Christmas Ad Outtakes-What Really Happened

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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!).

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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!

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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.

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All smiles at the beginning!

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Still smiling!

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Uh-oh…not as smiley!

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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.

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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.

 

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

Thank you Marianna Landers-our amazing photographer!

 

 

 

Venise Beauty

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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”!

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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!

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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

 

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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?

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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.

 

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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.

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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 🙂

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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!

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Find this dress here!

 

Velveteen Tips and Tricks

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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.

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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

 

You Can’t Judge a Book By It’s Cover

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Everyone knows the expression “You can’t judge a book by it’s cover”, but did you know that this well known phrase has meaning in the sewing world too?  You can look at the outside of a garment and you can see that it is beautiful. It can be a baby day gown made out of the finest, most delicate nelona with hand embroidery and French lace at the collar and sleeves and it can take your breath away with the beauty of it. However, if you put your sweet little baby in that gorgeous daygown with no slip it changes the whole look of the garment! Of course, those chubby legs are absolutely precious, but what you really need for that daygown is a slip. What is inside a garment can be just as important as the outside.

Because each garment is unique, the necessary lining will vary. We will talk about three different ways of lining-beginning with the slip we mentioned earlier.

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Slips are created to prevent show through in clothing, which is why they are especially needed in heirloom clothing. The fabrics used for this type of sewing are so fine that they are quite sheer. Several different fabrics can be used for a slip-it really depends on the sewist’s preference. Most people decide on simple imperial batiste, but others prefer bearissima. Because the purpose of the slip is to prevent show through, people often choose white under white or light colors. If a shade the matches the outer dress can be found, then that can be used also. One fun idea that we’ve seen before is the use of a blue slip under a sheer Swiss voile. As you can see in the photo, the subtlety of the blue adds a new dimension to the dress.

While slips are a form of lining used to prevent show through, another use for a lining is to add warmth to a garment. We are coming up on cold weather and many of you are beginning to make fall and winter clothes. When you make a jacket or coat, you will most definitely line it. Of course, the level of the warmth of your lining will depend on the climate you live in (here in South Carolina we don’t need as thick of a coat as those of you further north!). Some of you can get away with a cotton or polyester lining, but for the colder places you might choose a kasha fabric or maybe even a wool or silk with some quilted layers. (Find the kit for the sweet pink coat below on our website here)

Yet another use for a lining is that of preventing chafing from seams or even just to add a more finished look to the inside of a garment. We can see that happen in many different outfits: for example in something like a jon-jon or the bodice of a dress. Fabrics for those usually depend on the fabrics used on the garment. Some people like to carry over the outer fabric into the inside so that it matches and doesn’t show at the armholes or neckline. Of course, another option is always white or colored imperial batiste.

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The dress has been partially lined-just the yoke.

No one appreciates a well made garment like a sewist. That’s because when we look at a dress, coat, or jon-jon we don’t only look at surface form, but we appreciate the function and the detail even on the inside.

Beautiful Velvet

FarmhouseFabrics Velvet Ribbon

Down in South Carolina our weather is far from cold. In fact, we are still feeling the high nineties and full humidity. But that doesn’t stop us from dreaming about fall! With all the littles heading back to school are thoughts are turning toward pumpkin spice, falling leaves, and-can you believe it-Christmas sewing! So now, heading into fall and winter, we are giving some thought to one of our favorite fancy fabrics for cool weather: velvet!

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One of the most distinguishable marks of velvet is it’s pile: its raised, brushed surface. The luxurious appearance of velvet as well as its elaborate production has always associated it with nobility and status. It was brought into European fashion by way of Venice, Italy around the 14th centurty. The Venetians imported this gorgeous textile from Cairo, Egypt-the world’s largest producer of velvet at the time. The Europeans began to view this fine fabric as a symbol of their power and status. Some wealthy families would specially commission velvet woven with the design of their crest or coat-of-arms. The story goes that King Richard II of England even directed in his will that he wished to be buried with his body clothed in velveto (in velvet).

 

Velvet_warpBut of course the nobility loved velvet. Its pile gives it stunning dimension and its drape is perfect. And every little girl who has had a velvet Christmas dress knows that it is the perfect fabric on which to draw shapes by smoothing the pile in different directions 🙂 So how is this wonderful fabric created? Velvet is woven in a very unique way-different from other fabrics. Velvet is woven sort of like a sandwich. The threads that are used to create the pile are woven joining the two layers until a point in the weaving process when the top and bottom layers are cut apart. This separates the joining threads and results in the lovely brush of pile. This method of weaving is called the “face method”.

Velvet can be woven using many different kinds of threads. Today the most common types of velvet are silk-rayon velvet and cotton velvet. Some other options are linen, wool, and of course synthetic fibers such as polyester. At Farmhouse Fabrics we like our silk-rayon velvet the best. The silk gives the fabric an even greater sheen! One of our dreams is to one day come across some velvet that is 100% silk. Pure silk velvet is now extremely rare and sells at hundreds of dollars per yard in the US market.

Like silk, velvet has held on to its status throughout time. In the 1300s it was a rare textile that was full of upper-class luxury and today we still view it as a “special occasion” fabric. It is truly perfect for dressing the little ones we love so much.

FarmhouseFabrics Velvet Roses

Silk Anthology

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For hundreds of years, silk has been considered the creme de la creme of fabric, and with good reason! No other textiles can compete with the shimmering beauty that silk has. As well as being a stunning fabric, it is also incredibly strong and breathable. In fact, silk is the strongest natural fiber known to mankind! Think of the range of uses for silk: delicate slips, wedding dresses, medical suture thread, parachutes, and even artificial arteries!

The process of silk-making was originated in China and was closely guarded by the Chinese for many years. It was so rare and valuable that when the ancient city of Rome was attacked, the leader of the attacking Goths demanded gold, silver, and silk as a ransom!

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Today, silk is still highly valued. It is often used for special occasions and specialized garments. Of course, the word “silk” simply describes the type of fiber…the fibers can be woven into many different types of silk fabrics. Here at Farmhouse Fabrics we love all kinds of silk-from stiff taffeta and dupioni to drapey charmeuse. Each type of silk fabric brings a certain style to a garment. Maybe you can recognize these fabrics in well-known wedding dresses or evening gowns: all very different and yet all silk!

laura-carmichael-downton-abbey-wedding-inlineCharmeuse: Silk charmeuse is often the first thing that comes to people’s minds when they hear the word silk. It has a gorgeous sheen and luxurious drape-making it ideal for bias cut evening gowns or delicate lingerie. If any of you are fans of Downton Abbey then you can remember Lady Edith’s beautiful wedding gown-perfectly reminiscent of the 1920s.

Dupioni: Silk dupioni is almost the opposite of charmeuse. Whereas charmeuse is slippery and drapes well, dupioni is stiff and crisp. Silk dupioni is often suited to a tailored look. It has a lot of “slubs” (a result of threads that are inconsistent widths) which add a fun texture.

Shantung: Shantung silk is very similar to dupioni and the two are often confused. In fact, shantung is a much more delicate fabric than dupioni. It also has fewer slubs, and the slubs that it does have are of a much finer thread width. Because shantung is a thinner fabric than dupioni, it drapes better than dupioni and is more suited to evening wear.

Taffeta: Silk taffeta is another stiffer fabric, but it is still suited to evening dresses and wedding gowns. Some very famous wedding dresses were made of silk taffeta, namely, Lady Diana Spencer in her marriage to Prince Charles and Jaqueline Bouvier in her marriage to John F. Kennedy. Taffeta has that lovely crisp look to it and yet it is flexible enough for some drape.

Organza: Silk organza completes our list today. Organza is a very sheer, lightweight fabric that is perfectly suited for bridal wear. It makes a lovely overskirt and adds an almost fairy-esque ethereal touch.

When you look at all these different fabrics you can understand why silk was (and is!) so highly prized. This one fiber can be woven into so many different fabrics and all of them are beautiful in their own way.

 

So Much More Than Shirts

 

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If you’ve been shopping at Farmhouse for any amount of time, you know what we love our shirtings. However, when some people hear that we specialize in fabrics for children’s clothing, they don’t understand our love for men’s shirting fabrics. Maybe what they don’t realize is that shirting refers to so many different fabrics-from broadcloth to twill to even Liberty of London lawns! All of our garments featured in this post are made of shirtings!

At Farmhouse Fabrics, our term “shirting” covers a very wide spectrum of fabrics. Miss Sally began calling certain fabrics “shirting” when she began buying fabric used by high-end men’s shirt manufacturers in New York. What the term meant to her was that it was crisp and light-weight…definitely not suited to a jacket or pants. However, sometimes when we call a fabric a “shirting”, our customers can only see it as fabric for men’s shirts and don’t open up to the other possibilities-such as children’s clothing! Often we use these soft, satiny fabrics for lovely blouses or dresses for our little girls. The highest praise we can receive is the approval of our little ones, and our shirtings have made the cut! One of Miss Sally’s granddaughters came into the shop recently, held a new length of shirting to her cheek, and asked for a nightgown out of the fabric…high praise indeed!

 

One of the wonderful things about our shirtings is that they come in countless colors and patterns. But this wasn’t always the case. Did you know that historically the shirt was considered an undergarment? Men would wear white shirts made of linen or silk under their more decorative outer clothing. The shirts were meant to be hidden-it would have been improper for the shirt to be seen. As the shirt slowly emerged as a regular and respectable item of clothing, the color of the shirt was still very important. In the 19th century, colored shirts were considered common and worn only by the lower classes. Gentlemen wore white shirts (hence the well known terms “white collar” and “blue collar”).

grant-caryThe idea of the white shirt being a mark of prosperity and masculinity permeated as late as the 1910s when stripes began to come into vogue. The type of fabric used to make the shirts gradually changed also. The early “under” shirts were made of linen or silk, but as shirts became worn on their own they were made of more durable fabrics such as broadcloth, oxford, fine twills, and pinpoint fabrics-all classified as “shirtings”. These fabrics have endured in the shirting industry as light-weight yet durable. Aren’t those two qualities just what we look for in children’s clothing too?

Although you wouldn’t guess by the sound of it, shirting fabric is some of the most ideal material for children’s clothing. The close, crisp weave feels silky against the skin, and the fun colors and patterns suit the personalities of the little ones who wear them.

DIY Heirloom Belt

Farmhouse Fabrics Heirloom Belt Tutorial

When you make a garment, you can bring a lot of character and beauty to your project by focusing on the details. Thoughtful touches to a collar or hem can change the look of an entire dress, and little accessories like a hair bow or a belt can pull everything together. Today we want to share a Farmhouse Fabrics original tutorial of what we call our “Heirloom Belt”. This belt was featured on one of our little girls in our latest advertisement in “Classic Sewing” magazine (see pictures from the ad here) and it is a lovely touch to an heirloom dress or blouse. Make it for a little girl in your life or make one for yourself! Here is what you will need:

Supplies

Swiss beading-width of your preference (determine your length by measuring around the waist of whoever you are making the belt for and then add an inch) See the beading we used here.

1 yard silk satin ribbon-width corresponding to your beading size. See the ribbon we used here.

Grosgrain ribbon-width of the entredeux to entredeux of your beading and color of your beading. The amount you need will be the length of your beading without that added inch. See the ribbon we used here.

Flat tape threader or ribbon weaver

Scissors, thread, and sewing machine

First, fold under and press the seam allowances of your beading.

It will end up looking like this:

Before Sewing

Lay your beading on top of your grosgrain ribbon. The beading will be slightly longer than the ribbon and you can fold that excess over the ends of the ribbon. Pin in place.

Using your sewing machine, topstitch your beading to your ribbon being sure to catch the folded over ends.

Topstitch 1

This is where the amazingly handy ribbon weaver or flat tape threader come into play. If y’all don’t already have one of these you need to get one now….when I used one for the first time I felt like I was experiencing a whole new world. We stock several different ribbon weavers, but I used my favorite: the flat tape threader from the John James Bodkin set. Thread your choice of ribbon weaver with ribbon (my ribbon was 6 mm wide) and weave the ribbon through your beading. Ribbon Bodkin

Finished

And ta-da! You are done! Use this sweet belt as an accessory on your lovely heirloom outfits and make it in varying widths using different entredeux. What a lovely little detail!

Finished Closeup