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Accidental Smart Things

I recently bought the new Granville shirt pattern by Sewaholic, (which if you haven’t seen yet I highly recommend checking out because it’s beautifully tailored) and though it’s not on my immediate to-sew list, I couldn’t help but peek through my stash to see if I had anything that might work well with the pattern. This amazing vintage fabric was a gift from a blog reader (Thanks, Jackie!) and I’ve been saving it away for the perfect project (one that I’ve mastered the fit of and will actually wear and love, of course). Once I pulled out the fabric I grabbed some thread off my table and set it on my ironing board, which is set up near my sad stash of yarn that’s been terribly neglected since my wrists have been bothering me. Well, once all the colors kept popping out at me I couldn’t help but make a little collage, and an accidental color palette was born!


Color palettes are something I make a lot since they’re an important step in most design work (which I’m trying to do more of), but I never make them specifically for sewing projects. Lately I’ve been talking a lot about consciously planning a wearable Spring wardrobe, so it got me thinking about what colors I actually wear and if they differ from colors I’m attracted to in theory, but not necessarily in practice.

Aside from fit, I think color is something that I struggle with too, not really knowing (or maybe not really caring) what suits my skin tone. I often buy fabrics because I’m in love with the print but then I realize I don’t have anything to match with it, or I’m not in love with the way it looks on me. I suppose making more quilts instead of wearing* them would solve a lot of the “I MUST OWN ALL THE NOVELTY PRINT QUILTING COTTON!!!” problem I have, but that’s a topic for another day, ha!


I suppose what I’m rambling on about is the idea that making color palettes for potential sewing projects, pinning them up somewhere, and then sitting on them for awhile before hacking into prized fabric on a super-excited-new-pattern-in-the-mail-whim is probably a smart thing for me to start doing. After all, every new day is a new opportunity for me to be less stupid than I was yesterday (positive realism at its best bahaha!) so in an effort to move up in the ranks of fabric wizardry and me-made-may-mastery, I’m going to start doing more smart things like make color palettes and keep project notebooks.

How about you? Do you sew with a carefully calculated plan, or do you sew with the wild abandon of a child who just got new toys for Christmas and can’t decide what to play with first?

I bet you can guess which one I typically am 😉


*will never actually stop wearing quilting cotton. #sorrynotsorry

  • Ronja Zigler

    wild abandon. I also never use patterns. I measure myself, make up a pattern (usually a circle skirt or something based on a skirt or dress I already own) and then slash away at my fabric! I have been trying to learn new techniques though and usually practice those a few times. Circle skirts are WAY too much fun and really the only thing I ever make since I don’t have to worry much about fit beyond the fact that it shouldn’t fall off my hips or be super uneven in the hem.

  • Amanda Russell

    LOL I think it is a wonderful thing to be able to view sewing with the abandon of a child on Christmas morning!!! 🙂 I am the exact opposite – a true OCD plan-a-holic LOL. That said, the planning is part of what makes me giddy too, so I guess it depends on what type of person you are. Clothes SHOULD be fun, right? 🙂

  • Jennifer H

    I always used to be Christmas morning re clothes and as a result NEVER had anything that really suited/fit properly/went with anything else blah blah, which is why last year I fiiiinally (now age 50, m’dear) decided to take control and sew, knit and crochet my own wardrobe. Early stages, obv, heh heh, but I’ve made several things I love and a few more in the pipeline. What I’m rambling round to saying is that after years of suffering I’m determined to have lots of coordinating stylish clothes I love, so these days it’s definitely colour palettes and thinking of what will go with what. As well also as what styles I can ACTUALLY wear to look good (I hope 😉 ), feel comfy and feel like ME. As to quilting cottons, I will neeever stop buying them as they are just so darned beautiful. I’ve made skirts, tunics and blouses in them and as long as the pattern doesn’t call for too much fluidity it’s fine and the beauty (in both senses) of making your own is that you can make stuff to match. Regarding fitting (prev post!), I’ve got so much to learn and most of my makes need altering, but I simply cannot be arsed to make everything twice, as well as can’t afford the extra fabric (bearing in mind how darned expensive it is here in the UK), so it’s thinking hard beforehand, large seam allowances, tacking everything and trying on a lot for me. Btw, I just adore that colour palette! Jen

  • It’s always Christmas morning chez Ginger, baby! I’ve been thinking a bit more carefully about the colors I buy and use, though. For example, I love navy and think it’s so beautiful, but since I always wear blue jeans, I don’t really wear, say, a navy sweater very often. I just picked out yarn for a new sweater and I thought long and hard before picking a color that I could layer over many different shirts that I already have. It’s not as fun as just making things with reckless abandon, but it’s nice to know that you’ll actually be able to wear everything you make!

  • I love the colors you have grouped together, and I love quilting cottons. I am also a kid, with new toys.

  • Lyric

    As a semi-new convert to sewing with bedsheet fabrics I often feel as if I have no choice. But really I guess I do. For the most part if I see it in the thrift stores and it is useable, I’m buying it, LOL. In my mind it’s slim pickings . . . seems many others have jumped on the bedsheet bandwagon. When I first started sewing them last year I could find sheets, sheets and more sheets. Not sew much now 😐 Just occurred to me maybe people need them for their beds, bwwahhh haaa. Where I to have the budget that obviously many sewists I see in cyberland yeah, I would be in the wild abandon, I’m gonna sew up what I like club too.

    Oh, and Rochelle, I’ve got to share that you had me on the Archer shirt. But my, oh my, I am sew glad I didn’t jump. My mind was firing on all 10’s when I saw the Granville. I have the pdf because I didn’t want to wait for shipping (but boy do I miss having the envelope – sigh). Silly me, I should have because I am not ready to make it yet and had I been patient by now I would have had the pattern AND envelope. Storing my pdf’s are proving to be a challenge right about now. Yes, the Granville rocks for a large girl like me. No need in wearing boxy when I can wear sexy a la the Granville.

    Oh, and I love, love, your fabric and notions.



  • Not being a sewer, my answer to that question is “no”, but…as a dresser in general, I think about colour massively. I adore the whole rainbow, but realize not every shade is for me, so by and large, I steer very clear of those that do scary things to my complexion (fuschia and lime green, I’m looking at you guys! :D).

    Looking well coordinated is really important to me, so I create a palette for just about every outfit (repeating some of them time and time again of course – one’s wardrobe only having so many possibilities after all) and get a certain fabulous rush when I hit upon a new (to me) one that really hits the ground running.

    I think that studying, celebrating and embracing colour palettes in our outfits (from any era) is one of the most rewarding things we can ever do on the fashion front and wish you tons of luck with the ones you’ll be composing for your sewing projects (and by natural extension, future outfits).

    ♥ Jessica

  • sallieforrer

    I think I’m pretty good about balancing my makes between things that I’ll actually wear every day and things that are fun to sew. I only say this because I DO actually wear my makes daily… so I must be doing something “right” I guess?? (note: I don’t necessarily think there is a ‘right’ way or ‘wrong’ way to sew clothes) But I can’t really say I go into it with a plan. I do try to fill perceived holes in my closet I guess. However color is not something I really plan out. If I’m attracted to a fabric I’m gonna make something out of it! That being said, I do think I’m more adventurous with the colors in my wardrobe than I am with color anywhere else in my life – like home decor.

    I think everyone’s different, some people thrive with a solid plan and a lot of structure, others just wither and die! I think it’s best to try both extremes to see what works for you, and realistically, you’ll probably fall somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. After all, it would be a shame to completely crush that wild abandon/kid at Christmas/quilting cotton loving spirit of making that we love and admire you for 😉

  • Elena Knits

    Until now I was quite careless about what I was going to sew, but this year I’m trying to focus on garments and colors that suit my style and my daily life. And like you, I also love novelty quilting cottons to make fabulous shirts! 😀

  • I have been trying to sew a careful plan so that everything coordinates because all of my spur of the moment garments look like shit and never get worn to be perfectly honest. I see the novelty print and think I’ll like it but when worn, realize that the colours are wrong. Now I am trying to at *least* pick novelties in specific colours that I know are flattering. So that is my compromise and so far so good 🙂 I love the collage though! Very pretty 🙂

  • Boomdeeadda

    That fabric is absolutely adorable. Can’t wait to see it fashioned into a garment.

  • I have a giant list I write up at the beginning of the year of everything I think I want or need to make. I mostly try to stick to that list especially when I feel overwhelmed or don’t know what to sew. As I come across things I love and immediately sew up I add it to the list with the completed date. So I’m some planning and some spontaneity.
    As far as colors go, navy brown and cream are my neutrals. I love red and turquoise. I can add any prints or warm colors that I want. I try to stick to a plain bottom, crazy top rule so all my fun prints can be worn with whatever bottoms are clean. 🙂

  • I sew with the wild abandon you mentioned, similar to the wild abandon I exhibit when I get a makeup order in the mail. Not sure what to wear first? Why not ALL of them! I like the idea of planning but it’s no something I ever do, and I usually abandon the plans when I go “I’m going to make THIS PATTERN TODAY with THIS FABRIC – oh, I was going o use that fabric on something completely different? Too bad”.

    I have gotten much better at only choosing fabric that look good on me though – so if buying online I’ll only get certain colours/shades like navy or plum/aubergine. In stores I will make sure I find a mirror and hold up the fabric to my face – often for quite a while. Basically I’m looking for whether I go “oh yeah” or “dang I look nice”. Only the latter actually get bought (which has meant putting some some utterly gorgeous fabrics, unfortunately).

  • Bonita Vear

    I try to sew with a plan. But I don’t know, I never seem to sew the right stuff anyway! I do make plans, and end up sewing dresses. And I don’t know about making things to fill the holes in my wardrobe. I either don’t have holes, or don’t mind them or something…. I just never know what I need!

    And then trying not to spend too much on fabric and just using what I already have doesn’t help either ~ I just end up with random prints every where! Not a scrap of plain fabric to be seen. : P

    I like your color palette idea; I think it would work well! I just wish I had the patience to bother… I do have a project notebook already though. I don’t like not knowing the details of what I’m making. Particularly the start dates! It takes me so long to finish anything that I always forget when I started it if I don’t write it down. ❤


    bonita of Lavender &

  • Lauren

    *will never actually stop wearing quilting cotton. #sorrynotsorry

    You just described me perfectly!

  • Rachael-Lynn

    While I don’t think I consciously think about color palettes, looking in my closet I pretty much stick to just a few colors. Grey being my favorite, and navy, white, black, and pink. I pretty much only buy something which can be machine washed and while I have sewn many items, like you I do not wear many of them. I purchased the Granville pattern the day it came out and it has been very difficult to not bust one out (unfortunately work and school need to be my top priorities)! I am a huge fan of Tasia’s patterns, as we have similar body shapes and (IMO) they are very well written. Though I am a bit sad as I have just finished 3 Archers (which I really like but I’m truly not much of a boxy top gal, I like a more fitted style). I guess I will just have to have more (if it is possible) button-downs in my closet!

  • Lisette

    I spent all day today going through my fabric stash doing something sort of like this.
    I developed something to help me when I go fabric shopping – I grabbed a bunch of those paint chips from Home Depot and matched them to the colors of my favorite clothes. Then I punched holes, popped them on a keyring and take them with me whenever I shop (especially in the city – poor lighting and no mirrors is bad for fabric shopping!). I keep meaning to write a blog post about it but haven’t had time.
    Of course that doesn’t help with the yucky stash I’ve already got and can’t seem to pry from my fingers to give to charity.

  • Oh my, I adore this colour palette so much! It is perfect for you! Every colour will sparkle on you so much 🙂 As you know, I am a huge planner (LOL!) and have learned to sew this way so that I don’t end up with garments that don’t suit me or I don’t love.

  • What a beautiful piece of vintage fabric! I adore it!

    I tend to sew on both sides of the spectrum depending on what or why I’m sewing.

  • Debra Ward

    Yes Yes Yes! Making things and not having anything to wear with them but made them only because I liked the colour or pattern has been a big problem for me. I’ve got my next projects planned out that will hopefully give me the start of a mix and match wardrobe. I’ve got both of sewaholics new patterns on my radar annnnddd love that colour palette.

  • Pink and yellow (especially this kind of yellow), or pink and green are some of my favorite color palettes. So I LOVE this! Also also, count me in on never stopping wearing quilting cotton. Ever since I figured out the silhouettes I can use it for, I will never look back. It’s my favorite textile for dresses.

  • Mack

    I’m a “kid at christmas with new toy must sew ALL THE THINGS!!!” type of sewer (sewer? Sewist? What is word….). I wish I’d seen this post four months ago- I went absolutely nuts with a crazy quilting fabric and ended up with a hot mess. A few hours making a color palette probably could have saved the day…a pattern may have helped, too.

  • I bet you’ll really like Granville since it solves some of the boxiness you didn’t necessarily love with Archer (and the types of fabric you typically want to sew). That definitely looks like a color palette that would work for you!

    Color palettes are a huge part of my life. I pretty much don’t sew, knit or buy **anything** without thinking about how it will either play into my current wardrobe, or what it’ll take to work with future items I may need to be on the lookout to buy or make. Even an impulse purchase leads to “Do I have something to match that? Not yet? Well that’ll be a fun fix to figure out!” and then I use it as fodder to plan a whole outfit in my head (which might morph slightly as it plays out, which is of course okay and part of the process). I think plotting out color palettes are part of what I love about fashion in general, although it’s pretty obvious I don’t subscribe to the “pick a color palette to build your entire wardrobe around” theory. There’s just too many colors and patterns in the world to limit myself! But because I don’t, I’m really conscious about how I want to put things together.

    Any notebooks, oh yeah. I have a sewing notebook for notes on all projects I made, I use Ravelry for that purpose with knitting, and I also keep notebooks for ideas to think about relating to clothing. Planner, much? 😉

  • Christa

    I just started sewing my first Granville. I’m using a purple plaid. I think I use too many of the same colours rather than fun prints. It’s also possible to be too conservative. I love seeing the fun prints you use.