Wednesday, September 3, 2014

sew it all series - where to begin

Before I start sewing an entire wardrobe for Mae I realized I needed a plan of some sort, or I will probably end up with a bunch of odds and ends that really don't go together.  Trust me, it has happened before :)  At first I started listing all the things I wanted to sew, but within a couple of minutes (and quite a bit of help from my inspiration board on Pinterest) I had a list that would take me approximately 23 years to sew!  Obviously that approach wasn't going to work, so I decided to apply a bit of logic to my sewing problem.  In the end, these are the steps I took to determine what to sew:
  1. Inventory what you already have - This step was easy for Mae since she outgrew pretty much everything from last year, so I need to start almost from scratch
  2. Determine what is missing to make complete outfits - Mae didn't have too much, but I did make note of what she has that still fits 
  3. Make a list of needs - I don't care if the list is written down or in your head, but make sure you have at least some idea of what you need.  I know I have to write everything down because my brain is porous when it comes to details :) I will post a basic version of Mae's needs further down in this post.
  4. Take inventory of existing fabric, notions and patterns - Personally I love to buy new materials for every project, but the truth is I already have lots of fabric that I can (and should) use.  I have purchased some fabric for specific projects, but I am also using some of my existing stash, along with many of the patterns I already own.
  5. Match patterns and fabrics/notions and choose where to start - I started with a basic capsule wardrobe and I will add things from there
For Mae, steps 1 & 2 were pretty easy since she is a growing toddler and needs almost all new clothes.  That means I get to choose what I want to sew without worrying about incorporating it into an existing wardrobe.  But the only downside to not having anything is that step 3 can be really overwhelming!

There were several factors I needed to consider before I choose what to sew.  For example, Mae is almost 3 and potty trained, but she still can't manage snaps, zippers or buttons, so I want to make her at least some clothes that allow her to dress herself independently, or in other words, lots of knits and pull-on bottoms.  I don't plan to have all of her clothes be leggings and tees, because I do like a bit of variety in my sewing :) but I know that I can't ignore her skill level altogether.  A couple of other items to consider are personal preferences, both mine and Mae's.  We live in Michigan and don't particularly like to be cold, so warmer fabrics and patterns are called for.  Also, Mae doesn't like really long sleeves, so I try to make her shirts with 3/4 sleeves or sleeves that can easily be pushed up or rolled.  I'm sure everyone has their own quirks, but those are just a few that exist at our house :)

Based on some of the above factors, here is a basic list of Mae's needs:
  • Pants - Both knit (leggings and sweatpants) and woven (denim/corduroy/linen)
  • Basic Tops - Knit tees and sweatshirts (patterned and solid); We got a fun head start with this caped tee featured on the CraftingCon series :)
  • Tunic Length Tops - Mae wears lots of leggings and I prefer them paired with tunics - I will use both knit and woven materials
  • Skirts - I like a couple of basic mix and match skirts paired with tights for the not-quite-so-cold autumn/winter days - I will probably use corduroy & denim
  • Tutu - I firmly believe every little girl should have a tutu is she wants one :)
  • Woven Tops - I like to have a couple of nicer tops that can be worn with skirts or pants and layered with a sweater; I will probably only make a couple of woven shirts since Mae doesn't wear them often and I already made one here
  • Casual Dresses - This overlaps a bit with the tunics since they are often worn with leggings, but they can also be worn with tights - These will most likely be knits
  • Other Dresses - I like to have a dressy Christmas dress and at least one church dress, although we do wear the casual dresses to church as well
  • Outerwear - Autumn jacket, zip up hoodie, dressy winter coat (maybe?)
  • Miscellaneous - Halloween costume, pajamas (Mae doesn't actually need any, but I might sew a pair anyway)
A few things that you won't notice on the list:
  • Sweater/Cardigan - Mae has 5(!) cardigans which is more than sufficient for this winter - (1) grey, (2) coral, (3) light aqua and (4) gold dot on cream sweater cardigans; gray knit cardigan blogged here
  • Pullover hoodie - Mae already has this one I made last year
  • Underwear - I don't anticipate a need this year
  • Tights - She owns several pairs in various prints - Honestly, she has way more pairs than our cold Michigan winter calls for
  • Winter gear - As I stated yesterday, I don't believe I can justify making something that would be cheaper and better quality to buy
  • Swimwear - We have no use for a bathing suit this winter (no warm weather vacations, boo!) although I may try making something for next summer
I'm sure I will add a couple of totally impractical but 100% fun projects to the list because sewing should be enjoyable even when sewing necessities :)

Tomorrow I will be back to talk about choosing patterns based on needs and budget.  And then on Friday I will get to my favorite part - choosing fabric!


  1. So cool! You are amazingly organized. I find myself making one outfit at a time that doesn't really go with anything else, LOL.

  2. Glad you are back, Teri :) This is something I do need just right now! No, I am not planning to sew my daughter's wardrobe, she's got quite a lot of pieces of clothing, but we definitely have some (big) "holes" in it. So what I need is to plan better and fill those gaps:) I, like Shelly, often find myself have sewn something that does not really go with other clothes...Recently we've realized that Lili has too many print tops and print bottoms...I plan to sew more solids for her, this is my goal for this autumn, however my sweet girl does not seem to mind, she tried to convince me it's not a problem: " do not worry, mommy, I LOVE to look like a rainbow". Hah! :))