Summer Capsule Wardrobe – Part 1, The Patterns


Hello sew-friends! How are you doing? Are you ready for summer? I am definitely ready. It's been a fairly cool and very windy spring here in LA and I'm looking forward to wearing all my summer clothes again. I'm also looking forward to doing some sewing for fun. This year I didn't participate in Me Made May because I wasn't feeling up to it. (The two big reasons being a lot of freelance work and an onset of daily headaches/migraines in the last few months.)

Anyway, despite only posting for MMM a couple of times, I did have a big realization. I really miss the days of sewing something just for fun; that kind of spontaneous sewing that has to happen right away. I miss trying out new patterns and styles. I miss getting really excited about a project and a fabric and just spending hours sewing.

Over the last few years, I've spent more and more of my time sewing as part of the pattern development process or for YouTube tutorials. Those activities are enjoyable but they have a lot of aspects that are less fun and more like work (for example, a lot of repetition). So far this year, I've only made 5 things and two of them were knitted. There's nothing wrong with that, but I do miss my sewing time. And I know I've been spending a lot less time sewing than usual (mostly due to reasons already mentioned).

So, I'm making no promises or resolutions because those are hard to keep. But, I'm making some summer wardrobe plans. Today, I’m going to share the patterns/garments that I plan on making and wearing. Some things are already in my closet and some are yet to be sewn. A lot of things that I want to make have been stuck on hold because I also want to draft my own pattern and that takes SO much time. So, I’m thinking about alternates to those ideas as well.

This list is a combination of gaps in my wardrobe, things I really want to make and things that will be useful. I have a few trips planned in the coming months, most notably a trip to the Oregon coast in July which will not be particularly warm (likely highs in the mid-60s) and later in fall a trip to Hawaii. Very different climates and I do probably have everything I need already. But what’s the fun in that? So, read on for all the things I'm thinking about making and a little behind-the-scenes on the patterns that I've been working on.

Summer Capsule Wardrobe

1 A floaty summer dress

I have a gazillion dresses in my closet but I'm always looking for something new. I particularly want something that is long and flowy and relaxed but still really chic and a bit bohemian. I've been working on drafting a pattern for this dress for I think years now but I've maybe made it too complicated. I want to have the option of thin straps or sleeves with a minimum of pattern pieces. Those sleeves are kind of getting the best of me and I've set the pattern aside for the time being.

In the meantime, I'm really excited to try out the Parasol Dress by Cris Wood. It's a zero-waste pattern for all sizes. I think it will be a great summer dress. I bought this pattern right after it was released and it’s the most excited I’ve been to sew something in a long time. I have a ton of fabrics that would work well for it. Now just to choose one!

2 Woven tank

This one will very likely be my next pattern. It's a basic tank for woven fabrics and really great for layering in the summer. The last few weeks I've been working on drafting and grading and I'm getting started on the instructions. It will have two views, one with a rounded neckline and armholes, the other with a v-neck and angled armholes. The neck and armholes are finished with a facing. It's a great beginner pattern and will be my first with cup size options! So while it's fairly simple, there are a lot of pattern pieces because of the three cup size options.

A few years ago, I made the Willow Tank by Grainline Studio (blogged here). It has a rounded neck and is finished with bias tape. It's a great staple. I don't often wear the lace version these days but I do wear another version in a white speckled cotton. It sadly has some stains now but I'm sure I'll be making a bunch more tanks this summer for the new pattern.

3 Woven elastic waist pants

Pandemic or not, I love wearing elastic waist pants. If I'm at home, that's what I'll likely be wearing. I already have enough elastic waist garments that are made with knit fabric (I consistently wear my Hudson Pants, Seamwork Mel Joggers and Summer Sweatsuit shorts when it's hot). But, I'm not entirely satisfied with my woven elastic waist pants. The two pairs that I wear most often ride up around my calves when I sit down and are uncomfortable. I think it's a combination of the length of the pant being a little too short and my full calves. Those two pairs are the Alexandria Trousers by Named and the Arenite Pants by Sew Liberated. (Links go to my blog posts.)

Early this year, I started working on a new Sew DIY pattern for elastic waist woven pants. It would be a mix and match pattern, similar to my Lela Skirt. But I got distracted by other patterns and stalled out. I've also made the Calyer Pants by French Navy and I don't think they have the calf problem because I made a full calf adjustment. I just always forget to wear them for some reason. Another pattern I have that I might try are the Freerange Slacks by Sew House 7. They look really ideal. 

4 Linen Jacket

This garment will be for cool evenings and potentially for my trip to Oregon this summer. I already have a really lovely linen jacket that I made using my Tasi draft-it-yourself pattern. But, if I'm feeling inspired to make another jacket, I'd love to try the Flynn Jacket by In The Folds.

5 Oversized Button down

One of my staple summer garments is a button down woven shirt. My skin is really sensitive to the sun and I really like to have a physical barrier that I can use to protect my chest and arms. A jacket or sweater would be too warm but a button down is the perfect layer that I can easily take off and tie around my waist if I'm too hot. I've been working on sewing the Rosa Shirt by Tilly and the Buttons for I think 5 months now. I kind of lost interest in sewing it, but I think if I just force myself to start again, then I can power through. It's a fitted, western style shirt with princess seams. I have a similar RTW shirt that has seen better days and only has three-quarter sleeves so this one would replace that.

Anyway, I hope that this will one day be a future pattern but I have not started drafting it. This garment is inspired by a RTW shirt that I have from the 90s. It's oversized and a really nice layer with leggings or shorts. A similar pattern would be the Olya Shirt by Paper Theory Patterns.

6 Elastic waist skirt

My TNT for this category is of course one of my own patterns, the Lela Skirt. I love wearing these in the summer because it feels a little fancier than shorts but still keeps me cool. I already have a lot of these in my closet so I don't plan on making any new ones this summer.

7 Knit t-shirt

The t-shirt also falls in the category of "I will be wearing this frequently but don't need any new ones". I've made a bunch of t-shirts and they're still holding up well. Check out this video for my review of four different patterns. And of course my pattern the Lou Box Top is one of my favorites for casual, easy t-shirts.

8 Swimsuit

I made a one-piece swimsuit last fall using a vintage Stretch & Sew pattern and it's been in frequent rotation whenever I head to the pool. It's a classic tank style and just so easy to wear. One of my older swimsuits (blogged here) has a cool design but feels a little too big now. Sizing is tricky on garments that require negative ease!

Anyway, if I do make another swim garment this summer, I'd like to try the new Seamwork Maggie two piece. The top has darts under the bust and it looks really supportive.

9 Jean shorts

OK, this one is a big MAYBE. I don't really enjoy sewing jeans (too fiddly) but I'm curious about the Ash Jeans pattern by Megan Nielsen. I'm thinking maybe jean shorts would be a good way to try out the pattern without too much fabric commitment. Plus, they’ll be perfect for summer.

All right! That's it for my list. Well, tbh, I also need to sew a new lounge bra or two but that's for anytime of year. Plus, I've been wanting to make the Mahogany Turban by Fibr & Cloth for quite a while now. Anyway, I think these nine items are a pretty good mix of tops and bottoms. And, nine items fits perfectly into a capsule wardrobe 3x3 grid. You might recall that last year, I put together a fun pattern bundle for a work-from-home wardrobe using the 3x3 grid. It's still available for sale and you can check it out here.

Next up in my wardrobe planning process, I will be shopping my stash for fabrics. If things go well, I’ll put together a post about that too. Happy sewing!

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