Friday, September 1, 2017

Small Break: Fabric Stores

So, I realized I haven't posted in a while.  Mea culpa.  In between Pennsic (in which I did make a few new dresses and chemises for!), Grad School, and now moving, I've had zero time to post anything here.     Earlier today, I was looking for what I thought I had posted months ago, a list of fabric stores, and couldn't find it.   At least, I can post that  (and then stop procrastinating and continue packing...)

This is by no means a comprehensive list. If you have a favorite fabric store that is not listed and isn't Joanns, then add it to the comments. These are just stores I've dealt with and have some idea of the quality of the fabrics they sell.

[Fabric Guru] has mostly drapery fabrics but some pretty good buys as well.

[Fabric dot com] has all the things. They used to be awesome but Amazon bought them out so now that Steve is no longer in charge, the coupons aren't fast and furious anymore.

[Denver Fabrics]
and [Fashion Fabrics Club] are the same store. Denver fabrics was a privately owned business that got bought out years ago. Unfortunately, I've had a few bad experiences with them (they'll say something is 100% wool and I doubt it even had wool in it!) so be wary.

[Renaissance Fabrics]
is droolable. I love all their fabrics. Of course, they are on the pricey side but it's worth it for a few of their fabrics.

[Syfabrics] is a seller on ebay but also has a website. I've never had a problem with them and love a lot of the fabrics I've gotten.

[B & J fabrics]
probably stands for Broke & Jobless because their fabrics tend to be so $$$ that that's what you'll be. However, they sometimes have some rare fabrics that are impossible to find elsewhere.

[Pure silks] is a great place to go if you need that specific color of silk taffeta. They aren't outrageous in their prices (about $19 a yard on average) but they are shipping from overseas so it can be slow sometimes.

[Dharma Trading]
is one I've used mainly for dyes. I know others have bought fabric from them. I've never heard a complaint.

[Fabric Store] is where you go if you want linen. You do not bother with anywhere else - except Carolina Fabrics who only travel to SCA events.

[Prism Silks] used to be [Golden Silks]. I've bought silk velvet and silk taffeta from them. They are simply fabulous.

[Burnley & Trowbridge] focus mostly on 18th C fabrics. However, a lot of their stuff can be used for almost any era. Price wise, they are pretty comparable to everyone else

[William Booth Draper] is another 18th C specialty store.

[Sartor] focuses on medieval and Renaissance fabrics. I've seen every one of their fabrics in person. You want all of them. Considering the work that goes into some of the reproductions, their prices are pretty reasonable. I bought some of their fabric on special order at Pennsic.

[Fabric Mart] - watch out for their sales! They have daily sales, the as-is fabric (typically, it's a line through the fabric that you can easily work around), and monthly sales.  I've gotten a TON of wool and linen from them for well under $10 a yard.   Sign up for their newsletters!

And, of course, there is good ole ebay & etsy.  However, you are taking a chance for the most part with either of those.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Lemon Drop Cookies

A few of my co-workers will be leaving our project tomorrow so we are having a mini going away party.  For that, I'm making my Vegan Apple Cinnamon Swirl Bread and Lemon Drop Cookies.  The lemon drop cookies are pretty basic but are oh so good!   The recipe is as follows:


  • 1/2 cup of stick butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups lemon drops (I got mine at the local Amish market but I think you can get them at Wegman's as well)


Preheat oven to 350F. My oven is old and ready to break down, so I preheat the oven to 355F.  

Mix in a large bowl the butter, the white sugar, and the brown sugar until it's blended.  This takes a bit, particularly if the butter isn't softened.  You might want to leave the butter out for a half hour or so just to make it easier to mush with the sugars.   Next is the eggs, the baking soda, the lemon extract,  and the vanilla extract.  Having a bit of both vanilla and lemon really gives the cookies a great taste.   Then add in the salt, lemon drops, and flour. Once this is mixed together, put small spoonfuls of the dough on an ungreased cookie sheet. I normally line my cookie sheets with tin foil for easy clean up. Cook for about 15 minutes (check them at 12).   

This ends up making roughly 4 dozen cookies.  :-)

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Dyeing the natural way :-)

Last year, you may recall, I played around with indigo dye and got some fabulous results:

This year, I wanted to play around with madder and safflower.  I bought a few jars from Fabric Treasury on Etsy and ended up with enough dye to last me for a while.  I wasn't able to get the acidity right for the safflower to turn pink (based upon other blogs it will turn Barbie would be jealous PINK for linen and silk) but the left most yarn in the picture is from the yellow safflower.  It's really a lovely bright yellow.

The yarn I was using is all natural wool yarn. Since I wanted the bit of linen (not shown) I had to turn pink, I added madder to the dye pot and then reduced the acidity, and added another wool skien. All the fabric I used was soaked in alum and water before I dyed it. The middle yarn is the color I got from the safflower plus a bit of madder. It's a really nice peachy tangerine color in person. The last one is just pure madder and I redyed the linen in that as well. The linen came out a rather nice pale rose and will be made into sleeves to go with a brown linen/cotton kirtle. (I LOVE pink and brown together. I don't like brown on it's own but other warm colors on it really make the warm colors pop.)

Because the madder is a bit old and not freshly ground, I wasn't able to get a deep red. However, the orangey red I did get is a pretty solid color. I'm really happy with it. Now, to figure out some natural green dyes they would have used in the middle ages...

Some other tidbits I should mention - to the madder pot, I used just regular old tap water and smashed a calcium pill to get the chalk necessary for "hard" water. I think this really helped to get the best color I could.

I used an old large pot I found at the thrift store for $3 on sale. It's big enough to fit about four yards of a lightweight fabric in. As is, I had no issues with the 1 1/2 yard of linen and a skien of wool. 8

That's the safflower dye pot with a wool skien in it. I did try to get natural wool at the Maryland sheep and wool festival but they wanted $20 a skien. 0_o? So, Etsy it was and I easily found the five I did for $25 - much more reasonable! I don't want them hand spun on a spindle by a spinster! I just want basic undyed wool.

For the failed safflower to turn pink experiment, I used borax and vinegar.  I think I just made it too acidic, the test strips I had for the acid test only went up to 9 and I need to go to a pool store to get a PH reader that will go up to 11 or higher.  You are supposed to get it to 11 PH and then bring it back down to 6 to get a lovely pink.  I have more than enough that I can experiment some more!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Remade Jeans into Jean shorts

This was a really simple sewing project I did the other day.  I haven't owned shorts in ages but see they are coming back into fashion.  I was thinking of just buying a pair but I had a pair of old jeans that I normally use for cutting the grass.  They were getting a wear spot right at the shorts line so...time to cut them up and make shorts!

I added the eyelet trim to the cuffs of the shorts after cutting off the jeans legs.  I also added pieces of indigo cotton above where the wear spots were because the fabric was pretty thin.  I stay stitched these pieces down using an indigo colored thread that you really can't see unless you know what you are looking for.  Even then, it's difficult.   There are a couple of minor holes on the front that I stay stitched and will most likely embroider over later.  

It's a very simple project but I now have shorts for the summer!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

How to annoy an archeofashionista quickly!

I just got back from Vegas and wanted to share this....mash up with everyone. This is the quickest way to get an archeofashionista's eye to twitch. What is an archeofashionista? It's someone who is into historical fashions, recreates them, follows the historical fashion circles, and who's eyes bleed when people mix and match fashion eras wrong. Basically, it's most of the people reading this. :-) And yes, it's a term I came up with after seeing this monstrosity.

How can a famous Regency fashion plate be next to a famous Edwardian fashion plate?!? How!?! They cannot exist together!!!!!! *twitch*

These were up in my room at the Venetian and my Mom thought I was being silly getting all upset about this mash up. :-) I mean, some how the SCA doesn't bother me but this does. Probably because, at least in the SCA, everyone knows what time period they are from. People that see this won't realize it's all cut outs of fashion plates from very different eras and areas. ...I might try to find each of the fashion plates later. I'm pretty sure the Regency one is from between 1817-1820....

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

New Retro Looking Dress

I bought the fabric for the dress at my local thrift store a couple of years ago. It was clearly vintage - based on the width and the design. I'm pretty sure 1950's. The design is of St. Mark's Square in Venice with Venice written under it. The colors are mostly natural, black, peach, and teal. I knew I wanted to make a retro looking dress with it but only recently decided on a pattern. The fabric itself is perfect for where I'm going this weekend - the Venetian in Vegas. :-)

The Process

I cut out McCall's M6959:

I went with the main dress view which is a nice, simple, wrap dress - or so I hoped. It wasn't. I cut out everything, tried the dress on before wrapping bias tape all around the edges and...the way the front is cut is completely wonky. It fit perfectly at the waist but there is no way in any sort of Universe that the front bodice could fit over even a cup A, let alone my two lumps of fat I have permanently stuck above my lungs. Yes, it has darts, but the way the opening was....that just wasn't going to happen. And the darts? They ended up almost under my arms...despite the waist fitting perfectly. o_0?

The bodice side seams and the skirt seams will not match up. Don't even try. It's not worth it. The shoulders are for a linebacker. I have no idea why anyone would need that much space on their shoulders without using shoulder pads. ....So I recut the back slightly to redo the shoulders and lower the back neckline. The front I had to completely recut. I moved the dart to where it should be, redesigned the front edge so it would cover my chest, and recut the shoulders on the front. Once I had the front edge where I wanted, I added the three packages of black bias tape all around the edges. Add it to the sleeve edge before you fully sew on the sleeve so it has a nice and neat edge.

I also added a ribbon fluffy thing to the front over of the dress. It needed something there. Here are the pictures of the final dress on the dress dummy. If I do the dress again, the only other thing I'd change is to make the waist another another 1" lower.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Pajama Bottoms Via Pinterest!

I kept seeing this pattern for free "boudoir" shorts running around pinterest and thought to give it a try. A couple of big important things about this pattern:
  • You have to print it out and piece it together
  • There are no instructions for how to sew it together. You have to buy those

I figured that I've pieced together patterns - including some of my own- before so, eh. Also, I'm a pretty accomplished seamstress at this point. I knew I could figure out the pattern if I bothered to think it through.'s what I ended up with:

New Doctor Who PJ bottoms to go with my Doctor Who t-shirt. :-)

The following are the way I created them. This is not necessarily the way you are supposed to - just the way that made sense to me.

First, I sewed, right sides together, the front and back pieces at the crotch and then added the front "flap" piece to the back side.

I then hemmed the edge of the flat - not a tube yet- leg. I did a roll hem for the Doctor Who ones but whatever works best for you, do it.

Then, once I had two flat leg pieces, I sewed them right sides together at the crotch seam. I then flipped it, folder the "flap" piece over the front. On the pattern for the front is a triangle a few inches away from the center front; I used this as the "marker" for where the back flip should end it's crossover. I then pinned the flaps and stay stitched them. I would recommend at this point, stay stitching down the overlap edge (from the waist to the end of the overlap) as I didn't do this and had to go back and do it.

I then cut out a piece of elastic to my waist measurement and sewed both ends of the elastic together securely. I then matched the elastic with the edge of the PJ bottoms (right side of the fabric) and stretched it to sew along the top of the fabric and the elastic. I then flipped the elastic in and stitched it down along the bottom of elastic.

That's it! I now have a couple pairs of summer PJ bottoms!

They are basically feminine boxers. I would not recommend these as anything other than PJ bottoms - they look a bit like a 1920's granny undies really. Also, I would suggest going down a size and just cutting the back bottom inseam a bit deeper - they are pretty baggy. Not horrible but I'd feel a bit more comfortable a size smaller.