February 12, 2015

Help! I have a fabulous problem.

I may have the world’s most fabulous problem.
Last time I was in NYC I peeked into that Aladdin’s den of wonderfulness, B&J Fabrics. If you haven’t been there before, it’s an incredibly upscale purveyor of the fanciest fabrics you can imagine (along with some more normally-priced bolts for we regular folk). My favourite parts of the store are the display walls where they have swatches of fabric together with stills from the runway shows where they’ve been used. If you’ve ever wanted the chance to pet $2,500/yard Valentino lace, this is the place for you.
I was fantasy-shopping, minding my own business, when….
it was love at first sight.
It’s (apparently) hand-painted silk organza. From Italy. It has the most unbelievable crisp but drapy hand, and it’s even better in person.  I didn’t buy it on the spot because I was a little overwhelmed and couldn’t quite justify the cost (though I will reassure you it’s *not* $2,500 a yard!). But as all crushes will, it dwelled on my mind, and one night I found myself buying a yard and a half online. No regrets.

The big question now: what am I going to make out of it? It’s enough for a top or a skirt, but not for a dress (unless it was panelled with something else). I have a total fear of screwing it up, which I’m going to need to get over, but the best way to address it is to muslin the heck out of something and use couture techniques, I think. I’m also a little concerned that because it’s organza the seams could split if I sit down quickly when wearing it… I’m guessing it’s going to need either underlining or some  other kind of under-layer. I don’t have that much so I don’t want to worry about pattern matching.

So, dear readers, help! What garment should I make? What pattern should I use (or should I draft something)? And which couture techniques would be best?

28 thoughts on “Help! I have a fabulous problem.

  1. My suggestion is to make something that doesn’t cut into the pattern too much. A simple skirt with wide pleats similar to the way you have it pinned to the mannequin. Then obtain a fabulous top or sweater to pull out that beautiful blue in there. I think panels would break up the print too much.

    1. I agree….simple is the order of the day here. You really want to showcase that fabric. As to the underlining…not my area of expertise, I’m afraid. But I’ll bet there are plenty of seamstresses out there who’ll be happy to help. Good luck…this is going to be stunning!

  2. Sam says:

    Wow, what stunning fabric! I agree with the 2 previous comments to keep it simple. A skirt in a style similar to how you have it pinned on the mannequin would be fabulous in my opinion.

  3. Gail says:

    If you can’t decide, you can just pass it on to me 😉 Absolutely stunning!! I see this as a skirt, something Ulyana Sergeenko style – i.e. midi-length poofy dirndl.

  4. hilde says:

    These are the best problems to have! It’s a beautiful fabric, so I would also go with a simple skirt; let the fabric do all the talking. (If it were mine, I would wear it with dark grey, chic!)

  5. I’m seeing a camisole and matching shorts to sleep when spring comes around. I know it’s a delicate fabric but most lingerie is made from delicate fabrics and they don’t split.

  6. What about something like a kaftan that has very simple lines and let’s the fabric do the talking? The floaty fabric wouldn’t need lining them and you could wear a plain vest underneath or something.

  7. V says:

    Oh my! Stunning!!! Suggested patterns would be Butterick 5929. Either view on that one honestly. View C has a couple more seams, but that would drape beautifully with it. McCall’s 6706, view C if you’re into the high/low look, but View D would be perfect. Nice chunky pleats to show off that gorgeous fabric. Or Vogue 9030, which is a bias cut, but oh the drape!

    Definitely go with an underlining. It will give you the added support at the seams, plus take away some of the transparency of that gorgeous fabric. I can see the printing on your dress form right through it! 🙂

    Have you tried the trick where you cut your underlining with an extra 5/8″ seam allowances on the vertical seams, stitch it right side to your fashion fabric, then flip to wrong sides and press. You get interlined and an instant Hong Kong finish on the seam allowances. Then you sew it up as if it were a single layer of fabric.

  8. Mrs. Smith says:

    First; I WANT! That is absolutely beautiful!

    Second…go with a TNT. Be *certain* (as much as you can be), that you’ll love the item on you. And I agree with the comments to keep it simple. Simple silhouette to highlight the GORGEOUS fabric!

  9. If it were mine, I think I’d do a simple tunic, maybe with a draped neck? I like the idea of showing off the drape of it and avoiding extra seams, gathering, pleats, etc., that would obscure the beautiful design on the fabric. I’d wear it over a pair of slim blue pants or skirt.

  10. Jenny, you have exceptional taste in fabric! This is exquisite. As others above mentioned, I would try a pattern that doesn’t require you to break up the print. It’s a large scale print, so it could get lost if you have a pattern with a lot of seams. I think this would be beautiful as a blouse like any version of Butterick B5889. I’m sure whatever pattern you decide to use, it will be incredible. 😀

  11. laglov says:

    Man, oh man, that is some GORGEOUS fabric. I tend to turn to some variation of Grainline’s Scout pattern when I have a print that deserves center stage…although I don’t think I’ve ever used one as special as this! The Scout can work as a tunic (if you add some length) or a tucked-in tee.

  12. Marianne says:

    A remake of M6931? I love the look of your cloud skirt!

  13. How about doing a print/color block by using a complimentary solid silk organza? Maybe a dress with a solid bodice and the printed skirt?
    Ah, B&J fabrics- always so tempting!

  14. Before you even look at patterns, or decide top vs skirt, take a look at the designers who use big floral prints like this and go through their collections for inspiration. I’m thinking Oscar de la Renta, Carolina Herrera, Thakoon, Prabal Gurung, Dolce & Gabbana…. That is one beautiful piece of fabric and you want it to turn into something you wear for years to come. Take your time making your decision! —Meg

  15. lisa g. says:

    Oh goodness that is beautiful! I love the idea of an elegant knee/midi pleated skirt… can’t wait to see what this becomes!

  16. She Dabbles says:

    This fabric is AMAZING in person!! It looks so good here but the hand of it really steps it up even more. I think a skirt with big inverted box pleats like this one would look really neat!

  17. It is lovely. I’d go a skirt, or, consider a totally indulgent robe – the cost per wear would be far better!

  18. Katie says:

    A dress with an orange bodice and either box-pleated or gathered full skirt!

  19. I like the big pleats on that skirt. Tea length would be just lovely.

  20. Elle says:

    Something kimono-ish with contrasting bands and/or sleeves.

  21. Angie says:

    BEAUTIFUL fabric. All suggestions are great. I just wish you had enough for a dress. I agree with Meg from McCall’s to take your time and look around and let the fabric tell you what it wants to be. Too pretty to not wait and have regrets.

  22. Tea-length skirt. I think a sheath would be too ladies who lunch, and a crop top/skirt combo would be good, but might not have staying power (though if you have enough left over for a matching crop top, that would look divine).

    I can’t envision you in a tunic, or an organza, but I don’t have the most fertile imagination. You could mix it with another fabric (panels to match the blue/indigo in the pattern, or somesuch), but I think you’d risk taking away from the organza. Then again, you’re you, and I generally trust your taste enough to want to preemptively copycat whatever design is knocking about in your head. Do play around with laying different color fabrics under it, to see if it changes the character of the fabric, and if you dis/like it.

    So excited to see what you make!

  23. DanaRose says:

    Oh! I’ve had my eye on this fabric for almost a year. I’m envious beyond words! When I was first eyeing this it was to make an a-line skirt with box pleats like many of the other commenters suggested. Perfect for spring!

    I’m also so glad to have the chance to see other photos and read more description of this fabulous fabric! I find the info on the b&j website a little lacking.

    I can’t wait to see what you make!!!!!!

    PS if you’re interested, I posted a tutorial on how to make a box-pleated a-line skirt on my blog. No pattern needed! I’m guessing you’d underline with like a white CDC? I love how underlining makes finishing sheer fabric so much cleaner and easier!

  24. sew rachel! says:

    I agree with the above, keep it simple. I love a sleek statement skirt

  25. A jacket … no buttons .. dolman sleeves … sheer lining. Less stress on seams than a skirt … can wear with an infinite number of outfits — from jeans to a little black dress and everything in between

Let me know what you think!