Thoughts on colour palettes, planning, and sensible sewing

Hello, fellow sewers. Hopefully a bit of discussion post here: what do you do – dress for fashion, or dress to what suits you? A combination of both? And what do you make? Do you plan your handmade items? I was cleaning out my wardrobe earlier today and started noticing the types of clothes I wear, the types of clothes I wish I wore more, and the types of clothes I have made.

My wardrobe, in all its colourful glory.
My wardrobe, in all its colourful glory.

When clothes shopping, I’ve always gravitated towards bright colours, and pinks and reds have been dominant in my wardrobe for years. During uni, I would often wear layers of brightly coloured clothes and I barely had any black or white in my wardrobe at all. People expected bright colours on me, and it felt like my thang; I felt happy in them. In the last few years, I’ve started thinking there may be such thing as “too much colour” and have recently developed a bit of a crush on neutral-coloured clothing. When is it time to “grow out of” colours? Is there such a time? I’ve only recently realised that the garments I have sewn are not neutral at all – I’ve made bright green, bright pink, bright florals… Two of my more recent makes (not yet blogged) are the first time I’ve settled into more wearable colours – a pale blush dress with a little lace bolero, and a cream/navy skirt. I already immensely prefer these two items over everything else in my handmade collection!

A recent make in a gentle colour, which I love.
Another recent make, also with a friendly colour palette!

Earlier this year I went on a bit of a shopping spree at H&M (shame, I know) and it really hit me that neutrals, creams and other pale colours were all the rage. I bought a grey top, a pale pink top, a beige beanie, light-wash jeans… I probably look “fashionable” when I wear them, but also probably kind of washed out. The fact is, I have light skin, I don’t tan, and pale washy colours just don’t look great on me. I like the idea of lovely neutrals – cream and beige and a touch of grey, black and white here and there, simple and elegant and surely you can never go wrong… but I have always avoided wearing them because I’ve so often been told “oh, Katy, red is Your Colour!”. Then again, is there an argument that neutrals can look good on anyone? Are they always tasteful, no matter what? Or is it just a current fad?

Neutral garments - safe, stylish or boring?
Neutral garments – safe, stylish or boring?

I guess the point I am trying to make is, I’m now trying to be sensible about what I sew. The first few garments I made, well, I simply don’t wear them anymore. I actually dislike them. I guess they have served their purpose in teaching me certain techniques, so it’s not so bad if I never wear them again. Recently, I’ve planned only to make things that look like the kind of thing I would buy if I saw it in a shop – and I usually only buy things if I really, really like them (apart from my H&M splurge where I wanted some basics). Hence, my sewing has consisted mainly of “Hmm, I would really like a new X for Y event. I’ll make it”, and that’s been good. I no longer want to spend my time sewing items of clothing that I simply won’t wear. I also want my handmade clothes to look less, well, “homemade”. I think avoiding bright crazy prints is definitely one way to do that.

Early makes - no longer worn (if ever worn), and largely disliked!
Early makes – no longer worn (if ever worn), and largely disliked!

As the second part of this “smart sewing” resolution of mine, I have decided to limit myself to sewing with what I have in my (small) stash and really making the most of it. It’s good – it leads to decluttering and using up old bits of perfectly good fabrics. Seeing unused pieces makes me feel guilty for wanting to spend money on something more useful. So if I use it up, I can justify buying more. And when I do buy more, I’ll be sure to have planned the project first instead of just buying crazy bright colours because I’m drawn to them in the fabric shop but will probably never wear.

Some fabrics that I want to use up. Bigger, more useful pieces on the top, and smaller scrips and scraps down the bottom.

I did up a little plan of my next few sewing projects, and worked out how I am going to use up what I have. I guess this is a sort of pledge – if I write it down here, then I have to stick to it 😉

Immediate sewing plans. I must finish these before I buy new fabric!
Immediate sewing plans. I must finish these before I buy new fabric!

Of course, there are some pieces that I just can’t think of what I might make with them, so they might stay in the stash. Or get donated. When and where and how am I going to wear bright green gingham? And of course, there will be a couple of exceptions to only using stash fabric – I have a bridesmaid dress coming up that I will need to buy fabric for – but overall I am really determined to diminish my old stuff before planning new stuff. Ultimately, I would love to have a wardrobe that consists almost entirely, if not completely, of handmade items. I know that’s a long, long way off, and would certainly take a lot of planning, but I believe it’s possible. It’s just about being smart with my sewing. How do you plan your makes? Are you torn between sewing for fashion or simply sewing in your favourite colours? Do you make things and never wear them? What about the time of year – do you let the seasons define your wardrobe colour palette? Please, share. I’d love to know how you do it 🙂 Katy xx

14 thoughts on “Thoughts on colour palettes, planning, and sensible sewing

  1. i dont really plan on anything unless its an event then i would buy fabric for that., your planning is really smart and i might copy yours., i mostly sew everyday clothes., like shorts, tank top and stuff like that and im planning to make my own uniform for work., and i love making dark color clothes because i like it and i feel comfortable in it., i think whatever color your happy with then go for it., make your own fashion., you dont need to go to whatever other people is raging., as long as your happy with what you wear then thats the real fashion

    1. Hi, thanks for your comment! I absolutely agree that we should wear whatever colours we feel comfortable in. It was so interesting for me to realise I’ve moved away from bright colours as being my first preference to wear, but I still tend to make these items up until recently – It’s like my sewing is only now catching up with what I actually want to be wearing! Do you find that you wear a lot of your handmade clothes?

      1. i do wear a lot of what i sew., specially because im in a foreign country where the clothes that is sold is not my body type., plus i make it custom to my curves and size., and now that i have a faughter ive been making small dresses whenever i get a chance., plus it makes us unique too.,

        1. Yes, I see so many adorable little girl dresses on your blog. It would be great to see more of the clothes you make for yourself too! Thank you for sharing!

  2. It sounds like you’ve really clarified your approach to sewing, which I think means you will end up making more useful items that you will want to wear and keep wearing. I’m much more haphazard, buying fabric because I like it then arbitrarily marrying it up with a pattern that takes my fancy. It is nice when you identify and fill a gap in your wardrobe with a handmade item. Love your notebook with the scraps of fabric 🙂 Maybe something I should try for autumn/winter?

    1. Hi Camilla! Yes, I’m really hoping that I will start making useful items now. Otherwise it seems such a waste of time, money, and space! But like I said, if I learnt something in the construction of that garment then I guess it’s not all been a waste 🙂 I really like having the little plan in the notebook – it helps me focus and stay motivated when I lose my sew-jo. Nice to know if it works for you too! Thanks for your comment 🙂

  3. I’m a colour whore. I have been having an inner struggle for years to try and buy or make things in more sensible muted colours to stop me looking like a children’s TV presenter but regularly fail. At least a lot of what i make are dresses so matching up outfits is relatively easy.

    1. Hi Lesley, thanks for your comment 🙂 Yay, another colour whore! Haha. If you love it, though, it’s all good! It’s only a problem when you find yourself yearning for more muted colours when all you have is bright, fun stuff. Do you find that you wear all of your handmade items?

      1. I wear most of them at some time or other. i do need to make more casual stuff – I wish I had the balls to wear a ballgown to work but sadly I don’t think I could carry it off.

  4. Really interesting post Katy. I certainly don’t sew to follow fashion but generally stick to things I know will be wearable. However …… I can have my head turned by a fabric and end up with something that looks fine but stays in the wardrobe because it doesn’t go with anything else. Good luck with working through your stash. I’m often saying that I’m going to do that but it’s never going to happen!

    1. Hi Jane 🙂 I do think that’s part of the joy of being a sewer – you are totally allowed to have your head turned by the pretty fabric and create something really awesome and unique because you have the skills and the passion… the trouble for me then is deciding whether it was worth the effort when it hangs lonely and unused in the wardrobe! Perhaps as my skills get better and I create better quality garments I’d be less inclined to dislike the unworn ones as much… I’m interested in how you generally only sew things you know will be wearable though – that suggests some element of planning and thinking ahead! That’s where I’d like to be headed from now on. Thanks for your comment! x

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