Category Archives: Fibers and fabrications

Twill weave – a definition

According to www.apparelsearch.com, a twill weave is “…a type of fabric woven with a pattern of diagonal parallel ribs. It is made by passing the weft threads over one warp thread, and then under two or more warp threads. Examples of twill fabric are gabardine, tweed, and serge.”

Merriam-Webster says twill weave is “a textile weave in which the filling threads pass over one and under two or more warp threads to give an appearance of diagonal lines”.

Interestingly, the most common form of twill weave fabrics that almost all people are familiar with is denim. Yep, denim blue jeans are a twill weave fabric.  And the word “denim” is derived from “serge de Nimes” – a region in France where the textile serge was produced. Cool, huh? I love learning more about the origin and meaning of words!

Twill is one dang sturdy weave. Have you ever seen or worn a wool gabardine suit? Long-wearing, huh? Denim – built to last. When you think about fabrics with a nice draping quality, skip right on past twill weaves. They do not hang in soft folds from the bias. They stand up in the corner by themselves!

Denim is one of my all-time favorite fabrics, and if I can ever FINALLY FINISH my latest jeans I will even post a picture of them. Soon. I promise!

Happy sewing!

Maris Olsen

 

SALE ALERT: Fabulous interfacing

Have you ever tried interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply, owned by Pam Erny? Do yourself a favor and order yourself some great interfacing. Forget that cr%#y paper stuff (sold in Joann’s) that masquerades as interfacing. Buy actual fabric interfacing from Pam. You won’t regret it.

I double-heart the woven Shirt Crisp for my husband’s shirt collars and cuffs, and I also use the Pro-Tricot for all my knits. I think I will try out the new Pro-Woven Light Crisp interfacing as a general purpose fusible for medium weight cottons.Hmmm, maybe I need some more Pro-Sheer Elegance too, since I think there may be some lightweight woven cotton in my sewing future. 

How about you, dear readers? Have you ever tried Pam’s interfacing? Do share your thoughts!

Happy sewing!

Maris

Elliott Berman Textiles – New York City garment district

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Oh the loveliness of this new-to-me fabric store – Elliott Berman Textiles – carrying mostly imported fabrics of top-notch quality. I visited last week during a whirlwind trip east, and I definitely could have spent much longer browsing and buying.  I promise that you will not be able to leave sans purchase, there are just too many beautiful fabrics begging to come home with you. I was restrained only by my pocketbook, not by any lack of gorgeous silk, cotton, viscose, and wool options.

I love this navy, black, and off-white skyline viscose print jersey. I plan to make a simple T to let the print shine, but I may do something interesting with the neckline. Perfect with jeans.

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I love white T shirts, and regardless of how careful I am with laundering, they really do not look top notch more than one season. And finding the rightweight, stretch factor, opaque-ness can be a challenge, so naturally I had to snatch up 3 yards of this silky, gorgeous, white viscose knit.  At least enough for 2 Ts. YUM.

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I could not resist this ador-a-belle pink and red small floral print for my precious new DGD – in BOTH cotton voile and viscose jersey! I think baby Oona will be getting some smocked dresses and baby leggings sometime soon…sweet!

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If you get to New York, please try to stop by this delightful gem. Matthew and Eugenia were so gracious and lovely, and clearly have an eye for the “good stuff”. I don’t think you will be disappointed. And did I mention they will send you swatches? Call and let them know what fabrics/weight/colors you are looking for, and they will pull from their current inventory. Almost like having a fabric personal shopper! 🙂

Elliott Berman Textiles
225 West 35th Street, 7th Floor
New York, New York
800-609-6072

Happy sewing!

MarisOlsen

Make a trendy fur vest

I hardly ever get “the” current fashion trend actually made at its height of hipness, so I am pretty jazzed that I actually ordered some beautiful Tissavel fake fur from emmaonesock.com, bought a pattern designed for fur, AND actually constructed the vest all in the same season. Shocking!!

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Other than applying the fur trim to Anna’s purple fleece coat, sewing an entire fake fur garment was a new experience for me.  I did a little research on recommended techniques, and basically followed Donna Salyer’s advice.  In short, cut the fur from the back side,  use 1/4 inch seams, zig-zag all seams, line with Bemberg or similar lining fabric, vacuum as you go, etc.  The pattern I chose was Kwik Sew 3731, since I wanted very simple design lines so the fur itself would be the focus. I may even be able to squeeze the hat out of the scraps if I do a little piecing!

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I traced my size onto tissue, and converted the back from an “on the fold” to a full size pattern piece. I did not trace off a left and right front, but I did remember to flip the pattern after chalking around the first front! 😉 I chalked around the pattern pieces onto the backing – but you could probably also just pin and snip around the pattern piece. The placement of each pattern piece on the fur was challenging. My fur has pelt lines and wavy white striped running thru it. I tried to make the layout as symmetrical as possible, but because the white “stripey” lines were irregular I had a really hard time. Maybe a more experienced furrier would have made a different layout choice, but I am pretty happy with the way it turned out. The only pattern alteration I made was to lengthen the vest by 1.5 inches, which you can see on the tracing of the vest back.

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Pinning and sewing the seams was WAY easier than I thought it would be. Maybe because I was using such expensive fur? I don’t know, but my normal pins went thru the fabric easily, and I just used my normal zig-zag foot rather than a roller foot or a walking foot. I did not have any issues with the fabric slipping as I sewed. I did not try to smooth the fur away from the seam until I had the fabric under the presser foot, because unless you pin it every 1/2 inch the fur would not stay in place anyway. For me, it was just easier to use my point turner and keep smoothing the fur as I stitched.

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Here’s a close-up of how I stitched – you can see I am bagging the lining and using a zig-zag stitch – I think the width was about 3.5 and the length 2.5.

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Donna Salyer does not recommend using interfacing, but suggested that staying seams might be necessary. I chose not to do this, because my fabric backing was really quite firm and it just seemed unnecessary to me on a simple vest. After I finished the machine stitching and turned the vest, I did need to pull some fibers out of the seam allowance. Again, not nearly as much seam cleanup work to do as I had thought might be required.  All in all, this was an easy, quick project, and I have already had fun wearing it!

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Happy sewing!

Maris Olsen

Vogue 8539 – done

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Finally, the double torture is over. I finished the sleeve hems and added two more rows of topstitching to the bottom hem, and decided to call this one good. I DO think it is cute, and it was warm and cozy last night when I wore it to my Bellevue neighborhood group ASG meeting.  And let’s just say I am glad it is out of my sewing room. Really glad. I will definitely think twice before buying double-cloth that needs to be separated again!

And now on to the next adventure —twin sets! I seem to have (ahem) collected a bit of sweater knit fabric. And to think I was considering buying some at Pacific Fabrics the other day! No doubt there is a purchase in my future, but first I am going to make up a few shells and cardigans using the Loes Hinse twin set pattern. I am in the mood for something simple and fun, and this exactly fits the bill.

Happy sewing!

Maris Olsen

 

Love the coat, no love for double cloth

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Thank goodness. All done except hemming the sleeves. All I can say is it is a good thing I love the coat, because I truly hated working with this fabric. Seriously hated it. Enough to consider pitching it a couple of times during construction. Separating the fleece from the nylon was no darn fun at all. My DH was able to rip it apart pretty easily, but I just don’t have the hand strength for that. And there was just too much bulk to retain the fleece in the front facings and hem edges — it had to go.  I used a razor blade to help set the fold line, and ripped the balance after my DH got it started. See how weird the naked front facing looks? Gotta love that perfectly straight edge, huh?

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Did I mention how easy it is to cut thru the nylon when using a razor blade? Umm, yeah.

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I tried mending the holes (yes, holes — I definitely made more than 1!) with fusible interfacing and fusible stay tape. No love from either of these products. Luckily, the 007 Bonding Agent did the trick. It is one big pain to apply neatly, but I repaired my damage and didn’t make it look worse. Always a plus.

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For the hem edge, I cut off the bulk of the fleece I wanted to remove with my curved blade Kai scissors, and then scraped a little more off with the razor blade.  Not a bad result, but definitely tedious.At least I managed to not add any more holes.

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Sooo glad this project is almost done. I think if it ages in the closet for a while I will enjoy wearing it…hopefully!

Happy sewing!

Maris Olsen

 

Double trouble

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I am not sure what I got myself into. <More than> a year ago I bought some fabric at SewExpo because I thought it was super cool, AND because I thought it would make such a distinctive coat for our rainy PNW days. The fabric is double cloth – one side is a slightly heathered, black sherpa fleece, and the other side is a water repellent <probably> nylon.  

Have you ever sewn with double cloth? I thought it would be really easy to whip up a coat with simple design lines, but evidently I know how to make any project more complicated.  The pattern is simple enough — Vogue 8539 —and I am making View A so no buttonholes or hood.  Simple, right?

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Let me just say this is my first double cloth experience. One way to work with this kind of fabric (and my choice for the garment)  is to create a lapped seam so there are no exposed seam allowances. The theory is that you stitch a seam wrong sides together, trim one seam allowance very close, and then pull the fleece away from the nylon on the other SA and wrap it around the trimmed seam and topstitch it down.  Sounds simple, right? Basically a felled seam. Except…..the glue used to adhere these 2 fabrics is FREAKIN’ strong. And I have arthritis in my right hand! So after for about 1 minute of pulling my hand was killing me and the 2 fabrics hadn’t budged an inch. Enter the scissor solution. I decided to trim the fleece very close with small, sharp scissors instead of pulling apart. Almost as good. Problem solved. Then I started to topstitch the lapped seam. Problem number two surfaced. I had lengthened my stitch to almost 5mm, and the stitches were uniform and consistent on the inital seam join. At this point the wrong sides (fleece) were together, and the presser foot and feed dogs were both against the nylon side of the fabric. But when I was topstitching the wrapped seam allowance, the fleece was against the feed dogs and the presser foot was against the nylon. Ruh roh. Those stitches were no longer as consistent….ugh. I ripped. I tried pulling from the back as I stitched. Maybe I should have tried a walking foot? All I can say is, this garment is not going to be an example of my best stitching. I am hoping no one driving down Aurora at 60 miles an hour will notice the wonkiness. Oh, and please notice I thought 2 rows of topstitching would be better than one. 🙂 

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Here is the coat so far – shoulder seams stitched, back darts done, and sleeves attached. Next up are side seam pockets and then the collar. I plan on making the collar fleece side out so it feels warm and soft against my neck. And I am going to have a AWESOME time cutting all that fleece off the front facing turnback. Why did I think this was going to be a fun project? Oye!!

Black double cloth raincoat

Happy sewing!

Maris Olsen

 

Fabric shopping in NYC

In case you were wondering why things were a little quiet around here, I was in the Big Apple for a few days with my DD and adorable son-in-law.  Seriously, what is more fun than being in New York? Ostensibly, I was there to help foil a dresser for my yet-to-be-born-granddaughter, and also attend another baby shower that her other G’ma hosted in Philly. But really, it’s all about the fabric in the garment district, isn’t it? 😉

I was looking for a good (read “inexpensive”) source for interfacing, and a local sewing guru suggested I check out Metro Textiles at 265 West 37th. This place is a little hard to find – it is on the 9th floor and around to the back of the building – but is definitely worth a stop if you are shopping for bargains. The owner’s name is Kashi, and he is delightful and more than happy to help. I saw loads of fabrics that I COULD have bought, but I managed to stick (mostly) to my plan for checking out his interfacing prices and quality. A couple of pretty knits did sneak their way into my bag….but that is hardly worth mentioning. Hardly at all.

Who can visit NYC and NOT stop at Mood? It is my go-to place for best all-round fabric selection—they really do have everything. I am currently obsessed with Japanese selvedge denim, and after buying some in the LA Mood this summer, I had to make a similar purchase from the NY location. No, I haven’t sewn up the piece I bought in LA yet. So what’s your point? Fabrics need to rest after they have traveled around the world, and I thought the LA piece needed a companion from NY. Before being cut up into little pieces and re-assembled into something fantastic, which when you think about it must be quite a shocking experience. Even for denim.

Continuing on my selvedge denim obsession, I also stopped at A.K. Corp which is located at 257 West 39th, and bought another similar but different companion piece. It was MUCH cheaper than the denim I bought at Mood, still has the bound selvedge edge, and is a bit lighter weight and darker wash. It looks to me like the piece from Mood is woven with both indigo and natural threads, and the piece from A.K. Corp is comprised of only indigo threads. They are currently both in the laundry, and I am interested to see how they wash up so I can do a more thorough comparison.

I made a quick stop at the Paron Annex at 206 West 40th – they have some faaaaan-tastic bargains in their 50% off selection. But by this time both my DD and I were getting tired,  intermittently soaked by heavy rains, and we still had one more stop to pick up some silk charmeuse for a bridal accessory customer….which means we did not give Paron’s sufficient attention. But this place is a definite must-visit for the next trip.

Another thing I did not get done this trip was finding a good source for “findings”. Things like zippers and waistband stabilizer. There are so many sourcesto explore in New York….but I just couldn’t drag my eight-month pregnant DD around in the rain ALL day. Next time!

Happy sewing!

Maris Olsen

Lycra – love it or hate it?

Lycra® (or spandex), is that wonderfully stretchy fiber added to lots of fabric and RTW clothing these days. It was originally developed by DuPont (now Invista) in 1958 as an alternative to rubber.

What do you think about the preponderonce of spandex in textiles these days? I used to be more of a fan, but have become less enamored lately. After some hours of lycra wearing time, I find myself getting a bit “twitchy and itchy”.  Spandex also requires special care – namely – no dryer time. Heat damages spandex, and in my non-scientific analysis, I think some fabrics with lycra wear faster even with careful handling (like jeans). That said, I do like the comfort of a bit of ease in my jeans, and I DO love me some Spanx®. I never buy wool or silk with lycra tho, I tend to be more of a purist for my “good” clothes. 🙂

 

 

How about you? Are you a lycra lover or hater? Or somewhere in the middle, like me?

 

Happy sewing!

Maris Olsen