It’s been sometime since I renovated the online store and it was needing it. For the past several weeks I’ve been working on putting together a new site and hopefully enabling a better shopping experience for you. Today it’s time to unveil the updated online store front to you! Yay! Since we’ve now added a lot of fabric to the online store, it was time improve several things. First of all we have improved shipping rates. These still might need some fiddling, but they are better. This is a very good thing and hopefully you’ll notice that you aren’t paying out the yin-yang for shipping. Additionally, to be able to get fabric samples out to you more efficiently, we are charging a small fee (only 15 cents a sample – no shipping charge!) and now you can just go into each fabric you want samples for and add them to your cart. Didn’t know that we offer a sample service? We do! We’re working on more ways of improving the online shopping experience of buying fabric and this is just the beginning. Though its not a new idea, it’s one we plan to improve and get you excited about in the ensuing months. We’ve got lots and lots of ideas for our fabric coming up. Oh goodness! It’s very exciting!
There was a surprising response to my wool crepe post and it got me thinking a lot about having a fabric and notion guide that is connected with the shop. So now, if you’re thinking, “I have no idea what this notion does or what that fabric is like” the fabric and notion guide can help you out. This is brand new, so bear with us as we keep working on that, but it should be awesome.
There were a lot of updates on the shop owner end here, so please bear with us as we work out any kinks and if you’re having any troubles, don’t hesitate to drop me a line (or leave a comment here). I hope you find the new online shop nice to navigate and easy to use.
We have several more exciting things coming to the online shop in the next while. I’ll definitely keep you posted. For now, enjoy the new site and know that we are back open for business! Hip Hip Hooray!
These are another pair of jeans I made for Mr. AFS. The funny thing was, I was thinking that I would skip doing a blog post about them. It’s just another pair of jeans. I mean, you saw the distressed ones I made for him and then I talked him into having a pair that was non-distressed. But then Mr. AFS kept asking me, “When are we going to do photos for my jeans?” I rather flippantly said something like “whenever” and then later on I thought, well I guess we’d better. The day of the photoshoot (a very high fa-lutin word for what we do around here…..) Mr. AFS was ready to break out his best shirt for the occasion. He even put some “stuff” in his hair and he left his beard on “for the girls” he said. Additionally, he said something to the effect of, he needed to look good for “his following.” Ahem.
This brings me to another point. I have been doing a fair amount of very non-selfish sewing around here. This is very unlike me. But I have to say that lately, it’s kind of nice to change it up. I find that it’s easier to fit others than it is to fit myself. Especially my mister. He just doesn’t have the same curves and such as I do and that’s nice. It also still keeps me fresh in the thick of sewing and keeping up with technique and such. I’m about to embark on making my mom a few pairs of pants. Crazy coincidence is that she fits into my perfected and beloved Burda pattern just like me. So I can just whip out two pairs for her in nothing flat.
Since I’m rambling a bit in this post, let me ramble some more. Mr. AFS wore his distressed jeans to a friend’s house awhile ago and they got to talking about how I make him his jeans. And then the wife of said friend said that she wanted me to make a pair for her man (Mr. AFS’ friend) and Mr. AFS was like, “well you’ll have to talk to Sunni.” He’s been schooled very well, because then he went into the discourse of how they are made and how they are made to fit him just they way he likes and how he wanted certain things like two different thread colors and he wanted a back pocket with a flap, but attached to the back pocket. All this to say that having the experience of someone custom make jeans for you – or any piece of clothing really – is something you’ll pay the big bucks for. Unless of course you’re married to the custom clothier or are related by blood!
I think we could probably go on for a good jot about how sad the state of the United States clothing industry is (and I only say the U.S. because that’s what I know and that’s where I live). People have no clue as to how much a piece of clothing should really cost or to be more precise, how much it would really cost if they were paying the people who made it a living wage! To say nothing of what the clothes we purchase these days are made of. Now, this is not to say that I don’t wear my fair share of ready-to-wear fashion. I do, because quite frankly, I don’t have time to make all the things and I do subscribe to that saying of “moderation in all things.” I make a very good fair share of my own clothing and some for those I love.
So my big question is, how do we get more and more people interested in making their clothes? How to inspire the younger generation to make stuff with their own two hands? From scratch? What are your thoughts?
There was such a great response to my wool crepe plug, that I thought I wouldn’t leave you hanging without some tips and tricks for using high end, high quality fabrics. Expect more about fabric/fiber types and also instructions for how to use them and what to watch out for in future posts! Today, I thought I would share my current sewing project with you and also a tip. I’m working on the Hollyburn skirt here (which I’ve made several times before and boy, do I love this pattern!) and I’m making it out of this saturated dark mustard wool crepe from my shop. By the way, this fabric in particular is one I hand selected, not because I thought everyone else would like it so much, but because I do! There’s a lot that goes into the way I think when it comes to purchasing fabric for the shop, but this one, wow, it’s one of my very favorite colors and I simply could. not. live. without. it! I’m so excited to show off my finished Hollyburn! Yay!
OK, anyway, let’s talk for a second about a technique that you’ll probably want to use when you’re working with woolens (isn’t woolens the best word ever?). I talked some about wool crepe as a textile and cloth in my last post. It’s usually a medium weight fabric and it has fantastic drape and it loves being steamed and pressed (it’s kind of magical actually the way it loves this – and yes, I’m certifiably crazy). It’s a very forgiving cloth and its very easy to use in a myriad of projects. One thing with wools though is that they are most definitely thicker and beefier than say, your average cotton. Since I do jackets and coats quite a bit, I’ve learned the value of trimming and grading seam allowances and that’s what I’m going to go over today.
The idea of trimming and/or grading is simple. The entire concept is to cut down on bulk and woolens are/can be bulky fabrics. So, in my Hollyburn skirt, where would this concept be most beneficial? Where would it be needed? Intersecting seams are a good place to start. Also, seams that are going to be encased within themselves – like in the case of a facing or waistband – is another. On Hollyburn, I would be concerned about bulk in the waistband. Note that this is where seams intersect and where they are encased within each other.
Trimming and grading is easy really. Once you’ve figured out the place where it needs to happen, the idea is to make the seams varying lengths (grading) and clip the corners off of the intersecting seams (I call this trimming). I do the trimming first. Intersecting seam? Just clip down to the intersection at a diagonal. You’ll be clipping off a triangular piece.
Grading comes next for me – though don’t feel you have to do this in this order, you can switch it up. Grading is simply making one seam allowance shorter than another. Which seam allowance should get graded down? This is actually the trickiest part. Think about the way the seam allowance will lay when pressed and put into place permanently. The seam allowance you’re going to trim is going to be the one that is furthest away from the right side of the garment. In the photo above, the waistband is interfaced and both the seam allowances are pressed toward the waistband so the seam allowance that is furthest away from the waistband is graded down. Sometimes you have more than two seam allowances in one area – like in the area where a jacket collar connects to the back bodice. There’s lots of seam allowance sandwiched in there and so you would cut down these seam allowances each to different widths. Here on my Hollyburn skirt I’ve just trimmed down one seam allowance to be about half as wide as the other. If I had more seam allowances, I would grade them down to varying widths. Make sense?
Since I work a fair amount with woolens, I’ve also invested in two very awesome scissors to help with this singular process of trimming and grading. Both are Ginghers. One is the 5″ tailor points (my personal favorite) and the other is the duckbill applique scissors. I use the tailor points the most. For some crazy reason they really do make the process of grading a lot easier. And the cold compress moment of cutting a big hole into your project a lot less likely – in fact I daresay I’ve never had it happen to me when I’ve used these. The duckbill applique scissors I use on squirly fabrics – like silk charmeuse – especially when I’m doing a baby hem. I’ll show that to you one of these days. Both are an investment, but both make the job of grading and trimming wools much easier.
Well, sewing friends, I hope this helps you out! Enjoy!
For more about Wools, visit the Working with Wool Section!
Since I’m surrounded by fabric all the day long and since I truly do love fine textiles with a passion, I thought it might be good if I dropped in every now and then with a fabric in focus. A lot of times when customers come into the shop, I find that they don’t really know what some of the fabrics mean, in that they don’t know a weave from a fiber type. And that’s OK, but sometimes its kind of interesting to know stuff. ha ha! We just received several wool crepes and I thought I should stop down and talk about wool crepe because it is a rather lovely fabric. It’s actually one of my favorites.
Let’s begin with the wool part and then we’ll move along to the crepe part. Wool is technically the hair of any animal that has been spun into a fiber/yarn and then woven (or knitted!) into a cloth. Wool is usually, incredibly versatile and very easy to sew with and press. Getting along with wool is not hard, which is why to me its kind of like the cold weather version of cotton. Cottons are usually pretty easy to sew with and so are wools. Definitely not a stretch to add wools into your sewing arsenal. I’d say that the only thing with wool is that it usually needs to be lined, but don’t be afraid to leave something unlined and just wear it with a slip too. Additionally, since wools are a protein fiber, they are prone to moths. While there is quite a bit of debate on how to keep your wool, I’ll say that I keep mine in plastic tubs with cedar balls. The washing of wools is usually not recommended (though I’ll admit, that doesn’t stop me!) because they can shrink or felt if agitated in hot water. I usually pre-wash a wool in cold water, on a gentle cycle and then hang to dry. It’s rare that I wash a finished garment out of wool – and that includes dry cleaning – but if I need to, I’ll usually wash on gentle, in cold and hang to dry or hand wash and hang to dry. If the garment has a lot of internal structure as in the case of a coat or jacket, I dry clean and only if it needs it. Before any debate begins, I’ll also say that if you’re not into washing wools, that is of course fine too! Whatever blows your hair back!
Crepe is a not specific to wool. You can have silk crepe (crepe de chine & 4 ply silk are both crepes) or polyester crepe. I’ve even seen crepe like knits too. Crepes happen when the fiber/yarn is twisted before its woven or knitted into cloth. It creates this bumpy like texture and is a little spongey. Wool crepe in particular has fantastic drape, but it’s also structured enough to create a fabulous jacket that would last a long time.
So there today is a little wool crepe lesson for you! Additionally, it’s time to usher in some cooler weather with a shop sale! Woolens are on sale today through October 31. Take 15% off any wool fabric in the online shop when you enter the code WOOLS15 in the discount code section at checkout. Enjoy friends!
For more about Wools, visit the Working with Wool Section!
The thing was my mom wanted a coat. She’s a true J. Peterman connoisseur and she saw the pics of my J. Peterman inspired Yona Wrap Coat and she was like, I gotta have one. And then there was the part where it was her birthday in September and well, this year is a special year for giving handmade gifts. When one has too much fabric to know what to do with, one starts giving it away in the form of actual garments. Even complex garments like a coat….
from left to right: my sis (the prima donna who’s already birthed 3 kids and is still thin as a rail), me (the big crazy eyed one), my mom (the originator of my crazy, plaid lovin style).
And then I was talking to my mom on the phone and things like “well, do you think Abby (my sister) would like one?” and “well, you know, its just as easy to cut and make two as it is to make one” started flying out of my mouth like I knew what I was talking about. I had this picture perfect idea of me, my mom and my sis in picture perfect plaid coats in an actual picture. I was like, I gotta have that. There’s also nothing like a challenge to make me rise to the occasion. So I cut out these plaid coats for my mom and sis on a Wednesday or something and they were both finished by Tuesday night the next week. I was totally on fire. What can I say? Inspired doesn’t seem to cut it. I made it happen and I totally felt like a ninja. The point has come for me where I just need to sew and I need to sew like the wind. Let’s get this happening already!
My sister’s coat was made from a remnant we had at the store. It was this fleece backed wool blend. I lined it in the same kasha coat lining as found here and that stuff is wonderful (yes, please buy some – you know you need it :). Good gravy. I lined my coat in that too and seriously, there’s not much like it out there. My mom’s coat is made from this plaid (totally on sale and totally in the online store). It’s um, really scratchy. But that’s the thing, you know. Its a coat and you can’t feel the scratchy-ness through that kasha coat lining (my mom’s is lined in that too) and then I used velveteen for the collars on both coats so you know, we’re good on the scratchy wool front here.
My mom and sis are completely in love with their coats. One word: epic. I absolutely can not believe that I was so……. unselfish. But I was and it did feel good. Ha ha! I made exact replica’s of my coat – as in fitting. I thought you might like to know that because this coat is very forgiving and my mom, sis and I really have very different figures, but this worked. We’re all roughly the same size but as with every other woman on the planet we couldn’t be more different. My mom is petite and has an ample bust and no hips where my sister and I are average height and have average bust sizes. My sister is more slender and lanky than me, but it is interesting to see how these all fit on us. Isn’t fitting the weirdest?
There you have it folks! Plaids for the whole family (well, the girls anyway)! Hurrah!