Saturday, May 29, 2010

Fabrics for Nancy's dress

I think I'm so indecisive about this dress because it's the first time I've made anything for someone else.  I'm starting to doubt my choices.  Let me back up to 2 weeks ago when I started getting all the fabric samples.

Just a reminder...this is the dress,

Pattern front

with this neckline (pleated partial collar with lace trim fully outlining the V-neck),

V neck version

and these are the suggested fabrics.

Pattern notions

Nancy wants a blue dress, originally all solid, until I found some pics of great striped polonaises.  I called several stores, including the store in Nashville where Susan Khalje will take us shopping (did I mention I'm taking a sewing vacation this summer?  Susan Khalje's week-long couture sewing session!!!).  I asked specifically for lightweight cottons and silks (gave them a list of fabrics) in blue, suitable for a polonaise, "fine" fabrics, preferably 57-60 inches wide, no more than $17/yard, in solids or wide stripes and NOT shirting fabrics.

My first batch of samples came from Textile Fabrics in Nashville, where we will take our shopping trip for the class.  Let me just say this process was extremely easy, the samples were generous in size and quantity with enough fabric and price information, they were thoughtful in their selections, fast turnaround and best of all, the samples were FREE.  The store also carries the Buckaroo Bobbins pattern line so I could tell them exactly which pattern I was using.  This is what they sent me.

Textile Fabrics

Several of the samples are overlapping but from top to bottom they are:
  1. Light blue cotton lawn, 45", $15.98/yard
  2. Light blue satin batiste, 45", $18.98/yard
  3. Light blue cotton batiste, 45", $18.98/yard (this one is kinda folded over the first dark sample)
  4. Black-navy swiss dot cotton, 57", $18.98/yard
  5. Navy silk satin chiffon, 45", $18.98/yard
  6. Royal bluish China silk, 45", $12.98/yard
  7. Light blue silk/cotton satin, 45", $19.98/yard
  8. Royal blue rayon gaberdine, 57", $26.98/yard
  9. Navy rayon gaberdine, 57", $26.98/yard
That's right, folks. They sent me nine samples, 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 inches wide by 8 inches long, for FREE.  Several fabrics weren't right for Nancy's dress (#5 chiffon--wrong material and #1-3 are so light colored that they are too sheer).  Nancy and I vetoed #7 (the blue is too light on her), #4 (black-navy is also not a good color on her), and #8-9 (too expensive).  #6 china silk is the only viable option but at 45 inches wide, we would need 13+ yards.  Nancy's budget is $300 for fabric and notions.  It's probably doable but I might have to go cheaper on the lace trim.  Anyway, the #6 royal blue china silk is an option.

Seeing and feeling these fabrics from Textile Fabrics has me worried that the $600 I had saved for some personal shopping won't be enough.  Most of these samples were simply beautiful.  I'm loving the rayon gaberdines in particular.  I've GOT to have them!  So I head over to their website to grab the link to include in this post and what do I see?  A month-long sale!!!

Shop the Early Bird Sale June 1st - 26th!
All fabric is 50% off and all remnants are 75% off.

Are you kidding me?!!!  I will have to find a shopping buddy with incredible self-restraint or I'm doomed.  I just spoke with one of the staff and she giggled at my excitement.  They must do this every summer.  If you are shopping in Textile Fabrics in June and a short brunette grabs fabric from your hands, please forgive her.  She doesn't have access to good fabric so this shopping excursion has brought out the worst in her.

Next up is Banksville Designer Fabrics.  They have a sample club of $10 for 36 samples.  I've read several reviews that indicated the best way to order samples is by phone and that the samples are free in the future if you buy from them every so often.  Anyway, I paid for the sample club online with PayPal.  Never received a confirmation so after a few days I called them to place an order.  The rep was a little short with me, like she was super busy, but she stated she knew exactly what I needed and wouldn't send any shirting materials.  Everyone else raves about this store so I was hopeful.  This is what they sent:


Your eyes do not deceive you.  There are striped shirting fabrics included in this packet that I paid for.  The samples are generous in size, at least 2 inches wide by 10 or more inches long.  From top to bottom, this is what they sent:
  1. Blue "cotton" (no other description), 56", $7.99/yard
  2. Another blue cotton, 56", $7.99/yard
  3. Royal blue cotton, 56", $7.99/yard
  4. Darker royal blue, almost navy silk caddy, 45", $22.99/yard
  5. Jewel tone turquoise-like silk charmeuse, 45", $16.99/yard
  6. "Silk" white with light blue stripes, 54", $22.99/yard (this one looks like lining material)
  7. White multi-colored striped cotton , 60", $12.99/yard (linen-look)
  8. Medium blue with stripes cotton (aka shirting), 60", $8.99/yard
  9. Light blue with dark blue stripes cotton (another shirting), 60", $8.99/yard
I'm annoyed.  No other way to describe it.  They wasted one-quarter of my sample allowance on stuff that both the rep and I agreed I couldn't use.  #1 and #2 are not high-quality cottons.  #3 is better but still not high-quality.  #4 is too heavy to wear 13 yards worth, feels like polyester, and is way above my price range.  #5 is beautiful, wouldn't mind having some for myself but the color is wrong for Nancy and too much sheen.  #6 is a joke.  It's lining material at best and so incredibly sheer.  #7 is linen-look for a summer dress.  #8 and #9 just piss me off.  I specifically said "no shirtings" and then the rep said all the striped blue fabrics they had were probably shirtings so I said "don't send them."  The only samples that they should have sent were #5 and #3.  I can see throwing #4 into the mix if you are desperate but none of these other samples should have been included.

My initial impressions of Banksville aren't good but I will probably request other samples because (1) I paid for them, and (2) everyone else raves about this place.  I'll probably request wool coatings, suitings, and boucles in the future...way off future.

Next up is Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics.  I requested my samples via email, had a personal email response from the owner by the end of the day and a phone call from the rep filling my request before the owner even had a chance to respond.  Very quick response but not much to offer.  Granted my project is pretty specific but they were honest about what limited choices they had to offer me.  We agreed upon 3 free samples of solid blue silks.


I tried to blow these up to help you see them better but the fact of the matter is they are only 1/2-inch wide by 10 inches long.  By the time I spoke with Stonemountain & Daughter, my request had become more specific to include "no baby blues or black-navy."
  1. Teal silk jacquard, 36", $15.00/yard
  2. Steel blue silk dupioni, 44", $14.00/yard
  3. Teal/burnt red silk dupioni, 44", $14.00/yard
I hate silk dupioni.  Don't ask why.  I just don't like it.  The silk jacquard would be nice for a Vogue pattern I have but not for Nancy's dress.  All 3 samples have too much body to work for this dress.  Oh well.  I'd give them another try though because they were very nice.  Plus I've never found a fabric I like for Vogue 1026 so I might just have to order this silk jacquard.

At this point, I was losing hope that I would find a nice blue stripe for Nancy's polonaise so I decided to focus on solids.  I went back to A Frayed Knot and bought several 1/8-yard pieces of fabrics I liked. Option #1 is light blue with white stripe cotton jacquard, 60", $12.00/yard.  I pictured this as the bodice/bustle portion and a coordinating navy for the skirt.  The white stripes have a slight sheen to them and it's just lovely in person. 

Blue & white stripe

Option #2 is a royal blue with purple sheen cotton "Lavinia" dobby, 60", $10.50/yard.  I would use this for the entire dress.  The purple sheen is lost in this picture but Nancy and I thought it was cool.

Blue purple cotton dobby

Option #3 is a blue floral cotton, 60", $13.50/yard for the bodice/bustle and a darker blue with lighter blue undertones for the skirt, 60", $12.50/yard.  Nancy hated the floral and wasn't fond of the solid blue either.

Floral print and coordinating skirt

Nancy and I agreed on option #1.  Without a sheen in the white stripes, this fabric probably could have passed for a shirting but the sheen dresses it up.  I'm also looking forward to playing with the stripes directionally on the sleeves and upper skirt edges.  I went ahead and bought the 4-1/2 yards for the bodice/bustle.  If Susan Khalje looks at it and disagrees with our plan, Textile Fabrics might still have some fabrics for me to try (and at half price!).  I can just use the yardage I've already bought for a blouse and some yummy-feeling pajamas.  I haven't found a suitable navy to coordinate with so Helen Haughey is looking for me.  She's coming to the class and bringing some fabrics with her. 

Gotta tell you...I'm exhausted.  From finding samples, discussing with Nancy, and then my own deliberations about what would really work, I'm freakin' tired.  I haven't even told you about my exhaustive search for buttons and laces yet.  I'll save that for another post.  Nancy's fitting is on Tuesday so I need to finish cutting out the muslin. 

Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend and don't forget to thank soldiers, both past and present, for their service to our country.  Trust me, they appreciate hearing it.

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