Monday, September 27, 2010

Lady Grey: The fabric is in.

Oh yeah! Saturday the postman delivered a hand-addressed envelope from Elfriede's Fine Fabrics in Boulder, Colorado. My fabric samples are here! Of course, now I am in conniptions over which fabric to choose. I hardly slept a wink last night (it is unclear, however, whether it is the fabric decision or a stressful work week that cause my disturbed snooze).

The samples arrived courtesy of Elfriede's Fine Fabrics, and the one and only Elfriede herself chose them after an email and a phone call. I had described to her that I was interested in a cotton chino/twill/trench-coat like fabric, and she explained that we are moving into the woolen season, so my timing was off for a spring jacket cotton. She said however that she would send some samples of what she recommends given my stipulations - I live in a hot climate, I am a beginning sewer, this is my first jacket, and I am attracted to the color blue. In response, she sent me fourteen samples. I am delighted. Her fabric is fine indeed.

In case you ever have the opportunity, I want you to be able to visit her store yourself, so here is the contact information:
Elfriede's Fine Fabrics
2425 Canyon Blvd.
Boulder, CO 80302
(303) 447-0132

Elfriede is the absolutely charming owner. If you head over to the website you can see a photo of Elfriede herself. She is German, and therefore has an impressive accent that adds to her personality. I can tell you from personal experience that she also has impeccable taste. Her fabrics are as beautiful as any fabric I can imagine. She is totally independent and I think she does all of her own buying. And the nice thing is that her shop is large enough to have everything you need, but still small enough that she knows every inch of her inventory and you can shop it without being overwhelmed. Plus, she excels at personal service.

She mailed me fourteen samples, ranging from stretch cotton to silk twill to wool gabardine (to be fair, I am making my best guess at the fabric types, I am not entirely sure they are twills and gabardines). You can see my favorite fabric choice up above, with details below. I am looking for feedback and opinions.

#1 is an off-white textured floral texture made of 89% cotton, 11% rayon and 60" wide. It is on sale for $24/yard (on sale from $48/yard) and made by an Italian designer. This is one of Elfriede's favorite choices. I like the fabric too, but I am concerned about the off-white color. Will it get dirty? Is it versatile?

#7 is a navy blue stretch cotton (chino or gabardine I think) made of 97% cotton, 3% spandex and 54" wide. It only costs $12/yard, which is a plus. This fabric matches my initial vision for a trench-like jacket, plus it's stretch. These are good things. But I do wonder if the blue fade quickly and looks dull, or if the dark color will attract lint and dust?

#8 is a dusty blue 100% cotton, similar in texture to the stretch cotton but without any stretch. It is a full 60" wide and only $12/yard, which makes it economical. This fabric has an already distressed look for a casual, year-round jacket, and it may be most appropriate to line with a printed cotton (I really dislike sewing silky fabric). But, is it a waste to sew such a classy, versatile jacket in such a casual fabric?

#9 is a violet-ish blue and golden brown "tweed" (not entirely sure this is technically a tweed, I am making my best guess) made of 100% silk. It is 54" wide and costs $28/yard, making it very pricey. It is Sam's favorite, and perhaps the most dressy fabric choice. Because of these two factors I am more and more drawn to it. The semi-nubby texture makes it interesting, and the multiple colors of beige, brown, and gold add dimension. I am leaning heavily on purchasing this for my coat. And it seems grown-up enough to demand a pair of gloves and a pretty handbag. But I do wonder... will it look too old or formal all sewn up in 5.5 yards? Also, will i have any challenges with a slightly looser weave? It is a silk, and is silk delicate... for example will it wear quickly where I carry my purse on my shoulder, or will it snag? I do not want to put forth the expense and effort if the jacket does not have a long shelf life. Oh, but it is pretty, and seems so fancy!

#14 is an almost Robin's Egg blue thin, tightly woven wool made of 100% wool and 60" wide. It too costs $28/yard. Advantages are that it is a pretty and bright color, it has a nice drape because it is a thin fabric, and it looks easy to sew. I am still wondering though, will the wool be too hot? Will the coat be versatile enough in my South Texas climate?

Oh, this is so hard. The combination of choices, expense, and fear of ruining lovely fabric is paralyzing me. I plan to call Elfriede tomorrow and ask a few more questions about my top choices, mainly if there are structural concerns for the jacket (looser weave vs. less drapey fabric), how to care for each fabric, plus I want to know about lining options. I hope she will send me some lining samples for two to three narrowed choices.

Please, Please PLEASE send me your feedback I really value some experienced sewers opinions, and also the opinions of those that know me, my style, and my lifestyle too. What do you think will work best for my Lady Grey?


Sarah said...

Kate- What fun choices you have. My favorite fabric is the tweed but I have 2 objections to it. First, I don't think it looks right for S.A. It does look right for Co. but too warm for Texas. Also it looks hard to sew.
My next fav is #8. I think that color would be lovely on you and it seems like the right texture for the coat. A cool lining will really make it special. I also think it is a more affordable option for a big project that may be a challenge. The pattern is classy so you can make a second significantly different coat once you have the first one behind you. I can't wait to see your progress in October!

-Vonda (via Pattern Review) said...

Great project! Having sewn a few coats myself, I think you should chose #14 wool for your first coat. This type of wool (cashmere blend) sews like a dream. Unless you have a lot of experience with your serger, I would steer clear of the silk tweed. Each pattern piece would have to be individually serged before sewing.