Hello! I'm Suzannah, a serious DIYer and mom of two little ones. Follow along with my DIY fixer upper house renovations, sewing and crafty projects, real food recipes, and de-stressing goals.
I believe you can love your home just the way it is, AND have the power to design and make big changes to make it better.
I'm also the author of DIY Wardrobe Makeovers!

Sewing Circle at Adventures in Dressmaking

Dear readers!  I'm so excited to announce a brand new feature for the blog, inspired by some of you!

A few of you have contacted me with great sewing questions in the past.  How to turn a retro 80's skirt into something cute?  How to get motivate to learn to sew and what resources are there?  How to take in a t-shirt that's too big?

Last week I got a great question, one that warranted not just a blog post but a whole new (ongoing) blog feature: Naomi emailed me with this issue:

Q: While I really like to sew, I find myself a little adrift when it comes to matching the fabrics I buy with the style of garment they might be suited to. So I thought maybe a fun little project could be if I send you, say, a few photo swatches of fabrics in my stash and maybe you make suggestions for the types of garments you'd make out of them. Just whatever your instinct is. 

I love matching patterns to fabric, so this sounded like a great project to me!

This encouraged me to start a new blog feature, a combination between an advice column and a community forum for ideas--Sewing Circle at Adventures in Dressmaking.  Regularly, I will answer reader's question on Sewing Circle and you can all chime in, too!  I look forward to hearing your questions and hopefully helping you out!

So, Naomi sent me pictures of fabrics she had, and a list of all the patterns she had bought and liked.  She also sent me a pic of herself and a description of her style, lifestyle and current needs (including, "I want to live in Anthropologie."--haha, me too!).

I had fun matching up the fabrics Naomi had with some fun inspirations and selection of her patterns.  So take a look at what I came up with and please, add your ideas, too!  That's the fun part of Sewing Circle!

Q: What garments should I make out of my fabrics?

A: Try these!

This paisley is one of my faves of Alicia's selections.  I can't tell what weight and texture the fabric is, but it looks like a fairly lightweight cotton (maybe semi-sheer?) or linen-look.

Some of my first thoughts were a funky, sort of hippie-ey dress like this Anthro halter:

You could get this look with this McCall's pattern, the criss-cross halter style (widen the center waist band by several inches so the fullness of the skirt starts at the waist!)
I could also see it in one of the styles from this cute Simplicity pattern; either the tank style with a shortish skirt or the drawstring halter style.
If the fabric is crisper, you could do an interesting retro-inspired look that could (not sure) contrast nicely with the warm colors and funkiness of the fabric by doing a vintage-ey halter like the one Zooey Deschanel wears at her rooftop party in 500 Days of Summer.
A vintage pattern would be best for that, but you could just modify something like this Simplicity pattern:

That great paisley fabric could also be a funky skirt!  Like the Phosphorescence skirt from Anthropologie:
For that you don't need a pattern!  Just a strip of waistband 2.5" longer than your waist is big around, and two panels of fabric 2-3" longer than you want it to be on you.  Just put together, hem, gather, and attach to waistband!

Naomi also has this light green and tan knit swirly print.

For this I looked through Naomi's patterns for knits, and saw this very cute Simplicity (I used to own this, made it once, and somehow no longer have it?  Weird since I don't usually lose things...).  You could go sort of hippie with this one, too, and make the long halter that's shown in a dark paisley.
Or, you could get really creative and turn it into something like the Ancient Pathways tank from Anthropologie (how beautiful is this?!)

For this, I would use a pattern like the sleeveless dress from McCall's M6032 and add some contrast fabric in the twisted waistband.  You could use the pattern but make it much, much shorter so it's a top, or you could do a dress version of the Ancient Pathways tank.

Naomi's next fabric reads like a linen/cotton or just a nice heavier cotton, but is this pretty batik-ey/block print-ey, more rustic paisley.

It immediately reminded me of this dress from Anthro:

You'd need a simple tank bodice pattern for that, and give it a gathered skirt.

Another cute look for block print fabrics is the long skirt--I have yet to rock it myself, but I thought the Shifting Buttons skirt was so pretty in the Anthro catalog--

It's clearly a circle skirt, which is also fairly simple but I'd recommend a vintage pattern also, although I imagine there is a circle skirt pattern out there in production now, as well.
Some looks that are similar out of the patterns Naomi currently has are:

The long style with the higher waist on this Simplicity:
The swirly wrap one (you could make it longer) on McCall's M5430.

Next Naomi showed this plaid.  My first thought was that this was a suit weight cotton, good for a sheath dress or jacket for fall, but it could be a lightweight shirtweight plaid, also. 
If it's not too heavy and crisp, it could be very cute with a gathered bust like these in the Vogue Easy Options V8555.
It also could go summerier if it were modeled after the Plains & Prairies dress from Anthro last season:

Hard to find a pattern for that exactly,  but you could use the tank/halter bodice from this Simplicity:

Naomi also included a pic and description of some of her solid-color knits.  She has this turquoise one:
...and she also has knits in solid red and solid graphite color.
One of my favorite recent knit dresses is this classy one from Anthropologie.  I felt it at the store the other day and it is really nice!  Soft, thick enough to not be inappropriately clingy!
 McCall's M6032 would also work for these fabrics, with or without the twisted waistband.

If any of the knits are lighter-weight, you could do something inspired by the Ruched V-Neck dress from JCrew:
Of course you could do anything with a solid-color knit so long as it's meant for knits, but I love the simple lines on these dresses this season.

So there you have it!  My recommendations for Naomi's fabric, using mostly patterns from her collection and for her needs this summer!  I'm sure she would love to hear your thoughts, too!
If you have any more ideas for Sewing Circle at Adventures in Dressmaking, leave a comment on this post, and if you have a question for me and the readers, send me an email!


  1. I LOVE this new feature!

  2. Great idea! This is always what I stuggle with. I tend to get stuck on the pattern's fabric. I find a pattern I love, and if I can't find the EXACT same fabric, I get lost. I love your blog. Thanks for the great ideas and tips.

    kerstin @ mommytimecrafts.blogspot.com

  3. What a great post idea! Even experienced seamstresses can benefit from a second opinion, and I think we all end up with fabrics in our stashes that we can't figure out what to do with.

  4. Thank you for the incredible suggestions. I can't wait to get started -- I feel like I have a whole new wardrobe waiting for me!


  5. I love this concept!! I'm good about buying awesome fabrics while on clearance but I often suffer from a disconnect between what I've bought and what I can use it for. I really liked looking at Naomi's fabric and your pattern suggestions.

  6. I really enjoyed looking at this post. You have great ideas.

  7. What a great idea for a new feature... i am looking forward to reading/learning/being inspired by it!

  8. Oh, this is really awesome! Thanks for taking the time to share your expertise :) Great idea!

  9. This is a great idea! I love so many fabrics but have such a hard time deciding what they should become. I'm looking forward to more of the sewing circle!

  10. Oh my goodness, what good timing for this brilliant new feature. I have literally just posted about my 'stash' and what I would like to make with it all...but to be honest I'm really at a lost with most of it. If you and/or any of your readers have any suggestions of patterns I could use for each bit of fabric I would absolutely love and welcome them!!!
    Looking forward to seeing how this feature develops in the future :)

  11. What a wealth of inspiration!

  12. Anonymous6/14/2010

    Oh my -- not sure how I missed this post -- this is GREAT!!! It's kind of like a virtual makeover of sorts... I think you should make this a recurring theme: take some fabric and show different options for things you could do with it. This is my biggest roadblock -- figuring out what to do with all the lovely fabric that followed me home :)



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