Rainbow clothes are fun (because rainbows are awesome, DUH). But I think grown-ups run the risk of looking too childish when they wear the rainbow. A little too twee, if you know what I'm saying. This post delivers 12 tips for adding adult-appropriate rainbow touches to your me-made clothes.

Rainbows are awesome, and so is Rainbow Brite (yes, I’m a child of the ’80s). But, as an adult, dressing in rainbow clothes too often looks twee and childish.

I started thinking about rainbow clothes at church, actually, when I noticed a man across the worship space wearing a rainbow-but-not-quite-rainbow striped shirt. (I don’t *usually* stare at strange men during Mass, but I liked the shirt!)

That’s a rainbow shirt, I thought, but it’s not like a rainbow-y rainbow shirt. I was into it. The shirt featured stripes in *almost* all the colors of the rainbow.

Anyhoo, I made made a few mental notes about sewing rainbow clothes, and they turned into this blog post.

Please enjoy a dozen colorful ways to sew the rainbow into your me-made garments:

Add rainbow buttonholes to your me-made rainbow clothes.

1.) Add Rainbow Buttonholes

I saw this on a men’s dress shirt years ago and have been obsessed ever since. It was a white shirt with white buttons, but the thread of each buttonhole was a different rainbow color. So subtle and chic. I’m totally doing this with a white button-up shirt.

RELATED:ย Rainbow Darling Ranges Dress: A Flannel Encore

Variegated thread add a colorful blast to rainbow-inspired garments.

2.) Stitch with Variegated Thread

Here’s another subtle suggestion: Variegated thread could make for cheeky topstitching.

Sew rainbow clothes from (slightly) toned-down ombre, space dye, and variegated rainbow fabrics.

3.) Use Ombrรฉ, Variegated, or Space Dye Fabric

With ombrรฉ, variegated, and space dye fabric, there are no hard lines between colors. The eye moves smoothly between hues.

When sewing rainbow clothes, drop a stripe to make your garment ever-so-slightly less rainbow-y.

4.) Drop a Color or a Stripe

The rainbow is composed of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. When you omit a color (or several colors), the remaining colors feel less rainbow-y when they stand together. The fabric of my rainbow flannel dress (a modified Darling Ranges frock) shows off this approach; there’s no yellow in this plaid flannel, but the overall effect still reads “rainbow.”

Sneak a rainbow into the details of a garments - a secret patch, a unicorn lining, rainbow serger thread.

5.) Place a Rainbow in the Small Details

Use red, yellow, green, and blue thread in your serger to finish raw edges. Apply rainbow bias tape. Stitch on a rainbow-colored patch – maybe something peeking out of a pocket? Use a rainbow fabric to line a garment or for pockets. I think it would be cool to paint a silk lining with rainbow colors! Give yourself a secret rainbow.

Color block a me-made garment with rainbow colors vs. going literal with rainbow stripes.

6.) Say No to Stripes

Don’t be so literal with rainbow sewing; avoid overt rainbow fabric and stripes. Instead, color block a garment with rainbow colors.

When sewing rainbow clothes, try playing with color order.

7.) Move Stripes Around

The daily dishes at my house are a colorful collection of Fiestaware. Call me weird, but I like seeing the color combos that arise when I take the dishes out of the washer and restack them in the cabinet. Sometimes I get an out-of-order rainbow: red, yellow, green, orange. Or blue, green, red, yellow. Shuffle Roy G. Biv and see what catches your eye.

Experiment with lighter and darker rainbow colors for a different vibe.

8.) Lighten (or Darken) Up

Consider a rainbow color scheme that’s more pastel. Or think about what the rainbow would look like if each color contained a teensy bit of black – more shadowy, right? Take a couple steps from the bright, bold hues of the rainbow everyone recognizes toward something less obvious.

Rainbow clothes also can mean garments and accents with iridescence. Ooh, shiny!

9.) Ogle Shiny Things

Here’s another not-obvious rainbow for you – rainbow metal. It’s the blue-purple, iridescent metal color that shows all the hues of the rainbow as it’s shifted under light. If you do a web search for oil slick, holographic, or anodized titanium or aluminum, you’ll instantly know what I’m talking about. Look for rainbow metal hardware (e.g., zippers, rivets), buttons, fabric, beads, sequins, and more.

Try sewing solid color garments with rainbow trim.

10.) Trim It Out

Rainbow tassels (which you easily can make), pom-pom trim, or colorful fringe would add levity to a modest or simple self-sewn garment.

Three words: rainbow shibori tie dye.

11.) Listen to Your Inner Hippie

When was the last time you tie dyed? Tie dye fabric yardage for a rainbow sewing project. Or take tie dye to the next level with fancy-schmancy shibori techniques! Groovy.

Add visible mending or embroidery in the colors of the rainbow.

12.) Embellish or Patch It Up

Visible mending is having a MEGA moment. Tiny rainbow embroidery, regardless of whether it’s for functional mending, would be charming as all get out.

Over to you, sewing friends: How do you feel about rainbow clothes? Too much? Was my crack about Rainbrow Brite fighting words? What else would you add to this list of suggestions for sewing rainbow clothes? Please sound off in comments! Thanks for reading.

P.S. I made a Pinterest board chock-full of rainbow style inspiration! Check it out. ๐ŸŒˆ

P.P.S. ICYMI, here’s the previous post: Sewing Bargains: How to Save Money on Amazon.

P.P.P.S. If you like this post about rainbow clothes, check out how I put this advice into practice with a sweatshirt tunic: Work in Progress: Rainbows Bursting from the Seams ๐ŸŒˆ.

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Art credits:

Shirt vector design by http://www.vecteezy.com. Rainbow buttonholes added by yours truly.
The top rainbow painting is a piece by Steve Johnson, found via Unsplash. Steven is an artist, and you can learn more about him and support his craft on his Patreon. I love his work!