principles of fabric selection: be eclectic

Fabrics within a collection are made to coordinate with each other. But who said you have to stick within a collection and follow someone else’s creative vision when you’re selecting multiple fabrics for a garment?

I think it’s fun to mix things up and create your own matches across fabric collections. When things don’t match perfectly, it’s a little more interesting. And when you pull fabrics together from different collections, your designs will be less predictable. Start looking to make eclectic combinations, and you might find some surprises in your fabric stash or in the fabric store.

Here are a few photos from the Flickr group that caught my eye.

I love gingham with floral prints. The combination of the angular squares with the softer, rounded shapes of the flowers in this Tea Party Sundress is visually interesting, and the white space on the floral balances the busier regularity of the gingham.

The different fabrics in this Tea Party Sundress sewn by Molly of the Purl Bee may not match according to traditional or literal standards, but when they’re pulled together and two different buttons are added to the mix the dress has a fascinating, contemporary look.

This Popover Sundress by sasikirana exhibits a great mix of scale between the oversized floral and the smaller, more conservative and traditional polka dot used for the yoke. And do I see a note that this has been made from a Marimekko pillowcase?!? Now that’s an eclectic choice of fabrics!

The pink and purple colors in the over-sized polka dot print used for the yoke are similar to the colors in the Heather Ross print used for the rest of this Tea Party Sundress, but they’re from completely different collections. As a result, they look interesting together, don’t they?

Notice the completely different feel of the two prints selected for this Swingset top. You wouldn’t ordinarily think of combining a more conservative floral print with a more contemporary abstract print. But they work very well together–not despite, but because of, their differences.

And, finally, this is a 2+2 tunic I recently made for S. The colors are similar, while the oversized scale of the trim fabric complements and balances the smaller print used for the rest of the blouse.

Bottom line: don’t be afraid to be eclectic when you’re selecting fabrics to coordinate for a garment. Eclectic can be interesting.




  1. I am really intrigued by the button closure of that top.

  2. I totally agree, choosing your own combinations is much more interesting. I enjoy throwing vintage fabrics into the mix : )

  3. Hi Liesl,
    I just noticed that you have a link to my tea party sundress. Thank you so much. I have changed the settings on my flickr account – so please feel free to use my image on your blog.

    I must say I love this dress pattern – it looks beautiful on and I love how it can change just by fabric choice.

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