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:
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: Rainbow Darling Ranges Dress: A Flannel Encore
2.) Stitch with Variegated Thread
Here’s another subtle suggestion: Variegated thread could make for cheeky topstitching.
3.) Use Ombré, Variegated, or Space Dye Fabric
With ombré, variegated, and space dye fabric, there are no hard lines between colors. The eye moves smoothly between hues.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 🌈
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 🌈.
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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!
Those shoes! You’ve made some interesting suggestions there Erin , thank you. I particularly like the simple idea of coloured buttonholes on a white shirt and the use of variegated thread. Food for thought…
Hi, Allys! Thanks for reading! Are you talking about those iridescent shoes on the Pinterest board??? Aren’t they the best??? LOVE!
Glad you liked some of the ideas here. I think a lot of my suggestions might be too much rainbow, but something like rainbow buttonholes is more palatable. It’s so charming and subtle in person! I can’t wait to give it a go myself.
Now I will need to watch for the man in the rainbow shirt…:)
Ha! Thanks for reading, Nancie! Rainbows make people happy, so why not wear them, right?
Love the rainbow ideas. Your post was timely for me. I just made a denim bag from Sew It Academy and I used a rainbow webbing for the straps. It’s fun without being too much. And it made me want more rainbows, so thank you for the inspiration.
Hi, Jerri! Thanks for reading! Glad I can deliver some just-in-time inspo. That’s what I’m here for!🌈
I have such a crush on tassel trim. For me that would be ‘dress like an alpaca’ but you can be an alpaca AND a rainbow! 😀
Hey, Lia – you do YOU! I’m down with betasseled rainbow alpacas! RELATED: I don’t know ANYTHING about the Fortnite video game (GOD, I sound like such a mom, LOL), but I do like that rainbow-y llama – https://goo.gl/images/LCbceE. I feel like you’d appreciate that! 😀
Thanks for reading!