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The Balancing Act of Sewing With a Plan and Wardrobe Building

Hello all,

As a member of a few sewing groups and forums, and an active user of Pinterest, I find myself repeatedly drawn to threads and boards which speak about Wardrobe Building.  Until quite recently, I was like many others with a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear, or I would continually wear the same outfits while others were years old; never seeing the light of day.  I did a big purge with the intent of changing the way I shop and sew as sadly for me, the last donation I made to our local Goodwill included garments that still had the sales tags attached.  

There are so many guidelines to be found on how to build a functional wardrobe.  While I am in complete agreement with their theories of utility and making sure that a closet is well stocked with the basics, I fear that in doing so, one runs the risk of ending up with a series of work-a-day uniforms.

Take this example from Joan Collins;

Joan Collins Wardrobe Essentials

I absolutely align with everything she has on this list and with the exception of the black leather jacket, well-cut jeans and big necklace, I have these items already.

Good.  So where to go from here?  Where is the fun in this?

Many of the guidelines for wardrobe planning focus on capsules which take a lead colour such as black or brown, a co-ordinating shade and then an accent colour to create a mix and match series of pieces that all work with each other.  Great ideas like this one from The Organized Housewife:

The Organized Housewife

Many that I find place an emphasis on minimizing the wardrobe which is not at all my intent.  One such plan showed two pairs of shoes – one black, one brown.  My husband would be thrilled, but come on!

I am entering month four of the Ready to Wear Fast and one of the positive, sideline benefits is that I am being forced to truly consider additions to my wardrobe in terms of Project Management.  We all have the occasional “wadder” but I find myself taking greater care and thought as to whether a particular garment will be worth my time and effort.

This is where the balancing act comes in.  All of us who sew have a stack of tried and true (TNT) patterns – ones that are timeless and classic which have had the fit perfected over time.  The variants to these are brought through the choice of fabric, print and texture.  And we all need those patterns as a quick sew for instant gratification between those that are more challenging and time consuming.

This is the basis of my plan.  I want to learn more, stretch my capabilities and most of all, slow down the process while I do so.

With that in mind, I’m going to go with a ratio of 2:1, accent pieces:basics or TNT.

My closet basics consist primarily of black, beige and navy.  A quick assessment of gaps among those basics are:

  • A white shirt.  Plain and crisp with either a full or a three quarter cuffed sleeve like this one from Palmer/Pletsch – M6750

M6750 Palmer Pletsch

  • A casual knee length black skirt, such as denim or cotton twill.  I already own M3830 and have made it a couple of times now.  I can see using it again unless I find something else to try


  • A pair of beige or tan pants.  (new fitting skills to be learned here!)  I have had my eye on Vogue 2532 for some time now.  Just have to gather the nerve…


Interspersed with those basics, I’m interested in sewing:

  • A casual jacket.  Cotton twill or a medium weight linen blend
  • A knit maxi skirt
  • Not so plain T-shirts and knit tops.  I’ll have a look at Jalie for these
  • A couple of sheath dresses.  Slip on and go
  • And anything else that may catch my eye along the way

As with any plan, I expect to be sidetracked along the way.  Old habits die hard and I have four large plastic tote bins full of fabric to prove it.

What’s that saying about the journey being more important than the destination?






  • Julie

    I’ve had similar thoughts about wardrobe planning. I like lots of variety so a uniform isn’t going to happen. But the ratio you’ve proposed would allow for fun and function! And like you, I’m up for some tees and tops that are a bit more…something! Made up the Kirsten kimono recently but using a stunning panel – I’ve worn it several times already! I’m doing the same for my adult son. I offered to make him tees and have challenged myself to make attractive variations – pretty hard on guy stuff – but worth it to take that next step to build a wardrobe without losing a sense of personal style. Love your stuff and glad I found your blog!

  • Andrea

    Hi Julie,

    Thank you for your feedback on my plan. It is always great to hear the thoughts and ideas of others. I would love to see a picture of your Kimono! Panel fabrics are stunning.

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