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Calico Laine News

  • Dressmaking Fabric to recreate Bafta glamour

    Last Sunday saw one of the biggest British awards ceremonies take place, the Bafta Film Awards. Often dubbed as the British Oscars, stars walked the red carpet in designer outfits with cameras flashing and journalists shouting 'who are you wearing?' before they sat down for the evening's event. Even if you didn't watch the awards themselves, it is always fun to flick through the paper or nowadays, scroll through the Internet and admire (or silently judge!) what dresses have been chosen by the celebrities. The same night saw the Grammy's take place in L.A so Monday morning gave me a plethora of outfits and Dressmaking choices to scrutinize.

    Viola Davis wearing chiffon dressmaking fabric at the Bafta awards Viola Davis stuns in a blue chiffon gown by Jenny Packham

    I have to say that this year, the Grammy's were very disappointing on the fashion stakes. There were some unusual choices made by singers such as Katy Perry in a metallic and feather ensemble and Lady Gaga in a leather outfit that didn't leave much to the imagination (although to be fair, when does Lady Gaga ever wear something 'normal'?) and there wasn't one dress that I thought worked particularly well. The Baftas on the other hand saw some better Dressmaking choices and a number of celebrities looked stunning. Emily Blunt stood out in a Sarah Burton design which had a heavily embroidered bodice featuring birds and floral patterns with a tiered chiffon, full length skirt. With a simple up do, she had a air of 'Spanish dancer' to her. Another star that shone was Nicole Kidman who wore a simple and elegant black and metallic long gown with silver accessories. My most loved by far though was worn by one of my favourite actresses at the moment, Viola Davis, who I am currently enjoying watching in tv series How To Get Away with Murder. Viola, who won the best supporting actress award for her outstanding performance in Fences, wore a stunning bright blue Jenny Packham dress which stood out in a sea of black dresses. Jenny Packham has a well known Dressmaking style with flowing dresses, flattering necklines and beaded embellishments as standard and the gown she created for Viola was very much of her style. The strapless gown had a sweetheart neckline and with flowing chiffon to the floor, gave an understated sense of glamour.

    If you have a special occasion to go to and would like to try and recreate Viola's gown from the Bafta awards then the best Dressmaking Fabric to use would be chiffon or georgette. Chiffon is a sheer fabric however when it is layered and lined it is the perfect fabric to create elegant and glamorous occasion wear such as bridesmaid dresses, prom dresses and even bridal gowns. One of the best Dressmaking materials from our chiffon range, for this dress, would be extra wide chiffon as you would be able to easily create a full length dress using this 150cm wide fabric. The extra wide chiffon is available in a number of stunning bright colours which would give you a similar 'stand out' look similar to Viola's.

  • Dressmaking Fabrics for Children's clothes

    I'm at that stage in life when everybody around me seems to be having babies or already have children and I have noticed that with a lot of people, their time and money all tends to be spent on the children as they are the most important thing in their life. One of the fun things to spend your money on when you have children, especially girls, is cute outfits for them to wear. If you are creatively minded then you may like to try a little bit of Dressmaking and hand make some clothes for your little ones. This can be a cost effective way of dressing your child or children and making them look unique.

    Here at Calico Laine we stock a number of Dressmaking patterns from companies Butterick, Vogue and McCalls which range from patterns for dressmakers who are just beginning to sew up to more advanced sewing patterns for those with experience. Each season brings a new set of patterns so that you can create outfits all year round for the kids. You'll find that throughout the year, the patterns are put on offer with many being half price, which is a great time to stock up, making your Dressmaking even cheaper. Patterns can be used more than once (if you are careful to look after your pattern and trace your patterns rather than cut them to size) so when you find a style you like, you can often make it for years in different fabric as your child grows up and needs bigger sizes.

    Children's clothing can be made in a number of different Dressmaking fabrics but our most popular choices are our polycotton prints and Rose and Hubble cotton prints. These fabrics are easy to work with, come in a variety of different colourful prints and most importantly are washable. For little girls, the Rose and Hubble cottons are ideal as there are a number of small floral patterns which would suit summer dresses, skirts and tops. These can then be adorned with lace trims, broderie anglaise or ribbon to finish them off. For the boys, we have light denim fabrics which can be used to make shorts or jeans and these can be embellished with an iron on motif design to add some colour.

    As well as these Dressmaking fabrics we have cotton jersey fabrics to create t-shirts, gingham for school clothes, fleece for pyjamas and dressing gowns and light denim chambrays for pinafore dresses. With a little imagination, you could create a new wardrobe for your kids; you just have to find the time to do it!

  • Haberdashery - Why Should I use Gutermann Threads?

    If you are a dressmaker or crafter, an essential Haberdashery item that you can't live without is thread. There are a number of thread manufacturers out there but whenever we get asked by a customer which thread is best to use, we often suggest gutermann threads due to their high quality. Gutermann produce a large selection of threads which can be used for both hand sewing and machine sewing and designed to last, with a stronger construction than many other sewing threads. If you are ever unsure what thread to use, Gutermann is the way to go.

    Gutermann threads are a great Haberdashery item to use for your everyday sewing no matter what type of fabric you are using. If you are creating a garment made from 100% cotton, we would suggest using their all cotton thread which is ideal for natural fabrics. This thread washes well and can be dyed along with your fabric if you are looking to create a more decorative fabric with unusual colours or tie dye effects. This thread, along with the whole Gutermann range, is strong and colour fast so there is no need to worry that after spending hours making a new outfit the thread is going to let you down. If you are sewing with any fabric that isn't a natural fibre, Gutermann sew-all thread is ideal. Sew-all thread is made from 100% polyester and sews beautifully. It is an excellent all round thread and is guaranteed by Gutermann that it will not knot up and tangle while you are sewing which is a great guarantee; there is nothing worse than having to stop in the middle of your sewing to untangle and fix your thread. Both of these threads are available in 100m reels as standard and are available in larger reels in a smaller selection of colours.

    If you are looking to do some more decorative sewing, for example, hand quilting or machine embroidery, then there are also some great choices of thread from Gutermann in our Haberdashery department. The sulky rayon threads are particularly good for embroidery with their silky finish which will give a great aesthetic to your finished piece of work. As an alternative to these, the sulky cotton threads are ideal for machine embroidery on natural fabrics. The sulky cotton have a variegated finish which is a nice twist to a standard thread and will give more interest to your work.

    After you have bought all these gorgeous threads, you need somewhere to store them. This week we have just introduced some thread organisers to our Haberdashery range which will house your bobbins and 100mt thread spools. You can choose from a number of size organisers with the smallest able to store 12 threads and the largest, big enough to store 27 threads. Perfect to keep your sewing room tidy at all times.

  • Dressmaking & Bridesmaids Dresses

    Like many other brides, my sister in law (to be) has just realised with great excitement that she’s getting married this year! Obviously with my Dressmaking background the bridesmaid dresses have fallen to me.  I love dressmaking so I’m honoured she’s asked. It’s a summer wedding with 5 bridesmaids ranging in age from 2 up to 35 years. I initially thought it was going to be hard choosing a style that will suit everyone and a colour that will flow through the age ranges nicely. Luckily the colours, the theme and the dresses had already been pencilled in. My sister in law (to be) has a very clear idea of what she wants. It’s not a theme that I’d have ever envisaged but it’s going to beautiful.

    My sister in law (to be) loves all different shades of purples – mauves, lilacs, aubergines and so on. This colour range will lend itself well to 5 very different bridesmaids. I think all think all the different shades ranging from light to dark combined with ivory will look stunning. The photos are going to be beautiful. All 5 bridesmaids have chosen different styles; this will put my Dressmaking skills to the test! The two youngest are having very traditional duchess satin dresses in ivory with a bold aubergine sash. The 15 year old is having a tee length party dress in aubergine. Like a lot of teenagers this bridesmaid is conscious of her curves and wants a fabric that is not shiny and will offer her a more flattering fit. I have been Dressmaking for years; one of my favourite fabrics of all time is the micro fibre. The aubergine is luxurious and rich, the fabric is floaty and wont crease so will be ideal for a full skirt. The 2 older bridesmaids are having simple strapless dresses with a full floating skirt. For this I’ll need the extra wide chiffon. There’s a beautiful lilac which I’ll use for this. A wide fabric is essential for a full long skirt because I don’t want to start putting joins in pattern pieces.

    From a Dressmaking perspective, I think this combination of textures will be an exciting project; I can’t wait to get started. All the hard work will be worthwhile on the day. I can’t wait to see all the plans come together with the purple calla lilies and lavender flavoured cup cakes. It’ll certainly be a wedding to remember.

  • Haberdashery - What is Bias Binding?

    Bias binding is a really useful Haberdashery item and can be used for finishing off arm holes, necklines, hems or used for casing for elastic amongst other things. Most dressmakers will understand what the word 'bias' means already but for those of you who don't here is a quick run down. Every piece of fabric has two edges to it and these are unfinished edges called the selvage. These edges run parallel to each other and if the fabric is a woven fabric you will see lines that run across and up and down the fabric. If you cut the fabric off at a 90 degree angle and then fold this in half diagonally, this creates a bias line which is 45 degrees from the selvage. If you cut along this angle, you are cutting along the bias. Patterns usually ask you to do this if you need a little stretch or give to your garment as when you pull your fabric across the bias rather than parallel to the selvage it has some stretch to it. Bias binding is created by cutting strips of fabric across the bias to make a tape. This tape then has enough stretch to it so that it can curve around corners and edges neatly.

    Here at Calico Laine, the bias binding that we stock in our Haberdashery department is double fold bias which has pre folded edges and is ideal for finishing hems and necklines. Double fold bias sandwiches your fabric between two sides of bias tape to create a neat and crisp edge and can be used in a matching colour so that it is not too obvious or if you prefer, a complimentary colour to make the bias stand out on the garment.

    Within our Haberdashery section online, bias binding is available to buy by the metre or in full rolls. It comes in three different finishes; cotton, polycotton and satin so that you can match the bias to the type of fabric you are using. The polycotton and cotton bias comes in two sizes; 16mm and 25mm and the satin bias is available in a size of 20mm. These bias bindings all come in plain colours.

    If you are looking for bias binding to match your fabric exactly, you can make your own bias tape using a Haberdashery item by Prym; a bias binding maker. These come in three sizes with the biggest being 25mm. By cutting strips from your chosen fabric, you simply feed it into the binding maker and iron it as it comes out the other end to create a fold. This way, your tape will match perfectly.

  • Dressmaking fabrics for decorating a wedding

    Over the Christmas holiday and New Year, many loved up couples will have got engaged as this is one of the most popular times of the year to propose to someone. It may be a little early to be preparing for the big day however some brides to be are so excited they want to start planning things straight away. Here at Calico Laine we have a selection of wedding accessories for your wedding day as well as many Dressmaking Fabrics which can be used for a number of different things on your big day and not just for bridal gowns and bridesmaid dresses.

    If you are planning your venue decorations there are a number of Dressmaking Fabrics which can be used. Organza is the perfect fabric for creating sashes around chair covers as a way to incorporate your colour theme to your chairs. This fabric can be easily tied around a cotton or polyester chair cover and can be styled with some flowers or a diamante in the centre of the bow to add something extra special to your chairs. Organza is also great for creating table runners down the centre of the dinner tables or used for swags around the room to decorate a more plain venue. As organza Dressmaking Fabric is a woven fabric it will fray at the edges and would need to be hemmed. As an alternative to using this fabric, you could use organza snow sheer which does not fray at the edges. This is available on a 25 metre roll in a width of 29cm and can be used in a similar way for creating bows and even for adding colour to flower bouquets and table arrangements.

    If you are getting married in the summer, you may be looking into an outdoor venue or maybe a barn conversion. To decorate this type of venue, it may be nice to create some bunting which has been very popular in the last few years for wedding decorations. This can be made using cotton Dressmaking Fabrics and here at Calico Laine, we have a lovely range to choose from. We have a number of plain cotton fabrics and rose and hubble printed designs to add some pattern to your bunting. There is a huge selection of cotton fabrics so no matter what your wedding theme is, we are sure to have something that will work. To make bunting, all you need to do is cut triangles out of the fabric and sew them together using a cotton tape along the top.

    A number of people hire marquees for their wedding reception and these are usually fairly plain to begin with. If you want to add a pop of colour to the venue, you could try using economy satin Dressmaking Fabrics or cationic chiffon as these fabrics are both great value for money and will drape well to create a gathered fabric ceiling in the marquee. These fabrics can also then be draped or tied around the edges of the marquee to tie everything together. If you do not want a bright or string colour on the ceiling of the marquee you can also use white Egyptian cotton muslin to add texture and a better finish to the marquee.

    Whatever theme or colour you decide for your big day, Dressmaking Fabrics can be really useful and if you think outside the box, you can come up with some gorgeous venue decorations.

  • New Year at Calico Laine

    As we look forward to the New Year here at Calico Laine and reflect upon the months gone by, the first task for our buying team is to decide which fabrics are likely to be the best selling of 2017. Just as soon as Christmas is over the fashion world will begin to focus on the upcoming spring/summer season and one of the best ways to stay up to date with upcoming trends is by keeping a close eye on fashion weeks. The first fashion weeks of the year will focus on what is known as pre-fall fashion and it is at these shows that designers reveal their smaller collections at less formal shows - these shows are particularly useful for our buyers as they are likely to indicate the designs, shapes and fabrics that will determine next years fashion.

    Most designers pre-fall showcases will be held between September and February and are a great way of giving both our buyers, and in turn our customers, a head start on upcoming trends. This New Year at Calico Laine we have already begun to notice the recycling of fashion trends from bygone areas and in particular the wider leg trouser cut of the 70s. The flare made a comeback in the 2000s and was known as the "bootcut" before it was shunned again in favour of a skinny cut trouser, this is not to say that the skinny trouser is obsolete as yet however the wider leg trouser certainly looks set to increase further in popularity this upcoming season. Designers such as Narciso Rodriguez and Dianne Von Furstenberg have recently showcased a selection of wide legged trousers in varying styles and weights from casual crop length trousers in patterned fabrics to a more tailored look, ideal for formal events and evenings out. Here at Calico Laine we carry a variety of fabrics suitable for creating a wide leg trouser - our denim fabric is particularly useful for creating a more casual style of trouser and is available to purchase in a variety of weights from a 4oz denim suitable for a lighter-weight trouser right up to a 14oz denim ideal for bootleg jeans. Our bi-stretch fabric is the ideal choice for a pair of tailored wide-leg trousers; featuring a slight stretch on the bias this is a fabric which is particularly comfortable to wear.

    pink Fuchsia is set to be a particularly in-demand colour this New Year.

    When preparing for the New Year one of the most important aspects for Calico Laine buyers to consider is colour palettes. Every season we see a particular colour take precedence on both the high street and on the catwalk and it is inevitable that such trends will have a huge impact on the colours that will be in high demand with our customers during the upcoming season. Looking ahead to Spring/Summer the Paris catwalks have been awash with pink, however this is not the sugary, bubblegum shade of pink we have seen in previous seasons but a strong fuchsia - even Hermes who are famed for their classic neutral tones showcased a stunning tulle skirted evening gown in a stunning shade of hot pink. Pink is the perfect choice for fans of the colour block trend which has been popular on the high street the last few seasons however, for customers who may not be quite adventurous enough to swathe themselves from head to toe in fuchsia but prefer to give a slight nod to the trend, adding a splash of colour to your otherwise neutral outfit works just as well. Choose a pink jacket or a carefully chosen accessory such as a bag or shoes to stay bang on trend without overdoing it. We carry a wide range of dressmaking fabrics in shades of fuchsia such as our beautiful quality candy microfibre, ideal for creating smart clothing items and evening wear.

    black-glitter-floral-print-fabric-crinkled Large floral print fabrics are set to be huge this New Year.

    Here at Calico Laine our selection of printed dressmaking fabrics are always some of our best sellers whatever the season and judging by what we have seen on the catwalks so far, patterns are big news for the New Year. Models wearing bold, multicoloured stripes were all over the catwalk at New York fashion week with houses such as Fendi pushing the boundaries even further with their 60s reminiscent mix and match stripes of varying sizes and colour! For stripes, the bolder the better is the rule of thumb this season however more understated designs such as mini pinstripes were also seen and are the ideal choice for dresses and shirts. Of course, florals are always big news in the spring and the New Year looks set to follow suit. As demonstrated by Michael Kors big, bold florals are set to be on trend for the coming Spring/Summer season. We have recently added a selection of large floral print fabrics to our dressmaking collection - composed of 100% cotton these beautiful quality fabrics are ideal for a variety of dressmaking projects including skirts, dresses and blouses and are available to purchase in a variety of stunning designs. For customers who prefer a more figure hugging design, our cotton spandex prints feature a slight stretch from the added elastane and are particularly flattering and comfortable to wear.

    We look forward to seeing your creations on our social media pages over the coming seasons. Everyone here at Calico Laine would like to take this opportunity to wish all of our customers a very happy New Year!

  • Buy Zips for Evening Wear

    When customers Buy Zips online at Calico Laine we often receive queries from those who are looking for zips for evening wear dress projects and in particular dresses. There are a number of zips we can suggest for customers who are looking to Buy Zips for dressmaking projects however for delicate evening wear we would suggest our selection of nylon dress zips or a concealed zip, otherwise known as an invisible zip.

    Most dressmakers and designers who Buy Zips for evening wear such as a delicate dress or skirt will opt for our closed end nylon dress zips. Available in varying sizes from 4" right up to 22" the most common size for a dress will be between a 12" and a 14" dress zip. Featuring delicate, lightweight teeth these zips are particularly light and will not affect the weight of your garment or weigh down a lighter fabric - when heavier zips are used this can often result in the fabric pulling or ripping. For customers who Buy Zips at Calico Laine we stock an extensive range of colours and sizes so you can be sure to find the ideal match to your fabric. Our nylon dress zips feature teeth that match exactly the fabric on either side of the zip and when it is applied directly to your garment these zips will result in the perfect blend so your zip will not be seen. Many customers who are working on a more adventurous dress design will Buy Zips in a contrasting colour to their fabric so it becomes a focal point on their design.

    For those who do not wish for your zip to be visible at all from the outside of your garment, choose from our fantastic range of invisible or concealed zips. This selection of zips are a particularly popular choice for bridal wear and high end formal evening wear. When inserted correctly, this zip is invisible from the outside of your gown and will appear only as a seam. Customers are able to Buy Zips from this collection in a variety of colour options and in sizes ranging from 8" to 22" in length. These zips work particular well for skirts and dresses.

    Here at Calico Laine all of our zips meet and exceed British Standards for strength and durability so you can rest assured that you are purchasing the highest quality zips available.

  • How To: Make an Easy, No-Sew Blanket

    In a entry earlier this week on Calico Laine's blog, we gave a quick run-through of How To create a simple fleece blanket that has no sewing required. This is a great gift for anyone, and even if you are just creating one for yourself to keep cosy while we are stuck with miserable, chilly weather, these blankets are incredibly easy to make - and as a bonus, they come together very quickly, meaning you can totally make one in very little time at all. In today's blog, I'll be going through a more detailed version of our earlier, quick tutorial - and if you need an extra gift in time for Christmas, this may be the perfect thing for you!

    What You'll Need:
    - Two equally sized pieces of fleece (we recommend two different colours to make it reversible)
    - A pair of fabric scissors (take a look at our Fiskars range for what our employees use in-store)

    And that's it! This blanket really is easy to create for anyone, no matter how much or how little experience they have with crafts and working with fabric. Read on for how to create your new blanket from start to finish.

    Step One
    Lay your fleece pieces flat, one on top of each other. Neaten up the edges if you need to, and make sure they are of equal size.

    Step Two
    Take your scissors and begin to cut 2" vertical slits along each edge of the fleece pieces. At the corners, you may find that two of your slits (one from each edge) will meet each other. That is fine - discard the corner pieces.

    Step Three
    Choose one edge to begin with. Working from one side across to the other, knot together each pair of strips that you have cut (one strip of fabric from one piece of fleece, and the matching strip from the other piece of fleece).

    Step Four
    Repeat the third step of this tutorial along the remaining three edges. Once you have finished doing so, your fleece blanket is now complete and ready to use!

    To personalise these blankets for someone special, try using their favourite colours or adding decorations. This can range from trims and ribbons to felt letters and shapes, although these may require a small amount of sewing knowledge depending on how complicated you wish to make your decorations. The sky is the limit, though, and you can put your own unique touch on these blankets however you choose to do so. We do recommend adding any extras before you knot your fleece pieces together, as it will conceal any sewing or glue in-between the pieces when the whole project is finished.

    If you decide to have a go at our tutorial, be sure to upload a photograph of your finished result to our Facebook page - we love to see what our customers can come up with!

  • Buy Haberdashery at Calico Laine

    New Year is the perfect time of year to restock your Haberdashery tool kit. When you Buy Haberdashery here at Calico Laine you are choosing from one of the biggest selection of items available on the market, brought to you direct from the biggest names in the business such as gutermann and prym. To assist you when you Buy Haberdashery from us this New Year, we have put together a list of essential items to ensure that your Haberdashery tool kit is ready for all of your upcoming projects:

    Thread - our Haberdashery department stock a wide range of sewing threads suitable for a wide range of items. Gutermann Sew-All Thread is perhaps the best selling thread in our collection. Composed from a superior quality polyester this thread is suitable for a vast range of projects including dressmaking and is compatible with almost any fabric. Available to buy in a huge range of colours and varying reel sizes, you are guaranteed to find the perfect thread for your project amongst this collection. If you are looking for a larger reel of thread suitable for use with an overlocker our selection of Moon Overlocking Threads are a spun polyester thread suitable for both hand and machine sewing. This is the first choice of thread for dressmakers and tailors who Buy Haberdashery for commercial projects when a large quantity of thread is required.

    Sewing Needles - when customers Buy Haberdashery for sewing projects you will want to ensure that you have a good selection of needles to hand. Our sewing needles are available to purchase in a variety of shapes and sizes and are suitable for a wide range of sewing and embroidery projects. From world renowned manufacturers such as milward and JTL our range of sewing needles includes tapestry sewing needles, chenille darners and embroidery needles.

    Scissors - for dressmakers and tailors alike, the most important tool to consider when you Buy Haberdashery items. Before embarking on any project it is imperative to ensure that you are working with an excellent quality scissor, this Haberdashery tool is definitely worth stretching your budget so you can ensure that you are working with the best pair of scissors you can afford. The Fiskars range of scissors are our best selling collection of scissors and are the range that we use to complete customers orders every day. Fiskars scissors are available in both right and left handed varieties and in a selection of sizes. We also carry dressmaking and tailors scissors from other manufacturers including prym, bexfield and janome.

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