Get the Look: Modern Utility
If you have a penchant for pockets and a desire for clean lines and functionality from your garment, the utility trend could be the one for you. Utilitarian style never really leaves the fashion world. These garments may have started life as completely functional items, but elements of these practical pieces find their way into modern wardrobes. The colours are earthy and the fabrics are durable. I must say that my heart skips a beat when I see a well-placed utility pocket. They are as aesthetically pleasing as they are useful.
We were really inspired by the utilitarian week on the Great British Sewing Bee, so we browsed our library of patterns and discovered tons of designs with a nod to utility-style and then we found more and then some more!
We’ve done a round-up of some indie sewing patterns with utility vibes across a number of garment types that we think tick all the boxes for getting the utilitarian look… enjoy!
Boilersuits are a brilliant way to get the utility look. Originally designed as a garment to protect workers’ clothing, the modern take on boilersuits are rather chic. If you’re testing the water with your first boilersuit, try something that’s cinched in at the waist like the Blanca Flight Suit or the Gimlet Boilersuit. Use contrasting topstitching to make your boilersuit feel ultra-utilitarian or go for black or navy fabric to keep things understated and chic.
- Merchant & Mills Thelma Boilersuit
- Closet Core Patterns Blanca Flight Suit
- Our Lady of Leisure Gimlet Boilersuit
- Homer + Howells Lennox Boilersuit and Shirt
- Alice & Co Intrepid Boilersuit
- Sew Me Something Cressida Jumpsuit
One of the first utility pieces I added to my wardrobe over a decade ago was a workwear jacket. They have become a staple of modern wardrobes and in my opinion, no capsule is complete without one (in khaki for me!). You can wear them as outerwear in warmer weather or as a ‘shacket’ (that’s a shirt jacket) indoors when the temperature drops. They are an effortless piece that does pull an outfit together and it is the perfect opportunity to purchase some pretty lovely buttons (my sources are Merchant & Mills or Pigeon Wishes).
- Merchant & Mills Ottoline Jacket
- The Maker’s Atelier Utility Jacket
- Ready to Sew Julien Chore Jacket
- The Modern Sewing Co Over Shirt
- Friday Pattern Company Unisex Ilford Jacket
I spoke of pockets and I couldn’t pull this post together without including some patterns that I chose purely for their exquisite pockets. Make the Bernadette Skirt with little belt bag and you will never feel pocketless again! The Heidi Playsuit has the most beautiful pockets – I would put these on everything if I could! I have also had the Grace Jacket on my makes list for a while all down to the stunning utility style pockets. Maybe I’ll get around to it in the autumn!
- Atelier Jupe Grace Jacket
- Friday Pattern Company Bernadette Skirt
- Vikisews Heidi Playsuit
- The Maker’s Atelier Overshirt
Worker trousers feel very utility and we’ve got some fab patterns that are just waiting to be made in durable denim or tough twill. The Jewel Pants have carpenter styling (and feel oh-so 90s) and the Cosecha Pants will be a very satisfying project with their interesting construction. If you want to play it safe, the Worker Trousers and the Eve Trousers are both pretty popular with the sewing community.
- The Modern Sewing Co. Worker Trousers
- Merchant & Mills Eve Trousers
- Fibre Mood Clover Trousers
- Sew Liberated Cosecha Pants
- Vikisews Jewel Pants
If you’ve followed us for a while, you might have noticed that we are rather partial to a shirt dress. I found a selection of shirt dresses with a touch of utility to them and now I really want to make one. The Feliz Dress would be my pick – a combination of pretty pockets and a flowy gathered skirt – say no more because I am sold!
- Vikisews Eleonora Dress
- Merchant & Mills Factory Dress
- The Assembly Line Shirt Dress
- Fibre Mood Feliz Dress
- Megan Nielsen Matilda Dress
Sewing a trench coat is a commitment (if you watched the Sewing Bee the idea of cutting out all those pieces and making one up in 5 hours probably made your blood run cold too!). But this investment of your sewing time will pay dividends in wear. They are always in style and are always incredibly useful in spring and autumn. I wouldn’t be without mine!
- Fibre Mood Drea Trench Coat
- Bara Studio Kara Trench Coat
- Ready to Sew Jack Trench Coat
- Named Isla Trench Coat
- Vikisews Sybil Trench Coat
A crisp shirt is a very fine thing. It’s even finer with a statement pocket on the front! If you want a smart piece with a utility feel, try a shirt. if you make one in a white cotton or linen fabric, you will get so much wear out of it. If you avoid shirts because you hate sewing buttonholes, try the pull ver Sydni shirt. Those pockets are delightful!
- Sew Over It Jodie Shirt
- Style Arc Smith Woven Jacket
- Fibre Mood Veronica Dress and Jumpsuit (and shirt!)
- Juliana Martejevs Noella Blouse
- Sew to Grow Sydni Shirt-Dress
Overalls are another practical garment that has become a mainstay of modern wardrobes. They are comfy and look really chic with a blouse on underneath. It’s another perfect opportunity to play with contrasting topstitching to give your make that utility feel. I think hardware adds the extra utilitarian feel so I love the Sloane Overalls and the Collins Overalls which both feature an unusual zip down the front.
- Victory Patterns Sloane Overalls and Pants
- Ready to Sew Partner Overalls
- True Bias Rory Jumpsuit
- Our Lady of Leisure Collins Overalls
This list would simply not be complete without the addition of the parka. Practical and cool, you won’t be sorry you made one. Opt for classic khaki or mix it up with Barbiecore pink… but don’t leave the house without one when it’s raining. A parka sewing project is a good opportunity to try out durable snap fastenings instead of buttonholes and try your hand at drawcords. Spot the cute additional pocket on the Joy Parka… I just love it!