Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Fabric love and fabric loathing

Simplicity 2594

Tell me, do you ever get fabric crushes? I mean, you see some fabric and you just HAVE To have it. I sometimes see fabric I fall in love with, and the fabric this top is made out of was one of those fabrics. I love the colours, and the gothic quality of the birds against a heart shaped moon.

But here's something about it I really did not love, and that was the moth holes I discovered in it after purchase. Harumph!
It's a vintage crepe - from the 40's - and although it was a 4 yard piece not all of it was usuable - that coupled with the fact that it was in a vintage width and suddenly my options narrowed right down to enough yardage for a short sleeve top!

I have since learned a lot about buying vintage fabric and here's what I can tell you (via Kay and Joy who used to run Salvage, a vintage fabric store here in Auckland):

1 Liberty and Viyella are trademarks and the fabric is usually clearly marked in the selvage with the trademark. Beware fabrics sold under these names without the branding.
2 Fabric that has been stored in moth balls stinks. The smell does not always come out either, not even after a month on the washing line.
3 Always hold vintage fabrics to the light to check for holes. Moth holes can be hard to detect, but as soon as you wash it you'll know about it.
4 Vintage fabric was milled on narrow widths (a yard or slightly bigger) - if a piece of fabric is very wide then it's probably not vintage. (my mother has just emailed to correct me that wool/tweed was milled at 54 inches - a fact I know to be true because I have some 50 year wool 54 inches wide that REEKS of moth balls and because it is a natural fibre it has absorbed the smell- see 2 above)
5 Get good at knowing a fabric by feel and follow it up with a burn test. Many vintage fabrics are synthetic or synthetic blends. Vintage or not, a cheap nasty fabric is still a cheap nasty fabric. Beware Internet sellers who can't tell you the fabric composition - do you really want to pay top dollar for polyester?

I love vintage fabrics but I've been caught out a few times by poor quality - this time at least it has a happy ending.

Are you surprised I sewed a big 4 pattern? Yeah, me too. I did use Burda construction though. I made bias strips for the armholes which is their favourite finishing method.

I used Kbenco's yoke tutorial for the machine sewn yoke. Well, almost: I did on my muslin but on the finished garment I slip stitched the final seam down. It was pretty nerve wracking rolling up the front and bottom into a 4 cm wide yoke let me tell you. (actually, mission virtually impossible, Tom Cruise I'd love to see you sew that!)

The back, perhaps you can make out the tiny yoke?

In other news I turned 40 last week, after a year of saying, "I'm in my fortieth year, 40 next birthday etc" now it's real. I got lots of lovely presents but I'm sure my regular readers will enjoy this hand made card: It reads "more coats for MAS" (my initials). I won't spell it out for non-regular readers because I want my loyal long suffering blog friends to feel smugly-in-the-know.

Speaking of coats, I tried to give away ugly trench and NOONE would take it. I almost considered taking up Ginny's double dare of making a gold top and mauve harem pants to match but that still wouldn't make me wear the trench. I put it on and my heart sinks.

There is fabric love, and then there is fabric loathing.


  1. Beautiful fabric. I wish that this type of printed crepe was readily available. Once had an op shop in it. It was so comfortable in the hot Queensland summer.

  2. Gorgeous top! It has a lovely drape. Well, I don't even go looking for vintage fabric in North Queensland. If it hasn't gone mouldy, then the silverfish will have got to it...

  3. That top looks gorgeous on you, and even more so in real life.
    I had to think long and hard about what "big 4" meant. I thought for a minute it was an obscure reference to decades of age.
    Thanks for a great weekend!

  4. Congrats on your birthday!
    I like your top, sorry you had trouble with it but it looks great!

  5. Happy Birthday! Your top looks great. I am glad that you were able to salvage such cute fabric and make something "in between the holes!"

  6. Happy Birthday! The top was a great use of what you could salvage from lovely fabric!

  7. Happy Birthday.
    Your top is lovely, but I don't know how you squeezed the fronts through that tiny yoke. You must have great perseverance. It is kind of you to link to my post. I feel famous.

    I don't shop for vintage fabric either, mould and silverfish are also active 1000km or so south of katherine h. It is only this sour grapes attitude that limits my jealousy of your fabulous finds ;)

    On the other hand, some of my stash is almost vintage - insect holes have been known to appear there too. Sob.

  8. Happy Birthday!
    That is a lovely top - good save of the fabric!

  9. Oh dear!!!!!!!! Your birthday is right after mine -- how did I forget? Happy Birthday! Great birthday top, moth holes and all. ;)

  10. How fitting to sew a big 4 for the big 40! Happy Birthday!

  11. Oh he gorgeousness of that fabric! The drapiness, the colours - so lovely. (I confess I wouldn't have picked the graphic as birds and a heart shaped moon though) It's worth four yards for a simple top to get one so lovely.
    And welcome to your 40s. I got there last year, and it suits my idea of myself as a mature adult. Or something.

  12. Oh Mary nanna, I have just read your comment on Kbenco's blog...I say, let loose, write what you want, be more risque if that's what you want...blogging is a funny we do it for ourselves or for our readers?

  13. Thanks for sharing the info on vintage fabric!

    And a belated happy birthday!

  14. I have those fabric crushes far too frequently - there are too many gorgeous pieces in my stash that I just don't want to cut into in case I make a wadder.... Your top is gorgeous though, good choice for the fabric. Happy birthday too, isn't 40 the new 30 these days?

  15. It's not precisely an -ugly- trench, it's just incredibly stuffy. So don't flog yourself. Hell, just use it for the SWAP (because you've made it..) and then give it away. Drive-by Goodwill at night, I think, is your best bet. Sort of like zucchini. Or put it up on eBay, it's well-made, someone will like it. Or do you have a consignment shop in town? If you crank up the price enough, it'll look very designer-like and you'll have a better chance to ditch it. But whatever you do, don't be present when someone tries it on :-).

    Have you noticed that what emerges clearly from your blog is that every time you push for the respectable end of the spectrum you have a flop? It's no fun, but most of all it's not you, I think that's what the problem is.

  16. Pretty top! Something I have learned about fabric along life's way--there is always going to be another fabric that I love. Knowing that, I'm no longer heart broken over that piece I didn't get.

  17. Happy birthday (although i am very late!). I love the fabric also, I am glad you were able to salvage it!

  18. Love love love this fabric, and this top in this fabric!
    Welcome to your 40's!

  19. HAppy birthday!!! I love that fabric. What a shame about the moth holes.