I did this post back in May for Christine Haynes and for those of you who didn’t read it, I decided, why not repost it here today? Truth be told, this is one of the hardest things about sewing for me to keep under control. I keep finding that I just purchase and carefully stow away more and more fabric. Sure I have something in mind for it, but when in the world am I ever going to use this much fabric? Additionally, I have found that having so much fabric, kind of gets me unhinged, meaning that I start thinking of all the projects that I want to sew and I start getting overwhelmed just thinking about it and I’ve taken all these items out of their place and disaster strikes and I don’t get anything done, least of all sewing. So, here goes! Let me know what you think.
One of the great things about sewing is finding fabric. Don’t you think so too? Its fun to get together with other sewing friends and blab on and on about this fabric and that fabric in our stash and what brought us to purchase it or how it came to be in our possession. Its really great until you start, finally, noticing that the fabrics that you love so much, you never use and never wear because you are afraid you’ll ruin them.
Last year, I attended a sewing conference where one of the guest speakers waxed poetic about her love of vintage fabric and patterns. She was funny and captivating to listen to and she said something that’s really stuck with me ever since. She talked about how she had acquired some amazing vintage rayons – like authentic 40s rayons – that she knew she would never use because she was too afraid she would ruin them. Its funny to joke about, but I think many of us that sew often end up thinking and doing the same thing as the cute girl I described above. I know I do! My personal fabric stash is truly something to behold. Ultimately though, unless you just decide that you are going to use the fabric in your stash, it will end up becoming the stuff of legend where you’ll talk until you’re blue in the face about how much you love this or that fabric…..that you’ve never been able to wear but you think is the most beautiful thing you’ve ever owned. Kind of ironic, isn’t it? Today I wanted to share some tips with you about how to avoid becoming a fabric hoarder and how to become a fabric user. So let’s get started!
Tip #1 – Before you start, just know that you’ll ruin gobs of fabric anyway. I’ve ruined tons of fabric, but one of the key things about becoming a better sewer is learning how to fix what you think at the time is an unfixable mistake. Before you decide to trash a project, try getting another person’s take on the situation. If you’ve got a sewing friend, definitely invite them over for a cup of tea and a little brainstorming. Or take your project to a local sewing shop and ask if you can just get a second opinion about what to do. You might be very surprised at what other sewers’ come up with – many have experienced the same thing and found a creative way to fix their problem. Instead of letting the idea that you’ll ruin fabric get in the way, just know that most problems are actually, quite fixable. So, go ahead and cut out your favorite blouse pattern in your favorite fabric. You’re one step closer to wearing your favorite fabric rather than just looking at it!
Tip #2 – Use tried and true patterns! Instead of always reaching for a brand new sewing pattern to try out on your favorite piece of fabric, reach for a pattern you’ve made before. This will help to eliminate much of your anxiety in using some of your favorite fabric pieces and thinking that you’ll just end up ruining them. Plus you’ll have a better handle on fit and who doesn’t need that?
Tip #3 – Impose a self fabric buying ban. Try to work your way through your stash (also known as stash busting! Yay!) and only purchase items that you need to complete a project ie: thread, notions, trim type fabrics or ribbons. Instead of acquiring more fabric, you’ll find that doing this can give you a very different perspective on purchasing new fabrics, which brings me to Tip #4…..
Tip #4 – Purchase or acquire only those fabrics that you know you’ll use. It might be really hard to pass on that amazing crepe back satin you just saw, but really stop for a second and determine whether it’s a fabric that actually has a place in your life. I’m totally serious too! You might be surprised at how impractical some fabrics are if you really stop to think about it about. I for one have found that silk chiffon truly does not have a place in my wardrobe – its one of those fabrics that is completely impractical for me to have. I don’t have anywhere to wear it and I definitely don’t want to maintain it either. Its delicate nature doesn’t do well in my not so delicate life. Also, consider whether or not its fabric that would ultimately become to “sacred” to use. For instance a piece of Liberty of London Tana Lawn that is so beautiful you must have it, but yet, in your heart of hearts you know you’ll never use because it would become too precious to ruin ie, sew it! Don’t buy it if you feel that way. Work your way up to purchasing a fabric like that or purchase that kind of a fabric with a pattern you’ve already made in mind.
On a final note, I’ve come to realize the importance of that old adage, “work with what you’ve got.” I work in a fabric shop and a customer came through and talked about how much her grandmother would have loved a shop like the one I work in. The grandmother’s true love was for purchasing fabric and many a time her granddaughters (like the one whose story I’m relating) would get into her fabric stash and find a true gem that they begged for a dress to be made out of. The grandmother would always say “no” and explain that she was saving that fabric for something else. Sadly, even as the granddaughters all grew up, the grandmother had never yet used much of the fabric that many of the granddaughters had wanted years before. Instead more purchasing and acquiring of fabric was had and when the grandmother passed on several years later, there was a huge fabric stash that was divided up among daughters and granddaughters. Acres and acres of fabric that the grandmother had been saving for “other projects” were never realized and instead of being able to enjoy the fabric on her body or even as something else, the fabric was left to become yet another stash piece for someone else. I don’t know about you, but personally I feel sad about the prospect of my fabric stash becoming another stash piece for someone else – I want to enjoy it myself! I purchased it and I want to enjoy it as something rather than a folded up piece of fabric.
What do you think about fabric stashes? Do you have a giant stash that you need to work through? How would you feel about never being able to use your favorite fabric pieces and instead having them passed on to someone else?
I banged (bunged?) out a dress last week (post still pending) and found that the only way to go about not having it stick to me and my underwear was to make a full-body slip. I never make these. I usually line my garments, which I’ll still continue to do, but by the same token, I’ve been missing out on a seriously fun sewing project. My very first full-body slip was from an out of print Vogue pattern that ended up being weird and there were so many fitting adjustments that needed to be made that I decided to start afresh with something completely different. Then I remembered that fabulous Ruby Slip pattern that Sherry put out quite some time ago (by the way, anyone know where she is?). Initially, I made a wearable muslin (the photos you see here) from some rather wretched Joann lace and a rayon lining I had lying about. I made only one fitting adjustment and a lengthening adjustment and could not have been happier with the outcome of this pattern.
I’ve never been one, really, to put beauty and form over function when it comes to underwear. I grew up in a very religious household and we were poor-ish to boot. There was never money for frivolous underthings so I rarely indulge in stuff like this. But then after making one of these, I was dying for like five more! So pretty. I can pick the fabrics that I want to make them from – namely silk because where in the world can you get a silk slip these days? – and I have plenty of access to beautiful laces where I work (at Yellow Bird Fabrics). And then of course, they sew up in a matter of hour(s). Add to all that they make you feel kind of pretty even though no one (or maybe your loved one….) sees them. Well, unless you’re me and you’re seriously considering making some slip dresses because you are a child of the 90s. Or what about wearing one with a skirt and cardigan? Now that would be slick – your top would never untuck!
How do you feel about full-body slips? Ever made one before?
For today’s installment of the Plaid Jacket Chronicles, I thought I would go over something that I wish I could have found somewhere. Where and when is it OK that the plaid doesn’t match up? To think that the plaids will match perfectly at every seamline in every garment will give you much agony when you find that they don’t. Additionally, if you have to pick between two seams – which one to match and which one not to – which one do you pick? Let’s use McCall’s 6172 (my plaid jacket make) as an example and we’ll start by pointing out the unforgivable areas. The areas which must match.
- Jacket fronts – a matching plaid should be happening horizontally when you button up your jacket. Additionally, vertical darts should be matched. If possible, your jacket fronts should be mirror images of each other too.
- Jacket Back – horizontally, especially at the center back and the jacket backs should also be mirror images of each other.
- Princess seams – this particular jacket has princess seams that end up in the armhole in both the front and back, and these seams must match horizontally from the hem as far up as they will match, but note that for these particular princess seams (the armhole variety), they will never match all the way up the seamline. They will distort at the very top, but not to a very noticeable degree. If you plan to put a side panel on the bias, note that each side should be mirror images of each other.
- Upper Sleeve – must match across the upper bust with the jacket front horizontally. Its ideal to have the upper sleeve match the jacket back as well, but if it cannot be achieved the jacket front takes precedence.
- Under sleeve – must match with the upper sleeve at the sleeve back horizontally. It will be matched from the hem up – just like the princess seams – but will distort at the very top. Because of the way the under sleeve is cut, it may not match up at the front seamline on the sleeve.
- Collar – should be matched with the center back vertically, however if you are using a jacket pattern with a contoured back, this will never happen. You can only match a collar with a center back that is cut on the fold.
- Side seams – horizontally matched and this happens naturally if you have the princess seams matched.
- Shoulder seams – vertically they should match, but they not as critical as everything else, but if at all possible, its a nice touch.
Places where the plaid may not match up (and its OK….)
- The under sleeve in the front seam. It may not match up horizontally and if you have to pick between matching the front or the back, pick the back as its the more exposed seam.
- The collar will not match up with the center back if there is a seam in your center back jacket piece. In order to match the collar with the center back, you have to cut the jacket back on the fold and it will result in something that is not as shapely or form fitting. Either that or your collar just won’t be matched or your can opt for a solid colored collar piece like I did in my jacket.
- The shoulder seams. If it so happens that your dominant stripes don’t hit correctly when lined up at the shoulder seam, its fine for the shoulder seams to be unmatched vertically.
- Side seams – guess what? If you are tearing your hair out getting the side seams on a jacket to match horizontally, forget about it! Your arms are down most of the time anyway. Am I right? You betcha!
A recent commenter made the very wise remark “pick your battles” when referring to plaid match-ups and I can’t think of a better way to put it. Not every seamline is going to match, and that’s OK, don’t beat yourself up about it. Pick the most prominent seamlines and focus on getting them to match up. Also, I just want to weigh in on something. If, by chance, you’ve made a plaid garment and someone tells you that you didn’t match up all the plaids, and you know you didn’t get everything just right or whatever – Don’t let anyone give you grief about it. And definitely throw it back at them and say, “well, I would LOVE to see you make a plaid garment?” Ask me how I know that other sewers can make you feel crappy about your sewing skills! Don’t let them. Sewing with plaids is as much a learning experience as anything else and you don’t start by getting everything absolutely perfect. Ok, OK!
In my next video, I’ll show you how I planned my previous plaid jacket in addition to giving you ideas to help you make the matching up process easier. Thoughts? Do you ever feel like you have to excuse certain seamlines that didn’t match up in a plaid garment? I think plaids are hard because I feel that there is a big misconception that all the plaids will match up everywhere, when they won’t. What do you think?
All of the Plaid Jacket Chronicles so far:
Head of the Class – my recent plaid jacket make
a Peek into my Plaid Stash & Balanced vs. Unbalanced Plaids
Finding the Dominant Stripe
Picking a Pattern for Plaids
There comes in a time in every blogger’s life when you start wondering if your ideas are really worth sharing or where you hit a roadblock (blogger’s block anyone?) in your blogging career. I’ve come to that point this year and truth be told, I’ve been feeling like this since about February. The blog has suffered because I started becoming extremely self conscious about sharing sewing projects and ideas and frank opinions with you. Don’t ask me why because its really a personal matter and its kind of silly. Anyway, enough about that. I decided to become proactive about this and get your feedback. Sometimes, I get email requests for doing a post on a certain subject and if you are one who has emailed me and asked about a specific post, don’t worry, I’m going to start addressing those very soon. I’ve decided to do a weekly reader request, but I wanted to gather even more ideas from you.
So, what would you like to see here on A Fashionable Stitch? What are you interested in hearing about from me? Are there tutorials that you would like me to post? Like my calculation for a knit neckline? My shoe situation with the Everyday Wardrobe? What do you want to know about? I love hearing from you, so you can either contact me by email (email@example.com) or you can leave a comment right here and expect to see your reader request featured in the upcoming future!
Sorry for my absence last week. Gosh, the week seriously got away from me and it was all I could do to keep above water – metaphorically speaking. Crazy! Anyway, here’s the next installment of my plaid jacket chronicles. I think that picking an appropriate pattern for plaids can be a big deal. It can really be the deal cincher or the deal breaker. Some patterns don’t do well in plaids, which, by the way a great way to find out is to do a plaid test garment out of plaid flannel shirting – something really cheap but plaid as it will give you a visual rendering of your pattern pick in a plaid. In this episode or (should I say webisode?) I’ll be talking about picking a pattern and some things to keep in mind as you look.
First of all, when picking a pattern for plaids, there’s a good rule of thumb to go by. Have a look at the back of the pattern envelope and when it says “unsuitable for obvious diagonals, stripes, plaids or one way designs” you can pretty much leave that pattern alone. I have a few of those types of patterns and I wanted to share one with you, so that you knew why it would be unsuitable for plaids.
This is Vogue 8576 (out of print now by the way) and if you take a close look at the pattern, you’ll notice that it has a lot of seaming action going on. This is really great in a simple solid color because first of all, you can actually see all the seaming detail, something that would be completely lost in a print. But, can you even imagine this garment in a plaid? Even if you were to do this garment in a plaid, it would look completely crazy. There would be so much going on that it would leave those looking at your garment with a serious headache. Am I right or amirite?
Now let’s turn our attention to what will work. For jacket patterns, a few things you should note. I’ve found that most jackets have princess seams. There are a few that don’t, like this one above, but if you take a close look, you’ll notice that Butterick 5926 is for double/moderate stretch knits. Yup. If you find that there is a jacket that doesn’t have princess seams, you’ll also find that those jackets are kind of boxy and fairly non-fitted – which doesn’t necessarily mean that they aren’t stylish. Take a look at the Colette Anise – boxy, yet stylish and it does have princess seams in the back.
In my plaid jacket, using McCall’s 6172 (above), there are actually quite a few seams for a jacket. I mean, there are princess seams in the front and in the back and there is also a contoured center back seam plus an upper sleeve and an under sleeve and finally there is a vertical dart in the front too. So, creating a plaid jacket with matching plaids to boot, does work in a jacket that has several seams. But maybe, for the second rule of thumb, its good to pick a pattern with as few seamlines as possible for your first try.
Third rule of thumb – look for a pattern that has a plaid rendering on the pattern envelope. This is actually something that I read somewhere and thought was such a great idea. For example, this vintage Butterick coat is actually a pattern that for plaids I would have avoided. One thing to note about raglan sleeves is that you will never be able to match up the plaids if the sleeve were on the straight of grain. It’s impossible. However, look what they’ve done here. The illustration on the cover shows a coat, in a plaid with the raglan sleeve on the bias. Neat trick huh? This is also a great way to develop ideas for other patterns too. Think of the Minoru put out by the Sewaholic – you could do this same trick and still make a jacket/coat that works in a plaid.
image courtesies – plaid trench, plaid toggle coat, both are great examples of well-proportioned scale
Fourth rule of thumb – think scale. This directly ties in with the fabric you have in mind to be using. I’m one of those who buys fabric first and finds patterns later. Some people are the opposite. Either way is just fine, but when the two meet, make sure you consider scale. A jacket that only takes up the upper half of the body might not look so great in a really large scale plaid. However, if the pattern were for a knee length coat, a large scale plaid might be just the ticket, whereas a small scale plaid might look really overwhelming because there is so much plaid going on. Color is a good thing to keep in mind too because sometimes the scale is fine but the colors make the plaid look really…. plaid. As in too much plaid.
Last but not least, after you’ve finalized your pattern pick, start ruminating on the planning process. This might mean thinking about adding a solid color to your plaid, putting pieces on the bias, etc. I’ll be talking more about this in upcoming episodes, but its something to keep in mind. These initial stages of fabric, pattern and planning kind of all happen at once or they come in waves of inspiration. There is no wrong way to go about these stages of planning a plaid garment, but it is important that the planning happens.
If you’ve made a plaid garment, what are some things that you’ve found interesting about picking a pattern? Have you picked the wrong pattern for a plaid before? I know I have. And to keep you posted, here are the Plaid Jacket Chronicles so far:
Head of the Class – my recent plaid jacket make
a Peek into my Plaid Stash & Balanced vs. Unbalanced Plaids
Finding the Dominant Stripe