Thursday, March 31, 2016

Rose de France

Just around the time I started my fabric design journey, it came to my attention that The Marin Symphony is having a fundraising event next month.

And you know what that means . . . time to make a new dress!

Pictures of this vintage Dior dress have been haunting my dreams for many years, and I have decided to do something about it.  So, of course, I needed an oversized floral fabric.  And this is what I came up with.

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed some of the prep-work for the actual dress.  I am trying my hand at draping, and also using pieces from different patterns I am familiar with to get to my ideal design.

There are not very many images of the actual dress, and the print makes visualizing details a bit challenging, but I am going to do my best to create my own version of this gorgeous floral confection!

[Disclosure:  My Fabric Designs provided me with a credit which was used to purchase this fabric, but the opinions posted here are my own.]

[Click on images for source]


For my first My Fabric Designs order, I decided to get swatches of my designs to see how everything translated from computer screen to textile.

I have to commend their customer service - every one of my emails has received a quick response with answers to all my questions.

From placing the order to delivery took nine days, right in the window of the 7-10 day delivery noted on the website.

And now that I have the fabric in hand, I have to say that it is rather thrilling to see my own design printed on fabric!

For my blossoms, I added a subtle texture to the image to see how much would come through in the printing.  The short answer is, not that much.  I think a heavy hand is probably better for this process than subtlety.  The edges are slightly fuzzy, but I was expecting that.

The colors also seem slightly muted on the cotton textile.  

But now that I know that, it is an easy adjustment.  That may also be a function of fabric choice.  Silk, for instance, takes color more vibrantly then cotton.

And about that grain line . . . I may have set myself up by being paranoid, but there is a definite issue here.  Most of the cotton swatches were pretty close to being on grain.  The linen silk blend, however, was printed extremely off grain.  Looking back at my swatch book, I see a similar issue, although not quite to the extent of the polka dots.  So I am definitely going to stay away from parallel and perpendicular lines!

The larger pieces (fat quarters) that I ordered are not nearly as off, but that may be due to the fact that the silk/cotton blend is slightly more stable and less shifty than the linen blend.

Overall, I am quite impressed with the outcome and cannot wait to start sewing with some of my new fabric!  I am also curious to see how this process will hold up in the wash . . .

[Disclosure:  My Fabric Designs provided me with a credit which was used to purchase this fabric, but the opinions posted here are my own.]

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

First Time Fabric Designer

I was recently contacted by My Fabric Designs with an offer to try their fabric printing services.  That offer was not contingent on mentioning the company here on my blog, but I thought my learning process might be of interest to someone, so I am going to share that here.

Of course, as of a month ago, I knew nothing about the actual mechanics of fabric design.  But I love fabric, and I sure would love to be able to design my own custom fabrics!  So my answer was a definite “yes” when given the opportunity to jump right in!

My Fabric Designs was kind enough to send me a swatch book to get a better idea of their fabric choices.  I am horrible at translating thread count and/or ounces per yard from a description into an idea of what the actual fabric feels like in hand, so the swatches are extremely helpful.  There are plenty of polyester options that do not interest me, but also a fair amount of cottons, with a bit of silk and linen thrown in for good measure.  The silk crepe de chine, for instance, is probably too lightweight and sheer for my purposes - but better to know that before ordering, right!?

First things first . . . get acquainted with Photoshop.  My Fabric Designs does have a fabric creator tool on their website, but I wanted to have a bit more flexibility (and it is time I actually learn to use Photoshop!).  Illustrator might be a better choice, but I am taking baby steps.  

Then it was off to my local library for a bit of research.  The most helpful book I found there is Mastering the Art of Fabric Printing and Design.  I was mostly looking for some helpful hints on how to create a seamless repeat, but there is a lot of information about basic color theory, composition, etc. in there as well.

I was skeptical that the printing process could be printed on grain, so I thought it best to avoid straight lines and grid patterns.

And then a lot of time was spent puttering around on my computer.  As a test, and to get the lay of the land, I decided that a random polka dot pattern would be a good starting point.  

Since it is Spring, and there is a whole lot of blooming happening around these parts, I figured photos were a good place to start for floral designs.

So I have been taking quite a few pictures of local flora.  (Thank you, neighbors, for your lovely yards full of beautiful blossoms!)

And a little while later, I came up with something I liked.  Then there was even more fun to be had with color filters in Photoshop.

After coming up with a couple of designs I was happy with, I was finally ready to order some swatches of my new fabric designs!

And, if anyone has any suggestions of books or tutorials and/or experiences with digital fabric design, I would love to hear them!

[Disclosure:  My Fabric Designs sent the Swatch Book to me, but the opinions posted here are my own.]

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Birdies and Butterflies

Sometimes a quick project is just what the doctor ordered.  This dress was one of those.  And it turns out, I discovered a really great pattern.

This is why I have such a hard time getting rid of old patterns . . . sometimes there is a real gem hidden among them.

In this case, the fabric is what led me to Vogue 8701.  The print caught my eye when I was strolling through the quilting section at JoAnn Fabrics a couple of years ago.  

It is very pastel, and I am pasty, so I often steer clear of fabrics that want to blend in with my skin.  But I just could not leave without this print!  

I did not have quite enough yardage for the first couple of patterns I pulled out of the stash while looking for the perfect match for my fabric, and then I remembered this one.   I think the pairing was meant to be!

Not bad for a quick weekend project.

And the fact that I did not need to purchase any extra bits and bobs makes me very happy indeed!  I just love when a plan comes together!

Dress:  Made by me, Vogue 8701
Shoes:  Remix Vintage “Babydoll
Earrings:  Banana Republic

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Sage Velvet

And here is my finished dress! 

Now that this one is out of the work-in-progress pile, I can get started on more seasonal sewing.

Somehow the Winter sewing projects always take longer . . . maybe because the light disappears so early in the day.

Speaking of which, who else is incredibly excited about the time change?  

My creative motivation has finally returned, and I am quite sure it has a whole lot to do with the fact that it is no longer dark when I get home from work.

The weather cooperated with me on the day these pictures were taken and was brisk enough to wear a velvet frock, and even pull out a coat that does not see much wear.

Velvet garments with sleeves have a habit of getting twisted around inside outwear, in my experience.  This coat does not get a whole lot of use, but with oversized sleeves, it was a good choice.

And now I am definitely putting the velvet away for a few months.  Spring has arrived, and I am definitely in the mood for something different!

I could use another lightweight coat . . . but then there is so much printed cotton that is screaming to be made into dresses . . . so many choices, and so many projects to choose from!

Dress & Belt:  Made by me, Sew Over It “Tea Dress
Coat:  Made by me, McCalls 5480
Shoes:  ReMix ShoesBabydoll
Earrings:  Shadows  

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Finishing Touches

Sometimes those finishing touches seem to take twice as long as the rest of a project!  

I left this garment on the dress form for way too long.  One excuse I made for myself was that I had to wait for the bias portions of the hemline to drop.

I knew that this dress was going to take a bit of time because of my textile choice.  But sometimes, no deadline and a fussy fabric makes for a really drawn out project.

Somewhere along the way I decided a belt would work nicely with this design.  I even used one of my precious vintage buckle forms (this particular style was found at Exclusive Buttons).

Then there was the actual belt to contend with.

The weather finally gave me my motivation.  I mean, when does velvet become inappropriate for the season?  I think February is pushing it, and the official beginning of Spring is the absolute end.

And so I finally sat down on the floor with my pins, marked the hemline, cut the excess away, and hemmed this thing!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Vogue Summer Pattern Catalog

The Vogue Summer Pattern Catalog was released today.  I am pretty underwhelmed.

Vogue 9187

I do like that the Vintage Vogue line is testing out a new decade, but did they have to choose such a basic design?  There are so many more interesting styles from the Sixties.  This is a basic shell with princess seams, two neckline options, with or without sleeves (which are probably drafted with the same armscye).

Vogue 9187 & Vogue 9189

But my biggest gripe is that this simple top is all that is included with the pattern number.  Contemporary patterns generally include a top and bottom in one pattern envelope.  Now we get to buy a basic top pattern with an MSRP of $27.50.  What the heck?!  It also looks a whole lot like BurdaStyle 7175, which includes a skirt, hat, and scarf.  The princess seams are not an exact match, but it’s pretty darn close, includes an entire wardrobe, and costs a lot less.  

Vogue 9187

I am sure that these pants were not originally paired with the top, even though both are dated 1960, and they certainly work together.  But I am still cranky over the fact that the two vintage reproduction releases are so basic and include so few options.  

Vogue 9189

If these pants are well drafted, they are a great addition to the Vintage Vogue collection.  But I just wish one of the two designs was a bit more spectacular.

Vogue 9189

The catalog cover is this Nicola Finetti dress.  From the waist up, I love it.  However, the skirt brings to mind some Dave Matthews Band lyrics:  "Hike up your skirt a little more and show your world to me."  No need to hike anything up . . . just sit down and all will be revealed.  So do I need a pattern that will require significant alterations to make it wearable?  Probably not, but I do love that neckline!

Vogue 1498

This Rachel Comey top is wonderfully quirky!  The fabric choice makes it look slightly clunky, but I love the design.  With a drapey fabric, this one has some possibilities.  The pants are not my style at all, but at least they aren’t boring.  Actually, I think this top would pair quite nicely with the vintage shorts.

Vogue 1507

I like this Tracy Reese design as well, but I feel like it might be slightly cumbersome with the dress and slip - I wish the two pieces were combined.  The seaming in the skirt is difficult to see with the print, but I really like the shaping it gives the dress.

Vogue 1502

So while none of these designs are must haves for me, at least the collection has a lot of variety.  Do you have any new favorites?