Wardrobe pattern co-ordination : shapes and lines

Continuing with comments on how a pattern like McCall’s 6519 can be a good basis for building a core wardrobe (see my previous past).


It’s interesting to look at how a wardrobe pattern solves the problems of co-ordination. There are several.

One is the shapes visually, such as : does a loose fitting jacket look good with loose fitting pants, what necklines go together. . . I’ll say a bit about this pattern here. There could be many more points about co-ordinating shape and style elements once you add other patterns to supplement this one. A possible topic for another post.

Another issue is : do the shapes fit together for layering : is the jacket/ overlayer large enough to be comfortable over other garments ? Later post planned on this.

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Visual shapes

Some wardrobe patterns co-ordinate shapes by using garments with few distinctive style elements.

The garments in this pattern have some style interest but still co-ordinate. They do that by having some common style elements.

Necklines and collars

Many people have difficulty co-ordinating neckline and collar shapes. What looks good, what is comfortable. . .

There are 3 necklines here :
– shawl collar with notch on edge-to-edge front (jacket).
– wide notched collar above wrap front (dress).
– simple scoop neck (top).


Notice that it’s quite easy to combine two notched collars if they differ in width, or how deep/ big the notch is, or how high the notch is on the body.

Here’s a photo from Kibbe’s “Metamorphosis” oop book showing some bravura notched collar co-ordinating. Two collars with notches of different shapes at different heights, plus a convertible collar. (A shirt collar would also work well – worn closed for a more ‘controlled’ look.)


(Notice also how this designer uses different textures in the nearly same shade. And the dramatic accessories give a very different impact to the classic clothes. Imagine these clothes more fitted – this outfit is from the 80s when clothes were big shouldered and loose fitting !)


In McCall’s 6519, an edge-to-edge jacket works well over a wrap style, so long as the wrap doesn’t have a lot of fullness.
The simple top can be worn tucked in or out, for more or less formal effect.

The skirt and lower dress are the same pattern pieces.
Skirts and pants share a similar style element – pleats, which makes them good alternatives.

The pants are very loose fitting (9-1/2 inches ease at hip level). So they look best with a not too large jacket. This one has 5-1/2 inches ease at bust level, semi-fitted by BMV ease criteria.

I wrote a previous post on simplifying co-ordinates by using a limited number of shapes.

Type of line

Released pleats give a soft line (sewn down pleats have an more angular effect). Dress, skirt and pants all have these soft lines. The neckline of the top continues with the curves. Knits for dress and skirt also add softness.

Although the jacket and dress notch corners are angled in the pattern, they are softer in the line drawings. You could use slightly rounded corners on the bottom of the front openings and the patch pockets. Or of course you can have mixed curves and angles. Which goes best with your body shapes and lines, your personality ?

A pattern with curves and pleats like this might be better suited to someone who has soft lines in their face and body, or a gentler personality.

If you have straighter more angular lines to your face and body, or need to look crispy efficient, you might prefer Butterick 5760. Angular styling, except for a little softening in jacket silhouette and lapels.


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These two posts have looked at one pattern in detail. There’s more to say on layering, in another post (here). And possibly more later on using this pattern to build a wardrobe. . . Very different from the way most of us usually sew – when we make a different pattern in a different fabric every time 😀

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Patterns and links available March 2012

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Explore posts in the same categories: co-ordinates

2 Comments on “Wardrobe pattern co-ordination : shapes and lines”

  1. eumoronorio Says:

    I’ve been inspired by all your wardrobe posts! I have learned so much. Keep ’em coming!

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