kcw guest post by laura from behind the hedgerow

HOW TO make a garment work for winter and summer

KCW guest post - summer to winter - title collage

Hi, folks.  It’s Laura from Behind the Hedgerow back for another chat.

We all want our handmade clothes (well, all clothes for that matter) to be as useful and versatile as possible.  Today I’m here to illustrate an example of how you can make a summer garment perfectly acceptable for winter wear.

KCW guest post - summer to winter - winter style detail2

My personal approach to such matters can be summed up in two words: layering and knitwear.  I know, there is nothing radical or particularly genius about this statement – if you add more layers of clothing to your body you will be warmer; and if those layers happen to be lush knitwear then you’ll be warmer still.  But, sometimes it’s nice to be reminded of the simple ideas, right?!

For this example I chose one of my daughter’s favourite handmade dresses – and one that many of you have probably sewn, or at least heard of – Made by Rae’s Geranium Dress (I got so carried away with this pattern that I once made four of them back to back!)

This is how the dress looked directly after sewing it – in the early Spring.




Surprisingly the dress still fits (just) so it remains in full wardrobe rotation.  In the damp and cold Belgian days, however,  it can’t be worn like this.  Instead, I’ve been using the dress as the base and having lots of fun adding layers.  First a long sleeved tee underneath…

KCW guest post - summer to winter - autumn style2

…then a sweater on top…

KCW guest post - summer to winter - winter style4

KCW guest post - summer to winter - winter style detail3

…and let’s not forget the hat and scarf.

KCW guest post - summer to winter - winter style1

KCW guest post - summer to winter - winter style2

Now all that remains is adding a coat and she’s ready to face winter in style.

KCW guest post - summer to winter - in coat

Styling for summer is a much easier prospect – sandals, a silky, floaty scarf and away you go.

KCW guest post - summer to winter - summer style3

KCW guest post - summer to winter - summer style detail

With this example in mind, here are my top tips for choosing patterns, fabric and colours that will help you create pieces for multiple seasons.

  • FIT.  Once sewn, will you be able to layer something under or over this garment for added warmth?  You could also consider going up a size to ensure a roomy fit for layering.
  • FABRIC WEIGHT.  A fine cotton voile or lawn may not be the best fabric choice here.  Think medium weight.  I find that a good quality quilting-weight cotton, or even a linen-cotton blend, is the most versatile fabric.  It’s light and breezy enough for summer but has enough structure to stand up to layering for winter.
  • COLOUR.  Of course there is no right or wrong here – you can sew with whatever colours you like, for whatever time of year you like, but, for me, if I plan to use a garment for both seasons I will at least bear that in mind when making my fabric choice.  Here are two colour palettes I love – they each have lots of neutrals with fun bursts of colour that would work equally well in both seasons.

  • FABRIC DESIGN.  Think about how your fabric choice can be paired with other existing items?  I love textures and mixing various solids, prints, stripes, etc but one has to be a wee bit careful not to go overboard.  How far you go is very much a matter of personal taste (and I fully appreciate that my winter ensemble might be a bit too much for some 🙂 ).  All I would suggest is that you play around with various colours, patterns and textures and see what works for you.
  • PATTERNS.  With the right choice of fabric and added layers, many apparently summer patterns would work well for winter.  Here are some that I have my eye on.

Figgy’s Celestial pullover – when made with a heavier-weight knit this would be ideal on top of long sleeved tees or even thin sweaters.


Oliver+s sailboat top, skirt and pants – I would love to make these pants in a luscious, rich velvet paired with tights and chunky socks.  And this pattern is unisex!

Oliver+s sailboat pants sewn by Skirt as Top


Go To Leggings – always useful to have in your child’s wardrobe.  You can layer them under pretty much anything.


Small Fry Skinny Jeans by Titchy Threads – because of their skinny fit, you can layer these with lots of chunky knitwear on top and the whole look will be sleek and stylish without being too heavy.


The Norah Dress by Welcome to the Mouse House – this dress is full of options (including instructions for sewing with knits).  Make it dress or tunic length.  I would love to sew it with the peter pan collar and layer it with a sweet sweater, with just the collar poking out.



So, what will you sew for KCW?  While trying to decide, don’t automatically disregard those summer sewing patterns you might have lurking in your stash.  Take a look again and, with these tips, see if you can make them work for winter.  If you do, there’s an added bonus – you’ll be one step ahead on your summer sewing!

But, if all of this gets too much to take in just wrap your little one in a big, warm quilt and away they go!

KCW guest post - summer to winter - in quilt

Thanks to you all for reading and Meg, thanks for having me.  I’ve already started cutting some fabric for KCW!  It’s getting close now.

Laura x

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  • Reply Bridget January 17, 2014 at 9:46 am

    The whole outfit is awesome. Something I might wear myself, but that coat! That coat is amazing. Is it something you sewed?

    • Reply Laura - Behind the Hedgerow January 20, 2014 at 5:00 am

      Thanks, Bridget.  No, I didn’t sew the coat.  It’s from boden.co.uk and I bought it at the end of 2012.  

  • Reply Shelly January 17, 2014 at 10:55 am

    I love it all!  Great style!

  • Reply Elle @ www.sewprettywitty.blogspot.com January 17, 2014 at 3:58 pm

    I love your colour palettes and your layering style:)

  • Reply Brienne January 17, 2014 at 4:16 pm

    Laura, that fabric – the green Geranium is so awesome. What is it?! And I LOVE the gold colored sweater over the top. What a surprising combo – it looks great and not too girly. 

    I didn’t know that the Norah dress could be made in a knit weight. I think that I’m going to have to do that. Can I still use regular piping with knits, do you know?

  • Reply Ana Sofia January 17, 2014 at 5:16 pm

    Thank you for your tips! 
    I also like to plan my kids wardrobe around basic pieces that can be layered – the right fabric and accessories can really change an outift and make it possible to be worn in every season. 
    It’s so nice to have it all organized like this – a huge help for all planning KCW projects 🙂

  • Reply sou enim January 18, 2014 at 9:32 am

    Thank you, Laura, for this great post. I liked it very much and find it so helpful.

    You risk a lot by mixing up all these different patterns, but it´s all worth it. I´m fascinated by the winter outfit with the green patterned Geranium Dress! How do you mix all these colours without failing?

    Great success for kcw!

  • Reply abby @ thingsforboys January 18, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    Great layering! Love the bright green pop of the dress.

  • Reply kristin January 18, 2014 at 10:10 pm

    Great post!  Totally agree that with a little layering, summer wardrobe staples can last through fall and winter.   Plus my 5 year old LOVES to mix and match tights/leggings/skirts/sweaters/shirts in all sorts of crazy combos.  😉  

    And thanks so much for featuring my sailboat pants!   

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