favorite fabric stores

Like most of you, I’m always on the hunt for fabric. Even when I don’t really need anything, I like to keep up with my favorite suppliers just in case something new is posted, something that I can’t live without. I like to think of fabric like shoes or watches or lipstick or any number of things people can’t stop buying. (But go ahead and put me in the “can’t stop buying lipstick” group too, I guess.) Buying a cut of a gorgeous floral print or swishy silk or delicious wool is the jumping off point for creativity and critical thinking and, in the end, a new garment. Buying fabric is better than buying clothes, because no one will ever have the exact same dress that you have, and we are in total control of our clothes. It’s empowering and fun. But I don’t have to tell you that, you already know.

I’ve been fabric shopping for a long time. Add that to my years as a business owner making wholesale purchases and I can share a number of great places to find great fabric. Because I get asked about this all the time, I thought it would be a good idea to share my favorite places. I’m going to start with a company I just discovered last summer, Promenade Fine Fabrics in New Orleans. Hot tamale, they have the most gorgeous stuff you’ve ever seen. Now, full disclosure here, they are not cheap, nor should they be. This is where you go to treat yourself or find the perfect fabric for a special project. Promenade is a small, family owned business and they truly care about their customers. Be sure to check out their Etsy store for end-of-bolt pieces too. I’ve gotten really lucky there.

My first purchase from Promenade was the cotton sateen I used for Vogue 9202 last fall. Love it. (There’s four yards left in stock–go for it!)

There’s a handful of discount suppliers out there, but my go to is Fashion Fabrics Club. I’ve been shopping with them for more than ten years. You really have to dig for stuff sometimes, but the prices are worth the endless searching. I stock up on solid color cotton sateen there, and you can also find linen, chambray, and rayon challis prints for a steal. Nice selection of wool and knits too, but bright colors and prints are few and far between. Quality is mostly excellent, but there have been a few blemishes along the way. Sign up for the newsletter for notice of sales and free shipping promotions. I used my Christmas money on an order last week when lots of cotton was on mega sale and they were doing free shipping on $79+. That’s how you do it!

Here’s a small (very, very small) group of items I’ve done with fabrics from FFC. I’m telling you, there’s good stuff there. (These are all things I designed for the biz, back in the day. I’ve since made a couple of these for myself.)

how to: draft a half circle skirt pattern

I can think of no better way to officially kick off a new year of posts than to spotlight something I consider a major building block for anyone who sews apparel: the half circle skirt. Half circle skirts are wonderful for a lot of reasons, but I love them for their potential; mostly, I use them as foundation patterns to which I add pleats or gathers or whatever I want. Because I prefer fuller skirts, starting with a half circle pattern gives me a little flare right off the bat. Plus, it’s less time consuming and easier to draft than working with my basic skirt sloper. Once you know how to draft this skirt, you can adjust it to fit any bodice. For example, if you have a commercial pattern and you love the bodice but you want to change up the skirt a bit, you’ll have the know-how to make it happen.

One of my favorite designs–and something that always generates lots of comments and questions–is this skirt, which is a half circle with inverted box pleats and side seam pockets. To create the stripes, the pattern is split into six even sections. I’ll show you how to make this one soon.

Here are a few more examples of design elements added to a half circle pattern: a gathered skirt with lace trim around the hem, a skirt with side pleats and slanted side pockets, and a skirt with inverted box pleats and a contrast hem band. The options are endless!

So, let’s get started. Drafting a half circle pattern is super easy. There’s a little math involved, but it’s not complicated at all, and I can share a tip with you to double check your work. For this project you will need pattern paper, paper scissors, pencil, ruler, flexible curve, a marker, and tape. For more information on these supplies, see this post.

onward

Happy New Year! We had a wonderful Christmas, and I hope you did too. I always seem to forget how quickly the holiday season flies by, and I’m always so sad to see it end; when family goes back home, decorations are packed away, and life returns to normal. Then, all of a sudden, a new year is upon us and I’m not sad anymore–I’m inspired and happy to get back to my everyday routine. The truth is, every day and every moment is an opportunity for a fresh start, but there’s something about turning the calendar to a new year that brings extra excitement and inspiration. I can’t wait to get back in the studio and get started on all the plans I have for this year.

2016 was the best year of my life. After three years in a row of huge challenges of loss, health scares, and chapters ending, I was due for a good year. Ty and I finally got to go on a big overseas trip together, the stress and toxicity I was carrying around starting dissolving, and I got healthy again. 2016 was a rewarding and fulfilling year that brought me tremendous happiness.

I’m looking forward to 2017 with renewed sense of optimism and a sharper focus on what really matters. Beyond a handful of specific goals (20 pounds to go! new dresses! a new house!), my hope for 2017 is professional achievement. I studied fashion and design for a long time, and I’m hopeful I can find a way to use the skills I’ve worked so hard to hone in a meaningful, purposeful way. I started this blog as a way to document my own projects, but in the five short months I’ve been doing it I’ve realized there’s a great deal more potential here than just showing the world what I’ve made for myself. I have a chance to share my experiences with you, to help you in your own sewing and design journey. So, one of my main objectives for 2017 is to improve everything about this space: the content, the consistency, the photographs. I’m also excited to introduce video tutorials soon.

In looking back over 2016, a few projects stand out in my mind, but I’m most pleased with the overall progress I made in rebuilding my wardrobe with mostly handmade garments. I’m excited to continue this work into the new year.

Thank you all for following along so far, and I can’t wait to dive into new sewing projects soon. Here’s to a happy and healthy new year!