Edit: I seem to have resolved the issue - please alert me if you have further trouble. Big thanks to Caro and shams for their help!
Edit: Caro has let me know that pictures are still absent for some viewers, as well as the Google Photo album. I loaded the pictures up on Facebook where no one has had trouble so far. You can search for me as Stephanie Qich or try this link: photo album. I sincerely apologize and thank Caro for her help!
ON EDIT: Blogger has been changing their picture hosting settings, and the pictures did not appear when I first published this post. I believe I have fixed the issue, but if you have any issues you may view the images here: link to album.
As of two days ago I've made THREE more blouses! This post shows two of them. I used the same Connie Crawford for Butterick design as I did for the black eyelet Ivey Abitz inspired blouse, but made changes to the neckline, length and sleeve. Adrienne of Wear The Hat has been working on multiples as well - check out her first Chanel style jacket! Absolute drop dead chic worn with jeans, well worth the effort. (Adrienne I had trouble responding to your comment on my last post so wanted to drop it here where i knew you'd see it.) Yes i love my readers!
Back to the blouses. I like collars that morph into ties. A few years ago I bought a Babeau pussy bow blouse and the neckline was just about perfect, so I based this neckline on that blouse. I made the collar/tie of a simple long rectangle which finishes at one inch wide, with varying length.
The polka dot blouse uses the sleeve from the original pattern. For the floral blouse, I added gathers and about half an inch to the cap height for a fuller look. These looks are very influenced by seventies French designers such as Yves Saint Laurent, Cacharel, and Chloe. All made very wearable blouses paired with full skirts. Worn with boots or oxfords, the resulting outfits are very practical as well as feminine and, when made up in more high end fabrications, quite luxe.
Which brings me to the focus of this post. These blouses really shine because they fit nicely, have subtle details, and are made with really beautiful garment fabrics. Many of us sew to get the most value for our dollar. As a consequence, we look for fabrics which cost less per yard. Indeed, many gorgeous, artful garments have sprung from humble quilting cottons, denim, and interior decorator specials.
However I encourage you to additionally take a look at the nicer fabrics made specifically for garments. No one would suggest that you neglect your construction skills, or leave off pressing during construction. Similarly, don't let the quality of materials you use fall behind your level of craftswomanship! I don't recommend compulsively buying top dollar, impractical fabrics. Simply make yourself aware, educate your hand and eye to what a really beautifully designed print looks like, how a fine Italian cotton jacquard feels to wear and work with. These experiences will inform your decisions when you shop the discount bin and enable you to find the gems.
I purchased the polka dot linen at Stone Mountain and Daughter in Berkeley, CA. I stop by frequently as I live fairly close by and visit Berkeley a few times monthly. They stock a wide variety of garment fabrics, including wool, knits, silks (prints, stretch, blends), linen. The beauty of shopping in person means I get to contemplate these fabrics for weeks or months before buying. I squeaked this blouse out of the yardage as I'd daydreamed about it so long there was only about one and a half yards left on the bolt!
This linen is finer than most medium weight linen, with fewer nubs as the threads are more regular. The blue, while dark, has a bright life to it, and I love the random placement of the dots. They're a light stone color, easier on my complexion than stark white. Finally, the fibres themselves shine with a lovely soft sheen. This fabric is much nicer than decorator linen when you're looking to make a blouse, as the weave, weight, color and pattern scale are all suited to the body rather than a couch.
I bought the floral cotton jacquard online from Marcy Tilton last summer. The base fabric is a beautiful cotton paisley jacquard. Very light and soft with a wonderful drape. I used a bit of spray starch and it was easy to work with. I would have fallen for this fabric instantly for the colorful, gorgeously depicted floral print alone - combined with the impeccable base fabric I cannot imagine anything more delicious!
There are many options for buying garment fabrics online and in person today. The trick is to find a store whose aesthetic lies along similar lines to your own. I visit Britex in San Francisco from time to time, and while it is truly a world class fabric store I never find any fabric I want to buy. They buy for someone with more money and more special occasions than I sew for - as intoxicating as the Valentino silk chiffon prints may be, they fit neither my lifestyle nor my budget.
At the Tilton store, it's a different story. While she is known for edgy knits in neutral tones, Marcy Tilton buys fabric in a much wider range. I've been shopping from her long enough to have confidence in the quality of what she offers and to know to keep an eye out for specials and end cuts. There are many online fabric stores, and each has their own aesthetic and specialty. If you cannot find everything you'd like in brick and mortar stores near you, take the time to do some research to see if there's a store or two out there which could be worth your while. When you're getting to know a store, you can order samples if they offer that service, or buy a less expensive piece on sale, special, or end cut. After a couple of orders you should have a better feel for how you like the store without being out too much cash.
I'm not suggesting that everyone immediately drop everything and only buy $200 a yard cashmere for their work clothes. I'm just saying that it's worthwhile to take a look around at some of the nicer and newer stuff now and then. If any of it catches your fancy, and you think you would wear it, see if you can buy some at a reasonable rate. Every now and then take a look to see if there's any new vendors around who carry merchandise that speaks to you. Keeping up to date with what is on offer is an excellent way to keep your sewing fresh, creative and satisfying.
I'm wearing my staple Extasia jewelry here. I've combined a couple of the petite charms with my Benitez Jewelers rose studs to make dangling, "They go but they don't match" earrings. The charm you can see here was a lovely gift from Joanne, who works at the Extasia Outlet in Nevada City, CA. If you're up there be sure to visit the store! They have incredible deals on their outstanding jewelry, from everyday wear to elaborate statement pieces. Joanne herself is delightful and quite knowledgeable on matters esoteric, metaphysical, and philosophical. She is always an intriguing conversationalist and I am happy to have a keepsake from her.
If you know of any great online stores for sewing let us know in the comments!