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Fabric Haul and Future Projects, January 2017

I’m happy to report that I’m starting my year off with lots of new fabric, and many sewing plans! Once again I chose to put my Christmas money towards materials purchased in the NYC garment district, and today I’m sharing what I got and what I plan on turing them into.

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I went in with a flexible list of things I wanted to make and was lucky enough to find the perfect fabrics for most of them. I think I bought enough fabric for ten projects – after a few trim orders from etsy arrive I’ll be set for the next few months!

The first project on my shopping list is one I’ve wanted to make for a long time: a mid 17th century evening gown. I purchased material for one a couple years ago, and even got the bodice mostly constructed. But the fit was really off, and I didn’t go in with a solid plan so it was hard to overcome the problems I hit.

However I’ve learned a lot since then, and it’s still one of my favorite periods for fashion. I’m determined to make a dress that will do the era justice. I’m using a lot of reference photos for this costume, but my main inspiration is this funny little painting. I love the bold color, heaps of trim, and the hat!

With that in mind, I purchased eight yards of this orange brocade. It’s base color is peach, but it has rich orange and gold flowers woven into it. I love the sheen it has and think it will make a lovely gown!

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As happy as I am to have found a fabric in the color I wanted with such a beautiful sheen, I wish I had found it earlier. Because at the beginning of the day I came across a very pretty raspberry brocade and decided it was probably the closest I would get, so I bought it.

Now I have two brocades, and no real plans for the first one I bought. But it is beautiful! It doesn’t have the scratchy texture that most brocades have, it feels almost soft, with a very finely woven print. I think it will be lovely to work with whenever I find a use for it! I’m open to ideas.

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It also has a fair amount of body to it…I purchased six yards since it’s 60″ wide. I wonder if that would be enough for something Elizabethan? Though the color is a little unusual for that period.

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Also for the 1630’s ensemble I bought a yard of stretch velvet in a greyish blue. This is for the hat.

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I bought some brightly colored feathers for the hat too, which I think will help tie the costume together.

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And lastly for this project I bought three yards of embroidered mesh. I saw this while walking out of a store and turned back for it. I thought it would be perfect for decorative under sleeves – not the most accurate choice, but it’s so pretty! And it has sequins on it. I can’t resist sequins.

Much to my surprise, it was only four dollars a yard. So I got three yards of it, which should be enough for a decorative chemise. I think it may be too cool toned for this project (it looked warmer under the lights in the store). So I’ll probably wait to make the chemise after the dress when I have a better idea of what will compliment it.

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The next project I purchased fabric for is a simple medieval costume. I’ve been wanting to make another one of these for a while, since really enjoyed the Cotehardies I made this time last year.

I haven’t planned the design for this project too much, but I want it to consist of a front lacing kirtle with a surcoat layered over top. The project won’t have any embellishments, other than some trim on the hem of the surcoat (and that’s only if I can find any I like).

I purchased two medium weight wools for this project. It was quite the challenge finding these fabrics. The person helping me kept asking what I wanted, and all I could say was “Something with nice texture to it that will be $10 or less a yard” because I didn’t have a color in mind, I just wanted fabric with enough texture that it wouldn’t look boring despite the simple design.

Luckily we managed to find something, and I love it. It’s dark purple and  medium weight – too heavy for suiting, but lighter than a coating. I think it’s perfect.

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The second material I purchased is probably less historically accurate – I doubt that weave would have been possible in the 1400s. But I really like the weight of this, and think that texture will look awesome in photos. It was also one of the few fabrics I could find that looked nice with the purple (other options were black, or light pink).

If we’re ignoring historically accuracy, I’m really happy with this fabric. It feels almost like flannel, very soft but drapes the way you would expect medium weight wool to. I think both of these fabrics will be really nice to work with.

Side note: I was really impressed with the store I bought this from, Fabric Express. I’ve been in there before but only bought lace, or talked to the assistant. I was helped by the owner this time and he was really patient and I got great deals on everything – the wool, brocade, velvet, and lace fabric are all from this shop. Silk is cheaper at Diana’s Fabrics but this is going to become one of my go-to stops for other things.

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Another project I have planned is an 1820’s evening gown. I actually came across the inspiration for this while researching another idea I had. One of my search terms brought up this fashion plate and I fell in love.

I like the silhouette of the 1820s in general, but this dress is inspired by renaissance fashion while also having infamous details from the 1820s, like padded hems and trim, which makes it even better. I’ve never made a dress that incorporates padding, and it seems like a fun challenge!

I had hoped to find silk satin for this project, but it was very expensive, even in the garment district. So instead I bought silk shantung. I think the stiffness of this will really help with construction and creating the bell shape this dress requires…but it doesn’t have quite the look I was going for.

For the pink trim I bought cotton sateen. I’m actually disappointed in this purchase too, I feel like the shade of pink is too bright and cool toned. It makes me think of pepto bismol. So I’m going to keep my eyes out for sales and see if I can pick up a fabric in a better shade.

Aside from that, I’m really excited to get to work on this project. I think it’ll be fun!

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From Diana’s fabrics I picked up more silk shantung. This is the same shop I bought the bright orange silk from for my Pumpkin dress. I had so much fun working with that fabric that I knew I wanted to pick up more, this time with an 1880’s bustle dress in mind.

I went for a lovely copper color, that shines red and brown depending on the lighting. It’s really pretty and I’m sure it will be lovely to work with!

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From the same shop I bought the base material for a dress I plan on making, which is inspired by this painting. I’ve always been a fan of Russian court dresses, but they usually involve long trains covered in elaborate embroidery that would take teams of master embroiders 6 months to make. There isn’t any way I could take a project like that on myself without spending hundreds of dollars on pre made appliques.

Which is why I was very excited to come across this painting. It has some of the features of Russian court gowns that I really like, without the embroidery. Once again silk satin probably would have been more accurate for this project, but I found a polyester shantung in the color I wanted, with a beautiful two tone sheen, and a crispness that should make the pleats in the skirt easier. It was also $5 a yard, which is tough to beat!

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The color is kind of unappetizing, but I think the sheen and two tone effect will make up for that.

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For the front panel I purchased two yards of alencon lace. I think this will provide a good base for the heaps of rhinestones and embellishments that the skirt will eventually have.

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I plan on getting most of the embellishments online, but I did make the mistake of purchasing some at beads world. See that tiny bag on the right? That was $10 dollars. The bag on the left with 12x the number of rhinestones? It was $13. I goofed up by going to beads world first – I always forget how overpriced some of their stuff is.

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Also from beads world I bought white sequins in a variety of sizes/sheens, which I plan on using for the 1820’s dress. And some glass montees for the court dress and headpiece.

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On the topic of notions, I only purchased two trims on this trip (though I ordered a dozen others from etsy). The first is for the 1820’s dress, it’s a very soft and sweet lace trim with a few beads and sequins for embellishments. I thought this would be cute around the neckline and cuffs of the sleeves.

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I also purchased some woven trim. This wasn’t purchased with anything in mind, but I really like the weight of it and think the colors will be easy to match within my stash (or things I buy in the future) so I’m confident it’ll be used eventually.

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Now back to fabrics! The rest of these materials weren’t on my list, they were just things that caught my eye.

The first is a striped silk broadcloth. I love striped fabrics, especially the challenge of matching them up and playing with the different directions they can go. It’s kind of a pain sometimes, but it’s also very satisfying. Unfortunately it’s pretty difficult to find apparel weight striped fabrics that aren’t pin striped. So when I came across this: Striped, light weight and in the color I have a weakness for…I needed to take it home with me.

I purchased eight yards of it. But it’s quite narrow, so I picked up five yards of cotton sateen in a matching color to compliment it. The striped fabric was from Hamed Fabric, and the sateen was actually from Jo-anns.

I plan on using these for a seaside costume – either from the late 1800’s or early 1900s.

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Another striped fabric that caught my eye is this lightweight polyester. It feels like a softer version of taffeta, without the sheen. I really liked the width of the stripes in this, and the tweed texture on the material between them. I though this would work well for a bustle dress, since I could play with the directions of the stripes in the ruffles.

It was the end of the day and I had gone over budget, so I only purchased five yards of it, which isn’t enough for a full dress. But I think it will be easy to match, since the main colors are white, grey, black, and dark red – I may even have a dark red cotton sateen in my collection that would match.

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A project I had in mind, but not on my list was a Renaissance ensemble. I’ve wanted to make another one of these for a while, but didn’t have enough brocade on hand for one. This one caught my eye because it’s an interesting color. I would describe it as a cool toned pink, but it has a strong gold sheen to it.

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It’s almost two tone, with how vibrant the gold is in the light. I think it will make a beautiful skirt!

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From another shop I bought two yards of metallic rose printed brocade. I had hoped this would match the other pink fabric, but it’s way too warm toned. However I think it will make a beautiful foundation garment – I’m making a few 18th century undergarments this year, and two of them are pink. A matching set of brocade stays would be quite lovely!

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The last fabric I bought was one I saw early in the day, but put back because it was too ridiculous. But then I kept thinking about it. Because it’s sparkly, and pink, and ridiculous, and just the time of thing I want in my life but probably won’t use.

However I know from previous shopping trips that when I think about a fabric that much, I usually regret not getting it. And at eight dollars for a yard and a half I figured it couldn’t hurt.

This is a pink mesh with metallic cording stitched on to form scallops and a floral pattern. Both edges have trim, with appliques trailing through the center. I have no idea what I’ll use this for but I really love it.

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And that’s it! I’m very happy with what I got, and excited to get started! Annoyingly I can’t begin on the more elaborate projects until some trim I ordered arrives, but that gives me a reason to finish a few WIP’s from 2016, so it’s probably for the best.

I hope you have lots of sewing plans for the new year too 🙂

Thanks for reading!

 

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2017 in All about Fabric, Reviews & Hauls

 

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Historical Costume Reference Book Reviews

This post has been planned for years I’ve just always put off writing it. As much as I like writing reviews, looking at a massive stack of books and trying to write intelligently about them is pretty intimidating. But I was determined to get it done, and I have! And just in time for the holiday season! I hope this is helpful for anyone looking to buy books, or if you’re just curious about the books I reference when making costume!

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I have two disclaimers before getting started. Firstly, I do not own the rights to any of these works. The copyright for each book belongs to the authors, publishers, and contributors, not me. In this post I’ve included two pages from the interior of each book which I believe falls under fair use. The photos are sized down or taken from angles where the pages aren’t usable for anything other than understanding the format of each book. They are not intended to harm the commercial value of the books. But I’ll happily take down any of the images if the copyright holders ask.

And the second: The links in this post are amazon affiliate links. This means if you buy something through the links I get paid small percentage of the purchase price for referring you to that item. It doesn’t change the price of the item, or the shopping experience at all.  But if you’re uncomfortable with this the links should be avoided.

Now onto the reviews!

I’ll start with some of the most popular, which also happen to be the first historical fashion books I got. They are a series of books called “Patterns of Fashion” which were written by Janet Arnold. There are four books in the series and I own three.

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Patterns of Fashion 1: Englishwomen’s Dresses and Their Construction  by Janet Arnold

This book focuses on women’s fashion from the 1660’s through the 1860’s. It’s primarily a pattern book but starts off with a fifteen page introduction, which includes quotes from magazines and journals, very brief drafting instructions, notes on how to cut dresses from limited fabric, and paragraphs devoted to things like making piping or pinked trim. I’m sure these notes are helpful for someone but I find them a little vague (and also confusing at times).

But this isn’t why I bought the book, so I’m not bothered by it. I bought it for the patterns!

Unlike a lot of pattern books, this series includes detailed drawings of the completed piece from the front and back, and usually includes drawings of the interior as well. There is also a paragraph or two talking about the dress, including what it was originally made from and any unique construction notes.

The patterns in this book are all made based on measurements taken from existing historical examples, so they are very accurate (as are the notes about each piece). But keep in mind that these patterns will require scaling up, and alterations to fit your measurements.

The patterns in this book are beautifully laid out. They are printed on a grid, which makes them easy to resize and they are filled with construction notes which make the intimidating and unusual nature of historical patterns a lot easier to tackle. The pattern notes are clear and concise – pretty much perfect in my mind! The patterns are also very detailed, with the trim placement and embroidery patterns documented as well.

The only thing I don’t care for are the pieces chosen for the book. Some of them are quite similar. It’s especially obvious with the two 1840’s and 1860’s dresses which have very similar sleeves and tiered skirts. Compared to Norah Waugh’s books which have fewer patterns but a larger variety it’s a bit disappointing.

I still think it’s worth it – over two dozens patterns for thirty dollars is a fantastic deal, even if you only use half of them. And the notes for each piece gave me a much better understanding of the construction progress for historical dresses.

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Patterns of Fashion 3: The Cut and Construction of Clothes for Men and Women  by Janet Arnold

This book focuses on mens and women’s fashion from the 1560’s through the 1620’s. It’s twice the length of the first one, with a fifty page introduction. Luckily the introduction in this book is a lot more interesting. It’s filled with pictures and the writing compliments them nicely.

The pictures range from patterns to etchings and paintings. It also has a lot of photographs showing the details on original garments from the 1500s. It’s really interesting to see close ups of the fabric manipulation, closures, stitching, and lining techniques. Things you hear mentioned a lot in other books but never actually see. I’d say the book is worth looking through just for those images alone.

The patterns in this book are documented in the same way as Patterns of Fashion 1. They are on a grid, with one page devoted to drawings of the finished garment and a brief description of the piece. The notes are just as helpful, and even more in depth since 16th century fashion was so complicated.

The thing I don’t like about this book is, once again, the lack of variety. I believe there are twelve mens doublet patterns, half of which are pretty similar. The variation in the women’s clothing patterns is good, but lacking some of the “classic” tudor styles. The examples are all very elaborate, which I find inspiring, but they are complicated and probably not the best for beginners.

Like the first book, I think it’s a good deal and the notes are very helpful whether you’re using the patterns included or trying to draft your own in an accurate way. If you have an interest in the periods it covers I would highly recommend it.

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Patterns of Fashion 4: The Cut and Construction of Linen Shirts, Smocks, Neckwear, Headwear and Accessories for Men and Women  by Janet Arnold

I regret buying this book.

This isn’t a bad book by any means. In fact it’s really interesting to read through, and I’ve never seen anything like it before. It focuses on accessories and underpinnings for men and women, which isn’t the most exciting topic, but the introduction is filled with close ups of the detail work on garments from the 1500s and 1600s.

It has diagrams of the stitches used for openwork seams, eyelets, lace, and embroidery. It has pages devoted to the variety of cuffs that were worn, and another for collars. It’s fascinating to see that alongside photos of embroidery work done five hundred years ago. And like the last book, the photos are accompanied by descriptions. But the descriptions are a lot more brief, and the pages far more photo heavy than the previous book.

The patterns are well documented, with drawings of the embroidery motifs and lace patterns in case you want to recreate them.

The reason I regret buying this book is because I’m not at a point where I’m willing to spend forty hours adding blackwork embroidery to an undershirt. And even if I was, I feel like that information is available online. As far as the patterns go, I’ve never followed them. Because things like smocks and ruffs are very easy to draft on your own – they are just rectangles. There are a few patterns for gloves and collars that are unique, but also pretty easy to draft on your own or find elsewhere.

I think this book is best for someone who wants to make exact historical replicas. Otherwise it probably won’t get a lot of use. I’m hoping to take advantage of the embroidery patterns someday, which is why I’ve held onto it, but this isn’t a book I feel I need in my collection.

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Another silly complaint which I have about all these books is that I don’t like the size of them. They are maybe 11″ x 16″, and since they are thin and paperback they don’t stand up, even if you lean them against something. And they take up a ton of room when laid out on a table. Plus the pages are too big to scan, which is sort of silly since that’s what you have to do to resize the patterns. Though it isn’t a deal breaker for me by any means, it’s kind of frustrating!

The Tudor Tailor: Reconstructing Sixteenth-Century Dress by Ninya Mikhaila and Jane Malcolm-Davies

This is a book I bought when making my Tudor Ensemble, since Patterns of Fashion 3 didn’t have quite what I was looking for and I was completely clueless about this period. This came highly recommended on every blog I read, so I decided to give it a try.

To be honest, it isn’t my favorite book. Compared to other pattern books (like Janet Arnold’s and Norah Waugh’s) I find it uninspiring. The patterns and examples all seem to be lacking the exaggeration and detail work that that period was famous for. I don’t want to make anything from the patterns since they seem lackluster, where with other books I want to make everything!

But it isn’t a bad book! Much like the others it starts off with an introduction, except theirs is split into chapters. One of which focuses on the basics, another talks about the materials and dyes that were available, and another shows construction techniques. The pages are pretty dense, but it’s easy to read through and really interesting.

The patterns each have one page devoted to assembly instructions, with a photo (or drawings) of the finished piece. Each pattern has several variations, with the amount of material needed to make it listed. The patterns are also on a grid, which makes them easy to size up. I really appreciate the range in patterns – each one has a different silhouette, and they cover everything from dresses for the everyday tudor woman, to court gowns for the rich. It has mens patterns too, patterns for foundation garments, and patterns for headpieces.

I think this book would be good for beginners, since everything is much simpler than Janet Arnold’s, and it has more notes than Norah Waugh’s. If you find those patterns overwhelming, this is a better place to start. It’s also a lot more complete – you can make everything from foundation garments to accessories with it.

But as I said, I find the patterns lacking the exaggeration and detail work that I like in patterns. And for as simple as the patterns are, the lines are wobbly and the markings for pleats and boning are less clear.

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Corsets and Crinolines by Norah Waugh

This is by far the most used pattern book I own. Every corset I’ve made has been based on patterns from this book in some way or another.

Unlike the other books, there is no introduction. The book is split into chapters, with several dense pages of text between each pattern. This text doesn’t usually relate to the pattern, just the period that pattern is from. Some of the text is heavy, and since it was written seventy years ago it can seem a bit stiff. But I’ve read it pretty much cover to cover and enjoy how much information is packed into it, and how nicely it explains the transition between silhouettes and foundation garments.

In addition to her own words, this book includes samples from journals and newspapers. Some of these are silly (and in another language) but it’s interesting hearing about the foundation garments from the perspective of people who wore them.

The patterns are quite simple, made from a few pieces with only the boning placement marked. However the patterns aren’t on a grid, instead you use a key at the bottom of each page as a guide. The patterns also lack notes, which isn’t a big issue since corsets are quite self explanatory, but it’s very problematic when recreating things from her other book “The Cut of Women’s Clothes: 1600-1930“. Things like how the dresses close, and the order of assembly can be tricky to follow without anything but the pattern to go off of.

In addition to patterns on bodies, stays, corsets, and girdles, this book also has patterns for hoop skirts, panniers, and petticoats. It’s incredibly helpful for creating the proper silhouette for historical costumes and I would highly recommend it – though once again, keep in mind that alterations will have to be made for the patterns to fit you.

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Norah Waugh has two other books, The Cut of Women’s Clothes: 1600-1930 and The Cut of Men’s Clothes: 1600-1900.

Though I don’t own either of these, I have followed patterns from the Women’s book and had the opportunity to look through it. I really enjoy the patterns included in this book since the variety is a lot greater than what’s in Janet Arnold’s, with patterns from the 1600s all the way to the mid 1900s. It covers a huge range of styles and silhouettes, and no two patterns are alike.

As much as I like the patterns, as I said earlier, the lack of construction notes becomes a bit problematic with some of these patterns. They can usually be figured out with a bit of experimentation, but the way things are supposed to go together isn’t always clear since there are no notes.

A recent addition to my collection is 59 Authentic Turn-of-the-Century Fashion Patterns by Kristina Harris

You’ve probably heard me talk about this book before, since I used it for three recent projects. It’s quickly become one of my favorites since I’m a bit enamored with the 1890’s, and this is one of the few books I’ve found that focuses on that period.

This book has a single drawing of each finished garment, plus a paragraph long description of it. The garments are organized by date and season. Though it primarily has patterns on women’s fashion there are a dozen or so children’s patterns.

I find a lot of the patterns to be quite similar, but there are subtle differences between them. And at the price point (twelve dollars or so) It’s easy to forgive. The patterns aren’t on a grid, and there isn’t a key that makes them easy to scale up. Instead the edges of each piece have measurements listed. The patterns do have errors that I’ve noticed, the most major being that they often use improper fractions like 3 7/4″ or 9 13/5″, which is confusing at times!

Much like Waugh’s book, I wish the patterns had notes on them. To create poofy sleeves and gathered bodices the lining often has a completely different shape than the fashion fabric that goes overtop of it. But it isn’t always clear how they go together.

However I still really like this book. The variety in sleeve patterns is fantastic, and the skirt pattern I followed for my recent 1890’s dress was wonderful. It’s a great book to have around, and you can’t beat the amount of patterns you get for the price!

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The “Keystone” Jacket and Dress Cutter: An 1895 Guide to Women’s Tailoring by Chas Hecklinger

I’m not sure if i’m allowed to review this since I haven’t used it the way it’s intended to be used. I bought this as a visual reference for making fitted 1890’s jackets with flared skirts. And I’ve since used it as a visual reference for how double breasted jackets and shirtwaists should look when flat…then used that as a guide when draping similar garments.

But this book is intended to be a drafting manual. It includes instructions on how to measure yourself and how to create flat patterns based on those measurements. Since this is an older book, the instructions are stiff, but don’t seem very difficult to follow.

After the drafting system is explained it has pages devoted to garment diagrams, and a page of drafting instructions to go along with each one.

The diagrams cover everything from short fitted jackets to to double breasted riding coats with flared skirts. It also has diagrams and instructions for sleeve patterns and several shirtwaists. At the back of the book there are drawn examples of each piece.

Overall, this served the purpose I bought it for. It helped me understand what lat 20th century patterns looked like flat, which helped me drape my own equivalent. But I can’t vouch for the accuracy of the instructions since I haven’t followed them!

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Costume in Detail: Women’s Dress 1730-1930 by Nancy Bradfield

This isn’t a pattern book, but I keep it with my pattern books since I think it’s a great accompinment to them. This book has a unique format, with at least two pages devoted to each costume. Each costume is dated, with a paragraph of typed text about it. But the rest of the pages are filled with drawings and notes made by Nancy.

There are a lot of unique notes and information in this book. In addition to sketches of the exterior of the costume, there are notes about the interior – how things were lined, what materials were used, where the boning was placed. How long the train was, and how much of the train was lined. Even things like the width of the fabric used, and the number of seams in a skirt are documented alongside detailed sketches. Technically things that can be learned through pattern books, but alongside the sketches it’s a lot easier to follow.

Ecspecially for things like lining and closures. Seeing how the fabric drapes over the closures, along with how they looked from the interior makes it seem more approchable. In addition to dresses, shoes, petticoats, hats, and chemises are all discussed as well.

Though I wouldn’t use this as a standalone reference for a costume, It’s a fantastic resource to use along side inspiration books (with lots of photos of costumes, but none of the construction) or pattern books that are hard to imagine in a three dimensional way.

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Those are all the construction focused/pattern books I own. Now I’m going to talk about inspiration books, which feature a lot of images of historical costumes, but very little information about the origin or interior of the garments. I use these when I’m not sure what to make, or when I want more references to build out a costume idea I already have. These first four are all illustrated, with no photos of costumes.

Complete Costume History by Francoise Tetard-Vittu (artwork by Auguste Racinet)

I originally discovered this when I took a class and the teacher had the large copy of this book. looked through it one day and fell in love with the full color illustrations that were packed onto every page, and the huge variety of styles it included.

I personally own the smaller version, which has two volumes. The first volume has the illustrations, and the second has more information about the drawings. The drawings in this book aren’t modern, they were created and researched in the 1800s, which means they aren’t the most accurate depiction of history.

But the drawings are beautiful. And every time I look through the book I find something new I want to make. Unlike most books it isn’t exclusively european fashion. It has pages devoted to Egyptian times, Ancient Greece, China, Africa, and Spain. In addition to hundreds of full page color illustrations it also has drawings of furniture, architecture, weapons, instruments, and even camels. It provides a well rounded image of not just what people wore, but also what they were surrounded by.

The only negative I can say about this book is that the time periods for each page aren’t labeled. They only have the country listed. Volume II does have additional information about each page, but it’s awkward switching between them. Now I know enough about historical fashion to know approximately which decade each page focuses on, but when I first got it I had no clue.

Also as I said earlier, this isn’t the most accurate depiction of history. If your goal is to make historically accurate costumes you’ll need additional references. Even if you don’t want to make historically accurate costumes you’ll probably want more references since most of these drawings only show one side of the garment, and don’t delve into the details.

But I love this book! Looking through it makes me happy and fills me with ideas. I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in historical fashion, regardless of whether they make costumes or not.

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Historic Costume in Pictures by Braun & Schneider

This book is quite similar to The Complete Costume History in that it consists only of pictures. Except this book lists the date on each page in addition to the country of origin, which I like. The drawings are more detailed in this book, though there are less of them, and the pages are in black and white.

The costumes plates in this book were originally researched and published in the later 1800s, so once again they aren’t the most accurate. But I still enjoy this book. When I got it I didn’t know very much about historical fashion, flipping through this gave me a good grasp on the various silhouettes and styles, how they evolved, and when they were popular. Since the information in it is limited, that means it’s easy to absorb. I’d highly recommend it to beginners, as long as they are aware that the drawings aren’t completely accurate and are willing to research the garments more on their own.

I don’t think I’ve made anything based on the drawings in this book, but I do enjoy flipping through it when in search of inspiration.  However I enjoy The Complete Costume History more and don’t think you need both.

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Victorian Fashions and Costumes from Harper’s Bazar, 1867-1898  by Stella Blum

I think this is a great book to get along with one of the ones listed above, since it covers the major decade they miss: The mid to late 1800s.

I purchased this early in the year since I was struggling to find references of garments from the 1890’s. Disappointingly, this doesn’t have a lot of pages devoted to that period. It’s far more focused on the bustle dress eras. But I’m very happy that I purchased it, since it’s made me enjoy, and respect a period of fashion I previously thought I hated.

Though these fashion plates were also drawn in the mid 1800s, they are very accurate since they depict the garments that were worn during that period.

This book has my favorite format of all the “Inspiration” books. Each dress is accompanied by a short, concise paragraph that talks about the style, colors, and when it was worn. It gives you enough information to research it further on your own, and some insights into how dresses were trimmed and the fabrics used.

Though the majority of the pages are devoted to full length dresses, there are many drawings of accessories. Headpieces, foundation garments, parasols, children’s clothes, shoes, and jewelry all have pages of their own.

I think this would be a valuable book for anyone who appreciates historical fashion in general. I didn’t expect to like half the examples in this book since I’m not a huge fan of bustle dresses, but I still really enjoyed reading through it and seeing how the styles evolved. It’s also been a fantastic reference for several of my projects, and served as the main inspiration for a few things I currently have in progress.

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Women’s Hats, Headdresses and Hairstyles: Medieval to Modern  by Georgine de Courtais

This is one of my most referenced books. It isn’t detailed enough to be a standalone reference on hats throughout history, but it’s a really great start and source of inspiration. I bought this when I knew very little about hats and after flipping through it once I had a basic understanding of  historical hats and what periods they belong to. Even now that I know more about hats, I’ll still look through this for ideas on what to pair with ensembles I’m planning.

The book has one page of numbered drawings accompanied by a page of text that explains each hat in greater detail. Something I like a lot about this book is that it talks about how hats evolve – it doesn’t just say “This is a flower pot hat, worn in the 1890’s” is says why they were called that and how they are different from the hats worn a few years prior. Along with how that style changed throughout the decade.

The book covers a huge range of time – from 1100 all the way to 1980, with the 1700’s and 1800’s being covered with the most detail.

A downside to this book is that the illustrations only show each example from one angle. The descriptions are very helpful, but short. So you don’t get enough information about each example to use them as your only reference when making a hat. The writing is also a bit blocky, and lacking line breaks between the explanations for each piece, so it isn’t enjoyable to read through in it’s entirety.

I’d still highly recommend it if historical hats are something you want to learn more about. It’s taught me a lot and was my main motivation for getting into headpiece making.

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Fashion: A History from the 18th to the 20th Century by The Kyoto Costume Institute

I think this is the prettiest book I own. And also the heaviest!

It’s a two volume set of books, which as far as I know have to be purchased together. The first book shows fashion from the 18th century to the early 20th century, and the second book is entirely 20th century fashion.

These books are beautifully put together, especially the first volume. I really can’t recommend the first book highly enough. The garments chosen are beautiful, and wonderfully styled and photographed. It’s incredibly inspiring to look through and made me fall in a bit more in love with historical fashion.

The photos mostly show the full length dresses, but there are pages devoted to the detail work and accessories. Each dress is accompanied by a very short explanation, with some having full paragraphs. Some pages have more text than others, but the real star of this book are the pictures. Most of the images are photographs, but some of them are paired with fashion plates and drawings.

Overall It’s a stunning collection of garments and photos. I’ve had it for almost a year now and I still really enjoy looking through it. It would make a fantastic gift, since not only is it a great reference, it’s also pretty enough that people who don’t really “get” historical fashion can enjoy it.

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Volume II however…Well, it’s not my cup of tea. I enjoy the first portion since the 1920’s dresses are beautiful, and a lot of the dresses from the 50’s are nice too.

The rest of it is a bit weird and I find the examples they chose for garments very odd. There are shoes made out of grass, dresses made from plastic, and a plethora of awkwardly shaped runway pieces. I understand that the uniqueness of these pieces are why a museum would have them in their collection, but I was disappointed by them. It didn’t feel cohesive with the tone of the first book. However if you like unusual fashion, and appreciate the more sculptural aspect of clothing you’ll probably really enjoy it.

Overall I think it was worth what I paid (a little more than twenty dollars). I would pay the same amount over again for just the first book, since I think it’s fantastic. But the second book isn’t my favorite, and I wish there was an equal amount of focus given to all the periods, rather than the 20th century getting a volume of its own, with the prior two hundred and fifty years compacted into one. More examples of fashion from the 1800’s and turn of the century would have made it a lot more enjoyable for me personally.

In Fine Style: The Art of Tudor and Stuart Fashion by Anna Reynolds

Speaking of pretty books, this one is a beauty! I purchased this as a visual reference since I wanted more examples of Elizabethan and mid 17th century fashion in my collection, something this book is filled with. Every page has at least one painting printed on it, and almost a quarter of the pages are taken up entirely by prints.

This book really focuses on the details, often cropping paintings to highlight the embellishment or textures used on the garments. It also pairs paintings with photographs of similar items to what’s worn in them. For example a chemise with blackwork embroidery is on the page across from  a tudor portrait of a woman wearing a blackwork embroidered partlet.

Even though the real star of this book is the artwork, there is a lot of text too. Far more than I had expected. To be honest I haven’t read a lot of it, since I purchased it primarily as a visual reference. What I have read was well written, but not especially captivating.

My only peeve with this book is the formatting. Large portions of pages are often left blank because of photo placement, ands sentences run on between several pages. For example “The embroidered waistcoat is clearly decorated in a similar manner to a waistcoat in the Fashion Museum, Bath. Wheras” – that sentence continues three pages later. It seems poorly planned.

Another note is that this book is divided into chapters such as: Dressing Children, Dressing Men, Dressing Women, Painting Dress, Dressing Across the Borders, etc. This is nice because it means all the examples within a chapter are relatively cohesive, since they have the same theme. I’m sure that makes it nicer to read too.

But I’m used to historical fashion books being sorted by date, with the earliest examples at the beginning. And in this they are scattered all over within the chapters. From the perspective of someone trying to use it as a reference, it can be difficult finding what I’m looking for. It usually means I have to look through the entire book to find anything – but it’s a beautiful book, so that’s usually a treat more than anything else!

Overall I love looking through it and the examples they chose to include. They never cease to inspire me. It’s visually pleasing from the outside too, and would be a nice coffee table book in addition to being a wonderful reference.

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20,000 Years of Fashion: The History of Costume and Personal Adornment by Francois Boucher

I think out of all the books I own, this one has the most “complete” coverage of historical fashion. It begins with prehistoric fashion before moving into things from the early third millennium. Egyptian artwork and how it depicts costumes has two chapters of its own – and so do many other periods that don’t fit into most historical fashion books. I reach for this when working on medieval projects, since it has far more examples of artwork from the 1000-1200s than any other book I own.

The book is quite text heavy, but every page is dotted with pictures that help give you a sense of the period. I’m not a huge fan of how this is written, it’s readable and interesting but not compelling. My attempts to read it from cover to cover have been squashed, but I do enjoy reading pages related to what I’m currently working on.

The pictures are a mixture of paintings, fashion plates, sculpture tapestries, and photographs. To get inspired I always flip to the pages about the period I’m planning on making something from. Though the pictures aren’t as pretty as other books, they pick a lot of unique examples that differ from what you usually see on pinterest.

It’s a book I’m very happy to have in my collection, but probably not one I would recommend as a gift since it isn’t as immediately exciting as the others.

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I have one technique focused book to talk about and then I’m done!

This is called The Art of Manipulating Fabric by Colette Wolff. The cover caught my eye when I was browsing, and the reviews won me over.

I don’t use this book very often, but it’s fascinating. Each page describes multiple techniques and has instructions on how to do them. The instructions are usually paired with diagrams that show the steps.

It begins with basic things, like making ruffles. Then moves onto similar, but more elaborate things that use the same techniques, like fluting and furrowing. It also has picture examples of everything – including gathering examples that show the fullness of of fabric when it’s gathered to be one half, one third, or one quarter of it’s original length.

The techniques get more complicated as the book goes on, but still cover basics like shirring, godets, pleating, and making simples flounces. A lot of the examples go far beyond the level of patience I have, but it’s still neat to see instructions about them, and how they look executed perfectly in the examples.

It’s an interesting book to have, regardless of your skill level. Since it covers the basics it can work for beginners, and I guarantee that no matter how long you’ve been sewing there will be something in here you’ve never seen before.

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Some other books I own but don’t feel comfortable reviewing yet include:

Authentic Victorian Dressmaking Techniques – I’ve referenced this for specific projects a few times, but haven’t read it from cover to cover. So far I like it and how they touch on things not usually mentioned in modern sewing manuals.

The Art of Sewing Books – I got these at a vintage book store. I like the way they are laid out and the diagrams but they aren’t relevant to what I’m currently doing so I haven’t read them.

Women’s Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences manuals/textbooks – My Great Aunt gave me these and they are wonderful. I love the way things are explained and the huge variety of techniques. If you can find them I’d highly recommend them, they are really useful and also a piece of a history since they were printed in the 1920s!

That’s it for reviews! I hope you enjoyed this and found it helpful.

It would be nice if the comments were a bit of a discussion – are there any historical costume books you would recommend? Any I liked you that didn’t? Ones on your wish list?

I’m hoping to get “Fashion Victims: Dress at the Court of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette”  for Christmas and am keeping my eye on “Art Nouveau Fashion” – I want more picture books!

Though I used amazon links in this post, remember to look around for better deals! A few of these were purchased from Barnes and Noble since they were cheaper there AND had $10 off coupons for Black Friday. A fifty dollar book on amazon cost me $28 with free shipping from B&N. Book prices also change all the time, so if something is too expensive keep checking back – I’ve seen prices drop from $55 to $38 in a day.

I think that’s all I have to say for today, thanks for reading and I hope you have a nice Thanksgiving – or if you don’t celebrate, then a really fantastic week in general!

 

 

 
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Posted by on November 22, 2016 in Reviews & Hauls

 

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Fabric Haul & Shopping Adventures

This post was supposed to be a simple fabric haul…but then I got a bit chatty. And I wanted to include some shop reviews and photos from my recent trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. So it’s some sort of shopping adventure/review/haul hybrid.

And unlike most of my hauls, the majority of these material weren’t purchased in NYC! Most of them are from shops near Lancaster Pennsylvania, then I picked up some matching fabrics to pair with them in the garment district.

The first shop I visited in PA was Fabric Mart. I had heard of this shop before since they have a pretty well known website, but it wasn’t until I researched fabric stores near Lancaster that I realized they have a brick and mortar shop as well!

This store didn’t look too promising from the exterior…and the inside wasn’t that inspiring either. Since the store is made up of three rooms, and it isn’t immediately clear that the back rooms are open to customers, it looks quite small when you first walk in. It also wasn’t as densely stocked as a store like Jo-anns, so I was a bit concerned I wouldn’t find anything.

But once I started browsing I was a lot more impressed. They don’t have a ton of fabric, but they have a good variety of materials and relatively unique fabrics – especially when it came to silk. Lots of patterns and designs I’d never seen before, even in places with far more options like the Garment District.

It wouldn’t be the best shop to go to if you were looking for something specific, but I was just there to find pretty fabrics and it was definitely a good shop for that.

However It wasn’t my favorite shopping experience. None of the fabrics were priced – they didn’t even have paper signs to give you some idea of the price range. And none of the employees I spoke to knew prices offhand. Instead you had to go to their website and type in the fabrics item number. I used data on my phone for this, but if you didn’t have a smart phone you’re dependent on a single computer in the center of the store. Even with the phone it was a pain since I was constantly forgetting the prices of each fabric, and some bolts didn’t have any item numbers visible.

They also handle customer service (a team of several people behind desks) for the website in the same room you shop in – which I understand due space limitations, but I felt really awkward and like I was in peoples way.

But I would go back if I was in the area! And I’ll considering ordering from them online in the future, since I did like the selection and uniqueness of their stock.

Now onto what I bought…

The first fabric is from their dollar a yard section. It’s a light pink polyester satin covered with bright pink roses. I absolutely adore this fabric and the style of the print reminds me of how flowers were painted in the 1700’s. Which is why I want to use it for an 18th century robe a la francaise – something i’ve been wanting to make for ages.

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I don’t think the print is accurate for that period, and i’m not sure how well the fabric will pleat, but I think it’s worth a try. I got eleven yards of it, and as I said it was from the dollar section, so the whole bolt only cost me $11!

Fabric Haul mid 2016-8462

Then I picked up a coordinating fabric in the garment district. This will be used for trims and potentially the petticoat. I ended up finding this material at Zahar fabrics, which is one of my favorites since they have a bit of everything and good prices.

However I wasn’t expecting to find this there. I went there to look at chiffon, but on my way to the chiffon section I saw this beautiful silk dupioni, which matches the floral satin — perfectly. Which is fantastic since I needed a warm (almost coral) pink which I thought would be difficult to find.

In addition to being the right color, It has a lovely sheen to it and drapes beautifully. Though the slub is more intense than I usually like, it’s very consistent throughout the fabric so they don’t look like random snags.

I’d budgeted forty dollars for this fabric, which I expected to get me four yards. But I ended up getting five and a half yards for that price, since that was all that was left on the roll!

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The next purchase from Fabric Mart is a mesh embroidered lace. This was from the home decor fabric and on sale for four dollars a yard. I ended up purchasing two yards, and I think it will look beautiful as the trim for an Edwardian gown.

Fabric Haul mid 2016-8428

The threads used on this lace are almost metallic, which gives it a lot of life. I actually have some purple chiffon that matches this, so hopefully I can figure out a design that pairs these two materials together.

Fabric Haul mid 2016-8429

From the silk section (which I spend ages staring at) I bought a yard of this lightweight beige silk. The base fabric has a lovely subtle sheen to it, but it was the metallic stripes that won me over. They have the most beautiful shine to them, it’s so pretty. I think this would make lovely sleeves for a historical dress – maybe paired with a gold or navy brocade.

Fabric Haul mid 2016-8431

And my final purchase there was this silk shantung which has black velvet flocked designs all over it. I can’t even put into words how much I love this fabric, it’s so striking, i’ve never seen anything like it.

It was the most expensive fabric i’ve ever bought (not including beaded lace) but even the price couldn’t deter me, i’m that in love with it. I’m not sure what i’ll use this for, but I bought two yards which should be enough for something neat!

Fabric Haul mid 2016-8457

To go along with that I bought three yards of black micro velvet in the garment district. I love the contrast of these two fabrics together, and I can’t wait to use them. I just have to think of an idea first…

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The next shop I went to is called Goodvile Fabric Outlet/ Zinck’s Fabric – they recently combined and can be found under both names. This store was an experience, truly unlike any other fabric shop i’ve been to. The store is actually a giant warehouse. The front room is carpeted and looks like a normal quilt shop, but the rest of the space is filled with hundreds of pallets of apparel and upholstery fabric.

So.

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Much.Fabric Haul mid 2016-8280Fabric.

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A lot of it was very poor quality – in the whole store I found less than a dozen fabrics I really wanted, but seeing that quantity of fabric was incredible. And it was all really cheap. The flat cuts shown above were a dollar a yard, as were many by the bolt fabrics.

I picked up two of the flat cuts from the home decor section (the only ones soft enough for apparel use) but they didn’t photograph well so I haven’t included photos in this post. I also got a twenty five yard bolt of white organza for twelve bucks, which I was pretty happy with since i’ve wanted to make an organza petticoat for a while.

My by-the-yard purchases included six yards of this bright plaid cotton. This fabric is very fine and very soft and I thought the bright print would make it good for something out of the 1830s – it’s been too long since I paired massive sleeves with a pleated collar!

Fabric Haul mid 2016-8441

From the same section I got a light brown and white plaid fabric. This is very lightweight as well, but has more drape to it, like a medium weight rayon. It feels very nice to the touch and I thought it would make a pretty dress from the early 1800s as well – maybe something regency inspired? This fabric, and the bright plaid were both four dollars a yard.

Fabric Haul mid 2016-8460

I also bought a flat cut of a cotton homespun – I think these were two dollars a yard once discounts were factored in. This piece is almost six yards long and has a very small green and beige checked print. I think the color drew me to this one, I love green and it’s rare for me to see an apparel fabric I like in that color so I snatched it up!

Fabric Haul mid 2016-8442

This shop had a limited suiting section, but what they did have were stunning. Very soft lightweight wool suitings – and only three dollars a yard! The first one I got is a medium brown with small blue and pink stripes.

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And the second one is black and white chevron. I bought these both for suits based on designs from the early 1900s. Tailoring is something I want to get better at, and these are light enough for the menswear inspired dresses that were popular towards the end of the Edwardian period.

Fabric Haul mid 2016-8444

The final fabric from this shop is a polyester satin charmeuse – not usually a fabric I go for, since it tends to look quite inexpensive, but this one has a really nice sheen to it.

I had hoped this would match the lace I purchased from Fabric Mart but it’s a little bit too light – i’ll see if I can make it work, otherwise it’ll go in my pile of mock up fabrics!

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Oh and I bought some buttons too – these were 80c each and I thought they would be handy to have around since I don’t have many small, simple buttons.

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The next store I visited is called The Lace Place. It was a slight struggle to get an appointment here, but i’m glad we did! The store was a lot larger and had a lot more stock than I was expecting. It’s set up a lot like the stores in the Garment District, which is interesting to see in such a rural area – we drove past miles of corn fields and cows to get here!

This shop had a great selection of nylon and colored lace. I found the cotton lace a bit stiff, and the selection of venice and embroidered lace lacking, so I didn’t get many of those. But i’ve never seen this many colorful trims in one place – and in every small pattern imaginable!

The store owner was very nice, and the prices on the narrow trims were very reasonable and well marked. The only negative I can really say is that the checkout and cutting process was slow (especially for fabrics) so I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re tight on time. But if you like lace and you’re nearby it’s definitely worth stopping at!

Fabric Haul mid 2016-8272

My main purchase here was eleven yards of white netting that has gold spots woven into it. I bought this because I thought it resembled the material on Sisi’s star gown. The spots are too close together for it to be used for a replica, but it should work for something similar. Either on its own or as a base for sequins. This was four dollars a yard but twenty five percent off since I bought more than ten yards.

Fabric Haul mid 2016-8440

On top of that I got quite a bit of lace, including three white cotton trims, five small off white ones, and a beautiful embroidered organza one. A lot of these are similar to trims I already own, but most of my trim collection is made up of vintage items which so some signs of age, and it’s nice to have some that you know are unblemished!

Fabric Haul mid 2016-8450

An interesting pin tucked cotton trim that I thought would look neat on a corset, a white pin tucked organza that I thought looked cool, and a beautiful alencon beige lace – I can’t wait to embellish this and use it to trim the sleeves of an evening gown, it’ll look stunning.

Fabric Haul mid 2016-8451

And some colorful trims to help build my collection. I thought these might work for lace inset work as well. And the yellow ribbon lace is to top off a corset that I finished recently – it matches much better than what I found at Jo-anns.

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From the same store I got three grab bags, which were a dollar fifty each. These were such a steal, all of them have a couple lengths of lace that are three to five yards long, along with many pieces that are half that length. It had a lot of fun opening these up and organizing the trims I got. Definitely worth the money, and a joy to look through.

Fabric Haul mid 2016-8447

And now back to the fabric shopping. The final store I visited is called Zooks. It mostly sells quilting fabrics but I did find a few things that would work for my costumes.

The first of which is this plaid orange cotton homespun. I liked the color of this, it made me happy, and the price made me happy too – it was two dollars a yard with an additional twenty percent off. I got all the had left (a little over seven yards) and plan on using this for an 1840’s day dress.

Fabric Haul mid 2016-8432

From the small apparel section I got two yards of a silky feeling dimpled orange fabric. This matches the homespun material perfectly (for some reason that fabric looks more red in photos) and  has a really interesting texture. Hopefully i’ll be able to pair them together.

And I also got three yards of a green striped fabric, which has an interesting texture as well. And once again I purchased this to go with the lace I purchased in the first store – it isn’t a great match, but I think I might be able to get it to work

Fabric Haul mid 2016-8433

From a different quilt shop (I forget the name) I got some embroidery floss, since it was reduced down to four for a dollar. I bought some greens and oranges which I can hopefully turn into some sort of floral sampler. Embroidery is one of those things I really want to improve at but keep putting off learning more about.

Fabric Haul mid 2016-8427

The final few things I got were from the venders section of a quilt show. My first purchase was this magnificent quilting cotton which has unicorns on it. Unicorns are one of my favorite things, and seeing that combined with fabric was wonderful.

I got a yard and a third of this, and I plan on using it to re-cover my ironing board. I think it will look adorable with unicorns running across the bottom!

Fabric Haul mid 2016-8449

I also got a pair of support gloves for my wrists. My wrists are pretty good considering how much time I spend sewing and on my computer, but they do have bad days. I didn’t have super high expectations for these, but I was willing to give them a try. And I’m really glad I did, because I notice a huge difference when I wear them.

I put them on if my wrists are feeling sore and they alleviate the pain by around ninety percent. Which means I don’t have to slow down or take breaks, which I definitely appreciate. I’m not sure that these would work for everyone, or if you have more severe pain, but i’ve been really impressed with them!

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I also bought a wallet, which is a bit silly but very…me. It’s pale blue and has a vintage singer sewing machine on one side, and crossed crane scissors on the other. I justified this because it’s more secure than my previous wallet, and smaller so it fits in my purse better. But I think you can get better wallets for the price, I just fell for it because it’s sewing related.

But I don’t regret it at all because look! So pretty.

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And the final thing I got in PA were buttons. A lot of buttons. There was an antique shop selling a box of buttons for fifteen dollars, and a scoop of buttons for three dollars, with twenty percent off everything.

These are metal buttons which I think are new old stock. They say “Waterbury company” on the side, which is a local button manufacturer who has been providing buttons to the US military for almost a hundred years. I got a box of big ones and two scoops of small ones – all of which totaled seventeen bucks.

Not sure what they will be used for, but I figure I could always sell them on etsy and make my money back.

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Fabric Haul mid 2016-8446

Now onto my NYC fabric shopping adventures. The main point of this trip was the see the Manus x Machina exhibit at the Met. But it doubled as a fabric adventure, and a very successful one at that. My list for this trip was relatively small so I could really focus on finding the materials I was interested in. I managed to find everything I wanted so I was very happy!

The first thing I needed was some fabric to match a plaid fabric I ordered online a while back. This is a very bold print so I needed something to break it up. Luckily I found a matching cotton sateen in Hamed Fabrics, and it was only five bucks a yard.

Fabric Haul mid 2016-8327

Then I went to Diana’s fabric, and I was on the hunt for something specific. Last time I was there I fell in love with a blue and white striped taffeta but decided it looked too nautical and that i’d already spent enough money that day. And I’ve regretted not getting it for months. I went back this time with hopes they would have some left.

When I first walked in I was concerned, because all the bolts of striped taffeta were gone. But I had a brought a swatch with me and asked the owner if they had it hidden anywhere. Apparently it was in storage, but they sent someone to fetch it and in a few minutes I was reunited with this beauty.

I recalled this fabric being priced at fifteen dollars a yard, and I needed at least seven yards. I had hoped to talk them down to twelve dollars a yard, but by some miracle I got it for ten dollars a yard. Which is an absolute steal in my opinion – it’s fifty four inches wide and has a beautiful texture and sheen to it.

My plan for this is to make a matching skirt and polonaise that plays with the print of the fabric. I also have a striped organza from a previous trip that I want to use as trimming for this dress, I think that would look very cute!

Fabric Haul mid 2016-8322

While I waited for them to find that fabric I looked at their solid silk taffetas and shantungs. I had hoped to find one in a bright color or jewel tone, something that would work well for an 1890’s day dress. I attempted to make one of these earlier in the year, and though I did finish it, I despise the end result. The fit, the design, the fabric, the length, it’s all bad!

I want to take what i’ve learned from that project and apply it to a new, much nicer dress, that has the same inspiration behind it. And this time around I wanted to use a fabric that drapes nicer than polyester taffeta.

They didn’t have too many colors that interested me, but this bright orangey yellow caught my eye.

I was hesitant about this fabric since it’s different then the colors I usually go for, but I didn’t want to let that stop me, and once the fabric was rolled out and I handled it I couldn’t resist. It’s so crisp but soft and light in a way polyester taffeta isn’t. I’m so incredibly excited to work with this and give this project another shot!

Fabric Haul mid 2016-8320

And my final two purchases are for an 1880’s evening gown. I already have the main fabrics for this (a jacquard and beige taffeta that have been in my stash for years) but wanted something softer for ruffles around the neckline and skirt. I had hoped to find a chiffon, but they didn’t have any in the right color. However I did find a very pretty satin faced chiffon that matched, so I bought that.

At this point the only thing left on my list was a lace fabric for this project. I finally stumbled upon this one in a shop i’m not super familiar with. It was more than I wanted to spend (fifty dollars a yard!) and since I only needed a half yard I couldn’t negotiate a better price. But since I couldn’t find anything else that matched, I decided to get it. And I don’t regret it – it’s truly stunning and matches perfectly.

Fabric Haul mid 2016-8334 And that’s it for fabric shopping but I wanted to share my thoughts on the Met exhibit – i’ll try to keep this short since i’m sure there are far better summaries and photos of this out there!

 I found the exhibit a lot more interesting than I expected. I think the write up on the website is a bit misleading – I thought it would be focusing more on machine made garments, but it was all about the hand sewn details and variety of textures.

There were dozens of beautiful fully sequined dresses, some made fully from feathers, and others that were entirely lace. Though I didn’t like all the dresses (there were some collapsable dresses by a Japanese designer that seemed really out of place, and some “deconstructed” ones that were just…awful, in my opinion) I was really impressed by the majority of them.

The dresses on the left were some of my favorites since they remind me a lot of the dresses the stepsisters wear in the Cinderella live action film.

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And of course I managed to fixate on one of the oldest dresses they had – this 1920’s gown was beautiful. I’ve actually pinned photos of it on pinterest before, so seeing it in person was a treat. I love how heavily embellished it is while still being very light and airy. Plus the ribbon embroidery was beautiful – it makes me want to learn how to do that!

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I also loved seeing the vintage Dior dresses – of which there were probably twenty. I think they are a benefactor for the museum, which probably had to do with their prominence in the exhibit. But I didn’t mind because they were all stunning!

However out of all the dresses, the one that really stuck out is this Givenchy dress. If you’ve been around for a while you may remember my weird idea of making a vulture inspired costume. I purchased the fabrics for it but never settled on a design I was happy with, so it never came to life yet. However this gave me major inspiration! I love how the bodice looks like armor, but it has the softness of fabric. It gives me lots of ideas, which is more than I can say for the others.

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And I think that’s everything I have to say. It’s definitely worth visiting if you appreciate embellishment and pretty dresses!

Thanks for reading!

 
 

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Fabric Haul, April 2016

Today’s post is an exciting one…or at least it’s exciting for me, because it’s a fabric haul! Which means new materials and new projects to work on.

The week before my birthday my dad and I went into the garment district and this is what I got during that trip – plus a few Jo-anns purchases since I couldn’t find everything I wanted in NYC.

This post is a bit different than usual, since I don’t have many sketches to share. Most of my future plans are in the idea stage and haven’t been transferred to paper yet, or are based off of paintings. But i’ll do my best to describe each project and include my inspiration photos!

Here is my swatch sheet that I made after getting home. I managed to get (almost) everything I need for seven projects which is fantastic.

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Now lets go through them in detail!

The first fabric I bought is for an Elizabethan ensemble based on this painting of Anne of Denmark. I plan on following the silhouette and detailing quite closely, but i’ll be making a few changes, as I always do. I’ve been wanting to take on an Elizabethan project since I got “In Fine Style: The Art of Tudor and Stuart Fashion” for Christmas, and this seemed like a good piece to start with.

I’d hoped to find a fabric with a larger, more subtle pattern, but I didn’t see any others that were green so at the end of the day I came back to this one and bought eight yards. It isn’t quite what I had in mind, but I do really like it! I just hope it isn’t too overwhelming once I make a full dress out of it!

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To go along with that I bought buttons! I don’t think metal buttons are very accurate for this period, but I fell in love with the shape and details of these so I bought them anyway. I thought I would have to order buttons for this, so finding ones in person was a pleasant surprise!

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This costume will mostly be trimmed with lace, which I already own and small gold ribbon, which i’ve ordered online. But I came across this gold/green cording which I thought would look nice on the bodice, so I got three yards. I also picked up two yards of velvet ribbon for the rosettes and two orange pheasant feathers for the hat!

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For the partlet and ruff I got a sheer cotton fabric. This is a really neat fabric considering it’s weight and color. It has a subtle plaid pattern  woven through it and parts of it have a sheen almost like mirror organza.

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From Diana Fabrics I got a plain cotton striped shirting, which is for a cycling ensemble I plan on making soon. I already have the other materials for this project (buttons for the shirt, plaid for the pants, and wool for the hat) so now I can get started!

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Also from Diana Fabrics I bought three yards of this striped silk taffeta. I love this fabric, unfortunately I didn’t buy enough of it to actually use it. I thought it matched another fabric I bought and would work for an 1880s bustle dress but it doesn’t at all. Hopefully on my next trip in they will still have it, then I can get another two yards and have enough for an 18th century Robe a La Langlaise!

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Speaking of the 18th century, I got a whole bunch of fabrics for an ensemble from that period. This is based on a few paintings from the late 1700’s and incorporates the loose wrapped headpiece (“turban”) trend that was popular at this point in time.

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I wanted this costume to have a warm color scheme and incorporate textured metallic fabrics, so when I saw this I grabbed it up right away! It’s a striped organza made from pink and gold threads so it has a two tone shift. It’s really striking in person, and might be a bit overwhelming, but I love it a lot.

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I tried to find a striped material that would compliment the organza, but they were all out of my price range. And the silks I found were a little more textured or pink than I wanted, so I went for a polyester shantung instead. It’s a light copper color that looks gorgeous with the organza. I got this at Amin fabrics, along with a few yards of pink taffeta which is a base for the organza.

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Since I couldn’t find a striped fabric I went back to the shop where I bought the organza (Zahra fabrics) and got two yards of a similar material, just in a different print. I’m going to use this for ruffled trim, which will hopefully jazz up the slightly boring shantung!

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Here are the materials all together, and you can see how the striped fabric looks over the pink taffeta.

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At a trim shop I found some pretty organza ribbons that were a dollar a yard, so I bought two yards of each. I think one of these might work as a sash for the costume,  and even if they don’t I’ll find a use for them someday!

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At Zahra fabrics I got four yards of an orchid colored satin faced chiffon. This is for a grecian inspired project I want to make soon – it won’t be historically accurate at all, but it will be very pretty!

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They also has a textured silk that I really liked, and matched the color scheme I had going, so I got a yard of it.

The final fabric for this project (on left) is a plain linen that I bought from Jo-ann’s. I’d hoped to find a foiled linen that had gold flecks in it, or something more interesting, but didn’t see anything like that. And when it comes to plain linen, it’s cheaper to buy it from Jo-ann’s with coupons than in the garment district.

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For the same project I got a bunch of beads and sequins from Beads World. I’d like to make a crown or shoulder piece with a floral pattern, and I thought these would work well for that.

Even though i’m not completely sure what this project will look like I really love the color palettes and fabrics I ended up getting for it. It’s made me realize that I don’t work with purple fabrics often enough!

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These things weren’t on my list, but they had them in the sale section at the front and I couldn’t resist. I use gold beads all the time so I thought these would be a good addition to my collection, and the leaves were too pretty to pass up! Ecspecially at $2 a bag.

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I also got some red beads and a tiny crochet hook. I’m going to attempt to teach myself the process of crocheting a beaded rope, and thought these would be good to start with!

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At Hamed Fabrics I came across a striped home decor fabric and fell in love. I had no idea what to do with it until I remembered this fashion plate. This project was on my list of tentative plans, but I didn’t think I would find a fabric in my price range that would work for this.

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But clearly I was wrong, because this is perfect. It’s a dark pink organza with opaque stripes that are outlined in gold. It’s such a pretty color, the texture is lovely, and looks gorgeous when it’s gathered.

Best of all is that it’s 120″ wide so I only had to buy five and a half yards, which came to a total cost of fifty five dollars.

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To go underneath that I bought a polyester taffeta (on left) and as a contrasting fabric for piping and bows I got a pinstriped gold fabric. These all look wonderful together and i’m really excited to use them.

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From the same shop I found a striped polyester organza with opaque off white stripes. This was another fabric I was happy to find, since it reminds me of the ones used for this Chemise a la Reine. I plan on making something inspired by that painting and some of my favorite John Hoppner works from that period (like this and this). The end result will probably be a very light, yet structured dress.

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I bought some shantung to go underneath it, but I might use a  lighter weight fabric as a base to keep the gauzy effect.

I also got two yards of silk taffeta to create a sash and trim the hat. This taffeta is the exact same one I used for my Royal Milk Tea costume back in the day, and was also used to trim a Chemise a la Reine-ish dress I made a couple years ago!

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From Amin Fabrics I bought this soft dotted net, which i’ll use to make neckerchiefs for a few projects. And at Zahra fabrics I found the same maroon/brown material I bought a few years ago. When I purchased this the first time it was for an 18th century project that ended in total failure, then the remaining yardage was used for my 1890s Paid Ensemble. I loved that fabric a lot and was sad to use it up, so I jumped at the opportunity to get more of it.

I bought three yards and I think i’ll reattempt that 18th Century project someday – three yards should be plenty for a jacket.

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Another good find from Zahra fabrics was this brocade. It’s the same type of material as the one I purchased for the Elizabethan project, but is in a much brighter shamrock green that my camera refuses to do justice. It has gold stripes woven throughout and is ridiculously pretty.

Unfortunately they only had three and a half yards, which isn’t enough for the dress I had in mind. But I bought it anyway and am determined to do something with it someday!

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From the same shop I got four yards of dark green satin faced chiffon (on left) and two yards of a striped jacquard. I was going to use the chiffon for an edwardian dress, but didn’t find any lace that matches it. So I need to browse etsy for something that will work, or put the project on hold for now.

The jacquard was supposed to be for a bustle dress, but I didn’t find anything that matches it. So that’s on hold for now as well!

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A project I did manage to get all the materials for is a very simple Victorian riding habit. I’d never seen one of these before but fell in love when I saw this picture. I’m not sure why I like it so much, but I think it’s very striking!

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I must have looked at hundreds of black suitings before picking this one. I wanted something that would look nice when it was draped and this is the only one I found that had a subtle sheen to it and was in the weight I needed. So I got six yards, which should be plenty.

I also found some filigree metal buttons on etsy which probably aren’t accurate, but should add some Victorian flair to this simple design.

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At Joann’s I got a yard of white cotton sateen, which i’ll use for the collars and cuff. And at Hai Trimmings I bought a bundle of rooster feathers for the hat. I fell in love with these last time I went in but didn’t want to buy them without a purpose, so I was happy to finally have a use for them!

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From Hai Trims I also got more of these resin “stones”.I bought orange ones on my last visit to the garment district, and couldn’t resist getting more this time around. I picked up three packets of the blue ones…

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And three packets of the green ones.

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The last notion-y things I bought are fluffy ostrich feathers – three in a warm white color, one in ivory.

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And a bunch of smaller ones in a warm white, plus two raspberry colored ones. I have a couple projects in mind that require light colored feathers, but I mostly got these just for the sake of having them around.

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The raspberry colored ones were bought for an Edwardian project (inspired by this), but I didn’t find velvet in the color I wanted so that project is on hold for now. However I did find this lace, which is hideous in that kitschy way that makes it perfect for something from the early 1900s, so I bought a yard of it with that project in mind.

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I bought a bit of red cotton sateen just for the hell of it. I thought this might be fun for an 1830s dress, similar to this one. I’ve used this material for a few projects in the past and it’s great to work with and super cheap, so getting more seemed like a good idea even without a plan in mind!

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The final two fabrics I bought are for a dress based off this one. I came across this dress recently and was immediately obsessed with it. The shape! The flowers! The draping! And the ruffles…what more could you want?

I’m not sure why but right away I knew I wanted this dress to be made from velvet. I planned on using black velvet for the dress, but the draping isn’t very visible on black, and the other dark colors (brown, blue, purple) weren’t as elegant as I liked. I wanted green, but couldn’t find any, so I choose this dark raspberry colored one. If it looks familiar that’s probably because I bought some on my last trip for a different project.

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To trim the dress I bought silk satin. The edges of this are slightly discolored, which I’m frustrated by, but it seems to be unavoidable when buying ivory fabric from the garment district (I swear the shop lighting hides all fabric flaws).

For the ruffles of this dress I bought matte black tulle, which I think go nicely with the silk and velvet.

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That is everything from the garment district but I did make a few sneaky Joanns purchases that I wanted to include. On my most recent trip there I was really impressed by the new (summer?) collections and trim selection – everything was nicely stocked for once and I saw a lot that I really liked.

I ended up getting five yards of pink chiffon that has an iridescent vine pattern on it. When it catches the light it reflects all the colors you can imagine. It’s really, really pretty. Probably one of my favorite fabrics I’ve ever seen. I got two yards of it in an off white color as well.

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Then to go with that I bought one yard of a textured organza. This has satin flecks in it, a mottled pattern, and glitter woven into the base. This one was ridiculously priced ($30 a yard!) but with coupons it was half that, and a little more justifiable. I have no idea what i’ll use these for but I see some sort of medieval inspired dress that looks like a bridesmaid gown in their future…

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The last thing I bought was this trim! Which I was also very impressed with. I got two yards of it which is enough to edge the cuffs/waist of a dress. Not sure what it will get used for either, but I liked it enough that I didn’t care!

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And that’s everything! I’m currently working on my Civil War Era evening gown and a few other projects so I won’t be using any of these materials in the immediate future, but they will be making more appearances on my blog soon!

Thanks for reading!

 
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Posted by on May 6, 2016 in Reviews & Hauls

 

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Fabric Haul & Future Plans, January 2016

Here is the promised fabric haul! And I have to warn you, it’s pretty gigantic.

The majority is from the NYC Garment District.  I went there the week before Christmas and spent all of my Christmas money (and then some) on fabric. After I got home I went on a little etsy shopping spree with some of my youtube earnings, and the week after that I placed an online order for some sewing supplies I ran out of. So the pile of purchases continued to grow for a while there – but i’m done now! Officially on a no-buy until I finish a few projects.

Speaking of that in addition to this being a haul it’s also going to be a peak into what projects i’m planning for the next few months. I have sketches to share along with heaps of reference photos, which is part of the reason this post will be so long.

I went into the Garment District armed with a half dozen swatch cards and a huge list. I was mainly shopping for four ensembles: A 1890s afternoon dress and coat. A more casual 1890s ensemble that consists of a hat, skirt, and shirtwaist. An Edwardian evening gown. And a short 1920s evening dress. I was also shopping for plain fabrics that would work for the foundation garments to go under them.

Here are my swatch cards for the three most exciting dresses~

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And my massive heap of fabric I got to gaze at on Christmas morning.

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I promise there are lots of pretty fabrics to share but i’m going to leave those to the end. We’ll start with the ones I bought for foundation garments, since those will be the base for all these dresses.

Here is my stack of lightweight cotton fabrics (and shantung!) which I bought with that purpose in mind.

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One of my favorites shops (Fabric for Less) is going out of business. That really sucks since i’ll miss visiting their store, but it worked in my favor on this trip since they were having a big closing sale in an attempt to move as much stock as possible.

They had two cotton fabrics which I fell in love with. I’d looked at similar fabrics in other shops but they were all too thick or too expensive. I was almost ready to give up and use muslin instead when I came across these! The first one has an eyelet pattern and light striping across it. It’s pure white and has a slightly gauzy/sheer texture to it which I love since it won’t add bulk under dresses.

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This was three dollars a yard. I bought eight yards at first, then asked for another three yards since I liked it so much. This will be used for the chemise, bloomers, petticoat, and maybe the top layer of a corset.

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From the same shop I got four yards of a similar fabric. It was the same price, weight, and color, but has a different pattern to it. I really like this one – I think i’ll use it to make a blouse/shirtwaist for the 1890s ensemble.

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And also from the same store I got shantung! This was three dollars as well and I plan to use it for the petticoat. It has a stiffness to it which creates very full ruffles, which is exactly what I want. This will likely be used for one of the corsets as well.

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I should probably share a sketch of what I have in mind for the underthings, but i’m not sure how accurate this sketch will end up being. I am going to be making a chemise, two corsets, bloomers, and a petticoat. But the construction and appearance of those things is something I haven’t settled on just yet.

I’m likely going to base the chemise off this one from the Metropolitan Museum archives. But I really like the more traditional frilly ones as well, so i’m torn. The Met has some good bloomer references as well, which I might follow.

I wanted to make the petticoat with three tiers (as shown below) but two tiered ones are more accurate, so i’ll probably do that instead.

For corsets i’ll be making one with a very cinched waist and flat front below the waist (as opposed to the bulge below the tummy which was fashionable in the 1870s). And a longer one with a straighter silhouette that can be worn with dresses from the first quarter of the 20th century.

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With those in mind i’ve bought some trims! As you can probably tell, i’ve decided on a pink and white theme.

The middle trim is one I already had, I believe it was given to me by my grandmother. The embroidered one is from etsy, the ribbon is from onlinefabricstore.net, and the woven one is from Joanns. I think these will really dress up the foundation garments and add that frilly lovelyness that was so common at that time.

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The last of the “boring” things were from online shopping adventures. I got steel boning for the corsets, heavy weight buckram, ribbon, and twill tape from onlinefabricstore.net. The muslin is for mock ups and lining, and that’s from Joann’s. The busk is from CorsetMoment on etsy. I’m really pleased with all these purchases, though you won’t end up seeing any of them in the finished pieces!

Speaking of onlinefabricstore, I usually highly recommend them but this order was a huge mess. I made it on December 29th. Part of my order shipped out on January 1st and I received it a few days later. A week after ordering I got an email saying two of the items were backordered and wouldn’t ship until January 11th. Now it’s the 18th and though the shipping label has been created, my order hasn’t shipped. Really frustrating!

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Onto fun stuff! This is the project I put most of my Christmas money towards. It’s an evening gown from the early 1900s, which was inspired by the first few seasons of Downton Abbey. I spent days browsing pinterest for references and inspiration before compiling ideas from a bunch of the dresses I liked into this sketch.

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I want the focus to be on the bodice and hem, with elaborate beading and lace on all the edges. If i’m feeling brave I might attempt beaded feathers across the hem, like these ones.

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My first task was finding elaborate lace. The shop I planned to buy from refused to go lower than $55/yard for the lace I was interested in, and that was way too much. So I went into a shop I’d never visited before, called Fabric Express and ended up falling in love with this black and grey lace.

All the beads are metal and glass so it’s very heavy. The embroidery is filled with metallic silver threads, and it has symmetrical borders on each edge of the lace, which can be fussy cut out and used as trim. The lace is almost fifty inches wide and packed with beautiful beaded appliques. I’m so in love with this fabric, I can’t even tell you. The depth of it doesn’t capture very well on camera which is a shame since it’s one of the most gorgeous fabrics i’ve ever seen!

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This still cost more than I wanted to spend – at $30something dollars a yard it’s the most expensive cut of fabric i’ve ever bought, but since I had Christmas money I decided to put it towards something I really loved and wouldn’t usually buy.

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To go underneath that I picked up some silk shantung in a greyish cream color. This was from the store that was closing so it was very well priced for silk – I think $7 a yard or so, which is cheaper than i’ve ever seen it before. This has a lovely sheen to it and texture. It’s heavy enough to support the weight of the lace, but still light enough to drape beautifully.

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On the downside… It’s really badly water damaged. Somehow I didn’t notice this despite watching the shop owner roll out and cut the fabric right in front of me. The damage has horribly stained almost eighteen inches of the fabric all across the yardage I purchased. Which makes the usable width only forty inches. I don’t think it was a bad deal, considering forty inch wide silk of this quality usually costs more than seven dollars a yard.

But it’s not what I thought I was paying for. And I’m not sure i’ll have enough fabric to use this as the base for the dress. I’m hoping I can wash the damaged portion and hide it in the bodice or train of the skirt, underneath an overlay which will hide the color difference. But i’m not sure that will work, and i’m really annoyed by the whole situation!

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For the overlay on this dress I got seven yards of english net. This has a similar texture to tulle, but is more durable and less prone to tearing. It’s what lace is backed on, and is often used for veils. I had an awful time finding this in stores, everyone though I meant stretch net (used in athletic wear) or tulle. Luckily one guy had an unopened bolt of the stuff in black, which I grabbed up!

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This is the opacity it has. Very similar to tulle, just has a tighter weave and a bit of stretch to it.

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To embellish this dress I got lots of beads and sequins. I’m planning on using some vintage blue/black sequins a reader sent me as the main embellishment for this piece, since they are the only thing I can imagine being pretty enough to pair with this lace.

But I wanted to try a few different colors and sizes, so I got a large bag of faceted ones that shift between gold/black and two small bags of flat blue ones…which I thought were black when I bought them. I’m not sure either of these will match, but i’m going to try to use them and see how it goes.

The beads are from a shop whose name I can’t remember, but it’s near Beads World. I got a large bag of glass bungle beads, and a bag of glass seed beads that are dark grey. These definitely match and will be used generously all over the dress.

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The next project is an afternoon dress from the 1890s. It’s going to have huge sleeves and a matching hat. Most of my references for this were fashion plates and pictures from vintage Harper’s Bazaar magazines which were a gift from my Great Aunt.

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For this I wanted a fabric that was stiff enough to keep it’s shape – it needs to be to support the massive sleeves and pleated skirt. I also wanted the fabric to be cheap, since I needed eight yards. A fabric that falls into both of those categories is polyester taffeta, so that’s what I went with!

I got this from Hamed Fabrics – I think they have the best selection of taffeta, but Amin Fabric is good as well. This was priced at four dollars a yard and I love it. The color is amazing. It’s purple but has a pink/grey shift to it depending on the lighting. Here it looks like it’s all one tone.

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But when it’s gathered slightly and the sun hits it, it really shines. I think the amount of depth this has makes it look a lot more expensive than it is, which I appreciate!

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For the buttons I bought the cheapest metal ones that Daytona trims. I spent almost as much money on the buttons as I did on the dress fabric, which was painful. I can’t remember how many I needed (I know I got more than a dozen), but I paid $24 for the bunch of them.

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Since this dress has a lower neckline i’ll be putting a partial blouse underneath it. I’m planning on making it like a corset cover, so it will be sleeveless and tie at the waist. This means it won’t add any bulk to my silhouette, which I appreciate! This was from Fabric Express and is a bit stiffer than the other cottons I got. Other than that it’s quite similar – it is partially sheer and has a subtle print to it.

And it’s white but i’m planning on tea staining it to an ivory shade.

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Though the dress on its own should be quite pretty, it’s going to be paired with a cloak…coat…thing. I’m using advertisements from the late 1800s as reference, but it’ll be based off the one Edith wears in Crimson Peaks since i’m obsessed with it.

Finding fabric for this was a challenge. I wanted something that was heavier than a suiting, but lighter than a coating. I found a few ones that looked promising, but they were all more than $10 a yard, which was more than I wanted to pay since I needed so much of it.

I finally found what I wanted in Amin Fabrics – I didn’t even know they sold suitings, but they had a selection of them in the weight I needed hidden on the top of a pile (and by pile I mean wall of fabric – if I were any shorter I wouldn’t have been able to reach them, and i’m pretty tall!).

It’s a beige color, which isn’t very exciting.

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But it has a nice weight to it which should lay nicely over the dress, while still being light enough to gather into puffed sleeves without becoming too bulky. It isn’t sheer, but i’m worried the dark color of the dress might be visible through it, which wouldn’t look good. So I may have to line it. I have some beige taffeta laying around that I can use for that if that becomes an issue.

The best part about this fabric is that the nine yards of it cost $68! Which is amazing for such a nice heavy suiting.

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For the piping, bows, and hat I got two yards of velvet in this rich raspberry/dark fuchsia/ mulberry color. I really love this color and I think it looks nice with the taffeta I purchased (even though they don’t really match).  This is from Zahra Fabrics.

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My other 1890s ensemble is pretty simple by comparison. It will consist of a cotton shirtwaist (I showed the fabric for that earlier) and a velvet skirt, with a matching hat. I like simple ensembles sometimes, and I like making separate pieces. I think this will make a very nice side project, and be quite pretty as a finished outfit.

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The velvet is from Fabric for Less, the shop that was going out of business. I bought what was left, which is about six yards, and I think it was five dollars a yard. It looks linty as all get out because it’s velvet…that’s what velvet does.

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The last project on my list is a 1920s evening dress in the famous flapper style. I don’t care for the silhouette of these (I know it will be really unflattering on me) but i’ve wanted to make one for ages since they are so different than anything i’ve made before.

Unfortunately I didn’t do a lot of research before shopping for this project. I realize now that I prefer the hand beaded dresses instead of ones made out of lace appliques. And the base fabric I purchased is way too stiff. These dresses don’t hang properly unless they are made from slinky materials (the opposite of what I bought).

I don’t think i’ll be able to make the delicate beaded dress that I dreamed out of the materials I got, so I may have to rethink this project until my next trip to the Garment District.

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The lace for this project is from Fabric Express. It’s in a very pretty dusty rose/peachy color – quite similar to lace I bought for my birthday earlier in the year. The pattern is floral, with very wide borders at each edge and lots of appliques.

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The beads are glass, and in a milky pink color. This lace is packed with beautiful copper colored sequins that really make the pattern pop.

Once again i’m a bit in awe that i’m in possession of such a pretty fabric! Everything about it is gorgeous and I feel very lucky to own it.

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This is the stiff fabric I got to go underneath it. My reasoning for buying this material is that it would be easy to bead and could support the weight of beading. But it doesn’t have the right level of movement and was a really poor choice for this project.

On the bright side, it’s gorgeous. And I love having brocade around, since it makes the prettiest bodices. I’m sure i’ll find something to pair this with soon!DSC_0589

For the sash and skirt I got two yards of english net and four yards of chiffon. The chiffon looked like it matched really well in the store, but once I brought it home I realized it was too cool toned in color. So yet another fabric setback!

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I only bought two trims on this trip (I managed to restrain myself for once). One is peachy colored pleated ribbon, which I plan on using to decorate the foundation garments. And the other is a really pretty organza based beaded lace, which I think will pair nicely with the fabric I have for a 1860s ball gown.

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For hats I picked up some feathers. I wish I had bought a few more of these large ones but I wasn’t sure what colors to buy, so I held off and  only bought two. They are both in this purple taupe color, and they are massive! So floaty and wonderful!

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Then I got two little bunches of two tone feathers. I’ve never seen anything like these before, they shift between two colors and are gorgeous. I bought a bundle of purple/green ones and green/black ones.

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The last things are all for my 1890s dress/coat ensemble. I got a couple ribbon flowers and a fabric flower to decorate the hat.  I’m not a huge fan of how these look, but I wanted to get something and these were the cheapest ones they had ($2 a piece). The only reason I bought these at all is because I was worried I wouldn’t be able to find millinery flowers online.

I feel like millinery supplies are really overprice in the Garment District. Some of the fabric flowers were $12-$15 each despite being in poor condition and not the best quality. In future i’ll only buy feathers in those shops, and get my flowers online or from Michaels.

Speaking of feathers, I got more two tone ones! Though these don’t shift between two colors, they have more of a gradient to them. One bunch is purple and the other bunch is brown. I don’t think the brown ones match these fabrics very well, so i’ll likely pair it with some plaid material I got from Joanns.

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That’s IT for things I bought in NYC! Here are some things I got online to compliment those purchases…

The first things are flowers! I made three flower orders, the main one was from SquishnChips on etsy. They have an amazing variety of flowers and they are all so pretty. I’m really happy with my purchases from them and would definitely order again.

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I got some from Dames A La Mode and 32NorthSupplies as well. These ones are very nice, and arrived quickly, but it’s cheaper to buy through sellers outside of the US (like Squish) and the selection was much better from them, so i’m not sure if  would repurchase these.

They are all being stored in pretty pink floral printed box, and it makes me really happy!

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From PrettyLaceShop I ordered some chantilly eyelash trim. I’m thrilled with this purchase, it was really cheap (three dollars for three yards!), is wonderfully soft, and has a gorgeous pattern. It also arrived really quickly. I would definitely order more, just to have it around in the future.

This is to trim the top edge of a corset.

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This one is from the same seller and also to trim a corset. It’s also very pretty and well made.

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From LaceTrimWholesalers I got five meters of this mesh based embroidered trim. This is for the shirtwaist i’m making to go with the velvet skirt. I looked at a lot of trims similar to this, but eventually chose this one since I loved the details in the edging!

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This shop is also where I got the embroidered pink trim for the foundation garments. This one is really pretty, it’s embroidered with rayon threads that have a nice sheen to them and the pattern is really delicate.

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And the last purchase was this trim. I’d hoped this would match the purple taffeta I bought, so I could use it on that project. It doesn’t (not even close) but I don’t even care because it’s really pretty. And i’m sure i’ll find a use for it some day!

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That’s it!  This was huge and I have no plans to buy anything in the near future because of this. This is probably enough to keep me busy for a good long while. And I can’t wait to get started, because I’m really excited to work with all of these fabrics and to begin work on my new projects for this year!

Thanks for reading – a new The Making of Post should be up later in the week! 🙂

*edit put 2015 in the title by mistake and fixed it. OOPS.

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2016 in Reviews & Hauls

 

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Garment District Haul, Fabric & Trim

It’s been more than six months since my last one, so I think it’s time for another fabric haul! I usually go into the Garment District twice a year, once around my birthday, and once before Christmas. So this trip was a little bit out of the ordinary for me, but it came at a perfect time since i’ve been feeling quite uninspired recently. But I think having the opportunity to plan a few new projects and purchase fabrics for them was just what I needed, I’m feeling very excited about everything I got and the things I plan on making with them!

I was mostly shopping for materials for three projects and I ended up being really successful.  Here are my swatch cards for those projects.

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I had a list with me, and at the top of the list were materials for a Burgundian dress. I actually bought the trims for this dress first, so I had to find a material that matches those. I was expecting this to be a challenge, because my fur trim for the dress is a greyish brown, and the beaded trim I bought is a bright gold. Finding a fabric that goes well with gold and a cool toned brown isn’t something i’d classify as being easy.

But I got really lucky! The first fabric store I went into had just what I needed: A beautiful blue jacquard with a gold scroll print.

I’d sort of expected this project to be red in color, because that is a color I really gravitate towards. But the cool tones in the blue went really nicely with the fur, and the gold perfectly matched the beaded trim. This fabric is part of the 120″ wide home decor collection that i’ve used before, and since it’s so wide I only had to buy five yards.

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Here it is in the store, Zahra fabrics. It’s sitting alongside a gold brocade, which I ended up buying for the same project.

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Burgundian dresses are usually worn over kirtles. In medieval times these were slim fitting, long sleeved dresses which get wider towards the hem. The neckline of this kirtle will be visible when the Burgundian dress is worn, so I wanted a fabric that went nicely with the jacquard, but also had enough contrast to be interesting.

I found this gold and silver brocade which has a geometric print to it and knew right away that it was perfect. Not only is the shade of gold spot on, the silver threads tie in the cool toned theme and go beautifully with the blue.

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At another shop, which I can’t remember the name of, I got this beautiful beaded trim which will be used on the neckline of the kirtle. Usually trims embellished with seed beads are way out of my price range since they are more expensive than sequined trims. But this one was reasonably priced, and I thought the design was too lovely to resist.

Unfortunately I didn’t buy the amount I was supposed to – I had 2.5 yards written down on my list, but only purchased a yard and a half. So I won’t be able to use it around the waistline of the Burgundian dress, which sort of sucks. But I should have enough to use it on the kirtle, and if enough is leftover I’ll put some on the headpiece which will match this ensemble.

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The next project I was shopping for is a Cotehardie. This is another medieval garment and I actually plan to make two of them – one inspired by the female version of the garment, and another inspired by the mens version. The women’s version is quite similar to the kirtle, but it’s made from heavier material and is usually more embellished. Which means they are more of a standalone garment than a layering piece.

The mens version looks like a fitted jacket, though it’s less hardy. They extend past the rear, almost like a dress, and were frequently worn over slim fit pants.

For the women’s version I found a beautiful blue velvet which I thought would be the perfect base fabric.

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Then I found another brocade, which is a bit more subtle than the gold one. I love how much texture this has, I think that will read well on camera. It also has gold in it, which will work well with the gold trim I bought earlier in the day with this project in mind. It is also in that light blueish grey shade, which is quite similar to the fabric I picked for the Burgundian dress. That wasn’t intentional at all, but I don’t mind too much, I think it’s a pretty color!

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The trims for this dress were actually bought before the fabrics. These are trims that have been made with an embroidery machine, so the stitching of them actually looks quite similar to the embroidery on garments hundreds of years ago. Which is why I thought they were the perfect choice for a medieval costume!

I got four yards of the bottom one, and a yard of the top one. The top trim will be used to trim the sleeves, and the bottom one will decorate a sash at the waist of the dress.

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Here are the fabrics for this costume all together!

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For the mens version I decided against velvet, since I thought it would look out of place. Instead I bought a navy wool suiting, which is quite similar in color but lighter in weight. I got three yards of this, which is probably more than I needed. But at least if I mess up i’ll have extra!

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Mens cotehardies are often worn with capelets. Which meant I was on the hunt for a sturdy wool coating. I ended up lucking out and finding one in the same greyish blue color as the brocade I bought for the women’s version. These pieces don’t have to match, but I kind of love that they have the same color scheme.

I only god a yard and a half, but I think that will be enough. This wool is very heavy and has a lovely texture, I bought it for $15 a yard which I think was a good deal!

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I didn’t find a fabric I liked for the bottom half of the mens cotehardie ensemble, but I was okay with that. I have this four way stretch knit in a champagne color with gold threads running through it, which I think will work really nicely for a pair of leggings to wear underneath it.

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Cotehardies are also known for having a crap ton of buttons. They extend down the front of the garments and up the sleeves until past the elbow. In those times buttons were more decorative than they were functional, which is why there were so many of them.

NYC isn’t the cheapest place to buy buttons, so I didn’t get any there.  I ended up ordering from this shop on etsy that was selling 20 half inch buttons for five dollars. I bought a hundred, which should be enough for the two costumes!

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With fabrics for the costumes I had planned found, I was mostly in browsing mode. But I had a few things left on my list. The first was a sheer light brown fabric with silver threads running through it – this may look familiar if you’ve seen my birthday haul, since I purchased two yards of it on that trip. I recently decided to make that fabric into a long shift, to wear under a future project. But two yards wasn’t enough for that, so I picked up two more yards.

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The other thing I planned to buy were small montees from Beads World. These are for my 1630s taffeta dress, which I will hopefully be starting on soon. I had planned on buying clear ones, but these taupe-y/champagne colored ones caught my eye so I bought those instead. I think the shape and tone of these is a bit more interesting than clear square ones!

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And pretty much everything else are impulse purchases. I managed to only buy one fabric that wasn’t on my list, and that’s this neat iridescent blue material that has a gold shift to it. I used this type of fabric for my Silvery Blue Dress earlier this year, but had no idea what it was called. The store owner called it Cotton Fallie, so let’s assume that’s the name for it. I picked up three yards and i’m sure i’ll find something to make with it eventually!

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I saw this greyish blue sequined trim and fell in love. It was thirteen dollars a yard, which is more than I like to pay for a yard of anything, much less trim, but I couldn’t resist! Something about the pattern and color really stood out to me. I think around the waist or collar of a dress this would look lovely.

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Speaking of greyish blue trim…

I also picked up four yards of this lace. Do you see a pattern in my purchases? It was totally not intentional, but it seemed all the things I really liked were in this color! This was in the case at the front of Zahra fabrics when I went to pay. They only had four yards, and I believe it was $35 for all of it. I think that’s a pretty good deal, plus with the design of this lace it can be fussy cut out so you have two borders, which gives you eight yards of trim.

I think i’ll use this to edge the hem and hood of a cape. I think my Silvery Blue Dress would look lovely with a big cloak overtop, and this trim matches that dress really nicely. The sequins on it look almost like snow when the light hits it, it’s really beautiful. When it gets a bit colder and we start to get snow i’ll add that to my project list!

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Lastly I have a pile of things from trim and bead shops. The first thing is from Pacific Trimming, where I got this gold clasp. I might use this on the wool cloak and pair it with the mens Cotehardie ensemble, or maybe i’ll save it for something else. I just really liked it!

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At Hai Trimming I went a little crazy. I got twelve of these brass stampings which I plan on soldering together to create a crown. I also got some brass cameo frames, because they were two for a dollar, which is a lot cheaper than i’ve seen them online.

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Then I saw these beads and I couldn’t leave without them! I think they look like the eyes of a dragon, with the bright orange and red veining. Not sure what they will get used for, but they really stood out to me. I got twelve of the smaller ones and three big ones.

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I also picked up some in a purple color. I have heaps of purple velvet and some purple satin which are collecting dust in a bin on my top shelf. These match those fabrics quite nicely, so maybe I can come up with a design that incorporates all those materials.

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I saw these in Beads World and really liked them. They are circular metal beads which almost look like buttons. They are quite heavy, so I’m surprised a pack was only $2.50. Not sure why I liked these so much, and I don’t know what i’ll use them for, but I think they would look quite nice on the front of a jacket or up the cuffs of a dress!

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Then I got sequins! The two packs on the left were the first things I bought that day. I was kind of looking for lace that could be turned into a 1920s evening dress. I was imagining that project would have a light pink or green color scheme, so when I saw these sequins that had both of those colors I decided to buy them. The burgundy ones were bought with my medieval projects in mind, because I was so certain that one of them would be dark red.

Jokes on me, I couldn’t find lace I liked and the other project ended up being blue, not red. But i’m sure these will come in handy someday!

The feather shaped gold sequins were bought because I loved them. No idea what these will be used on, but I’ve gone through half the circular gold sequins I bought last time I was in. So I think gold feathered shape ones actually have a decent chance of being used.

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The last thing I bought isn’t from the Garment District, it’s from ebay. And it’s a real leather hide! This isn’t something I ever expected to be buying, and i’ve never worked with leather before, but I really want to try making a pair of 19th century slippers. Specifically velvet covered slippers that are embellished with sequins, which will match a court gown made from the same materials.

I think leather is the right material for that, and the flexibility of real leather will make a difference over the pleather alternatives. So when I found this on ebay for $20 I decided to get it – i’m kind of nervous but excited to attempt this project. It might go really wrong, but if it goes well I can say i’ve made a pair of shoes, and that would be quite neat!

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And that’s it! This post is absolutely massive so i’ll end it here. Thank you for reading!

 
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Posted by on October 13, 2015 in All about Fabric, Reviews & Hauls

 

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Uniquely You Dress Form Review & Comparison

Sorry for the lack of posting this week, I came down with a cold and spent the last few days under a heap of snotty tissues. But today i’m feeling much better, so I decided to write up something that is long overdue – a dress form review. I recently made the cover for my Uniquely You dress form and thought it would be a fun thing to post about/review!

A Uniquely You dress form is a body form made from soft foam. When you buy one you also purchase a cover, which you alter to tightly fit your body. When the cover is put over the foam it conforms to the shape of the cover and you have a body double! Or that’s the claim.

Since it is made from foam and cotton it is a pinnable form. You do not have to worry about stiff plastic (adjustable forms) or sticky pins (tape forms). It’s also pretty affordable as far as dress forms go, the total cost was under $200 which is half the cost of a professional form.

The major appeal to me was the flexibility of the foam. Since it squishes (similar to how a body does) you can dress it in foundation garments and it will change shape. Then you can fit and drape overtop of tudor bodies, stays, or corsets, which is really great!

Overall I have mixed feelings, which I will go over in this post. This will also show the process of fitting the cover, and at the end i’ll compare it to my other dress form.

I bought a dress form in the size “Small” and a cover in the size “4” from this site.

Here is the size chart from the website. My measurements are 38″ (bust) 28″ (waist) 38″ (hips). I feel like I made the right decision size wise, but the dress form is at least two inches larger than the maximum listed size and will not compress to the smallest listed size.

I used a measuring tape and pulled as tightly as I possibly could and the form would not go below twenty six inches in the waist and thirty five inches in the bust.

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The form itself arrived in a big box and seemed to be in good shape!

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tumblr_nh7m8r8Q6U1qlijqyo2_1280In addition to the form, I also found a metal stand, cotton cover, and instructions in the box. There are very detailed instructions on how to fit the cover which I ended up ignoring completely. I didn’t use their fitting method, nor did I use the help of someone else…oops

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 This is the cover inside out – it has large seam allowances that range from 3/4″ to 1″ depending on the location.

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 And right side out.

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My first attempt at trying the cover on didn’t go so well. I’m pretty sure it’s made for someone who has 32″ hips because there was a good six inches of gaping between my waist and hem, with no hope of zipping it closed! But I had prepared myself for this before purchasing and was fully expecting to add gussets at the hips.

If I ignored the fact my rear was hanging out, the fit was really pretty good. That is why I chose to ignore the instructions, I felt all the steps were unnecessary when it already fit quite well.

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 I ripped out the side seams (from the waist down) and started fitting it by pinning the bust seams, underbust, and waist.

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 I found leaving the hips unfitted during this process really annoying. So I removed the side back seams from the waist down. I tapered the ends into the waist but let both seams out by a good inch, leaving me with 1/4″ seams on each side. I put the cover on again and pinned the side seams all the way down to the hem.

I managed to get six inches out of the four seams, which meant I didn’t need to add gussets! Yay!

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I was pleased with that, so I used chalk to draw the new side seam, then removed the pins and sewed up the sides.

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With the side seams fitted I continued on! The bust seams got taken in and I lowered the waistline. The final step was taking in the shoulders by a quarter inch.

That finished the cover – I was really pleased with it! Especially because I didn’t follow the instructions. It only took two hours and I managed to do all the pinning/fitting without help.

But the process was far from over. I decided to carve down the foam at waist because I wanted to use corsets on this form that cinch down to twenty four inches. I also carved down the bust.

I wasn’t using a very sharp knife so it’s a bit…lumpy haha, but good enough!

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Getting the cover onto the form requires three hands, two to pull the edges together and another to pull the zipper down. But with two people it ended up being pretty easy, even though there was a lot of tension. Unfortunately I still wasn’t done.

The form had my measurements, which is good. On the not so good side, the bust was way too big. Instead of the cover pushing them up/in, it spread the bust out and pushed them down. So it wasn’t very similar to my shape at all.

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I removed the cover and trimmed a lot more foam…still not quite right, and much lumpier, but it’ll have to do!

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Here is the finished form. I’m happy with how it turned out considering the issues with the forms shape, but it isn’t the most brilliant thing ever.

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I also wanted to show that the Uniquely You dress form has a very wide front silhouette and a slim profile. Unless you pad the form, there is no way to change this. For example, my other dress form (on right) has the same waist measurement but looks much larger from side, and smaller from the front.

Because the Uniquely You dress form has a completely flat front, AND the foam doesn’t redistribute itself (it just presses inwards at the sides) there is no way to change this without adding padding to the front. If this matches your shape that’s great, but it doesn’t match mine!

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Overall Thoughts: I think there are some major flaws with the design. The form you receive is a block with boobs, seriously. It’s a rectangle with giant breasts. There isn’t anything wrong with that shape, but it isn’t a shape most people have. And it’s very difficult to compress the form into a shape other than the one it naturally has. It’ll take some carving to create a prominent waist or smaller bust, even if the form cover fits you correctly.

Because of that I would not recommend this form to people who are curvy below the waist. If you have a smaller waist, bigger hips, or a small bust it isn’t going to work for you right out of the box…at least it didn’t for me! Which sort of defeats the purpose of having a flexible form.

I also wouldn’t recommend it to people who have a larger profile (or carry any weight in your stomach) because the flat front doesn’t lend itself well to that.

It also will not squish down to the smallest size they advertise. Which I think is pretty terrible, the size chart needs some updating in my opinion!

And the stand is really terrible, the form doesn’t stay up and after fiddling with it for a few minutes the plastic ring cracked.

On the positive! This is a really neat idea. It will definitely work for the reason I purchased it, since I can layer stays and other foundation garments over it. Having a form with a historically accurate shape will be incredibly useful for drafting and fitting a couple future projects, as well as displaying them.

However I do not feel this is an accurate double of my body, and I don’t think it’s a good stand in for a professional dress form. Unless you will be changing the shape of the form (with foundation garments) I think you are better off buying a hard foam form and padding it to your shape.

How does it compare to my other dress form?: My other dress form is a display form, which I purchased from here. It’s made from hard foam and has a cotton jersey cover. It shipped really quickly, is cheaper, and has a much stronger/better build than the Uniquely You form.

Since it is a display form it doesn’t have a prominent bust or butt, nor does it have natural looking curves. It takes padding to get the shape more accurate to a human body.

I’ve had this form for over two years, and I love it. It matches my measurements pretty well and is really easy to drape on. It isn’t the quality of a professional form, but it’s worked out really well for me and my needs.

It has a very different function than the Uniquely You form, so i’m glad I have both. But if I had to pick one, I would go for the display form!

Other dress form options: (I have no personal experience with) 

Duct Tape Forms

3D Printed Forms

Professional Forms

Adjustable Forms (hard shelled) 

Thanks for reading! A “The making of” post should be up at the start of next week!

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2015 in Reviews & Hauls

 

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Fabric Friday: A Massive Fabric Haul

It’s Friday, which means it’s time to talk about fabric! This won’t be my usual type of Fabric Friday post, instead it is a haul of what  I purchased in the NYC garment district last weekend.

Some of you may know that my birthday was on Monday. I’m a bit of a picky shopper, so my parents gave me money to spend instead of presents. I spent a little bit on posters and jewelry but decided to spend most of it on fabric. So this post will be devoted to the things I picked up, and what I plan to use them on!

 I wouldn’t say i’m a thrifty person, but the things I make are created so I can learn. And I don’t need (or want) really expensive fabrics to be a part of the learning process. Most of my projects require at least five (sometimes more like twelve) yards of fabric, which adds up really fast. Then you need to buy lining fabric, notions, trims, buttons, embellishments, and the overall price skyrockets.

Which is why I usually go into NYC armed with a list of what I need to buy, how much i’m willing to pay, and how much I need of each material. I’ll bring swatches, sketches, lists, whatever I think will keep me organized and on budget. It’s very rare for me to purchase fabric without a project in mind, unless it’s super cheap.

But was a birthday shopping trip, and because I was spending my own money, it was a little different then usual.

I didn’t go in with a list – or any idea of what I wanted  (very scary) . My goal was to buy things I liked,  and to not be as concerned about the price or projects in mind. So that’s what I did!

I want to say i’m not writing this as an attempt to brag or anything like that – I asked on tumblr and people showed a genuine interest in what I purchased, which is why I’m posting this. Also, buying this huge amount of fabric is not a regular occurrence for me, this is a once a year type of thing.

My first and most frivolous purchase was this rhinestone encrusted chain, and a large pendent to go with it. The shop I visited had a wall devoted to different types of these, they were so damn pretty I knew I had to take something home. The prices ranged from $10 – $70 a yard which scared me a little at first. When you think about it, less elaborate necklaces would cost double the price, and a yard is enough to make two, so it isn’t that unreasonable.

I ended up going with a pendant made for bridal headpieces ($16) and a yard of a mid tier chain ($16) it was expensive and a bit silly, but I really love these and think they make a good gift.

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Keeping on trend with the trims. I’m not really sure what it will get used for, but I love gold trim, especially in the form of lace. It will either be used to hem a dress, or cut apart to make pretty appliques.

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In the same store I found this green lace and loved it enough to buy two yards. I’ve been wanting to make something green for a long time, and this inspired me to make that a reality!

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My final purchase from the shop was these feathers! I’ve been getting more into hats and headpieces, so I knew I wanted to buy at least a few feathers. My favorite store that sells feathers was closed, so these were the only two I bought on the trip. I’ll have to get more next time, or attempt to find a seller on etsy.

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In the next shop I went a little bit crazy. I left with twenty yards of fabric. Who does that?

Purchase number one were these embroidered and embellished satins. I intended to buy one yard of the ivory, and five yards of the red, but because it was the end of both bolts I got a yard extra of each, for free!

I have no clue what to use them for, but I think they are pretty.

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I also bought more of this raspberry colored cotton sateen. I’ve made a dress from this fabric before, and I love it very much. The fabric is a dream to work with, it drapes beautifully, and is only $4 a yard. I actually bought this with something in mind…Ever since I saw this painting at the Brooklyn Museum I’ve wanted to bring her dress to life, and this is the perfect fabric to do it with.

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In the same store I picked up two yards of black cotton sateen, three yards of glitter satin and two yards of stretch tulle. I’ve wanted to make a black embroidered capelet for a little while, and when that happens i’ll need a dress to go underneath, these seemed like a good base for that project!

(I forget to buy black velvet for the capelet though – that’s what you get for not making a list)

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Glitter satin isn’t a fabric I would usually choose, but I feel like the subdued pink color tones down the glitter so it isn’t tacky. Or maybe it’s super tacky and i’m just trying to justify my love for it. Either way I like it a lot.

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I also bought some brocade. Because I can’t have a shopping trip where I don’t buy at least a little brocade. I purchased three yards of the gold, and one yard of the pink one. These will either be turned into fancy bodices or made into piping and used with a more subdued material.

I kind of want to make a super fancy jacket from the gold one, but it would probably blind people.

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I picked up these two more subtle brocades, two yards of the black and a yard of the blue. The black one has a satiny finish, and though I loved it in the store I now think It looks a little too asian influenced to work in any of my projects. I still adore the royal blue brocade – I have no clue what to do with it but it’s lovely.

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The final pretty fabric I purchased (the rest are quite boring) is this black lace. I liked the black lace I worked with on my striped taffeta dress so much I wanted more. Obviously I couldn’t find more, but I did find something similar, and I snatched up two yards. I paid $50 for the two yards, which hurt, a lot. But I’m going to pair it with some taffeta I already own, so the overall cost shouldn’t be too bad.

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Moving on to the boring fabrics! I bought seven yards of bright red flat backed velvet, I purchased this kind of – sort of with a project in mind. For a while i’ve wanted to make something similar to the dress Joanna of Aragon wears in this portrait, but I may use it for something else. Large quantities of velvet always come in handy.

DSC_5951I purchased seven yards of linen, and three yards of textured linen in the same store. The plain linen is for a chemise – I’m not sure what type yet, but I have a few upcoming projects that will require one, so i’ll decide then.

I just liked the textured linen. I want to make some middle age-y things in the near future and I feel like this would work well with them.

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I also bought chiffon. Another fabric that is just good to have around, even if you don’t know what to do with it. These really caught my eye – although they are polyester chiffon, they flow like silk and aren’t at all sheer. Really different from what i’ve seen before.

I bought seven yards of each, at $4 a yard.

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I bought regular, semi-sheer two tone chiffon as well, three yards in each color. I’m not sure why but these colors really jumped out at me, and I liked how they looked next to the gold and navy.

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At the end of my shopping spree I realized something – I wasn’t sure if I had bought enough fabric for a complete project. Though I had bought bits and pieces here and there I didn’t think I had enough cohesive materials to make a single thing.

(I realize now that I did, but at that point I was panicing)

So I went back and bought two fabrics that had caught my eye, but I had passed by.

Thing one was this very rich, dark green stretch velvet. I bought seven yards at $6 a yard, but it was the end of a roll so I got almost two yards extra for free. This matches the green trim I purchased earlier very well.

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Then I zoomed back to another store and got seven yards (the magic number of this day) of ivory upholstery demask. This is my favorite purchase of the day, believe it or not. I bought it thinking it was sixy inches wide, but when I brought it home I realized it’s one hundred and twenty inches wide – twice the amount I expected. So exciting.

I think it will look really lovely as a dress worn underneath a green cape.

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So that’s that. My fabric collection has officially grown by fifty (more like seventy, yikes) yards and i’m not sure where to put everything. I guess I need to get sewing to make more room!

I feel pretty insane and a little guilty buying some much fabric, but i’m sure it will all be used before the year is up. Between this haul and what I purchased on fabric.com a few months back I have enough fabric for a dozen projects, exciting!

I hope you enjoyed, and if you are interested in my few non-fabric birthday items, i’ll be posting them under this tag on tumblr.

Sticking to Fabric Friday tradition, I suppose i’ll ask a question: What is the most recent material you’ve bought? Did you buy it just because it was pretty, or do you have a project in mind for it?

Thanks for reading!

 
26 Comments

Posted by on April 25, 2014 in Reviews & Hauls

 

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Fabric.com Review Continued – Fabric Haul

My two boxes from Fabric.com arrived a while ago, so I can finally write the second part of this review! The first part was very negative and talked about my experiences with customer service, and the actual ordering process from Fabric.com. This will be a proper review of some of the products and surprisingly, it will be positive.

I made two orders from Fabric.com. Order one was placed on March second, shipped out on March fifth, and arrived on March Tenth. Order two was made on March fifth, shipped out on March tenth, and arrived on March twelfth. They have slow processing times, but the shipping was super speedy.

This is what my orders looked like – I got over thirty yards of material for a bit more then one hundred dollars.

I took advantage of some really amazing sales, unfortunately most of them are no longer available. I’m not sure if the low prices were a fluke, but now all of these are only 20% off instead of half price.

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My order arrived in two boxes – the first weighed thirteen pounds!

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The second one was only seven pounds, much less impressive, but my dog found it interesting.

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The fabric that originally tempted me into ordering was the cornhusk colored twill – well I originally ordered shantung, it was out of stock, had to reorder it in twill.

For some reason I thought this fabric would match some other material I had.  I’m not sure why I was so confident about that, since the photo on the site is much darker then the material I wanted it to match.

But I bought seven yards of it.

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And in person it looks like this.

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To be honest it looks nothing like the photo. It matches the name though – it’s a beige-y yellow that looks like a dried cornhusk. The material itself is a decent weight twill, with a really nice sheen to it.

(Though not as nice in texture as cotton sateen, it does look similar to it.)

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And by some miracle – it matches my other fabric perfectly!

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I bought five yards of the twill in pink too. I regretted this right after the order went through because I realized I would probably end up with a pile of pepto bismol like fabric (blush probably means hot pink by fabric.com standards).

I bought five yards – I figured it would make a nice early 1900’s dress, and if it was awful, I could use it to construct a giant ruffly petticoat.

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Like the cornhusk material, it’s very different in color then the online photos – but it’s really pretty too! It’s  not the peach color I had hoped it would be, but It’s a lovely cool toned light pink, which manages to look bright and cheery but not overwhelming.

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Again it has the twill texture and a nice sheen to it. After I took this out of the package I found myself regretting that I didn’t buy more.

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….

 I was kind of clueless what this would be like (it’s suggested to be used to make window sheers and lingerie) I thought it may be sheer like chiffon but I wasn’t sure. I purchased it mostly because I liked the color, it’s really different from the colors I usually go for, and more interesting then ivory.

(I always use ivory as an accent color, if you hadn’t noticed)

I bought three yards of this.

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It’s not sheer, at all. I’d describe the appearance as a double sided satin with a little less sheen. But it feels like silk – so soft and pretty.

DSC_5075The color is a little different, instead of being brown toned, it’s more of a greenish colored khaki. I really dislike the color, but it does feel and look really nice – sadly it will probably end up as lining material.

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Moving on to the final fabric from the “Crestmont” series. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect form this one either, but the color drew me in. It was cheap and in my favorite shade of dark red, so I really couldn’t say no.

I bought six yards of this.

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In real life it’s more of a brick red then I had expected. I’m slightly disappointed but I still like the color a lot. The fabric itself feels quite nubby and flimsy, like really cheap polyester suiting .

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The print adds texture but is still relatively subtle. The fabric really does feel awful, but I think I can make something pretty out of it anyway. I’m not sure what yet, but it will be used eventually.

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I snagged some white shantung which i’m really happy about. It’s such an easy fabric to work with and I love the weight of it (stiff but not heavy – amazing for full length dresses) and although it’s not the traditional material, I picked this up with a chemise a la reine in mind.

I got five yards.

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It’s the stiffest shantung i’ve ever felt, so I wouldn’t consider it “very lightweight” nor would I use this for bedding or regular apparel. But it does look very nice! It’s a bright white with a pretty, subtle sheen.

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The slub is obvious up close, but not very visible from far away. Nice if you are like me and don’t care for large slub, not so nice if you are looking for an accurate “dupe” for silk shantung.

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….

This fabric was the one that frustrated me the most out of the bunch, since I can’t use it for anything really.

I bought it because when I saw it I instantly thought of pirates – and i’m a sucker for pirates.

Luckily I only wasted money on one yard, though.

Untitled3334The problem with this fabric is that [unlike the photo shown]  the pattern is situated vertically instead of horizontally. I guess this makes sense if you are purchasing it for drapery, since then you can have the length longer then 54″ without having a seam. But I went off of the photo and assumed it would be oriented horizontally, so I could make a skirt from it.

That isn’t the case, so it won’t really work for a skirt unless I want it to be quite short. I do like the fabric print a lot. It looks aged, almost like a map, and the ships and still reminds me of something piratey.

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It looks almost like burlap, but it feels like a very heavy linen.

I think I will eventually make a (grumble) shorter skirt out of it. But for now it’s tucked away. I’ll pull it out on a rainy day when i’m fed up with all my other projects.

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And the cotton backing mentioned in the description.

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I saved my favorite for last! This fabric is one I bought with something very specific in mind, so I had higher expectations then I did with the rest of the materials.

I bought five yards.

Untitled333The fabric feels like regular linen and the print looks like  an oil painting.

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I don’t see much teal in it – it’s more like a true porcelain blue in my opinion, but I guess other people may feel differently. Either way I really love the print, color, and texture of this fabric.

A year ago I probably would have thought this fabric was hideous – funny how tastes change.

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So that was that! I’m happy with almost everything I got. As usual the photos aren’t very accurate to what you end up with, but this time around I wasn’t too bothered by the differences.

Make of this what you will – but in my experiences fabric quality varies a lot. The photos and product descriptions [usually] aren’t super accurate, so you can’t really be sure what you’re getting unless you buy a swatch first.

Customer service is pretty awful – there has always been something wrong with every order I have made, and the fabric.com staff has never done anything to help resolve the issues – even when they are responsible for them.

I’ve been really frustrated with them many times, and I bet I will be frustrated with them again in the future. Fabric.com is NOT the first place I go for material, it never will be, but I do enjoy taking advantage or the amazing sales they occasionally put out.

Sleeve post should be up tomorrow! Sorry for the delay, my brother and father have been home all week so its been a bit chaotic – I haven’t had my quiet time in the morning blog.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on March 23, 2014 in All about Fabric, Reviews & Hauls

 

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My (negative) experiences with Fabric.com

This is part one of a two part “review” of sorts on the website Fabric.com. This part isn’t even a review, it’s more of a rant talking about my dreadful experiences with this company, the dumb policies, and the terrible customer service. Part two will be an actual review of my most recent order (which hasn’t arrived yet) comparing product descriptions and photos to the actual material.

Warning – this is very long, and very negative.

As far as I can tell, this isn’t a company that cares at all about their customers. They don’t seem to make any effort to accurately describe the things they sell, and at least in my personal experience, complaints have been ignored rather then discussed and dealt with.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the site, Fabric.com is a website that sells fabric as well as notions, patterns, and even a few sewing machines. The website has a huge variety of fabrics that range from apparel, home decor, quilting, and upholstery. They have free shipping to the US if you order over $35, and I believe they ship worldwide.

Like with most stores, online or otherwise, the prices and quality vary a lot from product to product. In the case of Fabric.com the photos can be misleading, the descriptions aren’t very accurate, and you never really know what you’re going to get until it arrives.

The website is oddly designed and makes it difficult to view fabrics. The materials are sorted by designer – there is no “view all” option so finding something as simple as ‘white organza’ or ‘black jersey’ can be a challenge. You can use the search feature, but some of the items are oddly titled and won’t show up.

The “sort by price” feature isn’t very handy since it doesn’t take into account sale prices. A fabric that is regularly $20 but on sale for $5 will be listed with the $20+ materials instead of the $4.99-$9.99 ones, which makes it really tricky if you are browsing for items in a certain price range.  In addition to that, the website isn’t updated very often, even if an item is listed as “in stock : 340” units, they may be completely out.

But my main problem with this company stems with customer service, or the lack there of.

Experiences with Customer service: 

In my most recent order I snagged twenty seven yards of fabric for under ninety dollars. I was thrilled and really excited to get my new materials. I got an automated receipt emailed to me after ordering…but then forty eight hours passed and my order was still listed as “pending” on the site, which was my first hint that something was wrong.

Three days after making my order, I received an automated email saying one of my items was out of stock. I ordered seven yards of the material, and at the time I purchased it the website said over a hundred yards were in stock. rage I was really annoyed – I would say i’m fairly understanding things like this as long as i’m informed as soon as possible and they make an effort to solve the problem. Fabric.com does neither of those things.

And strangely, when I checked the website today the fabric was STILL listed as having 55 units in stock – this is over five days after I made my order that they couldn’t fulfill.

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  I replied requesting they ship the remaining pieces of my order, and for them to offer a coupon or voucher for my next order. Since they do not under ANY circumstances offer exchanges I had to make a separate order to replace the out of stock material, which would total $20 – meaning I have to pay shipping on it.

Twenty four hours later I received a shipping notice for my order. They didn’t reply to my email or request. My mother ended up calling them and they frankly stated that the policy is free shipping if you spend over $35, and under no circumstances would they change that.

I think that’s pretty terrible. It’s their fault I have to make a separate order, but they won’t even consider doing anything about the situation.

This seems especially bad compared to my recent experience with OnlineFabricStore.net. A few weeks ago I made a small order from them that they were unable to fulfill, and within twelve hours they called and sent me an email saying this:better For one thing, it isn’t an automated message, and each customer service staff member has a separate email so you are always dealing with the same person. I was informed quickly, and when I sent a reply asking about being refunded for the stock they couldn’t ship I received a reply within fifteen minutes.  My order was shipped out an hour later and they only charged me for seven yards as opposed to the seven and a half yards I received.

Good job OnlineFabricStore.net

Back to Fabric.com – Here are a few other experiences I’ve had with them.

Order #1:  My first ever order was in March of last year. I had just attended Katsucon and was looking to take on another big project. Fabric.com happened to be having a sale on taffeta, I don’t recall the price but I think it was around $2 a yard, and tulle was on sale too. I made a large order of over thirty yards of material that totaled $70. At the time I ordered twenty five yards of red taffeta, and on the website they listed over three hundred yards in stock. I received the typical conformation email/receipt. Then my order processed for three days before I received an automated email saying this: angurr I asked if they would even consider an exchange, since I could use pink taffeta instead or red. I was told no – I would have to make a separate order. By this point the sale was no longer on (since it took them so long to inform me) so I would have to pay full price. I told them to cancel the order and never received a response. Three days later the order was marked as “canceled” on the website. I sent them an email asking about how the refund details would work and, big surprise, I never got a response.

Order #2:  This was a much larger order! I made this right before new years so there were a lot of sales going on. This order was over a hundred dollars, and included almost thirty yards of material. The order was shipped quickly without any issues, but when it arrived there were some serious problems with a few of the materials.

The taffeta felt like it was better suited for a construction tarp then a dress, the jacquard listed as “medium weight” was thicker then heavy canvas and the chiffon that was labeled as “ivory” was actually orange AND stained. The image below shows two products labeled as “Ivory Chiffon” the top one is from Fabric.com and the lower one is from a shop in NYC.

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(on the bright side, it’s two tone, so it varies from orange to more orange)

I wrote them an email saying I was not happy with the chiffon – I included photos of the fabric which was clearly much darker then the photos they provided, as well as pictures of the stains. I received no response. I sent them a message through the customer support on the website and didn’t get a response. The fabric was still usable and had only cost $14 so I gave up attempting to contact them.

,,,

Reviews: 

Moving on to reviews! I decided to at least attempt to inform other people who might use the website that some of the materials aren’t the best. I have written several reviews for Fabric.com, a few were positive, but most of them were negative. All the reviews were within their guidelines. Though some of them were clearly negative, none of them were nasty or rude.

I pointed out that the fabrics were different then the photos/descriptions and that I wouldn’t recommend them for certain things. Strangely enough, all my Two star and below reviews have been declined and never posted to the website. My positive review, sent in at the same time, was accepted.

Conclusion:

As much as I hate to say it – I would order from this site again.  I only purchase from Fabric.com when the deals are too good to pass up – like when they have items marked down to clearance prices, some of which are 80% off. Despite all the frustrations with them, six yards of fabric for $10 is pretty irresistible.

In the end I have gotten  great deals through this website, i’ve gotten good fabric, and I have been happy with some of my purchases. But I’ve also had such frustrating experiences with what they call “customer service”. I’ve wasted money on fabrics that weren’t at all as described, I’ve had to pay extra shipping costs due to their negligence, and i’ve written realistic reviews about their products that have been deleted!

So I wouldn’t say “Do not under any circumstance order from this site” but I would suggest you keep all of this in mind if you are planning on purchasing their products. Especially if you want to make a large order of a single item, because if it arrives and isn’t what you want, there isn’t a chance in hell you will get your money back.

Thanks for reading…sorry for the bit of negativity but I really wanted to put this out there!

Tomorrow I will have another “The Making of” post up, followed by a “Stay Study” post on Monday!

 

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