HOW TO make clothes that layer well

Making clothes that layer well is a practice that is near and dear to me. I love me a good garment made with a delicate voile and finished beautifully with hand stitching. I ogle French and Japanese patterns and I’m intrigued by their subtle details and runway shapes. But practicality is an important factor for me too. I need to make things that will straddle four very diverse seasons and that will be joyfully worn by my small and wiggly offspring.

For me, the easiest answer to what layers well is knitwear headed up by the ever-versatile flashback tee. There are so many ways to make it your own. You can paint it, peter pan and button it, slash and swing it or make it a dress. Flashback VariationsIt’s easily layered, one over another or peeking out from under a vest.

Panda Bimaa vest.001

This brings me to my next great layer love: the vest. I discovered this weekend that the beloved Bimaa can be made without sleeves, vest-style. The shoulders are already narrow enough, no need to re-draw. And it works great for layering! These Skinny Jeans in a stretch wool leave plenty of room for woolies underneath (we all wear two pairs of pants this time of year). And you can quickly make that layer for underneath using the Fancy Pants Leggings pattern.

Even though my little guy loves to be warm, he doesn’t like long sleeves so we stuck with a short sleeve version under his Bimaa. But wouldn’t a long sleeve version with these elbow patches from the Purl Bee look great under a vest for a little pop of color? This would be a fun way to re-vamp an earlier version of a Flashback too. Purl Bee Elbow Patches

I find that a Flip Vest layered over a Bimaa and lined with fleece makes an excellent cozy layer. And done up in a Heather Ross print it becomes a “Storybook Vest,” one that she is eager to read to anyone who will listen. A Sweet Pocket Pinafore lined with sherpa keeps the girl who loves dresses warm for a special event. It’s shown here worn over a  Geranium.

Winter Girl Layers.001

The Geranium Dress itself is an excellent option for layering. I find that the bodice is fitted enough to go easily under a sweater but still roomy enough to be layered over a Flashback Tee. I’ve been known to dress my daughter in two Geraniums. One at the tunic length over one made in a dress length. The dress looks great too over a Simple Skirt. It gives the look some depth and the dress some extra flounce.

Geranium and Simple Skirt.001This is the last post that I’ll be doing before the real deal takes place. I really hope that what I’ve shared here has helped with your planning. It’s been a dream to be here. And what an honor to be included along with SanaeLaura and Tara. I’ve loved hearing from those who’ve had time to leave comments. And I can’t wait to be inspired by the beautiful things that you’ll make!

My most sincere thanks for having me here. Take good care and please keep in touch, I’ll be over here. Thank you, Meg!!

This article has 12 comments

  1. laura fisher

    I love your layering ideas.  I’m right with you on the Geranium dress – in fact, it’s gonna feature in my summer into winter styling later this week!  And, I’ve never made a Bimaa – I think you’ve just pushed me over the edge to give it a go! x

    1. brienne moody

      Laura, I look forward to that post – summer into winter! I feel a little boring sticking with the things that I’ve made a million times before but Made by Rae’s patterns are just so great and ripe for customizing! I’m definitely going to make a Geranium for KCW – I really want to get the bodice lining right. I always rush and it ends up not looking great. This time I want it to be picture-worthy:)

  2. Lisa

    Your kids are so stylish! I’m so impressed with how cozy, practical and hip your handmades are. Quick question: how do you care for your sewn woolens? I love knitting with wool, and get out my Eucalan and trusty salad spinner when sweaters or accessories need a bath, but I’m oddly nervous about washing items sewn with woven wools. What’s your experience washing kids’ pants and dresses that actually get dirty and need more frequent washing than a sweater or cowl? Thanks so much for your really helpful posts–I’m inspired!

    1. brienne moody

      Hi Lisa! Great question. It is a ritual, isn’t it? We used to live in a home without running water or indoor plumbing so I think that I got used to not having a washing machine when they were little:) Now, we have a machine that has a hand wash cycle on it! 

      I’m comfortable with the kids’ natural oils and stuff being on the fibers but I’m a stickler when it comes to sending them out into the world with jelly blobs all over their clothes. I guess that I would say that I end up treating them the same as the sweaters. I do spot cleaning and then just the same kind of washing that I do with the handknits. I usually only have to do this about once a week.  Also, it seems like I’m constantly soaking even their washables in Oxyclean to get the stains out, so hand washing the woolens doesn’t seem that much more difficult. 

      1. Lisa

        Thank you! I try not to be an over-washer of kid clothes in general, just for the sake of longevity of fibers–because if I made it, I want it to last through as many kids as possible, darn it–and I agree that the spot cleaning and weekly wool wash wouldn’t be burdensome. There’s nothing to beat wool for a WI winter (or spring, or fall, for that matter), so thanks for giving me the confidence to forge ahead 🙂 

  3. sou enim

    Thank you, Brienne, for your helpful tips. I didn´t use any of these beautiful patterns, but I think they are a great option! Your kids look so stylish in them!

    Thank you for sharing your plans and ideas, they were very inspiring. I even made my own plans this weekend and am now ready to choose the fabrics from my stash! This makes me happy. Thanks a lot.

  4. Elizabeth

    How fun- love your pictures, ideas, and all those layers!  I love dressing in layers.  But my daughter immediately strips off any sweaters, socks, pinafores, or extra layers as soon as possible.  Guess it’s good we live in a relatively mild climate!

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