Making 18th Century Accessories + Shoe Review

This post will cover making the accessories to go with the redingote featured in this post!  I’ll be talking about a ridiculous hat, a fichu, and a petticoat/skirt. I’m also including a review for the shoes I purchased to match, which are the Fraser style by American Duchess.

I’m going to start with the skirt, since it’s probably the “biggest” part of the costume, after the redingote.

My original plan for this was two rectangles, one for the body of the skirt, and one for a ruffle around the hem. But I just finished making a skirt like that out of a different fabric. And I made two others the year before. And another the year before that. They are easy to do, but kind of boring. I knew I wanted to put a twist on this, and eventually decided on making the ruffle with a zig-zag hem.

I thought this was appropriate – it kind of reminds me of the texture of leaves, or if we are really stretching to meet the Halloween theme, the teeth of a carved pumpkin. I’m glad that I did this since it’s way more interesting than my other skirts…but it was alway way more labor intensive.

I decided to back the main suiting with a thicker one. This will give it more structure and help the points hold their shape. I probably would have used taffeta, or a lighter material if I had one around, but this worked in a pinch.

I traced all the points onto the lining – this along took an hour. This was an eight yard strip of material.

Sewing them took another hour. Then I trimmed around each edge, and clipped the points and corners. I also used a seam ripper to remove the stitch at the very top of each concave point. This makes it turn out smoothly, but does reduce long term durability.

And it was gathered down to be four yards long, the same width as the top portion of the skirt. Here you can see the drawer unit I kept rolling around to support the fabric as I sewed – this was super heavy!

I sewed it to the top portion of the skirt with a three quarter inch seam allowance. It still looked a little drab, so I decided to make a ruffle out of leftover brown taffeta. This helped tie the garments together, and added more interest since it’s a different texture.

I cut strips out of the fabric on its bias with pinking sheers. Then I sewed the strips together, and gathered them down the middle. I sewed it onto the skirt in large scallops.

I did all of this by machine since I was rushing. If I wear this again I want to cover the stitching with trim or beads. It doesn’t look great and isn’t super even since the skirt was so hard to get through my machine. But from a distance I really like it!

Then I lifted the waistline of the skirt until it sat at the length I liked. I trimmed the excess, and gathered the top edge.

I made the waistband out of matching fabric, sewed in a hook, and sewed up the side seam. I really like how this turned out, but the waistline is a little large – it kept slipping down and is visible in some of the pictures. So the hook has to move before re-wearing.

Next up: The fichu. This is basically a shawl that could be worn under dresses as an alternative to an undershirt. They would fill out the neckline, make dresses more modest, and serve as a stylistic choice. I made mine in an hour or two, out of a scrap of thin cotton and two four yard lengths of mesh lace.

I started by cutting out a triangle – as large as I could from the material I was working with. Then I turned the edges inward by a quarter inch, twice in order to finish them. I did this by hand, but machine sewed everything else, which was sort of silly!

I used two four yard lengths of lace from etsy. One has little bows on it, the other is a leafy design. I liked the leafy one more, so I put it closer to the top. Then I covered the gathered edge with a narrow mesh lace.

I like how this looks, but I wish the lace was more dense. I may add onto it before reusing it. I see myself getting quite a bit of use out of it with other costumes, since this was a staple in most 18th century ladies wardrobes!

Now for the hat! I might be biased, but I think this is the best part of the costume. Looking at it makes me smile. Wearing it makes me smile. It’s great.

I made this based on images in Women’s Hats, Headdresses and Hairstyles*, along with references from various paintings. I constructed it from a self drafted pattern, out of felt weight interfacing with wire sewn into the edges. Then I covered the pieces with interfacing, lined them with scraps, and stitched them together with upholstery thread. It took me two evenings to finish.

The brim is lined with orange silk (leftover from the pumpkin dress!) and more brown taffeta ruffles.


I trimmed the exterior with a strip of the striped silk (I cut the edges with pinking sheers), and a band of the orange silk. These were loosely sewn in place since the top of the hat narrows and they kept trying to slip upward.

For decorations I made a rosette from more strips of silk. These were gathered down as tightly as I could, then I sewed up the side seam. I was going to add a smaller ruffle to the center, but I decided beading it would be more fun. So I stitched a base of suiting material onto the back to support the embellishments.

The embellishments consisted of a bunch of faux pearls, and a spider brooch. The back of this had bent and was really thick, which made it difficult to wear. So it got a new home here! I think it looks quite comfortable.

In my mind this added to the totally not obvious witch element. I also liked how the orange stones would catch the light.

That was glued on, along with a white feather and two pieces of fake fern. I was originally going to use orange feathers, but I like how the white one ties in with the pearls and lace on the dress.

The ferns – though completely inaccurate, tie the colors together really well. They fade from a deeper orange (like the striped silk) to a lighter orange, like the shantung scraps. It’s one of my favorite hats i’ve ever made – I think the contrast and trims are perfect!

And that is it for the pieces I made! So if you want you can stop there. But I did want to mention, and give a little review of the shoes I bought to go with this.

These were my main purchase last month. The price hurt a bit, but I’ve enjoyed my other historical themed footwear so much that I wanted something similar for 18th century projects. I invest so much time into pieces that accurately(ish) represent the period from the hem upward, it seems like a shame to skimp out on the shoes! Plus they will go with a lot of future projects too, not just this one.

(also I don’t think the price of these is unreasonable at all, it’s just much more than my other shoes)

They are the “Fraser” 18th Century Leather Shoes (Black)(1700-1760)* by American Duchess, listed here*. I purchased them in a size 10, along with the cavendish gold  buckles.

Overall, I like these. The shape is lovely, and surprisingly flattering to the foot. I adore  the side profile – the heel is so cute! And the shell of the shoe is very soft and flexible, which makes them more comfortable than the vast majority of my shoes.

I also like the sheen of the leather used, and that natural materials were used for the lining, too. The construction of them seems nice, and they were symmetrical and free of flaws.  They also came with replacement heel caps.

I compared them to other shoes I own that are a similar heel height, and they were the same length if not a little longer. I’m a solid size 10, and these fit me well lengthwise.

On the downside, the fit is hard to determine until after the buckles are installed, and they obviously aren’t returnable after the buckles are in. I found the shoes a little big width wise and assumed the buckles would tighten them. I placed the buckles as far back on the latchet as I could (up until it tapered to a point where it would not fit through the buckle smoothly) and they are still a little large on me. I probably would have returned them for a 9.5 if I had known.

The buckles are also way harder to install than I thought. There is a diagram on the website, but I feel like a video or picture tutorial would have been more helpful. I ended up using photos of the shoes with the buckles installed as more of a guide than the actual tutorial.

Neither of those are really flaws of the shoes, just things I noticed.

My only real disappointment is how much the lining frays. The edges are topstitched to the interior of the leather, not folded inward. So there isn’t anything preventing it from fraying. And since the shoes are black the raw edges of ivory lining are quite obvious. I’m going to trim the frayed edges and finish them with glue, which isn’t a hard thing to do at all, but it would be nice if it wasn’t an issue.

Now for the wear test!

I wore these for around 2 hours during the photo taking process. They really are one of the most comfortable pairs of shoes I’ve ever worn, and the leather didn’t mark at all – even when walking through some rough terrain. The soles got super dinged up, especially around the edges, but I was expecting that.

I was walking through gravel, and on unpaved paths, so it’s understandable. But it was a very very short walk. I’m not sure how these would fair at reenactment events where you are more active on similar terrain, or even on a daily basis with textured asphalt.

(I’ll scrub the dirt off before putting them away!)

I did notice that one shoe creased quite a lot at the toe. I’m not bothered by this, but it’s kind of odd that it only happened to one of the shoes. It looks like I buckled this one a little tighter (though I could still get it on and off without unbuckling it…so I don’t think it was *too* tight) which might have been the cause.

Those are my thoughts! Visually I love them, and I’m very glad to have them. I don’t think they would be the best shoes for everyday use (I wasn’t expecting them to be), but I will really enjoy wearing them with other 18th century pieces. I think they are a nice finishing touch to the costume!

Most of the negative things I mentioned aren’t even negatives. They are things that happen when you wear shoes. They go on the ground. They wrinkle. I made peace with it before buying them. But I was curious how the more authentic materials would wear compared to plastic and rubber, which is why I mentioned it.

Now I’m eyeing up the red kensington and edwardian pumps…but those are a few paychecks away, at the very least!

That is it for this one! I should be back with more photos tomorrow, and maybe a video if I can get it done in time.

Thanks for reading!

Fabric Haul & Shopping Adventures

This post was supposed to be a simple fabric haul…but then I got a bit chatty. And I wanted to include some shop reviews and photos from my recent trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. So it’s some sort of shopping adventure/review/haul hybrid.

And unlike most of my hauls, the majority of these material weren’t purchased in NYC! Most of them are from shops near Lancaster Pennsylvania, then I picked up some matching fabrics to pair with them in the garment district.

The first shop I visited in PA was Fabric Mart. I had heard of this shop before since they have a pretty well known website, but it wasn’t until I researched fabric stores near Lancaster that I realized they have a brick and mortar shop as well!

This store didn’t look too promising from the exterior…and the inside wasn’t that inspiring either. Since the store is made up of three rooms, and it isn’t immediately clear that the back rooms are open to customers, it looks quite small when you first walk in. It also wasn’t as densely stocked as a store like Jo-anns, so I was a bit concerned I wouldn’t find anything.

But once I started browsing I was a lot more impressed. They don’t have a ton of fabric, but they have a good variety of materials and relatively unique fabrics – especially when it came to silk. Lots of patterns and designs I’d never seen before, even in places with far more options like the Garment District.

It wouldn’t be the best shop to go to if you were looking for something specific, but I was just there to find pretty fabrics and it was definitely a good shop for that.

However It wasn’t my favorite shopping experience. None of the fabrics were priced – they didn’t even have paper signs to give you some idea of the price range. And none of the employees I spoke to knew prices offhand. Instead you had to go to their website and type in the fabrics item number. I used data on my phone for this, but if you didn’t have a smart phone you’re dependent on a single computer in the center of the store. Even with the phone it was a pain since I was constantly forgetting the prices of each fabric, and some bolts didn’t have any item numbers visible.

They also handle customer service (a team of several people behind desks) for the website in the same room you shop in – which I understand due space limitations, but I felt really awkward and like I was in peoples way.

But I would go back if I was in the area! And I’ll considering ordering from them online in the future, since I did like the selection and uniqueness of their stock.

Now onto what I bought…

The first fabric is from their dollar a yard section. It’s a light pink polyester satin covered with bright pink roses. I absolutely adore this fabric and the style of the print reminds me of how flowers were painted in the 1700’s. Which is why I want to use it for an 18th century robe a la francaise – something i’ve been wanting to make for ages.

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I don’t think the print is accurate for that period, and i’m not sure how well the fabric will pleat, but I think it’s worth a try. I got eleven yards of it, and as I said it was from the dollar section, so the whole bolt only cost me $11!

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Then I picked up a coordinating fabric in the garment district. This will be used for trims and potentially the petticoat. I ended up finding this material at Zahar fabrics, which is one of my favorites since they have a bit of everything and good prices.

However I wasn’t expecting to find this there. I went there to look at chiffon, but on my way to the chiffon section I saw this beautiful silk dupioni, which matches the floral satin — perfectly. Which is fantastic since I needed a warm (almost coral) pink which I thought would be difficult to find.

In addition to being the right color, It has a lovely sheen to it and drapes beautifully. Though the slub is more intense than I usually like, it’s very consistent throughout the fabric so they don’t look like random snags.

I’d budgeted forty dollars for this fabric, which I expected to get me four yards. But I ended up getting five and a half yards for that price, since that was all that was left on the roll!

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The next purchase from Fabric Mart is a mesh embroidered lace. This was from the home decor fabric and on sale for four dollars a yard. I ended up purchasing two yards, and I think it will look beautiful as the trim for an Edwardian gown.

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The threads used on this lace are almost metallic, which gives it a lot of life. I actually have some purple chiffon that matches this, so hopefully I can figure out a design that pairs these two materials together.

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From the silk section (which I spend ages staring at) I bought a yard of this lightweight beige silk. The base fabric has a lovely subtle sheen to it, but it was the metallic stripes that won me over. They have the most beautiful shine to them, it’s so pretty. I think this would make lovely sleeves for a historical dress – maybe paired with a gold or navy brocade.

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And my final purchase there was this silk shantung which has black velvet flocked designs all over it. I can’t even put into words how much I love this fabric, it’s so striking, i’ve never seen anything like it.

It was the most expensive fabric i’ve ever bought (not including beaded lace) but even the price couldn’t deter me, i’m that in love with it. I’m not sure what i’ll use this for, but I bought two yards which should be enough for something neat!

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To go along with that I bought three yards of black micro velvet in the garment district. I love the contrast of these two fabrics together, and I can’t wait to use them. I just have to think of an idea first…

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The next shop I went to is called Goodvile Fabric Outlet/ Zinck’s Fabric – they recently combined and can be found under both names. This store was an experience, truly unlike any other fabric shop i’ve been to. The store is actually a giant warehouse. The front room is carpeted and looks like a normal quilt shop, but the rest of the space is filled with hundreds of pallets of apparel and upholstery fabric.

So.

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Much.Fabric Haul mid 2016-8280Fabric.

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A lot of it was very poor quality – in the whole store I found less than a dozen fabrics I really wanted, but seeing that quantity of fabric was incredible. And it was all really cheap. The flat cuts shown above were a dollar a yard, as were many by the bolt fabrics.

I picked up two of the flat cuts from the home decor section (the only ones soft enough for apparel use) but they didn’t photograph well so I haven’t included photos in this post. I also got a twenty five yard bolt of white organza for twelve bucks, which I was pretty happy with since i’ve wanted to make an organza petticoat for a while.

My by-the-yard purchases included six yards of this bright plaid cotton. This fabric is very fine and very soft and I thought the bright print would make it good for something out of the 1830s – it’s been too long since I paired massive sleeves with a pleated collar!

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From the same section I got a light brown and white plaid fabric. This is very lightweight as well, but has more drape to it, like a medium weight rayon. It feels very nice to the touch and I thought it would make a pretty dress from the early 1800s as well – maybe something regency inspired? This fabric, and the bright plaid were both four dollars a yard.

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I also bought a flat cut of a cotton homespun – I think these were two dollars a yard once discounts were factored in. This piece is almost six yards long and has a very small green and beige checked print. I think the color drew me to this one, I love green and it’s rare for me to see an apparel fabric I like in that color so I snatched it up!

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This shop had a limited suiting section, but what they did have were stunning. Very soft lightweight wool suitings – and only three dollars a yard! The first one I got is a medium brown with small blue and pink stripes.

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And the second one is black and white chevron. I bought these both for suits based on designs from the early 1900s. Tailoring is something I want to get better at, and these are light enough for the menswear inspired dresses that were popular towards the end of the Edwardian period.

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The final fabric from this shop is a polyester satin charmeuse – not usually a fabric I go for, since it tends to look quite inexpensive, but this one has a really nice sheen to it.

I had hoped this would match the lace I purchased from Fabric Mart but it’s a little bit too light – i’ll see if I can make it work, otherwise it’ll go in my pile of mock up fabrics!

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Oh and I bought some buttons too – these were 80c each and I thought they would be handy to have around since I don’t have many small, simple buttons.

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The next store I visited is called The Lace Place. It was a slight struggle to get an appointment here, but i’m glad we did! The store was a lot larger and had a lot more stock than I was expecting. It’s set up a lot like the stores in the Garment District, which is interesting to see in such a rural area – we drove past miles of corn fields and cows to get here!

This shop had a great selection of nylon and colored lace. I found the cotton lace a bit stiff, and the selection of venice and embroidered lace lacking, so I didn’t get many of those. But i’ve never seen this many colorful trims in one place – and in every small pattern imaginable!

The store owner was very nice, and the prices on the narrow trims were very reasonable and well marked. The only negative I can really say is that the checkout and cutting process was slow (especially for fabrics) so I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re tight on time. But if you like lace and you’re nearby it’s definitely worth stopping at!

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My main purchase here was eleven yards of white netting that has gold spots woven into it. I bought this because I thought it resembled the material on Sisi’s star gown. The spots are too close together for it to be used for a replica, but it should work for something similar. Either on its own or as a base for sequins. This was four dollars a yard but twenty five percent off since I bought more than ten yards.

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On top of that I got quite a bit of lace, including three white cotton trims, five small off white ones, and a beautiful embroidered organza one. A lot of these are similar to trims I already own, but most of my trim collection is made up of vintage items which so some signs of age, and it’s nice to have some that you know are unblemished!

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An interesting pin tucked cotton trim that I thought would look neat on a corset, a white pin tucked organza that I thought looked cool, and a beautiful alencon beige lace – I can’t wait to embellish this and use it to trim the sleeves of an evening gown, it’ll look stunning.

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And some colorful trims to help build my collection. I thought these might work for lace inset work as well. And the yellow ribbon lace is to top off a corset that I finished recently – it matches much better than what I found at Jo-anns.

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From the same store I got three grab bags, which were a dollar fifty each. These were such a steal, all of them have a couple lengths of lace that are three to five yards long, along with many pieces that are half that length. It had a lot of fun opening these up and organizing the trims I got. Definitely worth the money, and a joy to look through.

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And now back to the fabric shopping. The final store I visited is called Zooks. It mostly sells quilting fabrics but I did find a few things that would work for my costumes.

The first of which is this plaid orange cotton homespun. I liked the color of this, it made me happy, and the price made me happy too – it was two dollars a yard with an additional twenty percent off. I got all the had left (a little over seven yards) and plan on using this for an 1840’s day dress.

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From the small apparel section I got two yards of a silky feeling dimpled orange fabric. This matches the homespun material perfectly (for some reason that fabric looks more red in photos) and  has a really interesting texture. Hopefully i’ll be able to pair them together.

And I also got three yards of a green striped fabric, which has an interesting texture as well. And once again I purchased this to go with the lace I purchased in the first store – it isn’t a great match, but I think I might be able to get it to work

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From a different quilt shop (I forget the name) I got some embroidery floss, since it was reduced down to four for a dollar. I bought some greens and oranges which I can hopefully turn into some sort of floral sampler. Embroidery is one of those things I really want to improve at but keep putting off learning more about.

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The final few things I got were from the venders section of a quilt show. My first purchase was this magnificent quilting cotton which has unicorns on it. Unicorns are one of my favorite things, and seeing that combined with fabric was wonderful.

I got a yard and a third of this, and I plan on using it to re-cover my ironing board. I think it will look adorable with unicorns running across the bottom!

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I also got a pair of support gloves for my wrists. My wrists are pretty good considering how much time I spend sewing and on my computer, but they do have bad days. I didn’t have super high expectations for these, but I was willing to give them a try. And I’m really glad I did, because I notice a huge difference when I wear them.

I put them on if my wrists are feeling sore and they alleviate the pain by around ninety percent. Which means I don’t have to slow down or take breaks, which I definitely appreciate. I’m not sure that these would work for everyone, or if you have more severe pain, but i’ve been really impressed with them!

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I also bought a wallet, which is a bit silly but very…me. It’s pale blue and has a vintage singer sewing machine on one side, and crossed crane scissors on the other. I justified this because it’s more secure than my previous wallet, and smaller so it fits in my purse better. But I think you can get better wallets for the price, I just fell for it because it’s sewing related.

But I don’t regret it at all because look! So pretty.

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And the final thing I got in PA were buttons. A lot of buttons. There was an antique shop selling a box of buttons for fifteen dollars, and a scoop of buttons for three dollars, with twenty percent off everything.

These are metal buttons which I think are new old stock. They say “Waterbury company” on the side, which is a local button manufacturer who has been providing buttons to the US military for almost a hundred years. I got a box of big ones and two scoops of small ones – all of which totaled seventeen bucks.

Not sure what they will be used for, but I figure I could always sell them on etsy and make my money back.

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Now onto my NYC fabric shopping adventures. The main point of this trip was the see the Manus x Machina exhibit at the Met. But it doubled as a fabric adventure, and a very successful one at that. My list for this trip was relatively small so I could really focus on finding the materials I was interested in. I managed to find everything I wanted so I was very happy!

The first thing I needed was some fabric to match a plaid fabric I ordered online a while back. This is a very bold print so I needed something to break it up. Luckily I found a matching cotton sateen in Hamed Fabrics, and it was only five bucks a yard.

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Then I went to Diana’s fabric, and I was on the hunt for something specific. Last time I was there I fell in love with a blue and white striped taffeta but decided it looked too nautical and that i’d already spent enough money that day. And I’ve regretted not getting it for months. I went back this time with hopes they would have some left.

When I first walked in I was concerned, because all the bolts of striped taffeta were gone. But I had a brought a swatch with me and asked the owner if they had it hidden anywhere. Apparently it was in storage, but they sent someone to fetch it and in a few minutes I was reunited with this beauty.

I recalled this fabric being priced at fifteen dollars a yard, and I needed at least seven yards. I had hoped to talk them down to twelve dollars a yard, but by some miracle I got it for ten dollars a yard. Which is an absolute steal in my opinion – it’s fifty four inches wide and has a beautiful texture and sheen to it.

My plan for this is to make a matching skirt and polonaise that plays with the print of the fabric. I also have a striped organza from a previous trip that I want to use as trimming for this dress, I think that would look very cute!

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While I waited for them to find that fabric I looked at their solid silk taffetas and shantungs. I had hoped to find one in a bright color or jewel tone, something that would work well for an 1890’s day dress. I attempted to make one of these earlier in the year, and though I did finish it, I despise the end result. The fit, the design, the fabric, the length, it’s all bad!

I want to take what i’ve learned from that project and apply it to a new, much nicer dress, that has the same inspiration behind it. And this time around I wanted to use a fabric that drapes nicer than polyester taffeta.

They didn’t have too many colors that interested me, but this bright orangey yellow caught my eye.

I was hesitant about this fabric since it’s different then the colors I usually go for, but I didn’t want to let that stop me, and once the fabric was rolled out and I handled it I couldn’t resist. It’s so crisp but soft and light in a way polyester taffeta isn’t. I’m so incredibly excited to work with this and give this project another shot!

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And my final two purchases are for an 1880’s evening gown. I already have the main fabrics for this (a jacquard and beige taffeta that have been in my stash for years) but wanted something softer for ruffles around the neckline and skirt. I had hoped to find a chiffon, but they didn’t have any in the right color. However I did find a very pretty satin faced chiffon that matched, so I bought that.

At this point the only thing left on my list was a lace fabric for this project. I finally stumbled upon this one in a shop i’m not super familiar with. It was more than I wanted to spend (fifty dollars a yard!) and since I only needed a half yard I couldn’t negotiate a better price. But since I couldn’t find anything else that matched, I decided to get it. And I don’t regret it – it’s truly stunning and matches perfectly.

Fabric Haul mid 2016-8334 And that’s it for fabric shopping but I wanted to share my thoughts on the Met exhibit – i’ll try to keep this short since i’m sure there are far better summaries and photos of this out there!

 I found the exhibit a lot more interesting than I expected. I think the write up on the website is a bit misleading – I thought it would be focusing more on machine made garments, but it was all about the hand sewn details and variety of textures.

There were dozens of beautiful fully sequined dresses, some made fully from feathers, and others that were entirely lace. Though I didn’t like all the dresses (there were some collapsable dresses by a Japanese designer that seemed really out of place, and some “deconstructed” ones that were just…awful, in my opinion) I was really impressed by the majority of them.

The dresses on the left were some of my favorites since they remind me a lot of the dresses the stepsisters wear in the Cinderella live action film.

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And of course I managed to fixate on one of the oldest dresses they had – this 1920’s gown was beautiful. I’ve actually pinned photos of it on pinterest before, so seeing it in person was a treat. I love how heavily embellished it is while still being very light and airy. Plus the ribbon embroidery was beautiful – it makes me want to learn how to do that!

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I also loved seeing the vintage Dior dresses – of which there were probably twenty. I think they are a benefactor for the museum, which probably had to do with their prominence in the exhibit. But I didn’t mind because they were all stunning!

However out of all the dresses, the one that really stuck out is this Givenchy dress. If you’ve been around for a while you may remember my weird idea of making a vulture inspired costume. I purchased the fabrics for it but never settled on a design I was happy with, so it never came to life yet. However this gave me major inspiration! I love how the bodice looks like armor, but it has the softness of fabric. It gives me lots of ideas, which is more than I can say for the others.

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And I think that’s everything I have to say. It’s definitely worth visiting if you appreciate embellishment and pretty dresses!

Thanks for reading!

Uniquely You Dress Form Review & Comparison

Sorry for the lack of posting this week, I came down with a cold and spent the last few days under a heap of snotty tissues. But today i’m feeling much better, so I decided to write up something that is long overdue – a dress form review. I recently made the cover for my Uniquely You dress form and thought it would be a fun thing to post about/review!

A Uniquely You dress form is a body form made from soft foam. When you buy one you also purchase a cover, which you alter to tightly fit your body. When the cover is put over the foam it conforms to the shape of the cover and you have a body double! Or that’s the claim.

Since it is made from foam and cotton it is a pinnable form. You do not have to worry about stiff plastic (adjustable forms) or sticky pins (tape forms). It’s also pretty affordable as far as dress forms go, the total cost was under $200 which is half the cost of a professional form.

The major appeal to me was the flexibility of the foam. Since it squishes (similar to how a body does) you can dress it in foundation garments and it will change shape. Then you can fit and drape overtop of tudor bodies, stays, or corsets, which is really great!

Overall I have mixed feelings, which I will go over in this post. This will also show the process of fitting the cover, and at the end i’ll compare it to my other dress form.

I bought a dress form in the size “Small” and a cover in the size “4” from this site.

Here is the size chart from the website. My measurements are 38″ (bust) 28″ (waist) 38″ (hips). I feel like I made the right decision size wise, but the dress form is at least two inches larger than the maximum listed size and will not compress to the smallest listed size.

I used a measuring tape and pulled as tightly as I possibly could and the form would not go below twenty six inches in the waist and thirty five inches in the bust.

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The form itself arrived in a big box and seemed to be in good shape!

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tumblr_nh7m8r8Q6U1qlijqyo2_1280In addition to the form, I also found a metal stand, cotton cover, and instructions in the box. There are very detailed instructions on how to fit the cover which I ended up ignoring completely. I didn’t use their fitting method, nor did I use the help of someone else…oops

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 This is the cover inside out – it has large seam allowances that range from 3/4″ to 1″ depending on the location.

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 And right side out.

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My first attempt at trying the cover on didn’t go so well. I’m pretty sure it’s made for someone who has 32″ hips because there was a good six inches of gaping between my waist and hem, with no hope of zipping it closed! But I had prepared myself for this before purchasing and was fully expecting to add gussets at the hips.

If I ignored the fact my rear was hanging out, the fit was really pretty good. That is why I chose to ignore the instructions, I felt all the steps were unnecessary when it already fit quite well.

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 I ripped out the side seams (from the waist down) and started fitting it by pinning the bust seams, underbust, and waist.

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 I found leaving the hips unfitted during this process really annoying. So I removed the side back seams from the waist down. I tapered the ends into the waist but let both seams out by a good inch, leaving me with 1/4″ seams on each side. I put the cover on again and pinned the side seams all the way down to the hem.

I managed to get six inches out of the four seams, which meant I didn’t need to add gussets! Yay!

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I was pleased with that, so I used chalk to draw the new side seam, then removed the pins and sewed up the sides.

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With the side seams fitted I continued on! The bust seams got taken in and I lowered the waistline. The final step was taking in the shoulders by a quarter inch.

That finished the cover – I was really pleased with it! Especially because I didn’t follow the instructions. It only took two hours and I managed to do all the pinning/fitting without help.

But the process was far from over. I decided to carve down the foam at waist because I wanted to use corsets on this form that cinch down to twenty four inches. I also carved down the bust.

I wasn’t using a very sharp knife so it’s a bit…lumpy haha, but good enough!

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Getting the cover onto the form requires three hands, two to pull the edges together and another to pull the zipper down. But with two people it ended up being pretty easy, even though there was a lot of tension. Unfortunately I still wasn’t done.

The form had my measurements, which is good. On the not so good side, the bust was way too big. Instead of the cover pushing them up/in, it spread the bust out and pushed them down. So it wasn’t very similar to my shape at all.

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I removed the cover and trimmed a lot more foam…still not quite right, and much lumpier, but it’ll have to do!

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Here is the finished form. I’m happy with how it turned out considering the issues with the forms shape, but it isn’t the most brilliant thing ever.

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I also wanted to show that the Uniquely You dress form has a very wide front silhouette and a slim profile. Unless you pad the form, there is no way to change this. For example, my other dress form (on right) has the same waist measurement but looks much larger from side, and smaller from the front.

Because the Uniquely You dress form has a completely flat front, AND the foam doesn’t redistribute itself (it just presses inwards at the sides) there is no way to change this without adding padding to the front. If this matches your shape that’s great, but it doesn’t match mine!

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Overall Thoughts: I think there are some major flaws with the design. The form you receive is a block with boobs, seriously. It’s a rectangle with giant breasts. There isn’t anything wrong with that shape, but it isn’t a shape most people have. And it’s very difficult to compress the form into a shape other than the one it naturally has. It’ll take some carving to create a prominent waist or smaller bust, even if the form cover fits you correctly.

Because of that I would not recommend this form to people who are curvy below the waist. If you have a smaller waist, bigger hips, or a small bust it isn’t going to work for you right out of the box…at least it didn’t for me! Which sort of defeats the purpose of having a flexible form.

I also wouldn’t recommend it to people who have a larger profile (or carry any weight in your stomach) because the flat front doesn’t lend itself well to that.

It also will not squish down to the smallest size they advertise. Which I think is pretty terrible, the size chart needs some updating in my opinion!

And the stand is really terrible, the form doesn’t stay up and after fiddling with it for a few minutes the plastic ring cracked.

On the positive! This is a really neat idea. It will definitely work for the reason I purchased it, since I can layer stays and other foundation garments over it. Having a form with a historically accurate shape will be incredibly useful for drafting and fitting a couple future projects, as well as displaying them.

However I do not feel this is an accurate double of my body, and I don’t think it’s a good stand in for a professional dress form. Unless you will be changing the shape of the form (with foundation garments) I think you are better off buying a hard foam form and padding it to your shape.

How does it compare to my other dress form?: My other dress form is a display form, which I purchased from here. It’s made from hard foam and has a cotton jersey cover. It shipped really quickly, is cheaper, and has a much stronger/better build than the Uniquely You form.

Since it is a display form it doesn’t have a prominent bust or butt, nor does it have natural looking curves. It takes padding to get the shape more accurate to a human body.

I’ve had this form for over two years, and I love it. It matches my measurements pretty well and is really easy to drape on. It isn’t the quality of a professional form, but it’s worked out really well for me and my needs.

It has a very different function than the Uniquely You form, so i’m glad I have both. But if I had to pick one, I would go for the display form!

Other dress form options: (I have no personal experience with) 

Duct Tape Forms

3D Printed Forms

Professional Forms

Adjustable Forms (hard shelled) 

Thanks for reading! A “The making of” post should be up at the start of next week!

Fabric.com Review Continued – Fabric Haul

My two boxes from Fabric.com arrived a while ago, so I can finally write the second part of this review! The first part was very negative and talked about my experiences with customer service, and the actual ordering process from Fabric.com. This will be a proper review of some of the products and surprisingly, it will be positive.

I made two orders from Fabric.com. Order one was placed on March second, shipped out on March fifth, and arrived on March Tenth. Order two was made on March fifth, shipped out on March tenth, and arrived on March twelfth. They have slow processing times, but the shipping was super speedy.

This is what my orders looked like – I got over thirty yards of material for a bit more then one hundred dollars.

I took advantage of some really amazing sales, unfortunately most of them are no longer available. I’m not sure if the low prices were a fluke, but now all of these are only 20% off instead of half price.

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My order arrived in two boxes – the first weighed thirteen pounds!

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The second one was only seven pounds, much less impressive, but my dog found it interesting.

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The fabric that originally tempted me into ordering was the cornhusk colored twill – well I originally ordered shantung, it was out of stock, had to reorder it in twill.

For some reason I thought this fabric would match some other material I had.  I’m not sure why I was so confident about that, since the photo on the site is much darker then the material I wanted it to match.

But I bought seven yards of it.

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And in person it looks like this.

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To be honest it looks nothing like the photo. It matches the name though – it’s a beige-y yellow that looks like a dried cornhusk. The material itself is a decent weight twill, with a really nice sheen to it.

(Though not as nice in texture as cotton sateen, it does look similar to it.)

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And by some miracle – it matches my other fabric perfectly!

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I bought five yards of the twill in pink too. I regretted this right after the order went through because I realized I would probably end up with a pile of pepto bismol like fabric (blush probably means hot pink by fabric.com standards).

I bought five yards – I figured it would make a nice early 1900’s dress, and if it was awful, I could use it to construct a giant ruffly petticoat.

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Like the cornhusk material, it’s very different in color then the online photos – but it’s really pretty too! It’s  not the peach color I had hoped it would be, but It’s a lovely cool toned light pink, which manages to look bright and cheery but not overwhelming.

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Again it has the twill texture and a nice sheen to it. After I took this out of the package I found myself regretting that I didn’t buy more.

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….

 I was kind of clueless what this would be like (it’s suggested to be used to make window sheers and lingerie) I thought it may be sheer like chiffon but I wasn’t sure. I purchased it mostly because I liked the color, it’s really different from the colors I usually go for, and more interesting then ivory.

(I always use ivory as an accent color, if you hadn’t noticed)

I bought three yards of this.

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It’s not sheer, at all. I’d describe the appearance as a double sided satin with a little less sheen. But it feels like silk – so soft and pretty.

DSC_5075The color is a little different, instead of being brown toned, it’s more of a greenish colored khaki. I really dislike the color, but it does feel and look really nice – sadly it will probably end up as lining material.

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Moving on to the final fabric from the “Crestmont” series. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect form this one either, but the color drew me in. It was cheap and in my favorite shade of dark red, so I really couldn’t say no.

I bought six yards of this.

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In real life it’s more of a brick red then I had expected. I’m slightly disappointed but I still like the color a lot. The fabric itself feels quite nubby and flimsy, like really cheap polyester suiting .

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The print adds texture but is still relatively subtle. The fabric really does feel awful, but I think I can make something pretty out of it anyway. I’m not sure what yet, but it will be used eventually.

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I snagged some white shantung which i’m really happy about. It’s such an easy fabric to work with and I love the weight of it (stiff but not heavy – amazing for full length dresses) and although it’s not the traditional material, I picked this up with a chemise a la reine in mind.

I got five yards.

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It’s the stiffest shantung i’ve ever felt, so I wouldn’t consider it “very lightweight” nor would I use this for bedding or regular apparel. But it does look very nice! It’s a bright white with a pretty, subtle sheen.

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The slub is obvious up close, but not very visible from far away. Nice if you are like me and don’t care for large slub, not so nice if you are looking for an accurate “dupe” for silk shantung.

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….

This fabric was the one that frustrated me the most out of the bunch, since I can’t use it for anything really.

I bought it because when I saw it I instantly thought of pirates – and i’m a sucker for pirates.

Luckily I only wasted money on one yard, though.

Untitled3334The problem with this fabric is that [unlike the photo shown]  the pattern is situated vertically instead of horizontally. I guess this makes sense if you are purchasing it for drapery, since then you can have the length longer then 54″ without having a seam. But I went off of the photo and assumed it would be oriented horizontally, so I could make a skirt from it.

That isn’t the case, so it won’t really work for a skirt unless I want it to be quite short. I do like the fabric print a lot. It looks aged, almost like a map, and the ships and still reminds me of something piratey.

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It looks almost like burlap, but it feels like a very heavy linen.

I think I will eventually make a (grumble) shorter skirt out of it. But for now it’s tucked away. I’ll pull it out on a rainy day when i’m fed up with all my other projects.

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And the cotton backing mentioned in the description.

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I saved my favorite for last! This fabric is one I bought with something very specific in mind, so I had higher expectations then I did with the rest of the materials.

I bought five yards.

Untitled333The fabric feels like regular linen and the print looks like  an oil painting.

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I don’t see much teal in it – it’s more like a true porcelain blue in my opinion, but I guess other people may feel differently. Either way I really love the print, color, and texture of this fabric.

A year ago I probably would have thought this fabric was hideous – funny how tastes change.

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So that was that! I’m happy with almost everything I got. As usual the photos aren’t very accurate to what you end up with, but this time around I wasn’t too bothered by the differences.

Make of this what you will – but in my experiences fabric quality varies a lot. The photos and product descriptions [usually] aren’t super accurate, so you can’t really be sure what you’re getting unless you buy a swatch first.

Customer service is pretty awful – there has always been something wrong with every order I have made, and the fabric.com staff has never done anything to help resolve the issues – even when they are responsible for them.

I’ve been really frustrated with them many times, and I bet I will be frustrated with them again in the future. Fabric.com is NOT the first place I go for material, it never will be, but I do enjoy taking advantage or the amazing sales they occasionally put out.

Sleeve post should be up tomorrow! Sorry for the delay, my brother and father have been home all week so its been a bit chaotic – I haven’t had my quiet time in the morning blog.

My (negative) experiences with Fabric.com

This is part one of a two part “review” of sorts on the website Fabric.com. This part isn’t even a review, it’s more of a rant talking about my dreadful experiences with this company, the dumb policies, and the terrible customer service. Part two will be an actual review of my most recent order (which hasn’t arrived yet) comparing product descriptions and photos to the actual material.

Warning – this is very long, and very negative.

As far as I can tell, this isn’t a company that cares at all about their customers. They don’t seem to make any effort to accurately describe the things they sell, and at least in my personal experience, complaints have been ignored rather then discussed and dealt with.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the site, Fabric.com is a website that sells fabric as well as notions, patterns, and even a few sewing machines. The website has a huge variety of fabrics that range from apparel, home decor, quilting, and upholstery. They have free shipping to the US if you order over $35, and I believe they ship worldwide.

Like with most stores, online or otherwise, the prices and quality vary a lot from product to product. In the case of Fabric.com the photos can be misleading, the descriptions aren’t very accurate, and you never really know what you’re going to get until it arrives.

The website is oddly designed and makes it difficult to view fabrics. The materials are sorted by designer – there is no “view all” option so finding something as simple as ‘white organza’ or ‘black jersey’ can be a challenge. You can use the search feature, but some of the items are oddly titled and won’t show up.

The “sort by price” feature isn’t very handy since it doesn’t take into account sale prices. A fabric that is regularly $20 but on sale for $5 will be listed with the $20+ materials instead of the $4.99-$9.99 ones, which makes it really tricky if you are browsing for items in a certain price range.  In addition to that, the website isn’t updated very often, even if an item is listed as “in stock : 340” units, they may be completely out.

But my main problem with this company stems with customer service, or the lack there of.

Experiences with Customer service: 

In my most recent order I snagged twenty seven yards of fabric for under ninety dollars. I was thrilled and really excited to get my new materials. I got an automated receipt emailed to me after ordering…but then forty eight hours passed and my order was still listed as “pending” on the site, which was my first hint that something was wrong.

Three days after making my order, I received an automated email saying one of my items was out of stock. I ordered seven yards of the material, and at the time I purchased it the website said over a hundred yards were in stock. rage I was really annoyed – I would say i’m fairly understanding things like this as long as i’m informed as soon as possible and they make an effort to solve the problem. Fabric.com does neither of those things.

And strangely, when I checked the website today the fabric was STILL listed as having 55 units in stock – this is over five days after I made my order that they couldn’t fulfill.

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  I replied requesting they ship the remaining pieces of my order, and for them to offer a coupon or voucher for my next order. Since they do not under ANY circumstances offer exchanges I had to make a separate order to replace the out of stock material, which would total $20 – meaning I have to pay shipping on it.

Twenty four hours later I received a shipping notice for my order. They didn’t reply to my email or request. My mother ended up calling them and they frankly stated that the policy is free shipping if you spend over $35, and under no circumstances would they change that.

I think that’s pretty terrible. It’s their fault I have to make a separate order, but they won’t even consider doing anything about the situation.

This seems especially bad compared to my recent experience with OnlineFabricStore.net. A few weeks ago I made a small order from them that they were unable to fulfill, and within twelve hours they called and sent me an email saying this:better For one thing, it isn’t an automated message, and each customer service staff member has a separate email so you are always dealing with the same person. I was informed quickly, and when I sent a reply asking about being refunded for the stock they couldn’t ship I received a reply within fifteen minutes.  My order was shipped out an hour later and they only charged me for seven yards as opposed to the seven and a half yards I received.

Good job OnlineFabricStore.net

Back to Fabric.com – Here are a few other experiences I’ve had with them.

Order #1:  My first ever order was in March of last year. I had just attended Katsucon and was looking to take on another big project. Fabric.com happened to be having a sale on taffeta, I don’t recall the price but I think it was around $2 a yard, and tulle was on sale too. I made a large order of over thirty yards of material that totaled $70. At the time I ordered twenty five yards of red taffeta, and on the website they listed over three hundred yards in stock. I received the typical conformation email/receipt. Then my order processed for three days before I received an automated email saying this: angurr I asked if they would even consider an exchange, since I could use pink taffeta instead or red. I was told no – I would have to make a separate order. By this point the sale was no longer on (since it took them so long to inform me) so I would have to pay full price. I told them to cancel the order and never received a response. Three days later the order was marked as “canceled” on the website. I sent them an email asking about how the refund details would work and, big surprise, I never got a response.

Order #2:  This was a much larger order! I made this right before new years so there were a lot of sales going on. This order was over a hundred dollars, and included almost thirty yards of material. The order was shipped quickly without any issues, but when it arrived there were some serious problems with a few of the materials.

The taffeta felt like it was better suited for a construction tarp then a dress, the jacquard listed as “medium weight” was thicker then heavy canvas and the chiffon that was labeled as “ivory” was actually orange AND stained. The image below shows two products labeled as “Ivory Chiffon” the top one is from Fabric.com and the lower one is from a shop in NYC.

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(on the bright side, it’s two tone, so it varies from orange to more orange)

I wrote them an email saying I was not happy with the chiffon – I included photos of the fabric which was clearly much darker then the photos they provided, as well as pictures of the stains. I received no response. I sent them a message through the customer support on the website and didn’t get a response. The fabric was still usable and had only cost $14 so I gave up attempting to contact them.

,,,

Reviews: 

Moving on to reviews! I decided to at least attempt to inform other people who might use the website that some of the materials aren’t the best. I have written several reviews for Fabric.com, a few were positive, but most of them were negative. All the reviews were within their guidelines. Though some of them were clearly negative, none of them were nasty or rude.

I pointed out that the fabrics were different then the photos/descriptions and that I wouldn’t recommend them for certain things. Strangely enough, all my Two star and below reviews have been declined and never posted to the website. My positive review, sent in at the same time, was accepted.

Conclusion:

As much as I hate to say it – I would order from this site again.  I only purchase from Fabric.com when the deals are too good to pass up – like when they have items marked down to clearance prices, some of which are 80% off. Despite all the frustrations with them, six yards of fabric for $10 is pretty irresistible.

In the end I have gotten  great deals through this website, i’ve gotten good fabric, and I have been happy with some of my purchases. But I’ve also had such frustrating experiences with what they call “customer service”. I’ve wasted money on fabrics that weren’t at all as described, I’ve had to pay extra shipping costs due to their negligence, and i’ve written realistic reviews about their products that have been deleted!

So I wouldn’t say “Do not under any circumstance order from this site” but I would suggest you keep all of this in mind if you are planning on purchasing their products. Especially if you want to make a large order of a single item, because if it arrives and isn’t what you want, there isn’t a chance in hell you will get your money back.

Thanks for reading…sorry for the bit of negativity but I really wanted to put this out there!

Tomorrow I will have another “The Making of” post up, followed by a “Stay Study” post on Monday!