Tips for Sewing and Wearing an All-Black Wardrobe

Image of a large piece of black fabric on a white table. A woman's hand is in the picture.
Black Fabric Celebration

I have an Apple Music  playlist in which I collected the best songs with favorite color in the title:

  • Back in Black, AC/DC
  • Black on Black, SRVD
  • Black Celebration, Depeche Mode
  • Black Planet, Sisters of Mercy
  • Black Sabbath, Black Sabbath
  • Fade to Black, Metallica (when they were good)
  • Paint It Black, The Rolling Stones

If you open my closet, it will be a visual representation of this playlist: Lots and lots of black, with many garments sewn in the same black rayon.

And when I open my drawer, I have learned to look for a black tee instead of the black tee. I can’t distinguish among them because they are, well, all the exact same black fabric. 

Throughout the years, I have cleared my closet of almost everything that has color. It did not happen overnight, and I was mostly unaware of it. I believe that I am finally coming to the most fully realized version of myself. And I love it! 

This has completely changed the way I shop for fabric and patterns. After the initial explosion of color that comes with the discovery of novelty quilting cotton, I have settled with black. The frenzy to buy all the patterns has been replaced with silhouettes I know and trust.

There was a moment there when I thought that sewing all black clothing was going to get boring. It was when I was transitioning from all the fun prints to the starkness of black fabrics. Isn’t variety the spice of life?

Nope. The spice in sewing is in playing with shapes, textures, and selected prints. I have never been happier with the clothes I wear. I feel like practical goth librarian is the look I’ve been aiming for all my life.

If you are wondering how to sew and wear all black without looking like you only have one outfit , here are a few ideas.

But First: Do You Need to Wear Black to Be Goth?

Nope. You can be goth and wear whatever you want. You do you. There are so many subdivisions in the world of goth—even pastel and white goth. I identify as goth mainly because of the music. It so happens that I like wearing black A LOT. If tomorrow I woke up and decided that I’d only wear orange, I’d still be a goth.

Mix Fabric Types

Image of a woman long black hair standing in front of a wall covered in vines. She smiles at the camera. She wears a short sleeve black t-shirt, a long black linen skirt, and black Docs.
Rayon Knit and Linen

Using a variety of different fabric types add visual interest to your black garments. Cotton, rayon, and linen are great for everyday garments. Satin, silk, velvet, lace, and sheers like chiffon and organza make beautiful special-occasion clothing. 

You can sew the same pattern in different fabrics and have completely different results. You can mix a soft, drapey blouse with a more structured linen skirt. You can even mix fabrics in one same garment—lace sleeves on a tee or a rayon blouse with organza overlay. 

Image of a woman long black hair standing in front of a pink wall. She wears a black t-shirt with long sleeves made of skull lace and a black skirt.
Lace, Rayon Knit, and Sateen Cotton

Go for traditional goth pairings mixing lace, satin, silk, and velvet, or break all the rules and sew something combining unusual fabrics like leather with organza. 

Explore Different Textures

Image of a woman long black hair standing in front of a wall covered in vines. She looks at the hem of her mid-length black Swiss dot rayon dress. She wears black and dark gray open toe shoes.
Swiss-dot Rayon

Even if you decide to focus on one type of fabric, you can look for variations in texture to add variety to your makes. I am a huge fan of rayon—the drape can’t be beat, and it is the perfect fabric for warm, humid temperatures (I should know; I grew up in Brazil). 

I have found Swiss dot rayon, linen-looking rayon, jacquard rayon, embossed rayon… I could sew a whole wardrobe of black rayon and have a huge variety simply based on texture. Oh, and let’s not forget rayon knit fabric! Same fiber, different weave, and multiple possibilities!

Image of black rayon fabric with linen characteristics.
Looks like linen, but it’s rayon!

Maybe you love velvet, so rich and goth by nature. Use silk velvet for a jacket, sew a top with crushed velvet, and wear them with a crinkled velvet skirt. While you are at it, make a damask velvet cape and be the goth queen that you’ve always known you are.

Play with Silhouettes

As you are planning your all-black wardrobe, consider exploring different silhouettes as a way to add variety to your garments. A pair of skinny jeans is black denim will look very different from a pair of bootcut jeans in the same fabric. A velvet mini-skirt will be happy hanging out with a velvet A-line skirt, and both will live harmoniously with a velvet mermaid skirt. There is no jealousy here because they can all hold their own.

Use the drape and structure of fabrics to your advantage here. If you are going for a flowy look, rayon, silk, chiffon, and other very fluid fabrics will work beautifully. Sturdy pants ask for denim or canva. Be adventurous and try the same pattern with variations of drape. This will change the silhouette of a garment, adding even more variety to your clothing options.

Bet on Black… and White (or Gray)!

Image of a woman long black hair standing in front of a white garage door. She smiles at the camera. She wears black and white dress with horoscope signs all over.
Black Skies, White Stars

With black as the primary focus, you can incorporate white details into your wardrobe to produce a nice contrast while keeping your goth edge. Black and white work beautifully together when combined in the correct proportion. 

If white is too much for you, gray can add interest without too much contrast. And since it is not too jarring, you might even consider gray backgrounds with black details. 

Image of a woman long black hair standing in front of a white garage door. She smiles at the camera. She wears a gray dress with black cats scattered all over.
Gray and Black Combo

I have an aversion to white. My profound dislike of the color disappears when it is combined with a mostly black background. I am obsessed with polka dots, and I have sourced a lot of fabric from Brazil with beautiful prints in white against a black background. 

Halloween Prints: Colorful but Creepy

Image of a woman long black hair standing in front of a white garage door. She is looking up, away from the camera. she wears a long sleeve button-up shirt in dark gray with white cats, tombs, and vines.

An exception to the no-color rule is Halloween fabrics. There are so many options, and they are no longer restricted to October. You can find ghosts, goblins, and ghouls year round. The prints have also become more adult, with even Mood Fabrics releasing its own Halloween collection.

There are lots of Halloween fabrics in grays, purples, and reds that are not too childish. Most offerings are quilting cotton, but the options in the Mood Halloween collection are perfect for garment sewing: rayon batiste, cotton voile, and stretch cotton poplin. 

I have such a soft spot for Halloween prints. I am particularly interested in any print with creepy crawlers, cemeteries, and black cats.

Let’s Have a Black Celebration

Image of a woman with long black hair standing next to plants. She wears red lipstick and a long, black dress with a V-neck, sleeves that end with a cuff, a detail below the bust, and flowy skirt.
Winter Goth

As you start to sew a wardrobe of goth delights, make sure to buy a lot of black thread. If you are a goth of a certain age like I am, avoid sewing once it gets dark (unpicking black thread from black fabric is SO DIFFICULT once the eyes start to go). And to keep your black clothes nice and, well, black, wash them in cold water on a delicate cycle.

Image of a woman with long black hair standing next to plants. She wears red lipstick and a long, black dress with a V-neck, short sleeves and mid-chin skirt, and red boots.
Summer Goth

Wear your goth with pride!

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