Thursday, September 24, 2015

Fabric Friday: Double Gauze - what the heck is it, and what do I do with it?

Whilst the merits of double gauze are well known to many of you, we still find ourselves introducing this wonderstuff to many customers in the shop. So we thought it worth a blog post to help demystify it some more.
 Double gauze is a double-layered cotton fabric, predominantly made in Japan. It's very, very soft.
 The two fine gauzy layers are woven together in a grid of spots about 1cm apart, which can be seen in some prints more easily from the back, like this one below. This stops the layers pulling apart as you're sewing, or wearing the fabric. You can cut and sew this just as you would a single-layer fabric.
 Generally the top layer of fabric is printed, but some are yarn-dyed.
 One of the largest manufacturers of double gauze is Japanese mill Kokka, which produces many prints including the very beautiful and popular 'Nani Iro' line by designer Naomi Ito. (Some of our current range pictured below.)
 There are also many prints that are ideal for babies and children.
 So what can you do with double gauze?

Most shop-bought baby wraps are woefully small and babies wriggle out of them in no time. Most parents of new babies would be very grateful for a large baby wrap made from ultra-soft, breathable double gauze. At 110cm wide, a 1 metre or 1.1m cut can simply be hemmed to make a very simple, very useful baby gift.

Double gauze is a delight to wear and more robust than you may expect. The double layer makes the fabric quite opaque, although dresses in very pale colours may need some lining. It makes beautiful shirts and dresses for adults and children. It's also gorgeous for sleepwear. As an example of the fabric's durability, a pair of summer pyjama shorts made for my 7y.o. son two years ago are still going strong after countless washes and wears. 
Below is a top made from a previous season's Nani Iro double gauze (sold out), using the Colette Laurel pattern.

The softness of double gauze, and the stunning prints available, make it perfect for 'whole cloth' quilting. That is, using the one fabric as the quilt top with no piecing. Quilting can be simple lines or grids, or follow the designs as shown below. It can be quilted by machine, but the softness of the fabric combined with wool batting and another soft backing fabric make hand-quilting a very pleasant process.
 We have a tutorial on our blog for the whole cloth quilt shown below. Although this fabric is sold out, the same technique will work beautifully with any print you choose.
A similar effect to our linen circle scarf can be achieved with a 75cm cut of double gauze. Cut down the middle lengthways so you have two pieces 75 x 55cm, and join short ends together for a strip approximately 150 x 55cm. Hem the long edges then join the remaining two short ends together. Voila - double gauze circle scarf!

Double gauze has a bit of a reputation for fraying, which we believe is largely undeserved. Sure, it's probably not the most reliable thing to create something fiddly like bias tape out of (although that's not impossible). The soft fibres can sometimes become caught in a cutting mat so scissors may be a better cutting solution than a rotary cutter. On the whole however we find double gauze to be a pleasure to work with. Use a fairly small stitch length and ensure your seam allowances are large enough to allow a good sturdy finish like French seaming or a fairly tight zigzag, and you should find double gauze garments last well through plenty of wash and wear.

Many of our current Nani Iro double gauzes have already sold out so if you have your eye on any remaining, get in quick! But don't despair if you miss out, we have re-ordered a number which will probably arrive in about a month.

- Jane & Fiona xx

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Seabrook Bag from Seamwork Magazine

Here's a project where neither pattern nor fabric is available at The Drapery... but hey, we're all about sharing sewing inspiration! And we have plenty of fabrics that would work for this.

This 'Seabrook' bag pattern is from the Seamwork e-mag by Colette Patterns. Many of you know about Seamwork already but if you don't, have a look. Each monthly magazine has two pdf patterns which are designed to be simple, quick sewing projects. You can also purchase the patterns individually, which is what I did here.

 I chose this bag pattern because I wanted a bag that was fairly spacious and that could be worn as a casual backpack, for carrying during the day on an upcoming short holiday. I wanted to be able to whip up something quick, and use stash fabrics.

 Dog helping with demonstrating the size.
Fabrics used here are a Donegal Tweed and some silk brocade, both gifts from travelling relatives.
 On the bottom I used some denim, also from the stash.

Comments on the pattern and construction:
  • Essentially the bag is a couple of rectangles and a circle, and it seemed a bit excessive to print-and-tape a heap of paper just to cut out rectangles. However, there are some notches marked and perhaps it's the best solution.
  • I love the style and the size is perfect for what I wanted. It came together really quickly.
  • I found the grommets, which were very inexpensive, at Adelaide Leather & Saddlery, but the tool to set them was over $60. They recommended I visit Unley Shoe Repairs to have the grommets set, which I did.
  • The drawcord is quite thin and if I load up the bag with anything heavy, it could be quite uncomfortable to wear as a backpack. I may well end up replacing the grommets (metal eyes) with much larger ones and using a much thicker cord to help with comfort.
Rectangles are of course a very efficient way of using fabric. I had half a metre of the tweed and still had enough left over to whip up a You Sew Girl Flat Cap for my youngest son. I really love this pattern - as I've said before it's so well designed and written and the result is just so very satisfying.

Do you have any favourite bag or hat patterns?

- Jane & Fiona xx

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Deer and Doe Arum dress in Chambray and Liberty

We were very excited to order in the new Deer and Doe patterns, including this simple beauty, the Arum. 
By a stroke of luck this dress, made up in 'Otter' Chambray and Liberty Tana Lawn, is a good fit for both of us so we are showing you how it fits on two fairly different shapes.

With just three main pattern pieces (plus pocket and binding or facing), the Arum is a very quick sew. Cleverly designed with cut-on, slightly kimono-style sleeves, there's no need for bust darts. Princess seaming at the back provides flattering shaping.

This is a straight-out-of-the-packet Size 42. Common adjustments Jane would have to make: full bust, narrow shoulder, short waist/sway back, general concessions to pear shape! Whereas Fiona is almost the opposite with broader shoulders and narrow hips.

If you wanted to be fussy about fitting, those back seams would allow easy adjustment in the shoulder area, and side seams could be adjusted for waist and hips. With a healthy 5/8" seam allowance, there's a bit to play around with. In our opinion though this is a relaxed style, so a bit of extra ease and movement (aka wrinkles!) in places is no bad thing. And did we mention how comfy this is? Super comfy.

The little pocket lets you dress up a plain fabric with a touch of pretty, if you desire. From a fat quarter of Liberty 'Bourton' I cut the pocket, bias to bind the neckline and more bias to bind the hem.
I was very happy to see that the neckline was finished with either a facing or bias: instructions are included for both. I've never been a fan of facings and was about to whack on a bias finish in my usual manner when I paused to read the instructions (ahem) and learnt something new! It involves pre-shaping the bias and sewing the first pass with the tape folded in half, and makes for a lovely compact, neat finish.
 Taller people may wish to lengthen the pattern. We're 5'3" (Jane) and 5'5" (Fiona) and the length you see on us would finish a wee bit shorter with a double-turn hem as per the pattern.

We think the Arum would make up nicely in a large variety of fabrics, including quilting cottons, linens, lawn, double gauze, rayon and even probably knit (perhaps size down). An easy variation would be to omit the top pocket and add a patch pocket or two at hand-height. As you can see there's also the option to make as a top, which would look great with simple shorts like Deer and Doe Chataigne or Grainline Studio Maritime, or perhaps the Grainline Moss Skirt.

And we'll leave you with the twinsies picture again. There will certainly be more Arums (Arii?) happening around here!

Deer and Doe patterns can be purchased in-store or ordered via email or phone (08) 7324 5883 Wed - Fri 10am - 4pm, Sat 12 - 4, ACST.

- Jane & Fiona xx

Friday, September 11, 2015

Fabric Friday: Liberty and Chambray

This Fabric Friday we're sharing a combination we're currently really crushing on: Liberty of London Tana Lawns paired with chambrays. (Actually we have a considerably larger collection of chambrays in store than currently online, so we might need to update the web shop!)

'Bourton' pocket on 'Otter' chambray. (Deer and Doe Arum dress, soon to be revealed!)

Chambray is a plain-weave cotton in a versatile mid-shirting-weight, generally with quite nice drape, excellent for shirts, skirts, dresses and more. It has a characteristic weave of coloured yarn in the warp and white in the weft, creating a softly mottled effect. It's similar to the look of denim but without denim's twill weave, which creates a diagonal line.

Here's 'Phoebe' with a classic blue chambray in our shop sample Adelaide Sundress.

'Byrne' with its darker tones is set off nicely by this bright yellow/green. (Okay, technically probably a crossweave or shot cotton but it lives on the chambray shelf!)
 'Ten Six' is good friends with this silvery-grey chambray.
 'Sarah' plays well with this green/black crossweave.
And below is Bourton and Otter again, demonstrating the visual pleasure of the sewing process with Liberty and chambray! Because  enjoying the process is often just as important as the outcome, isn't it?
Liberty and Chambray... come and find your perfect pairing at The Drapery!

- Jane & Fiona xx

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Townmouse 'Adelaide Sundress' in Umbrella Prints, and discounts for you!

Townmouse is a beautiful new line of pdf children's clothing patterns by Melbourne designer Kristine Lempriere. We had the chance to test the newest Townmouse pattern, the Adelaide Sundress. And on a sunny pre-spring day in Adelaide, it seemed pretty much perfect!

Kristine studied fashion design and patternmaking before creating a children's clothing label, Townmouse Children's Wear, which she ran for ten years before taking time out for family. Now she's releasing many of her best-selling designs as patterns for home sewists. She has a lovely blog here, and her pattern shop is on Etsy here.

We love the classic style of Townmouse patterns. We feel like they're a great match for many fabrics at The Drapery. We sewed it up in Umbrella Prints organic cotton 'Brushstrokes on Olive Gold'.
 Australian pattern designer, Australian fabric shop, Australian fabric designers: the trifecta, woot!
 (With Moda crossweave in Pepper as contrast.)

Our little friend, four-year-old Winter kindly agreed to model the dress for us, in exchange for keeping it, of course. (Many thanks to her parents Hannah and Nic for being part of this and also to Hannah for location scouting for the photos! Methinks I'll need to up my game from front-of-the-chookyard in future.)

The Adelaide pattern is very well-written with excellent diagrams and some good techniques for achieving a lovely clean finish. The puffed pockets, gathers at the neckline and bow detail give the dress just enough sweetness. We loved the opportunity to use a contrast fabric at the yoke and pocket binding.

The dress was well-tested for run-and-play-ability and apart from being a trifle on the long side, proved a winner. If I was to make this again to specifically fit Winter I'd probably go down a size (this was the size 4), so you may wish to bear that in mind if your girl has a slight build. However the loose fit will make it very breezy for summer and easy to layer in cooler weather.

Please note: this was the test version of the pattern and the armholes have been raised in the final, perfected pattern!
The pattern goes up to a size 10, which makes us particularly happy as we know that tween-age girls are a bit of a gap in the pattern market. Adelaide could be tweaked to look quite sophisticated on an older girl, with clever fabric selection, and perhaps swapping in-seam side pockets for the patch pockets and even substituting a button tab at the shoulder, or shorter draped ties, instead of the bow.


To celebrate the launch of the Adelaide Sundress, Townmouse Patterns is offering 10% off all pdf patterns during September with the discount code ADELAIDE.

The Drapery is also offering 15% off full-priced fabrics purchased in-store to use for any Townmouse pattern, during the whole of Spring. (Yes, even Liberty!) Just bring your pattern into the shop as proof of purchase. We can help you pick out the perfect fabrics and notions!

- Jane & Fiona xx