Here’s a little throwback to the good old days of quality workmanship and pride in your product, in the form of cotton bias binding. I bought it at my local thrift store.
Bias binding is something I look out for in thrift stores as it’s generally a polyester cotton blend when I buy it new and that is not my preference. The older bindings also tend to be better more stable, either due to starch or simply a tighter weave.
Love these stripes
The binding is made by WM. E. Wright Co in Massachusetts. This company stood by their product.
This material is fast colour and perfect in workmanship. Should it be faulty in any way, making the article on which it is applied unusable, we will reimburse you for the reasonable cost of your labor and all materials used in making the article.
Do your projects sometimes take on a life of their own? This one did for me. It was intended to be a prototype but ended up as a project. Here’s the story:
I wanted to be true to the origins of the hanten jacket, a padded garment traditionally worn by workers.
Being true meant adding batting, which added complexity and a need for quilting.
Adding batting meant adding a lining, which for me was unbleached calico from my stash.
Following tradition meant having a contrasting neck band, which I read about online.
Being thrifty meant finding a wooden barrel button at the ops shop (charity shop.)
Using a button closure meant braiding a round kumihimo eight strand braid for the button loop and button band.
Using a round kumihimo eight strand braid closure meant learning how to transition that round braid to an eight strand flat braid so I could comfortably fit it under the sewing machine presser foot to attach it to the front band.
And dos it goes….
Pattern Source: Clothing from the Hands that Weave by Anita Luvera Mayer from Kay Faulkners extensive library.
In progress. I later swapped the fabric hanging loop for a braided one. Prototype closure elements.
Quilting template and kumihimo disk. 3/2 cotton for the braids.
This apron was based on Kwik Sew 2311. I’ve been wanting to make a cross-over apron for a while and had been planning to draft my own, until I discovered the pattern in my collection.
I avoid using bias binding as the commercial product tends to be poor quality fabric and it’s almost always too narrow for my purposes. I usually make a hash of attaching it, too, so used a Hong Kong finish at the neck and along the arm and double binding on the back and hem.
The binding fabric is remnant from Spotlight, of Premium Cotton Sateen in Wedgewood colour, purchased for $1 when they had all their remnants on sale, but normally priced at $16.99 per metre. The binding fabric width was 127cm. I was only able to verify that the fabric was 100% cotton after taking it to the register and asking the staff to scan the bar code, which fortunately was still attached. The fabric seemed to have some spandex in it as it was moderately stretchy and I was able to cut my binding strips on the cross grain.
Next time I would stay stitch the neck before attaching the binding. I might also play with the back shoulder component of the pattern to make it curve a little more, for a better fit to the body.
I omitted the button closure in the original pattern. Closures on aprons can so easily open at the wrong time, not something I want in my workwear. It’s easy to put on and take off without the button closure in the original pattern. I did test that before sewing the shoulder seam.
Here’s what it looks like from the outside
I made a visit to Fabric Outlet in the Mission District of San Francisco in order to post a review as a community service to you all.
In truth, I was was pretty keen to to see the place as it had such good reviews on line.
I’d been to the Mission District before, where Fabric Outlet is located, in order to visit Gracias Madre vegan Mexican restaurant, which Tinkerer and I were invited to on a previous holiday after requesting an authentic San Francisco dining experience. I loved Gracias Madre but I think it’s fair to say that Tinkerer regards vegan cheese as a bridge too far.
I remembered the area around the 16th and Mission BART station as grimy and impoverished. This time I visited in the mid-morning and I found the area downright unpleasant.
If you decide to visit, wear closed shoes, or at least your Birkenstocks to get your feet off the ground a bit. I understand that homelessness and poverty are complex problems to solve, but getting a street cleaner out on a regular basis should be manageable by the local authorities. The stench of urine around the BART station was overwhelming. And don’t get me started on the pigeons. If you have a bird phobia at all, stay away.
And the inside
It was a short walk to Fabric Outlet and I recommend visiting if you have a need for a specialty fabric or anything unusual such as fake fur, or leather, or sequins. The range is excellent and includes notions, patterns and upholstery fabric. Prices seemed reasonable to my inexperienced eyes and they had a 40% off promotion running on the day I visited. Sadly for me the promotion didn’t include oil cloth, which was the one thing I was looking to buy.
The style of the store was also more human than you might find at a fabric store at a suburban mall, perhaps due to it being located in a basement and having fewer bright lights to dazzle you.
The only fabric I brought home that day was a couple of metres of new quilting type fabric from Thrift Town next door. I’m still not sure if it is 100% cotton or a blend, but as I’m planning to use it for rug weaving I’m happy either way.
This has already proven itself to be a very wearable summer dress. I found the pattern at my local thrift store and used the smallest multi-size available, which was 16.
I read recently that the big pattern companies haven’t changed their sizing in a very long time and that you need to use the measurement charts rather than your normal dress size when selecting a pattern. Based on this experience that sounds about right. I wouldn’t buy a ready-made garment in size 16, but this dress was a reasonable fit. Admittedly it is designed to be loose fitting, so there’s a bit of intended wiggle room (aka pattern ease).
Pattern and construction adjustments: roughly two inches of length removed from the bodice, bust dart extended, longer zipper than recommended as I used a zipper from my stash, no hook and eye closure above the zipper, French seams on the side seams which resulted in seams of about 1.8cm instead of the called for 1.5 cm.
What I would do differently next time: slightly lower the bust dart, make a small full bust adjustment, better workmanship on the zipper, stronger stitching at the start and end of the sleeve, follow the construction instructions.
I got myself in a spot of bother by inserting the zipper before sewing the neck/arm facing, which meant I couldn’t turn the two back sections through the facing. I got out of trouble but not turning the facing at the armscye and instead sewing through all thicknesses from the right side. developing the solution took a bit of thinking and was a valuable learning experience. I should, of course, have anticipated the problem, but I didn’t.
I had the perfect button in my button box
This dress was my first project with my new Janome sewing machine. Rather than spending time sewing scraps I decided to just get on with a real project to get familiar with the machine. I had to unpick a little more than usual but I had a wearable dress at the end of the process. Happy with that.
This week I had the opportunity to spend another day greeting visitors to the National Trust Property, Rippon Lea. This year the exhibition was of costumes from the popular ABC television series Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.
While I was there I had the honour of meeting Marion Boyce, costume designer for Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. She was every bit as vibrant and pleasant as this video indicates and was happy to answer my questions, even though I was just a lowly volunteer.
I spent part of my volunteer day in the accessories room, guarding Miss Fisher’s pearl-handled pistol which was required to be under supervision at all times there was a visitor present, even though it was secured in a glass case. The rest of my time was spent out with the garments, mostly in the room set up to look like Marion Boyce’s work room. She told me that each episode must be put together in 16 weeks, so her work room must be a busy one. The exhibition work room was a popular part of the exhibition that inspired many of the visitors to remember the hat boxes and dresses in their own family histories.
Here are a few photos of the costumes. All were constructed to a very high standard. Godets and bias cuts featured strongly in the dresses and boas and scarves accentuated most garments.
Photography was permitted (no flash) so I took may chance after the exhibition closed.
This project was a commission of sorts. I made it as a surprise gift for my beloved’s birthday. He wanted a storage pouch for his A5 sized travel diary with a secure pocket for his passport.
He didn’t get a pouch. Instead he got a compendium. Sounds (and looks) so much better, don’t you agree?
I couldn’t find a sturdy metal zipper as long as the long side of an A5 piece of paper and I wanted to make sure the passport pocket could be accessed without too much digging. I used 25mm navy blue tape from M.Recht
to bind the raw edges, for the band and the closure. The D-rings were from M.Recht, too.
The diary can be swapped out for each trip and the upholstery fabric is heavy enough that a lining wasn’t required. Also, the pattern is plain so I expect it to receive the masculine tick of approval.
The band allows for movement but keeps the diary secure
Verdict: The fabric did receive the tick of approval, but the overall design did not. That will teach me to re-interpret the customer’s specification. My beloved is now sewing his own travel pouch and has moved from the prototype stage to making the final product. If you want it done right, do it yourself, eh? It’s a good thing I taught him how to use my sewing machine.