Textile investment

Is it sad that I took an annual leave day to get to Gay Naffine’s sale? I think anyone reading this blog will understand…

I met a few of you for the first time at the sale; that was so nice. And saw some ‘old’ friends too! It was particularly cool that yummymummy38 and I wore garments made from the same fabric bought from the sale a year or so ago.

So what did I get?

He who Cooks described them as tablecloths, curtains and chux wipes.


The greys and blacks:

  • Grey faux fur (Felicity sees this as an egg coat for her)
  • Cotton blend black and white jacquard (the ‘tablecloth’, I’m thinking a dress, but it would also make an awesome swing coat)
  • Grey laser cut poly blend (skirt, with contrast lining? jacket?)
  • Chiffon with pleather paillettes (dress in a simple shape for going out, its sheer and those discs have great movement)

Navy and blue (the ‘curtain’ fabric and the ‘chux wipes’):

  • Mechanical stretch poly blend self striped navy (probably a pencil skirt)
  • Plain navy wool (not sure what this will be, but this is a gorgeous fabric that would work for lots of things)
  • Blue and black poly blend jacquard (the ‘curtains’, but I am imagining a jacket and skirt, or a coat)
  • Blue and white silk chiffon (Felicity can see past the ‘chux’ and into a maxi dress for her)
  • Blue, navy and black rayon viscose blend double weave plaid (no idea what this is going to be, but I love this fabric)

 Summer, brights and maybe linings:

  • The plain red and plain white fabrics are rayon shirting weight (they might end up as linings. At $5 a metre they needed to come home with me and let me know later what they want to be)
  • Oyster and grey graphic print in silk (Felicity imagines a floaty summer dress for her)
  • Fine grey wool poly knit (this would be great stretch lining but could also be a top)
  • Lemon stretch cotton (summer skirt or shorts for Felicity?)


It was a fun morning with lots of other sewists, commenting on each other’s choices and hoping there would be enough left on the roll after the person being served had her piece cut…

I almost came home with a double faced window pane wool in grey and black too, but I was too slow. Gay came out and took the roll back with her; she’d just had a back order from a customer and needed to make another jacket.

Such an exciting morning!

Now, I need to know what you bought if you were there.

And if you haven’t been yet, off you go! The sale runs until Sunday.


Isle of Skye buttons

I found these buttons in a shop in Portree: Skye Batiks. Their main line is in garments sewn by a group of Isle of Skye sewists from bright handwoven cotton from Sri Lanka. Not what you except in Scotland.

Their garments feature these buttons made by a local artist, David, and they are also available for sale. The shop is just around the corner from this delightful cove.


The Scottish Highlands are awe inspiringly magnificent. We’ve had a marvellous few days driving though gorgeous wild scenery like this. I haven’t been able to resist using my iPhone for photos. Imagine how much better this would look with a real camera!

And we’ve seen a castle or two

And a cow or three

These Scottish sheep seemed to think that the road side was an excellent stop for chewing the cud.

We’re in Fort William tonight and off to Glasgow tomorrow.

This is a flashback to Edinburgh , or is it a Harry Potter movie set?

Scotland is certainly a magical place.


The after effects of the fabric sale


  • Graphic blue and grey print silk cotton blend
  • Blue border print silk cotton blend
  • Blue and white stripe silk chiffon ( to coordinate with the border print, perhaps..)
  • Teal blue stretch cotton woven


  • Cream and taupe stripe stretch linen woven
  • White Italian linen
  • Crinkle poly cotton blend
  • Plain white cotton polyester blend with 20% spandex (very stretchy, this is going to be gorgeous to wear)
  • Cotton silk blend budgie print (too cute!)

Reds (and lining)

  • Plain red midweight silk woven
  • Plain red linen cotton metallic blend (the sheen on this is gorgeous due to the metallic thread content, but metal makes the fabric scratchy, so the red silk is for linings and facings)
  • Coral stretch cotton woven
  • Grey and brown striped acetate lining. I like having a selection of good quality linings on hand.

My fabric stash thanks Gay Naffine and Lucy Giles, and so do I 🙂


Travelling stuff

This is a long meandering post about what I packed and wore whilst travelling for work to Europe in July, what sewing stuff I bought and some of the places I visited.

Long and meandering.

And somewhat self indulgent.

You have been warned.


What clothes work well when you’re travelling?

I’ve often wondered if a dedicated work travel wardrobe was the way to go. You know, one made specifically for travelling: easy care fabrics, all coordinated and layerable. And I don’t mean all black knits… Although that would work…

I’ve never had the time to construct such an ideal wardrobe before a trip, so I end up taking my regular clothes. That’s what happened this time too.

You’ve seen all these before, but only in the photo-shoot straight after making them. Perhaps it’s interesting to hear how they are holding up after several wears and washes, and after being squished in a suitcase?

Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of my clothes in action. My photographer stayed in Adelaide. My only camera was my iPhone 4.

I had two gala dinners to attend in Europe ( yes that’s right, and a third one is Sydney. That should do me for at least 6 years). This dress was an absolute star.

A pair of strapy silver sandals, a dash of mascara and some lip gloss (limited time scheduled between conference stuff and both of the gala dinners…) and I was ready to roll. There were compliments for this dress. From the drop dead gorgeous young Italian PhD students, the sartorially splendid Brazilian researchers and through to the almost retired French professors. Of both genders. I’m close to 50, so compliments are a wonderful and welcome surprise…

Creases in the dress fell out almost as soon as it came out of the suitcase. I was very impressed.

It swished gorgeously around my legs and was light enough for the 35°C plus evening in Portugal. And, with this jacket, worked well for the gala dinner in Mumm Champagne cellars in Reims.

Vintage graffiti for vintage champagne. This was in Taittinger’s cellars. Both Mumm and Taittinger (and probably other Champagne Houses) have cellars that started out as Roman chalk mines.

Another me-made that was excellent for travelling was this shirt and skirt.

White doesn’t seem an obvious choice for traveling but it seemed to repel dirt, washed up well (would’ve been improved with an iron) and coordinated with nearly everything else I took. Its wearability was the key though- great stretch and recovery and excellent breathability even on days over 40°C. Yes it was that hot in Portugal and we still went out in the afternoon to look at vineyards as part of the conference I was at. (Viticulturists are crazy!)

The Duoro Valley, Portugal. 43°C. No irrigation. And yet those vines look like as fresh as a daisy.

The shirt was excellent too. I thought it was cotton but the way it washed and dried quickly and without wrinkles makes me think it might be a poly cotton. It looked good with this skirt but also under a jacket, with a big blue pashmina and with jeans. So glad I converted this from the frumpy shirtdress it started out life as.

This red polka dot dress was thrown in the suitcase at the last minute, and it was also excellent on those over 40°C days in Portuguese vineyards as well as on a warm day in Paris and when travelling, with a pashmina for warmth.

All those built in wrinkles in the fabric were perfect for travelling and the loose fit made it an excellent hot weather piece.

One of Moet et Chandon’s vineyards in Epernay. Those vines still look fresh, and they were, but it was much cooler than in Portugal.

All the pieces below went with me too. The skirt is a polyester cotton blend and travelled well; creases are not obvious. I also took the matching peplum top and whilst it travels well and I wore it, it’s not the most versatile piece because it does not work well with layering.

The RTW silk blouse is loose fitting and was lovely to wear. It travelled well too and coordinates with the three skirts I took. The RTW jacket is a seersucker cotton and partly lined in cotton. It travelled very well too and was worn several times in Champagne (no need for a jacket in Portugal!)

Beautiful tiles in Porto, Portugal

This blouse went too.

It didn’t travel well. It was rolled and packed like everything else but picked up creases and didn’t want to let them go. This one needed an iron.

Epernay, France

Both these pieces went too and survived packing excellently. The skirt was good for any day under 30°C and the silk top works under jacket or on its own with this or the white skirt, and even makes a pair of jeans appropriate for a nice dinner. As it turned out I didn’t wear the top, but it was nice knowing that I could!

Now lets talk about Paris and shopping.

One of the many lovely shops in the Marias district (you can see my polka dot dress in the reflection of the top shelf)

Shopping in Paris, sewist style

I had a half day in Paris on the way to the conference in Champagne and a full Saturday in between the two conferences I attended. Of course I focused on fabric, trim and yarn. There were a few touristy detours but they were not the main act!

Notre Dame, rear view

Susan Khalie had an article on couture sewing shops in Paris in the June/July issue of Threads Magazines (the one I won, thanks Marina!). So I visited several. They were spread all across Paris. The Métro is a wonderful thing.

Parisian breakfast

I didn’t buy anything from the shops in Susan’s list except a double headed wax pencil from Fill2000 (65, rue Réamur, 2nd arrondissement) but I was very impressed by the range of trims in La Droguerie (9, rue du Jour, 1st arrondissement) and Entrée des Fournissuers (8, rue des Francs-Bourgeois, 3rd arrondissement). Lafayette Saltiel (11, rue d’Uzès , 2nd arrondissement) has an amazing selection of suiting and everything else you need for tailoring and Janssens & Janssens (3-5, rue d’Anjou, 8th arrondissement) was full on gorgeous designer fabrics. As much as I loved several of them, I couldn’t part with 100-400 euros per metre. Not with my current lifestyle!

Sacre Couer

I did manage to part with my euros in the fabric and haberdashery shops in Montmartre.

The pink Chanel style poly wool etc blend boucle is from Au Sacre Couer des Dames (1-3, rue Livingstone). This was a steal. It was priced at 35 euros per metre but there was only 1.7 m left on the roll so I got the lot for 20 euros!

The light grey blue poly cotton was from Marché St Pierre (2, rue Charles Nodier). It doesn’t look so remarkable here but it has a gorgeous sheen to it.

The teal polester with attached leaves was also from Marché St Pierre. The two Liberty lawns are from Tissus Reine (3-5, Place St Pierre).

Yes perhaps I could have bought the Liberty in Australia, but it was much more fun to get it in Paris and brave the different method of purchasing fabrics: find an assistant to cut the fabric for you where the fabric is displayed, then pay for it with a slip of paper describing the fabric at a second spot in the shop and then pick the fabric up from a third spot in the shop. All in French, of course.

In the gardens of the Musee de Montmartre (12, rue Cortot). It’s a small museum in a house where Renoir and others lived. You really get a sense of the bohemian artist lifestyle through the paintings and other exhibits. And it’s a nice place to go after you’ve bought fabric in the district.

Some trims and yarn came home with me too. All from Mercerie St Pierre (6, rue Charles Nodier)

Excellent souvenirs, don’t you agree?

Ahh, Paris. It’s not just a destination, it’s an experience.

Lucy Giles and Gay Naffine to the rescue (again)

This jacket has been waiting for buttonholes for several weeks.

I made them today and sewed on the buttons. I even made a start on the matching skirt.


Mojo restored by fabric buying.

Anyone else experienced this?

This is my haul from Lucy and Gay’s 6 monthly home seamstress service.

What are they, apart from delightful? Lovely cotton silk blends, apart from the blue pixelated print (polyester) and the navy stripe (stretch cotton).

But that’s not all.

I also have a hot pink silk twill, floral silk chiffon, polyester starburst pleat in silver, teal cotton, gray stretch wool and a yellow cotton silk stripe.

And there’s more.

A taupe stretch cotton, poly cotton precrinkled red polka dot and taupe pleather.

A significant lack of restraint was shown today.

Gorgeous Fabrics

They* have arrived!

  • The fabrics are as lovely as I had hoped.
  • Ann is generous with her cuts- I have at least 2 metres (almost 2 ¼ yards) for the 2 yards ordered.
  • They arrived in exactly 3 weeks
  • Shipping cost was a little less than Ann estimated.
  • No duty was required to be paid.
  • Customs opened the parcel. I hoped they enjoyed the viewing.

* You didn’t think I’d let the boucle travel all that way unaccompanied did you?

More fabric purchasing

(It’s designer fabric sale time again).

The mystery fabric is quite gorgeous. It was purchased as a sample by the designer some time ago, but never used. The fibre composition isn’t known any more but it feels like a synthetic, perhaps with a silk thread in the coloured overlay pattern. I’ve just handwashed it and nothing terrible happened…

The grey floral rayon/poly/linen is crinkled and sheer and could look great under a suit. And that swirly zebra print turquoise chiffon? How could I leave that behind?

The wool/cotton woven fabric is reversible. So not only do I have to make a decision about what to make with it, I also have to decide what side to use.

He who Cooks says all these purchases just mean more weekends on his own while I spend time with my sewing machines. Is he trying to say that I need to bring more balance into my life? Perhaps I should spend less time at work….

On a serious note, I am very lucky to have a husband who enjoys spending time with me. And who also understands that I need to sew. And doesn’t complain or even comment on how much money I spent on the fabric or the space my stash takes up.

She shops again

In the interests of appropriate fabric stash maintenance, I made myself go to Gay Naffine’s and Lucy Gill’s disposal of unwanted fabrics from their summer fashion collections.

Really I’m doing Gay and Lucy a service aren’t I?

And giving some unwanted and unloved fabrics a new home where they will live happily with other fabrics. Instead of living sadly with the knowledge that they missed out on an outing as a high fashion garment on a gorgeous and perfectly groomed socialite, these fabrics will get made into garments worn over and over again by ordinary members of society. Now that has got to be better than sadly accumulating dust at the back of the fashion workroom, being mocked by the current seasons fabrics as the younger, newer and hipper stuff get constructed into garments.

Ombre silk cotton blend, light grey through to french navy. Not sure what this will be, perhaps a floaty summer tunic or top.

Silk cotton sheer with abstract pattern in green, brown, and lavender on white. Not sure about this one either, but I love the colours!

Medium weight ivory cotton poly metallic blend tone on tone loveliness with shiny slightly raised dots. This will be a great office basic, either a sheath dress, or a top.

Medium weight lavender poly cotton, great sheen to it. It looks like the warp and weft are different shades of lavender. This might end up as a shirt or it could be a skirt.

Medium weight cafe latte and ivory cotton poly metallic blend, same as the ivory tone on tone one above. This one is going to be a pencil skirt.

Viscose knit with an abstract pattern in red, lavender, beige and white. Not sure about this one, but it feels as great as it looks. I have 1.5 m so I might make a dress but more likely it will be a top

Blouse weight red crinkle poly cotton. A top to go with the cafe latte skirt

Graphic olive, red, pink and dusty light green silk charmeuse. A simple but gorgeous top. I need a red skirt too! Should have bought some more fabric…

Medium weight white stretch cotton self stripe. You can’t have enough of basics like this!

Turquoise linen nylon blend. I had purchased this at a previous sale and made the jacket that took forever. Now I can turn the jacket into a spring suit ( yes I know,its summer in a few days time, just sayin’)

Black cotton nylon blend with sheer stripes (almost like a burnt out stripe).Button up shirt perhaps?

Black and white graphic reversible jacquard polyester cotton. This I truly love. It will make a great dress suit for the office. What side to use?!

I also purchased a white cotton voile with silver metallic circles, but I forgot to take a photo before it went in the washing machine. This is going to be a summer top.

Denver souvenirs

I was in Denver, Colorado, last week for the American Chemical Society National Meeting.

Here are my souvenirs. No snow domes, T shirts or baseball caps for me.

What better souvenir is there than fabric? (..well perhaps diamonds might cut it..)

These lovely cottons are going to make great sun dresses, even the one that He Who Cooks thinks looks like a shower curtain…

I found them at Fabric Bliss, a shop and studio combination in the Santa Fe Arts District of Denver. It is close enough to Downtown to get to with a quick tram ride and a short walk, unlike so many other fabric stores in the US that require a car. The fabric selection was small and geared towards crafting and quilting but the range was very nice. If you want to, you can sit down at a machine and sew the fabric you have just bought after cutting it out in the studio. They will even take professional photos of your creations. With facilities like this there is really no excuse to stop sewing and blogging about sewing, even when you are far from home…

Blame it on my new colleague

Oh dear. More stash building has happened.

Why is it my new colleague’s fault?

Well, let me tell you.

I received my 6 monthly notifications about Gay Naffine’s fabric sale last week. I said to He Who Cooks that I had too much fabric already, so he screwed up the notice and threw it in the bin. (This is a relevant detail, not just a general whine about spouses. The sale was in a new location and if I wanted to go I need that piece of paper for the address). But that was fine because I didn’t need any more fabric, really, …well sortof fine, ya know, but definitely sensible.

But, oh joy of joys, I have just started a new job and there is another sewist there! I had to pass on this great news about the sale to her. But the notice had gone in the bin. I remembered as I was leaving one morning, reversing out past the bin on rubbish collection day. My darling husband, perhaps feeling somewhat guilty about deciding I didn’t need any more fabric, fished through the bin and pulled the notice out.

The sale day come and off we went, my colleague and I in her car. I’d ridden my bike in to reduce the temptation to go to the sale, but she had a car, so.. resistance was futile.

What did I add to my stash?

Gorgeous purple merino wool knit, another finer weight in red, a polyester black knit with grey graduated circles, a grey fine wool flannel ( the one with the buttons on it), a grey and black stripe stretch woven,


synthetic shearling, which I can’t show in the picture with the other fabrics, because I’ve already cut it out to make a vest.

What am I going to make with the rest of it?

  • purple knit: a dress or a long wrap cardigan/coat (like Tany’s)
  • red knit: a long sleeved top or two (I bought 3 metres because the price was very good..)
  • black knit with circles: don’t know, probably a straight dress or tunic with long sleeves
  • grey flannel: circle skirt for Felicity
  • stretch stripe woven: a skirt for Felicity or a short jacket

Tissus parisien [fabric shopping in Paris]

Isabelle of Kitty Couture has a great guide to shopping for fabric in Paris on her blog. So does Charlotte of Chinese Frogs in Paris. I was lucky enough to have a day to get over jet lag in Paris recently and what better activity for jet lag busting than fabric stash building!

As Isabelle and Charlotte say, most of the fabric shops are in Montmartre. I was there on a glorious spring day, and the view of Sacré-Coeur was delightful.

There are a lot of small shops in this area, some focused on home decorating fabrics and others on dance and costuming as well as general fashion fabrics. I was there on a Monday and only one or two shops were closed, or didn’t open until after lunch.

Gorgeous spring fabrics were filling the shops. Just as well I needed winter fabrics! My suitcase was not really suitable for serious stash building!

The winter fabrics were mainly found in pre-cut 3 metre lengths at places like Les Coupons de Saint-Pierre, Les Gentlemen des Tissus and Sacré Coupons. Two pieces came back to Australia with me.

The darker blue fabric is a heavy weight wool mohair mix, just right for a winter coat for Felicity that I plan to make in Sherry’s sew-a-long. It took a ridiculous amount of room up in my suitcase…

The lighter grey is a delightfully soft, printed polyester knit with a fluffy white thread randomly swirling over the top.

And, as you can see, the prices were certainly right!

Stash building confessions

Look what followed me home from the Gay Naffine designer fabric sale yesterday

As well as these lovely purchases I also met some Pattern Review members in real life. That was very cool!

So what am I going to do with all this fabric, apart from fondle it and dream about garments I’ll make and what they will coordinate with (you know, the normal stuff that seamstresses do…)?

My current ideas are

  • Red jeans style skirt
  • Red/grey floral lining for winter coat
  • Two lots of stripey PJs ( this fabric was $2 per meter. How could I leave it there!)
  • Black and white something, perhaps this LMB dress 07-2009-111
  • Grey with raised white squares skirt (or jacket?)
  • White blouses/tops with a little bit of special sheen to them
  • Navy striped skirt or shorts?
  • Grey blue silk cotton ombre in some sort of gorgeous simple floaty dress?
  • Another summer dress in large teal floral on black background
  • And another dress in teal floral with nude background
  • White top
  • Yellow blouse for Felicity to go with her yellow bolero
  • And another floaty skirt or dress.

Vintage fabric shopping in San Francisco

A day stopover in San Francisco to get over jet lag before a very full eleven day work trip. What a great idea! This was the lovely view of the Bay Bridge from my hotel in the Embacadero.

And the best way to get over jet lag is to get out in the sunshine and walk around.

It’s a colourful place!

I went out with no, repeat no, intentions of purchasing any fabric, but when you come across a shop called Urban Burp that sells vintage fabrics, well, resistance was futile. There is a great blog post about this place with nice pictures of how fabulous it is on the inside on True Up.

What came home with me? Just enough turquoise damask for a pencil skirt (even the receipt is sort of vintagey!). You can see that the prices were very reasonable.

Technical stuff:

Its a cotton/rayon blend with a fairly stiff hand from the late 50’s/early 60’s. The rayon part is the shiny white threads. I’ve washed it (wool wash by hand) since returning home and it survived that treatment well, with not too much shrinkage. A lot of colour came out. Electra (owner of Urban Burp) said it was a dress fabric and not an upholstery fabric but I’m not so sure. Hopefully the colour won’t continue to bleed with every wash.