Instead, frequently I find the most frustrating thing about making my own clothes is finding the right fabric. There can be several reasons for this, my personal fussiness notwithstanding,
Firstly: fabric type. I struggle with this. Patterns are excellent are giving fabric suggestions, but a lot of it doesn't really mean that much to me. Here are just a few suggestions on the backs of the envelopes of some of the patterns I own, where I have NO CLUE what they are: cotton bastiste, ottoman, laundered cotton (isn't that just cotton that's been washed?), tropical wool, challis. Now, I know a lot of this will be down to my inexperience, but how do I get the experience? My local fabric shop drew a blank when I asked for "bastiste" and instead she presented me with a cheap stiff poly cotton. I am not 100% sure what bastiste is, but I'm pretty it's not a stiff poly cotton (in my head it's a bit more like lawn). Instead my fabric store list their fabrics by fibre content. This is useful, but not helpful when you are searching out "tropical wool" - even if it is just to find out what it is! I can of course Google the description, but that doesn't help me understand what it feels like.
Secondly: fibre content. I am a natural fibres kind of girl. Yes, I will freely admit there is an element of snobbery in there. 100% polyester is just a bit too reminiscent of Primark and other cheap shops (not that I never shop there, but I do baulk at the sea of polyester upon entry). But from a wearability point of view, I just find polyester a bit too clingy and a bit too sweaty to ever be fully comfortable in. I have tried polycotton mixes but they still cling. Maybe I just generate excess static when I move?
Thirdly: finding the perfect colour/print. As part of MMM13 I realised that a lot of my self made garments are "stand alone". That is, they don't go with a lot of items in my wardrobe. Tops and blouses are not so bad because pretty much everything goes with jeans or black trousers, but the skirts I have made often go with one top or blouse. My recent floral Charlotte and my quick pleated skirt are cases in point. I only have 1 top that goes with each of them - and it's the same yellow tee! So, to combat that I am trying to be more selective with my fabric choices (think capsule wardrobe territory), and immediately I come up against difficulty. As soon as I have an idea in my head, it becomes impossible to find the fabric I want. Some evidence:
Exhibit A: As my floral Charlotte has blues as well as yellows in it, I want to make a blue blouse. It needs to be work appropriate to wear with the Charlotte to, err, work. I am thinking a slightly looser fit sleeveless blouse. Something like the Megan Nielson's Eucalypt, or a Sorbetto, or possibly even a sleeveless Taffy. I want something simple and self coloured as there is quite a lot going on in the skirt, and I want a nice drapey, breathable fabric. I have been thinking a voile or a lawn, or a cotton/silk mix, maybe even a woven viscose. I don't want jersey. And I want a SOLID colour - royal blue, violet or maybe cornflower blue. And can I find that fabric? No! Solids in particular seem to be difficult to find in lightweight wovens. Jerseys and knits are no problem at all, but I don't want a knit...
Exhibit B: My mum is making a dirndl skirt for a 1950's party she's going to in a few weeks. She wants to make it in a 2" gingham in black and white, probably partly inspired by Gertie's version (I sent her the link for the tutorial). I would also like the same fabric to make an Archer, inspired by Andrea's.
|Gertie's black and white large gingham skirt|
|Andrea's gingham Archer|
*Actually, not strictly true - I did find a 2" black and white gingham on Ikea's website, however while it might be fine for my mum's skirt, it it highly unlikely it would be a light enough weight for a shirt. I have yet to find out if my mum managed to find it at the weekend.
Fourthly: Online shopping. I find in actually fabric shopping on line full stop. The number of websites out there are huge, but I find them often very difficult and time consuming to navigate (e.g. you can only select fabric type OR colour, not both!!!), the descriptions vary (I need as much detail as possible, weight, some examples of what could be made with it, fibre content, washing instructions) and I guess you always have the colour issue when looking at something online. I know most websites have sample swatch services but they don't all. And I reckon I could probably spend a lot on swatches before finding the fabric I want.
Fifthly: price. Usually, because this is the way with everything I do, IF I manage to find the right fabric, it will be expensive. I don't set out to have expensive taste. It just seems to happen.
This has ended up being a slightly ranty post - apologies. I hadn't intended that. What I did want to do was share my frustrations and hopefully open up some discussion. Do you have this problem, or any other problems, when sourcing the "right" fabric for your project? It does seem that US websites (and presumably also physical stores) offer a lot more choice, so is this specifically a UK problem? Or am I just being too damn fussy?