Sunday, May 13, 2007

fabric shoppin'

For the last rather a long time I have been not buying any fabric and not many patterns in order to complete the things I had in mind. There are now not so many things outstanding, and no very expensive fabric sitting unused; only moderately expensive fabric. The thing I have to try to do is complete some Goretex trews for James before rainy season, and I also want to sew some more T-shirts, which I have fabric for - but apart from that....

...well this weekend I went looking for for fun fabric. I started off in bed, online at the fabric stores on Saturday morning, but of course that stuff hasn't arrived yet. The photo above is the results of a 1.5 hour shopping expedition in our home town of Kamakura. There are two fabric store companies in Kamakura but that comprises 5 shops. Wimmin's work seems very much alive and well in the 12th Century capitol of Japan!

Swany - 3 shops. This being an old-fashioned world it is closed on Sundays and all national holidays. Of course most Kamakura wimmin can shop during the weekdays so no problem there. :-) Actually the shop is packed with wimmin on Saturday and merely busy the rest of the week. It has floors spread throughout its 3 shops dedicated to, in no particular order:
a. notions, buttons, ribbon, beads and bag-making essentials. Bag making does seem very popular.
b. quilting cotton and quilting notions
c. cotton and linen
d. home dec fabrics and notions
e. clothing fabrics with a particular emphasis on knits, and including some lining and interfacing fabrics.
You can buy examples of pretty much anything you can imagine although there is not a large range of some things. The emphasis is on cheaper things, and you don't find many very striking things or designer fabrics here.

Sometimes (and at present) it has a relatively large amount of denim in stock. I got the lovely and unusual ripped denim for the jeans I made here, as well as the infamous stretched denim for the second pair. On Saturday I bought a dark blue very lightweight stretch denim (I thought I might make some shorts) and a guaranteed uncolour-fast denim both for under 500¥/m. The non-colourfast one just seemed interesting - it was wrapped on the bolt inside out so that the indigo didn't get on everything! I suppose it will make the whole house blue.

Then I was determined to choose something from their large wall of knit prints. The problem I have is that almost all seem to have a pale yellow-green cast and I look really quite ill in pale yellow, pale green and pale orange. I guess these colours suit the average Japanese complexion well. Anyway I found one rather striking thing - a buttermilk stripey number for a little over 500¥/m. It isn't a print, though, but a "real" stripe of dyed threads. It is bright, has a sheen to it and if it is too yellow for me, it looks like it will be super on James.

Next, on to Keitoya - 2 shops. Basically they have one shop concentrating on cheaper fabrics and the second one focusses on the hyper-expensive designer shit, and stuff. The first shop is currently flogging all its huge stock for almost nothing. Whether, when it is all over, they will re-stock or close down from too much competition from Swany I don't know. The overall effect walking in to the stores is that colours in both the stores tend to be brighter than those in Swany. However, looking back through my blog I see that although I visit the cheap Keitoya often, I buy far more often in Swany. Perhaps the best thing I bought in Keitoya was the fabric for the trench coat. I also quite regularly buy practice fabric, or fabric to use as interfacing in their 100-200¥/m section.

Still a closeout sale is not to be missed. I want to attempt to make a proper shirt for James so here is some practice fabric - 100¥/m really quite nice shirting cotton (as far as I can tell at this stage) brown and light brown with thin gold stripes.

Next a real find. Well I've seen it here before but not for 500¥/m! Usually it is more like the 3000¥/m I paid for similar in Yuzawaya. It is the wool with 40% angora knit. This one is very thick so definitely will make a winter jumper for James.

From the sublime to the ridiculous. This is 1.5m of velvet knit. I think it is the stuff that is variously called panne velvet and crushed velvet. Anyway this is remarkable variagated gold, and almost as interesting on the back as the front. 500¥/m. Maybe it's just for looking at?! It is rather more "interesting" in real life than in this photo. One could make some weekend trews out of it if one dared to cut it up.

Finally - hyper-Keitoya - which was the place that had preciptated the shoppin' trip. I've only lived here 6 years and so it was only last week when I realise that the stuff in hyper-Keitoya was not _quite_ as expensive as I had thought. Much of the fabric is sold in cut lengths and the price tags are for the whole length rather than per m! Having said that they do have astonishing fabric at extraordinary prices ( 480,000¥/m?!). Hyper-Keitoya is probably the only place in town where you might find cashmere coating or suiting fabric. Last weekend I picked up two pieces of matt finish very lightweight, but not sheer, silk, for, erm, some money. Suitable for shirts or blouses, here they are:

While there last week I spotted these rather extraordinary prints: so extraordinary that I left it a whole week before buying (a dangerous ploy in the Kamakura fabric buying business where the good stuff usually sells out very fast). The first is a 4-way stretch woven, which will make a lovely revolting pair of trousers. In the shop they assured me that despite being made in Japan, this print is of the Italian style. Being of the Italian style seems to be quite important in hyper-Keitoya. They confidently informed me I'd only need 1.2m for a pair of trouser but I can't imagine that working out so I went for 1.5m. Hope it is enough. The price was: more money.

Finally, near to the stretch woven was this knit. I'm not really into flowers, but this one seemed very nice. I suppose the reason is that it is not a regular pattern. It also cost some money. I was doing so well, having spent less than 10,000¥ until I got to hyper-Keitoya...

velvet rules OK

Vogue 7856, View A. See previous review of View B. I shortened the pattern by about an inch and cut a 12.

About a year ago I impulse bought the last 1.5m of a violet/green/blue with splashes of gold asbtract pattern silk/rayon velvet burnout in Yuzawaya, Kamata. I don't much like regular flowerly patterns and almost everything seems to come in flowers so I found this design irresistible. It was incredibly expensive (worked hard and have suceeded in forgetting exactly how much), and ever since I have been dithering over what to make with it since it was far too nice to leave in a cupboard. For a long time I was going to make some sort of top with it. Maybe something like this, only I don't like that top so much. It turns out that 1.5m doesn't seem to be enough to make most tops.

One of the two branches in Keitoya in Kamakura is closing down. At least it is selling off all its stock at a low price: perhaps it will re-stock when it is done. It is quite funny - the sale has been going on for months, and yet each time I go I notice different things. It think that more fabric is being revealed below the stock that has been sold. They really did have a huge amount of stock crammed in! Anyway, one day I found 2m of violet silk/rayon velvet for 2000¥, and bought it cos it felt so nice.

When I got home I found that the burnout and the violet velvet were a tolerable match. Suddenly with 3.5m of fabric the pattern possibilities were greatly expanded! I was on the verge of making a blouse when suddenly I spotted the skirt pattern envelope. I used gimp to draw some pictures and work out a pattern for the panels. I thought alternative stripes would just be too stripy. When I first showed the design (already cutout and tacked together) to James he said it looked like I hadn't had enough fabric to make a whole skirt. I told him it was "design". Cruel boy.

I had already washed the burnout with no obvious effect on it. I knew that if I washed the violet velvet it would come out a bit crinkled, but I thought that this would make it combine better with the shiny/matt streakiness of the burnout design. So I chucked it in the washing machine. The result was impressively crinkly, and I think it improves the match between the two fabrics.

For stitchin' with velvet I used info. from two websites, here and here. The cutting out was very tricky. I did my best but did not get too worked up about it because I reckoned on the 12 being large since the previous version of View B had really come out a bit big. As it turned out, after tacking it together I could take out 6cm at the waist, which I tried to do quite evenly over all the back/side pieces of the skirt. It was not so easy to take it out of the front due to having to line up two overlapping sections here. I finished the seams flat with a 3.0 width triple zig-zag and then trimmed them close to the stitching.

Then I realised that since it was turning out OK, I really should do the velvet justice and line the skirt. Cupro fabirc was duly purchased. Next time I should consider lining well in advance - I had not realised how much it really does improve a skirt - and order some silk from Sarah Veblen's huge range. At the front of the skirt, because of the wrap design of the skirt, the burnout has violet velvet behind it, so I bought violet lining to get a reasonable match behind the other burnout panels.

Velvet is pretty difficult to sew accurately, but the acufeed foot (dual feed) foot on my sewing machine helped a great deal and the only problem I really had were at the zipper. While sewing I did manage to get it uneven but didn't want to rip it out, due to the risk of ruining the fabric. I thought it was salvaged but now I see that somehow I managed to stretch the fabric at this point. Here is a picture of the mess. Yes it looks as bad in real life too. Velvet burnout may be difficult to handle but this stuff also hides mistakes wonderfully!!

Also in this pic. you can see the waistband. In the pattern you are told to ease the skirt into a facing. I don't like this finish on View B and I didn't think it would be a great deal of use in this view either. The velvet is pretty heavy and needs something quite strong to keep it up. I bought some wide black velvet ribbon, folded it over and handstitched it onto the top of the skirt.

For the hem I marked it, thread basted the fold line, finished with the three step zig-zag about 1cm from the edge, and then hand stitched the hem. Took a long time but I knew there was no was I would get an acceptable result with a sewing machine.

For the lining I lined up the back (8,9,10) and front (the underwrap pieces 6,7) pattern pieces on grain, joining them at the hip and marking darts at the waist. Then I cutout a front and a back on the fold, and stitched it all together, taking in the side seams to account for the 6cm of decrease in circumference. I sewed the hem of the skirt before hemming the lining then marked the skirt level on the lining, then stitched a 1 inch double hem on teh machine, which is not beautifully done but is hopefully fairly well hidden from view.

A comment on the design. The skirt is shorter at the front than the back, but it is almost too subtle and could almost be a defect. The beauty of this skirt (as even James acknowledged) is in motion, so here is a viddy!

Sewing machine settings:
#90 violet thread, #9 needle lining, #14 needle velvet.
TT - 4.5, FP - 2.0, BT loose.
seams - straight stitch acufeed foot
edge finished - 3.0 width 3 step zig-zag, non-acufeed foot