nOW, LET'S GET STARTED

So finally, we arrive at Butterick pattern 5093.  This pattern, although an answer to prayer, is the exception to the rule pronounced last week.  With this coat, there are no set in sleeves, and there is a seam down the back.  But, because this tapestry design has a recurring boarder the length of the fabric, I couldn't have asked for a more perfect pattern.  Trying to match inset sleeves to the pattern would not have been pleasant, and, as I began to lay the fabric down to match, I realized I didn't have enough fabric.  Cutting sleeves in one piece requires more fabric because you have a specialized very large pattern piece, however, because of the boarders at the top, it let me align one of the boarders along the length of the coat and sleeves, allowing for a very nice continuous look.

I made a few adjustments, but--made with frogs, this pattern should not take you more than 30 to 45 minutes from cutting to sewing.  It only has four pieces and a collar.  I did add a lining, and that took a little longer in the cutting.  I left out the collar and only sewed the sides and back together separately, the rest was sewn as one piece to the fabric.   

ONE NOTE: As the pattern has been discontinued, you may be asking, why am I covering it.  The reason--pattern makers are an incestuous lot, as a matter of fact, Butterick is part of McCalls, Kwik Sew and Vogue and Simplicity owns the rest.  You will see this pattern again, I promise--it may be in different fabric, buttons, pockets and model--but you will see the pattern again. 
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This pattern is an exception to the rule as it has a seem down the back and does not have set in sleeves.

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Frogs come in many shapes and sizes but are a very easy and decorative solution to buttons and button holes.

Tools

Craft pins—I do a lot of pin basting, which is to say that I do not separately tack down my fabric with thread.  As a result, I prefer to use pins that are long and strong enough to hold the fabric in place.  That is why craft pins are better to use.  In home dec you will find T-pins, but these do the same thing, and the colored balls are easier to find when dropped.

Walking foot—for my machine, which is now almost twenty years old, a separate attachment is needed for sewing plaids.  Check will your machine manufacturer to see if this attachment is needed or available.  If it is “available” I’m willing to bet it is "needed."  They can be pricey, but are worth the money.  In normal sewing the pressure foot will push the top layer slightly further than the bottom layer.  When you are trying to match lines, this can be a nightmare because lines, even a millimeter off, can be very noticeable.  The walking foot keeps the top and bottom fabrics aligned so matching can be exact for both top and bottom.  

Chalk—marking the button holes is a must with coat patterns.

Upholstery thread and needle--The thick tapestry fabric needs the stronger thread.
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This is a brother walking foot, but they all pretty much look the same.

Washing the fabric

Because this is a tapestry and prone to excessive fraying, I zigzagged the uncut ends of the fabric before washing.  I didn't worry about the lining, a crepe polyester.  I washed both the fabric and the lining to take out all the shrink (yes, even polyester can have shrink).  Both fabrics were shown no mercy, and washed in hot water, general cycle, and then thrown into the dryer.  

The tapestry had been sitting on the self for a while, and turned much brighter.  Furthermore, the shrinking gave the coat a great texture.  

Changes I made to the pattern

Used Frogs instead of buttons—My stripped down White sewing machine can muscle its way through most fabric, but it doesn't do button holes well on the easiest of fabrics, a thick upholstery fabric with lining would have been too much.  So I opted for the frogs.

Length of the coat—The design of the fabric extended longer than the length of the coat, but as I usually have to lengthen patterns, that worked out well.

Lining—The pattern does not call for lining, however, the back of the fabric is rough and would be hard on the skin.
Thank you for joining me, next week we will look at placement of the pattern, until then, God Bless.
 
 
We have covered a lot of information, but I believe you will see how it all fits together when you start evaluating fabric, and calculating how much fabric you will need for a project.  Which leads us to our last, but most important question.  How do you calculate total fabric for a winter coat, with an obvious repeat?

Evaluating home decor fabric to use for fashion clothes

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This fabric present most of the challenges you will face in calculating yardage.  I chose it as a fashion fabric for the following reasons.  It has all the colors I enjoy, and look good on me.  It has a vertical woven black stripe that gives the fabric movement as well as flattering lines.  The black background pops the pattern creating a narrowing look. If you look at the fabric you don't really see the ten inches of black fabric bordering the image--just the image.  And last, because it's really, really pretty. 

In fashion fabric you will generally want an extra half yard to allow for matching plaids, and other patterns. Home décor is different, as the average repeat is about half a yard, and can go up to 1 ½ yards.  Further, you do have to be aware of the horizontal as well as the vertical repeat.  Study the pattern on the fabric you have selected.  Determine use of fabric--pants, jacket, shirt, dress?  

The above fabric is an excellent example of the type of planning you will need to do before determining, if the fabric is appropriate for you--the purpose for which you intend--how much fabric to get, and then, how to cut it.  

I love this fabric and haven’t done anything with it because, I don’t know how best to use it. It would make beautiful panels in a screen, a long or short quilted coat—summer dress, shirt, a shade, a bedspread…the options are endless.  The design is timeless, and when does, red, blue, black, brown and/or green go out of style.  But, as wonderful as this fabric is, it also shows the challenges home décor fabric can present when dealing with a large print.  

So--can we make a coat out of this? and if so--how much fabric will be needed?

The horizontal repeat is 27".  Things get interesting with the vertical repeat. The print is 27” vertical on the reader's left and 24.5 on the reader's right.  There is never a point where the two vertical lines resolve.  This is not a problem as we would want the smaller birds in the front of the coat, and the larger one in the back.  The size of the larger bird is as follows: from the bottom of the red planter to the tip of the head of the second blue bird is 32”.  Now, with this information, let’s think of how to turn this fabric into a coat.  Without any specific coat in mind, there are certain universal presumptions we can make.  First, the coat will have a back, two front panels, and two sleeves.  The coat may or may not have a collar or outside pockets.  But, I will calculate an extra 3” for the collar to make sure I can start the main part of the pattern where I need it to start.  Second, we know the largest single piece will be the back, which more times than not will be cut on the fold, along the grain.  Sadly, 27” for a coat back is not going to be doable for most large women.  
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Replace the LED lights with piping and that should give you an idea of of how to create a flattering look with bold lines.

But, today’s fashions are making liberal use of piping to help define shape and look.  So I can add fabric to the width of the bird using decorative piping.  In fact, if you look at this blue dress illuminated with LED lights, and replace the lights with piping, you will have a very good idea of ways to widen or lengthen your fabric so that a design falls where it needs to.  My last question is, Will I be able to cut the back so that the pattern falls correctly down my back and front panels. 
 For instance, this daisy print in chenille--you wouldn't want to spend $20.00 a yard for the flower to end up resting on your rear.  This is where my length from the bottom of the pot to the tip of the second blue bird’s head comes in. As the measurement from the nape of the neck to the under arm for most sleeve patterns is about 15", I have enough fabric to place the image in the center of the coat, with proper composition .  
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Commercially available piping

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Most commercial piping is wrapped in cotton fabric

A Few Words On Piping 
Piping or cording, is a cotton sometimes cotton/poly roping (available at most home decor stores). This roping is bound by fabric, it may or may not have a flange for sewing.  The above are examples of typical commercially made piping.    My rule of thumb in making piping is circumference plus 2” inches.  This gives me enough for a flange. 
Ok, Back On Topic
I will need two more panels for the front, which means I will go two small birds down or roughly 49".  As the large bird is completely within this calculation, that technically is all we will be need for the front and back.  27” will be too wide for the front panel so, what I don’t use here can be used for the sleeve, back and cording (piping).  
Now is when I can play things safe or take risks.  The center brown and black stripe separating the birds can be used to extend the width of the back fabric, inserting piping wrapped with a good color sampling of the fabric.  In this way I will have a dominant brown and black stripe in my coat with the birds popping out nicely.  In this example, I think putting the birds on the sleeves might be a bit much, so I would make the sleeves out of a black, brown, and if I had enough, out of the black/brown stripe, using a small, narrow piping to join the pieces.  I would have the piping appear vertically down the sleeve to lengthen my lines.  
Alternatively, I can just buy contrasting fabric--here are a few examples.  Notice, there is no right or wrong color to select, red, blue, black, brown, all are appropriate, and would look stylish.  What color do you like? Need in your wardrobe? Enjoy wearing? Or, looks best on you?  I selected diamond shapes because, this pattern is often used for transitioning, or paneling an object.
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The diamond pattern is often used for transition.

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The colors in the pattern allow for a wide range of combinations.

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What color looks good on you...

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This fabric can work with a number of colors.

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Blue works...

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The classic design of the fabric makes many options work.

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Don't be afraid of color or design..it is your friend.

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The dominant black will pull the eye to the vertical lines

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Persimmon in a popular color in home decor

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Play with texture, as well as color.

In conclusion

As you can see, I do a lot of pre-planning before I actually purchase the fabric.  In this way I know where it will fit and, how it will compliment my wardrobe.  I believe that I can make a coat out of this fabric, and anticipate I will need 1 1/2 -2 yards for the body of the coat, and if I don't piece the sleeves, ¾ to 1 yard for the sleeves.  It will be a short car coat or jacket.  

The smaller birds may require a little boarder because they are shorter than the big bird, but, there will be enough fabric for this.  When calculating, try and include a fudge factor for mistakes, or unexpected inspirations.  Hence, the extra half a yard.

Always, before the fabric is cut in the store, make sure when it is rolled out, that you are getting what you have calculated.  Customer cuts before you will change the repeats.

I would quilt this fabric, sleeves, and all, but doubt this would change the calculations.

Thank you again for joining me.   By avoiding some of the not so obvious pitfalls in working with home decor fabric, you can end up with wonderful, flattering, and engaging clothes.

Until next week, God Bless. 
 
 
Entering the World of Home Dec/Upholstery Fabric.
Looking through fashion fabric is “safer” because most of the work related to matching seasonal style, patterns, fabric weight, color, look and design is done for you.  The problem is that all this work is done for thin (I might add emaciated) women with no hips or bust, in the universally neutral colors that are flattering to few, but offensive to no one.  How often have you combed through the latest fashions or fashion fabrics, only to end up with black--once more.  Yes—“black is beautiful”---but, not---every…day…..

Upholstery fabric comes in a full range of colors textures and patterns, and with the broader options, a little confusion may arise.  Like Dorothy leaving Kansas, and awakening into Munchkin land, the home dec section is an explosion of stunning colors, patterns--silks, wools, cottons—venturing in for the first time may cause sensory overload.  But fight your impulse to flee—hold on—steady yourself against a towering bolt of flocked damask, and know, your options are boundless.
Color selection
I understand if entering a world full of bold, uncompromising fabric color, texture and design can be intimidating, but, there are a few steps you can take to narrow your search.  First, and most important, know the colors you like, and know the colors that look good on you.  There are books like Color Me Beautiful that help define your color spectrum, and when you make your own clothes, you will need to start here.  You will notice the clothes I use as examples are mostly in greens, oranges, browns, grays, purples and blues.  There is a reason for this.  They are the colors I look best in, and that survive each year’s color trends. 
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Each a year a color pallet is made available for that year's styles.

Once you have the colors you look good in, go through and select the colors you like.  This is purely impulse. I will also do a search on the year’s fashion colors.  Once a year some group from somewhere, who are nameless, faceless and stateless, decide on the world’s fashion colors for the year.  And then every fashion house, like lemmings, adopt the colors.  If you do a search 2015 fashion colors, you will find a number of fashion color charts.  We will discuss later, how all these colors can intertwine to make you look good, but the advantage to having gone through this exercise is that you will have in your closet clothes that are easily made current, color coordinated and therefore, interchangeable, and always a joy to wear.  You won’t get tired of them.  
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As home dec affords you a spectrum of color options, take the time to discover those colors you enjoy and make you look stunning.

Now that you know the colors that you wish to accumulate, you have a better control on impulse buying and when “stocking up” you will have a consistent overall look to your wardrobe. 
 Also, remember that if you adore a pattern, in home dec, it will probably be available in a number of other color selections.  So a pattern in blues may also be in brown tones, orange tones, black and grays, etc.  You have a greater probability of getting your fabric in the colors that look best on you.  You really don’t have to compromise.
Fabric selection
All the rules regarding stripes, dark prints, light prints, shapes etc. should be put aside with home dec fabric.  Yes, maybe you do not want a teeny tiny stripe going horizontally.  But, I have been more than pleasantly surprised at the effects of some fabrics, which should never have worked.  They did work because of, perhaps, one dark stripe that turned the fabric three dimensional, and very flattering.  
 Home decor fabric is designed to play with the eye.  Use your imagination, and try to visualize the fabric on you.  Think through patterns you've seen—where would the focus of the design be placed?  A large two foot daisy with a dark purple chenille background, may not be flattering across the chest, but off center falling down your side, it could be stunning.  
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This large bold print if placed properly could be very flattering.

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You will notice this pattern does not have set in sleeves--perfect for the boarder.

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The pattern is very lively but not busy and creates a fun, timeless look.

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Notice that the pattern is dark, top and bottom, allowing me to minimize bust and direct attention past my hips.

Take Educated Risks
I can’t tell you how many times I went passed this fabric during my periodic haunts through red tag.  There isn’t anything “sexy” about the fabric design, in fact, it is quite traditional.  The tapestry and texture is nice, but I didn’t like the boarder.  Then—it went on sale—and began to look very interesting.  My next question--How can I make this work?  The problems presented were easily overcome.  First, the boarder design goes from width to width, which meant I had to cut my length against the grain. 54” was the longest the clothing could be, so it would be either a jacket or car coat, as I didn't think railroading the fabric, or sewing another width to the width, would look right.  The back of the pattern is rough and would needed a lining.  The pattern is complicated, and for ease of sewing, especially in trying to match the design, I needed a simple pattern   

Having reviewed my patterns, I knew conceptually there was something out there that could work, and I had a good idea of how much fabric to purchase.  I also knew that cutting the fabric across the grain would not be a problem.  Remember, home dec fabric is designed to resist stretching, and thus has multi-dimensional weaves to keep it strong.  There is still a grain, and a sag, but it is not nearly the problem as you will find with fashion fabric.  

And so, a neglected, forgotten, homeless piece of fabric, found a home…and when I found Pattern 5093—a jacket was born.

Next week we will discuss placing the pattern--until then—thank you for joining me, and God Bless.
 
 

COMMON PATTERNS AND TEXTURES OF HOME DECOR FABRIC

I am fortunate to have spent thirty years growing up no further than 40 minutes from Washington, D.C. and the Smithsonian.  Specifically, the art museums—and spent many an hour studying everything from modernist to primitive to--whatever.  I can’t say I always knew what I was looking at, but I figured if it was in the museum, it had to be, somehow, related to art.  I actually get the same feeling walking through a home décor fabric store as I did the these museums—only you can touch the art in a store.   

Just from a purely aesthetic  stand point, there are some beautiful fabrics.  But this is the real thrill, we can take these beautiful pieces of art, and turn them into clothing, bags or just simply frame them on the wall.  We can wrap ourselves in them, stomp on them, sit on them, wash them, and still, they remain beautiful works of art.  Try doing that with a Rembrandt.  And also, unlike a Rembrandt, you can choose your role in this work—the frame, an afterthought, or the central character.

Because home decor fabric is so expensive--I shop for it a little differently.  Instead of going for a specific project, I regularly sift through certain favorite haunts, and stock up.  My philosophy  is, "If you buy the fabric--the pattern will appear."  Although I rarely have something specific in mind,  I have usually reviewed the latest patterns, or know the stash of patterns I have at home.  I do this so I don't box myself into certain expectations.  I do, however, have a concept of how much fabric I will need for certain types of coats, suits, pant suits, skirt suits, dress suits, etc. and I have a concept of the flexibility I will need for each item of clothing--For instance, a heavy tapestry would not make a nice pair of pants..but a jacket or coat--yes.    I have never paid more then $8.00 a yard—and even then I wept.  I have always found more than enough in the red tags to break my budget.

Most home décor stores will not honor competitor’s prices—but if you pay less than half off the retail price, you have paid too much.  There is usually some weekly or monthly sale, and if not, look for coupons.  It is possible with some stores to get 70% off of current stock.  Just be a good shopper, and you can end up with a great value in coat, suit or dress.  

The type of style, weight and design you find in home décor, is what you will find in the eau couture sections of Massey’s, Noordstrom, Belk etc.  Even paying $25.00 for three yards that will get you a skirt and jacket is a steal.  The style, texture and rich use of color you find in home décor, will quite literally take you to the next level in fashion.

Because the intended use of fabric is functional, it has certain unique characteristics.  

Width
The standard size is from 54 to 60 inches wide—some vinyl will go even wider than that.  
Repeat Vertical
The repeat becomes an important factor if, for instance, you have a toile like scene you wish to showcase in your outfit.  The repeat is that distance between the beginning of the design to its next occurrence.  In home decor that repeat can be anywhere from six inches to a yard and a half, and even more--trying to match the pattern can get costly.  
Repeat Horizontal
Also, unlike dress fabric, the pattern width ends to match with the beginning.  This is so that if you need, for instance, a wide curtain panel, you can sew two panels together and match the pattern perfectly, so that it looks like one piece.  Along the selvage you will often find with printed fabrics, colored dots.  This is the fabric’s color chart, and allows you to match coordinating fabrics.  

As mentioned in my earlier post, the design and weight are to prevent the fabric from stretching out of shape as we stand or sit on it.  But the design satisfies another function, to decorate a large space—or help to decorate that space.  As this fabric is viewed from a distance, colors, texture and design can be bolder and more aggressive. 

The following are traditional designs found in home décor.

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Damask--the design can be printed onto the fabric

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Embroidered linen

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Tapestry-this come in a number of textures, styles and patterns but you can get such beautiful stories in the fabric.

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Tapestry

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Tapestry

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Brocade in a cheneille

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Cheneille

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Linen

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Wool

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Some patterns will mimic upholstered furniture patterns

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Cotton velvet

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PVC flocked fabric

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Toile is a french term and describes a large repeating scene.  The classic toile pictures are of european country scenes, but as you see below, not always.  

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Toile

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traditional upholstery pattern

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Ticking

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Repeating geometric shapes of all kinds

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Matelasse is a quilted fabric of intricate design.  Always test a piece before washing, sometimes its fine, sometimes--not so fine.

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Animal print

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Waverly Chippendale

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Kaufman produces a number of these beautiful scenes on heavier cotton/linen woven fabric.

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Damask-the design can be pattern woven into the fabric

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Flamestitch--I saw the dress and couldn't resist including it.  I am not sure about this on a large women, but with many things you just have to try it on.  The dark panel frames the eye and the wavy lines does a good job in breaking up the space--who knows?

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Flamestitch--embrace the wave and be daring.

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Matelasse in leather

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Brocade in satin

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Southwest

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Southwest

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Boucle-originally boiled wool, now the look is repeated in a number of different type of fibers.

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Raw silk

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Houndstooth

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Crocodile vinyl

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Crocodile vinyl-this is softer more flexible--better suited for a coat.

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Embossed vinyl

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Snake skin vinyl

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Moire called the water fabric is a power house of design and texture.

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Paisley print is classic either in weave or print--modern or traditional

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Repeating vine

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Vinyl flocking animal print

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Animal print

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Persian design

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I know--you aren't decorating a couch--but there is food for thought here--think outside the box and you can end up with some exciting, flattering and fun clothes.

Thank you for visiting--and thank you for writing--I appreciate the comments--next week we will review the coat I made from an upholstery tapestry panel.  Until then, have a great week, and God Bless.
 

Copyright 2014-2015 by Anne A. Sears