I Love Fabric!

It’s been a hard couple of weeks. Adjusting to life in a new country is definitely tougher than I expected when I moved here. Now that I’m almost a year on from the move, I was anticipating feeling a lot more at home than I do. But starting your life over again is no joke and trying to build one for myself is taking its toll. Fortunately, I have an amazing husband who knows exactly the right way to cheer me up – by taking me fabric shopping! So with a couple of new projects in mind, we headed over to Joann’s so that I could pick myself up with some fabric devotion. As always, I was in heaven.

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SO much fabric joy! Am I the only one who pretty much always fabric shops in person? I mean, I order the odd thing online – but mostly just fabrics with really cute patterns that I can’t resist. Otherwise, I much prefer a trip to the fabric shop. I guess I’m always worried that what I order online won’t turn out to be as good in person. Although I know you can order swatches, I’m also incredibly impatient when it comes to waiting for fabrics to be delivered. Also, when I’m feeling not so at home here, hunting out new fabric shops or returning to favourites is a sure way to make me feel more comfortable. It’s exactly the same feeling of ‘at home’ that I get whenever I go into a bookshop. I know, I’m super cool!

We ended up spending a long time searching through the various fabrics at Joann’s. I had a couple of projects in mind and was hoping to find some fabrics that would work. The first project is a new version of the Decades of Style Belle Curve dress. This was one of my first makes (ambitious, I know!) and remains one of my favourite me-made garments. However, in my eternal Laura wisdom, I decided a couple of weeks ago that I should try to tidy up my original version. Since I was super new to sewing when I made it, there were quite a few problems with the construction. None of the issues were a particularly big deal, but mostly I was getting annoyed with the wide, unfinished seams and a lot of subsequent fraying. Since everything was already constructed, I didn’t want to risk serging. So I decided to take my pinking shears to the seams and have a go at both trimming them down and stopping the fraying. As careful as I thought I was being, I ended up snipping through the body of the side of the dress – right by the amazing sunburst darts – and leaving a hole big enough that there’s no fixing it (flashbacks to my wedding dress muslin, anyone?!). Needless to say, I was pretty distraught. However, the dress was definitely in need of many alterations. I’ve lost a lot of weight since I originally made it and, with the way the dress is constructed, it would’ve been impossible to alter. So I guess my accident was actually providing an opportunity for me to revisit and remake one of favourite patterns!

I knew that I wanted to stay super plain with the fabric. The best part of the Belle Curve dress is undoubtedly the darts and using a patterned fabric would only make this detail much harder to see. So I decided to get a couple of drapey fabrics in bold colours that would work super well and show of the unique details of the dress pattern.

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Green is probably my favourite colour and I couldn’t resist this gorgeous bottle green. My original version of the Belle Curve dress was in green and it looked stunning. I’m not sure if I’ll use this fabric for my next version since I want to try something different but, either way, it’ll certainly be put to good use!

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Purple! I don’t think I’ve made any purple clothes so far, which is strange because I absolutely adore purple. This is definitely a super bold purple but I think it will work incredibly well with the pattern. I can’t actually remember what sorts of fabrics these are – I think they’re poly blends. But they are perfectly drapey with a silky underside, which will work very well against the skin. I can’t wait to get started!

I’ve also been putting together plans to make some shorts. Summer in Missouri is pretty crazy and temperatures can get up to 110F (I think that’s over 40C). Since I’m came over from England, clearly my wardrobe was very underprepared for such temperatures. I’m determined that this summer will be much more comfortable than the last, so I’m putting my sewing machine to work for the cause. Fortunately, one of the lovelies that I follow on Instagram (Erin from My Poetic Memory) posted a photo of some shorts she’s whipped up recently. All of the pairs looked gorgeous but she had a version of the Chataigne shorts from Deer&Doe that left me particularly in love (I was the personification of the heart eyes emoji, for sure). After searching out the pattern for myself, I knew that I needed to put this on my project list! Since I was especially in love with the styling of one of the models for the pattern, I decided to try and replicate the look by finding some faux suede to create some beautiful shorts:

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I’ve never sewn with faux suede before, so I’m excited to give it a go! I think these shorts will be amazing – although perhaps not made with the most cooling of materials. Just an excuse to buy even more fabric to make new versions!

So that’s a summary of my recent adventures into the world of fabric. I’m so excited to get started on some new projects (especially because Me Made May is coming and I need to get some more stuff together!). Fortunately, my Ginger Jeans are almost finished – just the jeans button, rivets, and hemming to go! So I’ll have those to show you soon.

For now though, I’m wishing you a wonderful weekend full of sewing and happiness!

Project Updates!

After the super momentum that I achieved with my Cocktail Hour dress, I’ve been feeling seriously motivated to work my way through some new projects. So I thought that I would give you an update on my works in progress and everything coming to Sew for Victory over the next few weeks!

At the moment, I’m working with some seriously fabulous fabric picked up from Joann’s. It’s part of Gertie’s collection, and I had visions of 1960s dresses the moment I laid eyes on it.

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At $16.99 a yard, it’s definitely expensive. I love Joann’s for the MANY discount vouchers on their app and I exploit these every time I visit but, unless I’m working with a 50% off coupon, $16.99 is pretty steep (especially given that any 1950s/60s-style dress is going to take 4+ yards, which will leave you over $50 out of pocket for one dress). Fortunately, I hit Joann’s when they were having a sale specifically on Gertie’s fabric line and I think I ended up getting the fabric for around $6 a yard. Far more reasonable.

The only issue I have with this fabric (other than cost) is the 43″ width. This is something I’ve come across time and again, particularly at Joann’s. Am I the only person losing it with the fact that fabric manufacturers don’t account for the fact that EVERY pattern gives cutting layouts and fabric requirements for 45″ and 60″ fabrics as standard? Why on earth would you make a 43″ fabric? Please do enlighten me if you know. Normally it isn’t too much of an issue but it caused me such problems with this pattern. Every piece of the pattern, except for the two cumberbund/cummerbund pieces, had to be cut on the crosswise grain. Manipulating the fabric to account for this, plus cutting on the fold where I had to, I ended up dramatically short on fabric – despite the fact that I had originally purchased 1/2 yard extra than required to account for any issues. I had to go back and buy an extra yard (not on sale) which obviously cost me an additional $16.99. Since I’m working with the circle skirt version of the pattern, every inch of fabric is absolutely necessary. I was finding that I couldn’t follow the cutting layout on the pattern because two pattern pieces wouldn’t fit on the width of the fabric – being 2″ shorter than the standard 45″. I recognise that this has turned into a massive rant but I’m seriously baffled as to why fabric that sells in a nation-wide chain wouldn’t be standard size?

Anyway, moving on from that outburst. I really am seriously in love with the fabric itself. The blue is so gorgeous – the photo doesn’t do it justice. I’m about half-way through the make and it looks so wonderful. I think that this is going to be a truly fabulous dress! The pattern is one that I got free with a magazine ages ago. I wanted to go with a 1960s pattern that offered the standard silhouette but also looked different from anything I’ve made before. The bodice and sleeves are definitely a departure from my previous makes, so we’ll see how it turns out!

Aside from the 1960s dress, I also have plans for a couple of other fabrics that I’ve picked up over the past few weeks. Although obviously not keeping with the vintage theme, I couldn’t resist this Beauty and the Beast stained glass fabric. I’ve seen it floating around on Instagram for a while and have been desperately in love with it. So I picked up a few yards for myself and am still debating on what to do with it.

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Isn’t it sweet? I’m thinking potentially another Sew Over It Betty dress? But I’m worried that it would look too busy. My default with any heavily patterned or busy fabric is to set it aside to become a circle skirt. But I have about 4 yards of this fabric and I’m really not sure what to do with it. I want to stick to vintage-style patterns so, if you have any suggestions, let me know!

I’m also planning another 1960s make for the brocade fabric that I picked up as a back-up for my Cocktail Hour dress. It’s super cute!

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As much as I love it, I might wait a while to grapple with this one. If you read about my Cocktail Hour adventures, you’ll know that working with the brocade was a total nightmare. It frayed like nothing else. This 1960s-style fabric is beautiful but already fraying all over the place. I think I need to get a couple of other (nice and east cotton-based) projects out of the way before I decide to brave the brocade again!

So that’s most of the news regarding my ongoing/upcoming projects. I am also working on a big super-secret side project that I’ll be chatting to you about within the next month or so. In the meantime, I have a variety of plans for Sew for Victory. As well as the usual posts on my makes (as they occur) and some new My Vintage Life posts, I’ll be publishing another Sewing for Self-Care post. My last post seemed to create a lot of interest and I’ve been spending the past couple of weeks reflecting on your comments. Since it’s a topic that’s very close to my heart, I have a lot more to say about it. So watch out for that. I’ll be back on Friday with a new installment of My Vintage Life.

Until then, have a fabulous week. And Happy Thanksgiving to all of my American readers!

Laura’s Fabric Joy!

I’ve been having the best luck recently when it comes to fabric buying. Since leaving England meant saying goodbye to most of my haberdashery – and lots of other sewing goodies – I arrived in St. Louis massively understocked. Fortunately, I have the best husband in the world and, before I got to the US, he had set about getting replacements for all of the most important bits and pieces. But while I needed to make sure that I had a sewing machine ready to go on arrival, the process of rebuilding my fabric supply has been far more slow-and-steady.

I highly recommend fabric shopping to anyone trying to explore somewhere new. Of everything I’ve done to get myself acquainted with St. Louis, searching out off-the-beaten-track fabric shops (and by this I mean not Joann’s or Michael’s) has been an amazing way of discovering different parts of the city. That said, Joann’s has an incredible fabric supply and a constant stream of discounts so it’s also been an incredible resource. Since I’ve really lucked out recently when it comes to fabric finds, I thought I would share some of my favourites with you. These fabrics will be familiar to anyone who already follows my Instagram since I post updates there on an almost daily basis (it’s also worth heading over if you want to have a go at the amazing #sewphotohop challenge through the month of September and get to know some incredible crafters!). But otherwise, here are some pretty fabrics and details about where I found them!

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Just LOOK at this fabric. Genuine 1960s fabric that I totally lucked upon at the incredible The Future Antiques in St. Louis. I had actually visited The Future Antiques before a couple of years ago and picked up an amazing 1940s dress from their stunning collection of vintage clothing. Unfortunately, they’ve had a bit of an overhaul since then and their vintage clothes are no more. But I found a batch of vintage fabric in the back of their sale room – somewhat pricey but all marked down by 40%. I got 3 yards of this fabric for about $20 which felt like a steal to me. I’m thinking that this fabric obviously has to go towards a 1960s make and I’ve been browsing through Love at First Stitch from Tilly of Tilly and the Buttons for the perfect pattern. Still thinking it over though!

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I still can’t get over the beauty of this cotton. I’ve been totally enamoured since the moment I spotted it. This gem is from an incredible fabric store called The Quilted Fox in Frontenac, MO. They have an amazing range of Australian and African fabrics – this ‘Spiritual Women’ piece is from their Australian collection. I think it’s seriously the most beautiful fabric I’ve ever seen and I’m so excited to use it, although simultaneously too scared to commit to anything. Fingers crossed I’ll settle on a pattern eventually. In the meantime, I’m just enjoying gazing at it periodically!

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So technically not a product of my St. Louis fabric search but a delicious find nonetheless. This beautiful viscose fabric came to me from ‘Til The Sun Goes Down as part of my winnings from #vpjuly on Instagram. I totally lucked out and won a £30 spend on the online shop so bought 3 yards of this beautiful ‘Birds on Turquoise’ fabric and seven 1940s basket weave buttons. If you’re looking for some genuine vintage fabric/notions or fabric that has every appearance of being genuine vintage, definitely head over to the shop. Not only was it all super reasonably priced but these goodies got all the way to Missouri from the UK in a matter of days!

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Again not a US find but too wonderful not to share. This stunning fabric was brought home to me from India by my lovely Mum. She travels there a lot for work and used her most recent trip to do a bit of fabric hunting for me! It has a border print so I’ve been umming-and-ahhing over what to put it to but I think I’ve finally settled on the Vintage Shirt Dress from Sew Over It. I’ve had this pattern for ages but never found the right fabric for the job. I can see this Indian print totally working so I think I might mission on with it in the hopes of catching the last bits of summer in the dress!

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The last fabric/notions haul is from the accessible-to-everyone (in the US) Joann’s. I’m not huge on getting my fabric from such large chain stores, simply because I like everything I make to be as unique as possible. But Joann’s have such a wonderful and diverse collection of fabrics that it’s tough not to be pulled in. I found this adorable glittery bicycles fabric in their discount fabric section and took what remained of it. I think I got 3.5 yards for about $15, which is a definite steal. I also had my first forage through their buttons and OH MY GOODNESS they have some amazing ones. Hedgehogs, foxes, and a ridiculous number of Disney buttons. Of course, when I saw the Disney ones I couldn’t stop myself. I have absolutely no idea what these will get used for but they’re currently pinned on my noticeboard for me to admire every time I’m in my sewing room. I just can’t help it.

Anyway, that’s just about it for now. I hope you like these fabrics as much as I do! They’re all still waiting for projects because I am so indecisive. The more I love a fabric, the more difficult it becomes to actually commit to using it. Hopefully it won’t be another year before you see any of these fabrics on a finished garment!

Oh and Happy Labour Day to all of my US readers. I hope you’re enjoying some beautiful weather and an extra day of summery fun!

Walthamstow Market: A Fabric Lover’s Paradise!

Happy Monday, my lovelies!

I’ve had a fantastic weekend of sewing. My Belle Curve dress is almost finished and it is easily the most gorgeous thing I’ve made so far. I can’t wait to share it with you later this week!

Before I get round to that, I wanted to share some details about my recent fabric shopping trip to Walthamstow market! After joining The Fold Line (a fantastic online sewing community), I managed to connect with an amazing group of fellow 20-something sewers. With a few of us in easy distance of London, I thought that a meet-up was in order! Last weekend, 5 of us got together in Walthamstow for a trip to this totally fabric-oriented market.

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As far as fabric shopping at Walthamstow goes, I have some advice for fellow market adventurers! The first tip is all about the weather. As much as possible, try to plan your trip for a reasonably good weather day (or at least one where it isn’t pouring with rain). We did not. Although there are a large number of shops lining both sides of the market, all stalls are open-air. We got totally drenched moving from stall to stall. It was completely worth it – but, if you have some flexibility in planning a fabric shopping trip, try to account for the fact that Walthamstow isn’t an all-weather friendly market. Otherwise, make sure to take some waterproof bags for all of that fabric!

The market itself is so well laid out. Most of the stalls are fabric sellers, so it isn’t hard to know where you’re going. Just be sure to keep an eye on the shops on both sides of the street. There are some amazing (and cheap) fabric stores, with plenty of selection. One of the great things about the fabrics on offer is that there are a huge number of choices from all over the world. Lots of Indian and African inspired fabrics – making this a perfect destination if you want a to try something a little bolder than run-of-the-mill cottons and patterning.

Be sure to take plenty of money with you – you’ll need it. The fabrics are extremely reasonably priced (averaging about £3 per metre), but you’ll find that the cheap prices simply encourage you to buy a LOT. My haul was quite impressive and I think the group collectively agreed that we would need to avoid fabric purchasing for a while.

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So if you are within a good distance of London – or are paying a special visit – I would definitely suggest stopping at Walthamstow. I tried to search out a stall map to link to here – but no such luck. For more information on the market (hours, area maps etc), Walthamstow Council has a great guide on their website.

Hopefully it won’t be long until we arrange our next meet-up and investigate some more fabric hot-spots around London. If you fancy joining us on our next outing, send me an email – sewforvictoryblog@gmail.com – and I’ll make sure to keep you in the loop.

I’ll be back later this week with some pics of my 1940s-inspired dress. Have a fabulous Monday!

Laura x