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Information and tutorials for folks interested in antique Italian lacework, nouveau fashion, sewing techniques and much much more!

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The Britex Blog

  • Tips For Sewing With Silk

    October 25, 2016 by MissCrayolaCreepy

    miss-crayola-creepy-britex-named-asaka-kimono-7 Have you ever been afraid of sewing with a fabric for absolutely no reason? I was terrified of sewing with silk chiffon because I had heard that it was difficult to sew. Unfortunately, my fear of sewing with silk definitely outweighed by love of wearing it. Well, until I made this lovely Named Asaka Kimono top, that is. If I wanted this fabric/pattern combo to work I would need to immediately take a chill pill and get over my silly little fear. pattern

  • Catch-Stitching a Hem (Two Variations) Tutorial

    October 11, 2016 by MsJennyHomeMaker

    jenny-1 Hello again, everyone! This month, I thought I’d share a more daily-wear item.  Wool pencil skirts in various weights are a staple in my wardrobe, nearly year-round.  Some of my favorites are made from double cloth or double serge wool, so when I spotted this cool pale blue wool double-cloth, I knew it would be perfect for a transitional skirt.  When I received it, I saw it had an interesting texture, so I decided to pick a slightly more fun and casual pattern, forgoing my usual Simplicity 2154 for Simplicity 8175. And I’m so glad I did – the fabric paired beautifully and I have a new favorite skirt! jenny-2

  • Satin Party Dress – How to Add Volume to a Skirt (MsJennyHomemaker)

    September 13, 2016 by MsJennyHomeMaker

    Hello! I'm Jenny and I blog at Jenny Homemaker.  I'm so excited to join the team of talented Britex Fabrics guest bloggers and share my first project with you! dress 1 Apparently, I decided to go all out for my first garment, but how could I not after spying Britex's beautiful selection of rayon blend satins?!  This "summer sky" in particular caught my eye immediately, as I'd sketched this dress (Simplicity 1873) in a similar color last year.  By the way, in case you’re curious if it really is as vibrant as the website shows, it is!  I've worked with a lot of light silks recently, but I had volume in mind for this particular dress, and this rayon/cotton satin gives that a bit of a head start.  For a party dress like this, I recommend starting with a fabric with a somewhat stiffer hand than your average satins.  This will give the pleats a great shape. Then, there are a few things you can do for even more "oomph".  Side note: you can use these tricks on softer fabrics as well, just be careful to choose the right weights for your fabric. The first trick for volume, is to underline your satin with petticoat net.  This will add a bit of that petticoat shape, without having to wear an extra garment.  A huge plus for those of us who have hot summers. To underline your satin, cut the net using the same pattern pieces as for your outer fabric.  Then, cut your outer fabric, marking all stitching lines (including pleats, darts, etc) and the fold line for your hem.  Pin the net layer to the wrong side of the satin and hand-baste the two layers together using cotton or silk thread, right along all of the traced lines.  Then, construct the garment as you normally would.  Bonus: if you like to hand-stitch your seam allowances in place, you can do so, stitching them only to the net and you don't have to worry about any stitches showing on the outside.

  • A Different Kind of Shirt By Guest Blogger Jamie (MaleDevonSewing)

    September 7, 2016 by MaleDevonSewing

    As you may know, I love shirts. Not just wearing them but of course making them too. Although shirt styles are all fairly similar (well at least for men) you can always have fun playing with the details: Different collars and cuff shapes, placket styles and of course fun fabric and buttons. So when I was asked to make a shirt for my guest blog post, I jumped at the opportunity. I wanted to do something a little different though; something a bit wild and fun. Over the years I have made countless different shirts but there was one particular style I had yet to make: The Guayabera. You don’t see many over here in the UK but I have always been drawn to the relaxed yet precision aspects of such a shirt: The pleats, pintucks, curved yoke and four pockets were enough for me. The fabric had to make a statement too. It had to be bright with a fun design so what better than a cotton print with pink with little birds!   IMG_2171 I drafted the pattern myself, opting for a normal collar with stand, a triple point curved yoke, pintucked fronts and back with a central double pleat down the spine. Four pocket ‘through’ the pintucks and a cuffed hem. Before cutting the double pleat and two rows of pintucks were added to a piece of fabric that would form the back. The pleat was simple enough but I had to carefully measure the position of the pintucks so they would meet the pointed yoke.   IMG_2179

  • Silk Clover Dress With French Seam Tutorial - By Guest Blogger Christine Haynes

    August 9, 2016 by CityStitching

    silk-dress-1   When Britex offered me some midnight navy spotted silk to sew with, I thought I might make a kimono robe or another lounge item. But when the silk showed up, it was just too gorgeous to only wear at home, so I decided to sew the Clover Dress from Paper Cut Patterns, and it was a perfect match.   When sewing with silk, especially one that is semi-transparent, having gorgeous seams is key since there’s a good chance that they will be visible through the garment. This is when using a French Seam is a perfect choice, and if you don’t know how to sew one, here’s a handy tutorial for you!   french-seam-1   Note: the tutorial is sewn using a scrap piece of the silk, not on the garment itself.   french-seam-2 Step 1: After you have cut all your pieces according to the pattern instructions, the key is sewing them in a reverse order from how they instruct you to sew a regular seam. So instead of right sides together, we will be putting wrong sides together. Pin in place.   french-seam-3 Step 2: Sew the seam at 3/8” seam allowance. Trim the seam allowance down to 1/8”.   french-seam-4 Step 3: Press the seam allowance to one side.   french-seam-5 Step 4: Fold the fabric so right sides are together and the seam sewn in step 1 is right at the top of the fold. Press the seam.   french-seam-6 Step 5: Pin the fabric together and stitch at 1/4” seam allowance. The 1/4” and 3/8” will equal a 5/8” seam allowance. Should your project have a different sized seam allowance, these two amounts added up will need to match the total seam allowance and adjust accordingly.

  • Reversible 7-Gore Skirt

    July 18, 2016 by Communing with Fabric

      Hey! It's Shams of Communing with Fabric with another garment made from a beautiful Britex fabric! For this project, my assignment was to choose a fabric from the Knits category. I quickly settled on this beautiful double-sided ponte made from cotton, polyester, and lycra.
    Reversible Black and Cardinal Red Cotton Blend Knit Fabric Click the image to see this fabric on the Britex site. It's also available in sky blue (Note that some of the photos show this fabric as a bright red, but it's actually a heathered red in real life)
    This fabric is wonderful! It has more drape than some of its stiffer ponte cousins. It feels like a rayon and I was surprised to learn that it contains cotton, but no rayon. It is beefy, so it hangs nicely, but it's also a bit "sproingy". It presses beautifully. I threw it into the washer and dryer before cutting and it looked just the same afterwards. I didn't measure to determine the amount of shrinkage, but I suspect that it shrank a bit. Because it's a double knit, it's very easy to sew. If you are afraid of sewing knits, a ponte (double knit) fabric is a good way to get started. It doesn't curl at the edges due to it's double-sided construction. This ponte stretches in both directions, but it's also fairly stable. I wanted to feature both sides of the fabric and I seriously dithered about how to use it. I was torn between a top and a skirt and I knew exactly how I wanted to make each but, in the end, the skirt won out. I drafted a 7-gore skirt. Why 7 gores? I find the asymmetry of an uneven number of gores aesthetically pleasing. In order to use both sides of the fabric, I drafted the pattern with 1" seam allowances and a 1" hem. The only exception was the waist seam, which has a 1/2" seam allowance. I sewed the 1" seams with the black side facing the black side. I decided to funk it up by constructing it in a car wash style so I sewed each gore 15" down from the waist, and left the rest of the seam unsewn. I turned each seam allowance and hem segment to the red side and folded it under, turning the 1" seam allowance into a 1/2" trim. I secured each seam allowance, individually, to the red side by hand. You could do this by machine, but I like the effect of hand sewing—I have more control.
      As part of this process, I mitered all 14 corners at the hemline. Mitering is important to manage the bulk that would result if you merely turned up the trim on each edge.
      An advantage of such a clean finish is that the skirt is fully reversible! The red side features black trim, and the black side is solid black.
    It might be summer elsewhere, but when I took these pics this morning it was 50°F, windy, foggy, wet, drippy, and misty. In short, it was COLD and more like winter weather than summer weather!
    IMG_3353-7-gore-skirt IMG_3377-7-gore-skirt
    I didn't include a pic of the waistband, and I never tuck a top, but I attached a casing for elastic using the black side of the fabric. Because of the car wash effect, both sides flash the reverse color as I move. This skirt is a lot of fun to wear!

  • Millinery: How to Make a Decorative Removable Ribbon Hat Band

    July 13, 2016 by Chuleenan of CSews

    How to Make a Decorative Removable Ribbon Hat Band (Part III) For my second hat band, I had two yards of two ribbons: A striped 1.25″ Petersham ribbon and a 5/8″ solid black Petersham to go on top of the striped ribbon, which adds a thick stripe. The extra yard was for the embellishment that covers where the hat band pieces join. (To read about my other hat band, see Part II.) Ribbon 2B   I cut a 25-inch length of the striped and black ribbons for the crown and gently stretched and pressed them. The striped ribbon wasn't as pliable as the black ribbon so I required a little more tugging to get it to curve. Ribbon 15For more information on pressing and stretching Petersham ribbon, see Part II. Next I pinned the solid black Petersham ribbon to the striped ribbon and used a ladder stitch to baste it in place. Ribbon 16 It's called a ladder stitch because the other side looks like a ladder. Ribbon 17 Then I folded over each end of the ribbon twice, about 1/4 inch - just enough so that that the length was a little less than the crown circumference of 23 inches. The elastic would bridge the gap. I machine stitched the ends and then attached a 2-inch piece of wide elastic, securing it with a double row of stitches. one row of stitches follows the stitch line I made from sewing the ends of the ribbons. I used a longer piece than I needed because it makes it easier to sew. Then I just trimmed the excess after it was sewn. Ribbon 18 The elastic looks like this. Ribbon 19

  • Millinery: How to Make a Removable Ribbon Hat Band

    July 12, 2016 by Chuleenan of CSews

    How to Make a Removable Ribbon Hat Band (Millinery Part II) I've had this hat for years and then the hat band began to show some unfortunate discoloration. It turns out the manufacturer used a double-sided adhesive to attach the hat band to the hat. The adhesive became greasy and leaked through the ribbon. A high quality hat would not use adhesive of any kind. I got it because I liked the shape and the small brim. It goes with a lot of my wardrobe. My solution was to remove the old hat band and the adhesive and make a removable replacement hat band. I decided to make two. This is the first one. To see my striped removable hat band using two ribbons, see Part III.   Ribbon 1 My first step was to choose my Petersham ribbon. Petersham is a type of ribbon that has little notches on the edges that enables it to go around a curve. It has some flexibility to it, which lets you manipulate it so it can go around a curve and lay flat against the crown of the hat (the part that covers the head). Britex has a huge selection of Petersham in solid colors and even striped Petersham, which isn't as common as the solids. Here’s the ribbon I selected for the first hat band: A solid gray, 1.5 inch width Ribbon 2A First I measured the crown of the hat at the widest part - about 23 inches there. Make sure your tape measure is at the same level around the widest part of the crown, where the ribbon will go. I moved it slightly up so you could see the measurement. Cut a length of ribbon the circumference of the crown plus two inches. You won't need more than an inch or so extra but you can always trim the excess. I like to have a little extra for safety. Ribbon 3 When you put the ribbon around the crown, it won't lay flat because the crown is wider at the bottom. You will have a slight gap at the top of the ribbon, like this photo. Ribbon 4 To make your ribbon lie flat, you gently stretch the bottom edge of the ribbon as you press it with your steam iron. Start at the center and pull it to one side and then repeat on the other side in the opposite direction. You just want it to be slightly wider at the bottom, about 1/8 inch on each side of the ribbon. Don't forget to use a press cloth to protect the ribbon. If you don't it could get shiny. I used a scrap of organza as my press cloth. Ribbon 5 Now the ribbon will lay flat against the crown because of the slight stretch you gave it. Ribbon 6

  • Millinery: Making a Lace Hat

    July 11, 2016 by Chuleenan of CSews

    Part I: Making a lace hat The first part of this tutorial is about making a lace hat using milliner Patricia Underwood’s Vogue pattern (V8891). I made version D – a small-brimmed hat – and trimmed it with Petersham ribbon. Hat 1The materials (Available at and / or at the Britex Fabrics brick-and-mortar store in San Francisco) Hat 2 The lace, tulle and millinery wire can all be purchased at Britex Fabrics. I chose a navy lace because it’s versatile and can go with a dress or jeans. But this lace has some stretch to it and the tulle has no stretch, which is not ideal but I didn’t really have any problems sewing them together. The tulle is a contrasting color so you can see the lace. If you get a matching color, the lace will just blend in and you won’t see the design of the lace. I’ll be using a couple of hat terms: 1. The crown, the part of a hat that covers the head. 2. The brim, which attaches to the crown. Brims can be small like the version D or wide, such as version E of this pattern. The millinery wire is inserted in the edge of the brim and that’s what makes it stand out from the crown. There are only three pattern pieces for this hat – two pieces make up the crown and then there’s the brim. The tulle is the lining and interfacing for this hat. Because tulle is semi-transparent and not very stiff, the pattern has you cut each two of each pattern piece. I traced size L rather than cutting out the pattern pieces. This means that if I want to make a hat for a friend with a smaller head, I can trace that size from the original pattern pieces. You can use pins or pattern weights to hold the pattern pieces in place. This is a synthetic lace so I wasn’t worried about the pins damaging the lace. If you use a delicate lace, you probably want to use pattern weights. I used scissors to cut this piece because I have more control on the curve.   Hat 3 And here’s the side of the crown – cut on the fold. Hat 4 The brim is also cut on the fold. I used pattern weights on these two pieces and cut them with my rotary cutter. The curve of these pattern pieces is easier to handle with a rotary cutter. You can use scissors or a rotary cutter to cut lace; it all depends on your personal preference and what you need to cut. Hat 5 I cut two pieces of the three pattern pieces from the tulle. For the crown, one piece of tulle acts as the interfacing and the other is the lining. The brim uses both pieces of tulle on the inside. Warning: There’s a LOT of pinning and basting for this pattern. You pin the tulle pattern piece to the lace piece for the crown (top and side) and baste them together before you sew. You pin and baste each pattern piece together. I used a safety pin to mark the center front of the crown. The seam is in the center back. I used a universal Schmetz needle 70/10 and a stitch length of 2. I didn’t have any experience machine sewing lace – only hand sewing it – but this was easy to sew. I didn’t use a special needle and it was fine.   Hat 6 I won’t go into every step because you can just follow the pattern instructions. But there was one part that was tricky to figure out, even with the instructions. After you’ve stitched the crown together and sewn the tulle lining (steps 1-8), you pin the lining of the crown to the lace crown wrong sides together. It looks like this. Hat 7 The you turn it right side out and you’re ready to attach the brim.

  • Insertion Lace on a Curved Seam - Guest Blogger Nicole

    June 30, 2016 by NicoleAtHome

    IMG_4854 I’m so excited to share my method for inserting lace into a curved seam (such as a princess seam).  For my blouse, I used this dusty peach handkerchief-weight linen and floral ivory insertion lace, though there are many, many options for both linens and laces, both online and in-store! After seeing one of the cover shots for the Hayden pattern, and making a couple myself (two versions here), I really wanted to insert lace in the seam lines on the front and along the hem.  The style lines are curved, though, so the typical way of inserting lace had to be tweaked a bit.   IMG_4875 Usually, insertion lace is applied on an uncut, unseamed piece of fabric.  The general steps are: sew along both lengths of the insertion lace, then cut through the fabric on the wrong side and press the fabric open.  On the right side, using a narrow zig-zag stitch, sew along the edge of the lace again (which catches the fabric on the wrong side) and the trim the fabric on the wrong side, close to the stitches.  Insertion lace can also be inserted into an existing seam, before sewing the seam and after taking into consideration the added width of the lace.   IMG_4870 However, for this blouse, the seam in which I wanted to put the lace was a curved princess seam along the front.  Instead of inserting the lace before sewing the seam, I did it a bit differently:

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