Sunday, April 9, 2023

Weekend Review: Sewing Your Perfect Capsule Wardrobe


Sewing Your Perfect Capsule Wardrobe /
Arianna Cadwallader & Cathy McKinnon
London: Kyle Books, c2017.
175 p.

I recently got this book from my library; it's one I've seen mentioned here and there, and thought it would be interesting to see the advice about a capsule wardrobe given here. Well, I'm glad I got it from the library, because overall I found it a bit underwhelming. 

The book is organized into a structure around 5 core garments: The Vest Top (a tank top in North American speak), Basic Skirt, Shift Dress, Trousers, and Blouse. These are all fairly basic silhouettes -- the book is aimed at the advanced beginner, which I think is about the right level for these designs. There are fold-out pattern sheets included in the book, so you can trace and alter right away. Each basic piece has a straightforward main pattern, then tells you how to alter and redesign the piece to create something different, sometimes just a hair of difference but others are quite changed. You go from a below-knee pencil skirt to a short a-line, for example. There are also discussions of style changes you can make -- changing a neckline/collar, sleeve style, adding embellishment, etc. to really take these patterns and expand them in your wardrobe. 

I obviously like this idea a lot. However, this book as the main source of this kind of capsule wardrobe seems limited to me. The sizing is miniscule -- there is a range of 6 sizes with a 10" difference between them. Bust 32-42, Waist 24-34, Hip 33-43. It's a small range, and I fall near the top. So the actual patterns in this book will only be useful for a small proportion of sewists. And the patterns are also pretty standard, so any sewist who has been at it long enough will most likely already own similar pattern styles already -- some could even be equated to a few of the more well-known free patterns out there. 

The ideas for changing a base pattern into new styles are pretty handy here, though. They start with the "main" pattern and give a "sister" style then some other ideas for additional changes. You could take those ideas and apply them to the patterns you prefer to use. That might be the takeaway here. 

There isn't really a discussion about putting together a capsule wardrobe in the more traditional sense - they don't talk fashion, per se. To me, the book is more about creating a Capsule Pattern Collection. And that can be a good way to focus your sewing in light of the incentive to buy so many new and exciting patterns out there! 

So my view on this book is: good idea, some interesting ideas and instruction, but a fail when it comes to providing actual patterns that are useful for more than a sliver of readers. 


  1. Thanks for reviewing this book. The title is tempting, but it doesn't sound like it would be helpful in creating a coordinated wardrobe so much as a basic wardrobe to build on. It certainly doesn't contain a wide enough size-range. Appreciate knowing this. --LindaC in AZ

    1. Yes, I was definitely tempted by the title but really it is more helpful in planning basics to sew from, I think.


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