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Sewing Garments You’ll Actually Wear

Do you have a blog, maybe numerous blogs, bookmarked on your computer that you visit very very regularly? Despite all the other blogs bookmarked, your mouse somehow scrolls to this particular blog and clicks on it? A year ago, this blog for me was A Cup of Jo. I say this with all nicety but it wasn’t even a good blog. Joanna, the writer behind A Cup Of Jo, wrote nothing profound or earth shattering but what she wrote was personal. I didn’t read her words, I listened to them as if she was speaking them to me over a cup of coffee or tea. Now, that blog for me, although for different reasons is A Good Wardrobe. Lizz, the lovely lady behind A Good Wardrobe, was the first blogger to ask me to guest post. “Me?” I thought when I read her email. She wanted ME to write on HER blog? I’m nobody special; I’m a simple lady who has an unusual liking for sewing and pattern making. Needless to say, I accepted her offer to guest post and had so much fun writing a tutorial on slashing and opening. It was such a hit that it was featured on Craftsy’s website. To show how lovely a lady she is, Lizz wrote a thank you email a couple of days after my post was published just to thank me. This is why time and again, even today, I continue to read and follow her and her blog.

So today, I introduce Lizz of A Good Wardrobe as she give tips on how to create and sew garments you will actual wear. After reading her tips, be sure to check out her and her blog. Just like the last two guest posters, I know you will love her as much as I.

There’s something magical about a hand sewn wardrobe! For the past year, I’ve been on a quest to sew a wearable wardrobe and have learned quite a lot along the way. While there’s no way to ensure that your creations will get used, the following tips have helped me sew garments that I actually wear.

Take a hint from your closet laundry basket

A great way to find out what you’ll wear, is to look at what you’re wearing. No, I’m not talking about your sweatpants and t-shirts but I am talking about those pieces that you constantly grab. While you can certainly recreate pieces that are wearing out, you’ll also want to pay attention to the style lines, fabric, and colors of these garments as these can give you indications of what new items you should be creating.

Work within a color palette

Try to keep things simple and choose a palette under five colors. While this may seem restricting, there’s actually a lot of freedom that comes with working with a color palette. Pick colors that complement and expand your existing wardrobe. If you have a lot of basics in navy blue, why not try adding hot pinks, minty blues, and bright greens into the mix.

Plan outfits for your new garments

Planning outfits is a great way to see if your creations will get a lot of use. Sometimes I go out on a limb and try combinations I’ve never seen before. Other times, I pull inspiration from fashion blogs, magazines, tv/movies and people on the street. By paying close attention to what is being paired with the garment, I can look to see if I have similar items in my own closet. If I don’t, there’s a good chance that this garment won’t go well with my existing clothes.

Sew for your lifestyle

Knowing what clothes fit into your lifestyle can mean the difference between sewing something that gets worn and something that languishes in the back of my closet. While I love to create dresses, in reality, I’m much more likely to throw on some pants and a blouse. This doesn’t mean that  I’ve stopped making dresses but now I put a limit on the number I create. Knowing your lifestyle doesn’t just pertain to the type of clothes. It’s important to think about caring for the fabric you’ve chosen. If you don’t want to spend the time hand washing or the money dry cleaning, choose fabrics that can be easily thrown into the washing machine.

Choose the right fabric for the design

Just last week I finished a darling blouse only to realize the fabric hung like a potato sack on me. We’ve all been there! Your fabric choice can make or break a project so it’s important to consider how the weave and weight will affect the design.

It’s all about fit

There’s nothing better than a perfectly fit garment. While it can be frustrating to learn how to fit patterns as a beginner, taking an effort can go a long way. Make a muslin, get a buddy, and give it a go. In time, fitting a garment will feel like second nature… at least I keep telling myself this!

Take your time

Over and over, I hear sewists say that they love a garment more when they’ve taken their time to make it. Although it’s easy to get carried away and rush towards the finish, taking your time can prevent mistakes. Train yourself to put the garment down before you get too tired! Taking your  time can also mean not cutting corners. I’ve certainly been guilty of taking the easy way out only to be disappointed with the results. When you’re proud of your garment, you are far more likely to pull it from the closet to show the world!

I hope these tips were helpful! If you’ve had success in creating garments that you actually wear, please share your secrets below. Happy sewing!




  1. Reply


    Thanks Lizz! These are all such great tips. I’m trying to keep these in mind as I start to plan my summer wardrobe.

    • Reply


      Thanks, Sallie! I can’t wait to see what you have planned. I absolutely love what you made this spring.

  2. Reply


    This was exactly what I needed to read, thank you! I am trying to rebuild my wardrobe into one that contains primarily garments I will use. I’ve been enjoying both of your blogs, Lizz and Madalynne.

    • Reply


      Thank you, Meris!

  3. Reply


    These are great tips Liz!! After making a few skirts and dresses, I realized I really do wear jeans and tops every day. As much fun as it is to make a skirt or dress, they end up hanging in the closet and rarely seeing the light of day. Sad. And I’ve found I don’t even have tops that go well with the skirts… that certainly doesn’t help their chances of being worn. But I’m trying to focus on practical tops now. And it really is very satisfying to sew something that I can actually wear ALL THE TIME. Now to work on the fitting part… I can’t wait to look back in a year and see how far I’ve come in my sewing and fitting skills. Thank you for practical inspiration Liz 🙂

    • Reply


      Yes, it can be a little sad when you realize all that hard work stays in the closet. I hope that your tops will bring to life some of those skirts though!

  4. Reply

    Jessica @ Running With Scissors

    great things to think about, especially limiting the color palate. Thanks!

    • Reply


      This is the one I struggle with the most but it really does make a huge difference when I do!

  5. Reply


    good tips! i have found that doing the colette palette challenge with a limited number of colours has really focused me on what i want to make to make sure i have things to wear together. however as a new sewist i am mainly working on tops and dresses, partly because dresses are the thing i find difficult to buy off the peg (i’m quite tall and longwaisted), and partly as i feel trousers, which i wear quite a lot will be harder to fit. but i am going to try!

    • Reply


      There is absolutely nothing wrong with making dresses! Sometimes looking at your dirty laundry can be misleading – all it takes is the right fit to bring certain garments back to the rotation!
      You bring up a really good point, Joanne! Joining online challenges like Me-Made-Month or the Colette Palette Challenge can help to motivate us to sew with intent and pull those garments out of the closet.

  6. Reply


    Excellent post – great tips! (some of these I’m just learning myself) 🙂

    • Reply


      Thanks, Chris!

  7. Reply


    I really like the switch from looking in your closet to looking in your hamper – my closet has all the things I rately wear, but the hamper has everything I wear most, which I think is extremely important to assess when deciding on pieces to sew. Awesome post!

    • Reply


      Yes, taking a real look at what you wear most can really help when deciding on what to sew. Thanks, Burke!

  8. Reply


    Great post, Lizz! I love the ‘plan outfits’ section. That’s a great idea. I think what I wear has changed a lot since I started sewing. I used to be a jeans and tees girl and now I LOVE wearing dresses. I think it’s because I can make them inexpensively and they now fit well.

    • Reply


      Stephanie, this is a great point! It’s really easy to get stuck in a rut with our style and not give certain garments a chance. It’s important to step outside of our comfort zone – some of my favorite garments that I’ve made this year are pieces that I would never have bought in the store. Sometimes all it takes is the right fit to breathe life into a dismissed style.

  9. Reply


    Great post! Similarly, I took a long hard look at my wardrobe last week and have been trying to do the same thing.

    • Reply


      I wish you sewing success, Janice!

  10. Reply

    Sky Turtle

    I love your post. It’s so true what you say, starting from fabric, fit, adding colour and looking at what you wear to know what to make.

    • Reply


      Thanks, Ina!

  11. Reply


    Oh no, my hamper is full of workout gear and jeans. I better get on the jeans-making, hehee! These are good tips, Liz, and I love your inky illustrations!

    • Reply


      Oh gawd… mine would have me sewing underwear! It’s best not to take me too literal 🙂
      Thanks, I’ve been doodling on the ipad recently! I was kind of frustrated when I was coming up with photos for this post and thought these would be fun.

  12. Reply


    Great post! I never would have thought to look at what I already wear when figuring out what to make. Thanks so much for sharing your tips!

    • Reply


      The laundry tip was my favorite

    • Reply


      I’m so glad you found it helpful!

  13. Reply


    Such good advice, thank you! I’m definitely guilty of wanting to make lots of dresses, instead of the separates I usually wear. Although the solution might be to wear more dresses….

  14. Reply


    Great post! I’ve always thought about sewing my own clothes, but always thought it was too much work. Now I’m beginning to re–consider it. Bookmarking… 🙂

    • Reply


      It does take work and consideration but you’ll look pulled together and chic every day

  15. Reply


    great post lizz–especially the hamper part. the hamper always knows.

    • Reply


      the hamper is a smart little one indeed!

  16. Reply

    Tina C.

    These are great tips! After living abroad (in India) for a year and not buying any new clothing for the past two years, I’m in desperate need of a new wardrobe. Add to that the fact that I am not BUYING any new clothing–only making–and that I’ve been sewing for real only since the beginning of this year and I’m in a bit of pickle! For me, (re)building a wardrobe right now is more about staple pieces vs. frivolous pieces. I need things that are timeless and can transition between seasons vs. look really pretty.

    • Reply


      Amen, sister. You’re on the right track. I feel the same way about having the urge to buy new clothes but I believe it’s so ingrained in us that we always need something new. What about what we have?

  17. Reply


    LOL i had to giggle at the hamper part; it looks like i should be sewing PJ’s and yoga pants! hahaha!!

    It’s definitely been awesome for me trying to learn to sew things that fit properly so that I can open my style up to more possibilities; my current wardrobe is so limited because of the terrible fit I get from RTW. The down side of that is having TOO many possibilities to sew, and as such, I think your idea of planning outfits is very sound. It’s easy to get carried away when you’re starting from scratch and smart to have a plan in mind before going all crazy 🙂

  18. Reply


    The hamper tip is genius! I’ve been sewing lots of dresses lately, and I love dresses. But they need to be dresses I can get around the city in, not wearing high heels. (I’ve done my time trying to be a high high heel lady, and I’ve finally decided I’m done with that!) So, looking in my hamper, need tees/blouses, jeans/trousers, workout gear, underthings. Ha! All on my spring/summer list, all unsewn.

    ps – what’s the app you’re using for your doodles? love.

  19. Reply


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