In Vintage Inspiration

Sew Inspired: 1950s Four Piece Wardrobe

I’m still trying to sort out all my thoughts on the subject after keeping a wardrobe journal for the entire month, but now that Me Made May is over and done, I’m planning for Me Made June and beyond. I definitely learned A LOT about what types of things I like to wear and why (which is exactly what I was hoping to get out of MMM), so now I have a pretty good idea of what I need to start sewing to complete a well-rounded summer wardrobe. I knew I was going to need to sew more mix and match separates, but one thing I didn’t plan on was loving a particular fabric so much that I wish I had it in a slightly different style. For example I wore the crap out of my Windmill Archer and my Pink Gingham Archer shirts last month and I found myself wishing I had other similar shirts with the same prints. You know, so I could wear the same thing everyday but not really…

1950sFourPieceWardrobe_Spring1953Image credit: Sears and Roebuck Catalog – Spring 1953 via (page has been cropped from it’s original form). Posted for historical reference only.

I love wild cotton prints (it is known) so it’s no surprise that I have huge wardrobe gaps when it comes to solid colored bottoms and wild cotton prints that I can actually wear together in the same outfit (I can’t seem to work out how to wear my Windmill Archer with my Arrows Hollyburn, if you can imagine).

Enter the 1950s 4-Piece Kerrybrook Wardrobe!

I spend a good chunk of my free time browsing old Sears & Roebuck catalog archives because I’m super interested in fashion history from a sewing perspective, and that’s honestly my idea of a good time (my Saturday nights get wild, I tell ya). So when I stumbled upon some Kerrybrooke pre-packaged mini capsule wardrobes from the early 1950s (Spring 1951 and ’53), I was super inspired to recreate a vintage influenced, modern equivalent.


I love the idea of picking two tops and two bottoms that are meant to be super match-y. I’m going to start with two printed tops and two solid bottoms, but I also like the idea of making coordinating things with cotton prints so I can wear them alone, or together and it would look like a dress.

Here’s what I’m thinking:
The Sewaholic Granville Shirt and the new Gertie Sweetheart Shirt (not sure which versions yet) in some novelty print cotton with lighthouse postcards on it, paired with the Sewaholic Hollyburn Skirt and Simplicity 1371 Shorts in Kaufman Hampton Twill. I have all of these items in my stash already so there’s nothing stopping me from making this happen in the very near future.

I’ll start there, and if I like my 1950s 4-Piece Kerrybrooke inspired combo I may start thinking about all future sewing projects in a similar manner. That way I’ll be guaranteed to have separates that mix and match instead of the smorgasbord of un-matchable (but still loveable) items I have now.

What do you think?
Would you try a 1950s inspired mini capsule wardrobe? Do you plan your garment projects in a similar way already? I’m curious!


  • Lyric

    “Would you try a 1950s inspired mini capsule wardrobe? Do you plan your garment projects in a similar way already? I’m curious!”

    Yes, I certainly would try this. No, honey, I do not PLAN my wardrobe in any fashion at all. That’s why I have a hodgepodge of stuff. Add that to the fact that I shop thrift stores A LOT which for me means most of my stuff are things that unto themselves are cute but there is no wardrobe focus. Grrrrr.

    Your sew-a-long is just the thing I need to get some wardrobe focus and reconnect with the point of my Sew Lyrically Vintage journey.

    Thanks for the idea, R. You’re too kewl.


    Lyric of Sew Lyrically Vintage

  • How fun! I’m so not a vintage girl (with the exception of the occasional late ’60’s shift), but I love the idea of a mini wardrobe that works together!

  • I am so on board for this idea, but it will mean fabric shopping instead of stash busting… *rubshands*



    bonita of Lavender & Twill

  • I adore the holly burn, but I opted for the Oakridge instead of the Granville. I keep seeing the bowless neckline with a little ruffle. I really need to bump that up on my sewing list.

  • Kacy Burchfield

    Love, love this idea! I think I will jump on this project with you. I love these wardrobes and it would be nice to have several mix and match pieces. This needs to happen in my life. πŸ™‚

  • This is such a neat idea. It’s getting to winter here in Australia, but for next summer I am already planning on making sure I have some good print blouses, seeming mine all seem to be plain colours. A few solid coloured skirts, and I should be much more mix and match than I am now

  • Jennifer Hill

    I’m still nearish the beginning of my homemade wardrobe sewing experience but I’m very conscious of trying to make separates that each coordinate with several of other makes, which means I’m having to think carefully about colour and style for some basic pieces, which need to be my next few projects. I love the 4-piece wardrobe idea and also your idea of a matching top and bottom to wear together or separately – 3-in-1, so clever!! Having had a wardrobe of mismatched RTW stuff, to me this is a lot of the huge fun of sewing your own clothes. And I would say I, too, need a solid bottom but sadly I already have one. NO, sorry! I always seem to end up posting goofy comments – many apologies for past such (and probably future, I fear). Thanks as always for the inspiration and happy sewing! Jen PS just going to look up some of your links : )

    • Well Jen, you’re already well ahead of the handmade wardrobe game if you’re planning coordinates. That’s very smart! …I wish I did more smart sewing hahaha! I agree, it definitely makes sewing so much fun when you can do something better than RTW!

      p.s. No need to apologize for goofy comments. They are my favorite kind πŸ˜‰

  • Definitely! And in many ways, that’s what I do when I travel (rare occasions that such trips are). I’ll start with a general colour palette in mind, including the metals (gold, silver, copper, brass, etc) and a couple of absolute basics (say, a black or grey pencil skirt and a dark coloured blazer), and then build up a mix of harmonious patterns and solids so that largely all compliment one another, or at least can play with several other items. It’s like putting together a well balanced recipe and is something I enjoy doing immensely.

    Happy sewing and all the best with this exciting project!

    β™₯ Jessica

    • I should have guessed you planned your outfits in a similar manner already. You always look so effortlessly put together! I like the idea of planning out your wardrobe like a well balanced recipe… that’s a good analogy. Thanks for the tips! πŸ™‚

  • Piper

    Just bought the Gertie blouse and was planning the same idea! I was inspired by this amazing novel I just finished called The Cherry Harvest, set in Wisconsin during WWII. The heroine sews and wears a shorts set with matching skirt and bolero to a beach party. Would you be interested in hosting a Flickr pool? No video requested because they are so much work.

    • That sounds like such a great book! And yes, I would definitely be open to hosting an on-going 4-piece sewing challenge of some kind… let me think about that and I’ll report back soon πŸ˜‰

  • That capsule wardrobe sounds like an awesome idea – and a great way to build some separates that will work well together. I might try something similar on my own – the big hole in my handmade wardrobe is separates as well, especially bottoms.

    • Thank you! I would love to see what you come up with for your own 4-piece combo! πŸ™‚

  • Claire

    I’m with you! So many fabulous prints in my wardrobe but not enough plains so most blouses are worn with denim – because that goes with everything. I ‘told’ myself some time ago to make plain fabric items. But I have so many pretty fabrics to sew with! I love the idea of planning a capsule look as you suggest here. I watch with interest….

    • Thanks, Claire! I can so empathize with the distraction of pretty fabrics. That’s why I had to add SOME kind of plan with prints in order to force myself to also sew solids, haha! πŸ™‚

  • Best Idea ever!

  • This is such a great idea. It seems like it should be such an obvious solution, but it is so not obvious! I look forward to seeing the results!

  • Elena

    This looks like an amazing combination of patterns, you can’t go wrong! I look forward to seeing how they turn out, that Gertie blouse in particular is such a cute shape!

  • AmandaStock

    I’ve been thinking about this sort of thing, too — curating my wardrobe a little, especially because I have so much amazing vintage but none of it matches. I’ve been buying repro separates in solid fabrics, and that’s helping to expand my choices phenomenally.

    Out of curiosity, which catalog archives are you using to browse for inspiration? Could you link them?

    • I can’t link directly to the archives because they’re viewable in a flash-type slideshow thing on, so there is no direct link. And honestly, they’re a real pain to find. You have to search “Sears” and then fall down the rabbit hole of click-through links but they’re in there somewhere lol! Once you find them though it’s worth the trouble. Their catalog archives are pretty much the only reason I have an account! πŸ™‚

  • This sounds like a great idea! It sounds like I have really similar wardrobe gaps that you do, and I love the idea of having several outfits that are just right, but wearable in a few different ways!

    • You should try it! I bet you would come up with the most adorable combinations!! πŸ™‚

  • Evie

    I probably should start planning my projects this way, but since I don’t I tend to wear mostly crazy printed dresses and light cardigans when it’s warm. that way I don’t have to make sure my tops and bottoms coordinate in any way. I do have a few pairs of solid shorts that I’ve made and can wear with just about anything though, so that helps some. looking forward to seeing what you make!

    • Hey, nothing wrong with crazy printed dresses and cardigans in my book! πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰ I’m all about not having to find matching tops and bottoms, but unfortunately I have so many non-mixable separates right now that they’re not getting worn. I’ll fix that all soon though πŸ™‚

  • rachlovespenguins

    Whether I buy it or make it, I have the exact same problem! I love unique prints too, and I’ve always got a stash of items that I can’t wear with each other. And occasionally not with much else either, hahaha. I want to make more (we like what we like, you know?) but I also need to do some solids, or I know the issue will only get worse. I just found a pile of yardage at a garage sale (and it’s very nearly a solid, I promise! Lol) that I think will come in handy for some trousers. Best of luck with your pieces- and with your skills I know they’ll be nothing short of fabulous! πŸ™‚

    • Thank you! I honestly have the hardest time even buying solid colored fabric because I tend to just be plain uninspired by it. I love sewing for fun and not for necessity but you have to draw the line somewhere I suppose. Now solids are definitely a necessity πŸ˜‰ You’re right, we like what we like!

  • Debra Ward

    My desire for my wardrobe at the beginning of the year is to make something that I can at least match with a couple of other things to create different outfits. So sort of like the kerrybrook! I’ve roughly planned the year because I’m trying to make things that will at least get me thru 3 seasons. I’ve got some lovely plaids waiting for fall and winter. But for summer it’s all cotton!

    • Hooray for all cotton! My favorite πŸ˜‰ I would love to have a 3-season wardrobe but in Upstate New York our seasons tend to be VERY defined, and therefore I really need a well rounded selection of clothing. If anything, a 3-season wardrobe for me would be three seasons of cold and one season of summer haha!