Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Make Your Wardrobe POP - "Oh La La"

While on my recent visit to the International Textiles Expo in Las Vegas with Victoria, we saw the most amazing fabrics from France, Italy and the USA.  I couldn't wait to have them in the store.  I try to stay up on the latest trends in fabric design, and one of the cooler trends I found at this years show were "digital" prints.

As the name implies, fabrics are printed with digital images, many of them purely graphic in nature and others more abstract.  They can be printed on all manner of textiles, from wovens to knits. I noticed that my friend and pattern designer Marci Tilton featured these digital prints on her blog as well.

I fell in love with this rayon knit depicting a nightime scene at Times Square.  It is printed in repeated panels measuring approximately 32 inches.

With such a large graphic, you need a pattern design that will preserve the image as much as possible - something plain, without darts or a lot of seaming.  I chose the "Four Good Measure Top" by Shapes, a perfect addition to my Fall wardrobe. The sizing of this top is perfect for the dimensions of the graphic printed on the knit.

The Shapes pattern is constructed in one large piece, i.e., both front and back panels are all in one section. In order to avoid having Times Square upside down in the back, we cut the pattern at the shoulder, thereby making a seam. In that way, both front and back of the top are right side up.

I had two panels of this wonderful knit, so why not make two tops. (I swear Laurel and I are going to start looking like twins pretty soon - we seem to be having the same tastes!)  But who wouldn't want this top?

This top is so comfortable in this rayon knit - it drapes beautifully. 

Laurel's top. Read more about Laurel's adventures at Laurel's Quill!
Zan's Top

Using a print this large could be overwhelming, both to me and my wardrobe. To limit the "wowzah" factor with large busy prints, it best to keep the shape of the garment simple with clean lines and basic shapes. Also, making sure it has colors that will go well with the basics of my wardrobe (neutral colored pants and skirts) makes it versatile. Pair it with jeans for a casual look, a fitted skirt for a formal winter event and bright, matching solid for a great vacation/summer outfit.

I love the styling of this "Shapes" top and have another gorgeous one being made right now. You are going to love it as much as I do!

I wanted to thank the gracious and generous ladies of the American Sewing Guild, Walnut Creek Chapter for inviting Laurel and I to speak at their Annual Holiday Meeting last Saturday.

What a blast we had sharing the garments of this blog, ideas about the store and industry insights.

You ladies have inspired my father and I for years and we wouldn't be here if it wasn't for your support.

Creatively yours,
a.k.a. FabricLady

2518 Shattuck Ave. @ Dwight Way
Berkeley, CA

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Obi Belt - a great Fall accessory!

I love my two Victory "Satsuki" garments...I love the ease and comfort of the summer top we made out of a wonderful tropical rayon batik pattern.

"Totally ready for Maui"

In fact I loved it so much that I wanted to have it made in a dress for my Fall wardrobe.  I chose a silk knit print in reds, slate blue, black and white.  This pattern works so well in a dress length, and is perfect for a day in the store or out to dinner.

When Laurel finished this dress and we placed in the Daughter's Choice area in the the store, a lot of people wanted to know more about the belt and how it was made.

The belt is a contemporary "Obi" sash, a popular fashion accessory back in the 80's.  The traditional Obi is a sash to be worn with Japanese kimonos. The Obi itself often requires the use of stiffeners and ribbons for definition of shape and decoration. There are many types of Obi, most for women - the contemporary women's Obi is a very conspicuous accessory, sometimes even more so than the kimono robe itself. 

I asked Laurel to write a tutorial on how to make an Obi belt.  It is surprisingly easy enough for many of our home sewists. So here you go:

From the Dressmaker - The Obi sash

Hi all! Laurel here!

Here is one method for making an Obi sash - it is the same method I used to make Suzan's belt for her Satsuki dress.  There are many ways to construct an Obi sash - this is just one:)

I am making my Obi sash using two fabrics - a mock suede front with a polyester knit lining and ties. You can use any combination of fabrics - I like the knit backing as it's easy to stretch around the stiff front of the belt I want to create.

To begin, make a simple pattern, sized to fit one-half the length of your waist. ( I just wish my waist was 28")

Cut out the front panel of the belt in a heavy fabric, such as felt, suede cloth, wool, etc. If your fabric needs some extra stiffness, use a fusible interfacing, cutting it the same size as your belt front. 

Also cut out the back lining of the belt front in a coordinating fabric, but cut it at least 1/2" bigger on all sides of the front panel, so it will become an edging for the belt.

After adhering the fusible interfacing to the front panel, you are ready to embellish the front panel.  You may want to test out some stitches on your fabric to embellish the belt. (You could also sew ribbon strips or other crafty treatments.)

Once you decide on some decorative stitch patterns, go ahead and stitch your front panel.

After your decorative stitches are completed, it's time to sew the front panel to the knitted lining fabric.  Remember that the lining was cut larger.  Sew the front to the lining, lengthwise, right sides together, one edge at a time, leaving the ends open.

Because the underside (lining) is larger than the front panel, a border edging is produced when you turn the front panel right side out.

Now for the ties...cut two strips of the knitted fabric so that when they are sewn in a tie, the width is the same as the ends of your front panel. The ties need to be long enough to go around your waist and tie in the front of the sash.  How long is up to you.

Finish sewing the ties using a 1/4 inch seam allowance.  I used a zig-zag stitch as my knit is very stretchy and I didn't want the seams on the ties to break when I tied it around my waist.

Turn the ties right side out for atteaching to the finished front panel of the belt. I keep a water color brush or a bamboo kabob skewer close by to turn my skinny ties.

Pin the ties to the front panel, and machine stitch all the way around the front panel, stitching in the ditch.

Oh SNAP!!! My mini-me, Colette, loves her new Obi Belt!!

Send us pictures of your new Obi belts!!!

Laurel and Suzan
Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics
A Center for Garment Sewing & Quilting
Serving the greater Bay Area since 1976
An old world fabric store for the new age!