Saturday, 23 June 2012

On fabric

Several weeks ago, Dorte sent me a package of swatches sharing her new arrivals at Dragonfly Fabrics and I thought I'd show you a few of my favourites. Above are two of the wispy floral cottons. I've tried to photograph these to give some impression of just how light and ethereal they are - they would be perfect for an airy summer smock top and the weight of the fabric is complemented perfectly by the slightly faded charm of the prints. They have an elegant, yet relaxed feel to them and you could sew up a top that would instantly look like it was a well-worn favourite (for me that's a positive - when it comes to summery smock tops, I love them to look a little lived in).

Next is this bourette silk blend - it's a brighter colour than I'd wear myself, but I adore the quality of the actual fabric and can really imagine it made up in a chic summer jacket - it is the perfect weight for such a garment and the weave is luxurious.

I picked out these two checks as being something that I could imagine made up as children's summer shorts. My photos don't perhaps show it, but they have a slightly puffy, textured feel to them (there's a word for it, but it's currently escaping me, so lets go with bulbous! Actually, I've just checked Dorte's description and she refers to them as being 'lightly crushed') that makes them feel more unusual than standard cotton.

Above are Joel Dewberry's take on voiles (I say his take on voiles, because in my mind, when it comes to designer fabric, they'll always be primarily Anna Maria Horner's voiles that other designers are reinterpreting: it was actually she who specified the exact softness, drape and feel of the voile substrate that Free Spirit eventually produced). These are also produced by Free Spirit, so are printed on an identical voile base cloth to that of the originals (Dorte has three different ranges - you may remember that I made my Maybe Sixpence top from one of them).

Finally, I've saved the most unusual and possibly the most stunning for last:

You may or may not know of Richard Weston, a professor of architecture, who began scanning images of the insides of rocks and crystals and then printing magnifications of these to fabric. A collection of his beautiful silk scarves was stocked by Liberty last year. Anyway, the fabric above isn't silk and it isn't one of Professor Weston's designs, but the moment I saw it, it did make me think of them and marvel at what an amazing fabric Dorte had sourced. It's a thin gauzy-feeling rayon. I can imagine the Wiksten Tank pattern looking amazing made up in this, but I don't think it's beyond the bounds of reason to think it could be made into a quilt either. It's has stunning petrol puddles of colour in it, and if you love bright colours around your home, I can imagine this being a centre piece to a room. Actually, I can even imagine having a section framed on the wall too. I think the true colour is somewhere between my photo of it (above) and Dragonfly Fabrics' photo below, because of how fine the fabric is in isolation it doesn't actually look quite so terrifyingly bright as it does on the bolt below.

In other fabric news, Annie from the Village Haberdashery contacted me yesterday to let me know that she had some new Nani Iro fabrics in. Nani Iro actually has many of the same qualities as the fabric I talked about above in that it feels a little more like art-on-fabric than other dressmaking fabrics might. I made a dress for my daughter from a Nani Iro print a few years ago (which you can read more about here) using the fabric below.

Nani Iro prints often have border variations, meaning that you can have fun with choosing where to place them when it comes to making up a garment. The gauze is easy to sew with (although it needs handling carefully until you've sewn it as it can fray a little). It has an unexpected feel to it that may surprise you on first touch if you haven't used double gauze before, but it's a feel that you soon become used to and the double layer of bonded gauze is an asset in that it won't require lining. Annie is stocking a mixture of gauze and jersey knits (I haven't sewn with the knits, but Nani Iro fabrics are renowned for being excellent quality, so I think it's safe to assume they're lovely) in beautiful, soft colours, so do go and take a look. If you click through to each individual print there's a second photo, which shows the distribution of the pattern when the fabric is seen as a larger panel.

Finally, onto quilting weight fabrics. Liberty surprised me last week when they very kindly offered to send me some pieces from their forthcoming quilt-weight cotton range to make something with. I'll hopefully sew with them in the next few weeks, but I thought that you might like to see a photo of them now as I know there's a lot of excited anticipation about this range. I met with Katy, Claire and Rachel yesterday in Colchester for a day with Art Gallery Fabrics (more on that in another post) and Claire, who runs Patch Fabrics, sweetly put her box of all 55 Liberty print samples into her bag knowing I'd love to see the whole range. I think that the range is split into five distinct colourways -I should actually have more clarity about this as Katy did very patiently try to explain the colour breakdown to me twice, but it obviously failed to permeate the deeper membranes inside my head as I was multi-tasking at the time (i.e. looking at the fabric swatches, breathing, speaking occasionally and other complex tasks that required computing space in my head). When my own fabric cuts had arrived, the ones that had appealed most were the ones on a more deeply saturated dark blue or red base, and seeing the collection as a whole was interesting as this continued throughout (if you'd like to see a little more, Katy made a completely stunning cushion using many of the prints from these colourways last week. You can also read about the day that she went up to visit Liberty to find out about the processes involved in developing the range, which is completely fascinating).

Florence x


  1. Is it seersucker fabric you are thinking of?

    1. That, I think is it! So much more refined that bulbous too. Thank you! x

  2. Hmm, I have a checked cotton dress that's made of some kind of 'puffy' fabric.

    I might *ahem* have ordered quite a lot of fabric this week that arrived today. I'm determined not to let it become part of the overgrown stash - I threw most of it straight in the washing machine...

    1. Well done! What will you be making with it?

    2. One piece is for some quilts, one for a top, one for kitchen towels. There was also supposed to be some black fabric for a dress but I was sent black thread instead by mistake! So I'm now waiting anxiously to see if they still have the fabric I wanted...


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