I have started trying to work with more difficult fabrics, in the hope that this will force me to improve my sewing techniques. I am a good enough constructor, but my stitching is rather basic compared to some of the amazing work done by my internet friends. Mary Funt, Bunny and Mrs Mole make stunning and beautiful outfits with such challenging ingredients; I feel like the basic school cook compared to their mastercheffing.
These fabrics – especially lace and fine (translucent) silks – can be really hard work, as all the workings are visible and they do not behave like a nice solid cotton or a reliable wool. They are fabrics, therefore, associated with luxury, special occasions, high prices and couture.
When I was at college, learning how to design and make clothes, the final term, of the second year, was reserved for the difficult fabrics. I chosen satin – shiny, slippery silk, and its polyester counterpart. We had to thoroughly research the history of the fabric, producing a short dissertation. We also had to design a collection of ten items in the fabric, including one for a client. And we had to make up one of the designs – usually the hardest to do.
Other students chose:
- Translucent fabrics
- Fur (real and fake)
- Stretch fabrics
During the term we all made lots of samples of seams, hems and buttonholes, and pockets, using our chosen difficult fabrics. We also tried surface decoration, and pin tucks, and embroidery, and dying. It was a very liberating and fun class as we learnt about all these fabrics, and more, as our fellow students tackled them.
It was a good experience to conquer our fears. But as it has been years! And, because I have mainly been sewing outfits to wear for work, I haven’t really been near any of these fabrics.
At the moment the London shops are absolutely full of lace (Our Lady, Full of Lace). Lace tops, lace skirts, lace dresses. The quality is generally fairly shoddy. These TopShop dresses are £100 a piece, and very short indeed. I thought the colours were rather nice, and liked the use of sheer panels.
As I am dissatisfied with my construction techniques I have set myself the task of getting mastery of some of these fabrics. I am not going near knitting or fur at the moment. I am going to concentrate on the translucent fabrics, predominantly lace and the lightweight, see through silks. I am planning to make a sheer blouse, with lace trimming. That will be pretty challenging I guess.
I will be writing up my sewing journey here.