When you’re faced with a full-to-the-brim fabric shop, with shelves crammed with beautiful prints, bold solids and everything in between, it can be tricky to narrow it down – or even stick to just buying what you came in for in the first place.
The fabric-shopping equivalent of those back-of-the-wardrobe items that still have the tags on, impulse fabric buys can end up languishing in your stash, never seeing the light of day. Which is why it’s good to have a game plan. Take stock of your style and you’ll be able to judge whether that must-have fabric will be something you’ll enjoy wearing, or just a waste of sewing time.
Think About Cost-Per-Wear
Think back over the past week – what pieces did you wear the most? Which didn’t you wear at all, or even consider wearing? Why did you make those choices? We all have our favourite garments; the ones that never get boring, even though we wear them time and time again. Take a look at them – are they similar in any way? Are you gravitating towards certain colours, or a type of print? Keep these favourites in mind when you next go fabric shopping, and go for fabrics that are similar but different enough to add something to your wardrobe. Although it may seem a shame to limit yourself, it makes sense if you’re on a budget and want to make sure you’ll actually wear what you make. This is all about curating your style and making sure every make is one you’ll love and use to the full.
Hone Your Colour Palette
A dressmaker in a fabric shop is like a kid in a sweet shop – we just want it all. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean we want to wear it all. For example, although I adore a girlie floral pattern, perhaps in pink or turquoise, I know that in reality I prefer to wear graphic, modern prints, polka dots and stripes in black, grey and neutral tones, with accents of bottle green, burgundy red, navy and mustard yellow. I’m also partial to a splash of neon in the summer. I do my best to stick to these colours, however tempted I may be by others, because I know I’ll get more use out of the resulting garment. Get to know your wardrobe, get to know what colours you love to wear, and you’ll be far better equipped to narrow down your options when you’re faced with rolls upon rolls of gorgeous fabric. In theory, anyway.
Gone are the days where fashionable folk had to look to trend-led, glossy magazines for some sartorial inspiration – now it can be found at the click of a button, on blogs, Pinterest and Twitter. This makes it even easier to find your individual sense of style, so take advantage as much as you can – create Pinterest boards of your latest must-haves (mine have recently included mustard cardigans, neon and neutral pairings and printed trousers), stills from stylish films and TV shows (Amelie, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Mad Men, for example) or images of celebs whose style you like (I’m a fan of Rachel Khoo, Zooey Deschanel and Rachel Bilson) and find your own take on their look.
Look for inspiration in unlikely places too – interior design blogs, for instance, can be a great source for colour combos and on-trend patterns. The beauty of sewing is that the world is your oyster when it comes to dressing how you want – you can choose the style, print and colour and don’t have to rely on the high street – so you can pull together a lot of different elements to create a look that is every inch your own.