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, Fabric.com, and Amazon.
Project Runway Comes Calling
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
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!”
- Follow along on Instagram @katiekortmanart and @katiekortmanclothing
- See what inspires her on Pinterest @katiekortmanart
- Sign up for her email newsletter
- Learn to wear the colors you love with confidence in Katie’s online course Wear Happy Color: Your Guide to Wearing a Colorful Wardrobe
- Show Up Society
- Hive Mind
- Dear Handmade Life
- Coffee with Makers
- Creative Queso
- All In
- Punk Frockers: Colorful Katie Kortman
- Elle Magazine, Project Runway Marks Its 19th Season
- Bravotv.com, About Project Runway
- Cultress.com, Katie Kortman found Project Runway sparked a vibrant career boost
- The House that Lars Built, Becoming Katie Kortman
- Stars & Stripes, Friends, family celebrate Japan-based Navy spouse’s debut on ‘Project Runway’
- US Department of Defense, Navy Spouse Competes on ‘Project Runway’
- Spoonflower, Meet Designer Katie Kortman
- Nerida Hansen:
- Military Families Magazine, Tune in: Navy spouse competing in ‘Project Runway’
- DVIDS.net, From Burlap to Burberry, CFAY Spouse’s Project Runway Dream
Articles Written by Katie
- 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