Sewing A Capsule Wardrobe
How many times have you peered into your closet and uttered “I have nothing to wear!” We all need good basic items that will carry us through those times when we can’t find something in our closet that works. The key to sewing a capsule wardrobe is sewing a few basic items that have timeless style in a neutral color.
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Items for this collection can be found at Minerva. They offer lots of options and great prices. And, shipping from the UK is fast and comparable to US based online stores. Shopping for your patterns and fabrics at one store that you can trust, goes a long way to sewing gorgeous new garments.
Neutral doesn’t always mean black. Of course, black is a great staple, but you can create a neutral palate with other fabric colors. The key is to avoid patterned fabrics. While some patterned fabrics can read as a neutral, for your capsule wardrobe basics, the fabric should be mostly pattern free.
Color options other than classic black include various shades of grey, brown, olive, white, navy, and tan. That is not to say that your basic color fabrics can’t be red or green, it can! However, most of your wardrobe needs to coordinate with your capsule collection. So if you love navy blue, red, brown, etc. go for it!
Below I have listed ideas to get you started on your personal capsule wardrobe. Sewing your own garments is a great way to express your personal fashion style while achieving great fitting outfits.
Fashion fabrics are either knit or woven. Which one you select will be determined by your pattern. It’s always a shopping conundrum, which comes first — the fabric or the pattern. I have found that my fashion ideas come first, then the pattern and fabric seem to come together without much effort.
Knits are comfy and can be appropriate for any casual occasion and most work situations. When selecting a knit, choose a high quality fabric like this black Bamboo Jersey Knit. It will last longer, hold the color better, and is easier to sew then a less expensive jersey.
I just love sewing with bamboo fabric, you can’t go wrong, it’s soft, washes great, has good body, and has a dense knit.
There are lots and lots of great wovens available. Each has it’s own uses, seasons, and care requirements. I’ve listed a few options below, but you get the idea, a good quality fabric that is easy to care for and will stand up against the test of time. Classic.
You can’t get more classic than this Robert Kaufman Yard Dyed Linen Cotton. Perfect for a summer dress, floating pants, or tunic top. It imparts a rich look and a comfortable feel. Wrinkles and all!
When the weather turns colder, you will want a quality wool for an upscale ready to wear look. This Wool Suiting Fabric in Charcoal is perfect for a sophisticated dress or pair of slacks. A great wool says I have a rich, effortless wardrobe.
Another fabulous woven option is crepe. It is definitely easy to sew and the results are stunning. Floaty and elegant, this Luxury Smooth Crepe Fabric is perfect for dresses, jackets, and dress pants.
Stretch wovens need a spot on the best fabric for a capsule wardrobe list. They are forgiving if you are prone to weight fluctuations – items still fit when you have added or subtracted a few extra pounds. I love this Stretch Woven Pre Washed Denim for jeans, jackets, and dresses. All essential capsule wardrobe pieces for the causal dresser.
Capsule Wardrobes Main Items
What do we need to get our capsule wardrobe off the ground. A lot of the items you choose will be based on how you live your best everyday life. Different life and work styles will determine what four essential pieces you should sew as the basis for your essential capsule wardrobe.
The four pieces you definitely need are:
- A great top – either a knit top or a dress shirt.
- Great fitting pair of pants – either jeans or trousers.
- A classic dress that you can add accessories to make it casual or dressy.
- One great jacket – a modern moto jacket or a traditional blazer.
Once you have sewn these four great pieces, you have the basics of a great wardrobe and you can start to sew complimentary pieces that showcase your unique personality. Creating these personality pieces are what make your outfits a reflection of you!
This Grainline Studio Lark Tee Pattern offers several Tee Shirt sleeve and neckline options so you can make it again and again. It may be the only Tee Shirt pattern you need!
Perfect for the Bamboo Jersey Knit in olive green, you can make it in several different styles and colors.
A classic dress shirt amped up to a more modern feel is the way to go when you are looking for a dress blouse. This Style Arc Teddy Designer Top requires some sewing knowledge, but works up fast and can look very dressy or super casual depending on your fabric choice. Offered in two different lengths, it is definitely appealing to a variety of body types.
Fabric options include this great Robert Kaufman Limerick Linen in natural.
If you are looking for a great fitting trouser, the Talia Pants by Style Arc Patterns is just right. The slacks have a flat front with a waistband, pockets, and an elastic back band giving them a pull on style with a tailored look. If you haven’t tried a pair of flat front, elastic back pants, you need to sew up a pair right now! Super flattering and comfy at the same time. These are not your mom’s elastic waist pants for sure.
If you love fabric, you will love this Gaberchino Polycotton Twill in Beige. It’s a classic.
Sometimes a capsule wardrobe calls for the perfect pair of jeans. The Ginger Jeans by Closet Core Patterns offers sewists two style options, natural waist and drop waist. Don’t let the skinny jeans label scare you. We all want to look thinner, and a skinny jean, made in stretch denim is the best option for every shape and size body.
There is nothing like a great Stretch denim for skinny jeans. Check out this Stretch Woven Pre Washed Denim is a variety of colors to find the right one for you.
Dress styles are subjective and we all have something that works best for our shape. Casual can mean a great knit dress, a flirty sundress, a fun denim dress, or a sophisticated maxi dress. Whatever your style, you will find something perfect in a great neutral color will be your new go-to outfit.
The best part of wearing dresses is it’s a slip it on and go style of dressing. Add an accessory or not, a great pair of shoes, and you are out the door in a flash. You never have to worry about what you are going to wear.
I’ve highlighted a few of my favorites below to get your creative juices flowing with ideas that will work for your personal capsule wardrobe.
Shirt Dresses are everywhere on the runway and this one from Closet Core Patterns is a hit. I am a huge Close Core Patterns fan and I have made this Kalle Shirt Pattern at least a dozen times. It has so many options to sew – short or long, with three placket options, it is a wardrobe staple. You need to have several in your closet.
Shirt dresses are so stylish and fun to wear. How cute would this pattern be in the Robert Kaufman Mélange Cotton Shirting Fabric is a Platinum. Now your talking amped up, runway ready outfit.
Full Length Knit Dress
If you prefer something sleek and form fitting that is easy to sew, try the Nikko Dress from True Bias Patterns. This full length knit has sleeveless and long sleeve options so you can have one for each season.
All knits are not made the same, and not all neutral fabrics have to be plain. Create this stunning Nikko in this Textured Knit in beige tones. It’s okay to add a little tone on tone pattern to your capsule wardrobe, especially for a one piece item. Wear it alone or with a solid jacket and you will be pulled together and stunning.
For a dress that looks great dressed up or perfect for a shopping trip, try the Ebony Dress from Closet Core Patterns.
This versatile garment is super easy to make. I’ve made it twice and love it. How about a winter capsule wardrobe staple made in Winter White Robert Kaufman Butter Suede Knit. Yum!
When you need something timeless and classic in your basics, look for a great sheath dress pattern. The Carnegie Dress from Style Arc is a perfect example. You do need some basic fitting and sewing skills for this pattern, but it is well worth the effort.
Try this one out in a gorgeous navy blue Wool Crepe for a stunning capsule wardrobe staple.
The right jacket can take an ordinary outfit from blah to high end retail. When you are sewing a capsule wardrobe you need to keep a jacket on your list. They seem like a lot of work, but I have highlighted a few patterns that are easy enough to sew if you have basic sewing skills and take your time. Adding layers to your outfits create a personal style statement and bespoke garments are the best way to show off your sewing chops.
Tailored doesn’t have to be boring. You can go for the Chanel style jacket pattern, but a modern moto style is sophisticated and hip. This Ziggi Jacket from Style Arc requires some sewing skills, but it is well worth the effort. If you take the time to sew this beauty out of a nice soft leather, it will be your go to jacket for years.
Fabric ideas for a Moto style include this yummy Lady McElroy Textured Faux Leather in black.
Closet Core offers a great casual blazer that can be made from a variety of wovens, including denim for a wonderful casual but put together look. The Jasika Blazer does require some skills, but the instructions are very helpful. If you take your time, the blazer will come out beautifully and will be the perfect layer for chilly weather.
How about a light weight cotton fabric for your first blazer. If this is your first ever blazer sewing, I suggest a forgiving and inexpensive fabric to construction your jacket (after you make a fitting muslin of course). The Klona Cotton would be a great option and the mid grey colorway is perfect year round.
A cardigan not only keeps you warm, it adds a layer of styling to your seasonal outfit. The new Simplicity Pattern Hacking patterns offer you lots of options on length, sleeves, and cut. They are versatile patterns to have in your stash. I like the Cardigan Pattern 8377 because you can make it so many different ways to personalize your cardigan, the pattern will last a long time.
For this beauty you will need a stable knit. I recommend this soft Ponte Roma Double Knit in Ivory Cream or Black. It’s super versatile, drapes well, and is easy to sew.
Learn How To Sew
Are you ready to get started, but not sure how to begin. It might be time for a sewing lesson or refresher course.
Online Private Lessons
I offer online private sewing classes where we Zoom our way into creating a great capsule wardrobe, update your sewing skills, or just get you over a hurdle or two. Classes are $40/hour or 3 hours for $100. You can reach out to me at email@example.com for more information or to set up a class.
Videos And Tutorials
I have a library full of YouTube tutorials and reviews. You can visit my channel at Barrett’s Custom Design. Please subscribe to keep up to date on all the fun sewing exploits.
Sewing Machines And Tools
Recommended Sewing Machines
I recommend the Brother CS6000i to all my newbie and intermediate sewists with a US Amazon account. The UK Amazon equivalent is the Brother FS70WTX. Both are great machines for advanced sewists who have older equipment and just want a few nice upgrades. The buttonholes are amazing! Read my article, The Best Beginner Sewing Machine, to learn all about the CS6000i. You will love this little workhorse of a machine and you can shop for it on Amazon for a great price.
When sewing with knits, a serger is a great option. Brother has several great sergers, I like the Brother ST4031HD Serger for US sewists new to serging. This machine is available in the UK here ST4031HD. It’s a great machine for new to serging sewists.
I want my readers to get out and start sewing. It doesn’t matter if you are new, just coming back to the craft, or expert — sewing a capsule wardrobe is the perfect place to amp up your wardrobe and rejoin the world of sewists. i hope you have found my suggestions helpful as you navigate your way though patterns and fabric. You’ll be glad you did.