Wardrobe Architect 2015


Last year, I created a little experiment on the blog called Wardrobe Architect that many of you followed along with. This year, Kristen has decided to use the principles to help her design a personal wardrobe throughout 2015. Now you have a chance to follow along on her journey and try it yourself in 2015. -Sarai

This is embarrassing to admit, but over the past few years I’ve become quite the fast fashion consumer. When I was younger, I took a forceful ethical stance and swore it all off, but lately it seems that you can find me spending money in a large fast fashion retailer multiple times a month.

Truthfully, as a creative person I feel lousy about purchasing a style that has been designed, manufactured, and marketed specifically for my socio-economic group. It doesn’t feel right for me, and I want to take time to reconnect and rediscover my style, and make it truly personal.

That’s why I’m choosing to devote 2015 to a complete wardrobe overhaul. You might call it style therapy, a closet cure, or a fast fashion diet. Whatever it is, for one year I’m not buying new clothing; everything must be made or purchased secondhand.

I believe that this will get me truly thinking about whether I actually need something, while challenging myself to become a better sewist by tackling projects I had never previously given much thought to.

And I want you to join me! I have designed a year-long program that closely follows the tenets of the Wardrobe Architect, with a strong focus on sewing your own capsule wardrobes for spring/summer and fall/winter.

Don’t worry, you don’t actually need to swear off buying new clothing if you don’t want to! However, following along with this challenge will give you the opportunity to slowly and methodically design and plan to sew your own wardrobe. Below is an outline of everything we’ll cover, month-by-month.

  • January – Find your core style and explore shapes
  • February – Clean out your closet and take inventory
  • March – Review and finalize your spring/summer sewing projects
  • April – Plan colors and shop for spring fabric
  • May & June – Sew for your spring/summer capsule wardrobe
  • July – Review and finalize your autumn/winter sewing projects
  • August – Plan colors and shop for autumn fabric
  • September & October – Sewing for your autumn/winter capsule wardrobe
  • November – Review and refine
  • December – Show off your wardrobe!

Of course, this timeline is not gospel! You are free to sew all year long (I know I will be), but I have found that it can be incredibly helpful to have a few weeks at a time to really focus on different aspects of a project before moving onto the next.

Let’s get started: January’s Challenge

This month’s theme is about finding your core style and picking silhouettes that best suit your body.

To get started, read through The Wardrobe Architect Weeks 1-4 on the blog and complete all related projects and worksheets. I recommend getting a sketchbook or binder to keep everything organized as we work through the year.

Then, start browsing for sewing patterns that you think would fit well into your future capsule wardrobe. If you like to design and make your own patterns, sketch up some designs that you think reflect your core style and that you might like to see in your capsule wardrobe. Better yet, you can even do a combination of the two!

Try to come up with at least 20 patterns or designs in different categories of clothing, such as tops, blouses, pants, skirts, or outerwear. Print out photos of the patterns or add your sketches to your notebook.

Important questions to ask yourself about the designs you choose:

  • Have you worn similar styles before? How did you feel about them when you wore them?
  • Would you need to make any modifications to the designs you choose?
  • Are there any designs that don’t quite fit with the others?
  • Are these designs cute and trendy, but maybe not quite you?


January Checklist

  • Get a notebook, sketchbook, or binder
  • Read through the Wardrobe Architect weeks 1-4
  • Complete exercises and projects for Wardrobe Architect weeks 1-4
  • Design or collect 20 pattern ideas that reflect your core style and preferred silhouettes. We’ll pare these down later.
  • Grab a button for your blog!

Share your progress!

Toward the end of the month, we will have a check in where you can share what you’ve come up with.

Here are a few other ways you can share your participation:

  • Share this image on social media (facebook, instagram, twitter, pinterest) to let people know what you’re doing (and share a link to this post). Click to download:


  • Throughout the challenge, you can post about your struggles and breakthroughs on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #WAChallenge2015 (be sure to mention @colettepatterns too)
  • Add these buttons to your blog by copying and pasting the code below (we have a couple different sizes for you):

<a href="https://www.coletterie.com/wardrobe-architect/wardrobe-architect-2015"><img src="//media.coletterie.com/promo/architect-2015-300.png" alt="" /></a>

<a href="https://www.coletterie.com/wardrobe-architect/wardrobe-architect-2015"><img src="//media.coletterie.com/promo/architect-2015-125.png" alt="" /></a>

If you plan on participating please post in the comments and let me know what your specific goals are. I’m excited to get started and see the wonderful wardrobes everyone creates!

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.


Tutorial: Add pockets to the Violet Blouse (with free pocket template)


Whether it’s a snazzy style statement or a place to stash your pen collection, adding pockets to the Violet blouse (or any other blouse) is a fun and easy way to switch things up.

Below are the instructions for adding a basic rectangular pocket. At the end of the post is a free pattern download for the pocket featured. Alternatively, you can measure and cut a rectangle that is 5.75″ wide and 6.25″ tall.

(And just a reminder – the Violet Blouse is the Pattern of the Month, meaning it’s 20% off in the shop through the end of January. Use code VIOLETMONTH at checkout.)

How to add a basic pocket

1) Cut out one or two pocket pieces depending on how many pockets you’d like to add. From notch to notch, baste around the sides and bottom of the pocket at a scant 5/8″ seam allowance, pivoting at the lower corners.


2) Press the upper edge of the pocket 1/2″ towards the wrong side.


3) At the notch, fold the top pressed edge towards the right side and pin. (This fold should measure 1″.)


4) Stitch in place on each side at 5/8″, making sure your first pressed edge stays folded.


5) Turn top of pocket right side out, using a point turner to make the corners crisp.


6) Pin the pressed edge in place and edge stitch along it.


7) Fold the raw edges to the wrong side and press, rolling the basting stitches to the back as you do so you can’t see them from the front. Clip the corners at a right angle about 1/4″ away from the basting stitches.


8) Sew the dart in your front piece. Hold it up and decide where you’d like the pocket. Keep in mind that the center front edge of the shirt will lose 5/8″ when the facing is attached. Pin the pocket in place, making sure it’s parallel with the center front edge.


9) Since the bust dart adds a rounded shape to the fabric, place it over a pressing ham or other curved surface while pinning the edges of the pocket.


10) Topstitch around the sides and bottom of the pocket 1/8″ from the edge, pivoting at the corners and backstitching at the beginning and end. For added strength, stitch a triangle at each upper corner as shown.


pocket variations

A pocket takes barely any fabric, so it’s the perfect opportunity for some experimentation! Here are some ideas:


  1. Change the shape. Cut off the bottom corners to make a six sided pocket.
  2. Add a trim. Stitch a piece of lace, bias tape or other trim to the top of the pocket, incorporating the ends into the stitching when you fold the top edge towards the right side. Similarly, use a decorative stitch on your machine to hem the pocket instead of a straight stitch.
  3. Change the size. Make a mini pocket! Or, change the proportions to make it shorter and wider or taller and narrower.
  4. Make it curved. Curve the bottom corners of the pocket. To help when you press the edges, sew a basting stitch in the seam allowance of the curves and use it to gather the excess fabric.
  5. Add a button. Stitch a buttonhole in the hem of the pocket before attaching, then sew a button to the shirt.
  6. Make it a shape. Go crazy and make heart shaped (or any other shape) pockets. Cut two pieces per pocket, stitch them right sides together almost all the way around, notch curves and turn right side out, press and topstitch around the edge.

If you have any other pocket brainstorms you’d like to share, please comment below!

Click here to download the pocket template (or draw one yourself).

This post is part of #violetmonth. Get 20% off on the Violet pattern thought January 2015 with code VIOLETMONTH and follow along with tutorials and ideas on the blog.


Seamwork Issue 02 is here!


The January issue of Seamwork is up and ready for you to read!

We’ve added a new feature this month called Swatch Service. I’m interested to know what you guys think. We frequently get questions about where to buy fabric for our patterns, so we actually went off and ordered a whole bunch of swatches from several online retailers. We then picked out a small but diverse bunch that would work well with this month’s patterns. What do you think? Is it helpful? Should we show more options? Take bigger photos?

In this issue:

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


Savannah is a lovely everyday camisole cut very simply on the bias, edged with stretch lace, and finished with French seams and adjustable self-fabric spaghetti straps. It’s the sort of simple garment cut from lush fabric that you can wear all the time – as loungewear, under your sweaters, or on its own with a cardigan or blazer. We even provide tips for making this one in knit fabric with elastic straps, if you want a variation that can take you to yoga class too.


Manila gives you basic leggings with a sweet detail: a curved tulip cuff. You can make Manila in activewear fabric for working out, jersey for lounging or keeping warm under skirts, or double knit for sleek pants to wear under a tunic blouse or long sweater.

You can visit Seamworkmag.com to read the issue, download it from the current issue page, or subscribe to get the patterns.


Pattern of the Month: Violet


We’re starting a new feature on the blog this year: Pattern of the Month

Each month, we’ll choose one pattern from our catalog to focus on, offering tutorials, tips, and free downloads to go along with it. Plus, each pattern will be discounted for the month it’s featured.

I figured it would be a fun way to tie our tutorials to a real project. So often, I feel like we create tutorials based on what we’re working on at the moment. But if no one else is working on the same type of technique or project, they have a tendency to disappear into the pinterest void without being used.

This way, there’s a little bit more togetherness, don’t you think? It’s not nearly as in depth as a sewalong, but I think it will be lots of fun.

We’re starting with Violet this month, our lovely little peter pan collar blouse. Devon and I have prepared some fun little details you can add and changes you can make if you decide to sew this one up.


How it works:

  • You can pick up the pattern for 20% off in our shop using the code VIOLETMONTH
  • This month, we’ll be posting tutorials and ideas you can use with Violet (or with other patterns if you want)
  • Want to create your own tutorial using Violet? Add a comment to this post with a link at any time during the month and we’ll link it up at the end of the month.
  • Upload your creations to our Flickr group, or tag them on Instagram with #VIOLETMONTH (you can also mention @colettepatterns if you want.)
  • We’ll do a little roundup of some of your creations at the end of the month.

Let me know what patterns you’d like to see tutorials and variations on in the future!


Now Hiring: Assistant Art Director


Popping in from our holiday break to let you know that we’re currently looking for an assistant art director in Portland, OR.

This is a full time position involving photography, design, planning, and a whole lot of creative thinking.

For more information and how to apply, see our jobs page.

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