Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Fabric Conversation

I know I promised a garment post and that will come soon, I promise. Right now I want to continue the fabric conversation that we are having.

First, I try to be as honest as possible here. That's why I posted about being underwhelmed about the Vera Lavendar Collection fabrics. Not disappointed...not willing to send them back...just underwhelmed. And that could have been caused by several factors...primary amongst them being my own sense of anticipation which can greatly affect how a box of fabric is viewed when it arrives.

However, I am troubled that my exuberance for the purchase and subsequent letdown were taken as indications as to why you shouldn't purchase fabric on the internet...which of course was not my intent and totally defeats the purpose of the series of posts I just wrote!

Because if you are totally honest with yourself, you will admit that you have purchased some less than desirable pieces at the brick and mortar fabric stores. Some pieces that when you got them home you thought, "what the h*ll was I thinking?" You were swayed by the lighting, where the fabric was grouped, a display made from the fabric you bought, or even a friend that you were shopping with...we have all experienced fabric euphoria when shopping and during these times mistakes can be made. A major difference with experiencing fabric euphoria in the store versus online is that in most cases the online purchases can be returned!

So really, my less than stellar experience this one time should not stop you from trying an online fabric retailer. And if you took it as a sign that you shouldn't....mmmmm, not to be disrespectful but you read that sign wrong. Now if you just can't get over the fact that you need to touch a piece of fabric before bringing it home...I respect that. I just believe you are closing yourself off to some wonderful possibilities...but to each his own.

Now to "Anonymous" who wrote that they purchased 9 yards upon my recommendation, I would suggest that you wait until your box arrives before you decide that my recommendation has let you down. If you re-read the comments, there were several sewists who were very satisfied with what they purchased. There was also some discussion on the fact that even though the fabrics weren't as we envisioned them, that they were usable. We just have to revisit our original ideas and come up with new ones.

Once again let me state that I share the things that are happening in my sewing world. Yes, I was very excited about the sale and I wrote about it...but please if you decide to join me on one of my quests don't be disappointed with me if we don't share similar journeys.

Finally, fabric buying whether via the internet or at a bricks and mortar store is an adventure. You use the knowledge you have, the sewing techniques you know and "hope" for a good outcome. Because there is always that "unknown" element of a can shrink in the can pill after wearing...or it may be a bear to stitch up. If asked to guess how many times that happens I would say maybe 1 in 100 but be aware that the possibility exists.

Now should that stop you from purchasing? Should that stop you from creating? Should that even stop you from buying from that particular retailer again? *sigh* My answer to all of the above is no...because I love to sew more than I love to eat. My world would not be complete without a few hours in it every week to sew, think about sewing, or read about sewing. But that's me and my have to follow your own path.


  1. I haven't bought online yet, but have had it happen when you pull it out from the closet, you think, "what was I thinking?" Usually it has stemmed from my lack of knowledge about fabrics. I came across one piece recently that I now notice is not a great piece. The print is nice, but the fabric quality itself is not quite as. But, I liked the print and someday it will probably get put into something like a handbag, or the lining of one. Not nice enough for garments, IMO, but do-able for something else.

    It is interesting though that such a "name" as Vera Wang would give you something less than stellar. But as someone else commented in the last post, a lot of it gets rejected by them but retains the name.

  2. I hear what you're saying about missing out by not trying online shopping. Until late last year, I was a brick and mortar shopper only. But I took the plunge and wasn't disappointed. Even this past weekend I got some shopping done online and am super excited to see it arrive. I got three yards from Gorgeous Fabrics, and ....... big gulp... 22 yds from I didn't buy from the Vera collection, because at that time I was drawn to other ones. But i tell you putting the fabrics up on the design wall and seeing complete outfits with them..... it just lured me to get them.

    And isn't the thrill of what things could be the fun of buying regardless of the venue? That statement is slowly becoming true to me. Especially because I've discovered some amazing stores online. I now have this other available option for my fabric shopping needs that I didn't have before. I'm happy I decided to give it a try.


  3. Thank you for writing about this fabric. I ended up buying some black wool jersey. I wouldn't say you "recommended" it to me... just told us what you're excited about. Anyway, I haven't received it yet, and I of course hope I'll be happy with it (I've never seen really nice wool jersey for that low price, so I don't have a lot of complaining room), but if not, I still appreciate you writing about what you're sewing (and buying).

  4. Add me to the list of people super excited you pointed out that sale. ;-)
    I just wrote up a little blog post on the fabrics I'd bought and what I plan to make from them. Some of them were less drapey than I expected, which is fine- I just adjusted what I plan to make from them. Overall, I like what I bought a lot!

  5. Well said. Like I said in my comment before, some of my more "underwhelming" online purchases have turned out, over time, to be my favorites! It's all about possibily and the fluidness of life. Just because it doesn't knock my socks off today doesn't mean that I won't like it tomorrow. It doesn't happen that often though. I generally do a happy dance every time a box from or Fabricmart lands on my doorstep. I'm sure the neighbors think I'm insane!

  6. I find I buy more things online that I will use than when I go to a brick and mortar bldg. I'm not a sheep so don't hold anyone else responsible for my desions to buy or not. I enjoy reading your recommendations and yes sometimes I'll go to that site and buy. But I have to be honest with myself I am addicted to buying fabric and it's my choice to buy. It's fun to read someone else's fabric love.

  7. I agree with everything you said in this post, and I have made purchases, in both brick-and-mortar stores and online that have not lived up to expectations, often because I have already formed an idea in my head that does not necessarily confirm to the reality. And I also agree with Christy, that sometimes those fabrics do become favorites, once I have separated the anticipation from the actuality.

    I just want to add that this is one instance where snoop shopping actually helps. I was very intrigued and excited by this collection of fabrics and filled and emptied my cart several times. I love the silhouettes in Vera Wang's Lavender Label collection and given her name and reputation, if I had never seen the clothes, I would be eager to purchase because I would have formed an idea of what I thought the fabrics would be like.

    But then reality steps in. I have seen Vera Wang's clothing, and it is my opinion that the fabrics are not particularly nice, with the exception of her top labels, and her best bridal fabrics are exquisite, and better than what I see in her ready to wear, which is probably to be expected. Costs have to be cut somewhere, and fabric is usually one of the first places. I don't particularly like most of the fabrics I see in Lavender label clothing, but I have been spoiled by having access to good fabric and being able to sew for myself. I think this is something those of us who sew are inclined to forget.

    Anyway, I am sure you will use those fabrics and love them, and I am truly envious of that white pique but that is the one fabric I kept coming back to and reconsidering.

  8. Very well said post. Although I am one who needs to feel the fabric...I have to say that I would not stop online shopping and willing to take a risk. I only live a few miles from Vogue Fabrics so I do have a nice source close by, but online fabric stores open up a HUGE selection for one's sewing, and I will always use it. A lot of times people comment on my fabric chose of my sewn garments not on the construction. Picking out the right fabric is more than half the battle. Online fabrics stores provide some of the best/original selections! And I am still thinking of the floral fabric from the Vera Collection!~

  9. I hear you about the "journey". Over time I have worked out where I am regarding fabrics. I am not a collector, I like to keep my stash at a level so that it all fits in a bureau (though I am currently over my self-imposed limit and have two tubs as well, but I am shrinking them down, slowly) For the mundane I have two chain stores in my general area - neither of which I really love - but I can run to them in a pinch, and I can touch and learn fabric names. But I have pretty much come to the place that if I want special fabrics then I have to use the on-line stores to get the really, really nice fabrics. And in my journey, I have decided that it is time I start using the higher quality fabrics for my garments, they do make a difference.

  10. Well said. I have a number of fabrics bought at brick and mortar stores that I wonder what the heck I was thinking when I bought them!
    As you said, at least these are returnable if I hate what I bought.

  11. I, too, find online shopping a vast adventure. I don't have much choice nearby, so that is the only way to get something beyond cotton and usually at a great price of you wait for markdowns. I, too, think of sewing, maybe way more that actually gets done, but the mind is usually bursting with ideas. My problem is getting the time to finish and bring them to fruition.

  12. Great post Carolyn, you are a wise woman ;)

  13. Its always a joy to read what others are buying and their take on it once they've received it. Even if a sewist states that a particular fabric isn't what she expected, I continue to purchase from online stores because its all about the joy of sewing.

  14. My VRL fabrics arrived and I'm very happy with all of them. I ordered coordinating fabrics with content and hand that I was familiar with and got exactly what I anticipated. Thanks for tipping me off to the collection. I've been snoop shopping a Neiman Marcus sale catalog that arrived a couple of days ago with lots of pieces that I see as "patterns". I'll be posting about both my VRL fabrics and the NM inspirations on my blog.

  15. Here in the Fabric Hinterlands, - and that's directed to all you lucky stiffs who can take off for a trip to the NYC Fab district in a couple of hours....grrrrr! ;-) - - about all that is available is through the internet or mail, and although we have to take them at their word, I can call them and request a sample if I'm really in doubt, but I'm also good at expressing what I'm looking for over the phone.

    This is not the same as putting my hand on the fabric which is the definitive way to pick out a piece, but with nothing else available, this is as good as anything.

    And yes, you do get burned every once in a while, but I guess I'm willing to make that risk cause most of the time I get some beautiful stuff.

  16. I, too have not been impressed with the Vera Wang clothing which is given top billing at the local Kohl's. Uninspiring colors, styles and fabrics. Also the bedding is not what I would like to sleep under. Vera should stick to her fab gowns or else monitor what is licensed in her name. Carolyn, you should be everyone's role model with the good attitude you have shown towards your "underwhelmed" fabrics.

  17. WOW - I have just spent several hours reading your blog - and the blogs you talk about - and looking at a lot of your flickr pics! You are amazing!!! (can you come visit me?) - just kidding!

    I am a sew-er (whowee, that didn't look right!) from a long time ago, but haven't done much since raising kids/working etc., and just recently having outgrown all my shorts and the shorts available at stores, I am breaking out my sewing machine again. I basted a pair of capris tonight out of a knit, and can't decide if I want to keep them big (butterick 5002) or take them in quite a bit to match my other store bought capris more. I have never cared too much for capris on myself, but I no longer look too good in shorts either, and if I make them look more like capris, maybe I can wear them to work next fall (I am a teacher aid). So I just need to figure out what looks best.

    But anyway - you are one impressive seamstress!!! You have a lot of beautiful clothes there! May I ask one question though? Do you sew and use patterns that fit you as to the measurements so that your measurements match the measurements on the pattern size? Of course on the capri/gauchos I just sewed I added on an inch to the side seams to match my measurements, and of course it turned out way too big, so had to resew my basting. And no one seems to know how to sew anymore, for me to find someone to ask! Oh well, I am going to have to follow your blog more, gleaning it for sewing and fitting tips! (oh - on my 21 year old daughters jeans, when they wore out in the you know where - I ironed on a patch from the inside, then zig-zagged, very closely, both the edge of the patch, and then back and forth over and over again in the spot where the original jeans was missing any real cloth!)

    Anyway - happy sewing!!!

    Hugs from Michigan - Diane

  18. I bought 2 shipments (40 yards total) of these fabrics. Yes, I went back for more. They are lovely! These are not the fabrics from Vera Wang's Kohls collection. Outfits made from the fabrics sold by were sold at places like Neimans and Net-a-Porter. For example, the silk scratch print, which is a lovely crisp silk twill, was made up into a short, strapless dress which retailed for $545 at Net-a-Porter. It would take easily less than 2 yards to make that dress. The gold and brown brocade was made up into a dress which cost $840. I believe the grey wool & silk I bought was used in a dress which sold for $1850. It would only take 2 yards to make that dress.

    I was surprised the black wool-rayon-lycra jersey (10 yards purchased)was so lightweight, as it was described as being suitable for jackets, pants and skirts. It really is only suitable for blouses or dresses. But it has a lovely hand and bounces back because of the lycra. I think could improve their descriptions. I am contemplating getting the other wool jerseys, but think I will request a sample first. The lady at told me the remaining wool jerseys were heavier and more sweater-like.

    I save pictures of clothes I like, mostly from Net-a-Porter, so I recognized some of these fabrics; Net-a-Porter has large close-ups of the fabric in a garment. The Net-a-Porter picture of the scratch silk twill was much more accurate than the picture. It is definitely the same fabric.

    I also bought several of the wool boucles. I was surprised by the spongy texture of the cobalt and black/blue boucles. They are really a stretchy mesh weave, more suitable to casual than tailored wear. They will certainly be warm! The russet and camel is a more traditional boucle, as is the black and white. The latter also has some stretch and would make a great coat and skirt combo.

    I like shopping online, because the alternatives are slim where I live. When the packages arrive it is always a pleasant surprise and fun to measure the yardage and brainstorm. Occasionally the fabrics are not what I was expecting, but I can usually regroup. Sometimes that is better. I am a major fabric hoarder and rarely buy fabric to make a specific garment. It's more creative for me to start with the fabric and then figure out what to do with it.


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