Saturday, August 16, 2008

Picky, picky!

Hello, my name is Vicki and I'm a fiber snob. Yup, it's true! My knitting friends already know this. However, it is in the sewing department where this trait becomes a real problem. The reason is that there are just no good fabric stores in my area which surprises me. The entire Washington, DC - Baltimore area has only 2 real fabric stores where one can purchase fine dressmaker fabrics and certain staple items. We have become taken over by JoAnn's. Now, don't get me wrong--JoAnn's is fine for what it is--predominantly a craft store with some low cost fabric--but you just cannot get anything of real quality there except synthetics, certain cottons like denim and corduroy and some basic notions. This presents a huge problem for someone like me who mainly sews with 100% wools, linens, silks and imported cottons. It is also a problem when I need something in a pinch for a project I'm working on. For example--I was gathering stuff for a wool coat and I realized that I needed interfacing and shoulder pads--two very basic components of any tailored garment--so I went to JoAnn's. I was stunned to find out that they carry no hair canvas interfacing and only foam shoulder pads. Hair canvas is a given in a wool tailored jacket or coat. So I went home empty handed. G Street Fabrics is just too far to go for a quick run. It is about 25 miles away and situated in an area with some of the worst traffic gridlock. I went there anyway. They have everything and anything year round--designer fabrics and evening wear, wools, 3 weights of linen in about 40 colors, silks, every imaginable notion etc. etc. There is no store like G Street and when I go there, I have to plan to spend some time. Not necessarily to buy, but to just walk around and touch stuff and to oogle at the beaded evening wear fabrics which cost hundreds of dollars a yard. It is a truly sensual experience.

Why am I writing about this? Well, let me tell you about a new project and you will understand. First of all, we have a HUGE JoAnn's and I went there for a couple of craft items and I found myself perusing the pattern books. I purchased 3 McCall's patterns:

I decided that I wanted to make View A (the red one) of the third pattern pictured. I had seen similar jackets like this made from textured cotton pique so I decided to look for a fabric like that. There was absolutely nothing of the kind. I decided to browse and found a gorgeous Asian Brocade which I thought would make a spectacular version of this jacket. It would be dressy, but I thought it would look nice with dress jeans and the gold silk top I have. The colors aren't true in the photo. The background is dark olive and the embroidery is bronze and a greenish gold.

I don't typically buy polyester stuff, but I thought that since this was on sale for $6 a yard, it would be a quick and dirty little project that I could knock off in a couple of days. This was clearly not to be. First off, I needed lining. JoAnn's only has white, black, beige, navy and red Bemberg Rayon lining. Bummer. I detest polyester linings and refuse to use them. Bemberg rayon feels like silk against the skin and it is more durable than silk. Of course G Street has it in about 30 colors. Next--buttons! Again--no luck. This fabric calls for a nice button. A plain metal or plastic button looks completely out of place on this fabric. It needs an ornate metal or pressed glass button. The pattern calls for 1 3/8 inch buttons which limits the choices even more! There were plenty of small appropriate buttons, but none in this size range!

The next day, I decided to visit Blanks--a long time Baltimore fabric store. I found their website to check their hours and was totally thrilled to see that they had moved to Columbia--about 3 miles away! I went there only to find that they had gotten out of the dressmaker fabric business and only deal with interior design fabric. The owner said that it was too hard to compete with JoAnn's on price and there were all types of issues with things being made in China. He recommended I go to A Fabric Place in north Baltimore. So I did. I had never been there. It is a nice little boutique type store with mostly fine fabrics. I was delighted to find out about it. It can't compare to G Street in size and volume, but it is a nice option. I was able to find a China Silk lining in a bronze color to go with the brocade and a piece of light yellow green satin to use on the bound buttonholes. Still--I had no buttons.

I searched buttons online and found a lovely ventdor called The Button Shoppe where I found these:

WoW! Just what I had been looking for! 1 3/8 inch Czech glass with a gold aura. I called and ordered 5 of them. I'm hoping they match--it is so hard to tell with online photos. The funny thing is that the buttons, which were $8 each, cost more than the fabric and lining combined. So it goes. My quick and dirty, cheap little project turned into another major ordeal. They say that the devil is in the details and it is these details which distinguish a finely crafted garment from a homemade one.

Picky, Picky!

A bit of nostalgia

Not a project this time--just a photo! This photo was taken a couple of years ago when Ems lived in Pittsburgh. Bird went over for her birthday party. It's rare to catch them together these days!

Ems is moving back to the Burgh on Labor Day weekend. This suits me much more than her previous plan of moving to RI. I love RI but it is just too far. Now we can make weekend trips and see both kids!

Bushism of the day:
"See, the irony is that what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this s**t, and it's over." --George W. Bush, chomping on a dinner roll while talking about the Middle East crisis with British Prime Minister Tony Blair at the G8 summit, St. Petersburg, Russia, July 17, 2006

Ooh--naughty, naughty! Almost as bad as when Cheney said "Go f**k yourself!"

Kitty Cam: Mikey (alias Gelly the Belly) takes a nap break in the middle of the floor!


  1. Those patterns look great. Makes me want to learn to sew. But then I'd have the same fabric store problem...
    You are so talented!

  2. I agree about Jo-Ann's (and Hancock, although once in a while I can find good stuff there, although overpriced). I've heard good things about G. Street. Sometime when I am in town for Stitches I would like to visit that store (unfortunately, this year I won't be coming.) Vogue Fabrics is a great store, but it's not somewhere I would make a "quick run" to either. I have that third McCall's pattern too. Can't wait to see how it turns out!