One of the amazing things about handmade clothes (and let’s face it…there are lots!) is that you get to choose the fabric you use to make them. That means you have a huge choice but also means you can make matching outfits.

But sometimes you might want outfits or clothes to co-ordinate but not be identical…you need to make “matching-not-matching”! Here’s some examples of when you might want “matching-not-matching” clothes:

  • An adult and child who want to co-ordinate not not match perfectly (this can also be a great way to use less fabric or have less fabric waste because you can mix and match to make the best use of the fabrics you have with two sets of pattern pieces)
  • Siblings who want to wear similar things (or both want to use the same fabrics) but don’t want identical clothes
  • Matching-not-matching can even be great for identical twins who are hard to tell apart at a quick glance!

Different creative options for matching-not-matching

There are lots of different ways to create matching-not-matching garments. Some are subtle, some are less so. It can be as simple identical base garments with personalised features like pockets, or you can take it much further and have fun with some “character bounding” (more on that later!).

Let’s have a look at six different ways to create matching-not-matching garments…

1. Same But Different

Let’s start with a really simple one. Use the same fabric but choose different garments. This is a great options if you have children who like the same things. If you want to, you can add a little bit of extra variety by choosing different co-ordinating fabrics for small features like cuffs or hood lining.

In this example the Jacky V T-Shirt (left) and the hooded Eclipse T-Shirt (right) have been made mostly from the same fabric print but with little pops of different colours of co-ordinating fabrics.

2. Interchangeable

This is a perfect solution if you want to use the same two fabrics and garments for both makes; swap which elements you make (or the placements you choose) with each fabric.

In the first example below both boys are wearing Explorer Raglan T-Shirts made from the same print and matching plain fabrics but the fabrics are in different places. And in the second example, two plain colours have been used for these side strip colour-blocked Four Seasons Joggers and the two colours have their placement switched for each pair of joggers.

3. Colour Change

This is another simple idea , and your only limitation here is potentially the availability of fabric options; choose the same pattern, choose the same fabric print but choose different colours of the same print.

The first example is a super easy one. These coordinating Hygge Bodywarmers have been made from the same dinosaur print but in different colours. The second example is a bit more of a “level up” for the Colour Change idea. The Eclipse T-Shirts have both been made using two different fabric prints (skulls and strips) and in both tees these two prints are in different colours. What we’ve basically got is four different fabrics but because those four are made up of two of the same print, and both prints have been used in both tees, it all co-ordinates!

4. Choose A Palette

To co-ordinate in a more subtle way you can simply choose fabric from the same colour palette. This is a great way to give the wearers more freedom to pick their own style of fabric. Palettes like neon, pastel, monochrome, ombre of one colour all work really well because they each have a strong identity.

In this example the Dragon Dress Up wings have been made from jewel colours including the gold and silver details. Although they aren’t close to being the same set of wings, they do “go” with each other.

5. Mix n Match Outfits

For the ultimate “matching-not-matching” outfits choose all the same garments for your wearers and make some identical and some different.

In this example both Eclipse T-Shirts have been made with the same pattern options and in the identical fabric, but the complete outfits aren’t the same because the Fell and Dale Flat Caps are the same tweed fabric but in different colours.

6. Character Bounding

The final idea for how to create matching-not-matching garments is a little bit more out-there than the rest but also really awesome. Have you ever heard of character bounding (also commonly known as Disney bounding)? It essentially means making a regular item of clothing, so not a “dressing up” type item, but making fabric choices and adding extra details that make it easily identifiable as a character from a book, film etc.

The best way to make matching-not-matching garments or outfits using character bounding is to take inspiration from the same book or film but choose different characters.

Jack and Charlie’s tops are inspired by Toy Story characters. Jack is wearing a Sunset Shirt made from a checked fabric to look like Woody and Charlie is wearing an I CAN Zip Hoodie with fabric colours and an added decal detail to look like Buzz Lightyear.

Have you tried any of these different ways to create matching-not-matching garments?

Which will be the first one you make?