crafts · patterns · Sewing

Planning a cold weather wardrobe pt 1: tops

I try to purge my closet twice a year, before the volume of clothing I own gets to a critical point.  I have two main sources of clothing – either it’s handmade or thrifted.  This leads to a bit of closet stuffing sometimes!  I call over a friend, put on some fun music, break out the wine, and try on every single item in my closet.   I find that last part to be essential.  I can lie to myself about a garment when it’s on the hanger, but trying it on makes it obvious what I should do.  If I still can’t decide, it goes to my friend, who knows to be brutally honest.  This year I donated three large garbage bags full of clothing to Goodwill, including most of my older pairs of pants.  I’m planning to do a post every day this week talking about different parts of my wardrobe, giving some insight into how I plan things.

Today’s topic: Tops

Shirts are definitely the most neglected part of my wardrobe right now.  I spent the past year wearing dresses most of the time, but I’m looking to shake things up a bit.  I recently purchased some slim fitting ponte pants (Michael Kors) and skinny jeans that actually fit (from The Limited) and I want tunics and longer blouses that work with that silhouette.

The sad rack above is the extent of my top collection after my clean out.  Half of those shirts I don’t even love – I just kept them so I could have something to wear!  I do have more cardigans and sweaters of course, but I need both.  So for the next few weeks I plan to focus on tops, with the hope of increasing my collection a bit!  Here are my current plans:

Vogue 8634: Cowl necks work really well for my body type, but I’m picky about them.  I love either a separate cowl, or at least a separate piece used as the cowl (I find cowl necks where the cowl is part of the bodice front to be unflattering on me.)  It seems like everyone but me has made this top!  I plan to make the extra long length from gray/black striped jersey, purchased at Fabric Mart in their last big sale.

McCall’s 6203: I initially overlooked this pattern due to a bad envelope photo.  I changed my mind recently when I ran across Lisa’s version!  I totally stole her idea of using gray.  I haven’t seen anyone make this version, with the neck drape.  Round necklines aren’t as good on me, so I will likely make this one.  My fabric is from

Vogue 8731: I love this top – it’s simple, but the pleats are really interesting.  I’m using a crimson tencel jersey, which I have ordered from but not yet received.  When I decided to make some tops I realized I would have to buy fabric (a hardship, I know) because most of my knits are ITY.  I love ITY for dresses, but find it too heavy for most tops.  In this case, I’m pretty sure the weight of the fabric would pull the center pleats out of shape. said this was a lightweight jersey, and in my experience when they say that they mean it!

Vogue 8771: I love dolman sleeves.  I don’t like the other view of this pattern, which has  long tight cuffs below the sleeves (doesn’t work on me) but I like this one!  I have a metallic black jersey (poly/rayon/lurex blend) and plan to use that to make this top.


These tops are all knits, because I wear knit tops more often (ironing is not my friend,) but I did storyboard a few blouse patterns as well.  I have the idea that I could use up some fabrics which I love, but which are a bit much made into a dress.

Simplicity 2307: The fabric is a cotton shirting, purchased from Sawyer Brook, and originally from J. Crew.  I have had this for a year, and have been stumped as to how to use it.  I think an entire dress of this pattern would be too much, but perhaps a shirt?  This pattern has a stand up collar and little pinticks.  I chose it because it does not have princess seams, which would be impossible in this fabric.

McCall 6167: in stretch shirting.  The pattern is a smaller scale buffalo plaid.  I meant to make this last year, but ran out of winter!

Simplicity 2365: Ok, so… I know this print is insane.  I love it though.  The rayon itself is very slightly crinkled, so it doesn’ t need a lot of ironing – bonus!


So that’s it for my shirt sewing plans.  The knit tops are easy – I can easily make one in an evening.  The blouses are a little more complex, as I haven’t made a shirt before (I have made several shirtdresses, which I suppose are the same idea.)  I plan to cut these patterns tonight, and hopefully get one or two of them sewn on the weekend!  I will be back later with more sewing ideas.  My storyboards, as always, are in my flickr album, if you want to see all of them.





11 thoughts on “Planning a cold weather wardrobe pt 1: tops

  1. I’m going to love these posts as I’m about to purge my closet for a garage sale. My closet is overrun with tops and pants that I don’t wear. Just recently, I purged my entire closet just by looking through it (when you don’t even want to try an item on, you KNOW you don’t need it).

    I think a complete try-on of my closet is in order. And some wine! Definitely some win…

  2. I made a flannel top from Simplicity 6167, and if I’d added a few inches to the bodice length it’d be really cute. Unfortunately, I’m a little long-waisted and the thick fabric combined with the babydoll-style and the awkward length just didn’t work for me. I hope you have better luck and I can’t wait to see all of your tops!

  3. You have more tops planned right now than I own, total (not counting button down shirts)! Granted, I have a couple of Burda patterns stashed away for when I stumble across the perfect cheapcheap (<€5/m) nopoly jersey, because I really do need new tops too… By the sounds of it, though, you just donated more clothes than I've owned these past 5 years. 🙂

    Really looking forward to see what you do with the Vogue 8634 and McCall 6167.

  4. I know exactly what you mean. I’m hustling to sew some cold weather wear and noticed I’m a bit short on tops myself. I love your pics. I have alot of the same on my list. Can’t wait to see your:)

  5. Perfect timing, because I was planning to do a closet purge pretty soon, but I always waffle about throwing things out. I like your idea of using a friend to help me come to a decision. Maybe we’ll plan to do that this weekend so that I have space for the new shirts I’m planning to sew in the next few weeks.

    I think your wardrobe pieces will all be awesome, barring a bad pattern/fabric matchup or something. Can’t wait to see the completed wardrobe! 🙂

  6. I like your ideas for tops and blouses. Simplicity 2307 and 2365 looks the same to me. I have 2307 and will be waiting for you to make it to see the result! And I love your storyboards!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s