Fabric is, to my mind, a subject of much debate in the sewing community. In the same way that there are those who do and do NOT quilt, there are those that are religious about garment fabrics versus, well, anything else, and those that aren’t. I understand this ethos, to a point. Fabric makes a garment. Just ask my friend Liz, whose amazing show, Fabric in Fashion, is currently up at FIT from now until May 4th, and always free to view!
For example, these are wool:
AND SO IS THIS:
And each of these garments is made with silk faille, at a different thread thickness:
Fabric. It’s amazing! But using a different fabric than intended by the pattern designer can mean it looks different from your own intentions. The thing is, ultimately, that’s okay. In fact, that’s a good thing, it might be exactly what you are going for. Perhaps the issue arises when it doesn’t work out the way you want, perhaps early in your sewing journey, when all that hard work and time and money spent on a garment yields a less than desired result, that it scares you, or warns you, not to mess around with stiff quilting cotton when what you want is slinky rayon. In the beginning, especially if you were a total beginner like me who came to sewing without a family history or past of doing it, everything was indeed a mystery, and learning rules for what to use when made sense, because the purpose was about replicating results.
But as time goes by, maybe those rules no longer serve, or maybe sewing has once again for me become the kind of experiment it was when I first started, because I’m decent enough at it that a mistake or a ruined garment is a bummer, but not a deal breaker, and I have learned to love the process enough not to be distraught by a result that is less than ideal.
So for me, I think I’m ready to break all those rules about what to use when, only this time, I’m doing it with a lot more knowledge under my belt, because I know the rule, and why it exists, which means breaking it is a deliberate act, not a mistake. And that, I believe, is a real difference.
Scarcity can also lead to rule bending and shattering, as we all know. And one of the things I’m scarce on here in India are good bottom weight fabrics. I’m not really sure why this is the case, maybe because people don’t incorporate them much into Indian traditional wear, so they don’t sell well? Most people here buy fabric to take to a tailor to have it sewn up into something for them, and that something is often Indian ethnic wear, which doesn’t really have a call for bottom weights, I suppose, so it makes sense, but then what’s a girl to do when she’s trying to make some shorts?
Think outside the box. In fact, think all the way to the sofa.
Recently, while shopping at a home goods store called Freedom Tree, I was perusing their line of upholstery/home fabrics and though, damn, some of these would make some cute shorts.
And sure enough, they did. And I wore them, in Singapore!
AM I RIGHT? Now, I know there are those out there who wouldn’t be into wearing a sofa on their bodies, but first of all, I’ve done it before, and second of all, as I said, scarcity can inform one’s choices! But even without that, this is awfully cute, and not really that off from say, duck cloth, so….why, why not? It’s a mid-weight upholstery fabric, which means it’s not rough, or too heavy, but it’s heavy enough to feel like a substantial bottom weight, which is great, because I want shorts that don’t feel like they are about to fall off my body at any given moment…I mean, who among us wouldn’t say that?
The pattern is the Papercut Patterns Palisade Pants, which I really liked, although it is interesting to think about it in light of the conversations about sizing in pattern companies I have been observing on social media in recent weeks. Papercut Patterns has some wonderful patterns, but it’s sizing range is pretty limited, and my body, or specifically my hips and bust, fall at the top of it, whereas it usually falls in the middle of, say, a Big Four pattern or a pattern company like Colette. This is a really cool company, design wise, but it seems like it might be eliminating a lot of talented and enthusiastic patrons with its sizing.
Wary as ever about the junk in my trunk, I made this in an XL, scaling the waist down to an L because I wanted it to stay loose and comfortable. I had actually made this once before, in a navy brushed cotton in the pants version, which was a life saver over a recent lighting quick trip to Vienna, and then again even more recently during my time in the United States last week, but I didn’t get a chance to document the pants, and that’s okay, these shorts are a lot more fun.
I don’t know how but I don’t have any photos of said junk aka the rear view of these, so sorry! This print is busy and the very cool element of the shorts, the pocket design, sort of gets lost in photos, but the pockets are deeply cool, and make me want to make these again and again.
Even Rubens thinks so.
You can kind of see them here. I was able to make this pair out of less than a meter (about 3/4ths) of 60 inch wide fabric, which is also a win.
I love the elastic waist with the flat front. I frenched all possible seams, zig-zagging any that weren’t possible to french, and the construction is really pretty easy. Papercut gives great very clear instructions, which I appreciate, because otherwise this looks like origami, but it’s far simpler than I would have thought.
Would you make garments out of non-garment fabric? Do you care about sizing inclusion in patterns? Did you celebrate Lunar New Year?
Well, Singapore did! Happy Year of the Pig, people!