Archive for the ‘wardrobe planning’ category

Building a wardrobe capsule

September 12, 2020

A ‘capsule’ wardrobe is a small group of co-ordinating clothes that can be mixed and matched to make different outfits.

If you only have a small number of clothes, you want to be sure they all fit the needs of your lifestyle. And that they’re all items you love to reach for in the morning – they suit your personality and make you look and feel good. Hence the whole area of ‘wardrobe planning’.

There are many on-line style advisors who suggest the items to make a capsule. For example, Leanne Blackmon at Classy yet Trendy suggests seasonal capsules in 6 different styles.
The styles are mainly ‘normcore’ so it’s easy to find patterns to copy the suggestions.

These stylists have good success because some people find it daunting to make a capsule for themselves.
But actually doing-it-yourself is not difficult.

Wear what makes you feel special

It’s not difficult so long as you have some clothes that you love, and feel good when you’re wearing them.

If you haven’t got about 20 items you feel like that about, then finding some clothes that warm your heart and lift your spirits has much more priority than developing a capsule.

Only follow style advice that makes you feel life’s possibilities are expanding.
The important thing is not to wear any garment (or follow any style advice) that pulls you down, makes you feel lesser or uncertain, diminished or defensive.

As April Grow of Stunning Style says : “If you’re trying to talk yourself into anything you don’t genuinely love, just put it away.”

Another similar saying seen on an FB board : “In case of doubt, there is no doubt.”

Tips for building your capsule

A ‘wardrobe’ capsule is about 25-30 items, which could provide you with enough different outfits for an entire season.
Some stylists insist a true capsule is smaller, see later about a travel capsule.

Go through your current clothes and pick out items that you love wearing : 7 tops, 5 pants/skirts, 5 layers, 5 shoes, 3 bags.
If you can’t find these numbers, then find one less. Or pick items that are okay – not ideal, but not ones that make you feel or look bad !

Next remove any item that cannot be worn to make a good combination (one that you are comfortable with) with at least 3 of the other items (not all at the same time!). E.g. does this skirt look good with at least 3 of the tops, at least 3 of the layers, at least 2 of the shoes, at least 1 of the bags ? If not, replace it with something else you like.

If you find combining difficult, consider simplifying :
– choose one main neutral, such as :
– – black or navy if your skin colouring is blue toned,
– – brown or beige/tan if your skin is yellow toned.
– – grey may be either blue or brown toned.
A colour is called ‘neutral’ if it’s a colour that can be worn with everything else in the capsule, so makes a good starting point for many outfits.

– add a lighter neutral – how much lighter could relate to the natural level of contrast you have in your colouring.
– add not more than 2 accent colours or prints.
– choose everything with the same silhouette, such as :
– – top and bottom the same width,
– – wide tops over narrow bottoms,
– – narrow tops over wide bottoms.

Imogen Lamport has written a whole range of posts on issues that may come up in choosing items for a capsule wardrobe. But try to keep things simple. And :

Hey Presto, your first capsule 😀

Some comments

Trying to build a capsule for the first time is not something that’s instant. Make small steps and enjoy your discoveries.
No need to get an ‘ideal’ capsule from the start. It will gradually ‘improve’ as you try things out.

Of course different stylists have different criteria for what a capsule should be like. Imogen Lamport of Inside-Out Style has fewer layers (she lives in a warm climate) and insists that everything co-ordinates.

This capsule idea doesn’t work for everyone. You may be someone who needs to choose an outfit on the day, whatever feels right at the time. What felt right yesterday evening when you were planning may not feel right this morning !
But you can pre-plan outfits, take photos of them, and choose which suits your current mood. Many people find it useful to take selfies of successful combinations, so they don’t have to do much experimenting in the morning.

Even a few steps towards achieving a part capsule can be useful and interesting. A ‘learning experience’. There’s no need to rush.

As you make progress, and learn more about your favourite garment colours, shapes, styles, co-ordinates, many people find that new items fit in without having to give it much thought.
Or if they don’t, don’t buy them !

Put these items at the front of your closet, so they’re the only ones you choose from when you’re getting dressed, and see if you find the capsule idea helpful.

If you love wearing makeup or jewellery, sprinkle on your favourites for even more joy and fun 😀
You could include them in try-out sessions too.
Or would you like to add into the mix : 5 hats, 5 scarves, 5 belts, hair ornaments, gloves ?

A small travel capsule

Choose 3 tops, 2 bottoms, 2 layers, 2 shoes.
In 2 different styles, such as casual + evening out, or work + dressy evening out.
With such a small number of items, it’s best if every possible combination looks good.
Take heavier items with you by wearing them for travel.
Jewellery, scarves, make-up are small light-weight ways of adding more looks.
And if you’re away for more than a few days, what about clothes care – do you mind hand washing in a hotel room ? If you would hate that, add more light-weight non-bulky tops.

In this post, Imogen Lamport insists a true ‘capsule’ is less than a dozen items.

I’ve mentioned a few capsule stylists I’ve enjoyed following. Many more come up if you do a web search.
Enjoy your discoveries 😀

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Click on red header to access entire blog.

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Pattern books for wardrobe building

October 25, 2017

Few indie pattern designers offer patterns which make a complete outfit, let alone a wardrobe.
What some of them do is produce a book with several patterns. Many of these books are not oriented to wardrobe building – individual patterns which aren’t specifically designed to co-ordinate, or no jacket included. For example the marvellous Japanese pattern books, some of them now in English. But there are some pattern books which do include at least a ‘Core 4’ of jacket, top, skirt, pants.

I’ve written about pattern books before. Here are some of the posts :
Wardrobe pattern books : casuals
Wardrobe pattern books : dresses
Wardrobe pattern books : other possibilities

Publishers are usually unhelpful about these books. In most cases the information about what is included has been collated by other people after the book was published, it isn’t in the book publicity. So before the book was published there was no way of knowing what’s in it. There are so many pattern books now, I want to know more than the designer’s name and enthusiastic reviews of the photos, before I decide to buy.

Here are some of the ‘Core 4’ books which have appeared since my earlier posts. Print books unless mentioned. No ‘instant use’ patterns. Some have traceable pattern sheets, some have download pdf patterns. These books don’t focus on wardrobe building, but do provide the patterns for it.

The first books in this list have good sewing instructions intended to teach, but none of these books are for early beginners without help.

Sew Over It pattern’s City Break capsule has 5 download patterns in an e-book with good photo instructions, sized for bust 33″-45″.
Jacket, 2 tops/ dresses, skirt, pants. Make all the variations and you would be well supplied with clothes for a weekend away.
Line drawings in this post, which has suggestions for extending these patterns to a wardrobe, and adding more jackets.
(2018) SOI now has a second wardrobe e-book, link in that post.

Workbook from Merchant & Mills patterns has patterns for jacket, 3 tops/dresses, skirt, pants.
Photos on this pinterest page (except shawl which is in the Sewing Book).
Patterns don’t overlap on paper pattern sheets, but are printed on both sides so you do have to trace them, sized for bust 32” – 42”.
Line diagram instructions, intended to teach sewing skills beyond the ones in their Sewing Book.

I’ve already written a post on Alison Smith’s big Dressmaking book.
That post shows line diagrams of the 12 base patterns for jackets, tops, dresses, skirts, pants. There are 32 variations (clear instructions for pattern altering). Re-scale or individual download patterns, sized for bust 32” – 46”.
Patterns are fitted classics which look very drab in the fabrics chosen, but the photo instructions are excellent if you can get past that and use your favourite fabrics. If you made them all I think you would have good intermediate level sewing skills. You would also learn some simple pattern altering by making the variations. And this is the only one of these books which has a section on fit.

There is now a shorter version, Dressmaking step by step – the same 12 patterns and 19 of the variations, suitable for advanced beginners.
The focus of these books is on good sewing skills and simple pattern alterations.

2018 – Named Clothing patterns now have a wardrobe pattern book, Breaking the Pattern, which also claims to teach sewing. Gets good reviews, if you wear their chic modern minimalism. This page shows all the styles included.

Magic Pattern Book by Amy Barickman of Indygo Junction patterns.
Print and Kindle. 6 base patterns, line diagrams on front cover of book : 2 jacket/coats, 2 tops/dresses, skirt, accessories. 6 variations of each. Finished garment measures given, which vary with garment.
Add RTW jeans and leggings, there’s no pattern for pants – none by Indygo Junction either.
Patterns on CD with the print book, download with the Kindle version, both print-at-home pdfs. Separate pattern for each variation, no pattern making needed.
The first 15% of the book is an intro for beginners. Adequate instructions with a few diagrams.
The focus of the book is on showing how you can vary a pattern to make other styles.

The Maker’s Atelier by Frances Tobin, a gifted marketer with an expensive line of minimalist patterns.
Photos of book pattern styles in this review.
Paper patterns printed on both sides, so tracing needed, bust 32- 46.
Modern classics – have you already got patterns for notch collar jacket, big tee, cowl drape top, bow neck top, wrap skirt, slim skirt, slim pants, and tote? Though there are many ideas here for variations.
Instructions build advanced beginner skills but not for complete beginners.
General opinion from reviewers – these garments are so simple they need to be made in quality fabrics to look good.

The next pattern books have minimal instructions – tell you what to do, but little about how to do it. Unless you’ve made these style elements before, you need a good reference tome for help.

Lotta Jansdotter Everyday style
5 clothes patterns – for jacket, 2 tops/dresses, skirt, pants. Plus 4 bags. Length variations only.
Paper pattern sheets with overlapping patterns need tracing. Helpful diagrams of where to find the pieces needed. Sized for bust 32” – 43”.

Line diagrams are just outlines, no style elements represented on them, so it’s no help to show them here. The garments are :
Jacket / coat : raglan sleeve, edge-to-edge front opening, cut-on front facing, side-seam pockets, unlined.
Sleeveless top / dress : gathers at centre front, bias binding finish to neck and armhole edges.
Sleeved top / tunic / kaftan : front darts, fitted sleeves or cap sleeves (1/8” hem round armhole opening), neckline facings, optional front neckline slit, optional square patch pockets.
Skirt : bias cut, ribbon waist support, side seam invisible zip, optional square patch pockets.
Pants / shorts : tapered, cropped, cut-on waistband – flat at front, elastic at back, optional belt loops.
(I only discovered the style elements by puzzling through the instructions.)

These are simple styles, and the sewing section is only about 20% of the book. Minimal instructions – not for beginners. The other 80% is style photos. This is a style book not a sewing book. It is good for showing how you can make very different-looking garments just by changing lengths and fabrics.

Burda Wardrobe Essentials
Not sure who these are essential for, an inner city high flyer perhaps – no tee, jeans, cardigan.
Photos and line diagrams of the 20 patterns on this pinterest board.
That board has the individual pattern numbers. If you like any of the styles, I suggest buying the individual download pattern from burdastyle.com.
Different patterns have different size ranges, mostly for bust 30” – 40”.

Print and Kindle. I’m not rushing to recommend this book. Traceable very overlapping paper pattern sheets with the print book. Add seam allowances.
Avoid the Kindle version in which the patterns are next to unusable – you just get downloads of the traceable sheets. For several styles you have to assemble 3 of the 16-page pattern sheets and then find and trace the pattern pieces.
”burda-450”
Hmm do you want this garment so much. . .

5 levels of sewing difficulty. Instructions a little fuller than Burda Style magazine, but not as good as Burda tissue patterns, not enough to learn the skills needed. And no index or cross-referencing. Leading up to a double welt pocket in an inset corner with minimal instructions – eek.
Not much thought given to the needs of the reader. Can you tell I was rather peeved with the Kindle version !

I’d better end on a positive note about Burda Style. They have several pattern books which I haven’t felt kindly towards.
But what they do have is download pattern collections, and most include at least a Core 4. These patterns have appeared in Burda Style magazine and have the usual minimal sewing instructions, so you need to know what you are doing. But a collection has a generous number of patterns with individual downloads. I mentioned them in my post about wardrobe patterns. Current collections here.

P.S. November – If you read French, that opens up many other possibilities, but I haven’t seen these so can’t comment.
Dressing idéal , from I Am patterns (photos of simple styles here).
Ma garde-robe a coudre pour toute l’année by Charlotte Auzou.
Ma Garde-Robe chic et intemporelle from Pauline Alice patterns, line diagrams on front cover.
Vestiaire scandinave by Annabel Benilan.

I’m a pattern nerd who loves reading pattern instructions and I like real books for reference (prefer to use Kindle only for fiction), so pattern books are one of my favourite items 😀

Books and links available October 2017

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Supplement on wardrobe patterns

October 21, 2017

Last week I wrote about building a wardrobe using patterns for single items (that’s here).

But surely a good wardrobe pattern should cover the full ‘Core 4’ of jacket, top, skirt, pants, and so meet all your pattern needs. With no need to worry about co-ordination of style elements, as that’s all done for you.

Here are a few snippets on sources of wardrobe patterns. Plus the simplest ways to use a ‘Core 4’ pattern in wardrobe planning.

Core 4 wardrobe patterns

Sadly, in these days of reducing costs many ‘co-ordinates’ patterns are rather skimpy in content – only 2 pieces, an outfit not a wardrobe.

And nearly all wardrobe patterns include only a sleeveless top with a jacket. There are very few woven-fabric wardrobe patterns with an overlayer sized to wear over an underlayer with long sleeves. But I almost always wear a long sleeved blouse, so I do keep going on about this.
I need to increase jacket armhole and sleeve size to allow for under-layers. Use the sleeve from a larger size – at least 1″/3cm larger at biceps. And trace the armhole to match. (Best of course to make a muslin to try this out !) This adaptation also makes the jacket more flexible for wearing with clothes not made from the same pattern.

These are all tissue patterns :
Simplicity/New Look is a good source of Core 4 wardrobe patterns in a range of styles.
Butterick Lifestyle Wardrobes also has a generous selection.
Vogue Five Easy Pieces offer a few casual options.
Vogue Wardrobe patterns need a bit more difficult sewing skills.
McCall’s Coordinates include a few wardrobes.

For more options, you can expand wardrobe patterns which include fewer items, so they provide all 4 core garments (jacket, top, pants, skirt) – if you’re willing to make a top or skirt from a dress pattern by adding cutting lines, or add on the simplest of patternless elastic-waist skirts.

Burda Style download patterns take a different approach. But most of their pattern collections could be called wardrobe patterns. These are collections of patterns in the same style, and many include a Core 4.
The usual Burda magazine minimal sewing instructions, so you do need to know what you are doing. But a collection has a generous number of patterns, each with individual download. Good value if you want to make several in a collection. Otherwise, the links are provided for individual patterns. Here are the current collections.

There used to be marvellous ‘casual chic’ wardrobe patterns from Adri at Vogue patterns. Many still wearable today. Most are not easy makes – they use sophisticated techniques for getting a good finish on single-layer garments. For pattern numbers to search for, see this pinterest board (click on the image if the number is not clear).

Another famous line of wardrobe patterns was published by McCall’s and called New York New York. Very trendy at the time. Here’s a good pinterest board for them. Mostly less wearable now, to my eye, but worth looking at for ideas. I still have quite a good collection of them 😀

Indie pattern designers don’t offer wardrobe patterns, from what I’ve seen.
A few of them have 2-3 item patterns for making an outfit but not a wardrobe, such as : Cutting Line, Dana Marie, Folkwear, How to do fashion,
Sewing Workshop, Simple Sew, Style Arc.
Wardrobe by Me has a post on making a casual wardrobe using 5 of her patterns (a Core 4 and cami).
Some indie designers do publish pattern books – post on them planned.
I devise my own ‘indie wardrobe patterns’ by combining 4 – 6 single-garment patterns from one designer on a pinterest board.

Painless wardrobe planning ?

What’s the easiest way to build a complete wardrobe using one Core 4 pattern ?

For a 12-item wardrobe like those suggested by Nancy Nix-Rice, make :
– a Core 4 in a dark neutral.
– a second Core 4 in a light neutral.
– a couple of tops (the same pattern) in an accent colour.
– top and skirt in a print combining all 3 colours.

If you love colour, then remember that ‘neutral’ doesn’t necessarily mean drab, it just means a colour that you can wear with everything. If it would make you happy, you can have a Core 4 in shocking pink, a Core 4 in chartreuse, and more tops in gold or purple 😀

Use different fabrics, textures and trims to add variety.
Some wardrobe planners suggest making a whole Core 4 from the same fabric. Yes that makes things even easier, but I would not be at all happy wearing them. I prefer variations in tone and texture.
If you do like this idea of a “6 yard wardrobe” from the same fabric, see this post on Kate Mathew’s travel wardrobes for some suggestions.

Of course if you know enough simple pattern altering to change lengths or neckline shapes, or add seams for colour blocking, then you can increase the variety you get out of your base patterns.
Here’s a video from Sew Over It with many ideas people have had for re-styling the patterns in their City-Break e-book with download patterns. They now have a second e-book, Work to Weekend, with simple variations included.
The ideas in that video can be used on other similar patterns.
Or explore Diane Ericson’s pattern for 60 pockets.
But such additions may move the project away from the painless !

For a painless-planning weekend 6-pack, use the core pattern and choose your most flattering colours to make :
– a Core 4 in a neutral.
– a couple more tops in accent colours : one in casual fabric, one in dressy fabric.

Good Luck with progress on wardrobe co-ordination !

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Originally written October 2017, links updated October 2018.

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Patterns for wardrobe building

October 14, 2017

Nancy Nix Rice is publishing a series of posts on wardrobe planning. She has given much good advice on colour and proportion, and has just started talking about her idea of a 12-item core wardrobe.
Her typical core wardrobe consists of :
– a ‘Core 4’ of top, jacket, pants, skirt in a dark or light neutral colour.
– another Core 4 in 1 or 2 other neutrals.
– a knit top and cardigan in an accent colour.
– a top and skirt in a print fabric that combines all the other colours.
If the shapes co-ordinate well, she claims you can make nearly 100 different outfits.

I wrote on Nancy’s 12-item core wardrobe 6 years ago in a series of posts suggesting patterns (goodness, was it that long. . .). The links to her Lessons in these posts no longer work.
Nancy Nix-Rice : core neutrals, personalising colour and style
Adding colour and print
Extras (Nancy now includes many of these styles in her current pattern suggestions.)
Two-piece dresses
Accessories
More thoughts

Note – My posts in these links were written years ago. Many of the patterns mentioned are now out of print, and the Big 4 have changed their sites so most of the urls have changed. So just take the images for styling ideas.

The patterns in my posts are not ‘high current’, but happily Nancy has recently published an interesting group of posts on patterns for tops, bottoms and layers. She doesn’t include some types of garment that I wear all the time, so I’ve added my own comments.

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Tops

Nancy’s suggested patterns for tops
Disappointing for me as these are all knit tops, which I don’t wear.

I need a post on pretty blouses. For a start, Sew Over It is a pattern company that has several current ones.

My new favourite is the Liesl & Co Recital shirt – with frilly high collar, optional front tucks, princess front seams (good for fitting and for easy re-styling), back yoke – for me that’s ‘what not to like’.

”liesl-recital”

I would add cuff frills, and back princess seams for easier fitting over my rear.
Yes, a blouse with frilly high neck and cuffs is my ‘signature’ garment, not something for occasional wear. But I do know it’s not to everyone’s taste.

Of course Nancy is choosing patterns which will work as core styles for the majority of people, not trying to cater to fringe interests !

Dresses

I don’t wear dresses myself, so it took me a while to notice that Nancy doesn’t mention patterns for them. Her core wardrobes include a top and skirt made from the same fabric so they can be worn together with the effect of a dress, or with other clothes as separates.

Many other stylists do include one dress in their suggested basic wardrobes. True dress lovers want the convenience of ‘one piece’ dresses, and have favourite styles such as wrap dresses, sheaths, shifts, vintage, or tank dresses for hot weather. Shirt dresses are very current. There are quick and easy versions among Butterick’s Sew and Sew patterns. Two of the many indie pattern companies which specialise in dresses are Sew Over It (UK) and Colette Patterns (US).

Bottoms

Nancy’s suggested patterns for bottoms : pants, jeans and skirts.

Two very popular indie patterns for jeans are :
Closet Case Ginger Jeans – there are several variants of this pattern, and an e-book on sewing them.
Jalie Eleanore jeans for 20% stretch fabric.

As I’m pear shaped I always wear the most inconspicuous of bottoms, so I’m not complaining that there aren’t any more ‘interesting’ styles here (and I never wear a knit skirt – they cling lovingly to all the lumps and bumps which are in the ‘wrong’ places).

Anyway Nancy in her 12-item core wardrobe is concerned with having basics which you can wear over and over, and which co-ordinate with everything.
Your favourite exciting and interesting garments are add-ons with much more personal style and variety. Like my blouse, you may be the only one who loves them. And they may only co-ordinate with a few other items in your closet.
Unless of course you love athletic / pretty / arty / lagenlook /. . . in which case your whole wardrobe will be like that and you won’t be looking to Nancy for pattern advice 😀

Layers

Nancy’s suggested patterns for jackets

I’m a great fan / needer of layers. Nancy again suggests the most popular jackets. For a somewhat different selection of ‘current’ jacket styles, see about half way through this post.

Nancy doesn’t mention a point which I think is important for sewers – if you wear under-layers with sleeves, especially long sleeves, always check the armhole and sleeve width of patterns for layering over them, and go up a size in that area if necessary. For some reason, many jacket patterns assume you only want to wear a tank/cami underneath.

Nancy only shows one vest / gilet, and vests are my first choice when temperatures lower a little. Many jacket patterns can be made without the sleeves. Often if you look at the line diagrams of a jacket pattern you’ll find a vest version is included.

And Nancy never mentions pullover layers, which I wear all the time, especially slouchy ones, which she also keeps well away from 😀
Here are some of my past posts on these favourites (pattern urls probably don’t work now) :
Oversized tops
Sweatshirts
Fleeces and hoodies
Stylish fleeces and hoodies
Basic comfort styles – pyjamas for loungewear

I also now have some pinterest boards which are relevant here. This is just a selection :
Stylish big tops (style ideas).
Yokes and smocks (patterns and style ideas).
Over-sized jackets (patterns).
There are many many indie pattern companies which have patterns for casuals, both basic and chic/edgy. Some of my favourites are on my other pinterest boards.

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Well, I’ve probably done the opposite of what Nancy intended, by vastly expanding your pattern options, instead of simplifying things to a small range of styles so it’s easy to know where to start. So Good Luck with settling on your own basic pattern choices.
Here in summary are Nancy’s posts :
Tops
Bottoms
Jackets
Perhaps start from Nancy’s suggestions, and only expand outwards if you find she doesn’t cover some of your wardrobe needs.

Does the arrival of a change in temperatures set you off on a flurry of wardrobe planning ? Enjoy 😀

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Patterns and links available October 2017

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