How to Plan a Handmade Wardrobe that Works: Phase 3 Conceptualization


Are you thinking about sewing for the new season yet?

If you are, stick around, we're about to begin Phase 3 of How to Plan a Handmade Wardrobe that Works. Today we're going to take a closer look at the patterns chosen in phase 2, decide on the styling changes we want to make based on our body silhouette, as well as the colors and fabrics that will pull all the pieces together.

If you missed the phase 1 and phase 2 videos, you might want to pause here and watch those first. I shared some great tips on how to decide on what type of patterns to look for and show to make your final selections so that you're ready for this part of the process.

Let's first look at pattern styling. I don't know about you but after choosing a pattern style, there are often subtle changes I want to make to the pattern to be more suited to my body shape and silhouette.

For example, I have a relatively hourglass silhouette and a larger cup size than standard so when I'm looking at a pattern style I know that I want to emphasize my waist but also minimize the appearance of my bust by broadening the shoulders. I'll admit, I find this challenging sometimes, but I am learning ways to alter the pattern to suit me and use layering or accessories to shift the focus.

Watch the video for a look at several figure types represented in the book Fitting and Pattern Alteration. A book I highly recommend if you want to become a student of fitting.

You'll note here that there is an "ideal figure type" which is basically a balanced, slightly hourglass silhouette. Whether we're aware of it or not, our human eye is drawn to  this silhouette. Science tells us that we just haven't left that part of our prehistoric brain behind. 

That being said, most of us will see ourselves in one of the other categories, if not in whole, in part. The good news is that we don't have to transform our bodies to this ideal figure. We can use our clothing to do the figure balancing or counter balancing for us.

The triangular figure might use the garment to emphasize the shoulder and bust in the form of fullness or width above a fitted waist. A puff sleeve or a strong shoulder would balance out the visual width of the hips.

An inverted triangular figure might use the garment to emphasize the hip by choosing styling with fullness below a fitted waist. A gathered or pleated skirt would balance out the visual width of the shoulders.

The rectangular, diamond and oval figures might use the garment styling to visually broaden the shoulder and hip in relation to the waist with design details that draw the eye  inward toward the center of the waist.

For a true hourglass figure with a tiny waist in relation to the shoulder and hip, the need may be to increase the visual width of the waist with styles that fit a little more loosely in that area.

A tubular figure may choose to use garment styling and even fabric type to create the illusion of more shape. Adding volume to the shoulders, bust and hip will balance out this figure type. 

No matter what your body silhouette, the goal of any garment or styling is not only to balance out your figure but to draw attention up toward the face and eyes. After all this is where true human connection lies. How we dress is only one way of showing our personality and style.

With this in mind you can begin to conceptualize your handmade wardrobe and begin thinking about the styling changes you want to make to the patterns you selected. Here's a look at what I plan to do.

For the Sienna Jacket, I plan to create a regular shawl collar to draw attention to the shoulder and elongate the neckline. I'm drawing attention to my waist with the jacket shape and length.

I've decided to make a symmetrical hem on the Chrystal Overshirt because I feel it will be more wearable with a variety of pant styles. I'm still deciding on the exact hem shape but I know It will make the shirt much easier to tuck in when I want to emphasize my waist shaping.

As I mentioned before, the Sunny Knit Top is very oversized so I am going to reduce quite a bit of design ease from the style and lower the front neck drop. The lower front neck drop works to minimize the appearance of the bust.

The Georgie Jeans, Talia Pants and Debra knit top I'll leave as is for now. The high neck of the Debra top isn't ideal for me because of my larger than standard cup size,  but sometimes function, in this case warmth, wins; so I plan to wear this top under jackets or cardigans to visually draw the eye vertically up to the face.

For the Miranda skirt I plan a fabrication change. The original was designed using tulle, a lot of tulle, and I want a more subtle look so I plan to use chiffon for this skirt.

That brings us to fabrics. I highly recommend you shop your fabric stash first, it can help you use fabrics you've been holding on for a while as well as help you develop the starting point of a color palette. 

I found two things that work for my chosen patterns: two pieces of rich brown lambskin and some blue stretch denim. These I plan for the front panels of the Sienna jacket and Georgie jeans. I then took these pieces to my local fabric store to shop for the missing fabrics.

I like to shop for print fabrics first. Choosing a print first can give you clues as to what other colors you can safely add to your color palette. Since I already had brown and blue chosen from my stash, I looked for a print that would work well with those and found a beautiful print chiffon that is perfect for the Miranda skirt.

This print has a variety of browns and blues and even has a touch of black that I think will tie in with the black items I currently have in my wardrobe so I was excited to work this in.  This print also solidified the brown and blue color palette so I was able to purchase the remaining fabrics in coordinating colors based on this print.

Here's what I found:

A navy silk twill (in store at Gala Fabrics) for the Chrystal Overshirt, a medium blue and deep brown stretch knit (in store at Fabric Land) for the Debra Zebra Knit top, and a very soft and cozy latte colored sweater knit for the Sunny knit top. 

I'm still missing fabric for the Talia pant and the main body of the Sienna jacket but so far so good! I've got the styling changes all planned out and most of the fabric purchased. After another hopefully successful fabric shop, I'm ready for the next phase of this process: Development.

Let's chat about that next time.

If you’d like to see a little more behind the scenes footage of my fabric selection process, follow me on Instagram. You’ll find me @inhousepatterns. I’ve posted some reels there that you might find interesting.

If you're an experienced sewer, you know that choosing what to sew is pretty easy, putting it together in terms of a wardrobe is a little more difficult but the most challenging part of sewing for yourself is understanding how to make a pattern fit you. If you've been struggling with that, I have a free guide that might help you. It's called the Perfect Fit Guide and it walks you through the fitting process one step at a time, from taking your body measurements to assessing your sample for fit. I've even included a body measurement chart so you can get started right away.

Thanks for watching, I'll chat with you soon, bye for now.

All My Best,