Pick One Make Two: A Fast Approach to Sewing a Capsule Wardrobe

By Ann Siegle, Christine Jonson Patterns

Ever stand in your closet each morning and think ‘I have nothing to wear?’ If not, please call us, we would love to know your secret! Seriously, most women have far too many individual clothes and not enough wardrobe. Sewing a wardrobe requires you to look at your wardobe, not just your fabric stash.

The cowl neck tunic makes a fabulous mini dress (worn backwards, here.) Black builds the base of your wardrobe. Layer up with Leggings 622 and the Drape Vest & Jacket.

The cowl neck tunic makes a fabulous mini dress (worn backwards, here.) Black builds the base of your wardrobe. Layer up with Leggings 622 and the Drape Vest & Jacket.

Threads Magazine (June/July 2011) ran a wonderful using Christine’s unique approach to wardrobe building. I you’re sewing a capsule wardrobe from scratch, that’s a great article and method for creatively thinking about wardrobe building. You can get back issues from Threads magazine.

Here’s another way to kickstart your wardrobe:

Pick One, Make Two:

Ideally, you will have a top, bottom, and a jacket as a complete outfit. A dress counts as a top and a bottom together.

If it’s warm where you are, your ‘jacket’ might be a vest or even accessories. It’s the combination of a final polishing layer that makes an outfit, so don’t ignore the third piece (it doesn’t have to be clothing if it’s 100 degrees in the shade!) In the winter, it might be a ruana, or wrap. It might even be a big scarf!

  1. Select one item from your closet that you like that fit you well, that you have not worn in the past 30 days.  They might be a top and a jacket, or a top and bottom (skirt or pants), or two bottoms (skirt AND pants.) or even an accessory and a bottom or top.
  2. Take that item over to your fabric stash.  Hold them up to the fabric you see in your stash
  3. Stash management: Christine has hers on rolls in the studio, you might have yours folded or rolled on shelves; this is the optimum way to display a stash as you can see what you have.
    1. Ann, our sewing marketer, bought an inexpensive bookshelf with doors from the home store and folds and rolls her fabric and places them so each roll’s front is visible.  The doors keep dust off the fabric.

    2. If you do use bins, folding then rolling them into short tubes the height of your bins and having the short tube ends showing helps as you can then open a bin lid and see all the fabric in the bin.  Stacking fabric on top of one another in a closed container means you need to dig to see what you have, and it’s easy to forget you have 9 cuts of black ITY knit in your stash.
  • Select two or three fabrics that you like that coordinate (they do not have to match, only coordinate, e.g. brown looks great with blues, pinks and burgundies, blues look great with coral and lime, grays get punch from reds and sophisticated black goes with everything.)
  • Take these coordinating fabrics to your pattern stash. There are a lot of ways to organize patterns. Our Sewing Marketer, Ann, keeps large 5” D ring binders organized by garment type (top, skirt, separates.) You might have yours in file cabinet drawers, with similar labels.
  • If you have a jacket or top and need a bottom, go to skirts and pants. And don’t forget your separates section too, pants and skirts from those separates, such as  the Christine Jonson Travel Trio series, are wonderful companions to your closet items as single garments, too.
  • Select two patterns that might work with your outfit. Evaluate them against your fabric selections and your garment.
  • Look at proportion – a boyfriend jacket works with a slim pencil skirt or slim pants, not an A-line skirt. But an A-line skirt, looks wonderful with a fitted top or fitted jacket.  A dress might need a shorter jacket, if it’s a longer, fuller dress. If it’s a short, slim fitting dress, a longer, looser jacket will work well.
  • Create at least two combinations with your two closet items and the pattern/fabric combos. 

The hardest part is picking just two items to sew. The inspiration that comes out of this process does the following:

  • Gets you to think outside the box of your pattern stash and fabric stash
  • It forces you to evaluate the items in your closet first, and on a regular basis. If it doesn’t fit or you don’t like it, it shouldn’t be there
  • It allows you to take a garment from your closet that you love but haven’t worn AND utilize it more
  • Stimulates your creativity and desire to sew!
  • You can add new capsules that coordinate with this one by picking one item from THIS capsule to start your next one

Go forth, right now! Take your tablet / iPad with you with this article open to your closet and follow along!

If you do this once per week, you’ll expand your wardrobe exponentially in just a few months!

Sewing a thumb-hole cuff on a knit shirt or top

Crafting a thumb-hole cuff on a knit shirt or top is a popular addition to both active wear and casual tops. We show you a completely unique, and foolproof way to craft this thumb-hole cuff, in our tutorial.

See this pretty cuff? It's easy to sew and offers your thumb more room to move than merely leaving space in the side seam for your thumb to emerge.

See this pretty cuff? It's easy to sew and offers your thumb more room to move than merely leaving space in the side seam for your thumb to emerge.

The thumb cuff in ready-to-wear and sewing patterns usually consists of leaving an extra-long sleeve with an opening in the side seam. Though, this presents a challenge, as the hole left in the side seam usually gaps open or pulls against your thumb if your arms are longer than average. The thumb cuff is an ingenious way to craft this, and add on an easy-to-sew method for keeping your hands warm and your fingers mobile. 

A video tutorial is available here: Thumb Cuff Tutorial in the Facebook Group Christine Jonson Sewing Circle

Download the Thumb Cuff Tutorial

Sew your own knit body shaper for DIY Shapewear!

Let's talk Shapewear!

No, not that popular brand, but shape wear you can actually WEAR! The Christine Jonson Body Shaper (downloadable) is not only fun, it's comfortable. This is not a legging pattern shortened to booty length. It's an expertly drafted sewing pattern for shape wear that actually stays UP on you, comes up higher in the front to hide any midsection quibbles, has a leg-to-leg gusset and a center back seam for booty shaping!  This pattern will shape you from your bra strap to lower thigh, it's reversible, can be made in fun and funky fabrics and is incredibly comfortable.

You can make this shape wear in PowerMesh for a 'spanky' control type garment, but you can also make it in rayon lycra for a 'boxer brief' garment that is breathable, and comfortable. And bonus, it works fabulously under skirts and dresses in case things are a bit breezy out or you are pedaling a bicycle. 

But it works equally well under pants for a no-muffin look. The shape wear sewing pattern is super easy to sew - and perfect for using up small scraps of fabric left over form other projects. Each panel of the shape wear pattern can be a different color (x 2 for reversible option!) You'll want one for every day of the week (and then some.) 

In our video, our size 12 tester and 40-something mom-of-two shares how the shape wear really works. 

In the product description (below) you'll note a stretch guide to determine how much 'smoother' or 'shaper' your shaper will be depending on the fabric you choose. It's up to you! Smoother or shaper!

Shape wear sewing pattern
Body Shaper e816
14.50
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Sew a summer-to-fall capsule wardrobe

Wardrobe created and sewn by Sharon Geherin, Christine Jonson Pattern Tester, written by Ann Siegle, Christine Jonson Patterns Marketing Evangelist

Creating an easy-to-sew and even easier-to-wear capsule wardrobe is fun and fast with Christine Jonson Patterns. Christine Jonson Patterns fan Sharon creates a fabulous mix and match fall capsule wardrobe using seven sewing patterns. 

Here are the patterns Sharon used to create her capsule wardrobe:

FREEBIE Poncho Top Pattern

Sharon's Capsule Wardrobe Planning:

Let's explore Sharon's capsule from top to bottom. First, she has selected a palette of garments that works for fall - a mix of deep red, red prints, brown, dark green, white with a pop of bright green and turquoise.  Each of these pieces is sewn in a comfortable knit fabric that is as easy to sew as it is to wear. 

Sharon plans hers on a board with cards. Each card has a swatch, a sketch with pattern name and number. Planning in this way helps you see your wardrobe requirements (tops, bottoms, etc.) and coordinate colors before you start sewing.

Sharon plans hers on a board with cards. Each card has a swatch, a sketch with pattern name and number. Planning in this way helps you see your wardrobe requirements (tops, bottoms, etc.) and coordinate colors before you start sewing.

This is an up-close of Sharon's planned cards: you can see she's sewn or stuck the fabric swatches down to the card, indicated what she's using the fabric for and any alterations she's used in the planning/construction process.  Note: Sharon needed to use ribbing inset because these sleeves are designed for stretch knit fabrics - they are VERY slim sleeves and require the Lycra in the fabric to stretch (mechanical stretch such as sweater knit, will not work as it does not contain the right recovery or snap-back that this sleeve design requires.) 

This is an up-close of Sharon's planned cards: you can see she's sewn or stuck the fabric swatches down to the card, indicated what she's using the fabric for and any alterations she's used in the planning/construction process.  Note: Sharon needed to use ribbing inset because these sleeves are designed for stretch knit fabrics - they are VERY slim sleeves and require the Lycra in the fabric to stretch (mechanical stretch such as sweater knit, will not work as it does not contain the right recovery or snap-back that this sleeve design requires.) 

You can create a capsule wardrobe quickly and easily with these sewing patterns. They require little in the way of complex alterations (raising the wrap or a full bust adjustment if you need it, is usually the only alteration needed when sewing these patterns with knit fabrics.) It's fast sewing, fun sewing with professional results - even if you're just a beginner! 

Each piece in Sharon's wardrobe can be combined with several others, creating a mix-and-match capsule that is both comfortable and stylish. 

 

 

Perfect Pant Skinny with a mini skirt overlay quick look

Make a great pair of skinny pants with a mini skirt overlay!

The Perfect Pant Skinny with a Mini from Christine Jonson Patterns is a great casual and sport look. In this quick video, we show you up close how the skinny and the mini look together! You can make the skinny pants with or without the center front seam, you can make the pants capri length or full length. Here are a few other options for the Skinny with a Mini:

  • Make the mini skirt in a contrast print fabric to go with solid no-seam skinny pants
  • Make the mini skirt in a textured stretch fabric such as stretch pleather for a great urban look. Wear this with moto boots and a moto jacket for extra edge. Or you can make the front outer leg panels in stretch pleather with ponte knit inner leg stretch panels for a mixed-look legging.
  • Make the pants without the seam in a PolartecPowerStretch and add a contrast PowerStretch skirt to the top for a very cozy winter running, bicycling, snowshoeing or nordic (cross country) skiing pant. 
  • Make the leggings capri length and add a contrast print legging or contrast print mini skirt over it for a great casual look for dance, running or yoga.
Perfect Pant Skinny with a Mini Skirt Overlay

A look at the Princess Wrap top from a new perspective, as a maxi dress!

How to pattern hack a favorite top sewing pattern into a dress sewing pattern

Making your favorite tee shirt pattern into a dress pattern is very simple. You'll need a long straight edge ruler, a tape measure and some paper (taped together newsprint, a roll of art or craft paper or even pattern tracing paper or interfacing will do.)  In our video, we explore the Princess Wrap top - the #1 best selling top from Christine Jonson Patterns- and how you can alter it to become a dress!

Quick no-pattern one-yard Poncho Kimono Top FREEBIE!

This quick no-pattern one-yard poncho kimono top is inspired by one designed by Christine Jonson Patterns Customer Experience Manager, Ann Siegle

This graceful top uses a selvedge-to-selvedge piece of drapey woven fabric like rayon, silk, silky poly, georgette or knit fabrics like rayon jersey, silk jersey.  It’s easy to make, perfect for beginners and makes great gifts!

Kimono Poncho Top Free Sewing Pattern

Check out our recorded video on our Facebook group to see this pant and top in action on a size 12 model. 

To sew this, you’ll need to take a few measurements first.

1)    Hip circumference

2)    Desired top length – the version shown in the example is high hip, at the hip bones, but you can go as low as mid-hip

3)    Desired neckline opening (from 12” to 14”  - the example is 12”)

 

Once you have your measurements, you’ll want to add 2” to 4” to the hip measurement and divide by two (so if your hips measure 40” you’ll add 2” to 4” – 42-44” and divide by 2, or 21-22” to get the measurement for the hip opening at the bottom.

Cut your fabric from selvedge to selvedge with 3/4” seam allowances both top and bottom. If your desired top length is 17” finished (example, high hip on Ann), you’ll cut 18.5” x two panels x the entire width of the fabric, or just ever so slightly OVER one yard of fabric!

Mark the center front of your fabric panels. Divide your neck width x 2 and mark that on either side of the CF, so if you’re using 12” wide, mark 6” on either side of CF.

Do the same for the hem opening, marking on either side of the CF, or 10.5” or 11” on either side of the CF mark for the hem.

Placing fabric right sides together, using a ¾” SA, seam from the sleeve hem edges to your first mark on the top edge, creating the shoulder and over arm seam. Backstitch for security. Skip over the neck opening and backstitch at your neckline edge marking and stitch to the sleeve hem. Press this open. Fold the SA under on each side and press. Topstitch. This creates a finished flat-felled looking seam on the shoulders AND finishes the neckline at the same time!

Repeat this for the bottom hem, using your hem opening markings.

Turn the top right side out and press the rectangle flat.

Mark 6” up from your hem where the hem openings begin and stitch, backstitching at the top of the 6” marking for security. This creates your “sideseam”.

Slip the top on and enjoy!

If you are wearing this top with the Christine Jonson Perfect Pants, you do not need to wear a camisole, as the top of the waistband will come up high enough under the top to cover any belly!

 

Click on this image to enlarge it

The Kimono Top looks great shown here with the Perfect Pants Classic Wide Leg (or the Perfect Pant Skinny or the Perfect Pant flare!):

Adding a ruffle peplum and hem to a simple knit tee sewing pattern

You can easily add a ruffle peplum or ruffle hem band to a simple knit tee sewing pattern. In our example here, Sharon sewed the Christine Jonson Patterns Three Tees cut-on cap sleeve version with a ruffled peplum:

Ruffle Hem Sewing Pattern Cap Sleeve Tee

1) Decide where you want your hem to fall

2) Cut two bands on the fold 1.5 to 2x the width of the tee shirt pattern, (on the fold),  X your preferred depth (6-8") So if your tee shirt measures 12" at the hem (on the fold), you would cut a band 18" - 24" wide (on the fold) e x 8" deep (or whatever depth you prefer, plus hem allowance.) You can easily do this right below your tee shirt pattern on the fold by just marking and cutting the band AS you cut out your tee shirt! 

3) Sew the tee as instructed in the pattern instructions. Do not hem the tee just yet.

3) Using a basting stitch, gather the band to match the tee. It's helpful to evenly distribute the gathers, then stitch over your basting stitch with a regular stitch

4) Matching side seams, sew or serge the gathered band to the tee

5) Press the band hem up and topstitch as if it were the tee shirt, using the tee shirt instructions

Purchased a downloadable pattern? Worried about your printer cutting off the border? Here is a quick tip.

Working with downloadable PDF sewing patterns

What if you're working with a downloadable sewing pattern and your printer cannot print to the edge? Many printers have a 3/4" top or bottom 'border' where the paper grippers are, and some have a side border of 3/8". If you're printing PDF patterns, some of the pattern may not print and you might have a hard time figuring out how to line up the pieces of paper so that you're keeping the correct size. Our video explores how to handle this.

Downloadable sewing patterns like the Perfect Pants, shown here, can easily be printed, matched and taped up even if your printer cuts off one of the borders. Putting it up on your window or glass door like this is an easy way to see how the pattern lines up as you tape.

Downloadable sewing patterns like the Perfect Pants, shown here, can easily be printed, matched and taped up even if your printer cuts off one of the borders. Putting it up on your window or glass door like this is an easy way to see how the pattern lines up as you tape.

How to sew a sun protective SPF Swim Tee from a Raglan Tee shirt pattern

Sew a Swim Tee from an existing tee shirt sewing pattern

Swim tee shirts or rash guards are popular summer beach, pool, kayak, sail and paddleboarding wear. They protect you from the sun without needing sunscreen, or offer an extra layer of sun protection over your swimsuit. Making swim tees from your favorite sewing pattern is easy. There are a few very important fit notes to take, before you dive in and cut out a swim tee.

Swim fabric has 'snappy' recovery. This means that the fabric snaps back to hug you tightly. A snappy fabric in the same size as you usually cut out will fit snugger than a looser knit fabric. You want a snug fit in your swim tees as swim fabric stretches when wet.  Using the Perfect Sizing Worksheet, you can actually calculate what size you should cut your swim tee so it's not too snug but not too loose. There's even a handy Excel version so you don't have to do the calculations. You'll also want to know the tissue pattern measurements of your tee - these are the exact tissue measurements of the pattern pieces themselves.  Following the worksheet's instructions, select your perfect size.

How much SPF is there in swim fabric?

According to an article by REI, nylon lycra has 'good' sun protection because of it's molecular structure. Poly/lycra has excellent sun protection because of it's molecular structure. And then there are special SPF fabrics that are woven tighter, and tested to create a specific SPF that can be measured. In our practical experience, though, most nylon/lycra swim contains a high SPF. You can think of this as the tan lines you see when you've been wearing your swim suit, which is made from nylon/lycra. That skin on your bum under your suit hasn't ever seen the light of day, and is pretty light compared to the rest of your skin.

Choosing swim fabric can be up to you - with so many great nylon/lycra swim fabrics out there, be sure to choose a quality fabric. And buy a little extra (a yard or so) and you'll have enough to make a matching swim suit too!

Designing for Swim: what style of tee should you make?

Ideal tee shirt patterns include those that have high jewel or round necks. The neck is an area that is particularly sensitive to sun and doesn't get shielded by hats the way face skin does. You could choose a standard set-in sleeve or a raglan sleeve. Raglans offer more ease of shoulder movement for things like surfing, paddleboarding, kayaking and sailing. But a swim tee made with a set in sleeve is a great day-to-evening shirt; pop it over your swim suit and add shorts, a skirt or wide leg beach pants and you're ready for dinner! It looks polished enough to wear off the beach or pool deck but yet still provides SPF for late-day sun.

Sleeves are a consideration, they should be somewhat snug fitting so they don't flop around when you are swimming or paddling. Swim fabric stretches when wet.

You can feel free to have fun - color block your tee by making the sleeves, body or neckband out of contrast print or solid fabrics. Swim should be fun to sew as it is to wear!

Construct your swim tee the same way you would usually. Definitely use stretch stitches like the "lightning" zigzag (a long zag and a short zig makes it look like a straight stitch, but it stretches) or a standard zigzag for hem finishes and topstitching.

Christine Jonson Patterns Raglan Swim Sun Tee Sewing Pattern

In the video below, we explore how we planned our swim tee's color blocking and styling:

In the next video, we sew together our swim tee! You can see this video by joining the Christine Jonson Sewing Circle on Facebook (it's free and fun!)

What patterns did we use?

We used the Raglan Tee from Travel Trio Three, but you could also use the standard banded neck set in sleeve of Travel Trio One. The latter is more tee shirt and less rash guard styling for more versatile wear.

You can also apply Heat Transfer Vinyl (HTV) although take care to practice on a scrap first, as the tee must withstand some heat under a press cloth to apply the HTV graphics.  Think of surf-related artwork or a fun back-of-neck personal logo or high hip logo.

Travel Trio One - 1204
20.05
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Travel Trio Three 226
20.05
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