Archive for the ‘fabric’ Category

Project #214 – Fall/Winter Fabric Palettes

Thursday, August 27th, 2009


I’ve spent hours going through my (embarrassingly ample) fabric stash to assemble my fall wardrobe this year. I’m already going to enter a wardrobe contest, and I have one palette assembled, but that would only cover part of my fall sewing. It’s ridiculous, but true. Really, I just like to sit on the floor of the living room stacking and re-stacking my favorites in little piles, trying to build a ‘color story’ for what I’m going to wear.

Okay, ‘color story’ sounds a little nuts, but trust me, it’s like the pleasure of organizing all of the crayons in a crayon box into perfect ‘ROY G. BIV’ color order. It’s soothing. Plus, it’s good to have clothes that coordinate, especially if you’re going to take the time to make them yourself.

I came up with two palettes that will cover my fall/winter wardrobe.

I like mixing intermediate colors together, and these greens and purples combine to make the think of a shady grove. There are at least three corduroys packed into this palette, so I think most of the clothes will be business casual and ‘play’ clothes. I also have a beautiful dupioni silk and some lovely silk shangtung that I’ll use to make the dresses for some of my formal occasions this fall and Christmas.

I expanded on my last primary colors palette to add three festive polka dot fabrics that will help make this collection of fabrics look a little less serious. I have some knits for t-shirts and light cotton fabrics to keep me covered up, but not stifle me in the more conservative parts around the Nile.

Japanese Fabric Finds: Otsukaya, Part 2

Friday, August 21st, 2009

More from one of the greatest fabric stores on the planet:

Project #209 – Equation Fabric

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

Okay, one last design before the deadline!

All of the equations in the above fabric are from actual science and math applications. There are a few permutation and factorial equations, which I use a lot. You might also recognize the Ideal gas law, which was known as “Piv Nert” or “Pimp Nerd” in my high school and appropriated as a nickname by one of my classmates. Fun times.

Project #208 – Coffee Fabric

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

This is another one for free swatch day. It’s a fabric design for people who really, really like coffee.

Project #207 – Office Supply Fabric

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

Honestly, my dream job would be to be a fabric designer. I’ve spent plenty of my time screen printing my own proofs, but now with the advent of custom fabric printing at Spoonflower a lot of the drudgery has been removed. I don’t even have to worry about registering prints or reducing designs to one or two colors.

Spoonflower will be having a free sample day tomorrow. Customers will be able to order up to two test swatches of fabric for free and have an option to donate to Heifer International.

I’ll be playing pretend fabric tycoon for the next day or two while I try to beat the free swatch deadline.

Project #204 – Stereo Fabric

Saturday, August 15th, 2009

There is one really, really good stereo store in the suburbs outside of Pittsburgh. Clark loves to listen to high-end stereo equipment, and was really exited about taking a trip out there try out what they have.

The storefront is crammed with dozens of stereo components that ranged from prices I would expect to ones that were kind of scary. One of the stereo set-ups in the store literally costs more than our house. I really mean literally, as in $$$ for stereo > $$$ for house. I couldn’t listen to it for more than a few minutes without feeling overstimulated and sick, but Clark was happy to sit in a chair directly in front of the speakers and listen to music for nearly half an hour.

I’m supposed to have better hearing than Clark, but frankly, I couldn’t tell the difference between any of it. The $1000 speakers sounded the same as the $5000 speakers, and those sounded the same as the $30,000+ speakers. He listened to several songs all of them and compared them to sitting in different spots a concert hall. I just felt overwhelmed by the sound and couldn’t wait to drive home in our silent car.

To pass the time while Clark listened I pulled out my notebook and drew quick sketches of the faces of most of the stereos in the store. It was interesting to note that most of the components did the same three or four jobs, but no two had the same button configuration.

I turned my sketches into a fabric that I printed on Spoonflower. Our second anniversary is coming soon, and the traditional gift is cotton. I think this will fit the bill.

Project #197 – Scissors Fabric Design

Sunday, August 9th, 2009

I’m a big fan of Spoonflower, it’s a company that allows internet users to design and print their own fabrics. At first, prints were limited to 100% cotton fabrics, but they’ve been slowly adding more options. I’m very excited about the release of their new cotton-linen blend, so I made designed my own print in anticipation.

I don’t have the time or skills to do the illustrations for my fabric by hand, so I decided to do a print that involved photographs of a collection of everyday objects, namely something that I would have a lot of. Of course, I have few dozen pairs of scissors floating around the living room alone.

Growing up, we had one pair of good scissors in the house that lived in a kitchen drawer. I suppose the number one thing I was scolded on was taking the house scissors and not putting them back. Now, as an adult, I have a policy of keeping so many pairs that it doesn’t matter if someone takes one and walks away, there will still be a few pairs within arm’s reach. No one needs to yell if any of them end up in another room.

I rounded up every pair of scissors I could find in the house, placed each on a piece of green paper and snapped snapped a picture. I used two table lamps placed at 90 degree angles to minimize shadows.

I used my Photoshop skills to separate out each pair from the background and arrange them in a pattern.

I’m saving my money so that I can order a few yards when when I get chance.

Japanese Fabric Finds: Otsukaya, Part 1

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

Otsukaya (Kurumamichi, Nagoya) – This place is the Mother of all Japanese fabric stores. It is simply huge and by far wins for total selection and prices. I found so many things that I hadn’t seen anywhere else and other things for 200-300 yen less than the equivalent in Tokyo. The discount pile is easy to miss on the first floor, but two weeks ago it was stuffed with bolts and bolts of fabrics that I had contemplated buying on the internet for $20 or more, all for 400 yen or less. The top floor has a great selection of quilting cottons and Japanese-style fabric. I think I walked around for two hours with a look of pure ecstasy on my face.

This store is also cash only, but that is probably for the best in my case.

Plus, there is a little cafe on the second floor where one could stash their husband and buy him cake and coffee for being so patient.

It’s really worth a trip from Tokyo if you have half a day to spare. It’s only an hour on the Hikari and then a quick switch to the Sakura-dori line on the city subway. One of the exits from Kurumamichi Station leads directly to Otsukaya’s front door.

Japanese Fabric Finds: Nikko Jusco and Momenya Makino

Monday, May 25th, 2009

Momenya Makino (Shimokitazawa, Tokyo) – Really, you should just go there because Shimokitazawa is such a great neighborhood. There are a ton of little boutiques and shops to explore even if you don’t like fabric shopping.

Plus, the ladies who work at Momenya Makino are the nicest out of all of the places I visited. They were really great at helping me look for alternative colors and patterns. I guess they have to be nice just because the shop is absolutely crammed with fabric. The aisles are just wide enough for a medium sized dog to walk down. Any bit of free space is obliterated with tall stacks of bolts of fabric. Still, I found some rare colors of my favorite fabrics and got some great recommendations from the staff.

Jusco (Nikko City, formerly Imaichi City) – Jusco is essentially a Japanese Wal-Mart. They are in almost every town and carry a variety of products from food, to clothes, to toys, to liquor. Most of them have a small craft section and if you’re lucky they’ll offer fabric by the yard. This last trip had some good cotton-linen blends, but a year or two earlier there were some even better prints. Still, there was a lot on sale.

ABC crafts (Osaka, Tennoji) – This store is a lot more crowded than what I remembered. This is another store better suited for quilters and crafters rather than dressmakers. There is a good selection of small fabric pieces, though there are a fair number of cotton fabrics that can be bought off of the bolt. I’m also a huge fan of their remnant bin; I just kept reaching in an pulling out gem after gem. They also have a variety of vinyled fabrics pre-cut into 50 cm pieces. This is especially appreciated because this store is very popular and carrying bolts of vinyl through narrow, old lady-filled spaces increases the likelihood of an international incident.

Tokyo Fabric Finds: Okadaya and Cottonfield

Monday, February 9th, 2009

Cottonfield (Kichijoji) – As the name indicates this store is dedicated exclusively to cotton fabrics and is a good destination if you’re into quilting. This place was also more expensive than Tomato, but it has a fine selection of 50cm by 55cm pieces if you just want a little for a quilt, craft project, or just to hold and look at because you can’t afford the whole yard. There are a splendid selection of American cotton fabrics, including some Alexander Henry pieces that I had struggled in vain to find in the right color in the United States.

This store is a little out of the way, but I managed to find it without too much wandering around based on vague directions (“a block from the PARCO store”).

Okadaya (Shinjuku) – I think this place is my second favorite in Tokyo. It also has multiple thematic stories, though the best fabric can be found on the first floor and on the discount card tables outside. (Half price knits? Woo!) This is also a good place for quirky notions and patches. The eighth (?) floor has a rich selection of sewing and crafting books, which I recommend even to people who don’t read Japanese because there are always lots of pictures for inspiration and the diagrams aren’t too hard to figure out.