The Birth of the Fabric Stash

I went fabric shopping today, and bought a silly amount of fabric.

It was brilliant.

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This is my first serious fabric “haul” – and I sure hope there are many more to come, because this was exhilirating! It was also exhausting. Fabric is so heavy. Who knew fabric was so heavy?

I think I’ve mentioned the fabric market at People’s Park Food Centre before. It’s a shopping centre down in Chinatown. The ground floor is a hawker centre (an open-air food court) which is ideal for a quick lunch to get your energy up before you start on your circuit of the fabric shops on the first floor. And you’d better make sure you’ve got energy, because there are many, many fabric shops. And there’s so much variety! And it’s so affordable! When we one day move away from Singapore, I think this will be one of the places I miss the most. I’ll have to take some pictures next time I’m down there – I’ll have to be sneaky though, as a lot of them don’t allow photography.

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Even the shopping bags are adorable!

 

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to walk you through what I bought…

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The first thing I picked up was four metres of this blue and cream gingham-ish cotton for S$6 per metre at Maggie Textile. I say gingham-ish because it is a little bit thicker than gingham, and the base colour being a cream rather than vibrant white means it doesn’t evoke that summer-school-dress feeling.

I’m thinking of making a Colette Hawthorn dress in this one, so I bought buttons to match. I probably should have taken the buttons out of the packet to show off their shape and colour. You’ll just have to wait for the finished Hawthorn!

An aside for any word geeks out there: I recently found out that the word gingham actually originates in this area! It comes from an old Malay word ginggang which meant “striped”. The spice trade brought the word to the Dutch, and from there it found its way into English.

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I bought five metres of this $S3/m plain white cotton fabric, for the Hawthorn muslin. I really like the white seersucker Hawthorn on the Colette website so there is a part of me that is hopeful that my muslin comes out wearable, but being realistic, I’m probably going to end up slicing-and-dicing that thing to get it to fit!

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This one really excites me! I love how bright and wacky it is, like colourful doodles in a notebook. I got it at Brighton Accessories House, which I think might be my current favourite shop in the fabric market, as it has a lot of Japanese printed cotton like this for S$6.60 a metre, as well as a big selection of buttons and zips. I’m going to make some more envelope pillowcases out of this fabric.

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This teal cotton came from Brighton Accessories too. It has an interesting grid texture and it’s pretty soft. I’m considering using this for another instant gratification Tilly and the Buttons Bettine dress. The print is quite large though, so it might look a bit weird around the gathered waistband. I picked up three metres so I can keep my options open.

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I really have no idea what the fabric content of this one is. I think it’s a cotton mix. It’s some kind of suiting trouser material in stable knit – bit stiff but also a bit stretchy. Plain black is pretty boring, but I’m very intent on making things that I will actually wear – and a wearable wardrobe has to include some neutral basics. I’m going to make a Sewaholic Hollyburn skirt out of this, to replace a ponte skater skirt from Uniqlo that I’ve nearly worn to death.

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This Sevenberry fabric comes from Golden Dragon at the People’s Park Centre (not the People’s Park Food Centre where the fabric market is). The print is very me! I really enjoyed the Sevenberry fabric I used for my palm print Megan dress, so I might make another Megan with this.

And finally, I swung by trustworthy Spotlight at Plaza Singapura to buy some matching thread and interfacing. They obviously sell thread at the fabric market, but I’ve gone a bit weird and want all my thread to be Guttermann because I like the uniformity on my thread rack. At Spotlight, I walked past this and just couldn’t not buy it…

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It’s an adorable bear print cotton jersey! Spotlight is considerably more expensive than the fabric market as this cost $S15 per metre – and that’s including my member discount. But look how cute it is!

I am always strongly drawn to clothes with prints of animals. It’s a constant test of my self restraint. They’re so delightful, but typically pretty juvenile – which is not the look I want to go for. This fabric is quite subtle and not too cartoonish. Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself. I’ll be making a Sewaholic Renfrew shirt out of this, as my first real foray into sewing with knits.

Phew! Now to bung it all in the washing machine so it’s ready to sew!

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Chilli Bettine Dress

Yet another Tilly and the Buttons piece… I made this Bettine dress! With chilli print fabric! Because spicy food is my favourite food!

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Making this dress felt a lot like cheating. It has extremely simple construction as it is targeted at absolute beginners. I think I’m in the “advanced beginner” camp by now, so this was a doddle to put together! I made the version without pockets (not a fan of how they look) and omitted the cuff tab, which meant I was left with very few pattern pieces and very few seams. And no darts! It was a very quick make, to the point that it seems like I barely did anything to the fabric for it to turn into a dress.

 

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I did a 1.5″ full bust adjustment on the front bodice piece because I am a C/D cup and Tilly’s patterns are drafted for a B cup. When you execute an FBA, you increase the length of the bodice piece. Typically, there is a horizontal dart on the bodice which then gets redrawn to consume that extra length of fabric, but this dress has no darts! Tilly recommends ease-stitching the extra length in which I found very straight forward.

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The fabric came from Malin Textile at Chinatown and I paid S$11 (£5.50) per metre for it, down from S$13 (£6.50). It frayed like crazy while I worked with it, which was irritating. But it came out so cute! It’s a fun dress. I like the kimono sleeves. They’re different.

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It’s not at all easy to pull over my head though. I have to do a very awkward wiggle dance to put it on. It’s probably because I cut a size 1 for the hips whereas I’m a size 2 plus FBA in the bust, and the skirt is a tulip shape so it narrows towards the hem. As there are no closures, the narrow hem needs to go over my head and past the bust when I put it on, and it takes a fair bit of encouragement to coax it to where it’s supposed to be.

 

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A much more graceful wiggle than the one I had to do while getting dressed.

I’m not sure what I could do to fix that next time, though. My first thought was to try it with an A-line skirt, but I think the skirt does need to hug the hips in order to balance out the bagginess on top. Maybe I will just try it in a jersey, once I’ve learned how to sew with knits. And I’ve already ordered a couple of knit patterns so that won’t be too far away!

Palm Print Megan

My palm print Megan dress is finished!

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The fabric is by Sevenberry and I’m in love with it. It’s light, but has some structure. It holds a crease when you want it to, but doesn’t crease through wear. It’s great!

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I really like this dress. I put most of it together very quickly without much thought, which was rewarding after how long my first Megan took me. But when I was about to put the sleeves on my husband commented that it actually looked really good without sleeves. So I thought I’d have a go at making bias tape and using it as a facing. It took me a whole day to figure it out, but I got there in the end – one new dress, two new skills. And he was right! The Megan is brilliant without sleeves.

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The one thing in this pattern that I’m still unsure about is the length of the dart tucks on the front of the bodice. One of my original fit adjustments was to lengthen the bodice, but I didn’t know what to do with the dart tucks so I left them as they were. I think I need to lengthen them by the same amount so that they lie flat.

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See how that dart tuck billows out just a touch at the bust? I think the bodice fit is pretty good apart from that. I can’t easily get that part of the bodice under the machine now it’s been fixed to the skirt, so I tried to hand sew it flat – turns out I still don’t have any patience for hand sewing. Might try slip stitching it later. I don’t think it’s a big deal though, I’ll just mark the dart longer on my pattern piece and bear it in mind next time.

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I’ve done quite a few Tilly patterns in a row now, and it’s time for me to branch out. I finished a Bettine dress yesterday and I’ll be posting about that soon, but I’ve ordered some Colette and Sewaholic patterns to get a bit more variety in my me-made wardrobe.

Speaking of which, I signed up to Me-Made May! I’ve pledged to wear at least two pieces that I’ve made myself each week in the month of May. Looking forward to it!

Anchor Mimi Blouse

Look, it’s my first blouse! I made the Mimi blouse from Love at First Stitch.
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I made no alterations to this one as I made it immediately after making my alteration-ridden Megan dress (the one with the six bodice muslins) and I just wanted to get my teeth stuck straight into the sewing. I think the finished piece fits me alright – but then it’s a loose fitting garment with no darts or anything, so there wasn’t much risk there.
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I bought the fabric at the People’s Park Food Centre in Chinatown, which is amazing by the way. Fabric stores as far as the eye can see – and cheap too!
This is a cotton, but beyond that I couldn’t tell you much about it. I thought it was a lawn when I bought it, but it isn’t especially drapey, so I suspect it’s more of a poplin. Anyone got any tips on how to identify different types of cotton?
Unfortunately the pattern calls for drapiness, so the finished blouse is a bit stiffer than I would like. It’s wearable, but I’m not really all that sure about the way it hangs at the back when it’s tucked in:
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That’s not as much of a problem when its untucked -but that’s not really my style. I tend towards an hourglass silhouette, so I’d typically tuck in a loose fitting blouse at the waist. We’ll have to see how often I reach for this one in my wardrobe.
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I did have a couple of other issues making it. I must have sewn the yoke interfacing on a little wonky, because the corner above the top button really wants to stick out, and no amount of pressing will subdue it. I had a go at restitching it without much success, so in the end I whacked a hidden hook-and-eye in there. Bit of a duct tape solution, but it did the trick…
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The other issue was really just foolishness on my part. Put the buttons on the wrong side, didn’t I? Totally didn’t think that through. At least I know I’ll never make that mistake again. It feels very weird buttoning up a blouse this way round!
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All in all, a successful make, but I’m not sure how much I will end up wearing it. I’ve just picked up some drapey rayon to make up another version and see if I can make this pattern work for me.
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Making Another Megan

Firstly, a brief announcement: my blog has a new name! Cotton on Cotton is now Cotton Noodle. I changed it because wanted something that wasn’t so close to the name of an established brand. Picking a name is hard, and it’s even harder the second time around as you have something to compare it to. The new name quietly alludes to the fact that the blog was born in Singapore. Or maybe I was just hungry.
Anyway, back on topic… Here’s my work-in-progress:

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After putting all that effort into fitting the Megan pattern, I’ve kicked off another version. This fabric is a Sevenberry cotton that I managed to find in the chaos of Singapore’s Mustafa Centre. I like that the palm print is quite busy, while the monochrome stops it from being loud. This is going to be another work dress so I want it to be relatively subdued.

I lowered the neckline a touch, giving it a soft V-shape. I’m also considering keeping it sleeveless. Otherwise, I’ve kept the same alterations as last time.

I’m having loads of fun making this one. I think as I’m getting better at sewing, and have to stop and refer to instructions less and less, I am getting more of that rush of joy that comes from creating something with my own hands. It’s this feeling that makes me love being a maker. I’ve been a knitter for a few years, so it’s nothing new to me – but I am enjoying how sewing brings this sense of gratification and pride more often, as garments are faster to finish. Yup, I think I really like sewing.