The Not So Impressive Stash

Well this is a bit embarrassing. After all the hoopla about my fabric acquisitions it turns out I have very little of interest to show.

Don’t get me wrong. I have been naughty. Quantity-wise anyway. The load came in at 63+ yards, not 43+ yards as I claimed earlier. But it seems like I’ve been way too good in sticking to my boring shopping list. The bulk of my purchases are dull Dull DULL to show & tell.

So here’s a group shot to spare you too much excruciating details!

2014-10-nyc-fabrics

From left to right:

  • Sweater pile: Sweater & rib knits from NY Elegant and B&J.
  • Cardigan pile: 5 sets of sweater + rib knits for cardigans from NY Elegant and Mood.
  • Foundation pile: I thought I might tackle foundation wear this coming year. So I got some Powernet & Milliskin from Spandex World, plus foam fused poly lining from B&J which I hope is like the stuff they use for bra pads.
  • SWAP pile: Mostly important but boring supporting casts from B&J, Mood, and NY Elegant for upcoming projects, such as…
  • Just 4 Fun pile: Tame by many of your standards, but as exciting as life gets around here. Mostly from cheap & wacky Spandex World, but a couple from B&J and Mood.
  • Ooh Charmeuse pile: Just because it’s so hard to find Charmeuse in London I got a few more from Mood.

As you can see I got mine from only four stores. It was just too overwhelming otherwise. Especially when I’m shopping with a list and luggage limit. If I were living locally I’d probably shop more from the smaller stores and go with an open mind. But with a list, I find huge stores that have good organizations easier. I can see at a glance whether they have the type of fabric I need in the color I need. It does mean paying more. But my sanity is worth it!

Of the four I go to, I’d say NY Elegant is the most expensive, then B&J, then Mood, and Spandex World is pretty affordable though obviously specialized. NY Elegant & Mood seem to have a better selection of sweater knits. I do like NY Elegant’s system of swatches already attached to many fabric rolls. B&J has lots of fabrics on big sample cards so that it’s easier to browse, see the fiber content, and ask for samples. Some of the Mood fabrics are marked with famous designer names. But as they’re pretty basic looking fabric it seems a bit pointless to name-check. I’d save it for the more unique fabric designs. I mean who cares if your bog standard looking charmeuse is a Ralph Laren, right? ;-)

There were also a bunch of notions. But I’ve already filed them away & can’t recall where they all are now. So just a couple of highlights here:

notions-1
Pacific Trimmings have these cool mix-n-match buttons where you pick a base and the accent to go in the center. There’s quite a variety of base and accents to choose from, and the base come in different sizes. How cool is that!

notions-2

I also got a couple of kits for fabric covered buckles from Daytona Trimmings (as well as more of that lovely bobbin lace I got last time). I’ve been looking for these for ages. They are so hard to come by these days. Granted the selection isn’t great – only two sizes, both big. But better than nothing.

I bought a fair few more buttons, including these gold ones from M&J Trimming (where I also got petersham ribbons in a few different colors). And big coat snaps, including gold ones from Pacific Trimmings. The black snap fasteners and the gold button with anchor motif in the striped jersey photo above are also from Pacific Trimming. So too are the bag D-rings, bag feet, and magnetic snaps. And RiRi zippers. And lingerie elastics. And eye & hook tapes. Boy, did they get my business this time or what!

But majority of my zippers are YKK that came from SIL Threads. I also got an Italian Lampo zipper from Botani Trimmings on recommendation from Clios. They’re suppose to be really high quality & expensive (she says Chanel use only Lampo). The ready-made metallic teeth one I got wasn’t too bad price-wise. And the zipper action IS super smooth – essential for a tote! I also got a custom reversible zipper in the smallest size available (#3) from Botani. Now that was expensive. The reversible skirt it’s destined for better be a success!

And that was it. Apart from these four pairs of shoes from Macy’s. I did leave four old pairs behind after all. So surely MR can’t complaint about my shoes stash, right?

shoes

Clockwise from top left: Michael Kors boots, Circa Joan & David pump, Circa Joan & David sling back, Alfani ballet flat

 

Bye bye me mades

No, this isn’t an announcement of retirement from sewing. But I had to say goodbye to a few me-mades (and a few more RTWs) to make room in my luggage for new fabrics from NYC.

I think I ended up with some 46+ yards of fabrics. And that’s after I gave up on a few more swatches collected but couldn’t locate again when I went back to the store! I could have squashed more into the suitcase, but I was already some 20+ kg over the weight limit. And that’s after ditching almost all of my outbound suitcase content. MR had to come to my rescue. So half of my purchases are currently in Dubai on a business trip. I think one is a lurid turquoise & peach snake-print lycra (from Spandex World). Very professional. Hope his boss will be impressed.

So here are the me-made lovelies that sadly I had to say bye bye to…

The Formerly No Toilet Dress

Self-drafted No Toilet Retro Dress This was a self-drafted silk dress that I never blogged. I’m a bit sad to leaver her in NYC because I’m quite proud of her construction: The bodice underlining & interfacing made the top part look smart without undue stiffness in the skirt, & the whole thing is nicely fully lined.

But the pattern fit just wasn’t right. Initially I couldn’t even go to the loo without having to undress. (So that’s a No to jumsuits then.) I did managed to let out a teensy bit from the skirt SA below hip. (Let that be a lesson to you & mostly me: Too much pencils skirt tapering is only passable in a skirt, not a dress. At least not if you don’t like fussing in the toilet & making other ladies – and little ones – wait longer for a stall.) But it’s still a bit hard to sit in & I wear it in fear of wardrobe malfunction. So that’s bye bye wiggle dress.

The Mono-boob Drape Top

5-style-4 This was a wearable muslin originally for a Knit Top Block, then for Burdastyle 2013-02-113.

While the color looked good on film, I said goodbye to her with less tears because I was never fond of her mono-boob look. Maybe the neckline at CF is too high. Maybe it’s just the wrong detail for my boob shape. Maybe the CF rusching wasn’t dramatic enough.

Anyway, I only ever wore it on a can’t-be-bothered day, and only ever with this pair of RTW jeans which is too loose at the waist. So bye bye unibooby one hit wonder top.

The Reverse Prayer Pose Top

V2686 Back Buttoned Sleeveless Sheath Top Another fitting experiment. This one tested FFRP’s tissue fitting and fit-as-you-sew approach on out-of-print V2686 by Tom and Linda Platt. She wasn’t entirely successful – the back still had that dreaded sway-back-ish drag lines.

But that’s not why I let this go. The real reason is that I’m not as flexible as before. The Reverse Prayer yoga pose needed to button this up at CB simply isn’t in my repertoire anymore. So bye bye contorter top.

That’s it for Me-Made Bye Byes. The rest were RTWs. I know where my loyalty lies ;-) All were donated for recycling at Union Square. I hope the me-mades eventually find a good loving home, as two of them are nice silk shantungs. Would be a real shame if they do a reverse Cinderella.

I’ll leave you with some LOL wacky lycras spotted in Spandex House that did not come home with me:

Hmmm, I think I like my food better in my mouth, and cute puppies better on YouTube! But you little ones, you go right ahead & have fun with these!

First conquest in NYC

And I hadn’t even check into the hotel yet! We arrived too early for check-in, so waited at Bryant Park. I stopped by Kinokuniya Japanese book store, where I picked up Ryuichiro Shimazaki’s men’s coats book.

I’ve been tempted ever since Peter of Male Pattern Boldness gave us a peak inside. The pea coat he made from the included pattern looked fabulous & oh so professional. But as it’s men’s coats, and I only really do selfish sewing, I stalled.

Then earlier this year, after seeing my me-made trench, my brother joked about getting me to make him a Burberry Wannabe. So I checked out this book in store to see if it’ll help. The detail shots and the photo styling sold it to me. That and the fact that nothing else in the store was calling my name. (Could be jet-laggedness. Or could be that my taste changed. Or maybe Japanese fashion changed. Or all of the above.)

All I have to do next is to learn to read Japanese and figure out how to do transatlantic fittings. Or so I thought.

Well, it turned out I needn’t have worried my pretty little head. My brother was smart enough to know that he could be waiting a long time to get a trench out of me. So he went ahead and save up for the real McCoy. It was just as well since he’s obviously a Burberry snob, and probably wouldn’t have been gratified by my run of the mill trench without all the neat details that goes into a real Burberry. I manage to get some photos of these details. Some of them are actually shown in the book as well.

Burberry Men’s Trench Details!

Shimazaki’s men’s coats book Pattern No.1 details

Shimazaki-Mens-Coat-book-pattern-1-detailsFascinating innit! Not sure I’d bother with all of them details myself. But the sewing geek in me just can’t resist peaking.

The Burberry trench itself does look quite good on my brother. I’ve read elsewhere some complaints / concerns about them being a bit too big and baggy. But this one has a smart slim fit. Maybe those complaints apply to trenches from the yore years when baggy was in. As for personalized fit, the only alteration the store could offer was sleeve length. That’s where being able to sew a wannabe might come in handy. There is only so much that RTW could cater for. We’ll see. Maybe someday this book will come in handy. If not for my brother, maybe for MR – if I could ever convince him to dress up outside work!

Fabric lust & updates

First of all, welcome onboard all you recent subscribers. Sorry it’s been so quiet around here lately. After that epic fitted sleeve experiment & documentation, the Photographer In Me decided she’s done enough for the year, leaving me with no pretty pictures to complete write-ups of my recent projects.

So while I try to coax her away from those holiday cocktails, here’s a wacky fabric find to entertain you…

Found at B&J Fabrics online:

digital print scuba knit (neoprene?)
with matching silk charmeuse & matching silk chiffon!

Now I’ve seen a few matching printed silk charmeuse & chiffon at B&J before. But scuba knit!?!? Well you’d have to be a much more creative designer than me to make it work! OK, just because you can have matching everything doesn’t mean you should. But I have seen it worked. And I do like me a bit of edgy high-low, sporty-refined mix. If these weren’t so expensive I’d challenge Oonaballoona, the mighty queen of pattern hacking to have a go at these psychedelic fabrics.

And how did I come across these fab fabrics? Well, I was planning for my…

Upcoming NYC trip! Happy Face!

No trip to NYC can be complete without some sewing purchases of course. But I’m trying to be more organized this time. In the past I’d come home with bulging suitcase of scrumptious fabrics. Yet when I actually get down to sew I’d be missing bits and pieces I need. And there are just some things that are really hard (or really expensive) to get here in London, the supposed Fashion Capital of the World (if the London newspapers are to be believed). Like charmeuse (for lining or coordinating top). Or reversible zipper. Or coordinating ribbing for sweater knits.

Sadly MPB Day is long over and there doesn’t seem to be any other NYC sewing meet-up in early October But if any of you Tri-State based sewists are free, I’d love to meet up and check out your latest project(s)! Contact me via my online form if you’re free to meet up in NYC in early Oct.

And Sad Face time… Vogue / McCall / Butterick boycott

I was also going to pick up some Vogue / McCall / Butterick patterns bought during recent online sales. But here I hit a snag. Seems like one of my orders has gone missing and I might be left out of pocket. Sad Face.

I had to update the shipping address while placing the order. But for some reason the order still end up being shipped to an old address. I think maybe there’s a problem with how their online ordering system is set up. I updated the address in the “Manage My Addresses” section, then chose what I thought was the updated address during checkout. Maybe it takes a a while for the new address to be saved. So when I tried to use the address immediately the shopping cart received the old address instead.

And of course I didn’t check the confirmation email carefully because nothing had ever gone wrong before with my V/M/B orders. So I didn’t think anything was going to go wrong this time.

Customer service said they couldn’t help but would I like to place and PAY for a replacement order. Erm, what do you think? No thanks. I’m really put off buying from V/M/B website again. Which is a shame since they seem to have finally gotten more responsive in the online sewing community. My worst fear would be if they start putting out amazing patterns while I’m still on my stomp-my-little-feet V/M/B boycott.

Fingers crossed that the mis-delivered package will eventually find its way back to V/M/B and I’ll at least get a refund. But I’m not holding my breath since package tracking shows it had already been signed for by the building management. Inflexible / seemingly uncaring customer service sucks.

 

Gem(s) from The Modern Tailor, Outfitter, and Clothier

As if I don’t have enough tangents leading me away from sewing productivity, I’ve started reading this book that’s highly recommended on the tailoring trade’s forum. Now “Modern” is a relative term here. The books (there are 3, I got the first 2) were originally published in 1928. The originals are astronomically priced in the used book section. But luckily affordable paperback reprints are now available.

Anyhoo, here’s the first gem I want to share, complete with some old fashion turn of phrase!…

From “Tailoring as a Vocation” in “The Modern Tailor Outfitter and Clothier – Vol 1“, by W.H. Hulme, Head Teacher, Clothing Trade Dept, Leeds Technical College, 1928

Every cutter [pattern-maker] should possess a sound knowledge of the principles which underlie his work. These principles, or laws of fitting, are as old and as well-established as the human form itself. Various good “Systems” have been propounded, embodying those principles of form-fitting, so far as they have been discovered and utilised. The student will master, in principle and in detail, one of these well-tried systems. Many systems have been laid down, tried — and then forgotten. Given a sufficiency of ink and foolscap, to invent a new system presents as little difficulty as to launch a new sect; to the system maker falling the less lucrative task. The tailoring trade has, for years, been the arena in which conflicting theories of cutting have been hotly contested; often the combatants themselves have been obscured by the dust they raised. And the end of this spirit is not yet.

However, the art of cutting successful garments is still based upon the work of the inquiring mind, on test and long experiment, on failure and eventual success. The shrieking of slogans has not helped much; indeed, the atmosphere of strife is inimical to progress. A right judgement, compounded of many qualities, with perhaps common sense and experience as the chief, is demanded of the modern craftsman. The world demands authority–and is willing to follow blindly. “This do…and the rest is easy,” says the quack. In our better moods we denounce dogma–yet we deal very gently with the dogmatist. The man who speaks as though he utters ultimate wisdom is always certain of a large audience. He saves us an immense amount of individual thought. There are numbers of men who put their thinking out to be done for them. Those who would spurn the idea of wearing second-hand clothes, have no difficulty, it would seem, about adopting second-hand opinions.

Sounds familiar? Ouch! ;-)

The tailoring trade has had its full share of these dogmatist; some indeed are happily still with us. It is quite likely, however, that the “royal road” of the dogmatist is, after all, the wrong approach to success. Indeed, we may hazard the opinion that no royal road exists.

The older virtues of work and patient experiment will take the young student some distance. Ability to weigh and to appraise the theories apparently conflicting, to have such a grasp of the known principles of sartorial art that he can trust himself to do his own thinking, these will carry him further than the credulous swallowing of nostrums. “We have seen it in a book…” or “A great man once said…” cannot be accepted without reserve by the young man seriously facing his future. The world is full of people who long for a certain and safe specific for success. The proprietors of certain patent medicines, and quacks in other walks of life, do rather well out of their understanding and exploitation of this very human trait.

The final resolution of sartorial problems, however, tarries. Nothing is static, everything is in a condition of flux. Our conclusions are tentative, and much of our knowledge is empirical. The profession of medicine has used empirical remedies for many centuries. “It works…but how?” The candid tailor will admit as much of many points in his own practice. In common with more learned professions, we have not yet fully emerged from the misty realm of “rock-of-eye.” The putting into systematic form, however, of the ever-increasing mass of trade knowledge proceeds apace. Each method of obtaining results has its devotees, but it is significant that the practitioner so often infuses features of his own into his adopted system. The keynotes of success are test and experiment. The hugging of pet theories and preconceived ideas is fatal. The young tailor must dare to think and to back his conclusions.

The body he seeks to clothe will be his starting-point: just another way of saying that a knowledge of the science of anatomy must lie at the roots of all his work. He knows, for instance, that the seams of various garments follow certain curves. Why? Because the body demands that its contours shall be followed. But this merely touches the question. The last word on human proportion, too has yet to be uttered. Of girth we know something; but what of height and its relation to girth? The limitations of knowledge in many other directions are sufficiently obvious to need further words. The tested results of the experience of others will be accepted–but as a starting point. One of the most successful cutters of the present day, when in his twenties, lived in systems by day and dreamt of them at night. Now he says, “Systems? Scaffolding! necessary…but still scaffolding and as such must conform to the exigencies of the building!” Every teacher makes his contribution–and passes; the trade is always moving on. The one who arises and says, “Behold, I show you a mystery” is not to be understood as uttering finality. He is merely making a personal and tentative contribution to an age-long controversy.

Granted, most of us aren’t setting out to be Saville Row tailors. We just want to make good looking clothing for ourselves and maybe loved ones. There is nothing wrong with farming out the mental hard work. But just be careful how you pass on any tips and advice, and how you judge techniques that perhaps didn’t quite work out for you. Sometimes we don’t follow instruction correctly (maybe the instruction wasn’t written clearly or comprehensively enough). Sometimes the technique simply isn’t appropriate for our body shape/size/posture, skills, equipments, sewing and/or wearing context. There may be a grain of truth in the technique, but is it universal truth?

Another gem from Vol 1, this time from “Some Problems of the Tailoring Trade”, by F. Chitham, Director, Harrods, Ltd. (high end London dept. store).

Sizes are the very lifeblood of the ready-to-wear…Bad sizes means slow-moving stock. It is no part of the ready-to-wear trade to cater for freaks[!!!]: that is the province of the bespoke.

He would so not get away with that today! LOL.

Poor me, Poor little old me :'(

Remember this Yeehaw Tiered Skirt I made for my niece?

neice-1

Self-drafted Tiered Skirt for Tweeny Niece

Well, I finally decided to make an adult version for myself with the leftover fashion fabric. I was hoping to finish it in time for my family reunion trip back at the end of March. I didn’t make it in time. Which was just as well since my niece brought the dress I made her, but not the skirt.

And I’m glad I didn’t rush. Not every project have a rosy ending. Especially when you’re making it up as you go along. I would have ended up with a mess that I couldn’t pull up over my hip. I just finished it tonight. So you’ll have to wait for photo. Which may be a while. Because I’m still on the fence about the result, despite having fixed the too-small-opening problem.

But can I just moan about not having enough fabric for a minute or two? I know I’m an addict & I know my stash is spilling over everywhere. But seriously, I regret not buying enough of the fabric I used for Little Miss’ Yeehaw Skirt. Not the faux suede cut lace mind you. No, it’s the lining that had me shed a tear. A polyester lining at that.

But the color. The luscious golden Color! The ray of sunshine that brightens too many gloomy London days. It’s an orange with a difference. I couldn’t believe how difficult it is to replace. I went back to the same fabric store a year later and that shade of orange is gone. Replaced by dull imposters. I then searched high & low, and splurged on some supposedly better bemberg from Bernstein & Banleys (aka The Lining Company). But none of these fancy linings hold a candle to the cheap & cheerful original, which has a lovely golden sheen & is more opaque than the dress-weight bemberg I got.

20140412_165941I couldn’t believe how hard it is to match such a simple shade. Let that be a lesson to you and me: If you find a fabric you love, buy more. Buy lots more of it. S*d the stash diet! You only live once!

I hope Little Miss wore her version more than once. Oh what sacrifice I make for her! ;-)

 

Image

Money Money Money – lining for the bankers?

Money Money Money - lining from Bernstein & Banleys, aka The Lining Company

The photo is from Bernstein & Banleys, aka The Lining Company’s Facebook page. This financial time print rayon twill lining is indeed on their website. (There are also a couple with pound + dollar notes for the more literal minded!) Very tempted. I’ve always liked newsprint as a visual pattern.

I also like some of the other funky prints. There’s one of shear & threads. The London cityscape drawing is quite cute too. But oh so expensive at £35.40/m! You indeed need to be a banker to afford these don’t you!

Supposedly they supply the Savile Row tailors. No wonder the hefty prices for most lining. You’d have to go 10m+ to get more affordable quantity pricing. And that’s on the plainer linings. Should I or shouldn’t I…drool…

Anyone know much about lining weights as measured in “glm”? What range “glm” is good for what application – dress, jacket, coat, etc?