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!


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:

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!


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?


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!

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.


Poor me, Poor little old me :'(

Remember this Yeehaw Tiered Skirt I made for my niece?


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! ;-)



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?





Shockingly small acquisition

You’ll have to excuse me for a while. I just came back from Taiwan and I’m terribly jet lagged. On top of that a laptop upgrade means countless hours setting up again & learning where everything is. I would never understand why companies insist on changing what’s not broken & chasing after the ever new. (In this case Windows 8. In a word: Don’t. Unless you only ever use a tablet rather than traditional PC/laptop.)

Anyway, this time around, I did manage to check out Taipei’s fabric district. I only discovered where it was by chance on my last visit there. I didn’t have time to check it out last time, so this time I made sure it’s first on the agenda.


Shockingly I only came back with one piece of fabric.

2013-10-silk-print This is from one of the stalls on the second floor of Yongle Fabric Market (永樂市場) that specializes in silks from China. There’s a few of these. Others specialize in quilting fabrics, or at least I assume that’s what they are judging by the sizes of the pieces. There are also a few home furnishing fabric stalls, fake fur or leather stalls. And probably others.

It’s a bit of a maze. And I find I’m not good with choosing from lots of small selections. I get overwhelmed. Give me one of the big organized stores of NYC and I’ll spend a fortune. Drop me in the midst of these bustling markets and I walk away (almost) empty handed! Therein lies the secret to curbing my fabric addiction!

Third floors seem to be loads of small dressmaking stalls. I guess it’s not so much of a home sewer scene (though there seem to be a burgeoning craft scene – cutie bag-making etc) as much as leftover from a time when RTW weren’t so readily available and dressmakers still quite affordable. I remember my mother & aunts mentioning buying fabrics to get dresses made. (A few unused pieces eventually found their way to my stash!)

Apart from Yongle Fabric Market there are also a bunch of small fabric shops in the neighboring streets. A few of these specialize in imports. And boy were the prices sky high! I suppose Taiwan is further from Europe than London or even NYC. So shipping alone would jack up the prices. And perhaps you’re meant to haggle over prices, judging by how my Mom shops (or used to shop) and the fact that most fabrics weren’t labeled with the prices. That, for me, is a terrible turn off. I’m more of a self-service type of gal. What you see on the label is what you pay for. In & out. So no purchases from these shops then.

No idea what I’ll make with this lovely silk print. It reminds me a bit of traditional Chinese paintings. Love peonies! Will have to pay a visit to the blog of the ultimate mistress of prints, the lovely Oonaballoona for inspirations!

And meanwhile on the other side of the earth…

My OH was visiting LA and was tasked with bringing back that rare beast called Lambswool Interlining. This one is from Bergen Tailors & Cleaners Supply Corp.


Not having worked with this before I’m not sure if this is the same thing that sewing books and more experienced sewers refer to. This one seems to be a knit – there’s quite a bit of stretch crosswise. The fiber content is lambswool & rayon. I can’t find any information on how to work with this – whether you need to pre-shrink it, can it take heat & steam, do you treat it like a knit or woven, etc.

A visit to Artisan Square is in order me thinks. Hopefully one of those experienced sewers who’ve worked with this before can shed some light. And of course if you’ve got the answers to these pressing questions, do share!

Sewing for Tweens?

OK, so what’s up with sewing for Tweens? How come there’s hardly any sewing patterns for Tweens & Teens?

I haven’t got kids of my own. But my niece has just turned 11. And as I have been such a neglectful aunty in so many other ways I thought it’s about time I make her something. But it’s such a nightmare! Not least because she lives in Ohio. Is it possible to sew long distance? Especially for fast growing kids? Or should I give up before I even start?

While I visited recently, I took her shopping at Jo-Ann‘s. She was so indecisive. Her parents have been buying all her clothing so far. Judging from the few times I tagged along, it seems like the stuff that she likes get vetoed. Poor girl – I think it affected her interest in clothing and/or her confidence in choosing clothing.

Anyway, here are the patterns I picked with some input from her…


But she much prefers the adult patterns, like this one from Project Runway collections.

I thought this one might look too old on her. I tried looking for teen fashion magazines to get a bearing on what’s fashionable but still age appropriate. Not much luck.

Choosing fabrics was just as difficult. We ended up with these:


The black floral netting she chose. She wanted a transparent jacket in this. I’m not so sure it’d be age appropriate. I’m thinking maybe an underlined top or dress using one of the McCall patterns we bought.

She also chose the sparkly foil faux suede – oh how kids love their sparkly stuff! Maybe the Burda jacket pattern would work well for this with a red or bright contrasting lining.

The faux suede cut lace I chose. I thought this might look cute with a bright underlining as a dress, top, and/or skirt.

What do you think?

Do you have daughters of similar age whom you sew for? Where do you find patterns for them? Any other advice on sewing for Tweens much appreciated!

I think these will have to be my next few sewing projects. I’m afraid that if I wait her measurements would change and nothing will fit! }:-)