Oliver + S

Sewing with smooth/slippery fabrics

Viewing 5 posts - 1 through 5 (of 5 total)
  • LINK
    Profile photo of SarahGreenSarahGreen @moonglowmama

    I am wanting to upgrade my sewing capabilities for myself, especially in my fabric choices. I’ve noticed that the fabrics I gravitate towards while shopping for blouses or dresses for myself tend to be polyester, silk, and I think rayon– al fabrics that I typically avoid sewing with. And when I see the construction I think, I could make that, if I knew what fabric to buy!

    I gave the good fortune of being in New York City this week and going to the garment district a few times. But, I M uncertain what I should ask for, or look for in the stores. I figure I need to get something not-too-expensive for the learning curve, but– since I’m here and this opportunity doesn’t come along very often got me, I want to get my hands in and really look at fabrics I can “work up to.”

    Anyone have advice and experience to share? I’ve made the weekend getaway,and while I love the design and fit, I made it in shot cotton, which though lovely, wrinkles like a beast. Normally wrinkles do t bother me, but it’s annoying in the facings.

    I also want to make one or two of the dresses that Liesl has in the Butterick line from a smooth/ slippery fabric.

    What should I ask for? And how do I not look like a moron??!!

    Profile photo of SarahGreenSarahGreen @moonglowmama

    Sorry for all the typos! I’m currently sitting outside (i’m blaming the sunlight!)and on my phone.

    Profile photo of NicoleNicole @motherof5

    I tend to shop by feel and drape so I am not much help with names…

    May I say, if anyone makes you feel bad, they are the jerks, not you!

    You ask your questions, only a stupid person stops learning.

    Profile photo of Liesl GibsonLiesl Gibson

    Hi Sarah,

    I replied to your email but thought it might be helpful to post part of my reply here to help others with similar questions. I hope that’s alright!

    Regarding your questions about fabric: it sort of depends on the style you’re sewing. Actually, a lot depends on the style/pattern you’ve chosen.

    If you’re making the Cappuccino Dress/Tunic or the Gallery Dress/Tunic, for example, they both work really well in a soft silk crepe or something similar. But they also work really well in handkerchief linen, which is much easier to sew. On the other hand, the Lisette wide-leg trousers would look better in something with a little more body like a lightweight denim or heavy linen. So your first step is going to be to learn about fabric, ok?

    Here is my suggestion: go to B&J. To get there you need to enter the lobby of the fancy building and take the elevator to the 2nd floor. Don’t worry. They won’t stop you.

    When you get there, take a deep breath and start browsing and touching everything. This will be really easy in B&J because they categorize their fabrics by type and they have fabric headers (which are like big swatches) on racks so you can see and touch them easily. You don’t need to maul the fabric rolls, which is easier for everyone. Don’t buy anything at first. Just look and familiarize yourself with the HUGE variety of fabrics that are available.

    Then ask questions. Seriously. B&J employees are very knowledgeable, and while they’re often aren’t warm and cuddly they will help you. You might have to ask one or two people, but once you find someone who is more friendly than average they’ll be very willing to answer questions. (You can even tell the guy at the front desk when you come in and he’ll set you up with someone, especially if they’re not really busy.) If you have a particular pattern in mind, show it to them and ask them about it. (And read the fabric suggestions on the back of the envelope, too. They can be helpful and can guide you in the right direction.) But mostly just feel and ask questions and get familiar with the types of fabrics.

    At B&J they will also give you swatches. Select a variety of fabrics (not too many–6-10 is a good number) to ask for swatches of those qualities. Ask them to write down what each one is–they’ll staple it to a special swatch card—or write it down yourself. Take this with you and pet your fabrics for a day or two. Think about the fabric types and how they compare to fabrics in your closet (or in the store). This will help you envision how each one will turn out and will help you make your choices in a day or two. Right now you’re in research mode.

    Now here’s the bad part: to learn to sew drapey/silky fabrics, you need to practice sewing with them. Yes, you can start with less expensive fabrics, but they’re often more frustrating to work with than the real thing. Polyester satin is incredibly annoying, and silk satin is lovely. But you don’t have to purchase those fabrics at B&J and pay their very inflated prices. Once you understand the fabrics you like and want to sew with, go to Mood and find similar fabrics. You’ll have to dig a little more, but the prices will be better. And you might even find things that are polyester but aren’t awful. Also, the folks at Mood are very helpful. I just don’t want you to start swatching and browsing there because it’s too confusing. Their categories aren’t quite as clearly defined like they are at B&J. I want you to learn from the best so everything else will make sense when you feel it.

    Is this making sense so far? So you’ll buy your first fabrics at Mood, but you’ll start your education at B&J. (Don’t worry–I’ve given B&J enough business for the past 25 years to allow at least 20 people to get their education without buying there. Also, you’ll buy your really good fabric at B&J later when you start to understand quality better, so they’ll make out just fine in the end.)

    Start simple. If you’re planning to make a silk blouse, buy a little extra fabric and practice cutting and sewing it before you cut out your pattern. And ask more questions–you know where to find me, and the forums are a great resource where you’ll get all sorts of helpful information.

    Ok? Oh, and before you step foot inside B&J take a deep breath and remind yourself that it’s only fabric. You’re going to do great.

    Profile photo of Lightning McStitchLightning McStitch @LightningMcStitch

    I very much adhere to the “it’s only fabric” ethos.
    All of the above advice is excellent but don’t frighten yourself by overthinking it.
    In trying something new I figure all we have to lose is fabric costs (and Liesl’s shopping tips are fabulous) and our time. For me, it’s not like I’m turning down party invitations to stay home and sew of an evening, so I don’t rate my time spent as wasted even if all I get out of the sewing is some more experience (and nothing wearable) 😉
    Go for it. I’ll bet you impress yourself.

Viewing 5 posts - 1 through 5 (of 5 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.


Unless otherwise credited, all work on this blog is © Liesl + Co., Inc, 2008-2016. You are welcome to link to this blog, but please ask permission before using any text or images.