My sewing coming of age

I think I just graduated from the remnant bin to the bolt. I speak figuratively of course but I think that pretty much explains everything.

You all know how cheap I am when it comes to fabric shopping, and how I do not feel fulfilled unless my arms hurt from carrying so much fabric on my way home from various cheap fabric expeditions. Well today, I went to Goldhawk road, and came back with 2 metres of pink wool crepe, 1.5metres of silk lining, and 2 spools of gutterman thread. Yes! I am moving up people. I’m joining the big guns. I have arrived. Even though I winced as I handed over my money to the fabric guy. I am still in shock. How much did I spend for all of that? Well, £43. I know. It sounds like nothing, but this is the first time I am investing that much on a sewing project. It is relative of course, because it is only 2metres of fabric and lining. I ordered some fabric from the states a couple of months ago to make a trench coat, which I still have to make, but with postage, it all came to about £40 I think. That was for 5metres of stretch gabardine and some china silk lining. So metre for metre, it is cheaper than what I spent today.

I know some of you will wonder why I am going on and on about £43. It is not so much the total money spent. It is the fact that I paid £15 for 1 metre of fabric. I NEVER, EVER do that. I am as cheap as fluff when it comes to buying fabric. The first thing I look for when I enter a fabric shop is the remnant bin, or table. That should give you an idea of where I am coming from. This is the first time I am spending that much on 1 metre of fabric. So I need you to clap for me as I move on to another level in my sewing journey. My coming of age if you will.

I am sure you must be wondering why I decided to spare £43(and a few tears) for a sewing project. Well, my friend is getting married on the 6th of October (hi Vicks), and naturally, I thought I should make my own dress. I decided on Vogue 8280. I know I have made it before, but that was pre-baby, and a not too insignificant number of extra folds have magically appeared on my body, so I will need to address some fitting issues. I made the first one without a muslin, but I will definitely be making a muslin for this one. Making the last one was quite stressful, but I want to think this one might be a better experience since I have more experience under my belt, and a couple more books to help me out….and you of course. Which brings me to my first question.

Does anyone know how to pre-wash/preshrink wool crepe? The peeps at A1 fabrics said I should dry clean it, or hand wash it with cold water. What sayest thou? I have looked inside Claire Shaeffer’s Fabric Sewing Guide book, but there is no mention of how to preshrink wool crepe. Maybe there is, and I have not seen it. So is hand washing it the way forward? Or do I have to fork out more money to dry clean it?

I don’t want to have to do more crying should this project not come out the way I want it to, so I am doing alot of research for this one. I am pulling out all my cards. I have dusted off my books ( and made a few spiders homeless), and I am going to spend this week preparing myself ( muslin and psyching) for the actual sewing (next week). I have given myself 2 weeks to sew this project and I hope it comes out right. It better does. I am also going to spend an awful lot of time watching Susan Khalje’s class on Craftsy, just to copy some of her tricks. If you don’t hear anything from me after the 6th of October, know that I am in the hospital. I don’t think my fragile heart will be able to handle it if this project goes pear shaped. Oh dear! Come to think of it, that is how my body type is described by the fitting experts. An ominous sign? It better not be.

My project homework:

In other news, I saw this at the Body shop today. Bees wax sourced ethically from Cameroon? You don’t say.It made me so happy, I splurged on three mango body butters. Well that’s not exactly true. The body butters were on 50% discount so  I got three, and then got a further 10% discount with my loyalty card. Yeah, I’m cheap like that.
Now on to my second question. What is the most you have spent on fabric?



  1. September 22, 2012 / 6:53 pm

    You make it sound like finding fabric bargains is a bad thing! I too am a complete cheapskate when it comes to buying fabric, partly because I can't afford it, partly because I too don't feel I can justify the exorbitant costs some places charge, and partly because you don't always need to. I have found some amazing fabrics at next to no costs. I source most of my fabric from bedding because the patterns are so beautiful and the prices are more than reasonable. Vintage fairs can also be gold mines for unusual fabric. That being said I can completely see why you have splurged on this project – wool crepe is a very specific fabric choice. I truly hope your project works out for you (which I am positive it will, your creations are lovely) and enjoy the wedding 😀
    Good luck xXx

  2. September 22, 2012 / 7:02 pm

    I feel your pain! And despite the fact that I've been (technically) sewing for well over 20 years, I've never spent that much per meter 🙂
    But you'll make a superfantabulous dress, and I for one will remain riveted to your blog to see your progress. (Fingers crossed, of course!)

  3. September 22, 2012 / 8:04 pm

    That Liberty fabric I used for my maternity dress was quite dear (£36 for 3 meters), but not as much as yours. But congrats on taking the plunge!

    I pre-treated some wool by putting it the dryer with a hot soaked towel. It worked for me just fine. No tears. Some people shrink it with the iron. I think Tasia posted this method on her blog.

  4. September 22, 2012 / 8:12 pm

    My cape was £30 per metre and I used 3,5… I love luxe fabrics… I feel I work with more live and care… Do I mess up less. I live Susan,s craftsy class…

  5. September 22, 2012 / 8:24 pm

    I've come to the conclusion that I spend less money on high-quality, expensive projects that last longer and hang better than I spend on cheap fabrics that fall apart and never seem to look good as a finished garment. I am using this observation as justification for my upcoming fall fabric spending! Look out!

  6. September 22, 2012 / 8:27 pm

    I'm also cheap and usually won't pay more than 5€/m for fabric. But ne in while I have a coup de coeur and have to indulge. The most I paid was 30€/m for the faux fur coat for my eldest. And I only did so becauseI didn't need much yardage..

  7. September 22, 2012 / 9:00 pm

    Oh and thank you for the body shop tip. I think I'll use my fidelity card and those beeswax from home too, if they have them here…

  8. September 22, 2012 / 9:32 pm

    I know how you feel, I always use to look for the cheapest deals, but then I needed really nice fabric for a project and so had to shell out, I think it was for taffeta around £15 per meter and I need three!! But it was so nice to use and looked really good so now I don't mind spending but it's still nice to have a bargain!!
    As for your pre shrink dilemma I'm sure I read somewhere about washing the fabric first on a 30/40 degree wash and then pressing with a steam iron, you may want to look this up though I would want my advice to ruin your fabric!

  9. September 22, 2012 / 11:18 pm

    The most I have ever paid was almost 10 pounds for a yard. Which I think is shorter than y'alls meter but see I at least looked up the conversion on the money!! LOL Honestly I didn't even pick it out because I probably would have broke out in hives on the spot, hubby liked it and threw it in the cart and I didn't know how much it was until the lady had already cut the yardage.

  10. September 22, 2012 / 11:53 pm

    £15pm for some wool boucle from John Lewis. But I only bought 1 metre for a short a-line skirt- it felt like a treat! I went to Walthamstow Market for the first time today- wow! 🙂

    For shrinking your wool crepe: I generally just pre-treat my fabric in the way I'm going to be washing and pressing it after I've worn it. I just view pre-shrinking as something I do so I don't get nasty fit surprises the second time I wear it! (And I think washing wool is fine below 40 degrees; no need to dry clean.)
    Wool does have a structure that's very shrinkable, but don't forget felt is just wool that's been shrunk on a hot wash! Eek!

  11. September 23, 2012 / 3:49 am

    I recently spent about £18 metre on Liberty wool (because it was on sale). Unfortunately, now I have no idea how to care for it, or what to make with it. Smart purchase!

    Looking forward to seeing how your wedding (guest) dress turns out!

  12. September 23, 2012 / 8:34 am

    I've been known to spend 20ukp per metre on seriously nice wool jersey…but I think wool is worth it. Your pink wool crepe is gorgeous!

  13. September 23, 2012 / 10:52 am

    I spent €19 per meter for 3 meters of boiled wool for a jacket yesterday but actually it felt like a bit of a bargain as fabric is scarce and expensive here in Ireland! On the few previous occasions I've paid a lot per meter It's paid off with a better end result ( plus I take more care) so hope you have the same experience!

  14. September 23, 2012 / 11:45 am

    I feel your pain! I'm a total cheapskate – my wedding dress only came to about £40 for the materials. But over the years, I've been slowly upping the spend per meter, and I do find you get what you pay for, especially in wear and tear. That said, it's still worth shopping around, and I refuse to pay more than a few £'s per meter for viscose or poly cotton.

    The most I ever spent on a project was about £60 for a really big coat. I was so scared to start cutting it, but it was really worth it, and it's one of the best things I ever made.

  15. September 23, 2012 / 5:31 pm

    Gorgeous fabric. £43 is not too much when you consider how much a wool crepe ready made dress would cost you…and this one will fit you better. I would get it dry cleaned. I know it's expensive but for such a good wool fabric it's worth it. You could make some dress guards which will reduce the number of dry cleans it needs.

  16. September 23, 2012 / 7:25 pm

    I've spent today working with polyester crepe – so not the expensive stuff, but I can tell you that it's a delight to work with. I have heard a lot about wool crepe shrinking, so you may need to be careful on that front. And just watch the temperature of your iron – I've scorched wool far too many times. I can't wait to see your dress! I remember the first version and it was stellar on you.

  17. September 24, 2012 / 2:09 am

    I tip my hat to you because I'm at the same stage. It's time to start treating ourselves to lovely fabrics! Though I still have trouble saying no to tvs reduced rack…can't wait to see this frock!

  18. September 24, 2012 / 8:56 am

    I am racking my brains and I am pretty sure the most I have ever spent on fabric was my Japanese denim at £16.50 a metre. Luckily, I only needed one metre! But I wore the skirt twice last week, so it is going to pay its way pretty quickly!
    Re wool crepe – I have heard you can hold a steam iron just above the surface and pre-shrink it that way. But I have never tried it. I did once have a wool crepe skirt that my mum put in the washing machine and it turned out teeny weeny… :O

  19. September 25, 2012 / 10:32 am

    Hey Dibs, I used wool crepe for a dress in March and I got it dry-cleaned first. I also treat the fabric like I'm going to treat the garment, and I knew that for my dress it would be worn for special occasions so dry cleaning was ok. I think it cost a tenner – but for peace of mind that's good by me. Most expensive fabric ever was (funnily enough) also this wool crepe! It was almost £30 a metre and there were tears shed then too!

  20. September 25, 2012 / 4:50 pm

    Wow – have yet to spend more than £8 per m and that brings me out in a cold sweat, so I'd probably have a heart attack handing over than much per m! However, the colour of that fabric is gorgeous so I can't wait to see the finished outfit!

  21. September 26, 2012 / 11:51 am

    The most I've ever spent is £15/m (maybe, I repressed the exact figure) but that was on Marc Jacobs silk at Mood in NY! I ratonalised that one away in about 10 seconds. You're going to look fantastic in this hot pink, £43 is totally worth it.

  22. October 19, 2012 / 6:25 pm

    I know this comment is pretty late, but I'm catching up on all the posts I missed, but this post on amount of money to spend on fabric really resonated with me. I love finding fabric deals. It takes a lot of self control to not buy a lot. There are a few fabric stores in San Francisco that are pretty expensive, and the one time I went into one of them as part of a sewing meet up, I bought a remnant that was a little under 2 yards of a poly fabric that was a bit heavier than chiffon and with a really cool pattern, I spent US$25. It hurt. A lot. But on the bright side, it made a really cute top that nobody has, and I received tons of compliments for it. The fabric drapes beautifully, and breathes. So overall, well worth it.

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