They just followed me home! I swear!

L-R: embroidered silky poly ($8/m), Savers brushed cotton ($3 for 1.2m piece), thick silk twill ($6/m), 70s brocade ($5 for 2m) and striped cotton with shimmery weave ($2/m).

Surprise fabric shopping

I diverted my homewardly travels via Brunswick this evening. My nefarious purpose was to check out the cotton/linen Kazz just used (that woman shares my love for loud prints. I think Spotlight should pay her commission because it ain’t the first time she’s inspired me to hunt a particular fabric down).

No joy there but I did find a Thai batik-style cotton on the bargain table (3m, $12, thankyouverymuch) then scored at Savers too. Nearly 4m of vintage polished cotton floral in lovely slugdy green (36″ wide and fine weave suggests it’s Proper Vintage) and a silk sari, flesh-coloured, perfect for linings. $4 each. Orright!


A rainy weekend forecast means it’s time to reignite the sewing mojo.

PS: I blogged this moments after purchase, on the bus, via the WordPress app on my phone. I am Living In The Future.

PPS: Later, obviously… who knew that the metallic threads in saris would shrivel up during washing? Maybe not so good for lining.


Blogging royalty

It’s not every day that you get to meet sewing blog royalty. Before I left for this USA jaunt, I made a rather forward proposal to Peter of the fabulous Male Pattern Boldness that if he happened to be in the garment district this week, would he be amenable to showing a visiting Aussie from whence the fabricular bargains could be obtained? Lucky for me, he was gung-ho for such mischief.

We met at the FIT Museum for a peek at their exhibition of fashion design classics. What an amazing resource for students and seamsters alike. Uncouth colonial that I am, I set off the alarms twice by leaning in too close for a gander.

Next we went to 39th St which is full of fabric shops, cheek by jowl, that cater to fat wallets and cheapskates alike. Proclaiming myself firmly of the latter camp, Peter took me to a few of his cut-price favourites. I loved seeing old friends – like the pink fake fur of Cathy’s coat, Peter’s cherry-coloured leopard-print jeans, and genteel roses of Cathy’s strapless gown – all still on the bolt! Why did they not sell out after being showcased on MPB? A mystery to me. I’m sure Peter could earn commission for his efforts to turn bargain yards into couture!

I bought some tailor’s chalk and three yards each of 2 African wax cloths with large lurid pints in acid colours (one even has giant men’s shoes on it) and some 40s-style barkcloth. Here’s a peek of them posing with the man himself*:

*um, sadly just a pixel-Peter brought to you by the magic of the Union Station Apple Store. I was too dazzled to remember to take a real picture.

It was so much fun to meet Peter, who is as delightful as you’d expect from MPB. And as for tips from a New York native? Priceless. I can’t wait to make frocks from my haul when I’m home again in May.

Part II of our surburban foray

Our main goal was to see the Mad Men costume display. And see it we did. And ridicule its amateurish staging we did. Blue-tacked earrings? Check. Poorly chosen mannequins? Check. But the clothes themselves were just ace and very cool to see the Genu-Wine Article.

I didn’t know Joan’s pink dress had a shawly sailory back. Intriguing.

Then, we went to Glen Huntly. You know when you’re at Glen Huntly because there’s a model of the Glen Huntly stuck to the Safeway.

Across from the ship is Darn Cheap Fabrics, purveyors of affordable fibrous goods. And these goods were good. I went a bit nuts in the $4/m quilting cotton:

How could I not go nuts? All boxes ticked: kitsch kitchenalia patterns, great colours, tiny rice bowls, multiple patterns in each colourway… Did I mention $4/m?

Also at the Posh Opp Shoppe on the corner, I bought a pricey but lovely bit (4m) of silk crepe de chine. I was sunk as soon as I saw the tiny ladybirds. It was labelled “1970s silk from Georges” (which, for those of you who aren’t from Melbourne and aren’t as ancient as I am, was a superdeluxe department store, now defunct, where my mother bought a tartan umbrella in the late 1980s for an exorbitant sum, but does she still have it? Yes. Did it ever break? No. There you go. Premium price worth it.)

Conclusion of the day: Moggy and I need to go on more adventures because they are awesome fun. The end.

Mid-winter? Tropicale!

Nothing like a bit of sartorial anachronism. Nope, I’m not talking about the 1950s pattern (Advance 8591 on top, same pattern as an earlier blouse, with a tacked-on skirt from an old English Woman magazine pattern), I’m talking about the use of loud and cheerful tropical print in the middle of winter when almost everyone else in Melbourne is head-to-toe charcoal, black and grey.

The fabric was once a pair of curtains from a junk market, quite sturdy weight. I love it. I’m also enjoying the rather silly shape of the skirt which, thanks to curved side seams and some deep inverted darts, hangs like a deflated balloon.  What I don’t love is the gape at the high square neckline due to my complete lack of shoulders (anyone know a good way to adjust this without losing any girth at bustline?).

In other news, I’ve taken up Moggy‘s recommendation to organise my ludicrous stash of fabric with a database app called Bento. It’s the ultimate in fabric nerdom. And it means you can (virtually) admire your stash anytime and carry it with you to see if you’ve got enough of something to justify buying another pattern (and yes, I’ve built a pattern database, too. What a dork).

Reality check

Lots of us seamsters have a stash. Lots of us have a stash so big that we must hide it for fear of being recruited for Hoarders. Surely, keeping it orderly prevents such dire interventions by friends/families/TV crews. But how to sort it?

I used to sort by colour.

Then, by fabric type.

Last night I spent a good few hours pulling it all down off the shelves and sorting by a few different systems. First I put all the dress-length pieces together. Then all the other garment-sized and garment-appropriate pieces. Next, cords and velvets in one pile, heavy cottons in another, and old sheeting in two piles. The result:

Here’s the reality check. That top left quarter of the picture – all four piles – comprises dress-length pieces. I counted, not including linings, nearly 70 pieces of fabric.

Let’s think about this a moment. 70 dresses. Is that not a lifetime’s supply? When would I have the time to wear them all, let alone make them?

I culled quite a bit (giveaway, anyone?) but probably not enough. The whole exercise was quite a pointed demonstration that I do not need to buy any more fabric.

How do you sort your fabric? And how do you know when you’ve got enough?

I love the suburbs

I was out east today for work and since it causes me physical pain to pass an op shop without stopping in, I thought, look, spare yourself the agony and go have a poke around. It’ll be fine.

And fine it was. I already have Reader’s Digest but two won’t hurt (one in each room of the house, I say!) plus this one was $2.50. And never, ever used – still with the RD order form within. Then there was a cute 70s striped floral and a 40s seersucker with a nice nanna pattern of violets. Anyone know proper name of this fabric? Very fine, sheer seersucker? Perhaps it’s a bit later – 1950s? Enough here for a short-sleeved shirt.

Climbing back in the saddle

I’ve been on a quick trip to New Zealand so not much sewing recently. I found a fabric shop while walking around one night and dashed there at its opening time the next day for a hunt-and-gather before getting on a plane home. I found this cotton lawn – lovely soft stuff in colours I love. Best kind of souvenir, the one you can make something with!

I confess I skipped the last patternmaking class. Mostly because I was lazy and a little jetlagged, but also because I hadn’t tested the work from the week prior, and I just couldn’t face another battle with the teacher. In class 4 I asked him a number of direct questions and got no answers. For example, “This sleeve is too big, I need to reduce the ease. There are too many gathers at the top. How do I do that?” His reply? “Oh, waffle waffle waffle, that could be a design feature, waffle waffle.” Was driving me crazy. The point of a block is something WITHOUT design features. You add them LATER. Gah.

From here on in, I’m on my own. Which is pretty much where I was at the beginning. But many folks have left lovely comments for me and I hope that you’ll continue with the helpful suggestions when I get stuck!