. Creative work is such a luxury, and such a gift, isn’t it? I am fully aware that as such, it is also temporary.

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The dress is a slightly modified version of View A from the Washi Expansion Pack, with the main changes being length, some width in the front, and a shorter bow. Here’s a quick recipe for this dress!

You will need:
Washi Dress Sewing Pattern
Washi Expansion Pack (“XP”)

Cut the following pieces from the Washi Dress Pattern:
1 Back, extend length of the skirt by 11″
1 Front Skirt, adding 3″ at the fold to add 6″ total to width, extend length of skirt 11″
(see the pattern instructions for how to add length to the dress)

Cut the following pieces from the Washi XP:
2 Bow bodices
2 large bows, subtracting 6″ from length of each
bias strips for armholes (I made mine 1.5″ wide)
1 elastic casing

Follow the instructions for View A from the expansion pack, except gather the front skirt instead of pleating it, as shown in the View B instructions.

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My favorite shoes to wear with Luna Pants

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The jogger-style pant is a relatively new trend, so when I first started wearing my Luna Pants last summer, I played it safe and just wore them with sandals. Since then, I’ve discovered that Luna looks great with a number of other shoes, so I wanted to share my four favorite kinds of shoes to wear with Luna Pants. Maybe this will give you some new ideas if you’ve been wondering how to wear your new Luna Pants!

Clogs
I think Lunas are adorable with clogs. The heel helps make the leg look longer and increases the distance from the cuff to the ground, which is visually flattering! (these are Dansko clogs, by the way)

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Sneakers
This is the school-pickup or yoga class look. Bonus: it’s comfortable and sporty!

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Luna pants with sneakers

Sandals
As I mentioned, Luna looks great with sandals, and the options are nearly endless depending on whether you have dressy, casual, flat or heeled sandals (the heeled sandals shown here are also Danskos).

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luna with sandals

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luna with sandals

Flats
Dress them up with a pointed flat, or go with a ballet flat, Toms, or moccassins for everyday wear.

luna pants

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Finally, here’s a shoe that I tried but I don’t really think works: the high top sneaker (even though I la-la-love these new Supergas!! Just not quite right with Lunas).

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What do you think? I don’t love it, but if you do, I’d support you 100%.

I think the reason it’s not a win for me is that personally, I think jogger-style pants look best with a bare ankle. This also means that wearing them in winter can be tricky. Jess pulls it off with a pair of adorable ankle boots, but finding the perfect bootie can be a trick. I’ll admit most of the time when the weather’s cold I just go Full Nerd and wear my Lunas with striped socks to fully cover all bare skin, but it’s not the most attractive look. So take advantage of the warmer weather and get out there and wear those fabulous pants!

PS. Have you seen this post on how to wear joggers? Some great tips in that post on wearing Luna-style pants!

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Your Luna Makes!

As the Luna Pantsalong begins to wind down, I wanted to share a bunch of the fantastic photos you have been posting online of your Luna Pants. I love the different fabrics that are chosen and the fun styles represented here!luna pantsalong roundup - made by rae

above left: Kristin / right: ourkookylife

luna pantsalong roundup - made by rae
above left: jesworcestermakes / right: indie_sew

luna pantsalong roundup - made by rae
above left: Robert Kaufman / sewhungryhippie (Who has made and blogged a bunch of great pairs!!)

luna pantsalong roundup - made by rae
above, left: inkandindigo  / right: teridodds1

luna pantsalong roundup - made by rae
above left: joislateagain / right: gogolittlered

luna pantsalong roundup - made by rae
above left: clairejc (with cat! ) / right: laurenddesign

luna pantsalong roundup - made by rae
above, top left: nique_et / right: davenjilly
bottom left: jessamyb / right: teaandkisses

luna pantsalong roundup - made by rae
above, left: Darla (my mother in law, who has been on a huge sewing kick lately, also wearing her first Josephine blouse!) / right: jessamyb

luna pantsalong roundup - made by raeabove: rchlsymns (+adorable bebe)

Finally, I have to show you this adorable photo by Angela of Sew Snippet (see her blog post with more photos here), who also made a pair of matching Moon Pants for her daughter. Isn’t that cute?

Sew Snippet luna pants

Thanks to everyone who shared their wonderful Luna Pants photos, and please keep posting your pics with the tag #lunapantspattern or #lunapantsalong, or just send me a pic!

You can see all of the Luna Pantsalong posts over on the Luna Page.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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