THE SEWING DIVAS sewing, design, fashion

August 16, 2010

Paris by Design

Filed under: couture sewing,Draping,Georgene,Industry,Notions,Tools — georgene @ 6:48 pm

Patternmakers’ Supply House


No reason to keep it a secret. There is a specialists’ mercerie or notions store in the Sentier garment district in Paris.

Yes, in France there is a separate place to shop for needles, thread, buttons, zippers, and other trims, as well as needlepoint canvas, embroidery threads, etc. Often there are other things like yarn and knitting supplies, or stockings and hatpins there too. NO fabric, that is to be found in another, separate boutique.

Of course, just like independent fabric stores in the USA, these shops are on the endangered species list.

But I digress. I was staying near the Sentier last month, so it wasn’t far to go to find a specific color of thread I needed for an emergency button repair. I must have walked by the mercerie around the corner from the Rue Montorgueil a dozen times before stepping in to see what I could find.

Since I was there, I decided to buy a half a pound of my favorite Bohin Couturex straight pins, and to ask plaintively if they carried DMC Lacet Super-fin, otherwise known as bolduc band from my days in haute couture school in Paris. This is the flat, narrow cotton shoelace-weave tape used to mark the dressform. DMC stopped making it some time ago, and it has gotten scarce as hens’ teeth. The Chinese owners at this mercerie were stumped, they had no idea what I was talking about.

Another patron in the shop came to my rescue, and suggested 2 other merceries deeper in the garment district, saying that I would surely find my bolduc band there.

Bohin Couturex pins are my favorite for draping, as they are  long and fine, in hardened steel.

Bohin also packages my favorite Millener’s (Modiste) # 9 needles, long and fine for hand sewing muslins and other fine handwork.

That I how I found myself on the Rue Reaumur in front of the Papeterie du Textile, with the small hole in the wall notions shop next door exactly as described. Well, they were doing a land-office business! No danger of this place closing anytime soon. I found what I was looking for, and a few other things jumped in my bag as well: a new tracing wheel with different teeth from the 2 others I have, as well as a mechanical pencil for tailor’s chalk.

Tracing wheels top to bottom: new,  Dritz,  pinpoint

Draping at YSL with bolduc band: from Yves St. Laurent by David Teboul

The fellow at the cash register told me that they order their bolduc band special from a manufacturer down south, since it is no longer made commercially.

My informant also told me about Hamon, a draper-patternmaker’s specialist mercerie on the Rue de Clery. I made a foray up the hill of the Rue des Petits Carreaux past Rue Reaumur, to check it out. Located in an older building on a street of old buildings, the giant scissors above the front door told me I was at the right place. It was indeed a modeliste’s paradise, with scissors, paper, dressforms, irons, muslin, pins, bolduc, and books to teach all about draping and patternmaking (mostly in French, but some with English translation). Fortunately there is a website, so you may be able to acquire items difficult to find in your area.

Hamon

54, rue de Cléry
75 086 Paris cedex 02, France

http://www.hamon-paris.com/public.home.screen

Fil 2000

62 rue de Réaumur, 75002 Paris

métro Sentier sortie rue de Petits Carreaux.

http://fil2000.pagesperso-orange.fr/

Papeterie du Textile

61 Rue Réaumur, 75002 Paris

January 25, 2009

True Colors: Don’t Trust That Monitor

Filed under: Fabric,Phyllis,Technology,Tools — phyllisc @ 12:57 pm

pantoneLast week I bought a Pantone Color Guide and it’s amazing how useful it is. Savvy fabric websites like Emma One Sock and Gorgeous Fabrics already use Pantone color numbers in their fabric descriptions, and I hope this becomes a standard for all fabric and sewing trim websites (are you listening, M&J Trim and Fabric.com?)  I love on-line fabric shopping, but frankly, for fabric selection you should not trust the colors displayed on your monitor, especially for reds and blues, which have a huge range of color, saturation and hue.  It’s so much easier to be confident of  a color when you can look it up in  your Pantone Guide to really get an accurate sense of what it looks like.  The Pantone Shopping Color  Guide ($19.95) is the version you want, other Pantone color decks are pricey ($100+) and are really intended for design professionals. Once caveat: Pantone seems to hide this on their web site, and will ship it only within the US and Canada.  Els asked me to get one for her, and the shipping to Europe ended up being more than a third of the price, so I suspect that’s why this is a US/Canada only item on the US Pantone web site.  Pantone’s color system is a global standard however, I googled “Pantone UK” and “Pantone Germany” and got web sites for each, so with some perseverance you might find this outside the US.

November 8, 2008

Industrial Buttonholer

Filed under: Gigi,Tools — Gigi @ 11:40 am

Well, here it is. It’s a beastly-looking thing, isn’t it? I’m not sure how much I’ll use it but I’m anxious to try it out and see how it works. Thank goodness the instruction booklet is a bit better than the typical translated-from-Japanese manuals that often leave me scratching my head.

Since some of you asked, this is intended for use on an industrial straight-stitch machine but will also work on a commercial zigzag (like my Singer 20U-33) set for straight stitch. This is basically just the industrial version of the old Singer/Greist buttonholers made for straight-stitch machines – the ones that came in the old dark green (for vertical needle) or maroon (for slant needle) plastic boxes. The attachment moves the fabric back and forth but width and length has to be set manually since there are no templates.

indbh1

indbh2

November 4, 2008

Cool tools!

Filed under: Gigi,Machines,Tools,Vintage Sewing — Gigi @ 9:03 pm

I was so bummed out when I saw the super-fantastic Bernina invisible zipper foot #35 wasn’t made in a version to fit my Bernina 1530. :-( I have a really nice, all-metal invisible zipper foot for my industrial machine and wanted something similar. Up until now, I have been using (and been perfectly satisfied with) the 3-groove pintuck foot to install invisible zips. Still, I was complaining to my friend Greg about how unfair it was that Bernina doesn’t support the older machines. Then he got that Aha! look on his face and wondered aloud if the only difference between the classic feet and the Artista/Activa feet was the shank. I immediately called my friend Sharon (who works at a Bernina dealership) and asked her to bring me the foot in question. We popped off the shank and replaced it with the shank from an old #0 foot I found laying around the shop and there you go – an invisible zipper foot for my 1530! I just love it when a plan comes together. :-)

bfoot

While rummaging through my friend’s shop lately I’ve found some really, really interesting things. Many, many buttonholers, for one. To be honest, I’ve never had any interest in buttonholers because my machine makes really nice ones. Then, I started playing around with them. Now I own three! This first one is a low-shank buttonholer for use on a straight stitch machine. It actually moves the fabric back and forth – so cool! And check out the awesome buttonholes I made on a scrap of rayon jersey! And, yes, you can adjust the distance between the beads.

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I stitched the buttonhole on the left once and the one on the right twice. You can stitch around up to three times.

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Then Greg thought I might prefer the Singer Professional (for zigzag machines) instead so I tried it and bought two: one low-shank (vertical needle if you are looking on Ebay) for my Singer Genie, Pfaff or my Bernina (using the low-shank adaptor) and a slant version for the Singer 600-series machine which I’m going to keep set up just to make buttonholes. The Singer Professional even has templates for bound buttonholes and a beautiful eyelet. Seriously, these are so inexpensive everyone should have one even if for nothing more than a good keyhole buttonhole!

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Now I can’t wait to try the industrial buttonholer that Greg gave me for my Singer 20U!

Speaking of the Genie, I bought another one recently. I sold mine a few years ago and have always regretted it so I’m happy she’s back. Boy, this one sews like a dream and, at about 11 lbs., is the perfect little machine to toss in the car and much less precious than my Featherweight! This is model 354 (which has one more stitch than the original 353) from 1974.

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Lastly, as I may have mentioned, I have been helping my friend sell some old inventory on Ebay. His father opened the shop in 1967 and I don’t think anyone has ever gotten rid of anything so the walls are closing in on us!

We found some really amazing vintage feet and attachments as we were going through boxes, one of which was this wonderful Singer one-thread embroidery attachment (#26538) from the 1920s. Specialty thread, cord or yarn is fed into the attachment and twisted around as the machine stitches the cord down. It’s really incredible. I did a little research and found that the last one sold on Ebay for $169 (!). He said that if I sold two of them for that much he’d gift me the third attachment. Well, he wasn’t joking because, despite my objections, this little gem is now tucked away in my sewing room. I’ll use it to embellish something as soon as I get a chance. How lucky am I?

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There you go, I don’t post for months and then you can’t shut me up!

July 20, 2008

Table Talk


This photo from last year’s New York Times slide show of the Christian LaCroix workrooms is inspiring. A simple wooden table, a portable machine underneath, a stool. What more could you want?

The cutting table is your most basic tool. Raise your hand if you are not cutting on a table at waist height. 2 points off if you are cutting on a cardboard mat on your bed. An additional 4 demerits if you are cutting on the floor. I know, I know. You don’t have the space, or the money to have a dedicated cutting table.

When we first moved to New York City, my dear husband and I were poor as the proverbial church mice. We had one room in a shared apartment. So we built folding saw horses, and put a piece of plywood on top, and that was my table. But what a table! It was painted an elegant matte black, and for the saw horse hardware I used gold metal cuphooks and window hanging sash chain to fix the width between the legs. Saw horse tables are easy to make, and can be put up and down with ease.

Check out Ikea’s version, the Artur.

Now to me, the width of the table top in this photo is not nearly wide enough…and I am not sure I want a glass tabletop. You can use a different tabletop with the Artur legs though, which are adjustable from 28″ to 36″ high. My table is 36″, as are most commercial cutting tables. Here is a nifty link for folding sawhorse plans. This other plan with a simple hinge is closer to my NYC sawhorses, but with the cross piece at the bottom higher up the leg. I had a some boards I could sling underneath to make a shelf that sat on top of those cross bars. Can you guess that my table was more or less a permanent part of our bedroom? For those who might like to trade up, check out the Ligne Roset Trestle Table. My DH could totally make this elegant version of the sawhorse table!

Seriously though, your table can have a huge impact on your results. From not being able to get the proper angle for cutting those niggling little curves and notches, to dreading cutting because you break your back every time, there are a hundred reasons why not having a proper table can hurt your results. This is true not only for cutting, but for having a place to lay out your work in progress. All kinds of garment sewing require large surfaces at waist height, and most particularly when working on home decorating projects.

What matters? Not only height, but width, and, tables are not just for cutting!

The main thing for home dec is to have a BIG PRESSING TABLE.

One of the biggest revelations I ever had was walking by a design shop in Paris, up near the Sacre Coeur and watching thru the window as they laid the curtains out on a huge padded table at waist height to press. Light bulb moment!

I now have a layer of padding I can roll out on my cutting table to turn it into a pressing table. I also got 2 giant pieces of ½” thick foamcore and duct-taped together for a folding mat to make it 60” wide if needed. (had to do that for the taffeta of the recent prom dress.) You can see it here propped up in the corner.

I can think of nothing more helpful than a large table at the proper height for any curtain or bedspread wrangling. I even put the portable sewing machine up on the table and sew standing up for the big wide jobs.

This commercial set-up for a drapery workroom is interesting on several levels. I love the little skirt in front that looks like it can be extended to allow the fabric to fall in to it to keep from dragging on the floor. Also, check out the table-top pad. Now there is a really smart idea, to put elastic around your pad, sort of like a fitted bottom sheet for the bed. I just have some layers of flannel sheet and gigantic beach towel that I roll out, but this is worth a try. I am definitely going to adopt this idea for my table.

Also see this clever portable folding cardboard cutting table. Not widely available yet, but congrats to the person came up with this idea.

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