PROJECT RUNWAY — Pictured: Katie Kortman — (Photo by: Barbara Nitke/Bravo)

Katie Kortman is a fashion and textile designer, painter, teacher and dancing queen. She began her creative career as a painter, and received her BFA in Drawing and Painting and a Masters in Education from Brigham Young University, in Provo, UT. She has sold her paintings internationally and taught high school art and private lessons before becoming a fashion designer. 

Katie is originally from West Palm Beach, FL, a place that is lush and colorful year round; an environment whose vibrant aesthetic has influenced her perspective on art, fashion and textile design. 

In 2021 Katie was a designer on season 19 of Bravo’s Project Runway. Today, she lives with her husband and four children in Japan, where she designs her own line of clothing, textiles and handmade accessories.

The Handmade Hustle

In 2018 Katie decided to stop buying clothes, and made the bold choice to create a totally handmade wardrobe for herself. As a result of this decision, she gained prominence in the Instagram sewing community that year for posting photos and videos of herself dancing in her handmade outfits and called it the #thehandmadehustle. As others joined in with her, a social media movement was started, followed soon after by #sewhappycolor and #wearhappycolor.

“Creating a handmade wardrobe means that what I wear can be art. As a painter, I love expressing through color, shape and texture. I love that I can take that to the clothes I wear everyday. My wardrobe is an extension of my personality. It is an expression that is both beautiful and functional.”

That same year Katie won a contest hosted by True Bias and Closet Core Patterns in which she sewed a dress and hand-painted it in her signature colorful design. The contest gained her new followers, quickly followed by offers to design fabric collections. Spoonflower invited her to become their first ever brand ambassador and she began designing her own fabric collection inspired by her paintings and love of bold color. Her work as a textile designer took off after that, and Katie has since designed collections for Nerida Hansen,, and Amazon.

Project Runway Comes Calling

PROJECT RUNWAY — “If You Got It, Haunt It” Episode 1903 — Pictured: (l-r) Octavio Aguilar, Sabrina Spanta, Shantall Lacayo, Chasity Sereal, Aaron Michael Steach, Katie Kortman — (Photo by: Greg Endries/Bravo)

In 2019, Katie’s rising popularity on Instagram brought her to the attention of the casting agents of Bravo’s Project Runway, who invited her to audition for the show. Katie, an experienced textile designer at this point, and a seasoned home-sewist, had never designed her own clothing or drafted her own pattern before. However, she was NOT going to let that stop her! She agreed to audition, and immersed herself in learning the craft of pattern making and fashion design to prepare for the show.

After a year of COVID delays and a move across the world to Japan, Katie returned to the states in 2021 for the filming of Season 19 in New York City. Read more about Katie’s unforgettable experience on Project Runway here.

The Hand-Painted Color Collection

Hand-Painted Color Collection

In October of 2021 Katie released her first clothing collection, the Hand-Painted Color Collection, consisting of handmade, manufactured and one-of-a-kind pieces full of vibrant color and bold prints. The collection is primarily made in Los Angeles from environmentally-friendly OEKO-TEX standard fabrics and inks. Katie repurposed the scraps from production to make smaller pieces and accessories, like collars and headbands, for a smaller environmental footprint. The collection features pieces similar to designs Katie created on Project Runway, and the handmade pieces she sewed for herself in her colorful, maximalist textile prints.

Today, she designs her handmade accessories, custom gowns, and read-to-wear dresses, skirts, tops, leggings, and athleisure wear, from her studio in Japan. 

“My artwork has always been about color and movement, line, shape, and texture. When I began sewing I looked for the brightest solids and prints I could find, but was often longing for something a bit different. A whole new world opened up for me when I learned to design my own fabric! My clothing dreams could be made a reality!”


Stay Connected


Online Publications:

Articles Written by Katie

Print Publications:

  • Mollie Makes Magazine, March 2022
  • Simply Sewing Mag
  • Patchwork and Love Quilting Mag
  • Uppercase Mag
  • Peppermint Mag
  • Sew News Mag
  • SunSentinal Newspaper
  • Stars and Stripes Navy Newsletter