I have two habits.
First I invariably start a project with fabric, rather than a pattern.
Second, I buy fabric in shops, markets and warehouses (rather than on the internet).
These habits are because I am rather particular about fabric especially its composition, colour, weight, quality and handle. In shops I generally take the roll of cloth to the mirror and drape a metre or two over my body and take a good look at what it does with my shape and colouring. Then I usually buy either 2 or 2.5m.
WIth the pant suit I had the fabric. I bought a lovely piece of heavy cocktail-dress silk – sweet clear pink on the one side, with a very light pink on the underside. Stiffish, with a sheen, but supple and pliable too. It was damaged with a square sample cut out of it, and aged, yellowing Sellotape marks where this end of roll had been attached to the cardboard tube.
But I got a sense of regret when I laid the fabric out ready to cut into. I had always seen this fabric being used to make an YSL evening dress. Furthermore it was not entirely suitable for a pant suit as there was no stretch in it – ideally tight “slacks” need the benefit of a little elastane in the mix. Additionally while pink was my preferred shade (to coordinate with my sweat pea collection) I had acquired some interesting greenish trim that suggested a turquoise or green colour might be better. So I put away my shears and put out a call for fabric suggestions.
What a wonderful bunch you are.
I had lots and lots of great suggestions. Wool Challis (SJ Kurtz)! Silk Dupion! Cotton sateen! Shiny mohair wool (like a Mod suit)! I also had lots of merchants mentioned including Whalleys and several eBay purveyors – thanks Demented Fairy.
As I said I normally start with fabric. I can always find (or make) a pattern to go with it. It’s not hard to go from the fabric to the outfit, I find. The other way round is complicated.
My brief is
- a firmish, mid-weight fabric with a little heft
- 2-5% elastane
- ideally silk or another natural fabric
- a cool pink, or turquoise, or possibly silver
- a brocade is a possibility
- an eveningwear fabric
- a bit of shimmer – not a high shine, but not matt either
- appropriate to the 1960s style
- not too expensive
I found it hard to identify something that met all the criteria and many of the helpful suggestions hit two out of three requirements.
Readers – I explored all the internet had to offer and decided, as advised by many, to get some samples. Which I will now share with you!.
First I tried stretch silk from Pongees. These are satin fabrics which include some elastane. The colours are good, (although a number of the shades I asked for are out of stock). But I think the fabric is too thin for the task. While the company charges only postage if you ask for more than three samples they did not send a price list which was poor. The prices are not mentioned on the internet either, so I wrote asking for the price but didn’t hear back. Maybe if you have to ask you can’t afford it. Verdict – nice fabric, great colours, good stretch, maybe a bit too shiny, a bit too thin and no idea on price.
Harrington’s has a similar selection and I have used them before and would recommend. Silk Route was recommended by x, and I like the site. However like many of the silk suppliers there is an assumption that you are making a wedding dress and there is something about the price, slowness of the customer service and lack of price transparency that is irritating. If you are making a wedding dress Beckford silks, and Bennetts Silks have nice sites.
The next company I approached was Tutus and Textiles. I don’t have any call for a tutu, but if I did I would go to Suzanne in Scotland! This is an interesting site and I liked quite a few of her products. I decided to order some stretch faux dupion (polyester) in silver grey – the shocking pink was out of stock. She came back quickly to tell me the silver grey was almost finished. Nevertheless she sent me a sample, free of charge, and despite it being “faux” I really liked it. I asked her if she could get either bright pink or turquoise and she is consulting her supplier. Verdict – good stretch, good sheen, right weight, OK colour, not sufficient avaiable.
I looked carefully at one of my favourite suppliers Cheap Fabrics, but they had nothing in the stretch department that fitted the bill.
I looked at Croft Mill fabrics but they didn’t have anything appropriate.
I wanted to use Dragonfly fabrics as they are a nice company but they didn’t have anything. Then I saw in their sale they had a cotton sateen at about £6m. I thought this might work if I couldn’t do better. Here matched with my vintage trim. Verdict: Nice colour, sufficient stretch, no sheen, and a bit flimsy.
Finally I went to a company that I have not used before but many bloggers have mentioned, Stone Fabrics in Devon. They had lots of possibilities on their website under stretch fabrics. Here is what I got for the price of a stamped address envelope. Verdict: They all have a bit of stretch, but none has a sheen, none seems to be special enough for evening wear or this project. I might settle for the pink pique as the weight is good and the colour is nice. But I think I will wait to see what Mrs Tutu has first.
Overall verdict – start with the flipping fabric. There are too many variables to start with a pattern.