Today’s Fabric Friday is another lace pick. Alençon Lace. It’s almost like cheating really to be talking about Alençon Lace today. Why? Because it’s basically Chantilly Lace that is corded (and we talked about Chantilly last week, in case you missed). How do you pronounce Alençon? alan-sohn. Now you can sound smart when you’re asking for it at your local high end fabric shop!
Again, Chantilly Lace is when the design/motifs – like the florals – are woven into the lace itself instead of being embroidered on. With Alençon, you’ve got some nice cording that is applied to the motifs. Its usually a relatively heavy cording, because sometimes Chantilly’s can have very very light cording. So you’re looking for something much more textural when you’re looking at Alençon. Chantilly’s are flat laces. Alençon’s are corded to add texture, richness and density. Cording is technically called Cordonnet, just in case you were wondering.
I thought for today I would give you some more lace geekery. These terms can be applied to all laces. I’ve been talking a bit about when laces have a decorative edge – like scallops – running along each selvedge edge. When you have one decorative selvedge edge the lace is called flounce and when both are decorative it’s called galloon.
That’s good for today’s lace geekery, I think. Do have any Alençon Lace? I find it looks quite rich – definitely needs to be paired with the right thing, in my opinion.
In keeping with last week’s Fabric Friday, I thought I would keep going with the lace family. When you start delving into lace, it becomes more mysterious and fascinating all at the same time – or at least I think so. I find it amazing that what looks like such a delicate fabric can really be so strong. Really cool.
Today I thought I would focus on Chantilly Lace. Did you know that in french, the word Chantilly means something along the lines of whipped cream? It’s also the name of a city in France where Chantilly Lace originated from (hence the name for Chantilly Lace, even though knowing about the whipped cream part is pretty fun too). A fine chantilly lace is truly lovely. Personally, I rarely see one that has a design that I truly love, so when I do, I snatch it up!
Chantilly lace is different from re-embroidered lace in a few key ways. Instead of the motifs being embroidered onto English Net and then possibly beaded, Chantilly has the motif woven into the lace itself. Re-embroidered lace has a surface design that is applied after and the Chantilly has more of a flat, less textural design that is woven directly into the lace as it’s being made.
Chantilly started out as a bobbin lace. What’s bobbin lace? It’s also known as pillow lace because it was worked by hand on a pillow. Individual strands/fibers were designed (braided and twisted) around a set of pins that were placed in the pillow at various intervals. From there the individual strands were worked into a lace and while they were worked they were wound around various bobbins to keep them separate.
Fine Chantilly has a picot edge – or eyelash edge as I’ve heard it called too. These looped edges run along the scallops which would be considered the selvedge on regular fabrics. Again, as I stated last week, lace doesn’t have a grainline, so you can utilize the scallops to your advantage. Along a pretty neckline or at the edge of a sleeve or hemline of a skirt or dress.
Have you ever used Chantilly? Have one in your stash? Do tell!
For today’s Fabric Friday, I thought I would delve into the world of lace. Since finishing up my besotted blouse last week, I thought it would be great to highlight laces. Today’s lace: Re-embroidered lace! I thought I would do this one first as it’s the same type that I used in my besotted blouse.
Lace get’s a pretty bad rap, I think, as being hard to work with. It’s really not. Like really, really. I daresay that lace is fairly easy to work with. It just requires a special skill set – not unlike how you have special skills/techniques for knits. Laces are like that. You need to pick sewing patterns that cater to the lace. Case in point: my besotted lace and silk blouse. I created the pattern especially for the lace I was using. The lace is beaded and as I was looking at the lace, I realized that I didn’t want to mess with a dart anywhere in the front of the bodice. Additionally, I didn’t want to mess with a curved hem in the front either. So those two things got tossed in favor of something simpler to sew with this fabric.
To begin, we need to know what netting is and how it’s utilized in these laces. The netting I’m showing you is English Net. The kind I carry in my shop is the flowy and soft kind – not the stiff kind. The soft and flowy kind is the kind that is quite a bit harder to get your hands on, or so I have found. English Net is really, just a simple netting that is usually made from silk – but the silk version is outrageously expensive (like $150 per yard). The version I sell is a rayon/nylon blend. The rayon gives it some nice drape and the nylon gives it softness.
With re-embroidered lace, you have English Net that has been embroidered with motif – usually florals. The embroidery is then corded.
Re-embroidered laces can also be beaded. These can be quite lux with glass beads, sequins and rhinestones.
Fine laces – or at least the ones I normally see and purchase for my shop – have a finished scallop running along both selvedge edges. Sometimes the scallop is not the same on both sides, like in the case of a border motif style lace. When you’re working with lace, the cross grain usually becomes the new straight of grain so that you can better utilize these scallop edges – but don’t let that fool you. Lace doesn’t have a grain, so you could do some wild things with it if you wanted. That said, there is usually more give in the cross grain than in the straight of grain. Additionally, lace doesn’t fray or unravel so you can cut the motifs in the lace apart and slap those on different garments in different places if you wanted. Use all that to your advantage.
Have you worked with lace before? What gives you pause when it comes to lace fabric?
Find more Fabric Friday posts here!
Since I got you all excited about creating your own patterns – from a pattern that already fits you – in my last post, I thought I would give you some fitting thoughts of what I went through with my versions of McCall’s 6649. I posted an update about the Craftsy class with Sarah Holden in my last post, but I thought I would state it again. This particular class does not offer any help whatsoever for fitting. It focuses on pattern drafting from a pattern that fits you. The fitting process is a whole class unto itself, so that was not covered in a class like this (but see below for more info on my fitting references). Often times fitting, for me, is a really rotten and time consuming process (isn’t it for everyone?). One thing I really really don’t enjoy is that I tend to start second guessing myself at the end of it all. Do I really like the fit of this? Maybe I should make a few more tweaks? Shouldn’t it be more fitted? Hmmm, the sleeve might be an 1/8″ too long? An 1/8″? Isn’t that a little nuts? Are we actually trying to split hairs here? AHHHHH! This process is called overfitting and it happens, I think, to all of us (well I hope it does or I am a bona fide nut job). I usually have to step back from something like this and then come back to it a few days or weeks later.
With McCall’s 6649, I made an initial muslin. From there I created this flannel shirt that I blogged back in August of last year. That was my first rendition. The sleeves were too short, the collar was too tall and flopped about too much (for my taste). The shoulders needed a forward shoulder adjustment, the sleeve cuff was too big. I also like to sew the button placket in a different way (this is just too lumpy for my taste). These were things that needed fixing even after I had done a muslin and made extensive fitting adjustments before I made up this version! In case you were worried, I didn’t pick this pattern back up and finish the fitting process until December 2014. It did not take me since last August to fit this pattern! Ha ha! Now that would be bad!
My second round proved better. I measured a sleeve and cuff from a button-up shirt I had and liked the fit of and then adjusted my pattern accordingly. Also compared the collars and made more adjustments to my pattern. The sleeve cuff on this one still ended up being too big for my taste preferences. And yes, I totally added lace to this one! This is a Liberty of London print, just in case you were wondering.
I adjusted the sleeve cuff for this favorite version (read more about this one here)! The cuff is a little more fitted and that’s exactly the way I like them. This shirt, I daresay is perfect. Again on this shirt, I opted not to sew in the vertical darts on the front bodice, just to mix it up a little. I like things boxy sometimes and I was curious to see if it still “fit” if I didn’t sew in the darts. It fits just fine, it’s just a different sort of fit which is good because then the wheels start turning and I start seeing possibilities for future hacks!
And then just to be safe, I made one more version in a most beloved Liberty of London that I had been stashing for some time for just this very purpose. I decided to go whole hog and do all of the things, including front vertical darts and pockets with flaps.
I decided to show you all of these because I feel that sometimes people might think that fitting can be solved after one muslin iteration. While a lot of it can and the garment you make next is usually just fine or at least wearable, you’ll end up wanting to tweak things for an even better fit in the next go around. Why? Because you CAN! Hello fitting ninja! The kinks come out of it pretty well when you’re into your third make from the same pattern – at least this has been my experience. Granted, there are a lot of patterns out there that I don’t make multiples of. Sometimes those patterns are just one hit wonders, but base patterns like these I take a good long time with and really get the fit right on par for what I want.
I took this class on Craftsy quite some time ago, which I found to be incredibly useful pre-muslin – Fast Track Fitting with Joi Mahon. Her follow-up class is really good too, Fast Track Fitting, in the Details. She’s also got a great book out – Create the Perfect Fit – and all of these resources stick to the same method that she really tries to drill into your brain – measure your body, measure and adjust the pattern. I like her method a lot because you use measurements from your body and then you adjust the pattern before you do your initial muslin. It clears up a lot of the big problems. After the muslin phase, I tweak the fit utilizing the first edition of Fitting & Pattern Alteration. Really, really awesome fitting book.
OK, well I think that’s enough about fitting for one day. Hopefully there’s some good information here for those of you who might be stuck or thinking about overfitting every sewing pattern you’ve ever made! Do you make multiples of patterns to get the fit just right? Do you over fit? I know, it’s totally a thing, right?
Over the course this year so far, you’ve seen my adoration for a certain button up sewing pattern (McCall’s 6649) and then a couple of hacks of things I’ve made from it (here and here). I thought I would take a sec, stop down and say a little more about it. It’s exciting. Well, at least I think so.
Hopefully this post will help clear up some questions I’ve been getting and hopefully it will show you that you can take a pattern and hack it up and not have to re-invent the fitting wheel. This is a skill I’ve cultivated over several years and one that is well worth the time invested and when you get to the pattern drafting part, it’s really quite fun to learn (in like a scrapbooking sort of way!). In my recent hack of my beloved McCall’s 6649, I mentioned a Craftsy class I had taken. One Pattern, Many Looks with Sarah Holden. I enrolled in the class last year sometime and then it sat in my Craftsy cue for many months. One night, I was really tired and decided to watch this Craftsy class as I was sitting in bed. I watched all the episodes right there and then. I was riveted and I was so excited to get up and get started in the morning. Dreamt of pattern hacks all night! Yessssss!
The class takes you through this pretty fascinating process. First you’re supposed to fit the pattern. This process actually took a few weeks (the longest part of this whole business) because I wanted something that truly, was perfect and that usually means, for me, that I work out any and all kinks in a pattern by making it up at least 3 times. Seriously, 3 times is the charm. I have some more thoughts about the fitting process in my next post, but yeah, I made this shirt up a good 3 times (and then one more time, making that 4 times!!) before I moved on to the rest of the content of the class. Update: Just so you are aware, this Craftsy class does not cover anything about fitting! It’s only about pattern drafting and manipulation.
After a perfect fit, then it was time to reverse engineer the pattern back to sloper form. What is a sloper? In the most basic terms, a sloper is a base pattern, without seam allowances, from which other patterns can be created or hacked from. You can have different types of slopers. For example, you can have bodice, sleeve, dress, pants, etc. From there you can even have varying types of those basic patterns like a button-up shirt sloper or a raglan sleeve sloper. The idea is that you’ll start forming an entire collection of base patterns that are closer in idea to what you want an end pattern to be. More colors in a crayon box if you will.
Anyway, back to McCall’s 6649. I created a sloper from this pattern and transferred all of the pertinent markings to posterboard. All of the seam allowances have been cut off here and there are holes and notches in specific places. Putting a pattern like this on posterboard is fantastic because then when I’m ready to create a new top from this pattern, I can just trace it off in a matter of seconds. The posterboard is stiff so you can just trace around it really easily.
In the Craftsy class, Sarah shows you some really great hacks. And these are just starting points. I mean you really do have the entire world at your feet when you start creating your own patterns – from patterns that already fit you! Since you’ve already addressed the fit, that tends to not be a problem anymore. You might run into some issues here and there, but they are minimal by comparison.
All in all, I’m very very pleased with how my hacks have turned out from this process. It took a lot of time, but was well worth the investment. Onward and upward from here. Have you gone through this process before? What kinds of slopers do you have? If you haven’t, I can’t recommend something like this enough. You learn a ton about fitting and about your body and what things you should be looking out for when you go to try a new sewing pattern. Plus then there’s the creative gratification that comes from creating a pattern of your very own. Fun, fun!