Handling Vintage Fabrics

With vintage clothing becoming ever-more popular amongst fashion, it is a good idea to understand exactly how best to handle the various fabrics that can go into making vintage clothing, especially if you have picked up a legitimately old item rather than purchasing something that has been created in a vintage style.

vintage retro shirts

With that in mind here are a couple of tips that should help your new find last longer and ensure that you get plenty of use out of it. Continue reading “Handling Vintage Fabrics”

Caring for fabrics – Velvet

Velvet has a reputation as being one of the most luxurious fabrics out there and with good reason. It is beautifully soft to the touch and can be used to craft some absolutely beautiful creations.

velvet shell chair

Unfortunately this quality comes at something of a price, as the fabric is also rather difficult to care form, which can lead to some problems when it comes time to clean it or if you need to store it properly.

With that in mind, here are a couple of tips to consider when you are cleaning velvet to make sure you get the absolute most out of the fabric.

Read instructions

It may seem like something of a moot point, but before you do anything with your velvet be sure to read any manufacturer instructions that you have available to you. If it is an item of clothing, most good manufacturers will include a label telling you how best to wash it.

Bear in mind that, whether you are talking about fabrics or full items of clothing, different types of velvet require different cleaning methods. Crushed velvet can be put in the washing machine, but fine velvet needs to be dry cleaned. If you are unsure don’t take the risk and simply ask a professional dry cleaner.

Steam rather than iron

Never, ever iron velvet. The weight of your iron will cause a multitude of problems with the fabric and will generally wind up leaving a mark no matter how lightly you press. Furthermore, as velvet is quite a fine fabric, if you do iron it there is a high probability that you will scorch it and make it completely unusable.

Instead, try to pick up a handheld steamer. It doesn’t take much to get creases out of velvet and a steamer will ensure you are putting no weight on the fabric and there is no risk of burning it. Just be sure to avoid getting it wet wherever possible.

Value your local dry cleaner

If you scorch your velvet then there may be no hope left, but if there are stubborn stains or creases that you simply can’t get out your local dry cleaner may well be able to help. They will have tools at their disposal that aren’t necessarily available to you and will be able to advise if a piece is lost or if something can be done to salvage it.

Shaken, not blotted

Accidents happen so when they do be sure that you handle them correctly. If you happen to spill something on your velvet DO NOT blot the stain. This will simply spread it and potentially cause damage to the fabric. Instead, give it a good shake to get rid of any excess moisture and then take it to a professional to get the stain out.

Storing

Finally, storing velvet properly is important. Don’t fold the fabric, as it will crease easily and, if the crease is especially stubborn, you will run into problems getting those creases out. Wherever possible hang the fabric up and give it plenty of room so that it is in perfect condition when you come to use it.

Sewing Tips for Beginners

We all have to start somewhere! If you’re reading this post it is probably safe to assume that you are new to the world of sewing and are eager to get stuck in and start working with a whole host of fabrics to create those amazing ideas that you have floating around your head.

Don’t be too hasty though. A lot of fabric can end up getting wasted if you try to jump right in rather than taking it slow and learning properly. Here’s a couple of tips for the budding tailor or seamstress.

Start small

Before you get to the really cool stuff you will want to practice your technique on a few smaller jobs. That way if you mess up it won’t really matter and will most likely be able to fix the problem in short order as your skills continue to increase. Trust us here, there are few things worse when working with fabrics than getting halfway through a big project and making a mistake.

Work on little things, like tears in the pockets of trousers or reattaching buttons, before you really get started. That experience will serve you will once it comes time to move onto something a little more substantial.

Learn the patterns

Sewing isn’t simply a case of putting thread in a needle and poking it through fabric. There are a wide range of sewing patterns and techniques to learn, all of which will become useful to you as your experience builds and you start working on more complex problems.

Don’t be afraid to spend time practicing a particular stitching technique, even if there is no final product. Getting it right is the most important thing and you will be glad for the practice once you are working on something. Any spare piece of fabric will do for the job so save some cutoffs and just experiment with the patterns you know or have just learned. Have a little fun with it and you will have them down in no time at all.

Machines vs Needles

Perhaps the biggest question for any sewer is what equipment should they use for a particular job. Both sewing machines and needles have particular advantages and disadvantages and many people find they work better with one than the other.

It’s becoming something of a laboured point but it still rings true. The best way to find out is to practice on both and see which one sticks. Obviously for those working to a budget a needle and thread approach is much more cost-effective, but if you do have ambitions to move on to larger projects in the future it is certainly worth investing time and money in a sewing machine. In essence it all boils down to just how intensive you are going to get with your new hobby.

That’s what it all boils down to. For many sewing is a hobby so perhaps the most important tip for the novice is to just enjoy it. Don’t pressure yourself or get upset of you get a pattern wrong. Everybody does. Just relax and practice and you will be working the seams in not time at all.

Caring for fabrics – Linen

 Linen has been popular for hundreds of years thanks to being an extremely strong and versatile fabric. In fact, it can have as much as two times the strength of other popular fabrics, such as cotton, which is why it has been used for tablecloths and suit wear for many years.

This versatility has also helped it to become one of the most popular fabrics for enthusiasts to work with as well. Of course, like any fabric, it is important to take care of your linen items properly.

Washing

Wherever possible linen should be washed by hand, especially if you have worked with it yourself and included dyes or unique patterns. Alternatively you can opt to dry clean it, but this is not as reliably safe as the hand washing method.

Use water with a cool temperature to ensure the material doesn’t get damaged. While some linens are today being developed to be machine washable, we find it’s best not to take the risk. At least with items that hold personal value. Be as gentle as you can while washing and avoid chlorine bleaches when washing white linens, as this may end up dying them.

Like cotton, linen wrinkles and creases quite easily, however it is very easy to iron these creases out of the fabric. It goes without saying that you should be careful with the iron to ensure you don’t end up burning it.

Colours

Happily linen is one of the easier fabrics to add colour to, as it will readily accept most dyes and, assuming you wash it correctly, will maintain the colour for many years afterwards with only minimal fading after repeat washes.

There are a number of guides floating around online, including this handy one from ehow.co.uk, that demonstrate how best to dye your linen. Just be patient and don’t try to rush things and you will have a gorgeously coloured fabric in no time.

Storage

Linen should always be stored away after cleaning and it is inadvisable to store dirty linen. This means that it is always recommended that you clean your linens after use if they are intended to be placed back into storage.

Wherever possible you should avoid folding the fabric. While this isn’t so much of an issue with tablecloths, where the odd fold or crease is expected, it can lead to your fabric developing creases that are very difficult to eradicate. This is especially the case for garments so be sure to hang them up and give them plenty of space. We mentioned before that it is easy to iron linen, however if you put the fabric in a position where a crease or fold becomes ingrained it gets more difficult.

Choosing the Right Fabric

Before you embark on a sewing project it is important to carefully select which type of fabric you will be using. After all, if you end up using something that isn’t suitable for what you have in mind, your creations may not end up being exactly what you are looking for.

Colour, composition and texture of the fabric are all important aspects and you will need to select something that both matches your aesthetic vision while also being easy enough to manage that you can work with it as you need to. As such, choosing the right fabric is crucial. Continue reading “Choosing the Right Fabric”

Creating a Fabric Scrapbook

We all know that the many fabrics sold on this website can be used to create a wide variety of different clothing patterns and styles, but that’s not all that they are useful for. With a touch of creativity many of them can also be used to add an extra touch of magic to more mundane everyday items.

Take scrapbooks for example. We all love to keep photographs of our most treasured memories and the classic scrapbook is one of the best ways to keep a track of all the people and places that make our lives great. So why not add an extra little spark to your by using your spare pieces of fabric to decorate and line your photographs?

Continue reading “Creating a Fabric Scrapbook”

A look at zigzag fabrics

A zigzag is a pattern made up of small corners at variable angles, though constant within the zigzag, tracing a path between two parallel lines; it can be described as both jagged and fairly regular. From the point of symmetry, a regular zigzag can be generated from a simple motif like a line segment by repeated application of glide reflection.

The history of the zigzag pattern

Zigzag Bag

Zigzag began life as an architectural embellishment used in Islamic, Byzantine, Norman and Romanesque architecture. Eventually it made its way into fashion, where it became a machine stitch in a zigzag pattern.

A zigzag can also be the trace of a triangle wave or a sawtooth wave, while pinking shears are designed to cut cloth or paper with a zigzag edge, in order to lessen the fraying.

In short, the zigzag pattern is extremely popular and flexible enough to be useful in a variety of ways, which makes the issue of the fashion house Missoni and its belief that its own zigzag patterns can be trademarked.

Missoni

Two years ago, the Italian design house Missoni debuted a line of clothing making heavy use of zigzags at the US discount retailer Target. It resulted in website crashes, sell-outs and eBay mark-ups. Missoni is a worldwide brand, known for incorporating zigzag patterns into their designs, and even the logo that appears next to their website is a zigzag.

Following the success of their new clothing line, Missoni found that a large number of people were looking to cash in on their success, creating very similar designs. This raised the question – can Missoni truly trademark their own designs when they are using a pattern that has been so well established for so many years?

One thing we know for sure is that not all clothing with zigzag designs belongs to Missoni because they didn’t invent the concept of the zigzag pattern. Thus they can’t claim to be the source of the pattern, which in turn should mean that the company are unable to protect what they may view as their own intellectual property.

After all, Charlie Brown doesn’t send subliminal coded messages trying to promote Missoni by wearing zigzag patterns.

charlie brown

However, individual designs can be protected as trademarks. Thus, if consumers begin to identify the zigzag style of clothing with Missoni, this places those attempting to replicate it in a much more difficult position as Missoni can then claim some form of trademark. The same is true, to various extents, with other patterns.

The case, and others like it, lend credence to a bill currently being considered by the US Congress that could see increased protection provided to fashion designs. If the bill passes, it would only provide protection to exactly identical designs. This legislation can provide some protection to Missoni against other users who have identical patterns, but it won’t give them ownership of the zigzag pattern.

It’s an interesting time for fashion designers and many will appreciate the extra protections should they come into fruition. In short, it is important to be creative with existing concepts rather than using other people’s ideas and replicating them exactly.

Looking at Crepe de Chine Fabric

When using crepe fabric it is important to note that that there are multiple variations of the fabric, all of which have their own specific uses. Amongst them are canton, crepe-back satin, crepe de Chine, Georgette, marocain, faille, lingerie, mossy, romaine, and rough.

Generally speaking the fabric is usually woven with crepe yarn, which is a hard-twist yarn produced either with a higher number of twists per inch than ordinary yarn or with alternate “S” and “Z” twists. It can be made from many different types of fibre, whether natural or man-made, making it an extremely versatile and flexible type of fabric.

Continue reading “Looking at Crepe de Chine Fabric”