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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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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Posted: Guest Blogger, Hand-Made with Britex Materials
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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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Posted: Guest Blogger, Hand-Made with Britex Materials, Tutorial
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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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Posted: Guest Blogger, Hand-Made with Britex Materials
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Novelty Wool Challis Print Robe & Hem Facing Tutorial

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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.

 

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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!

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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Posted: Guest Blogger, Hand-Made with Britex Materials
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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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Vintage-inspired Linen Sundress and Petite Adjustment Tutorial

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Aloha!  I was so excited to have the opportunity to make a garment out of one of Britex’s beautiful linen fabrics, and I knew immediately what I wanted to sew: a fabulous sundress for the summer (and my family’s trip to Hawaii!).  The timing of this project meant that instead of photos from my sewing studio or my neighborhood in Northern California, I could model the dress in Haleiwa, Oahu!

 

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The linen I chose for this project is a Midweight Cross-Dyed Turquoise Linen is fairly lightweight, though slightly more opaque than you’d expect.  Linens are always a bit shifty while cutting and sewing, so I had to take care not to distort the fabric, but overall, I found it very easy to sew and was the perfect choice for this dress.

 

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For the pattern, I selected the vintage-inspired Siren Sundress by Decades of Style.  The dress has a faux-wrap front bodice, with secured wrap skirt in the back.  However, the highlight of the design is the cross-wrapping straps that wrap around the waist to tie in the back.  Lots of wrapping going on in this dress!  While it takes a while to get it on (with the aid of a mirror or significant other to keep the straps flat), once “assembled”, it is comfortable and secure.

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How to Sew Wool knit with Lace overlay w/Nicole!

Wool knit Linden with lace overlay

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I was won over by the Linden sweatshirt, designed by fellow Guest Blogger Jen from Grainline Studios, after making it in a sporty quilted fabric. But the wheels started turning immediately, and I felt like a lace-overlay version would take this basic wardrobe staple up a couple of notches.

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As luck would have it, I was due for my next project with Britex working with one of their amazing knits! After working hard to narrow down the choices, I decided on this beautiful medium-weight wool knit fabric, in an extra-dark loden (almost black) color. I’m a sucker for pale pink, so this cotton-blend lace was the perfect contrast. The image below shows how nicely this wool drapes. Very luxurious!

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Father’s Day Necktie Tutorial

Father's Day Tie - Thread Theory - 1

 

*Please Note: We have sold out of our online tie fabrics! We suggest perusing our Liberty of London cotton or our patterned silk selections in the online store.

 
Would you like to try your hand at tie-making this Father’s Day? It isn’t difficult to make your Dad a tie since the internet abounds with beautiful tutorials and even free patterns for all skill levels! Since a quick search for “tie tutorials” can lead to fairly overwhelming results, I decided to compile the fruits of my research into one handy blog post and a tutorial that brings together all of my favorite elements from the instructions already available on the web! Britex has a wealth of tie making supplies that can be very difficult to find elsewhere. For my tie I used a sunshine yellow Italian silk faille featuring nothing less than hot pink embroidered crabs! Since ties are cut on the bias, this silk was ideal for my purposes – the crabs run 45 degrees to the selvage!

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Posted: Britex Fabric Store, Guest Blogger, Hand-Crafted Items, Hand-Made with Britex Materials, Sewing, Sewing Techniques, Tutorial
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New Workshop — Drafting Collars with Jamie Lau

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One of our lovely guest bloggers, Jamie Lau of Jamie Lau Designs, is traveling from the East Coast next month and will be hosting a workshop while she is here. We are so excited to have her in the store, and we hope that you will join us for her demo. Jamie will be here on May 21st to show us how to draft our own collars, including Peter Pan and Mandarin collars, and also how to alter pre-exisiting pattern pieces. Make sure you sign-up soon to reserve your spot!

Posted: Britex Fabric Store, Classes, Events & Shows, Fashion Tips, Guest Blogger, Projects, Sewing, Sewing Techniques
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