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.
I hope you didn’t think that I had abandoned Fabric Fridays around here. I was down and out for two weeks during the Christmas/New Year hubbub and well, you know. Stuff. Now, we’re returning to some regularly scheduled postings. Fabric Fridays are here to stay! They are fun for me to put together and they remind me that a) I have an overwhelming stash of pretty gorgeous fabric (bad Sunni!) and b) it’s nice to pull out this stuff and remind myself what I was going to make and try to start making all the things! Today’s fabric: Wool Flannel.
In point of fact, this is not a fabric I see very often. Sure, I see my share of cotton flannels, but wool flannel is a different story. You know the fiber type that we’re looking at today is wool, but let’s take a closer look at what flannel is.
Flannel is associated with a cloth that is soft, warm and a bit fuzzy. I’ve seen flannel in a semi-loose plain weave structure and also a twill weave – I usually see plaids in the twill weave. Flannel is typically brushed on one side or both. If you think of this on a larger scale, it’s basically a fine tooth metal brush machine that rubs the fabric to create a fluffiness. The brushing of the cloth makes the staple fibers (the yarns the fabric is woven together with) puffy – the same idea as ratting your hair! The puffy fiber then fills in the loose weave of the cloth and makes it more dense and well, soft. How was that for an explanation?
I have to be honest and say that I don’t know why we don’t see more wool flannel about. Maybe you see more of it where you are in the world. I’ve made one thing out of a lovely fuchsia color – this pencil skirt. I wear it a good amount and it was a lovely sewing experience. Wool flannel is very easy to work with.
Wool flannel has a nice structured hand for the most part, but I’ve also seen a few that are bit more drapey and on the finer/thinner side. Wool flannel works nicely in lots of different projects – coats, jackets, slacks/trousers, skirts and even shirts. I know one lady in particular who still makes her man those classic Pendleton knock-off wool flannel button-up shirts.
What’s your take on wool flannel? Have you ever sewn with it? Have some in your stash?
For more about Wools, visit the Working with Wool Section!
Sigh…. Friends, thank you. Thank you so much for your encouragement in my last post about the Sewing Room. It’s so exciting and the more I think about it, the more excited I become! Oh what fun we’ll have. I did receive a comment or two and several emails about my blog posting habits and whether or not they would be affected, so I thought I should tell you a little bit more about the Sewing Room. If you’re going to twist my arm and all that. My mister coined the name, the Sewing Room. We both knew it was meant to be like my sewing room at home, but bigger. This is my stomping grounds! So I envisioned not only a place to teach others how to sew and
be a crazy fabric addict like myself, but it’s clearly a place that serves my own personal sewing world. We have a sewing library complete with some good sewing titles – I’m still waffling about adding my own personal sewing library here for others to look at and possibly check-out. There’s lots and lots of space, which is really really good. The basement area of this brick and mortar building is the stash, where we keep the fabrics for the online shop and where, if you take a class, you can come and shop. Additionally, my entire set-up for blogging is located here in the Sewing Room. This has transformed from being just a passion, to what I do for a living. It was important to me to create spaces in the Sewing Room that facilitated my need for all aspects of what I do. This space to take photos in (the space you see me in below) – something I’ve wanted for years. It feels luxurious to go to a studio and take photos of my creations. To sew there and to fill orders for the online shop there. To teach there. Oh, this is a big big thing. I’ll bet you can feel that as you read this. My blogging, you ask? I know I’ve been lousy at it for the past year, but well, the future holds a different promise I’m hoping. Anyhow, onward and upward.
Back in November, I made this Hollyburn with this luscious dark mustard wool crepe that we had in the online shop (sold out fairly quickly!). This color for me, is like one of the 8 wonders of the world. This and chartreuse, which I find closely related to this color, so naturally I’m all over this color like white on rice. I do love it so.
I took enough for this skirt and then I’m also considering a dress or some pants with the leftover. We’ll see which one wins out for the last of the fabric. But anyway, its been sometime since I made a Hollyburn. My last rendition of this skirt was worn to a raveling. It just goes with everything so well. The shape is beautifully swingy in the wool crepe here. And then there’s the pocket thing, which I absolutely and utterly adore. Perfect pockets, perfect, easy shape. A TNT for me, for sure.
And then I got a little lusty for this Hunter Green Wool Crepe from the shop too (still available for your info). So I took a bit home and cut out another Hollyburn. And of course, this has all got me thinking about yet another rendition for Spring – in one of our new wool crepe colors (hello bright cheery colors)!!!!!!!!!! Possibly much much shorter on the skirt length here! Oh la la! I’m sure you’re all waiting with bated breath for that!
I’ve made this skirt a few times – when it was formerly just the skirt portion of the Lonsdale dress. When I made the Lonsdale dress a few years ago, I was completely taken with the skirt portion and from there made a few. I couldn’t find my beloved pattern this time around (who ever said anything about keeping a clean and organized stash???) and so I opted to just use a Hollyburn pattern which I had on hand. I made a couple of changes – created a contoured waistband, added a lining to both skirts and separated the pocket facing from the pocket lining. Really nothing mind blowing, though I plan to show you how to do a lining for a skirt like this in a few weeks as I still work my way through the Working with Wool series.
You’ll notice I’m in keeping with the working with wool trend! Yay! I should definitely win some extra points for that, I think – which have already been translated into a Dr. Pepper – drinking as I type! Yess! I thought you might like to see wool crepe in garment form. Again, this is one of my favorite wool textiles. It works so well in a myriad of garment options. The lovely drape and swing work so well for a skirt, yet wool crepe looks fabulous in a structured trouser as in here. If I haven’t convinced you of the loveliness of wool crepe yet, there will be more opportunities coming up for me to do so, I’m sure.
And I know I’m tempting you, but seriously, there are AWESOME new wool crepe colors in stock in the online shop.
So who’s ready to join my wool crepe Hollyburn train? huh?