Tips for Flexible Planning and My Summer Plans

Planning a capsule wardrobe doesn't have to be intimidating! Katie shares her tips for flexible capsule wardrobe planning.

    As I move from being less of a magpie to more intentional in my sewing, I am trying really hard to plan my makes in advance and generally stick to my plan.  This really is a journey for me.  I have always described myself as an “as the spirit moves me” sewist.  If I don’t feel like working on a particular project, I’m probably not going to.  Which means that if I’m sticking rigidly to a plan that I’m just not feeling, my sewing machine is gathering a lot of dust.

    With that in mind, I’m setting some planning boundaries for myself that hopefully will keep me inspired, but still intentional:

    7 Tips for Flexible Wardrobe Planning

      This whole outfit was an exercise in flexible planning. I had these general shapes in my head, and was able to mostly shop my stash to bring it to fruition. You can read more about the individual pieces here.

      Tip #1: Shop Your Pattern Stash

      I have a large pattern stash, but like many of us, I tend to get sucked in by pretty new patterns and sales.  I’ve been working hard this year, and generally having success, going to my own pattern stash before buying a new pattern.  If there’s a great new pattern out that everyone is sewing up, often I can find something very, very similar in my own pattern stash.  Sometimes I find something so similar to what I want that I can make the pattern as is, and sometimes I can get what I want with a little bit of tweaking or pattern mashing.

      Another benefit of starting from my own stash is that I have far less guilt about changing plans midstream.  What if I start out thinking I’ll make a dress from a particular knit fabric, but when I go to cut it, the fabric tells me it needs to be a jumpsuit instead?  No biggie.  I have plenty of jumpsuit patterns in my stash, so I can just grab one of those and alter my plan.  Both pieces fill similar gaps in my wardrobe, and I’m not out any money since the patterns were already in my stash.

      Tip #2: No Pattern Purchases in Advance

      If I really can’t find an acceptable pattern in my stash, can’t mash patterns from my stash to get what I want, or there’s a new pattern that I really want to try, I will buy it.  But not until I’m actually ready to sit down and work on it.  So in other words, no “stocking up” at sales because I’ll save a dollar or two if I buy when it’s 20% off.  A 20%-discounted pattern that I don’t use is still a waste of money.  And if the pattern that I really want is a little pricier than I want, I’m not shopping around and buying a bunch of patterns that are “almost but not quite” right.  My time, effort, and energy is worth those few extra dollars.

      My friend Heather wrote a post about a while back about saving money while sewing and this is the tip that really stuck with me.  I would be lying if I said I’ve never made an impulse purchase since reading her post, but I have cut back drastically on those types of purchases.

      Tip #3: Stick to a Color Scheme

      By sticking to a color scheme for each season, I know that everything I make will generally work together.  Whether I feel inspired to make those navy blue pants this week or next week, I know that they will work with the tan blouse that I’m making as well as the cream tank top and the mauve cardigan.

      I’ve been sewing to a general color scheme for a while now, but every season I tend to tweak my color scheme a bit.  Most of the fabric in my stash is shades of gray, blue and pink, but lately I’ve also been loving warm browns and creams, so I’m adding those to my summer color scheme.

      Tip #4: Shop Your Fabric Stash

      Like my patterns, I have more fabric than I can ever realistically sew up.  So before I buy new fabric, I shop my fabric stash.  To make it easier, and to stick with tip #3, as I transition to a new season, I pull all the fabric out of my stash that fits within my seasonal color scheme.  I don’t make plans for it right then, but when I go to start a new project, I shop there first.

      Tip #5: Have a Rough Plan Before Purchasing Fabric

      Sometimes the fabric I want isn’t in my stash, prodigious as it is.  For example, I’m adding caramel and cream into my summer color scheme, but didn’t have much fabric in those colors.  In that case, I will buy new fabric, but not without a rough plan for that fabric.  That means that when I go to buy a fabric I know generally whether I want it to be a dress or a top or pants, and purchase yardage and color accordingly.  Now maybe that knit fabric becomes a Panama Tee dress, or maybe it becomes an Ultimate Wrap Dress, or maybe it becomes a Sallie Jumpsuit.  I don’t make myself commit at the point of purchase.

        This top is a great example. I had the fabric, and knew it was probably destined to be a top. But my plans for it changed multiple times before I settled on the Gemma Tank.

        Tip #6: Invest in Nice Fabric

        I am more likely to be inspired by nice fabric than cheap fabric.  It’s as simple as that.  I like to work with nice fabric and I like to wear nice fabric.  And often the fabric that I like to use and wear costs more.  But I pay it because I know from experience that if I stock up on yards and yards of $6 double-brushed poly because it’s cheap and has cute prints, it will sit unused in my stash.  But the $14/yd bamboo-lycra jersey will get used up immediately because I love to work with it and wear it.

        It’s taken me years to learn this lesson, and has resulted in a whole lot of fabric purging in recent months.

        Tip #7: Sew a Mix of Prints and Solids

        But mostly solids.  Let’s be honest, I wear mostly solids, and solids are what give a wardrobe a cohesive look.  Even though prints are pretty, a whole wardrobe full of prints isn’t cohesive.  It will also get you to the “I have nothing to wear” point a lot faster.

        Still, if I look at my stash and see all solids, I know that I need to add a print or two in my color scheme or my summer wardrobe will just be boring.

        My Summer Wardrobe Planning

        With all that in mind, I thought I’d share just a few things that I’m planning for the summer.  I have way more summer projects planned than these, but this is a glimpse into a couple of things I hope to accomplish.

        Project #1: Cutoff Jeans Shorts

        I’ve really been wanting a pair of well-fitting, distressed cutoff jeans shorts.  So this year I’m going to make them!


          These jeans shorts from ABLE are pretty much my ideal.


          I’m going to shop my stash for these and mash together a few patterns.  I can’t just cut off a pair of jeans and get the look I want since jeans tend to be drafted slimmer in the thigh.  If I literally cut off jeans, I end up with really uncomfortable shorts.

          So instead, I’m going to mash several patterns in my stash.  I’ll start with the Closet Case Morgan Jeans as a base for the waist and hip area.  I’ve made these previously and really liked how they fit me.

            And then I’ll mash the Morgan Jeans with the Chi-Town Chinos for the leg shape.

              The Chi-Town Chinos have an ideal leg shape for the shorts I have in my head, and they’re already in my stash and printed in large format!

              Fabric & Notions:

              I have several cuts of denim in my stash as well as a variety of zipper colors, so I shouldn’t have an issue here.  This really is a garment that I can make entirely from my stash.

              Project #2: Flowy Jumpsuit


              Ever since I saw the Avenir Jumpsuit by Friday Patterns, I’ve wanted it.

                But again, I’m trying to go to my stash first, and I’m pretty sure I can make what I want from patterns I already own.

                The Pattern:

                I’m going to mash again to get this jumpsuit.  For the bottoms, I’ll go back to the Named Clothing Ninni Culottes.  They’re a very similar shape and I’ve made them successfully a couple of times now.

                  I’ll pair that with the Made for Mermaids Daphne, which is already in my stash.  I made the girls version for my daughter, and it turned out pretty well.  It’s a simple shape with simple construction, so I’m optimistic it will work well for my purposes.


                  The fabric for this project is one I acquired.  I do some blogging for Cali Fabrics, and I picked up a beautiful brushed modal jersey knit in nutmeg with a jumpsuit in mind.  I’m really excited to get this sewn up so I can wear it!

                  Tell us what you’re planning for summer and share any other planning tips you have!

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