I’m so excited to finally be able to share this project with y’all!
Over the summer, I’ve been in cahoots with Allison of Shutters & Shuttles to collaborate a fabric + dress design. She reached out to me after I made my Scout Tee using some of her fabric, and we thought it would be fun to match up a custom fabric with a pattern, as well as having a little giveaway too!
If you’re not familiar with Shuttles & Shuttles, they are a small company that produces handwoven and hand-dyed fabric, made entirely in Nashville, TN. Allison produces all the fabric herself using a 60″ AVL mechanical dobby loom, and makes all sorts of fabric goods – from rugs, to blankets, to yardage (some of which is produced into small batches of ready-to-wear clothing). Some of her fabrics appear in limited-edition Elizabeth Suzann collections, which is how I came to be familiar with the line (and spoiled rotten by getting to sew them!). Suffice to say, I’m a big fan of Shutters & Shuttles and I just love everything that comes out of Allison’s studio. It’s a bonus to be able to say that I literally know who made my fabric 🙂 So obviously I am pretty excited about this collaboration!
The awesome part about working with a fabric designer is that you actually get to design the fabric. What a novel idea, amirite?! 😉 Allison has a swatch book showing all the designs and colors that she’s made – everything from intricate designs woven into the fabric, to a simple weave with a beautiful hand-dyed watercolor effect. You know how the first time you went into a fabric store, you were likely overwhelmed from all the sheer possibility staring at you from every direction? Well, I kind of had the same feeling – except multiplied! It was REALLY hard to choose a design; I wanted one of everything all at once! Ultimately, though, I knew this piece was pretty special and I wanted to do my garment the justice of allowing it to be worn frequently. We ended up with a fairly simple design, which I just think is absolutely gorgeous. A medium weight cotton yarn, dyed a deep rich navy blue, woven with a heavy slubbed texture. The fabric has a lot of dimension and texture, and the color is a perfect backdrop to show that off. It’s a warm, heavy fabric – it feels like I’m wearing a blanket. Sooo, obviously I made a blanket dress. Yes!
Wanting to stick with something tried and true (like, this NOT the project to allow for any mishaps!), I made another Papercut Patterns Sway dress. Yep – my second navy Sway dress in 2015. Hey, what can I say – at least I’m predictable 😉 This is definitely a winter-weight dress, as the fabric is so robust and heavy. It’s a great match for this pattern, as it hangs and drapes beautifully into an exaggerated tent shape. Since the pattern design is so simple, it really gives the fabric a chance to take center stage. BUT, since the fabric is also (relatively) simple, this is a good staple dress that can be worn different ways, like a good pair of jeans. It looks great with a collared shirt, with a simple long sleeved shirt, or with a turtleneck. I’m wearing it here with my grey wool Renfrew cowl, which I really love! Super cozy, y’all!
This being a really simple dress that I’ve already made before, there’s not much new to talk about construction-wise. I serged all my seams independently, then pressed them open and catch-stitched each side down to keep them flat. That alone was the bulk of the time it took to make this – that’s a lot of hand-sewing! I also slip-stitched the hem for an invisible finish, and WHEW THAT TOOK FOREVER. Totally worth it for the finished effect, though. Since the fabric is really heavy and thus puts a lot of strain on the shoulders, I used a heavier fabric for the front and back facings, as well as interfaced them (using self-fabric would have been way too thick). Actually, the fabric I used is the same linen that I made my first Sway dress with – ha! It was a good color match 😉 I also made sure to add pockets – also out of the linen!
Fit-wise, the only change I made was to raise the armholes by about 1/2″ as I felt like they were too low on my first dress. This being a winter dress, I will likely always wear it with a top underneath – so low armholes aren’t much of a problem, but I’m glad I raised them anyway!
As with my first Sway, this dress is designed to be worn forwards or backwards. I really like it with the v at the back, but wearing it with the v in the front + a vneck tshirt – that’s a nice look, too! The only issue this poses is when it comes to hemming – it’s hard to get a perfectly even hem all the way around, because once you flip the dress around, protruding boobs hike the hemline up a little! I straightened things out as best I could, but I’ve also come to terms with the fact that the hem will never be 100% perfectly even. Oh, who am I kidding – my hems are never even. WHATEVER.
Working with this fabric was SUCH a joy! It’s so easy to cut and handle, and the cotton content means that it takes pressing like a champion. I do recommend catching down all your seam allowances, as it helps keep things nice and flat so you get a good sharp press on the outside. One thing that Allison and I discussed was whether or not this fabric is suitable to sew if you don’t have a serger for finishing the raw edges. Obviously, serging would be first choice – the fabric is prone to fraying, so serging that eliminates the possibility of unraveling and blends is really nicely with the fabric texture. That being said, the fraying isn’t super terrible – the fabric is a tight weave, so it hold it’s own pretty well. I do think finishing your raw edges is pretty important, but even just a simple pass with a zigzag stitch would work fine. Something gorgeous like a bound or Hong Kong seam finish would be perfect, although I didn’t take that extra step personally (I did consider it! But only consider it, ha!). For places that I didn’t serge – such as inside the all-in-one facing – I shortened my stitch length a couple mm’s to give the seam a little more strength.
All that being said, don’t let a lack of overlocker deter you from using this fabric! It’s a lot more durable than you think, like, it’s not going to completely unravel itself just from you looking at it. This isn’t some crazy bouclé, after all 😉 haha!
Here’s a close-up of the fabric’s color and texture. Isn’t it delicious?!
Oh! As a fun little bonus, when I came to pick up my fabric – there was this cool white border print taking up about the first 1/2 yard or so. Allison said she’d tied the navy threads onto the white that was already on the loom to start off (forgive me if I’m totally butchering this explanation – I’ve never woven fabric before!), and played around with a fun design before the white ran out and went into solid navy. She offered to cut it off, but I wanted to try to use it because it is SO cool looking! There wasn’t a lot of the design to play with – it’s about half a yard, going along the width of the fabric. I was able to eek out a simple scarf, though:
aka A BLANKET FOR MY NECK.
I really wanted to wear the two pieces together, but I have spared you.
I really agonized over how to finish the raw edges of this scarf. The short edges are selvedge, so they are fine as-is. I thought about doing a rolled hem, but I realized that the fabric is so textured and cushy, it actually hides serging really well. Look at the blue edge – can you see the serging? Just barely! So yeah, I just serged my edges and called it a day! Insta-scarf!
Ok, I think you guys have put up with my blabber long enough for one post – let me blab about this giveaway now! Allison wove some extra yardage of this lovely blue cotton, which means that one of you get a piece! Yay!
GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED
The giveaway is for a piece of plain weave, hand-dyed, hand-woven blue cotton fabric from Shutters & Shuttles and made in Nashville, TN. The fabric is approximately 60″ wide, and you get 1.5 yards – which is plenty to do something fun with! Oh, and it’s pre-washed! (although you may want to wash it separately by itself the first few times, in case the dye decides to bleed) Wanna throw your name in the bucket? Just leave a comment on this post and tell me what you would make if you won the fabric! This is an awesome, warm, heavy cotton fabric that would do well for something like my Sway dress- it would also make a lovely circle skirt, or even a REALLY comfy pair of loose pants! Or maybe you want to be boring and make a bunch of scarves? 🙂 I won’t judge you! (note, the cool white border won’t come on your piece. That was a one-off that I selfishly kept for myself, not even gonna apologize for that!) The giveaway is open WORLDWIDE and I will close the comments one week from today, on December 21, 2015 at 7:00 AM CST. In the meantime, you should check out the Shutters & Shuttles site, including all the inspirational things in the shop. Oh! Speaking of which – if you want to buy something, use the code LLADBIRD for a 15% discount – good through 12/25/15 (meaning, you can still totally buy yourself a great Christmas gift 😉 Including this exact yardage, YAY!).
GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED
MASSIVE thanks to Allison + Shutters & Shuttles for doing this collaboration with me, because this fabric is fucking awesome!! Now, which one of y’all is gonna be my fabric twinsie? 🙂 Good luck!!!