My Personalized Sewing Planner by Elana

My Personalized Sewing Planner, by Elana

As the holiday frenzy starts to die down each December, I find myself looking ahead to the new year. For a planner like me, that means buying fresh new notebooks and pens and carving out time for goal setting and planning. I’m a relatively new garment sewist and earlier this year I realized that I needed a way to organize my ideas. I also wanted to get to work on my hobby, even when I didn’t have the time or motivation to actually sew. Enter my personalized sewing planner, taken to the next level with my custom My Body Model croquis sketches.

It’s taken me a few months to really get into a groove with my planner but I am excited about moving into 2020 with this system. Let me show you!

Making my personalized sewing planner

Elana's sewing planner pages with her custom croquis from MyBodyModel
I use my custom My Body Model croquis for various layouts in my personal sewing planner. Though the light gray croquis is very hard to see by itself, it disappears under colored pencil so I can see my garment.

I designed my own planner using Microsoft Publisher, pulling inspiration from several printable options that weren’t exactly what I wanted. I love that I am able to add my MyBodyModel custom croquis to any page and can make my own sketching layouts. I also love the flexibility of being able to instantly change the design as needed. However, there are lots of readymade options out there- this planner from Sew DIY,  this one from The Styled Printable or this free one from Seamwork would work really well if you don’t want to make your own. Every download from MyBodyModel also includes your own printable Project Planner booklet with lots of different page layouts ranging from 1-12 croquis per page.

I chose a pretty 3-ring binder to keep all my planner pages.

Elana's 3 ring binder and sewing planner pages with MyBodyModel custom croquis
My go-to tools for planning include colorful pens, a pencil and strong coffee.

Planning & visualizing my wardrobe with MyBodyModel

When it came to planning my fall/winter wardrobe, I wanted to be more intentional with my sewing, making pieces that can be mixed and matched with existing items in my closet. This is important to me not only for sustainability, but also because I live in an area with fairly mild weather. Rather than having specific seasonal outfits, the bulk of my wardrobe needs to be pieces that can stand alone in the hot summers and be layered in the cooler months.

My custom My Body Model croquis has made planning and visualizing my wardrobe a breeze!

My process

Taking inventory

I began my fall/winter wardrobe plan by taking an inventory of both my closet and my fabric stash. I went through all my clothing, noting any pieces I felt I were missing. I consulted my “Projects to Make” page in my planner and wrote down any “hole-filler” garments I could sew with fabrics I already had in my stash.

Elana's "Projects to Make" sewing planner pages
My “Projects to Make” pages in my planner help me get ideas for makes from my head onto paper.

Drawing outfits

I used my custom croquis to make a full page for sketching my fall/winter sewing plans.

I then set to work combining pieces from my inventory into outfits on my croquis. Drawing outfits is so much fun! I could have easily filled two more pages. I paid special attention to sketching new garments in several combinations and with existing garments in my closet.

This process was so helpful in refining my color palette and identifying gaps that I could plan for. For example, looking at my sketches I could see that I need more layering pieces and pants, as well as a few more neutral pieces to pair with the brighter colors. This gives me a clear buying plan when shopping for fabrics and ready to wear items to ensure that I am purchasing things that will work for my wardrobe long-term.

Elana's outfit sketches of patterns to sew using her custom croquis from MyBodyModel - page 1 of 2
Patterns shown starting at top left are: Helen’s Closet York Pinafore, Seamwork Natalie, Seamwork Quince Robe + SewDIY Lou Box Top, Made by Rae Isla Top + Seamwork Bo, Made By Rae Rose Pants, Seamwork Clarke top + Made by Rae Cleo Skirt, Seamwork Tacara, SewDIY Lou Box Dress 1, Seamwork Oslo + DIBY Club Anything But Basic Tee + Seamwork Moji, Helen’s Closet York Pinafore, SewDIY Lou Box Top.
Elana's outfit sketches of patterns to sew using her custom croquis from MyBodyModel - page 2 of 2
Patterns shown starting at top left are: DIBY Club Adrienne Sweater, Seamwork Akita, Seamwork Quince Robe, Seamwork Clarke + 100 Acts of Sewing Pants No. 1, Seamwork Elmira + Made by Rae Cleo Skirt, Cashmerette Appleton Dress, SewDIY Lou Box Dress 1, SewDIY Lou Box Top, Seamwork Clarke + Made by Rae Rose Pants, Muna & Broad Glebe Pants + Cashmerette Harrison Shirt, Seamwork Oslo + DIBY Club Anything But Basic Tee, 100 Acts of Sewing Shirt No. 1

Sewing Project page

For individual sewing projects, I usually begin by choosing fabric and then deciding what to make with it. Once I have that in mind, I sketch. I always outline the garment sketches in pencil and then fill in with colored pencils. I have a croquis right on my project page, which gives me an idea of how a garment is going to fit and helps me anticipate adjustments I might need to make. Actually seeing my plans in color on my body helps me get and stay motivated about a project.

Elana's Sewing Project Page and fashion sketch of York Pinafore pattern from Helen's Closet, drawn on her custom croquis from MyBodyModel
This Helen’s Closet York Pinafore in speckle denim chambray from LA Finch Fabrics has been planned for a couple months but will be moved into 2020.

Staying focused, but also flexible

My personalized sewing planner is in a three ring binder so if plans change, I can just move that project page. When I come back to it later, I know at a glance what I wanted to do. I am a fairly indecisive person who also wants to sew all.the.things, so having this visual system really helps to maximize my sewing time by keeping me focused and cutting down on time between projects.

Completed Outfits: From Sketch to Finished

I know my system is working because I’ve already completed several projects. Below are some of the projects I’ve recently completed and the corresponding sketch using my custom My Body Model template:

From MyBodyModel Sketch to Finished Make:  Elana's Sew DIY Lou box top in pink cotton gauze,  Seamwork Natalie button shirt in quilting cotton, and Sew DIY Lou Box Dress 1 in plum linen/rayon.
#Sketch2finish success! From left to right: Sew DIY Lou Box Top in magenta cotton gauze from Joann Fabrics. Seamwork Natalie in quilting cotton from local fabric store. Sew DIY Lou Box Dress 1 in plum linen/rayon from Joann Fabrics.

Looking ahead to 2020

Looking ahead, I have just started filling in a planning page for my #makenine2020. I’d like to choose a few more advanced garments to improve my sewing skills. I added a croquis to each box on my planner page so I could sketch them all out. This isn’t set in stone yet, but I know having this visual log will help me stay focused on the projects I want to complete in 2020.

Elana's Make Nine 2020 #makenine2020 sewing patterns drawn on her custom croquis from MyBodyModel
My preliminary #makenine2020 plans include the Seamwork Audrey Jacket, Cashmerette Ames Jeans, Cashmerette Concord Tee, Cashmerette Harrison Shirt, Seamwork Crosby swimsuit, Seamwork Bobby dress, self-drafted workout tank, Closet Case Patterns Kelly Anorak, and a bra & undies!

I’m excited for the coming year and I hope this peek at my process gives you some ideas for planning your own sewing. If you’d like to see more of my sewing planner, I have a saved story highlight in my Instagram profile walking through it. 

Happy planning!


For more sewing planner inspiration, check out Dari’s Sewing Planner and Micheline’s Bullet Journal

4 thoughts on “My Personalized Sewing Planner, by Elana”

  1. Very impressed with your system and how organized you are!
    Nicely written up in this article, too. Appreciate the details.

    PS what did you think of that Cotton Gauze Fabric from Joann’s?
    I might get some for summer sewing.

    1. Thank you Chris! I liked the gauze a lot. It was easy to sew with and is cool and comfortable. I just recently washed that shirt for the first time and it didn’t crinkle back up too much, which I was worried about. I would definitely buy it again!

  2. Pamela Shadle Flores

    This is really inspiring! I love the idea of a season-spanning wardrobe, and your notebook design is awesome. The 12 outfits on a page really helps to see how your makes work together, and being able to swap the page order would be very helpful. Lots to adapt and implement here – thank you so much for sharing!

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