What gets you started on your next sewing project? Is it the new season? Is it a special occasion? Perhaps you’ve fallen in love with a certain fabric or pattern? Whatever it is, it’s important to understand that you’re adding to your closet with each creation, and it’s a good idea to take a moment and think about where the inspiration comes from so you’ll actually make something you will want to wear again and again!
Are you inspired by a dress? Or a sassy librarian blouse?
I’ve been there: you see a cute new fabric at your fabric store and you buy it without over-thinking it. You get it home and make a new dress from it and hang it in your closet. But then you realize that perhaps you love the fabric and the dress style, but it doesn’t really suit you or your lifestyle.
Here’s how to formulate a plan and sew items that you’ll not only love in theory, but also love wearing everyday.
First, think about your existing closet.
What is in there? What do you actually like to wear? For me, I love small prints, stripes, solids and mostly muted tones, with the occasional oversized vintage floral for those days when that feels just right. I also like natural fibers, like cotton and linen, against my skin every day.
So while I might love something super busy that's a rainbow of colors and made of polyester, I know that it will not get worn in my day-to-day life. What to do with those fabrics? Use them elsewhere in your life, like on a pillow, on a tote, in a quilt, or as an accent on a garment!
Second, create a look you love from your favorite catalog.
Just like when I was a kid, I love it when catalogs show up. I get catalogs from Boden, J.Crew, Anthropologie, L.L.Bean, Garnet Hill and Land’s End. Sure, some of those are considerably more stylish than others, but they all tap into a part of my personal aesthetic with clean, modern, vintage or classic designs. See what you are tempted to buy from the catalogs and make it for yourself!
Third, check out the world of fashion!
I live for the various Fashion Weeks that are hosted around the world, and for my monthly subscriptions to Vogue and Elle. Sure, much like the fabric store, you might be lured in by something you won’t actually wear, but there is nothing like seeing an artist’s presentation of their work, live and on stage. Since I can’t actually go to the Fashion Week shows, I try to catch as many as I can on the Web, as many now have live streaming. Oh wonderful technology! Strip down the designs you love on the catwalk and in the pages of the magazines and see how they relate to your stash of sewing patterns.
Lastly, create an archive of inspiration.
I have two ongoing archives of inspiration: one digital, one paper.
My digital archive is a folder on my laptop called “fashion inspiration” and it is exactly that. It's filled with images that I have collected for years on the Internet that spark some sort of trigger in my creative head.
The other archive is full of pages that I have torn from magazines and catalogs that do the same. Almost none of these are for copying the garments exactly, but rather it is a collection of ideas to consider when deciding what to make next. Take these ideas and see how they relate to the pattern catalogs so you can sew similar looks!
Many designers even have their own line of patterns, so you can quite literally sew up the look you loved from last season!
Craftsy has lots of online garment construction classes that will teach you re-create your favorite looks from the runway. Check out The Couture Dress with Susan Khalje, Jean-ius! with Kenneth D. King and The Classic Tailored Shirt with Pam Howard!