Tuesday, March 5, 2013

French Cotton & Italian Linen

It is impossible for me to travel to an event like Sew Expo and not buy anything. I'm just not programmed that way. Fabric, sewing supplies, and jewelry are my souvenirs of choice. They're also my way of having something different than everyone else in town. That said...

... this time I approached the patterns and fabrics from an even more thoughtful perspective. Would I actually sew this pattern and why? Did this fabric meet my goals? Was the quality worth investing in? Was there space available in the stash? Would it become outdated too quickly? Was it a classic, a neutral, a Myrna? It seemed to work. Here's what came home with me.

This 1950's stole pattern is from Decades Of Style, a vintage sewing site whose mission is to provide vintage pattern reproductions in the form of easy-to-use patterns. The model in the booth was sewn from a black cashmere. Very elegant. What drew me to the design was the sleeve on the right and the drape on the left. It'll stay on without pins, flipping, and fighting. If you look at the diagram bottom right, you can see her hand through what appears to be a pocket allowing for that dramatic pose again without the stole falling off the shoulder. Lovely. You could even add a beautiful brooch... that you made yourself... if you had time to make a brooch yourself... she says with a laugh.

The booth across from Marcy's was French Lace. They sold imported European laces that were gorgeous. I bought two pieces. The one of the left is a dark purple stitch on black. The one on the right is a black stitch on a mottled background.

These three fabrics are from Marcy Tilton's booth. The fabric far left is woven and the other two are knits.

On the site - MarcyTilton.com - the stripe is described as a tissue knit. There was a  remnant in the booth that I thought would go with the paisley print below that I received for Christmas, also from MarcyTilton.com. When I got home and put them together, the mix was pretty good. The purple in the print is more vibrant than the purple in the stripe but it has a certain does it go together or not kind of tension that makes for a good combo especially if I add one more goes with and pulls it all together fabric.

Pacific Fabrics in Everett, WA is one of my favourite stores probably because I've been shopping there for more years than I can remember - more than twenty for sure - having started when That Patchwork Place - now Martingale & Co. - used to host That Patchwork Place University at the Howard Johnson - now the Holiday Inn Express. Thankfully, the fabric store is still right where it used to be, called exactly the same thing, and just as wonderful as always. I stop every time I can.

They had this lace/stripe double knit in a grey and cream combination. Again, I'm looking for another fabric to go with, preferably a solid grey, preferably from my stash.

These four fabrics are also from Pacific Fabrics. Far left is a stretch mesh that was bought to learn Nuno felting with but may become sleeves first since it's taking me forever to get to felting. The plaid is a remnant that I thought would benefit from some additional painting or silk screening. The striped grey is a soft jersey knit for a t-shirt and the darker grey is a denim ponte for a skirt.

Above is a French cotton mainly in purple and turquoise. It's much brighter in person than it looks in this image from Marcy's site. For various reasons, most of my fabric purchases since my return to fashion sewing have been in neutral shades. This time, I made a point of buying color. As I mentioned on Friday, I find myself less interested in black and more attracted to color. I plan to sew classics and basics from the neutral fabrics and add interest with the prints and colors. My vague plan goes something along the line of a colorful bottom with a neutral top or a neutral bottom with a colorful top. We'll see what really happens.

This was the first fabric I picked out at Marcy's booth. I saw it on Thursday night but waited until Friday to purchase it and thankfully there was still some left. It's Italian linen with colorful stripes that have a bit of shine and glow. At first, I planned to sew pants but then - in the middle of the night on Friday when I wasn't sleeping - the thought occurred that linen pants would stretch out and that's not the look I want so I'm debating other options. I haven't tried them together yet but I think this linen will mix well with remnants of a Guatemalan fabric that Howard brought back for me a couple years ago. It would be a fun combo. And it might still become pants.

This grey print is a stretch denim. I bought three yards for options as I'm not sure if I want a coat or pants or a skirt or... I don't know yet. If I had to name my all time favourite print, it's paisley. I'm a sucker for all things paisley although I have been known to leave it behind if it truly is in an unworkable color combination or a less than appealing fabric. I'm picky about my paisley.

All told, I bought one pattern, two pieces of lace, and ten fabrics including French cotton and Italian linen. It sounds so special to say that. When I showed Howard my fabric purchases, he commented on the feel. It seems that quality is apparent even to the uninformed.

It was obvious watching Marcy and Katherine's fashion show what a difference the fabric quality makes to the resulting garments. That's probably been my biggest awareness of the last few years - better quality. It's not like I have a stash of cheap, substandard fashions. That's not so. I've always focused on wise purchases and my stash is - for the most part - fabric that I'm still thrilled to own but as we all do I've made some purchasing mistakes and they typically have had to do with quality. It's fun to have upped the bar somewhat and to be moving in directions that are going to feel wonderful to sew and to wear. 

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - access to events like Sew Expo and sources of quality fabrics and notions


  1. Such wonderful purchases! My favourite must be the French cotton one. :)

    1. And it's even more beautiful in person.

  2. What an interesting post - vicarious fabric shopping is so much fun! I have been thinking hard about the rainbow striped black linen piece.....will be fascinated to see what you do with it down the road!


    1. What would you do with it? I'm always intrigued to hear what other sewists see in a fabric.

  3. There are several prints that I love. I could not pick just one ot two and, like you, I love paisley.

    I've always been frugal about my fabric purchases myself but as I've gotten most of my fitting challenges figured out and a number of TNT's I've also been upping my fabric quality. Like you said, it really does make a difference in the final look.

    1. Paisley... sigh ! !

      I totally agree with what you're saying. We can definitely up the bar once the fitting issues are resolved BUT.. that said.. I also find that having "ruined" good fabric makes me work harder to find a new purpose for it.

  4. What lovely purchases. The first and second ones after the lace are such gorgeous colors. Then there's the awesome paisley denim, of which I happen to own 4+ yards. I bought it from Marcy last summer or fall, when she first offered it, thinking I'd make a coat. That hasn't happened yet, but I still love the fabric.
    Quality is a very important aspect of fabric shopping, in my opinion. That's why I shop from Marcy as well as Sawyer Brook (where I work). I can trust these sources to offer quality goods.
    Thanks for sharing your purchases!

    1. Interesting. I bought the paisley denim from Pacific Fabrics. That confirms my belief that their fabric is of a higher quality. It's gorgeous.

      I'm ready for better quality having put in my time upgrading my skills and as I said to Debbie learned how to refashion, recycle, reuse, invent purposes for when I have an oops.

      You work at Sawyer Brook? How fun. You must have tremendous levels of restraint and discipline.

  5. Oh that Italian linen is beautiful...it's whispering pants to me, something like the pants in Vogue 8886. Or if it's more drapy, then a pair of wide leg pants, something like Vogue 8504.

    I picked up V8886 at Fabricana Sunday...and two more pieces of fabric came home with me as well. My girlfriend told me I have to stop, or she's going to start calling me The Crazy Fabric Lady! I've been called far worse :-)

  6. The Vogue site wasn't working well for a few days so it has taken me this long to look up these patterns. V8886 has been tickling for a while. I really like that pattern and I need to go look in stash because I can't remember if I bought it yet or not. I'd never considered V8504 but have several similar patterns. Thanks for the suggestions.

    I'd be okay with being called the crazy fabric lady. Better that than no more fabric - LOL.


Thanks for commenting. I appreciate the feedback and the creative conversation.