UPDATED FOR 2023!
Sew yourself a beach vacation mini capsule wardrobe for a getaway vacation! Add in some favorite ready-to-wear and catalog styles to round out your ideal vacation wardrobe.
An ideal capsule wardrobe for the potential 71-78 degree weather includes shorts, tees, long pants and a sweater for cooler nights by the water. Optional packing list for Caribbean/tropics (mid 80s-90 degrees) at the end.
Shorts sewing patterns:
I like the Closet Core Pietra shorts and pants. Deep pockets for your stuff, fit well, don’t bunch up. They go well with every tee shirt you have!
Emerson Shorts by True Bias. I like these as well – but they do bunch up between my legs, and I think a wider leg / slightly longer hem may solve this problem.
Pants sewing patterns
I love a wide leg beach pant and am making a flax colored version of the Pietra wide leg as my beach pants for this trip. They are the same as the spring green ones shown above. Just a different color of the same fabric, I liked it so much!
For travel, I like joggers – try the Luna from Made by Rae or the Tailored Trackpant by HotPatterns. HP has a higher rise with an attached waistband. The Luna accommodates a booty pretty nicely but is not as high in the front rise, and there’s no separate waistband.
Also try the Rose pants by Made by Rae for shorts or wide leg pants. This pattern features a flat front waistband with pleats and a back elastic waistband for comfort.
And if you want a pair of wrap pants without all the hassle of wrapping and unwrapping, try the Christine Jonson Wrap pants (and coordinating Flyaway Tank) for the perfect island-beach vacation vibe. Sew these in lightweight knits (or a lightweight flowy woven fabric for the pants like rayon.) The top’s upper bodice is wrapped double layered, so it’s perfect for those stretch mesh and lace fabrics.
Tee sewing patterns
A basic scoop neck, shirt-tail hem tee that I love is the HotPatterns Shirt Tail Tee. There are a couple of nice variations including a pieced version and one with a diagonal ruffle sewn in.
Sew News Antero shell is a go-to for me for a cropped, boxy V-neck tee. Make this in a voile or gauze.
Grainline Studio Scout Tee – a basic cap sleeve, scoop neck tee but in a woven fabric!
Sweater/sweatshirt sewing patterns
Madison Cardigan by Style Sew Me – a tip here, from others, it runs long so be sure to measure the finished length and shorten accordingly. Very dramatic, and looks good over just a swimsuit or over shorts and a tee, or those wide leg pants with a swimsuit under it.
I’m also loving the Closet Core Mile End sweatshirt with it’s seaming details.
You’re gonna need a hoodie!
Olivia Hoodie by Sonia Estep Designs – has a great scoop neck, a high-low hem with band or no band option and dropped dolman-sleeves (you can make this short sleeved too!)
Woven hoodie: Marina hoodie by HotPatterns. HP retires their patterns often, so get this one while you can. It’s a classic “west coast beach surf hoodie” style, and you can sew it in a woven fabric.
Sundress patterns: You will want at least one, maybe two sundresses for your trip, particularly at resorts where there is an “evening dinner dress option” – The Ann-Normandy Shift Dress or the Ann Normandy Maxi Dress. Also doubles as a beach caftan for those trips down to the pool or beach!
Swim sewing patterns
I’ve sewn the Jalie Gigi bikinis a couple of times, as well as the Greenstyle North Shore, but I’m loving a strapless bandeau swimsuit this time, and Kwik Sew 3608 is awesome. It’s actually a tankini – so if you want a one-piece look, just make the top slightly longer and the bottoms slightly higher. OR you can piece these together as a one piece, or wear the cut out one piece. I’ve sewn this several times and it’s an easy sew that fits well. Just check your torso length before sewing the cut out one, as the cut outs on short / petite won’t look good if the suit is too long in the torso.
A couple other patterns to try for 2023: The Greenstyle Boca Bay – this pattern features several different bottom styles and a square cut bikini top. This is the suit that I will likely sew for my spring break beach vacation to Jamaica this year.
I’m bringing some RTW suits including this by Mare Blu and this by O’Neill, and this by LandsEnd. The LandsEnd should be noted the straps are widely set apart, and they dug into my skin, so I sewed new loops on the top to narrow up the strap attachments for more comfort.
And kudos to Mare Blue for putting a normal size person on their swim pages as a model!
A coverup idea: use a poncho pattern in stretch crochet knit fabric to sew a poncho beach coverup in the HotPatterns Glamour Poncho in the collarless version.
You CAN sew a beach vacation capsule wardrobe without sewing a ton of new stuff. Here’s what I put together:
For Florida, and California weather (or SE USA like Outer Banks and Virginia Beach)
One hoodie, one sweater
This will take you through cool nights and warm days. If you’re headed really far south (the Caribbean), remove the sweater (only one for travel there and back) and add in one additional pair of shorts and one additional tee. If you have a favorite garment or two, grab that and go into your stash and coordinate fabric to make a few of these garments.
For Caribbean and tropical weather (Jamaica, Cayman Islands, BVI/USVI and all the ‘St. Somewhere’ islands south.
Sundress (at least one, for “nicer” dinners at your resort.)
One hoodie (for travel) or a cardigan sweater if you think you might want something to cover up at night.
Sun shirts – sew these in lightweight athletic nylon/lycra fabric. Any long sleeve basic tee or quarter zip will work well for these. I’ve used the Christine Jonson Patterns Raglan Tee.
Other things on your packing list that you won’t be sewing: