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Wardrobe Architect: Clean Out Your Closet + New Free Closet Inventory Worksheet

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This post is part of the Wardrobe Architect 2015 series, led by Kristen, our patternmaker. Read more about it here and join the fun!

I was so impressed with the progress everyone made with the January challenge! Now that you’ve spent a month thinking about your core style and the silhouettes, it’s time to put that information to good use and clean out your closet!

Strategize

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It might surprise you to learn that I actually have a pretty sparse closet. A few years ago I took no mercy and got rid of everything I wasn’t totally in love with. This left me with a more minimalist closet, but not exactly a “capsule” wardrobe since not many of the pieces coordinated very well, and there were some major gaps that needed to be filled.

It’s been a slow process, but my relentless approach to purging my wardrobe was a huge asset to getting me on my way to building a proper capsule wardrobe, so I want to share my method and tips with you. This could end up being an afternoon project, or a multi-week process for you. I recommend trying to get the majority done in one weekend, and then put the stuff out of your way for a few weeks to make sure you’re okay with your decisions before you toss everything into the donation bin. Remember, until you take it to the charity shop or sell it you can always change your mind; it pays to be discerning from the get-go.

First Pass

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This is the easy part!

Start by establishing a few different areas to toss your rejected garments – I like to have “out”, “mend/alter”, and “sentimental” piles.

Go through your closet and grab anything you actively dislike or never wear and throw it into the “out” pile. Does it make you feel self conscious when you wear it? Do you know red isn’t your color? Get rid of it!

Now go back through and grab everything you love and can’t imagine getting rid of. These are the garments you wear multiple times a month, or they’re your go-to pieces for special occasions. Do not include anything you’re even somewhat unsure about. Now lay those garments out so you can see each piece – this is the beginning of your capsule wardrobe! If you have an item you really love but needs mending you can include it here.

The Maybes

Things start to get a bit more challenging here. It’s likely your closet is more than half full of garments you feel just “meh” about, so it’s important to figure out why you’re unsure about it, and if that’s something that can change.

Print out the the Wardrobe Inventory Worksheets, and then try on each garment and rate it. It can be helpful to have a close friend or family member whose style is somewhat similar to your own to be there for this part of the process to provide some un-emotional feedback.

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Download the whole worksheet here.

Finalize Your Choices

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Here’s where the hard choices get made. Take the surviving “maybes” and lay them out with the “yes” pieces. Do all of the “maybe” garments mesh with all of the yes pieces? Are there redundancies or do some pieces completely clash with the pieces in your capsule wardrobe? Even though those “maybe” garments have come so far in the process consider moving garments to the “out” pile if they’re not working with your most beloved articles of clothing. Anything that survives this round is your final “yes” pile!

Now hang all your remaining “yes” pieces in your closet, organizing your closet however you think is best. I prefer to sort by garment type, but some people like to sort by color, or even outfit. If you have any clothing that isn’t in season right now I recommend putting them into storage so you don’t have to deal with visual clutter of sorting through tank tops during the middle of January and coats in July.

Donate or sell everything in your “out” pile, and make a plan to mend or alter other garments. I’ll talk more soon about strategies for tackling the mending pile, and how to address the new holes in your closet that may have once been filled by lackluster garments.

What to do with Sentimental Items?

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Sentimental garments are a big hang up for a lot of people. You can be attached to a piece of clothing for a variety of reasons – it reminds you of a special event or time in your life, you made it, or it was given to you by someone close to you. Whatever the reason, sometimes you come to the point where you know you don’t want to wear something ever again, but you also don’t want to throw it out

There are a few approaches you can take toward sentimental garments, but the key is to get them out of your closet and away from what you wear on a daily basis. I’m a total sap and have held onto every garment I’ve made in my entire life, no matter how ugly, so my approach is to put everything into storage containers and keep them under my bed.

If you don’t like the idea of actually keeping the items you could take pictures of everything in your sentimental pile before you donate them. You could also consider giving the garments to friends or family members who you know will actually get some use out of them. Sometimes seeing other’s enjoy things we have loved ourselves can be extremely gratifying.

Get Cleaning!

This process can feel very liberating and exciting, or seem extremely daunting and arduous, depending on the current state of your closet. What is one thing you’re looking forward to about cleaning out your closet? What do you think will be your biggest challenge?

Like what you read here? Subscribe to our blog via email so you don’t skip a stitch! And sign up for our weekly Snippets email for even more sewing tips and tricks.

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Pattern of the Month: Cinnamon is 20% off

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It’s time for our next pattern of the month!

This month, we’re featuring Cinnamon, our sweet slip dress or camisole pattern. We have a few modification ideas to share all throughout February, one of which I’ve been saving up for MONTHS.

As a child of the 90s, I love a good slip dress. They’re so sleek and simple, so easy to layer when it gets cold and the most comfortable thing in the world when it’s hot. They’re also great under other dresses for more modesty, like tissue knit tunics or loose knit sweater dresses.

I rounded up some of my slip dress inspiration for you:

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1. A tropical maxi in a palm tree print by Moschino Cheap & Chic
2. How about pale pink with black straps, from Wren SS2014?
3. This free people dress made me think how easy it would be to add drapey off-the-shoulder straps
4. Band of outsiders dress has crisscross straps across the midriff, which would be so easy if you just made some extra spaghetti straps
5. The color of this Rachel Comey dress is just so lovely
6. Love the lace triangle back on this Tamara Mellon dress
7. The same dress has some interesting lace insets and slits
8. This Zara dress is probably too bare for most of us, but I love the idea of the mesh layered beneath the fabric
9. Racerback in silk from J. Crew
10. Interesting colored insets on this leaf-print dress
11. A bit of lace and a marble print.

Get 20% off with code CINNAMONTH

You can get 20% off on Cinnamon all this month by entering code CINNAMONTH at checkout.

And we’ll have more ideas and tutorials for Cinnamon all through February.

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Seamwork Issue 03: The Lingerie Issue

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It’s time for the February issue of Seamwork: The Lingerie Issue!

We had a lot of fun putting this issue together. Lingerie is one of my favorite topics, and every single story in here got me excited about making something to swan about the house in or wear under my clothes.

I will warn you: this issue is slightly spicy. There is a real human body on display, and a very beautiful, voluptuous one at that. So if you’re sensitive to that sort of thing (or just don’t want your co-workers wondering why you’re looking at an almost-naked lady), you’re warned. Our model is curvy and hot. No shame.

Patterns now available à la carte!

More good news… we’ve now made it possible to buy patterns one at a time from past issues! If you missed a previous back issue, pick up individual patterns for $7 each, or $5 if you’re a current subscriber!

Subscribers still get the two new patterns every month for just $6.

In this issue:

We’ve also added a new Resources section, where we link up relevant books, classes, and shops related to the stories in the issue.

Some favorite quotes from this issue:

“If a company hopes to still be thriving in 50 years, sustainability must be a concern.” -Alyssa Woods, VAVA Lingerie

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“To understand how underwires work, it helps to think of the Golden Gate Bridge.” -Norma Loehr

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“Marbling is a very expressive art. Each print is the culmination of a tiny performance in which the artist interacts with a fluid medium, revealing their temperament.” – Natalie Stopka, textile artist

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And here are the two new quick-to-sew patterns in this issue:

Continue to see the lingerie patterns

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Weekend Reading: Pearls, cheap travel, and evil evil glitter

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Maybe it’s the unusually dry, sunny weather we’re having. Maybe it’s that our office is full of flowers at the moment. Maybe it’s the new issue of Seamwork that I am over-the-moon excited to put out on Sunday (the lingerie issue!). Or maybe it’s our lovely and talented new art director who began with us this week (I’ll be posting an intro soon, she’s awesome).

Whatever it is, I have been feeling good, at least in spirit. I have also unfortunately fallen prey to some sort of mysterious lung ailment for the last month, but you can’t win them all.

I plan to spend this weekend cleaning house and decluttering, with a brief break to publish the new issue on the first. I hope you all like underwear, curvy women, and the combination of the two. I really love lingerie, so this issue has me pretty darn excited.

Weekend Reading:

For more links every week, you can follow me on Twitter, where I’m always posting interesting tidbits I find.

image above via colettepatterns on instagram

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Giveaway: Win a copy of 110 Creations: A Sewist’s Notebook

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To go along with our new Wardrobe Architect challenge this year, Beth of 110 Creations has kindly offered to give away a free copy of her wonderful planning notebook!

110 Creations: A Sewist’s Notebook is a lovely little planner that you can use to sketch, scheme, and dream. Use the croquis and accompanying notes to plan out all of your projects this year.

I love the idea of not only having a single place to keep sketches and plans, but a nice little record of the things you’ve made. I was thinking it would be fun to attach a photo of the finished garment (even if it didn’t turn out perfect) to each page.

How to enter

To enter, leave a comment and let us know how you planned your last sewing project! Did you buy swatches? Did you start with the pattern? Fall in love with a fabric? Get an idea from a photo or a garment you already had? How did it come to be?

I’ll pick one winner at random on Sunday, Feb 1st at noon pacific time. This is open to international as well as US entries!

PS: If you’d like to purchase the book, Beth tells me that there is currently a 10% discount. It ends tomorrow (the 29th) at midnight eastern, and the code is MOREFUN.

ETA: Congrats to Claire, who won with this hilarious comment: “oh you’re supposed to plan? That’ll be where I’m going wrong then.”

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