Fall-Winter Sewing Plans

Thursday November 21, 2019

Since I started garment sewing in the fall of 2017, I’ve tried unsuccessfully to put together a seasonal sewing plan. I tried the Seamwork “Design your wardrobe” online course. I tried the yearly Make Nine challenge. I drew sketches and made lists. But in the end I couldn’t decide on a list or plan, much less stick to it. Ultimately I suspect I wasn’t ready to commit to a plan, as I wasn’t confident of my sewing abilities. But this fall I realized I actually had a plan, I just hadn’t articulated it. I looked at the fabric I bought recently and saw lots of olive green. I’ve been trying to make coordinating pieces that mix and match, and I noticed that the sketches I drew were of complete outfits — bottom, top, top layer and jacket/coat.

I wondered if I could combine those outfits into a plan or a mini capsule wardrobe. As someone who loves puzzles, I returned to something I’d tried before but abandoned — a wardrobe sudoku. The idea is to create a “sudoku” board of 4 rows and 4 columns with each row containing one top, bottom, accessory, and shoes to create an outfit. You end up with 10 outfits using 16 pieces (reading the rows, columns and 2 diagonals). Pattern Review had a sudoku contest and you can see what people made here. And here’s an explanation of how the sudoku wardrobe works.

In fall, winter and spring, I wear a top, a cardigan, a bottom, and, on errands and my afternoon walk, a jacket or coat. I don’t wear many accessories — jewelry or scarves, and my shoes are boring — sneakers when there is no snow and boots when there is. Since I’m interested in making/sewing, I decided on 4 categories I could make: top, bottom, top layer and jacket.

I knew that sewing 16 items wasn’t realistic for me, plus I wanted to make the outfits work with things that are already in my closet. So I picked 8 things to make, and 8 things I had already made or bought. I also wanted to pick both patterns I’ve made before as well as a few I haven’t, and to vary the complexity — easy knit tops and more time consuming button ups and coats. Here’s the grid, and below a list of the items. The cells in the grid with the yellow-ish background are things I’ve already made or bought.


  1. True Bias Nikko Turtleneck in olive wool jersey. I’ve made this top several times, so no fitting necessary. And a quick sew!
  2. Vogue 8772 button up in green/black plaid flannel. I made this shirt last year and wear it often with black jeans, but would like to have it work with other things in my closet
  3. True Bias Nikko Turtleneck in black/grey stripe wool jersey. I made this one earlier this fall.
  4. Vogue 8772 button up in navy. Since I’ve already made this pattern multiple times, there’s no fitting. But it is time consuming with collar and button & sleeve plackets (not to mention getting the sleeve head to fit nicely!)


  1. Vogue 9181 pants in olive green stretch twill: I haven’t had a lot of luck fitting pants — the back on the patterns I’ve attempted are a mass of wrinkles. But this pattern has 3 backs — so I’m hoping the curvy one will be more successful.
  2. Vogue 9181 pants in a stretch denim: see above.
  3. Self-drafted cropped black culottes. I took a pants fitting class last year, and these are the results — they are comfortable and since they are cropped they stay out of the snow when I run errands!
  4. Ready to wear midi wrap skirt in loden (dullish grey green). I really like this skirt but don’t wear it enough.


  1. Ready to wear cropped navy cardigan.
  2. Itch to Stitch Lisbon Cardigan in olive wool jersey. I’ve made this sweater before, so no fitting required, and mostly sewn on my serger (well, there are button holes!)
  3. Seamwork Elmira wrap cardigan in black jersey. I’d like to have a few layers that aren’t standard button up cardigans. This is a new pattern for me.
  4. Ready to wear cropped animal print grey/black cardigan. I’m not sure this goes with the other things in my grid, but I don’t wear this enough so thought I would give it a boost.


  1. Paola workwear jacket in navy denim. Made this fall — blog post here.
  2. Jalie Charlie Bomber Jacket in quilted black ponte, made earlier this year. Blog post coming.
  3. Mccall’s 6531 anorak in olive green twill with red zipper: This anorak is the most involved make on my list. It’s unlined, but realized after getting all the materials together that I really need a warmer jacket. So I’ll be lining this one.
  4. Hey June Evergreen Moto Jacket in olive green sweater knit. This is a new pattern for me.

First up is the Seamwork Elmira wrap top. Do you have sewing plans for this fall/winter?

Paola workwear jacket pattern review

Tuesday October 29, 2019

On my sewing list this fall is a navy jacket that I can use for layering. I wanted a utility-type jacket and decided to use a free pattern from the Fabrics Store, the Paola Workwear Jacket. It’s described as “featuring a straight boxy fit, four large patch pockets and flat-felled seams for sturdiness.” Here’s the technical drawing

Paola Workwear Jacket Tech Drawing

You can see other sewists’ makes of the jacket on instagram

I knew I was going to crop the jacket, so I made a muslin to check the length and the pocket placement. I made up a small based on the finished measurements (I’m 35 bust, 29 waist). After taking 5 inches off the bottom of my muslin, the 2 vertical pockets weren’t going to work — not enough space. So I drafted a larger pocket that would hold my phone. The other alteration I made was to add a seam down the back for a bit more interest.

I bought a dark navy brushed denim from Blackbird Fabrics, as well as an edge stitch foot for my sewing machine, to help with the double stitching on the pockets. I’ve not made jeans or done much top stitching, so I did some experiments before getting started. Coincidentally I read a post from Claire about making a denim jacket and she recommended hammering down the flat-felled seams before top stitching. This tip made my job much easier! On Instagram, someone mentioned she top stitches with a triple stitch and regular thread. I liked my experiments with that method — it made the top stitching, which matched the color of the jacket, stand out more than using top stitching thread. If I was using a contrasting color, my experiments told me to use a thread that matches the jacket in the bobbin and the contrast for the top color. This made the stitches stand out a lot more than using the contrast in the bobbin.

The instructions are spare but good, although the pattern pieces don’t mention cutting interfacing for the facings and collar, but the instructions assume you’ve cut & applied them.

Here’s my jacket in action:

I’m pleased with the buttons I found on ebay — they are navy with a what looks like top stitching around the edge.

One more picture: