Category: Fabric

wiwo wednesday: sewing for my style

fabric pile: t-shirt knits, neutral colors

Nothing beats a good pile of fabric. These cozy knits all came from an especially fruitful Sunday at the G Street Fabrics $2.97 table. It’s hit-or-miss, but when it’s a hit you can’t beat $2.97/yd for a comfy apparel fabric. The pile is usually made up of bolt-ends, sometimes even factory rejects or misprints. They’re always tangled into a mess, and very rarely labeled. It’s fabric archaeology at its finest. Beyond all that, the cutters are generous, so if a piece is uneven, or there’s a run or a misprint, they’ll grant you a huge margin. Magical.

Since the fabrics aren’t marked for content, I end up smelling each of them, trying to detect the percentage of natural fibers. I like to think I’ve gotten pretty good at the sniff test. For t-shirts, especially, I steer clear from 100% synthetic fabrics, since they don’t handle sweat well. Some of them even trap sweat+deodorant and it never washes out! I hate it when that happens to my store-bought clothes, and it’s even worse to make myself something with the same feature.

What this pile of fabric best represents, though, besides magic and a steal at under $30, is my most recent attempt to sew clothes that I will wear. I’ve realized that I like to buy pretty fabrics in bright colors and fun prints, and I like to dream about sewing dresses, skirts, and fancy shirts, but I like to wear neutral colors and dependable, casual tees with jeans. I think Sewaholic says it best: many of us are sewing Too Much Frosting, Not Enough Cake.

maxi skirt sewing in progress

All the recent talk of “capsule wardrobes” and “defining your style” has given me a lot of thought on my personal style. I don’t have many clothes that I love, and I want to fill the gaps in my wardrobe with me-made garments. I want to sew clothes that are cute and stylish; while maintaining a classic, basic feel; while ensuring they’re easy to care for; while keeping them just unique enough that I know I made them myself. It’s a lot to ask, and it’s a little intimidating.

Just like eating healthy starts at the grocery store, sewing in a practical manner starts at the fabric store. Despite the $2.97 price tag, on that Sunday at G-Street, I held each fabric up in front of myself in the mirror, testing its practicality.
Neutral? Check. Easy to care for? Check. Comfy? Check. Cute? Check.
And I assembled a healthy stack of fabric from the “checks”.

The photo above is another from the stack, already removed and begun. This fabric, a lycra/spandex, was made to be a maxi skirt. When a fabric leaps out at me and I can instantly think of a project, it goes in the cart. And when I start the project as soon as the fabric is out of the wash? That’s an absolute win.

knit fabric with camping forest animals: raccoon, squirrel, hedgehog

Of course, some fabrics don’t fit within the rules. They’re not neutral, and they’re not something I’d wear often. But it’s not the 2.97 table if there’s not a surprise. And camping forest animals on a stretchy pink knit? Hedgehogs roasting marshmallows with their birdie friends? That’s the best surprise of all. I see a pair of super soft pajama shorts in my future!

Is your sewing style the same as your personal style? How do you keep the two aligned? I’m still at the beginning of this journey and I need help staying on track!

Marie started wiwo wednesday: What I’m Working On. I try to join her as often as I can to give you a peek into my creative process and my works-in-progress. Feel free to join in! Comment with what you’re working on, or blog it and leave me a link! See all my wiwo wednesday posts here.

sewing room tour, 2015 edition

Hi friends! It’s been 7 months since I posted the first tour of my sewing room, and a lot has changed. With every project, I tweak the room a bit to make it work better for me… it’s so fun to see how little changes can make my sewing organization so much better! A few things have stayed the same, but the changes have added up, so I hope you’ll enjoy spotting the differences with me.

sewing room tour: fluffyland studio

The view from the doorway has gotten much fuller with time. I’ve been trying to take advantage of the high ceilings: walls are precious real estate for storage and inspiration. Of course, the biggest difference is the bookshelf in the corner, a gift from my friend Katie. I visited her at her new apartment soon after she moved in, and commented on the bookshelf that was standing in her entryway. “You like it? Take it,” she said. “It’s on its way to Goodwill.”
It was meant to be… the shelf fits perfectly on that wall and it makes a world of difference in my supply storage. It even has cubbies!

sewing room tour: fluffyland studio

Coming in from the door, first we’ve got a full-length mirror. Crucial and so convenient. I’ve added a little handmade corkboard to the next skinny little wall to accompany Hannah’s cross-stitch. My second favorite souvenir ever (first here of course) is that handmade ostrich marionette, purchased in Barcelona circa 2007. It shares a wall with the doggies.

My Husqvarna Viking is back in her rightful place. I love the million-pound Adler, and sew with it frequently, but it’s too heavy for this little table. And, of course, the Viking does things like zig zags and buttonholes.

sewing room tour: fluffyland studio

The serger corner is looking far less bare than in the previous tour. I hung a small pegboard rack for my scissors and cutting tools: I’ve learned that having scissors within reach is crucial to my sewing happiness.

A quilt hoop with muslin stretched over it becomes a simple pinboard, and a garland of felt beads hangs from the ceiling. One of my tape spots came down, so the garland is drooping; I’ll have to have Brad (the tall, helpful one) tack it back during his upcoming visit.

sewing room tour: fluffyland studio

The shelf of glory. It fits perfectly on this wall and holds many of my must-need items, freeing space on my cutting table for, well, cutting. Serger thread, colorful tapes, patterns, pattern books, pattern binders. And, of course, narwhals and a party turtle on display.

sewing room tour: fluffyland studio

I picked up these awesome green drawer things at an estate sale last weekend for $1 each. Yep. And they fit perfectly in this cubby of the shelf. When I bought the drawer units, they were already being used to store sewing supplies, so it makes me happy that I’m continuing the legacy of the previous owner. I cleaned out the drawers (unfortunately, no great treasures: just a few old buttons and straight pins) and sent all the drawers through the dishwasher so they’re sparkling clean.

My favorite feature of the drawers, at the moment, is the fact that most of them are empty. I shouldn’t have to explain how luxurious it is to have empty drawers in a sewing room.

sewing room tour: fluffyland studio

Here’s the window wall. Much more full than last time, but it’s also much more efficient. Three overflowing bins of fabric under the table, and a small 3-shelf unit on the left-hand side that serves as my ironing station. The shelves also hold some trims, zippers, etc.

sewing room tour: fluffyland studio

Another quilt-hoop-turned-pinboard. I like them because they’re lightweight and easy to hang on the wall. I included this corner shot so you can better understand the shape of the room.

sewing room tour: fluffyland studio

The tiny, glorious closet. Not much has changed here, but the fleeces have moved to my vintage dining room hutch and this drawer thing has been reassigned to hold Fluffyland items: patterns, cut-out narwhals, tusks, samanthasnap necklaces, etc. I’m actually learning to like the small size of the closet: it makes it easy to keep the space from becoming cluttered and overrun.

sewing room tour: fluffyland studio

This tiny shelf is almost identical to before, except, again, more full but more efficient. Bins of supplies and the tools I like to keep handy. Up top is a tiny painting I made one day, just swishing a brush around… hadn’t done that before and I’ve kept the painting up there as a reminder to try new things. It’s definitely ugly but it’s also cool and it makes me want to try again.

Full circle! What do you think?

Links and References

berlin map: fabric canvas art

berlin map fabric canvas wall art

Since the day I moved in, my poor white couch has been dying for some color against that white wall. This was obviously not a job my black-and-white photo prints could fix, and I wanted something large, something with character. When I unearthed this gorgeous fabric that I bought in Berlin, a Japanese linen screenprinted with a stylized map of Berlin, I knew it would be the perfect thing to save that wall from its intense whiteness.

paint-speckled canvas frame

I considered buying an artist’s canvas to cover, but in that size they cost more than I like to spend (especially since that fabric was, allegedly, “the most expensive fabric I’ve ever bought”). So I waited, checking the thrift stores for ugly canvases in need of a coverup. Of course, my beloved rummage sale delivered just what I needed: a wooden frame in the perfect size, complete with paint speckles from its former life.

fabric canvas wall art

the size of the frame could not be more perfect.

I doubt I ever would have been able to cut into this fabric, anyway… it’s one of those super-special fabrics that I just love too much to use. Can you relate? Plus, the repeat of this print is huge… in my 1-yard cut I barely have a repeat.

Assembly couldn’t have been easier. I just wrapped the fabric squarely around the sides, pulling tight but not too tight, and used my not-so-trusty staple gun to tack it in place. I took extra care around the corners to make sure they stayed neat and square.

berlin map fabric screenprinted japanese linen

Here’s a detail shot, including a few of my favorite things: Foto-Laden, photo store; Tempelhof, the old Berlin airport, now used for open-air festivals, concerts, etc.; and of course Pommes Frites, which would be incomplete without currywurst on the side, and mayonnaise on top!

It was a simple project that’s become a wonderful statement piece in my apartment. This space gets more colorful by the day.