Are you one of those women who says, upon receiving a wardrobe compliment: “Oh, this? I got this for $14.98 at Marshall’s.” Me too. I recently read Overdressed by Elizabeth L. Cline, though, and it’s really got me thinking. I knew that we get low prices because our clothing is made overseas where labor rates are lower.
Cline says “we presume whoever offers us the lowest price is being fair and we give them our business.” Yet cheap clothing we demand has really derailed American business, and resulted in less style and poorer quality. Are we really fashionable, when “global chains are trying to take the risk out of fashion by selling the same carefully orchestrated trends, making our store-bought looks feel homogenous and generic”? I’m an advocate of home sewing, but of course I don’t make all of my clothing. The topstitching and fitting required for jeans, for instance, seems like too much work. I do, however, want quality. How long will it take the $8.00 garment from WalMart shown to the right to sprout holes or loose threads in the side seams and under the arms?
I can see poor quality on the racks and particularly on young women. The fabric is thin and tight in the wrong places. Here’s what Cline says about that: “A half century of competition based on low price has forced the fashion industry to cut corners on quality, construction, and detail, leaving most of us wearing painfully simple designs that are crudely slapped together.”
Cline turned to vintage clothing and repairing her own clothing — more on that later!
Posted in fabric, fashion, sewing, vintage | Tagged Amazon.com, cheap fashion, Overdressed, overseas garment manufactururing, Rachel L. Cline, U.S. industry, WalMart | 2 Comments »
Sometimes you pay for someone to show you all the techniques you know would work, if only you took the time to experiment. This weekend, I Jan Bones, Canadian garment instructor and author of Lingerie Secrets Sewing Patterns, showed us a number of tricks in “Lingerie Finishes for Daywear.” Jan was in the Seattle area for two days for a demonstration day, which I could not attend, and a hands-on day. I attended the Sunday morning hands-on. Lingerie uses knits and lightweight fabrics, and if you’ve noticed fashions, it’s not just for underneath anymore! I learned how to construct, reinforce and reinforce a variety of treatments. I have been experimenting with making my own underthings – I’m tired of fabric that ravels and holes that erupt in side seams. So I’ve had some experience with stretching elastic to fit, which were a few of the techniques that Jan had us produce samples for. Nevertheless I learned some new tricks at this Seattle ASG-sponsored event.
My favorite techniques:
- Use picot edge elastic for various treatments, including encased elastic. Why use picot edge when you are going to completely cover it up? Jan says that it produces a smoother edge in which the elastic “feathers” at the edge so you don’t even feel it. I agree; it’s a comfortable finish.
- Serge edges, then tack them down with a narrow zig-zag stitch so that no edges are felt on the inside. This is great for nightwear. She shared a light green fleece jacket in which she used contrasting turquoise thread for the zig-zag on the outside of the garment — and it looked very snazzy.
- Use a test strip butted up to your fashion fabric. It really works to get the snarls out on the test strip and allows you to sew right onto the elastic, then stretch it to fit with fewers errors. I knew this! But didn’t practice it.
- Reinforce gathers on lightweight fabric by stitching thin polyester ribbon over the top. This could be used in the cup area of a camisole — or think about a top with an empire waist. Gathers in the lower part of the top could loosen over time. The ribbon stabilizes the gathers so the gathers don’t pull out.
Overall, this session was a great class length, and Jan Bones is a pleasant person with lots to share, and I’m sure her students to the north love her. I went home with a number of helpful samples and one of Jan’s printed guides — and I whipped out a pair of undies right then. I have more experimenting to do, but it was an inspiring day.
Posted in American Sewing Guild, color, fabric, fashion, garments, Jan Bones Lingerie Secrets, sewing | Tagged American Sewing Guild, ASG.org, Canada, elastic, Jan Bones, Lingerie Secrets, lingerie sewing, Seattle chapter, seattleasg.org | 2 Comments »
Ah, the time for reliable outdoor living is almost here and these are my favorites in laminated cotton from PacificFabrics.com. They’ve got colorful owls and ducks and chickies and florals. Which are your favorite patterns and what have you made from laminated cotton?
I test-ran some snack bags from interfaced cotton to achieve the stand-up stiffness the laminated cotton normally creates. And who wouldn’t want to eat goldfish cracker treats from a cool reusable stand-up bag? So orange… and so green. Remember that oilcloth (which is actually plastic) can’t be used with food, but laminated cotton is suitable.
Here’s another snack bag project made with laminated cotton. Note: Your sewing machine really needs a Teflon presser foot for laminated cotton and oilcloth. (An older method is to tape electrical or smooth thick tape to the bottom of a regular presser foot.)
Posted in color, fabric, green, handmade, Pacific Fabrics, reuse, sewing, sewing machines, Stores | Tagged home decor sewing projects, laminated cotton sewing projects, oilcloth, pacific fabrics seattle, sewing machine feet, sewing with oilcloth | Leave a Comment »
Forgive me dear readers, it has been too long since my last confession, er post. Here’s a quickie before I proceed with several planned posts. I’m back!
While vacationing in New Mexico, I discovered COAS Books in Las Cruces. “The largest bookstore in New Mexico,” they say, and stretching more than two storefronts side, it’s large by any standards. It was truly a pleasure and I pointed my daughter in the direction of the kids section and stayed in the sewing and crafts aisle with no remorse. At home, I love to say that I use the library for fiction, and my bookshelves for sewing books. So true!
Here is a pic of the recent stash of books I collected, one of which dates from 1943. I managed to bring them all back by stashing two on the plane. I’ve already finished the one named Clothing and Cloth. I say “finished” because it’s truly a book you read as opposed to glance at the pretty pictures for future projects. Clothing and Cloth is a perspective of the garment and fashion industry from a 1961 perspective, and it’s given me lots of fodder for future posts!
Posted in fabric, fashion, garments, handmade, Palmer-Pletsch, sewing, thrifty, vintage | Tagged COAS Books, collecting, las cruces, New Mexico, sewing books, vintage sewing books | Leave a Comment »
There is just such energy to be enjoyed by going out into the world and meeting people who love to sew! I’m reinvigorated by the fact that a number of people — perhaps not too many — make their livings at this craft. It’s creative, expressive, mathematical, and a great way to connect with and help others.
Yesterday was my first day at SewExpo in Puyallup, Washington and although lack of preparation led to blowing off my first class, I attended several seminars and visited with several fellow sewing enthusiasts. I had conversations with fellow sewing guild members and members of other guilds at the ASG booth, met two sewing teachers from Washington state, and chatted with the sales director of Kai scissors about his new online shop. At sessions titled “Cool Cardigans,” “One Pattern: A Variety of Garments,” and “No Pins, No Basting, No Kidding!” I learned some techniques and chatted with other participants about their passions. And of course, I made some purchases of fabric and tools.
This is what a hobby community is all about. Although there are undoubtedly sewers out there who do it all alone, venturing out to talk about it is worth the effort! My next day is Saturday, and I’ll take more seminars and more pictures, say hello to more booth acquaintances, and finally enjoy my fellow sewing guild members at the Seattle ASG banquet. Sewers from all around the country — and sometimes abroad — will enjoy dinner and hear Canadian Jan Bones relate her career in the home sewing industry.
Posted in American Sewing Guild, fabric, garments, handmade, patterns, sewing, Silhouette Patterns / Peggy Sagers | Tagged American Sewing Guild, hobbies, Kai Scissors, Puyallup, seattle, SewExpo, sewing guild, Washington | Leave a Comment »
Cold tea is an ongoing problem in our house. First, we consume a lot of it. Second, we don’t consume it all at the same time. One person might brew some early in the morning, another person — a late sleeper — might pour some out an hour or more later. The solution is a teapot cozy, and I’ve included a free tea cozy pattern with this post.
The outer layer is wool from Pendleton that I later made into a dress. I love the blue and gray plaid with thin red stripe. The dress isn’t a keeper, but of course I had left over material, and it’s perfect for a tea cozy (I also made a classy holiday stocking from the remnants ). Across the top and sides I used blue piping. The “sandwich” layer is Warm n Natural batting, leftover from the Roman blind lining in my sewing room. And the tea pot is fully lined with blue denim from long ago. I know it’s long ago because mid-college on, I owned a rabbit. That rabbit moved with me during my wandering years, and I have several pieces of fabric that she chewed into. Hence the several spots in my tea cozy lining with sewed-on flowers or buttons. I had fun cutting out and then singeing the edges of the wool fabric to seal them and make them ravel less. I might have used more flowers to make the effect more even, but I’m not much of a crafter and I figured it’s just a lining, after all. But it’s nice enough that it could be used as the top.
Since then our tea has been much warmer. Your teapot is the basis for the size of your cozy. Mine measured 25″ from spout to handle. You can use the free pattern to draft your own version. (Print several, then tape together to see if it wraps around.) Here are the instructions: Cut all pieces on the fold of fabric, as the pattern indicates. Cut 2 each on the fold of these items: 1. decorator fabric, 2. lining fabric, and 3. batting or insulating material. Baste piping (optional) to the right side of one layer of the decorator fabric at the stitching line (I used 1/2″ inch/1.27 centimeter), raw edge of piping pointing in the same direction as the raw edge of fabric. Do not install piping along the long bottom edge. Piping or not, leave the long bottom edge open. If you want to further embellish your decorator fabric, you should do so now. Embellishments could include embroidery or attaching fabric flowers or buttons (as I did to disguise holes).
Similarly, stitch the curved edges of the two right sides of decorator fabric using (again, I used 1/2 inch/1.27 centimeter seam allowances). Trim bulk from the curved seam allowance. Press up the long open bottom 1/2 ” (this will be folded up later).
Pin one layer of batting to the curved edge of the lining piece, matching raw edges. Do the same with the remaining layer of lining and batting. Trim the batting layer close to the stitching line. Then stitch the curved edge of right sides of lining/batting. Remove some of the bulk by trimming. Press up the bottom 1/2″ (to fold up later). Press open the seam allowances and turn inside out. Push the lining up into the decorator fabric wrong sides together. You might have to do a lot of pushing so that the lining/batting layer fills all of the nooks and crannies of the decorator layer. Cute, eh? You’re on your way to keeping that tea hot!
The remaining step is to pin and sew the bottom all the way around. (In mine, I trimmed some of the decorator fabric and this allowed me to press then stitch a double fold of denim lining all the way around — it’s another easy detail but you can simply press up once and match the edge of the decorator fabric.)
Posted in color, embroidery, fabric, free, garments, green, patterns, quilting, recycle, remake, reuse, sewing, thrifty | Tagged how to sew a teapot cozy, repurpose, warm and natural batting | Leave a Comment »