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Using Ready-to-Wear as Inspiration

How often have you seen an outfit in the store or catalog and something about it captured your attention?  Recently, I received a call from a friend who saw a dress that she instantly fell in love with on a perfume ad.  The dress reminded her of a conversation she’d had with her grandmother who told her the style was very flattering on her.  My friend could visualize herself in the dress and having that feeling of love from her grandmother.  The emotion she felt was overwhelming.  I am in the process of finding the fabric and a pattern to replicate that feeling.

The conversation with my friend reminded me of the many times I had seen something that stood out in some way.  It may have been the color, the style, the hemline flowing from a breeze or an emotion like my friend experienced.  One of the benefits of sewing is that you can sew just about anything that inspires you; the challenge is applying it to your lifestyle and translating it into everyday fashion garments.

I’m interested in finding out what you use as inspiration.  I included a couple of mine below; do you have any you’d like to share?

The dresses below are from a catalog I receive online.  I loved the muted stripes in the first and the colors in the second one.  So, I saved them to a file for later.


Thelma Horton’s Blue & White Print Spring Coat








Flow, Hang and Stripes







Great Colors








When I saw this fabric in the store, it reminded me of dresses above, but there was not enough to make a dress and match the stripes.  So, I made a free-flowing midi skirt instead, then wore it with a white linen, button-down shirt and denim jacket.

Attracted by colors

Attracted by the stripes

Midi Skirt

Translated to Everyday Outfit







Next, I purchased this fabric but did not have anything in mind at the time of the purchase.  I just love the fabric.  I think it was 98% cotton and 2% spandex.  The fabric was in my stash for over a year.  Later, I saw the jackets below in one of my email subscriptions and remembered that I had something similar.  I had enough fashion fabric to sew a spring coat instead of a short jacket.  I like the coat much better.

Blue & White Fashion Fabric

RTW Print Jacket

RTW Print Jacket 2

Thelma Horton’s Blue & White Print Spring Coat

Thelma Horton

Thelma Horton is a Fashion Sewing Professional, Teacher and Author of "Sew it Like a Pro".