Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Shopping for fabric online

There are so so many amazing online fabric shops I'm sure you will find lots you like yourself over time, to help those of you new to sewing I thought I'd do a quick run through of ones I use frequently and really like.

1. Minerva Crafts

Sell a HUGE range of fabric and haberdashery.  I have bought lots of Viscose Challis from them and it's always lovely.  They have a good filter system on their website so it's easy to find fabric by fiber and type. They have an option to add matching thread which is nice so they pick it out for you and it's gutermann poly thread perfect for dressmaking.

2. Thetextilecentre

Amazing prices I've always been pleased with the quality but towards the cheaper end perfect for testing out a pattern.   

3. Abakhan 

Good range of fabrics, often bargains on Liberty fabrics so keep an eye out if you like those.

4. Guthrie-ghani

Beautiful fabrics lots of high end fabrics by well know fabric brands they perfect place for a fabric treat !

5. Higgs & Higgs

Mostly cotton fabric, but also knit fabric, denim and linen.

6. The Fabric Godmother

Lots of ex designer fabrics, some beautiful quality fabrics on this site.  Perfect if you are making something for a special event or if you want to treat yourself to beautiful fabric for your project.

7. Sew Over It

Good range of dressmaking fabrics, often the website will suggest their own patterns to go with the fabric and sometimes they have photos of the fabric in some of their patterns which is great to see.

8. GirlCharlee

Specialize in knit fabrics.

9. Ditto Fabrics

Lots of high end fabrics, beautiful quality denims and linens really good value considering the quality.

10.  Merchantandmills

They have a retro/vintage feel to their website with beautiful traditional haberdashery.  I think all their fabrics are 100% natural fibres, lots of hand printed lightweight cottons. 

I hope you found this list useful.

Look out for the next post with some info on choosing the right fabric for your pattern.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Beginners Dressmaking - Pattern and Fabric Suggestions

If you are just starting out dressmaking it can be hard to choose a pattern, there are so many to choose from.  The same goes for fabric so much choice can be exciting but also confusing !

Here's my tip for beginners

1.  Fabric
I would suggest a woven cotton, or woven viscose rayon for beginner projects.  These fabrics are easy to work with they aren't too slippy, they don't fray too much and they don't roll.  These fabrics also press well which is very helpful too.  

Woven Viscose Rayon
Look for Viscose/Rayon Challis for a smooth soft draping fabric, or crepe which is not as soft and has a slight texture and can be finer.

You could use quilting weight cotton fabric or a smooth cotton lawn. Cotton will not drape like viscose bear this in mind when picking your pattern.

2. Patterns
Making a simple classic design, practicing it and making that pattern really well can really build your confidence.  Most patterns tell you the level of sewing experience required by a rating like Easy, Average, Advanced.  Patterns refer only to the sewing element of dressmaking though and really you need to consider the fitting element too.  

Fitting a garment can be hard and making pattern adjustments can be confusing and frustrating for beginners. Patterns that are less fitted are therefore easier.  You can tell by looking at a pattern if it's fitted or not but also the pattern should tell you the body measurements and the finished garment measurements, the difference between these two measurements is called ease, and obviously the more ease the looser/less fitted the garment is.

Cutting out
The number of pattern pieces also gives you an idea of how long the garment is going to take to make.  If you have 15 pieces to cut and sew together it might be easy but it won't be quick.  If you want some quick makes to start a handmade wardrobe or simply because you don't have a huge amount of sewing time spare bear this in mind.

Here's a few of my recommendations for beginner patterns.

1.  The Shift Dress/Top 
This pattern from Sew Over It London for a very classic shift dress is semi fitted with bust darts and a "set in sleeve" - a set in sleeve is something quite handy to learn.  There is no zip in the back just a hook and eye fastening, or you could use a button.

There is the option for no sleeves, and also an option to make a top rather than a full dress.

Changing the fabric really changes this dress and it's a great pattern to showing off a beautiful print.

I love this sew over it pattern and found the instructions and fit excellent I would highly recommend for a beginner.

It's available to purchase here 

There's also a similar free pattern here 

I made this shift dress pattern top (the pattern has a line showing where to cut for the top version), I also changed the pattern for short sleeves.  This is made from viscose challis which I got from weavedee (online store), I think they still have some left.  

2. Salme Kimono Top
This is a very simply yet classic design.  No sleeves to insert as they are what is called "grown on" i.e. they are just part of the fabric.  You need a fabric with good drape like a viscose for this to work.  There are neckline facings and cuffs on to finish the sleeves.

It's available to purchase here

This is my version in a very smooth viscose challis

You can see the cuff detail here which means no stitching shows on the sleeve edge.


4. Simple Summer Top
This free pattern from Colette patterns is really well written.  It has bust darts so it's semi fitted and also have bias bound edges on the neck and arm, which can be tricky, so good to master. There's a few different options all free to download to pdf.  I've made a couple in cotton lawn and they are lovey and cool in summer.

5. A Pleated Skirt
Slightly more advanced with pleats a waistband and concealed zip, and lining so a slightly longer make but still a beginner level pattern.  This one from Sew Over it is a great classic design.

You can purchase this here 

6. PJ Bottoms
If you want to make trousers then a good starting place is PJ bottoms with an elastic waist.  There's lots of patterns online including this free on here

7. Off the Shoulder Top
These are a great beginner pattern as the elastic makes fit really easy. Different fabrics really change the look.