Let’s talk about fabric shall we. Now I am definitely not an expert in textiles. Everything I’ve learnt has come from my experience with sewing. When my youngest was just a baby, and I was just learning to sew, we were living in Sydney, and not too far from what is historically known as the garment district. Anybody who has a small baby knows that mums need to get out of the house. Once I moved beyond foraging at Spotlight (the equivalent to Jo-Ann here), my favourite weekly outing with bubs became a trip to Tessuti Fabrics. Every now and then, I threw in a trip to the Fabric Store for good measure, but my regular haunt was Tessuti’s, and not just for the fabric, but also for the great staff, and of course, their most fabulous of fabulous remnants table.
I didn’t always walk away with a purchase, but I would walk up and down those walls of fabric, dreaming, feeling and learning about amazing textiles. I also spent a fair bit of time rummaging through their remnant table to find fabric gems that are were discounted by 40-50%. I picked up LOADS of amazing remnants during my time in Sydney; the softest wool jerseys, silks, printed linen, and lots of ponte knits. I also picked up this heavy-weight, striped, pure wool knit that I turned into a coat for Miss Six.
I made this coat more than 18 months ago, well before I started blogging. I took these pictures a few days ago. Past Debbie didn’t know much about interfacing or turn of cloth so the collar could certainly be improved. But even so, the jacket has withstood the test of time. I used a pattern from one of my Japanese Pattern Books (Neat and lovely girl’s dresses by Yuki Araki). It is such a lovely design and Miss Six simply adores it. It’s probably the absolute favourite thing that I’ve ever made for her. She wears it every day in cool weather. If it weren’t so cute, I’d be sick of the sight of it by now.
I wash it on a gentle machine cycle, as infrequently as possible, and it still looks and feels as good as new. The fabric wasn’t cheap but it is clearly robust enough to withstand the activities of a school kid. It hasn’t pilled like a poly blend wool. It hasn’t faded, felted, shrunk or stretched out of shape. It’s in such great shape that it will likely be passed down to my middle girl next. At nearly $60 a pop (or should I say metre) the price of this wool fabric will make some people cringe. I was lucky enough to pick it up for about half this, but it would have been worth every penny at full price too.
So thinking about this coat had me thinking about how I evaluate the cost of fabric. I’m going to disregard quilting cottons for a minute, because they are always going to be fabulous value for wear. I’ve also experienced some great longevity out of budget corduroy. But when it comes to knits and wool fabrics, there is something to be said for purchasing quality, natural fibers. Yes, they cost more, but in my experience, they are a lot more comfortable, they look better for longer, and they are often well and truly worth the amount spent.
I’m still seduced by cheap synthetic blend fabrics on occasion and I probably always will be, but I mostly live to regret it. Sure, I might get a few wears out of the item, but within weeks it’s often terribly pilled or felted, and ready for an early retirement (in our house, this means they get sent to the dress up box, my clothes included). I can’t stand pilled clothes. I did a little stocktake recently and sadly, these dresses are already out of commission.
I’m guessing there’s at least $60 worth of fabric in all those dresses combined. If it weren’t for the enjoyment the dress up box brings and the fact that I enjoy sewing, I’d be thinking that this time and money could have been better spent.