Sewing a Capsule Wardrobe – Part 1

I’m taking on my biggest sewing project yet—a capsule wardrobe! For those following along on my sewing journey, you know I always try to be pretty intentional with my sewing. I don’t have a ton of time and want to make sure I wear what I sew. A lofty goal for all of us sewists, right?! So, the idea of a capsule wardrobe has always appealed to me, but I’ve never taken the time to make a plan and follow through. Well, that is about to change over the next few weeks!

Sharon (aka Mom) and I are heading out on a once-in-a-lifetime mother-daughter trip with dear friends this June. Any guesses on where we are going? Since I have almost no summer clothes (and that’s not an exaggeration!), I figured I better start planning. And what better time to create a capsule wardrobe? Not only can I fill some large holes in my handmade wardrobe, but I can also make packing for our upcoming trip a snap! It seems like a bit of an undertaking, but with over a month and a half to plan and sew, it should be manageable, and I can’t wait to see how it comes together.

My goal with this project is to create a mini collection of separates that I can easily mix and match for various outfits during our trip. Pack less, wear more! But I also want the pieces I create to work well with my existing handmade wardrobe, so again, versatility is key. To start creating my plan, I took an afternoon and just started laying out different fabrics and patterns to see what I liked, what would work together, and what didn’t. I grabbed some of my favorite prints as a starting point and built from there—adding and taking away as needed. I will say I recently had my colors done, and using my “palette” as a reference helped narrow down my options and keep me focused on my goals. Otherwise, the possibilities would have been a bit overwhelming!

With some good ideas, I took notes and photos of everything laid out on the cutting table and took my planning to the digital world. At home, I created an online whiteboard with pictures of all the fabrics and patterns to see how different pieces might pair together. This also let me easily move pieces around and drop in changes as my plan evolved. Not only was this easier than hauling bolts around and making a mess, I could also do it from the comfort of my living room!

After a few hours I settled on a final plan—one capsule wardrobe with three bottoms, five tops, and three layering pieces. To save myself a bit of time, two bottoms will come from my existing wardrobe, including my go-to jeans. That takes my number of sewing projects to nine garments, which need to be done by mid-June. That should be doable, right?! I’m not crazy, right?!

You might be asking, how did I settle on these eleven garments? Thinking very broadly, I wanted a variety of different styles, textures, and silhouettes. For example the bottoms, of course, I had to include a classic pair of jeans. Then, I added a favorite pair of wide-leg linen pants from last summer. For a different silhouette, I needed a tapered leg trouser. Then it was just a matter of picking a pattern and decided on the color. I actually left this color choice to last, so I could see what would work best with my top options.

Patterns (+ Fabrics) from L to R: Sew House Seven’s Free Range Slacks (Crinkle Cotton), Megan Nielsen’s Dawn Jeans (Washed Denim) or RTW Jeans and Tessuti’s Robbie Pants (Soft Washed Linen)

For my tops, I actually selected my patterns first, again choosing a variety of silhouettes and styles. The Closet Core Cielo is one of my TNT top patterns so, of course, that got in the mix, and then I added from there. For fabrics, I wanted a mixture of different types, designs, and colors, and before a final decision, I made sure it paired well with at least two of my bottoms. After all, my goal is all about options!

Patterns (+ Fabrics) from L to R: Atelier Jupe’s Olive Top (Floral Double Gauze), Liesl + Co.’s Classic Shirt (Stripe Cotton Blend), Closet Core’s Cielo Top (Digital Rayon Challis) and Tessuti’s Athena Top (M&M Check Linen)

With average temperatures in the mid-70’s, I also knew I wanted a couple of layering pieces. To add more versatility, I selected two styles of button-up shirts that could be worn on their own or unbuttoned as more of a jacket with a classic tee. And of course, that means I selected a jersey knit that would pair with both tops! Last but not least, I pulled in a project that was already in my sewing queue: a knit pullover, which will make a perfect comfy addition for travel days.

Patterns (+ Fabrics) from L to R: Closet Core’s Jenna Shirt (Cotton Double Gauze), Tessuti’s Harlow Shirt (Watercolor Linen Blend), Jalie’s Mimosa T-Shirt (Stripe Rib Jersey) and Friday Pattern Co.’s Pogonip Pullover (SYAS French Terry)

With my capsule plan finalized, the next step was to create my “shopping list”. I looked at each pattern and made a note of my tentative size and fabric requirements. I also listed whether I had the pattern printed in my stash, on my computer, or if I needed to get a paper copy. This put everything in one place and let me quickly get all of my yardages cut and patterns pulled. Of course, I was a bit excited and got all of the fabric into the wash that night, so now I have everything pre-washed and ready to go!

That wraps up the preliminary stages of my capsule wardrobe project. I hope documenting the process will help you with your own future sewing plans, while also holding me accountable, and keep me on track toward my deadline. I’ll post weekly updates every Friday  on Instagram—weeks 1 & 2 are already live! And check back here for additional updates later this month, as well as the full capsule reveal in early July. Feel free to post any questions, and I’ll try to answer them as we go along. Until next time, au revoir!

1 thought on “Sewing a Capsule Wardrobe – Part 1”

  1. Thank you for sharing your journey! I love all the fabrics you have chosen and am excited to follow along.

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