Sunday, July 14, 2013

Shopping for Fabric in Paris

Shopping ‘Fabric Alley’ in Paris

Paris may be the city of fashion, so where is the best place to find fabric? One neighborhood is crammed with fabric shops of all kinds and sizes, and that is the ‘Fabric Alley’ which lies at the foot of the Sacre Coeur.

Where: north of Boulevard de Rochechouart at the base of the hill up to Sacre Coeur.
How to Get There: From the Barbes Rochechouart Metro station (#4, magenta), walk across street to the “Tati” store, and start up the street to the left. At the second street, Clignancourt, turn right. The very next left, Rue de Livingstone, is "Fabric Alley" (this should be immediately apparent). The same street is also a main walk towards the bottom of the Sacre Coeur hill. This district is a great follow-up to a Saturday morning visit up to the flea market at Clingnancourt. Just hope on the metro heading back south and exit at the Barbes Rochechouart station.

Rather than list names of shops and addresses for you to check out, I think that it is more fun to explore this little district without trying to seek out a specific business. Each shop has it’s own merchandise selection, although you will find some repeats in stock selection. Some larger stores have several floors with differing textiles on each.

On any Saturday this area is busy with shoppers and tourists heading for the church on the hill. Most shops have tables of discounted fabrics out on the sidewalk, with better fabric inside. I also include here a few shots of store hours as posted on the windows.

If you are traveling with others, let them go on up to the Sacre Coeur. As you can see here, it's right there above the shops. They can enjoy the view while you take your time plundering the shops below. That way you will feel less guilty about making someone wait around on the curb for you while you spend too much time shopping inside.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Border Patterns: Fabric Designs with Style

Border patterns have been popular on skirts and dresses over the past decades. Using border prints is an easy-to-sew, quick way to add visual interest to a simple dress design. With careful planning, a basic dress design can become interesting and unique. This can be done by choosing a border design, then considering the placement of the fabric pattern on the dress.

The blue floral on white fabric in this sketch was cut with both the skirt hemline and upper bodice shoulders placed along the selvage edge. Placing a dense border at the hem and shoulder creates the 'ombre' effect where the pattern is deeper at the top and bottom of the dress, while the middle area is open and less dense in pattern or color.

To create this effect, look for a skirt pattern that is cut straight, like a very wide 'tube' that is then gathered or pleated. Don't attempt an "A" line or flared skirt since the straight hem edge will be difficult to work with.

The two dresses here show how great a simple bodice can become when the border pattern is placed running down the center front line. This is especially successful with embroidered yardage such as eyelet on linen and cottons, but printed border prints are nice on the bodice too.

Sewing patterns for most retro style 1950's through 1970's dresses with fitted bodices will work well using the center front border technique. Although these two tops have a center front closure (with cute covered buttons), it is possible to have the border design 'meet' down a front seam line instead.

From the late 60's or early 70's, this tomato red shirt dress is a great example of how a simple border pattern can create an interesting look. The border is repeated on the collar and cuffs to balance out the design. Below are several examples from the 70's of border patterns used on both long and knee length dresses. All of the fabrics below are jersey knits, available today through vintage sellers.

Now when you look at vintage or modern fabrics, be sure to look for border designs, they have so much to offer!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Mother-Daughter: Dressing Alike in the 50's

Mothers and daughters dressing alike? During the 1950s and 1960s, matching outfits were almost a national style. Sometimes these matching sets were purchased, but more often they were home sewn.

At a time when mothers at home could sew their own fashions, it was very common to see tiny versions worn by their daughters. The same goes for fathers and sons, but in a lesser way. For them, matching sport shirts crafted by mom were worn.

When looking for vintage, it's very rare today to find a matching set from this era for a child and their parent. What we are left with are family photos and advertisements, capturing the charm of dressing alike. This nautical themed set is from an advertisement for "Everglaze" fabric. The dresses shown are by "Yolanda" in Springmaid cottons.