Wardrobe Architect June: Lessons Learned from Multiple Failures

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Last Saturday I failed at two projects before noon. I had the best of intentions; I had set aside the entire day for sewing, I had several patterns at fabrics from my stash at my disposal, and an ambitious plan to get as many basics sewn as I could. After doing the Wardrobe Architect exercises from March and May I thought I was ready to get started!

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After spending a few hours of digging through my fabric stash and printing out digital patterns, I managed to draft and sew an extremely ill-fitting tank top, and then shred the fabric on the waistband of my Bristol skirt so horribly I had to throw it away. I wound up putting an end to my sewing marathon well before I had originally intended to.

Stay True to Your Vision

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I went to bed that night feeling like a complete failure, but after mulling it over that evening I realized that despite all my preparation, I still didn’t feel organized enough. I had my fabrics, patterns, and everything I needed, but I was spending too much time trying to decide what to make next and doing unexciting prep work before sewing.

Organize Your Projects

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The next weekend I decided to devote time to getting the next projects in my queue ready for sewing. Here’s my recommended method:

  • Wash or treat your fabric.
  • Press your fabric.
  • Place your fabric on a hanger.
  • Pin an image of the pattern to the fabric
  • Gather all notions and trims required.
  • Place notions and trim in a small bag and pin to your fabric.
  • Print out digital patterns so they’re ready to be assembled and/or cut.

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Little Victories

I even devoted time to stitching up Aster that day. After the previous week’s failures I was excited to see how smoothly everything had gone this time around!

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June Challenge:

  • Get organized
  • Keep sewing for your capsule wardrobe

How do you plan to keep your projects organized over the next few months? Share your tips, tricks, and methods in the comments!

Kris Blackmore   —   Designer

Kris is the designer at Colette, and also writes and illustrates our sewing patterns. A graduate of The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM), this Texas native worked for a variety of companies in the fashion industry before joining Colette in 2013. On our blog, Kris helps solve your wardrobe woes through the Wardrobe Architect series she writes.

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Comments 23

Victoria veryblissful.com

I had a similar experience with my first attempt at a Morris Blazer last week. I had the fabric and the plan to sew it up, but I completely botched it when I tried to insert the cowl neck. My plan is to keep a stash list with my intended patterns listed as well–I usually organize by knits, wovens and then by color. I’m hopeful to get through more capsule sewing this month!

Betty Jordan Wester nouvellegamine.com

With two children I have very little sewing time these days, so I have to be as organized as possible. As soon as I buy fabric I set it near the clothes basket for the next wash day. After it’s been washed, I iron it, fold it lightly, and place it on my fabric shelves. I try to buy fabric with a pattern in mind & I admit that perusing my patterns is pretty much my favorite time waster ;D When I decide, I know it’s going to be about a week.
– day 1. prep pattern, transfer to muslin, & cut.
-day 2. pin muslin & try on. Adjust & sew (fast & crappy). Deal with any issues & remark pattern.
-day 3. iron & cut fashion fabric.
-day 4. & 5. Sew & hopefully finish.

Lol! I remember the days of being able to cut, sew, and finish a dress in 2 days. Sigh. But, I have to admit, the extra time between steps does mean that I think things though more carefully and I find I make fewer mistakes.

Betty Jordan Wester nouvellegamine.com

ps- I like your Aster!

Kathleen psychicanada.com

I completed my “practice” Laurel and decided to make the finale after sorting out the sizing but I switched materials from a shirt cotton to a jersey and wow there were more mistakes on the finale than on my practice! I just got home with an organic cotton to do it yet AGAIN but this time applying all my learning from the previous 2. I keep my fabric in large zip lock bags with labels and as I begin a project I put all the notions I’m going to use on my cutting table along with pattern and material. I too rarely have a whole day to do sewing – an hr here and there so my projects tend to get stretched out for a couple of weeks which has advantages and disadvantages. I think when you can sew something in one day you get into a flow from one task to the next which is impossible when you stretch it out but having more time between tasks does allow you to think more carefully however, I’m not convinced I make less mistakes ether way! I’m a returning sewer after 40 years of not sewing and truthfully I feel more like a beginner! Everything has changed so much with sewing in 40 years – some good and some bad honestly. But I absolutely love Colette patterns! They are my favourites :)

sarah rootbranchbole.wordpress.com

I’m pretty inspired by this! I don’t have a dedicated space to sew or store projects, so I tend to rely on checklists and spreadsheets to make sure I’m not losing track of things.

That’s a great Aster. What fabric is it?

Kristen

It’s a cotton ikat I found at Bolt here in PDX! I’m not sure of the specifics.

Trisha

Owch! Some days, you just can’t get it to work. I cringe in sympathy. I have a pair of pants that nothing went right with…they are wearable, and look nice, but it was a looooong horrible process to get there. I threw them in a drawer for 6 months because I was mad at them. I finished them today.
Which brings me to organization. I keep my fabric in a trunk. I keep patterns in boxes with lids stacked next to the trunk. Trims, zippers, lace, notions all get their own box or drawer in a repurposed kitchen cart. Anything in progress….or that I’m not getting along with…lives in a repurposed bookcase that has those nifty fabric drawers you can get for closet storage. In each drawer is a pattern, fabric, buttons, and whatever else. Organization is not my forte, but so far, I like dumping things in drawers so it’s already together when I need it. They’re deep drawers, too, so you can fit more than one project or several yards in one drawer. So I tend go have a dress drawer, a woven top drawer, a lingerie drawer, a knit top drawer, and two more for bottoms or whatever. It helps me narrow my focus a little and stick to the wardrobe architect.

ewa aylesburydays.blogspot.com

Well, I don’t have a fabric stash … yet … but choosing fabric when buying it is to me the number one sewing obstacle. With everything else I practice my patience and frustration control. Great Aster.

Gina

It makes me feel better when I hear about other people having sewing fails. Sometimes, I have wonderful projects and then the next project is a disaster! It can be so frustrating.

Michelle Rivera agirlastitch.com

I’m also a mama and I’ve slowly and painfully learned that time not spoken for will be time wasted. While I don’t have much time to sew at night I do have just enough time to make sure my queue is organized and ready for me in the morning. I’ve got from 9am to 12:45pm to balance our budget, make phone calls, shower, eat breakfast, meditate, sew and eat lunch eventually… There is time to waste! Thanks for this– I love me some sewing organizational tips.

Ps- today was huge fail day for me too. Found out I adjusted the bust on fabric and not the lining to my bombshell swimsuit. Then make a tangled mess in my serger. I wash my hands of it! There’s always tomorrow.

Nathalie sewingatnumbertwentyfive.wordpress.com

Awwww, I completely sympathise. I hate bad sewing days. They are demoralising and can be expensive mistakes. I am not sure if it has always got something to do with organisation. I recently made a skirt. I planned it carefully, spent ages making sure sizing was accurate, tested buttonholes and yet it was a disaster for me.

Then this week I made another skirt, using a previously made pattern. The first one went well, but the second one is completely different ( made with an expensive fabric this time since the first one went so well!!) and there might be an issue with the fit on that one even though the fabric is similar to number 1. I do wonder if mood has a greater impact in your sewing days, the last two weeks have been awful for me and perhaps this has affected my sewing state of mind.
Of course you learn from this, but it does leave you very deflated. Your Aster is really lovely and it is inspiring to make o e for myself!

Kristen

I do think mood has a lot to do with it! Even though I had an entire day set aside to sew I was finding it hard to focus and couldn’t get into my usual sewing groove.

eimear theupsew.com

as i am currently remaking and upcycling clothes, i divided up some projects into colours, and then made sketches of what would work for each item, doing four a page, and then only working on those four. this has helped with the focus but also if something has insufficient fabric, i can adapt, or shelve for a while. i think from time to time, when something is going south, its as well to move onto a quick easily finished project, and then go back…….(i have a pair of trews that are put away for a little while, my sanity wasnt going to make it)

Kate McIvor theconfidentstitch.com

I’m glad I’m not the only one who sometimes goes through series of failures! I also like to cleanse my palate with an easy make (such as napkins with mitered corners). I agree that getting supplies organized before you start can make a big difference. thanks!

Joen

Thanks for this post, organizing my sewing room is next up on my chore list. Love the project organization and I’m certainly going to try and implement that into the clean up day.

Ingrid

I prewash fabric with the next load of laundry, like Betty up top, and I cut out the fabrics and bundle them with the pattern and notions. After that, I sew things according to the colour of thread required, and wind several bobbins of the colour I’m using to save time when a bobbin runs out. So the jeans mending goes with the blue underwear with the blue peasant blouse. I might have to switch out the top thread, but I can usually get away without switching the bobbin.

Kristen

I love the idea of pre-winding bobbins!

Lesley sewniptuck.com

Yes, thats the way to get things done. I’m such a ditherer, so capricious when it comes to sewing. I reevaluate my pattern and fabric choices constantly, self doubt much? So this past week I cut out 3 different versions of the same shirt, toiled it and I’m ready for the marathon. Sit down, strap in, we’re off!

Becky

I haven’t committed to the Wardrobe Architect in the past few months because I knew my schedule would be over-the-top hectic for a while. Aside from completing the (extremely helpful) personal style and color palette exercises, most of my Wardrobe Architect participation has been reading through the posts and comments (which I love to do, btw). I actually haven’t sewn anything for myself since the Knitcation contest Colette did last summer!

BUT, to manage my sanity and to keep up my creative outlets, I’ve completely mapped out my daily schedule and have included time for sewing. I can’t get a whole lot done each time – usually 1/2-one hour stints (and I’m a slow sewist), so I break everything into small components. And when I have a failure session, like I did the other day when I tried to make my own bias tape from an uncooperative double gauze, my time’s up and I need to move on to my next scheduled item.

Time management may seem like the boring-ist ever! But, it’s saved me from cutting out all the fun and creativity in my day and has put me back on track to create my own wardrobe! Thank you SOOO much for the supportive series and posts!

Deborah

The sewing instructor at my college often says that when you are learning, (and I don’t know about you but I have never stopped learning, ) two yards go in the bin for every yard that’s wearable. I keep her words in my head for when I have one of those days!

Saartje meynensoutenboom.blogspot.be

I’m wearing only my wardrobe capsule this June! I’ve sewn a few items, used some I already had, and bought a few. I’m keeping a journal of all my outfits on my blog: http://meynensoutenboom.blogspot.be/ .

With four kids, a job and many hobbies and interests, I don’t make much time to sew. But being organized helps. I also put my fabrics on hangers before I start on a project. I keep my stash to a minimum. And participating in the Wardrobe Architect Challenge really helped me pick my projects and fabrics. I made a little project journal which I always keep in my handbag. It has an overview of what I need to complete my capsule, and a project page for each garment I want to sew. It tells me how much fabric to buy, and once I’ve bought the fabric, I add a swatch, to make buying notions easier. (for more info and pictures, see my blog, somewhere in February) I have a basket which contains all my current sewing projects. Since I don’t have a sewing room, I have to clean away all my sewing stuff whenever I’m not sewing, so I’ve become very good at keeping things in order. But even so, I also have days when I want to sew, but things just keep going wrong. I guess on those days it’s better to just leave everything, go do something else, and come back to the sewing machine another day!

Rose

Brilliant!! Your idea about putting all of the elements together beforehand… pattern, prepared fabric, threads, etc… would be such a time-saver. I keep adding to my stash, willy-nilly, certainly with a particular project in mind but often times forget what I have. Also, since I have only a small area of my living/dining room in which to sew, I tend to stuff unfinished projects into bags then into a cupboard when it’s time to clean up, only to forget them. One day this summer, I’ve promised myself to organize all of my fabric and patterns and arrange that special cupboard so that I know what the next project will be at any spare moment. Thanks so much.

Eleanor Gibson

I have (had) two methods to keep my project and UFO’s organized. One is the wash basins one gets from a stay in the hospital and the other is the 2 gal Zip Lock bags.The wash basins work for embroidery, knitting, etc while the bags work great for sewing and quilting.

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