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The Selfish Seamstress, being your run-of-the-mill self-absorbed, sewing-obsessed eccentric, is generally uninterested in reading anything on topics other than:

1) Sewing
2) Herself
3) Why cat friends are better than people friends

As such, she’s not one to get terribly engaged in United Airlines’ seat pocket magazine, Hemispheres, as so few of the articles deal with those very important subjects. Nevertheless, as she was flipping through something pretty caught her eye:

 

I tore the article out of the magazine, and then, as you can see, it got a little crumpled in my bag.

Maybe I’ve been hiding under a rock and am the last one to know, but in case I’m not and there one or two of you out there who haven’t yet heard, H&M apparently has a home decor line which is heavy on the textiles! Yes, this from Hemispheres:

“H&M Home launches its spring line of textiles and soft accessories featuring a pop-inspired aesthetic – think psychedelic pillows depicting Viking princesses, paint splattered duvet covers and graphic throw blankets… The bad news?  So far the linens are available only online in Sweden and its Nordic neighbors (plus Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands)… the jawdropping prices (4.90 to 49.90 euros, or around $6.50-$68, for everything from candy-striped cushion covers to organic cotton bed sets), are earning the company plaudits fro design-hungry bloggers around the globe.”

Forget about cushion covers; I’m picturing the dresses I could make from the bedsheet version of that purple flower pillow and they’re looking very good indeed. And this tablecloth too.

I’ve got a bit of a love/hate relationship with H&M.  On one hand I love the fact that they bring design to the masses, and on the other hand I’ve got guilt over their labor practices (one of the many reasons that I sew for myself). If I had a third hand, I would use it to point to their inconsistent quality and workmanship. But this new development is going to make it interesting. I’m downright giddy at the thought of H&M perhaps one day selling fabric off the bolt, like Ikea or Marimekko, a potential game changer. Did I mention that I might have to go to Helsinki next month?

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Dear Readers:

I’m writing this post from under the mountain of fabric that toppled on to me after I attempted to stack all of my recent acquisitions into a neat ceiling-high column. I fear the end may be drawing near for me, but  if I’m going to go, at least I can say that this is exactly the way I wanted to go. Crushed by dozens of yards of wool knit and sleek suiting.

Based on some of your warm recommendations, I decided to take a little trip to Metro Textiles with Dan in tow. I had already feasted heartily at Mood and Paron, so this was just icing. And readers had mentioned a lovely proprietor and bargain basement prices, so I figured I had nothing to lose. Well, both were certainly true. Kashi is a lovely person who is passionate about his business and genuinely wants to make his customers happy, and my goodness, the deals are better than internet prices!

Look at that smile!  Who wouldn’t want to get their fabric from this man?  And if you’re wondering what he’s holding, it’s three yards of luscious aubergine lining -100% rayon (the good stuff!) in a rare 60″ width, for $6 a yard! Good luck finding that on the internet! I can see why some people had said that the selection is hit or miss- Metro Textiles is a tiny little shop compared to nearby mammoths like B&J or Mood (you have to do some creative walking in some cramped corners to get to some of the stock) and can’t be as comprehensive. But there was a lovely selection of wool suiting, jacketing, and coating, which are my favorites. There were also lovely knit prints and solids, and some beautiful silks as well. If you go in looking for something very specific you might not find it, but there’s quite a lot of fabric crammed into the space and it looked like great quality to me. 

Having binged so much earlier, I managed to hold back a bit, even though the prices are certainly binge-friendly. I came away with the aforementioned rayon lining, a whole lot of lightweight fusible knit interfacing (also 60″ and crazy cheap! Is it just me or is 60″ interfacing something really special?), and a beautiful black and white houndstooth wool suiting that is too smooth to be true:

 

Here’s a closeup of the wool ($10!!):

Kashi had some interesting stories about how the garment district has changed in the ten years during which he’s been in business, and about how the fabric stores in the area have been disappearing at a pretty fast clip. I guess this makes sense, as manufacturing has been moving out of the area and gone overseas. It’s a shame considering what a wonderful area it is, with such great history and of course such beautiful fabric. I hope the industry doesn’t erode any further and people like Kashi can stay in business. (Call him if you need something- he ships!) Did I mention how nice this guy is?

While in the area, I also hit up the famed trim store M&J Trimming. Unlike many hobby seamstresses, I’m not a trim fanatic, so I didn’t go crazy in there (a good thing too, because I’m pretty sure the woman ahead of me in line paid $70 for a bag of what looked like 5/8″ polyester satin ribbon, but I could have been mistaken).  I just picked up a couple of belt buckles, but that’s not to say I wasn’t blown away by the beautiful store:

And that’s just a tiny part of it. Trim addicts could spend a whole day (and paycheck) in here, and then come back the following day for more.

Finally, because I was in the area and because a certain mulberry sweater knit had been chewing at the edges of my consciousness since I had left it behind at Mood, I headed back there again. As I had sort of expected, it was more beautiful in my memory than in real life (probably the reason I had left it there in the first place.) But it just happened to be next to another wool sweater knit in a lovely army green, which I did annex:

And that was probably what did it.  This last unnecessary bit of fabric gluttony is what pushed the sewing gods over the edge. As this soft, thick knit teetered high atop the stock of new stash I’ve acquired in NY, the sewing gods unleashed their fury and struck it down, which is how I ended up under the avalanche of beautiful fabric. 

I think I may be done with fabric shopping for this trip. Unless I can manage to get out from under all this stuff.

Hugs,
Elaine

It had not been my intention only to go to Mood.  I actually trekked down to the garment district with a Post-It with several addresses on it.  But once in Mood I found everything my selfish little heart could desire and more (plus more than my selfish little arms could carry, making further shopping impossible.) I skipped out on the silk organzas and velvets, the gorgeous silk and cotton jersey prints that would inevitably languish unused on the shelf were I to take them home with me, and headed straight for wool.

After so much guessing with wools purchased online (and they vary so much in hand and quality), it was a joy to wander through the aisles stacked up the the ceiling and pet every fabric picking only the softest. Here’s my haul of wool suitings up close.  A super soft heathered taupe flannel:

A chocolate-y tweed in a fine herringbone pattern, darker in real life than in the photo:

And a lightweight soft tweed in various shades of brown:

You may be looking at these and thinking that The Selfish Seamstress sure does have predictable taste.  A year ago I myself would probably have only picked one of these and then substituted the other two with something a little wilder. But I think this is just me maturing as a stasher, knowing that these are the kinds of fabric I wish I had when they’re missing from my collection, and knowing that these are the things that I ultimately want to sew and wear. Plus I’ve done a lot of grey wool in the last year or so, and good browns are often hard to find. And ohhhhhh the quality!  These wools are so soft and rich and fine, they could probably be worn right against the skin without any itching at all. But I’ll line them anyway because they deserve it!

Then I went to pick out some knits, which is a bit of a gamble since sewing knits is sort of new to me and building up a big stash right away might not be the safest of bets.  But at least all of these are earmarked for specific patterns, so that increases the chances that they’ll get used. First I found that most elusive of fabrics- black wool double knit.  They had so many different black wool knits and it was a luxury to pick out the softest and smoothest rather than settling for whatever I could find.  (No picture because it just looks like black fabric when I photograph it).  Then a lovely eggplant (or grape?) ponte double knit:

And the softest, silkiest bamboo jersey in French blue:

I’m not necessarily done with my fabric shopping in New York, and I’ve got quite a few more days in the city.  Thank goodness that I have status on United, which means that Dan and I can check a total of four suitcases on the trip back :) Dan plans to fill some with sporting equipment, but he may be mistaken in that assumption.

I left Mood with my wallet about $130* lighter, and yet I still can’t help but think about a particular mulberry sweater knit I passed up, and a wine-colored wool jersey. Fortunately, it just so happens that I have this afternoon blocked off in my datebook with the words, “Make you even MORE jealous.”  I’ll get right on that.

* This number is a lie.

The Selfish Seamstress can’t resist the opportunity to be Selfish at bargain basement prices. Have you seen the crazy sale on Vera Wang Lavender Label fabric at Fabric.com? The same amber floral brocade that I purchased about a month ago at about $12 a yard is now $3.99! So I went on a bit of bender and ended up ordering seven yards of Vera Wang fabric for $27! You know I’m excited about it when I put it in both bold and italic. Then I tossed in a yard and a half of stretch denim to sew some jeans and to make the free shipping quota. Here’s what I’ve got coming:

Top row left is a charcoal wool blend stretch suiting from Vera Wang, on sale for $5.99/yard, slated for a Narciso Rodriguez-inspired dress.  Top row right is a Vera Wang navy blue jacquard on sale for $3.19 perhaps for a Cynthia Rowley pattern.  Bottom left is a Vera Wang $2.79 cream poly/spandex jersey for a goddess dress I’m drafting in my head.  And bottom right is a stretch denim (bought at the regular price of $9.98) which is exactly what I’ve been looking for- I love that it has white threads in the warp and the weft, which looks very modern, I think.

As soon as all this life-sucking sewing-for-other-people is done, I’m going to be all over this like butter on a hot biscuit. Which I will eat in front of everyone without offering a bite.

 Although it would seem from recent posts that my trip to Switzerland has been quite heavy on sewing related activities, it really hasn’t. But I can’t help it if I happen to walk by a fabric store and need to go in and browse a bit, right?  And so it happened today just by chance that I passed by two stores on the same block, Stofftrucke, which had quite a lovely, albeit pricey selection (about $20/meter for polyester jersey, about $50/meter for silk charmeuse, and about $80/meter for wool coating), and the Bernina Nähcenter, which had a small but nice selection of fabrics at about the same prices.

But one of my favorite things was the sign in the window of the Bernina store:

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“Näh it yourself!”  A sentiment near and dear to the Selfish Seamstress’s selfish, icy heart! Now, I’m guessing that when the Bernina store tells you to “sew it yourself,” they mean it in a positive, friendly way because they want to sell you sewing machines and because they’re probably nicer people than I am.  They want to empower you to create and accomplish.  Whereas I look at this and take joy in thinking, “That’s right, you näh it your friggin’ self!  What do I look like, your Mutti? Lass mich in Ruhe!”

Here’s some fabric p*rn from the Bernina Nähcenter- felt and wool loden in lovely crayon shades, and Dan examining the velboa selection:

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Here’s some more amazing fabric p*rn from the Stofftrucke for you, an embellished wool loden, a rainbow of silks, a graceful embellished lightweight taffeta, and some assorted green woolly,  tweedy things:

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That dark brown coat-weight loden with the teal flowers on it is pretty spectacular.  I’d love it for a long coat with dark brown faux fur collar, cuffs and trim.  But at $88/meter, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I did find the BEST knit ever though:

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What makes it the best, you ask?  Well, for one thing because a meter and a half of it is sitting right here next to me and it’s ALL MINE. It’s a lovely, soft, loose, stretchy, drapey knit in a deep, intense shade of greenish teal (they call this color “petrol” here) with rich, subtle variations.  It was a bit of a splurge at $21/meter, as I think it’s just a blend of rayon and synthetics. But it looks and feels like luxury to me, and I’ve got the pattern for it all picked out in my head. All I have to decide now is whether to use it knit side out (above) or purl side out:

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I’m leaning towards purl.  A little more edgy, I think.  Oh, and I probably need to read up on how to sew a non-stable knit.  That knowledge could come in handy.

Anyway, flying home tomorrow and I’ll be reunited with my stash and my machine! All in all a great trip, a couple of good finds, and a whole lot of restraint- selfishness on a budget.

Despite the constant rain, I managed to trudge out to a very design-y part of Zurich, where I had read about Fabric Frontline. It was a bit difficult to find, as it was tucked in a courtyard beyond a walled garden and a tunnel guarded by many larger-than-life garden gnomes (as pictured here with Dan):

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Once inside we found the most neat and spotless fabric store I’ve ever seen, with every roll carefully tied at both ends with silk ribbon and not a single bolt stacked or leaning even slightly off of perfectly vertical.  I didn’t know beforehand but the store stocks pretty much just silk, in four large rooms.  Every color you can imagine, in beautiful prints, patterns and solids.  They have several textures and weaves including taffetas, brocades, georgette, and dupionis, but the majority of their stock looked to be charmeuse in some magnificent prints.

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The store was so quiet and still, I was practically on tiptoes. Everything was so neatly arranged and luxurious looking that I was afraid to touch the fabric. The woman working in the store seemed less than excited at our presence. We got a chilly reprimand when we began to explore a corner that was apparently the “collection fabrics,” which apparently customers are not supposed to handle (we didn’t know!) Perhaps I had the look of a person who was going to waste her time by browsing rather than buying anything. But really, when has the Selfish Seamstress ever entered a nice fabric store and come away empty handed?  

The answer is: Today. That’s right, thousands of rolls of exquisite silk before me and I bought nothing.  I guess I’m not really that much of a silk person, with the exception of my Delancey Dress.  I’m much more of a wool girl. Silky slippery stuff in particular is something that doesn’t show up much in my sewing or wardrobe.  I wouldn’t even know what to make with anything there.  I did find a wonderful print of  dandelion seeds scattered over a beautiful charmeuse (no photo- I’m sure I’d have been kicked out of the store if I had tried.) And I toyed for a while with the idea of just purchasing a meter or so in case I might one day think of something to make with it.  But I just couldn’t imagine wearing it, and at $142 a meter (the price of many of the fabrics- remnants were marked down to the bargain basement $100), it seemed a bit too decadent for something that might sit endlessly in my stash. It’s hard to be that selfish a seamstress on a normal seamstress budget.

The Selfish Seamstress has a lot of pet peeves when it comes to sewing projects.  One of the main ones is the misguided use of quilting fabric for women’s apparel.  Yes, quilting fabric often comes in very pretty prints, patterns, and colors, and yes, there are some rare exceptions when it works well. But more often than not, when people sew dresses or blouses in quilting fabric, they may as well just scrawl the word “HOMEMADE” on it with a Sharpie.

I’m not a quilter (I don’t have much interest in sewing when it doesn’t hold potential for vain adornment) and so I generally avoid the quilting section of my local fabric store.  But somehow the Tillbrook collection of fabrics from Alexander Henry has slipped into my consciousness and I find it too adorable and charming to ignore.  Here are some examples.  First up, the Tillbrook Border print:

tillbrook-border

Then the Tillbrook Toadstools:

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And lastly the Tillbrook Fairies print, similar to the Tillbrook Border but an all-over print:

tillbrook-fairies

Too lovely, don’t you think? And I can’t think of a way to use it (and therefore I can’t think of an excuse to buy it.) Yes, the obvious answer would be to make something for a baby, but that violates the first rule of Selfish Seamstressing.  Anyway, babies are too young to express worshipful gratitude, and you have to wait a long time before you can collect on the debt they owe you for the handmade gift in any tangible way.  (Yeah, yeah, they’re sweet and full of love and the greatest gift of all, but a Selfish Seamstress needs presents and favors. She can’t just give away her labor in exchange for stuff like love.)  

Anyway, she’s not sure how her adorable nephew would look in pink fairy print:

Picture 1

[Sigh.  For the sake of full disclosure, the Selfish Seamstress did knit his little sweater from Knitty’s wonderful Trellis pattern. As much as it goes against her philosophy of selfishness, she is a slave to this child. If you’re wondering, it’s Sublime DK weight organic cotton in shade #91 Peapod.] 

Okay, back to talking about me. The question is, could I incorporate this print fabric into my sewing in any reasonably sophisticated way? Particularly the border print, which I just love. Or is cutesy (an aesthetic that does not interest me) the only option? Ideas?

It seems that just about every sewing blogger and her mom has gone gaga over this Michael Kors dress from his Fall 2008 collection, and I am no exception.  Styled in rich menswear fabrics, or the most ladylike of floral prints, the dress is a prime example of sophisticated va-va-voom:

00240mNMB0VT4_mfMichaelKorsDress 

And of course, the exciting thing for those of us who are in possession of a pocketful of sewing skills is that this dress is available as a pattern in the form of Vogue 1117:

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Hrmm.  To be honest, I really don’t like how the dress looks on the Vogue envelope. If not for the fact that I’ve seen the dress in other incarnations, I doubt I’d have looked twice at the pattern. What is going on here?  Granted, the model for the Vogue dress does not have a willowy runway model figure, but her figure is lovely nonetheless. I’ve seen the dress photographed on actress Kristin Davis, who is probably closer in size and shape to the envelope model than to the runway model, and it looks lovely on her as well.  Could it be that the model’s boyish haircut is not working with the dress? Is it because the dress isn’t shown with a belt? Or is it that the draft of the Vogue pattern is somehow more conservative?  I hope it’s not that, because I ordered it anyway. I’m counting on the belt to be the solution.

So, onto another question.  It was my first instinct to get a tweed or other such menswear fabric and make this as a dress for work.  But I’m realizing that I am in possession of a whole lot of classy little knee-length dresses for work, both purchased and made.  And then I discovered this Vera Wang Lavender Label floral brocade from Fabric.com:

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What do you think?  I found some pictures of the actual Vera Wang Lavender Label dress for which this fabric was used, and the fabric really begs to be pleated and ruched. In that sense, the fabric might be a good fit for that pattern. But I’m still not sure… given that the Vogue pattern looks considerably less “fierce” than the Michael Kors original, and given that I’m not very va-va-voom anatomically to start with, will this floral frock look frumpy and grammy-ish (no offense to grammies!), or will it look sophisticated?  

In other words, will it be Mad Men floral dress:

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or Queen mum floral dress?

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What’s your advice?  Yay or nay on the print with the Vogue 1117 pattern?

About this blog

The Selfish Seamstress loves to design and sew garments, but only if she gets to keep them. I'm Elaine, known in the online sewing world as elainemay, and welcome to my selfish sewing blog.

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