Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Snoop Shopping

I first heard about the concept of "snoop shopping" for sewing project ideas two decades ago while attending one of my very first sewing long ago that there were many fashion sewing instructors and vendors.  It took me a while to get comfortable with the idea that I could translate those silhouettes and fashion details into my very own garments.  Nowadays I love getting out of my everyday more than casual dog walking and exercise daily clothes and into some boutiques and department stores for retail inspiration.  And it always helps that one of my sewing friends has a terrific instagram feed for those wonderful fashion details that you are sure to forget once you get into your sewing room: Shoppingsleuth Instagram

So while I love the concept, I seldom put it into practice it when I am at home in Baltimore.  There's always so many more things that I can do inside and out.  But on vacation, that's another story.  So this post is about the snoop shopping (and some buying, let's be honest) that I did while we were in Florida for seven weeks this winter.  And I am brave enough to show you the pictures from those ugly dressing room settings just so you can see how I approach this concept.  Warning, picture heavy but nothing directly about sewing....just about some sewing details that you might see in the coming year.

My purpose in snoop shopping is to actually try the garment on and see if it is something I would wear and sew in real life and then to see what details take it from mediocre to special.  Time is limited for all of us so I want to sew garments that will flatter me at this age and body type and also fit into my lifestyle.  Sometimes I need dressy items and most times more casual ones in lovely fabrics are the ones that I enjoy the most.  I get to try on new fashion seasonal garments and see if I like them on me and then incorporate them or let that trend pass me by. 

First snoop shopping day was after lunch with a Naples girlfriend in a shopping center full of locally owned boutiques and a few chains.  Florals were everywhere and I loved these embroideries:
Embroidered net over floral print
Embroidered net with knit kimono 
Wonderful seams and stripe directions on this knit tunic
Buttons, nothing but buttons, make this long duster fabulous
I love the tone on tone that make this white shirt tunic stand out

I went shopping for sleeve details to try since they are such an easy way to take a TNT pattern and make it seasonally current.  Many of the ruffles that I saw were too big and close to my food wrist.  Then I saw this black blouse and loved the whole sleeve design....and loved it so much that yes, I ended up buying it.

The boutique owner insisted that I try the top on with the black and white rayon pants with a front seam open to above the knee.  The minute he handed them to me I thought "Louise Cutting one-seam pants in rayon with a front seam and slit."  That's how sewing people think....what pattern is that and what detail do I have to change to make it mine.  
And I have the perfect black and white platform sandals to wear after I make these pants

I've seen scallops as necklines and hems but loved the vertical use on this jacket.

Sometimes just fabric catches my eye.  Love the tone on tone floral with underlay
Gorgeous sleeve detail fully lined in navy crepe

Coordinated fabric bows draw in the princess seams to give shape to a long tunic
When I am out and about "snoop shopping" I also find brands to check out and put pictures into my Pinterest file.  That green and white striped top is from Luisa Cerano who makes the simple but elegant styles that I was drawn to in this boutique Luisa Cerano
The next time I did a heavy shopping, trying on, picture-taking afternoon was when I was on my own and visiting a more mainstream but still new to me store, Dillards.  This chain is big and successful but the closest store to me is three hours away in another state.  I had fun trying on a spectrum of styles and here are some of my successes and failures.

This black and red poncho like top is almost exactly the same as my self-drafted tunic tunic tutorial but this time it had a large slightly cowl neck collar that I thought was quite soft and flattering.  So, measure, it, Jane....

With a similar large cowl collar, here's an eyelash fabric version....and the website photo IC Collection eye lash tunic  I do think the funniest thing is that they offer a pair of cropped pants in this same fabric?!

Let's move on to different details that caught my eye:
Button band on only one sleeve and clever gingham fabric details

Easy eyelet back closure
While I tried that top (you can see the front in the pic below) on I also tried on a pair of wide wrap around pants....and there's a reason the fashion advice is not to pair big over big....I just look big.

Now let's head over to Naples' Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue's Naples stores to see if there's anything there that I would like to bring home (style wise) to Baltimore. I love Lafayette 148 and lo and behold, they have a jacket that has been in the mock-up phase in my sewing almost twin of the Donna Karan Vogue 1440 jacket which is now almost impossible to buy Patternreview Vogue 1440  Like the Donna Karan version, this one is unlined but is interlined with a very lightweight cotton lawn. That's what snoop shopping gives you, inside details that don't show up in Pinterest pictures.

Wouldn't it be annoying to buy this jacket and have some alterations person try to figure out how to get rid of those back wrinkles.

Bound armhole and covered shoulder pad
I am wearing a Large and the circumference is correct around my tummy and high hip but the shoulders are definitely too big for my frame.  Once again, so glad I sew....even if the jacket is on sale at Saks today for less than $400😉 Drape front jacket  Trying this one on and seeing the inside details motivated me to revisit that mock up later in the year.
I needed to slip on a shell for those jacket pictures and found this gorgeous silk charmeuse lined ruffled top.  The ruffle was entirely lost and useless under the jacket but I think the neckline and proportion are lovely.  I would make something similar but with sleeves and more hip room....this one is a Medium so I need that tummy space.  As a coincidence, Peggy Sagers referenced this top in one of her recent spring inspiration videos when mentioning the predominance of ruffles and florals in fashion.
Not hard to imitate the drape and placement of this ruffle.
My last project idea came when I saw another Lafayette 148 jacket on display.  I won't get this project done in time for an upcoming June trip but I think the idea has some merit.  One of my sewing group Facebook friends just started a tweed French jacket project.  I have made several of my own stitch and flip versions and love them.  I would like a longer duster like version to take when traveling (in a blue and black or brown and black tweed)....but the sleeve length commitment gets to me.  I would like it to have 3/4 sleeves most of the time but longer sleeves if the weather turns cool.  So I thought I would use the fringe layer to hide a cuff like addition to make such  jacket more versatile....and look, here's sort of what I was envisioning.  Imagine this jacket mid-thigh length and with long sleeves that could convert to three quarter sleeves.  

Underlined again in cotton batiste, bound seam allowances and grosgrain at the front edge and hem

Enough downloads and bad phone pics.  I could show you more but they would still only be about what appeals to me, my style and my life.  What about you?  How do you get ideas for your garment sewing projects?  
I won't be doing any sewing in the immediate future. I have a dinner party coming up this weekend from an offering at our fall church auction so I will be busy shopping, cleaning and cooking up a storm.  But after that I can't wait to get into my sewing space and put some ideas into practice.  Here's hoping there are ideas percolating in your head, too.


  1. I really enjoyed your snoop shopping trip. Made me feel like I was along with you. There are some great ideas here. I saw the episode where Peggy Sagers demonstrated how to make the Lafayette 148 draped ruffle top and hers had sleeves. I've been thinking about how to incorporate that into something. Thanks for the ideas.

    1. You are more than welcome, Carolyn. Certain designers seem to "know" me and Lafayette 148 is one of them. If money and proper fit were no object I would buy that jacket and ruffle top but thank heavens I sew and can make my version.

  2. I'm grateful for your time snoop shopping. I hate doing that and don't have the time, but I do agree it's useful to see what styles fit and look good. I do love watching people and what they wear and get tips for what to wear.

    1. I too am always watching to see what people are wearing and have been known to snap some surreptitious photos to capture a detail that I like.

  3. I love seeing the interworkings of the Lafayette 148 styles since that's a designer I follow and copy extensively. Your snoop shopping was informative and inspired you creatively so that's a good thing. Thanks for sharing!


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