Monday, April 20, 2015

Wardrobe Architect Progress So Far: January through April

One of my sewing goals this year was to participate in the Wardrobe Architect 2015 Challenge, in order to build a me-made wardrobe that meets my needs each season. Each month so far has brought a different exercise. Here’s how I approached each one:

January: Find your core style and explore shapes

This assignment was the hardest for me, as the styles and shapes I’m drawn to are not always the kind I have the skills to sew, or the confidence to wear. In the end, for my spring/summer wardrobe, I went with a bunch of patterns I’ve already sewn in the past and like to wear, as well as a few new ones to build my skills. You can see my inspiration on my Pinterest board.

February: Clean out your closet and take inventory

I had extra inspiration for this assignment, due to my discovery of Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. In a nutshell, she encourages readers to get rid of their clutter all at once, and to only keep those things that bring joy. One Sunday afternoon, I piled all my clothes on our bed and decided one at a time which I was going to keep. I discarded four garbage bags of clothes. A lot of my issues with clothes stem from the fact that I don’t look the same after having a kid. I got rid of all the clothes that didn’t fit me anymore and it was really cathartic. I realized that I was holding onto clothes from different points in my life because I didn’t want to let go of the person I was when I wore them. Getting rid of those clothes served as a way to accept the person I am now. During this process, I also discarded me-made clothes that I didn’t like or didn’t wear, but felt guilty about getting rid of. One thing I learned from this book was that it’s okay to get rid of something that has already served its purpose, even if that purpose was just to teach you what doesn’t work for you. When I finished this process, it was amazing how much more space I had in my closet and drawers and how obvious the holes in my wardrobe were. Now I have the space and direction I need for my spring and summer garment sewing projects.

March: Review and finalize your spring/summer sewing

For a while, I was stalled on this one. I’m a big planner and list maker, and at first, the plan that I made was overly ambitious. It started to stress me out just thinking about it. Then I sat back and thought about how I like to sew. Sure, I like to make plans and lists, but I also enjoy dropping everything to sew something that inspires me and is creatively fulfilling. I reworked the list and decided that each month’s sewing plan would be structured by color. I have a list of things I want to make in each month’s color, but if I change my mind or don’t get to everything, that’s okay.

April: Plan colors and shop for spring fabric

Planning colors was easy. Black and gray have long been my preferred neutrals, and blue has been my favorite color as long as I can remember. In addition to my old favorites, mint is my preferred “trendy” color right now, and I have the candy hued Converse to prove it. Based on my sewing plan, April will be for sewing black projects, May will be blue, June will be gray and July will be mint. I’m trying to decrease my stash of garment sewing fabrics, so I haven’t done much shopping yet. There’s still plenty of time for that after I sew up the black and blue fabric that I already have on hand.

After working through these four assignments, I came to the realization that I’m not yet ready to have a 100% me-made wardrobe. I started sewing clothes to feel better about myself and the way I looked, but somewhere along the line, I started making myself feel guilty for not making everything I wear. At this point in my life, I just can’t sew things fast enough to completely meet my needs each season. Last year, I only bought ready-to-wear clothes three times: two pairs of jeans in January, hot weather clothes for a vacation in June, and a sweater when the weather turned cold in the fall. I felt bad each time I did, because I was holding myself to an unrealistic standard. This month, I bought jeans to replace the ones I bought last year that wore out, trousers for work, and a couple light sweaters and I feel much better about it, because they are clothes that fill holes in my wardrobe and not impulse purchases. I’ll continue to make my own clothes, but I won’t guilt-trip myself about buying ready-to-wear when I need to. The Wardrobe Architect exercises have really helped me understand what I want out of sewing my own clothes: I want to sew things that I enjoy wearing and enjoy sewing. Guilt gets in the way of enjoying the process.

Now comes the fun part. For May and June, the Wardrobe Architect assignments are to sew what I’ve planned. I have already started sewing my plan this month, and will show you what I’ve finished soon.


  1. Very impressive! SO much though and attention (and action!) has gone into this post. Good for you for figuring out what works for you and feeling good about it!

  2. Good for you for getting rid of so much in your closet! I did it recently and you are right, it feels so good. Can't wait to see what you start sewing up.