Casual pattern inspiration for the non-girly sewist

Interview at SeamstressErin

Everyone has their own personal style, and it’s wonderful to see so many sewists expressing themselves through personalized clothing.  Today my thoughts on sewing and style are featured over at SeamstressErin (many thanks, Erin!), and I’ll talk a little more about them here.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been telling people that “I’m not a girly girl.”  I used to think this was a personality flaw, but thankfully I’ve grown to embrace my love of practical, streamlined styles.  I don’t paint my nails, I barely wear makeup, and a gathered skirt is almost as rare in my wardrobe as a sweetheart neckline.  Jeans and t-shirts forever!

As many of you have been posting your fall/winter style inspiration, I’ve been thinking about my own ideal wardrobe and how I might create it using currently available patterns.  So, to join in the fun, I’ve compiled a list of patterns that I’ve had my eye on, most of which are suited for colder weather and women with a more masculine or androgynous style.  Let’s dive in!

Style inspiration

Casual style inspiration collage

When I started Googling for style inspiration (side note: the whole idea of Pinterest is way too girly for me), I made an interesting observation.  All the images I saved were essentially identical: blazers, t-shirts, and jeans.  I guess I know what I like.  🙂  I’ve often shown up for dinner with my boyfriend wearing almost the same thing as him, only his jeans are a little less tight than mine.  Weird?  Nah.  I think he digs it!

Pattern inspiration

So how can I create a wardrobe full of these casual, masculine-inspired pieces?  Garments that are practical and functional, but still make me feel confident and stylish?  I’ve picked out a few patterns that I’ve either previously sewn or that I think would fit well into my wardrobe.  There was no way I could include all the patterns that I think would fit, so I chose some representative examples.


Casual sewing pattern inspiration - Blazers

(1) Simplicity 2446 – A classic-cut blazer in 2 lengths with 3 different cup sizes.  I’ve made two versions (here and here) and learned so much in the process.  A good starting point if you’re new to blazers and/or tailoring.

(2) Named Kaisla Blazer – I’ve been coveting this pattern ever since I saw Sunni’s version on Project Sewn.  It has a pretty relaxed/cool style with an interesting “no collar” detail.

(3) Papercut Bellatrix Blazer – No doubt you’ve seen plenty of gorgeous versions around the sewing blogosphere.  With its fitted, edgy style lines, I think this pattern would be perfect with tight jeans and tall boots.


Casual sewing pattern inspiration - Jackets

(1) Waffle Patterns Cookie Jacket – How could you not feel cool in this jacket?  I love the plaid they used in the model version and could see myself wearing this jacket all the time.  Who’s made one of these?  I want to see your versions!

(2) Papercut Reigel Bomber – Like the Bellatrix, this pattern has gotten a ton of love from sewing bloggers.  I’m not 100% convinced this pattern would suit me (I tend to like just a bit more structure in a jacket), but everyone seems to look amazing in it.

Knit tops & sweaters

Casual sewing pattern inspiration - Knit tops and sweaters

(1) Sewaholic Renfrew – I’ve made a zillion of these tops, including 2 maxi dresses.  I’m of the opinion that you only need one t-shirt pattern, so choose wisely, make your fit adjustments, and start hacking away for other styles!  Everyone needs a TNT t-shirt, no?

(2) Capital Chic White Russian – This sweatshirt has been making the rounds lately.  Its fitted silhouette provides warmth without sacrificing style – a win in my book.  Grainline Linden is another option, albeit with a less fitted silhouette.

(3) The classic tank top – Please, someone draft a pattern for this!  Am I missing it?  Should I take my own advice and hack it out of the Renfrew?  I’ve seen some simple cami patterns, but none for a true ribbed tank.

Woven tops

Casual sewing pattern inspiration - Woven tops

(1) Grainline Archer – Is anyone surprised that this pattern made my list?  Anyone?  🙂  I’ve made 5 versions so far, with plenty more to come, I’m sure.  A classic button-down is a staple for me.  I love the menswear inspired style and endless possibilities for added details and fabric choices.

(2) Fitted button-down from my sloper – One day I will draft this baby, and then all my button-down dreams will come true.

Side note: I’m not a fan of woven tops that aren’t button-downs with a collar.  There, I said it.  I find other styles just too feminine for my taste!


Casual sewing pattern inspiration - Skirts

(1) Grainline Moss mini – An above-the-knee, straight-cut skirt with a low-cut waistline and no gathers.  In other words, the perfect non-girly skirt.  I’m currently making my first version and can see this becoming a staple, as I’ve been wearing RTW minis like this forever.

(2) Named Nascha – I just noticed this skirt thanks to Louise, and it has many of the same design features of the Moss, with an added cutout and wrap-over in the front.  If you like a short skirt (totally do-able with opaque tights!), I’d say go for it!


Casual sewing pattern inspiration - Pants

(1) Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans – Can I get an AMEN?  I plan to make the lower-rise, straight-leg version of these jeans a staple in my wardrobe.  I had been waiting around for the perfect modern-cut jeans pattern to come out, and BOOM Heather Lou delivers.

(2) Sewaholic Thurlows – Where can I find a non-pear version of this style?  A modern-cut, lower-rise, straight-leg chino for us slip-hipped women?  All the Big 4 pants that fit this general description seem to be frump-city, am I right?


Casual sewing pattern inspiration - Loungewear

(1) Sewaholic Tofino PJ pants – Cute loungewear with attention to detail?  Yes please!  I’m assuming the pear-shaped design won’t be as much of an issue in these very loose-fitting bottoms.  One can never have enough PJs, really.

(2) Papercut Ooh La Leggings – More cute, detailed loungewear.  The style lines on these leggings are interesting and modern, which is a nice twist on such a basic garment.  I still say leggings are “not pants” though.

(3) So Zo undies – The most comfortable undies I’ve ever worn in my life.  I wear my versions every single day.  Go make some – the pattern is free!


Casual sewing pattern inspiration - DressesAll right, this post is supposed to be about casual patterns with non-girly styles, but the reality is that I *am* a girl and actually enjoy wearing dresses once in a while.  🙂  If I’m going to wear a dress, I prefer a straight, streamlined cut with no gathers and minimal embellishments.  Two great examples:

(1) Butterick 5353 – A straight-cut, above-the-knee skirt with an interesting neckline detail and contrast waistband.  My 3 versions get regular wear for fancy dinners and holidays.  Sadly, this beauty is now out of print.

(2) By Hand London Georgia Dress – I fell in love with this pattern the instant it came out.  The short version with thick straps is super edgy and modern.  Surprisingly, I haven’t seen this version getting much love in the blogosphere.  What gives?  I would buy this pattern, but OMG where the heck would I wear it?  Someone invite me to a cocktail party.

Final Thoughts

If you prefer blazers and button-downs over gathered skirts and high waistlines, there are plenty of patterns out there to suit your style.  It just takes a bit of patience wading through the sea of dresses.  Sewing all these patterns will probably take me forever at my glacial pace, but at least now I have something to aim for!

What patterns would you add to (or subtract from) this list?  If you’re not a jacket-and-jeans type of girl, what’s your personal style?

39 thoughts on “Casual pattern inspiration for the non-girly sewist

  1. I have had my eye on that Waffle patterns Cookie jacket for a while. I think it’s more my style than the Reigel bomber. I saw one on a blog recently– I think it was on Imagine Gnats. It looked really cozy. I love this post– I definitely lean toward the girly side of the spectrum, but I also love these practical styles, too. As much as I love sewing dresses they aren’t what I reach for every morning when I’m getting dressed!


    • Aha, thanks for the heads-up! That version of the Cookie is awesome. I love the herringbone fabric and floral lining – what a cute combination. Now I want to sew this pattern even more. 🙂

      I totally agree about dresses – really fun to sew, just not very practical to wear (at least for me)!


    • Your skirt looks great, I love it! What color is that lining – lime green? I love that it’s so unexpected. Great job lengthening the skirt too – it’s still a mini but not *super* short.


      • the lining is more of a mustard yellow, and thanks–the lengthening was trickier than I thought, and I know I did it incorrectly because the slant is off. But i love the skirt and have already purchased more fabric to perfect a second one.


        • Great, looking forward to seeing it! Louise at NotSewSimple is currently making one, and she mentioned lengthening it was tricky for her as well. I guess you’d have to completely re-do the angle of the overlap from waist to hem?


    • That’s great news about the upcoming shell pattern! While such basic garments are usually not as exciting to sew, I’d really like to stop buying my tanks at the Gap one of these days. 🙂

      I’ve read so many good reviews of the Espresso leggings – thanks for the reminder!


  2. Hi! I came here from Seamstress Erin’s post 🙂 Your blog is great and I’m voting for that Cookie jacket. What a cute pattern!


  3. I love your post! Although I like and wear girly things that isn’t my everyday. Nor, if I look at other people, anyone’s! I always wondered what all the ultra-feminine-retro dresses going around for a couple of years were being sewn for. Real life? Just for fun? My sewing time’s too precious for that! Re: the tank top, have you considered a rub-off if you have an rtw tank you like? I’ve made rub-off t-shirts and they turned out great!


    • I completely agree, Uta! I’m all for sewing what you love, and if that’s vintage dresses, that’s awesome! It’s just not my everyday wear. I used to work with a woman who wore 50s-style dresses to work (in a lab!) every single day, and she always looked fabulous. I don’t know how she managed it, but good for her!

      Great idea about a rub-off. Making a mental note to try this. 🙂


  4. I’m much the same, but I like to layer semi-girly things (like giant floral fabrics) with the blazers or other boxy shapes. I can never go over the top girly, it just makes me feel ridiculous! And any skirt above “lightly gathered” just doesn’t feel right. Have you tried burdastyle’s pants? They have so many styles, and their drafting is really good. Instructions are a bit sketch, so you may have to search for guidance there.


    • Thanks Lisa! I haven’t tried any Burda patterns yet, but I suspect you’re right that it may be the way to go for pants. I’ve been putting off sewing pants forever and really need to just dive in already.

      I totally agree on balancing floral prints (or polka dots, my favorite) with more casual styles. I love bright colors!


  5. I’m really drawn to a lot of this. Fairly recently I went through a several years-long phase where I sewed and wore dresses all the time, but in the last year or so, I’ve been really getting back into more functional and straightforward, almost menswear-inspired stuff. No pattern suggestions for you, sorry, but thanks for the head up about the Cookie jacket. I hadn’t seen it before, and it’s great.


    • Thanks for stopping by, Sara! I’ve been lurking your blog and enjoy seeing all your casual projects. 🙂 Isn’t the Cookie awesome? I really hope this post generates a boom of Cookie jackets that I can subsequently drool over, LOL.


  6. Good for you on knowing your style! I love reading sewing blogs from all sorts of people but sometimes the amount of dresses/skirts/blouses I see make me feel a bit out on a limb, even though my every day jeans and a t shirt wear are what I see others out and about in in my locality.

    I haven’t made them myself so can’t really comment on the fit, but the Thurlow’s remind me of Maria Denmarks wide legged trousers( which I don’t think are specifically drafted for pear shapes so might be more up your street?


    • Ah, interesting pattern, thanks for the tip! I think the key is finding a waist/hip block that fits well, since it’s relatively easy to widen/narrow the legs as desired. I agree that it’s fun to see everyone’s gorgeous dresses, but they’re just not for me. It all depends on your style and lifestyle. If I worked in an office, I bet I’d wear more dresses and pencil skirts!


  7. Great pattern choices! These are all really similar to my style, too. Nothing wrong with not being very girly! Named has a straight leg chinos pattern I’ve been thinking of trying… can’t remember the name of it, but it was a great cut!


    • Ah, I know exactly which pattern that is! The Alpi Chinos:

      I’ve almost hit the “buy” button on that one so many times, but something about the transparent fabric in the model photos turns me off (which is a completely ridiculous reason, I know). I’d be really curious to see if you give them a try. Named seems to draft for less curvy shapes, which may very well work for for me!


  8. Great post. I really enjoyed reading your interview with Erin.
    I agree with out about woven button downs! Although, I do like wearing my cotton grainline scout woven tee when it’s hot.
    At the moment I’m going through a ‘fit & flare’ stage, fitted tops and flared skirts. I do aspire to a more androgynous style, but I’ve just got to master sewing pants/trousers 🙂


    • You and me both! I’ve still never attempted pants, but it’s really high on my sewing priority list. I suspect that I might dive in over the holiday break at the end of the year. Have you tried it yet?


      • I’ve only ever sewn pyjama pants or knit shorts for lounging.
        I’ve bought a few pants/trouser patterns for wovens (by ‘a few’, I mean a lot), but I’m scared off by the fitting that goes into making them. I’m thinking of easing myself into pants/trousers fitting by drafting culottes based on my skirt block. Wish me luck 🙂


  9. I’ve been trying to analyze my winter style (and a REAL winter style for New England, not just a Pinteresty style that will leave me cold), and I came up with something similar to yours. This post is really helpful. I’m off to check out a few of the patterns you mentioned. If you haven’t checked out the Alabama Chanin books yet, you may find a basic tank there. Her t-shirts are my go-tos.


    • Thanks Lisa! Great idea to check the books for a tank pattern. She is the queen of knits – there has to be one in there. 🙂

      Very well said about real style vs. Pinterest style. It gets seriously cold here for a good part of the year, and keeping warm becomes way more important than looking stylish! It’s a challenge to find tops that provide warmth and still look decent, but I think I’m getting better at it over the years. Sometimes I see people posting sleeveless cotton dresses in the winter and think to myself, where the heck are they going to wear that? 🙂


    • Ah, this looks perfect, thanks for thinking of me! The bias tape is such a cute detail. I wonder how it would come out with self binding to retain some stretch around the armholes. Probably do-able!


  10. How did I miss this post? This is totally up my street! I live in jeans and t-shirts, and most of the styles I see on blogs are not things I would wear. While I enjoy reading on construction techniques I do believe there is a big gap for those of us who prefer less “girly” styles. You’ve compiled a number of patterns, but they are still a minority when compared to all the gathered skirts out there…

    I recently bought Snowball by Waffle patterns, because I love its lines! The sample on the website does not look terribly appealing to me, but have a look at the line drawing:

    While I can’t speak about the drafting, since I still haven’t made it (waiting for appropriate fabric to come my way), the pdf pattern itself is arguably the best I have seen. It has layers for the different sizes, so you if you are interested in, say, size 38, you may de-select all the rest and your printed pattern will look less busy! The instructions are easy to understand and heavily illustrated. They are a bit similar to the instructions you may get in a Japanese pattern book. I really hope more Cookies appear on the blogosphere because the pattern looks ACE.


    • Thanks for your thoughts on the Snowball pattern! It’s good to know that the patterns are well put-together and easy to use. I’ll be curious to hear how your sewing experience goes. And yes, I hope to see more Cookies popping up!

      I agree that the majority of sewing patterns out there are pretty feminine, which is great if that’s your style, and apparently pattern designs are doing quite well with those types of patterns. It would be great to see more masculine-inspired womens’ patterns come out though – something for the rest of us. 🙂


  11. I made the Caramel Duffle coat by Waffle Patterns and thought the drafting and instructions were fantastic. It was my first coat and the instructions were very detailed and had excellent illustrations. I liked the size layers as well, as mentioned in the above comment.

    I really enjoyed reading this post! We have very similar styles, which is a breath of fresh air from all the party dresses all over the Sewing Blog Community.


    • Carol, your coat looks great! Thanks for your comments on the pattern – it seems that Waffle Patterns are definitely worth checking out. I’m so glad I mentioned the Cookie in this post because there have been so many informative comments about the pattern line as a result.

      Glad to hear we have similar styles – and similar names. 🙂


Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.