Here is the promised fabric haul! And I have to warn you, it’s pretty gigantic.
The majority is from the NYC Garment District. I went there the week before Christmas and spent all of my Christmas money (and then some) on fabric. After I got home I went on a little etsy shopping spree with some of my youtube earnings, and the week after that I placed an online order for some sewing supplies I ran out of. So the pile of purchases continued to grow for a while there – but i’m done now! Officially on a no-buy until I finish a few projects.
Speaking of that in addition to this being a haul it’s also going to be a peak into what projects i’m planning for the next few months. I have sketches to share along with heaps of reference photos, which is part of the reason this post will be so long.
I went into the Garment District armed with a half dozen swatch cards and a huge list. I was mainly shopping for four ensembles: A 1890s afternoon dress and coat. A more casual 1890s ensemble that consists of a hat, skirt, and shirtwaist. An Edwardian evening gown. And a short 1920s evening dress. I was also shopping for plain fabrics that would work for the foundation garments to go under them.
Here are my swatch cards for the three most exciting dresses~
And my massive heap of fabric I got to gaze at on Christmas morning.
I promise there are lots of pretty fabrics to share but i’m going to leave those to the end. We’ll start with the ones I bought for foundation garments, since those will be the base for all these dresses.
Here is my stack of lightweight cotton fabrics (and shantung!) which I bought with that purpose in mind.
One of my favorites shops (Fabric for Less) is going out of business. That really sucks since i’ll miss visiting their store, but it worked in my favor on this trip since they were having a big closing sale in an attempt to move as much stock as possible.
They had two cotton fabrics which I fell in love with. I’d looked at similar fabrics in other shops but they were all too thick or too expensive. I was almost ready to give up and use muslin instead when I came across these! The first one has an eyelet pattern and light striping across it. It’s pure white and has a slightly gauzy/sheer texture to it which I love since it won’t add bulk under dresses.
This was three dollars a yard. I bought eight yards at first, then asked for another three yards since I liked it so much. This will be used for the chemise, bloomers, petticoat, and maybe the top layer of a corset.
From the same shop I got four yards of a similar fabric. It was the same price, weight, and color, but has a different pattern to it. I really like this one – I think i’ll use it to make a blouse/shirtwaist for the 1890s ensemble.
And also from the same store I got shantung! This was three dollars as well and I plan to use it for the petticoat. It has a stiffness to it which creates very full ruffles, which is exactly what I want. This will likely be used for one of the corsets as well.
I should probably share a sketch of what I have in mind for the underthings, but i’m not sure how accurate this sketch will end up being. I am going to be making a chemise, two corsets, bloomers, and a petticoat. But the construction and appearance of those things is something I haven’t settled on just yet.
I’m likely going to base the chemise off this one from the Metropolitan Museum archives. But I really like the more traditional frilly ones as well, so i’m torn. The Met has some good bloomer references as well, which I might follow.
I wanted to make the petticoat with three tiers (as shown below) but two tiered ones are more accurate, so i’ll probably do that instead.
For corsets i’ll be making one with a very cinched waist and flat front below the waist (as opposed to the bulge below the tummy which was fashionable in the 1870s). And a longer one with a straighter silhouette that can be worn with dresses from the first quarter of the 20th century.
With those in mind i’ve bought some trims! As you can probably tell, i’ve decided on a pink and white theme.
The middle trim is one I already had, I believe it was given to me by my grandmother. The embroidered one is from etsy, the ribbon is from onlinefabricstore.net, and the woven one is from Joanns. I think these will really dress up the foundation garments and add that frilly lovelyness that was so common at that time.
The last of the “boring” things were from online shopping adventures. I got steel boning for the corsets, heavy weight buckram, ribbon, and twill tape from onlinefabricstore.net. The muslin is for mock ups and lining, and that’s from Joann’s. The busk is from CorsetMoment on etsy. I’m really pleased with all these purchases, though you won’t end up seeing any of them in the finished pieces!
Speaking of onlinefabricstore, I usually highly recommend them but this order was a huge mess. I made it on December 29th. Part of my order shipped out on January 1st and I received it a few days later. A week after ordering I got an email saying two of the items were backordered and wouldn’t ship until January 11th. Now it’s the 18th and though the shipping label has been created, my order hasn’t shipped. Really frustrating!
Onto fun stuff! This is the project I put most of my Christmas money towards. It’s an evening gown from the early 1900s, which was inspired by the first few seasons of Downton Abbey. I spent days browsing pinterest for references and inspiration before compiling ideas from a bunch of the dresses I liked into this sketch.
I want the focus to be on the bodice and hem, with elaborate beading and lace on all the edges. If i’m feeling brave I might attempt beaded feathers across the hem, like these ones.
My first task was finding elaborate lace. The shop I planned to buy from refused to go lower than $55/yard for the lace I was interested in, and that was way too much. So I went into a shop I’d never visited before, called Fabric Express and ended up falling in love with this black and grey lace.
All the beads are metal and glass so it’s very heavy. The embroidery is filled with metallic silver threads, and it has symmetrical borders on each edge of the lace, which can be fussy cut out and used as trim. The lace is almost fifty inches wide and packed with beautiful beaded appliques. I’m so in love with this fabric, I can’t even tell you. The depth of it doesn’t capture very well on camera which is a shame since it’s one of the most gorgeous fabrics i’ve ever seen!
This still cost more than I wanted to spend – at $30something dollars a yard it’s the most expensive cut of fabric i’ve ever bought, but since I had Christmas money I decided to put it towards something I really loved and wouldn’t usually buy.
To go underneath that I picked up some silk shantung in a greyish cream color. This was from the store that was closing so it was very well priced for silk – I think $7 a yard or so, which is cheaper than i’ve ever seen it before. This has a lovely sheen to it and texture. It’s heavy enough to support the weight of the lace, but still light enough to drape beautifully.
On the downside… It’s really badly water damaged. Somehow I didn’t notice this despite watching the shop owner roll out and cut the fabric right in front of me. The damage has horribly stained almost eighteen inches of the fabric all across the yardage I purchased. Which makes the usable width only forty inches. I don’t think it was a bad deal, considering forty inch wide silk of this quality usually costs more than seven dollars a yard.
But it’s not what I thought I was paying for. And I’m not sure i’ll have enough fabric to use this as the base for the dress. I’m hoping I can wash the damaged portion and hide it in the bodice or train of the skirt, underneath an overlay which will hide the color difference. But i’m not sure that will work, and i’m really annoyed by the whole situation!
For the overlay on this dress I got seven yards of english net. This has a similar texture to tulle, but is more durable and less prone to tearing. It’s what lace is backed on, and is often used for veils. I had an awful time finding this in stores, everyone though I meant stretch net (used in athletic wear) or tulle. Luckily one guy had an unopened bolt of the stuff in black, which I grabbed up!
This is the opacity it has. Very similar to tulle, just has a tighter weave and a bit of stretch to it.
To embellish this dress I got lots of beads and sequins. I’m planning on using some vintage blue/black sequins a reader sent me as the main embellishment for this piece, since they are the only thing I can imagine being pretty enough to pair with this lace.
But I wanted to try a few different colors and sizes, so I got a large bag of faceted ones that shift between gold/black and two small bags of flat blue ones…which I thought were black when I bought them. I’m not sure either of these will match, but i’m going to try to use them and see how it goes.
The beads are from a shop whose name I can’t remember, but it’s near Beads World. I got a large bag of glass bungle beads, and a bag of glass seed beads that are dark grey. These definitely match and will be used generously all over the dress.
The next project is an afternoon dress from the 1890s. It’s going to have huge sleeves and a matching hat. Most of my references for this were fashion plates and pictures from vintage Harper’s Bazaar magazines which were a gift from my Great Aunt.
For this I wanted a fabric that was stiff enough to keep it’s shape – it needs to be to support the massive sleeves and pleated skirt. I also wanted the fabric to be cheap, since I needed eight yards. A fabric that falls into both of those categories is polyester taffeta, so that’s what I went with!
I got this from Hamed Fabrics – I think they have the best selection of taffeta, but Amin Fabric is good as well. This was priced at four dollars a yard and I love it. The color is amazing. It’s purple but has a pink/grey shift to it depending on the lighting. Here it looks like it’s all one tone.
But when it’s gathered slightly and the sun hits it, it really shines. I think the amount of depth this has makes it look a lot more expensive than it is, which I appreciate!
For the buttons I bought the cheapest metal ones that Daytona trims. I spent almost as much money on the buttons as I did on the dress fabric, which was painful. I can’t remember how many I needed (I know I got more than a dozen), but I paid $24 for the bunch of them.
Since this dress has a lower neckline i’ll be putting a partial blouse underneath it. I’m planning on making it like a corset cover, so it will be sleeveless and tie at the waist. This means it won’t add any bulk to my silhouette, which I appreciate! This was from Fabric Express and is a bit stiffer than the other cottons I got. Other than that it’s quite similar – it is partially sheer and has a subtle print to it.
And it’s white but i’m planning on tea staining it to an ivory shade.
Though the dress on its own should be quite pretty, it’s going to be paired with a cloak…coat…thing. I’m using advertisements from the late 1800s as reference, but it’ll be based off the one Edith wears in Crimson Peaks since i’m obsessed with it.
Finding fabric for this was a challenge. I wanted something that was heavier than a suiting, but lighter than a coating. I found a few ones that looked promising, but they were all more than $10 a yard, which was more than I wanted to pay since I needed so much of it.
I finally found what I wanted in Amin Fabrics – I didn’t even know they sold suitings, but they had a selection of them in the weight I needed hidden on the top of a pile (and by pile I mean wall of fabric – if I were any shorter I wouldn’t have been able to reach them, and i’m pretty tall!).
It’s a beige color, which isn’t very exciting.
But it has a nice weight to it which should lay nicely over the dress, while still being light enough to gather into puffed sleeves without becoming too bulky. It isn’t sheer, but i’m worried the dark color of the dress might be visible through it, which wouldn’t look good. So I may have to line it. I have some beige taffeta laying around that I can use for that if that becomes an issue.
The best part about this fabric is that the nine yards of it cost $68! Which is amazing for such a nice heavy suiting.
For the piping, bows, and hat I got two yards of velvet in this rich raspberry/dark fuchsia/ mulberry color. I really love this color and I think it looks nice with the taffeta I purchased (even though they don’t really match). This is from Zahra Fabrics.
My other 1890s ensemble is pretty simple by comparison. It will consist of a cotton shirtwaist (I showed the fabric for that earlier) and a velvet skirt, with a matching hat. I like simple ensembles sometimes, and I like making separate pieces. I think this will make a very nice side project, and be quite pretty as a finished outfit.
The velvet is from Fabric for Less, the shop that was going out of business. I bought what was left, which is about six yards, and I think it was five dollars a yard. It looks linty as all get out because it’s velvet…that’s what velvet does.
The last project on my list is a 1920s evening dress in the famous flapper style. I don’t care for the silhouette of these (I know it will be really unflattering on me) but i’ve wanted to make one for ages since they are so different than anything i’ve made before.
Unfortunately I didn’t do a lot of research before shopping for this project. I realize now that I prefer the hand beaded dresses instead of ones made out of lace appliques. And the base fabric I purchased is way too stiff. These dresses don’t hang properly unless they are made from slinky materials (the opposite of what I bought).
I don’t think i’ll be able to make the delicate beaded dress that I dreamed out of the materials I got, so I may have to rethink this project until my next trip to the Garment District.
The lace for this project is from Fabric Express. It’s in a very pretty dusty rose/peachy color – quite similar to lace I bought for my birthday earlier in the year. The pattern is floral, with very wide borders at each edge and lots of appliques.
The beads are glass, and in a milky pink color. This lace is packed with beautiful copper colored sequins that really make the pattern pop.
Once again i’m a bit in awe that i’m in possession of such a pretty fabric! Everything about it is gorgeous and I feel very lucky to own it.
This is the stiff fabric I got to go underneath it. My reasoning for buying this material is that it would be easy to bead and could support the weight of beading. But it doesn’t have the right level of movement and was a really poor choice for this project.
For the sash and skirt I got two yards of english net and four yards of chiffon. The chiffon looked like it matched really well in the store, but once I brought it home I realized it was too cool toned in color. So yet another fabric setback!
I only bought two trims on this trip (I managed to restrain myself for once). One is peachy colored pleated ribbon, which I plan on using to decorate the foundation garments. And the other is a really pretty organza based beaded lace, which I think will pair nicely with the fabric I have for a 1860s ball gown.
For hats I picked up some feathers. I wish I had bought a few more of these large ones but I wasn’t sure what colors to buy, so I held off and only bought two. They are both in this purple taupe color, and they are massive! So floaty and wonderful!
Then I got two little bunches of two tone feathers. I’ve never seen anything like these before, they shift between two colors and are gorgeous. I bought a bundle of purple/green ones and green/black ones.
The last things are all for my 1890s dress/coat ensemble. I got a couple ribbon flowers and a fabric flower to decorate the hat. I’m not a huge fan of how these look, but I wanted to get something and these were the cheapest ones they had ($2 a piece). The only reason I bought these at all is because I was worried I wouldn’t be able to find millinery flowers online.
I feel like millinery supplies are really overprice in the Garment District. Some of the fabric flowers were $12-$15 each despite being in poor condition and not the best quality. In future i’ll only buy feathers in those shops, and get my flowers online or from Michaels.
Speaking of feathers, I got more two tone ones! Though these don’t shift between two colors, they have more of a gradient to them. One bunch is purple and the other bunch is brown. I don’t think the brown ones match these fabrics very well, so i’ll likely pair it with some plaid material I got from Joanns.
That’s IT for things I bought in NYC! Here are some things I got online to compliment those purchases…
The first things are flowers! I made three flower orders, the main one was from SquishnChips on etsy. They have an amazing variety of flowers and they are all so pretty. I’m really happy with my purchases from them and would definitely order again.
I got some from Dames A La Mode and 32NorthSupplies as well. These ones are very nice, and arrived quickly, but it’s cheaper to buy through sellers outside of the US (like Squish) and the selection was much better from them, so i’m not sure if would repurchase these.
They are all being stored in pretty pink floral printed box, and it makes me really happy!
From PrettyLaceShop I ordered some chantilly eyelash trim. I’m thrilled with this purchase, it was really cheap (three dollars for three yards!), is wonderfully soft, and has a gorgeous pattern. It also arrived really quickly. I would definitely order more, just to have it around in the future.
This is to trim the top edge of a corset.
This one is from the same seller and also to trim a corset. It’s also very pretty and well made.
From LaceTrimWholesalers I got five meters of this mesh based embroidered trim. This is for the shirtwaist i’m making to go with the velvet skirt. I looked at a lot of trims similar to this, but eventually chose this one since I loved the details in the edging!
This shop is also where I got the embroidered pink trim for the foundation garments. This one is really pretty, it’s embroidered with rayon threads that have a nice sheen to them and the pattern is really delicate.
And the last purchase was this trim. I’d hoped this would match the purple taffeta I bought, so I could use it on that project. It doesn’t (not even close) but I don’t even care because it’s really pretty. And i’m sure i’ll find a use for it some day!
That’s it! This was huge and I have no plans to buy anything in the near future because of this. This is probably enough to keep me busy for a good long while. And I can’t wait to get started, because I’m really excited to work with all of these fabrics and to begin work on my new projects for this year!
Thanks for reading – a new The Making of Post should be up later in the week! 🙂
*edit put 2015 in the title by mistake and fixed it. OOPS.