Hello, and welcome to people watching 102, wherein we discover who to watch and what to watch for to gain maximum fashion sewing inspiration.

This is part 2 of a two-part series. Here’s part 1: People Watching: Sewing Inspiration That’s Not Pinterest (Part 1).

Fashion sewing inspiration can come from just about anywhere. Social media, magazines, museum exhibits, and trips to the mall can sow seeds for your next stitching project.

People watching is one of my favorite ways to stir up sewing inspiration (as covered in part 1 of this mini series). The following tips can help you level up your people-watching game. (And, if you keep reading, you’ll learn my hippie-dippiest people-watching technique!)

Who to Watch for Fashion Sewing Inspiration

When it comes to WHO to watch, I encourage you to get out of your comfort zone. Observe people different from you — people who live in a different neighborhood or city (or country!), people doing activities you’ve never tried, etc. If you want your style and sewing practice to evolve, challenge yourself and your perspective.

It goes without saying, as you’re planning sewing projects based on people-watching observations, steer clear of cultural appropriation. Me-made looks related to religious and cultural traditions of which you are not part are insensitive.

What to Watch For When People Watching

When people watching for fashion sewing inspiration, keep an eye out for proportion play.


Pay attention to length and volume. Are outfits balanced, or are shapes exaggerated?


Rough or smooth? Bumpy or slick? Yay, here’s where we obsess over fabric! Personally, I LOVE monochromatic looks with mixed textures.

Pay attention to color when people watching for fashion sewing inspiration. You may observe color combinations that never cross your mind.


Obviously! Take note of color combos that speak to you, and keep an eye out for accent colors (e.g., the red “Off the Wall” stamp on the back of the soles of Vans sneakers). And stitching! Don’t forget about stitching!


We’ve all fallen in love with a garment we’ve seen when we’ve been out and about. If possible, take note of the maker/brand so you can stalk it online later.


Form follows function. This being the case, ask yourself WHY a garment looks a certain way. What problem does it solve?

While people watching for fashion sewing inspiration, be sure to focus on accessories - nails, glasses, jewelry, and more.


Don’t overlook jewelry, hair, nails, shoes, bags, coats, watches, tights, and socks. You can find fashion sewing inspiration in accessories, too.

Next-Level People-Watching Exercises (for Hippies)

OK, guys, I need you to come with me on a little journey. This may be a little woo-woo for you, and if that’s the case and you can’t help but roll your eyes, I’m not offended and you can skip it.

(I lived in Madison a long time, and some of the hippie-dippy stuck. No apologies.)

Don't only rely on your eyes for fashion sewing inspiration. Use your other senses while people watching to gain inspiration for sewing projects.

When you’re having a people-watching moment, take a few seconds to leverage your other senses beyond vision. This is about trusting your gut, intuition, third eye, etc.

  • Close your eyes. What colors, smells, textures, music, sounds pop into your head?
  • Plug your ears. What’s the first thing you notice?
  • Breathe in. What do you smell or taste? Take in air for the sake of perception, not homeostasis.
  • Touch without touching. How would different garments and accessories feel — in your hands, on your back, against your skin?

After you’ve had a few seconds of extra-conscious perception, jot down a couple of words, feelings, ideas, phrases, etc. Go with the first things that pop into your head; don’t overthink it.

Step away from your observations for a day. When you come back to them, pick one thing you wrote and use it to guide a sewing decision
— whether that’s a hack, fabric choice, technique, or something else.

The phrase that jumped out may mean something different to you today than it did when you first wrote it, and that’s OK. Reserve judgment of your subconscious and trust your design decisions.

(See, I told you it was going to be woo-woo!)

OK, over to you lovely sewing peeps: I want to hear YOUR favorite things to look for when you’re looking for fashion sewing inspiration. What did I miss? Do you take notes or make sketches when people watching? (I think a people-watching bullet journal would be marvelous.) Do you have any woo-woo (sewing) habits? Please share in comments.

P.S. ICYMI, here’s the first part of the people-watching for sewing inspiration series: People Watching: Sewing Inspiration That’s Not Pinterest (Part 1).

P.P.S. If you like this post, I think you might like the Wardrobe Architect series:

Wardrobe Architect Part 1: Getting personal about wardrobe planning
Wardrobe Architect Part 2: My silhouettes, colors, and beauty
Wardrobe Architect Part 3: Sewing a capsule wardrobe

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Photo credits:

Photo by Mario Purisic on Unsplash
Photo by Sabina Ciesielska on Unsplash
Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash
Photo by Tamara Bellis on Unsplash
Photo by Caleb George on Unsplash

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