Start your sewing adventure with us.    Join Seamwork

Articles on this site were all published prior to 2017 and this site is no longer updated. Please visit our Magazine, Patterns, and Classroom for the most up-to-date content and products.

How I designed my fall wardrobe, part 2

Yesterday, I shared the beginning of my planning process for fall and winter sewing: creating a mood board, choosing a few silhouettes, and designing a color palette.

Now I’d like to share the final steps in that process, which took me from there to creating a list of the actual projects I want to make.

By the way, if this all sounds pretty involved to you, it’s really not. Assuming you collect inspiration as you find it, you can definitely do a short and quick version of this planning process in about an hour. For me, it’s worth that little bit of time to save a lot more time by making things I’ll actually wear, and not overspending on fabric I can’t possibly use.

Plus, it’s good nerdy fun.

Step 1: Start with silhouettes

As you’ll recall from the last post, I really like to have a few outfit “templates” to start with, to help me narrow my options and come up with things that can actually be worn together.

Here were my 4 silhouettes for Fall/Winter:


Pencil skirt + woven or knit tee + heels

Full midi skirt + cropped sweater + heels

1940s style rayon/silk dress + blazer + heels

Button-up + high waist pants + boots

For each silhouette, I decided how many of each outfit I wanted. I chose 3 versions of silhouette 1, 2 versions of silhouette 2, 3 versions of silhouette 3, and 1 version of silhouette 4.

Step 2: Review what you have

Now, before actually planning my projects, I wanted to see what sorts of fabric I could use from my stash this season. I also wanted to check in on what items I already own that could work, because obviously, I do not need an entirely new wardrobe every six months.


I cleaned out my stash not long ago, so I had a reasonable amount to go through. I pulled out fabrics that were seasonal and matched my color palette pretty well.

I cut swatches from all of these potential fabrics, so I could have them close at hand as I made my project list.

Step 3: Create the project list

Now we’re getting down to brass tacks! What to make?

All I need to really do for this is match the pieces in each outfit with colors and fabrics. For example, I chose to have 2 sets of outfit 1. That means 2 tops and 2 pencil skirts.

I made a little chart like this:


On the left, I did a quick sketch of the garment. It doesn’t need to be pretty, just something to help you visualize the general shape. You could also use photos, but I like that sketches are open to interpretation and don’t show a particular fabric or color.

In the next column, I chose a color from my palette, keeping in mind the clothes I might already own and the fabrics I have and want to use.

On the right, I included checkboxes: “want to make,” “already own,” and “want to buy.” You might be surprised at how little you really need to buy once you do this. I actually realized I had almost all the fabric I needed (and then some!), with the exception of my larger project, the blazer.

Now I have a nice, handy, scannable little chart!

You can make something very similar yourself, either just by drawing these columns in on paper, or do what I did and use a spreadsheet.

What’s next? Planning each project!

I now have a nifty list, but there are still details to work out on each project. What patterns should I use? What fabrics do I still need to source? Which projects should I prioritize?

I think of the list above as a sort of worksheet I used to temporarily figure out what I generally want to sew. The real goal is to have a really inspiring place to keep an up-to-date sewing queue, with plans, swatches, pattern ideas, and details.

Well, I’ve been using a really awesome tool for planning out each individual project this season in just that way, and we’ll have more details to share about that next week.

I’m going to share what I used and exactly how I go from a list of project ideas like this one to detailed plans. Stay tuned, all you other planning nerds out there are going to love it.

If you want to be the first to know what it is and have a chance to get some free goodies, sign up to be a Pattern Insider below!

[subscribe label=”Become a Pattern Insider!” group=”insiders”]

Sarai Mitnick


Sarai started Colette back in 2009. She believes the primary role of a business should be to help people. She loves good books, sewing with wool, her charming cats, working in her garden, and eating salsa.



October 11, 2016 #

I’m really loving reading how you go through this process; as I’m doing this myself. However; I get a bit frustrated because I can’t spend as much time as I would like planning and sewing my dream fall wardrobe.
I selected some patterns that I feel would be versatile and came up with a palette. Now I’m looking at the fabrics.
That sewing project spreadsheet would be perfect for me now!!!
I love your work!!!! I have to say Seamwork radio has been a great influence in my life in general; it made me realize there are a lot of people like me out there, who have found in sewing not only a creative outlet but a way to handle negative emotions.
Keep up the great work!!! I’m a big fan


October 12, 2016 #

Aww, thank you. :)

Carlee McTavish

October 11, 2016 #

I’m really enjoying reading your process as you go along. I have been trying to do this mentally over the past maybe two years and have found that it helps me to not BUYALLTHEFABRIC every time I go to the fabric store. Can’t wait to read what’s next!


October 11, 2016 #

yessss, be still my planning nerd heart <3
looking forward to what comes next!


October 11, 2016 #

Planning might be my favourite part of creating a handmade wardrobe … narrowing down possibilities, matching fabric with patterns, sketching it all out – I love it all! Can’t wait to hear what comes next week!


October 11, 2016 #

Oh yes, i love a good list!!


October 12, 2016 #

Nifty chart you’ve got there! I need to try that. I’m a planning nerd, too. Lists make me happy, what can I say? : )
Planning what to do with the stash gets me to not buy more fabric and my wallet thanks you for these great exercises in planning! Isn’t it great to go through the stash, fall in love with your fabric all over again and make a great wardrobe from it?


October 12, 2016 #

It really is. I have some real gems in my stash, including absolutely gorgeous vintage fabrics that have languished for years. I’m so excited to start digging into them!


October 12, 2016 #

This is so timely! I have been stuck in my own head with all the thoughts and ideas being piled without any particular plan or order. Please, please make this info into a book. There are so many books on sewing these days but they are barely different from each other. Planning wardrobe, choosing items, fabric, patterns – this is exactly the information a lot of us need in order to shuffle through all the information and supplies available to us these days. I read Sewing Happiness recently and I found myself amazingly involved in the author’s very personal experiences. In fact, I started reading the book in the store, read some more in line to check out and finished the rest when I got home. I found it strangely relatable, even though it had little to do with my own life. I made a couple of projects from the book the following weekend because I wanted to continue the experience once the book was finished.
What I am trying to say is that even if a book is filled with details on one person’s steps to building a great wardrobe, it is so fascinating and I believe a lot of people would find themselves drawn to it, especially if sections of it are designed to be a work book with tips and details, pattern eecommendarions and places to attach fabric swatches. I believe there is a lot to be learned about this process of building a personal wardrobe and this type of guide is so badly needed!


October 12, 2016 #

Thank you for the thoughtful comment, Masha. I have Sewing Happiness sitting beside my desk now, although I haven’t had a chance to read it through yet. I like the idea of a personal experience, since I don’t feel like I’m a guru on the subject… just someone who loves to organize and has found some tactics that are really helpful and fun.

I like the idea of a book like that, and I’ve thought about compiling this wardrobe-planning info into some sort of coherent… thing. I really hope to find the time to finish doing it someday soon.

Stay tuned next week, though. We do have something that will be a really helpful tool, although more for the part that comes after this… planning out the actual projects. :)


October 12, 2016 #

Hi Sarai. I agree with Masha, there is so much more to sewing than cutting and stitching. This series is brilliant. You are right, it takes less time than you think. I did mine in under an hour after reading your blog. I don’t get to the fabric store so much but having already done this I honed in on 2 amazing pieces that will really take my wardrobe in the direction I want for the season. As sewing your own adds more thought to the wardrobing process, this series really helps overall! Love the work you do!


October 12, 2016 #

Yay, thanks so much, Jen!


October 12, 2016 #

I am going to start planning right now. This is so helpful. thanks


October 12, 2016 #

Hi Sarai! i also love your work! i’ve already made my work-plan after reading this-so helpful-and i have to admit that it was quite stressful to decide what to make..too many patterns…too much fabric stash..i’m happy that i’m not the only one thinking of i decided..i start my fall wardrobe with a coat..i alreay cut the pattern, i made the shell and now it’s time for the lining…it’s a good start don’t you think?

Gay omahony

October 13, 2016 #

As a retired interior designer I went back to sewing 2 years ago…needed a creative outlet.
The mood boards are so interior designer as is the planning stage…just love it
I’m trying to stop buying beautiful fabrics at every turn…keep u the good work…I’ll try to contain my fabric obsession.
Tnks for all the inspiration.


October 13, 2016 #

Before I forget, the link to part 1 actually links to this page instead. :)


October 14, 2016 #

Oops, thanks Jen! Fixed now. :)