pink and yellow capsule wardrobe

How to sew a capsule wardrobe you’ll love to wear

In the world of the KonMari method, capsule wardrobes have been gaining popularity. It’s easy to see the appeal: a few key wardrobe staples that you can combine into endless outfits. Way to press the easy button on getting dressed.

But if you’ve ever wanted to know how to sew a capsule wardrobe, you run into a few problems.

Sameness. Anybody else bored to heavens with the idea of neutral colored everyt…..? Sorry, I just dozed off typing there for a sec.

So here’s my ideas for how to make a capsule wardrobe with color that’s all your style and something you can get excited about. Because making endless garments that don’t go together or that you don’t wear is no good people!

Let’s revamp your closet with some handmade power!

capsule wardrobe ideas with pink and yellow handmade garments
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How to sew a capsule wardrobe: pick your fabrics

spring mini-capsule wardrobe

The first thing to consider when you’re thinking about how to sew a capsule wardrobe is your fabric.

Pick a collection of fabrics that you love. Here’s a couple things to consider when you’re choosing fabric for a capsule wardrobe.

Quality first!

If you don’t love the fabric, and they’re not that great of quality, you’re not going to wear the end result. Ever.

I’ve been guilty myself of making things that I’ve never worn, and it’s a bad feeling! Sewing for yourself is too much of a time investment to not end up wearing what you make.

In fact, go through and purge your fabric stash of anything that’s not good quality. You know what I’m talking about: those mystery knits and scratchy poly/cotton blends. If it’s hanging out in your stash, it’s taking the place of fabric that you’re actually going to love sewing.

If you don’t want to trash or donate icky fabrics, you can always still keep them around for muslins.

Check out this post on organizing your fabric stash for some fabric organization ideas.

Pick a color palette

Another way to ensure that all the pieces in your handmade capsule wardrobe go together is to keep them in a similar color palette. In fact, color just might be the best weapon in creating a wardrobe that works.  You’ll be amazed at how seemingly disparate silhouettes and styles can suddenly make sense together with a similar color palette.

This is where I’m going to steer you away from neutrals.

Bring out the color. Go for colors that make you feel alive when you wear them. A mix of prints and solids is good and aim to mix 2-4 main colors.

Keep a couple solids in there or mix up your solids with texture. A good jacquard is a great example of a solid that acts as a print too. It’s subtle pattern that can liven up a handmade capsule wardrobe.

If you’re not sure how to pick a color palette that really works for you, here’s an article from Seamwork I wrote a few years back.

Think about your weather

The last thing to think about as you consider your fabrics for a handmade capsule wardrobe is your local weather.

If you live in a colder climate with unpredictable weather, layers are going to be a helpful thing. Think merino wools, cashmere, and sweater knits you can add to an outfit to add an extra layer of warmth when its needed.

If you’re in a warmer environment, look for lighter weight, breathable fabrics like linen, rayon and cotton.

You can even sit in your fabric stash and pile up all the fabrics together to see how they’re going to layer with each other.

Now that you have some fabrics in mind, let’s move on to getting some ideas for your capsule wardrobe.

How to sew a capsule wardrobe: find some inspiration

The next thing you want to do as you’re thinking about how to sew a capsule wardrobe is to gather some ideas.

Pinterest is a good spot to get some basic ideas on capsule wardrobes. I’ll also point you to Frump Fighters. Corina does an awesome job putting together capsule wardrobe guides for Moms.

While I’m going to advocate that you make the items yourself because you sew and to get that custom bit, these guides are a great place to start. Sometimes you just need ideas to kickstart your sewjo, amirite?!

Check out sewing books for inspiration

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Another place you might find some inspiration for your handmade capsule wardrobe is in sewing books. There’s been a few books of late that have patterns that combine into a wardrobe. You may or may not love the patterns, but definitely these kinds of books can give you some ideas. Here’s a few to check out:

  • House of Pinheiro’s Work to Weekend Wardrobe: a collection of patterns from popular sewing blogger Rachel Pinheiro. I love that there’s variations and ideas for styling each piece for your life.
  • Sewing Your Perfect Capsule Wardrobe: this book by Arianna Cadwallader and Cathy McKinnon walks you through making a mix and match wardrobe with 5 cornerstone pieces. This book is meant for advanced beginners. It’s a good spot to start when you’re ready to move past the basics!
  • Breaking the Pattern: from the people behind Named Patterns, this book offers patterns to help you make 10 pieces for a great capsule wardrobe.

What do you like to wear?

Think about what kinds of clothes you LIKE to wear. If you’re not a button-down shirt kind of person, that thing has no place in your wardrobe! Likewise, if you wear a lot of skirts, definitely keep that in mind.

Write down the big categories of things you wear the most. I’ll do me to give you an example:

  • Knit tops
  • Skirts with personality
  • Creative jeans
  • Awesome jackets
  • Scarves, always scarves

And here’s an example capsule wardrobe from this list:

The players in this yellow and pinks capsule? (FYI, the links take you to the tutorials here so you can make these looks yourself!)

  • Yellow ruffle sweatshirt
  • Ivory wool scrap scarf
  • Burda 2-2007-113 skirt in striped wool
  • Basic tee henley hack with snaps in rayon blend mottled coral
  • Chevron refashioned cashmere sweater
  • Burda 1-2011-126 cardigan in rose gold sweater knit
  • Neck warmer scarf in cotton french terry stripe and pink chenille knit
  • Ombre dyed corduroy Jalie 2908 jeans with extra flare

Keep it mini!: a simple formula for how to sew a capsule wardrobe

Now that you’ve thought about what kinds of clothes you like to wear and you’ve gathered some ideas, you’re ready for the next step.

I’m going to advocate for you to keep it crazy simple and plan to make just 6-8 things. These little mini capsule wardrobes will still mix and match to make a lot of variety in your everyday, but you’ll still have enough variety to keep it interesting.

Another benefit of mini capsule wardrobes, is that you can make several for various parts of your life. Give me examples, Elizabeth!

  • Activewear capsule: 2 workout tops, 2 leggings, 1 layering top, 1 jacket
  • Momiform capsule: 1 knit top, 1 dress, 2 pants, 1 jacket, 1 cardigan
  • Mini work wardrobe: 1 awesome skirt, 1 pair of slacks, 1 blazer, 1 cardigan, 2 tops

You see what I’m getting at here? With just a couple things to choose from, you’re not going to run into wardrobe fatigue. Keep it simple! So here’s your formula for a handmade capsule wardrobe:

Handmade capsule wardrobe = 2 tops + 2 bottoms + 2 toppers + (optional) 2 accessories

What qualifies as a topper?

Knit tops, button down shirts, dress, woven tees, tank tops, breezy woven tees etc.

What qualifies as a bottom?

Pants, leggings, shorts, skirts, dresses (double duty those dresses!), etc.

What makes a topper?

A topper can be a cardigan, jacket, vest, shrug, bolero, denim jacket, coat, or sweater. In the activewear example, it could be another layering top you throw over your regular workout top.

A topper can be a cardigan, jacket, vest, shrug, bolero, denim jacket, coat, or sweater. In the activewear example, it could be another layering top you throw over your regular workout top.

Don’t overthink your accessories

I threw accessories in there too because sometimes you want to add something else. Simple necklaces or a vintage brooch can add texture and interest to a plain outfit. If you wear earrings, mix in your favorite pair.

Scarves are great in fall and winter, and they’re typically really quick and easy DIY projects. Check out these winter sewing projects for several different DIY scarves to make.

Easy winter sewing projects

Get warm in short order with these simple sewing ideas.

collage of winter sewing projects

Now that you have your ideas, you’re ready to get going on this handmade capsule wardrobe thing!

Pick your patterns and sew!

The last thing to do when you’re planning how to sew a capsule wardrobe is to pick your patterns.

For mini capsules, I like to stick to a couple of basic patterns I’ve used. From there, I like to add something different to them. Some ideas for mixing up basic patterns:

  • Add a back keyhole neckline to a basic knit top
  • Change up a sleeve with an extra sleeve flounce or make a jacket sleeveless for a different look
  • Use a really wild fabric. A showstopper fabric can add instant flair to a basic.
  • Add some pleated trim to add a focal point to a basic button down

Give yourself a timeline to get your wardrobe completed by. You might think about batch sewing to get things done efficiently. Check out these batch sewing tips to streamline your process.

So that’s how you can create your own capsule wardrobe with your own two hands, color and a sewing machine. Once you get through finding good fabrics, getting ideas, and picking your patterns, you’ll be ready to make a capsule wardrobe that you will love to wear.

How about you?  Are you a capsule wardrobe believer, or do you approach outfit making more casually?

26 thoughts on “How to sew a capsule wardrobe you’ll love to wear”

  1. I love your peachy pink ensemble Elizabeth. I also love the idea of a cohesively planned wardrobe capsule but for some reason I cannot see it to completion.

    1. Thanks Faye! That’s a great point about capsules. I think they look great on paper/Pinterest, but the day to day may not work for a lot of people. If a capsule is that good old reliable PB&J, I’d still want to have room for the occasional over the top ice cream sundae with extra chocolate, whipped cream, coconut, and cherries on top–whatever the wardrobe equivalent of that is!

  2. I think I like the vest with the jeans best, It’s a great contrast! I like the idea of capsules, but have determined that I need multiple ones to accommodate our seasons and me not getting bored by wearing the same five things all the time. I also have trouble finding inspiration for mixing in prints, and those are what I get most excited to sew.

    1. That vest is literally accessorizing everything Becky!!! I had no idea when I made it it’d be such a transitional season workhorse. That’s such an excellent point about seasons and capsules. I tried my Wardrobe Sudoku for MMM last year and towards the end, it felt so restrictive. Can it work? Yes. Do I want to have to dress like that? If I’m being honest, I don’t think so, and with weather unpredictability, I’m not sure that it actually works in the end. Perhaps it’s good to experiment with these things so that you can figure out if they work for you in the end.

  3. This looks lovely Elizabeth! I discovered that sewing a piece of wide elastic on the back of the inside waistband with zigzag just very very lightly stretching it does wonders with the gaping and the outside doesn’t look elasticized at all!

    1. Thanks Georgia. I debated about the elastic. I try and get pants with buttonhole elastic (or add it) for my boys–they all have such narrow hips, and it works so well for taking care of the problem. I will definitely give it a go the next time I encounter this. I feel like I need to have an informed opinion of a different way to tackle the problem!

  4. PsychicSewerKathleen

    You are so pretty in pink Elizabeth! Love your jeans – that detail on the back pockets is gorgeous as is the colour of them. I have gapping too and flat bottom so I always have to wear an elastic belt (my favourite belts are from a company in Edmonton (unbelts.ca) – they work like an elasticized waist but look cooler 🙂

  5. Melody Srygley

    Love your peachy pink jeans! I wear jeans 99 o/o of the time, so pretty much any top I make/love usually “matches”. I’ve just realized that most of my cardigans need to be replaced. What type of knit do you think would be best for a first cardigan?

    1. Thanks Melody! I love more stable knits for cardigans if you prefer a classic button down style–something like a ponte, wool knit, or something refashioned from an existing oversized sweater would all be good choices. If you like more drapey style open cardigans that’s not necessarily warm, just about anything is game. Rayon jersey, bamboo, ITY, poly blend sweater knits that tend to be thin and rather fluid all work really well for those types of cardigans.

  6. I have never been able to get behind the idea of capsules, but I’m definitely with you on the idea of similar toned colours going together well. If they are of similar saturation and tone then your wardrobe should work well.
    Love this Peachy pink ensemble and especially the frayed added extra on the pockets.

    1. Thanks Diane! Capsules always feel so restrictive to me. I’m starting to believe they work for a few people with a specific personality type, and I’m not of them! You’re totally right about saturation/contrast level. I don’t have a lot of contrast in my personal coloring, so when a given ensemble stays within that lower contrast zone, things tend to look more harmonious even if I’m not wearing my specific colors in my palette.

  7. I love those jeans! Using the fringe from the selvage is just brilliant! It looks so good with the top and your faux fur vest. I love to sew color coordinated seasonal capsules- mainly to help me plan my sewing. It’s not that I would necessarily feel restricted to wear the items together, as usually there are lots of other combinations to try with other pieces in my closet.

    Selecting my fabrics and patterns for the next few projects all at once really helps me to spend less time flip flopping on what to make next, and actually sew something! Plus, there’s less time involved in re-threading machines if you are using the same color!

    I usually will treat myself to either shoes or a new accessory that goes with everything as my reward for completing the plan. 🙂

    1. Thank you Ann! So many denims have such nice selvages, I always try and incorporate them if I can even if it’s just on the belt loops. That’s a great point about similar thread colors. I think mini-capsules are definitely more open to coordinating with lots of other things.

  8. Great-looking jeans Elizabeth:) The pink definitely suits you! The clothes-pin fabric is too cute! I’m not on the capsule-wardrobe bandwagon, but I would like to make a few seperates for the coming season that will go together. “Wardrobe orphans”, lol. I tend to gravitate towards different fabrics & unique items that wouldn’t necessarily go together. Glad you all are feeling better. We got a deluge of rain last night so I wonder if there’s a speck of snow to be found now??

    1. Thanks Rikki! I do wonder if the capsule thing is just one of those trends right now. I do wonder what idea it’ll be replaced with. Smaller scale separates that go together are smart for sure. Our snow is now gone and green is starting to happen, though there’s snow predicted for tomorrow–such is Spring here (and really Fall too and every other season!). LOL. Maybe capsule wardrobes work better in places like Los Angeles where you have pretty much 1 season.

    1. Thank you! That is always my goal when making basics. I figure if it looks like something I bought off a rack, I could have saved myself a whole lot of trouble by just going to the store in the first place. For other people, that is the aim, and that’s totally okay too.

  9. The jeans are absolutely adorable! I’m not a lover of fringe in general but it works so well with the pink jeans! The monochromatic look at the end with the rose cardigan is absolutely gorgeous.

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