Emily Hallman on Designing a Wardrobe Collection | Episode 43A stylist's approach to sewing a closet full of beautiful clothes
Emily Hallman is a designer and stylist, and she documents her sewing adventures on EmilyHallman.com. Well-known for her use of color and creating cohesive, inspiring collections, she is a lifelong fashion and style enthusiast. She’s always immersed in a creative project that typically involves beautiful fabric. She holds a degree in Apparel Design and Product Development from Baylor University and lives in central Texas with her husband.
Threads Editorial Director Sarah McFarland and Senior Technical Editor Carol Fresia chat with Emily about her background in sewing. She taught herself to sew as a child and teen, then fell in love with fashion design in college. There, she received formal training in sewing and design.
Curating a self-sewn wardrobe
After a career in designing and marketing her apparel line, Emily turned her sights on her own closet. On her blog, she shares the joy of creating a closet full of garments that express personal style and that work together. Her advice to sewers is to be thoughtful about the project you choose. The time invested in sewing a garment should yield a piece you will love to wear frequently.
A signature part of Emily’s sewing is her intentional approach to curating her wardrobe. This stems from her experience as a commercial designer, who thought about clothing in terms of collections. Each piece she sews relates to others in her closet, in color, silhouette, and style. Although she doesn’t think about her work in terms of capsules, the results work similarly: There are clear through-lines in her wardrobe, even over the course of several years of sewing.
Silhouette and fit
Emily knows her hourglass figure is best suited to designs with a defined waistline, so she has collected some tried-and-true patterns with this silhouette. However, each season she loves trying new patterns. With her technical background, she is capable of drafting patterns from scratch. But, she says she loves working with commercial patterns. They save her time, and she finds them easy to adjust for fit and style.
Sources of inspiration
Part of Emily’s training was in fashion forecasting, and she has the habit of keeping an eye on European style as well as street style. Still, she is secure in her own style, and is only slightly influenced by these sources. We asked her what “streetwear” really means, and she tells us that it is an aesthetic rather than a type of garment, and it tends toward casual looks typically worn by a youthful demographic.
Color trends announced by the Pantone Color Institute are a strong influence, although Emily has, on occasion, anticipated trends by using colors a season or two before they appear on the runways and in stores.
When asked if she chooses fabric or a pattern first, she admits that she buys fabric when it calls out to her, and finds a use for it later. Like most sewers, she has purchased yardage that lingers in her stash; these may be mistakes or may be used someday. Her advice for buying fabric without a specific plan is to get at least 4 yards (possibly more if the yardage is narrow). Get more if you know you want to make several garments from the fabric.
Creating a palette
When developing a color scheme for her seasonal sewing, Emily considers the colors already in her wardrobe, as well as what looks new and appealing. If there’s a special fabric that doesn’t fit with her existing pieces, she likes to make a dress.
Emily also likes to work with colorful prints. They are ideal for linking the solid or basic pieces in her closet. She is fond of large-scale prints, and finds them a great way to show her personality. Because Emily is tall, she can carry off these bigger prints successfully.
Working as a stylist
When she’s not sewing her own clothes, Emily works as a stylist for a wardrobe subscription service. She enjoys helping people find pieces that work best for them. The right outfit lets people feel comfortable and know they look authentic, so she finds this work rewarding. As an experienced designer and home sewer, Emily is able to advise clients on fabrics and styles that suit their needs.
On a long weekend, you’ll find Emily sewing several garments at once, assembly-line style. Getting into a groove with construction makes her happy, and she says she loves the finished results.
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