Saturday, February 07, 2009

Fabric Manipulator

I've had this piece of fabric for about a year:

It was purchased on the recommendation of a friend. Bought from my favorite internet fabric source, Fabric Mart. It was part of last year's Anna Sui pieces and I thought it was a challis-type fabric. Instead when it arrived it had a very loose weave...and although I liked the border print...I'm not sure about the color.

So this went into the bowels of the fabric closet...unloved. Fast forward to this week and a conversation that I had with several friends who also purchased this piece of fabric. Yeah, we were kinda like lemmings when we saw the first friend's piece! *smile* A member of this 'elite' group, had washed her piece. When she showed the end result to the other members of the group, I wasn't around...but I did hear about it...and her end results intrigued me.

Of course, this meant that my piece had to be retrieved and manipulated. Let me say here and not that I love manipulating fabric. I love how it can become something entirely different from the original piece. Sometimes its something better...sometimes its something unusual...but it is never the same piece that you started with.

Personally, I've never manipulated a piece and had something go horribly wrong...but then that might be because I'm open to any possibility. Manipulation is about experimentation and risk. If you're scared of the risk, don't manipulate. Me, I find it exhilarating to learn what a fabric can become with a little handling!

In its original form, this piece measured 5 yards by 44" wide. After one round in the washing machine on hot water with a small amount of detergent, this is it how it looked:

After a short trip through the dryer and a steam press, it measured 3 yards by 23". It also felted unevenly throughout the piece...some areas of the piece are wider by an inch or two and not as tightly felted. My piece became softer and more sweater-like. The color is denser and the fabric edges ruffle, also the pattern is tighter, less distinct.

Will I use it now? Yes, of course. It will make a great, trendy little sweater jacket over my black wool crepe LBD. It has already sent me looking for a pattern, one I've wanted to make for a minute now, Butterick 5187:

Friday evening and Saturday morning has been spent pretreating and manipulating fabric. I'm a fabric manipulator, are you?

More later...


  1. just like painting the charmeuse, you always are thinking on a different plane.....good job....and yes I have had at a piece of fabric in my life, sometime good results, somtimes it just makes a great stuffing for the dog beds....

  2. Cool. I've done that with pieces at times, not in a while although I've been known to dye things I decided I didn't like. I'm cataloging stash (hopefully for the final weekend) and finding all kinds of pieces I've forgotten, so I may start manipulating any time now! K

  3. For Fun!!! I thought it looked like a knit in the first picture, but if it schrunk up that much... I hope that it is worth what you paid for it. I think it's alwasy fun to play with fabric. My problem is I'm always wandering around looking at ready made and thinking... hmmm if I had that I would... with it! Change this, add that. Ect... nice to let the imagination wander hmmm? I like your butterick choice, it will be cute made up in that.

  4. Wow 5 yards to 3?! I am not an intentional fabric manipulator, but I agree sometimes I have had really interesting results after chucking something ion the washing machine that I probably should not have!

  5. Oh yes! One of my favorite things in the world to do!! Good thing, too, since I machine wash (very warm) and dry everything that comes into my house (extreme sensitivities to fabric treatments) - I do get some 'interesting' surprises sometimes! Can't wait to see your cardigan!

  6. Um no - I'm chicken. But I always love seeing your results. g

  7. I made that pattern last year. Can't wait to see the results.

  8. No, not a fabric manipulator. I did try a swatch of some wool crepe to see if it felted nicely but it didn't and it lost some of its colour. Haven't tried anything since.

  9. I'm definitely a fabric manipulator. This fabric looks fantastic! If you don't like the wobbly effect at the edges, sometimes cutting off the selvedge before washing makes it come out more even.

  10. I love messing with fabric. Heck, every fabric brought into my home goes into the washer (and usually the dryer, too). Even if the results aren't always what I expect, I have never had a piece become unusable.

    Your latest experiment seems to have gone well. The manipulated fabric looks infinitely more interesting and wearable. I can't wait to see it made up into B5187. I love that pattern - I have made it twice and I have plans for further iterations in the future.

  11. Wow, I am never that brave. But I guess if it went into the "unloved" section of the fabric closet in it's original state, then why not? If it wouldn't have been used, then....

    I guess I need to dig into my stash and see if there is anything that needs changing!

  12. I am definitely a manipulator. Have been at it for years. Seeing what you have done here makes me swoon. Manipulated fabrics hold a special place in my sewing heart!

  13. I like very much your pattern choice. You are so lucky
    with your Vogue, Butterick, Simplicity.... patterns. We in Germany pay a lot for them and you only get these patterns on request, in addition some shops only have a small choice in stock

  14. Yeah, that's how I learned I can make searsucker. And that one was not usable. Not only did it pucker on some colors and not others (um, yeah, it's a stripe) but some of the stripes pilled, and it raveled out of my zigzaged lines. YAK, a disaster! It was also from FabricMart - but part of a free bundle. I only washed about a yard, I still have more I could use to line a dryclean only item.

  15. It looks a lot like mine from your photo. Mine felted pretty evenly but it was a little wavy at the selvege. I was able to steam that flat.

    My dimensions were pretty close to yours though. I am looking forward to seeing your results. Maybe I'll even pull mine out. I never meant for it to sit this long.

  16. Love the pattern you picked to do. I was looking for a cardigan pattern. This one is nice.
    And talking about shrinking WOW did I did one, I by mistake washed a beautiful skirt I had sew it was like off white with red and blue threads that cross each other. It was like a size 16 when it when in the washing machine, when it came out maybe a 1. :)
    Things happen.

  17. Finally, I found this post! I felted mine this weekend and can't wait to make a little jacket out of it. As much as I loved the original fabric, it just wasn't drapey enough for me. Thanks for the inspiration!


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