How to Plan a Handmade Wardrobe that Works: Phase 4 Development


If you've been following along with this month's video series, you're likely starting to see how planning a handmade wardrobe can help you be more strategic with your pattern choices to make the most of your sewing time.

So far I've shown you:

Today, I'll cover development, and outline the process I use to produce the garments in the wardrobe plan.

The development phase is all about creating each of the individual pieces in your handmade wardrobe plan, but to make the most of your sewing time, I suggest you break down the project into similar tasks so that you can work on several garments at the same time.

The very first step in the development process is to prewash, press and prep your fabric. The idea here is to reduce any possible shrinkage, remove any excess dyes or finishes and get a true picture of the fabric drape and hand after laundering. 

If you are using a fabric that will be dry cleaned, a good steam pressing can do the trick. My rule of thumb is to launder the fabrics exactly as I plan to launder the garment.

After washing I like to press the fabric and straighten one of the cut edges of the fabric so that I can accurately align the crosswise grain of the fabric. I leave the other unstraightened because sometimes you can lose a lot of yardage if the fabric wasn't cut on grain at the store.

Once the fabric is washed and prepped, turn your attention to the pattern. At this stage you'll take your body measurements and choose the size you want to make for each pattern. You may find that you'll choose different sizes for each, so approach this mindfully with your current body measurements in hand.

For example in the Style Arc patterns I'm using I choose size 10 for tops and jackets and in most cases size 12 for pants and skirts. When I choose the size for tops and jackets I'm also considering the cup size adjustment I need to make to the pattern. 

When I choose the size for pants and skirts, I am considering primarily the hip girth and sometimes the waist girth. In some cases I will also consider the finished garment measurements to help me make my choice.

Once you've chosen a size, it's time to familiarize yourself with the pattern. This stage is important because it's an opportunity to fit the pattern before you sew. Altering the pattern before you sew means you can eliminate the most obvious fitting changes on the pattern before you make a sample or sew your final garment.

In my process I define the garments' balance line positions, measure the pattern and determine the designer's pattern ease. This gives me the information I need to alter the pattern to fit me while maintaining the intended ease amounts and design of the pattern.

Once I've taken stock of the pattern measurements and ease, I proceed to make the pattern adjustments I already know I need to make. I start with length adjustments first, contour adjustments second, and width and girth adjustments last.

For example, based on my body measurements in comparison to the pattern's body measurement chart for the size I chose, I know I need to reduce the CB neck to waist length, shorten the sleeves, make a cup size adjustment and change the bicep girth. 

Doing these adjustments at this stage brings the pattern in alignment to my body proportions and shape and will, in all likelihood, reduce the number of fitting samples I need to make or eliminate the need to make a sample entirely.

As I mentioned earlier, I like to group similar tasks together, so since I'm in the groove of making initial pattern adjustments, I'll proceed to do this for all the patterns I've chosen. This keeps me in the pattern work frame of mind which enables me to work through the pattern adjustment process very efficiently.

Once the initial pattern adjustments are complete, I'll trace off each pattern to a fresh sheet of paper to check, true and re-measure. This gives me the information I need to assess if I need to make a sample or not. If there is anything I'm not sure about, I'll always choose to make a fitting sample but if I'm feeling confident, I'll often just head straight to the final garment creation process.

If you happen to have The Perfect Fit Guide close at hand, you'll notice I've just described the first 3 steps of the fitting process. You'll also know that there are just 3 more steps to go if you plan to make a fitting sample: cutting and marking the muslin sample, fitting the sample and refining the pattern to ready it for cutting and assembling the final garment.

If you don't have your copy of the Perfect Fit Guide yet, be sure to get it. The guide  walks you through the entire fitting process 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. You'll find a link to the guide on this page.

For now, I'll let you familiarize yourself with the remaining steps in the Perfect Fit Guide. I'll be sharing more on my planned wardrobe fitting process in the coming months.

Once you've perfected the fit of each of the garments you plan to make, it's final garment cutting and assembly time. Once again, I like to group similar tasks together for this part of the process as well. Batch cutting and batch sewing are excellent ways to make the most of your sewing time.

I have several helpful video tutorials that demonstrate my entire process. I'll leave links to the ones I can think of, somewhere on this page, but I highly recommend you work your way through all the video tutorials I've created. I know you'll find loads of helpful information waiting for you in each one.

How to Measure Yourself

Three Tips for Choosing Your Pattern Size

What You'll Learn from the Pattern Measurements

How to Assess and Prepare a Pattern Before You Sew

How to Fit Before You Sew

In the meantime, if you're interested in following my progress as I work through the development phase of my handmade wardrobe, sign up for the Perfect Fit Guide to add your name to my email list, subscribe to my YouTube channel or follow me on instagram @inhousepatterns, to stay in the loop. I'll be sharing my progress as I work through this development phase of my planned handmade wardrobe.

Chat with you soon!