Readers, as you know, there's nothing I enjoy more than fabric shopping withfans. I get to feel like a celebrity, boss people around, enjoy the thrill of the hunt without spending a dime, and, occasionally, get treated to lunch, as I did yesterday (preceded by the familiar drama-at-the-cash-register that goes No, let me. No me! No, I insist!, etc. Finally, I succumbed, all the while wishing I'd gotten that brownie.).
Let me just clarify a few points about this. I certainly never expect to get treated to lunch -- it's not a quid pro quo -- in fact I'm almost never treated to lunch, so when I am treated to lunch it's really a thrill. I think that accepting others' generosity toward oneself is really a form of altruism, don't you? You're giving them a gift by letting them give to you. Friends, I have so many gifts for you if you're ever passing through NYC!
Now, I know I've disappointed a few of you who have caught me on a day when I couldn't spare the time to meet, but this is rare. I'm usually up for anything and, just so you know,I prefer lunch on the early side -- definitely before 1 pm -- and I'll never take you anywhere major credit cards aren't accepted, though cash is, as they say, king.
Yesterday I got to spend a few hours in the Garment District with MPBreader Alicia, who hails from Chicago and is in town for a (very) long weekend. What fun we had!
Alicia is your typical sewing blogger -- funny, urban-hipsterish in A-line skirt and canvas Converse low-tops, passionate about vintage style, and highly computer literate -- except for one thing: she doesn't have a blog. I hope you will join with me in urging Alicia to get with the program while she still has the youthful energy. Parenthetically, I loved Alicia's outfit, which she sewed herself out of coordinating vintage fabrics she purchased on eBay. The blouse is the popular Colette Senchapattern. Very well done.
Speaking of youth, I hope I'm not violating a confidence when I share that Alicia was in something of a funk yesterday, having just celebrated a milestone birthday that takes her squarely out of her early _______'s (decade). You can imagine the outpouring of empathy this inspired in me, who was already shaving when she was born. Friends, if you're upset about a leaky kitchen faucet, don't complain to the person whose house was just washed away in a flood -- need I say more? Fortunately my aural reaction was limited to a silent scream, though I think Alicia could tell what I was thinking when my eyebrows shot up to what's left of my hairline and my eyes narrowed to knife-like slits. She won't be making that mistake again.
One more thing about Alicia, and actually this is something I wonder about many of you. Say you were intending to sew a vintage Fifties shirtwaist pattern. Something like this, for example:
On the back of the pattern envelope, the "suggested fabric types" are cottons and blends, calico, chambray, linen, shantung, and flannel. Wise readers, would you decide, that's all well and good, but I want to make my dress out of polyfleece? This is a hypothetical question and I am not suggesting that Alicia had any intention of making a Fifties shirtwaist out of polyfleece, but rather velvet -- whoops, another confidence violated.
I had hardly known this woman three minutes -- though I now count her among my closest friends -- than I was scolding her in public for ignoring not only the suggested fabric types, but also the design suggestions on the front of the pattern envelope.
Now, I count myself as a true anti-authoritarian, but when it comes to pattern envelopes, I am obedient-bordering-on-goose-stepping-brownshirt. I simply don't question the pattern company's authority and assume that if the envelope shows a dress in a polished cotton floral print, by jiminy, you'd better make that dress in something similar if not identical. Am I unusual this way?
Needless to say, when Alicia showed me the photo of the vintage pattern in question on her iPhone, I immediately dragged her out of the velvet section ASAP; the poor thing was stunned and nearly in tears. Seriously, though: who wears velvet these days other than Goths and Gothic Lolitas? (And yet fabric stores are full of the stuff.) So Phantom of the Opera.
After lunch, we made a beeline for Metro Textiles, where I used subliminal mind-control techniques to steer Alicia to a gorgeous blue chambray at a very reasonable $5/yd. Success! I tried to get her to pair this with a sunny orange gingham, but she resisted, opting instead for a plaid Pendleton wool. At least it wasn't velvet.
Here is Alicia at Metro. Please, step away from the knit prints with your hands up.
I would hate readers to think that I get some kind of kickback for bringing visitors to Metro Textiles. Just the opposite is true; Kashi charges me more, which is certainly a strange way of doing business but hasn't stopped me from buying. I just don't think he likes me very much. Alicia and I also hit H&M, the quintessential packed-to-the-gills fabric dive with no air-conditioning (it was 85 degrees yesterday), and had our delightful lunch at Pret A Manger, my favorite lunch chain of the moment. I fully endorse both.
Returning home quite spent, I managed to successfully hem my BurdaStyle sew-along dress, cutting 2"-wide bias strips of that treacly coordinating paisley fabric (the one I'd originally used for the skirt underlay) which I then used as a facing.
The great thing about these bias facings is that they don't pucker the way a normal 2-3" turned-up edge would (if you just turn up the edge, the edge is wider than the point you're stitching it to, hence the puckering or buckling, or whatever it's called) which meant I could use a machine blind hem stitch to finish the nearly five yards-wide hem. I usually stitch hems by hand but I wasn't feeling it last night.
I probably didn't have to attach rayon seam binding to the inner edge -- the bias wasn't going to fray -- but I did it anyway. Was this one step too many, in your opinion, or does the bias need some kind of edge finish?
Anyway, Leah comes over later today for a final fitting, and I hope to be able to wrap things up and get on with my life.
In closing, a few quick questions:
1) Do you think fabric suggestions on pattern envelopes are just that -- suggestions -- and should be taken with a grain of salt?
2) Do you ever sew with -- or wear -- velvet, and if so, when?
3) Does your vintage sewing machine pedal -- the kind with the little foot button -- ever have a tendency to stick? The one I'm using with the Singer 201 Rain gave me does, and it's a little unnerving to sew with a semi-stuck pedal -- like driving on cruise control in city traffic -- though it does unstick pretty easily. Should I open the pedal and clean it? Any ideas?
Thanks for the guidance, and Happy Thursday, everybody!
I'm a native New Yorker and self-taught sewing fanatic! I've been sewing obsessively since 2009 and today make all my own clothes using mostly vintage patterns and vintage sewing machines. Welcome to the warm and whimsical world of Male Pattern Boldness, where the conversation is sewing, style, fashion, fabric, and more!