Friday, December 31, 2010

Field Trip: Atex Fabrics

After picking out my patterns at Spool of Thread the other day, I started thinking more seriously about fabric. Off I went to Google and, lo and behold, there are a few more fabric stores in this city than I was previously aware of.

One in particular piqued my curiosity, so after work that same day I headed out to do some reconnaissance.


Atex Fabrics, also known as Designer Fabrics (which is the name on the sign above the door, should you be in the neighbourhood), is a small shop near Cambie and Hastings. This place was a little intimidating for a relative beginner like me. It's essentially a small warehouse space with shelves of 60" rolls of fabric down each wall. It definitely gives off a wholesale kind of vibe, and I almost wanted to skedaddle out of there before my newbie home sewist cover was blown.

That is, until I spoke to the shopkeeper (and owner), who was totally kind and friendly. I learned that, despite my suspicion of some bulk-purchase requirement, they will be happy to sell you as little as 0.2 meters of any fabric - and it seems like a great selection of fabric at that. Especially if you're into natural fibres - I spied plenty of 100% wool, silk, linen, and cotton - even with my untrained eyes.

I'm not savvy enough yet to weigh in on the prices, but after some more time on Google I'm inclined to say that they were quite good. They had a rainbow of different colours of 100% silk charmeuse for $13.95/meter (60" width) - I'll be doing some price comparing tomorrow, but I'm thinking this could be the fabric for the Pendrell blouse. The bonus? This place is only three blocks from my office, and one block from Dressew. Suddenly this is all becoming very convenient...

Fellow Vancouverites - If you haven't checked this place out yet, head on down!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Measurements & Body Shape


I'd like to be matter of fact about my body shape and measurements in this blog. I'm unclear if this is taboo in the sewing/blogging community but, for the record, I definitely don't think it should be. How else can we achieve perfect fit if we're not honest about and accepting of our bodies?

So, I took my measurements last night:

Height: 5'6"
Bust: 38"
High bust: 35.5"
Waist: 30"
Hips: 40"

I've been doing some reading on the subject of body shape and how it might influence the patterns I select. According to Fit for Real People, and several other fit books I've browsed, I'm an hourglass. This is because A) my shoulders are the same width as my hips and B) my waist is 10" narrower than my hips.

I have to say, I've never felt like an hourglass, but I'm starting to realize that may be because the stereotype isn't really the definition. For example, as far as I can tell, you can be an hourglass without necessarily having a full bust. Further, a quick browse through Trinny & Susannah's Body Shape Bible at the library yesterday revealed this little detail:


"Your waist is short and your crotch is long."

Well, that was a light bulb moment. After consulting Fit for Real People on how to determine waist length, I went back to the measuring tape and sure enough, I am short waisted. (2 inches of difference between my waist-to-armpit measurement and my waist-to-hip measurement - 8 inches and 10 inches, respectively.) Between that and my full bust, no wonder I always feel so swallowed-up in high-waisted styles!

The other thing I liked about the Body Shape Bible (a book I wasn't overly thrilled with in general) was their choice of models for each body shape. While I've never felt like I fit the stereotype of an hourglass...

...I see that my proportions are very similar to the model they chose here (on the right):

So now the question is - what style of patterns do I choose? Should I avoid the high-waist forever? (That saddens me.) Should I really avoid all ruffles and bows and other bust embellishments, as Trinny & Susannah tell me? (*Ahem* - enter one of the tidbits of information I didn't agree with in their book.)

The mind, it boggles. I think for the moment I'll just ruminate on how this may affect the fit and possible alternations of the two blouse patterns I bought yesterday. Baby steps, small doses, manageable bits... right?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Field Trip: Spool of Thread

Today I made my first visit to Vancouver's new sewing lounge, Spool of Thread. And what a cute little shop it is! I almost lament being blessed to own my sewing equipment, as it seems like it'd be such a fun place to hang out and work.


Usually, the "planning" stage of any sewing project for me consists of an impulsive trip to whatever chain sewing store I'm familiar with, flipping through The Big 3 pattern catalogues, making a choice and picking the most suitable fabric available that I can afford. Now, that's not to say that this is always a bad idea - sometimes being impulsive and spontaneous can be fun and rewarding. But it's certainly not the smartest or most relaxing way to go about things. (Especially when it usually ends with you forgetting to buy some important notions in your rush out the door!)

Not this time, folks. Nope, I'm putting my best foot forward and doing my research. In keeping with my rule to use local and/or independent patterns for at least three garments this year, I've been browsing around and I quickly found two pattern companies being raved about in the blogosphere - one of which is local to Vancouver. Win! And as it happens, both are carried in stock at Spool of Thread. Double win!

Hence, today's field trip. It's a good thing I'd done my planning ahead of time because it's so far from my work I only had ten minutes to get in and out the door! But I was successful, and I picked up two patterns to kick of my 2011 sewing:

First, we have Sencha from Colette Patterns:


Second, we have Pendrell from the local Sewaholic Patterns:


I have a few thoughts about both, but I'll save them for more specific posts in the coming months. Let's just say I think both have the potential to be very beautiful garments and I'm hoping that I'm up to the challenge of creating them!

In the meantime, I have some supplies to buy - particularly fabric. I'm thinking of silks... mmm, silk.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Plan

I've been drafting this plan for a week or two now and I've done a significant amount of editing. It started simple enough and then grew a bit crazy, involving 10 projects and massive amounts of tailoring and pants and even an elaborate homage to Tim Gunn.


... and then I came to my senses.

You see, while I've been known to jump into overly-ambitious projects, that's the antithesis to what this is supposed to be about. The plan here isn't just to create a plan, be productive and end up with a bunch of cool handmade clothes. It's also to exercise moderation and good time-management, and to avoid alienating the other members of my household and driving myself crazy.

So, after much reflection, here is the plan I've settled on, with some rules:

1. I will make six garments in 2011
That's one garment every two months, give or take. Totally doable. (I can make more, absolutely.)

2. At least three garments will be made from patterns by independent and/or local designers
This is to make sure the whole thing jives with my values/philosophies/etc, which I'm sure I'll elaborate on in later posts.

3. All six garments will be made from natural fibres
Same reasoning as #2, but also because I just prefer them that way. This will also require me to get down with my inner type-A nerd, and do some serious smart shopping. Because silk ain't cheap, folks.

4. I will make at least one each of the following: skirt, dress, blouse, jacket
Because I need some variety in my wardrobe and my skill set.

5. All garments will be finished by December 31, 2011
I don't want to stress over this, but really, this is an achievable goal.

So, that's what I'm thinking. Reasonable, right?

In addition to the deadline, I was originally going to include a rule about a minimum amount of time that must be spent on each project. This was going to be an attempt to prevent myself from getting all obsessive and neglecting my family/friends/pets/responsibilities. But then, I couldn't decide on a minimum when I had no way of knowing the difficulty level of the projects, nor my future circumstances. So I'm going to have to trust myself to self-enforce the moderation thing with common sense. We'll see how that goes.

Anyway, now that the rules are laid out, the pattern and fabric consideration begins. More on that to come.

Monday, December 27, 2010



Once upon a time, this was a knitting blog. Although, I will admit, a rather quiet one. You see, the trouble with knitting - or, rather, the trouble with my knitting - is that it takes too long. At least, too long for the upkeep of a blog. So while I still love to knit, I shut this blog down for a while, unsure of what to do with it.

But lately, I've been puttering away on homemade Christmas gifts, and perusing my reference books, and ravenously reading sewing blogs... and *light bulb* - a sewing blog. Duh!

2011 is upon us, and I've decided to make resolutions this year. More on that to come, but lets just say that I'm going the SMART goal route this time. What does that mean for this blog? Well, it means that instead of making hollow and optimistic promises about my future sewing pursuits, I'll have a proper timeline to follow and progress to chart. What a novel idea!

If you'd like to follow me along the way, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Next up: The Plan. Stay tuned!