Sewing Journal #4: Creating a Color Palette and Why it Helps

For several years, I wondered why I owned quite a few clothes, but my outfits didn’t quite look right when I put them together. Despite loving a particular garment when I bought it, I would bring it home and find that I had issues pairing it with what was already in my closet.

At the same time, I had been wearing uniforms for decades for both school and work. I had “let myself go” in the sense that I began defaulting to t-shirts and jeans or joggers—which, don’t get wrong, I like these items a lot—but, I only enjoyed these combinations about 50% of the time I wore them.

While learning how to sew, I started noticing a pattern with the fabric I was purchasing: it was yet MORE fabric that did not match what was in my closet. What was happening?

I am on a decluttering mission for the next year, so collecting fabrics has been a terrible habit that erupted during my journey for minimalism.

But what is worse is collecting fabrics with no rhyme or reason other than “It’s so pretty!”

I bought a ton of historical reproduction fabric that was on sale at Colonial Williamsburg, and although I love a good chunk of what I bought, some of the colors are just not wearable for me. I will be using them for non-clothing related projects instead.

India Garden
Seriously, how am I going to wear this?
Serpentine Vine
This is way too Christmassy.
Birds in Fleur
This is super bright in person. Plus, I never liked pink and red together.

The issue clicked after watching the beautiful videos of SewRena, Rosery Apparel, Rachel Maksy, Bernadette Banner, and The Curated Curvy. After watching for several hours, I noticed a trend: the colors within each of these creators’ videos fall within a certain color palette that they prefer. SewRena mixes and matches hot and pastel colors reminiscent of pop art to match her vintage style. Rosery Apparel and Rachel Maksy bring autumn colors to life with lots of burnt orange fabrics. Bernadette Banner’s choice colors are moody and dark, and The Curated Curvy has a lot of bright complementary colors mixed with neutrals to balance out her look.

It seemed that what my wardrobe was missing was a color palette that balanced out my outfits. The idea to create a color palette came to me after watching Making Cassie and A to Zen Life on YouTube. Their videos helped me reflect on why it felt like I had nothing to wear in my closet, and to focus on only wearing colors that are my favorites.

Boring Colors

My original wardrobe color palette before I organized it.

The first thing I decided to do was color coordinate my closet and evaluate the colors most present in my closets and drawers. Cream, Blue/Denim, Grey, Black, and Wine/Mulberry were the glaringly common colors.

Was I drawn to these colors? Yes and no. Yes, because when I go shopping, I do like a nice, sultry red, and cream, grey, black, and blue go with everything.

No, because I really wanted to begin wearing colors that I prefer, and interestingly enough, the colors I prefer to wear aren’t typically available in stores. Companies tend to cater to the general public, so they go with the same basic colors: neutrals such as white, cream, beige, and grey, and blue denim and black go with everything.

Watercolor color palette

I started looking at photographs of trees, animals, oceans, beaches, and mountains. I used my favorite colors from these photographs to create a watercolor palette of colors I wanted to see in my wardrobe.

A few things became very clear: I loved earth tones, neutrals, and pastels. Hot and neon colors are not my style because I do not like to stand out in loud and boisterous ways. I feel the most comfortable wearing colors that can be found in a forest.

I refined my color palette to narrow down the colors to twenty-three colors instead of the original thirty-six. I call this my Vintage Woodland color palette because I took the colors mostly from photos of forests.

The top row of colors reflect basic colors that go with everything. The second row consists of my primary preferred colors, and the third row consists of secondary preferred colors.

I plan to stay within this color range and really emphasize the greens while making clothes.

I have also included my original palette of cream, grey, red, blue, and black so that I can sew clothes around what I already own as well.

Before and After

I began sewing my own clothes in August 2022, and now it is April 2023 (eight months later). I made a total of fourteen wearable pieces (both sewn and knitted) since then, and it is fascinating to see the color difference in buying what I like versus wearing what I like.

While shopping for fabrics, I now reach for mostly creams, greens, purples, greys, and blacks.


It is crazy satisfying to see most of the clothes I made lined up in the colors from my curated palette.

I now mostly reach for creams, greens, purples, and greys, and blacks.

Why Creating a Color Palette is Helpful

Now, there’s no rule that says you absolutely have to use a color palette to create a wardrobe. However, there are some benefits to having a color palette when creating a me-made wardrobe or assembling a wardrobe in general:

  1. It helps you focus on colors that match and/or complement what you already own.
  2. It can keep you from overspending and collecting items that don’t fit what you already own by setting buying limitations or boundaries.
  3. It makes getting dressed easier by cutting back on the time it takes to assemble an outfit.
  4. The items in your wardrobe will become interchangeable.
  5. You’ll be excited to wear your clothing because you’ll always be wearing your favorite colors.

Keep in mind that this is mostly about having fun. Don’t be hard on yourself if you’re trying to stick to a set of colors, but then you’re drawn to a color completely outside of that parameter.

Color Palette Gallery


Sewing Journal #1: Sewing Machines are Frustrating

Sewing Journal #2: Making My Own Clothes for a Year Challenge

I Sewed an Outfit Using 18th Century Reproduction Fabric

English Nottingham Lace Haul

What is Slow Fashion?

Colonial Williamsburg Part 5: Tarpley, Thompson & Company Haul

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  1. Thanks for sharing your wardrobe journey. It is very interesting, and it seems you have a personalized plan that keep you happy all year.

    1. Thank you! It’s still a work in process, but I’m trying to get some of my creative autonomy back.

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