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Wardrobe Architect: Making your sewing list

Last month, I spent some time putting together a moodboard, palette, and outfit templates for fall.

Next up on my agenda was taking all that fun inspirational stuff and getting a bit more concrete. I had my ideas of the kinds of things I wanted to wear, but now the question came: what exactly should I sew?

Here’s what I did. As a reminder, here is my inspiration board, my color palette, and my outfit templates.




1) List the pieces

Looking at my outfit templates, there are several different types of pieces included. Here they are:

  1. Slim-fit knit dress
  2. Warm and bulky sweater coat/wrap/thick cardigan
  3. Short shift dress
  4. Minimalist short wool coat
  5. Pullover sweater
  6. Pencil or slim cut skirt
  7. Slim fit pants
  8. Button-up shirt

1) Survey what I already have

First, I looked through my closet and thought about what I already own that I wear a lot, and how that fits with the outfits I created.

Here’s an example. Last Fall, I bought a giant cream colored vintage wool sweater coat that I wore constantly. I never really wore sweater coats before, but I loved how warm and comfortable it was, like being wrapped in a comforting blanket all day long. I wore it with a slim cut jersey dress, so I wasn’t totally shapeless. I know if I had more of those, I’d wear them all the time.

Next, I looked for things in my outfit template that I don’t own. I don’t currently have the sort of minimalist short coat that I’d like, and my favorite vintage coat is getting a little past its prime. I should probably do something about that.

2) Decide how many to make

First, I set a goal of how many pieces to sew over the course of the fall season.

I tried to be realistic about this. As it starts cooling down, I will probably be doing more sewing. But I also have a list of home sewing projects I want to get done (and I’d love to work on a quilt!), so I kept my goal fairly modest. I decided 7-8 pieces sounded right.

Here is what I decided on:

  1. 1 Slim knit dress
  2. 1 Sweater coat / bulky cardigan
  3. 2 pencil skirts
  4. 1 minimalist short coat
  5. 2 shift dresses
  6. 1 camisole

3) Pair colors and shapes

Finally, I took each of these pieces and matched it with a color (or a few colors) from my palette.

It helped to go back and look at my moodboard and the fabric swatches I’d placed there. This actually made it quite easy to match things up, using what I already have.

Here’s how it all panned out:


4) Start a project binder

Here’s my favorite part, and something I hadn’t really done before.

I took a large sketchbook and began creating some inspiration collages for each project. For some projects, I already have fabric from my stash. For others, I’ll need to find fabric, but I have color and fabric ideas. If you were doing prints, you could even print some images from online fabric stores and try them out.


So that’s my fall sewing list, all sorted and ready to go! I’ll share the inspiration collages for my August projects soon.

Are you ready for fall sewing yet? Tell me, what are you thinking about making?

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.



August 6, 2015 #

Oh my, this post really inspires me to plan my sewing better! but as much as I want to, I don’t think I will ever get that organized about my sewing. I always find myself with parts that don’t match each other. (mainly since I like choosing interesting prints and never goes with the solids that I should…).


August 6, 2015 #

You could always do a more lightweight version! I found just making a moodboard collage for the season and sticking some of my fabric swatches to it was so so helpful in tying different fabrics together.


August 6, 2015 #

I haven’t really been planning my fall sewing–I’m clinging to summer as hard as I can, knowing that in two weeks school will start again, and I won’t be able to sew nearly as much….I never have midsummer sewing lulls because midsummer is the only totally free time I have to sew. Of course, everything I sew is summer related, and in the back of my mind I bemoan that fact. I really should sew winter clothing that I want to wear. I know that I turn into a grumpy, cranky person seeking warmth in the winter, but the me who sews in the summer just screams, sleeveless dresses ! All the time !


August 6, 2015 #

Ha! Well, the good thing about sleeveless dresses is that they are easy to layer when it gets colder. :)


August 6, 2015 #

I just love posts like this! Your ideas for organizing inspiration are so wonderful. I’m definitely ready for fall sewing, although it feels a little bit premature here in the south as we won’t have cooler temperatures till late September at the earliest. In any case, I’m already planning a few things. I want to make a few loose knit tops because I wear them a lot. I love relatively shapeless knitwear. I also want to make some basic a-line dresses and skirts, and am thinking about breaking out my Ginger skirt pattern again! Also on my radar are slim fitting trousers and a brightly colored coat. I’ve never made outerwear, and think this could be the year for it!
I’m also already diving into my fall knitting because if I don’t start now, I’ll never have anything ready to wear in time for the new season. ;)
Thank you for sharing!


August 6, 2015 #

I love Fall, so I am totally ready for it. It’s been pretty hot here too, but the occasional cool morning really puts me in the mood.


August 6, 2015 #

Hi! I am trying to plan my fall sewing and knitting, not so good at planning indeed. Up to now I feel like making a Laurel dress in a red/purple print, then a coulotte pants (knee lenght) and a round skirt both in teewd and a cream silk shirt. For the shirt I am still looking for the right pattern, I would like something quite classic but also a bit modern.


August 6, 2015 #

Thanks for listing process, this is really helpful! For some reason I can’t get enough planning & process-based information, I think even though it’s usually a variation on the same thing, it’s so fascinating to see inside someone else’s brain :)
I’m worried that I’m too ready for fall sewing and knitting, but still have a few summer items to finish up first! A few of my late-summer dresses will transition well into fall — gotta love layers.


August 6, 2015 #

I really love this post. Now I want to plan my sewing list this way too.
Do you already have the patterns in mind for the outfits you want to sew? And if yes would like to share them?


August 7, 2015 #

Ooh I was going to ask this! Especially the big cardigan, it looks perfect for winter in the UK, so you might have some copy cats! :)


August 7, 2015 #

For the big cardigan, I am definitely going to use the Seamwork Oslo pattern:

I have some patterns in mind for some but not all of these. I will share them as I get closer to sewing each one and making those final decisions. Some I will probably draft myself (and maybe they’ll wind up as future patterns, who knows?)


August 13, 2015 #

Thank you for the reminder of Oslo, perfect to fill in a number of gaps in my wardrobe and as a subscriber, I have it!

Vicky T.

August 6, 2015 #

Great idea! Thanks for the tips. I’ll give it try on my next sewing project


August 7, 2015 #

So inspiring, you make it look so simple! I did get fairly organised for summer sewing, well I made a list! But then Seamwork patterns came along and I got distracted! So my list changed. I am aiming to collect a few patterns that work well and I can use to make variations. I’m still making summer things though, but you’ve made me realise that I should at least start planning for autumn/ winter. Love your outfit templates!


August 7, 2015 #

Thinking about lots of new projects for next season is so fun, but narrowing it down is torture! It’s like choosing just one kind of cookie! : )
But I did pick just a few and will save the rest for later…I think this fall, I’m looking for three knit tops in long sleeves, a lightweight corduroy skirt, one knit wrap dress, and lightweight wool pants. I tried Wardrobe Architect this summer and it was a success. I finished four projects that were languishing, unfinished in my project drawers from last year to fill holes in my wardrobe. One more to go! Then my new fall projects can move into their drawers. Thank you, Wardrobe Architect for helping me find a system to stay organized and sew with a plan! I love this idea!


August 7, 2015 #

I know! I feel like it would be helpful to make a runner up list or something. Because then I could go back to that in the winter and if there are still ideas I like, they’re probably winners. Hmm…

Catherine Coll

August 7, 2015 #

Your previous post about mood boards & planning made me realise I lacked organisation in my sewing projects. I had a big splurge on fabric buying last Saturday and tried to select fabric with your advice in mind. I have just started my first autum piece, a Meringue skirt in green denim. I need to match my Swag to my clothing needs now.

Kelsy W

August 7, 2015 #

I have been thinking of making a journal for my sewing ideas, and what I already have made to take me with out fabric shopping. I also may use it for sketching ideas I want to sew.


August 8, 2015 #

Love this approach to sewing for each season. Over the years, I have put tons of mood boards together, but NEVER for my own projects! Thanks for this! But, of course, I still didn’t get through my SUMMER list! I went on a rampage in March and bought all these printed scuba knit fabrics that are still in a pile! Thanks for inspiring !


August 8, 2015 #

I am very inspired by color, too; it is usually where I start. I also keep a list I call “What I Want to Wear Today” and when I Am getting dressed, or looking at images, and I think “Gee, I wish I had this or that to wear right now,” I put it on my list. When some item shows up several times, I know it’s time to sew it. Not that I always stick to the list! Right now I am working on mid weight navy trousers with a wide leg and forties influence.


August 8, 2015 #

Will there be a new pattern in the fall? I love the fit of your patterns . Thanks

Sara A.

August 9, 2015 #

I’m knitting a few sweaters, a purple cable sweater, a big mustard cardigan, and a light weight gray cardigan. I’m planning on sewing either 2 Monetas or 1 Moneta and one sweater set using the Oslo and SBCC’s free t-shirt pattern using a rayon knit print and a sable colored rayon/wool blend. I also have plans to make a really 90s floral rayon dress to wear with my chunky cardigan and combat boots and some blouses out of quilting cotton.


August 11, 2015 #

I love these posts and you are inspiring me to get organised. I just booked a week’s leave from work to get a big chunk of sewing done so I better get organised. I am going to try the physical mood boardbut I also use powerpoint so I can storyboard styles with fabric and even play around with which accessories work. It is amazing how useful that is to check on styles, colours etc. Between clipping images and taking photos of my fabrics its pretty easy.


August 14, 2015 #

I’m going to work on replacing my old clothes with me-made clothes this fall. I will make:
1 Moneta with long sleeves in a heavy blue knit
1 Astoria sweater in a reversible grey-blue heavy knit and I’m going to figure out how to make it reversible
3 Mesa dresses for layering in several more graphic prints
1 Oslo cardigan in a dark grey ponte
1 pair of Clover pants in black


August 15, 2015 #

I am horrible about sewing up whatever I fancy at the moment and then I have a pile of things but not enough OUTFITS. This post gives me the push to go through my closet and see what I need, instead of what I feel like making. A pair of jeans or a few pencil skirts just arent as fun to sew as flowy blouses and dresses, or jackets in sexy colors but even more needed.


August 15, 2015 #

Can you suggest some websites for sweater knits? Love the Oslo cardigan and want to find a knit like the ivory cardigan you have on your board.


August 17, 2015 #

There’s great stuff at Mood and Emma One Sock!


August 19, 2015 #

ooooh, i love your color palette!


August 24, 2015 #

Instead of a project binder I had a little project journal for my summer sewing. I made it out of some printed pages (capsule overview and croquis pages) and a cereal box cover, on which I stuck my palette. It was A6, so small enough to always carry with me. For each sewing project, I would start with a sketch of the garment on my croquis and a note of how much fabric I needed, and any other supplies required. After buying the fabric, I would add a swatch, making it easier to buy sewing thread and things like buttons. On the overview page, I would keep track of progress, and in the back I could keep notes on the cost of various projects. (

It really made buying supplies and sewing easier and more fun.

I haven’t started sewing for autumn and winter yet, there is too much work in the garden now. I plan to make just one item this fall: a shirtdress in Liberty wool.