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Planning for & Designing a Me-Made Travel Wardrobe

I knew when we booked our latest trip to London and Portugal that I wanted to create a completely Me-Made travel capsule wardrobe.

I started my planning with a list of essentials that I would need to take. My London capsule wardrobe would be much smaller as we would only be there for a total of 4 days, the wardrobe for Portugal would be need to be more extensive as we would be travelling there for two and half weeks. I created a list of basic wardrobe items I would need for each climate.

With my list complete, I started thinking about the fabrics I needed to make everything. I wanted all of my fabric choices to come from my soft autumn colour palette, keeping all colours within the same hue, and I wanted one “Feature Print” fabric. This fabric would be something more dramatic, fun and colourful. Using this feature print I would select a variety solid fabrics in a variety of summer weight fabrics. This would ensure that no matter what combination of Me-Mades I put together, everything would coordinate.

I didn’t have any particular feature fabric in mind so I looked online and in local fabric stores. I knew when I found the right fabric it would jump out at me and ignite my passion to create an entire wardrobe using it as the focal point.

I found the perfect print at Zelouf Fabrics NYC. It was a delicate cotton lawn covered with a paisley designs; love at first sight. The background colour was a bright salmon and the paisleys featured delicious pale yellow, olive, bright tangerine hues as well as shades of pink and coral. It would be the perfect fabric to coordinate a huge variety of summer holiday solids with. I had the resort feel I was looking for. Once the fabric arrived I took a large swatch to my local fabric store. I narrowed down my search to linens, viscose, lightweight cottons and 1 lightweight knit. Any solid fabric had to match a colour in the feature print.

Knowing I would be packing some of these pre-made garments, I wore them to the store to choose my coordinating solid fabrics.

My next job of course was to decide which items I would make using the feature print.

I chose to make 1 cami, the off-the shoulder top, the tunic and the scarf. I had planned on making a wide leg pair of elasticized pants as well but ran out of time. They will be an add on project expanding the possibilities of creating several co-ord outfits in this lovely fabric. My next job was to find solid fabrics to make the rest of the items. For these fabrics I choose a variety of colours making sure that they were all in the same colour hue family and that they coordinated with one another as well as the feature print. I made sure to choose breathable light weight fabrics, selecting a variety of linens, viscose and knit fabrics.

Mixing and Matching: Putting Together All The Parts

We arrived in London first and it was time to put my plan into action.

My Lou Raincoat from Seamwork was essential. It was the perfect packable coat that I could layer over anything. For more details about this wonderful pattern click here.

My pale yellow Mika Sweatshirt from Fibre Mood was very lightweight. It was a bit oversized for comfort, but with a french tuck into a fun belt it could be dressed up and worn with pants, skirts or shorts. I made the Julia tank top from Seamwork to match so that I could layer both of them as well as mix and match.

I chose a Coco linen blend fabric for my Canvas Cropped jacket and Cargo Pants from Wardrobe By Me Patterns. For my second pair of pants I chose another thicker khaki linen blend. The Cargo pants were full length with the option to cinch the ankle, and the slimmer pull on khakis were ankle length. Both fabrics would work well in both London and Portugal. The neutral colours would allow me to combine them with anything in my capsule wardrobe. You can see all of the sewing details for the cargo pants here. Creating a scarf from the feature fabric added a light weight accessory that I could use in multiple ways.

The Pika Waistcoat could be layered over tshirts or worn on its own in warmer weather. It was a very versatile make and I loved the fun pop of colour it added to the neutrals. You can read all of the Pika vest details here.

This brocade trench coat from Sister Mag Patterns was also a previous make and I take it on every trip I take. It is such a fun statement piece and as it is unlined it takes up no room at all in your suitcase. I wore it in London and in Portugal, its versatile and fun. You can read all about the details here.

This dark mustard Bomba top was a great neutral. I love the versatility it offers because it can be worn with the tie in the front or the back. This is definitely another piece that can dressed up or down and the drapery viscose makes it a pleasure to wear. This pattern from Chut Charlotte also makes a fantastic maxi dress. You can find all of the details here.

Here I have styled it with a self-drafted cotton poplin maxi. It shows the top with the tie in the front. This outfit is again accessorized with the feature print shawl which I took with me everyday. I also love to pack several fun belts as they don’t take up much room in your suitcase and they can help to change up any outfit. This is a wonderful vintage belt from Germany.

This is the same maxi skirt combined with a matching shirred top from EK Sewing Patterns. I wanted to be able to create the look of a maxi sundress but not be limited by only having a dress. This style combination really opens up your choices, creating several summery looks for different occasions.

Pairing the shirred top with jeans made it a cool yet stylish choice for a more casual look.

My second maxi skirt option was this lovely Dezi bias cut satin skirt from Seamwork. I loved the bronze colour of the satin. It matched perfectly with the metallic trench coat it you wanted a very dressy look, but for most outfits I combined it with all of sorts of other tops, jackets, sneakers and sandals. It has an elastic waist for ease and comfort. You can read all about the details here. Layered up and paired with sneakers this skirt was a perfect choice for shopping on High Street and wearing to tour museums

Paired with my Loretta Top, also from Seamwork, it was perfect for warmer weather and a late dinner on an outdoor patio by adding another fun belt and taking the scarf along as a shawl. Sewing details for the Loretta can be found here.

Here you see the off the shoulder top pair with a pair of cargo shorts (same pattern as the pants) for a day of exploring and touring local markets. The elastic neckline allows you to wear it in a variety of ways and loser fit guarantees to keep you cool. You can read all about the sewing details here.

I loved these cargo shorts. I actually made them first to guarantee a perfect fit before making the linen pants. I used left over rain tech fabric from my raincoat. They were light weight and great for hiking, going to the beach or walking around town. My scarf and linen jacket were perfect for our boat trip along the Duoro River and windy evenings.

My main make from the feature print was this lovely Vogue tunic top. The cotton lawn ensured that it wasn’t too hot and it was nice to have a long sleeve option for evenings and cooler days. I sewed some fun tassel trim on the the sleeve to add some vacation flare.

This top pairs beautifully with the slim caprices and these very lightweight wide leg culottes. It could easily be worn under the cropped jacket and paired just as easily with shorts and either of the two maxi skirts, always evoking a relaxed but elegant resort feel.

Finally we have the ultimate basic, the Ogden Cami by True Bias. I made three cami’s, each in a different fabric with different drape. Making one in my feature fabric was a must. It was light weight and could be worn in so many ways with everything.

The second cami was made from the coco linen. This gave me a cool, crisper version that felt a bit more tailored and could be combined with the cargo pants for a faux jumpsuit look.

It could be worn just as easily with shorts or with one of the maxi skirts.

For my final ogden cami I used a lovely tomate bisque viscose with lots of drape. I added embroidered trim for the straps to add a pop of interest. I really enjoyed the flow of this cami and plan to make more of them with a viscose or possibly in a bronze satin to match my bias skirt. Again it could they could be paired together for a faux maxi dress look.

What have a learned from this capsule wardrobe? I still need to pack my favourite pair of jeans. I missed having them as a go-to option, especially in London. I definitely need to make a pair of feature print wide leg pants, a plain cotton poplin button up shirt and a satin cami to match my bias skirt. These items would really expand my outfit combination choices, especially if my trip was going to be even longer. Since London was so cold when we were there I would bring a cotton turtleneck and a waffle weave long sleeve shirt along. The extra layers would have really helped with the cold, rain and the wind and they would have been nice to have for the evening in Portugal.

I am really pleased with my first attempt at creating a travel capsule wardrobe. I enjoyed putting together a me-made outfit every morning and it felt great! Now, I have a lovely travel wardrobe to take with me on any warm weather trip. I have a handful of other pre-made items that I can add to my packing list if I am going to a cooler climate, including a fun tote bag. I choose a striped feature fabric that coordinates with this wardrobe and create a few a few more summer items from solid fabrics I can continue to expand the selection of a travel wardrobe. Stay tuned for future posts as I continue to add these items and share them with you.

After all…. There is So Much To Design!!

Happy Travel Capsule Sewing,

Lou Sheffer

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first time visit or to your blog & thoroughly enjoyed the read, you’ve put so much effort into your planning & the photos show how well it paid off!

thanks for sharing



Stephanie Busby
Stephanie Busby
May 19, 2023

Hi Lou, I have very recently found your instagram. Thank you so much for this blog post. You have put so much time and thought into writing and sharing your sewing mades. I am so inspired by your travel capsule wardrobe. So very thoughtfully put together and wonderful colors. Then the sewing~swoon!!! Great to see pics of you in London. I am heading there myself end of May. I am a Brit living in Idaho and have also made some outfits for my trip. But your methodology has really inspired me to make another one for next year. I simply see a pattern, love it and make it. It sounds as if you have fabulous fabric stores near you. Sadly…

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