Sewing Viscose, or is it Rayon??: Fabric Tips

sewing viscose

Viscose (known in the US as Rayon) often elicits very strong feelings. Some sewists hate this material, while others see its benefits.  I remember back in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s when this fabric started to be popular and it was used for numerous garments that you would see on the racks in the store. The material does not crease much and was, therefore, a big draw for clothing stores. However, the first time the garment gets washed, it tends to shrink. This often meant a big waste of money, so after a while, viscose clothes went right back on the rack when the shopper saw a label saying viscose or rayon. Today, however, viscose standards are significantly different and many sewists are turning to viscose more often. While the fabric should always be pre-washed before you start a sewing … Continue reading

All Natural DIY Dye for Fabric and Yarn: Safe & Healthy

natural diy dye

There are a lot of practical reasons to make your own natural DIY dye from natural ingredients. It’s cost effective, non-toxic, and eco-friendly. It’s derived from renewable resources and is biodegradable; it can be disposed of safely in your kitchen sink. These are all things to feel good about, but beyond the practical, there’s the meditative, gratifying art of natural dye making. The colors achieved using natural DIY dye are earthy and organic, and the results are variable and inconsistent in the best way possible. What artist wants to create the same masterpiece twice? The inspiration for your palette is everywhere: in your spice drawer, your backyard, and blooming in your flowerbed. It quite literally grows on trees. Here’s a little to get you started. For blue, use hyacinth, mulberries, or dogwood fruit. For brown, use coffee, cinnamon, walnut hulls, … Continue reading

Quick Tips For Sewing Difficult Fabrics

Sewing Difficult Fabrics

Knowing good basic sewing skills always comes in handy.  But sometimes, challenging fabrics can still be too much to handle.  Indeed, what may seem like simple tasks of folding and cutting a fabric can become frustrating –not to mention the difficulties that will be encountered when we start running our sewing machines through these uncooperative fabrics. Generally, when dealing with challenging fabrics, there are some things we can do to immediately improve the situation. Adjusting your machine’s thread tension up and down until you identify the best setting for the particular fabric can do wonders.  Speeding up as well as slowing down the sewing may make your sewing machine run smoothly over the fabric.  You may just have to experiment a little.  Simply making sure that the fabric is free of dust or any adhesive residue may also make it cooperate better with your … Continue reading

Contemporary Quilt Makers Who Paint With Fabric

contemporary quilt

We do not know exactly when and where quilting originated but there is no doubt that it was used as garment, decoration and furnishing in many parts of the world many ages ago.  From the carved ivory figure of a Pharaoh of the Egyptian First Dynasty to a quilted floor covering in Mongolia and quilted garments of the European knights- quilt making is an art that has been passed on for many generations. In the United States of America, the first reference to quilts goes back to the 17th century and the earliest surviving American quilt is the Saltonstall quilt that dates back to 1704. Quilt making flourished in the 1800’s as European colonists came to the country finding a home in the Great Plains, where quilts were sewn for bed, door and window covers, floor mats and sometimes used … Continue reading

A Brief History Of Fabric

history of fabric

Well, there’s just so much to say about the history of fabric…It’s almost as basic a human need as food or shelter, truly. Where would we be without our clothing, our blankets, our sofas, our mattresses, our curtains? The list goes on and on. Indeed, many of us might not have been drawn to the art of sewing and the love of fashion were it not for the wealth of rich and intricate fabrics, the variety of textures and colors available for us to experiment with and express ourselves through. And that doesn’t just go for sewists and fashionistas, the number of industries which benefit from the myriad fabric types made available by development is staggering. Status Symbol: Throughout the ages, clothing has been a reflection of both the resources available to a civilisation and the level of technology in … Continue reading

The History of The Crinoline Petticoat

Crinoline Petticoat

Think Mary Antoinette, Queen Elizabeth or the recently revived 1950’s Rockabilly movement, think Swan Lake and the fairy tale wedding gown.  What do they all have in common? You’ve got it, serious petticoat action, brought to you by none other than the trusty, centuries old crinoline… Let’s take a closer look at this feminine phenomenon and you’ll see that the crinoline petticoat has been the backbone of so many fashion movements throughout the ages. Crinoline Petticoat Versions: A crinoline is in essence a petticoat, structured with wire, wood or other sturdy materials (in a cage formation or a hoop skirt) or made out of a stiff fabric of horsehair (“crin”) and cotton or linen, which would be gathered, layer upon layer, to make great big voluminous underskirts. The horsehair version was the original one, but was later replaced (in the 1850’s) by … Continue reading

Fabulous Fabrics Fit For the Summer Season

fabrics for summer

Hello Fabrics for Summer! It is the time of year once again when sewists like us have pull out our fabrics for summer and think about sewing projects that are not only fashionable, but also functional.  Indeed, the summer season means sun, sand and sea, and after the long autumn and winter months, it is also (finally!) a time to sew and wear colorful clothes that are comfortable. It’s the season for sewing relaxed- garments that we can wear to picnics, barbecues and a host of other fun outdoor activities. On the other hand, we now only have about half the range of fabrics available to us because wool, polyester, jersey, knit and the like are certainly not the kind of fabrics that we can wear under the summer heat. So what are the fabrics that are best for the … Continue reading

An Introduction to Sewing Sweater Knits

sewing sweater knits

Ah, sweater knits! These highly textural, stretch fabrics can be cozy, lacy, casual, or sophisticated. With a good sweater knit and a little practice, you can cut and sew a sweater in a day or less, even if you can’t knit or crochet. Yes, they’re enabling. And they’re beautiful. If I sound a little biased, well… full disclosure, I’m a designer of sweater knits and I love what I do! What exactly is a sweater knit? All knits are fabrics that are made by interlooping of threads or yarn; that is, by pulling one loop of yarn through a previously made loop of yarn, row after row and column after column, depending on the type of knit. A sweater knit is made with a heavier yarn and bigger stitches than what you find in a standard t-shirt fabric. You’ll know … Continue reading

So what is Boho Chic anyway?

We’ve all heard it, seen it, worn it. It’s the fashion phenomenon which swept the globe at the turn of the century and it’s firmly taken hold in our society. The majority of women, from teenage girls to middle age moms, are rocking some sort of boho-chic these days. For the first time in goodness knows how long, women can wear clothes that are comfortable and beautiful at the same time, while the men try to to squeeze into their stretch jeans! More of the same! Let’s first get comfortable with the lingo, because the name speaks a thousand words. Boho is the shortened form of Bohemian. Bohemian is a wonderful word and an even more wonderful thing to be. It’s a French word derived from the term referring to gypsies, adventurous souls, artists and socially unconventional people, with an … Continue reading

Tips For Sewing Denim

sewing denim

Denim is a very popular fabric these days and is synonymous with jeans. Today term “jeans” usually refers to a specific style of pants, called Blue Jeans.  These“rivet-reinforced” denim pants were invented by Jacob W. Davis, along with Levi Strauss & Co., in 1871.  We did a post a few months about highlighting this story of Levi Strauss, who perhaps more than any other individual or institution has done more to expand the role of denim in our society. Origins of Denim However, given this important American contribution to the success of denim, what most people don’t know today is that denim was actually invented in France.  In fact, the word “denim” comes from the French “de” which means from and “Nîmes” which is a wonderful town in the south of France where denim was invented during the Middle Ages.  So denim literally … Continue reading

The Colors of Spring 2016 – Tell Us What You Think!

colors of spring

You are probably planning to welcome the spring season with a new project for your home or loved one, but before you go out and buy that fabric, it is perhaps helpful to know what the experts think are the colors of spring 2016.  You can also tell us what you think in the survey at the bottom of the article. Every year, Pantone, a company that is best known for its Pantone Matching System (PMS), which is a proprietary color space for the printing and manufacture of paint, fabric, and plastics, declares what they call as the “Color of the Year”. They choose the year’s color by holding two secret meetings in a European city with representatives of color standards groups from various countries a year before. This group attends sessions where they discuss and debate what they think … Continue reading