Pattern Picks for Your 12-Piece Wardrobe Bottoms

It is amazing – but true – that just twelve well-chosen pieces can give you a wardrobe of nearly 100 different outfits.  And if you sew, it is far easier to create just the right pieces.  But with all the vast possibilities … where do you start?  Let’s begin with some pattern recommendations that will help you adapt our basic Capsule Wardrobe chart to your own lifestyle and preferences.  The drawings on the chart are just place-holders.  Think of them as Bottoms, Under-Layer Tops and Over-Layer Tops … not necessarily the specific items sketched on the diagram.

Bottoms can be pants, capris, shorts, skirts of any style … whatever your prefer to wear.  By keeping your bottoms pretty basic and un-embellished you allow most of the focus to go to the top of the look — more toward your face and away from any figure challenge areas.

You may have a personalized pant pattern – one you’ve worked hard to perfect. If so, go with it!  If not, a couple of my favorites are:

Pamela’s Patterns #113 – Pants … Perfected.  I especially like the leg shape of this design — shaped slightly inward through the upper thigh then straight from knee to hem.  That keeps it sleek and slimming without being overly snug.  And the DVD fitting instrutions are first-rate.

McCall #6901 Palmer/Pletsch – a great basic with a tapered leg.  I sometimes taper it even a bit more than the original pattern.  I know skinny pants get a bad rap from some stylists but I find them amazingly flattering for many clients and they are my personal go-to shape.

Eureka! Pants That Fit by Fit For Art Patterns – This one come with 3 back options to fit different shapes and fullness levels – smart idea!


Now you can choose pants for all your bottoms if you like, but I personally prefer to mix in some skirts.  Pencil skirts are the most flattering for many women and I have 3 favorites in that category.

Pamela’s Patterns #109 – Magic Pencil Skirt is the fastest skirt I’ve ever sewn … and I’ve sewn a bunch of them.  It’s shaped to the waist with darts and curved sides, then finished with a smooth, comfy fold-over elastic waist treatment.  As little as 40 minutes start to finish.

Butterick #5965 is shaped with princess seaming instead of darts.  I do a sneaky elastic finish instead of the waistband … I’ll show you how in a later post.  The shawl-collar jacket in the same pattern is another personal favorite – especially for the shoulder-princess seaming.  The pant is also nice if  you prefer a slightly fuller leg shape, so you could use this one pattern for 3 of your core pieces. It is out of print, but still available if you hurry.

If you prefer a longer style, consider Pamela’s Patterns #117 – Knit Column Skirt.  The high-low hemline option is especially interesting and flattering.

If jean styling is your thing, consider these options – great in denim of course (except the Vogue one), but far more comfy in your favorite color of ponte knit.

The Sally Jean Skirt from StyleArc is a classic, thought I’d sew it a good bit longer and with a slight taper at the side seams. Although it’s designed for wovens, it could be easily sewn in ponte knit and modified to a mock fly and pull-on waist for ease and comfort.

McCall #5894 by Palmer/Pletsch is a slightly dropped waist with straight-leg and boot cut options.

Vogue #9216 – an edgier look designed for ponte knits and stretch denims.  Its body-conscious fit stays sleek thanks to the mock fly, mock front pockets and pull-on waist.

Which bottoms  do you like best?  If you have other favorite patterns to recommend, please share in the COMMENTS section below.  Tapping into our collective brilliance is half the fun!

NOTE: These related posts have suggestions for under-layer and over-layer tops.

About Nancy Nix Rice

I help other women feel confident about how they look every day - regardless of their age, budget, lifestyle or the size tag in their pants - so they put wardrobe concerns on the back burner and go share their gifts with the world.


  1. Connie on October 12, 2017 at 10:46 am

    Try Silhouette Patterns 1750 or 1950 for a great shoulder princess jacket with shawl collar or no collar. Peggy has designed several beautiful and easy to sew jackets.

    • Nancy Nix Rice on October 13, 2017 at 3:09 am

      More good ideas – thanks for sharing them.

  2. Laura on October 13, 2017 at 10:01 am

    My favorite pant, which I’ve made several times, is StyleArc Barb Pant. It has that wonderful European crotch that fits me so well. While StyleArc calls it a “stretch pant”, I’ve always used woven with a bit of lycra.

    • Nancy Nix Rice on October 14, 2017 at 9:45 am

      Thanks for the insight – especially letting us know that the p0attern works with stretch wovens.

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