Then she wised up.
Advice: Scan your favourite catalogues and note the pattern numbers you like the look of. Wait for a sale and buy those babies at half-price for your stash.
Find out where FREE patterns live, download and print them from the internet. Even if you don't like the whole pattern or style, download it anyway, I guarantee there is a sleeve, collar or pocket which will come in handy one day.
Burdastyle.com have a whole section of free patterns - hundreds in fact - drafted by fellow crafters. From dresses to coats and purses to yoga bags, you can build a whole wardrobe provided you're not fussy about having a particular style. You must register a brief profile before you can download but after that it's plain sailing!
Free patterns available via Burdastyle.com
Bernina - yes they of the sewing machines - offer a small range of free dress patterns, all of which are quite lovely! They also have random stuff like an egg warmer pattern (?).
Downloading is simply 'one-click' no registration needed.
Dress and bag pattern both free at Bernina
Lekala, a well-established Russian pattern company, offer many free patterns for download. However, they are all 'made-to-measure', i.e. a fixed size (I think UK size 8-10) so if you are larger you'll need to grade it to fit. Cutting a muslin for Lekala is essential, as you'll only get to your size this way. Some lovely designs on offer so worth a try if you are feeling thrifty and experimental.
Tutorial on grading here - http://www.threadsmagazine.com/item/4368/making-sense-of-pattern-grading/page/all
Free dress pattern available at Lekala
Collette.com offer a cute summer blouse for free download called 'The Sorbetto Top'. A little 1950's chic, perfect for that 1 metre of fabric you just don't know what to do with. It's a winner!
50's style Sorbetto top, free to download
Meeow for now...