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!
First things first. I have an update for you about the September Soiree from last Thursday’s post. It was FABULOUS! We had a wonderful turnout, the shop was packed and we cut fabric like fiends. It was so much fun. Thank you everyone who came and all of the good vibes that I know were out and about that night. We felt them! Yay! Oh, and here’s that cookie recipe and I’ll work on getting some panoramic photos posted of my shop for my next shopkeeper’s journal report.
Now onto the pressing item of business that is this sweater that I whipped out over the weekend. OK, actually to say whipped out is a pretty strong word since I’ve been down flat with the flu ilk. When you’re in business for yourself, I have to say that getting sick is not really optional. Ha ha! And you think I kid! I’ve been pumping some serious vitamins and telling myself over and over that I’m going to be OK enough to work, but alas, this week that rotten little bug got the better of me. So I finally had to give in and let myself have a few days rest. Doing much better now, thank you very much – though I sound worse!
Anyway, now that we’ve taken that field trip, let’s discuss my top. Oh my goodness! This is a Skippy. Toni from Make it Perfect emailed me a little over a month ago and asked if I would be willing to participate in a blog tour for her new pattern. As she was so complimentary about being a fan of my blog, how could I refuse? An introduction that begins with a compliment is sure to develop into a real friendship, or something to that effect. Oscar Wilde anyone? So Toni sent me Skippy and made me promise to post a creation by the end of September. Ah, procrastination + sick ilk, I love you so! As you see its now October. I may always be late, but I’m worth the wait (wink, wink). And yes, my dry wit has gone up a notch with the comin and goin of this here flu bug.
I had splurged on this piece of organic cotton fleece from Fabric Worm. They carry this Birch Organic cotton fleece and I’ve been contemplating some for my store. This stuff is fairly expensive being a whopping $26/yard (though its on sale now!) and I’m not sure I’m ready to invest in it quite yet. There’s so many factors to consider when thinking about purchasing fabric for my store! Sigh. But I’ll have you know that this fleece is lovely. Really really. Now, if you’re thinking fleece, I have to say I always think about the mountains that they seem to have at Hancock Fabrics these days. Wow. That’s a lot of fleece. Polyester fleece. This is not that. This is the fleece that your 30 year old (favorite) sweatshirt used to be made out of minus the organic part, of course. It’s extra plush and I’m a personal fan of the earthy colors they’ve got going on. Lovely textile.
I had a hard time thinking about what to do for Skippy. I contemplated the dress for a bit, but then my heart really wanted a nice cozy top. Then I spotted this fleece taking up way too much room in the stash and knew it had to be done. I was distraught about what to do to spice up this mushroom brown color though. I mean, talk about boring. The color is lovely, but come on! We need some pop here. Then I remembered scheming with my sewing cohort Juliette about a Garnet Hill sweater that she was bent on recreating. She made her version here and I knew that I had to make one too! This is the same lace that Juliette used and its from my store. It’s a nice, washable cotton lace. Makes a great textural statement on this sweater, dontcha think? And it adds a little sophistication to something that could have turned out particularly drab, sad and overly prone to be overlooked and never worn. To say that I’m a little more than pleased with this lovely make would put it mildly (I’ve worn it for the past three days to prove it too!). Loving the end result! Yay!
I made some alterations for Skippy to make it workable with this fleece. Thing with fleece is that while it has some stretch, it doesn’t have the same as a jersey knit. So I made a size larger than what my measurements said and then I made it a little boxier too. I used a different sleeve pattern (from my favorite tee pattern) so that I didn’t have to de-puff the cap. With the fleece, I think this was a good option as I look rather ridiculous in puff sleeves, but with thick puffy sleeves that could have gone bad real fast. Other than that, nothing else was altered. Next time around I’m considering deepening the armhole just because it was a little snug in the fleece. Would work just fine in a jersey though, so that’s something to think about if you make one.
Well! That wraps up my straggling September. So excited for October I’m pinching myself just to make sure that its really here. Yay! Are you ready for sweater weather? Give Skippy a try! One has the almost insatiable desire to “skip” whilst wearing it.
This week has been a bit of a wash. Busy, you know. Tonight we’re have a party at my store. The September Soiree. I know. I come up with these names only because I can. In real life, I’m not the most serious person and I get a hell of a lot of silliness from both sides of my family’s fence. Tonight is kind of about that. You know, just having fun. Having a lark. Living it up.
Last night I made homemade pumpkin cookies with browned butter frosting just for the September Soiree. This brings up an interesting thing actually. The mister and I went to a theater production just this week and while the production was fabulous and funny, the cookies we had for a treat just before the play began were more than disappointing. The mister noted that we were probably one of the only couples from our age group attending. There were students in their early 20s and then there were the more mature crowd who looked to be in their 60s. And then there was us in our dirty 30s. Why is this? I’ll tell you one thing – those cookies weren’t bringing anybody in, that’s for sure. Needless to say, these pumpkin cookies are thrillingly good. If there’s one thing I know how to do, its a damn fine treat. I come from treat people. We make and eat treats, treats and more treats. These pumpkin cookies are only made with the real stuff. Naturally fat free, of course (you just need to laugh a lot whilst consuming them for the fat to be burned off before you even have time to metabolize them).
The store is looking pretty awesome, if I do say so myself and I do because I’ve put a lot of time into it. It’s chucked full of good things tonight, the cookies being not the least of it. We’re having a special sale and well, I’ll be cutting fabric as will one of my wonderful ladies and my handsome mister will be ringing people up. There will be music, laughing, fun, scheming, excitement, measuring, fabric buying therapy binge (surely, I can’t be the only one that does this, right?), cookies, chatting, “Does this color look good on me?” and well, all that malarky. You know, the stuff that makes the world go round.
Just thought I would give you a snapshot of the fabric store party of the century. Totally wish you were all here, if only to have a cookie.