If you’ve been around the group for a minute, you know how I feel about capsules! I love putting them together, and I love how easy it makes getting put together for work. I did a professional capsule for the Sew, What Do I Wear? Professional Edition Blog Tour a few years ago that I still love, so I’m sharing the details over here instead of just my own poor neglected blog! I also have several more casual capsules to show you that could be worn in many work settings, especially if you’re teleworking but want to feel like you’ve officially gotten dressed for the day.
The easiest part of a capsule for me is always the actual garment construction; the hardest for me is always choosing fabric and patterns! If you read the planning post from our 2018 Spring Capsule contest, you have a pretty good idea of how I plan my mini capsules. There are also tips on yesterday’s contest intro post, however, I’ll include some information here on how I designed these capsules!
Capsule # 1
This particular professional capsule was designed with cooler weather in mind, but you could definitely modify some of the patterns/options for warmer weather. There are pieces that can be worn in the work place, as well as out and about on the weekends. I know lots of people ask what sort of me-made outfits make appropriate work attire; I’m happy to share some of my favorite options with you! For this one, I also made a no-floral rule (), and set a goal of including at least two woven patterns.
As in the past, I chose my two busiest fabrics first. The diamonds are a double brushed polyester spandex from Love Adore (their beloved founder, Kim, passed away a few months after I ordered this. I don’t believe Kim’s family is selling fabric any longer). The animal print is a rayon spandex from Sly Fox Fabrics.
After I chose my two busy prints, I decided to stick to mostly neutral colors with just a little pop of color. I picked a bright blue knit (I think it was a french terry blend) from a clearance sale at Knitpop, and a blush pink chiffon from a big box fabric store.
The remainder of my fabrics were a variety of neutrals, including a great dark gray yoga knit (also from Knitpop), a gray and white striped rayon spandex, a gorgeous sweater knit from Sincerely Rylee, and solid black double brushed polyester.
After fabrics, I planned out which patterns I wanted to use. I usually plan 3 tops, 3 bottoms, and 3 layers, but I strayed from that a little this time for a total of 12 pieces. The two things I considered when choosing patterns for a professional setting were neckline for tops, and length for dresses/skirts. I find many of Patterns for Pirates and Made for Mermaids patterns to be work appropriate, but always check with your individual employer/existing dress code before you plan your own professional wardrobe.
One last thing to consider if you’re working on a capsule over a longer period of time is to take your measurements multiple times, especially if you usually hover between two sizes, and definitely before you cut woven pattern pieces since you don’t have the wiggle room you do in a knit pattern. I’m SO glad I measured again before I cut out my woven pieces; since I worked on this capsule over a period of two months, my measurements changed just enough that if I cut my “normal” size I would’ve been unhappy! I still went with the same size for the knits I had already cut out/finished, but definitely consider measuring frequently!
Dresses – Isabel, Quinn, Mya, Nina, Brunch Blouse
Women’s Isabel is true love for me because of how versatile it is. I love the option to wear it as a dress, a long cardigan, or over/under other skirts and tops. My fall capsule had several different ways to wear Isabel, but one of my favorites is wearing it as a cardi. I made this one with 3/4 sleeves and dress length tulip hem.
One of the two woven patterns I included for this capsule was a dress length Women’s Quinn, made in a cream chiffon with a lace (non-stretch) trim.
This was a great way to provide a higher neckline and more coverage at the hemline without needing a ton of layers. Depending on your specific dress code, an infinity scarf is another great way to work with lower necklines! This hemline may still be a little short for your work place, but both Isabel and Quinn can certainly be altered to have more length! Quinn would also make a great cami-style blouse to wear under cardis, but the chiffon I used was a little too sheer to wear like that!
The Brunch Blouse was the other woven pattern I knew I HAD to make. I had this beautiful blush chiffon in my stash left over from my fall capsule, and later ordered these rose gold sequins from Etsy to use as accent pieces. The finishing touch was two rose gold buttons I found. The Brunch Blouse is just perfect in dress length. Quinn also worked great as a slip underneath this, too! I also tucked the dress into the Pencil Skirt, because you know I like my clothes to pull double duty. I made this Blouse with the dolman short sleeve, dress length, with cuffs and button tabs.
Of course, I couldn’t just make ONE Mya, so I made a second in dress length in this gray knit that I believe came from Knitpop . This might not be dressy enough for all work places, but the length and neckline are both great if you have a less formal dress code. I loved the knot detail on the Kourtney, so I added that to Mya to give it a little something.
Finally, I made a Nina in a black stretch velvet, with a stretch lace neckband and trim. I know winter comes with plenty of Holiday parties, concerts, dinners, plays, and all sorts of other events, so I wanted to make an outfit that could be worn to work, but also to those types of events (and around the house just for fun, because stretch velvet ). For this version, I shortened the back so the hi-low hem is less drastic.
As a side note – when you’re not quite in love with something you’ve made, make sure you try it on COMPLETELY before you throw in the towel. This velvet Nina looked awful when I tried it on with my wild mom-bun and bare feet, but I liked it so much more once I tried it on again with a pair of shoes and jewelry that I would actually wear with it if I were going out in public and not just back down the hall to my sewing studio.
Tops – Tara, Mya
I LOVE the Mya pattern. It’s one of my most used patterns. It’s a quick and easy sew; even though it’s casual enough to wear with jeans or leggings on the weekend, it can still work in a professsional setting. I made this one in a light gray & white striped rayon spandex. I used tunic length and 3/4 sleeves, with no height adjustments.
Tara is another quick sew, with a drape detail that gives it just enough of a boutique-feel; I feel like it doesn’t get nearly the recognition it deserves!! This Tara is a lightweight sweater knit from Sincerely Rylee Fabrics. I LOVE the coziness of the sweater knit paired with heels and some chunky jewelry! I also love Tara in mesh.
Bottoms – Peg Leg Leggings, Pirate Pencil Skirt, SOS Pants
The Pencil Skirt is one of my favorites because it’s so quick to make, and always looks so classy and timeless.
The skinny SOS Pants were much easier than I anticipated. If you must know, I did accidentally sew the front pockets on to the back (don’t even ask how that happened – I still don’t know!!), but was able to fix my sewfu (get it? Like a snafu? ) without too much trouble. I love that they look like dress pants, but are comfortable enough that they feel like sweats. I used a yoga-style waistband folded over once on mine, but the pattern calls for elastic in the waist band.
Last but not least, basic black Peg Leg Leggings to pair with the dresses when it gets cold out again! I know a lot of employers have banned leggings without sufficient booty coverage, so I personally wouldn’t wear Tara or a top-length Mya with them to work (but at home or on the weekends, game on!!). However, they make a great alternative to tights or hose, because nobody’s got time for runs in those!
Layers – Grandpa Cardi, Cocoon Cardigan
The bright blue of this Patterns for Pirates Grandpa Cardi is such a fun pop of color for this capsule! I love how fresh it looks against all the neutrals. This is perfect for cooler weather, but also great if you work somewhere that likes to keep their AC cranked year round. I added 6 inches in length to the cardi.
I also can’t get enough of this animal print Cocoon Cardi! The Cocoon Cardi is another layering piece that’s great for the colder months, but also great for the AC months if you don’t get to be in charge of the thermostat. When I taught elementary school, I always kept a “school sweater” or two in my classroom! You can usually find another two or three in my car. I like to be prepared For this version, I made tunic length with tall bands and no cuffs.
Putting the Capsule Together
Shoes & Accessories
I tried to stick to MOSTLY neutral colors with a few pops of color to make the shoes/accessories as versatile as possible for all the outfit combinations.
Bags – red wallet/clutch by Coach; bag by Michael Kors ; faux suede clutch is an Old Navy clearance find
Although it pained me a little to set all my florals to the side for a bit, I had so much fun putting together some dressier, professional looks in a more neutral palette. Here are just a few of my favorite looks:
Capsule #1 Photo Credit – A Beautiful Moment Photography
Capsule # 2
In addition to this professional capsule, I’ve made several more casual capsules that are perfect for relaxed dress codes, working from home, etc. All of the following capsules were designed for specific clients. As part of the planning process, they sent information about where they wanted to wear the pieces, what colors they wanted to feature, etc.
This capsule is one of my favorite ones I’ve made! I used the Mya, Kourtney, and Ava patterns for the short sleeve tops, and the Women’s Avery pattern for the tank. You could also simply and but still add variety by using the same shirt pattern as the base for all the short sleeve tops, and then adding details to alter them slightly. This is a quick way to mix up the patterns without having to cut out 2-3 more shirt patterns.
I also slightly modified a Timeless Tunic from P4P:
For layering pieces, I used neutral colors for the Cocoon Cardigan and the Grandpa Cardigan, but we’ve since added tons of cute cardis to both catalogs, so you could use any of those!
Finally, for bottom pieces, I used the Women’s Joy separates hack, and solid black Peg Leg Leggings.
If you’re having a hard time, solid black is an easy choice for bottoms because it goes with nearly everything! It make a nice jumping off point, especially if you have lots of busy prints that you just can’t choose between!
Capsule # 3
The next capsule is SO fun, and bright! I love the colors this client chose. They initially asked for jewel tones, but when I sent the mood board full of jewel tones, she opted to head in a different direction. This one gives me all the vacation vibes!
The solid , polka dot, and striped tees are all Jordans. Jordan is such a great staple pattern for basic tees!
I also made a slimmed down Paige:
For the two dresses I included for this capsule, I made a Lea and a modified Jordan. Lea was made per the pattern; the only modification I made was to shorten for the client’s height. The Jordan I extended to be maxi length, and added the Kourtney knot to the side seam instead of the bottom hem! It’s still one of my favorite dresses I’ve ever made! I love the knot detail so much, especially on a basic solid dress.
I used the Pencil Skirt, and a modified Pencil Skirt/Women’s Chloe mash. I used Chloe to help determine maxi length, and then added a knee high slit on one side. I made the Pencil Skirt in the same striped fabric as one of the Jordan tops, to give the illusion of another dress! I also tied the maxi skirt where the slit was for a slightly different look.
Finally, I used the Cocoon Cardigan for a layering piece for this capsule.
I added a pair of ready to wear jeans to finish up this capsule, and love how it turned out! Here are many of the outfit options:
Capsule # 4
This next capsule is another favorite! It’s perfect for working from home, traveling, a casual work place dress code, running errands, and so much more!
I used several different top patterns for this capsule! I used Paige (black floral), Mya (solid gray with cowl), Mya w/ Kourtney knot (teal, lace), Ava (green, blue), and finally, a Paige + Ella mash (now you could also use Brenda!!).
For the bottoms, I made another pair of solid black Peg Legs, and two plain gathered rectangle pieces to make a skirt! You could modify that by using any of our skirt pattern pieces.
The Grandpa Cardi finished out this capsule!
I loved the color scheme of this capsule – very soothing and relaxed, even with the addition of some busy prints. For more outfit options, another bottom piece would’ve been a great addition; however, this client only wanted two pieces. I think her plan was to pair with some ready-to-wear bottoms she already owned. That’s the great thing about creating your own capsule – you can build it around what your wardrobe is lacking, or what you know you’ll wear!
Capsules # 5-7
I didn’t take individual photos of any of these three capsule outfits when I was making them – I think I was in a rush to get them packed up and sent off! But you can see I did similar styling. I used a combination of bottoms, tops, and layering pieces to create different outfit combinations.
The top capsule was made for my cousin. I’m not 100% confident what patterns I used for everything any more, but I want to say I used Mya, Tara, and Kourtney for her tops; the Cocoon Cardi for both of her layering pieces, and the Isabel for a dress/cardi piece. I also found scarves and necklaces that added a bit of fun and interest, so I sent those with the capsule as well! She was able to wear all of these pieces to work on a regular basis, and loved being able to mix and match each morning.
This middle capsule is a super quick and easy way to add a few outfit options. For this one, I made a top, joggers (Mama Bear, Loggers, Lexi – all great options!), cardi (Darcey, Cozy Wrap, Colleen, Jamie, Calliope), and a wrap dress (Isabel, Flutter Wrap Dress, Cozy Wrap hacked into a dress?); you can see that just from those four pieces + pair of jeans, I was able to create 7 outfits. Throw in another top or two, and you can see how the outfit combinations grow quickly!
This capsule always felt like the comfiest travel capsule to me!! Unfortunately, I didn’t get to keep this one either – boo!! Again, I don’t remember the exact details, but I know I made two tops, two wrap tops that could double as cardigans,, two cardigans, and two pairs of leggings. To make this a nine piece capsule, I would add either another top or another bottom, since there are already so many layering pieces. One of the things I like to do when using mostly or all solids is to find fabrics with some texture to them. This create variety without adding too much business. This one was for a client that mostly worked from home, but wanted pieces she felt good in too!
Since I finished these, SO many other patterns have been released by both Made for Mermaids and Patterns for Pirates! We definitely recommend taking a look at your closet to see how you can complement what you already own, and for professional capsules, also review your company’s dress code. From there, beginning with 3-4 tops, 3 bottoms, and 2-3 layers is a great place to start! I can’t wait to share more capsule inspo and ideas with you this month, and am loving seeing all of your capsule plans in the group!
If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the contest post, with all the important details. Happy sewing!