Yippie! More Fabrics for Me!

So, while no fabric was bought during the NYC Meet Up, my suitcase was already half full with fabrics: I had ordered some from B&J Fabrics online a while back and had them sent to my brother’s in Ohio.

It was ostensibly for more of that fabulous turquoise leopard print knit, which I had thought was extinct, but in fact is still lurking in the aisles at B&J. Since shipping was free, I also ordered some Bouclés & Tweed. I have to say though I was a bit disappointed when I finally saw these fabrics. The colors weren’t as vibrant as the online pictures…

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I guess that’s the peril of internet shopping, and one should at least get samples first before ordering anything expensive. It remains to be seen whether I’ll learn this lesson!

The yellow one I might use for Burdastyle 2013-03-102 Boucle Jacket. I’ve wanted the outfit since I bought the magazine. I also tried to look for similar floral fabric for the pants during this trip – but no luck.

Not sure yellow would look as good on me as on the model given my complexion. Maybe I’ll get away with it if I add trims or wear something underneath that’s in a more flattering color.

NYC proper…

With limited baggage allowance I couldn’t shop freely. Hence the indecision during the meet up. And spending the whole of Monday on reconnaissance mission. What could earn a space in my preciously rationed haul?

My main criteria was that it has to be something difficult to find in London. So while there are lots of great shops with affordable fabrics in the Garment District, I ended up in my old favorites: B&J, Mood, and NY Elegant Fabrics. All huge stores (compared with London offerings). All a bit on the pricier side I’m afraid. What can I say, I got an expensive habit! ;-) Limited time and torrential rain on Monday also put me off checking out the other stores.

Unchartered Territory of Print Galore

I’m a print-phobe. But I’m trying to change. And my stash is full of plain fabrics already. So I forced myself to look at prints. First off, a couple of classic prints…

2013-us-fabrics-7Silk Charmeuse & Wool Challis from B&J. These were expensive! So I’ve didn’t buy much.

I’m thinking a simple kimono sleeve top or dress for the charmeuse.

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For the challis maybe a back-pleated skirt like my Heidi skirt, or a more deconstructed version à la Vivienne Westwood.

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Next some au courant crazy pot-luck mix of snake print & everything else …

2013-us-fabrics-8Silk Charmeuse from Mood. This reminded me a bit of Burdastyle 2013-02-113 Dress which I love.

I thought I was being generous with 3 yards. But that’s still not enough for this dress. Then again a shorter dress might get more wear. So I may still use this pattern yet.

2013-us-fabrics-9Wool Blend Jersey from NY Elegant. No clear ideas yet. It feels vaguely Vivienne Westwoodish with a whiff of Christopher Columbus – all that damask type prints in faded cartography colors and a flash of jungle snake!

Probably a dress and maybe even a top with a bit of cowl here and there.

So what do you think? Brave enough for first forays into prints?

These were meant to be sweater knits…

I was quite chaffed to get so much wear out of my cowl neck sweater and wrap cardi (write up coming soon) in NYC. So I decided to get more sweater knits despite it being summer in NYC. Luckily fashion people work months ahead and therefore stores that supply them too. Both NY Elegant Fabrics & Mood have a wide range in stock. But in the end, none of the proper sweater knits appeal to me as much as these pseudo knits.

2013-us-fabrics-3Wool Acrylic Print Novelty Knit from Mood & Mohair Blend Novelty Knit from NY Elegant.

Clio would recognize the teal one from Mood. It feels a bit like sweatshirt knit. I was on the fence with this one as I don’t wear boxy sweatshirt type garments at all. Is it too sporty for me? Can I carry it off? The other one feels so lush but is also a bit spongy. So again on the fence.

In the end, what convinced me was recent examples of biker style jackets in non-traditional fabrics.

00250mLike Burdastyle 2013-03-135 Biker Jacket. Or even the pastel croc of Louis Vuitton S/S 2012.

I think I’ll use the Burda pattern for the teal fabric, as it has seaming details that can showcase both sides of the fabric. I’ll have to search around for a pattern for the orange fabric. I’d like a version with more traditional overlapping front and off-center zip, but probably in a cinched waist silhouette again. I don’t think I’m tall enough to carry off a short and boxy style.

I’m hoping to make matching pencil skirts with exposed zipper details in darts and/or walking vents.

This next one looks like a sweater knit, but isn’t.

2013-us-fabrics-4Mohair Gauze from Mood. I’m calling this gauze because of the loose open weave. I have no idea what the professionals call it. Anyway it’s a real shame it’s not a knit, for it would have made a great sweater top. Maybe another cowl neck like the one I just made? I don’t think I can have enough of that slightly 60ish mod looking sweater.

Cotton Lace from NY Elegant which is reserved for a skirt just like this Burdastyle 2013-03-109 Lace Skirt.

I was telling Clio how I find lace a hard fabric to carry off. It’s too easy to look like a Streetwalker, a Mother of the Bride, or a Granny Doily in lace. Then I go buying an expensive cut! This one is definitely in the Doily camp. All for the love of this outfit.

If there’s any leftover I might use it for either this Burdastyle 2012-05-109 Top or this designer dress (sorry, forgot who it’s by)…

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And the rest…

2013-us-fabrics-6Sunback Lining from B&J for some coat that I will eventually make. Because being a tropical baby even cashmere won’t keep me warm in the bone-chilling damp British winters. And I can’t find these flannel-backed lining anywhere else. BTW it’s also known as Kasha Lining by some.

Ultrasuede from NY Elegant because this one is buttery soft! I love the feel of suede and soft leather. But I can’t handle any fabric requiring expensive specialist cleaning. This you can throw into the washing machine. Most ultrasuede aren’t this soft though. So I just have to have this one. I’m hoping it’s soft & drapy enough for a pants, or dress, or top.

2013-us-fabrics-5And two TNT old friends: Bamboo Spandex Striped Jersey & Micro-Spandex Leopard Print Jersey from B&J.

I wear my marinière tops so much that I just have to have more. It’s my slob out outfit of choice. Although I did get some red stripe knit from Tissu Fabrics in London, it’s not as soft as this bamboo one. Yummmm.

And I got more of the turquoise leopard jersey so I can finally make a wrap dress, probably Burdastyle Magazine Blumarine 2011-06-139 Wrap Dress (like Assorted Notions’ version). Leftover might be sacrificed to my niece, who’s just at the age to start yearning for crazy fashion, but isn’t allowed to own any yet.

Speaking of whom…there’s actually 3 more cuts of fabric from Jo-Ann bought just for her. But that will have to be another post. Because sewing for Tweens opens up a whole can of worms!

Finally, a bit of Fabric Store Gossip

I was chatting to the guy helping me with the fabrics at Mood about how active Mood is in the online sewing community compared to other fabric stores. He told me that’s because the owner’s son took over a few years ago and really gets modern marketing. Supposedly another store had been approached by Project Runway first, but turned them down. So now the tour buses stop at Mood instead and business is booming.

So much so that they are considering opening a branch in London! (Also because a daughter of the owner lives in London or have some good friend in London – can’t remember which.) That will be great news (for me!) – IF they keep similar format to the US stores that is. I’ve always been a bit miffed that Whole Foods Market in London doesn’t sell half the stuff you’d get in the US. What’s the point of shopping at an American store if it sells the same stuff as British stores. File this one under #homesick!

Show us Your Stash….. Pia

Modern Vintage Cupcakes and Mercury – Handmade Fashion both egged me on to reveal my stash. Having thoroughly enjoyed peeping into their stashes, how can I refuse. So here goes.

1. How long have you been sewing and stashing? How big is your stash?

I started sewing probably in Junior High School. That’s like almost 3 decades ago! But there were some big gaps in my sewing history – if not in stashing.

As for size of my stash, now here are some scary stats: Current count – 264 pieces of fabrics, 753 yards (including linings, excluding interfacings).

2. Where do you keep your stash? How do you store it?

Most are in my bedroom now.
My sewing room isn’t big enough for stashing & sewing.

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One trunk has escaped into the living room.

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A few boxes remain in the sewing room with a few more pieces hanging in the closet. New arrivals hang about anywhere while awaiting processing.

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As you can see I box up most of my fabric. That’s because I have a moth problem.

I started out with opaque boxes and swatch cards to keep track of the fabrics.

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But given how easy it is to forget what I have – out of sight out of mind & all, I’ve started swapping to clear plastic boxes.

I do try to group similar types of fabrics together, sometimes even similar colors when I have multiples – easily done when you don’t remember what you already have when you go fabric shopping yet again!

3. What is the oldest piece in your stash? What was your original plan for this piece and why hasn’t it happened?

floral printOldest might be this lovely silky floral print I inherited from my Mom. It’s gorgeous. But there is only 1-3/8 yards of this 38″ fabric. So I’ve been quite indecisive about what to make with it.

Of the fabrics I bought myself, I have absolutely no idea! I don’t think I have any left from Junior High, but I’m pretty sure there are a few from High School.

stash-fabric-hl-1 Like this seersucker, which I tried to dye a long time ago and end up with a slightly hippie tie-dye effect. Like most fabrics I buy, I didn’t have a specific plan for it. I get many ideas along the way, but again commitment phobia kicks in time and again.

4. What’s your favorite piece in your stash? Where did you get it, what do you love about it, what do you think you might do with it?

OMG – you can’t make me choose! I love them all! Well, almost all. Each one is full of possibilities…until you sew it up!

5. Does the fabric you buy go straight into hiding or do you wash it first?

They first incubate and collect dust while I find them a hiding place. As you can see my main stashing area is bursting at the seams. It takes a while to find a home for new-comers.

I do try to wash them ASAP. But…I hate doing laundry, so you can imagine how long my good intention last. Especially the fancy silk and wools (and any specialty fiber). P.I.M.A.

So I’ve resorted to a spreadsheet to keep track of what I have and what’s ready to rock-n-roll.

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6. How do you add to your stash? Do you buy with a purpose in mind, or is it fabric lust?

LUST. Period. Especially off-line. NYC fabric stores are especially lethal for me. I can pawn my Other Half’s apartment to spend it all in them damn stores.

OK, there might be a few pieces bought to copy some lovelies from clippings. But once they’re in the stash I start having other ideas.

7. Do you have something in your stash that you cannot bear to cut into? Why?

Almost all of them? If I must choose, then maybe these silkies.

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I mean, that says it all. Heavenly. Expensive. Limited quantity. Slippery.

Will my design, fitting & sewing skills ever do them justice? Note how I’ve even bought a pair of shoes just to match one of these fabrics. I guess those shoes will never be worn either.

8. Do you just stash fabric, or does the problem include patterns and notions?

My other main addiction is clippings. And it’s a good thing I ditch the rest of the magazines. Otherwise they’d never fit into this neat little photo:

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Patterns again look rather contained, partly due to clipping and increasingly more magazines than traditional Big 4 patterns. Oh, and some digital ones. But I only discovered the magazines not so long ago, so I’m sure this pile will grow over time.

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So far so tame. But lurking in every corners are actually mini-stashes of all sorts. None enough by themselves to warrant notice. But add them all up and you got the Other Half complaining you’re taking up the whole apartment!

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Salvaged bits for making bags and hats. I gave up on the ideas of making my own shoes.

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Jewelry making stuff

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Chinese knots paraphernalia.

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Couture flourish finishing school – aka embroidery kits & bobs.

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Knitting for Dummies.

Let’s not forget UFOs & RTW awaiting upcycling (2+ boxes in my main stash area).

Or the scraps that my Plastic Daughters have laid claim to – having had their big heads filled with fanciful ideas from doll mooks (magazine-books) I foolishly bought them. Even retired lace undies & stockings with runs have not escaped their greedy little hands.

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9. Have you decided to do a “stash-busting” resolution this year? If so, what have you decided to do?

I dare not. That’d be tempting Fate. Especially as the Other Half had already suggested going to NYC for holiday this year. That’s any resolution busted already.

I just need to keep my head down, tackle one project at a time. And get a handful of TNT patterns sorted. Yeap, I think TNTs will be my stash-busting super-heroines!

What about you? Are you going to…

Show Us Your Stash

Here are the questions if you want to follow the same Q&A format:

  1. How long have you been sewing and stashing? How big is your stash?
  2. Where do you keep your stash? How do you store it?
  3. What is the oldest piece in your stash? What was your original plan for this piece and why hasn’t it happened?
  4. What’s your favourite piece in your stash? Where did you get it, what do you love about it, what do you think you might do with it?
  5. Does the fabric you buy go straight into hiding or do you wash it first?
  6. How do you add to your stash? Do you buy with a purpose in mind, or is it fabric lust?
  7. Do you have something in your stash that you cannot bear to cut into? Why?
  8. Do you just stash fabric, or does the problem include patterns and notions?
  9. Have you decided to do a “stash-busting” resolution this year? If so, what have you decided to do?

Swap Your StashAnd if you’re seriously busting your stash this year, don’t forget to check out Modern Vintage Cupcakes and Mercury – Handmade Fashion‘s February Stash Swapping Party

In the meanwhile, more guilty pleasures for all you fellow Peeping Toms! ;-)

Extra! Extra! Psychedelic Leopards NOT Extinct after all!

Turqoise leopard print jerseyMe bad. The lovely turquoise leopard print jersey that I thought was extinct forever is actually still to be found in the fabric jungle of B&J Fabrics. So hurrah, I don’t have to fret about not having enough for a wrap dress anymore.

The price isn’t as steep I thought either. OK, at $15.95 per yard it’s not dirt cheap by most sewists’ measure. But knowing my former habit, I thought I had paid a lot more than that for this beauty. Having said that, by the time I add postage and Her Royal Highness’ custom and duty levies to this, the cost will no doubt balloon to 2-3 time the fabric price :-( … Actually, they’re offering free ground shipping in the US. And I know sales taxes are normally not levied if it’s out-of-state order. Maybe I’ll have it shipped to my relatives in the US & pick up in the future. Now that’s a plan!

If turquoise isn’t quite your color, they also have the print in blue and purple.

Blue leopard print jerseyPurple leopard print jersey

There’s unfortunately no detail information about fiber content and care instruction. But it does mention spandex (lycra), so what you make from it should retain its shape relatively well.

By my unscientific measurement, it stretches up to 25% crosswise and lengthwise. With the added spandex, this make it a 4-way stretch fabric. You should be able to use it for patterns that require 2-way stretch fabric. As I said before, it feels a bit light weight and drapes quite well. So it would work nicely for patterns with a bit of drape – like those gorgeous Donna Karan patterns from Vogue Patterns.

LA Shopping Spree…Part 1

I’m in Downtown LA now. And I’m excited to report back what goodies I got. First up…

Fabrics of course!

I did read Pattern Review’s post about shopping in LA Fabric District. And I did check out some of the stores mentioned. But it’s terribly hot in LA (compared to London). And I’m not a decisive person at the best of time. So faced with a sea of cheap but loud fabrics, I came back with nothing.

What I did get are a bunch of fabrics from FIDM’s Scholarship Store on W 9th St & S Grand Ave. All safe neutral browns of one sort or another. But at $1 per yard for more basic fabrics or $5 per yard for more interesting fabrics, you can’t complain. I got a bunch of nice stretchy knits at $1/yd (left picture below), and a couple at $5/yd (right picture below). The fabric section is in a little room somewhat hidden in the back. Rest of the store are RTW. I almost walked out thinking PR’s advice was out of date. Glad I poked around until I found the fabrics.

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Another exciting and surprising fabric find was some lovely jacquard lining fabrics from B Black & Sons on S Los Angeles St between W 5th & 6th St. The stores looks like mostly men’s tailoring fabrics and supplies – they even have pre-assembled hair canvas jacket front interfacings in the back, and waxed finishing thread skeins in a range of lovely suit colors.

Again, I almost missed the prize. I was just about to pay for some zippers when I noticed the linings behind the counter. I’ve been looking for more interesting lining fabrics like forever. True, I could have just bought nice silky fashion fabrics to use as lining like everyone else. But I don’t know. I just don’t have the heart to hide them inside when they’d happily parade outside. So I’m pretty chaffed with this find. We shall see if I don’t then decide they too are too nice to hide inside.

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And last but not least – this time not in Downtown – a couple more pieces from Mood Fabrics in the middle of nowhere (W Pico Blvd actually, but “nowhere” to my NYC shaped mind).

I originally wasn’t going to visit Mood this time, just because it’s such a pain to get to without a car. But then I happen to pass by it while sightseeing with my brother and his family in their rental car. Since my brother is also a fan of Project Runway and therefore well aware of Mood, we decided to stop by.

LA-mood-01This silk panel print is my most expensive purchase during this trip. I think it’s a designer fabric – Just Cavelli – which I don’t usually go for. But the Chinese looking print is just so lovely…and I’ve been looking for something like this, even considering taking up the brush myself if I can’t find any. So this was just perfect!

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This eyelet / Broderie Anglaise I’m hoping to turn into something vaguely inspired by the Louis Vuitton Spring / Summer 2012 collection. It’s not quite the right pattern or color, but it’s the closest I can find.

And that’s about it for fabrics. I was uncharacteristically restrained for a fabricholic because there are other stuff I got and my baggage is only so big. Plus I’m seriously running out of shelf space what with piles of new stretch fabrics I’ve been getting from Tia Knight aka Tissu online fabric store recently.

Coming up tomorrow: Books Books Books!

Fabricholic Confession: Stash Count Update

I need to catch up on blogging about the progress of my FFRR bodice fitting. But allow me to take a quick digression. I mean, surely you must be as bored with my slow fitting progress as I am!

So on to more exciting stuff for a few minutes. Or in my case a whole weekend: Recounting my fabric stash!

What prompted this recount is the arrival of yet another goodie package. We’re planning on a beach holiday soon and I got nothing to wear. I thought a proper make of Vogue Pattern V1159 would make a nice holiday dress.

I will write about V1159 once I’ve finished a proper make. Suffice it to say for now that thick sweatshirt like material does not a drapy dress make. See…

But it was the only 2-way stretch material I had for this muslin fitting. (Or “4-way stretch” in British parlance. I would never know why they call it “4-way stretch”. As if it’s possible to stretch to the right without stretching to the left, or up without stretching down. Weird Brits! ;-)

And of course if that was the only 2-way stretch material I have, I would have to order more to do a proper make! Step in Tissu Fabrics, aka Tia Knight on eBay. I got 6 cut of fabrics from them, with about 16 more on my wish list. I’ve read good things about the store and they didn’t disappoint. Quality seems on par with RTW garments. Shipping was next day. And as I ordered from the website instead of eBay, I got the free shipping for the over £50 orders.

I had previously compiled little swatch books of my stash. But I have failed to keep them up to date because I didn’t want to swatch new arrivals for fear of not having enough when it comes to frugal pattern layouts. The swatch books are also becoming too bulky to carry around when, erm, doing more fabric shopping.

I also lost track of which fabric I’ve pre-shrunk. So in yet another effort to get on top of an unruly stash, I started a spreadsheet this past weekend.

And this is what I found:

  1. I wish I have a fabric dictionary with sample swatches. It’s awfully hard to figure out what to call each fabric.
  2. I wish I have a color dictionary with sample color chips. It’s also awfully hard to figure out what to call each fabric color.
  3. I have 11 yards of this dupioni / shantung in a weird very pale blue-cream color that doesn’t even flatter my skin tone. What was I thinking of???!!!
  4. I’ve been forbidden to complain about my other half’s occasional trips down to the poker club because I recently dragged him all the way to Walthamstow Market for gingham, then discovered I already had some leftover in my stash.
  5. My stash count is now up to 220 cuts of fabrics. Or about 590 yards. See, your stash isn’t so bad after all!

Lost in Transit

I’m not a happy bunny today. Fabrics I ordered for my sloper fitting (and more) have gone MIA (Missing In Action).

And you know how I feel about fabrics. At work I was asked to introduce myself to a new team and one of the questions was your “interests / hobbies / what makes you tick.” I was going to write “sewing”. But on further thought, I have to admit’s it’s really “fabrics”.  Selfish as it may seem, if I get hit by a bus tomorrow, I think I’d want to be buried with all my unused fabrics. All 200+ pieces of them.

So this order was placed online a month ago with Calico Lane. They looked like a legitimate shop and claimed they’ve sent out part of the order three weeks ago. But fact is I’ve received nothing. And I guess being a small business, they’re not set up to refund me promptly. So I’ll be out of pocket probably for another couple of weeks – they’re waiting for the Post Office to reimburse them before they’re able to reimburse me.

I guess that’s the peril of internet shopping. Time to get my lazy self down to Goldhawk Road or even venture out to Walthamstow for some instant gratification. Cargo Cult Craft has compiled a handy guide to sewing supply shopping in London. And I’ll be checking out Did You Make That’s guide to her favourite fabric shops in Walthamstow as well.

Burda Style, it’s complicated

Being formerly American, I’m fairly new to the world of Burda Style magazines. Most of my past pattern purchases have been Vogue Patterns. But since I started lurking on other sewists’ blogs a year ago, I started buying the odd issues. I did consider subscribing, but (A) it’s not any cheaper, and (B) our love affair has not been true and constant. Towards the end of last year there were a few months of love-ups. But recently it’s been mostly blah disappointments.

That’s until the current issue. I saw this picture in the July 2012 issue and I just had to get it:

“But it’s just a simple square top!” I hear you protest. Well yes. I didn’t exactly buy this issue for the patterns. I bought it for the image of this scarf fabric. Because it reminds me of another Restyled Ready-To-Wear in my closet…

Like my newly decorated sewing room, the colors and pattern make me happy.

It’s from Top Shop, a second-hand top I think. There was only one on the rack and it’s made from this 70ish plasticky polyester. I wish the fabric were smooth drapy silk, for the original design might have worked better. As it was, I had to restyled it to avoid looking puffy. Here’s the Before & After diagrams (click on the images to enlarge and see the details):

The alterations:

  1. To create a slimmer silhouette I cut apart the sleeves from the bodice along the original stitching lines. Sewed the front & back side seams I just created about 2/3 way up. Hemmed the remaining part of the slits to create Japanese style kimono sleeves. (See close-up photo below.)
  2. To further slim it down I replaced the elastic gathering at the waist with loops at the waist side seams that pull the extra fullness towards a couple of buttons on the back. (See enlarged After diagram above.)
  3. For a bit of Greco-Roman flair – and that all important extra wearing option – I opened up the shoulder / sleeve top seams part-way to create slits. (See top two photos below.)
  4. Lastly a decorative waist tie thrown in for good measure. A couple of venetian beads weigh these fabric tubes down.

Et Voilà…


I like it too with a couple of shawls for a remotely English Civil War inspired look. In my rather irreverent muddled head anyway.

And back to Burda Style 7/2012…

I’m hoping to track down scarfs like the one used in that series of patterns. Sadly Roeckl, which supplied the ones used in the magazine, doesn’t seem to have that exact pattern anymore.

Anyone has suggestions for where to look?