We have already written a lot about sustainability and saving money. There are many tips & tricks and 'best buys' on this website. Sewing is a wonderful hobby, but sometimes it is not easy to buy all the things you need. If you want to make clothes for yourself, interior items or Cosplay costumes for your children, you need at least fabrics, threads, linings, buttons etc. etc. and a sewing machine....
We love to 'spot' cheap stuff, we love to discover useful tips and we love to keep our ears and eyes wide open. Therefore, especially for you, our the best tips & tricks!
Embroidery with the sewing machine is addictive! Once you start embroidering you will never want to stop. That's also because of all the beautiful embroidery patterns for sale (or FREE!) and the beautiful colors of embroidery thread.
But even more beautiful are the metallic embroidery threads. But there is a problem: these threads often go wrong when you use them for embroidery patterns. What is the cause of threads keeps breaking and how can you prevent this?
Read the tips & tricks!
What's the BEST sewing pattern is to make a Chanel-style jacket? This question is difficult to answer. It all depends on what kind of fabric you are going to work with, what you expect about the shape of the jacket and what's your sewing level... In this blog we are going to answer the question and clarify our choice. However, we will clearly indicate about the end result and why we rate the sewing pattern in the top ten of our choice!
Recently we made a red silk blouse with the sewing pattern Butterick B6710. Later we made a pink silk cupro silk blouse. And made of stretch silk: a white blouse from chain fabric. Silk is a very nice fabric to work with and to wear. But we do have some tips to make the sewing project easier.
A tailor's ham or dressmaker's ham is a tightly stuffed pillow used as a curved mold when ironing/pressing curved areas of clothing, such as darts, sleeves, cuffs, collars, or waistlines. Pressing on a curved form allows a garment better to fit body contours. To accommodate tapering or garments of different sizes, it has roughly the shape of a ham.
The spencer (sleeveless sweaters) and the waistcoat (sleeveless blazers) are back in fashion this fall/winter. But that's always the case because they are always ideal in changeable weather. Or are they really beloved and timeless classics?
A spencer is timeless
A spencer is a sleeveless sweaters and have been in fashion for so long that they either look very old-fashioned or super modern. Think of the classic check spencer. The checkered spencers are looking as old as the Middle-Ages but they are super modern as well. Especially if these retro-items are combined with modern trends. We believe spencers can be both terribly ugly and timelessly beautiful. It just depends on how you wear a spencer and how you style it.
Waistcoats have never really gone out of style. They have evolved over time and have often adapted in shape and length. From super short and sexy to long and casual. And let's not forget that they belong to the workwear of many, especially the yellow vests in traffic (and demonstrations!), Protection for lumberjacks and nature guides, body protectors, business clothing and evening wear.
But it remains a clothing item "You either like or you either don't" ...
Every autumn and winter, variants of the spencer and waistcoat come along with the announcement that they are super trendy again. But it is really a matter of taste whether this will be such a success or not.
Would you like to make a nice waistcoat in Bouclé fabric? That is definitely recommended.
Sewing pattern: Newlook 6914
Would you like to make a nice chic, modern longer waistcoat?
Sewing pattern: Sewing Scandinavian style
Chanel jackets or Chanel-Style jackets are usually made of Bouclé fabrics and silk linings. You have to be careful with the jacket because it is impossible to wash and dry it like your other clothes. How do you take care of Bouclé fabrics? And how do you clean it? We will help you.
Cleaning Tweeds and Bouclé fabrics:
Tweed is a woolen fabric used for clothing, upholstery and various types of cases and equipment. It is a tough fabric that is moisture resistant because it is closely woven, but the tight weave of the fabric can allow dirt or stains to become embedded. Care needs to be taken with cleaning techniques to keep your tweed looking its best. When in doubt, bring the tweed item to a dry cleaner for professional attention.
What are you wearing underneath?
Try to limit yourself to clothing made of cotton fabrics. Fabrics as polyester and synthetics can be sweaty and give off to the jackets above. A simple blouse or cotton underwear guarantees more limitation of smelly odors. Be careful with deodorants as some can easily ruin the silk lining. Treat a Bouclé jacket as a woolen outdoor-coat. Do not wash or dry clean it too often and hang it outside regularly in the fresh air (shade!).
Maintaining Tweeds and Bouclé Garments:
Store tweed clothing and upholstery fabric in a cool dry place. Moths are attracted to wool. Put tweed items in a cedar chest or other cool dry receptacle, where moths cannot eat them. You can also buy moth deterrents at home improvement stores. Follow the instructions on the packaging to apply it.
Washing a woolen jacket:
Wool is a warm and durable fabric, and a wool coat or jacket will give you years of wear if you care for it properly. It is necessary to wash a wool coat a couple of times each season, but you do need to take special care to avoid piling, shrinking, and distorting the fabric. While it may be possible to wash some wool coats in the machine, it’s usually safer to wash by hand. Another key to cleaning a wool coat is to avoid putting it in the dryer, because this will lead to shrinkage.
Read the care label:
You should always read a garment’s care label before washing it, because the care label will tell you exactly how to proceed. Check the care label for:
You spent a lot of time creating your Chanel-style jacket. Therefore, spend time on maintenance. Preferably take it to the dry cleaner for a dry clean. But you can also do a lot to prevent the jacket from getting dirty or smelling like sweat.
A short jacket, a half-long jacket or a really very long jacket. You might think turning a short jacket into a long jacket is not thát difficult. Extend the fabric and you have the same jacket but then longer. But it is a bigger deal...
Long coat = other function
A long jacket has a completely different function. Long coats are usually meant to be worn over clothing to go outside. Hey, hey, doesn't everyone know that? That's right, but sometimes ugly mistakes are made in the sewing world. More spacious and wider Jackets are often underestimated in terms of sewing techniques. Sewing patterns are taken a little less seriously when it comes to long coats. Many seamstresses who have often made a long jacket, know that sewing a long jacket is just as meticulous work as making a short jacket. And that making a long jacket is not that simple at all. How often did we experience a long jacket is 'just not right'? Sadly, too many times.
A coat or a long jacket?
A coat always refers to an outer jacket. Usually it is a long classic model made of wool, loden or tweed. An outdoor jacket is more like a sporty (long) jacket made of waterproof fabrics, or a quilted jacket with a hood. In the sewing world, people talk about coats or simply: jackets. The shorter (Chanel style) jackets are often categorized with blazers or 'jackets'. Often it is confusing but follow the golden rule that coats are the outer coats and 'jackets' often the inner jackets.
How to sew longer coats or jackets?
Sometimes we notice that our project turned out to be a failure: the lining is incorrect, the shoulders are too wide and the jacket only fits well with a very thin t-shirt underneath. But unfortunately that was not the intention. Did we forgot about the instructions on the sewing pattern? Or are the fabrics just not suitable? We would like to point out that making a long jacket requires just as much love, knowledge and experience as making a short jacket. Maybe even more, because after all, you work with a lot of fabrics and materials.
A longer jacket in Chanel style? Is that possible? Yes indeed. A long bouclé or tweed jacket with a quilted lining is heavenly and you really want to wear it all year round. So nice and warm, so comfortable! It is quite a job but the reuslt will be: a piece of pure Haute couture.
If you want to make a longer Chanel-Style jacket, make sure you search for 'jackets'. Not on 'coats' or 'outdoor jackets'. If you really want to make a coat out of Tweed fabric or Bouclé to wear outside and over your clothes, look for 'cloaks' or 'coats'.
Please note: a nice long coat made of those fabrics is quite fragile and not durable. If you get caught on a splinter, a door handle or something else, the threads will easily tear out. A wolen coat is just as chic, slightly less 'Chanel-style' but stronger. Although this fabric is certainly not durable. And for all chic coatsmake sure to have an umbrella because the fabrics do not like rain and wind.
Suitable patterns for longer Chanel-style jackets:
Beautiful long classic coats that are suitable for Tweeds, Bouclé or Loden:
Tips & Tricks:
Additional options for advanced seamstresses:
If you want to make a longer jacket in 'Chanel-Style', consider quilting the lining on the outer fabric. Follow Claure Shaeffer's instructions from her book: 'The couture cardigan jacket' and you have a beautiful long Chanel jacket that wears and looks heavenly. It may be a lot of work but well worth it. Especially if you choose a Bouclé fabric that is very light or loose-fitting, sewing the lining to it is a good idea. It gives the jacket more strength and shape.
A longer Chanel-style jacket is completely different from a jacket in Bouclé or tweeds, see photo above. Both are chic, beautiful, timeless but take a little more time to make.
Read carefully which recommended fabrics are on the sewing patterns. Choose the fabric ánd lining carefully, it will be the difference between a great result or a failed project.
Maybe you recently started sewing face masks, or you used to sew. Cushion covers, baby clothes or maybe a skirt. You think about yourself as an absolute beginner. You would like to make all those beautiful clothes in sewing magazines, but you are hesitating....
Do not hesitate but buy a sewing pattern of a garment piece that you would like to make, and we will help you step-by-step to realize your sewing project.
Superb sewing patterns
An other situation: Sewing patterns always look beautiful. Usually the model on the front of the envelope, looks super slim, she is a great model and the clothes seem easy to make. If the sewing pattern is indicated as 'Easy', or it is exactly what you want, you buy it!
But you have not started yet this sewing project "I will never be able to make it", you think and you regret the impulse purchase. But it will work and we help with step-by-step information.
1. Read the back of the pattern first
Most sewing patterns have all the important information on the back of the envelope, which contains the pattern. The recommended fabric is indicated and the quantity you need. Stick to this advice, because if you choose a different type of fabric, it is more likely that the sewing project will fail.
Tip: always buy half a meter of extra fabric. This allows you to correct mistakes such as incorrectly cut pattern parts or frayed edges that you cut or sewed too narrow. Moreover, it is useful to always keep a piece of extra fabric in any case in case your jacket breaks or a cup of coffee goes over it while wearing it.
Furthermore, the desired sewing level is often indicated on the envelop. Keep this in mind because as a beginner it is really not advisable to make a garment that requires a lot more sewing experience. If you are in a sewing class or you follow a workshop, you have a helping hand. But if this is not the case: stick to your sewing level and do not overestimate your experience.
Notions are also mentioned on the back of the envelope. You may need a zipper, buttons, an eye-hook closure and extra interfacings to reinforce collars and front panels.
2. The instructions of a sewing pattern
The envelope contains the sewing pattern itself and the work description/instructions. The work description usually consists of 2 to 3 large sheets. Take a look at the instructions before you start cutting.
You may feel like cutting out the pattern parts immediately, but it really pays off if you look at the work description first. If the sewing pattern is a multi-pattern, for example a jacket consisting of two models, or a skirt, pants and blouse as a total outfit, then each model has a letter. For example, if you only want to make jacket A, you can see below the drawing which pattern parts you need.
Please check carefully, on the 'body measurements' which size suits you best.
Below this chapter, there is an explanation of the symbols on the sewing pattern and the work description sheets. Read this also carefully. For example, how is the right side (outside) and wrong side (= inside) of the fabric indicated? And how can you see the grainline? This is indicated on the sewing pattern part with an arrow. Always align the arrow with the thread direction of the fabric.
Examples of how to place the cut out sewing pattern parts on the fabric are also important. This is also handy to check if youdid not missed any pattern parts and especially how to do this most conveniently. . Do not forget that 'cutting' is a specialty and at the Haute couture fashion houses the couturiers put their scissors in very expensive fabrics. They don't just do this. The pattern parts are carefully placed on the fabric and cut out.
The cutting schemes on sewing patterns for the consumer market are usually devised by a computer with a calculation program. Sometimes it may seem very unfavorable, but the thread direction is ALWAYS dominating and it is always correct.
Apart from the descriptions of terms and extra sewing instructions, the sewing instructions now follow each pattern part. When in doubt, take a look back at the definitions and always keep the paper at hand.
You have already cut out the pattern parts from the paper and onto the fabric. You have already copied all the important points, stars and arrows on the fabric by means of pins or chalk. But it could still be that you missed a symbol ...
Tip: Wait a while before neatly folding the pattern up again and putting it back in the envelope, but keep it handy.
Your review: The garment is ready and your sewing project is complete. If you have taken it all step-by-step, you have probably succeeded in making a beautiful, fitting piece of clothing!
Tip: Process your notes and any comments and remarks on an A4 piece and put them in the sewing pattern. You can also make notes with pencil on the sewing pattern.
Either way, should you ever use the sewing pattern again, you will have notes that you might have forgotten otherwise. For example: the sleeves are a bit too tinarrow. Or: the fabric turned out to be too 'loose' and the jacket therefore looked a bit sloppy.
Now you know that next time you will have to adjust the sleeves slightly and go for a slightly stiffer fabric.
A Chanel-style jacket made from fabric leftovers? Yes, that's possible. Even though the remnants are really very small. With a little more than a meter of fabric (in total!) you can create the small jacket. Read our instructions and tips in this blog.
Fabric leftovers and sustainability
We do not like waste fabrics. We have often come up with ideas to do something with fabric leftovers. We have also already talked about patchwork. Sewing pieces of fabric together to finally make something beautiful out of the 'patchwork blanket' is a great trend! Above all, it shows that you are carefull with raw materials (and the environment), you do not like to waste fabrics and are very creative! And now you atre creating a really chic 'Chanel-Style' jacket from fabric leftovers. Like this jacket!
Sewing pattern with princess lines
We have opted for a sewing pattern with princess lines. We had found a sewing pattern ourselves in the old 'Thuismode' workshops. This jacket is short, has princess lines and requires none lining. Ideal for our project.
Make sure the sewing pattern contains these elements:
This allows you to work with small pieces of fabric to create the chic little jacket.
Our Chanel-style 'remnants' jacket
We used Bouclé fabric leftovers which all match in terms of color and consistency. The fabric should not be too firm, neither too loose.
We made the back pieces of gray bouclé fabric and the fabric we liked the most: the large pattern parts of the sleeves and the middle back part.
We made the front panels from the fabric that we liked the most and we had two remnants left for the smaller parts of the sleeves.
The fringes are made of the front panel fabric and we have made long thin fringes.
Because the jacket is not lined, we finished the bottom, sleeves and front panel with a bias band (on the inside) and the fringes on the outside.
If you have less fabric, you can also choose to leave the front panels open. This always goes well with a Chanel-style jackets and makes the fringes look even better.
We did not use facings or interfacings. Because we did not use a lining, the jacket is extra warm but also vulnerable. Pay close attention to this when wearing the jacket and especially what you wear underneath. A t-shirt prevents damage; a blouse can sometimes pull threads of the bouclé fabric through the buttons and cuffs.
You can do a lot with fabric leftovers. Mix the fabrics and feel free to make something unique. It's nice when the colors match well, in our case: blue, gray, red and pink, but feel free to go bold(er).
Keep this rule in mind: make sure that the fabrics match together in terms of structure and composition. (A pied-de-poule fabric or a checkered fabric would be too much of a good thing ...)
If you 'style' the jacket with plain pants, skirt and a simple white shirt underneath; then a 'color shock' is very chique and modern.
Do you still have some fabric leftovers? Create a clutch (see our green clutch) or make some extra fringes. The thicker and longer the fringes, the more beautiful and the more 'Chanel style'!
When you plans your meals, it's often not just about the evening diner or a few days ahead, but you also need the basics. Butter, eggs, sugar, toilet paper and garbage bags.... These are the 'things' you don't want to miss at home. The necessarry basics of the kitchen or a householding. It is quite similarly with sewing; you need the 'basics' as well, as the beautiful fabrics.
Cheap or expensive?
You are working on a sewing project and suddenly you notice that you do not have interfacing in stock. Now you cannot reinforce the front pieces or the collar and you can not go on with your sewing project. Running to the stores (if these are nearby...) or even ordering online quickly often costs more money (and time). If you already bought this interfacing with your previous order, you would not have to stop the sewing project...
Alternatives are not always the solution
Then reinforce the collar with a scrap of fabric? Sometimes it works, but not always. Or use a different color thread that does not match the fabric but seems acceptable? Fine, but you might regret it later and think: "Oh damn, I should have had a thread that is matching the fabric..."
Tips & Tricks
The tip for every seamstress: make sure you always have the basics at home, or better said: in your studio or sewing studio. Check your stock regularly and supplement it if necessary. Or add it when you spot a great offer somewhere. After all, there are enough basic necessities that you almost always need. It is better not to pass an advantageous offer, because we said it already: if you need it, a quick purchase is often twice as expensive.
But what are those basic necessities?
We have made a list for you. Bring it with you when you go to a fabric store, the market or a fabric fair. The same goes of course for online fabric stores, sewing machine stores and haberdashery stores. Also keep an eye on the offers there.
Threads (make sure you always have black, white and beige in stock)
Vlieseline and interfacing (in anthracite and white)
Pattern paper (normal paper doesn't work, neither does toilet paper ...)
Buttons, snaps, eyelets and hooks (really you can't have enough of those!)
Sewing machine needles (the latter always breaks off on a Sunday if you've just planned a 'sewing day'). Also make sure you have a stock of jeans needles, stretch needles and assortment.
Sewing machine lights (always handy to have one in stock!)
Tape measures and scissors! (You can't have enough of that either, because there are often roommates who borrow them 'temporarily' or they disappear without a trace in another dimension ... Clothes hangers (order in the chaos!)
Lining fabrics (elastic and non-elastic. Have a few yards of each in stock in easy basic colors like beige, off-white or a dark color)
Last but not least: buy sewing machine accessories: extra sewing machine feet, bobbins, a sewing machine bag, etc. These always come in handy and you need more often than you think!
How closely do you look at the seam finishes, top stitching and the inside of all the garment pieces you created? In the world of bespoke couture, the inside fabrics and finishes are as important as what you see on the outside.
A meaningful story
A great story my husband told be comes to mind. He was painting a bathroom for one of his clients, the very demanding and formidable Mrs. O. After he was done, Mrs. O came in to inspect her new and improved bathroom. She was very particular about her expectations, so to check the quality of his work she bent down to check if the toe kick on her cabinet was not overlooked. In the process, she noticed that not only the toe kick was painted, but behind the cabinet was painted as well. Mrs. O looked at him and said: “Anyone who is so meticulous to even paint the places that would not be seen is a master of his trade.”
The same goes for any art or craft. The hallmark of bespoke sewing is excellent fit and finish. Inside construction details, like correct underlining, lining and interfacing, are all parts of that. If you are just starting in sewing, you may overlook these important details or think that since no one can see them, they don’t matter. Nothing could be further from the truth. They play a crucial role in the look and feel of the finished garment. Let me explain the differences between these materials, their uses and little tips from the Haute couture masters of the past that can teach even old dogs like me new tricks.
Facing to Make Edges Look Pretty
Facings are used to finish garment’s raw edges, such as neck, sleeve and pocket edges, and even jacket hemline. Facings can be cut as extensions of the garment or as separate pieces. Dior ateliers frequently created self-facings by extending the edge of the pattern piece and then folding it back which eliminated a bulky seam and created a soft and gentle roll. (Palmer) If the facings are cut separately, they either duplicate the garment edges or cut as bias strips and molded to the shape of the edge.
An important consideration when you see facings in your pattern pieces is the weight of your chosen fabric to make sure there are no bulky seams. When I started sewing vintage clothes, I got a cute Givenchy dress pattern which I planned to make from medium weight linen. The pattern had very complicated facings, as is typical of earlier Givenchy designs. I soon discovered that it added too much bulk to the neckline even after pressing. I had to scrap my unfinished dress and get a lightweight silk fabric instead.
The fabrics used for facings are typically self or contrasting fabric. Just make sure that the care instructions match. As I was working on this article, I discovered a great idea to use a lightweight lining fabric as facing which was Chanel’s favorite technique. (Shaeffer, Couture Sewing Techniques)
Interfacing To Control the Shape
Interfacing is basically additional fabric used for support in between a facing and a garment to prevent stretching in necklines, buttonholes, waistbands, and pocket edging and to control the shape of the collars, cuffs, waistbands, lapels, plackets, sleeve caps so they don’t collapse during wear. (Nudelman) Have you ever made a shirt that looked great before the first wash and got a misshaped collar stand and a curled or wrinkled collar after? This is because you didn’t select the correct interfacing to support the fabric. I usually get the samples of the face fabric and different interfacings I have in my collection and I feel them with my hands to compare them for thickness.
Keep in mind that the interfacing fabric can be crisper than the fashion fabric you chose, but it can never be heavier than your fashion fabric. (Khalje)
Another important trick of the trade is to use different interfacing for different parts of the garment. For example, the interfacing for a shirt collar stand or a sleeve cap of a tailored suit is usually crisper than interfacing for a pocket. I use muslin, cotton batiste, handkerchief linen and lightweight, medium weight and heavy weight hair canvas as interfacing.
Chanel was very creative in using lining fabrics for interfacing. (Shaeffer, Couture Sewing Techniques) You can also use silk organza, silk habotai, organdy, cotton flannel, lamb’s wool, net, tulle, crinoline, Egyptian cotton, faille, silk taffeta, charmeuse, chiffon, and even self-fabric. There are many choices here. It is important to make sure that the care instructions of all fabrics match. With practice, you will know right away which interfacing to use for your project. A word of advice: keep all the bigger scraps of interfacing to use in your next projects.
The interfacing is usually cut on a bias, especially for a collar, a bodice front or a cuff to avoid it being stiff. But you can cut interfacing on lengthwise or crosswise grain if you don’t have enough fabric.
Underlining to Reinforce
Underlining, also called backing or mounting, is used to reinforce very fine delicate fabrics, such as lace, chiffon, organza, raw silk. It also makes sense to support loosely woven tweeds so these fabrics don’t lose their shape after construction.
The difference between interfacing and underlining is that interfacing is attached to just a part of the garment, like a collar, a pocket or just the facing part of the bodice, with seam allowances of the interfacing usually trimmed off. Underlining is attached to all pattern pieces. Each underlining piece is cut as a copy of the main pattern piece. They are attached to each other and treated as one thereafter with seam allowances finished together by overcasting.
You often see the underlining instructions on designer patterns from the 50s and 60s. For example, Givenchy liked to underline all pattern pieces on his dresses and blouses not only for fabric support reasons but also to provide a layer to which the complicated facings can be inconspicuously attached.
Another strong reason to use underlining is in bridal couture. For example, before you apply lace or beading to silk, it should be strengthened with underlining fabric to withstand all that additional weight.
Fabrics often used for underlining are silk organza, handkerchief linen, muslin, flannel, cotton batiste, or even self-fabric.
It is typical to have all pattern pieces underlined but it is fine to use different underlining for different pattern pieces. For example, on wedding dresses, you may want to choose a slightly firmer (not thicker!) underlining fabric for the bodice to support the beading work, the weight of the skirt and the sleeves and to cover the boning. (Khalje)
Interlining for Added Warmth
As if it wasn’t confusing enough, interlining is another layer which is also sandwiched between the lining and the fashion fabric but it is mostly used to add warmth to the garment without adding too much bulk. (Nudelman) Horsehair canvas, domette or flannel fabrics can be used for interlining the chest panels and backs of tailored jackets and coats. Interlining can be attached by hand or machine-quilted right over the interfacing.
Lining to Cover It All Up
Lining is the material you are most familiar with. After you finish the jacket of a skirt, you usually (not always) attach a lining and it is that final couture finish to cover up all the ‘guts’ of the garment that you don’t want to see, like unfinished seams, any clips or darts, and pieces of interfacing and/or underlining. Think of lining as another luxury detail which feels fantastic next to your skin when you wear it and makes your garment last longer.
Christian Dior never used cheap fabrics as linings and he wrote in his memoires that “everything that does not show or shows very little should be made of just as good - if not better - materials than what is apparent”. Linings were a Dior signature. His designs frequently included transparent linings so you could see the skilled workmanship of finished seams and the excellent pressing of the darts. (Palmer)
Another great master couturier, Cristobal Balenciaga, liked to use luxurious linings in his designs as well. (Miller) He was a perfectionist and a master craftsman who paid very close attention to details like that.
The fabrics used for lining are silk organza, silk habotai, silk charmeuse, polyester, light weight cotton, acetate, rayon, and crepe. The lining fabric can match the fashion fabric or not if you want to achieve a special effect. Whatever fabric you use, it is important to match the care instructions of the lining fabric and the rest of the garment. In the haute couture world, the lining is skillfully attached by hand, but in ready-to-wear it is machine stitched to cut on labour costs.
What you may not know is that the lining fabric can also be used as a trim on couture cuffs and collars for a special effect. Chanel designs often had such interesting trims. (Shaeffer, Couture Sewing: Making Designer Trims)
The great Mademoiselle Chanel liked to line the jackets and skirts with the same beautiful and expensive fabrics as the blouses that were worn with them. It’s quite an haute couture touch, don’t you think?
You can see now how all of the layers I explained have their roles to play in the final look of the bespoke clothing. Use only what you need to achieve the perfect fit and look, but make sure to choose the best materials, match their thickness and pay attention to care instructions.
Clive Hallett, Amanda Johnston. Fabric for Fashion: The Complete Guide. London: Laurence King Publishing, 2014.
Khalje, Susan. Bridal Couture: Fine Techniques for Wedding Gowns and Evening Wear. Iola: Krause Publications, 1997.
Miller, Lesley Ellis. Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion. London: V & A Publishing, 2017.
Nudelman, Zoya. The Art of Couture Sewing. New York: Fairchild Books, 2016.
Palmer, Alexandra. Christian Dior: History & Modernity | 1947-1957. 45-46. Royal Ontario Museum and Hirmer Publishers, 2018.
Shaeffer, Claire B. Couture Sewing Techniques. Newtown: The Taunton Press, 2011.
—. Couture Sewing: Making Designer Trims. Newtown: The Taunton Press, 2016.
—. Couture Sewing: Tailoring Techniques. Newtown: The Taunton Press, 2013.
Amy De La Haye, Shelley Tobin. Chanel: The Couturiere At Work. New York: The Overlook Press, 1996
About the Author:
Elena Tran is a Canadian dressmaker and an entrepreneur passionate about haute couture sewing using
beautiful fabrics and notions. After her career as a college administrator and mathematics professor, she
pursued her interest in sewing and opened an online luxury fabric store baudekinstudio.ca.
She is constantly learning and improving her craft. Her training includes lessons with the legendary coutureinstructor Angelina di Bello (Montreal, Canada), dressmaking program at Mohawk College (Hamilton, Canada) and online needlework courses at the Royal School of Needlework (London, UK).
Vintage sewing patterns are very popular. Not only because their value is high (especially when they are collector's items!) but mainly because many seamstresses also consider it as a sport to actually make clothes of the sewing patterns. They make the clothes to wear themselves or for Cosplay and LARP events. But there are some common problems and we have tips to avoid them.
Vintage sewing patterns are more popular than ever
If you make yours clothes yourself, you are aiming it does not show... Seamstresses prefer not to hear, "Selfmade?" when they should actually be proud of the fact they made the cloths themselves. But they are afraid that there is always an undertone in that comment like: "You can see that, it is just not good enough". Of course that is nonsense, because self-made cloths are often unique, beautifully tailored and much more sustainable.
With vintage clothing, however, there is a different tenor. "Self-made" makes more sense and sounds like a compliment. Finally, vintage clothing is often striking because of the shapes and lines and therefore super feminine. If you have found the right size, or if you have done some pattern adjustments, the clothing is also nicely tailored.
Cosplay and LARP
Vintage sewing patterns are often very popular for Cosplay and LARP. Sewing patterns: 'Historical clothing' ánd Cosplay, but also all other retro- and vintage patterns.
Because of the shapes in the vintage clothing, they are often nice to expand with corsets, crinolines underneath or to make mega dresses. But eventhough... you can run into problems while making vintage clothing ...
Pay attention! The pitfalls of vintage sewing patterns:
1. The times when 'vintage' or 'reto' was reallife, there were no elastic or stretchable fabrics. The sewing patterns are therefore all based on fabrics such as: garbadine, chiffon, linen, lace, cotton, jacquard and wool. The clothing must therefore be properly tailored because the fabric will not help you to feel comfortable or make you look super-shaped like stretch fabrics do...
Tip: don't make these patterns of elastic or stretchy fabrics. This can cause the pattern to be incorrect and give strange results. Choose fabrics which are recommended for the sewing pattern or the onces you like to both sew and wear.
2. In vintage patterns there are many darts and pleats. If you want to create a nice upper body or a nice waist, you can count on it that there will be a lot of darts in the pattern that will create the desired shape. With some fabrics this is difficult to achieve and it looks less beautiful than you had hoped.
Tip: learn to work with darts and pleats and consider it as a challenge. Use a sewing mannequin (adjusted to your size) to pin the darts in and 'play' with it until it fits. Take your time so it doesn't become a frustration. Once you get the feeling for 'shaping', it's more fun than you thought it would be!
3. Most of the patterns that show over-exaggerate waistes, often illustrated on the cover of the sewingpattern. But remember in these times women were always wearing corsets under their outfits. Nature was given a helping hand to create the waist that most women can now only dream of ...
Tip: Do you still want a (very) small waist to fit in the vintage dresses? Buy an elasticated waist corset, one that fits snugly but creates a little more waist. In the 'shapewear' section of underwear, you can often find pleasant waist shapers that you can wear comfortably without gasping for breath or torturing your body. A tight, shape shirt also works wonders and often not only fits comfortably, but also looks really nicer under tighter dresses or blouses.
4. Collars often have different or even strange shapes (see picture above). The ends of the collars are often sharper, longer or sometimes weirdly shaped. Or like the top photo, far right: floral. Sometimes this really fits into the overall picture. Sometimes they are over-the-top or make the clothes look old-fashioned instead of interesting.
Tip: adjust the collars to your own ideas. Copy the bottom length of the collar from the pattern and the rest of the pattern with a pencil. You then have the basis. After this you can make the collar ends as long, as straight, as round or as short as you would like.
5. Finally, we would like to point out that vintage dresses are often midi length. Or blouses are just a little too long (these were often worn in the skirt, never loose / casual over it). The length of the midi dresses and skirts can look nice, but also old-fashioned or messy, or accentuate thick calves, for example.
Tip: very simple: adjust the length. Do this as the very last action. Try on the dress for a mirror, or on the sewing mannequin and let someone else help you. Your own perspective from above often gives a different picture than a person who is further away and sees a better overall picture. The length of blouses is easier to adjust. If you like to wear a blouse loose, don't make it too long, this looks more sloppy than nice and casual.
Advantages of vintage sewing patterns:
But there are also many advantages of vintage sewing patterns. As we have already mentioned: the sewing patterns are often ideal for Cosplay and LARP and often eye-catchers because of the beautiful shapes and special lines. Moreover, the fabrics that are used are also different than usual or have a nice 'retro print'.
Another plus is that many patterns can be used as a 'normal pattern'. See above: The blouses are often classic, timeless and just super feminine. Especially on the left: the blue blouse would look great combined with jeans, and high heels or higher boots.
Remember what Mary said about Downton Abbey clothing: "I really wanted to take the blouses home, I was totally hooked."
Finally: the vintage sewing patterns are often ideal for indulging in buttons and beautiful trims. Just like our beloved Chanel style jacket! Be creative, indulge yourself and make it unique. Get rid of mass production, throwaway clothes.
Create your own clothes with beautiful vintage sewing patterns!
It is not a secret that Coco Chanel did not like 'prints'. At most a 'Breton stripe', but nothing more than that. According to Chanel, chic was mainly austerity in the design of the fabrics. Except for the tweeds and bouclé fabrics, these were luxurious and 'colorful' enough.
Either you love it or you hate it
Who likes prints? Most people love it. From tropical flowers to a 'tiger print', it can't be colorful enough. Especially in the summer we are crazy about to prints. It makes us happy and it looks great as a blouse or summer dress.
But read Ines de la Fressange's books and one thing becomes very clear: prints are NOT DONE! According to her, you will not easily find a real Parissiéne dressed with 'a print'. The Parisian style is more about the monotonous colors, the creative combinations of trés-chic and elegance of the timeless classics.
Chanel style jackets and prints
If we want to look stylish but occasionally deviate from the 'rules', then combining a Chanel-style jacket (self-made of course!) With a print underneath is definitely a nice idea.
Who says that this can't look be chic and casual at the same time? Bouclé and tweeds, but also summer tweeds, are often very busy in terms of appearance. The fabrics are woven and there is always a beautiful mix of colors and sometimes even patterns.
A blouse with a printed design underneath can easily come across as very 'busy' and a bit cheap.
Fringes, edges and prints?
Apart from that, the Chanel style is often characterized by a lot of fringes, beautifully finished trims and two or even four pockets stitched on the jacket. They should of course be the eye-catchers of your outfit.
Taking all this into account, we would like to point out that a printed blouse, t-shirt or even pants, under a Chanel jacket, is fine if you observe the following rules:
Prints will never go out of style and occasionally combining with them may not be 'Paris' chic, but again not as 'not-done' as suggested in many style books and guides on Chanel couture and Parisian style.
We love prints ... occasionally.
Nothing is as unfortunate as finding out halfway through a sewing project: it is a hopeless failure ... It happens to everyone. From beginners seamstress to advanced seamstresses who have been behind the sewing machine for years. Do not grieve and do not stop! With our tips & tricks you can prevent failed projects.
'What does not kill you, makes you stronger'
A rather exaggerated statement, but there is encouragement in it. Of course it is a shame when a sewing project fails. All those hours you were working on it ... very unfortunate. And especially the materials: the fabric, the lining, the interlining, etc. Throwing them away hurts a lot. You may have become a seamstress to be more "zero-waste". And now you throw everything away ...
Where did it go wrong?
Of course you will learn from every failed sewing project. This is our number 1 tip! Because you don't learn anything from just throwing it away. Ask yourself for a moment: where did it go wrong? You learn from it.
Did you choose the wrong fabric? Was the sewing pattern too difficult? Were you able to intervene in time or did you stubbornly continue even though you knew that the sewing project was not going to be a great outfit? Or did you really have no idea but only found out when you tried on the garment itself (or on the sewing mannequin)? Learn from this for the next time. Write it down in a sewing journal or if the pattern is not right, on the sewing pattern itself. Is that really necessary? Yes, in a year you will have forgotten it and you might make the same mistake again.
so .... tips & tricks to prevent unsuccessful sewing projects:
And even more tips & tricks:
Failed sewing projects happen to everyone. Don't give up, but try to learn from it. Do you have wasted fabrics or materials? Maybe you can still do something with it. See our tips: What to do with leftover fabric
Or: a tip for people with pets: cut the fabric into strips, braid the strips and tie them in a thick knot. Now at least your dog or cat has been made very happy with the new toy ... (make sure there are no needles left in it!)
And especially be happy with the sewing projects that do succeed. We just don't talk about the failed sewing projects anymore ... deal?
On the Vogue website we read a nice article about 'La Réunion's Patchwork Dresses Turn Symbols of Suffering Into Things of Beauty' Sarah Nsikak, fashion designer, focuses on sustainability and is fully focused on making patchwork dresses. Fortunately, she is not the only one: patchwork is back in fashion!
Patchwork or Quilts?
The difference between patchwork and quilting is that quilting works more with patterns and manual sewing. Quilting is a unique profession. At least three layers of fabric are stitched together, very small pieces of fabric are used and there is often a symmetrical pattern that is worked out. Quilting is a very old tradition and craft and in some cultures it is an important part of social activity, as part of traditions and sometimes even of commercial importance.
Patchwork is nothing more or less than sewing pieces of fabric together. These can be pieces of fabric of different fabrics, materials and colors. Often this is then used to make clothing or simpler patchwork quilts, cushion covers, etc. The name for patchwork and quilting is often used interchangeably. But quilting is really something else than working with patches and making clothes or something else from here.
The revival of Patchwork
Patchwork sounds out dated' and might remind you of Grandma's patchwork quilt who has been lying in the guest bedroom as a bed spreadfor ages.... Patchwork has always had the image of extremely economical people who work with scraps of fabric and sometimes create combinations that really don't look like much.
But there is also magic with patchwork and beautiful quilts, patchwork quilts and clothing are made. Patchwork is experiencing a revival as we become more aware of the waste that the clothing industry entails. Moreover, the Corona crisis has opened people's eyes. We've all climbed behind the sewing machine ourselves to make face masks and most people discover they like to sew!
Fashion designers have been working on sustainability and 'greening' for some time. See our review: Green Designed fashion. Not always successful, but every initiative is one. Working with remnants of fabric or upcycling of already used materials is a good goal! And making something beautiful out of it is a piece of cake for many designers and (hobby) seamstresses.
During a broadcast of British Sewing Bee we saw several episodes in which the candidates were given an assignment to make something beautiful from their leftovers of fabric. The results were jackets, skirts, dresses and very nice children's clothing. The assignment concerning upholstery fabrics was also 'amazing'. The candidates were instructed to bring something from home. From old curtains to bed linen. These were all transformed into beautiful, usable summer dresses. Making a summer dress from net curtains and a sheet ... it is possible and the result was more than beautiful!
Chanel & Patchwork
Unfortunately we can only find a few items from Chanel. But they are nevertheless eye-catchers par excellence. And the Fashion Industry is changing, so who knows, the following collections may come up with more sustainable patchwork designs if the workshops have to make do with the fabrics that are dusting in the warehouse or smaller pieces of fabric that have already disappeared in the trash can .
Who cares whether something is 'in' or 'out of fashion'? For a fashion house a lot, but for people who would like to own 'a Chanel', the year of the collection is less important and the story behind it all the more.
Tips & Tricks: patchwork with Bouclé fabrics
Chanel has always been associated with Tweeds and Bouclé fabrics. These are not really the best fabrics for 'patchwork'. Yet the result is often great. Chanel's famous 2.55 bag has often been made of various tweed fabrics and also Bouclé. Also other bags and accessories.
A few tips:
In the fashion world there is a huge change going on with regard to sustainability. The use of remnants of fabric or fabrics that are supposedly 'out of fashion' is picked up in the form of patchwork. In principle, you can make anything with patchwork as a basis. From Haute couture to cushion covers for the camper.
Patchwork with Bouclé fabrics or tweeds? Yes we can! And to get a beautiful 'Chanel-style' look, there are plenty of examples of the famous Chanel bag and some outfits from the catwalks. Be creative, sustainable and join the new trend: this is the fashion image of 2020 and the future!
As a fabric connoisseur, I like the concept of upcycling because fabric to me is like precious gold and diamonds to a jeweler. When I touch luxurious Italian silk and feel the softness of Spanish bouclé tweeds, I am fully aware of the many labour hours that go into weaving these beautiful textiles and in sewing the final garments. I understand why some fabric costs are higher and I can tell the difference between Haute couture and fast fashion ready-to-wear. The price point argument set aside, all clothing was made by someone somewhere. When I see the clothes purchased in heaps and discarded so effortlessly, as if all the work that went into them means nothing, I get frustrated.
Upcycling in fashion involves taking old or used clothes or fabric and making beautiful garments out of them thereby giving them a new and hopefully more glamorous life. With determination and creativity, it is possible to make a stunning garment out of gently used clothing. I have recently made a trip to Value Village, one of the larger Canadian second-hand stores near me, in search of some interesting ideas for a potential upcycling project. The thrift stores in North America may be different from Europe, but the shopping strategies are the same. Let me share my ideas for finding beautiful fabrics in the thrift stores with you.
#1: Know what you are looking for before you enter the store to avoid impulse purchases.
As with any fashion collection, look for some inspiration first and you can even create a moodboard to get an idea of the general colours and textures that you like. Don’t go into drafting a pattern yet, because your choice of fabric will ultimately dictate the design. Are you going to make an upcycled evening gown, a glamorous day dress, or an unusual trench coat? (Alternatively, you may already have a pattern in mind, in which case you just skip this step. Pull the pattern out and read the fabric suggestions before going shopping.)
#2: Shop alone or with a friend who shares your vision.
I personally prefer to shop alone when I am looking for ideas for my design projects because at that point I am focused and I am in my creative zone. But if you have a generous friend who shares your vision and knows what you are looking for, she/he can be your second pair of eyes in spotting a bargain. (Don’t forget to show your gratitude and take your friend for lunch afterwards.)
You and your friend can go to different parts of the store so you are not looking in the same spot and don’t feel bad if you want to go back and take a second look. Sadly, there are just so many clothes and it’s easy to miss a great find. If you frequent the same store often, you will probably notice the days of the week that the new items are put on the shelves and you can focus on shopping on those days only.
#3: Don’t look for your exact size, but for one or more sizes bigger.
The bigger the size, the more fabric you get to play with. The clothing section in the thrift shops here is usually huge, and some of the items there are brand new or worn only once, like wedding dresses. Look through the clothes in the dresses, skirts and tops sections. Although tops don’t have much fabric, you can still use them for patch pockets, decorative welts and accents. And what about using those for couture appliques and trims?
Are there any fully functional long zippers or even corsetry boning pieces you can use? Those items are expensive if purchased brand new. At this point you have to have an open mind, look past the dated garment because you are not buying it to wear but to use it for something else. Focus only on the fabric and how its colour and texture fit your vision for the upcycled garment.
A gorgeous guipure lace with beading (and lots of it!!!) all along the hem of a voluminous large-sized wedding dress which will give you plenty of material for lace trim or applique. On the right is an inspiration: upcycled wedding dress from Alexander McQueen Spring 2020 runway.
On the left is a medium size dress with overlapped blue spangles from top to bottom. On the right is your inspiration: a lovely day dress with beaded collar and sleeves from Chanel Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2017 runway.
On the right is a lovely velvet dress with a 12” zipper on the side and a metal belt. On the left is an inspiration: a blue velvet dress by Burberry from their Fall/Winter 2020 runway
#4: Look for interesting prints, weaving patterns and/or fiber content.
Always refer back to your mood board to stay on target in terms of your general colour theme. The sophisticated weaving patterns like jacquard and velvet are not that rare, and if you are lucky you can find some gorgeous twills and satins in the wedding/evening dress section or sumptuous knits in the women’s tops. And the more natural the fiber content in the piece, the better. Find the garment’s care instructions which will tell you the exact fiber content. 100% silk or 100% linen items are rare, but you can still find those.
On the left is a large size dress with vertical rows of bright silver spangles on netting. These spangles would be great to use in gold work embroidery as well. On the right is an inspiration: a dress with generous embroidery throughout from Chanel Fall/Winter 2017, runway
Also, check out the belts and scarves section. Many scarves are 100% silk or silk/cashmere mixtures. You can upcycle a wide silk scarf into a dress bodice, a beautiful summer tank top or sleepwear.
#5: Hidden treasures in the drapery section.
Depending on your project, you may find amazing yardage of fabrics in these sections. The store associates hang the fashion fabrics in this section. Unless you are an expert, you wouldn’t know if the fabric is made from natural fiber or not. Assume it is all polyester blends, trust your hand instead and feel the fabric. Is it rough and cold or silky and wonderful against your skin? Would you like to wear a garment made from this fabric? If in any doubt, put it back.
#6: Most importantly, set your budget.
And finally, be focused or you’ll end up picking up useless trinkets instead. Have a definite budget in mind. Are you going to spend $20 or $50? Your $4.99 and $8.99 purchases add up quickly, so hold your purse tightly and keep track of your items. You will have to make decisions on the spot because if you come back to the store tomorrow, the clothes you liked may not be there. Ask the store clerk about their return policies in case you change your mind.
About the Author:
Elena Tran is a Canadian dressmaker and an entrepreneur passionate about haute couture sewing using
beautiful fabrics and notions. After her career as a college administrator and mathematics professor, she
pursued her interest in sewing and opened an online luxury fabric store baudekinstudio.ca. She is
constantly learning and improving her craft. Her training includes lessons with the legendary couture
instructor Angelina di Bello (Montreal, Canada), dressmaking program at Mohawk College (Hamilton,
Canada) and online needlework courses at the Royal School of Needlework (London, UK).
Organza fabric is a synthetic fabric woven with polyester and nylon. It is a very thin, transparent fabric, but because of the mix of the fabrics it is still very strong and very easy to sew. Organza is a cheap fabric and can be used for many sewing projects. The fabric is also extremely 'Haute couture' and chic. The two-tone organza is especially worth magic!
The use of organza fabric
Everyone has 'met' organza fabrics in their life. As a party decoration of flowers, in bridal clothing or draped around tables. Also for parties an festivals, the fabric is bought in bulk and used to decorate the cars up to beautiful costumes.
And this fabric is used a lot for Cosplay and Fantasy costumes. A party fabric par excellence!
But we also come across organza in everyday life, such as net curtains and furnishings for bedrooms. Also think of ribbons around gifts or decorations in flower arrangements.
Despite the cheap image now, organza was once made exclusively from silk and acted as a super chic fabric for Haute couture. The former designers made the most beautiful evening dresses from organza. These were exclusive masterpieces. The fabric was and is also very popular for wedding dresses including decorations such as flowers.
Organza & Haute Couture
Organza is liked by designers for Haute couture. In the past but also today. We are talking here about the silk variant and not the synthetic one. Chanel used organza very recently in a beautiful dress. See: "LAYERS OF ORGANZA, FALL-WINTER 2020/21, HAUTE COUTURE, A story of transparency plays out in an organza cape" worn over a silk dress - the CHANEL Fall-Winter 2020/21 Haute Couture collection, photographed by Mikael Jansson .
Organza is loved because of the possibility to process in many layers. From one layer: extremely thin and sophisticated (and sexy) to multiple layers that give shape and structure to the clothing. Don't confuse it with tulle. Tulle is more the cheapvariant and does not have the qualities that Organza does. You hardly see tulle in Haute couture.
Organza is often combined with silk. A dress of pure silk and organza guarantees luxury and exclusivity. The fabric is mainly used as 'over-fabric' to give clothes extra mystery. Or a more luxurious look due to the transparent nature of the fabric. The fabric also provides movement, dynamics in the clothing. With the slightest movement or breath of wind, the clothing (extra) comes to life.
LARP, Cosplay and Fantasy
In LARP we hardly see the material. The fabric is delicate and hardly ever appeared in historical clothing. In terms of decoration, lace and velvet are more often used. Organza just does not fit in the total picture.
Cosplay likes to work with the material. Think especially of wide skirts and Cinderella dresses. Despite the fact that tulle gives more effect, organza is a beautiful and chic addition to these costumes. Gothic and Steampunk prefer to work with tulle, as this gives it more strength and a more robust appearance. Although with organza more beautiful drapes can be made, such as black over fabric over a crinoline or red skirt.
Organza is ideal for Fantasy. Especially the two-tone organza offers endless possibilities to make skirts, capes and dresses that have a beautiful mysterious and graceful effect. See the photos of Erik Bolding. A big advantage is that the fabric can be processed in many meters without the costume becoming heavier. The fabric also gives movement and light effects to the clothing. Events and Fantasy fairs are of course all about action, movement and posing for photos. Clothing of or processed with organza fabric is highly recommended, showstoppers!
Tips & Tricks
However, working with organza fabric can be a crime. The fabric is thin, slips under the presser foot and is difficult to make hems. The fabric is difficult to fold and seaming and finishing is not easy. Moreover, cutting the fabric is not a pleasant job either.
The layers of fabric slide off each other and are difficult to lie on the table. Still it is doable if you follow these tips and tricks:
Organza is a very beautiful fabric. The silk variant is truly sublime, but the synthetic fabric certainly also has its advantages in terms of price and the beautiful two-tone colors. The material is not that easy to work with, but you can avoid all frustrations by taking our tips and tricks to heart.
Making a dress, cape, skirt or costume with organza may not be a party, but it is a party as soon as you see the result. The fabric is a real eye-catcher and worth all the extra time you have spent on it!
Nobody likes to talk about it: but there are really fabrics which are hard to handle. The fabrics are difficult to cut, to fold, to sew. They can't help it either... But be aware: only start working with these fabrics if you have a lot of sewing experience.
Sewing pattern, sewing experience and the fabric!
What determines whether your sewing project succeeds or not? Often the combination of the sewing pattern, your sewing experience but also the fabric. Sewing patterns always mention specific fabrics that are suitable for the pattern. You can deviate from this in terms of color and print, but it is recommended to choose the recommended fabrics. (Logical!) Simply because the sewing pattern has been tested or made specifically for this.
Your sewing experience also determines whether your sewing project will create a successful garment. This is indicated in nine out of ten cases on the sewing pattern. The pattern is considered suitable for a beginner, a seamstress with moderate experience and a seamstress with a lot of experience.
However, just as important is the choice of fabric you make. There are very nice fabrics for sewing and there are fabrics which are more difficult. The difficult fabrics require a bit of extra experience from the seamstress. You don't have to avoid the fabrics, but if you read our tips, it will save you a lot of frustration or even failed sewing projects.
Tips for 'difficult' fabrics
Fabrics are always neatly arranged or type or by color in stores and online stores. Sometimes you can also search for properties. Is the fabric non-stretchable, stretchable or elastic in both length and width? Is the fabric smooth or very firm? This is all very important to know when choosing a fabric for a sewing project.
Rarely, however, is it indicated whether a fabric is 'difficult' to cut or sew. We mean that the fabric slips between your scissors, during cutting, or slips under your presser foot when you are sewing the fabric. Think of silk-look fabrics, velvet or smooth satin.
It is also difficult if the fabric 'fringes' quickly or even enormously. This is especially the case with Bouclé fabrics that are also loose-fitting. In 'how to sew Bouclé fabric' we give tips & tricks to handle it well.
Firm or thick fabrics can also be difficult. They are often difficult to fold and you will need a sewing machine that can handle really thicker fabrics. Think of jeans, canvas, goblin, jacquard or heavy wool.
Finally: elastic fabrics. Is your first sewing project making a bikini? Then ask extra help and be aware that sewing super stretch fabrics is a difficult job. It is also especially recommended to use a coverlock machine which is capable of making coverstitches. Finishing the seams in a different way (for example zig-zag) on a regular sewing machine will give a beautiful finish.
Haute couture fabrics
Haute couture often works with expensive and exclusive fabrics. These are of course very beautiful. But be aware that the expensive fabrics are often not the easiest fabrics for a sewing project.
We already mentioned the 'Very Bouclé' fabrics that often fray when you look at them. But brocade fabrics, jacquard fabrics and sequin fabrics can also be difficult. You have a chance that your needles will break on the embroidered additions / sequins on the fabric or on the golden lurex threads. Or pull the threads with you in your sewing machine, and your entire front piece is suddenly destroyed.
Take extra time for these fabrics and baste everything in advance.
In addition, with jacquard fabrics you often have to deal with patterns that are woven into the fabrics. Pay particular attention to this when cutting. Or that the front pieces fit nicely and the sleeves fit in the patterns of the fabric. This is really a job that requires experience and a lot of patience. Always buy extra fabric, then you can cut any incorrectly cut pattern parts.
Organza, Voile, Chiffon, Pleated and stretch lace are difficult fabrics because they are very thin and do not keep well in shape during cutting and sewing. Provide extra weights on the fabric while cutting and thin pins for the fabric. Buy special silk pins that are thinner and longer than regular glass head pins. In addition, make sure you choose the right thin sewing machine needles. A needle that is too thick can easily destroy the fabric.
Silk and taffeta fabrics are very pleasant to sew with, although here also applies: make sure you use the right pins and sewing machine needles. They fold fine, do not slip and ensure that you can work accurately. Silk-look fabrics, satin silk or mixes are often a lot less pleasant to work with. These are of course cheaper, but in the case of a 'Chanel-Style' jacket for example, the investment in real silk is definitely worth it. Moreover, the pleasure in your sewing project is not spoiled by a fabric that does not want to cooperate.
When making costumes for LARP, you run into problems less often. Most fabrics are based on fabrics such as canvas, jute, cotton, cotton twill, linen and sometimes leather. Leather-sewing of course a profession, but the other fabrics are nice to cut and sew. In LARP costumes less elastic fabrics are used because they were not there before. In addition, most fabrics must be strong and able to take a beating. LARP events are not just about posing for a photo, but there is often action and movement. Tough robust fabrics are key elements!
However, velvet is often used in medieval clothing. This is a difficult fabric because it is difficult to fold, you have to pay attention to the wing in the fabric while cutting and because the fabric slips during sewing. Make sure you use a special presser foot to avoid this problem and especially pin the parts very well. Better yet, baste everything before you start sewing.
The whiff of the fabric means that when you stroke the fabric, one side rubs flat on the hair and the other way the hair will stand on end. This changes the structure / color of the fabric. When you smooth the fabric, you go with the whiff, when the hairs stand up, you go against the whiff.
Take extra time while cutting and pay attention to the whiff. If the fabric is on the table, this seems less important. But once you put the fabric on as a garment, and the whiff isn't right, it can ruin the entire costume. Pay close attention to the WIRE DIRECTION indicated on the cartridge parts. So always buy extra fabric, you will need it to cut all the pattern parts correctly with regard to the fabric whiff. 'Fabric-saving' or cost-saving cutting is not applicable here.
Velvet is so beautiful that it is definitely worth it. However, if you choose stretch velvet or velor de panne, you have a lighter type of velvet and it is also elastic. These are not beginner fabrics. Ask for extra help and practice on test patches first.
Brocade fabrics can be very pleasant to sew, especially if it is not too thick. Goblin also sews nice and stable. These substances are often expensive. And make sure you order some extra fabric. The cutting will require extra fabric because there is often a drawing or pattern / drawing in the fabric.
Brocade fabrics can be thick or thin. Goblin is thicker; jeans sewing machine needles are a must.
Cosplay uses more lace, silk and stretch fabrics. This is easily done with mediocre sewing experience. If the costumes are more Fantasy and Steampunk-esque, make sure not to choose too thick fabrics or leather, if you do not have a special leather sewing machine. A lighter leather look is a better alternative and also less expensive.
Stretch lace is not an easy job, but the same applies here: baste everything in advance and then sew everything together. This extra action ensures that it succeeds in flat that your sewing project ends in the trash. Where possible: work by hand instead of the sewing machine.
Satin is not pleasant to sew with. A finer alternative is taffeta silk or real silk. These last two fold better and sew very pleasantly.
If you need a lot of fabric for a costume, such as with our Star Wars Kylo Ren costume, you can choose Garbadine or a cheaper alternative: Texture or Terlenka. These fabrics work fine, do not shrink and can take a beating.
Texture fabrics are often categorized under 'party fabrics' at online fabric stores. Do not let this be confusing. Texture of Terlenka are fine fabrics and are a great base for costumes.
Sample patches and alternatives
There is often an alternative for every fabric. Of course you cannot replace a recommended stretch fabric with a non-stretch fabric, but solutions can be found. Ask for advice in the store, ask the customer service of the online store or an experienced seamstress. Anything better than getting frustrated and quitting your sewing project. That would be a real pity and is often not necessary.
It is often possible to request a sample of the fabric. It can save you a lot of trouble.
Always buy a little extra fabric. Here you can practice in advance and test sewingmachineneedles or find the right stitch. It can also be reassuring that you have some extra fabric, in case something goes wrong while sewing or cutting the fabric.
Fabrics are often chosen or based on color and print. But the property of a fabric is even more important. Some fabrics are a lot more difficult to cut and sew than others. Be aware of this when choosing a fabric. When in doubt, request a sample or sew a sample first. A good sewing pattern, your experience as a seamstress and the right fabric determines whether a sewing project delivers a good result.
Good luck !
More and more people are buying their fabrics from an online store. It often takes a while to find the right fabric. Fortunately, most online fabric stores have good search filters, such as color, design, fabric type, stretchable or non-stretchable, thickness and, last but not least: the price category.
Designs, prints or motif
An important filter is the design of the fabric. There used to be a subdivision into plain or non-plain, nowadays there are many 'motifs', 'prints' or 'designs' per fabric. Most designs speak for themselves: hearts, dots, diamonds, flowers or stripes. Everyone understands that!
But what about, for example, 'chains', 'ornaments', 'garland' or 'chevron'? Many different terms are mentioned. To save you some time, we have made a list below of designs that are increasingly used with certain terms.
Can't find the right design? Do not panic! Here we have an overview!
Paisley is an ornament-like print that is mainly based on the teardrop shape. The drop is always round at the top and tapering to the bottom. The paisley print comes in many shapes, colors and directions. The thread direction is therefore often less important, depending on the fabric type (cotton, jacquard, tweed or jersey).
Note: 'paisley' design is sometimes categorized in the retro or ornaments filters.
An ornament (Latin ornare en ornamentum) means: to decorate and adornment, and is a composition or decorative elements to decorate objects. Think curls of buildings, arches, circles and everything 'barok'.
The shape of ornaments on fabrics is always symmetrical, beautifully curled, styled and repeated continuously.
In contrast to 'Paisley', ornamented fabric often has a clear top and bottom, or direction of the fabric.
Ornaments are often based on emblems, family crests, French lilies and architectural shapes.
Herringbone is a design characterized by rows of stripes that go up and down at an angle of about 30 degrees. The pattern is best known in the tweed fabrics, where it was really created by a certain weaving technique.
But herringbone can also be found as designs on jersey, cotton and demin fabrics. Be careful with the thread direction with this fabric, if you are going to use the fabric for a sewing pattern!
Herringbone is also sometimes called 'chevron' or 'zigzag'. In Dutch is it called: 'visgraat'.
Pied-de-Poule or Houndstooth
Pied de poule, means chicken legs. Also called: houndstooth, or: dog teeth. There are a lot of terms for this symmetrical pattern. The pattern is usually in black and white but can come in many other color combinations as well. Always two-colored and characterized by broken squares in an abstract pointed shape. Absolutely symmetrical from large patterns to very small checks.
The design is very recognizable and is widely used for woolen fabrics, cotton and jersey. In a rare case, the design falls under 'chef's or baker's fabric', because the uniform (the trousers) of a cook is often made in this black and white pattern.
'Vichy checks' is also a two-tone check, but ordinary squares. It is often used to make custom patterns because the checks often have standard sizes and there is a good explanation on the patterns about how you can make the sewing pattern completely your own size. The squares are working here as an extra help with the sizes.
Vichy checks is mainly seen in cotton fabrics and soft chambray.
Animal or animal fur
Fabric designs 'animal motifs' cannot be compared to 'animal fur'. Animal fur is always the well-known tiger print, zebra stripe or the pattern of the skin of giraffes.
Sometimes the categories 'camouflage', 'safari' or 'army' fall under the same filter or category. The design animal fur is mainly found in colorful fabrics, from fake fur to real fur ...
Animal motifs can be anything, as long as an animal is recognizable.
Garland is used in multiple senses. On the one hand, 'garland' means nothing more than a flower garland. Wherever designs are flower garlands, this fabric is therefore called 'garland'.
But it also applies to slightly 'vintage'-style designs with the atmosphere of flowers depicted in soft colors and a romantic atmosphere.
Finally, 'garland' often coincides with 'Christmas fabrics'. This is mainly because Christmas is often associated with lights, garlands of flowers and lamps. The atmosphere is therefore also called 'garland'. Garland is therefore a broad concept and is used for several types of designs for fabrics.
Geometric designs have everything to do with circles, triangles, squares, pentagons, honeycomb, rectangles, triangles, etc. The designs are always symmetrical and usually multicolored. Sometimes there is a kind of 3D effect, the fabrics seem to give depth as soon as you look at them or the fabric moves.
Retro designs mainly remind us of the sixties and seventies. Bright colors, lots of orange, green, brown, pink and yellow. Round shapes, psychedelic or imaginative. Any letters are convex and open and are usually outlined.
Retro designs can also be adapted to this modern time. It is then a combination of the shapes and slightly more modern colors. Or the reverse: the typical, strong colors of the flower power era, cast in a slightly more modern design. Especially with dark blue, retro can be a very good combination. They are often ideal, cheerful designs for summery cotton fabrics.
In some cases 'Batik' also is known as retro design. Batik is the design of dyed fabric in the typical round shapes and colors that blend into each other.
Vintage designs for fabrics are often pale in color and look 'fragile' and old. They have beautiful floral motifs, old photos or just a combination of old-looking colors. You often see vintage designs on canvas or gobelin. They are timeless fabrics that always remain beautiful.
'Nature' also often falls under 'vintage'. These are often the fabrics with botanical drawings of flowers, leaves, birds, gardens and animals. The colors are never harsh, glaring or bright.
Last but not least:
The name says it all: the design is based on chains, watches, belts, horse bits and fringes which are print on the fabric. The 'chain' motifs have a chic look that is a bit 'Hèrmes' style.
In a few cases the design also falls under 'Chanel-like fabrics' because of the golden chain that symbolizes the classic famous 2.55 bag.
Fabric designs come in many colors, patterns and variations. From beautiful symmetry to an image that can be purchased in 'panels'. This means that the fabric is cut per image, which is for example 1.25 meters. The 'panel' is then not interrupted if it is sold from the roll. You do not buy the fabric per meter but per panel.
More and more search filters are being used to find the right fabric online at fabric stores. That is of course a good thing. We would like to keep you informed of new terms.
If you know a category / term that is not self-evident and is not listed here ...? Please let us know and we will gladly add to our list.
Bouclé fabrics are our absolute favorites. The beautiful woven fabric with different colored threads and thicknesses are typical for Chanel-Style jackets. That's why we often use these fabrics and we can not get enough of it! Do you want to know everything about Bouclé fabrics? In this blog we have some tips and tricks for cutting and sewing Boucle fabrics without problems or frustrations.
Sewing Bouclé fabrics is a challenge
It is one of the biggest challenges of a seamstress; to sew those lovely but very loose, supple, loose, soft, unstructured, weak and unmanageable fabrics. Why? The fabrics can be loose or tightly woven. Between the two, loosely woven Bouclé is harder to sew. To work successfully with the fabric it is necessary to adjust your hand- and machine-sewing techniques to better accommodate the fabric. We are talking here more about the loose woven version of the fabric because the rigid variant is rarely used for clothing. This stiff version of the bouclé fabric is better suited for furniture upholstery or to make a nice pillow. It may be that you bought it by accident, and you can indeed make it a jacket, but the jacket will not be so nice and wearable. And probably only suitable for occasional clothing such as evening wear.
Loose woven Bouclé fabrics, as our example, are very unmanageable but also very suitable for our purpose: the beautiful Chanel cardigan jacket.
Coco Chanel worked a lot with those fabrics because she new it would be worth it and the heavenly feeling of wearing the comfortable jacket would be the best in Couture: luxurious but comfortable as well.
We now know, especially from Claire Shaeffer's books, that the inside of the Chanel jacket kept a lot of secrets. She reinforced the fabrics in many places with special interfacings and even accentuated the curves (the skirt) to prevent wrinkles and darts.
Tips & tricks:
You will need a lot of interfacing. Interfacing can be fusible or sew-in. We also love to work with heavy weight cottons. But make sure they will not shrink.
Hems should be overlocked, there is a tendency for some of these fabrics to fray and ravel badly
Closures of all types can be used.
Bound-buttonholes will be the most beautiful option if you need to sew buttonholes. Interfacing them and work carefully. Use little stitching here.
Bounded buttonholes are the best choice
All types of closures can be used. Bound buttonholes are the best option if you need to sew buttonholes. Use small stitching here. How to make a hand-tied knot [hole] is also explained in detail on the sewing patterns and in the books of Claire Shaeffer. And most sewing books with instructions often have clear explanations for this sewing technique, with accompanying photos or drawings.
It is quite a job, but worth it, bounded buttonholes look much better on a Bouclé jacket than normal buttonholes.
Do you want to avoid buttonholes? Then use snaps on the back of the fabric and possibly a decorative button on the front. It is less 'couture-worthy' but sometimes a great alternative for very loose-threaded Bouclé fabric.
Once you get to work with Bouclé fabrics, it will not be that difficult anymore or frustrating. Buy some extra fabric for testing and practice, but soon you will love to work with it.
Just make sure you think before you sew. Interfacing or extra interfacing should be done in first place, It is too late when you already have sewn the lining on the fabrics. Also iron and pres a lot fusible interfacing on the fabrics. It will look better in the end and the garment will keep its shape.
Good luck !
Couture Chanel jackets are very often made of Bouclé fabrics. Bouclé fabrics are woven fabrics, always unique in terms of composition and in terms of colors and yarns. The name Bouclé actually refers to both the yarn and the fabric made from the yarns. But what exactly is Bouclé fabric?
How to describe bouclé fabric? Bouclé is both a yarn and a fabric made from it. The yarn is made from a length of loops of similar size which can range from tiny circlets to large curls. The definition is not easy. If you try to find bouclé in stores or on the internet in fabric-online-shops, it is often named differently.
Sometimes it is categorized under:
In other languages the fabric is mostly called Bouclé as well but sometimes it is better to search for "Chanel fabrics" because the fabric is mostly used for Chanel Couture, jackets and skirts. On google "Chanel fabrics" are even more searched than "Bouclé fabrics".
"Chanel fabrics" are protected by proprietary rights. Most fabric stores do incorporate the association of the name Chanel into it. Sometimes you can find Bouclé fabrics under names such as: Channel, Chanellook, Chanella, Chanelli, Chanello. This is because the customer often searches under 'Chanel' and still ends up with the relevant fabrics. And for the very simple reasons that the seamstresses who want to make a Cahnel-style jacket often search under the name 'Chanel' and hopes she will find the type find the type of fabric which is typical for the jacket.
Bouclé fabric is characterized by it's curly, knotted appearance that is created by it's open, woven weave; with fancy yarn, lurex threads, trims, ribbons, sequins in various colours.
The fabric is original from the era of French 1950s fashion trends. Most Couture Houses loved the fabric because of its fashion appearance and a feeling of freedom which Coco Chanel used for designing her famous cardigan jackets and skirts.
In modern Couture the fabric is even used in dresses, trousers and coats. It is always quite expensive because it is even a challenge and demands couture sewing techniques and a lot of working-hours to create the garments. On the catwalks the couture, based on Bouclé fabrics, are the real show-stoppers, even in Spring Collections. The bouclé is a statement of pure couture and luxury tailoring.
Bouclé fabric are soft, airy and elastic, existing of various threads, such as wool or cotton, including metallized fibres and sequins. Mostly gold or silver accents. Tweed boucle is all about soft ànd bold colours, as well as the classic combination of black and white. Comfy, elegant and always luxurious.
Bouclé fabrics are very supple and often loosely woven. However, they can also be very stiff, especially if they are actually fabrics designed for furniture upholstery and furniture upholstery. So pay attention to the texture. Too flexible and loosely woven fabric is very difficult to process (like our example below). Too stiff or solid is easier to work with but not nice to wear and not comfortable at all.
Unless, for example, it is used for the creation of an open-front jacket or occasional clothing such as festive clothing, gala jackets or other luxury jackets.
Pay particular attention, if you buy Bouclé fabric that you buy enough fabric because you will have to cut everything so that the loose threads do not disturb the pattern and sizes. In other words: buy extra fabric; cut the pattern with a few centimeters seam extra and keep in mind that there will be a lot of waste of fabric.
Bouclé fabric is also very suitable for the beautiful fringes. You can have them nicely fringed but also completely un tied and crochet or even knit. Braiding is also often done. It is a perfect and beautiful idea if you use the same fabric and make creative fringes with it.
Bouclé fabrics are famous and beloved because of their beautiful structure with loose threads, loops and sometimes gold or silver threads added. Therefore uni-colors are not very common but they are out there on the market. Mostly bouclé fabrics are fabrics which do not have prints or patterns (almost impossible) but sometimes they have a squared pattern or a simple pattern of the woven threads. Sometimes the fabrics have a woven pattern or a kind of rhythm of recurring colors.
Bouclé fabrics are very nice and creative fabric to make great combinations with a beautiful lining, buttons and the fringes.
Tips & tricks:
It is a big thing in the Netherlands, Germany Belgium, France and Luxembourg. Maybe in other countries as well. A giant market place, mostly indoors; goods fair specialized for the hobby sewing- and fabric world. You can see it as a sort of fabric fair, but for consumers. It is an event where various nationally and internationally known fabric suppliers present and sell the latest fabric collections. The average size of our exhibitions is 5,000 square meters, some smaller, some much larger.
Every spring and autumn on the same location in a big city, in the big cities of Europe, where event halls are present and an enthusiastic audience. So, now you know how it works. And there you are, walking around with a girlfriend who has the same hobby, a part of the website/blog team of a nice neighbor or daughter. It is overwhelming.
What do they offer?
“Women's fabrics, children's fabrics, lining fabrics, Haute couture fabrics, bridal fabrics curtain fabrics, lace curtains, furnishing fabrics, decoration fabrics, imitation or imitation leather, imitation fur, oilcloth, polyester foam and haberdasheries”. “Fabrics from well-known fabric brands and ready-to-wear workshops. Many fabric suppliers have patterns and patterns books available through their suppliers. There are also specialists in patterns that offer everything in the field of patterns. Because there are fabric dealers from all over the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and / or France at such an event, a unique offer is presented”.
And what is happening around us?
“Many demonstrations are given at Fabric Show. For example, the regional BERNINA sewing machine dealer demonstrates how to manufacture the best clothing with the latest machines. Known but also new techniques are discussed. It also shows how you can customize clothing by embroidering or applying applications. Fashion schools are sometimes present, to show you how you can train even better in the manufacture of clothing”. A Perfect day out ? “It is a great day out for everyone who is actively engaged in self-making fashion. At every location there is an opportunity to enjoy a nice cup of coffee. Whether on the exhibition floor between the fabrics, or in the local Grand Café around the corner”.Yes indeed a perfect day out if you want to look for something special (A beautiful Bouclé fabric?) or you need to buy some bulk (linings, threads, inter-facings, etc. Etc.) It is unlikely you can not find the things you are looking for...
But how to survive this day?
It takes a lot of condition to shop around for hours and a lot of strength to walk around with your bags full of fabrics or other stuff. The problem with Bouclé and Tweed fabrics is also the fact that they are heavy and bulky. Three meters beautiful Woolen Bouclé and you already need a giant shopper.
To prevent you from becoming overloaded with too much goods and getting completely crazy about the events with all its impressions.
1. Plan travel and parking
It will be a long day and exhausting as well. Before you even enter the market halls you have already had a long journey and a lot of traffic and parking stress.
It seems unnecessary to report but look in advance especially to the website where you can park, how much it costs and how you can best travel there.
Event halls are often located on the industry area's of the cities and are therefore not within walking distance from the central station. Often there are buses, sometimes even organized buses. These events also often give you the opportunity to register online for carpooling. Just as easy; traveling with someone, shared costs and less stress.
2. Make a shoppinglist
The funny thing with our brains is the fact that if they are overloaded, you suddenly lose a lot.
You are looking some haberdasheries or some special fabrics, but the minute you walk into the event halls, you have forgotten it because you because suddenly everything comes to you and you come across an overload of supplies and goods. Keep you shopping-list in your pockets or your small fabric samples ( if you're looking for the right combinations so that you have exactly the right color with you.)
On such days, impulsive purchases are of course great and it is wonderful to find or discover new things, but also look for what you have been looking for or need in the short term.
3. Take your time
It is a day off. So take your time. Do not stress around or get exhausted before the end of the day. Treat yourself and your company to a nice lunch or dinner. No need to run around or to hurry. These event-days are only once a year.
4. Go with the flow
Or do not. We have literally turned it around; walk against the flow, start at the last market-shop-table instead of the first one. It can work if it is not the rush hour. Going with the flow sounds easier but on an event it can be very irritating as well if you have to wait, wait and wait before the market-seller has the time to cut your fabrics and you are able to pay for it, without needing to jell or push away fifty other jelling women....
Avoid rush-hour is a good idea as well. Start early and leave before closure-time. A great idea to avoid the big stress. (And lunch too early or too late, if your stomach agrees)
It might be interesting to wait for the last hours; sometimes goods will be sold very cheap. But quality fabrics will never be given away and you do not want to leave the halls when everybody else is leaving as well...
5. How to find what you are looking for ?
First of all; there is always a website. On the website there is plenty of information and sometimes even a
plan of the participants or a map of the event halls. Then there is the link page. You can always call upfront to the store or address of the participants to get more information if you are looking for something really special. Plan to visit these participants first. If you already have bought some nice but not-planned stuff, it will be exhausting to start looking for your specials at the end of the day. If it is really a burden to find where you are looking for; just ask around. Al these ladies; they just know. Or they might even help you....
6. Practical necessities
It sound a bit stupid but these days it is better to be prepared than to assume everything is going to be fine. We all know fair or event days are always exhausting and that has nothing to do with your physical condition, but more with the fact that it is days that are overloaded with impressions, products and offers. And of course with unknowing facts like: how to get there, where to park my car, how to find th toilets, where to eat, how to carry around my stuff and how to make sure we will stick together or where do we get back at the exit?
A list of things that you are glad you have not forgotten about:
1. Comfortable shoes!
Sure you knew already, but really NOBODY will take a look at your shoes, the shoes need to carry you all day, so just take the most comfortable shoes you have and forget about styling ....
2. A bottle of water
Yes, really. Somehow on these days it is almost impossible to prevent getting headaches
because of the too strong coffee, too little drinking on the way and the too dry air. Drinking a bottle of water, during the day, will be a great help. How do you know it did work? If these days do not end driving back home with a terrible headache, or the next day...
A healthy snack will also be a good idea. Do not expect to have a healthy diner in the café of the event-restaurant. Mostly they offer quick fastfood and a lot of sweet stuff. A healthy sandwich is a far better idea to have a great day with a lot of energy.
3. Enough money and your mobile
Easy but truth. Buying some extra fabrics will not hurt. Buying too little will be a shame because you know you can not go back the next day. in case you changed you mind or want the fabric for another sewing-project. Also on these fairs, there are always a lot of sales. Better to buy some haberdasheries and fabrics for the long terms as well....
4. Shoppingbags, a shopping troley
Yes sure, it looks silly and you do not want to be seen with a shopping trolley. But who cares. All the ladies are looking at the beautiful fabrics, not at you... Wear eyeglasses and a hat, if you want to be sure you will not be spotted with a shopping trolley and comfort-shoes............ Haha. ...........
5. Last but not least: Know the measurements of the fabrics you need
Write them down or keep them in your mind. How much fabric do you need for a jacket? A skirt? A coat? How much lining do you need for the jacket, or two or three? It will be wise to know because you will not be able to exchange the fabric or buy extra the next day or week, if your measurements were not correct.
Fabric events are great to buy fabrics. Be well prepared and enjoy your day!
If you really want to buy a 100% Silk fabric but you are not sure about the fabric you want to buy in a store or on a market, here some help to recognize it.
Do a Touch test.
This is a quick spot test that one can do especially before buying a silk fabric. The idea is to rub the silk with your hands. If you feel warmth on rubbing it, go buy it! It’s real. With artificial or synthetic silk, it is impossible to experience warmth on rubbing. One more thing, real silk sounds like walking on fresh snow. It crisps. Think about crisping a piece of tin paper. Aluminum foil; now you know.
Perform a Ring Test.
If the silk that you are planning to buy is not very heavy, this test is perfect! Genuine silk can be easily threaded and pulled through a wedding ring because silk is naturally flexible and smooth. On the other hand, artificial silks would scrunch up and would be impossible to pull through.
Consider the price.
Of course, real silk is almost ten times costlier than the synthetic ones. Sometimes the synthetic silk is priced much higher and looks like silk to an untrained eye but mostly low price is a very good indication of its poor quality. The reason you should know the secrets to recognize a real Silk. It happens to us more than once. You think you buy a real Silk, but it isn't....
The Lustre of the material.
Silk is especially known for its lustre. The lustre is usually because of the combination of threads which gives a particular sheen to the material. The colour on the surface appears to change as the angle of the light changes. Artificial silks, however, gives a white sheen no matter what the angle of light falling on it.
Look at the Weave.
Hand woven silk boasts of uniqueness. There are minor variations in the evenness of the texture which is quite noticeable. But fret not! These are natural and expected. These imperfections are what lend distinction to the product. Machine woven silks look perfect. They are flawlessly even in texture and hence… lacks character! Synthetic fibers look perfect too even though sometimes slight imperfections are deliberately included so that they could pass off as real silk.
Note that Dupion silk looks a bit "messy". But that is correct. Look at Dupion characteristics to understand the difference.
Perform a Burn Test, if possible...
This is perhaps the best and most definitive test to find genuine silk. You can take a few threads from the material and burn it with a flame. Genuine silk burns with smell of burnt hair. When you burn the edge of real silk fabric, the flame is invisible and it will stop burning as soon as the flame is removed. The ash produced hence, is black, crispy and brittle. It turns to powder when twisted in fingers.With the artificial silk, it is quite the opposite. When synthetic silk is burnt, there is a flame and smell of plastic. No ash is produced. Needless to say, you might need to exercise caution with this step. You don’t want to end up setting fire to the silk shop or a marketplace.
If you really need to know, consider a Chemical Test. If you have a lab with necessary chemicals on the standby, ready for some experimentation, what’s stopping you? Or maybe you know a chemical student who wants to do the test for you ? For starters, you need: Mix all the below and dip a small piece of silk that you want to test into the solution. Real silk dissolves in a few minutes while artificial silk would not dissolve.
Remember that Old is Gold.
The older the silk gets, the more beautiful it becomes. With the fake silk, it is quite the opposite. The fake silk tends to fade with time. But again, it is a better idea to buy a genuine silk rather than end up with a fake one.Now that you are armed with some really good tips for the next silk shopping spree, sleep easy. You are going to get the silk fabric you so rightly deserve.
Whether you are an absolute beginner, a hobby seamstress with little experience, or an experienced seamstress, the success of a project often depends on choosing a good pattern. Which sewing pattern is the best if you want to create a DIY-Chanel jacket?
How to choose YOUR sewing pattern
A great sewing pattern is the most important start if you want to create a Chanel-Style jacket. It is not only about WHAT you want to make but also how you will make it. Which fabric do you need?
Which size do you have? How much time does it take to finish the project ? (Last one is important if you are creating some garment for a planned date, party or event...)
We assume you are looking around on our website because you are going to make a Chanel inspired jacket, skirt or other couture classic. But you are not sure yet which sewing pattern is the best option for your sewing project.
We will help with a step-by-step guide.
It happens to everyone; halfway a project, you realize the project is not what you had in mind, too little fabrics or lining, wrong size, your expectations were too high or you just do not have enough sewing skills yet to finish the project. No shame. Just continue with your goal and try to plan and oversee the next project a little better.
Now let's rock and roll:
1. First, think for a moment what you want
Do you want a shaped and formal Chanel-Style jacket? Or casual and comfortable? Very important! Take a look at the reviews or the backside of the sewing pattern-envelop. If you look for a tight, shaped and slim jacket, then choose a sewing pattern which is "fitted". If you want your Chanel Inspired jacket to be more comfortable, maybe with front-sides open-hanging and a casual appearance; look out for the "semi-fitted" jackets.
Loose fitting is a more comfortable shape, belly freedom and not following the contours of the body closely.
Fitted jackets: Vogue V7975, Burda 6705, Simplicity 1421, McCalls M7058.
Semi-fitted jackets: Vogue V8804, Vogue V8991, Vogue V9095, Butterick B6382, Burda 6465, Burda 8949 and Neue Mode M23079
Loose fitting jacket: Vogue 9250, New Look 6496.
2. What about underlining?
The classic French Chanel jacket is famous mostly because of it's quilted lining, which offers an exclusive sense of movement, freedom and luxury. The "invention" of this jacket was innovative in the time that came after the corsets and the tight clothing code. The jacket gave the wearer a sense of freedom and made sure that it was still chic and exclusive enough to continue as a couture. Anyway, if you want to go for the classic and most exclusive version choose a pattern of Claire Shaeffer which offers the possibility and the instructions to quilt the lining.
Examples: Vogue V8804 en Vogue V8991.
The other Chanel Inspired jackets offer the normal standard way of linings. In advanced options, we will talk about quilting linings in other sewing patterns, but as said; it is only an extra option. The sewing pattern is not focused on this process, as above mentioned sewing patterns specific do.
If you prefer a jacket which is not underlined at all: New Look 6496, Burda 8949 and Simplicity 1421.
These unlined jackets are a great options for hot summers or a way to practice and to get to know your most beloved or desired Chanel Inspired Jacket.
3. Your skills or sewing level
Know your skills about sewing techniques. It might be a challenge to create a perfect, complicated and advanced Chanel jacket, but realize that it is also very, very frustrating if you need to stop your project because of problems or a lack of sewing experience.
Sewing Pattern give codes or names for the desired levels in different languages. Easy/Beginners/Basic/Facile/Very easy, Average/Mittel/Moins Facile or Advanced/Difficult/Plus Difficile.
This is based on classical training and is sometimes based on principles that seems logical but are not logical at all.
If you want to be sure; read our reviews. 'Average' is sometimes more difficult as it looks and even Easy or Beginners may require sewing techniques that you may not have mastered. The instructions on the Sewing Pattern are sometimes loud and clear. But sometimes they are not loud and clear at all.
If you want to be sure about your skills, you need to finish the project from the start till the day you will wear it with glory.... have a helping hand nearby or do not start with a sewing pattern which requires too much dedication, knowledge and advanced couture sewing skills.
4. Know your size
Needless to say... But do realize that size DOES matter. You can try on different sizes if you buy a jacket in a store. It is more common sizes are living their own lives these days because of mass-production and non-global standards.
If you start to sew (and cut the fabric) there is no way back. So be sure about your size, or even better: first create an example-size like they do at the big couture houses. Molton or mousseline fabric is ideal, or just a cheap fabric you do not use.....
5. The Fabrics
Read the Sewing Patterns requirements about the fabric and our reviews. The quantity you need is important ( do not forget to order or buy some extra fabric to create more pockets or self-made fringes), but also the kind of fabric. How a pattern or final result falls depends largely on the type of fabric used. Some patterns are great for tweeds or bouclé. Others are more suitable for wool or wool-blends.
If you want to try a fabric which is not mentioned on the sewing pattern; read our reviews. Sometimes it is a good idea to use a different type of fabric. But more often it is not such a good idea to ignore the advises.
On almost every sewing pattern a warning is noted: "Unsuitable for obvious diagonals". Meaning: it will be a hell of a job to work with fabrics with squares, dots, stripes, shapes, patterns, corners, triangles, lines, diagonals on the pattern etc, to make it visually attractive. It might be work but you need a lot of extra fabrics and have advanced skills to construct the pattern-pieces to match the pattern on the fabric. It is really Haute Couture when a checkered or striped jacket looks perfectly visual symmetrical and perfect. Unless it is a big challenge; stick to choosing a fabric which will not be a burden.
On Claire Shaeffer's sewing pattern a warning is noted: "Unsuitable for obvious diagonals or uneven plaids. Allow extra fabric to match even plaids or stripes. Use nap yardages/layouts for pile, shaded or one-way design fabrics."
Meaning: A yardage is a distance or length measured in yards. A fabric with nap is one what usually has a pile and will look different color shades from different angles. Velvet, velours, panne de velours ... Fabric with a one way design will also use the with nap cutting layout, so that the design on the fabric all runs in the same direction on the finished item.
What about buttons, fringes or adding pockets? Do you want a sewing pattern with a lot of pockets, fringes and trims? Or do you want a Chanel-style jacket which is plain...
7. It's the time of the season...
Last but not least: Think about the seasons. Are you going to sew a Chanel-Style SUMMER jacket or a warmth WINTER jacket?
Read all about the right fabric for a Chanel-Style SUMMER jacket.
Read more: Sewing patterns step by step