Tag Archives: fabric

The I Stole it from a Sofa Shorts

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!

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Filed under Papercut Patterns, Sewing

The Market to Market Dress

I’ve made a lot of things so far here, and then the old problem of documenting them begins again.  But my New Year’s resolution is to post at least once a week, so let’s see if I can keep that, shall we?

I almost named this dress the Mangladas Market dress, but I didn’t, for reasons which will soon become abundantly clear.

Guys, you’ve probably never hear this before but India is an amazing place for fabric. I KNOW. I KNOW. It’s madness. I’m blowing your mind here. The thing is, before I moved here I had a very limited idea of what Indian fabric really looked like. We get a certain idea of a certain kind of fabric in the States, but that’s actually just a small fraction of the options. My Indian fabric education has only just begun.

Before I moved to India, I had a very specific idea of what fabric from India looked like. Once I moved here, I realized that I wasn’t wrong, per se, but I was limited. India is a land of major fabric production, and there is no one way to make fabric here, there are a thousand, and that’s just in one city. From North to South, East to West, the range of how fabric looks is wildly divergent. There are, of course, similarities, the material base is limited, mostly cottons and silks with wools in the far North, but the history of weaving in India dates back thousands of years, older than most other world civilizations. The Indus River Valley excavations show evidence of woven cloth and even some proof there was trade between China, India and the Middle East over 5000 years ago, which is fairly nuts, if you think about the fact that even today, Indian cotton production creates the most sought after products in the world.

Since I’ve been here, I’ve had a chance to visit the block printing museum in Amber (post to follow) and learned more about the printing techniques of the Northwest, which make up a lot of what I once thought Indian fabric looked like. The prints from Rajasthan come in many colors and shapes, but they are what I once believed the majority of Indian fabrics were, and I still have a huge adoration for them, despite all the others I’ve discovered. Recently, on a trip to Kolkata, I visited Dakshinapan Market, which I would recommend for any visitors to the city. It’s a huge government emporium, which means the prices are subsidized, and you can see goods and fabrics from all over the country. It was in Dakshinapan where I realized what came from where, what fabrics came from which part of the country. Although I gloried over the Bengali muslins, their high (and well deserved) price points made me sorrowfully put them aside in favor of other, cheaper, cloth. And luckily for me, I found some gems.

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I wore this dress for the first time fabric shopping with my friend Natasha (hi, Natasha!) In Mangaldas Market, which is where I would recommend anyone go fabric shopping if the come to Mumbai. Hence the name. From one market to another, the fabric works.

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Mangaldas is a little bonkers, but it’s fun, and filled with magnificent finds and amazing prices.

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My favorite fabric store is Rinkoo Fabrics.

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They are the damn best, with amazing options and tons of cool Japanese prints, which I can’t find otherwise.MTM8

Stores are divided between mens shirtings and suitings and womens stuff, but you can find amazing things at both.

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I felt super cool wearing the fabric from one market at another. I made this out of my bodice block, with a gathered skirt and pockets. I cut the border off the side and added it to the bottom (side note, I do not understand the border printing on a lot of Rajasthani fabrics.)

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A little back view for you.

MTM4This is what happens when you try to take photos in Mumbai. It’s a fun place to live.

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I may fall in love with a lot of Indian fabrics. I sort of already have. But I don’t think I will ever stop loving these Rajasthani prints. How could I? How could anyone?

Happy New Year, everyone! All my best for the year ahead!

Thanks for the photos, Natasha!

 

 

 

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Filed under Fabric, Travel

My Kind Of Town

My amazing and wonderful and beautiful and brilliant friend Jenny is getting married. Jenny is one of the best people I have ever met. We met in college, and we’ve been friends since our freshman year, so that’s about 7 years, now. She is upsetting nice (not only is she from the midwest, where they grow nice people, but she is naturally a kind and generous human. I would hate her on sight if I didn’t love her so much), she is gorgeous, she is going to heal the world (she’s in med school right now and MAKING IT HER BITCH). Oh, and she is also getting married to a remarkable and wonderful fellow this June. Congratulations Jenny!

So of course I’m making a bevy of outfits for the wedding, because that’s how I do, and also it’s fun to sew dresses (man, it’s so fun to sew dresses. I can’t really stand how much I love making dresses. It’s getting to be a problem.). So you can expect many more posts to come this spring on this subject. But this weekend I flew to Chicago (and boy are my arms tired) for the wedding shower.  And I am extremely lucky because not only did I get to see Jenny and her amazing family, but I also got to spend time with our friend Becca, who lives in Chicago with her own long term fellow, and is going to be a bridesmaid in the wedding! She and her gentleman put me up, for which I gave them booze. Like you do.

So while I don’t have any new garments to post, here are some shots of Chicago, and then a shocking and painful confession:

This is the Carbide and Carbon Building, an amazing example of Art Deco Architecture (of which I am very fond).

This is the Tiffany Glass Dome which you can see in the Chicago Cultural Center, formerly the Chicago Public Library. The mosaic in this building is amazing, I would go see it if you get a chance. Book-lovers like myself can delight in wall art like this:

So true.

People say that life is the thing, but I prefer reading.- Logan Pearsall Smith

And ME!

And now my horrid confession. I know I said I wouldn’t buy more fabric. I know I said I don’t NEED any more fabric. And I have been quite good and I haven’t bought a scrap of new clothing for over 4 months. But Becca and I went shopping, like you do when you are avid shoppers spending a free day in a lovely city full of things to buy. And while she drooled over sweaters and dresses, I averted my eyes, virtuously. But all that commerce got to me, folks, and in some down time I just couldn’t help myself, and I dragged poor Becca to Vogue Fabrics which I had found out about on the interwebs…..

and I bought some fabric. I couldn’t help myself!

I’m just showing you this one, because I don’t want you to judge me, but I bought 5 different items in total, including a short length of silk organza for interfacing, a lovely silk crepe by Anna Sui (the same kind Kelli used for this amazing dress), and two kinds of jersey (for Renfrews 4 and5). This beauty was sitting in the (extensive) remnant table, which is separated by fabric content (GENIUS, THANK YOU!) . Becca had noticed that I’d been eyeing turquoise ready-to-wear items all day, and said, in her glorious no-nonsense way, Leah, get this fabric. And I was like, I love you.

And then later, when I showed our June Bride Jenny the fabric, she was like, awesome, and I was like, you two are like the flying buttresses to my Cathedral. And by that I mean that you support me.

Of course I couldn’t be all that crafty in Chicago. OR COULD I?

I had to crop this because of some other junk that was on this table. But it’s a sweater! In process! Because knitting is mobile, and sewing is not. Until that day I learn how to haul my machine across the country. And then it’s on.

How was your weekend? Break any of your own rules? Get to see your friend unwrap scores of cooking supplies at a wedding shower? No? How sad.

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Filed under Fabric, Travel

Don’t Be The Bunny, (or why I can’t buy any more fabric for a long while)

Struggle, you might be asking yourself right now, what’s the deal with that title? You don’t have any bunnies. You like bunnies. Why wouldn’t you want someone to be a bunny? Well, honestly, I have nothing against rabbits. This is actually the title of one of my favorite songs from one of my favorite musicals (of which there are not many, because when it comes to musical theater I’m pretty dead inside, despite how many showtunes I can sing, word perfect). But this song comes from Urinetown, which I adore. And the first time I saw it I got so into this one particular song that I tortured my friend Bix with it for, like, a year. And really that all has nothing to DO with what I want to be writing about right now but I have recently been thinking about another song from that musical, The Cop Song, when I think about my fabric stash.

Why? Well, there is this line about a hoarder. And as I recently got two large garbage bags full of fabric from a former tenant who was, in fact, a hoarder. Which is sad. Really sad, actually, hoarders make me very sad.I don’t watch the show, because I know I would find it unbearably disturbing. But we did have a hoarder tenant, and he did leave many many many things behind when he left. Including fabric.  A lot of fabric. Some of it was scrap, some of which I saved for a pre-school class or something (coincidentally, if you know of one that needs scrap fabric, do let me know…). Some of it wasn’t my style, so I gave it to the good people at the Resource Exchange (seriously, if anyone is from Philadelphia or the surrounding area, check this out, very cool). But most of it I kept. And most of it is AWESOME. Wanna see?

One yard of this vaguely Japanese pattern from, one must suppose, 1980.

Two yards of this gorgeous knit. Hello, Ballet Dress Number 2.

1 yard, sadly of this awesome feathered blue cotton. What to do, what to do….

3.5 yards of this woo plaid business.

It was a crowd pleaser, clearly.

Fleece. Koala Bears. 1.5 yards. What else can I say?

2 yards of green bottom weight, whose content is unclear. I’m thinking 40’s style shorts. Thoughts? I don’t wear a ton of green, as it turns out, but it’s never to late for now!

3 yards of this plaid, that is actually a knit! WHAT? Crazytown.

2 thin yards of this chiffon.

Two yards of stretch velveteen. This one is pretty pimp, I must say.

3.5 yards of this funny speckled knit. What do you think, cute, or muppet? OR BOTH?

About 3.5 yards of this lace, which is only 20″ wide. I have a bit more in white, about 4 yards, same width. This will be a cut carefully kind of fabric. Clearly, Tiny Tiger approves.

This is just awesome. I have 1.5 yards of this, which must be a upolstery fabric but never mind that. The only thing printed on the selvage is “His Majesty”. The hell? It’s all part of the awesome.

2 yards of this candy-colored mid-weight cotton. This will be my Meringue skirt fabric. Get excited.

1.5 yards of wide canvasy (not a word) bottom weight.

Just under two wide yards of this tan knit. I’m thinking a shirt for my mamala. She’s an autumn.

Around 12 yards (12!) of this polyester chiffon.

3 yards of this floral rayon from 1969! How awesome this this? It might be my favorite one!

I love it. I LOVE IT! What can I make with it? The possibilities are endless.

So now I have all this fabric. And this isn’t even everything, it’s just the most photo worthy objects. I also go a bunch of lining fabric, and a fuzzy wool knit that I have already transformed into a stretchy skirt. I couldn’t resist! It wanted to be SEWN! I’m helpless before fabric.

But of course, this means I can’t really buy anything for a while. So my winter/spring plans are to exclusively shop my stash and try to use up some of this immense yardage by May. But I must say, I have to pat myself on the back for wandering through the sea of stuff in the hoarder’s abandoned apartment and salvaging all this fabric. It would have just gotten thrown away, and wouldn’t that have been a real tragedy? What a waste of gorgeous stuff, and of perfectly usable fabric! Instead, I’m going to take all this and make something pretty. Many somethings.And to think, two years ago I wouldn’t have known what to do with all this. Now, I’ve got all kinds of plans. I know we say this all the time here in the sewing blog world, but man, isn’t sewing the best?

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Filed under Fabric, Inspiration, Sewing, Vintage