Fabric Friday: Fabric I never expected to be buying

I recently made a post on fabrics I regret buying, where I criticized fabric my past self had purchased, and it got me thinking – what would my past self think about my most recent purchases and fabric obsessions?

Honestly, my past self would hate them.

My newest fabric love is floral materials. I went to Joanns the other day and swooned over the summery flowery prints, which are intended for curtains or throw pillows but have serious pretty dress potential.

And I wanted all of them. Every singe one.

(I restrained myself and only bought one – and some matching buttons.)

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Which is weird because a year ago I probably would have looked at them and laughed if someone suggested I buy any, much less make a dress from them! I would have had some snarky comment about how ugly and old looking they were, and I wouldn’t have ever considered exchanging money for something ugly and “old” looking.

But now I absolutely adore them and have dozens of ideas bouncing around in my head for what I could make with such lovely fabrics. I’m really not sure when I was bit by the “floral” bug but I’m so incredibly fond of how delicate and girly these prints are!

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My past self would also be disappointed in how boring my shopping tendencies now are. Though I still love brocade, jacquard, and shiny fabrics, they aren’t what I usually end up buying. More often then not I buy muslin for mock ups, broadcloth for lining, and linen for undergarments. Foundation fabrics have become way more important to me in the last six months and unfortunately, they aren’t very exciting.

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Now days I consider two tone chiffon adventurous – not two toned four way stretch sequin encrusted fabric.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my current fabric choices, but they aren’t the sort of thing I would have looked twice at a year or two ago.

Is there a type of fabric you never expected to buy? Something you probably would have hated, or ignored just a few years prior?

Thanks for reading!

Fabric Friday: A Massive Fabric Haul

It’s Friday, which means it’s time to talk about fabric! This won’t be my usual type of Fabric Friday post, instead it is a haul of what  I purchased in the NYC garment district last weekend.

Some of you may know that my birthday was on Monday. I’m a bit of a picky shopper, so my parents gave me money to spend instead of presents. I spent a little bit on posters and jewelry but decided to spend most of it on fabric. So this post will be devoted to the things I picked up, and what I plan to use them on!

 I wouldn’t say i’m a thrifty person, but the things I make are created so I can learn. And I don’t need (or want) really expensive fabrics to be a part of the learning process. Most of my projects require at least five (sometimes more like twelve) yards of fabric, which adds up really fast. Then you need to buy lining fabric, notions, trims, buttons, embellishments, and the overall price skyrockets.

Which is why I usually go into NYC armed with a list of what I need to buy, how much i’m willing to pay, and how much I need of each material. I’ll bring swatches, sketches, lists, whatever I think will keep me organized and on budget. It’s very rare for me to purchase fabric without a project in mind, unless it’s super cheap.

But was a birthday shopping trip, and because I was spending my own money, it was a little different then usual.

I didn’t go in with a list – or any idea of what I wanted  (very scary) . My goal was to buy things I liked,  and to not be as concerned about the price or projects in mind. So that’s what I did!

I want to say i’m not writing this as an attempt to brag or anything like that – I asked on tumblr and people showed a genuine interest in what I purchased, which is why I’m posting this. Also, buying this huge amount of fabric is not a regular occurrence for me, this is a once a year type of thing.

My first and most frivolous purchase was this rhinestone encrusted chain, and a large pendent to go with it. The shop I visited had a wall devoted to different types of these, they were so damn pretty I knew I had to take something home. The prices ranged from $10 – $70 a yard which scared me a little at first. When you think about it, less elaborate necklaces would cost double the price, and a yard is enough to make two, so it isn’t that unreasonable.

I ended up going with a pendant made for bridal headpieces ($16) and a yard of a mid tier chain ($16) it was expensive and a bit silly, but I really love these and think they make a good gift.

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Keeping on trend with the trims. I’m not really sure what it will get used for, but I love gold trim, especially in the form of lace. It will either be used to hem a dress, or cut apart to make pretty appliques.

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In the same store I found this green lace and loved it enough to buy two yards. I’ve been wanting to make something green for a long time, and this inspired me to make that a reality!

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My final purchase from the shop was these feathers! I’ve been getting more into hats and headpieces, so I knew I wanted to buy at least a few feathers. My favorite store that sells feathers was closed, so these were the only two I bought on the trip. I’ll have to get more next time, or attempt to find a seller on etsy.

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In the next shop I went a little bit crazy. I left with twenty yards of fabric. Who does that?

Purchase number one were these embroidered and embellished satins. I intended to buy one yard of the ivory, and five yards of the red, but because it was the end of both bolts I got a yard extra of each, for free!

I have no clue what to use them for, but I think they are pretty.

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I also bought more of this raspberry colored cotton sateen. I’ve made a dress from this fabric before, and I love it very much. The fabric is a dream to work with, it drapes beautifully, and is only $4 a yard. I actually bought this with something in mind…Ever since I saw this painting at the Brooklyn Museum I’ve wanted to bring her dress to life, and this is the perfect fabric to do it with.

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In the same store I picked up two yards of black cotton sateen, three yards of glitter satin and two yards of stretch tulle. I’ve wanted to make a black embroidered capelet for a little while, and when that happens i’ll need a dress to go underneath, these seemed like a good base for that project!

(I forget to buy black velvet for the capelet though – that’s what you get for not making a list)

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Glitter satin isn’t a fabric I would usually choose, but I feel like the subdued pink color tones down the glitter so it isn’t tacky. Or maybe it’s super tacky and i’m just trying to justify my love for it. Either way I like it a lot.

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I also bought some brocade. Because I can’t have a shopping trip where I don’t buy at least a little brocade. I purchased three yards of the gold, and one yard of the pink one. These will either be turned into fancy bodices or made into piping and used with a more subdued material.

I kind of want to make a super fancy jacket from the gold one, but it would probably blind people.

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I picked up these two more subtle brocades, two yards of the black and a yard of the blue. The black one has a satiny finish, and though I loved it in the store I now think It looks a little too asian influenced to work in any of my projects. I still adore the royal blue brocade – I have no clue what to do with it but it’s lovely.

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The final pretty fabric I purchased (the rest are quite boring) is this black lace. I liked the black lace I worked with on my striped taffeta dress so much I wanted more. Obviously I couldn’t find more, but I did find something similar, and I snatched up two yards. I paid $50 for the two yards, which hurt, a lot. But I’m going to pair it with some taffeta I already own, so the overall cost shouldn’t be too bad.

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Moving on to the boring fabrics! I bought seven yards of bright red flat backed velvet, I purchased this kind of – sort of with a project in mind. For a while i’ve wanted to make something similar to the dress Joanna of Aragon wears in this portrait, but I may use it for something else. Large quantities of velvet always come in handy.

DSC_5951I purchased seven yards of linen, and three yards of textured linen in the same store. The plain linen is for a chemise – I’m not sure what type yet, but I have a few upcoming projects that will require one, so i’ll decide then.

I just liked the textured linen. I want to make some middle age-y things in the near future and I feel like this would work well with them.

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I also bought chiffon. Another fabric that is just good to have around, even if you don’t know what to do with it. These really caught my eye – although they are polyester chiffon, they flow like silk and aren’t at all sheer. Really different from what i’ve seen before.

I bought seven yards of each, at $4 a yard.

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I bought regular, semi-sheer two tone chiffon as well, three yards in each color. I’m not sure why but these colors really jumped out at me, and I liked how they looked next to the gold and navy.

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At the end of my shopping spree I realized something – I wasn’t sure if I had bought enough fabric for a complete project. Though I had bought bits and pieces here and there I didn’t think I had enough cohesive materials to make a single thing.

(I realize now that I did, but at that point I was panicing)

So I went back and bought two fabrics that had caught my eye, but I had passed by.

Thing one was this very rich, dark green stretch velvet. I bought seven yards at $6 a yard, but it was the end of a roll so I got almost two yards extra for free. This matches the green trim I purchased earlier very well.

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Then I zoomed back to another store and got seven yards (the magic number of this day) of ivory upholstery demask. This is my favorite purchase of the day, believe it or not. I bought it thinking it was sixy inches wide, but when I brought it home I realized it’s one hundred and twenty inches wide – twice the amount I expected. So exciting.

I think it will look really lovely as a dress worn underneath a green cape.

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So that’s that. My fabric collection has officially grown by fifty (more like seventy, yikes) yards and i’m not sure where to put everything. I guess I need to get sewing to make more room!

I feel pretty insane and a little guilty buying some much fabric, but i’m sure it will all be used before the year is up. Between this haul and what I purchased on fabric.com a few months back I have enough fabric for a dozen projects, exciting!

I hope you enjoyed, and if you are interested in my few non-fabric birthday items, i’ll be posting them under this tag on tumblr.

Sticking to Fabric Friday tradition, I suppose i’ll ask a question: What is the most recent material you’ve bought? Did you buy it just because it was pretty, or do you have a project in mind for it?

Thanks for reading!

Fabric Friday: Love-Hate Relationships (fabric style)

Hello everyone! I suppose it’s only been a week, but it feels like i’ve been away from blogging for a long time. Last week I had several days all to myself – and I had big plans to spend the majority of that time writing, blogging, and making updates to existing posts. Unfortunately on day one my laptops hard drive had some surprise issues that left my laptop unusable. I’ve restored my old drive to it’s factory settings and right now everything is working fine – hopefully it will stay that way!

Since it’s Friday it seems only right to do yet another Fabric Friday post. This weeks theme is a little less positive then last weeks, and it will probably be less visually interesting too.

There area a lot of materials I love, some that I hate, and some I love to look at but hate to work with. The latter of which is what this post is all about!

In my two years of sewing I’ve worked with a lot of fabrics, and have discovered that every material has certain qualities that makes them wonderful – and others that make me a little angry. Brocade frays if you stare at it too long. Peachskin will happily break any needle you try to shove through it. Taffeta requires a huge amount of ironing and steam to make seams look smooth. Velvet is stunning but jams up machines in seconds. And good luck making a fitted garment from cotton sateen that doesn’t look stiff.

The more I make with each fabric, the better I get at using them. Now I know what problems to expect from the materials, so I can work around them and better decide what’s suitable for certain projects. I often deal with frustrations related to fabrics when sewing, but they happen WAY less often then they used to.

When they do happen, i’m usually using the fabrics i’m going to talk about in this post.

For this week I selected two fabrics – Silk [satin and taffeta], and chiffon.

Chiffon is a fabric that I use in almost everything I make. The sheer material has a gorgeous drape and adds a lovely, light, delicate quality to anything you make with it.  It comes in every color you can imagine, along with matte, two tone, and iridescent finishes. It’s pretty damn stunning and I adore the way it looks in most of my finished projects.

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But the pretty fabric has a dark side. A side filled with fraying, puckering, pulls, and making it impossible to get patterns cut out precisely.

This fabric is so impossibly slippery – no matter how many pins or pattern weights I use, two “identical” pattern pieces never look the same. Even when cutting two inch strips (something so simple it should be impossible to mess up) I’ll find massive inconsistencies – sometimes more then a half inch off. It’s insane, and frustrating, and a real pain to deal with.

The materials frays more then any I have ever worked with, and it puckers so easily that machine sewing hems is nearly impossible. It’s slippery so getting seams to line up (even when pinned) is a challenge – and after those seams are sewn you have to be really gentle since the fabric is so delicate the stitches can easily create tears or pulls in the material.

Working with it is a thing of nightmares, i’m telling you. But I probably won’t stop using it any time soon, since the end result is something I dream about.

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The second fabric  I’m going to talk about is one I have less experience with – silks. Since i’m a student, and still learning, I tend to purchase cheaper fabrics. If I have a costume with a large budget, i’d probably rather spend the extra money on trims or embellishments, since I think those tend to make a garment look more fancy and interesting then expensive fabric.

But I have had a few projects made entirely from silk – and they weren’t much fun.

The most recent was an off white, fully silk satin dress. The majority of the project was hand sewn – partly to finish things nicely, but mostly to avoid creating pulls in the delicate fabric. It’s such a fine weave that even the sharpest needle seems to catch on every thread and create annoying and ugly pulls on the pretty fabric.

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If you get anything wrong, tearing it out is going to be a nightmare. The fabric will never look the same and can even be damaged beyond repair, all because of a tiny mistake. And the mistake will hurt so much more because of the fabric costs.

To make it worse – there isn’t a good substitute for silk satin, or silk shantung, or silk taffeta. They are all very unique looking, and the polyester alternatives just aren’t the same (or even close).

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Of course dealing with the challenges  are worth it in the end – I certainly won’t stop using a fabric just because it puts up a fight. And i’ll never avoid using a fabric just because it may be a little challenging…but I can’t promise I won’t complain when dealing with those challenges.

Are there any fabrics you have a love-hate relationship with? Or tips on how to make them a little less painful to sew with? I’d really enjoy hearing about them!

Thanks for reading!

Fabric Friday: Fabric you love so, so much…

…That you are terrified to touch it. Or cut it. Or use it. Because the fabric on it’s own is more beautiful then anything you are capable of making and cutting into it would ruin it’s perfection.

Yes it’s Friday again. And since I loved reading the responses on last weeks post so much, i’m bringing it back! And this weeks theme is about material you love a little too much.

I’ve selected two fabrics for this weeks theme – a gorgeous pink and white bridal lace, and a pretty blue brocade.

The brocade was purchased a whole year ago, along with the fabrics I used for my Red and Silver Gown and my Christmas Costume. I bought these with birthday money, and my entire goal of the fabric shopping trip was to buy the prettiest materials possible. I was a little too successful.

Within days of buying the fabric (the majority of those days were spent lovingly gazing at them) I had designs in mind for three garments.  It took me over six months to use up the other two, and now it’s been a year and I still haven’t found it in me to destroy use this one.

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I only have a little under two yards, not enough for an entire dress. Because of this i’ve been hoarding blue materials and trims like crazy – I have plans for frilly sleeves, a cloak, and a cathedral length train – all of which would be trimmed with hand dyed lace.

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I’m envisioning a blue version of Lucrezia’s wedding gown in The Borgias. It would be wonderfully grand, but to make it I would have to cut up this brocade and it would probably get stained with tears in the process and ruin the whole thing.

No i’m not exaggerating at all. 

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Fabric two is a more recent purchase – I got this right before Christmas with a fantastic ball gown in mind. I had been looking for simple cotton lace to go with some pink cotton sateen I had purchased a few months before.

After searching a dozen stores I still hadn’t found any I liked – and then I saw this. 

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A beautiful sixty inch wide, beaded, sequined, embroidered mesh bridal lace. I needed it. You don’t even understand – this fabric and I had a moment, and I couldn’t leave the store without it. By some miracle and a lot of bargaining I got the four yard length for under $80.

This is the type of fabric i’ve seen go for $180 a yard. So in addition to being beautiful to look at, it’s also lucky.

Really lucky.

And if I cut it up i’m positive I will anger some fabric spirit – the same one that must have bestowed this beautiful lace upon me. And i’m pretty sure that angering the fabric gods would be ten times worse then breaking a mirror, or walking under a ladder.

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So until I feel really confident in my construction and design skills, these fabrics will probably remain unused.

Do you have any fabrics you love a little too much? I’d like to hear about them!

Thanks for reading.

Fabric Friday: Fabric I (really!) Regret Buying

I’m not sure if Fabric Fridays are going to become a permanent thing – but I really like the idea of it. I’m a nosy person and I really enjoy seeing other peoples fabric stashes – so I thought some of you may be interested in seeing my own. I figured this would be a huge flop when I tried it out last week, but people on tumblr seemed to like the idea of it so I’m bringing it to wordpress too!

It’s a bit different from my regular posts but I think it’s a good way to end a week on a lighthearted note.

For those wondering what a Fabric Friday post is – well, each week (on a Friday, obviously) I will pick a theme and a few materials I own that fit into that theme. Then I will write a bit about how I came to own the fabrics and my feelings towards them.

I’m totally open to opinions about this – whether you like it, hate it, think it should be left on tumblr, etc. I won’t get offended!

….

Fabric Friday: Fabric I Regret Buying

In the last few years i’ve become really good at justifying my need for material, even the super impractical ones. I’m someone who gets inspired by fabric – usually I buy material then design a dress to go with it, instead of the other way around. It’s kind of backwards, but it works for me.

Because of this I don’t mind having large quantities of material laying around, even if i’m not quite sure what to make with them, I figure they will get used eventually.

Well, most of the time that’s how I feel.

But there are a few exceptions. I own several fabrics that make me cringe when I look at them.

And these are some of those fabrics.

To start it off here is some heavily sequined satin material, paired with some teal foil dot, four way stretch spandex.

I must say I still think the sequined material is pretty, but it’s not the type of thing I will ever use in any of my projects. It might make a pretty, slinky dress – but a single yard of it weighs a good three pounds because it’s so heavily decorated. It would be terrible to work with since it’s more plastic then it is fabric, and I don’t even want to think about what it would do to my nice sewing scissors!

Foil dot spandex has a place in this world, but it doesn’t below in my collection. What on earth would I ever do with this? Can you imagine a fancy, full length Renaissance gown made from teal spandex? The horror.

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The fabric I cannot believe I purchased (and adored at one point) is…this. I loved it so much I bought it in two colors, too! And now I can’t even look at it because it blinds me with it’s insane sparkle and tackiness.

I can’t even describe this fabric, it feels like AstroTurf that stretches in four directions and it sparkles like a disco ball on steroids. I’m not even sure why fabric in this texture even exists – I don’t understand what you could do with it, or if you can even sew it.

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I’m glad to say I don’t regret any of my recent fabric purchases. All the materials in this post were purchased on my first even trip to the NYC Garment District, back when I didn’t sew. I was more interested in sparkly things then anything functional.

Now i’m the person at Joanns that I used to scoff at – the one who buys the most boring fabrics in the store.

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I’d rather be boring then have a closet filled with fabrics like the ones above – so i’m very glad my tastes have changed!

My question for you guys is: Do you have any fabrics you regret buying? That one material that makes you angry when you look at it because it’s so useless? Or haunts you at night because you can’t figure out why on earth you ever bought it?

Thanks for reading!