Friday, August 02, 2019

It's Chemistry

Back in the spring I saw some fabric on Facebook that I knew I had to get. At the time, the business was between here and my parents, so I could  have saved on shipping, but the business moved before the order was printed.
Lets back up a bit. When people get into sewing, they usually go to their local fabric store to shop. And are usually disappointed. You might come across an independent pattern designer, through google or blogs. You see all the awesome fabrics they use. Where do they get fabric?

Custom fabric groups and online businesses. There are two ways this is done. One, is just "in stock" or retail. Businesses like Funky Monkey, Water Tower Textiles, Fabric Snob. You've immediately upped your game by going on line. But lets say you want even more unique. That's were custom pre-orders come in. A business will create artwork and get some samples printed. They will make a call for "strike sewists" to use these samples to sew up real garments, which then often get promoted in the pattern group for whoever designed the garment pattern they used (such as Patterns For Pirates, Stitch Upon a Time, Rad Designs). Even better is when a new pattern is being tested and a sewist can use a fabric that's in a pre-sale. Everyone sees the awesome new fabric and orders through the pre-sale.

Sometimes the pre-sale closes by date, or by volume. Sometimes volume will mean you get a better price. Once you've placed your order and wait for the closing date, it can then take another 12 weeks to actually get your fabric! It gets printed (usually in China), then shipped, then all the orders are cut and shipped out.

How much is all this awesomeness going to cost you? Expect about $28/m (plus shipping) for cotton-lycra. Yup. Yes, it's expensive. It's also often quite a bit wider than fabric in retail stores--up to 72" instead of 60". And usually, the quality is really good.

I RARELY order through a pre-order. I just can't stomach the cost! I sew to be frugal. But sometimes I get sucked in. I usually just buy from people de-stashing. I see I never posted the shirt I made Rob from a pre-order fabric that "went retail" (sometimes they order extra, or people never pay up). I'm sure I ordered something else through a pre-order though...don't see anything on my selves.

But I saw the "strike offs" posted with this fabric and other fabric from the "round" (what each grouping of pre-orders is called) and knew I had to get some. There were so many prints that looked awesome and different than the florals that everyone else had. And the prints were almost all available in several bases--cotton lycra, bamboo lycra, swim, french terry...It is hard finding fabric for my men. Even though Rob is not a chemical engineer, he loved the fabric. And the awesome thing--his brother-in-law has a Ph.D in chemistry! I had never sewn for him before, but he's about Rob's size, so I got excited.

 Rob's came first, since he wanted the entire shirt in the fabric. No colour blocking for him. Full on brightness, full on periodic tables. This fabric is plush, soft and vibrant! One Friday the boss was away, so he wore this to work. No one could believe I made it. He even got comments out on his lunch walk!

  So then I moved to Pawel's shirt. I used "Taylor Tee" from Pickle Toes, who is changing names currently. I liked this pattern because the colour blocking looks more intentional--not like you got the back cut and realized you didn't have enough for the front. I ordered several different solid cotton-lycras from another business I've used before...finally "invested" in their colour swatch card...and they've just sold their business to another Canadian fabric shop. Don't know if they're going to continue with these solids or not. Rob gave his input on the colour choices for those sections. I got cutting and sewing.                            
I started laying out the pieces with the biggest ones first, making sure the fabric was the right way up, and the stretch was going the right way according to the grain arrows. I went to pin the last section on, near the shoulder, and saw that the print was not going to be straight--despite making sure I lined it up with the grain/stretch arrow (I folded the piece on the arrow, so you can see I lined it up right. The fabric is printed properly). I was not about to have the top most section be at an angle, even if it meant the stretch was not exactly how the designer wanted it. Keep this in mind if your fabric needs to be kept vertical to make sense!! 

Blogger won't let me centre the picture! So, I took a scrap (thank god this was a small piece that didn't line up, and not one of the big sections), and lined it up with the piece next to it so that the print was horizontal, then laid the pattern piece on top. I just squeaked it out with this piece. It's not off by too much, but it'll look SO much better to have all the print sections running exactly the same.

So many seams! You always read in the instructions to press the seams. It really does make a difference. You get the seam allowance to lay flat in the direction you want it to (there was no instruction on this, so I went with kind of downwards). It smooths out any ripples. The steam will help shrink back anything the got stretched. Before is above, and after is below. Not a huge difference in the picture, but in real life, it shows. Look at where the yellow meets the print. So much crisper after.

Look at this piece below. Left seam is not pressed, right seam is.
I opted to not top stitch the seam allowances. I was running low on the blue thread and no matter what you use on the print, it's going to show. And I wasn't sure my yellow matched. And sometimes topstitching creates more waviness. I did however, change my serger threads often, to make them as invisible as possible. Yes, it's more work, but it just looks so much nicer when the seam threads just disappear. Because of the colour blocking, it wasn't possible around the neckline, for example. I wasn't changing threads mid-seam LOL.

Pawel didn't come up with Lou and Nya, so I gave them his shirt incase we didn't hook up later in the summer (Nya goes to summer camp in Ontario and Lou and Pawel then use that time to travel). She said yellow is his favourite colour! I was worried the yellow was too bright compared to the blue cause he's not really a "Look at me!" type of guy. Lou loved it and was sure Pawel would too.

Rob modeled it. And asked to keep it. I hope, looking at this picture, he just hadn't straightened it out cause that front print panel looks a little skewed. His solid shirt was a pattern by the same designer, and it seemed this one was basically the same (it did come with non-colour blocking options), but the fit seems a smidge different under the arms. I hope it fits Pawel, though if it doesn't, I'm sure Rob would gladly take it off his hands. I just don't think I have enough to make another one LOL.

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