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Category Archive: Guest Blogger

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

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.

 

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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.

 

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Step 2: Sew the seam at 3/8” seam allowance. Trim the seam allowance down to 1/8”.

 

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Step 3: Press the seam allowance to one side.

 

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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.

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Reversible 7-Gore Skirt

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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.

IMG_20160716_090826-7-gore-skirt
 

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.

IMG_3344-7-gore-skirt
 

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.

IMG_3390-7-gore-skirt
 

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

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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!

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Millinery: How to Make a Decorative Removable Ribbon Hat Band

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

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Millinery: How to Make a Removable Ribbon Hat Band

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

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Millinery: Making a Lace Hat

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 britexfabrics.com 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.

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Insertion Lace on a Curved Seam – Guest Blogger Nicole

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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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Novelty Wool Challis Print Robe & Hem Facing Tutorial

Finished_Garment

You can never have too many robes! That was my first thought when I saw this amazing wool challis fabric from Britex. Wool challis is such an amazing fabric to work with and this Etro-like paisley print is exactly what I was looking for!

Since I wanted a luxurious robe with a shawl collar and did not have one drafted, I decided to use Vogue Patterns 8888, View A.

Vogue_Patterns_8888

 

Given the pattern repeat on this fabric (an uneven plaid), I ended up having to shorten the robe length by 1 ½” to get it to fit within my yardage. The amount I needed to shorten the robe by was just over the pattern specified hem allowance and I really wanted to stay as close as possible to original length. I thought a narrow hem would look out of place on such a luxe robe so I decided to make a hem facing!

 

Luckily I had decided to forgo pockets and had just enough fabric left to allow me cut hem facings. To calculate the dimensions of the hem facing, I first determined the size hem that I wanted. Keeping with the luxe theme, I decided to go with a generous 2” hem.

 

The hem of the robe is curved so to draft the hem facing, I first traced off the front and back pattern pieces along the line where I had cut the length. Next, I marked up from that line ¼” for the seam allowance to attach the facing to the robe, plus the 2” hem that I wanted to end up and finally another ½” to turn under the raw edge of the fabric and be able to topstitch the hem at 2”. Total width of the hem facing was 2 ¾” (¼” + 2” + ½”). I then traced the side seams of the garment to get the side seams of the hem facing so the facing so it would fit perfectly inside garment.

 

Hem_Facing_Pattern

Once the robe was sewn up, I applied the facings. First I sewed the front and back hem facings together and pressed under the 3/8” that I had allowed to turn under the raw edge (the extra 1/8” would ensure I would be able to topstitch the hem at 2” and capture the facing).

 

Hem_Facings_Prep

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Fabulous 50’s Summer Wrap Dress

 

Summertime in San Francisco can be fickle, but this year has had more beautiful days than not!

 

photo 1

 

Using a Designer Italian stretch cotton, I made Simplicity 8085, a 50s wrap dress which is perfect for running around the City on a sunny day. The fabric has these amazing watercolor swatches on a faux-linen background and the hand is nice and crisp for a midweight cotton. Because of the weave, it doesn’t unravel very easily, which makes this an excellent quick project.

 

Photo 2

 

For this dress I used just shy of 3 yards on 60” wide fabric, which is a little bit on the low end for a vintage design with a full skirt (luckily my short stature helps with the skirt length!) Most dresses of this style can push 4 ½” yards, so this is a nice compromise if you’re looking for a vintage-style piece without using too much fabric.

 

photo 3

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Lipstick and Lace Chemise: How to Work with Chantilly Lace

Finished_Chemise_2
I love silk chemises. They are so simple and yet so luxurious. I also love working with lace. When Britex Fabrics sent me a black lipstick print silk fabric along with some Chantilly galloon lace and I knew immediately what I wanted to make!


Chemise Construction

I started with my camisole pattern and added 10”to the length. As with all bias garments, I made sure to have full pattern pieces so I could cut the fabric in a single layer. Since the garment is on the bias, I allowed for 2” seam allowances. I also cut some long bias strips to make the straps. I cut a few extra bias strips because it is always good to have options!

Cutting_Bias_Strips

 

The sewing was straightforward. With a Schmetz Microtex 70 needle and my favorite Gütermann Mara 120 thread (available at Britex Fabrics brick-and-mortar store) I sewed along the side seam lines while lightly stretching the fabric. Since the fabric edges are on the bias and will not fray, I finished the seams by merely pinking the fabric edges, a pretty and lighter weight finish compared to French seams. In the following picture you can see my original thread tracing of the seam lines in orange and the basted seam line in brown, both of which were removed after sewing by machine (the white thread) and finishing the edges.
Pinked_Seams

I made straps from bias strips that were folded, sewn and turned. I set these aside, planning to attach them as a final step once the lace was sewn to the garment, preserving as much optionality as possible for lace placement.

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“Shacket” Made in the UK

Wow! I can’t quite believe I am writing a guest post for Britex Fabrics and hope this is the first of many. I enjoy making menswear so why not make a piece for my first post?

I enjoy taking things and adding a twist and this make will be no different. I have used the Kwik Sew K4075 Shirt pattern with a few twists.  I like to call it a ‘Shacket’, a shirt-jacket. I like the comfort of a shirt but making it a little bigger, little heavier and adding some informal details works well. A shacket is a great garment to throw on, when the sun starts to set or in the cooler months (we have a lot of those in the UK!).

 

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I was sent 3yds of Ribbed Charcoal Rayon blend Knit, a heavyweight fabric but beautifully soft. The ribbed pattern to the fabric really suits a shirt, giving that traditional pinstripe look but gives detail when cut cross grain such as in the yoke and cuffs. The pattern was cut and I was pleased to find the fabric didn’t curl at all. Pinning was a challenge due to the thickness and stretch but using good sharp pins helped. Anywhere I was worried about stretch I hand basted first (such as pockets on the fronts and button stand).

 

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