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.
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.
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.
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?