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20% off – UK source for 98/2 stretch denim

For my UK readers…

Sherwood Fabrics is currently offering 20% off everything in store until midnight Sat 31 Dec (end of year) with discount code FESTIVE20.

And they seem to offer a fairly wide range of 2% lycra/spandex/elastine denim fabrics. You know, the percentage recommended by Closet Case Files for Ginger/Morgan Jeans & Baste And Gather for Birkin Jeans. (Yes, I will be jumping on the bandwagon in the new year – part of the reason I tried out the pants wrap. My RTW jeans are tatty & I hate not being able to buy the one RTW jeans that fitted me fairly well again. Hate fashion! Sort of.)

Do keep in mind that:

  • Many of their stretch denim are more lightweight than recommended for Ginger/Morgan/Birkin – lots of 8oz ones if you like the jegging fit.
  • Not all denim weights are described in oz/yd, and if they specify “light-“, “mid-“, and “heavy-weight” they’re using generic dress fabric weight scale, not denim weight scale. Eg “mid-weight” would be 8-11oz as used to describe dress fabrics in general, rather than 12-16 oz as used specifically to describe denim.
  • Colours in the photos are lighter than the actual fabric, possibly due to the lighting they use. They do offer samples (not free), but that means you’ll miss the 20% off promotion. But they seem to post offers on their Facebook page from time to time.

BTW, have anyone in the UK bought denims from Threadbare Fabrics in the US? Did you get hit with high shipping & import charges? I’m wondering if it’s worthy shopping with them for the high quality US-made  Cone Mills denims (though maybe not with the fallen £ thanks to looming Brexit!).

Speaking of Cone Mills denims, I found on Fashion Incubator’s site a PDF produced by Cone Mills about how to prevent leg twist problem that results from standard denim’s natural tendencies. This is if you can’t find the “broken twill weave” that Heather mentioned in her post on Sourcing Denim for Ginger Jeans.

(I’m not being paid in any way for this post. Just wanted to share a resource I found while sourcing fabrics for upcoming jean-making projects.)

More Indian fabrics

Oops, I’ve done it again. I was doing so well resisting mindless feeding of the Stash. But since discovering pretty & partly sewn Indian outfits during my wedding dress research, I’ve succumbed to their siren calls.

This time I tried the Salwar Kameez suits. These came as partly stitched tunic + fabric for trousers + RTW shawl. I’m still a bit confused about the names for the different types of suits, so pardon me if I called them by the wrong names. I think the ones I bought are called Anarkali Suits which have tunics that are fitted in the bodice & sleeves, & flared in the skirt. The trousers to go with these tunics seem to be the slimmer type called Churidar. I bought 3 brand name suits from Haya Creations in India. It’s the same place where I bought the two back-up lehenga choli outfits for my wedding which are still waiting to be sewn. Mea culpa.

One thing I noticed is that the part-stitched tunics for all three are HUGE. Like the lehenga choli outfits, you’re suppose to have your tailor alter the part-stitched item to fit & make up the unstitched item for you. Some shops offer this tailoring service. Haya Creations doesn’t. That suits me fine as I want to do the sewing. But it is a bit of a pain though to have to unpick stitching in the part-stitched items to alter them.

Nakkashi Euphoria 11042
fabric for Churidar trousers +
part-stitched Anarkali tunic + RTW Dupatta shawl

available at Haya Creations

Unlike other tunics I’ve seen, this one is all sewn up except the sleeve seams. It’s obviously too big on me. Thankfully the bodice of the tunic is panelled. So I think all I have to do is to remove one panel per quadrant at the side seams. The sleeves are kimono shaped – ie no sleeve cap, so can be easily shortened at the armscyes. The bodice length is more troublesome. As the neckline is embellished & all finished, I guess I’ll have to do it at the hem. That means removing the borders, shortening the bodice, then reattaching the borders. While the fit at the moment is no where like on the model, I do kind of like the loose robe-like silhouette. I might keep that instead of making it more fitted like on the model.

The dupatta shawl is lovely, but the embellishment is a bit scratchy. So I might have to find a matching chiffon to line it.

The Jacquard trousers fabric is a bit stiff & would probably look best in a more fitted styles. But to be honest, I’m not sure if I will obey the original design & make this into a trousers. There’s 2-2/3 yds of the 45″ wide fabric, certainly enough for a dress or even a jacket. We shall see. I rather like the golden wrong side of the fabric. But unfortunately the floating threads would snag too easily. So the black right side it is then. Even then I might have to line this to prevent snagging.

Jinaam Floral Tulip 7365
fabric for Churidar trousers +
part-stitched Anarkali tunic + RTW Dupatta shawl

available at Haya Creations

The tunic for this is less constructed than what I’ve seen in the shops. Originally I thought only the side & sleeve seams are left unstitched. But actually the bodice is just rectangular pieces of fabric, with button loops basted to the front & loose buttons in a plastic bag. No neckline, no bodice shaping, etc. The skirt panels are sewn except for the side seams. I will have to dissect these into component parts & make up the bodice & sleeves with my Blocks. The skirt I guess I’ll have to shorten from the waist. Haven’t decided yet whether to keep this as a dress or to make this into separates. What would you do?

 

Jinaam Floral Tulip 7363
fabric for Churidar trousers +
part-stitched Anarkali tunic + RTW Dupatta shawl

available at Haya Creations

This one is slightly more made up than the Jinaam one above, only because the front bodice embellishment requires bust shaping to be pre-determined. Otherwise it’s like the other Jinaam suit – pieces of fabric with no back shaping, no neckline cut out, side & sleeve seams unstitched. Shame I didn’t notice in the photo that the back is less embellished than the front. This looks a bit weird in real life, thought the modelled photos looked OK. Again I’m tempted to separate this into a top + skirt to keep it more wearable.

The dupatta shawls for both Jinaam suits are quite similar & plain, with mostly a border to bling it up. I’m tempted to turn one into a kaftan. I mean, how many shawls would I actually wear?

The trousers fabrics for both suits are drapy rayon the weight of lining. This might be my chance to experiment with baggier trousers. Maybe not MC Hammer baggy. Maybe at most this baggy…

 

Hopefully these type of trousers won’t require accurate pattern-making, because Trousers Blocks are sorely missing from my collection. I may just have to rope MR into wrapping me some legs soon!

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London Fabric Shopping Map

While I was trying to source material for my wedding outfit I checked out a few fabric shopping areas suggested by you dear Readers. I thought I’d summarise what I found – as reminder to myself as well as for your benefits!

I also started a Google Map to plot the fabric & other sewing related shops in London. It’s based on another Google Map I found which seems a bit out of date by now. I’ve…

  • Removed any that Google Map users have indicated as being permanently closed
  • Added some that I’ve visited recently
  • Grouped the markers into different categories so it’s easier to show/hide home furnishing fabrics which doesn’t interest me as much
  • Changed the listings to Google Places (found via Google Map Search) rather than adding the shop data to this map only. This makes it easier to link to/find shop info that Google Map users and/or shop owners have added. And if you want to add reviews & other info about a shop, you can do so via Google Map to help keep the information up-to-date & helpful to other shoppers.
  • Added a couple of extra data fields to these place markers for shop speciality & price range. Obviously I wasn’t able to fill this in for every shop as I haven’t visited never mind bought anything from all shops on the map. But the fields are there in case anyone wants to add the info.
  • Made the map editable by anyone, so you can add markers (please use the map search to find the existing Google Place marker for the shop), or if a shop has permanently closed its door you can delete or mark it as closed.
  • Added Area Overviews (lines that mark out streets with multiple shops) so it’s easier to find areas of London worth checking out for more focused shopping experience. Hopefully this will help visitors to the city plan their fabric shopping trips better rather than chasing the lone stores scattered across this vast city.

Google Map isn’t easiest to use, but I couldn’t think of any other way we can collectively maintain a map to help feed our fabric addiction habit! For another recent (as in 2016) review of London fabric shops, check out Kate of Fabricated’s London Fabric Shopping blog post here.

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Bridezilla Odyssey – part 1 – lehenga shop reviews

Getting back to Bridezilla sewing now…

These goodies arrived 2-3 weeks ago and I’ve been frantically planning my outfit and any sewing that needs to be done. First, some reviews of my shopping experience in case anyone else is interested in ordering from these online Indian shops. Some observations that apply to all shops…

These choli blouse + lehenga skirt + dupatta shawl designs frequently come as unstitched blouse fabric + partially stitched skirt (with one seam left to do so that it can be sewn up to your size) + fully stitched shawl. Some shops offer stitching services for the blouse and the skirt. But of course I prefer to do the sewing myself to ensure a good fit & stitching quality that I’d be happy with. Even for those who don’t sew, I’d recommend have them made up locally so the tailor can ensure a better fit. Us sewers know how the same measurements alone don’t guarantee a good fit as the body shape may be different – eg wide all around at the bust or a big bust on a small frame with narrower than expected back! Plus if you’re employing a local tailor you might be able to see example of their work before committing to their service, so you can be more confident the stitch quality is satisfactory.

The other reason to order unstitched version is that the items may arrive faster. If the shop have to stitch them up for you, not only do you have to factor in stitching time, at busy time of the year there may also be a queue. The seller will of course try to keep you sweet pre-sale, but after your order has been placed, you might have to chase them for status updates if your items is in the queue to be made up.

Having said that, not all designs lend themselves to this option. Sometimes the embellishment is very specific to the shape, size & fit of the garment. The pattern pieces need to be determined before the embellishment can be customised to fit. These probably will be the more expensive designs, like a few hundreds pounds to over £1000. All three that I ordered were just over £100 each.

As for fabric quality, it can be hard to be sure you’re getting real natural fiber like silk. Sometimes the shops will label something as “Art”, short for “artificial” or “faux”. But in general there doesn’t seem to be a clear distinction between type of fabric vs type of fibre used in the fabric. This applies not just to online shops. When I checked out a few brick-n-mortars in London, they also didn’t know there are “silk georgette” vs “polyester georgette”. The ones that make a point of sourcing natural fibre will probably shout about it & reflect that in their site menu categories. But in general, I think it’s best to assume man-made fibre. Then you may be pleasantly surprised if it turns out to be natural fibre if that is important to you! I haven’t done burn tests on the one I got. So I’m assuming man-made, especially with all the affordable bling!

Haya Creations
Indian/Asian outfit online shop

www.hayacreations.com

lehenga_nakkashi-haya-1I fell in love with these two Nakkashi designs and found Haya Creations which seems to sell the originals. Some shops show you photos of the original designs, but don’t mention the designers. So there’s no way to tell if they are selling the originals or copies, and more importantly, if copies whether they’ll look anything like the originals. Haya Creations does mention the brand name & the brand style number. Thankfully what I received also has the brand’s packaging.

Ordering process:

  • Haya Creations doesn’t seem to offer stitching service, which of course is fine by me.
  • I choose PayPal as payment option, but it isn’t entirely integrated into the checkout process. I received an email after placing the order with a link to PayPal to complete the payment. So don’t panic if this happen to you. Just wait for the email.
  • I ordered on a Friday (London time) & package was sent the following Tuesday. I would have received the package on the Thursday, but there was miscommunication about the delivery address. Haya called me long-distance (via WhatsAapp) the following Monday & gave me the tracking number & contact number for the courier (UK Mail). The package was delivered the following day. All in all it took just over a week from India to UK.
  • I was also expecting to have to pay import taxes, but I wasn’t charged any for my total purchase of just over £200.

Nakkashi Indian/Asian outfit designer & manufacturer

Now the Nakkashi designs themselves…I originally wanted to buy directly from Nakkashi’s online shop. But their PayPal payment option wasn’t set up properly. So I couldn’t complete the purchase on their eshop.

I think both lehengas may be relatively “mass-produced” rather than made to order or made as an one-off as some Indian/Asian outfits can be. Maybe that’s why both came with all three elements – blouse material, skirt, shawl – stitched / tacked together (see photos below). Perhaps this ensures each package has all the bits that its suppose to have. It is a bit of a hassle though to have to unpick these temporary seams before I can start sewing. I’d much rather the bits come as a loose kit – like bra kits do. But the designs are fabulous. For me to have to source all the bits & do the embellishment myself would be just as much hassle if not more.

In terms of quality, I’m assuming these are man-made fibers. Thankfully most of the fabrics don’t feel very plasticky. And while the skirt & shawl stitchings are not perfect, they don’t affect how the outfits look. So I’d say the marketing photos are fairly accurate. And given the affordable price I think they’re good value for money.

Nakkashi Royal Prestige 5033
unstitched choli blouse + part-stitched lehenga skirt + finished dupatta shawl

The colour for this one turned out darker than in the photos, a brownish flesh tone rather than antique gold. But it’s still nice. The only complaint I have is that the panel skirt doesn’t have an extra lining to protect the sequin stitching, so one might snag on the sequin threads. The skirt has a layer of soft netting on top of the sequined chiffon fabric. So I’m assuming the top is meant to have the same order of layering. The shaped trims for the front & back neckline is basted to the soft netting, and the straight trims for the hems also basted to the edges of the blouse fabric. The marketing photo doesn’t show the back, but the top has a deep U back that’s not too open. So this one should be OK to wear with normal bras. The shawl is shimmery chiffon. The floral trims on the skirt & shawl are velvet with metallic embroidery. The stitching on this one is OK.

Nakkashi Royal Prestige 5036
unstitched choli blouse + part-stitched lehenga skirt + finished dupatta shawl

The colour on this one is spot on. The panel skirt embellishment is on the top layer soft netting. So the threads in the back is protected by the orange lining / underlay. The shawl is chiffon with sewn on sequins. Both again have velvet trims with floral metallic embroidery. The stitching on this one is slightly twisted in places, but isn’t bad enough to show up in photos. So only perfectionist need to have these fixed! The blouse is dupion with sequin & metallic thread embroidery. Again, the marketing photos didn’t show the back. I scratched my head a bit when I first saw the shape of the embroidery, trying to figure out how it’s suppose to look. I think it’s meant to have a triangular cutout with neckline & below bust centre back closure. The cutout looks fairly large. So it’ll be hard to find a bra to wear with this if one needs proper bust support. Even the normal low-back bra extender won’t help as the top is cropped, so the extender looping at waist level will peep out.

Samyakk
Indian/Asian outfit shop

www.samyakk.com

lehenga_gajiwala-samyakk-1

I fell in love with a Gajiwara design and found Samyakk which sells something similar. Again, unlike other shops which show you designer photos then sell you a copy that may or may not look like the original, Samyakk shows you exactly what you’ll be getting. But you do have to look through all the photos on the product detail page, because sometimes the blouse fabric is not the same as the generic one shown on the mannequin. Where it’s different they do include a photo of the actual blouse fabric. But because the image menu only shows 3 thumbnails at a time, you have to use the arrow links to browse through all the product photos.

Ordering process:

  • Samyakk does offer blouse stitching service, but of course I didn’t opt for this, so can’t really comment on how this work or quality of this service.
  • I choose PayPal as payment option & this went through during check-out as expected.
  • I ordered on a Friday (London time) & package arrived the following Tuesday via DHL. All in all it took less than a week from India to UK. If you requested stitching service it’ll take longer. Presumably how long will depend on how busy it gets – there may be a queue in addition to time required for stitching. So plan ahead!
  • I was again expecting to have to pay import taxes, but I wasn’t charged any for my total purchase of just over £100.

Samyakk GC755
unstitched choli blouse + part-stitched lehenga skirt + finished dupatta shawl

This is similar to Gajiwara GS7384 lehenga choli (the first photo above), but with blouse fabric that’s the same as the skirt rather than a different but coordinating design. Also the Samyakk skirt is a panel skirt that’s fitted through the hip, whereas the Gajiwara skirt looks like it may be variations of the circle skirt, or at least panels that flares out higher up. I had wanted to get the Gajiwara version, but I couldn’t find a shop that can confirm they sell the original. And when I asked Gajiwara on Facebook, their response came too late – after I’ve already placed an order with Samyakk. Also they wanted me to call them long-distance & I felt uncomfortable with that, especially since I’m not sure if they would speak fluent English.

So the Samyakk version…This seems to be an one-off design. It’s no longer available on their eshop. The 3 elements are not stitched / tacked to each other. The stitching is better than the Nakkashi ones. But there are still stray threads, which is understandable on these easily snagged embroidered fabrics. Again I’m assuming man-made fibres. The blouse material is just a piece of metallic embroidered net + two-sided metallic fabric + metallic ribbon trim. The shawl is soft net with glued rhinestones with metallic ribbon & leave pattern trims. Now the skirt, this one is more elaborate than the Nakkashi skirts. At the hem it actually has 4 layers – metallic embroidered net + two-sided metallic fabric + stiff netting + lining. The netting is stitched to the lining which also has wide stiff fused interfacing. The whole thing is quite bulky & heavy! No wonder this outfit came in a big box and a clear zipper storage bag. The skirt also has the metallic ribbon & leave pattern trims. The hem on this & the shawl also have mini metallic ball edgings…which I’ve already stepped on & broke a few! I guess they must be gold painted plastic. Oops. The skirt comes with a waist tie in a lovely loosely knitted metallic cord with gold coloured (possibly plastic) latkan tassles.

The verdicts

I love all three garments / fabrics, despite the possibly man-made fibre content & less than perfect stitching. They’re lovely designs. I did try sourcing material from scratch. But it was so much effort, time, cost, & I couldn’t even find anything that looked similar never mind better quality fabric.

None of them when you break them down into their component fabrics & trims are too fancy to repurpose for less-than-special wear. So for a bit over £300, I’ll definitely get more value out of these than from a white poofy number. And they all feel more special than just a “nice dress” for such a special occasion!

In fact, I’m already tempted to buy more… 😈

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The Not So Impressive Stash

Well this is a bit embarrassing. After all the hoopla about my fabric acquisitions it turns out I have very little of interest to show.

Don’t get me wrong. I have been naughty. Quantity-wise anyway. The load came in at 63+ yards, not 43+ yards as I claimed earlier. But it seems like I’ve been way too good in sticking to my boring shopping list. The bulk of my purchases are dull Dull DULL to show & tell.

So here’s a group shot to spare you too much excruciating details!

2014-10-nyc-fabrics

From left to right:

  • Sweater pile: Sweater & rib knits from NY Elegant and B&J.
  • Cardigan pile: 5 sets of sweater + rib knits for cardigans from NY Elegant and Mood.
  • Foundation pile: I thought I might tackle foundation wear this coming year. So I got some Powernet & Milliskin from Spandex World, plus foam fused poly lining from B&J which I hope is like the stuff they use for bra pads.
  • SWAP pile: Mostly important but boring supporting casts from B&J, Mood, and NY Elegant for upcoming projects, such as…
  • Just 4 Fun pile: Tame by many of your standards, but as exciting as life gets around here. Mostly from cheap & wacky Spandex World, but a couple from B&J and Mood.
  • Ooh Charmeuse pile: Just because it’s so hard to find Charmeuse in London I got a few more from Mood.

As you can see I got mine from only four stores. It was just too overwhelming otherwise. Especially when I’m shopping with a list and luggage limit. If I were living locally I’d probably shop more from the smaller stores and go with an open mind. But with a list, I find huge stores that have good organizations easier. I can see at a glance whether they have the type of fabric I need in the color I need. It does mean paying more. But my sanity is worth it!

Of the four I go to, I’d say NY Elegant is the most expensive, then B&J, then Mood, and Spandex World is pretty affordable though obviously specialized. NY Elegant & Mood seem to have a better selection of sweater knits. I do like NY Elegant’s system of swatches already attached to many fabric rolls. B&J has lots of fabrics on big sample cards so that it’s easier to browse, see the fiber content, and ask for samples. Some of the Mood fabrics are marked with famous designer names. But as they’re pretty basic looking fabric it seems a bit pointless to name-check. I’d save it for the more unique fabric designs. I mean who cares if your bog standard looking charmeuse is a Ralph Laren, right? 😉

There were also a bunch of notions. But I’ve already filed them away & can’t recall where they all are now. So just a couple of highlights here:

notions-1
Pacific Trimmings have these cool mix-n-match buttons where you pick a base and the accent to go in the center. There’s quite a variety of base and accents to choose from, and the base come in different sizes. How cool is that!

notions-2

I also got a couple of kits for fabric covered buckles from Daytona Trimmings (as well as more of that lovely bobbin lace I got last time). I’ve been looking for these for ages. They are so hard to come by these days. Granted the selection isn’t great – only two sizes, both big. But better than nothing.

I bought a fair few more buttons, including these gold ones from M&J Trimming (where I also got petersham ribbons in a few different colors). And big coat snaps, including gold ones from Pacific Trimmings. The black snap fasteners and the gold button with anchor motif in the striped jersey photo above are also from Pacific Trimming. So too are the bag D-rings, bag feet, and magnetic snaps. And RiRi zippers. And lingerie elastics. And eye & hook tapes. Boy, did they get my business this time or what!

But majority of my zippers are YKK that came from SIL Threads. I also got an Italian Lampo zipper from Botani Trimmings on recommendation from Clios. They’re suppose to be really high quality & expensive (she says Chanel use only Lampo). The ready-made metallic teeth one I got wasn’t too bad price-wise. And the zipper action IS super smooth – essential for a tote! I also got a custom reversible zipper in the smallest size available (#3) from Botani. Now that was expensive. The reversible skirt it’s destined for better be a success!

And that was it. Apart from these four pairs of shoes from Macy’s. I did leave four old pairs behind after all. So surely MR can’t complaint about my shoes stash, right?

shoes

Clockwise from top left: Michael Kors boots, Circa Joan & David pump, Circa Joan & David sling back, Alfani ballet flat

 

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