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Turquoise Threshold Shorts and a Purple Zigzag XYT

26 September 2014, 13:45

I hope you all have been enjoying all the book reviews while I’m away on holiday! I thought I’d end this week with some photos of one of my favourite pairs of Threshold Shorts that I sewed myself. These are made in some turquoise/teal aerated polyester and pale “apple green” FOE, both from Sewing Chest. It’s an unusual colour combination but one that I totally love!

Even better is that I realised that the teal matches the purple/citrine/teal colourway of our Fehr Trade x Laurie King fabric designs really well! I sewed up a sample of my XYT Workout Top pattern in the “Zigzag” pattern to show them off together. It’d be rude not to!

Let’s talk about the top first – as I mentioned with my first, ombré samples, the Spoonflower tech fabrics have no vertical stretch, so you’ve got to add some into the patterns. I chose to demonstrate the super-easy cheat’s way, which was to just draw two horizontal lines (one above the waist and one below), and spread these out when I cut the fabric!

I separated each by 2cm and this seems just about right for me. It also has the bonus of making it easy to stripe match the front and back, as you get a little “window” for the zigzags!

I chose to use the Y back here and I even paid attention and switched coverstitching threads from purple to citrine so they blend in nicely. You can’t see it, but I’ve also used purple power mesh for the built in bra, so it’s a very attractive little running top!

Now for the shorts, I made size Small, which is just perfect for me for running – I’ve got plenty of room in the front, and they hang down straight from the front waistband rather than cling at the lower leg – this is exactly the sort of fit you’re looking for. If the leg is too tight, then it’ll ride up when you pull your leg forward, which you really don’t want.

I chose to omit the front pockets here, but included the hidden back pocket as it’s really useful for gels and keys in particular! I’ve run in these already about 4-5 times and I can honestly say they’re one of my favourite pairs ever!

Remember, you can still save 15% on all my patterns through to marathon day by using code “BERLINMARATHON” at checkout, and remember you can save 10% on fabric, too!

$10.99USD (£6.92)


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Book Review: Two Pattern Grading books

25 September 2014, 13:28

I’ve got not one, but two books to talk about today, both on the subject of pattern grading, which, to be honest, has hardly any books published on the topic and seems to be a bit of an industry secret or something.

If you’re not familiar with what pattern grading is – it’s the process of taking one pattern and adding or subtracting amounts at various points to make it another size, or multiple sizes. This isn’t just a simple equation of “well, size Y is twice as big as size Q” because humans’ shapes don’t grow at the same rate (ie: the difference between a size 0 and a size 18’s shoulders aren’t likely to be as great as the difference in hip sizes). In general, the measurements around the body change much more than the vertical measurements, so you need to follow some rules to know how far to move different points and in which directions.

Now, there’s an old-fashioned way of doing this with paper patters, scissors, tape, a special “grade ruler”, and several hours of your time, and this was covered pretty extensively in the September 2014 Threads Magazine (#174). In my personal opinion, this is fine if you only want to change one pattern to one other size, for instance if you have a vintage pattern but want it in your own size. Doing more than one size this way is a great way to end up throwing everything into the bin after several hours of swearing.

In my opinion, the far less stressful way to do pattern grading is digitally. You select a point, tell your software (like Adobe Illustrator) to move it xx cm vertically and yy cm horizontally, and you do that to all the points around the pattern. No taping, no cutting, and no weird ruler. Plus it’s way more accurate. So with this in mind, my reviews of both books are skewed heavily towards how they deal with digital drafting.

Let’s look at “Grading Workbook” by Connie Crawford first. It’s been out as a print book for a while, but I bought an early edition of the pdf ebook last year, which has been extensively cleaned up and digitised. I checked about a month ago, and there haven’t been any revisions so the copy I’m reviewing here is indeed current.

The book is targeted at someone who has some knowledge of pattern drafting, but is a beginner at pattern grading – most home sewists would be able to follow along with the introductory chapters which explain the methods and theory, and how to select different grades.

For each of the grade tables (ie: bodice, skirt, sleeve, stretch, child, etc), there are a few pages which show which point is being selected and which direction to move it, shown in a series of diagrams, like these two:

Then at the end, there’s a table which shows exactly how far vertically and horizontally you’re to move each of those points shown in the preceding pages.

This is really nice, as most grading books don’t do the legwork for you and expect you to fill in your own tables based on however you want the grade to be (even or uneven, and how much in between each size). Or rather, it would be nice if it was a bit more user-friendly. I found myself, each time I wanted to use the table, having to flip back several pages to see which point they were talking about, then flipping back to the chart to see the amount. For every point on every size. So I eventually just took screenshots of the diagrams and chart and made myself my own cheatsheet in Photoshop just so I could have everything on one page. This is time-consuming, and made me annoyed since this is something that could’ve easily been done on their end. But no matter.

The real problem, though, is that there are a freaking million typos/errors in every single chart. Really.

Those numbers below are supposed to be the decimal equivalent of the fraction, which is important for entering it into your digital system. But if you’re not paying attention, you’ll just type in what’s there and screw up your entire grade and waste hours of work. THANKS!

This is the major reason why I can’t really recommend this book.

But moving on… I rather liked this explanation of the different types of women’s figures, even if it is light on specifics. I’ve never seen a “Half size” explained anywhere before that I can recall…

But the drawings of the various childrens figures really just creep me out.

But let’s move on to the second grading book, “Concepts of Pattern Grading” by Carolyn L. Moore et al. I bought this one after tearing my hair out one too many times using the Crawford book, and it’s significantly different.

For starters, this book is definitely more technical, aimed at professionals or fashion students. It’s highly geeky, and you need to be in the right frame of mind to read and absorb it. But it contains interesting details such as this table, showing the grading differences between sizes if you’re targeting a youthful figure versus a 55+ figure:

This book also contains rules and tables for all the basic pattern types: bodice, skirt, sleeve, trousers, collars, etc, but the major difference here is that all the tables are blank and you have to fill them out for yourself. The book comes with a cd containing all the blank tables and worksheets as pdfs, so you can print out your own for each project. I personally would’ve preferred if this info was all in metric rather than inches, because it’s a ton easier to add and subtract mm than it is fractions (I actually downloaded a fraction calculator app for my phone), but the concepts are really well explained and it doesn’t take that long to fill out the table yourself.

Two of my actual worksheets – the Crawford is on the left and Concepts on the right

Beyond the basic grading rules, though (which Crawford’s book also covers), this book gets into the really weird stuff, too, like asymmetric designs and draped designs that continue onto two planes (think Pattern Magic). But useful-weird stuff, too, like raglan sleeves.

Shawl collars are used to show how to draft when flat shapes wrap around into 3D, but frankly, this is starting to get a bit beyond me.

And then we get into the stretch stuff, which should be second nature to me but waaaaaaahhhhh does this book make it overly complicated. I suppose they’re being thorough.

The back of the book is filled with a huge amount of table of measurements of various figure types, which is really helpful if you’ve, say, measured someone in a bunch of places but forgot one little thing…

In my opinion, I vastly prefer the “Concepts of Pattern Grading” book. Yes, you have to do a lot of the work yourself before you can start grading, but there’s a lot more information there, it’s very neatly explained, and there’s a lot of room there for your skills to grow. I would recommend the “Grading Workbook” for beginners if the hundreds of typos (or errors?) are fixed and they improve the usability of the charts. The Workbook is significantly cheaper and has the potential to be more beginner-friendly, but at this time, I’d choose Concepts… every single time.

I’m currently on a much-needed holiday through Central Europe, ending with running the Berlin marathon. I’m trying not to work while I’m away, so I’ll respond to anything non-urgent once I’m back. Thanks!

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Book Review: Pattern Cutting for Menswear

24 September 2014, 13:34

Unfortunately, menswear really is the ugly stepchild of the fashion industry – there seem to be about two menswear books for every ten for women, plus there are hardly any commercial patterns out there for men (and if there are, 90% of the time it’ll be that same button-down shirt I’ve seen a million times, argh).

The Aldrich book seems to be the de-facto standard for menswear drafting as far as I can tell, but I tried her teeshirt draft for men and hated it so I’m loathe to buy it to test the rest, really. Perhaps it’s the standard just because there are so few to choose from and not because it’s particularly very good? So I asked for (and received!) this book instead for my birthday, as I’d love to draft more menswear for James and possibly for future patterns, too.

Now I haven’t actually tested the drafts in here yet (though I fully intend to), but I really like a lot of things about this book. Most obvious is that it’s a modern menswear book – instead of just covering the basic tailoring styles, it shows you how to draft things like hoodies, jeans, and parkas on top of the more standard jacket and button-down shirts. There are 20 different styles in all, with instructions on how to adapt the basic blocks to match the given style. So this is more like how the Japanese pattern books do things, only a bit easier to follow than the standard Pattern Magic “instructions”!

There’s also tons of info on measuring, finding fit models, production stuff, etc, but of course I was more drawn to the geeky pattern stuff, like the tables showing size differences between Chinese men, American men, and European men. Very interesting if you want to make sure your fit is perfect for a specific market.

And even though this sort of thing is covered in much greater detail in David Page Coffin’s excellent “Shirtmaking” book, I liked this breakdown of the different collar styles and how to change the fit around the neck.

Overall, I really like this book, and I think it gives you a lot of style options in addition to general menswear info. The real test, of course, will be in actually making up the drafts and testing out the fit, but that will come in time.

“Pattern Cutting for Menswear” by Gareth Kershaw is available from Laurence King publishing (who occasionally do amazing sales btw) in addition to loads of other book stores.

Up tomorrow: a pattern grading smackdown!

I’m currently on a much-needed holiday through Central Europe, ending with running the Berlin marathon. I’m trying not to work while I’m away, so I’ll respond to anything non-urgent once I’m back. Thanks!

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Book Review: Digital Textile Design

23 September 2014, 12:11

I bought this book when I was working on the Laurie King fabric collaborations and I saw that Laurence King publishers were having a massive sale on all their fashion and textile books. I already own all the Pattern Magic and Drape Drape books in English, but I was intrigued at the idea of this one and I’m really glad I picked it up as I don’t really know of any other books like it.

This book is really aimed at the beginning textile designer and has full tutorials for Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator to show how to get a bunch of different effects. I really like the style that this is written in (it’s much easier to read than a textbook!), and the screenshots and steps in the tutorials are really easy to follow along with.

There’s a fair amount of design inspiration from cool up and coming designers playing with digital prints, plus some advice on good design aesthetics, but I’ve learned the most from the tutorials, like this one which shows how to map out photo-realistic prints exactly where you want them on your pattern pieces.

Even if you’re not a fan of the Versace look, it’s a great primer on photo manipulation, scanning, placement, and printing (though of course it’s easier for me since my designs are already digital).

If you’ve ever played with Spoonflower or other digital printing sites, you know all about repeating patterns, and how frustrating it can be sometimes to get them to line up (off by one pixel, arghgh!). I learned a lot from this tutorial showing how to use the pattern tool in Illustrator to get everything looking absolutely perfectly before changing colour palettes, etc.

There are about 20 different tutorials in the book, I’d estimate, but I just wanted to show you this one as I’ve seen this effect on clothing sites and I had no idea this was how it was done! Essentially, you take photos of your model wearing an entirely white garment, and you can then take various prints and make them look like the clothing is in that print.

So clever, right? I was impressed!

Anyway, I’d really recommend this book for anyone who wants to start in textile design and has access to Photoshop and Illustrator. I’ve also hard through the grapevine that the author is working on a new book, which I’m very interested in now!

“Digital Textile Design” by Melanie Bowles and Ceri Isaac. I bought mine from Laurence King publishing, though it’s available elsewhere too, of course.

Up tomorrow: one for the men!

I’m currently on a much-needed holiday through Central Europe, ending with running the Berlin marathon. I’m trying not to work while I’m away, so I’ll respond to anything non-urgent once I’m back. Thanks!


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Book Review: Demystifying Bra Fitting & Construction

22 September 2014, 13:04

While I’m away on holiday I thought I’d keep you all entertained with a series of posts on books I’ve bought over the past year or so and never really quite talked about. Not a single one of them is a “beginning sewing book”, either, so for those of you who are a bit sick of seeing the same books being released over and over, well, you’re in for a treat this week.

First up is a book which I talked about a while back when it was released as an e-book, but I thought it was worth a revisit as it’s just been released in print.

The print edition has the same content as the e-book, with full colour photos and really very excellent advice on both fitting and construction that I just haven’t seen elsewhere, in print or online. If you missed my earlier review, the condensed version is that this is really what you need in order to make a bra pattern fit you, and then sew it all together. I’ve sewn with Kwik Sew bra patterns before and even though their instructions are held up to be really good, it doesn’t even come close to the level of detail in this book.

Plus, she tells you how to make a muslin (toile) so that you don’t get all the way to the end of sewing a gorgeous bra, only to find out in the final step it doesn’t fit properly. Which is what I usually end up doing, and then getting discouraged and not sewing another one for months (speaking of, I’m probably due for another spate of bra sewing soon!)

The only thing the book is missing, really, is an actual bra pattern, but Norma’s gone and released her very own bra pattern recently (after nearly a year in development!), which I’ve bought and am super keen to try out after my holidays. Kathy has already made two bras from it already, which makes me want to try it more. And god knows I’ve got enough of a lingerie sewing stash already, so it’s not like I’d have to buy any supplies!

Oh but back to the book… Holy crap, I’m on the back cover! And in spectacularly good company…

(I still stand behind that – the Bridge Test is just golden!)

You may also have seen Norma’s article in the September 2014 Threads Magazine (#174) on how to sew a foam cup bra – this information isn’t covered in the book and so it’s worth grabbing this edition of the magazine while it’s still current (and cheap).

I was sent a complimentary print copy of the book since I tested it before its release, but I bought the bra pattern and Threads magazine myself.

Up tomorrow – a book on fabric!

I’m currently on a much-needed holiday through Central Europe, ending with running the Berlin marathon. I’m trying not to work while I’m away, so I’ll respond to anything non-urgent once I’m back. Thanks!

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Sanchia's Sunshine Yellow Threshold Shorts

18 September 2014, 15:38

Wow, thank you all so much for your compliments and love over my new Threshold Shorts sewing pattern! I always start my patterns with something I’d love to sew and wear myself, so it’s always great to find that others have been wanting the same thing, too!

As I mentioned earlier this week, I sewed a lot of versions of these shorts during the development process, but also in the road-testing phase so I could cover all the different pocket and runderwear options. But also then because I loved running in them and wanted more pairs! So you’ll get to see a bunch more versions on me, but I thought first I’d share a pair I made for Sanchia, my athlete model and amazingly inspiring runner friend.

Beyond having the most enviable hair (why is it that we always want the hair we can’t have?!), Sanchia sews, she runs, and she never fails to crack me up every time I talk to her! She’s also pretty much the only person I know who got a PB at the sweltering Hackney half marathon earlier this year, of which I’m just in awe (I got a Personal Worst that day!).

I usually see Sanchia on Tuesdays at Run Dem Crew, but it was really great to have a quiet chat when we met up at lunchtime to take these photos. There’s been lots of debate over the past few years about the lack of black and mixed-race ladies on the fashion runways (and rightly so), but I hadn’t really thought about it being the same way in the exercise fashion industry. As Sanchia put it, “When I started running, there wasn’t anyone running who looked like me”. But she’s learned a lot over the years, especially about advice for black and mixed race girls on beauty and hair care while sweating, and she’s hoping to start up a site soon sharing what she’s learned (rather than just keeping it secret among the Gyal Dem, ha!).

Now, a word on the shorts I made for her here. I’d actually recommend her going up a size – they look great for photos, but having them fit this close means there’s not enough room for forward leg movement in running. It’s my own fault – I didn’t have my tape measure with me and had to guesstimate based on her RTW size, and I got it slightly wrong. She’s wearing size XS here but I’d recommend she goes up to a size S for running. If your first pair has a similar fit, I’d advise the same!

I made this pair for her using some bright yellow Nike DriFit mesh (aerated polyester) with purple FOE on the hems. You can see here that I left off the front pockets but gave her an inner back pocket, perfect for phone, keys, or gels.

You may be mistaken for thinking we upped the styling for this shoot, but no – Sanchia really does run in big earrings and has long been a member of the red lipstick running brigade, too!

Remember, you can still save 15% on all my patterns through to marathon day by using code “BERLINMARATHON” at checkout, and remember you can save 10% on fabric, too!

$10.99USD (£6.92)


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On sale now: Threshold Shorts pattern with bonus runderwear!

15 September 2014, 11:19

Please welcome the newest Fehr Trade sewing pattern… the Threshold Shorts!

A running short designed for lightweight wovens or mesh fabrics with three optional pockets, curved seamlines, bound hem, and elastic waist. An optional runderwear brief or thong can be attached at the waistband or worn separately.

So why am I releasing a shorts pattern in September?? Well, this particular pattern has been in development since May, and it’s been my most technically challenging pattern to date. Anyone can design shorts that look good standing still, but it’s another matter entirely to design shorts that look good while you’re running at threshold pace. And well, this is how long it took me until I was happy with the result.

I’m not just saying that, either – I will be running Berlin marathon in two weeks in a pair of these shorts. Quite honestly, I wouldn’t be doing this if I had any doubts about their performance or comfort, because a marathon is a very long time indeed to be annoyed with a garment!

If you don’t believe me though, here are some comments from my pattern testers:

And as with my VNA Top Pattern, I’ve included diagrams for common fit alterations alongside the fully illustrated instructions, so if you need a longer rise, longer legs, or more thigh girth, then I’ve got you covered.

To celebrate the release of the Threshold Shorts pattern, you can get 15% off all my patterns by using code “BERLINMARATHON” up through marathon day (28 September).

But that’s not all – UKFabrics has also offered FehrTrade readers 10% off their airtex mesh and 2oz technical nylon fabrics, which are some of the recommended fabrics for this pattern! Just use code “UK-FEHR-01”.

I’ll be updating my Global Exercise fabric supplier list since these shorts use different fabrics than my previous patterns, but I can also say that the “aerated polyesters” from Sewing Chest are also great, and that this eBay Shop has some fantastic FOE for the hem bindings!

$10.99USD (£7.00)

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A purple and green Slouchy Breton tee

12 September 2014, 13:01

You may be forgiven for thinking I have my hands full with designing activewear sewing patterns, running marathons, and working extensively on a certain sewing tv show, but no – I also teach classes! Since I utterly adore working with knits and playing with overlockers, I tend to gravitate towards teaching beginners to sew stretchy stuff, like leggings, tee-shirts, and panties.

So when I bought this fantastic purple & green striped viscose jersey from Tia Knight (formerly Tissu) recently, it practically shouted at me that it wanted to become a Slouchy Breton Tee, which is the pattern that the ThriftyStitcher developed for the class I teach.

Having taught numerous ladies how to make this, I knew it’d be a quick and easy make, and that it also has the magic ability of looking good on all body shapes and being loose enough in the bust to not require any FBA (not that I need one, but still…). What I hadn’t realised though, is that the 2m of the viscose jersey is actually enough to make two Slouchy Breton Tees, so my mom’s getting one, too! Seriously – two great teeshirts that feel like vintage tees for a fiver each? I’m in love!

The fit through the bust, waist, and hips is really forgiving here, and there are two sleeve lengths (well, three, if you just wanted to keep the drop shoulder as a little cap sleeve!) – I made the full length sleeve but in future I’d extend it by another 2-3 inches as it’s not quite long enough for me. There’s also a 3/4 length sleeve option, too, if you prefer.

I’m not usually a stickler for stripe matching, but when the stripes are wide and obvious like this, I like to try and match, both when cutting out the fabric (usually by just making sure the waist notch on the front and back are at the same part of the stripe!), and also when sewing. But I also ended up matching the sleeve with the body stripes when my arms are down, which was a complete coincidence!

Bow before my stripe matching prowess!

When I’m making striped teeshirts, for some reason I always like to cut my neckbands along the length of the fabric so I get more stripes – in fabrics with four way stretch you can really cut it either direction but for me, the little stripes look better than one long stripe going around the neck.

Right now this pattern is only available as part of the class, but I’ll be announcing more Fall class dates soon. And if you bug the ThriftyStitcher enough, maybe she’ll think about releasing it as a stand alone pattern to buy, who knows?

PS: My Threshold Shorts pattern is due for release on Monday!

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A silky Manequim pleated shell top

8 September 2014, 13:00

Despite my nonstop Work Sewing during the week, I still often get an itch at the weekend to sew something quick and Not Work for myself, often using up some fabric or pattern which I’ve been meaning to make for ages.

A few weekends ago this took the form of a shell top with a pleated neckline from the Manequim August 2011 issue (though I totally failed to spot its potential when I reviewed it!) and one metre of printed polyester satin which I’d picked up at a London sewists swap last summer.

I really liked the colours in the fabric and the abstract quality of the print, and the fabric is nice enough that I had to do a quick burn test to determine that it wasn’t actually a silk! As for the pattern, it was one that I traced some years ago, but then never quite got around to making, so it got folded up in a drawer before I finally pulled it out a few weekends ago.

Worn here with my orange Sinbad & Sailor O’Keefe skirt from earlier this summer!

It’s a very basic shell top with four pleats at the neckline, and in hindsight I probably should’ve just drafted it up myself! The pattern includes a half lining – the back just uses the same pattern piece as the exterior, ending at the waist, but the front lining is a separate pattern piece with bust darts from the armholes so the exterior neckline pleats are held in place.

I didn’t bother to translate the instructions, and did this my own way instead. In case you’re ever faced with a similar lined shell top with a centre back seam (or zipper, like this one), though, my preferred order of construction is this:

  1. Sew the Front & Back together at the shoulder seams. Repeat for the Front & Back Lining.

  2. With right sides facing, attach the exterior to the lining around the neckline and armholes.

  3. Understitch to the facings as far as possible.

  4. Pull the Backs through the shoulders to turn right-side out. Press well.

  5. Sew the side seams of the facings and exteriors in one go

  6. Insert the invisible zipper into the centre back seam

  7. Sew the bottom of the CB seam below the zipper

  8. Open the zipper, fold the Back lining over to be right sides facing with the back, and sew to the zipper tape. Clip the top corner and flip to the inside

  9. Finish the bottom edge of the lining. Finish the bottom hem.

So I’ve ended up with a neatly finished garment with french seams on the side seams (the only portions not fully covered by the lining and thus, prone to fray), but when I tried it on, I realised the fit is actually not that great! I must admit, it looks much better in these photos than it feels when worn.

For the first time perhaps ever, the bust is too tight (are Manequim seriously drafting for an A cup, or is this an anomaly?!), and the back length is too long so the zipper pools a bit at my lower back. Neither of these are problems I usually have, which makes me think that it’s an issue with the pattern. I feel a bit stuck though, since size 44 is a bit too big for me, and size 42 is a bit too small (my galaxy print birthday dress was also a 42 and definitely on the snug side). As most Manequim patterns are one size only it’s not easy to just trace in between. And don’t even think about suggesting I grade one up or down – for that amount of effort I may as well just draft it myself!

But I still really like the fabric, and a beginning sewing friend really wanted my traced pattern, so I’ll see how the blouse beds in over time. I have a feeling it could be really nice paired with my grey midi skirt for winter if it doesn’t end up feeling too constrictive after a few hours. Still, at least it was enjoyable to sew and I’m glad I didn’t make this in my Liberty silk twill instead!

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A Wednesday weekend day in Brighton

4 September 2014, 13:24

When you run your own business, sometimes you’ve got to work weekends. This past weekend I worked all day on Sunday, so I tried to make a “weekend day” sometime during the week. It all came together yesterday, with the weather forecast set to be 24C and sunny, James at a conference down in Brighton, and me not completely swamped with work for once. So I declared this Wednesday to be a weekend day and grabbed the train down to Brighton for the afternoon!

My first taste of life in the UK was in Brighton, when I spent my study abroad year at Sussex University, and the city still feels like home whenever I visit, which these days is once a year or so. Instead of doing the usual tourist things (I realised after I got home that I didn’t even see the sea, ha!), I headed directly to the North Laines area. I love that there’s a whole area in Brighton where pedestrians rule and all the little shops and cafes are independent, quirky, and great for browsing! There’s really no need to spend any money in a chain store in Brighton.

Of course my first stop was at Ditto Fabrics, which is quite possibly my favourite fabric shop anywhere in the UK, where I had a great chat with the owner Gil and learned all sorts of stories about her buying trips to Italy to get the good designer stuff for us. I went with the aim to buy some coating and lining for the StyleArc Audrey coat, and indeed I did!

I bought some wool/viscose coating in Navy, though they had a bunch of really tempting other colours, like pale purple, pumpkin, camel, off-white, and black, off the top of my head. Ditto only have a fraction of their in-store fabrics listed on their website, but these wool/viscose coats are pretty well represented online, and the colours look pretty true to real life.

And then I discovered the vintage Italian silks upstairs. oh. em. gee.

A few are listed on their website, and I urge you to snap these up, because they are the real deal. They feel a little papery on the roll, but Gil had a sample that she’d handwashed in a bit of washing up liquid, and that sample was so freaking soft I wanted to rub my face against it all day. So then I just had to try and narrow down which I wanted as a lining for my coat, and I settled on this psychedelic red, blue and yellow silk twill (seen above), which actually came printed in 90cm panels with a subtle diagonal line at one part to help the original makers place the first cuts to make neckties!

Hand washing the silk before I lose my nerve!

I consider myself very restrained, but I did have one impulse buy – you know I’m a sucker for lycra, and trompe l’oiel prints, so when I saw this poly/lycra with huge, digitally-printed knitting and lace, I just had to have it. Yes, it’s kinda crazy, and because it’s printed in panels, I’ll be doing some fun placement jenga. But at £15 for a 1.6m length, it was super reasonably priced considering it’s ex-designer, too (Gil couldn’t remember which but I’d love to know if someone has seen anything like this on style.com?).

After meeting up with James for lunch, we actually went back to Ditto so he could pick out some linen for a shirt he wanted me to copy (which I traced and muslined a few months ago). He picked out an apple-green linen/cotton, which I’m all in favour of as the blends tend to wrinkle less when worn.

He also found an amazingly soft 50/50 poly/cotton flannel fabric upstairs, which still had an original tag attached…

Holy crap! Yes, they mean it when they say ex-designer… So then he had to have this one, too, for the copied shirt pattern.

Also at Ditto! Love this idea…

I also checked out the Brighton Sewing Centre on North Road while I was in town, but all the fabric there was either quilty or the “token overpriced cotton jersey” made by quilting designers, so I didn’t buy anything. Instead I got some deals on my favourite paraben-free bath stuff at Infinity Foods (a big organic grocery store which has been there since my student days) and lugged my fabric bags home with a smile.

PS: oh, if you’re not following me on Twitter, then you probably missed my sneak peek of my next sewing pattern, the Threshold Shorts! These are engineered for running, with wraparound seams, three optional pockets, and a choice of standalone or integrated runderwear.

It’ll be released in about two weeks, but definitely before the 18th! It’s been in development since May and it’s taken me this long to be satisfied enough to run long distances in. (You’re welcome!)

Nope, Ditto haven’t paid me to write this post – I just really love their fabrics!

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