a cautionary tale
We all make mistakes, in sewing it can be hard to handle. Perhaps it’s because you have to destroy what you’ve just created. Here is how this outfit started out great but took some perseverance to get finished.
The event: a birthday party in a suite at the racetrack, with highs in the 80’s or 90’s I can’t remember (I ended up sick with a fever and didn’t get to wear it, whawha). Our going out usually consists of jeans and a nice shirt so this required a bit of a dressier outfit but also something that wouldn’t be too hot in this So Cal heat. I immediately knew what I wanted to make.
I had tested both patterns the View Ridge by Straight Stitch Designs and Cleo Skirt by Made by Rae, for these designers and shopped for fabrics with these specific patterns in mind. I knew what I wanted to use on them before I even paid for them so it seemed like a win before I even began. Oh how pride goes before a fall.
How I made stretch pull on jeans out of one of a kind ice dyed fabric.
I ice dyed some Cone Mills Denim natural color with a 20% stretch for these jeans you can read all about it here. Since I was essentially cutting into a piece of art, I made the fit version out of black denim also with 20% stretch from JoAnns. The quality in the two different denims was VERY noticeable.
I have posted about my first and most fabulous Harrison Shirt by Cashmerette Patterns. I made it out of Art Gallery Denim Collection and it is washing and wearing well (except for a little extra wrinkling in the collar but I think that’s a fusible interfacing issue)
I had a few yards of black double gauze and half a yard of a japanese print double gauze that I though would be an interesting version #2 with contrast back, cuffs, collar and button placket. Sadly the colors didn’t work for me, one was deep navy and the other true black. Maybe this should have been my first sign to change ideas but I persevered on.
After the new year I reorganized my sewing room (even well-organized places need a refresh after all) and had all my fabrics easily accessible based on what I was most likely to sew often. This unearthed a fine wale corduroy that I had purchased for the big kid probably four years ago or so, back when she still liked pink. Oh how things have changed. A lightbulb went off! Oh what about pink and black and pearl snap buttons!!! And at this point if you are wondering if I have western boots to go with this glorious concoction of contrasts the answer is yes, yes I do. They are grey with rainbow stitching and I found them at a thrift store for eleven bucks, I love treasure hunting.
So I began, body of the shirt to be black double gauze, back yolk and all little bits were going to be this corduroy print.
Everything was ok the fabrics were playing well together, they have a velcro like stick to each other capacity so less pins. But the corduroy shifts, and warps. Could be user error, not on straight grain or could be a sub par substrate (that is what the base fabric is called). I continued on and used my nifty new Tula Pink Surgical Seam ripper often. Did you know that it’s hard to seam rip black thread on black fabric? I think in the future I will go with navy or a deep grey as my glasses and Ott light didn’t help, I wonder if it was like that black paint and absorbing all the light so I couldn’t see?
Then I run out of black thread, sort of. I later realized I have cones of black serger thread but that’s ok, I went to one of our local independent retailers and found high quality thread (yes thread matters, listen here and find out why) and some seam tape for a future bra. I was on track to finish this shirt in time for my weekend. This project is a lesson in not rushing through.
My super cute light pink Dritz pearl snaps I bought on sale from WaWak were right where I needed them thanks to my organizing overhaul. I began with a cuff because if I mess up, there is less visual impact. Then where is my snap setter? Can’t find it anywhere. I have an eyelet press, a leather punch and no snap setter, seems wrong to me. Thank goodness for JoAnn’s coupons, in less than 30 minutes I have what I need and hammer away.
It’s not working. The prongs aren’t catching, try again with a new set, and it looks like I have it. I set the mate with no problem, woo hoo! I snap them together, nice tight fit, oh very tight, oh guess I need to pull harder (this is going to be challenging to do up or undo the front) and POP! The pearl back snap has popped off. GRRR. Ok I post a picture and my dilemma on one of my favorite FB groups and ask for help, we all need help sometimes. Prongs are probably too short for my fabrics. SIGH
This shirt is going to be awesome. When I have the right snaps or buttons, I don’t know what it is going to be at this time, but I do know that I don’t need to force it any further. I have a fun shirt that will be finished when the time is right and not a moment before. So there it hangs. I am happy with the fit and will not settle for notions that do not fit or function in a way that make it a pleasure to wear.
What is the longest you’ve had a project sit and wait for the final touches?
My tips and suggestions for fabric shopping in Downtown Los Angeles CA
Fabric shopping can be so exciting, sometimes even treasure hunt like. I live about 45 minutes away from one of North Americas few fabric and manufacturing hubs, Downtown Los Angeles. Where there is garment manufacturing there is fabric. If you are visiting Los Angeles, you like to make clothing for yourself or others and you brought an extra suitcase (not really, but maybe) you really should get out there and shop DTLA (Downtown Los Angeles).
There is lots of walking and lots of people (if people aren’t your thing try to go during the week or early in the day)
It is very dirty downtown and you will be walking, a lot
Micheal Levine has a bathroom, most fabric shops don’t, some chain restaurants or food places may want you to deposit a quarter or use a code given by a cashier to unlock the bathroom
Bring cash. While many are totally fine with using a card swiper, you have more bargaining leverage if you pay cash, at the smaller vendors especially
If you are driving, everything is paid parking expect on average $20 (I’ve usually paid about $15 but rates can change) or use a social ride service, taxi or public transport
There are a multitude of small shops along Maple Ave. packed so tight it’s hard to walk into them but it is so worth it, thats were I found an entire roll of picot elastic for $6.00. Be aware some are closed on Saturday but open on Sunday. In between Maple Ave. and Santee St. on E. 9th St. is my favorite place to find swim and some underwear fabric Blue Moon, Google maps will take you to an indoor mall where its appointment only so beware. On Maple Ave. is Michael Levine’s, the map apps will take you to the right location for this one and it is worth it for a wide variety of fabrics, notions, yarn and ribbon or just a bathroom break.
Across the street from the main Michael Levine location is their Upholstery fabric and The Loft above. DO NOT MISS THE LOFT! This is where the treasure hunting starts. Up above the beautiful rolled and sorted upholstery fabrics are large boxes and bins of “one offs” “remnants” and “end of bolts”. Sometimes it’s a yard or it could be four, all of it is sold by the pound. I found loads of poly and nylon for lingerie sewing and knits, oh so many knits. The Loft is closed on Sunday so plan accordingly.
If you go on a weekday or Sunday (they are closed Saturday) there is a large vendor of trims and elastics on Maple between 9th and 8th. The building has “Trim Expo” painted on it but I don’t know if that is still the name of the business. So many beaded trims, woven ribbons, wedding lace and lingerie elastics in the back.
Once you are done getting down and dirty for your fabric fix, head toward Mood Fabrics in the Miracle Mile/La Brea part of Los Angeles. There on S. La Brea Ave you will find Mood fabrics and a bit farther up The Fabric Store-Los Angeles. This is where you can find silks and french ribbons, linens and New Zealand merino Jersey. At Mood they are happy to help pull down rolls or if you are wanting to “wait and see” give you a generous swatch. I am still using the swatch of Tulle Leonardo I received there, Bra making is great for using small bits of fabric.
There is also FIDM to visit if there is a costume or fashion installation to be displayed but that is for another post. I hope this has giving some intrepid sewist out there the info they need to explore what DTLA has to offer, it really is an experience that should not be missed.
Until next post, As Above Sew Below,