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Category: resources

good reads: fashion library edition

We all know what makes for a workable, functioning sewing room: machines, fabric, and supplies. For me, an equally important part of any creative space is the library. Textbooks, magazines, and design journals are a treasure trove of information, and I can promise you this: you will never be so experienced that you never need a refresher on how to do something. Now, don’t get me wrong, the internet is a great place to learn a lot of things, but there’s something about having a book right in front of me that is much more appealing. I’m okay with being old fashioned in that way.

There’s no need for a big library, just a few basics. Then, you can branch out into the specialty subjects that interest you. For me, these are leather crafting and vintage fashion and design. But first, any good library needs the following three books: a sewing book, a patternmaking book, and a fabric book.

a new partnership with HUSQVARNA VIKING®

I’m a big believer in doing things the right way, with the right tools. Creating something with your own two hands is a thoughtful endeavor, one that requires patience and critical thinking skills and discipline. It also requires the best tools and machines to help you produce a quality product. My sewing journey has taken me many places, and there have been unexpected twists and turns along the way. But what’s always been there, sitting pretty in the sewing corner of my studio, are my machines. They are a big reason why my projects turn out as nicely as they do, and I know how lucky I am to have them.

Knowing firsthand what this brand is all about and how truly magnificent their products are makes this announcement even sweeter. Today, I’m thrilled to tell you that I have partnered with HUSQVARNA VIKING®, the best in the business. Throughout 2017, I’ll be working with and demonstrating several different models from their lineup of sewing and embroidery machines. I will not only be showing you the fantastic features on each machine, but I’ll be sewing my own projects on them too. I’m totally delighted about this collaboration, and I can’t wait to show you all the incredible things these sewing machines can do.

My parents gave me a sewing machine for Christmas one year when I was 12 or 13, and I used that machine for years, getting the basics down while developing my passion and enthusiasm for sewing and design. In college, our lab was equipped with HUSQVARNA VIKING® sewing machines, which wasn’t a brand I was familiar with or had ever used. It didn’t take long to see how truly wonderful these machines are and why my school had decided to outfit our lab with them. It was around the same time that, after about 10 years on my learner machine, I was ready to invest in my first sewing machine that could do all the things I needed it to do. I remember going to JoAnn Fabrics & Crafts (where many HUSQVARNA VIKING® dealers are located) with my mom one afternoon after tailoring class, knowing exactly what model I wanted, and walking out with my very first big purchase as a young adult, a shiny, new HUSQVARNA VIKING® INTERLUDE sewing machine. I will never forget the excitement I felt carrying that box to the car and carefully unpacking my new treasure when we got home. Oh, the things I could make now! I used that machine steadily for years, all through college and beyond, sewing everything you can imagine on it: cotton dresses, silk blouses, tailored jackets and coats, canvas bags, leather accessories, and sequin skirts, just to name a few. I asked a lot from that machine, and it never skipped a beat. It was a constant companion, a reliable tool, an essential part of the design process. A few years ago, I was lucky enough to win two more machines in separate design competitions, a DESIGNER TOPAZ™ 25 and a TRIBUTE™ 140C, the 140th anniversary commemorative machine. I also have a HUSQVARNA VIKING® H|CLASS™ 200S overlock machine. I couldn’t do what I do without them.

Many thanks to the kind folks at HUSQVARNA VIKING®  for the opportunity to collaborate and show off these amazing machines. I’m so happy to be on your team! Now, let’s start sewing!

The DESIGNER JADE™ 35, the first machine I’ll be working with. Look how darling it is!

My H|CLASS™ 200S overlock machine and TRIBUTE™ 140C.

And the DESIGNER TOPAZ™ 25.

I can’t wait to show you all the projects I have planned for the year! In the meantime, have a look around the HUSQVARNA VIKING® website–I’m sure it won’t take long to find something you love! 

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.)