Monday, August 3, 2015

Be Creative with Border Prints!

Some sewists shy away from border printed fabrics because they can't figure out a way to incorporate the design into their garment. In addition to the design challenges, it usually takes more of the fabric to work the border design into the pattern, as borders are traditionally only on one edge of the fabric. But we love a challenge, and we find that working with border prints can add a new dimension to a otherwise plain pattern design. My father, Bob Steinberg, always said "a good border print turns you into a designer!"

Inspiration from the High Style exhibit at the Legion of Honor Museum!

A case in point: a basic pants pattern can become a statement garment just by using a border print. The palazzo pants that we're so in love with would be even more stunning by incorporating a border print on the legs. I love getting creative with how the fabric can be laid out to create new design looks!

Border Print ideas!  Fabrics from left to right, top row - all available at my store, Stonemountain & Daughter in Berkeley:  Alison Glass batik, Cotton + Steel Hatbox lawn, Alexander Henry Stockholm cotton, Alexander Henry Frida cotton.  From left to right, bottom row:  Cotton + Steel Mustang cotton, Alexander Henry Djada Border cotton, Cotton + Steel Mochi cotton lawn, Alexander Henry Big City Print.

I also found a great way to use a border print on my new drapey top, New Look #6268.  What a perfect use for that soft, beautiful rayon! I love this top so much and want to make it again and again! It looks great belted or loose and flowing.

Laurel found our minty Cotton + Steel border print, designed by Rashida Coleman Hale.  This sporty fabric is like a cross between denim and linen.  It's still soft after a washing and yet it remains "weighty." Being the Leo that she is, she loved the touches of metallic gold.

Scattered Mint

Since the fabric is 44" wide, turning a pants pattern piece to fit on the width of the fabric works well - unless of course you have a 36" inseam.

We should mention that Laurel makes a lot of her own patterns, and her own go-to pants pattern is used over and over again, usually just modifying the leg length or width. She wanted a jeans look to her Cotton + Steel pants, but didn't want the traditional jeans styling. Her idea was to use something like New Look's 6163 pattern style, as she wanted a zipper and darts at the waist, rather than her favorite elastic waist.

If you have a favorite pants pattern, you can reinforce it by applying fusible interfacing to the back with a dry iron - we got that hint from Sandra Betzina in her last class here at Stonemountain. Laurel's pattern is in inexpensive cotton muslin, so it lays easily on the Cotton + Steel fabric. For these pants, she narrows the width of the pants legs and places them on the fabric with the border at the bottom of the legs.

Remember how we talked about incorporating the selvage edges of fabrics into your design? (See our post on Show us your Selvage Edges!)  Like many designer fabrics, the edges often have the name of the manufacturer and/or designer stamped along the selvage. And this Cotton + Steel fabric has a great selvage edge that would add to the casual jeans look Laurel was after.  Besides the printing, the very edge has a soft frayed look - perfect for jeans! So why not use it?

Laurel incorporated the selvage edge into the design of two front "patch" pockets.  A patch pocket is made by sewing a piece of shaped material to the outside of a garment.  You can make patch pockets any shape and apply them wherever you like on your garment - even if the pattern does not call for them.
Lining the pocket with a lightweight cotton.
The zipper was applied to the back seam, just because she hates side zippers - sound like a personal issue to me! ;) To finish the un-banded waistline, think about using double fold bias tape as a facing.  It has some give to it, since its cut on the bias, but it's sturdy enough and works great on the curved nature of a the waistline.

With the addition of another patch pocket on the leg (cargo pants style), these "jeans" are rockin'!

And here's the fabric designer's name!

Her only regret is that she got the idea to incorporate a patch pocket using the selvage edges after she had already cut out the pants - so the legs would have been too long by leaving the raw edge at the hemline. Would have been cute, though!  But that's the best part of sewing - using your creativity to change up your design as you go along.  You learn by trial and error.  So now that you know how you might incorporate the selvage edge into your pants design, you're already ahead of the game.  Let your imagination by your guide!

One of our students, Kathleen, used the fuchsia version of Cotton + Steel's linen/cotton blend in a Sandra Betzina Vogue vest pattern, #1453. She made clever use of the gold borders as well!

So cute!  Even if you've never used a border print before, we hope this shows you how great they can be!  Using a border print can really get your imagination going, since you may have to slightly alter a pattern or adjust your cutting layout.  But once you've figured it out, the results are beautiful, and the right border print can bring any garment to the next level.

Have you used a border print before?  Show us your pictures or better yet, stop by the store to show us all!

Creatively yours,
a.k.a. Fabriclady!

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