Choosing Summer Wardrobe Fabrics

I know that this is a sad little picture.  But, I want to make a point about choosing fabrics for garments you intend to wear.

These are a few summer basics that I’ve made.  I’ve been ranting {to anyone who will listen} about the low-cut nature of many ready-to-wear shirts.  They require wearing a tank top underneath.  If you live in Seattle, this is great in the summer.  If you live in Texas, it’s misery.

So, I was determined that following last year’s record heat {over 80 consecutive days of 100-plus degree days}, I was NOT, NO WAY, PUT IT OUTTA YOUR HEAD going to wear two shirts just because some manufacturer made my shirt so low-cut that I needed a tank top underneath. 

To begin with, I created a summer garment vision:  A handful of casual, comfortable, well-fitting shirts that I could wear here, there, and everywhere, sans tank top.  

With my garment vision, I needed to chose a pattern.  For my shirts I used Kwiksew 2849.

It just so happened that this pattern was being offered in a blouse-making class here.  The pieces were just falling into place.

Here’s the thing, if you love a garment you’ve made and want to remake it more than once, how do you keep it from looking like you haven’t changed your clothes in a month?

Shirt #1 is the one I made in class; the jumping off point for my summer garment vision.  The fabric is a lightweight cotton lawn and is unbelievably comfortable on hot Texas days.  I bought it at Joann’s using a 50% off coupon.  It cost under $15.

Not wanting all of my shirts to be the same,  I started looking at different types of fabrics for Shirt #2.  If I happened upon another lawn that I liked, I might go with it, but I really wanted something entirely different. 

Enter Shirt #2, an eyelet that I also found at Joann’s.  The fabric is heavier than the lawn, but it has little eyelet holes which are great for letting in the breeze, but not so big that you can see through them.  Because the fabric is just a bit heavier, it looks great with jeans, slacks, skirts, and even shorts.

With a coupon, this is an economical fabric and I spent around $15.

The best part, I saw something almost identical in a variety of colors at a high-end women’s store a couple of weeks ago. 

On to Shirt #3, a cotton sateen that I also found at Joann’s and purchased with a coupon. It was a little more expensive, but I was making the pattern for the third time so I felt like I could splurge.  I think I spent around around $20 for the fabric.

I chose this fabric because the satin-ish finish on the surface makes it a little dressier.  Since it is considered a bottom-weight, which means it is a slightly heavier fabric, it looks more tailored when I wear it.

Lastly, I decided to pair my three blouses with a simple skirt that I can wear everywhere.  This book contains the simplest skirt pattern I’ve ever made.  It adjusts easily, has only two pieces, and can be made in a variety of fabrics.  What’s not to love.  {also, I will be teaching from this book in the Fall}

I made Skirt #4 from a cotton twill that was really cheap didn’t cost very much.  Perfect for hot days, looks nice enough to wear almost anywhere.  

One thing I love about this pattern is it’s versatility.  I can make it out of a print {like Shirt #3}, wool, denim, corduroy, etc.  Not only that, but the length easily adjusts allowing for a longer skirt in the winter.

All this to say, I started with a plan.  While I didn’t know exactly which fabrics I would choose, I had a basic idea of what I wanted.
All had to be light weight 100% cottons that were not too sheer.  I also was looking for a little versatility.

While these tops may not be your exact style, I knew I had done something right when a really cute young mom came up to me in Starbucks and complemented my blouse {#3}.   



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  1. says

    Beautiful job on these. What pretty colors too.
    I know exactly what you mean about the low neckline problem. I had a basic camp-style shirt that fit me well but was ruined in the wash. So I picked it apart and drew a pattern from the pieces. I’ve made it 5 times now, in different prints and love it.

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