New Year, New Dressmaking Plans

This is a guest post from Jayne at Loopy Mabel’s Closet. Jayne is an avid stitcher who is creating her own handmade wardrobe one garment at a time. Follow her journey on her website The Dressmaker’s Closet  or on Instagram, Facebook or You Tube.

Planning your sewing projects

I don’t know what it is about the start of the year, but I always feel it’s time to plan my dressmaking projects for the months ahead.  It must be because it’s a new year, it always feels like a fresh start or a chance to re-evaluate the year before.  Either way it really makes me feel motivated and inspired to sit down and plan my sewing wardrobe.  It can’t just be me who feels this way, I’m sure it’s what every dressmaker does.  I just love the thrill of planning what sewing patterns I am going to choose and even better what fabrics I need.

New Fabrics

Mind you saying that it doesn’t have to be a start of a new year for me to choose new fabrics and projects!  I love this part of dressmaking, just as equally as the actual sewing part.

Sewing plans

But it’s the planning stage that really triggers my excitement. Just sitting down with a good old pen and note pad and some sewing magazines for inspiration.  I even love to scour Pinterest and Instagram for trends and ideas too.   I’m always on the hunt to find new sewing pattern companies, especially the smaller independent ones.

Although I am not a true follower of fashion as such, I do like to see what the upcoming trends are. This inspires me when creating my wardrobe.

I also love being part of this amazing friendly sewing community and there are some amazing talented dressmakers out there.  I am energised when I see what other stitchers have created. Especially when patterns have been hacked or adapted to create a unique look.  It may be a simple change to the length of a dress.  Using different fabric, or changing a sleeve.

But what really gets my enthusiasm is when a garment has been created simply by taking one pattern and adding separate parts from another to transform into something else. For example, taking the bodice off one, adding different sleeves and adjusting the length can create amazing results.

Creative Freedom

I just love the creative freedom dressmaking gives me.  Although I am still enhancing my own dressmaking skills, it’s so liberating to know that I can create, sew and wear what I want!  And I feel amazing!

Creating a handmade wardrobe

With this in mind, the planning stage is so exciting.  What patterns am I drawn to and what fabrics to choose.  What have I already got in my stash, how much yardage have I got and is it the right fabric composition for what I need.  If I need to purchase new fabric, what is my budget and where will I get if from.  There is quite a lot of information needed and the list could be quite easily endless!

Planning dressmaking projects

So, to help me plan my wardrobe and stay focused, because let’s be honest it’s so easy to be distracted by new patterns or new fabrics, I love to use my Makers Workbook and Garment Planner from PatternTrace.

Maker's workbook sewing planner UK

My Sewing Bible

My Maker’s Workbook has become my sewing bible and my go to reference book for any of my sewing projects both past and present.  Before I came across these amazing products, I used to jot down on scraps of paper or notepads, which always invariably ended up being either misplaced or thrown in the bin.

PatternTrace have really thought of everything when they designed the Makers Workbook.  Each book is ring bound so it stays open on the pages you want, with a sturdy front and back cover. There is even the option to number your journals because you won’t stop at one. It’s divided into four sections too. Projects, designing, planning and reference.

The Maker's Workbook sewing organiser

Keeping Notes

To start with there is the contents page which helps you to list up to 25 projects (shown above).

Each project covers two pages and include all the information you need to refer to during your project making. There’s even a section to add your fabric swatch. I love adding all the details and also any modifications I made.  This is valuable when coming to making a project again as I always like to make full use of my patterns and quite often like to make more than once. Especially when I find a pattern that I feel comfortable in and makes me feel amazing. That is just a great confidence boost when dressmaking. Because if I’m being honest not all my sewing makes have been a success.

It could be the style just does not suit me or the design just doesn’t work with my everyday wardrobe. But you don’t always know this until you make it. So, the journal is also a good reminder and a sort of diary of what worked and what didn’t work for me. That’s why I love keeping notes, swatches and verdicts of each garment I made. To top it all off there is even a different motivational saying on each page.

Sewing plans

It’s just become a great reference book and I know I can refer to it and use all the information that I made at the point of that project. It especially helps to know what size I used, any modifications that I made and what did I think of the fabric that I used. All this information can quite easily be lost and you sometimes can repeat the same mistake without realising. But now I have the journal to remind me.

Dressmaker's journal for planning sewing projects

Planning dressmaking projects

Fashion Croquis

Although I’m not a designer or artist by any means, I do still like to sketch outfits ideas that I have in my head. This really helps me when planning what it will look like. So, I love to use the design section which includes the fashion croquis.

I can literally go off into my own creative dream world, get out my Sharpie pens and just have a ball colouring in. Just to be a fashion designer in that brief moment.

Sewing notebook with croquis

My Neat Fabric Stash

The planning section allows me to keep a note of what I have in my fabrics – the colours the composition and the meterage. I love this idea because I like to keep my fabrics neatly folded on my shelf and then also know how much I’ve got by rest by referring to my journal.  Otherwise I would have to constantly unfold my fabrics to remind me of what I’ve got and whether it will work for my next project.

Tracking your fabric stash

Last But Not Least

And finally, the reference section includes useful information on what sewing machine needles are required for certain fabrics. There is also the metric and imperial conversion chart to which I always refer to because some patterns are in imperial and others are in metric.

Sewing reference guide in the Maker's Workbook

The journal has become an integral part of my dressmaking to me now and planning now and it totally works for all my sewing needs. I no longer have to worry about losing scraps of paper fabric swatches or having umpteen different note pads on the go as it’s all now kept neatly in my sewing journal.

Fabric Shopping List

Moving onto the garment planner, it’s a cute little A5 pad and it has all the information you would need when going out looking for patterns and fabric.

It’s basically a fabric shopping list.  You simply write down the pattern that you’re wanting to make, the size that you’re going to use and what fabric you are looking to use.

There is also a section for adding any notions or hardware you might need, like a zip or elastic.  This is really helpful because these are the things I often forget.

Garment planner notepad - sewing shopping list

Sewing Confidence

As my dressmaking confidence grows I find that I am experimenting more and looking to design my own garments.  By using the Planner and Journal it helps me to look over my sewing projects and identify what works and doesn’t work for me.  What fabrics were used, the drape, the sizing and the overall fit.  Did I do any modifications and what would I do differently if anything, next time. I just wouldn’t be without them now.

If you were like me, constantly losing scraps of paper and fabric swatches then I would highly recommend you give both these products a go.

Thanks for reading!


The Dressmaker’s Closet