Welcome to this jam packed newsletter, which has been in the works since January. Our fabric collection is growing by leaps and bounds. Katherine and I have been out in the world buying fabric...in the photo we are at an international textile show accompanied by Cathy and Tracy from Make It Sew, a new fabric store in Chanhassen, Minnesota. The show was BIG fun, we bought so many beautiful fabrics which will be coming in over the next weeks and months. Check our NEW FABRICS on the website often and tune in to Facebook, as I post regularly on FB (see the links below).
We've all been doing a lot of sewing. For the past few years, my friend Sandra Betzina and I have put together a fashion show for the Puyallup Sewing Expo. This year I have photographed the 11 outfits for the fashion show and the Tilton sisters 'what to wear' garments that we made to wear at the Expo. You can see them on PARING PATTERN AND FABRIC. Come back to this category as we will be adding a new combo each week, pairing ideas for pattern and fabric combinations to keep in tune with the season.
In MARCY'S CLOSET right now, you can see new work from Beth, who is making fabulous clothes with flair and simplicity. Then there is the stunning wardrobe sewn by Nancy Murakami, who worked in our booth at the Puyallup show. Like all sewists, she had the 'what to wear' dilemma. She made her entire wardrobe. Some of the fabrics come from us, others from her stash. In one word: FABULOUS!
We love hearing from you and appreciate your support and feedback.
Wishing you a fresh and creative spring season from my studio to yours,
Raw silk hand screened small design flags by Shelley with a lyrical natural world theme. Make a wonderful gift for yourself or a friend. 6 x 5.5 inches
Textile Tech Talk
One of the questions I get from some of our customers is about fiber content. In today's market, the content of many fabrics is unknown. Virtually none of the fabric we use for home sewn garments is produced for the sewing market, nor is it produced in the US. Most of the fabrics that come to our stashes arrives via wholesalers who buy fabric in bulk....by the truckload or shipping container, often sight unseen.
When a designer comes to the end of the season, they need to clear their unused fabric to make room for the new. Frequently they want it all to go away right NOW. Middlemen/'jobbers' buy and store this fabric and resell it to fabric stores, smaller scale independent designers and people like me. By the time I choose a fabric the content is often a mystery.
If I receive a fabric and the fiber content IS labeled, I pass that info on in the website description. But if I suspect the label is wrong, I make a guess, and I make a lot of guesses. I do burn tests and make educated guesses on the rest. The fact that I am an avid shopper and look at a lot of ready to wear (ranging from Target to Chanel), helps.
The Global Textile Village
The world economy is impacting the fabric we buy and use. On buying trips recently, fabric suppliers are all talking about the rise in prices in both natural and man-made fabrics.
Silk and cotton prices have gone up 20-30% in the past few months. The cost of polyester is skyrocketing.
Upheavals in Egypt will impact the flow and availability of the finest cotton in the world.
In China, where many mid range fabrics are produced, factory workers are insisting rightly on a higher standard of living.
At this point no one knows how the Japanese mills will be impacted by the earthquake and tsunami.
Many of the fabrics we love to work with start their world wide journey in these places. As always, textile designers will cope using their imaginations and working with what is available.
Cotton, linen, wool, silk and rayon: all natural fibers (rayon is natural but man-made). The new exotic naturals are hemp, ramie, even paper. The naturals are being blended with each other: I saw cotton/wool blends in knits and wovens in Paris....bought a sweater which has become a favorite as it combines the best of both worlds, cozy, not scratchy.
The naturals are being constructed/blended with lycra/spandex, almost always a good thing, for the small amount of lycra/spandex (usually from 1-7%) adds stretch, drape and helps prevent wrinkling.
One natural fabric that is being manufactured in the US is quilting cotton. I saw American quilting cottons in Paris selling for 40euros a meter...that computes to approximately $56. per yard at today's exchange rate!
Man-Made/Synthetic = BAAAAD fabric???
If you had experience with the early forms of polyester (or nylon or acrylic), it may have long lasting negative effects. The primitive versions of man made fabrics were problematic, they were plastic-y, did not breathe and felt slimy. But the current versions are another story, and high end designers all over the world are using synthetics and blends with creative abandon.
So don't deem a fabric BAAAAD because of the presence of synthetics. Cutting edge mills in Germany, France, Italy, Japan and Korea are all using & blending these synthetics to create a whole new breed of fabric that is showing up in the most expensive ready to wear all over the world.
First: polyester, now known as microfiber. The new polyesters can be spun and textured so they look and feel like a natural fiber. Polyesters are blended with cotton, rayon, even linen and wool. These new microfibers are used in the finest ready to wear...the old stigma is gone.
Nylon: originally invented as a poor man's silk, nylon has become a quiet glamour queen in the textile world. You'll find nylon blended with silk and wool and rayon in fabrics used in Chanel suits and Armani jackets. The presence of nylon can add an interesting texture or yarn. Used on its own, nylon shows up in outerwear, rainwear and in the sheer knits and meshes that are so popular in ready to wear.
Acrylics were developed to mimic wool. The old acrylics felt soft to the touch, but stretched and stretched, balled on the surface and looked old before their time. Contemporary acrylics are blended with nylon, polyester and lycra so they keep the appealing softness while retaining their shape and surface.
New Marcy Handbag Pattern
Bag AB is unlined and fast and easy to sew. For the pattern photo I used an embroidered silk taffeta and a crisp checkerboard upholstery fabric. You could use a thin strong fabric (nylon, raincoating, cotton) to make a tuck-away travel bag or use something more substantial....I have one cut out in natural canvas to silk screen and am dreaming one up in leather.
Bag CD is doubled and lined with 8 inner pockets formed by the lining. This version is a bit more complex to sew. I used silver metallic linen lined with silk plaid for one version, and Japanese linen lined with quilting cotton for the other. This is a soft crushy bag that could be made in silky fabrics or sturdy ones (just not too thick, for all the layers are pleated/sewn together at the bottom. It would make the ultimate knitting or chic diaper bag too!
Peek Inside Bag view C/D:
the Reversible Pocket Bag This is a bag within a bag, forming 4 pockets.....and the whole thing can be turned inside out!
Handbag Fabric Suggestions
I've been picking up fabrics for handbags as I find them...check our NEW FABRICS category as I found perfect handbag fabrics at the textile show which will be coming in the weeks ahead and new things are listed chronologically. The leathers have been very popular, and there are lots of new colors and textures coming soon.
In Praise of 'Quiet' Fabrics for Spring Pants My friend Carol, a garden designer and sewist, has turned me on to the value of 'quiet' plants in the garden....the plants that form the bones and texture of the overall garden, the background pieces that highlight the spots of color and drama. The same concept applies to wardrobe pieces, especially pants. Here are a few pant pattern suggestions for spring along with fabrics that are so quiet you might not have noticed them....yet.
Vogue 1204 by Issey Miyake for stretch wovens. A great rendition of the season's skinny pant.
Vogue 1204, the rear view gives a hint at the fit and shows the fabric the designer chose.
Vogue 8499, AKA the pocket pant. The sizing on this runs large, so go down a size or two, and you can continue to narrow it at the center back and side seams, but it is a great pattern for comfort, travel and everyday wear. I've made it in soft linen, rayon, denim and ponte. I make one pair a season for travel. The key is to use a soft drapey fabric and fit it to your figure.
The Sewing Workshop's Urban Pant packs a lot of style for simple punch. Ideal for soft wovens and stable knits, perfect for summer and spring. I've got this one on my design table right now.
Vogue 1197 by Sandra Betzina. This season simplest rendition of a narrow pant. Sandra did several versions of this for the Puyallup fashion show and I ran right out and scooped up the pattern. I love the tunic too, but this pant is worth the price of the pattern, I plan to make it over and over, both in the longer length and will crop it for summer.
Vogue 8712, view C, my newest pant design. This style is designed for stretch and non-stretch wovens, and we have done it in knits too. To keep things REALLY simple, you can eliminate the front zipper/fly as long as you can pull the pant on over your hips. I've done it in stretch denim, linen and ponte.
Vogue 8712 again. This version is designed for knits, but will work in a stretch woven: just add 1" extra for insurance at the side seams and fit as you sew.
Quiet Fabrics...for pants, from our current collection....
Pullman Brown Stretch Cotton
Stargazer Blue Stretch Linen, 1.5 yards only
Black Ferrari Italian Linen/Silk
City Sidewalks Stretch Woven
Why Don't You........make a shirt for Spring?
This flirty girly shirt pairs perfectly with men's shirting fabrics and linens. I am planning a version in knit, like a soft sweater.
Fun to make and wear, with asymmetrical peplum, slouch front pockets, bias back and choice of 2 collars and classic cuff or roll sleeves.
Here as interpreted for the pattern envelope in the finest Italian menswear triple ply cotton shirting.
A prototype I made for myself in an Italian cotton shirting.
The upper back is cut on the bias, so the shirt is super comfortable. The peplum has an asymmetrical soft pleat in back.
Linda Wardle, a fabric rep, made the shirt and wore it at the textile show, and she looked great in it!
Another prototype, this fabric is an example of the new blend. From an Italian mill, it is a combo of cotton, nylon and polyester, has a light overall crinkle, smooth silky feel, does not wrinkle or show dirt, so it is great for travel.
Shirting Fabrics for Spring Love the silky feel of men's shirting! This selection is perfect for V8709 shirt, but some work beautifully for soft pants, skirts and dresses too. Just for fun, we've given our shirting fabrics names that can be for men or women.
Billie Silk Shirting - was $22, now $12
White Nights Cotton Shirting - SALE was $18, now $10
Randy Shirting - SALE, was $16, now $10.
Knit Fabric Facts You Want To Know Knits strike fear in sew-ists at all levels of expertise. Knits ARE different from wovens, no doubt about it, but they are not difficult to sew. In fact, knits are easier to fit because of the stretch factor---though it is the stretch factor that can also be challenging.
I recommend tossing knit fabrics in the washer and drier before cutting. ALL fabrics shrink the most in this first washing/drying. Then press if needed, cut and sew.
For blacks, I recommend testing first. Cut a 1/8 yard strip of the fabric, then cut it in half. Toss both in the wash, put one piece in the drier and air dry the other. Compare to see if the fabric has lost color. If the black has faded in a bad way, air dry.
AFTER the garment is sewn, I recommend machine washing on gentle or hand washing and air drying (hang on padded/shaped hanger, adjusting the shoulder so it is not distorted).
Ponte is the name to describe the CONSTRUCTION of a knit. It is fashion-speak for double knit. (In Italian, Ponte means bridge). Eileen Fisher describes ponte as 'the architect of fabrics. Those who can remember the dreaded polyester double knits of the early '70's can rest assured that the ponte of today is a vast improvement on the early stiff and plastic-y versions.
Ponte is the ideal 'starter' knit because it is mid weight, stable (no rolling at edges) and can be used for both tops and bottoms.
The fiber content of ponte varies. Our basic pontes (at $15/yd) come from two reliable sources. The fiber content is: 62%poly/33%rayon/5%spandex
Sometimes I find 'designer' pontes. Designers like Ralph Lauren and Trina Turk can have this fabric made to their specifications and the quality is superb. The fiber content is unknown because the fabrics come to us from wholesale middlemen, so I make an educated guess.
The good news about ponte is that it is soft and drapey. The bad news about ponte is that the softness is derived from the short yarns. Polyester is a strong fiber. When the poly fiber is cut into short lengths and then spun into yarn it looses some of the plastic-y quality. But when rubbed in wearing, pilling can occur.
I handle the pilling by pressing after washing....this smooths things out, and if the pilling persists, I brush with a firm suede brush, then press.
Jersey is a single knit. If you are a knitter, you know the stockinette stitch: knit one row, purl one row, so the result is smooth on one side, bumpy on the other. This describes how jersey is made. Jersey tends to roll when stretched or cut, and the edge can roll when you cut out a pattern piece, which can be a bit challenging.
You can tell the right side from the wrong side by stretching the fabric crosswise and it will roll to the right side. However, you can use either side, and sometimes I cut jersey on the cross grain, (especially with stripes).
Can I Cut Knits on the Cross Grain or Bias? The answer to the above question is: YES. But it helps to have a bit of information.
Some knits stretch equally in all directions: this is called a 4-way stretch. In this case, you can easily cut on the cross grain.
Other knits have more stretch in the crosswise grain, less (sometimes hardly), any in the lengthwise grain. Many stripes fall into this category....and I usually want my stripes going up and down.
The solution is simple. If the cross grain has little stretch, use 1" (or more) seam allowance at the side seam and adjust the fit in sewing.
Unless the knit is very thin and stretchy without any recovery, you can cut a sleeve or binding on the bias. Again, cut a wider seam allowance for fitting insurance.
The Arty Cardi This was the topic of my teaching presentation at the Puyallup Sewing Expo this year and has become something of a passion. Here is a grouping of artful cardi's done by myself and sewing friends to spark and inspire you! More to come......
Beth's version of Vogue 8559. She cut 8" off the front edge, it changes the style in a good way and makes cutting out fabric easier. I'll do the same on my next version
Line drawing of Vogue 8559.
Nancy Murakami did V8559 in black 'Big Mama' dot mesh. Fabulous!!
I made a rendition of Vogue 8582 in orange ponte, the perfect weight for spring weather.
This is one of my favorite 'starting point' patterns to tweak and change. I love the fit at the neck, across the shoulder and sleeve, and have made it a number of times straight from the envelope, so it was fun to transform it into a cardi/twin set (the plain t below started out as the same pattern).
Neck detail. I had to piece the binding, so made it a design detail on both the cardi and T.
I adapted Vogue 8636 for both the cardigan and T beneath. For the cardi, I added down the center and created a swoop at the sides.
Line drawing of Vogue 8636
Another rendition of Vogue 8636....looks totally different in another fabric.
Pringle of Scotland commissioned a video artist to make this light hearted and funny video in honor of the cardigan. (known as a 'jumper' to the Scots and Brits)
Saturday, April 9 Marcy will be presenting a Trunk Show and fabric sale to the Portland American Sewing Guild.
Contact Deb Henry or JoAnn Ballantyne education@ColumbiaRiverSewing.org
Join Marcy and Katherine in Paris
November 12 - 19, 2011
Each tour has a different flavor, depending on the group and the time of year, but they are all aimed at creative women who enjoy fashion and who like the company of kindred creative spirits.
We time the tours to coincide with exhibits at the Musee de la Textile et de la Mode (Museum of Textiles and Fashion) at the Louvre. Past exhibitions include Balenciaga, Christian La Croix, Sonia Rykiel and Madeleine Vionnet.
Trunk Show with Marcy at Britex Fabrics in San Francisco
Dates are not firmed up yet, but save June 15 or 16.
Madam Gres Exhibit in Paris
Rare and mysterious, the work of Madame Gres may never be fully understood. If you are in Paris between now and July 24, don't miss this show at the Musee Bourdelle in Montmartre, featuring 80 exquisite designs from an artist/designer....a sculptor in cloth who used the art of draping to divine effects.
Advanced Style: Age and Beauty
The Fashion Blog's Doyennes Give a Lesson in Sartorial Splendor Having a chic senior moment: From textile mogul Iris Apfel in her trademark owl spectacles to artist Ilona Royce Smithkin in DIY orange eyelashes, the stars of photographer Ari Seth Cohené─˘s Advanced Style blog represent the most fashionable older ladies and gentlemen of New York and beyond. Today on NOWNESS we feature Cohené─˘s iconic style mavens in an exclusive short by filmmaker Lina Plioplyte.
The Dressmaker of Khair Khana is the true story of a seamstress under the Taliban and the difference she made.
Balenciaga and Spain is the catalog for the DeYoung Museum show.
Parisian Chic reveals the secrets of style icons Roger Vivier & Ines de la Fressange.
I SO recommend Deluxe, it explains the mysteries of the worldwide luxury clothing, perfume, handbag business in a way that is fun to read.
Bringing Home the Birkin is pure fun...and now I 'get' Hermes and this iconic bag.
I saw Draping in a bookstore while traveling, did not buy it and now am kicking myself. It has more information on the subject than I have ever seen. A great reference.
The End of Fashion puts things into a world perspective. Fascinating...and this one is available in a Kindle/iPad edition.
Recommended Tools In a traditional sewing factory (think Calvin, Ralph, Donna...where better RTW is produced), the highest paid workers are the pressers. Having professional quality pressing equipment makes a HUGE difference. When I was in the market for just the right ironing board, I discovered the Reliable Corporation's products which are top of the line all the way. The good news is that you can easily order them from Amazon.
I got the ironing board shown below, and I LOVE it!
The irons are the best. This Canadian company tests their products to the max, these are not 'toys' for people who hate to iron, but tools for people who love to sew.
The Style Saloniste on the Balenciaga show in SF One of the most visually beautiful and interesting blogs from SF design maven Dianne Dorrans Saeks has a current posting on the just opened Balenciaga show at the DeYoung Museum. DO NOT miss this, the photos are gorgeous and you'll want to visit the show and buy the new book, (well I do).
Center for Pattern Design Sandy Ericson's Center for Pattern Design has so many exciting things happening this spring, you'll want to go to her website and check them out....including a mouth watering 3 days in SF revolving around the Balenciaga show. Sandy offers classes and opportunities unrivaled anywhere, if you are not on her mailing list, you will want to be.
Its All About the Blues at Merci Paris Spring and Paris and the Blues at Merci: if you go to Paris this month, don't miss the concept store Merci on Boulevard Beaumarchais which is awash in a sea of blue. Even if you miss this show, do not miss a visit to Merci!
Truth Plus Blog DO check this blog out. Informative slant on fashion with fine writing. A recent post had pithy observations about sewing. 4 stars! For the sewing segment, go to the January 28th posting, but you'll find interesting posts and links all along the way.
Woman wears Geoffrey Beene for a year This blogger has a marvelous passion for Geoffrey Beene, (who I believe was a bona fide artist as well as a style genius, an unbeatable combo). She is also the co-author of a book on Beene. Great photos, interesting comments, and a visual glimpse into the brilliance of this American designer as seen in the wardrobe of a person who bought and wears his clothes. ....good design ideas galore too, I was delighted with all the dots!
Kay the Sewing Lawyer Kay, a lawyer from Ontario sews fearlessly (and beautifully) and has a spirited and inspiring blog.
FehrTrade This blog makes me smile and my heart expand. 'Dream it, sew it, wear it.' All with a great sense of humor, good writing and really interesting sewing projects. 4 stars for this 30-something British blogger (LOVE how she tracks her birthday).
Sandra Betzina's Spring Fashion Forecast When Sandra talks, I listen. Her fashion forecasts are always full of good advise. Sandra's latest patterns, a fabulous dress and trio of little shrug tops is right on target for spring and summer and are in my pattern basket for future sewing.