it’s all about conserving fabric!

12-14-lydia-for-blog-lg

12-9-109-lydia-lg-size-lg

I used to patiently wait for my mother to scrap a fabric so that I could turn it into a new doll dress! As she flipped & turned each pattern piece on the recommended layout, my doll dress prospects became dismal as I began to see that her skills in making the most of her “one pattern fabric”, just gave her enough to make my sister a matching outfit.

Come along as we show you a step-by-step layout of the cute pattern,”Lydia”, by Bonnie Blue Designs and a way that will save you a scrap or two for your next project!
This is the second time I have made this top, and since the finished top seemed just a little on the short side to me the first go-round, I added 2” to length of the top shown in the pattern. (This was just a guess on the additional length – no mathematical formula.)
The photo below shows a layout if the pattern front and back are placed on the fold of the fabric.  If cut as shown on this picture, there would be 2 narrow unusable strips of fabric along the selvage edge.
Pictured is the Lydia top placed on 45” pretty floral lawn fabric:
121216-lydia-top-3

 

INSTEAD – TRY THIS

If the fabric is “refolded” and the pattern pieces cut on the “new” fold – using just the amount of fabric needed, it creates a wider strip of fabric that may be used for a future project!  In this case, the width of the remaining fabric is approximately 17″!

Pictured is the 45” fabric – refolded –leaving a wide strip along one selvage edge:121216-lydia-top-1

 

Lining Fabric: Cut from 1 Width of Fabric!

Lining used for the Lydia top is 60” wide, so the fabric can be “refolded” with the selvage edges to the center creating folds along both sides. This allows the front and back Lydia top pattern pieces to be cut on one width of fabric!  (It’s all about conserving fabric!)121216-lydia-top-2

The little denim shorts needed a floral ruffle to make them “girly” – and my first “guess” at ruffle width was to cut 3 1/2″strips to fold in half lengthwise & gather.  I could tell right away that the ruffles would look sweeter in a more narrow finished width, so I ran another stitch and cut them to a finished length of about 1″.  In order to compensate for the additional length of adding a shorts ruffle, I removed the hem allowance plus another 1″ before adding the floral ruffle.

I would like to add a note here that the layouts included in the pattern instructions make the best use of the fabric.  The “Lydia” pattern was used in order to discuss layouts in general.

Find the kit for this cute outfit here:  Find kit here

“Lydia” by Bonnie Blue Designs 
12-9-109-lydia-lg-size-lg

 

From Our Stash to Yours!

remnants2

Welcome to “Sally’s Corner”

YIKES!!  It’s an avalanche!

25 years of piling fabric remnants creates a FABRIC MOUNTAIN that “could” be dangerous!  Always thinking that if the end of a bolt of fabric was safely stored in some organized manner that would be useful in planning projects, filling orders,  and creating kits –  the mountain of fabric remnants quickly became a “mountain range”.

remnants1

The “special” remnants (Liberty of London, Swiss voile, etc.) are often found hidden in “Sally’s Corner” – but when the paths become too narrow, and the employees are threatening to call “Hoarders”, she grabs her heart & cries, “Mutiny!”….

The only workable solution – “Share the Love”!!

“Let It Go”, the song from the movie, “Frozen”, has taken on a whole new meaning at Farmhouse Fabrics.

remnants-3

Our remnant bins!

Fabric, trims, and even our gorgeous laces are being passed along at a 30% discount!  Whether you need a short piece of pique to use for a collar, an embroidered Swiss batiste for a baby dress, a Christmas fabric for decorations, or fine laces for an heirloom project, you might just find it in any of the following specific remnant categories: ginghams, Swiss and heirloom fabricsholiday fabrics, and our general remnants section.

101514-doll-4-lg

A doll outfit like this could easily be made using our remnants!

 

Visit the trims remnant category to find gorgeous embroidered ribbons, embellished French trims, and much more! The same goes for lace. You can find lovely lace pieces in the lace remnant category-anything from Maline to Cluny. These short pieces are ideal for a neckline or for around sleeves-instances where you don’t necessarily need to buy a whole yard (although, often, there are pieces with yardage). And again, these trims and laces are always discounted 30% !

To each of you who have purchased a portion of our “Farmhouse Fabrics’ Remnant Mountain Range”, we thank you!

This is How We Kit

collage

At Farmhouse we have always loved putting together kits. These kits are made up of different fabrics, trims, buttons, and more that we have personally coordinated. We get inspired to make these kits by a wide variety of situations: Maybe we see a beautiful garment in a magazine that appeals to us, or maybe we see a stunning new fabric that we feel needs to be made into something beautiful! Whatever the reason, we really enjoy putting together these kits, and we find it makes it easier for our customers to find coordinating items when they are already bundled together. Shopping for fabrics and trims from a computer screen isn’t always the easiest thing to do! Being sewists ourselves, we understand this, and we strive to make it easier for our customers and friends to make their stunning creations!

We often will make original kits-completely inspired by our own ideas and combos. We can be receiving a new shipment of fabric from New York and a certain bolt of fabric just “speaks” to us. We think about what kind of garment the particular fabric seams to be suited toward, and then it’s only a matter of finding matching trims (and if you’ve been to our warehouse you know there are LOTS of options)!

This dress by our friend Regena K! Click here!

Other times, we will make kits inspired by a popular “look” or outfit. In one particular kit we have been inspired by the adorable, classic style of little Princess Charlotte! We were able to find a floral lawn very similar to one of the Princess’s dresses and we found a pattern that was practically identical! All that remained were buttons and embroidery floss and there we had our kit!

Photo on the left by HRH the Duchess of Cambridge. Find the kit on the right here!

A current “source of inspiration” can be seen in one of our recent coat kits.  Gail Doane’s stunning wool coat, seen below, in the recent “Classic Sewing” magazine- the holiday edition is a beauty that we wanted to recreate. Not only did we adore Gail’s jacket, we had just received the ideal off white Italian wool!  This wool was used by Rothschild S. & Co. Inc., and came from an Italian mill which specializes in woolens of excellence and produces fabrics for names like Burberry, Armani, Versace, Louis Vuitton, and much more! So once we had our fabric for the kit, it was just a matter of finding trims and notions and bundling it all together (the jacket pattern is included with the purchase of the magazine!).

102016-gail-kit-large

Find this kit here!

Other kits we really enjoy making are our doll kits. We have a blast creating little assortments/kits for dolls. We use remnants of our finest silks and satins combined with bits of fancy lace, metallic braid, and glass beads. And then when we’ve found all our kit components, we like to give these kits a unique name. The name usually encapsulates what kind of doll outfit we can imagine being made out of the chosen selections. Some popular doll kits have been our “Pocahontas“, “Versailles Sunset“, and “Tarzan Meet Jane“. You can kind of picture from those names what the kits look like (click on the names or look below to see the actual kits…were they just like you imagined?) There can be a lot of laughter when we call out names for doll kits!!

All of our kits-from the inspired to the totally original-are made with love. We personally walk around the shop, comparing various trims and fabrics until we find the ideal selections. We look at a kit and we see our own little ones dressed in this creation and we don’t stop refining our selection until we think the kit is absolutely perfect. We get so excited when our customers take our dreams and make them into garments!

So, please send us photos of the garments YOU have made!!  We would enjoy seeing your creation for little people and dolls – and will share them in a future blog post or on our Facebook page, with your permission.

Terrific Trims

 

terrific-trims-headerAt Farmhouse, we love trims! As you’ll notice when you meander through our shop, almost half the shelves are filled with custom-made trims in just about every color and pattern imaginable. As sewists, we completely understand how the perfect trim can be the finishing touch that will make or break an outfit. We love finding interesting fabrics and visualizing miles of spaghetti bias tubing, piping, or picot-edged ruffles!  Or, if we really love the fabric, we make it in MANY different kinds of trims, giving us wonderful coordinating sets! (We have been known to name the full trim set, “Spaghetti and ALL the Trimmings”.) Let’s talk about some great uses we have seen for our special trims.

Here’s a set! Japanese lawn fabric made into double box pleated trim and double-fold bias with a picot edge!

Bias: Have you ever been buying fabric for a garment and been wondering why you need so much of it? Well, if the pattern requires you to make your own bias, then you have your answer. It can take a lot of fabric to get good, continuous cuts of bias, and that’s why we decided to have pre-made bias strips cut and pieced together out of some of our most popular basic fabrics: from Fabric Finders & Spechler-Vogel gingham to silk dupioni to fusible interfacing! We know how much time (and extra fabric!) that saves us in our projects.

Double-Fold Bias with Picot Trim: This trim adds a very sweet and delicate finish to any project. We love Blakely’s use of our taffy gingham version of this trim in the little sundress she made!

8-2-yo-yo-dress-lg

Find this dress here!

It can also be used in lots of decorative elements, such as the flower seen below (find that outfit here). One of the great things about making trims out of existing fabrics is that we have those very fabrics available in the store! It makes matching a LOT easier.

 

Piping: This trim seems to be one of the most popular sellers! Piping is a simple way to add class and elegance to an outfit. We sell it in countless fabrics: solid broadcloth, Fabric Finders and Spechler Vogel gingham, solid pique, silk charmeuse, velvet-you name it! Again, we found that choosing pre-made piping from such a wide selection was a much simpler and cost-effective way of sewing than buying the fabric, cording, and other tools to make our own piping. We are never ashamed of a few shortcuts!

Pleated Fabric and Fabric Ruffles: There is no better way to add some flounce and flair to a skirt or dress than to sew on a few ruffles! Many of our favorite floral, gingham, and striped fabrics are made into special ruffled trims. One style is double-box pleated trim (as seen around the collar of the green dress below). This kind of trim is also perfect as decoration for the front of a dress or blouse and can be adorable as an embellishment for the edge of a baby blanket or bib!

ella-green-dress

There are also different kinds of pleated trims such as the knife-pleated ruffle. We used a versatile Christmas print fabric to create a snazzy bias knife-pleated ruffle that was the perfect touch around the hem of this sweet Christmas dress!

7-13-present-dress-lg

Find this dress here!

Fabric ruffles (gathered) are also a favorite of ours. We like to have some of them made with a delicate picot edge which may be in a contrasting color or tone-on-tone. Again, perfect for the edge of a skirt as in the green floral dress below! Or, if you want to get even more creative, you can use it down the front of a dress like we used it in this sweet watercolor shift dress!

2-5-daisy-avery-marie-lg

61114-andie-dress-lg

 

The “Coordination Station”:  Purchasing fabrics and coordinating trims on-line can be a daunting process.  It can be wild for us, too, even with the trims at our fingertips, so “The Coordination Station” was born!!  This is a helpful tool for in-store shoppers, too!

When creating a “model garment”, we head immediately to the “Coordination Station” to find coordinating trims!

If you call us with “matching” questions, a little fly on the wall would find us searching through the “Coordination Station”!!

Have fun with your creations using a variety of quality trims custom made to match quality fabrics!!  We love helping our customers match or coordinate trims with fabric purchases. A cute piece of fabric doesn’t stay safe around here for very long if we fold it on the bias and think it looks “pretty cute” as a trim!!  LOOK OUT – here comes the bias cutting knife!

81115-shop-1

 

 

 

Organdy or Organza?

organdy-or-organza-blog

At Farmhouse Fabrics, we have so many different kinds of beautiful fabrics. If you walk through our doors you can see dozens of model garments made with these exquisite fabrics and trims. However, because there are so many different kinds of fabrics, it can be difficult to tell the difference between two fabrics sometimes. Two very similar fabrics are organdy and organza-even the names are confusingly similar!

organdy-organza

Find the organdy on the left here and the organza on the right here.

Let’s begin with Organdy. Organdy is a crisp, sheer fabric that is 100% cotton. The kind we carry at Farmhouse is mostly Swiss organdy which means that it is an extremely high quality weave made in Switzerland (that part is probably obvious…) It is made with tightly twisted yarns in an open, plain weave-which results in a light, fine, sheer fabric. Because this fabric is 100% cotton and a very fine weave, it can sometimes wrinkle easily. Some organdies have a finish applied to them to prevent the natural wrinkle. The appeal of organdy is that it is delightfully crisp and light. It has an exquisite, delicate hand that is perfect for heirloom sewing. It is often used for First Communion outfits. Some of our favorite embroidered fabrics are Swiss organdy!

1-31-dress-lg

Find this dress here!

Because organdy is 100% cotton, it does not need to be dry cleaned! It should be hand washed or washed very carefully due to the fine-ness of the weave and the delicacy of the fabric as a whole. It is best to hang dry this fabric and iron while still damp.

4-22-16-princess1-lg

Find this dress here!

Next we have organza. The main difference between these two fabrics is the fiber content. The weave of both organdy and organza is an open “plain weave“so the production of the fabric is the same. The difference is in the fibers: organdy is made of combed fibers whereas organza is made with filament yarns (twisted fibers). Organza is another light, sheer fabric with a crisp finish but rather than cotton it is made out of silk, polyester, or a combination of the two. With its lovely sheen and smooth texture, organza is often used in bridal and formal wear. Its crisp hand is perfect for adding fullness or structure to gorgeous ball gowns or ethereal flower girl dresses. We love how this fabric looks so delicate yet is really quite durable. It’s fine enough to use as a trim on a doll dress but it can also be used in a Pressing Partner (pre-cut pieces of silk organza “partnered” with pre-washed and dried wool) for ironing purposes. (For those of you who are wondering what that means: silk organza is perfect to use as a pressing cloth because of its sheer quality, and it has a high melting point-being silk-and can therefore be heated to 300 degrees while ironing. The transparency of the fabric allows you to see through it so you can place the iron wherever you need to. The fine weave of the fabric also eliminates texture transfer to the fabric you are pressing.  The wool would be used on the ironing board to help absorb moisture.)

Our friend Gail used some of our bridal organza to make an adorable princess dress for her granddaughter (see the picture above)! We love how she played up the sheer quality of the organza by lining the dress with pink batiste. When Gail came into our shop and said she wanted fabric for a “princess dress” for her granddaughter’s upcoming trip to Disney World, our minds immediately went to organza. It has that “princess” quality! We had several very unique cuts of bridal fabric at the time, and we all had a great time helping Gail coordinate this darling dress!

Caring for silk organza is fairly straight forward. It can be machine washed and then hung dry. You will get the best results if you iron it when it is still slightly damp. Again, although you wouldn’t think so when you look at it, silk organza is incredibly durable.

101514-doll-2-lg

Find our pleated organza trim here!

So those are a few differences between organdy and organza. Both fabrics are smooth, delicate, and delightfully crisp and both are beautifully suited for many different projects.

Christmas Ad Outtakes-What Really Happened

christmas-shoot-header

 

 

We love looking at our advertisement in the new Christmas edition of “Classic Sewing”. The pictures from that photo shoot are so sweet! Of course, we know the real story of what happened to get those pictures…

It all began with the deadline for submitting our ad creeping up on us. It seemed so far off at first but then before we knew it, we had only 14 days left in which to: come up with coordinating outfits, actually make the outfits for five little girls, book a photo shoot, find a place to take the pictures, and submit the ad! We all kicked into high gear. We had a vague idea of what colors we were going to use for the outfits, but at the last minute we changed a few things up (isn’t that always how it goes!).

8-9-workroom-1

Our classroom became our creative hub.  A space that is meant for 15 ladies to sew was filled by just us! Fabric was strewn over tables, dress forms were fully occupied, and the littles were getting used to being bribed with candy to try on the outfits.

Ya’ll understand a messy sewing room, right?

While some of us were busy in the sewing room, others were running around town looking for a place to take the pictures. When we first planned the photo shoot, we had chosen a local museum as the location, and in our heads it was going to be perfect! Thankfully, just to be sure it was going to work, two of our girls visited it a week before the shoot. They walked in the door and looked at each other-it was not going to work. The place was beautiful, but suddenly they realized the implications of bringing several children into a museum. We needed a new location! That day we ran around beautiful Aiken looking for a place that would look “Christmassy” in August and that wouldn’t melt our little girls dressed in wool! We visited a train museum (but it was outdoors!), a lovely garden (too much green for Christmas…also, outdoors again!), and a local historical plantation (unavailable at such short notice). We were almost out of ideas when Miss Sally suggested a quaint little church down the road from our shop. At this point we were desperate for a space, so we rushed over to take a look. One of our friends who attends the church met us there to unlock it. To our disappointment, it still wasn’t going to work. We explained our dilemma to Miss Gloria. She nodded sympathetically and then suggested, “why don’t you use my house?”

Miss Gloria’s house is very special. She lives in a home built in the 1800s which used to belong to the plantation we visited. We walked in the door and right away we knew it was perfect. High ceilings and large windows were going to be perfect for picture taking, and the classic finishes perfectly suited the look of the garments! So just a few days before our photo shoot we had found our location!

christmas-shoot-blog5

christmas-shoot-blog2

Helping each other with their shoes!

We flew through our sewing-we always says we can go faster when we love what we are making-and the day of the shoot arrived! We had arranged to meet the photographer at Miss Gloria’s house and begin the picture-taking at 8 AM. So all the grand-kids and their mamas arrived at the house on time and we were ready to go! The girls all put their outfits on and we did final touches on hair. And then, just when we thought we were finally ready we encountered a hiccup and our photo shoot needed to be postponed for about an hour! Oh no…we had five little girls all looking perfect and ready for pictures and we had to entertain them for an hour. We decided to get a few pictures of our own while they were still feeling it.

christmas-shoot-1

All smiles at the beginning!

christmas-shoot-2

Still smiling!

christmas-shoot-5

Uh-oh…not as smiley!

christmas-shoot-3

Someone is done with the pictures! 

So we took as many as we could on our own and entertained the kiddos with singing and games until our photographer arrived. Then the real photo shoot began.

christmas-blog-1

 

Every time we do one of these photo shoots for an advertisement we tell ourselves we will be more organized next time! Thankfully we work well under pressure and we are always happy with how everything turns out. If you look at our ad in the Christmas edition of Classic Sewing you would never think that only two weeks earlier those dresses didn’t exist and we didn’t have a place to take the pictures! Maybe disorganization is part of the charm.

 

christmas-blog-6

Take a look at the video below for more pictures from our photo shoot!

Thank you Marianna Landers-our amazing photographer!

 

 

 

Venise Beauty

venise-lace-header

Find this stunning bronze Venise lace here!

All of our Farmhouse friends know that one of our favorite things is lace. We love the many different kinds, the vintage weaves, and the many different uses. But most of all we love the stories behind the lace. Throughout time people have enjoyed beautiful things and have wanted to make themselves beautiful-and so the art of garment creation has existed literally for ages. It would be really interesting to know when the art of lace making originated, but probably that’s unknown. However, what we can learn is how different types of lace came to be: where they originated, how they spread, and how they are used today!

venise-1

Find this stunning lace here!

Because there are so many different kinds of lace there are also many different origins. We have already written about Maline lace (also called “Mechlin” lace-named after a town in Belgium where it was manufactured). Maline is known to be the most delicate of all the laces. The gossamer net base with its delicate designs makes that lace perfect for sweet baby clothes and other delicate garments. Today we are moving to the other end of the lace spectrum and we are talking about Venise lace: the heaviest and most luxurious lace of them all.

portrait_of_a_member_of_the_chigi_family

You can see in this portrait that the young many is wearing an elaborate Venise lace collar! Jacob Voet Ferdinand [public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

As you may guess from the name, Venise lace originated in Venice, Italy. Throughout the periods of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, Venice was the capital of fashion in Europe. Not only were they the major producers/importers of luxury textiles such as silk, satin, and lace, but they were also the trend-setters. They dictated the fashionable use of those textiles-from garment design to specific embellishment. Wherever Venice led, the rest of Europe followed. So when Catherine de Medici moved to France, she set the new fashion of heavy “Venise lace” embellishment. The Venetians had introduced Europe to needle lace. Some people get confused about the spelling of Venise lace…if it is named after Venice, Italy then why is it not spelled the same? Well after the lace moved throughout Europe it became known by its French name: “Point de Venise”. Today we shorten that to simply “Venise”-that’s what gives it that French pronunciation (phonetic spelling of the word would be ‘Venees’ rather than ‘Venis’)

 

The “needle lace” classification that Venise lace belongs to tells us something about how it is made. Whereas pillow laces such as Maline lace are created by arranging and pinning thread on a pillow (again, the giveaway is in the name), needle laces are made using a different method. The oldest and purest forms of making needle lace involve only a needle, thread and scissors. However, in the 16th century the Venetians slightly altered the technique. Their new method involved loosely stitching guide threads in a design on heavy cloth or parchment. The guide threads then would be encapsulated with embroidery stitches, and then when the entire piece was finished the “backing” would be removed. Impressive, complicated patterns were formed by simply using a buttonhole or blanket stitch to follow the stitched design. (There is an good post about the process of making needle point lace on howdidyoumakethis.com and it has lots of pictures!)

We can see examples of the work of the Venetians in many antique portraits. A common fashion among courtiers and the wealthy was heavy Venise lace collars or cuffs. Venise lace was also very popular as embellishment for high-ranking clergy.

So how is Venise lace used today? You might think that Venise lace would have disappeared with the extravagant court fashions of the Renaissance. Actually, Venise lace is now very popular in the bridal industry. Especially since the royal wedding of Prince William and Princess Kate, lace-embellished wedding gowns are all the rage. What better occasion for luxury and rich embellishment than a wedding?! Because it is so obvious as a trim, Venise lace is also often used in costuming. So you may wonder why Farmhouse Fabrics carries it…don’t we specialize in supplies for children’s clothing? Well, the wonderful thing about Venise lace is that it now comes in all shapes and sizes. If you’re using the widest kinds, it makes such an incredible statement and you don’t need very much of it. A Venise lace around the hem of a skirt or dress can “fancify” the entire outfit. Or, if you’re feeling really fancy, you can make an entire skirt out of Venise lace…it actually looks extremely sweet and elegant; Miss Sally has made several for her grandkids! (Find the one on the left here and the one on the right here)

Today, you can see how our modern taste has had a bit of an influence on this historical lace. Venise lace can now be produced in many different colors and widths-from little 1/2 inch wide pink flower chains to 5 inch wide ivory rose borders. We don’t let the Venetians have all the fun 🙂

Using Our Imaginations

 

Sewing is a form of art. No one can deny that! There are many artistic choices involved when you create a garment-from beginning to end! Others may think that the art is over after you choose your pattern and your fabric, but we sewists know better! We make choices throughout the creation of our garments, and therefore the end result is always our own unique creation.

Every detail you come up with during sewing will change the look of your end product. The buttons matter. The lace matters. The fabric definitely matters. And if you are feeling adventurous, you can add your own “twist” to your pattern!

8-16-16-flamingo2-lg

Four ruffles instead of three-simple change! Find this outfit here!

How many of you have had this happen before: you envision a garment. Maybe it has a full skirt and a v-back with a placket and two buttons. Maybe the skirt is pleasantly full and perfect for spinning. And so your pattern search begins! You look through your own supply and then you visit a few sewing shops to see if they might have what you are picturing, but no one has exactly what you want. They might have a v-back dress, but the skirt doesn’t suit you! Or maybe the neckline is perfect but you wish the pattern was a little different at the back. This situation must happen to everyone, and what is the solution? We alter the pattern.

Some people may be a bit daunted when they hear those words, but if you can find a pattern that is close to your needs then changing a neckline here and a sleeve there is really not a huge endeavor. Let’s take a look at a few projects some of our friends at Farmhouse have “made their own”.

Miss Sally created this shirt using a Wink and a Nod’s pattern “Cissy”. Now, as you might know, this pattern is actually for a dress, and the dress has a slight v-neck in front. So what did Sally alter in order to get this new look? She changed it up by cutting a straight neckline front (and of course, remembering to cut the front lining piece the same way-those details can trip you up if you’re not careful!). The version Miss Sally made is a size 4, and she measured up 6″ from the cutting line for the hem of the dress. Ta-da! A fun, flared shirt!

 

Another simple way of changing up a garment is at work in this shirt version of the Bonnie Blue “Ayla Rose” pattern. Our friend Regena gave us the idea of removing the bottom layer of the dress to create a sweet top with a peplum look to it. We liked her work so much we made one of our own for our advertisement in the Fall edition of “Classic Sewing”!

c-img_0366

 

So those are examples of changes that involve taking something away. What about if you add something to the pattern?

You would never think that something as simple as a sash can change the look of a project, but it’s true! Take a look at Miss Sally’s version of a Wink and a Nod’s “Janie-Belle Jumper”! You can see in the photo on the left the unaltered version of the dress, and then on the right you can see the dress with a wide velvet ribbon added. Miss Sally also added belt loops to secure the sash, and the garment is revolutionized by that simple touch!

The dress in the photo at the beginning of this post is another one of Miss Sally’s alteration adventures. She took the Bonnie Blue “Laurel” pattern and changed up the back! She cut a lower back and added a fun bow as some extra detail, and then piped the whole neckline to tie the colors together!

6-25-laurel-lg

Bonnie Blue “Laurel”

One of the appeals of sewing is that you can truly make your own unique project. You can create something that is beautiful and special and unlike anything that has been seen before. All it takes is some imagination!

Maline Lace Secrets

 

12

Find this exquisite heirloom dress trimmed with Maline lace here!

If you ask anyone at Farmhouse Fabrics what Miss Sally’s favorite type of lace is, we would all know the answer immediately: Maline lace. In fact, we all happen to share her opinion. As far as lace goes, no other kind can match the delicate designs or dainty patterns. It’s not only the look of Maline that we love, but it is also the history and the facts behind this special trim. When you know interesting facts about an item, it seems to become more precious, don’t you think?

r2z

Maline lace is a French lace but it originated in Mechlin, Belgium. It is sometimes referred to as “Mechlin lace”. It is categorized as a pillow lace because historically it was hand-made on a pillow using bobbins. Each thread used to weave the lace would be attached to a wooden bobbin and the lace would be woven by crossing the bobbins in a pattern and pinning the threads on the pillow. The thread to make the background part of the lace (known as the “groundwork”) would be done in a finer thread than that which was used to weave the design on the lace. You can see how this would be an incredibly time-consuming process! One of the distinguishing features of Maline lace is that the designs are woven at the same time as the groundwork. Other laces such as Alencon lace would be made by first weaving the groundwork and then separately creating lace motifs which are later sewn onto the background piece.

 

maline-lace1

Find this Maline lace here!

Laces are put into categories by “points” and the higher the number the more special your lace is. Maline lace is a 15 point lace, the less expensive (but still quite lovely) French laces are considered 12 point laces, and the lace you would find at a local craft store might not even make it on the point scale. Any time you lay an inferior lace beside a Maline lace you can immediately see the difference in quality and craftsmanship. Maline lace brings an elegant yet delicate quality to any garment.

maline-lace2

From top to bottom: a French lace, our finest lace that is NOT Maline, and a Maline lace. You can see the difference!

Maline lace has been recognized for its dainty beauty for hundreds of years. The story has it that in the late 1600s, Queen Anne of Great Britain enforced an embargo of lace made in France, but made an exception for Maline lace! It was worth it to this sovereign queen to break her ban on French laces just so she and her subjects could get their hands on some stunning Maline lace! Maline lace is also fairly well known. Just the other day I was reading a book by British author Agatha Christie and it briefly described a character’s blouse as being “trimmed with Mechlin lace”. I was pretty proud of myself for knowing exactly what that was 🙂

7-19-emma4-lg

Maline lace is ideal for heirloom sewing!

Today we still love the delicate look of Maline lace. It is the ideal trim for sweet christening gowns and delicate Easter outfits. One of the lace experts we speak with calls Maline lace the “Rolls Royce of laces”, which we find to be pretty apt! Even with all the advances we have made in technology since the 1600s, the process of making Maline lace is still very slow and painstaking. It is still woven using the very finest thread, but it is no longer done by hand. Maline lace is now made on machines, and while that sounds like it should be fast and easy, the fact is that there are only two machines in the WORLD that make Maline lace.

It is well known that when something is rare it is therefore precious. Well what about if it is rare, beautiful, and famous? That’s exactly what Maline lace is and we love it for all those reasons and a few more besides! Learning about the history and the manufacturing process of this beautiful lace just makes us more excited when we get to handle this delicate trim. As if we needed another reason to love our lace!

1

Find this dress here!

 

Velveteen Tips and Tricks

velveteen-header-copy

As a sewist, there is nothing more therapeutic than sewing with amazing fabric. A gorgeous crisp linen; a shimmery, drapey silk; or-getting into the fall spirit of things-luxurious velveteen. Velveteen is a fantastic fabric. However, as usual, with great fabric comes great responsibility. Here are a few tips to consider as you sew with and care for your cotton velveteen.

Velveteen is very similar to velvet because it is also a fabric with a pile. That fuzzy, brushed surface has the classic luxurious look of velvet. At Farmhouse, we love our cotton velveteen. Why cotton? Well that’s because cotton velveteen is pretty durable-as far as pile fabrics go. And when you’re sewing for little ones, you need a fabric you can put in the washing machine!

So let’s talk about the care of velveteen fabric from the start to the finish of a project. Just as you would do with all 100% cotton fabrics, you should pre-wash your cotton velveteen to avoid shrinkage. Like we said a few sentences ago, we do indeed machine wash our velveteen. Now, everything we have ever read about the care of velveteen recommended dry cleaning; so officially that’s what you should do. However, off the record, we would just like to admit that we put our cotton velveteen in the washing machine and it not only survives but it looks great too. If you plan to machine wash your completed project, pre-wash and dry your fabric in the same way. Now in terms of drying cotton velveteen you need to be careful. Never line dry or dry your velveteen by hanging it over a ledge of some sort. Any ridge or crease your velveteen has while it goes from wet to dry will be a permanent mark in the pile. So it is important to spread your fabric out to dry or hang your garment on a padded hanger. You can “fluff” your velveteen in the dryer until it is merely damp, and then lay it flat or hang on a padded hanger to finish drying.

 

Moving on to what would be the next step in your creation of a velveteen garment. When you prepare to cut your fabric you need to take into account that all your pattern pieces need to be running in the same direction. The pile of velveteen would cause any piece cut in a different direction to look like a different color when cut. That is why some patterns have a different yardage requirement for fabric with nap. Fabrics with nap are “one way” fabrics (no fancy fitting and placement of pattern pieces allowed!) and often require a little extra yardage. To find the proper direction of the velveteen, run your hand down the length of the fabric. The correct direction will feel silky soft but the wrong direction will not feel nearly as smooth. Of course, there are always exceptions. Some people choose to place their pattern pieces the on the “wrong” grain in order to achieve a certain color for their project. The important thing is to have them all going the same direction. Also, velveteen can easily show pin marks so it’s important to use fine, sharp pins during the cutting out and sewing process.

When you are ready to sew your velveteen into a gorgeous garment be sure that your machine needle is sharp and fine. The pressure on your presser foot should be relatively light so as not to crush the pile of the fabric. Because velveteen is a pile fabric, the cut edges are extra prone to shedding. You can finish your edges with serging, a zig-zag stitch, with a seam casing (Hong-Kong finish), or simply by lining the garment.

Find this dress here!

A very important aspect of velveteen is the method with which to press it. A regular method of ironing would absolutely crush the pile beyond repair and you would lose that gorgeous, luxurious effect. There are a few different techniques you can use for ironing (essentially they all have the same goal: keep the pile from being crushed). One option is to use a needle board-a thick, padded piece of canvas with hundreds of needle-esque wire sticking up. You would place the velveteen on these needles with the pile side down and would press the “wrong” side of the fabric-thus ensuring that the pile is not crushed. Another method would be to use a thick terrycloth towel in the same way as a needle board. When you are ironing seams it is helpful to use something called a “Strip Stick“. These handy sticks make sure that the edges of your seam allowances do not get pressed into the velvet and make a heinous crease line in the pile.

img_4942

Ironing using a strip stick

After you have finished your velveteen creation it is important to store it by hanging rather than folding. Again, any crease in the velveteen can become a permanent mark in the pile. So hang that Christmas dress on a hanger! You won’t regret it when you pull it out next year and all it needs is a light steam!

Velveteen is truly a stunning fabric. Sometimes the care involved in pile fabrics can scare people away from sewing with them, but when you look at velveteen creations you can be sure the result is well worth the little extra effort.

Find these two velveteens here and here