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Sew for Autumn

The season’s inspiring silhouettes, fabrics, and palettes
Threads #193, Oct./Nov. 2017
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relaxed ensemblesThis season’s trends offer relaxed feminine suits, romantic floral skirts, full-legged trousers, chunky oversized sweaters, and elegant evening gowns often in silver metallics. Designers played with matching or coordinated ensembles for every day of the week and time of day: workdays, evenings, and even—in a modified form—weekends. The expectation appeared to be that no matter where you are going—to the office, out for dinner and drinks, to the library, to run errands, to the school play—you’ll want to look pulled together.

Comfort is essential in these contemporary looks. Top designers focused on styles of cozy yet polished and on sophisticated layered ensembles. These styles intend to provide a cocoon of comfort and luxury.

Colors evoked by influential cities

The color forecasters at the Pantone Color Institute assembled two fashion color palettes for fall based on two iconic cities and runway examples. Though the palettes are related, each interprets the season in its own way. The colorways offer potential to express your mood and complement your natural beauty. 

New York energy

The New York palette embraces warmth with easy, saturated hues accompanied by interesting accent colors.
The New York palette embraces warmth with easy, saturated hues accompanied by interesting accent colors.

London reserve

The British capital’s palette is classic and cool, and it revolves around subdued tones mixed with unexpected hues.
The British capital’s palette is classic and cool, and it revolves around subdued tones mixed with unexpected hues.
The comfortable suit, with slim or wide trousers, reigns supreme this season. The look works for any day of the week.
The comfortable suit, with slim or wide trousers, reigns supreme this season. The look works for
any day of the week.

Relaxed layers for workdays

The work-week look is based on polished classics. Build it from comfortable layers of tailored garments and luxurious relaxed pieces in plush woolens, silky suitings, rich velvets, and cozy sweater knits.

Suit Separates

Combine a trim-fitting jacket with flowing, full-legged trousers or a voluminous jacket with slim or straight, cropped pants; or maximize the relaxed factor by pairing two loose layers. Pant waists sit at the natural waistline or above. Whether fitted or loose, suit jackets have more feminine shoulder lines than in recent seasons. They end cleanly at the natural shoulder instead of extending beyond; they are firmly defined but not bulky or peaked.

Patterns to try:

BurdaStyle 6898

Simplicity 8058

Vogue 1525

Comfy Knitwear

Sweater knits provide the perfect layer for comfort and warmth, and they dominated runways for every dressing situation—even for the office. Close-fitting, gossamer, open-knit sweaters add a touch of refinement to slouchy ensembles, while chunky cabled knits in boxy shapes add an extra-cozy element. Lengths vary from hip to midthigh, and sweater-knit tube dresses in any weight were a standout on runways. Turtlenecks have never looked so stylish and modern.

Patterns to try:

Butterick 6388

Hot Patterns Weekender Swingy Sweatshirt & Sweaterdress 1211 

StyleArc Brooklyn Knit Top

Shirtdresses

Dresses based on the button-front shirt or on a jacket style updated the menswear-inspired vibe on runways with more body-conscious, yet forgiving, feminine silhouettes. Jacket dresses are sleek and fitted in suiting woolens or bouclés; some sport tailored blazer details such as welt pockets and large buttons, while others reference the simplicity of the classic French jacket. Shirtdresses range from crisply casual in workaday cottons or corduroys to softly flowing in romantic floral or geometric print silks; most have A-line skirts.

Patterns to try:

Marfy 5124 

Simplicity 8221 

Vogue 9051

Midi Skirts

The midi skirt trend is still strong, and designers explored a variety of silhouettes, fabrications, and details. Shapes range from full and flowing to A-line and trumpet flared to straight. Midi skirts may sport inverted pleats, smooth waist yokes, layers of chiffon, or asymmetric cuts. Straight trouser-style skirts with front walking slits are preferred over sleek pencil skirts.

Patterns to try:

BurdaStyle 6582 

McCall’s 7363 

Vogue 8956

Silver fabrics gleamed in all types of eveningwear this season. The widely used color is shown textured, patterned, or as a solid.
Silver fabrics gleamed in all types of eveningwear this season. The widely used color is shown textured, patterned, or as a solid.

Vintage influences for evenings

Suits venture out at night to mingle with retro dresses—all in exquisite fabrics with judiciously deployed details. Velvet, brocade, and liquid silk charmeuse all make an appearance, but shimmering silver metallics outshine them all.

Glamorous Dresses

Evening dress designs and silhouettes revisit every decade from the 1910s to the ’40s in streamlined, simplified incarnations. Long, lean ’30s silhouettes sport high necklines, shirring, shoulder details, and body-skimming cuts. Loose, drop-waist, asymmetric-hem, or shift dresses provide a canvas for displaying dazzling fabrics or fine beadwork. Romantic, diaphanous dresses with lace insertions and fine ruffles and pleats recall the intricacies of Edwardian fashions. Calf-length dresses with draping, strong shoulders, and interesting sleeves reference wartime silhouettes.

Patterns to try:

Decades of Style 3301

Marfy 3960

Simplicity 8249

The Bias-cut Plaid Maxi

Large, brightly colored plaids in light, airy fabrics offer a playful option for evening that doesn’t depend on glitz and shine. The dresses are full length and feminine in silhouette, and bias cuts place the plaid patterns at an angle for interest. The more interesting the dress’s design lines, the more dramatic the overall effect.

Patterns to try:

BurdaStyle 6583

Butterick 5710

Vogue 1474

Luxe Suits

Whether harkening back to Yves Saint Laurent’s Le Smoking, updating the ever-chic tuxedo, or accentuating the figure with a sculpted silhouette, the evening suit is rendered in sumptuous fabrics that feel as beautiful as they look. Supple silk velvets, plush velveteens, softly glowing satins, and shimmering metallic brocades all made an appearance on runways as evening suits. The suits reflect daywear cuts: Jackets and pants may be relaxed or fitted. The pairings are matched, however: slim with slim and loose with loose.

Patterns to try:

Butterick 6259

Marfy 3891 

Vogue 1538

Details and Embellishments

Movement takes center stage with three-dimensional floral appliqués, beading, and feather trims. Paillettes make a comeback, while fringe and tassels continue to be strong. Diamond-pattern quilting is an updated detail, and shirring, lace insertions, and ruffle trim are all good options for fall/winter 2017-2018. Take care to apply embellishments strategically and minimally; a little goes a long way.

An oversized tunic dress makes comfortable, smart weekend wear a snap. This dress sews up fast, with no fitting required.
An oversized tunic dress makes comfortable, smart weekend wear a snap. This dress sews up fast, with no fitting required.

Chic sportswear for weekends

Say goodbye to athleisure and hello to a more polished, modern weekend wardrobe. Ensembles revolve around a layered, cozy, chic-on-the-go aesthetic that borders on casual but has refined cuts and plush fabrics.

Oversized sweaters

Whether in the form of tunics, dresses, or skirt-and-top sets, sweater knits are as much a staple of the weekend as of the workweek—but they are slouchier, chunkier, and all-enveloping. Designers explored oversized, thick funnel-neck maxi sweater dresses; ribbed tunic-and-skirt ensembles; drape-necked tunics and hip-grazing tops; fine-gauge cabled turtlenecks; crewneck boyfriend pullovers; and long and chunky belted cardigans.

Patterns to try:

BurdaStyle 12/2016 #121B

Simplicity 8089

Tessuti Yuki Dress

Casual jackets

Weekend toppers take the form of laid-back bomber or moto-style jackets in unexpected prints, such as florals, and surprising textiles like metallic leather and lamé, as well as classic fabrics such as canvas, ripstop, leather, shearling, and denim. Utilitarian anoraks with numerous pockets and drawstring details also made an appearance, along with boxy hooded pullovers.

Patterns to try:

Closet Case Patterns Kelly Anorak

Hot Patterns Classix Nouveau Bellissima Biker Jacket 1207 

Vogue 1453

Slim or full pants

Pant options are varied, from full-legged, drawstring-waisted pull-ons in terry knit to slim cargos in twill and from cropped to full length. Designers offered an option for every woman’s preference. Consider sewing pleated, tapered trousers in a typical suiting fabric with athletic-inspired side-seam stripes, or loose, deeply cuffed, cropped jeans. 

Patterns to try:

BurdaStyle 6534

Style Arc Kerry Cargo Pant

Vogue 9257 


Tempting fabrics and prints

The season’s textile trends include surprising fabrics alongside expected options, such as suiting woolens. Luxurious texture and drape are common qualities, as well as hues drawn from the fall color palettes.

Romantic florals 

Floral prints in a range of scales, from small to supersized, give a cheerfully romantic mood to the season’s pattern offerings. Motifs are spread out with broad expanses of solid color separating repeats, rather than packed densely. Both dark and light colorways are popular.

Romantic florals

Sweater knits

Myriad options of sweater-knit fabrics are available for fall. Look for fine-gauge ribbed and crochet-type sweater knits for the lightest layering options. Seek out heavier weights in loopy bouclé or chunky cable knits.

Sweater Knits

Faux fur and shearling 

Classic, luxe-looking imitation pelts resembling mink, fox, Persian lamb, and chinchilla in natural colors dominated for faux fur coats and wraps and for accent collars and cuffs. Fur piles are short for a upscale look and feel. Faux shearling in dark tan and chocolate is popular, but black shearling also was prominent on runways.

Faux fur and shearling 

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