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.
Last week, my Mom and I came to Britex Fabrics in San Francisco (my first trip) and snagged up some Tommy Bahama banana upholstery (say that three times fast).
I identify as a novice, but my mother is a seasoned seamstress and enthusiastically agreed to fabric hunt with me. I had an amazing time taking the “top down” approach through each floor of the store, starting at the fourth floor, and ending on the main floor of the store.
The inspiration here was the Dolce & Gabbana look we saw a block over in their window; with large tropical prints on a classic silhouette. We admired their attention to detail in matching up their panels, but agreed that it would not be a healthy choice for my sanity to attempt such a feat in my first rodeo.
Our customer Tawny recently purchased some exquisite French lace which will become her wedding dress. Tawny’s cousin Jessie Thomason is the person who gets the credit for bringing Tawny’s design concept to life. These photos are of the work in progress of what will eventually become her dress. It is actually a lace romper with a removable chiffon skirt. This concept for a wedding dress is so unique, that we just couldn’t resist showing you.
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!
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!
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.
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.
Our customer Carla visited us in December and picked out a fabulous Italian SilkCotton blend fabric. She was looking for fabric for a creation that she wanted to take on her vacation in February. The fabric she decided on screamed “tunic” to her, so she modified the Burda 6935 pattern, which she picked up the same day, created a hi low hem, and added a pom-pom fringe and neck and shoulder trim to create a fun and breezy feel. The colors went perfectly with the waters of the Caribbean. She had fun wearing it and showing it off on the Island of Mustique.
National Make it With Wool winner Meighan is a loyal customer who has entered the Make it With Wool competition seven times, with fabric from Britex. She has had four 1st in state, two Ohio reserve champion outfits, was fifth runner up in the nation when she was in Jr. High. According to her mom Melinda, Meighan was one of those babies who fell asleep on her lap while she was sewing, and did lots of button stringing and hand sewing before her first “outfit” which was a little jumper she created for Make it With Wool in second grade.
This year Meighan won National First Runner Up, and will now have to move up to the adult category. Meighan has been sewing for about 20 years and has always loved it.
For her winning outfit, she used Vogue Pattern 1320 (Issey Miyake) for her coat, and printed off a paisley coloring sheet for her yoke. Her dress is Vogue pattern 8972. Meighan enjoys playing with color, and as a result of this, the dress does not look like the pattern.
Last year during the national Make it With Wool competition, Meighan and a girl from Utah named Amelia were sizing each other up as potential competition. They didn’t really like each other much and they both placed first and second runner up. After the contest, they started talking and realized that they lived only 20 minutes from each other. Now they are best friends and had to compete against each other again in the national competition this year. Amelia won National Champion and Meighan won First Runner Up. Amelia will be getting married in a few weeks, and Meighan is her maid of honor. Click here to read more »
Kathy Dell is no stranger to Britex Fabrics. She attended our Warp X Weft: Textile 101 workshop on Saturday, and was wearing her “fiesta shirt”, which is one of her many garments that she created with fabric from Britex Fabrics, and is perfect for spring. Kathy used a Misses Asymmetrical Seam-Detail Top Pattern which can be found here.
Kathy’s mother taught her to sew when she was about 10 years old. She made many of her clothes in high school, but then her sewing took a back seat to college and a long career in the medical device industry. Her husband bought her a new computerized machine last fall and she has been enjoying creating fun things since then. Britex is her “go to” fabric store, because of the quality of textiles and service she receives when visiting with us.
Britex Fabrics customer Adam Arnold created a fabulous blouse and skirt set from some amazing Viscose Crepe fabric with a brightly colored print, from his own pattern. Since viscose is light in weight, it makes for excellent skirts or shirts for spring. Visit the second floor of our brick-and-mortar store to check out our amazing selection of Viscose fabrics.
Adam is an independent fashion designer in Portland, Oregon. He designs, drafts, and constructs clothing for men and women. Adam has collaborated with the Portland Art Museum, The Museum of Contemporary Craft, and the Oregon Ballet. Adam graduated from FIDM in San Francisco in 1996, and has been sewing his entire life.
For more information on Adam Arnold and his work, visit his website
or follow him on Instagram
Norrie A. Thomas, author of “The Needlepointer, The Philosophy of Stitching Life” stopped by yesterday not only to shop, but also to show us the lovely bright orange and purple silk blend brocade that she purchased at Britex, that is featured on the back cover of her book. There are many other fabrics from Britex featured in her book as well. This gorgeous brocade is available in Britex on the first floor and is $89.99 per yard. We also have others available on our website.
Norrie makes four trips to San Francisco each year, specifically to shop at Britex, and to visit her daughter who lives here in San Francisco. She creates needlepoint and often backs them with brightly colored fabrics from Britex. Norrie describes her book as a dedication to her family, and a preservation of her craft. She has been doing needlepoint for 25 years, and says that it began when she retired from her Entrepreneurial Pharmacy career, to create a way to depict how much color mattered to her. To find out more information about her upcoming book release, or for tips needlepoint, please visit her website.
On Friday, we had a visit from one of our customers who was wearing a dress she had made from one of our brightly colored cotton fabrics.
Emma has been sewing all of her own clothes since she was 15 (she is now 18). She taught herself to make dresses by obsessively re-reading vintage 1950s sewing books that she found at thrift stores. Her taste for her own dresses is very specific, she tends to heavily favor vintage-esque silhouettes in bright colors with geometric designs, and she loves African wax-print cottons. The only sewing/clothes design that she has done for someone other than herself, is when she costumed a science fiction play at the Berkeley Repertory Theater. Emma has countless illustrations that she has made of her own outfits and designs for her theater costume work.
For her day job, Emma is a cartoonist. When she isn’t creating fabulous clothing, she has an online comic, she has drawn strips for Dark Horse publishing, and has taught cartooning classes for kids at 826 Valencia, a writing center in the Mission, in San Francisco. To see more of Emma’s work please visit her website.
For more about our cotton fabrics, please visit the cotton section of our website, or the second floor of our store at 146 Geary Street in San Francisco.