Sew Your Kibbe Challenge: Soft Natural Capsule Examples

In my introductory Sew Your Kibbe Challenge post, I proposed several guidelines for choosing your patterns.  I thought it would be helpful to post a couple of example capsules.  All of these are possible capsules I’m debating using for my personal challenge this year.  I’m pretty busy this month, but due to the magic of scheduling posts, I’ve had this sitting in the queue for a while.  I’ll post my  final decisions when I get back from my trip (and probably sew the easiest pattern as my January make), but for now here are a few possible combinations of patterns that I’ve been considering as a bit of inspiration to help with your own Sew Your Kibbe Kibbe plans.

Example Capsule #1: Sew to Flatter

This capsule idea comes from the Craftsy course “Sew to Flatter.”  The course is sort of what started me on this journey of understanding style typing systems, color palettes, and cohesion in wardrobe planning.  While the styles used as examples in the video course don’t really feel fresh or modern to me (let’s just say there is a very mature Soft Classic vibe going on), the concept of how to mix colors and styles to get a really versatile capsule was very inspiring.  The main idea is to get a “Core 4” – 4 pieces that are the same fabrication/color that work well together.  Now, in the perspective of Kibbe, this makes a lot of sense if you need a clean vertical line (like a Dramatic or Classic), but much less so if you are a type that needs to mix and match (like a Gamine or Natural).  However, the coordinating pieces allow the other types to mix and match a lot more, while still allowing the the types that need strong vertical lines to do so with ease.  The following items are included as part of this capsule:

  • Key Neutral Skirt (Core 4)
  • Key Neutral Pant (Core 4)
  • Key Neutral Top (Core 4)
  • Key Neutral Jacket (Core 4)
  • Contrast Pant 1
  • Contrast Jacket
  • Contrast Pant 2
  • Contrast Top
  • Contrast Top 2
  • Sweater
  • Print Skirt
  • Blouse

And here is my Soft Natural interpretation of this wardrobe plan:

Pros: I’ll have a coordinating wardrobe with lots of separates to mix and match.

Cons: The “Core 4” concept is not the best for Natural types, and there aren’t any dresses in this capsule.

Example Capsule #2: Tim Gunn’s 10 Essentials

I attempted a Tim Gunn inspired challenge back in 2012 (just after I started my blog).  I didn’t finish it then (because I was just starting to sew and being distracted by all of the shiny things and because sewing a button up top just wrecked me), but the items I did sew got a ton of use and I still wear a lot of them today (the ones that fit, anyway).  I like this set because it isn’t a real “capsule” in that you don’t get a bunch of interchangeable outfits, but what you do get should work together to be serviceable for a wide array of events.  Mixing the tops with jeans creates a casual vibe, as does use of the “sweatsuit alternative” look.  Mix the same blouses with the classic trouser and you are ready for work.  The LBD pairs with the jacket for a professional setting, the trench for a date night, or solo for a cocktail party.  Since there are only 10 pieces listed I made the “sweatsuit alternative” a 3-piece casual outfit, to get a total of 12 items.  Tim Gunn’s 10 essential items are:

  • Basic Black Dress
  • Trench Coat (Neutral Color)
  • Classic Trouser
  • Classic White Shirt
  • Jeans
  • Any Occasion Top
  • Skirt
  • Day Dress
  • Jacket
  • Sweatsuit Alternative (3 pieces: top, bottom, jacket/sweater)

Here is my Soft Natural Tim Gunn wardrobe plan:

Pros: I know this sort of capsule will give me a versatile foundation to my wardrobe, and I will end up with a lot of really great pieces.

Cons: I won’t have any really fancy (Level 3) looks, and not as many professional/business/work styles, which I sort of need.

Example Capsule #3: Clothing Construction and Wardrobe Planning

This is a capsule idea I came up with based on a vintage sewing textbook I’ve been reading called Clothing Construction and Wardrobe Planning by Dora S. Lewis.  It is a textbook geared towards high schoolers, aiming to teach them about budgeting for a wardrobe, how to make clothes to supplement expensive store-bought items, how to tell quality items that will last, and how to properly care for such items.  It discusses wardrobe needs for many different budgets (and how to make a budget for family shopping because, well, it’s from the 1950s), but the take away of what is “essential” in a wardrobe is pretty interesting, and pretty practical.  The full recommendation is certainly more than 12 items, but I’ve distilled what I think are some of the more important features down to a 12 item sized capsule.  For this I’ve decided to include: 

  • Coats and Jackets
    • Heavyweight Coat
    • Formal (suit) jacket/blazer
    • Midweight Jacket
  • Dress
    • Day Dress
    • Fancy Dress
  • Skirt
    • Formal (suit) skirt
    • Casual skirt
  • Pants
    • Formal (suit) trouser
    • Casual Trouser
  • Blouse
    • Tailored blouse
    • Soft blouse
  • Sweater
    • Cardigan/sweater

Here are my Soft Natural picks for this possible capsule: 

Pros: I’ll have an item from each of the Kibbe categories, and I’ll have a fairly versatile range from causal to formal looks.  Two items each of tops, pants, and skirts means a lot of mix-and-match options; it could be even more if you choose to switch out one of the jacket/sweater options for a third top.

Cons: For some reason making a coordinating capsule meant leaving out a lot of the designs I’m most excited to make!  I’m really digging some casual options at the moment, but this capsule comes off as more of a Level 2/3.

Example Capsule #4: Seasonal Capsule

If you live in a climate like mine, planning a year-round capsule probably makes a lot of sense.  While I certainly have clothes that only come out in summer or winter, a lot of my items are in constant rotation, because the seasons just aren’t that variable here.  However, I could see how doing 2 small 6-item capsules might make more sense if you wanted to plan you Kibbe sewing to coincide with weather patterns.  Here is my suggestion for planning 2 smaller seasonal capsules: 

  • Spring/Summer
    • Coat/Jacket/Sweater
    • Dress
    • Top 1
    • Top 2
    • Pants
    • Skirt
  • Fall/Winter
    • Coat/Jacket
    • Sweater
    • Dress
    • Top
    • Pants
    • Skirt

Pros: Sewing seasonally is good to have stuff you can wear immediately.  It’s also fun to change gears a bit when the weather changes.

Cons: Some items may not work as well year round, and the mix-and-match ability may be decreased.  Additionally, it’s harder to have multiple levels of dress with smaller capsules; I’ve gone for a more casual look here, though it could easily have been made with Level 2 or Level 3 styles as well. 

Example Capsule #5: Mixed Level of Dress Capsule

One of the features of my Sew Your Kibbe series was posting options for different “Level of Dress,” with Level 1 being casual and Level 3 being formal.  In reality, unless we live a super glamorous lifestyle, we probably need more Level 1 and Level 2 clothes than Level 3 clothes.  This is a sort of tiered capsule; the majority of items are in Level 1 (assuming a more casual lifestyle), with Level 2 essentially consisting of a 3 piece suit and blouse, and only 2 Level 3 items to get you through an unexpected formal event that might just pop up.  Here are my suggestions for this sort of capsule:

  • Level 1
    • Coat or Jacket
    • Pants
    • Skirt
    • Top 1
    • Top 2
    • Dress
  • Level 2
    • Suit jacket
    • Suit pant
    • Suit skirt
    • Suit blouse
  • Level 3
    • Dress/jumpsuit
    • Coat/topper

And here are my Soft Natural choices:

Pros: I think this results in a pretty versatile wardrobe.  You end up with a lot of casual pieces, a formal 3-piece suit and blouse, and a fancy dress and coat for holiday parties and weddings.

Cons: Not as much mix-and-match ability; that Level 3 coat is certainly not going with those Level 1 trousers, and the Level 1 skirt is not going to look quite right with the Level 2 jacket either.

Example Capsule #6: Single Level of Dress

I think one way to get a true “capsule” that is intended to entirely go together as a cohesive unit is to focus on sewing for only one level of dress.  The items for each level are the same, but I thought I’d do an example for each level and see how they compare.

  • Heavy coat
  • Lightweight coat
  • Jacket
  • Sweater
  • Top 1
  • Top 2
  • Top 3
  • Bottom 1
  • Bottom 2
  • Bottom 3
  • Dress 1
  • Dress 2

Here is my Level 1 Soft Natural Capsule: 

My capsule for Level 2:

And for Level 3: 

Pros: These have the most mix-and-match ability.  Everything is intended to go with everything else.  You get plenty of coats, jackets, tops, bottoms, and dresses to make an outfit, and if your life really is all casual all the time, or super fabulous parties all the time, you get to focus on making what you need.  It’s also great if after doing a closet inventory you realize that you don’t have any work appropriate clothes and really need to fill that hole as a sewing priority for the year.

Cons: If you are new to Kibbe and it has totally changed your mind about what styles you should be sewing, you may need to inject a bit of Kibbe recommendations into all levels of dress, and this option isn’t as versatile for doing that.

And that’s it!  I hope these examples provide a bit of guidance or inspiration for anyone who is looking for a bit more advice on how to get started.  This challenge is meant to be completely open ended and in no way restrictive, but I found that planning my Sew Geeky capsules last year was really helpful in motivating me to be a bit more focused in my goals and not get quite so distracted by all the shiny things.  I’m curious to know – which capsule do you think is the best, or at least, which one would be the most practical for your lifestyle?  Also, just out of curiosity, which do you think would be the best for me?  I haven’t really done the closet inventory stage yet, and won’t be making final choices until I get back from my trip at the end of the month, but I’m curious if one of these capsules sticks out as being more interesting/fun/practical/exciting than the others.  Feel free to let me know your thoughts on this phase of wardrobe planning down in the comments!

20 thoughts on “Sew Your Kibbe Challenge: Soft Natural Capsule Examples

  1. These are great examples and excellent help in deciding what to do. Love the patterns!

    My approach this year is going to be a combination of #4 (summer season) and #6 (level 1-ish), but since I already have 3 partial capsules I will just be making one or two pieces to fill in each capsule. So that means a navy cardigan and skirt, 2 gray tops, and a pair of white pants. It sounds like a mess but once I get those 5 items done I’ll have the basics in 3 neutral colors and I can decide what I want to add at that point.

    Without knowing what you have it’s hard to say which approach would be best for you. Maybe start out with Example 3 or 6 until you have the Level 2 basics you think you might need. Then you can veer off into the exciting patterns. Because we are always allowed to change our plans!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sounds like you know what you need, so your plans sound awesome!

      I think I am leaning towards something heavy with the Level 2 options because I think that’s what I most need right now, but I definitely have my eye on some of the Level 1 and 3 pieces as possible bonuses if I get the core 12 done.


  2. I feel familiar with the Core 4 concept and the Tim Gunn list, so those capsules worked in my brain! After that I got a bit overwhelmed with all the possibilities. I’m trying the Core 4 idea with planning mine, but utilizing what I’ve already made that fits in too. Which means it doesn’t look like a pretty coordinating capsule plan on paper, but I think it will work in my wardrobe. Come to think of it I could sketch out my existing pieces and play around, that will be more visual. I’ve made my January make, a casual jacket, but don’t really have pieces to make it a Classic or Soft Classic whole look yet. It will play very well in my existing wardrobe though!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nice! The end goal is a functioning wardrobe, so if it makes sense to work on “missing pieces” that don’t necessarily coordinate with each other, that totally works too in the context of the overall challenge.


  3. I like the idea of the tiered capsule as I think that reflects lots of our everyday lives. If time and resources (not to mention wardrobe space!) permit then I’d do the separate capsules for each level. I guess choosing the capsule for you really depends on your lifestyle and the pieces you need to fill out your existing wardrobe.
    I’m far too flighty with my sewing & planning to manage a capsule that is more than 2 pieces so it’s unlikely I’ll be joining this challenge, but I have loved reading about it, being reminded of older fabulous patterns and I look forward to seeing what you all come up with.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ideally I’d love to do the capsule for each level at some point – I feel like if I had all of the items from the last 3 sets in my wardrobe I’d be set for like 99% of situations, especially if I kept a few of my current RTW and previously sewn items to round things out. I’m thinking of that as a long term goal – having a wardrobe with a few items at every level of dress, which I can replace or add to as necessary. I went through my closet a bit today (to pack, not to declutter), and I realized how challenging it is for me to come up with 2 weeks of semi-professional looking things that I *actually* want to wear. I typically am quite flighty in my own sewing choices, but after visiting the mall the other day (I desperately needed a navy suit, like, ASAP for the event I’m going to), I am even more aware of how vital being able to sew is going to be to get the sort of wardrobe I need/want to cultivate, which means being a bit more disciplined in my approach than I’ve been in the past. But, I can honestly say I’m pretty excited by most of these patterns, so I’m actually looking forward to setting some year-long sewing plans.


  4. I’m never good at sticking with a plan, so I’m just going to try the domino method – where each piece you sew goes with the previous piece. It still feels spontaneous, but I end up with fewer orphan pieces.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Your 1950s wardrobe planning book sounds fascinating!

    I find most capsule wardrobe plans don’t work for me because the rules are too restrictive, but your #6 levels of dress one seems much more flexible and is one I could see myself wearing everything from, if in some hypothetical universe I managed to stick to a sewing plan for long enough to make them all.

    You said something recently about going to work for someone else rather than being freelance, so I’d cautiously vote for the number 6 option at level 2. Depends on the workplace though; mine’s certainly level 1 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I have a Level 2 job, struggle enormously if I ever have to go to Level 3 events and would like to entirely live in Level 1 clothes if lifestyle permitted. I am a Natural. My continuous struggle is sewing things which are Level 2 enough for work but still feel like me. The plan I have as a natural is Level 2 clothing that keeps a consistent colour theme, but potentially spans multiple seasons. I like seasonal collections and I find now I am cycling round a consistent set of colours. Hopefully no Level 3 events will occur this year, but if they do I will be straight to the Natural page re-reading the suggestions on what the heck to wear!

    Liked by 3 people

  7. All the capsules shown look interesting and love all the patterns. They are very stylish and current. I think I’d have the most luck at the #4 seasonal wardrobes. They would be more manageable and I tend to dress that way in my level 1 clothes. It would also be a good way to test a couple of Kibbe styles to see which works best on someone unsure between two types (namely me). I also love the Domino idea. The #6 capsule sounds like it would be great for your needs. The 50s book sounds intriguing!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I think this post is going to be life-changing for me. I understand why a core of 4 could be super-helpful to some, but I hate wearing monochromatic outfits. And too many of Tim Gunn’s pieces are things I just simply won’t wear. In addition, with these capsule ideas you have actually highlighted one of my continuous struggles with building an effective capsule wardrobe, which is the idea of trying to make every top go with every bottom and every topper go over every top, etc. It is quite exhausting to compare necklines, hemlines, sleeves, etc., and even then, I know in reality that wearing my suit blazer with a pleated cotton skirt just isn’t going to happen because the two pieces don’t feel like they go together. While I understood the level of dress concept in theory, I hadn’t really taken the time to apply it to my own life until recently when I did a mini closet clean-out and happened to start grouping my clothing sort of by occasion rather than garment type/sleeve length/color as I usually do. For example, I grouped all the pieces I would only wear for lounging around the house (boxy sweatshirts, long sleeve baseball style tees, wide knit pants, fleece jacket, etc.) together. I put all of my dressier workwear blouses together, too, and so on. I didn’t completely overhaul the closet at that time, but your examples and commentary in this post are really helping me get a grip on what I think I was starting to ferret out on my own. For me and my lifestyle, it seems like developing a capsule individually for each level of dress makes the most sense (Example #6). You mentioned that you really need more business/career wear and I’m in the same boat because I also am looking to make a career change which would likely move me back into a level 2 work environment. I would probably start with building the level 2 plan and then expand to level 1 and later 3.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Dr T,
    There are so many ways to put together a capsule! I really enjoyed seeing how the capsules came together based upon your “method”. Looking through the collages, there seemed to be some basics repeated in most of them. If this were me, I’d end up making those repeated patterns first hoping by the time I was finished with them, I’d know which style of capsule was going to fit best.
    I seem to be classic/soft classic and feel like I could legitimately take patterns I like and make them up in different fabrics for the levels without non sewers really noticing. Fit is my biggest challenge (and frstration) so using the same pattern with different fabrics also seems less daunting.
    I participated in the suduko wardrobe contest several years ago with patterreview, it was challenging and fun and I wore those pieces out!
    Thank you so much for sharing your process, your blog is my most favorite daily read! (Yes, this means your posts are on repeat)

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I absolutely LOVE your sew-your-Kibbe posts. I am soft natural (I believe you are too?) and I love your pattern suggestions. I am in Denmark, ad I especially love your Burda style suggestions as the big pattern company-patterns are very expensive here. I haven’t seen you mention Simplicity K1369 which I saw on the great British sewing bee and absolutely love.
    Thank you so much for all your Soft atural suugestions!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I keep coming back to your posts :* Since these are a couple of years old, I wonder if you’ve found any new favorite patterns since writing this?

    Liked by 1 person

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