Fabric Swap – Meetup!

Fabric Swap - Bay Area Sewists meetup group
photo by Michael Portuesi

Last Saturday I organized the Bay Area Sewists Fabric Swap Meetup. It was our biggest fabric swap – about 50 or so people came. This was the third fabric swap I’d organized for the group, and the first one where we also had tables for fabric scraps. At one point we had 70 RSVPs(!) and I confess that made me a bit nervous. But I knew that there would be last-minute cancellations and by the meetup day we had 60 RSVPs, which seemed slightly more manageable.

We hold our large meetups in the Community Meeting Room at the Berkeley Public Library. As a citizen of Berkeley, I can reserve this great space for free. It has cool tables with wheels and plenty of chairs. By the time security unlocked the room, it was about 10:15 am and a few members were already starting to arrive. Yikes.

Thank you Ali and Michael (I’m using many of his photos in this post) for your help with getting the tables in place! Other members pitched in as well  but I can’t remember because I was in a flurry of preparation. Thank you all for your help!  And thanks to Lindsay for setting out the name tags. (Ali is on Instagram @sewmsboncha; Michael blogs at Line of Selvage;  and Lindsay blogs at Baking, Making, and Crafting. You can read Michael’s post about our meetup here.)

I have a general process for our fabric swaps. We have four rounds of choosing fabric (one piece of fabric per round) and then one more round that lets anyone can pick anything they want (no limits). You can only participate in the first four rounds if you brought four pieces of fabric (or at least 1/2 yard of scraps). Plus, you get one entry in the pattern drawing per piece of fabric you bring.

Each round lasts the length of a song. I play a song on my phone and when a song is over, the next round of choosing begins. We use the same process for our pattern swaps and I began noticing that it was getting harder and harder for people to hear me say “Round 2! Round 2 is starting!” because this is a very chatty group. I don’t like to shout so last week I got this bicycle horn.

bike horn

It’s kind of obnoxious – think circus clowns. HONK! HONK! Heheh. But it does get everyone’s attention. I honked once to begin round 1, twice times for round 2, etc. Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures until the end. I was running around collecting dues, explaining where to put fabric, etc. Luckily, Michael took many photos during the first half of the meetup. As you can see, members brought a LOT of fabric. I asked members to label their fabric with yardage and type of fabric info – most nearly everyone did so in advance and some when they arrived.

Looking at the selections - Bay Area Sewists - fabric swap
photo by Michael Portuesi

We had so much fabric to choose from! Everything from silk and wool…

silk fabric - Bay Area Sewists - fabric swap
photo by Michael Portuesi

to knits and cotton wovens…

knit fabric - Bay Area Sewists - fabric swap
photo by Michael Portuesi

… to mystery fabric! I created this category because after the first fabric swap I realized that there will always be fabric that has unknown origins. Thus “Mystery Fabric” became a label. 😉

Mystery fabric - Bay Area Sewists - fabric swap
photo by Michael Portuesi

We didn’t really have much leftover to donate to the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse. Thank you Jill and the other members who volunteered to drop off the leftovers!

After the fabric swap was over, it was time for the pattern drawing. (Yes, I’m wearing my first Chardon Skirt, and no, I’m not looking at the names in the bag as I picked the winner.)

photo by Michael Portuesi
photo by Michael Portuesi

The happy winner of the Christine Haynes Marianne Dress was Jeanne! Thank you Christine for donating your latest pattern!

human hair full lace wigs

We also had a lovely surprise when member of the Walnut Creek Chapter of the American Sewing Guild brought a few books and a thread catcher to give away. So I drew names again for a book on shirtmaking, a book on batik and other dyeing techniques, a book on color and the thread catcher – a handy thing that you can put near your sewing machine and toss your thread  bits.

After the drawings were over, we broke up into small groups and discussed our various plans for our fabric.

small group discussions - Bay Area Sewists - fabric swap meetup

Here are a few of the folks in my group. Daphne (in the brown boots) is wearing a top she made from Burda 6990. She said it was really easy to make – only four pieces…

small group discussions - Bay Area Sewists fabric swap

…and she actually had the pattern with her so I took a photo of it so I could buy it at Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics. (Bay Area Sewists members get a 20 percent discount there on meetup days! Thank you Stonemountain!)

Virgin hair wigs

Here’s what I got at the fabric swap: 2.5 yards of this cool home dec zebra cotton print and some orange knit fabric. The print could be a skirt (another Chardon?) or maybe I’ll use it to experiment with a pattern for my ideal tote bag, which I want to make from the cool oil cloth I got at Britex Fabrics last fall. You can see a photo of the oilcloth in My Sewcation post. The knit fabric will be muslin number 2 for the wool jersey dress I want to make (also mentioned in My Sewcation). I brought three pieces of fabric and several scraps to share. Two of fabric pieces were somewhere between 1/2 yard and 3/4 yard and another piece was 1.5 yards or so. So I actually came home with more fabric that I left with. Hmmmm. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad.

Thank you to all the members who brought fabric to the swap!

fabric from Bay Area Sewists fabric swap

Afterwards some members went to get lunch and others headed to Stonemountain & Daughter Fabric to shop. I went to the store and bought the Burda pattern 6990, some sew-in woven interfacing, and a couple packages of hem tape. After making my first Chardon skirt, I really like the technique of using hem tape to finish a skirt hem. I’ll use this for my third Chardon skirt, using a Dutch wax print I got at Britex Fabrics.

hem facing tape, interfacing - Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics

Have you participated in any fabric swaps? Did you make anything with what you got at the swap? So far I’ve made one thing using fabric from a swap. The sleeves and front piece of my tunic top from a French sewing book are from fabric I got at a swap earlier this year.

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Fiddly Fabrics & More – Meetup at Britex Fabrics

We had a great Bay Area Sewists meetup at Britex Fabrics last Saturday morning – the topic was Sewing Fiddly and Slippery Fabrics. Douglas, a dapper and knowledgeable staff member at Britex pulled out various bolts of fabric – silk charmeuse and silk jersey as well as this white silk chiffon and silver mesh (see photo below) for us to look at and touch.

Prom Dresses UK

We met on the first floor of Britex, where you’ll find all kinds of silk and wool fabrics, including many imported luxurious fabrics – from cashmere and English tweeds to French silks and Italian wool crepe. It’s hard to walk by without touching them! (oooooh so lovely …)

I stopped by the store a couple weeks before the meetup to see about getting some swatches for this meetup and Dina, the store manager, very helpfully pointed out that swatches wouldn’t be large enough to give people a sense of how the fabric draped. So she cut nearly 1/4-yard pieces for a couple of them. Thank you!

She cut the first three fabrics, from left to right: iridescent silk chiffon, silk jersey (silver), and the light blue silk charmeuse, and then I went upstairs to the fourth floor where a staff person cut this fun cobwebby stretch mesh.

4 fabrics from Britex Fabrics

At the meetup I brought these fabrics and we passed them around as we listened to Douglas offer his tips and observations about sewing fiddly and slippery fabrics.

He advocates cutting silk chiffon and charmeuse as well as the silver mesh fabric (top photo) together with tissue paper. (The kind of tissue paper stores wrap your clothing purchases in or that you can get at the drug store in the wrapping paper section.) So you cut through the fabric and the tissue paper together. And you sew each of these fabrics together with the tissue paper, using a small needle size and a short stitch length. When you’re done sewing, you just gently pull away the tissue paper.

For the silk jersey, he recommended using a small ball point needle.

A Bay Area Sewists member asked how do you finish your seams if you’re sewing silk chiffon because you can see the seams? Douglas says he would trim the seam allowance close to the seam and then use Fray Check to prevent it from unraveling. Fray Check is made by Dritz and you can get it any fabric store or online.

My experience with Fray Check is that you need to use it sparingly because it can dry rather hard and you don’t want a hard edge to your fabric. Always test your fabric before using it to see how quickly one drop spreads. You don’t want to have any discoloration appear on the right side of your fabric because you used too much. you probably want to use a brush so you’ll have more control, rather than the tip on the bottle. I’ve just used the tip if I’m using it on the edges of a ribbon.

You may want to check out June Tailor’s Fray Block, which is also available at most fabric stores or online, including website here.  The thing about using Fray Block is that you’re supposed to run it under hot water for a few minutes before you use it, which is a little annoying. But it is thinner than Fray Check and seems to be more flexible.

Douglas also showed us a few of the other fabrics on the floor, such as this lovely tweed and he mentioned that he only cleans his wool clothes about twice a year. He says when he wears something wool, he just brushes it off at the end of the day and hangs it up. One Bay Area Sewists member mentioned that wool is anti-bacterial so it doesn’t get very dirty.

tweed at Britex Fabrics - csews.com

Douglas also said that fabrics have a finish on them that irritate his skin so he wears gloves when handling fabric in the store. If he buys fabric, he soaks it in cool water to remove those chemicals. Someone asked him whether dry cleaning fabric before sewing would work and Douglas said that that would just add more chemicals. Good point.

Gee, I just got a few yards of wool jersey at Britex a couple weeks ago. I was thinking about dry cleaning it. (sigh) So I asked Douglas if he would soak wool jersey in water and he said yes, but then you’d have to block it afterwards. Shoot. So I asked him if I could just lay it flat to dry and he said yes. I think I’ll cut a small square, stick it in some cool water, let it dry and see what happens.

Then we went upstairs to to fourth floor where chairs were set out for us to sit and hold the rest of our meetup. We were in a space near the windows and in front of these tempting rolls of on-sale fabrics.

rolls of fabric at Britex Fabrics - csews.com

I was busy facilitating the meeting so I didn’t take very many photos – sorry!

A few people brought some things they made to show and discuss with the group. I bought a rayon jersey long-sleeved top I made during my anti-interfacing phase a couple years ago. Unfortunately, the yoke sags because I didn’t use interfacing. Edina suggested taking it apart at the yoke and serging clear elastic to it – a nice suggestion.

I also passed around some fusible stay tape that I like to use on knits to stabilize the shoulder seams and along the side seams when matching stripes – Design Plus super fine bias fusible stay tape, which you can find at a well-stocked fabric store or online.

Other members recommend using a walking foot or Steam-a Seam Lite.

Loran of Loran’s World, not only wore a lovely dress she made from a vintage pattern, she brought two garments she made – one was a shirt she made for a Sew Weekly project. But she used cheap fabric from Jo-ann’s and cheap fusible interfacing. She didn’t finish the seams because she didn’t expect to like the shirt as much as she did. She wore it a lot and after a few washings, the interfacing started falling apart and the fabric along the seam allowance near the front collar had frayed all the way to the seam leaving a gaping hole and no way to fix it.

Loran says she now uses woven sew-in interfacing. She doesn’t use fusible interfacing any more. Fro her years as a costumer, she observed that eventually the fusible interfacing would bubble so she won’t use it any more.

I also bought some quilting spray-on temporary adhesive that you use to stick pattern  pieces to fabric, asking people if anyone had ever had experience with it. It says that it doesn’t gum up needles, etc. I was thinking of using it to stick pattern paper to a slippery fabric. One member said not to use it because it does gum up on your needle and to use freezer paper instead – an excellent suggestion!

I’ve used freezer paper when I’ve done a little fabric painting. You just iron the freezer paper to the fabric (use a low setting). The paper sticks to the fabric and the paint won’t bleed through. Then you peel off the paper when you’re done.

Another member brought a sleeveless top she made from silk chiffon. She did a nice job sewing it but she wasn’t too thrilled with how it looked on her because she felt it would be more flattering on someone with slim hips.

We also briefly discussed scissor sharpening – where do you get your scissors sharpened? One member mentioned that the San Mateo farmer’s market has a knife sharpener. I also did a little search and found that this San Mateo-based company Perfect Edge travels to a variety of farmer’s markets in the Bay Area – maybe this is the company someone was referring to? You can find their schedule here. I have not used them so I can’t vouch for the quality of their sharpening but their prices for scissors ($12) and pinking scissors ($14) are on this page so they do offer that service – though their main business is knife sharpening. They also have many drop-off locations, which you can find on their website.

I was at Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics earlier this week and asked a sales person where to sharpen scissors and was told to check out Golden State Sharpening – another mobile sharpening business. You drop your knives/scissors off at various designated locations the day before and pick them up the day after ($10 for fabric scissors).  The schedule’s on their website. Gee, I don’t know about dropping off my scissors… If anyone has found a scissors sharpener they like in the Bay Area, please let me know!

I remember years ago when was visiting my parents on the East Coast, that Jo-Ann’s had some scissors sharpening day. My mom had written down on her calendar, which is why I remember that. I don’t recall seeing that at the Jo-Ann’s in the Bay Area.

Oh, and I nearly forgot to mention – Britex gave each member a coupon for 20% off remnants and 10% off regularly priced fabrics (good for that day only). So we had fun browsing for fabric.

Bay Area Sewists browse at Britex Fabrics

Of course I had to browse the remnants on the fourth floor and found this red cotton lycra (2 1/8 yards, 50 ” wide) and this hounds tooth print (2 yards, 42″ wide). I love cotton lycra because it doesn’t wrinkle easily and I love this shade of red (more blue in it).

red cotton lycra fabric, houndstooth cotton fabric - csews.com

And when I got to the second floor as my inner voice was telling me “leave before you buy anything else!” I nearly made it downstairs to the register before I saw some wax prints – oh, my how interesting they were! I was told that the one I liked was a Dutch wax print, which was printed in Africa – a reminder that the Dutch empire had established a colony in Cape Town back in the 17th century.

I vaguely knew about African wax prints from the outfits I’d seen on Ginger of Ginger Makes who used a Vlisco wax print to make this Alder Dress and Oonaballoona who made a stunning skirt from a Dutch wax print. Both of these gals make me laugh because of the expressions on their faces in the photos on their blogs.

So I couldn’t resist buying this print – just $10/yard – clearly not a Vlisco, which is a pricey luxury brand. Admittedly, the color is not flattering to my skin (too close to my skin tone) but I think it could make a really cool skirt – maybe the Deer & Doe Chardon Skirt with inverted pleats. The fabric will far enough away from my face so it could work.

wedding dresses UK

If you want to find out more about wax prints, check out this interesting New York Times article “Africa’s Fabric Is Dutch,” on Vlisco, the Dutch company that produces wax prints in Holland. Vlisco fabric is very popular in Africa and has a certain cachet because it is so expensive. (Ginger says “I’d have to sell an organ to pay for this fabric!”) And read this post for more about wax prints, Vlisco and prints produced in Ghana,  “borrowed ideas: wax-print,” on African Lookbook.

I noticed that the selvedge of my fabric says “GUARANTEED REAL WAX ORIBA JLM HITARGET.” Well, according to the African Lookbook article, Hitarget is a Chinese company (!) that modifies Dutch designs, reprints them in new colors and sells them at low cost. And the post also stated that an “overwhelming majority (maybe as much as fifty percent) of the African prints sold in Ghana are Hitarget prints.” Sheesh. Well, I like the design – regardless of its origins!

Have you used any African/Dutch/Chinese wax print fabric in anything you’ve made?

Tips on sewing fiddly fabrics - silk cihiffon, silver mesh, stretch lace and more - a Bay Area Sewists meetup at Britex Fabrics

Bay Area Sewists Meetup – August 2014

Bay Area Sewists August 2014 meetup - csews.com

On August 17, Bay Area Sewists held a meetup at Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley. The second floor, where we met, is where the store holds its many sewing and crafts classes. It’s also where you’ll find many sale fabrics (50% off!). This was one of our smaller groups; we were limited to 21 RSVPs because of space.

I had been trying to hold a meetup at this store for a while but they have so many classes on the weekends, it was a challenge to find a block of time to hold a meetup. But regardless of where we meet, Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics gives Bay Area Sewists a 20 percent discount on our meetup days, which is really wonderful!

The topic for this meetup was fabric choices – discussing fabrics we’ve used to make garments and showing what we’ve made – successes and failures. Parish brought a couple of things she’s made, including a dress made of a pale turquoise fabric with large white polka dots, which she considers a fail because it reminds her too much of Minnie Mouse. (Here’s a plush Minnie Mouse to give you an idea of how Parish felt – though her dress’s white dots weren’t that big.) Needless to say, the scale of the dots didn’t work for Parish. Members asked if maybe she could use the bodice and change the skirt but she didn’t think that would help. She’s never worn the dress.

Lindsay made the Polly Top, which is a free pattern from By Hand London. She said it was easy to make. The curve of the front inset”was a bit fiddly” but once that was in, it was easy. Here’s the image from By Hand London’s website:

Polly Top - By Hand London

Margarita bikes to work so she only wants to make things she can wear on a bicycle. So for her, skirts are out, as are tops with low necklines. She loves cotton knit fabric but after learning about the negative impact of creating cotton fabric, she doesn’t want to buy cotton knits. So now she goes to thrift stores and buys large men’s long-sleeved t-shirts to make her own knit tops. She made some great tops from those repurposed knits. [Check out this site Make Do and Mend, if you want to read about the overconsumption of clothes and the Impact on the Environment and the Impact on Workers.]

I was really interested in what folks had to say so I kept forgetting to take photos. The  photos below are just a few of the Bay Area Sewists members who had plenty of interesting experiences to discuss.

In this photo Dorothy is talking about a costume she’s busy making from a pattern by Sense & Sensibility Patterns. It was quite elaborate with lots of cording. She brought the bodice to show where she is on it.

Bay Area Sewists - August 2014 meetup

And here’s the pattern envelope.

Sense & Sensibility sewing pattern

And Melizza of Pincushion Treats made her very first trip to the East Bay to come to this meetup! She’s wearing the fun dress she blogged about here.

Melizza's dress (600x800)

Ali wore a skirt she made from fabric she got at a Bay Area Sewists fabric swap! She brought a few of the patterns and fabrics she’s considering.

Bay Area Sewists - August 2014 meetup

Angela brought some pleated fabric, asking members what will happen to the pleats if she were to wash the fabric. She was assured that if she washed it the pleats would stay – just don’t put it in the dryer. 😉

Bay Area Sewists - August 2014 meetup

Angela also has this upholstery fabric, which she’s thinking could be a coat. She also wondered how do clean this fabric. Dorothy pointed that that if it’s a coat, it won’t need to be washed very often. Dorothy also mentioned a trick she learned about refreshing a garment – lightly spritz with one part water and one part vodka. She says the San Francisco Opera does this with musty costumes.

home dec fabric

Annamarie brought a couple of things made with some colorful fabrics, including this velvet wall hanging, which became the main fabric for this top with kimono sleeves accented with this metallic gold fabric. The waist tie (in her right hand) made from the same gold fabric of the sleeve edging. Annamarie suggested this meetup topic earlier this year at our first fitting meetup. She doesn’t pay attention to using suggested fabrics and likes the challenge of making different fabrics work with a pattern.

Bay Area Sewists - August 2014 meetup

Sara made the dress she’s wearing – it’s the Moneta from Colette Patterns.

Bay Area Sewists - August 2014 meetup

I brought a partially sewn jacket made from a beautiful red wool crepe that I got from Britex Fabrics. I’m not happy with the seams in the middle so I stopped working on it a couple of years ago. I should have used a fabric that had more structure to it. The advice I got from members was to try a good pressing with a clapper – or maybe cut a strip of the same fabric to go over that seam. I need a clapper and then if that works, maybe I’ll finally sew in the sleeves (once I remember where I put them!)

The half-finished red crepe jacket

Bay Area Sewists members get a 20% discount at Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics on meetup days. Below Lindsay and Allison (in striped tee) look at fabric. in the background you’ll see Melizza’s hubby and son standing in the entrance. 😉

Bay Area Sewists - August meetup - csews.com

Do you have any fabric care tips to share? Or any other suggestions for what to do with my red crepe jacket?

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Bay Area Sewists Meetup – Fabric Swap

The Bay Area Sewists Meetup group had a fun fabric swap last Saturday! I’m the organizer for this group. More than 30 people came to the swap – our biggest turnout so far this year – and they brought some great fabric to share. The meetup took place at the Berkeley Public Library.

Here’s a group photo I took with my phone at the end – some members has already left by then so this isn’t everyone. We all had a great time.

Bay Area Sewists meetup - fabric swap - 26 July 2014

We had four rounds where members got to choose one fabric each – provided they brought four pieces of fabric. 😉 And one member brought some very nice fabric of hers that she was selling – Liberty, wool crepe, etc. This library has great tables with wheels, which makes it really easy to set up for a fabric swap.

Bay Area Sewists - fabric swap - 26 July 2014

We had plenty of cotton wovens – flannel, plaids, prints, and solids.

Fabric swap - cotton wovens - Bay Area Sewists

Bay Area Sewists - fabric swap - cotton wovens

Fabric swap - cotton wovens - Bay Area Sewists

And many synthetics – rayon, poly, nylon…

Bay Area Sewists - Fabric swap - Synthetic fabric

We also had a table with silk, wool and linen! And one member even brought a box of sewing patterns for folks to take – it was a mix of vintage, costumes, and random patterns. Thank you!

Bay Area Sewists - sewing patterns

After we were done swapping, we held the pattern drawing for Cake Patterns popular Espresso Leggings. Thank you, Steph for donating your great pattern! And here’s Hillary who won the drawing, posing with her new pattern and the fabric she got at our swap.

Cake Patterns - Espresso Legging pattern giveaway winner - Bay Area Sewists

After the swap was over (leftovers go to the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse in Oakland), we put away the tables and put out chairs in a big circle and everyone talked about what they would do with their new-found fabric. This is just one-quarter of the circle of chairs.

Bay Area Sewists Fabric discussion

Meg was happy to get this sheer fabric so she could get some practice sewing it.

Bay Area Sewists Discussion of fabric

Charlotte was thrilled to get this fabric – printed with little kimonos, which she envisions using to make her first quilt.

Bay Area Sewists - discussion of fabric

I got these two fabrics – a yard of this pretty organic cotton with airplanes, bicycles, and buses printed on it. I’m thinking of making a tote bag for a trip in August. I also got this iridescent scrap of silk – likely to be a scarf or perhaps a piece of fabric to practice sewing. I have some silk chiffon I bought more than a year ago but I haven’t sewed it yet because I’m a little scared to cut it. Maybe this piece will be good practice for me.

Fabric from swap - Bay Area Sewists

And I got these two patterns – Butterick historical hats and this vintage Simplicity patterns of vintage dresses. As soon as I saw the hat pattern, I immediately thought of Leila of Three Dresses, who makes a lot of period costumes that she wears to events – like a steampunk weekend.

Sewing patterns - fabric swap - Bay Area Sewists - csews.com

Have you ever been to a fabric swap? Did you make anything from the fabric you got?

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The Trench – Christine Haynes Pattern

Trench - Christine Haynes Pattern - Chic & Simple Sewing - csews.com

I’m on a stashbusting mission – spurred by The Quirky Peach, who launched a Summer Stashbust Challenge in June. I had intended to make The Trench from Christine Haynes‘ first book Chic & Simple Sewing but somehow never got around to it. A few years ago I had made two other versions of The Trench in solid fabrics (except for the bias tape, which was striped in one and houndstooth in another). You can see those versions here and here (warning – pix aren’t very good).

Joel Dewberry - Ginseng collection - Jasmine palette - csews.com

I’ve had three yards of this Joel Dewberry fabric, part of his Ginseng collection of cotton sateen home dec, since 2010 – yes, that’s a four-year delay! The image on the left is taken from Joel’s website so it has the correct color. Isn’t this fabric pretty? This is his Orchid design in the Jasmine palette.

It’s the fabric I picked for my first stashbusting projects. (Here’s my post on stashbusting.)

This is pattern is a TNT (tried and true) for me. It’s simple to make – with only seven pattern pieces to cu – front, back, sleeves, patch pockets, not including the bias tape. The only tricky part is the bias tape edging along the front edge and the neckline – you just need to be careful to catch the double-fold bias tape on both sides of the jacket. I didn’t do a very good job on the first one I made – my bias tape needed stabilizer. This is a medium-weight home dec fabric that didn’t need any stabilizer but it’s rather thick to sew at the beginning and end of the neckline where you have to fold over the ends.

The Trench - Christine Haynes pattern - Chic & Simple Sewing - csews.com

I used size large and only made one adjustment – I made the sleeves about two inches longer because I have really long arms and didn’t want my sleeves to end too near my elbows.

This jacket has raglan sleeves, which means the sleeves go right up to the collar (think baseball tee). This style works well with my broad shoulders. I didn’t have to do any wide shoulder adjustments! My biggest challenge in making this particular jacket was deciding which color bias tape to use. If you follow me on Instagram (@csews), you may have seen all the variations – hot pink, green, cream, fabric – and then finally the winner – the same fabric plus hot pink bias tape. (Special thanks to the many sewcialists who chimed in when I was pondering my bias tape options!) I did a lot of basting and pinning before I finally got around to sewing the bias tape – and then I had to rip out and redo some of the neckline because I didn’t catch all of the pink bias tape. :/

Here’s a compilation of the IG photos. The last photo is of one of my patch pockets. I put a little bit of pink bias tape along the top edge of the pocket. I thought about putting it around the bottom of the pocket but I decided to keep it simple.

Bias tape for the Trench - csews.com

I decided to use the green bias tape for a Hong Kong seam finish for the side seams and sleeves. The Trench is an unlined jacket so I thought that would give it a nice look on the inside.

Hong Kong seam finish - csews.com

And I do like the look but – wow – it sure is tedious because you have to sew the bias tape to each raw edge, which means two strips of bias tape per seam. Then I ran out of bias tape and I had to buy another package (grrrr), using nearly 6 yards total!

Check out those seams!

Trench - inside right

I used hot pink seam tape for the sleeve hems and the bottom hem, which you can see above. And here are a few more photos.

Trench - Christine Haynes Pattern - csews.com

I really like this jacket but I don’t think it goes with much of my existing wardrobe, so it’s not as versatile as I thought it would be. Actually, I have no idea what I was thinking when I bought it but I was really fixated on making this jacket with this fabric.

The Trench - Christine Haynes patterns - csews.com

I do have a few RTW things in a solid cream, such as this skirt and sweater but it’s not a color I wear very often. I have a lot of solid black in my wardrobe  so maybe I could wear that with this jacket in the fall. The large patch pockets are great. I can easily put my phone, keys, a small notebook, and more in these pockets.

The Trench - Christine Haynes pattern - Chic  Simple Sewing - csews.com

Here’s a closer shot of the front – you can see the flat piping.

The Trench - Christine Haynes pattern - Chic   Sim[le Sewing - csews.com

Finally, here’s  detail of my vintage beret. I got it at All Things Vintage in Oakland. It’s got eight sections, which gives it a nice round shape. It’s one of my favorite berets. Oh, and the lipstick I’m wearing is American Beauty by Besame Cosmetics. As soon as I saw it on Handmade by Heather‘s IG feed (@knitnbee) a couple of weeks ago, I had to get it.

Vintage beret - csews.com

Backstory of the shoot: I got up early because I knew it would be overcast in the morning and the cloud cover would be gone in a couple of hours and I wanted to avoid the hot California sun that would cast stark shadows. I walked to my shooting location, set up my tripod and shot about three test shots using my digital camera’s timer. Then the battery died! The one time I didn’t check the battery. Auugh! So I traipsed home, plugged in the charger for about an hour and hoped that would be enough power – luckily it was.

What are you making this summer? Are you using any stash fabric?

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Summer Stashbust 2014!

Fabric from my stash - csews.com  - C Sews

My fabric stash is growing along with my list of projects I’d like to make – and my husband occasionally gives my piles of fabric the evil eye, mostly because it’s taking up some space in the bedroom. But it can be a challenge finding the time to sew. So the patterns and fabric keep growing. When I saw the words “Summer Stashbust 2014” on Instagram in June, I thought “A-HA! That’s what I need!!”

I first saw it in @thenerdyseamstress‘s IG feed. She regrammed it from @thequirkypeach. I soon started looking through my fabric and patterns and trying to decide what to make. I don’t have a huge stash of fabric – but I do have a couple large plastic bins and some in a wood chest – no closet or room full of fabric. But if you don’t have a lot of space to begin with, it doesn’t really make sense to keep accumulating fabric.

Some fabric is relatively new to my stash, and some has been sitting around for a few years. For example, in the above photo, the fabric on the far left is from a fabric swap from a couple of months ago. The green print fabric next to that is a Joel Dewberry design that I got about four years ago.

Stashbust 2014 - red circle fabric - csews.com - C Sews

The red print on the right with ying-yang circles on it has been in my stash for a long time. It’s a cotton/lycra blend. I really liked the colors but the circles are rather large and a bit overwhelming. I didn’t know what to do with it. But when I took it out over the weekend, I realized, hey, I could use the fabric on some of the skirt panels of a By Hand London Anna Dress! I could alternate between solid red and the print. (I made my first Anna Dress last month, which you can see here.)

So the next day, I went over to Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics to see if I could find a nice solid red to go with this stash fabric. I looked at several red cotton fabrics but they were a little too crisp. I needed the hand of the fabric to match the stash. One of the store’s staff showed me a Kaufman Radiance cotton/silk blend that was a really good match for the red. I didn’t like the shiniest so I’m actually going to use the other side, which is more matte but has a slight sheen to it that matches my stash fabric. It’s the solid red in the photo above.

Then I finally checked out The Quirky Peach’s post “Summer Stashbust 2014,” and saw that I’m not supposed to buy any fabric from June 21 to Sept. 21. Oops. I bought that red fabric on June 22.

I couldn’t use that stash fabric without buying the Radiance fabric so I guess that’s my excuse but I’ll try to stay on a fabric diet for the rest of that time period! Oh, but I will make an exception for the Bay Area Sewists fabric swap that’s happening on July 26. But I won’t get any more fabric unless I give some away – so technically I won’t be adding to my stash. 😉

Meanwhile I’ve already started used a couple of yards of my Joel Dewberry fabric to make The Trench” – from Christine Haynes 2009 book Chic & Simple Sewing. I’ve already made two from this pattern and I’ve been meaning to make another one from this fabric for ages and ages. If you follow me on IG (@csews), you’ll already be familiar with it because I’ve been posting photos of it as I worked on it. Here’s one of my WIP (work-in-progress) photos.

Trench - WIP photo - csews.com

I’d like to make more tops, skirts, and dresses. I’m looking forward to sewing up some of my stash fabric.

Do you have a fabric stash? How big is it and how long have you had some of that fabric?

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Organizing a Fabric Swap

Fabric swap - cotton wovens

In March I organized my first fabric swap for the Bay Area Sewists, a meetup group originally founded by Meg of Made By Meg. I took over as organizer of the group in January and we had our first meetup in February, a pattern swap at the Berkeley Public Library’s Community Meeting Room. You can read about that here. (If you’re a resident of the city, your group or organization can use the library’s meeting room space for free.)

I thought I’d share a couple of things I learned about putting together a fabric swap. Once you have a venue (make sure there are plenty of tables!), tell folks to organize their fabric beforehand. I initially told people to sort by type of fabric (cotton, knits, home dec, etc.) and be sure to bring pieces that are at least 1/2 yard so people would have enough to make something. I said that any leftover fabric would be donated to the nonprofit East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse.

A few weeks later one member sent me an email, asking  if there was a reason that the un-swapped fabric would be donated. She asked, “Is it just logistics? If we had the option to take home the fabric that is not swapped, I think it would be a real incentive to bring more fabric pieces, and also bring larger fabric yardage. That way we would have a lot more options to trade with, and it would be a true swap.”

This was an excellent point. So I updated the meetup description and asked members to note the yardage and type of fabric on a piece of paper and to put their name on it if they wanted it back. Not everyone got this updated message but all the fabric was sorted. I also brought a tape measure, masking tapes and a sharpie so folks could label their fabric in case they hadn’t done so beforehand.

The day before I wrote out labels for all the tables on sheets of copy paper: cotton, knits, wool, linen, silk, home dec, rayon, polyester, and mystery fabric. Meg arrived early to help with setting up the room. The tables are all on wheels, which made it easy to place around the perimeter of the room.

Cotton wovens took up more than two tables worth of space. There was a surprising amount of home dec fabric, some of which were smaller pieces but they could be used for bags and small items.

Fabric swap - home dec fabric

At the actual event, I told members we would follow the same procedure at the pattern swap: Each person has an opportunity to pick one fabric per “round.” Then I asked if they wanted to keep track of yardage or just have rounds like we did for the pattern swap. Most members just wanted to pick fabric and not worry about yardage.

The only difference  from the pattern swap was that I decided to play a song on my iPhone per round. We didn’t have any music during the pattern swap.

When I saw that everyone had picked their first fabric, I picked a different song and shouted out, “You can pick your second fabric!” I can’t recall which songs I played but the artists were Raphael Saadiq, Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson, Paul Simon, and Lambert, Hendricks and Ross. I was mostly picking fast tunes with a strong beat.

All the “mystery” fabric – fiber content unknown was put in one corner of the room, which I dubbed “mystery fabric corner.” It had all kinds of synthetic, poly, shiny and loopy fabric.

Fabric swap - mystery fabric corner

Everyone brought fabric so everyone picked something in the first round. If someone arrived who didn’t bring any fabric, then I would have had them wait at least three rounds before they could join in. After four rounds, I told folks they could take whatever they wanted. When we hold meetings at the Berkeley Public Library, the meetings must be open to the general public.

We held a drawing for Sewaholic‘s new pattern – the Gabriola skirt, which was won by Liz! Thank you Tasia for donating your lovely pattern for our giveaway!

Sewaholic Gabriola skirt pattern

We drew up a circle of chairs, sat down, and everyone showed off their new stash and told about what plans they had for the fabric. In this photo Daiyo (@bydaiyami on Twitter) is going over her stash. I think she went home with more fabric than she brought! I brought about five pieces of fabric and took two home – one printed mystery fabric, which I think was cotton and a berry-colored bit of wool crepe (yes, I was really limiting myself because I didn’t really want to add a lot to my existing stash at home).

Fabric scored at fabric swap

Meg took a great group photo using the timer on her camera. I’m the one wearing a hat, standing behind Meg on the left. Here’s the caption info I took from Meg’s great post about this Meetup:  Front row – Meg, Ali, Jessica, Megan, Cassandra, Liz; Back row: Me, Sara, JanaLoran, Sarah, Leah, Daiyo, Kelina, Allison, Veronica

Group photo - Bay Area Sewists

Everyone pitched in to clean up and the room was put all the tables back in place in about 10 minutes. And a member with a car offered to drop off the leftover fabrics to the East Bay Depot. Bay Area Sewists members are great!

Have you attended or organized a fabric swap? What was that experience like? I’d like to know how other people put theirs together.

Our next meetup, “Show and Tell, WIPs, Tour Lacis and a Pattern Giveaway,” is on Saturday, April 19 at Lacis in Berkeley. We’ll be holding a drawing for Bluegingerdoll’s latest pattern – The Winifred Dress. Thank you, Abby for donating your pattern! It’s free to join Bay Area Sewists. You can RSVP to this meetup here.
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Fabric Inventory

Print fabric swatches

The timing on my sewing machine is off (I’ll write more about that unhappy event in another post) so this past weekend I decided to do some fabric inventory of my stash. I decided that slide sleeves would be a nice way to organize swatches and brief descriptions of the fabric. I’m going with the low-tech approach rather than spreadsheets or software or digital photo albums.

So last month I stopped by the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse – they have all kinds of stuff there – to see if they’d have some slide sleeves for three-ring binders – and they did! The slots for the slides at 2 inches x 2 inches. I got about a package of 17 slide sleeves for $1 (20 slots per sheet). And these were heavyweight 10 ml plastic. Perfect!

knit fabric swatches

I don’t think I have a huge amount of fabric but I’m starting to lose track of what I’ve got. Plus my husband was rather loudly complaining about my fabric: WHY do you have so much fabric? It’s everywhere!” Well, not quite every where, just in the bedroom, the bedroom closet, on and around the dining room table, and in the tiny back room. No fabric in the kitchen, bathroom or living room. Heheh.

So I’m trying to be more organized about what I’ve got and note when I’ve pre-washed something by using yellow highlighter. I cut small swatches of fabric to go in the slide sleeve opening and I cut 3 x 5 inch index cards into thirds and then trimmed an inch off the bottom to create small squares to go in the sleeve next to the fabric. I used the extra bit of index card left over to push the fabric swatch into the slide sleeve and help keep it in place. You can see the extra bit of white index card behind the denim and red twill fabric below.

Solid fabric swatches - csews.com

I spent half the weekend measuring fabric and putting the following information on the little cards:

  • type of fabric (knits, cotton, linen, fleece, denim, or interfacing)
  • where I bought it
  • what year I got it
  • yardage
  • width

As I mentioned above, yellow highlighter indicates that the fabric or interfacing has been pre-washed. Why should you pre-wash your fabric? Check out my 2013 post: Pre-washing Fabric.

Then I organized the fabric according to type and then whether it was a print or a solid.

Here’s the interfacing I’ve inventoried so far – (Yes, I already soaked all of these in warm water!):

Fusible Interfacing swatches - csews.com

I went through about 19 fabrics in my stash and then the four fusible interfacings above. Whew! Now I just need to get a binder to pop to store the sheets.

How do you keep track of your fabric? Software? Spreadsheets? Your smartphone? Piles on a shelf? Bins in your basement? Your photographic memory? I’d love to know how other people are managing their stashes.

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Hashtag Sew Red October

Sew Red October

I’m participating in Sew Red October (#sewredoctober) – initially called #redoctober but then it was changed when folks realized that it was a hashtag being used for the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team. The idea is simple –  sew something in red in October.

I first heard about it from Leila of Three Dresses Project in her September post The Sewcialists do it again with Red October. Then you post your photos to the Sewcialists Flickr page. There are some great finished projects up already so check it out!

The great logo was designed by Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow. I love the periscope, which oh so cleverly evokes the entertaining film (and book) The Hunt for Red October. Thank you Gillian!

Red is one of my favorite colors so I wanted to participate as soon as I heard about it. But first I had to complete my Fall for Cotton project and my Grainline Tiny Pocket Tank. (You can see photos here: My Fall for Cotton 1940s Girl Friday Blouse Is Finished! I haven’t posted about the tank yet.)

We were going through a couple of heat waves in the Bay Area but I knew that wasn’t going to last so I had to get the tank done.

Meanwhile I thought about what I would make for Red October. I had a couple yards of red knit fabric that was ruined in June when I prewashed it with three other knits – black, brown, and blue. For some reason the red was the only fabric that got these blotchy stains on it from the black! I was so disgusted I just put it away. Here’s one splotchy area. Grrrrr!

Stain on my red knit fabric from prewashing

When I heard about Red October I decided to take another look at the fabric. A couple areas didn’t have random dark areas on it so I thought why not see if I could make something from it? So I decided to do my first Sewing Cake Hummingbird pattern hack and make a red tee shirt. (You can buy the Hummingbird pattern in Sewing Cake’s Etsy shop as a printed paper pattern or a PDF.)

I’ve already made three Hummingbird peplum tops and I like the binding on the neckline and armhole so why not make a tee? (Photos of my blue, striped, and red ones are here: More Hummingbird Tops!)

I used the front and back pieces of the Green top and then I drafted a bottom piece 9 inches (22.9 cm) long to attach to the existing Hummingbird top pieces. I really wasn’t sure how much to add to the hip width to accommodate the stretch. Also I wanted it to be a fitted tee, not a loose one. I used my hip curve to draw a line from the waist to the widest hip point. I decided to add about 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) – it may not enough but hey, this is essentially a muslin, right?

Cutting around stains

Here’s a closer shot of the bottom piece I drafted and just placed beneath my pattern piece for the Hummingbird front top piece. I drafted another bottom piece (also 9 inches long) for the back.

New bottom piece for Hummingbird hack

My pieces are cut and ready to sew! (Yeah, they’re wrinkly because I folded up the fabric to cut elsewhere and didn’t have an iron on hand.)

Hummingbird hack - cut pieces

Have you hacked any Cake Patterns? What did you do? And if you’re making something for Red October, please share your link in the comments below. I’d love to see what you’re working on!

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A Tale of Three Threads

Three green Gutterman threads

Vintage Swiss dot voile
The photo of my fabric on my iPhone

A couple nights ago after I ran an errand after work, I remembered that I didn’t have any thread yet for my Fall for Cotton project. I finally decided on using my vintage Swiss dot voile fabric to make Decades of Style pattern 1940s Girl Friday Blouse. I would be near Stonemountain and Daughter Fabrics so I could stop by there BUT I didn’t have a swatch on me. What if I wanted to start sewing that night? I had a photo of it on my iPhone but I knew that could not replace a swatch because photos are just not a good substitute for the real thing. The color could be way off. But I thought I could get in the ball park. So I went in the store, took a hard look at the green threads and decided to pick three threads (Gutterman 752, 785, and 788). Between my memory and the photo, I thought I could get close.

Before I paid for the thread, I told the lady that I didn’t have a swatch and she just said, bring back the thread you don’t use along with your receipt and we can give you your money back.

When I got home, I checked each thread against the fabric. Any of them could have worked because my fabric wasn’t just one shade of green. It turned out that the best match was the darker green, Gutterman 788.

OK, so the lesson is: Take fabric swatches of all your current projects and put them in your purse, wallet, or somewhere you can access them anytime you’re out. You never know when you’ll run across a button, zipper, or contracting fabric!And if you don’t have that swatch, you may not be able to make a decision.

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What to Make with This Marimekko Fabric?

Earlier this week I was wandering around a Crate & Barrel store in Union Square in San Francisco and saw several bolts of Marimekko fabric on sale. They were tucked away on the second floor at the store on Stockton St. This is the floor with furniture, pillows, and bolts of beautiful fabric. I saw this stunning design and the bolt said $7.50 so I thought – oh, nice price – thinking it was $7.50 a yard. Then I asked, “Is that the price per yard”? Ha. It was the price per foot. Darn. Apparently this was the holiday fabric from last year (note the trees) thus the sale price. I think the expectation is that people buy the fabric at Crate & Barrel for wall hangings, table runners or table cloths, not garments. (Note: Crate & Barrel’s online store only has Marimekko products, not Marimekko fabric.)

Marimekko fabric

I would have loved to get a couple yards but I didn’t want to spend more than $30. It’s about 58 inches wide so decided I could afford 4 four feet, which is enough for a skirt or even a shift dress. I’m leaning towards a shirt. Maybe this will end up being my Fall for Cotton fabric. (After a burn test, I think the other fabric I was considering has some synthetic in it. See my Fall for Cotton post.)
It’s a medium-weight 100 percent cotton fabric. It’s machine wash warm, line dry only.

What garment would you make with this Marimekko fabric?

C Sews StyleEye – Skirts! 5 Sept. 2013

Three skirts - featured

It’s been about a year since I last did a C Sews StytleEye post. I’m reviving it. I borrowed the idea from Bill Cunningham’s On the Street photos for the New York Times (as I mentioned this in my very first post C Sews StyleEye 3 Jan. 2012). I wasn’t a very good sewcialist back then! Instead I was more focused on learning to use WordPress.

This is essentially a brief look at the clothes and accessories that I’ve captured (with my iPhone) on people I’ve seen as I’m out and about – mostly in San Francisco or the East Bay. These people are on the move so some of the photos aren’t exactly in focus but I think you can still get the idea of the fabric and cut.

I have not edited the photos – partly to give you an idea of where the photos were shot (on the street, at a cafe, in the grocery store) and it certainly saves time! I took two photos of the last skirt because I really loved the use of fabric.

Below are the skirts that caught my eye for various reasons – fun fabric (love those elephants!), nice shape, or interesting details (check out the buttons on that jean skirt!).

I like long skirts. I usually like the hem to be several inches below my knees – mid-calf at the very least. Also I really don’t have the legs for short skirts. 😉

Do you have a favorite skirt length?

Check out the ones below. What ones do you like?

Red bows skirtElephants print skirt

Scallop skirtRuffled skirt

Jean skirt with buttonsRed skirt - white seams

Black&White skirtBlack&White skirt closer