Thursday, May 20, 2010

PR Weekend Philly, Day 2: Fabric Frenzy

While on Day 1 of PR Weekend Philly 2010 we were all very civilized and cultured and educated (I went back and added a photo of my embellishment sample), on Day 2 it was time for some shameless commerce. Our first stop was Philadelphia's Fabric Row. I knew I had a long day of impulse purchases ahead of me, so rather than fabric shop I hit up a flea market at a little park down 4th St where I picked up several brooches. I have complained about DC thrift shopping before, and I will note again that there is NOTHING by way of jewelry at any of the thrifts in this area. I have developed a love for funky brooches and was so happy to find some.

Lunch was at Alyan's. The best fries you will ever have in your life, except we had to get them to go because we were almost late for the bus to...

Remnant Diving at London Textiles London Textiles! This warehouse is usually wholesale only, but they opened up the store special just for us. There were huge shelves with rolls of fabric by the bolt, but the prices were about the same as or higher than at any bricks and mortar store, and higher than online prices. The real bargains were the remnants: silk and wool were $5/yd, everything else $3/yd, the only catch being that you had to buy the whole piece.

London Textiles This is the kind of store where you really do want to shop with fifty of your closest friends. When we first arrived, I kind of picked through a couple of the bins but didn't find anything interesting and was totally not enthused. I wandered the bolts for a bit and when I came back people were working the remnant bins and the churning turned up lots of great pieces, none of which I had spotted on my own. I eventually ended up with a huge armload and had to make myself breathe for a minute and pare down.

We really cleaned them out! The picture on the right was taken after the line died down. You can imagine what it was like before! Observe all the stacked up rolls of cut fabric on the right and then imagine that we probably bought at least four times as many remnants as bolt fabrics. I'm surprised the bus managed to chug its way back across the river...and this was before we decimated Jomar!

London Textiles 5-2010, Silk & Bolt London Textiles 5-2010, $3/yd

As you can see, I did pretty well for myself. All this for around $60!!!! I'll talk about my ideas for several of the fabrics in more detail below. The red stretch satin will be for a skirt, using the matte side. I bought some red stretch twill from Kashi in NYC and have made it into a skirt, but it was not an entirely successful project (I chose a style I knew probably wouldn't work for me and it didn't; will review it eventually) so one of my actual shopping goals for the weekend was a red to replace that.

Silk Indulgence from London TextileThe silk on the right with the zigzag print was my indulgence purchase. It is four yards of silk charmeuse. The print is huge and there are about 30 inches of black in between each iteration of the print, so placement will be, well, a huge pain in the @ss. I have it draped over my dressform (which is taller than me) to give you an idea of scale. I have no idea what I'll do with it or when I will do anything with it, but it is all my favorite colors and is a really luscious charmeuse and I will enjoy having it in stash to play with and pet.

What looks like a black and white floral is actually--I think--a navy floral. It looked navy in the warehouse, but black in the hotel room. In strong sunlight in my bedroom it is navy, but under artificial lighting it is black. I wanted it for a skirt to go with red tops, but I find black/white with red not as interesting as navy with red and now I'm waffling. It's only a smidge over a yard so a skirt is probably all I can do with it anyway. Sadly, a pre-wash did not fade the navy bits as I'd hoped.

I heaved my giant sack of fabrics onto the bus and we headed to Jomar, where I failed to take any photos due to my fabric haze (a combination of impulse buying and formaldehyde, I think). You will be shocked, shocked I tell you!, at what I purchased:

Jomar 5-2010

Not a single print. Although some people managed to find fabulous cotton prints (Elizabeth, not to name names), Jomar doesn't have a lot by way of prints. The purple/pink is a stretch twill which I now sort of regret and am wondering if I can dye (maybe a deep purple like my Cynthia Rowley party dress?--I burned it and aside from the lycra it appears to be mostly cotton and/or rayon). It is a great fabric for a sheath dress--a little bit of stretch, not too thick but definitely opaque, not too wrinkly and a nice smooth hand--but that Easter Egg color is not entirely professional, at least not for a petite lawyer who can easily look too girlish because of my size. The righthand fabric is a wool jersey in a fabulous hot pink (didn't photograph well). This fabric caused a bit of a tense moment as many people wanted the bolt from me when I was done cutting and there was some swooping in and poaching and I felt responsible. I am sorry that I was not more fierce in making sure it went to the first person who asked for it. :( But seriously, Jomar, I sold an entire bolt of fabric for you! And they rewarded me with generous cuts. Almost too generous, I whined when I went to pack. The rest are linings. (By the way, FFC did finally refund me for the non-stretchy "stretch" lining I returned.)

We bribed the bus driver with a little extra cash to make sure we all had time finish our shopping and headed back to the hotel. I think I was carrying my weight in fabric in two HUGE bags, each larger than my suitcase. I was a little concerned. However, I spent some time rolling all the fabric neatly and got it packed away no problem.

At this point I was exhausted. I will steal a line from LindsayT and note that I am probably more of an introvert than people expected. I love meeting and talking to new people--especially about sewing--but there is a limit to how long I can be extroverted. It takes a lot out of me and between the sleep deprivation and all the excitement my batteries were dead. So I apologize if I ever seemed aloof! It was definitely not personal, and I was really thrilled to meet everyone. I just had some pizza for dinner and crashed out as soon as I could.

I thought I might do a little sightseeing in the area the next morning before my 11:30 bus home, but I didn't wake up until 10:30! The bus ride home was uneventful until we got to DC and the bus was pulled over!!!! This is the second time I've been pulled over in a Chinatown bus. I wonder if that should worry me. I finally made it home and spent a little time communing with my fabrics, making all kinds of plans...

And now, for some fantasy sewing. I don't know when, exactly, I think I will get to all this sewing, but that's why it's a fantasy.

Anna Sui Silk Remnant Anna Sui Fall 2007 Ready-to-Wear Collection Slideshow on For some reason, I don't actually love this print. It is many of my favorite things--silk, turquoise, hot pink--but something about the scale of it doesn't thrill me. However, since it is all the colors I love (and therefore will go with much of my wardrobe) and it was $5 I picked it up (I found it on Vogue Fabrics for $14.99/yd!). The selvage says Anna Sui (c)2006. I think she must overbuy by a lot as a habit--it seems all the jobbers and mill end stores always have a ton of her stuff! I think I found this print in her Fall 2007 show, as the lower hem/underskirt of the look at right. I am runway, baby! I will make it into another Simplicity 2938 tank, cut a size larger than last time as this doesn't have any stretch like my Vietnamese silk one (I've already altered the pattern for a broader broad back adjustment). I considered maybe trying to squeeze out the Burda 08-2009-117 flounce blouse as I want to try the sleeveless version after making the one with sleeves, but I can wear a sleeveless silk tank/shell in a subdued print forever; a giant flounce has a limited shelf life.

Green Houndstooth PatternsLOVE this green suiting. It is a stretch with giant houndsteeth in one of my favorite colors and it will be a shift dress I can wear with a jacket for a professional look. But I am a little stumped as to what pattern to use. The two patterns on the left, Vogue 8633 and Butterick 5455 are the two sheath patterns I am obsessed with right now. But I don't think either is quite right. I think it needs to be simple and truly sleeveless, which cuts out V8633. But I think the fabric is too thick for B5455's neck pleats (and when I realized the B5455 midriff is only in the front I fell out of love a little bit). The vintage pattern on the right is a simple, classic sheath with an interesting French dart, but would require muslining and grading and a whole bunch of work and then it would be...the plainest, simplest sheath dress ever (you say classic, I say boring--tomato, tomahto). It would, however, allow the fabric to be the star, and the huge weave/print means it needs to be cut into as few pieces as possible.

And then I am a little obsessed with two projects Cidell has posted recently, the Burda 03-2010-107 strapless brocade dress and the Burda 02-2010-127 deep V neck notch collar sheath. But, I could never, ever wear a strapless dress to work, no matter how much I told myself the jacket makes it professional and you couldn't wear a jacket over the notch-collar sheath because that would be way too much collar going on (and I don't think it would work sleeveless, although feel free to convince me otherwise).

Oh and by the way, don't I already have a shift in this exact color? Why yes, I do. And two skirts. And a cocktail dress. I have finally broken myself of buying the same shoe over and over, now I just need to work on fabric!

Knit for Cowl Top The black and white knit print will be a cowl top, either my tried and true Simplicity 9626 (now out of print), or Simplicity 2580, which Melissa demonstrated makes a fab top. I am torn here. On the one hand I am not feeling the empire seam on tops lately, as I feel they cannot be tucked because it divides the top into weird thirds. On the other hand, I am the opposite of Carolyn--why sew a pattern you've already done when there can be something Shiny!New! to mystify or amaze you. And now I'm toying with the idea of Simplicity 2554 View C (with a narrower hip band). I have a scant yard of this so it may come down to which pattern actually fits the fabric. Carolyn and Meg were both into the black border on this one, but I am not drawn to it. What say ye of a black band at the hip? Slimming or widening? Interesting or jarring?

Cherries Patterns This adorable embroidered cherry fabric was a giant remnant, larger than I needed at around 4 yards. Someone in line offered to split it with me, but we both kind of wanted 2.5 yards. The cutting lady said she'd cut some off the bolt (conveniently already at the table) for me at the remnant price. She found a marriage in the fabric and threw in that part for free (a little under a yard), and I ended up with nearly four yards after all. So I can probably get a top and a dress out of this one.

For the dress, I am leaning toward Simplicity 2403. I love the double breasted view with the rounded notched collar, and the light voile weight and texture of this fabric would look great in that collar. However, I'm not sure the lightweight fabric will work so well as the skirt, so I'd have to do a black skirt. But I would (theoretically) already have a top that would have to be worn with either a red or a black skirt, and the outfits wouldn't be different enough to satisfy me. Maybe the skirt could be made of the same fabric? It will definitely be lined.

I am also considering Simplicity 2549 view A. It's a little vintagey and fun with that full skirt and puffed sleeve. But it would be a little cliche with that fabric, I think. Cherries are very retro hipster pin-up and while there's nothing wrong with that I don't want to be stereotypical retro hipster pin-up. I don't have the bangs, for one thing.

I was picturing a shirtdress with a peter pan collar but (yet again) I already have almost that identical item in my closet of a red swiss dot, my Philosophy Patrones dress.

For the blouses, I am pretty much set on Simplicity 2614, the Threads tie neck blouse. I do want to try out Burda 04-2010-105 soon (my subscription to Burda runs from July-June and the most recent issue I have sewn from is August 2009--so I have made virtually NOTHING from this entire year's subscription), but I don't think this is it.

Double Sided Crinkle Acetate Finally, we come to this double sided crinkle acetate. It is actually two layers of fabric fused together, rather than a print made of the weave. I was kind of picturing a shawl collar wrap dress with the collar and the tie made of the dark reverse side of the fabric. I went into my pattern stash and lo and behold found Butterick 5451. The problem is, nobody has made this dress on PatternReview! I want someone else to go through the work of testing this out for me. Heh. I may just go for it (when? who knows); I can scale back the collar in process by taking a deeper seam allowance at the outer collar edge if it's outrageous. I also kind of picture this with a 3/4 sleeve as Fall/Winter dress, so I'd have to add a sleeve. But I don't know if there's enough fabric for that.

Well, this is an incredibly long post. I think I might have a 12 Step level problem with fabric buying, but I enjoy it so and love having a stash of beautiful fabrics that call to me! And I really do have such a stash. I am very lucky. We'll see which one of these calls to me first (well, I already know it will be the red skirt--the serger is already threaded in red, but that doesn't really count as a calling).

All photos from the weekend are here.


scormeny said...

That hot-pink jersey really is the most droolingly lovely thing ever. I'm glad I didn't get in on the action since I didn't have a project in mind for it, but oi! the envy I felt every time I saw you with the bolt in that long, slow line.

I've washed the section of that embroidered-cherry cotton voile that I got, and it performed as I'd expect; lots of little loose black threads from the embroidery but no raveling of the fabric itself. No disasters, in other words.

I'm looking forward to seeing what you do with these! Thanks so much for the insights into the mind of the sewist in this post.

Darci said...

Dang girl, you got some CUTE fabrics! I'm looking forward to the updates as you get to each piece!

That zig-zag charmeuse would make an incredible tank top or kimono-sleeved wrap top. I've got one that I wear all the time that has a similar print and I get compliments for ALL the time.

Looks like you gals had a great time at PR Philly. I just might have to fly over next year – I'd love to meet you all!

cidell said...

So, I think I'm still going to make up the strapless BWOF dress in suting and make a cropped jacket. Yes. I couldn't take the jacket off at work, but what a great day to evening look. As for the collard suit / dress I don't think you would need a jacket at all. I'm totally making that up again in a red wool that Patti sent me. Delightful!

Lindsay T said...

Introverts unite! Love that polka dot fabric you got at London Textiles

Shelley's Garden said...

Thank you for the detailed description of the PR Philly weekend. Love the fabric you chose. What a deal on the wool jersey!

DD said...

I had that peice of silk charmeuse with the zigzag. I gave it away because I had no idea what I was gonna do with it. I know you will make something fabulous with it. Cant wait to see it!!! It looks great draped on the dressform. I did not see that jersey black and white though. I love all black and white printed fabric so i didnt need more anyway but then again if i was purchasing because of need I wouldnt have been there!!LOL!! I had a great time and was really glad to meet you.

Tasia said...

LOVE the zigzag print! It's fabulous. I'd work it like a border print in some way. Can't wait to see what you turn it into!

Amanda S. said...

Great buys. I especially love the cherry embroidered print and the black & tan double sided polka dots. Glad you found such good deals!

ELMO said...

Wow, you did really well, that zig zag is to die for, and I like the cherry print, but overall a really versatile group. Congrats!

Sheila said...

PR Weekend in Philly was a blast, although I went for one day, it was a pleasure meeting everyone. I am totally drooling over the silk zigzag print.

Nancy K said...

What a haul! That last, double sided fabric? I think that it's on several online sites for a lot of money. I look forward to seeing what you create.

cindy said...

Sounds like a very successful trip!! Adore the cherries!

Little Hunting Creek said...

Love the dots, love the zigzag charmeuse, love the cherries. I can hardly wait to see what you make. I immediately started thinking of what I would make of that silk...and huge border like that is so intriguing

Vicki said...

What a good time you guys had! Nice purchases too.

A. said...

What is "a marriage in the fabric"? I'm clueless and curious.

melissa said...

omg omg omg! (I'm doing a little dance in my head right now) that zigzag silk!! PHWOAR!

And the stretch linings, too, great score!

As for the Simplicity cowl dress/top - do it! It's such a good fit and you need less than a metre of fabric so it works perfectly for remnants!

(Also, I'm going to Paris in a few weeks, so thanks for your posts from two years ago! woop!)

Kyle said...

I'm thinking about making Simplicity 2938 too.
Hey, I see in your "what I'm reading" that Garbage Land is there. I want to read that too!

Amy said...

Wow, you really scored with all the gorgeous fabric. I just bought the Butterick Shawl Collar pattern you mentioned at the end of your post and was planning on making it soon. Maybe we could virtually hold each others hands as we work on it, lol :)

Anonymous said...

Great Buy- I am thinking about going to the fabric stores mentioned in your post once I relocate back to New Jersey. As for the pink material- the sleeveless dress you were talking about I would use a lite weight cardigan with it for work. It would look great on you. Good luck on deciding what to make.