Sewing a Capsule Wardrobe

Welcome to Capsule Wardrobe Sewing! If you're new to this concept, or the robust facebook group, I hope you'll find this page of FAQs useful. Blog posts I've written on the subject are linked throughout, and available for you to peruse below! Enjoy! XOXO


  1. What is a Capsule Wardrobe?
    "It’s a mini wardrobe made up of really versatile pieces that you totally LOVE to wear. For Unfancy purposes, it’s a 37 piece wardrobe that includes tops, bottoms, dresses, outerwear, and shoes." - Un-fancyy 
  2. What makes up a capsule wardrobe?
    Tops, pants, dresses, jackets, shoes.
    NOT included: Underwear, pajamas*, athletic wear, special occasion wear.
    *Lounge wear blurs the line between pajamas and "real clothes" in recent years. If I wouldn't be seen in it outside of the house, I consider it "Pajamas". If I would wear it outside the home, then I include it in my capsule.
  3. How long do I have to wear each capsule? 
    Each capsule is seasonal - whatever that means for the climate you live in. Every season, you try and rotate out 9 pieces with weather-appropriate new-sews or ready to wear (RTW) alternatives. This keeps the ~3 month sewing/planning time manageable, at fewer than one new sew a week.
  4. I want to try! Where do I start?
    First step is to purge your closet! Odds are you have a considerable collection of out-dated, ill-fitting, rarely-worn clothes. (Here are tips for paring down!) Make note of common themes in your "donate" pile. The wrong color? Not versatile enough? Well-loved but now threadbare? This will help you when you make choices to rebuild a wardrobe you love and will get great wear out of!
  5. Do I HAVE to subscribe to a minimalist wardrobe? I'm not sure I can part with all of my stuff!
    Yes but no. I won't shove a capsule wardrobe down your throat. Not even a little bit. You are welcome to join us for our fitting lessons, pattern reviews/suggestions, etc. We're happy to have you!! BUT - please don't make disparaging remarks about the group's founding principle, or the women living it. It is ultimately a lifestyle choice, and deserves to be respected whether you partake or not.
  6. I'm ready to sew - now what?
    The biggest key to wardrobe-sewing success is planning. Your purge will make it easy to see what you have, and what wardrobe holes you need to fill. Both purge piles - what stays and what goes - will tell you about you personal style, and guide you in your fabric and pattern shopping experience. 
  7. What wardrobe planning tools do you recommend?
    I use a Sudoku planning tool - as described here. I'm hands-on and quite a visual learner, so "auditioning" fabrics and outfit pairings on my sewing room floor helps me to visualize how each piece will work with one another. But there are many other methods used by our fellow Capsule Wardrobe Sewists. Don't hesitate to ask them! 
  8. I made a Sudoku! ..But I'm going to need to wear more than these 10 outfits...
    Of course! One sudoku alone does not make up a complete wardrobe. I rotate in a sudoku seasonally (see below) - with my total wardrobe creating ~3 sudokus at any given moment - reusing pieces as needed. 
  9. Do I HAVE to sew 37 items every season?
    No Way! You should have a "core wardrobe" of all-season garments, and only need to rotate in 9 or so new pieces per season. Ex: my central Virginia climate suits jeans, tshirts, and tank tops year round - with items like layers or shorts rotated in seasonally.
  10. Do I HAVE to sew everything in my wardrobe?
    No way! Your body, your lifestyle, your sewing skills, your finances and even your interest level will decide what you should sew and what you should buy. You don't "win" capsule by sewing it all - you "win" by having a complete wardrobe that you feel great in and love to wear. 
  11. How long do I have to sew each season's wardrobe?
    This will be different for everyone. Time permitting - you can sew a capsule in as little as a week with these quick sews. But ultimately you have 3 months to figure out what you need for the upcoming season, and you can take your time crafting your 9 replacement pieces in that time. Whatever your sewing speed, whatever your wardrobe goals, you'll always have someone to sew along with in the now-massive group that is Capsule!
  12. What do you mean by "Versatile" clothing?
    Each piece in your wardrobe should pair well with 3-4 other pieces. For many people, the easiest way to do this is to use all solid fabrics, in all neutral colors. But if you've got a love for sewing -  odds are that big beautiful creative brain of yours can make this task fun, colorful, and print-filled. Rather than limit your color pallet or print fabric purchases, try using this method to make sure you put them all to good use.
  13. My work and home wardrobe requirements are very different - do I need two whole capsules?
    Ideally - no. At least not seasonally. That's a lot of clothes for a minimalist's lifestyle. Consider making a sudoku (or other mini-capsule) of work-only apparel, and try to supplement the rest with clothes you can wear outside of your work as well. For instance - blazers are great for the office AND for wearing overtop of jeans for a night out with friends; many work-appropriate blouses can be made in fabrics/prints that compliment your casual wardrobe; etc.
  14. "I'm new to sewing for myself / Don't know how to dress to flatter my body. Can you suggest patterns that will work for me?"
    Yes and no. I believe EVERY woman's body is a custom size, and - at best - any well drafted pattern will be a starting point for a well fitting garment. We work hard here to teach fitting techniques. and understanding the ways our bodies differ from the "average" set of measurements designers use when drafting our patterns. 
    "Yes" because I've already done the leg-work to find you a designer that most closely matches your measurements. Not sure about a particular pattern? Ask the group! We have a very supportive group here and someone will help you out! 
  15. Where should I buy Patterns?
    I like to support independent pattern designers whenever possible - I find that they best predict what it is I want to sew, and - via facebook groups -have the best built-in support networks if I have questions about a particular project. That said, this is a "buyer beware" situation. Look for professional pattern companies  - Megan Nielsen, Colette/Seamwork, Liesl + Co, Papercut Patterns, By Hand London, Named Clothing, among many others - whose long-term reputation reflect their consistent, reliable drafting and high pattern standards. 
  16. Where should I buy Fabric?
    There are SO many great fabric stores online; including Mood, Urban Rag Trader, and knits from Raspberry Creek. For my total-wardobe sewing, I find that my first stop is always Cali Fabrics. They have a little (and a lot) a bit of everything, which is always a perk when shopping online. New customers can get 10% off their first order with this link.
  17. "What's in it for you?"
    Ok, so nobody has actually asked me. But I figure it's worth answering anyway. Pattern or fabric promotional opportunities aside, I am not compensated for the time I invest here. (Nor would I want to be - everyone deserves to have and feel amazing in custom fit clothes!) It's important to me that you all know my pattern recommendations, fabric resources, and tool suggestions are motivated only by what will best fit YOUR project, NOT my bottom line. Good karma is far more valuable to me than the $8 I made in affiliate sales last year.
    If you're feeling generous, and would like to support my efforts here and on my blog, you can shop for sewing tools using my amazon affiliate link (http://www.amazon.com/?tag=becduvpho-20), shop shoes, bags, and other capsule-complimentary items on zulily using my referral code (http://www.zulily.com/invite/bduval643) or shop jewelry through my Stella and Dot stylist link (http://www.stelladot.com/ts/7x7g6).