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Finding Inspiration: Fabric


For many years, I kind of avoided going to fabric stores. I didn’t own my own sewing machine, and while it was fun to window shop for fabric  I knew I shouldn’t really buy anything since I couldn’t sew. Fortunately my mom would sew for me now and then, so I did enjoy getting new fabrics for curtains or pillows when she was able to help me out. And I really enjoyed fabric shopping for clients! But this past Christmas, my mom gave each of my girls their own sewing machines.

SCORE! My own sewing machine!

Well, neither of the machines are technically MINE {technical details people!}, but my DAUGHTERS are MINE and one still lives at home when she is not at school, so her machine is sitting here on her desk. Which means, I could PRETEND the machine is MINE and sew if I wanted to. See how that works? I love having daughters because I can steal their stuff.

So, with the machine sitting in my house, the whole world of fabrics has opened up and I’m pretty darn excited about that.


Finding Inspiration: Fabric

If you follow me on Facebook, you might already know I have been hanging on to some fabric that I still adore from like 16 years ago or so. I’m gonna show you a picture of how I used that fabric many years ago, where I got the inspiration the first time for using that fabric, and how I’m going to use it now. I’m SO excited about that because it is gorgeous fabric that has stood the test of time style-wise — I still love it!! WHEE! But that is an upcoming post.

Finding Inspiration: Fabric

Pulling together fabrics can really inspire “the feel” of a house. Don’t be afraid to play around with different options until you get a combination that inspires you. Start by finding a small print, a larger print, some stripes, checks, polka dots, light backgrounds, colored backgrounds, solids…whatever, and mix them all together to see what combination feels the best! Things don’t have to “match” to look good together. Have fun with it!

I have been looking around online at the fabric stores, saving swatches of things I like. I think I am going to create a little inspiration board for myself with the fabrics and decide on a few I want to start with for a couple of projects. I haven’t yet found everything I’m after, but I’m having fun looking and dreaming!

I’ll have to update this post later with where I found these fabric samples…sorry I didn’t do that originally…I’ll look around and find the info for you!

Do you love playing with fabric and imagining all the wonderful combinations?

Fabrics the top image inspiration board:
(I’m looking for the fabric links, I lost a few but I’ll get them on as soon as I can find them!)

Lower left: Waverly Trellis

Lower right: Waverly Small Talk Mint Julep

Center: Richloom Cornwall

Left middle: Akamai Turquoise

Top Left Red Coral: Coral Cascade

Right Blue/Brown/Green Stripe: Boat House Stripe


  1. Glenda Childers

    So, (no pun intended, well maybe . . . ) are you taking sewing lessons. My daughters machine is at my house, but I still don’t know how to sew.:) I let them make quilts for me.


    • Melissa

      I don’t know how to sew either. Guess I should have clarified that having a sewing machine and fabric won’t mean I will end up with curtains ;-) … I have done a tiny bit of sewing in the past but I’m hoping I can at least figure out how to make pillows!

      • Jo

        If you can draw a straight-ish line with a pencil, you can sew…especially curtains and pillows!

  2. Stacy

    Yes! One of my favorite shops is the fabric store. I could spend hours looking at all the pattterns and colors. Sewing opens up an entire new world of possibilities.

  3. Estela

    I love shopping for fabric. Now that I’ve learned how to sew, its so much fun… and addicting!

  4. kelly

    Oh I do love playing with fabrics! But I keep playing it safe and go back to checks and plaids with my solids every time it comes to actually purchasing or making something. I find it very hard to break away from them after finding that they work over and over again. But then….I see things like Sarah Richardson’s farmhouse where she mixes everything up beautifully. Wish I could see myself loving that in my own home.Drapes have to “live here” for a long time, and I am afraid I would tire of all the mix. Crazy?

    • Melissa

      Ah yes, Sarah is a master at mixing patterns up and having them look beautiful! I think if you pick classic fabric patterns that you love it will last a long time, especially if you just ride out the “current trends” and stick with more classic styles. But I know what you mean about needing things to last a long time because fabric can be spendy. If you were worried about using pattern, using solids for the drapes and patterns for pillows is always a safe bet.

  5. Jess

    Ummm… yeah I have spent like a total of 2-3 hours in the last 5 days at Joann’s! I love fabrics! I have been working on our nursery and what is available commercially in baby bedding is just not my style. So I have been working to find some different colors and patterns. I have most of it worked out – but still indecisive about some of the final details!!

    • Melissa

      Oh, I remember doing my son’s nursery and wanting a certain look with fabrics. I was lucky though and found some bedding that was so cute, but it was spendy (luckily my mom bought it for me). Having a sewing machine would have probably saved a lot of money!

      • Paula Bachelder

        I do sew and make a lot of things for my home and gifts for others. I must confess that I do NOT end up saving money, but I do get what I want out of it and it is usually a one of a kind special thing that pleases me. I also confess that I love fabrics and turned my china cabinet into a fabric display because the fabrics are so beautiful!

        My dream is to have a sewing/craft room that is full of natural light and ample storage that allows me to be freely creative instead of nervously creative–afraid someone will “borrow” my tools or set their peanut butter/jelly sandwich on it! (joys of being a nana:))

  6. Su

    My daughter and I are going to take mother/daughter sewing classes for the next 3 Saturdays. . neither of us know how to sew. . but we want to. And then we’ll be on the hunt for a good sewing machine. Wondering if you would be willing to share what on line stores are your favorite for fabric???

  7. Ange

    I just recovered my dining room chairs with a bold black and white fabric. Now I’m trying to figure out what to do for curtains. I think I’m going to do drop cloth but I thought it would be fun to add some fabric to them. I’m having a hard time because I am not sure how to mix and match fabric. But maybe there is no hard and fast rule. Thanks for inspiring me to try something different!

    • Melissa

      I think things end up looking better when you are a little more daring and make things go, rather than matching. It is hard to do because we feel like everything has to ‘match” like they came in a set but really, they don’t! Find a pattern that has a little black detail in it will make it feel cohesive enough. Stripes go with so much, sounds like fun!

  8. Carmen

    I love fabric! But I don’t have my own sewing machine either. I never really cared about sewing until recently. I think it’s reading all of the blogs about beautiful fabric that makes me interested now. :)

  9. Carolyn

    Why, oh why, didn’t someone force me to take Home Ec?? I really regret that I don’t know how to sew, but it is on my bucket list. Thankfully, my no-sew-know-how hasn’t affected my love of fabrics :)

    • Melissa

      I sewed an apron in Home Ec. I wish they would have taught us how to sew curtains and slipcovers. ;-)

  10. maggie

    Melissa, we must be twins separated at birth! (We’ll just ignore the fact that I really don’t look that much like you and am probably 20 years older.)
    I have yards of fabric here that I’ve been hanging onto for years and no machine. No daughter with a machine, either. :( Well, I have a daughter, but a sewing machine would be totally alien to her. She was never interested in learning to sew.
    I can hardly trust myself to look at fabrics online or step into a fabric store. I should really buy a machine!

    • Melissa

      Oh you should get a machine! It could be a whole new world of fun for you!!

  11. Amy

    Haha, I Love the statement “but my daughters are mine”. I have four girls and I also share a lot of their things, the best time to share is when they’re at school! Best of luck to you and your sewing endeaver :)

    • Melissa


  12. Jenny W

    I agree, fabric can be very inspiring. I love looking in fabric stores, but am just like you…for years, I just had my help me with sewing projects. Now I have my own machine, but not enough time to learn complicated projects, have to stick to super simple things. Check out for great deals on fabrics.

    • Melissa

      Thanks Jenny, I’ll check it out! I don’t have time either, but I’m hoping I can at least manage some pillows. I think I’ll still ask my mom to do my curtains!

  13. Jessica

    Hi Melissa,

    How exciting, your *own* sewing machine :-) I too got one for the holidays and am having a good time picking out fabric. I have yet to buy some online, but maybe soon.

    I’d love to find some great resources for fabric. If you find some you like, feel free to share!

  14. Karyn

    I am IN LOVE with the yellow and navy fabrics at the bottom – would you be willing to share where those came from? Thanks!

    • Melissa

      Oh, sure….I guess I should have put the names on there. Let me look around and I’ll have to update the post when I remember where it all came from!

  15. Rachael

    I have just come across your blog and must say how wonderful it is. With a degree in textile design I just adore fabrics and found that the more you experiment with your sewing machine the more amazing design ideas can be born – have fun!!!

    • Melissa

      Thanks! What a handy degree you have! I think you are right, it is going to take some experimenting and practice!

  16. laxsupermom

    Love playing with fabric! I’m actually such a fabric junkie that I’ve recently put a self-imposed moratorium on buying fabric. I’m in the process of churning out some projects in an effort to stash-bust and get all the fabric organized and under control. I love your saved fabric! The colors are fantastic! Thanks for sharing.

  17. JM

    Where did you find the fabrics in the top picture? (or do you know the names so I can search them?) Thanks!

    • Melissa

      I’ll have to update the post with the fabrics and where I got them, sorry I didn’t do that earlier! I’ll figure that out and share the info later!

      • JM


  18. Karen

    I would love to know some of your resources for ordering fabrics online. I love combining stripes, checks and florals, but I’m not finding many options for coordinating fabrics in local stores.

  19. Dianne

    My mom made custom draperies out of our home for 27 years…that’s all I remember of growing up is FABRIC! I’m very blessed because she has made every window treatment for every room in my house…forever. When we bought our 4 years ago…I decorated very Nestery…mustard and cranberry toile and big check curtains in the living room. I love them…but I’m feeling a change…and I know that fabric will be where I’m inspired!

  20. Jessica

    I too, have always adored fabrics…all the patterns and colors just jumping out at you, whispering to be made into so many fun things! Alas, I have never learned to sew…but it is on my someday-list. I’d love to hear more about combining patterns and textures with decor. Sometimes I think I am drawn to too many patterns, and then they all get lost in the mix, and appear too random.

    Thanks for all your ideas!

  21. Kari

    Doing the same thing…it’s hard online since I’m never 100% sure of the color but they do have the swatches you can buy! I’ve only hit Joanne’s as far as fabric stores and they are pretty limited so when I “have time” I am going to search out some other fabric stores to at least see what I like…then I can purchase hopefully for less online! It’s so FUN! Good luck, girl!

  22. diane

    I could look at and touch fabric all day long. I have a huge collection of fabric that over the years I couldnt resist buying “just a yard”. I love how it transforms a room. Enjoy your new machine and all that you can create with it.

  23. Karen

    I love fabric AND I have a sewing machine…so what’s my excuse? I liked your tip—do not be afraid to try different fabrics. I am so often too cautious. Maybe I’ll do a little fabric shopping and pull out the old machine and make some new pillows for the window seat in the library.
    You’re the best, thanks for the inspiration.

  24. Kathy

    When I was growing up in Houston, TX my Mother was the manager of a high-end fabric store for 18 yrs. She taught me to sew when I was in 6th grade and I was teaching sewing when I was still in middle school and high school! So yes, I LOVE FABRIC! My Mother still has cedar chests and plastic storage containers FULL of fabric and adds more all the time and I get to select from her stash when I want to. Due to other things going on in my life I haven’t had time to sew in a few years, but I’m getting to where I will have more time soon. Can’t wait!
    BTW – I love the fabrics in your first picture – the reds and turquoise with a little apple green thrown in for good measure. Can’t wait to see what you do with “your” new sewing machine.

  25. teresa

    Hello there Sweet Melissa~
    I LOVE your fabric choices.
    So classic with a twist of beachy…very YOU!
    Which is why your home is so lovely!
    You’ve just got to learn to sew…I do too!
    There’s just so much you can DO to your home when you learn to sew!
    That being said~
    I signed up for a basic on~line sewing class.
    Curtains and pillows are one of the projects.
    Let me know if you want the link.
    The cost is $60 and you have unlimited access to the site.
    So you can go at your own pace.
    I’ve GOT to get a sewing machine!
    How FUN for you and your daughters to SEW together!
    Happy Day!
    Can’t wait to see more about your FABRIC!

  26. Fiona's Mosaic

    I absolutely love going to fabric stores!!! I always come home with so many lovely ideas!

    I too have fabric I have been hanging onto. But I can’t part with it because I love it, and I know it’s going to make some perfect cushions for the patio someday.

    I just had someone build a section in our library for me, so I can sew. And I just got a free sewing machine! Can’t wait to get started and have some fun with it.

    My oldest daughter also sews, and we can hardly wait to get going on some projects.

  27. teresa

    Love, love all fabric….could play with them all day.
    Happy Spring =)

  28. Demie Hall

    I’ve just reupholstered my dining chairs, I love that staple gun. I am now in the process of bringing my great grandmother’s treadle sewing machine back to life so I can learn to sew stuff for our new home – much to my mum’s delight. She’s been moaning at me for years to learn as it’s a passion of hers.

    I love your blogs they are really inspiring me to do things different in our new house.

  29. Danielle

    I feel the same way! I love fabric but don’t own a sewing machine. I’m hoping to get one soon so that, I too, can learn to sew. There are some gorgeous and definitely inspiring fabrics out there!

  30. Joan Morrow

    Yes, I do like to play with fabric. I have baskets full all waiting to turn into something wonderful!

  31. Sara

    I love fabric! I’m not a master sewer, but I can do curtain, runners, pillowcases, etc. So much fun. And such a money saver, too!

  32. Lorrie

    I love sewing, just wish I had more time for it. But I always have time to purchase fabric – as my sewing room shows.

    Home dec sewing is the easiest kind – mostly straight lines, little fitting. No jiggly bits to have to disguise. There are lots of tutorials on line.

    Your fabric is so pretty. I’m looking forward to seeing what you do with it.

  33. {darlene}

    oh yes! I am itching for some velvet magenta right now…..
    paired with some rich charcoal, and some pale grey….

  34. Jo

    I love fabric stores. I can and do sew, but fabrics for the home still scare me! I can’t commit to anything. I made curtains for my living room in the fall, and that’s the first time, other than one pillow cover, that I had sewed anything for my home. And I’m already thinking of changing them to white!

    About sharing with daughters…my 3 year old asked me if she can wear my jewelry when she is “grown up” I told her that I’d probably be borrowing her jewelry and clothes by then ;-)

  35. Mimi

    My son bought me some kind of mini sewing machine a couple of years ago. I confess I have never even taken it out of the box. I love fabric and have tons of it. There’s a place in New York where I can buy odd lots of designer fabric for less than $5.00 per yard. Sometimes for as little as $1.00 per yard. I hand sew or have used iron on hem tape to make curtains, duvets for my daughters room (which she used to want to re-decorate every 6 months)and pillows. I can whip these things together in a jiffy and no one would ever know how I created them. Well… at least until now. Have fun with your fabric!

  36. Heidi Milton

    Playing with fabrics is one of my guilty pleasures! I can sew…sort of… but really love all the no-sew projects floating around these days. I’m such a visual person, one awesome fabric can inspire an array of projects. Update us soon!

  37. Jen

    I play with fabric in my head because our fabric store carries only the ugliest fabrics available. I just look at fabrics online and cry.

  38. Toni Burke

    I am a new convert to sewing as hubby McHottie gave me a wonderful sewing machine for Christmas. We traveled to England and I came home with a suitcase (had to buy an additional one) of the most delish fabric! I have since made lined curtains for our bedrooms. And this is from a woman that has never sewed a thing in her life!! Now I lust after fabric!! It’s so addicting!

  39. Rachel

    I finally found the one of the ‘samples’ you had at (that’s where I get all of my online fabrics, fast shipping, etc–plus frequent sales!). The one in the middle is Richloom Cornwall Garden (there’s a red version called Richloom Cornwall Cadmium, btw, for those interested).

  40. Cara

    I LOVE looking at fabric for inspiration, and that first group of fabrics is very similar to the color scheme I’ve got in mind for my living room makeover. I need fabric for a new ottoman, curtains, and lots of throw pillows. I don’t have a sewing machine, but I’m going to figure out a way to make it happen!

  41. Faith

    I too am obsessed with fabrics. It’s usually where I start when thinking about a room design. I seriously could spend hours in fabric stores…and sometimes do. :)

  42. Bonnie

    I’m curious…what kind of machine did your mother purchase for your girls? I’ve been thinking about buying one but I don’t want to get something that’ll overwhelm me with all of its features and I don’t want something that’ll drive me to distraction. I was curious as to what type of machine your mom thought would be a good first machine for your girls.

    • Melissa

      The brand is Brother, it has some fancy stitches but overall I think it is a nice basic machine! I think she bought them on but she saw some at Costco too that might have even been a better deal!

  43. Jody

    I love to sew stuff for my house. I have a soft blue T-shirt that is going to be made into a pillow for my bed. I know, it sounds kinda crazy, but I adore the color and it was my son’s so…… away I sew!


  44. Tina

    That is the next thing I want to do, is learn to sew.
    It would make changing my decor much more affordable and easier.
    I have been known to go to the Fabric Store or even the Craft Department at Walmart and just look and touch all the fabric.

  45. Lesley

    Oh dear…I not only have a fabric obsession, I have a fabric “stash” that takes up half of my spare room!
    I’m also pretty keen on old sewing patterns and have them dating back to the 70’s…and have bought some from the late 50’s and 60’s as well.

    I love fabric and have to stop myself heading to the stores to find more to add to the growing collection.
    My weakness I’m afraid

  46. Ivy

    Hi there, I agree that fabric can really pull a home together. I saw a post a short while ago about homemade kitchen curtains and they looked so adorable. They made such a difference to that kitchen that I really want to give it a try especially after reading this wonderful post about fabric!!

  47. Pearl Maple

    Great fun, fabric offers so many creative ideas

  48. Melissa Lewis - Midwest Magnolia

    I just bought two of the fabrics you have pictured above. And, I just started sewing a few months ago. My grandmother just bought me an awesome sewing machine as an early bday present, so I can’t wait to whip up some cute pillows and slipcovers!!!!

  49. Jennifer M.

    Ooh good idea! You make me want to go fabric shopping now. ;) I don’t have a sewing machine either but really, really want one!


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