How to make your handmade wardrobe more wearable? (Part 1)


It’s no wonder that I am in need of a major closet purge, once again. I do sew a lot and accumulate a lot of garments that fill up my closet space. Many of them are hardly worn and I ask myself why I haven’t worn them. I decided to dedicate a series of blog posts on how to make smarter choices when choosing the patterns, materials and techniques for your handmade wardrobe to avoid spending time and money on garments you never wear.

What can I learn from my successes and my failures?

If I compare the garments that I wear to the ones that I don’t, can I find common traits why a garment works for me or why it doesn’t?


Let’s list a few examples of successful garments:


I made it with care and I made sure that it fitted well. The style is classic and the coat suits for the Finnish climate. It goes with almost every outfit imaginable and makes me look instantly polished.

Diana blouse by In House Patterns with a self-drafted skirt.

This wasn’t a very long make and while it lacks a lining it can be worn with a slip. The pattern is classic and goes with many different kinds of tops. The only minus is that I have to iron it to wear it.

Sew Over It Penny dress.

I spend a lot of time pattern matching and finishing all the details carefully. The colour and the pattern is just my style and the fit is perfect. The elasticated waist and the wide skirt makes this dress also super comfortable. Although this is a vintage-inspired pattern it is not too costumey.


Then some not so successful garments (I admit that this is a polished list since there surely are some garments that never made it to the blog…):


I did make quality work with this one. However, the colour looks awful with my pale skin tone. Also, I can only wear it on hot summer days, so the number of days I could wear it is quite limited.


Already as I published this make I said that this jacket looks better from the inside than from the outside. It is just too weird and costumey with the fabric, brass buttons and puffed shoulders. Also, it is too tight at the waist.

Image: Named clothing Stella raglan shirt.

The idea of this blouse is to play with combining sporty raglan-cut and drapey and luxurious satin. I chose a fabric that was too stiff for this shirt. My added design choice (the piping) emphasizes the stiffness and adds to the sporty look. The shirt ends up looking like a failed 80s windbreaker jacket.

Advance 7701 vintage wrap top, front view.

This fabric stretches all over the place. The seams do not stay straight and sometimes the inside parts become visible showing the serged seams. I have much better looking RTW cardigans so why would I wear this?

There are certainly some common traits with these and some other failed makes. Mostly I could summarize the fails by saying that I did not put enough thought into the process while making them. I was in a rush, wanted to make something quickly and used a material that I happened to have whether or not is suited to the project. I do buy a lot of factory remnants and cheap fabrics and I should be more careful when selecting the fabrics – cheap-looking materials do not improve when sewn up into a garment. If I had made smarter choices I would have made fewer garments but they would have been better quality and more wearable.

In the next blog post in this series, I will make a list of 10 questions one should ask before starting a new sewing project. Subscribe to follow me and receive a notification on my future blog posts!

Thank you for reading and happy sewing!






  1. Laura - The Final Stitch

    Yes! I can totally relate to this. I really have the same problem, with the added factor that for some reason, I rather make something with the cheapest fabrics in my stash. When I mess something up with a cheap fabric, it’s not that bad I tell myself. But in reality, I don’t have time to make 1 or 2 muslins from a bad fabric before I start in my actual fabric..

    Also, what about dying the first dress you mention as a ‘failure’? I looks great to me!

    21 . Jun . 2018
  2. PsychicSewerKathleen

    I just have to put in a vote for your lovely linen dress that you’ve found a little pale on your skin and too cool for the cooler weather in Finland 🙂 I love this dress so much (as I’m sure you do too!) I would A) dye it! it wouldn’t be hard to just dye it a darker colour – ie navy dye would turn this light pink a deeper blue/purple which would suit you perfectly) and/or make it a jumper whereby you wear a Tee underneath which is a better colour for you 🙂 I wouldn’t give up on this piece – it’s just so nice! I think as sewists we all make similar mistakes…picking just the right fabric for a pattern is tricky business 🙂

    21 . Jun . 2018
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  5. Jessica Auton

    I *love* your linen dress. I’d wear it layered with a darker top in your tones underneath and / or maybe a little neck scarf or cardigan and coordinating tights. This is a great post though, I have lots of fabric I’ve bought then look at thinking I will never actually wear anything made out of it!

    06 . Jul . 2018

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