Friday, April 30, 2021

Literary Sewing Circle: Amatka Inspiration!


This week's Inspiration post is taking a look at some of the imagery and themes in this novel as a way to spark project ideas.

As always in the Literary Sewing Circle, inspiration can arise from a spark of an idea. If you have even a sentence that explains your inspiration, go ahead with the project! 

There are quite a few different elements that jumped out at me as potential connections for a project. Let's start with the difference between Vanja's brown, drab clothes and the brighter ones that Ivar and Nina wear. When Vanja first goes shopping for warm clothes upon her arrival, she "thought of Nina's blue overalls and Ivar's green shirt and picked out clothes in shades of blue and green." There is also mention of overalls at Nina's hospital workplace and Ivar's mushroom farm job. Of course, there are many, many popular jumpsuit patterns out there right now! The most workwear related ones I can think of might be either the Blanca Flight Suit by Closet Core Patterns, or this new design by They'd fit right in made in a "monochromatic and bright" colour like those from Amatka.

As Ivar shows Vanja around the mushroom farm, they see many types of mushrooms that supply the colony. This suggests a project using some wonderful mushroom prints! Or if you're wealthy and lucky, maybe you can even source some mycoleathers to use. 

Check out this one, or many other cool mushroom prints at
MycoBoutique in Montreal, for all things mushroom

If you are thinking of something a little more sedate and toned to the mood of Amatka, you could try this print called "Birch Mushrooms", found at Riverside Textiles in Toronto. 

Remember Vanja's marking error as a child? When she got so entranced by her naming of pencils that it seemed she was chanting cil-pen instead, and saw her pencils' reality waver? Maybe a pencil skirt is the project for you -- make sure you don't make a cil-pen skirt by mistake. 

To make doubly sure that you are making a pencil skirt, maybe try a pencil print while you're at it...

Vanja's connection with office supplies continues once she gets her job in the administrative offices of Amatka. You might make something from a print that reflects that. Or perhaps a print covered in keys, the result of Vanja's playing with naming and reality, when she wants to get into the closed archive. 

Aubergine Vintage Keys from

Evgen the librarian assists Vanja in her search for the truth. Perhaps some library card prints are in order. Or simply a book print, like this Laura Ashley print from

Maybe your project will be inspired by some of Amatka's poetry. Can you think of a way to incorporate some of the poems by Berol's Anna in her poem cycle about the Plant Houses of Amatka? Or simply be inspired by Vanja's view of the Plant Houses glowing in the night as she sneaks out to explore the lake and falls asleep there. 

Moon Garden by Jacqueline Hurd at Spoonflower

Near the conclusion of the story, as Vanja looks at the shining Berols' Anna, she says "her eyes mirrored a different landscape than the one they occupied", and sees that the sky above the lake is now "robed in black, adorned with brilliantly striped and mottled spheres".

Maybe a Constellation Hoodie by Love Notions, or the Etoile Dress by French Poetry, or even the infamous Galaxy Dress (Vogue 8280 or the updated 1631) can represent this spacious and endless view.

Etoile Dress, by French Poetry

Think about some of the beautiful space print fabrics that are available now, and how you might use them, as well. 

Galaxy Glitter from Spool & Spindle

I hope that with all these different ideas you're starting to see the potential for a project of your own. If you have another idea, or a part of the book that has jumped out at you as your own inspiration, please feel free to share in the comments! The closer we look at the book, the more there is to work with, and your vision might add to someone else's too. 

Next week's book discussion post will be our wrap-up post for the reading part of the Literary Sewing Circle. There will be 3 more weeks to get your project done and posted, on the link up that will appear next week as well. I'm working on my own project ideas, which I've hinted at in this post. Look forward to seeing all of yours. 


  1. So many possibilities! I have chosen for a main fabric, white with masses of black 'scribbles' on it. As soon as I saw it, I thought of Vanja's speech - at the end her brain was still so full of thoughts, but nothing could be verbalised. I felt the imagery was strong of these thoughts. I still think I would go with pops of colour, to show (what I hope would be) a more positive future, a bright future to look forward to.
    And the garment - a shirt, because I need some warm shirts.

    I would like to know, some of the fabulous fabrics with appropriate imagery you show are quilting fabrics? If so, do you use them for garments?

    1. Hi Sara, I love the imagery you have chosen to inspire your project. That's a really interesting idea, representing the abstract experience. Can't wait to see it!

      As to the quilting fabric, I do use it to make garments-- as long as you work with its properties I find it fun to use. There's obviously no drape so items that are more streamlined & fitted work better, in my experience. I don't use it as much as I used to, but the prints are hard to beat!

    2. Back in the "old days," "quilting cotton" was called cotton. It is a perfectly acceptable fabric to use for clothing. I've also used it for curtains, and other home dec items. I think it's a newer generation of people that sew clothing and don't necessarily want to iron their clothing that are put off by using cottons for clothes. You generally have to iron clothes made with 100% cotton. In the 70s and 80s the cotton section of the fabric store was just labeled "Cotton" not "Quilting Cotton." When quilting became a more popular craft than garment sewing, marketing geniuses relabeled this wonderful fabric. In the 90s polyester fabric was much more expensive than cotton fabrics. That doesn't make any sense to me at all.

  2. I just wrote a reply and lost it, so if this shows up as a duplicate, my apologies.

    I wrote this in response to an earlier post and have not changed my mind. I am going to make a jacket because it's always cold in Amatka. I am using a bright mint green because green was mentioned as a common clothing color in Amatka. I purchased a bright mint cotton voile because it is already in the 90 degrees where I live but I need a coverup to keep the mosquitoes away. I know this is very literal, but I was going to make this jacket anyway. Maybe I would have chosen a different color if not for the influence of the book. I'm delighted because I think I will love it. I have already purchased all my materials and hope to get started early next week. I have a few projects to finish this week.

    1. I love projects that fit in to both a challenge & into your regular sewing plans! Look forward to seeing your green jacket 🙂


Share your comments, ideas or suggestions here -- I am always interested in hearing from readers. It's nice to have a conversation!