Whoosh! And my life is off to a running start this week. I just need to take a moment, stop down and say, Thanks. The Sewing Room is officially open and we are running our workshops now – February workshops are now available, working on March too. As January has progressed, the Sewing Room has been steadily getting more and more busy. This is so wonderful to watch. SO WONDERFUL! I love seeing others taking part in sewing and having it happen here in my studio is marvelous. Thanks to all of you who have signed up for a workshop! I look forward to seeing more of you this year! Yay!
Now, for Fabric Friday! Today’s fabric is Wool Melton. I see this fabric a lot and I find that it’s fairly common. What is Wool Melton? Well…..
It’s a coating fabric, meaning very specifically that you would usually use this fabric to make a coat with. That means it’s a nice, substantial, beefy and thick fabric. The better to keep you warm! It’s very dense and very tightly woven. This makes a great candidate for coats because nothing gets through melton cloth. That cold winter wind is kept at bay! Additionally melton goes through a fulling process and then it’s brushed. To be honest, it’s akin to wool flannel (though flannel is a looser weave), but quite a bit beefier.
When I see wool melton, it’s usually mixed with another fiber. I daresay I’ve never seen one that is 100% wool, which definitely doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, I just haven’t ever seen one. Wool melton is usually a mix of wool, polyester, acrylic, nylon or a combination of all of these. The higher the wool content though, the better your shaping/sculpting/pressing experience will be when you make a garment out of it.
Wool melton is wonderfully thick so, it goes without saying that you would probably make a coat with it. You could also do winterized accessories like hats too. It might be possible to do a heavyweight woven cardigan as well. A wintry blanket with a bias binding would be uber warm. This cloth will fray a bit, but not as much as others. It’s fairly easy to work with, until the layers start building up – keep those seam allowances trimmed and graded and pick designs that don’t have a lot of intersecting seams.
Got some wool melton in your stash? Have you made anything out of one?
For more about Wools, visit the Working with Wool Section!
Confession time! You know that I love gorgeous fabric right? I really do. I have this funny thing I do though. I’ll buy a piece of fabric – a really knock-out piece – and then I won’t use it. I save it. And this year, I was like, we are not going to be doing this anymore! I’m TIRED of saving things. And excuse me, but what in the world am I saving my fabric for? The day I become perfect? I know, this is weird. When I really sit and think about what I’m saving my fabric for, I can’t even find a logical answer to this question.
Another confession. I LOVE fine cotton lawn/voile (by the way, I have no idea what the difference between these two are, there doesn’t seem to be one). I have a pretty good stash of Liberty of London Lawn and these new Art Gallery Voiles. I had been saving this rather loud Art Gallery Voile for well, I don’t know. It was one of those fabrics. It’s time, and it’s been time for some time (ha ha!), to get with the program and start making some things with all this saved fabric.
As someone who has never been able to find an abundance of button-up shirts that fit, making one’s own shirts is a major win. In point of fact, who even knew that I liked button-up shirts until I made one that fit me and didn’t feel like a straight jacket?! As someone who absolutely loves loud flower prints and has longed for a closetful of such printed button-up shirts, being able to beautifully fit, sew and choose my fabric (from my own stash!) is dreamy. Dare I even say, luxurious.
This is another McCall’s 6649 – and I’m pretty sure you’ll be seeing a few more of these colorful button-ups as the year progresses. In fact I can guarantee it. I’ve got the pattern perfected now. I’m excited to start hacking it. Very excited. One of the reasons I think this pattern is so great is because it has all the darts – two front and two back vertical darts for fit and shaping and also bust darts. The reason this is so great is because there is so much that can be manipulated – to create new designs – when all the darts are present. I have some fun ideas to share with you for future hacks for this pattern and I hope you’ll find that once you’ve mastered fit and perfected a basic pattern, you can start creating your own patterns instead of trying to reinvent the wheel every time you want to sew a different style. Plus I’m starting to get really overwhelmed with all of the amassing of not only fabric, but sewing patterns. I need another sewing pattern like a hole in the head. It’s starting to get nuts (like I just don’t have room for all of this nor the time to make them all!). Maybe 2015 is the year I start getting real with myself. What about you?
I was most definitely saving this fabric choice. I love it so much. I left off the front vertical darts on this particular shirt, just to change it up. I’ve actually made up this pattern a couple of times and after tweaking it several times over, I’m feeling confident that I finally hit the gold mine. I used a contrasting fabric (the stripe) for the cuff and collar stand facing and also the sleeve placket. I love doing this! Love it! I also think I did a pretty good button picking job – the hardest part for me! I didn’t want anything that was too loud, too big or competed for attention.
Are you a shirt lover? Do you save fabric? I find that the classic shirt is a very, very satisfying sew. I use many of the techniques from David Coffin’s book on the subject and I’ve also amassed a few old Thread’s articles that are pretty clever too. This shirt, it’s one for the books – I finally used up a beloved fabric piece and now, I’m wearing it. Loud and proud.
I was asked recently if I have been seeing a resurgence in the apparel fabric industry – meaning, are some of those really really hard to find fabrics becoming more and more available. I do believe they are, however slowly it might be happening. Case in point: Wool Challis.
Do you know what challis is? I see challis most commonly among the rayon family and then a couple of years ago, I purchased a gorgeous wool challis from a local fabric shop. The lady who was manning the shop at the time told me she hadn’t seen the fabric in many years. I had never seen it at all. And then, I started seeing it more and more and over the past couple of years I’ve seen this fabric become much more easy to get. Take that for what it’s worth.
So challis. What’s challis? First of all, let’s get the pronunciation correct – pronounced sha-lee. Apparently the term challis means soft and this, I think, is a good description of challis. It’s a thin drapey sort of cloth. It’s a plainweave weave and it’s most commonly known for its pattern or design. I see great, great designs/patterns in challis and they can be woven into the cloth or printed on. Challis is usually matte, meaning it doesn’t have a shiny look to it. If it does, then it’s a french challis or a norwich crepe (and remember crepe can be differentiated because it’s woven with a twisted yarn). I find wool challis to have a somewhat rough texture to the fingers though it has very flat look to the eye.
Rayon challis is becoming much more common as those quilting cotton manufacturers are producing some great prints. Wool challis is a bit harder to get (hopefully becoming easier though) and sometimes I see wool challis mixed with another fiber – namely cotton or silk.
Definitely worth the having. When it’s got some wool in it, I notice that the drape factor is not as drapey as rayon. This can be nice for dresses, button-up shirts, blouses, skirts – something where the lightweight factor and drape can be shown off a bit.
Do you have wool challis in your stash? This is such an interesting fabric.
For more about Wools, visit the Working with Wool Section!
When working with woolens in general, there comes a point when you are going to have to consider comfort. This is one of the first things that I consider now before I start a project with wool. For me, I’ve found that wools can be scratchy next to my skin. Even if its a very fine quality cashmere, they do end up being a bit on the itchy side. It’s worse in some woolens than in others and that’s fine, but it’s also good to take into consideration how to make wool garments comfortable, if needed. Today I thought I would share just that and hopefully you’ll find working with wool more appealing if you were worried about the scratchy factor!
First things first. At some point you’ll need to start thinking and learning how to line a garment. It’s a good skill set to have. I love lined garments. I always have. I think lining a garment adds longevity to just about anything. It also creates a touch of professionalism and takes your sewn projects to a completely new level. I’m actually going to go over a few lining treatments for several garment types, but one book all sewing enthusiasts should own is Easy Guide to Sewing Linings, by Connie Long. It is essential. I’ve talked about it here before and it is my most recommended book to anyone who wants to learn the art of sewing with linings. If you want to branch out to use wool more often, get this book (note: this book is out of print, but Taunton has created an e-book). You’ll be glad you did.
Another tip to consider whenever you are about to embark on a wool project is points on your body where wool is bound to touch and whether or not one area of the body is more sensitive to the itch factor than another. When I’m making coats and jackets, I consider the collar as an area of comfort I want to address. This is something that Beth from Sunnygal Studio tipped me off to some time ago and now its something I always consider as my neck is prone to itching more than other parts of my body. Mixing fabrics is bound to add interest and so now I think about an alternative for a collar piece. Like cotton or silk. Did that in my J. Peterman coat which added real comfort (used a cotton velveteen).
Something that goes along with this idea is waistband techniques. For my wool crepe Hollyburn skirts, I used a contrast piece of cotton as a waistband facing. Note: In this pattern the waistband is one piece that is folded over. I separated the piece and created a facing instead. This technique is something that could easily be used in parts like a collar stand, cuff facings (on a shirt/blouse) or a pants/trouser waistband. Additionally, you could also use petersham ribbon as a waistband or facing. I do this a lot. There are many ways to utilize this technique and this is but one (my tutorial here).
Now, you might be asking, “Well, why would I want to go to all this trouble when I could just as well use a different fabric instead?” I have to tell you, from my own experience, wool is worth the trouble. It’s a lovely, lovely textile. It has fairly unique properties that set it apart from others and it’s always worth it, in my opinion, to work with wool. Like other fiber/fabric types, it has it’s own skill set when you use it, but all of the skills you learn with wool make you a better sewist anyway – and that’s totally worth it! I’ll do a post on the uniqueness of wool coming up.
Do you have any tips for comfort when working with wools? Please add them to the comments! I would love to know.
For more about Wools, visit the Working with Wool Section!
This is an old skirt. You’ve seen it here and here if you’ve been reading me for a long time. And then if you took my Craftsy class, you probably wondered about this top. I received several questions about it – I still do – and so I thought I should probably let you know all about it. I don’t know why I didn’t blog about it when I made it except to say that my life has been nutty for the past couple of years. Time is something that I don’t have enough of in any given day. Who does? Making the time now, that’s for sure!
So this blouse was made to go with this skirt because I’ve had a devil of a time finding anything that I liked this skirt with. I’ve made a couple of things now for it and I’ve also purchased a couple of things too and so, I wear this skirt a lot more often than I did, which is good because I love it. Back to the blouse: this is a vintage pattern. I know, I know. This couldn’t be worse news for everyone because every time I wear this top with this skirt, I’m always asked what pattern it is. It’s McCall’s 6020, View A. Really, really cute no?
In point of fact, I made this so long ago I don’t recall anything really excitingly crazy about the pattern. I opted to line the thing using this method for the bodice and then I self lined the peplum in this same fabric. No lining in the sleeve.
Additionally, I’ve had loads of folks ask me about this fabric. It’s a Liberty of London lawn. Not sure if you can still get it, but if you’re looking for something that’s fairly similar, there’s this lovely Art Gallery Cotton Voile in the shop. And if I didn’t know better, I would say these Art Gallery Voiles are almost identical to Liberty lawn in quality, but at a lower price point. If you follow me on Instagram (and you totally should!) then you’ll know I’m making another McCall’s 6649 out of it.
Funny thing: I purchased the Liberty of London fabric online specifically to go with this skirt, not knowing if it really would match or not. I rarely do that, if ever because of course, computer screens do weird things to color the world over. But it worked. A client once told me the best thing I’ve ever heard. “It doesn’t have to be matchy matchy, it just has to go together.” Very wise words of wisdom, don’t you think?
Now, off to have a cheeseburger, a Dr. Pepper and give myself a pat on the back for finally blogging about this cute little blouse.