I, along with a lot of apparel seamstresses LOVE to sew up something special for family pictures! We get our family pictures done every fall. And each year I like to think I get a little bit better at my part, which is coordinating/sewing the outfits. Or most of them!
I think the most important “rule” is to have solid back ups. I like to pick out a true back-up plan with clothes we already have. I’m a last minute kind of girl, but nothing is worse than really being under pressure to finish something right before you need to look happy in front of a camera! And, you never know when a project decides to be a “doomed project”… you know it happens from time to time that it just isn’t meant to be… everything that could go wrong goes wrong! So… have a REAL back-up… something you will genuinely be happy with and have picked out and ready just in case. It will take off pressure, stress and be there in case you need it 🙂 This year we slipped into someone’s “spot” after they cancelled… so I only had about 24 hours to get ready. I made Little Guy a Deep Sea VNeck and he wore a pair of Cpt Comfort Jeans I had already made him. Hubs and I both wore all store bought. And I still love the pictures 🙂 and I’m glad we could slip in with this photographer that I love! This year we did navy, green and cream/khaki and my undershirt had a little tiny bit of pink.
On to the next… I don’t ever try to sew every single piece of clothing in the picture. That’s a lot to take on, especially if your family is growing and has lots of bodies to clothe! I like to pick the most important to me and make those extra special. That way I have time and energy to make those “show stoppers” and leave the rest to store bought or something that was made a few months ago! My poor husband pretty much never gets anything made for him…maybe next year 😉 Last year when I was at the end of my pregnancy I only made my shirt (a Layer Me Up )! I wore some SOS skinny pants I had and my Little Guy wore a Yo Ho Henley I had also made previously. I paired a sweater that was my Granny’s (so still a special to me piece) and the rest was store bought we had on hand. I had set out to make a cardigan and pants for Little Guy, but those back ups came in handy when I couldn’t muster up the energy!
When picking colors I love to pick colors that I think compliment both our skin tones and my house! I print the pictures and have them in our living room every year… so I don’t want some crazy colors that aren’t going to go well with all my other decor. We happen to all be very fair skined, so it’s easy to compliment all our skin tones with the same cooler tones. If your family has different skin tones, no biggie! You can mix in cooler and warmer tones with different shades and colors. When I’m deciding I love to search Pinterest for family photo in the colors I’m deciding between. I can’t pull off brighter warmer tones like yellow and orange, so we usually do cooler greens and blues. I did do a bold lip color this year, but I don’t think I’ll be repeating that 🙂
I like to pick only a couple colors to use in our pictures and just add neutrals to fill it in. I almost always go for navy as a base. It’s super easy to use because you can find it so easily in male and female clothes, jeans and chambray are great and easy neutrals to work with navy/blue as well. I also always add in white/cream as another neutral. It helps balance the picture having a dark, mid and lighter tone color. Then I pick a midtone color or two to work in. This year we did navy, cream and darker khaki/caramel for the neutrals and teal for the color and I added in a tiny pop of pink since it was our first family pictures with Baby Girl and thought it needed that pop of pink to celebrate! Don’t worry about making everything the same exact shade either, adding different shades of the same color help give some dimension.
Next is finding a good mix of texture, solids, prints in your outfits. This can be tricky and honestly a bit time consuming. But, I really cherish these pictures forever and I don’t mind sitting and staring at a mix of fabric and clothes for a day for them! I like to use jean, knit, plaid, stripes, prints, sweater, ect to make us have some depth. I like a lot of solids or near solids as well though, because in the end I really want our faces to be the highlight of the picture not our clothes (as hard as that is for a seamstress ;)). Adding things like buttons and trim to a solid can be the best of both worlds! A little trim can really make your solid apparel look extra special without being distracting at all like a loud print can become. I usually like to do the kids in the bolder prints or colors but I have mixed it up where I wear a floral, like when I was a million months pregnant last year…. everyone was looking at the belly, so I thought I’d go ahead and highlight it! And I put Little Guy with a pop of a brighter mustard color to bring some attention to him too. Here we did navy, cream and olive with his pop of mustard and my floral brought in a bit of pink.
Layering is a great way to add some more depth and texture. But, if you’re finding it hard to pair that many items together don’t worry. It doesn’t make or break your photos if you’re not layered! We did our first year in the summer months in Texas— no one was going to layer anything! Again we’re in navy, white as neutrals and added that pop of red. I put Little Guy in the boldest and we’re both in a more subtle print.
But, you know… if your personality is loud print, then go for it! It’s all about outfitting your family to show them off… put them in something that reflects who you guys are!
I do think it’s important to be comfortable enough that you and your kiddos can sit, stand, walk, and move around without having to adjust your clothes every time. Otherwise you will spend more time in your session fixing clothing than taking pictures and no one wants that! Or even worse you get them back and you look uncomfortable! You don’t want to wear something you feel like you need to stand a certain way to be flattering…so suck in the whole time! (This is also wear layers can help mamas cover areas they might be more self conscious of!)
Even though I was super pregnant and merely standing was pretty uncomfortable, I just had on stretchy SOS pants, a super soft rayon spandex Layer Me Up and sweater. So I could sit, squat without worrying about my clothes at all! (A little secret though, I pulled my hamstring muscle squatting down for this picture, lol!)
I almost always let my Little Guy wear some kind of t-shirt. It’s what he always wears day to day and I want him to look like him! I want him to look and feel comfortable while we take the pictures as well. This Deep Sea V Neck is in a sweater knit. So the fabric choice dressed it up a bit while he was still very comfy!
For this year I used the Timeless Tunic for myself. I did a solid teal rayon jersey in the dress length. I did size down to a small since I used a very stretchy and drapey knit rather than a woven it’s drafted for. I also drafted out the bust darts since it was knit. I used the sleeve split hack that Angela had shared when it released and used a little crochet trim along the split. I thought it gave the solid a little more umph! I also love to put us in trendy clothes, which is sometimes a “no-no” for family photos. But, since we do them every year I love the idea and I can’t wait to look back through the fashion! I paired it with a long necklace and wedge booties. I was comfortable in the knit and the skirt wasn’t so tight that I felt like I needed spanx or to “suck in” the whole time. The split sleeve was something I had to be aware of while taking pictures though and how they were laying.
For Little Guy I made him a plain grey Jolly Roger Raglan in a heathered cotton jersey. The heathering gave it a tiny bit of texture/interest even though it was a solid. I also made him a Lumberjack out of a flannel (the poor baby was so hot! It was in the higher 90’s when we took these!). I did the hood option and added quick knit bands in place of the cuffs. I also didn’t have time to actually make the button holes if you look closely! But, I bet no one else will ever notice…I hope! He wore some store bought jeans with it.
Baby Girl wore a High Low Tide Top in a french terry. She was the only one is what I’d consider a more bold print. Since she’s so little I thought it was a great way to drawl your eyes to her. She also had the pop of pink within the color scheme in the floral. A nice soft knit for her too so she would be comfortable and I wouldn’t have to worry about it getting all wrinkled everything I held her or she plopped down walking a few steps. I added a little of the crochet trim and the buttons on Little Guys’s Lumberjack to her leggings (I used the Bonny Leggings by M4M). Just a tiny detail that no one else will probably notice coordinates and matches but me.
Husband wore all store bought–sorry honey! Darker khakis, a button up and a sweater (he was also VERY hot— but he looks great right? 😉 Gotta love a man who will wear layers on a hot TX day for you!)
I love seeing the family pictures pop up in the Patterns for Pirates Facebook Group! And I see the questions for help from time to time too! So I hope this helps you get your family pictures planned and sewn up for next time!
Blue and Red- Photos by Crystal Ingle Photography, Green, Navy and Blue, Floral- Photos by Colleen Hauth Photography, and this years teal- Photos by Contemporary Portaits.