Thursday, 10 July 2014

Planning the next projects - A/W makes sneaky peek!

I've recently realised that I spend many hours planning what I'm going to sew, as well as actually sewing. I don't know what the rest of you are like, but it gets messy in my head if I don't have a plan! Unfortunately, whilst I know this, I don't always act on it. But now, with the sewing, I do!

I made my first dress almost two years ago, but it's only been the last year that I've seriously started creating my own handmade wardrobe. I did a similar process earlier in the year for my Spring/Summer wardrobe, and I've upped the game a little for Autumn/Winter.

I read through the Coletterie's Wardrobe Architect and thought it was really excellent, but I couldn't get it to work for me. I can't define many of the styles/influences/cultures that the wardrobes are based around, but I know what I like when I see it, so I needed a looser approach with the same outcome.

Over the last 6 months I've already been thinking about what colours, fabrics and patterns I want in my Autmun/Winter wardrobe so I've already started building the stash as I've seen pretty things at good prices. At the time I scolded myself for buying things I'm not intending to immediately use, but actually it's a good way to spread the cost out over the year. (There - I justified it!)

So, this is how I plan my seasonal wardrobe. Maybe you might find ideas here to help you plan yours, I don't know, but please say hi and leave a comment as I'd love to hear about other methods of planning out there!

Stage 1 - Pinterest

Whilst I've fallen out of love with Pinterest as I eventually found I did a lot of pinning and that was about all, it works as a great tool to plan projects like this. I do a google search, and search a few online fabric shops to find the colours I want in my palette. I pin them all. I knew what colours I wanted months ago, so this exercise is just about getting them all down together, checking that they work together, that there's a good balance of tones, etc. Sometimes new colours I hadn't thought of get thrown in (like the orange), sometimes I realise something won't work with the others and I get rid of it.

Then I move onto patterns. Which favourites do I want to remake in heavier fabrics, which new patterns do I want to try, and very importantly, what gaps does my wardrobe need filling? It's great having a tonne of beautiful handmade skirts, but if you don't make tops too, or you make tops that only suit trousers, then you'll soon encounter problems.

Next up, shoes! I know this isn't dressmaking, but it's important you have the right shoes to go with your outfits. In the past I've always been a very safe shopper, buying items that will go with everything, which resulted in a lot of black shoes. There's no room in my life for black right now, so I need a few new bits. I add them to the pinterest board.

This time, I went one step further and added tights and jewellery too, as I missed the jewellery step last time and realised I had little that fitted the look I wanted.

Stage 2 - Spreadsheet

This is a new stage to the process, but it worked really well to match up patterns to fabrics. I recently organised my stash and made these little tags, once again inspired by the brilliant ideas from the Coletterie. I decided that I wanted to stash-bust, and especially to use up leftover fabric from past projects. Making these in a different season to before is a great idea, as you don't feel you have multiple items of the same fabric if you only see one in your wardrobe at a time (I store out of season clothes in the loft).

So the first step here was to list the patterns that I want to use, note which ones I already own, and how much the others will cost so I can budget. Then, I thought about what colours would work well for tops and bottoms, how they might suit each pattern, and what I have enough of in my stash. Once again, I'm thinking about what my wardrobe needs as I build this list -  I realised that I love both dresses and separates, but I make a lot more skirts than tops, so I decided to add more tops to the equation, and culled some of my skirt plans.

In the end, I decided on about 15 items, and I can actually make 8 of these with existing patterns and fabric I already own, I just need to buy thread/zips/buttons, etc. For the others I could make it up as I went along, choosing colours and fabric types, and setting a guideline cost for the project.

Stage 3 - Drawings

The spreadsheet plan is great, but it's hard to visualise it all in words, so I like to draw all my plans out.

This makes it really easy to see how the items might work together, and quickly see if you've been a bit generous/stingy with certain colours, or types of clothes. This winter I want a lot of deep, earthy colours, but I don't want to be too dark, so I'm throwing in a lot of cream and camel items to keep it light. Neutrals are more important than the flashy colours, but it's very easy to forget that and just sew a heap of fancy things!

I love this stage the best, as it gets me really excited about all the lovely new things I'll soon get to make.

Stage 4 - Order

Last time I made a clear list of the order I would make things. I don't think it worked that well. Sometimes you find the perfect fabric for the item 6 spaces down the list, but just cannot find what you want for item number 2. Also, new ideas pop up constantly, and it's nice sometimes just to put the list aside and make something else entirely (for example, since doing these plans last night I've decided I NEED a Deer & Doe Bleuet dress. Right Now). Otherwise, I feel like I'm "not allowed" to, and then I feel animosity towards, well, sewing!

So this time, I will finish one project, look at my plans, and choose whichever item I feel drawn to to make next. I'm hoping this will allow for a more natural flow of creatively, since the rest of the planning is quite serious.

Stage 5 - Details

As I said before, new ideas often pop up, and sometimes they might be just for details of a project, rather than the whole item. I might feel a sudden need to add a collar to a top, or that long sleeves will work better in winter than 3/4 length. I don't plan the nitty gritty with the rest of the planning, but as I get to that project. It allows for more ideas to get used, I find :)

So, there it is, the plan.

How do you plan your makes?


  1. Wow! You're so organised. I'm afraid I'm less so. Got a few ideas for A/W. a Delphine skirt in a lovely tweed from my husbands nan paired with a plain black Coco, some new boots and chunky tights, more chunky tights and some charity shop revamped finds. X

  2. This is such a great idea, I really love your spreadsheet! Spreadsheets make everything better, fact.