Friday, 7 June 2013

Drapey dressmaking fabrics


Over the last week or so I've been trying to choose some fabric for a summer dress. I wanted a fabric with an amazing drape that doesn't need lining. I don't mind if it's jersey, but it doesn't need to be - it just needs to have a fluidity to it in the same way that jersey does. Anyway, I've now searched in so many places and come up with a shortlist of things that feel like they could work, but it's taken me so long to gather up these fabrics that I thought you might like it if I shared them with you, just in case you're in need of your own drapy fabric for a summer dress (I'm thinking maybe a Miz Mozelle style dress of the variety I've made before - pictured at the top of this post), but feel exhausted by the prospect of researching fabrics.


I love the fabrics I'm sharing with you here but I've had to hunt quite hard to find them, so I really long for more designers to start bringing out simpler prints when it comes to dress weight fabrics. Buying dressmaking fabric over the internet can be a risk. While I'll happily buy from an anonymous bolt of fabric when I'm in a shop where I can feel the quality and drape for myself, if I'm buying online I quite like the reassurance of being familiar with a certain fabric houses' substrates. For example, voiles by Free Spirit, Rowan and Art Gallery Fabrics are all of identical quality and drape, so I only need focus on which prints I like. This is why, despite unbranded dressmaking fabric being widely available on the internet, it's simpler prints from trusted fabric manufacturers that I'm coveting. I think this Waterfront Park print, above, by Violet Craft would be amazingly wearable in a jersey or rayon challis (it's pictured here in quilting cotton). Anyway, onwards with my finds.


First, this gorgeous Amy Butler print. It's part of her new range of Alchemy Studio dressmaking fabrics. Most of the fabrics in the range are voile, which are too sheer for an unlined dress, but this is cotton sateen, which I think one could get away without lining. My experience of cotton sateen is that it has a fairly matt lustre and that its drape is wonderful. Annie has it in stock here. The photo below shows a dress made from it on Amy's Butlers own site.


My next possibility is Anna Maria Horner's rayon challis, which has an amazing drape and a more matt finish than regular rayon (I know, because Kate sent me some gorgeous samples, but I was too slow off the mark to ask for the print I really wanted before she sold out, but she has the rest in stock here). However, Dragonfly Fabrics still have my favourite print here. And you can see a photo of a finished dress made using this print here - the dress is lined, but I'm hoping that's just because it's a very straight cut and not because a fuller dress would need it. I love this print and, for a small person, I think it's the most wearable out of the rayon challis prints from Anna Maria Horner. 


Amy Butler has a few rayon challis prints available also, but again, the prints feel too intense to wear easily. 

Fabric.com in America has quite a few good options. I am totally in love with this print pictured below. It's cotton sateen with a bit of stretch added - it says it's 'full-bodied' though, which is making me wonde if it's the more substantial variety of cotton sateen that you'd buy for trousers. I haven't shopped there before, so I'm unsure as to what the quality of the fabrics will be like when they're not from a fabric designer that I'm familiar with - have you shopped at Fabric.com?


Assuming it may be the wrong weight, then they have this navy polka dot bamboo jersey (all the bamboo jersey I've come across has an amazing soft drape, so I'd hope this would be the same). 



I also love this rayon challis, below, with its tiny, wearable print from Valori Wells. You can see the other designs she's released in this substrate here


Going off the summer dress theme for a moment, I also adore this voile from Amy Butler. Too thin for unlined dresses, but perfect for a pair of pyjama bottoms or a blouse. I've been coveting it ever since I saw it in Liberty (unfortunately priced well beyond what you'd expect to pay for an Amy Butler voile, so I left it and thought about it all the way home). 



Back to dresses again, I like this stripy jersey below. Boden's Newquay dress (pictured second below) seems like good inspiration for how this could be used. 


Raystitch now also have the bamboo stretch knit that I used for the dress pictured below (original post, here) in navy - hurrah! I love navy for clothing. I think this would make a fantastic Miz Mozelle and it could always be livened up by using a contrast binding on the sleeves and keyhole (although I prefer my navy unadulterated, so I'm pondering making a plain one). Americans can find a similar plain navy bamboo jersey here


Have you heard of a fabric called Ponte Roma? My off-the-peg experience of it is that it's a very thick jersey with a visible horizontal weave. It holds it shape well and doesn't crease. It's sturdier than regular jersey...the type you couldn't get a VPL through. I'm not sure it's suitable for the flowing dress that I'm currently envisaging, but as I came across it several times on my fabric searches I thought it may be worth mentioning in anticipation of autumn sewing. I think it would be fantastic for a more full-bloom tulip skirt than the one below (which I mocked up from two fat quarters on my mannequin several months ago). I've found some ponte roma at Stone Fabrics (again, new to me) in...navy. 


For my next fabric, I actually have no idea if it would be suitable for a dress, but certainly a blouse. It's being mentioned purely because it makes me feel quite loopy with joy just thinking about it (my search was full of distractions). Pelicans. But not overtly I'M WEARING CREATURES ON MY CLOTHING pelicans. But subtle, lovely pelicans that almost morph into a geometric pattern when viewed from further away. It's blush coloured silk. That's the kind of fabric you'd expect a shop called Fabric Godmother to be able to source. 


Back to more practical options. I like the simplicity of this polka dotted black jersey a lot. You can find it here


I also love this drapey red and navy jersey knit. 


Or another favourite colour combination of green and navy


I think that probably ties things up. Do you have an online source for amazing dressmaking fabric? If you do I'd love to hear it. 

Florence x

21 comments:

  1. perfect timing for me - i am planning a miz mozelle at the moment and on the advice of twitter (mainly sew hopeful) i am going for a jersey rather than a stretch woven. i think i'm going to use a charcoal grey one from my stash and brighten it up with coloured piping, but love your jersies (or is it jerseys?). some great finds there!

    i find it v hard to buy fabric online. i'm obv too much of a newbiew sewist to know what they will be like when i get my hands on them. and there's the shipping/ customs from the US to consider as well.

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  2. Is it too much to admit that I was completely enthralled by this post- I think I may be a fabric addict... I'm in Australia so have been spending hours researching fabrics for winter clothes, but I do have a couple of ideas in response to your search. First, I have a long skirt made from that very AMH rayon and all I can say is that you should not hesitate to get yourself some. It's perfect. next, I have placed a couple of orders with fabric.com and perhaps I didn't choose wisely. but I have not been thrilled with the quality (I've bought knits), Mum regularly buys quilting cotton from them though. For knits I've been buying from Girl Charlee and have been very happy with the drape and quality so far. Also I think the ponte would be great as a tulip skirt!

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  3. Lately I find myself wanting several yards of everything from Alabama Chanin - it's all just plain organic cotton jersey but in so many lovely colours. The lightweight option looks really good for drapy dresses. Like the first commenter, though, I'm stopped by shipping and customs fees so I just get a yard or two whenever a relative is coming/going across the Atlantic. I recently discovered some amazing printed heavier organic jerseys on a German website (http://www.michas-stoffecke.de/index.php/cPath/1298_3010_3626), so no customs issue, but they charge 20 euros to send it over here!

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  4. Some lovely fabrics here...I die for those pelicans, I wish it was within my budget! I have not had good experiences with fabric.com, I would not recommend them. I really like www.hartsfabric.com and they have lots of apparel fabric, and I have been really happy with their quality and customer service. Can't wait to see what you end up with!

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  5. It's so hard to find that "exactly what I'm looking for" fabric online when you can't feel it! But if it helps, I've ordered quite a few things from fabric.com, and they have am amazing return policy. If it's not exactly what you expected, all you have to do is call customer service & they'll e-mail you a shipping label to sent it back for free. No questions asked! I know it's disappointing when it's wrong, but It's nice not to be stuck with something you don't want/can't use. Hope you find something soon!

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  6. Thank you for this, it's very useful! I'm afraid I don't have any to add, but I wondered if you'd seen the Colette Hazel dress that Lauren has made - you can see it on her blog on her website Guthrie and Ghani. She used the first Amy Butler fabric you showed here, and I thought she used the pattern on the fabric really well, to make a lovely dress. I haven't bought any of it yet, but I'm very tempted to! Good luck with the rest of your search!

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  7. Thanks for sharing these fabrics! I love all your picks! I think I might be ordering some of those fabric.com ones here soon... :)

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  8. I'm afraid I can't contribute at all, but thanks for a very useful post.

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  9. I love the top one. I haven't taken the leap of buying fabric online yet. But I might for that print. I normally go to Raystitch (on payday) I love the bamboo stretch jersey too and Walthamstow Market (most of the time, when I'm poor). You should check it out when/if you are next in London. Totally worth the trip.

    Sarabeth
    Life of an Agnostic Sunday School Teacher

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  10. It's great to see all your fabric choices. I tend to buy most of my fabric online as I never seem to be able to find the selection or types of fabric locally (and fabric shopping with young children is not ideal ;) ). So far I've bought from Stone Fabrics (v. impressed with their knowledge and service and there is no problem with ordering swatches), RayStitch (again very good) and a site in Germany (again where I ordered swatches and was impressed with the quality.
    For me, swatches are the way forwards unless I'm 100% certain about the quality and feel of the fabric. Unfortunately I've found that many of the 'popular' online stores just don't send out swatches. Maybe they're aimed more at crafters/quilters than at dressmakers??
    All in all, I find it tricky and very time consuming buying online!

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  11. Thanks for this post, love your navy green stripe. I have an excellent ponte tunic, it would indeed be a great autumn dress fabric.

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  12. Thank you for the advice given it is very helpful. I have also found fabric.com to be a bit hit and miss. I ordered some bamboo knit and while it was lovely and soft the colours weren't at all what I was expecting, not their fault, it's difficult to judge colour on a computer monitor(I find). The fabric I will have to use for pyjamas :-(
    Karen

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  13. Stone fabrics are brilliant. I went to the shop in Totnes a while ago and spent a fortune!

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  14. Pelicans!!! Love 'em! These are all so pretty. Oddly enough, I rarely sew with drapey fabrics, but you've made me want to try them out!

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  15. Really interesting post Florence thank you. I find it really hard to buy dressmaking fabric without seeing it. Unfortunately my nearest good shop is about an hour away and is called Truro Fabrics. They have a website and said they would be happy to send a sample if that would help which was nice. I have had a few disasters with patterned fabric that I liked the look of until I put it on! I think plainer fabric works best for me. I like the polka dots you found.
    Love the blog. Vicky

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  16. Fabric.com does have a lot of choices, but I have learned the hard way to only order from them if I don't need it right away. Their shipping times take forever (and I'm in the states!) and once they shipped me a cut of flimsy, cheap fabric in place of the designer cotton I ordered. They were nice about the replacement, but it shouldn't have happened. Overall, they are not my first choice.

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  17. That Boden dress looks exactly like the Casual Lady dress from Go To Patterns. They're a doddle to make up, I'm on my 4th and will probably spend the summer living in them.

    I've been thinking about a drapey pair of trousers so I'll be interested to hear what you pick. I like navy too - that bamboo polka dot jersey looks like it has potential...

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  19. Really helpful post, thank you. I always look forward to your finds. Love the new dress you made up too x

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  20. Sorry this has been hard work. I usually find all my drapey fabrics in store but have to go online for things like lawn, linen and jersey. Maybe people in Yorkshire are demanding all the drapey stock!? Good luck with the dress!

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  21. Beautiful fabric! I have trouble finding drapey fabrics that aren't 100% polyester in my local fabric store. I am loving that bird print fabric and bought the same print in a royal blue to use in a pair of 1920's beach pajamas I made recently! (But, the fabric was also 100% polyester and ravelled like you would not believe!!). Here is the link: http://gjeometry.com/2013/06/04/great-gatsby-make-the-cats-pajamas-one-giant-leap-for-womankind/

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Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a message - it's always really lovely to hear from people.

I now tend to reply within the comments section, so please do check back if you've asked a question or wish to chat.

Florence x