Sewing for Family Photos

Taking a special family photo to send to loved ones for the holidays, or simply to keep for the mantel, is such a great tradition this time of year. And when you can sew coordinating outfits for everyone to wear, it makes it all the more special.

But, where to begin? If you’re at all like me, the concept of getting all of your kids to actually SMILE at the camera is daunting enough, let alone making outfits that all look great together. But with a little practice and some helpful tips, it can be enjoyable and fun, I promise.

Here’s the photo my family and I took together last holiday season, and I sewed nearly everyone’s clothes, except a few pairs of pants. I wanted our look to be casual, yet cohesive. My girls are all at an age where matching their sisters is definitely NOT ok with them (when did this happen?!), so the goal was to have everyone coordinate without actually matching.

Here are some steps that helped me to create our family photo looks, and hopefully they can help you too!
  1. Find a Color Scheme:

I started with finding a color scheme for the fabrics I would choose. A great way to do this is to do a quick internet search for palettes of coordinating colors. Many interior design sites, paint companies and even wedding planning websites, have images of these palettes available, and they can be a huge help when planning coordinating outfits for family members. I knew I wanted to use a burgundy sweater knit I’d been saving for myself, so I searched “Burgundy Color Palette” on Google, and quickly found this image that I loved:


You'll notice that not every item of clothing in our photo fits into this color palette, and that's ok! It was an excellent reference point and great place to start, especially when making fabric choices, but I didn't feel like I couldn't deviate a little from the colors here. 
  1. Choose a Style:

Now that I had found the colors I wanted to choose from, next up was picking what style of clothing I would sew. When creating clothing for family members, especially children, you want everyone to feel comfortable. My family all wanted to wear casual sweaters and pants, but make the choice that best suits your family and the image you’re looking to create. And remember, in terms of style, it doesn’t all have to match! I’ve seen lots of gorgeous group photos where some are wearing blue jeans, while others are rocking long gowns, and they look great! As long as you stick to a cohesive color scheme, you can truly mix and match styles as you like. From there, choosing the patterns you’d like to sew to create these styles is a breeze.


  1. Pick Your Fabric:

Once you’ve chosen your color palette and patterns, next up, of course, is fabric! Think about what look you are going for with your photo, and let that be your guide. If you’re going to be standing on a sandy beach, you might choose lightweight and breezy fabrics like ITY, double brushed poly, or rayon spandex.  Since our photos were being taken in the woods, I chose warm fabrics like hacci, French terry, sherpa, and ponte for my family to wear.


  1. Mix Your Solids, Prints, and Textures:

When picking fabric to sew with for family photos, solids are an excellent place to start, but don’t forget prints! While I chose mostly solid fabrics for my family to wear, I found a beautiful floral hacci for my eldest daughter that included many of the colors from our color scheme. So I made her a sweet babydoll tunic to wear that she loved. Paired with a solid burgundy cardigan using the same fabric I used for my own sweater, and we had a perfect coordinated look! 

I also found a gorgeous heavy sherpa knit in ivory that I knew my littlest daughters would love. Adding a few fun textures for a group photo adds some extra visual interest, even if in a simple solid color. And while it wasn't specifically on the color palette I chose, a neutral color like ivory or white can help to unify different looks in a group setting. For my photos, I used the ivory sherpa twice- once for a sweater for my four-year-old, and secondly as a vest for my middle daughter, over an olive ponte peplum top. 


  1. Don’t Get Too Caught Up in the Details:

Let’s face it, not everything always goes perfectly to plan, especially when trying to take pictures of the whole family! My middle daughter wanted to wear her favorite bright red sneakers which, you guessed it, in no way fit in with the clothing that I had worked so hard to coordinate. My youngest daughter also insisted on wearing her favorite Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer scrunchie, which was again, a bright red. But we rolled with it, and I think our photos turned out great! Now that I see the photo as a whole, I don’t even notice those small details that I could have easily gotten caught up on. Everyone was comfortable, coordinated, and most of all, happy to be together. And that’s what family photos are all about, after all. Sewing clothes for loved ones is just the icing on the cake.

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