I’m often asked where I buy my fabrics from. Truth is, it’s anywhere and everywhere – but 95% of the time I buy online. I know that some people – myself included – have had bad experiences with buying fabric online, especially when you’re after something specific and when it arrives it turns out to be not quite as you expect or hope. It’s always so much better to go somewhere and touch the fabric and see it in real life, to see the drape and true colours, and feel the texture of the surface.
Depending on where you live though, only buying fabrics in person can work against you – the number and size of local fabric shops will determine how much you have to choose from, and sometimes this can be not a lot. Being in London, you would think that I have the whole fabric world around me, but the shops can be quite spread out across the city. Sew Over It is in the north, Fabrics Galore in the south. It can take you almost an hour to get between the two, so including browsing time that’s a couple of hours gone on just two shops. Berwick Street in Soho has a cluster of a few shops, but be prepared to drop some serious dollar there as they’ve got to cover their central London rents somehow you know…
I recently went to Goldhawk Road for the first time, and this is hands down the best area I’ve been to for fabric all in one place. Even better than the London craft shows. I’ll definitely be heading back there again at some point (once I’ve sewn up everything I bought on the last trip…), but I’m nowhere near ready to give up my online shopping just yet.
You literally have the whole world at your fingertips when you shop for fabric online. This does however make it harder to find what you want, as there’s so many options it can be hard to know where to start! Especially if you’re just browsing to see what takes your fancy, which is what I’m doing almost all the time.
I spend an obscene amount of time looking at fabric on eBay and Etsy. Sometimes I’ll search for specific things – ‘vintage Alexander Henry’ is one (just to see what it throws up, there are some AWESOME old prints out there), ‘goth fabric’ and ‘brocade’ are others, or sometimes just ‘red fabric’ to see all the different patterns and textures within a colourway. I probably only make one purchase for every five or six hours spent looking, but finding that one absolute gem makes it totally worthwhile. Sometimes I just type in ‘fabric’ into eBay and filter by ‘ending soonest’ to see if I can swoop in and grab a last-minute bargain, which is how I found this fabric.
It’s a 3.5m piece of a Javanese viscose with a paint splash border print. I got it for £15, and there’s enough there to make two garments from it. One is this shirt (obvs) and the other one will be a summer dress for me – I was planning to make the dress during the summer just gone, and take matchy-matchy husband and wife pictures, but I ran out of time. So the dress will have to wait until next year now, along with about 20 other things that I didn’t get time for… you know how it is. Too much sewing too little time, have to go to work and earn money blah blah. My work/sewing balance really needs to be reviewed.
I get really excited when I find such unique fabrics that I can use for shirts – sure it’s nice to use Liberty fabrics but it’s also nice to make totally wacky and outrageous stuff. Because you NEVER see such crazy shirts in the shops (and by ‘shops’ I mean high street shops at affordable prices, not some £600 Givenchy number). And sometimes it’s nice to have a totally outrageous pair of shoes (bought in the sales, half price no less woooo) to go with your outrageous shirt… HOW cool?! They are about a size too big for me but I might totally steal (‘borrow’) them from him anyway and just wear really thick socks.
This shirt is the short-sleeved version of my trusty Vogue 8759. I’ve made quite a collection of these now, and I’m wondering whether its time for a change of pattern to freshen things up a bit. The husband has complained that this shirt is a little tight around the chest – either he’s put on weight, or every time I cut the fabric I’m shaving a little bit off the pattern pieces and the shirts are genuinely getting smaller and smaller… the jury is still out on this one, but that second option is definitely not out of the question. This is one pattern where I cut up the original, so I can’t trace another copy – but lesson has been learned and I’m now a good girl and trace all my patterns. Yes it takes longer when all you want to do is just get on and start sewing (believe me, patience is NOT one of my virtues) but honestly kids, it’s worth it. For times such as these when you’ve been a bit too keen with the rotary cutter a few too many times.
If you’re thinking of buying this pattern, do try to look past the 90’s catalogue vibe of the cover photos… Vogue really don’t do themselves any favours with these pictures. Hardly inspiring, are they?
If you’ve not seen this pattern before, or you’re looking to make a shirt for yourself or your other half, I totally recommend it, despite the cover art. It’s easy to get a good fit on this one because the back is panelled in three pieces, plus the yoke. The adjustments I’ve made to my templates are kept only to the longer length sleeves – I’ve slimmed them and also took out a couple of inches of length. I made no adjustments to the shorter sleeves or the body.
I thought about pattern matching across the front placket, but then decided that as the pattern is quite random I didn’t need to bother. Turns out, I wish I had as the front looks a little bit too imbalanced to me. Oh well, you live and learn hey. We deliberated for ages over which buttons to use – should we be ‘boring’ and go for plain black? Or should we use a set of coloured buttons, each one matching a colour on the shirt…? Although I was lured in by the multicolour option, we played it safe with the black buttons and I’m kind of glad we did because coloured buttons would have only been lost amongst the pattern anyway. I compromised by sewing on the black buttons with pink thread, matching the pink on the shirt.
I’m going to spend some quality time researching flat fell seams. The instructions for this shirt as they are have you leave the raw edges unfinished – I don’t want to leave them raw, and I don’t really want to overlock them, so currently I sort of blag it with a French seam. The Negroni from Colette seems to be a popular pattern with flat felled seams but I’m not sure it’s really a ‘dress shirt’ contender – it looks more like a casual shirt with a more relaxed fit. Which isn’t a bad thing, I’d like to knock out a few winter flannel shirts too, but I mainly make ‘work shirts’ so need something that’s a little smarter and more fitted. Perhaps I might buy the pattern anyway and see exactly how those sleeves go on, and adapt this for the Vogue pattern.
While I’m still working on perfecting the armhole techniques, I have at least got the hem and sleeve finishings down on these shirts now. Bias tape goes on EVERY SINGLE HEM. It’s such a neat finish with (sort-of) minimal effort, and I love using contrasting coloured tape for a little bit of sass. I used to double press the hem, and getting it round the curves was an absolute nightmare and it always looked rubbish.
There’s one more kink with shirt making that I’m determined to iron out. Something I seem to get on every single shirt I make, whether it’s this pattern or one for me, is a weird little ‘placket bubble’ between the very top button on the collar stand and the first button on the main body of the placket. WHY? Am I putting the buttonhole too high on the collar stand? Am I not placing the buttons correctly within the buttonholes? Is it something else I’m doing wrong? I just can’t figure it out, so if anyone has any insight or advice whatsoever, please do share as I really want to fix it and stop it from happening! HALP!
This shirt is the last short sleeve shirt I’m making this year. It is definitely too cold for them now, and I’ve got itchy feet to make all the things in autumn colours. I’ve got a few nice Liberty prints lined up to become long sleeve shirts over the coming months, including a couple I picked up at Goldhawk Road and also two that the husband chose himself from Fabrics Galore at the Sewing Bee show recently. More shirts also means a trip to the haberdashery for the matching buttons – and I’m always cool with that. I really must curb my fabric purchases though as I’ve gone a little crazy over the last few months buying everything in all the autumn colours that I love – and the Knitting and Stitching show is coming up in two week’s time. Gah. I do solemnly swear that I will (try my best to) not buy any more fabric after the show until the new year.
Unless the January sales start early.
In which case the promises are out the window. #soznotsoz
Coming up next week on the Wanderstitch blog… some gold and black sparkly-ness and an awesome pair of cat socks ? Subscribe below to make sure you don’t miss out!
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