8 Easy Pieces

Julianne Hazelhurst
8 Easy Pieces

Pattern Picks

The basic framework for the featured summer travel wardrobe consists of two tops, a tunic, a cardigan or jacket, one pair of shorts, one pair of pants, a dress and a strapless top/skirt (see "Double-Duty Shirred Top" below). Once you've decided on a destination, look for patterns in each category that will suit the vacation environment and your style. Choose relaxed rather than tailored styles and avoid patterns with back buttons or ties that might be uncomfortable while sitting on a plane or car seat.

Fuss-Free Fabrics

Refer to each pattern envelope for the suggested fabric types. Look for lightweight, breathable fabrics that pack well and don't wrinkle easily, such as jersey; or fabrics that are already wrinkled, such as gauze. No one wants to spend precious vacation minutes slaving over an ironing board. For extra comfort, select fabrics that contain spandex to add a bit of stretch. Also look for easy-care fabrics that can be washed in the hotel sink and dried overnight.

Color Coordinate

To simplify coordinating your wardrobe, first select a multi-colored print fabric, such as a floral knit, to serve as the basis for the color palette. Choose a print fabric suitable for a top, skirt and/or a dress. Select two neutral colors, such as navy and white, to complement the print fabric. These neutral colors are appropriate for the woven bottoms. Finally, choose a third accent color from the print, such as teal, to create two of the knit tops. Determine which fabric to use for each pattern. For the featured wardrobe, a floral cotton knit was used for the twist-front tank, dress and shirred top. White gauze worked well for the hooded tunic. Solid white and navy stretch twill was used for the pants and Bermuda shorts. A synthetic drapey teal knit lent itself perfectly to the cardigan and sleeveless top.

Finishing Touches

While constructing the garments, frequently try on each piece to ensure a flattering fit. Add professional polish by finishing seams with a serger or overlock stitch. Cut a print fabric strip to wear as a scarf, sash or hair wrap to tie together the outfits.

STAIN SAVER: Don't forget to carry a handy stain or bleach pen in your travel bag for fashion emergencies, especially if your wardrobe includes white pants!

Mix & Match

vacation outfitsThe featured wardrobe was created with a cruise or tropical destination in mind, so the patterns and fabric have a casual beach-friendly vibe. The two basic sleeveless tops can be combined with almost any bottom or layered under the trendy teal draped cardigan. A hood was added to the breezy gauze tunic, which can be worn as a light jacket or beach cover-up. Depending on shoes and accessories, the simple pull-over dress looks either casual or dressy. The stretch twill Bermuda shorts are a flattering and practical length and they add a touch of crispness to the otherwise fluid pieces. The sophisticated wide-legged white pants pair effortlessly with each top.

Pattern Notes: McCall's 5423 and New Look 6815 are currently unavailable. An alternative dress is Vogue 8632. For similar pants, look for New Look 6920.

  • Teal Top: Simplicity 2603, View E
  • Teal Cardigan: Simplicity 2603, View B
  • Print Top: Simplicity 4076, View F
  • Gauze Tunic: Butterick 5034, View E (modified)
  • Bermuda shorts: McCall's 5391, View D
  • Pants: New Look 6815, View E (out of print)
  • Dress: McCall's 5423, View C (out of print)

Double-Duty Shirred Top

shirred top

This shirred top is a great addition to a summer travel wardrobe because it doubles as a cute and comfy skirt.

Note: The featured top fits a size M/L and is 25" long.


  • 1 yard of 60"-wide knit fabric
  • Thread: all-purpose & elastic


From the fabric, cut a rectangle 33" x the fabric width.


Designate one long edge as the upper edge. Fold the upper edge 1 1/4" toward the wrong side; pin. Mark the side edges 10" from the folded edge.

Loosely hand-wind the bobbin with elastic thread, ending when the bobbin is about 3/4 full.  Thread the machine with all-purpose thread in the needle and elastic thread in the bobbin. Set the stitch length between 3.0mm and 3.5mm.

Test-stitch a knit fabric scrap. If necessary, adjust the stitch length and/or loosen the upper tension so that the elastic thread flows smoothly through the bobbin. 

With the fabric right side facing up, begin stitching 1/4" from the folded edge, gently pulling the fabric taut as you sew (1).   

When you reach the selvage, lift the presser foot while the needle is lowered. Rotate the fabric 45°. Stitch three stitches parallel to the selvage. Rotate the fabric back 45°, aligning the presser foot edge with the first stitching line. Stitch the second shirring line (2). 

Continue shirring the fabric until you reach the 10" mark (approximately 40 stitching lines). Tightly knot the elastic on the fabric wrong side. If the bobbin thread runs out during a shirring line, secure the elastic thread, refill the bobbin and begin stitching over the last three or four stitches. 

Lightly steam the shirring lines to pucker the fabric and create the shirred effect.


With right sides together, fold the rectangle in half, matching the selvages. Stitch the open edges, using a 1/2" seam allowance. Stitch again 1/4" from the first stitching line (3). This is the center back seam.

shirred top how-tos

Fold the lower edge 1/4" toward the wrong side. Stitch close to the raw edge.


The McCall Pattern Company carries Butterick 5034 and McCall's 5391. (800) 782-0323, mccall.com.

Simplicity Pattern Company carries New Look 6815 and Simplicity 2603 and 4076: (888) 588-2700, simplicity.com.


Appeared in:

Post a comment
To comment on this article you must be logged in. Not a member?


Reader Comment
A reader submitted this comment via email: "This is the cutest put together wardrobe that I have ever seen. The pieces were great, the fabrics wonderful, and the way in which they were combined was outstanding. Each piece was fashionable without being extreme or likely to be out of fashion soon. I don’t know if I will make all 8 pieces, but surely will do some. In addition, I either had the patterns already or had something very similar. Thank you for this bit of creativity. Sincerely, Mary Plumb"
© F+W All rights reserved.