If you’ve never sewn a capsule wardrobe before, the planning process can seem a little daunting. First, you’ll select either your color palette or your patterns, and then comes the task of matching the appropriate color or print of fabric to the pattern. If you go to the trouble of sewing a capsule wardrobe, how can you be sure that all of your pieces will coordinate and look good together?
An easy (and fun, IMO) opinion to guarantee that you’ll love your completed capsule wardrobe is to plan it out beforehand using a mood board. A mood board is a planning tool to help you see how your planned pieces might look together once you’ve got a completed wardrobe. You can create your mood board either digitally or by hand using pencils and paper. The rest of this post will go over the basics of creating mood boards using three different methods.
Online Mood Boards, e.g. Pinterest and Polyvore
If you’ve never created a storyboard before, perhaps the easiest way to start is using one of the popular inspiration web tools, such as Pinterest or Polyvore. Both sites are free to use; however, you will need to create an account to start building your boards. These sites allow you to “pin” inspiration images that you find elsewhere onto your own online bulletin boards. You have the option of keeping your online board private or publishing it publicly to share with others.
Patty, one of our CSC Contributors, used Pinterest to help her plan a capsule wardrobe:
Jennifer, one of our regular CSC contributors, chose to use Polyvore to help her plan a Stella Gibson-inspired capsule wardrobe for fall:
Graphic Editing Software
My own favorite method of planning a wardrobe is to use inexpensive graphics editing software. This method allows me the ability to pair actual pattern line drawings with fabric swatches, and gives me an easy way to swap out a particular garment or fabric if I change my mind. My preferred graphics editing software is SnagIt; it’s inexpensive, powerful, and I’ve used it for years. However, many other free or inexpensive graphic editing software options are available (e.g. Gimp).
For example, I created the following mood boards for a mini-capsule wardrobe that I sewed a few summers ago. The first one was my initial plan, where I was still pulling together patterns and fabrics and was on the fence about a few choices:
A laundry accident and limited time forced me to dye the completed hoodie and to swap out a few of the more complicated pieces for easier ones. Logging the changes was as easy as selecting a few graphics objects and swapping them out with my final options:
To create a “garment” using a graphics editor:
- Create a digital fabric “swatch”. If you purchased your fabric online, and that fabric is still available, either download the image of the fabric or take a screen grab of it. I crop all of my swatches to a “square” shape.
- Take a screen grab of the technical drawing for the garment, and open the screen grab in your graphics editor to crop the background of the garment:
- Most graphics editors have some sort of “lasso” tool that allow you to select the entire outline of an irregularly shaped object. Use this tool to select the outline of your garment.
- Change the background of the image to “transparent”.
- Copy and paste the edited technical drawing over the fabric swatch:
- Create one of these fabric/garment objects for each garment that you’re planning to sew.
- To add these to the storyboard, grab the entire fabric/garment combo, and paste it into place on your mood board.
- You can use the “text” tool of your graphics editor to add notes about the pattern or fabric and a title to your board.
Paper and Pencils
If I was more skilled at sketching, my favorite planning method would probably be the old school method of using pencil and paper. Other than being, perhaps, the most creative method of planning, pencil and paper also has the advantage of allowing you to incorporate a croquis into your planning. A croquis is an outline of a human body (hopefully somewhat similar in shape to your own) that you can use to help visualize how certain proportions, hem lengths, and clothing styles might look on you. By hand, you can copy a technical drawing for a pattern onto your croquis and shade it in with the color of fabric that you would use for the garment.
For example, the following set of croquis drawings includes four garments that I’m planning to sew in the coming months:
You can either create your own croquis by tracing an outline of your own body (usually in your underwear or exercise clothes) or using a commercially available one from one of the sewing planner books available on the market. (I used the Cashmerette Curvy Sketchbook for mine.) Most of these sewing planners have a section of pages for wardrobe planning, where the croquis is printed about a dozen or so times on the page, allowing you to test out different garment combinations:
Have you ever used a mood board to help you with wardrobe planning? What is your favorite method to use? Do you have any tips for readers that I missed?