Where I Buy Fabric

June 10th, 2016 - 

Textile Center Garage Sale

I can’t remember how or when I learned about the Textile Center’s annual garage sale, I just know the knowledge has been life changing. Basically, I can stock up on awesome patterns (new and vintage) and fabric to last me the whole year.

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The sale includes donated fabric, yarn, patterns, and machines for sewing, knitting, and weaving. (And there’s a lot of it.)

2016 was the first year I donated to the sale, mostly patterns and fabric, and it’s also the first year I paid to attend the the preview night. Not something I’ll do again, most likely, but there was free nachos and a DJ so that was nice.

Mostly, on the preview day, you’re confronted with so much, for someone with my approach to shopping—AKA “JUST GRAB IT”—it was not a great benefit to be there with so much available. Basically, I ended up with a HUGE pile of fabric and patterns and had to really reason with myself on how much I should spend on, ostensibly, my back up stash.

Some examples of my Textile Center Garage Sale fabric finds:

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I also won an auction on a knitting machine in 2015, but I still haven’t taught myself how to use it!

SR Harris

This is my fabric home. I kind of live at SR Harris. It’s the best in town, IMHO.

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All of the fabric is 50% off, so usually $3-6 for most of the things I buy. I’ve bought a few higher end items too, usually designer or name brand wool coating and such.

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I just love the variety, and the experience of snooping through the reams of fabric  to find something perfect to stash or use for a specific project. This is where I bought the pink shantung for my wedding dress, among other things.

They have a new second location in the south suburbs, but I still prefer their northern location tremendously. It’s one of my top favorite places in the world, probably.

Hancock Fabrics

The nearest fabric store to my house is Hancock Fabrics, so I’m there a lot for pattern sales, fabric remnants, and discounted fabrics.

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This coat is basically a Hancock Fabrics production. From the woven houndstooth material, to the fleece binding and exposed zippers, and even the pattern it’s based on (Butterick 6255).

I used to go there a lot (too much???) but hadn’t been in months because, since the baby, I haven’t really been sewing.

I dropped by last week and learned they are going out of business! All of them! Every Hancock Fabrics is closing across the country, reportedly due to financial mismanagement. I can’t even believe it.

Vogue Fabrics

This is an online fabric retailer. I’ve bought mostly from their clearance section, multiple yards of cute synthetic fabrics to use when trying out new patterns.

Some examples:

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Other

I try not to shop at Jo-Ann, except from their remnant bin. They don’t have many good items for garment making in my opinion. Otherwise, I like to visit fabric stores in other cities when I’m visiting. LA had some of the best shops, for sure, but I’ve also bought fabric in Nashville and Austin, that I can remember.

I do like Crafty Planet in Minneapolis, but, despite how cute their fabrics are, they’re better suited for quilters and crafters and not exactly what I want as a garment-maker. So I don’t stop in that often.

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Simplicity 1609 #1

November 4th, 2013 - 

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At some point I got the idea in my head that I really needed to wear Simplicity 1609 at my bachelorette party. Simply had to do it.

At the outset, I was clear on the pattern but not details of what the dress would look like.

Because the pattern is designed to be close-fitting, I really wanted a fabric with some give, so movement in the dress would be easy. I also wanted some flow to the dress, so adding in side ease was something I wanted to do as well.

Snooping at SR Harris, I found what I was looking for: a one-directional stretch knit in a fall color pallet.

I just love SR Harris. I think about not living near a discount fabric store at any point in my life and it sounds like such a downer. I never forget how lucky I am to have so many garment fabric options.

They also  have huge tubs of leather scrap, buckles, straps, and decorative cowl pieces, things I look at but don’t usually buy.

For this project though, I thought one of the cowl piece (lace applique) would be fun to use instead of making the scalloped Peter Pan collar, so I stocked up on a few possibilities and hoped one would work out.

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Very happy with my pick! I think it pairs nicely. Unfortunately, since I’d never bought one before, I learned after reading the receipt that they are $3 apiece. Probably buying 3 in one go with no plan was a mistake.

For this dress, I did make a muslin — two muslins.

I know, basically, that Simplicity is not sized like Vogue, since my earlier failed attempt at making a shirt for myself based on my commercial sizing. So, instead of cutting a size 14, which seems to be my commercial and Vogue size, I cut a size 20, going on bust measurements alone and hoping for the best. I think I will be better served next time by finding my shoulder measurement on the pattern and grading to the bust, but for now my wonky fixes seem to work.I know a lot of people hate that front seam, but I really found it useful for adjusting the fit. I took in about 2″ at the front center seam at the neck and graded it down to the bust, then let out the dress gradually from the waist to the hem for more ease. I took in the pattern from the top of the bust dart to the arm hole on both the front and back, and in back I took in the zip a little at the top and graded it out from “rear end” to hem. A lot of adjustments, but I’m very happy with the results. This could be my go-to shift dress pattern from now on.

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Photographed later in Hogsmead on my honeymoon.

I couldn’t find any “how to” guides online for applying the cowl, no matter how I looked.

Basically, I decided to approach it like lace. Which I’ve never done, but have read a lot about.I placed the detail over the dress front, pinned, sewed the shoulders with a zig-zag, and straight stitched the cowl along its U shape, closest to the neck. Then I cut away the underpart and left about 1/3″ — which I then edge serged, folded and pinned down, then straight stitched over through the cowl along its U shape farthest from the neck.

I used pre-made bias tape along the armholes beforehand, and used the same bias tape along the back of the neck hole after I applied the cowl.

At first I thought I would attach the applique with clear thread — but that was a mondo bust. It kept breaking and bunching and it’s very difficult to handle. In the end I machine sewed it to the fabric with matched Dual Duty XP Heavy thread I had in my stash. I thought it would be too visible, but it actually looks pretty nice. In the process, my machine did skip some stitches — some of which I ripped out and re-did — but what imperfections remain are a-okay with me.

Total cost: $13 fabric + $3 cowl + $2 pattern + $3 thread + $1 bias tape + $1 zipper + 14 hours

And how was the bachelorette party?

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I had a good time.

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They made me a sushi penis at Masu! AMAZEBALLZ.

I will absolutely be making this dress again, in a few different styles. I’m satisfied with this first make, but I’d like to revisit the pattern and use it to help me understand which shoulder size I should grade to in my next attempt at a Simplicity pattern.

I’d also like to make a few other shift style dresses to compare fit.

How To: Covered Headband

October 22nd, 2013 - 

I’m getting married on Saturday!

I’ve made my own dress, so I’ll post about that later.

When I bought the fabric at SR Harris I was brand new to sewing, so I had no idea how much to buy for a full-length gown. I was also concerned I would fail and have to re-make large portions — so I got 10 yards!! Still cheaper than buying a new dress, and more personal, but that’s a lot of fabric I have now to deal with.

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Which is why, when thinking about the kind of hair piece I wanted, I decided to cover a headband with my dress fabric and go all matchy-matchy. Here’s how I went about it:

  1. I found a hard plastic headband that was already covered. I wanted to see how “the professionals” did it. What I found was that most of the fabric had been glued in place. I decided I would sew mine instead.
  2. It was important that the headband not have teeth, it needed to be flat and smooth. The teeth wouldn’t do any good covered up by a silky fabric — it would have just been too bulky.
  3. I traced the headband on some paper (laid it flat and traced both sides while I rolled and stretched it along) and added .25″ seam allowance.
  4. I made a muslin and it was too small — .25″ seam allowance was not enough to account for the surface area along the edge of the headband.
  5. I cut one piece with a .25″ seam allowance (the underside) and one piece with a .375″ seam allowance (the top side) on the grainline (not on the bias).
  6. I matched the edges on one side and both ear pieces and machine stitched those areas with right sides facing using a .25″ seam allownace
  7. I trimmed down the seam allowance and snipped along the ear pieces, then turned it out, slipped the ear pieces of the headband into their holes — a nice tight fit!
  8. I stretched the top fabric around the headband to its underside, folded over the bottom fabric (trimmed it a bit first, maybe .25″ — due to stretch) and hand stitched it along the seam, using this method, making sure that the seam line fed along the bottom of the headband (not along the edge of the headband), and was hidden.
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  9. DONE! The “pretty” machine stitching will go in the front and the hand stitching in the back. An enamel flower tie clip (I think that’s what it is) will finish the look.
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Going in for my hair trial tonight!

UPDATE:
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Mash Up: Vogue 1289 + Simplicity 4070 #1

October 15th, 2013 - 

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This dress has the bodice of Simplicity 4070 and the skirt of Vogue 1289.

I’m incredibly happy with the results!

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This bodice uses boning and is a copy of what I’m using in my wedding dress. It sewed up very quickly because I didn’t have to do any fitting on the skirt or bodice since I had already sewn them before and was able to use my me-adjusted pattern pieces. (Well, the bodice I adjusted, the skirt was always just fine.)

The skirt fabric is a nice jersey that was “made in Germany” and therefore a little more expensive than fabric I usually buy at SR Harris — this was $7.50/yd when I usually buy at $4.50-6/yd — but I thought it was lovely and worth it. Adam totally hated the weird boxy print at first, but I still thought it had potential.

I used a black rigiline boning — .50/yard at SR Harris — sewed directly into the seam. I didn’t build a channel or anything. I just wanted this make to be easy-breezy.

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I still need to add a hook and eye to the top of the zipper.

The zipper I got at SR Harris for like $1 or whatever they charge, and it’s kind of unusual. It’s big, but the zipper teeth are hidden on the inside of the bodice. It’s not a perfect hidden zip though, because the teeth are still so large, so I think it’s meant to be exposed. I did just a little, but I think it’s interesting nonetheless.

The exterior of the bodice is a stretchy fabric I got as a Jo-Ann remnant years ago. The lining fabric is a silky black that I cut from a wrap I wore to a dance when I was a junior in High School. The wrap was just hanging out with my scarves, being useless. How is it I’ve been moving with a black wrap for 10+ years of my life? Why? Glad to finally do something with it.

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Here is something I might as well document: I needlessly raked part of my skirt through the knife of my serger just under the pleating on the side of the dress. So I hand stitched that together and you can barely tell. Could have been a real day ruiner, but thankfully it hides well within the print and drape.

What happened is, I sewed the skirt to the bodice before serging the edge of the jersey because I wasn’t sure the pattern pieces would fit together and I wanted to be able to stretch the jersey if necessary to fit with the bodice. Well, it actually fit pretty great, I didn’t need to stretch a thing. But now I’ve got a lot of unfinished jersey inside. I didn’t want to serge the bodice and skirt together for some reason, so I tried to serge just the skirt edge, after it was attached, despite the rigid bodice fighting against me. Anyway, in the struggle I lost focus and part of the dress caught. It’s not the worst, but if you look inside now I’ve got about 2″ of serged edges on the skirt and the rest unfinished. I’m not going to bother at this point. The jersey will likely curl, not fray. Maybe in round two.

Total Cost: $0 pattern + $15 fabric + $2 thread + 6 hours

I still can’t believe how easily and quickly this dress sewed up, and how nice it looks — probably my favorite make to date — it was a real bummer to add this imperfection, but what can you do.

Very excited to wear this on our honeymoon. Should be good in the heat!

McCall’s 6503 D + A #1

August 29th, 2013 - 

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This dress, more so than any other sewing project I’ve made (apart from my WIP wedding dress and the quilt I hand-stitched), has been the most time consuming thing EVER.

So much hand-sewing! Literally everything needed to be stay stitched or hand basted (waistband, placket and neckband, cuffs). Woof.

McCall’s 6503 is my first dress with a side zip though, which I think is pretty cool! This is also my first gathered skirt. I went that way instead of pleats. I did not care for the pleats.

I made a size 14 but had to grade to a larger waist. I probably should have shortened the bodice a bit.

This is probably not a great pattern for someone like me with a stomach, actually. It does a lot to accentuate the waist.

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That neckband stands up LIKE CRAZY. My ears barely sit above it. It’s like a shirt cave when I sit if I’m not super straight.

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I modified the cuffs from a different pattern which I thought would help tie the blue placket and rounded collar back into the dress. I used red buttons on the placket to draw more color from the plaid.

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My final opinion? It’s fine. It will be a cute swing dancing dress but otherwise it’s a bit too costume-y for me.

If I had to do it again, I’d make style A. Others online seem to have had more luck with that one. But I really don’t think a second round will be worth the effort.

I will continue to make McCall’s patterns because they are often on sale, but I’m really not happy about it. I have yet to find a slam dunk of a pattern by them that just really suits and fits me well.

This fabric I still think is really great though, just some lightweight cotton weave (I’m still not great at identifying fabrics). A lawn maybe?

I noticed it on my first SR Harris visit and couldn’t wait to find a project for it — $4.50 per yard after discount. I decided it could be a match for this dress, but I really struggled to figure out how the plaid should be expressed in the placket and neckband, so I decided those should be done in a different, flat color, and I rotated the plaid 90 degrees for the waistband to help break up that “BLAH” effect of having too much of the same fabric in a dress.

The light blue stretch cotton used as contrast is leftover from Adam’s first Western shirt. I accented the placket with basic red buttons — a thrift store find given to me by my mom.

Total cost: 16 hours (at least!) and $15

Zebra skin remnants

June 8th, 2013 - 

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We went to SR Harris and Adam had such a good time! He loves to read his phone while I cut yards of fabric and ogle the merchandise!

Loves it!

What would you do with zebra skin remnants if you had a whole tub of them?