Wardrobe Orphans

Hi everyone,

It’s Emma here from Emma and her Machine (@emmaandhermachine).

Right — let’s talk wardrobe orphans. You know, those “I just had to make it” garments which now lie forlorn in your wardrobe because you haven’t got anything to go with them? They become especially obvious during Me Made May. When you start thinking about wearing your me-made clothes everyday, you start to notice those gorgeous but lonely makes in the back of your wardrobe. Does anyone else have this problem?!

I’m a pattern obsessive and hardly ever make anything plain and last year, Me Made May really pointed this out for me. (That, and the fact that I have no me-made trousers, but that’s for another day!) Anyway, I find that I, and many of us, end up returning to our RTW wardrobes in order to match the brightly coloured/random/one-off, me-made garments. Here’s some of my own examples. All of the plain garments are RTW.

So… what can we do about it? I think that there are some wardrobe essentials that can really help us out here!

Are you a sucker for a brightly coloured skirt? Start thinking about making plain (gulp!) t-shirts or vests (that’s tank tops for the North Americans) to go with them. I personally don’t find making clothes with plain fabric very exciting, but the idea of having well-fitted, me-made clothes to match up is definitely exciting! You could make a versatile Cashmerette Montrose Top or a FREE Colette Sorbetto in black or white, or pick a colour you see in a lot of your skirts, such as blue. Gillian did some excellent posts some time back on finding your colour palette, which really helps narrow down which solid colours might be most useful!

Brightly coloured summer dresses stashed away? Make some long sleeve jerseys or vests to layer them up. Or make a cardigan in a plain but bright fabric. The Jenna Cardi by Muse is perfect to sit at the waist like Lucy’s from @styleandmake below; or Style Arc has lots of cardigan choices. This way you can get much more wear out of those bright, short sleeved lovelies even when the sun isn’t making an appearance.

I managed to get lots of sewing done over Easter and made my first cardi! I’ve been looking for some new cardis for summer in the perfect waist length to wear with dresses, but struggling to find the colours I want (proper yellow is especially hard to find!). I’m not much of a knitter, but I have been wanting to try the @musepatterns #jennacardi after seeing the gorgeous ones @amilliondresses made last year so I thought I’d give it a whirl. This is a test run in a cheap viscose jersey I bought on ebay, which is weirdly reversible and quite thick and shiny, but I’m still quite pleased with it! Need to make a few tweaks, then I think I’ll be making one to match each dress from now on 😂 After all, can I really call myself a #noveltyoutfitclub member if I don’t have a cardi to match every novelty print?! I think this could be a dangerous new obsession! #memadeeveryday #tiptoplikesodapop #emerydress

A post shared by Smile & Make – Lucy (@smileandmake) on

Is your vice a brightly coloured top? Birds? Hearts? Florals? It’s time to think what you would wear on the bottom half! What about a nice plain or denim skirt? There are so many tutorials on drafting your own skirt, which is what I tend to do. For pattern lovers, there is the Megan Nielsen Veronika Skirt; in a floaty black or pink, you’d be able to mix and match to your heart’s content.

Also perfect for matching bright tops is the Tilly and the Buttons Cleo. Made in a black or navy cord, you can wear most of your brightly coloured tops underneath and feel super trendy too, as Jill @merrymaking_sewing demonstrated! Mine gets SO much wear!

Or why not make Me Made May your chance to tackle jeans? This is something I’m currently in the process of at the minute, but I know lots of people have had success with the Closet Case Ginger Jeans. I am personally relying on an amazing YouTube tutorial by Mimi G for Simplicity.

Finally, what if you have lots of brightly coloured tops, skirts, dresses? Try a bit of colour blocking. Don’t be scared to put patterns together, chose colours which are similar, but otherwise just go for it! I’ve shared some Instagram favourites below! Pair up some of your wardrobe orphans and make a whole new outfit that you love! Don’t forget to share them over on our Instagram by using the hashtag #sewcialists and #sewcialistslove MMMay !

See you there for Me Made May, Sewcialists!


15 thoughts on “Wardrobe Orphans

  1. These are all adorable makes! I love color and prints, and I’m 61! LOL! I just bought some grey pin stripe for “plain” pants to go with my flouncy and very colorful tops!
    By the way a tank in the USA is sleeveless, and worn in very hot weather. (well unless you are menopausal like me, then you may throw one) We wear/make lots of short sleeve and long sleeve tshirts here. :o)
    Thank You for the fun post!

      1. pooh! The pinstripe fabric came today and it makes you dizzy to look at! Ack! Oh well a good project for stripes going in multiple directions! (too help cut down on the dizzy!) Going to have to go to the fabric store now to get a “light” inconspicuous grey pin stripe! Internet fabric shopping is so iffy!

  2. I used to make all the patterned things, including in quilting cotton, but recently I have been finding much more satisfaction from well-made plain items which I actually wear! But despite that, my most recent finished item is a (yet to be blogged) flowery sleeveless top. I’m not sure it’s going to get a lot of wear 😉
    By the by,loved your post. Nice going!

  3. I too am obsessed with patterned fabric. I have had plenty of orphan rtw clothes too haha. I made the effort to buy some rtw basics but still finding it hard to buy plain fabric over a pretty print!

  4. One way to make plain colours feel a bit more exciting to sew, is to think about textures. I got over my unwillingness to sew with plains by picking a Swiss dot cotton – plain white, but still spotty! Also falling for the silky feel of a plain black cupro. And there are tons of textured pontes and jerseys. Single colour doesn’t have to be plain!

    1. That’s definitely a good way of looking at it. I’ve seen some really nice plain viscose type fabrics recently which I imagine would be a pleasure to sew. The cupro is a really vibrant fabric too so that’ll be great to use!

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