How to Plan & Sew a Seasonal Capsule Wardrobe

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If you follow along with my family on Instagram, I have been sharing the behind the scenes of how I planned and made my son’s fall/winter capsule wardrobe. I saved the process in a highlight if you missed it and want to see my un-curated behind-the-scenes work! I promised to share a post with the process I went through as well as the fabric/pattern details, so here is that post!

I’m a part of several online sewing groups, and I was always amazed by the beautiful capsule wardrobes that other moms were making for their kids. Yet, whenever I tried to plan one for my own son, I got overwhelmed by all of the fabric options, pattern options, and the combination of the two.

I decided to come up with a plan and process to not only help me build his current capsule but to refer back to for future seasons. If you sew, I hope that you can take some of these ideas and tweak them to make them your own. If you don’t sew and have no plans to start sewing, don’t stop reading! You can still follow these steps to plan out a capsule, you just will replace the sewing part with shopping! In the past, I did a combination of new, thrifted, and handmade items for my son each season. You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars to make a cohesive seasonal capsule!

What Is a Capsule Wardrobe?

So before I get into the details, I probably should explain what a capsule wardrobe is! According to the somewhat-credible-source that is Wikipedia, “Capsule wardrobe is a term used in American publications as early as the 1940s to denote a small collection of garments designed to be worn together which harmonized in color and line.” I personally think capsule wardrobes are a smart way to shop and an effective way to combat the mindset that we always need more, more, more. Some people are very rigid when planning their capsules… I take more of a work-with-what-I’ve-got laid back approach to my own capsule. You can read about my favorite capsule pieces here. Although I don’t perfectly abide by these rules myself, many capsule wardrobe enthusiasts recommend developing a limited color palette that works well with the undertones in your skin. Then, you search for specific pieces within that palette that can mix and match with essentially every other piece in your closet. 

Benefits of Capsule Wardrobes

Capsule wardrobes are meant to help you make the most of your wardrobe–to buy less, own less, but love your wardrobe more. Because the pieces are often chosen within a specific color palette, the options are endless! You can create a capsule wardrobe in a variety of ways, but a lot of people will focus on building sustainable and ethically-sourced capsules over time. I’ve been sharing more about ethical fashion on my blog, but the truth is that ethical fashion can be expensive–whether you are buying new or buying ethically-sourced fabric. Thrifting is an excellent way to combat this expense, but sometimes it can be difficult to find exactly what you want when thrifting and some people just don’t have the time. For my own capsule, I have a combination of new, handmade, and secondhand pieces. If you’re wanting to try your own capsule, it is possible to accomplish it through multiple means–whether you have a limited budget or limited time.

How I Designed & Made My Toddler’s Seasonal Capsule

This is the process I went through to design and make my son’s fall/winter capsule. You can follow the same steps for creating a capsule for a child of any age or for yourself; however, I would recommend a few more pieces for adults because we don’t grow as much as kids do and can wear clothes longer.

Step 1: Choose Colors/Fabric

I decided to stick to these colors:

Olive Green

Navy Blue

Light Brown

Teal

Cream

I decided to work with mostly solids with the exception of two patterns within the color scheme. I used a variety of materials… french terry, rib knit, stretch french terry, linen, and waffle. I wanted some warm fabrics for the cool weather as well as some more breathable options, like linen, for warmer days in the fall and spring. It’s always easier to layer… which is a necessity when you live in the Midwest!

Step 2: Choose Categories & Number of Items

I probably made a few more items than I needed to, but some of his clothes are more like loungewear and can also be worn as pajamas. I hope to do laundry several times a week, but in the real-world… there are weeks where it only happens all at once on a Saturday! If you do laundry more frequently, you could probably get away with quite a few less items.

I bought him two pairs of pajamas from Parade Organics to supplement his wardrobe (seriously the softest, most well-made, fair-trade pajamas), and I’m planning on making him a winter coat and some little shoes out of a thrifted wool coat I bought for $10!

Here’s the number of items I decided to make for each category:

Tops: 6

Bottoms: 8

Overalls/Rompers: 2

Jackets: 1

Hats: 2

You can use the same categories and number of items or adjust based off of your individual needs and climate!

Step 3: Choose Patterns

I used a variety of patterns from Lowland Kids, Brindille and Twig, and Tiny Design Co. Patterns. All of these patterns are available on their individual websites, or you can checkout once by ordering on Etsy! Lowland Kids has a discount if you buy 3 or more patterns, which you can find here. I opted for a lot of lounge-wear staples including pullovers, leggings, comfy pants, joggers, etc. with a few mid-weight linen pieces that can be worn between seasons. 

Step 4: Choose Color/Fabric Combos for Individual Patterns

 I decided to use fabric that I already had on hand. I own a small shop, Elsie James Clothing, so I have an excessive amount of fabric. The companies I mention below have high-quality, organic fabric, but you could also use other types of knit fabric or even thrifted fabric/clothes in larger sizes. 

Tops: 

Raglan Sweaters
  • Amount Made: 3
  • Company: Lowland Kids
  • Fabric: Oatmeal & Maple Organic Rib from Isee Fabric; Green-Patterened Stretch French Terry from SYAS with Blue/Green Organic Rib from Ollie & Annie Fabric; Blue/Green Organic Rib from Ollie & Annie Fabric

Dolman Pullover
  • Amount Made: 1
  • Company: Lowland Kids
  • Fabric: Oatmeal Organic Waffle & Rib from Isee Fabric
Ringer Tees
  • This is a free pattern, and it’s super quick and beginner-friendly!
  • Amount Made: 2
  • Company: Brindille & Twig
  • Fabric: Stem Organic French Terry and Oatmeal Rib from Isee Fabric with Olive Organic Waffle from L&E Fabric; Maple Organic Rib from Isee Fabric

Bottoms:

Harem Pants
  • These run very large and probably won’t fit my son until the spring. Woops, I should have measured!
  • Amount Made: 1
  • Company: Little Design Pattern Co. on Etsy
  • Fabric: Foliage Mid-weight European Laundered Linen from Isee Fabric
Basic Leggings
  • This is a free pattern!
  • Amount Made: 2
  • Company: Lowland Kids
  • Fabric: Maple Organic Rib from Isee Fabric; Blue/Green Organic Rib from Ollie & Annie Collection
Grunge Joggers
  • Amount Made: 2
  • Company: Lowland Kids
  • Fabric: Brush Stroke Organic French Terry from Isee Fabric; Stem Organic French Terry from Isee Fabric
Modern Lounge Pants
  • Amount Made: 1
  • Company: Brindille & Twig
  • Fabric: Maple Organic Waffle from Isee Fabric & Compliant Wood Buttons from L&E Fabric
Drawstring Leggings
  • I made these without the faux drawstring, but you can add one!
  • Amount Made: 2
  • Company: Brindille & Twig
  • Fabric: Oatmeal and Maple Organic Rib from Isee Fabric; Blue/Green Patteren Stretch French Terry from SYAS with Organic Blue/Green Rib from Ollie and Annie Fabric

Overalls/Rompers:

Pinafore Jumpsuit
  • Amount Made: 1
  • Company: Tiny Design Co. Patterns on Etsy
  • Fabric: Wheat European Laundered Linen from Isee Fabric
Jude Romper
  • Amount Made: 1
  • Company: Lowland Kids
  • Fabric: Blue Green Organic Rib from Ollie & Annie Fabric with Pacific Organic Rib from Isee Fabric 

Jackets:

  • Amount Made: 1
  • Company: Petite Stitchery
  • Fabric: Pacific & Maple Organic Waffle & Oatmeal Rib from Isee Fabric

Hats:

  • Pattern: Slouch Beanie
  • Amount Made: 2
  • Company: Lowland Kids
  • Fabric: Maple & Pacific Organic Waffle from Isee Fabric

Step 5: Cut & Sew

I cut out all of the pieces that used the same fabric at once. I tried to cut items that used the same patterns but different fabric around the same time because then I didn’t have as many pattern pieces flying around! I have a projector that I got for Christmas last year so that I won’t have to have so many loose pattern pieces, but we are waiting to install it until the walls are built in our loft. 

I decided to use matching thread for a more professional look. Because of this, I sewed the items in batches based off of the color of thread so that I wouldn’t have to switch out the thread on my machines more than I needed to!

Step 6: Mix, Match, & Enjoy!

I tried to plan pieces that could be layered and stretch between seasons. For example, Linc could wear a chunky pullover under his linen overalls in the fall and then just the overalls in the spring. I make his clothes big so they last longer… it’s easier to roll a pair of pants up then down instead of cutting and sewing an entirely new pair!

Here are just a few of the endless combinations in my son’s capsule!

Summary

Like I mentioned above, you can use this method whether you are sewing the items yourself, thrifting, or buying new. Just remember:

  1. Find a color palette that works well for you or your child
  2. Choose a limited number of pants, shirts, jackets, etc. based off of how often you’ll (realistically) do laundry
  3. Choose patterns – you can do as many or as few as you want! Using less patterns is cheaper and quicker to make, but I wanted to have a variety!
  4. Look for fabric or ready-to-wear (RTW) clothes in your color palette… focusing on a variety between the tops and bottoms
  5. Sew or shop for the items you carefully planned out!
  6. Mix, match, and enjoy the freedom that comes with a minimal wardrobe!

If you make a capsule wardrobe, I would LOVE to see your creations! You can email me at themilleracres@gmail.com or tag @themilleracres on Instagram so I can re-share your beautiful work!

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