Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Italian Collection #3

Here's another piece from Salvatore's shop on Via Romana.  It's another "end-of-the-bolt" piece, 55" wide, and slightly over two yards.  He let me have it for 30 euro, so about $33 US.   It's very light weight, a mix of silk and wool, mostly silk is my guess.  You can't see it very well in the photo, but there's a gold metallic swirl in the print.  

Here's Salvatore himself, showing off the folded fabric:

It has a drape like a challis, and goes beautifully with this:

This piece is a (mostly) wool boucle, with some gold metallic threads.  It came from Valli Tessuti, a very high-end store located just off Via Tornabuoni, at Via della Vigna Nuova, 81/R.  Here's the clerk who helped me, who very kindly let me have the entire bolt, although I only asked for (paid for) enough for a jacket.  I ended up with 2.75 yards of 58" wide fabric, enough for a skirt as well!  

Of course, I had to have a complete outfit, so I headed over to Bacci for the blouse and lining:
I found the perfect olive colored silk  in a crepe-backed satin (or satin-backed crepe, if you prefer), and got three yards (it's 56" wide).  Bacci Tessuti Shop is located in Via dell Ariento 37/R (tail-end of the San Lorenzo market), and definitely has the largest selection of reasonably-priced fabrics in all of Florence.  If you have only time for one store, this should be your destination.

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Italian Collection #2

Here's the Casentino wool again, along with several other pieces. Actually the very first piece I bought was a black wool end cut from Valentino.  Stephanie, who blogs over at "My Vintage Inspiration" has mentioned Salvatore Magherini's Tessuti store on Via Romana 1/R in Florence.  

My apartment was very near to Salvatore's store, so one afternoon I just popped in and asked if he remembered the "donna di Canada" and he did, of course.  We had a nice chat about his fabrics, which are mostly from a store in Bologna that went out of business.  At one point Salvatore was a sarto, a tailor, so he is quite the expert.  The black wool has a subtle pattern, almost like a plaid, created with yarns of a different thickness.  I'd love to find a Vintage Vogue Valentino skirt pattern, but the only one I've seen on eBay is a wrap style, and the fabric is too heavy for that.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Italian Collection #1

I spent the month of October in Florence, Italy.  Here's a photo of me in the T.A.C.S. Casentino wool store at Borgo Santi Apostoli 43r, just off Via Tornabuoni.  One can order yardage in the colors shows on the chart, in any amount.  This traditional fabric has been made for over 500 years in the Tuscan countryside, and is commonly used for men's overcoats.  I ordered two meters of the reddish brown second from the left.  Here's what I got:

Brighter, and lighter than I expected, but it's a nice rust that will go well with black, brown, gray and ivory.  And, a close-up of the textured surface:

It's quite a thick, heavy fabric (as befitting overcoats), so I am going to look for a simple design.  I'm thinking maybe a cape??  Does anyone have a pattern suggestion?

Friday, August 26, 2016

A New (to me) Online Fabric Resource!

Fashion Fabrics Club ( is having a sale!  The last time they had a sale, I ordered three pieces--this Black/brown butterfly print (#44230) is a gorgeous quality silk charmeuse, and still available.   It's getting harder and harder to find silk charmeuse in a wider width (this is 56" wide) at a price like this--$12.56 until August 29, and thereafter $13.95.  I've been seeing prices double these for quite some time.

I love the colors, but because the scale of the print is so large (and I'm petite), I will probably make a kimono style robe--maybe V9218.  When I travel I like to take a silk robe and pajama pants.  I use them with cotton knit tops for comfort.  The silk is lightweight and packs down beautifully, plus, charmeuse is hand washable.

This cheetah print is also still available (#43932) and is much more beautiful in person than either my photo or the one on the site.  It's not an allover print--there's a definite center that's darker, with larger spots.  I got this for my intended Safari Suit--it will be the lining and a blouse, for sure, and there will still be fabric left over!

I wish the website would do a better job with their photos.  They also don't do swatches, but you can order 1/8 or 1/4 of a yard, which is enough to make an infinity scarf.

I did get another cut, but it's sold out now, and my photo doesn't capture it well.  It's a cotton/silk voile, the perfect weight for late summer.  

There are literally hundreds of silk fabrics at Fashion Fabrics Club, as they have just bought out an entire inventory.  I urge you to go over and have a look--these are truly bargain prices, roughly comparable to what I've seen in LA's Fashion District.  These silk charmeuse fabrics are perfect for the lining of a LFJ and a matching blouse.

Monday, August 15, 2016

How I Buy Patterns #2

Previously, I wrote about how I buy patterns (3/7/16).  Today, I thought I would show you in a little more detail how I order from ClubBMV.  

First of all, I review the patterns each season when they first come  out.  I've signed up to receive notices directly from ClubBMV when a new group of patterns is introduced.  Also Shams over at Communing with Fabric often reviews a new collection, musing about what she might buy.

I do the same, and add the pattern numbers to my cart.  Then I wait (this is the hard part):  usually within the month a huge sale is announced.  A one-year subscription to ClubBMV costs $9.99, and you get 20% off right away.  But, if you wait, even the $19.95 Vogue designer patterns are on sale for a limited period of time for $4.79!

V9204 (see above) looks perfect for the silk blouse I'll be making next winter to go with the LFJ which is nearly finished.  Fortunately I had ordered 2 1/2 yards of this 54" wide silk from (#47222), so even though I have used some for the lining I think there's enough for a blouse.  I like that there are no buttonholes, and some choices for hemline and sleeve length.

Another benefit of these on-line retailers is that both emmaonesock and ClubBMV keep your orders on file, and you can look at them anytime.  I love this feature--hopefully it will save me from buying duplicates!  

Monday, July 11, 2016

Planning My Summer Wardrobe

I really don't like summer.  Being a redhead, I have to stay out of the sun.  That said, I still have to go places and do things.  Mostly what I do these days is to drive about an hour north to visit my nearly 98-year old mother.  It seems like the average daily temperature there is somewhere between 90 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit.  My wardrobe has been chosen in light colors with the car windows in mind:

Above you see a collection of pants, the one on the left being "me-made," and on the right "store-bought."  Two on the left are self-drafted palazzo-style, and the other two are Marcy Tilton's Vogue 8859.  I love the pleats at the knee, and have made this pattern many times.  I long ago gave up the seam in the back, as matching that with the pleats gave me too much grief. 

Here's a collection of tops.  I almost always wear a sleeveless tank with a top over it, as I like to have my arms covered, at least to below the elbow.  The only topper I made is the one front and center.  I'm not recommending the pattern, which is why I haven't named it.  It's a peasant-style blouse, and there are many such patterns out there as it has been a popular style for some time. 

Usually my tank tops are in a medium dark color, as I want to have some reference to my own coloring (light skin, medium dark hair and eyes). 

Clearly, I need more light-colored tops.  I really don't care much for the peasant-style top, so the next few will open down the front.  And maybe I should branch out and get more color--this collection looks pretty drab to me.

Do you ever line up your clothes like this, so you can see a whole "collection?" 

Monday, June 20, 2016

Sewing Vintage #1

I hadn't really thought about it this way, but apparently I have a "collection" of vintage patterns.  Mostly, because I am loathe to throw anything away.  My female ancestors were like that also.. That's why I have my great-grandmother's wedding bodice from 1888 (a post for another day).

After I graduated from university, where I majored in Home Economics with an emphasis on Textiles and Clothing, I went to San Francisco to work in the Macy's Junior Executive Training Program.  It was a fairly brief stint, as I discovered the retail business and I weren't really suited to each other.  

But while I was there, I used my employee discount to buy designer patterns and the best fabric I could find.  Unfortunately for my budget, Britex Fabrics was right around the corner from Macy's (still is, actually).  The one piece I remember clearly buying from Britex was a yard of beautiful silk charmeuse in a gorgeous yellow and black print.  One yard cost me $25, and I remember thinking how fortunate I was to be able to sew a blouse out it.  At the same time, a colleague bought a RTW blouse that cost her weekly salary, which was around $80! 

The patterns in the photo above are representative of the wardrobe I was busy creating a home, at night, in my tiny studio apartment halfway up Nob Hill.  My fiancĂ© was away training to be an officer in the army, and I planned to have a wardrobe worthy of any officer's wife.  Back in the day, we actually did wear gloves on the street and hats to tea and church.

I made up the two on the left, and even duplicated the emerald green color of the Pierre Cardin.  There was a matching coat, but I didn't really get much use out of either until we returned to California four years later, as my husband and I were posted to Taiwan.  Because the weather on Taiwan was mostly hot and humid, I ended up having to make a wardrobe of mostly cotton and linen.

There are lots of other patterns.  I have been going through them to see what might be useful in my wardrobe today.  There's this:

I have been wanting a Safari Suit, and this might just be the boost I need to start planning it.  All the pieces in the pattern have been cut, but I can't remember what I made from it.  I do remember making up the jumpsuit in an aubergine knit, which I paired with an ankle length sweater in a Missoni-esque design.

Since I am no longer a size 8, I will either have to grade up the pattern, or (and this is more likely) I will take the design details and apply them to one of my TNT patterns.

What about you?  Have you ever sewn from a vintage pattern?  Have you ever intentionally used a design detail from the past?