Make it Minimalist: Sewing patterns are based on variations of classic shapes. Open any pattern book in your local fabric store, and you'll find simple designs that suit themselves beautifully to minimalist style, including designer patterns like Chado Ralph Rucci. Flip past the glam shots of the new patterns and head to the back of each section for the designs that appear year after year. Check out the garment line drawings, usually found on the back of the pattern envelope. The fewer lines in the drawing, the simpler the style.
Go Vintage: Some of the very best of minimalist style patterns can be found in vintage designer pattern sites. For instance Calvin Klein has produced many sewing patterns over the years.
Fab Fabrics: Simpler (and faster!) patterns put the focus on the fabric, so go for full-on luxury: soft cashmere-blend wools, buttery silk charmeuses and the like in camel, gray, black or ivory. (Stick to one palette for monochromatic minimalism.) Unfortunately, you won't find these quality fabrics in most chain stores. If you have a local boutique store that specialzes in high-end fabrics, count yourself lucky. Otherwise you'll want to head online to resources like Denver Fabrics or Britex Fabrics.
Taking it up a notch: For a little more of a challenge, use your time saved making simple designs to put your stitching hours into couture finishes. Try a pick stitch, that a small running hand-stitch you often see edging the lapels of fine jackets. You can use the pick stitch to highlight garment edges or install a zipper. Also, take the time to make your hems virtually invisible on with a sly slip stitch. Use your needle and thread to "slip" your stitches between the hem allowance and fashion fabric. For more ideas on adding fine finishing touches, check out Claire Schaeffer's Couture Sewing Techniques.
For more DIY Design columns, click here. Next week, make a quick holiday clutch purse.