Sydney Ambrose has been sewing on and off for about 10 years, with the help of a very crafty and creative Grandma. Recently, she’s started sewing again with the ambition of creating a “me-made” wardrobe. However, the world of fabric buying, selecting patterns, and generally starting was quite overwhelming! Especially as she has been trying to incorporate a more sustainable approach to what she buys and how she makes.
In 2020, she launched How to Sew Sustainably with the intention of providing resources, tips, and projects to help make your sewing projects more sustainable. She’s created prompts, checklists, and discussion points as well as a Directory of businesses that sell more eco-friendly fabrics and haberdashery, or entirely focus on more sustainable practices.
Today, Sydney is sharing her tips on how to find inspiration for sewing — in your very own stash.
8 ways to find inspiration for using your fabric
by Sydney Ambrose
We all have those pieces of fabric that we LOVE but haven’t found the perfect pattern or style for yet. If you’re stuck for inspiration, try the 8 tips below for quick and easy ways to ignite your creativity.
1. Browse hashtags
I only discovered this when I set up How to Sew Sustainably in June but there are often hundreds of images under each pattern’s hashtag. If you have an idea of what pattern you’d like to use, it’s worth checking the hashtag as someone, somewhere has probably created a garment using a similar fabric to yours.
2. Try freestyling
This is a fun, creative way to get some inspiration for ways to use up your fabric stash. Pick up your fabric and drape it over yourself, a dress form or a willing assistant. You should be able to get a feeling for how the fabric moves and what shapes it starts to create. If you are confident with your sewing, you can pin your draped shape and sew straight from that. If you’re still learning, you can look for a sewing pattern that is similar to the shape you’ve created.
3. Check out ready-to-wear
Whilst you might be moving away from buying fast fashion or ready to wear, it doesn’t hurt to look to it for inspiration. You could look for examples that use a similar fabric to yours or for new shapes and styles that you like. I find Instagram and Pinterest particularly helpful for this purpose.
4. Hide it
This is my favourite tip! When you’ve run out of ideas and really struggling to decide what to do with a particular item in your fabric stash, pop it in a bag and hide it under the bed for a few weeks or months. Later in the year, bring it back out again and see what you feel like. If you’re still not inspired, perhaps it’s time to swap the fabric with a friend or sell it online.
5. Think of when you’d wear it
Take some time to touch your fabric and think about the time when you’d be wearing it. It’s also worth thinking about how it fits in with other items in your wardrobe. For example, do you mostly only wear trousers? Maybe your fabric is best suited as a fun top to wear with your classic blue jeans rather than a dress.
6. Consider small projects
If you’re struggling to picture a clothing pattern for your fabric, there are lots of other accessories or homeware items that utilise fabric. Headbands, scrunchies and face masks are typically quick and easy to make so try these out first. Small, cute accessories not only provide the satisfaction of a quick project but you can also see how it looks on you.
7. Ask your fashionable friend
Asking for advice and getting a fresh pair of eyes on your fabric could be the perfect way to spark some inspiration. If you don’t have many sewing friends, definitely try and ask for some help on social media. If I buy fabric from a retailer who has an Instagram account or blog, I also like to look at the patterns they use and clothes they create using the same fabric.
8. Use your favourite pattern
As long as the fabric weight suits the style of the pattern, then this is a guaranteed way to make something that you’ll like and wear. If it’s a pattern you’ve used before, it’s also likely that you’ll create a garment that fits you well and is a style that will fit in with other items in your wardrobe.
There you have it! The most sustainable fabric you can use is the piece that you already own so these are my simple tips for using up your fabric stash!