Surf beach inspired fall capsule wardrobe to sew using indie sewing patterns
I’m a big fan of surf brands O’Neill, Roxy, Carve, and the many, many beachy brands that have sprung up in the LA Textile District.
I love my surf beach clothing brands – what do I love about them? I love their marketing and the beach lifestyle. I’m coming for an escape – to a tropical destination, to salt air and wind, to the beach, a fruity drink, not a care in the world.
I don’t like to think of myself as a fast fashion person. I prefer to keep, mend, or as a last resort, pass on most of my wardrobe so at least it’s not ending up in a landfill (right away.)
Slow fashion Surf Beach Inspired Fall and Winter Capsule Wardrobe to Sew:
SUPER slow fashion is sewing. You can’t sew fast enough for fast fashion and if you choose sustainable fabrics that at least compost at the end of their lives, they’re reasonably good for Mother Earth.
Here are four ways to sew your way to a more sustainable beach surf inspired wardrobe
- Take inspiration and choose patterns that reflect the beach surf aesthetic
- Select sustainable fabrics
- Start with easy sewing pattern projects
- Slow down!
Take inspiration and take notes: choosing patterns that reflect beach surf aesthetic:
Your favorite brands all have wonderful IG feeds and nice websites. Take good notes! Note the shape of the tops (ease, length, details like hoods, cowls, pockets) or shape of pants (wide, skinny, loose or tight), the fabric types (rayon, linen, cotton), and the construction details like pockets, piecing or stripes, patches (including placement) or tags.
Select fabrics that have similar characteristics, the more natural the fiber content the better, with colors that match the aesthetics you are looking for (except for swimwear. Buy good nylon/lycra for best wear). I recommend your local fabric store if you have one – many buy better quality (and natural fiber) fabrics, but you can also try Nature’s Fabrics online, or Gorgeous Fabrics online. There are a LOT of online fabric stores that sell fabrics that are mostly polyester or acrylic, and they don’t sew up well, the ‘hand’ of them can feel weird and they won’t hold up over time. Avoid these fabrics – your precious sewing time deserves the best, longest wearing fabric you can devote.
Next, select patterns that mimic the shape/style of what you’re looking for. No shortage of indie sewing patterns, where purchases support a very small business, and your local fabric store will help you pair these together successfully.
Concept a “capsule wardrobe” – usually 3-9 pieces of clothing that work together to mix and match. Match them to the REST of your wardrobe, too. No sense creating a one-off garment or two that you can’t wear with anything else.
To concept a wardrobe, you can sketch (or trace) the pattern envelope’s tech drawing and clip a swatch of fabric next to it. Use my wardrobe planner document (print out 3-4 sheets). You can use a Pinterest board, a Trello board or even poster board! No art talent? Print a copy of the pattern photo to your planner (either digitally or on paper). You can get these from the pattern company website.
Start with simple items – tee shirts, skirts, pants, dresses, sweatshirts and sweaters. Then move up to more complex projects like swimwear. Use your favorite brands’ IG feeds for inspiration and planning.
An easy to start capsule: one top, one bottom and one outer layer.
For my beachy-brand aesthetic, I see a lot of soft ‘sun weathered colors’ this year like sage, dusty navy, rose, birch, storm blue and sand. I also see warm colors like sunset gold, deep burgundy red, warm slate blue, turquoise.
I spent several hours at Ron Jon Surf Shop in Cocoa Beach Florida, in November and O’Neill, Carve, Roxy’s websites and IG stories.
Start with easy sewing projects:
Oversized sweaters, cowl necks, and soft pants still reign in surf and beach aesthetics for fall/winter.
HotPatterns Art School Sweater and Hot Patterns Poncho Sweater
These two oversized sweater sewing pattern options are on trend. Sew them up in French terry, sweatshirt, fleece or sweater knit fabrics. The Art School sweater is also designed for patchworking and upcycling old sweaters – a GREAT way to be sustainable! You can choose patchwork version or standard one-fabric version.
The Poncho sweater has a curved banded hem and a dolman-sleeve shape along with banded neck with front darts. It’s their Last Minute Makes so you know it’s fast and easy. Both of these make great gifts with just a little size guessing for the recipient.
NOTE: HotPatterns is size inclusive – I almost always make my Ready to Wear size (8-10) in tops and have plenty of slouchy design ease in these, whereas, I almost always sew a 12-16 in most other sewing pattern brands. So HP’s 22-26 sizing is really that.
Cowl neck with pockets – Naughty Bobbin Patterns La Megeve top and stirrup pants.
This one is a bit deceiving on the sketch, as it’s shown in a faux fur – making it GREAT for that fluffy pile shearling or minky fabric – but also works great in sweater knits. It has pockets! But not obvious kangaroo ones that show, they are hidden in the princess seam. Sew this one in the fluffy boucle fleece or a smooth sweater fleece or sweatshirt fleece. It’s generously sized – wear your usual sewing pattern size (mine is a M).
No surf/beach look would be complete without a hoodie. A classic woven fabric hoodie, HotPatterns Marina hoodie and top has a kangaroo pocket and is designed for wovens (like wide stripes a la boho Southern California loose woven look).
If a knit jacket is more your style, Hot Patterns has the Mighty Morphin Cardi for knits – there’s a hooded cropped version that would be perfect for a cropped zip front hoodie. This pattern is super versatile – from a long cardigan or hooded cardigan to a bomber jacket to a parka – or a zip front hoodie! Get the most bang for your buck with this multi-look jacket pattern.
Also try the Sonia Estep Designs Olivia Hoodie with a high-low hem and a curved scoop neckline. This one is for lighter weight knits like jersey.
There are TONS of hoodie patterns out there – these are ones I’ve made and liked for fit and construction details.
Beachy surf bottoms:
Yes, babywale cord is all over the beach/surf brands for fall and winter! Try these in a wider leg, soft babywale cord in the Pietra wide leg or the Rose by Made by Rae or even the Emerson by True Bias. Each of these pants will stand up to corduroy without being too fussy. Wash the cord well before sewing, it shrinks and you’ll want as much softness as you can get. You can go cropped or long in all of these. For a slim-but-not-jeans look, the Pietra in a narrow leg works great in babywale cord.
Beach pants: Because you can wear beach pants all year round. In the deep winter, these are my indoor lounge pants, (or sewn in sweater fleece) but in the fall and spring, I wear them with platform sneakers (Keds, Vans).
I like them in a medium/heavy linen, or chambray for fall and winter. Three choices here: Jalie Simone – I’ve made these for my DD and for myself, Hot Patterns Marakkech Xpress (for wovens) and HotPatterns Palazzo (for knit or woven). The latter are a blend of stretch yoga waistband and woven fabric, or all knit. But the stretch fabric/linen woven is a fun option that I’ve made and worn on beach trips. If you want to make warm beachy pants, go for the Palazzo, or even a jogger like the Hudson Pant from True Bias, sew them in a lightweight fleece or a sweatshirt fleece, French Terry or other fabric with a fuzzy or looped back for maximum interior comfort.
I can’t get enough of joggers can you? But eventually you might need something nicer, and this tailored jogger sewing pattern version has a cuffed hem, like trousers. Or you can just slide elastic through the hem and call them joggers, either way these fit well (I sewed a 12 in these.) The waist uses channels for thinner elastic – you could switch to wide sew-through elastic, or do the channels. I also made them with a cuff in faux snakeskin (but that’s certainly NOT beachy!) I make these in a medium weight woven fabric for winter.
Tops and tees:
There are a zillion sewing patterns for tops and tees! You’ll want at least one basic long sleeved knit tee shirt, but don’t overlook fun woven prints in lightweight cotton voile for winter either – a woven tee pattern like the Cielo Tee from Closet Core, the Scout Tee from Grainline Studios or the Plain and Simple Slouchy Tee Shirt Blouse from Hot Patterns are versatile tops that sew up simply and quickly.
The surf/beach aesthetic wouldn’t be complete without a beachy/surf graphic tee. Unless you’re up for screen printing, you’ll be using Heat Transfer Vinyl (HTV) and a really hot iron with press cloth to get graphics on your tees. Find tons of these on Etsy. Try them on plain tees but also don’t overlook how fun a single-color HTV looks on a cotton voile print.
Stencil with fabric pant: You can buy stencils and then paint with fabric paint inside the stencil. To do more than one color, layer up one stencil, paint, let dry, apply the second stencil, paint and let dry. Continue for as many colors as you want. Stencils are available on Etsy.
Another FUN way to do this is to incorporate a panel from an upcycled vintage tee – hit up your local Goodwill or charity shop and find some oversized men’s tees with cool surf-beach graphics. You can cut carefully around the image and using double sided fusible web, fuse it to the tee, then secure it with stitching around the outside of the graphic, or you can panel the tee. Try a pre-paneled tee like the HotPatterns Milano Dolman tee which has a center front panel and side panels that extend into the dolman sleeves. Make the front of the graphic tee the center panel and coordinate fabric for the remainder of the tee and neckline.
Surf/beach graphics in HTV : you can get a ton of fun, clever designs ready to press onto your basic tee shirts on Etsy!
Swimwear! Yes, you can sew swimwear!
My favorites include a mix of bikini styles and a couple of cut-out one piece suits. The O’Neill one I bought is here: features a bandeau top with ruching, a below-bust cutout and a moderate cut bottom.
Try the North Shore swimsuits from Greenstyle – you can literally build your favorite suits with this pattern. There is a cut out one piece, any style bikini bottom (from high waist to low cut hipster), any style bikini top with tons of closure options.
One of my favorites is Kwik Sew 3608. I’ve sewn this many, many times. It comes in a tankini with small bikini bottom (tip! Add a high waist band to this suit) and a cut out one piece by mashing the top with the bottom before cutting your fabric (measure your torso length first with this suit!) I usually find Kwik Sew on Etsy or Ebay used.
With all bandeau suits, add yourself neck ties by making a long tie and stitching it at center front so you can pull the ties up and over your head and tie. Check out this retro pattern! Or this one is totally free, but designed for industry pros (no instructions).
You do not need to make 10 garments at once. You can start with one or two and mix these in with things you already own in your wardrobe. Maybe you have a hoodie but want joggers to coordinate, or maybe you want
The surf beach aesthetic is a fun one to sew for – and with so many sewing patterns having these casual basics, it’s really just a matter of sewing them in your favorite beach-inspired colors and fabrics.
If you ARE off to the beach/surf, you can add in a pair of shorts (Jalie Simone!) and be ready to roll!