planning materials

I don’t know about you, but I find one of the most frustrating moments is when I get midway through a project and realize I didn’t purchase a fabric or notion that I needed for the project. It doesn’t happen to me often – I now keep the “staples” on hand (which are about 75-80% of the materials I use for all outfits)  – but it does still happen. These days, my most common mistake is that I run out of the thread I’ll need for the project. But now I plan my projects out so I (almost) never forget materials or supplies anymore!


Let’s walk through a simple project so you can see how I do it. My next personal project will be to make a muff, pulling as many of the materials as I can from my stash. Since this project is for a single item rather than the whole outfit, I’ll only need to define the materials I’ll need. If my project was a full outfit, I’d start by determining all of the garments I’d need for the entire outfit. Then I’d write down every fabric, notion and tool I’d need, garment by garment, before combining all of the materials into one list.


Want to try it yourself?

Download the Materials Worksheets for FREE to follow along!

I start by planning the fabrics first, since I usually shopped around (or raided my stash) to choose my main and accent fabrics while I was designing the outfit or garment.

If you’ve ever seen any research on period muffs, you may have noticed that they were typically made with the fur on the inside and a brocade or embroidered fabric on the outside. I have an oddly shaped remnant of lime green brocade. There is just enough fabric left to make the muff with the brocade pattern centered nicely. So that brocade should be listed under the Main Fabrics.

Pandora fashion doll
My inspiration: Pandora, a fashion doll from c.1600

Although period muffs were completely fur-lined, I don’t like the feeling of faux fur because my hands often get clammy and stick to the fur. But I want the muff to look period while being functional for me. So instead of lining it completely with the faux fur, I will use small strips of brown faux fur at the edges so it looks period-correct. Then, I found a piece of white fleece in my stash that I will use on the inside of the muff for warmth and softness. That adds the faux fur to Accent Fabrics and fleece to Lining & Interlining Fabrics. I want to add an interlining to make the muff a little fuller and warmer, but I currently plan to use a second layer of the fleece for this interlining. Alternately, I could use a layer of cotton quilt batting or a similar heavy padding fabric, in which case I would also list it under the Lining & Interlining Fabrics.

Now that I have the fabrics mapped out, I move on to Trims. I actually skip threads until I have determined the remaining notions, because those notions sometimes require thread to match, but the thread is listed with the fabrics because I purchase the colors I need at the same time as the fabric.

For the muff, I have chosen a lovely gold scroll trim that a friend handmade for me. It’s purely a sentimental choice. This gold scroll trim is written under Trims.

While many muffs were sewn into complete tubes, some were rectangles that fastened into a tube with buttons. I like the idea of a muff that I can open if needed, and sewing a rectangle is way easier than a tube. So I choose a few gold buttons for the closure and some narrow handmade linen tapes for the loops. The loops will be ivory only because I couldn’t match that shade of green well enough.

I should not need any other notions for this project, so that area is blank.

I sew mostly on the sewing machine these days, partly because I produce too much to do it all by hand, but mostly because I’m developing arthritis in my hands and hand sew only the most important parts. Because of that, the tools I’ll need for this project will include a zipper foot and tiny binder clips. This may seem like strange tools, but I will use the binder clips to “pin” the fabric and fur together. I have found that if I try to pin through the faux fur, it causes the layers to buckle, making it more difficult to manage as I sew. I can then use the zipper foot to sew next to the clips without running the foot over them. These two tools are listed under Specialized Tools, since they are not in my basic sewing toolbox.

Now that everything else is filled in, I can go back and determine the threads I will need. For assembling the muff, I want either lime green or brown thread since any pulling on the seam between the brocade and fur will be mostly hidden by the fur. I will pull white thread as well, since I might make a small pocket on the inside out of more fleece. For these machine-sewn portions, I’m okay with poly-cotton thread. The gold scroll trim will need to be sewn by hand though, so I’ve chosen a cotton thread in a close shade of gold for this step.

So my materials list looks like this:

planning materials sample

Now I can use this list to pull or purchase all of the materials for this project, without getting into the construction stages and realizing I forgot something important!


Download your FREE worksheets now!