How to plan a summer capsule
The weekend long read.
There's something very unsatisfying with the fashion industry and the way that it functions. Our clothes are mostly designed by someone anonymous and manufactured thousands of miles away from us by someone else anonymous and then it hangs in a store until you or me or the next person picks it up and buys it. We're so far removed from the entire process, we're just consumers at the end of the line. And I guess that's why a lot of people reading this are already making their own clothes.
I think that sewing the clothes you wear has an element of power in it. It's about deciding how you want to feel in your clothes and taking it into your own hands - literally. Instead of being distantly removed from a garment until you're clothed in it, you become the centre of the entire making process.
Recently with my own work I've been wanting to zoom out a little in terms of how I present clothes to the world. I want to see if I can focus on creating a mini capsule rather than single garments. As many flaws and challenges as the fashion industry has, this is one thing I really do miss - designing a collection as a whole that's made up of individual pieces with their own personalities. A collection that works together to give you a well rounded body of work - much like an album or an exhibition.
My favourite job in the world is to sit with a pile of fabric swatches and curate a range that goes well together in terms of colour, texture, garment design and function. It's a very fulfilling way to design and if you're doing this with your own wardrobe in mind, it's the most 'waste free' way to make a sewing list for yourself.
I found it hard to imagine presenting a fully made collection to my audience when this business is all about the making and not the consuming. It felt strange to show you a mini capsule of finished pieces that I made ahead of presenting them, in the same way the usual fashion cycle works.
So instead, I'm going share the entire process openly. As I go through each step of designing and making a mini summer capsule collection I'll share photos, reflections and ideas.
In a way we'll be reversing the fashion industry and presenting a journey of ideas rather than finished products to buy. This is a bit of an experiment and I’ll be interested to see how it works.
To start the process, in this email I’ll be talking about how I'm choosing fabrics and colours along with selecting the patterns and any hacks I'm planning. I hope the journey over the next couple of months is interesting... I'm excited to get started!
My Design Process
As I mentioned above I absolutely love to sit with a pile of fabric swatches and choose the mood of a collection. This is always my starting point. The hours spent sitting and trying combinations of texture and colour are the most enjoyable part of making a collection.
A collection is made up of different garments with different functions and so it's important to have a variety of weaves and weights with your fabric choice. Colour aside, you want to think practically about the kind of garments you want to make. I find the more varied the weights of the fabric the more functional the collection will feel. Opposing textures help to give things a modern feel, for example a crisp jacket with a more textured shirt will feel a little more slick than two or three garments with the same texture.
One of the most common worries with sewing your own clothes is how to choose fabrics. If you're totally new to sewing clothes I recommend start by going into some of your favourite clothing stores and make a mental note of the fabrics they've used for certain garments. This isn't to copy but to get your brain used to pairing a design with a specific fabric. If might help if you go straight from the clothing shop to a fabric shop to have it fresh in your mind.
For this mini capsule I started by looking at what I already had in my own fabric stash. I cut swatches from each length of fabric to begin the pairing process. Once I had sorted them a little I then took the swatches to the fabric shop with me and compared potential new fabrics with options I already had.
The palette I settled on has a range of colours and tones and I think it's really nice to have at least one bold colour and one pattern - in this case it's a stripe. Without either one of these swatches below the range doesn't look right and that's how you know you've nailed your combination.
The palette I settled on is the one below. It has a bit of everything - varying textures, weights and colours and the whole set feels interchangeable.
In the process of choosing fabrics I always have a couple of key design ideas in mind. Usually the collection will form around one main design and with this mini collection it was a Celia Dress with a hacked skirt. I imagined a light coloured linen and I found this buttery yellow which I loved. This has become the centre point of the collection.
From there I build out the designs and the second piece I had in mind was pink shorts made from the Daphne Trouser pattern. I plan to make it exactly as it is but with added belt loops (which will potentially be in a contrast colour).
I also quite easily settled on a Classic Shirt with short sleeves in linen. I plan to play with finishing the hem with bias binding instead of a standard hem after hearing a couple of other people finishing it like this.
Next up I wanted a simple, sleeveless summer blouse. I have some offcuts of white linen I'm hoping to squeeze a Cara Top out of - I'll potentially leave it collar-less and crop the length in short and square.
To make sure this is a functional mini capsule collection it needs a jacket. This red cotton will pack some punches. I plan to use the Potters Jacket pattern without the lining and potentially play with some patch pocket shapes. This design might change over the coming weeks and I'm already not keen on the covered button pinned to the board below.
And last but not least, what is a capsule collection without some Worker Trousers? If I have time I'll add a pair of denim workers and I'll most likely choose a thick topstitching thread and metal trimmings to go with it.
I'll be sharing each garment over coming weeks and talking about how I made it, hacks to think about and tips for making your own. At the end of the process I'll see how the range looks together as a collection and I'll potentially pack the whole lot in a suitcase for a weekend away - the ultimate test.
If you'd like to sew your own capsule collection along with me you can do so! Choose your own 5 patterns and get one for free with the code 'YOUR-CAPSULE'.