Sunday, 20 April 2014

sewing the high street: researching patterns and fabric

If you missed last week's post, you can find it here - where I talked about what the concept behind Sewing the High Street was, and also made a few confessions.

Figuring out what you want to sew

As a beginner, I would recommend to find a pattern which either states it is "easy" or "fun" to sew, as most likely that will have more detailed descriptions and explanations of what to do on each step.

However, there is nothing stopping you from getting any old pattern you can find, as most patterns, even vintage ones, follow a certain pattern, (pun intended) and questions you may have regarding it may be easily googleable.

Researching patterns

Finding a pattern is relatively easy so long as you know what kind of thing you are looking for. I searched for a "midi skirt" as that is the most broad term for what I am looking for, and typing in the specific name of the ASOS skirt was highly unlikely to draw any patterns.

What can be difficult is, when looking, you can't really imagine any of the pattern images as final outcomes suitable for what you want, and I think patterns can sometimes fail on that front when their photographs or drawings on the front of the pattern aren't good enough.

Keep an open mind, and have a look on etsy, ebay and the pattern makers websites themselves - Vogue, McCalls, Simplicity, Burda, New Look or Butterick.

You are more likely to find over priced patterns on Etsy, and bargains on eBay, and patterns tend to be more expensive on the pattern makers website, so general sewing websites like Jaycotts (for UK readers) have a bigger selection and have sales and promotions, making patterns cheaper.

I bought one pattern from eBay for 99p, but the one I have decided to use is a vintage pattern from 1982 which my mum had - making it very cheap for me!

Researching fabric

It's important that you figure out which pattern you want to use first, as the pattern itself will have a list of fabrics which are suitable, or recommended for the pattern.

However depending on the style you want you can use different fabrics, but the end result may end up different to what the image looks like. And, if you decide to use something much lighter or much heavier than is recommended, the instructions won't be taking that into account and your result may differ greatly.

The pattern I am using!
For me, the pattern I have chosen states the recommended fabrics are poplin, cambric, lawn, lightweight linen, panama or seersucker. These are all either linen or cotton fabrics, but since the pattern is from 1982 and the skirt I want to emulate is made mainly from polyester, I decided to use some stretch polyester instead. I bought 2 metres of stretch polyester in a colour similar to the ASOS skirt to try and stay as close as possible.

Fabric used to be quite expensive to buy but since the introduction of more man made fabrics the costs have decreased quite a bit, especially as there is now a "handmade revival" in the 21st century, where many people are turning back to "make do and mend". I bought my fabric from and for the UK that is a really good website to buy fabrics cheaply from. Simply googling "cheap fabrics" will list plenty popular fabric websites to check out.

The pattern will also tell you how much fabric you need, depending on the size you are sewing, and the width of the fabric. For older patterns the widths of the fabric may not include the standard sizes of today (90cm, 115cm and 150cm) but there are charts available online if you are confused, and if in doubt go over how much fabric you will need. The fabric I bought was 150cm in width and the largest width on the pattern is 140cm, and states you need 1.80 metres for a size 10 - I bought 2 metres as it is always better to be safe than sorry!

For beginners, stay away from patterns and instead use plain fabrics, as it will end up being an extra thing to think about when placing your pattern on the fabric so that the pattern ends up in the right place on the final outcome!

In addition to fabric, you will also need to check the pattern for any thing extra required such as interfacing (material which is ironed / sewn on to areas in the fabric that are strengthened such as the collar or waistband), zippers, thread (very important! ;)) etc.

My pattern calls for a 18cm zipper and 0.90m of interfacing, which I am yet to buy! Better get cracking!!

Au revoir,

Stay tuned every Sunday for Sewing The High Street! Next week we'll be learning how to read a pattern, and the prep you need to do before beginning to sew, and I start to sew my skirt!


Ultra Celestial said...

Hi! I love your blog. I have nominated you for the liebster award :). You can find more information on this on my blog:
Ultra x

Jean said...

Hey Ultra! Thanks so much, that is so kind of you :D Thanks so much for nominating me, I have done it before though! I'll wait a little bit to post it up. Thank you!

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