Friday, March 24, 2017

Organic Cotton Plus Fabric Review

Checking my email a few months ago, I was ecstatic to see a message from Organic Cotton Plus offering me fabric from their website. They deal in 100% certified organic fabric that meet Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS). Their range of products include different types of silk, jute, linen, and wool in knit and woven forms. In just their silk category, they offer hemp, "peace" silk, and a hemp/silk blend. They also carry in their online shop "green" laundry detergents, natural horn buttons, and both fiber reactive and vegetable dyes.

After looking through their site I was eager to choose my items; however, I had no idea how hard the decision would be. I found myself taking two days just running through fabric type, quantity, and color scenarios; if I bought two yards of their French terry, could I still afford anything else? However, I could afford four yards of their organic twill but then get just one color or split it between colors? I was also tempted with their peace silk but whatever I made with it would probably only be worn once because of my so-NOT-silk-friendly lifestyle.

I decided to end the indecision by thinking of the patterns already in my stash and what projects I had been wanting to make that were already on my project list. I then compared that list with which fabrics Organic Cotton Plus had to offer that would work with them.

In the end, I choose two lengths of their 60" (actually 62"!) twill in two colors that are always hard for me to find; a strong green and a rich brown. I was so excited to get my hands on this fabric and in addition, by publishing my review, I would join the likes of Cut Cut Sew, Lladybird, Male Pattern Boldness, and True Bias in sampling Organic Cotton Plus fabrics.

How it arrived.
Unfortunately, both two yard lengths I originally received were off-grain. I contacted the company and they graciously sent another cut length. While better than the first, the new length was also stretched out of grain. Even though I knew in theory how to fix the problem, I took this as a research opportunity and looked through my 20-plus sewing books and found everything I could about straightening fabric grain. Out of all my books, the most detailed and complete instruction was found in my Vogue Sewing Book (c. 1982) on page 132. This was the only one that suggested soaking the fabric to relax the fibers.
Dampened with the selvages pinned together.
I first straightened the crosswise ends of the fabric by cutting into the selvage and pulling a thread across the width. After unsuccessfully trying to stretch the fabric into shape while dry, I decided to block the fabric. I soaked it in warm water, gave it another good stretch on the bias, and pinned the selvages together.
Still wet and coaxed into place.
Then similar to what is done with knitted projects, I laid the fabric flat, stretched, and pressed it into position to dry for a few hours. Before it was completely dry, I steam ironed it while continuing to coax it into place. This corrected the grain.

Ta Da, dried and corrected fabric!
While time-consuming, I am still happy with this fabric, the quality and durability is excellent. It also sews and presses well. However, I strongly feel that the company should do a review their manufacturing process, because somewhere along the way something is pulling their fabric off grain. In all, I received three separate 2-yard lengths from them and all were off-grain. Since I started this blog in 2006, I have been in the habit of checking the grain of every woven fabric before I work with them but many sewists (especially new ones) may not do this and that is were the harm would be.

Rated on a scale of 1 to 5:

Organic Cotton Plus = 4, with suggested due diligence.

Here's a sneak peek of my finished project made with their nutmeg brown 60" twill (#16018OT-NUT), the review is coming up next!

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Hmmm, Which One To Buy?

  McCall's 7551

  McCall's 8164

I could also buy both and graft the perfect bib of 8164 to the adapted wider legs of 7551. But I don't even know when I would get to making these. Is it worth having another project breathing down my neck?

I am also the strongest advocate of practical dressing, so really, two pairs of overalls, aka Satan's playsuit? What is happening to me?

Update: As it turned out, while searching Etsy I found a copy of McCall's 7551 and put in my shopping cart while I was debating if I was even going to publish this post. Weeks later, it was still there and numerous searches on Etsy and eBay found no other copies of it available so I chose to see it as a sign and received it two days ago.

I don't know when it will happen but I no longer have an excuse not to make these. In fact, my copy is also a larger size, so I have no excuse ever.


Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Surprise! Actually Buying Fabric With A Purpose!

When swatching fabrics from Mood Fabrics two years ago, I decided to see what all the fuss was about 4-ply silk. I ordered swatches of it, along with some of silk charmeuse and silk crepe de chine in some rich jewel colors. There was a gorgeous emerald green crepe de chine that I really liked but I had no real reason to order any silk.

In 2010, I had written about "THAT green dress" worn by Keira Knightley in 2007's Atonement. The dress made of silk satin was designed by Jacqueline Durran and I was fascinated by the story of the construction and the tales of the garments' extreme fragility. When I held that emerald green silk swatch, that dress was the first image that came to mind along with all its 1920s details and influences.

Then in 2015, my niece announced that she was getting married the summer of 2017 and I realized "Well, I AM going to need a party dress!" The only semi or formal gowns I had in reserve were one former bridesmaid dress from 15 years ago (actually wearable and I had hoped for an opportunity to wear it again!) and one black (!) satin affair. The old bridesmaid dress could be worn for the rehearsal dinner because that silk crepe swatch had now become a real dress possibility.

In my pattern stash, I had the two free indie PDF patterns, the Eva dress from Your Style Rocks and the Little Bias Dress by Vera Venus. I assumed at the time that I would use one of them for the dress. However, over the last few months, I've tracked down real life examples of these dresses made up and I've lost my love for them. The Eva dress was dropped first, it is a great design that I hope to still make up but I now want to have my 1920-30s bias silk dress fantasy and that is not the Eva.

I had been pretty convinced the Vera Venus Little Bias Dress (LBD) was "the one" but time has made me question that thought. When I first downloaded the pattern I matched the measurements, but not now, which means alteration would be necessary.

Well, time has sped along and that wedding is now only five months away. I need to choose a pattern that will result in a flowing, figure-enhancing, 1920-30s styled dress and is fairly simple to make for my first time sewing with silk.

On Instagram, @sewandstyle_ posted a Diane von Furstenburg "Dita" dress and a sketch of it's construction. I was struck at how familiar that dressed looked and remembered a New Look pattern that was constructed very similarly. See? The skirt panels are attached the exact same way!

So right now, this is the dress to beat! Yes, the 1930's influence isn't really there but I can't stop thinking of this dress now. The skirt for New Look 6244 seems fuller than the Dita (about 110" in width) so a muslin must be created time and the asymmetrical hemline will need to be drafted, which I think will help add the vintage element. In addition, the hemming of that hemline will be another hurdle to jump.

But look at these gorgeous examples of the Dita dress. Oh, how I would love to end up with something like this!

So no doubt about it, I will need to perfect a muslin in order to replicate the Dita using this pattern, because of the difference in the skirts' fullness and hemline.

Maybe even this hemline is doable?

Part of me wants to try the dress first in a polyester crepe de chine. However, the final dress must be in silk, a fabric I have never sewn; therefore, I need to know how the fabric behaves when cutting it out, sewing it on my tempestuous machine, and when adding closures or hemming by hand.

I need to practice sewing silk on a simpler project like a bias camisole or drapey top for practice and to also make a polyester trial of the dress. So, yes I have a lot of sewing to do before the tenth of June!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Momentarily Obsessed

From Fantasy Linen

I came across this picture a week ago and fell in love with these loose linen overalls from Fantasy Linen. They remind me so much of an over-sized loose linen jumper dress I received in a clothing swap during college. They are so similar in construction except that these finish in culottes instead of a full skirt.

Yoko overalls

I went searching for a similar pattern to avoid having to draft one; which to be honest, considering my current sewing queue, would be a long way off. The first one I found was the Yoko convertible overalls by Hana Patterns. However, they are made in two parts and the bib is detachable while I prefer the seamless design of the inspiration piece.

Rachel overall

Another possibility is the Schnittchen Rachel overall which has the voluminous pant legs but it would require creating a bib, eliminating that center button placket, and creating an opening on the side.

I then thought a better source of something similar but with a looser fit might be a 1980-90s maternity overall pattern. Remember those? That was a time when women looked like over-sized toddlers in huge figure-hiding rompers with their ankles and wrists usually ending in gathered cuffs. Basically the traditional clown costume (see last image). While there were the 80s horrors we remember, there were some more wearable variations, such as the two below.

McCall's 8164
McCall's 7551

In the very first page of search results, I found McCall's 8164 from 1996 and it's incredibly close! Lengthening the bib straps and enlarging the width of those pant legs below the hips might be all that needs to be done. Even closer is McCall's 7551, which definitely has the correct legs, I would just need to drop the crotch an inch or so, like in the inspiration garment. This one could be a real contender.

Traditional patterns for or dungarees are on trend right now so those types are easy to find. Most are designed to be much more figure-hugging than what I want but I found Kwik Sew 3897 to be a bit looser at the waist and hips. It has a two-piece front but that seam line could be easily eliminated. The sides are constructed traditionally with buttoned placket openings that match the construction of my fave jumper.

Hyssop culottes

I also decided to check Japanese sewing patterns but knew that would be hard considering I can't read the language and wouldn't know how to describe what I wanted. Then I came across and discovered that what I was looking for may be called a salopette. After using that as a search term I found the Hyssop culottes from Tamanegi-Kobo, which has perfect legs but again would need a different bib.

If you see anything else out there that would work in replicating the Fantasy Linen overall, please let me know!

Oh and because I just had to pass this along, here is possibly one of the most misguided maternity patterns I came across. I love how they tried to make it all "disco fabulous" with the cherry red blusher and the wet-look lip gloss, but I just don't think it succeeded.

Butterick 4820