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Sources of Sewing Inspiration: A Peek into My Creative Process

Every sewer has their own creative process. When it comes to sewing I rarely plan, depending largely on serendipitous encounters with places, people, and things that inspire my projects.

I certainly want to be able to wear what I make, but I don’t limit myself to sewing only what I absolutely need.  I like to let my creativity lead me where it wants to go. Below I share some of the things that fuel my creativity, and my creative process.

Books and magazines

This photo is a metal cabinet filled with sewing and fashion-related books

I have amassed a library of not only sewing books, but also books about fashion designers (favorites include Bonnie Cashin, Geoffrey Beene, and Hollywood costume designer Helen Rose), fashion history, textile design, along with vintage fashion magazines, and books about men’s style. When I’m experiencing a dry spell, I look through any of these to get my creative juices flowing.  A few of my favorites:

The book "Fabulous Fabric of the Fifties"
Fabulous Fabrics of the 50s by Gideon Bosker, Michele Mancini, and John Gramstad (Chronicle Books, 1992)


The book, "Gentleman: A Timeless Guide to Fashion"
Gentleman: A Timeless Guide to Fashion by Bernhard Roetzel (h.f. ullmann, Tandem Verlag GmbH, 2009)


The book "Bonnie Cashion: Chick is Where You Find It"
Bonnie Cashin: Chic Is Where You Find It by Stephanie Lake (Rizzoli, 2016)


The book "The Sartorialist" by Scott Schuman
The Sartorialist by Scott Schuman (Penguin, 2009)


The book "Color for Men" by Carole Jackson
Color For Men by Carole Jackson (Ballantine, 1984)


Photo of suggested clothing for "Summer" in Carole Jackson's book "Color for Men."


I often use the book Color for Men by Carole Jackson (of Color Me Beautiful fame) as a reference, despite its age and application primarily to Caucasian skin tones. According to Jackson, I’m a “summer,” and the book recommends colors that flatter people who fit that season. I was never drawn to teal shades, but I learned that they look good with my coloring. This definitely influenced my decision to purchase a Peanuts-themed quilting cotton, which I turned into a shirt last year.

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  1. User avater
    bettystitch | | #1

    Peter- you’ve covered the whole waterfront here. I’m impressed. I too love the 3in1 color tool. It helps me see the minor differences in color that make a combination sizzle or fizzle.

  2. user-5785009 | | #2

    Your wardrobe is great fun!

    I love keeping an eye on Moda Operandi. My problem is the clothes I like the most are clothes I have no place to wear😂.

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