One of the best things about sewing is the limitless possibilities it presents. Every pattern or bit of gorgeous fabric is loaded with possibility. As if that weren’t enough, people-watching provides its own set of garment styles and combinations to consider, as does “shopping” for ideas in stores. Sewing gives me the power to make the things I see in the colors I want with the modifications necessary to fit me well. While I like the process of sewing, with its inherent building of skill on skill and opportunity to try new things, I think my favorite parts are the planning and the finishing.
I’ve been thinking about what I’d like to focus on for the fall for a long time now. While in the warmer months I like to sew woven fabrics like cotton and linen in order to make garments that stand away from my body and allow air to flow, in the cooler months I have different priorities. I want my clothes to allow for layering and feel like a warm hug. 😉 I’m looking for pants that either have enough room for long underwear to fit underneath or that are stretchy (like leggings) for ultimate comfort and flexibility. I find myself drawn to knit tops (typically t-shirts) more frequently than woven tops because they are comfortable and can hold warmth in. Additionally, in the last few years I’ve been thinking that it would be helpful to focus more on cardigans or light jackets rather than pullover-style sweaters and sweatshirts. That way I can layer, adding interest to my outfits with various colors and textures, while keeping in step with the temperature around me.
All this leads me toward these garment types to focus on: looser pants, t-shirts/knit tops, and cardigans/jackets. I’m going to list some pattern ideas (with links and/or pictures) in each category. I don’t plan to make all of these–they’re just ideas–but hopefully, if you are thinking along similar lines, you’ll find some interesting patterns to inspire you as well.
I’m tired of exclusively wearing closer-fitting jeans, even though it’s the silhouette I’ve grown used to seeing myself in. It’s time to try some different styles. I want pants that have ease for comfort and for the practicality of layering in colder weather. For that reason, I’ve been exploring a few options.
- Morgan Boyfriend Jeans by Closet Case Patterns. I made a shorter version of these this summer, and I’m hoping they could be a good staple jean, especially if I go up a size for winter.
- Butterick 4995 wide-leg pants, View B.
I’ve had this pattern for ages (it is actually out of print (OOP), but you could find it on Etsy). I have linen set aside for these, and currently have a muslin/toile cut out to see if I like the shape enough to make a final version. If I do, I may see how I like linen for fall, or make it in another fabric and save the linen for spring/summer sewing.
- Lander Pant by True Bias.
I wasn’t thrilled with these the first time I made them, but after wearing my first attempt for awhile, I think I could modify the fit to a place that I like. I’ve seen some good corduroy versions of these.
- Chinos. I’m not entirely sure what pattern to use. My top contenders are Simplicity 1696 (OOP), which I’ve made before (in gray sateen and octopus print),
Burda Style 7447 (OOP), which I haven’t tried yet,
Alina Design Co. Chi-Town Chinos, or Pauline Alice Port Trousers. What I’m looking for is a tapered, but not tight style with a mid-rise, angled front pockets, and back welt pockets. I’m leaning toward using the Simplicity or Burda patterns since I already own those, but I can’t decide if I like the fit on the Simplicity pants or not. The zipper definitely needs to be set deeper in, but otherwise they are more or less what I want, and they are a known quantity. I have Cloud9 Tinted Denim in “Heather” (pink) that would be great for these.
- Deer & Doe Plantain T-Shirt.
As soon as I tried this t-shirt, it became a favorite (merino wool knit and cactus print double brushed poly versions here). The best part? It’s FREE! You can download the PDF to make it yourself, AND they have expanded their size range from what they had previously. I have a wool knit and some Cotton + Steel cotton/spandex knit set aside for t-shirts. My t-shirt situation is pretty sad right now, so I want to try to rectify that.
- Coppélia by Papercut Patterns.
This top can be a cropped wrap top or a longer faux wrap top. My first version of the faux wrap top didn’t have the amount of stretch or ease I wanted, so I passed it on, but I would love to try again, especially since I want another chance to get that neck-band right. I loved this pattern, even though my initial attempts weren’t perfect.
- I had forgotten about Vogue 8950 (still in print!),
which is very similar to Papercut Patterns’ Ensis Tee. This would be a fun take on a t-shirt with great color blocking options, and it’s a Very Easy Vogue pattern, so it could be a nice, quick win.
- Simplicity 8700.
One of my long-term dreams has been to copy a favorite ready-to-wear jacket that I thrifted several years ago.
It’s slightly too small to be really comfortable and the upper back is too narrow, so I have often wished for a version that fits better. I think this pattern could help me approximate my jacket. If that doesn’t work, other pattern options could be these patterns designed for Simplicity by Wendy Mullin–Simplicity 4109 (OOP)
or Simplicity 3966 (OOP).
They’re out of print, but you can find them on Etsy or eBay. I have some olive cotton twill that would work for this type of jacket.
- Sapporo Coat by Papercut Patterns. This is a really intriguing pattern. It has interesting seamlines and definitely fits the category of clothing that could be like “a warm hug” for cold days. The cocoon shape is such a weird, yet interesting fashion idea. I go back and forth on how much I like the look of this one, but I find it really intriguing, and I’d love to make one. Curiosity often gets the best of me with interesting patterns.
- Women’s Kimono Jacket by Wiksten. This falls into the same category as the Sapporo Coat in my mind. I’m not sure it is always good-looking (although I have seen several versions that I thought looked great on Instagram), but it would be so comfortable and tick all my cool-weather clothing boxes.
- Cardigans. I want to think about this category further, but so far my only plan is to take the version of McCall’s 7476 I made last winter and cut it from floor-length to knee-length.
As fun as it was to parade around like Darth Vader in his flowing cloak, the length I chose isn’t the most practical, and it needs to be chopped. If I were to make this again, I would also raise the V front a bit.
So those are the things I’m mulling over most for fall. Of course I’ve also considered a skirt or two, a jumpsuit, some activewear, etc. I always have so many ideas, that I tend to forget a lot of them, which is why I write them down and then periodically look back through my sketches and notes. I plan and plan and then finally come up with my next batch and a general list of ideas for potential future projects. They never all get made, but that doesn’t bother me. I also make myself a seasonal mood board on the back of the door nearest my sewing machine. I’m not sure how good I am at weaving all of the mood board ideas into my sewing, but some of them do show up, and it’s a lot of fun to make. One thing from my most recent mood board that stands out is that I really want to find a way to incorporate bright colors into my cool-weather garments. That has been an ongoing project for the last couple of years, and one I need to work harder on. I’ve found a lot of inspiration from Katie Kortman on Instagram.
In case you are interested, here is the first batch of projects that I already have started for the transition into fall (pictured at the top of this post):
- Restyle of a basic skirt. I want to change the back to an elastic waist and add pockets.
- Two Lark Tees. I have felt mixed about this pattern, but I haven’t tried the v-neck yet, so I’m going to give it a go and see if I like it. I have two cut out.
- Morgan Jeans. These were going to be for later in the fall, but I put them on the fast track, and they are already finished. I just need to photograph them.
- A Kalle Shirt (shown below). I lengthened the cropped version.
- A muslin of Butterick 4995 wide-leg pants. I want to see if I like these enough to make a final version.
- My current ongoing knitting project is the Glacier Park Cowl by Caitlin Hunter. I’m taking my time on this and learning to knit do colorwork while knitting Continental-style.
Everything is traced and cut out, so now it’s time to sew, sew, sew (and knit).
I got this antique drying rack on my last visit to Brimfield. I’m testing it out as a structure to hold my traced and cut projects.
I’m hoping all the ideas I listed above will guide me as I make future plans throughout the fall and winter. So, what about you? If you want to play along, answer one or all of these questions in the comments below:
- What is your ideal type of clothing for fall?
- What are you planning or hoping to make in the cooler months (or the warmer months if you are in the Southern Hemisphere)?
- What is inspiring you right now in your sewing?
- After all this talk about planning, I have to recommend Episode 58: Planning Projects on the Love to Sew Podcast. If you like to plan projects (whether or not you actually make them), you will love this episode.
- I’m recommending this to myself as much as to you: go shopping and try on types of clothes that you are interested in sewing. Don’t let yourself obsess over the fit or sizing of the clothes in the store. Focus on if you like that style and if you would be excited to make it and wear your version that you made. These days you can find a sewing pattern similar to most ready-to-wear styles. How many failed projects could we save ourselves from if we did this?
- I’ve been listening to The Innocence Mission a lot lately. They make great music to sew to. It’s like being in a quiet, magical world.