On stress fabric (and fabric stress)

People react to stress differently: some eat, some drink, some exercise more and some become consumers of goods. I fall into the final category and my goods are fabrics. I have become much more disciplined in my fabric purchases since the fabric extravaganza of 2014, and have only made three orders in 2016. Two were in May, when I was told I may be getting a split grade, and the third was two weeks ago, when it actually became a reality. My stress fabric from the most recent order arrived on Monday.


Stress fabric from EOS! There are 8,5 yards here. I love how it arrives, wrapped in tissue and packaged with my name on it. Still predominantly blue and brown, although I have branched out to teal on the blue spectrum!

I must be less stressed: in May, I ordered 19 yards, while this time I ordered only 8,5 yards! The funny thing about stress fabric is that I use it quickly. Often, I have completed the deliberations over how I will use it, and it is simply a matter of finding the time to launder it and to prepare the necessities of construction. There is only one fabric from the May orders for which I have no assigned project. My original idea for it fell flat and I have not yet come up with a Plan B.

It helps that I have some patterns for basics that I particularly like. In fact, four of the ten May stress fabrics were made into Ottobre 2.2006.1, a basic knit top.

Not terribly exciting as projects, but three of the four filled a gap in my wardrobe. The fourth, which was both the last to be made and the last picture (on the right), was not as successful. I liked the fabric, but not as the top.

I was more successful in repeating one of my favourite skirts from the spring, Burda 6835.

Skirts always look odd on my dress form! The Portofino stretch cotton from Marcy Tilton was a great choice for this skirt. I was also fortunate to have a zipper for the exposed zip that almost perfectly matched and was more attractive than the regular separating zips with their light grey teeth. The teeth on this zip look more like pewter.

Bengaline is legendary as a recommended fabric for many of Australia’s Style Arc patterns, but it is rather difficult to come by in this part of the world. I managed to obtain some in that May order from EOS, and made the Style Arc Linda pant.


My dress form has no legs, so pants are photographed on the floor!

I had plenty of fabric to do full-length pants. In fact, I cut full-length pants. However, I found this print overwhelming when it reached the ground and proceeded to cut off 20cm (8″) in order to make capris. Much more wearable, if only for one season.

My final garment from those May orders was completed just last week-end. Another Style Arc pattern, this one is the Patti dress.


As a column, I look best with long seams in dresses. The seam lines on this are great for me and the hem is only a slight A-line. Perfect!

This dress ticks so many boxes for me: no waist seam, long shoulder princess lines on the front and back for shaping and only a slight flare at the hem which means no vent! There is no lining, which is not my preference, but my fabric was opaque enough.


Can you see the beautiful shaping? I can’t see the beautiful shaping…

The fabric is Lido, a whimsical print from Marcy Tilton. Although a mid-scale print, the seam line shaping is quite obscured. I was actually worried that it might be too large a print for so much shaping and would look fractured. This is not the case, but I regret that the seaming is lost in the busyness of the print.

Photos of the interior to prove that the seams are shaped! It required further alterations, but was quite wearable (I wore it to work last Monday for the first day of my split class!). I found that the back neckline gaped. Fortunately, I had done the more extensive alteration of raising the waist on the five pattern pieces that make up the dress. (These five pieces yield nine panels! Lots of curvy seams to prepare and stitch.) The usual process on a princess seam dress is to remove excess from the princess seams, which translated into alterations on four dress pieces and both facing pieces. I was feeling lazy, and low on tracing paper, so chose to dart the excess on the centre back panel and the back facing. I then forced out the darts on both pieces. This is where the excess was, and it saved me paper and aggravation, for a time.

I performed these alterations last Sunday, and decided to make another Patti dress in a fabric that has caused me undue stress since purchasing it in April, 2014.


Milly poppy cotton sateen from Sawyer Brook. When I type too quickly and inattentively, poppy becomes poopy!

How could such a beautiful fabric cause stress, you may ask? For the very reason that it is beautiful, that there were only two yards of it, that it had to be a dress and that the dress it had to be was eluding me. Sometimes owning fabric becomes oppressive. (I have another that refused to let on what it wanted to be until just recently, too, but I’ll get to that one in a bit.)

So, from April, 2014 until last Sunday (18 September 2016), the poppy fabric would not co-operate and become a garment. After I completed the Lido dress, I realised it was perfect for the poppies. Low on fabric, I plotted it all out. The Patti dress calls for 2,2m and I had just 2 yards. It is mostly necessary for the length of the pieces. I managed to fit everything on a single layer with this directional fabric, but I needed more pattern pieces. For which I needed more tracing paper. For which I needed Boris (my car) to get to the art supply store. Boris decided he needed a new battery and set everything behind schedule by a couple of hours. I was just glad it was on a Sunday at lunchtime and not Monday at 6:30am, when I set off for work! Eventually, I completed all the pattern pieces, but was far too tired to cut the fabric.

Monday was overwhelming, with my split class, so again, I got little done, apart from pinning the pattern pieces for cutting. I wake up at 4am these days, so I cut out all of the dress pieces before work Tuesday. I was home after 6 again, so had enough energy for marking, fusing and pinning seams. Wednesday at 4am, I sewed the major seams and decided I wanted the dress for Curriculum Night, which was Thursday. I managed to leave work early enough to get home by 4:30 and finished the dress, except for the hem, which I finished Thursday morning. 4am has its advantages!

We again have the problem of seaming being obscured by a busy print. But it’s such a beautiful print! I don’t generally like florals, unless they are stylized, which these poppies are. I further complicated matters (and my time crunch) by adding a lining. I could have fully lined the dress, but I was afraid of not nailing the understitching at the neckline and having the lining peek over the dress. I kept the facings and made a front and back lining following the line of the side seam and carrying it out to the centre front and back, using the dress hem line as my lining cut line. I did not account for the curve of the facing over the bust.

The lining is very short! The light coloured line you see is my basting of the hem line for the lining. Needless to say, the lining was not hemmed. The deep curve of the facing at the armhole was tricky and really only behaves itself on the body. On the dress form, it creates bulk at that point. You can also see the self fabric facing. This is a cotton, and a fine one at that, but it was actually quite necessary to add the lining. It was somewhat sheer, and cotton is sticky without a lining, making it difficult to dress. I am really pleased with how it turned out and it did get worn to Curriculum Night!

My other instance of fabric stressing me out was resolved this summer. I bought this gorgeous linen in November 2015 and found its pattern in August 2016. So, just 8 or 9 months of stress with this one.


Linen digital print newsprint collage from Emma One Sock. This is my old apartment; the parquet in my new one has a dark stain.

I eyed this one for several months. It sold out quickly last summer, but EOS was able to restock it. I purchased it during the Thanksgiving sale last November. I thought it wanted to be a shirt, but could not imagine wearing it as such. Again, only two yards. It seemed too light for a bottom, but it ultimately became a skirt, just in time for my trip to Amsterdam and Brussels.

I don’t usually like pleats, but these ones are stitched down and there is a waistband. It is a really fun skirt to wear and the print is so unique. (My students were touching my skirt last week to see if I was wearing a newspaper!) The linen is sheer and it had to be lined. It was August 21, the day of my flight to Amsterdam, so I had little choice but to overpay for rayon bemberg at Fabricland. I used this tutorial, as the pattern is for an unlined skirt.

Fabric both relieves and creates stress. My fabric cupboards have been whittled down considerably, which makes the contents less oppressive for me, but I do sometimes give in to temptation and beauty, as I did recently. I just hope those fabrics will not be around long enough to oppress me.


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