Design Your Wardrobe: prologue

Seamwork, the online sewing magazine that is devouring Colette Patterns whole, has developed a program called “Design Your Wardrobe“. I assume it’s a descendant of the Wardrobe Architect series that Colette did a few years ago, & which I ignored because I was pretty new to sewing at the time & didn’t feel like I needed &/or was ready for that kind of deep thinking about my personal style, wardrobe needs, et al.

Design Your Wardrobe is a month-long program aiming to help a person develop & identify their personal style & brainstorm a sewing queue that reflects their wardrobe needs & wants, in terms of color, silhouette, life context, etc. It’s still not something I felt I really needed. I know what I like to wear (black & pink, easy clothes in natural fibers, but the more embellishment, the better) & I am not hurting for ideas. When my foot was broken & I couldn’t sew, I made a list of everything I wanted to sew. Guys. GUYS. The list was almost 150 items long. (Not all of it was clothes for me, but still.) I have PLENTY of ideas.

But my main objection to joining in is that it’s a Seamwork member exclusive, & I swore I would never sign up for Seamwork. I mean, why would I? You can read the magazine for free (if you want–it’s mostly just an eleaborate monthly advertisement for itself), & I can’t over-state how uninterested I am in actually sewing a Seamwork pattern. I know there are people in the sewing community who swear by them…I don’t claim to understand.

IMG_6705This cat has nothing to do with anything. It’s just a really cute cat that came up to me & scratched my car tires when I went to enroll Ramona in kindergarten the other day. I’m including it because this post is heavy on snark, light on pictures.

My beef with Seamwork is essentially an extension of my beef with Colette, & comes down to two words: shitty drafting. I’ve sewn a few Colette patterns, & I had all the fitting problems that others have struggled with: darts too long & too high, crazy wide necklines, armscyes that haven’t been drafted for three-dimensional arms…I imagine these issues are present throughout the Seamwork line as well. Seamwork also churns out two new patterns every month, & claims they can all be sewn “in three hours or less,” which aside from being dubious, also doesn’t fill me with confidence that these patterns are thoughtfully designed, with the kinds of smart finishes & construction details that I prefer.

I will add: I’ve met people who know their way around a sewing machine–professional fiber artists–& they had so many fitting & construction problems trying to make their own clothes from Colette & Seamwork patterns that they just gave up on garment-making. They assumed that they didn’t have the requisite skills. Again: these are people who literally sew professionally. But they were completely discouraged by these patterns.

So! Why did I swallow all of this & sign up for the current round of Design Your Wardrobe? GREAT QUESTION! The answer: I don’t fucking know. All I can say is, I love to sew, & I love to plan. I might enjoy planning as much as I enjoy sewing, which is A LOT! & that means that Design Your Wardrobe is a marriage of my two favorite pasttimes, & that’s hard to ignore.

Screen Shot 2017-11-11 at 8.04.30 PMRemember this?

Also, if forced to say something nice about Colette/Seamwork, I would say that they really shine when it comes to self-obsessed navel-gazing. I know that sounds perjorative, but trust–I am not above a little self-obsessed navel-gazing! I’ve said for years that Colette should just re-brand themselves as a creative lifestyle brand: life coaching for garment-making hobbyists. Viewed through that prism, the Design Your Wardrobe course is kind of a gimme. I asked Jared whether or not I should do it. He observed, “You like to sew. You like to plan. …I’ll be honest, I’m not seeing a downside.”

1f8b45ed86132ac29f49f6dd930c7dc9Evidence for my lifestyle brand idea: this hilarribly tone-deaf post that was published at the height of the furor over the Rue dress debacle. Nope, I’ll never forget, & I’ll also never stop laughing.

I’m about two weeks in now, & what do you know? It’s been enjoyable & illuminating. Being idea-rich & time-poor means that I can get stuck in my head easily, churning through concepts without managing the focus to make them reality. & that can trigger my ever-waiting anxiety. The exercises thus far have forced me to get specific about swirl of images & ideas in my head, which has been really helpful.

fullsizeoutput_83dMy binder (on top of a cross stitching project).

It’s also triggered more resource accumulation than I’d prefer. The “getting started” dispatch instructs one to  procure a three-ring binder & three dividers & print out the Design Your Wardrobe worksheets & the Seamwork planner. The planner is free to everyone, not just Seamwork members, which is nice, but it’s definitely designed to be used in conjunction with the Design Your Wardrobe program. I don’t know how useful a person would find it outside of that context.

IMG_7004Does this mean anything to you? It would if you were doing the Design Your Wardrobe project. PS–Ignore the hideous font used for the word “criteria”. Seamwork used a nice font there, which my browser refused to recognize & print accurately.

The program also assumes you have a color printer. I know it’s 2018, but…I didn’t. I’ve wanted one for years, but Jared always said, “It’s a scam! The color cartridges are too expensive!” I went to therapy & talked about all the money anxiety I’m having because guess what? Moving across the country is fucking expensive! I said “I want a color printer but the idea of spending the money makes me so anxious!” & she gave me one! I don’t know how professional that is from a therapist-client relationship standpoint, but I’m not a Rockefeller. Gimme gimme free stuff!

So, my plan is to work through the program (this sounds so 12-step-y) & post updates here on how it’s going. I intended to make this post the week one wrap-up, but I felt the need to contextualize my feelings about Colette/Seamwork first & that got a little out of hand. I wanted to make clear that I am coming from a place of skepticism regarding this brand, BUT I am going into this project with as open mind. Come back soon for my thoughts on week one!

Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

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