Sew it instead: Projects inspired by RTW

Does anyone else find it really weird buying RTW clothes after you’ve been sewing for a while? I went to Westfield the other day and felt like an alien amongst the miles of rails. It’s quite disconcerting! So I had a bit of fun this evening going through my Pinterest boards of RTW inspiration and doing a bit of matchy-matchy to patterns and fabrics. It’s quite remarkable how closely some of the patterns I already own mirror some of the silhouettes I would love to steal from RTW clothes, once you learn to ignore the often horrible styling of the pattern envelopes and look at the line drawings instead. I suppose the biggest challenge is actually finding suitable fabrics for each one: I find it hard to find subtle prints like these in quality fabrics.

First up, three frocks from my brand crush, Sessun:




I love nearly everything Sessun designs, but their pieces are usually out of my budget for everyday wear. I’ve found pretty darn close pattern matches for each one, don’t you think? They’re getting bumped high up my to-sew list as soon as I find good fabrics.


This is a really cute spring outfit from Joy. I’ve yet to make Colette’s free Sorbetto because I rarely wear sleeveless tops, but it shouldn’t be too hard to extend them into kimono sleeves.


I’m short on trousers in my wardrobe that aren’t jeans or jersey, and I do love a neutral coloured printed pant to add interest to a plainer top half. I’ve had Burda 7017 tucked away for a while, which has those cool yoke pockets and the carrot-type leg shape of these Zara chinos. And I have that chevron twill fabric all ready, so better get sewing.

24 thoughts on “Sew it instead: Projects inspired by RTW

  1. AvatarElena

    This is a really great idea. My favourite are the zebra pants. It’s true to that finding appropriate fabric won’t be the easiest. I know exactly what you mean about feeling weird about shopping! I went shopping recently and couldn’t believe how many expensive things were 100% poly. Also, it felt so strange to be in a sea of garments.

  2. AvatarLou

    Hi there, Great matches. What a great idea! I’ve just made my first piece of clothing and I’m hooked! I love the vogue 1315 dress and I’m definitely keen to try the emery dress.

    Lou :)

  3. AvatarSara

    These are great! I find it hard to look past some of the awful fabric choices on pattern pictures, like that first one, but then it does look REALLY similar to that super cute sessun dress! Another option for the last Sessun might be Papercut Patterns Sigma? For a bit more of a mini and a slimmer skirt than the Emery? Just a thought!

    1. AvatarKatie Post author

      It’s so true, you often need a lot of imagination. I usually check out the line drawings to get a better idea of styling lines. Good call on the Sigma, though I think I can probably draft a narrower skirt myself.

  4. AvatarKathryn

    You always pick out such nice fabric/pattern combinations! I love that Vogue dress & those burda trousers. Once I get round to sewing up a few patterns I have I may need to add those patterns!

  5. Avatarsewlittletime

    Great pattern matching. I haven’t heard of sessun – will check them out! All the pinning I do at the moment is for sewing inspiration. I find it hard to find things in shops that fit well enough to pay for! I would love to find the source of great prints (I did recently make an exception on a trip to the us for a umbrella printed top in banana Republic – I could have made it but the print was perfect!).

    Named have a trouser pattern similar to those last ones as well.

    1. AvatarKatie Post author

      Ah yes I saw the Named ones but already have that Burda one which is pretty much the same. I’m a sucker for a good print – Anthropologie is my RTW weakness!. You’re coming to Lewisham on Sat aren’t you – looking forward to rummaging for ex-high street fabrics there.

  6. AvatarSam

    I definitely find it strange shopping for clothes these days. No where near as enjoyable experience as it used to be! I’ve definitely got much pickier since starting to sew my own clothes.

    You’ve found some great pattern matches there for the garments you like. I haven’t heard of Sessun – I’m going to have to check them out (and then make my own versions!)

  7. Avatarkaren

    I love this post! since I started sewing I find it also hard to buy RTW – even when I am in the stores I am usually looking at clothing with the goal of getting inspiration/looking for tips on how to make garment look professionally finished etc.

    You did a great job of matching the patterns- I like the style of Sessun a lot but I haven’t seen it in Japan and would rather try to make my own anyway :-) thanks for the inspiration!

      1. AvatarSeamsOddLouise

        Me too, last time I went shopping with a friend she was really tickled that I was turning clothes inside out to see how they were put together. Often I’ve noticed that pattern matching on RTW leaves a lot to be desired.

        1. AvatarKatie Post author

          Yes! One of my favourite RTW dresses (the once I’m wearing in my Tel Aviv post) is especially bad, it’s a horizontal pattern that isn’t even on grain so looks super wonky across the waistline. Wouldn’t catch a sewist doing that!

  8. AvatarAngie

    Such a great exercise, I love this! I am beginning to feel the same way about shopping, I am constantly not buying something if I feel I can make it, most recent example, a lovely fitted heather grey sweat shirt. Can’t wait to see these makes, maybe I will get a few of these patterns~

  9. AvatarGinger

    I find it impossible to buy clothing now, save the occasional sports bra or something like that. Unfortunately I haven’t sewn a pair of pants yet so my RTW jeans and trousers are getting awfully ratty! I haven’t heard of Sessun but I’m loving your inspiration garments! You’ll be one stylish miss in these!

  10. AvatarJane

    Great idea, I love the fabric suggestions you’ve given for each outfit, I really think you could make this work. If you wanted to add a simple cap sleeve to the Sorbetto, Sew, Incidentally has drafted a pattern for it here: I’ve used it and it works perfectly! x

    1. AvatarKatie Post author

      Oh fab, thank you! I love the sewing community, so often someone else has already done the hard work for you :)

  11. AvatarTilly

    Great post, Katie. Sessun is so swoonsome – can’t wait to see what you make. Thanks for introducing me to some new-to-me patterns, I’m off to check them out…

  12. AvatarNissa

    Loved this! Last week I tortured myself about whether to buy a dress from Oasis last week after completely messing up sewing one for a wedding. So glad I did but felt so guilty-now vowed to find an identical pattern. You have tempted me by Emery!

  13. AvatarKathryn

    Great post, and I totally agree about shopping. The only thing I can buy without thinking ‘I could make that’ is knitwear. Consequently I have a huge amount of jumpers and cardigans.

  14. AvatarHanne

    Great matching of patterns and inspiration! I agree on the “weird to buy clothes” thing. I also feel like now I’m sewing, I get to spend more money on nice fabrics so I don’t want to go back to affordable but not so nice clothing…

  15. AvatarAlessa

    I take a lot of inspiration from RTW, too. :) Those Sessun dresses look really lovely! The hardest, at least for me, is finding the appropriate fabrics, though…

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