Shopping: Tubular crin

Not too long ago I posted about a source locally for tubular crin, which I know a lot of people use for dreadfall accents (or dreadfalls all by themselves!).  Well, when I was recently in Vancouver, I saw the small (not micro) crin in a variety of colours.

Tubular crin in Dressew, Vancouver

I was tempted to get some, particularly in the copper colour which I thought would work really well with hair falls, but I was being especially careful of how much I purchased as my trip was going to involve a bit of traveling, and I was only using a carry-on suitcase.

Tubular crin in Dressew, Vancouver

The tubular crin was in Dressew (in the basement) and was selling for 99 cents/meter – way cheaper than a lot of places – and so many colour options! Orange, copper, black, hot pink, baby pink, mint green, baby blue, silver metallic, gold metallic, pale yellow, pale lilac, bright blue, purple, mauve….

Tubular crin in Dressew, Vancouver

So, if you are in Vancouver (or have a friend who is – this stuff is super light and could ship cheaply) and are looking for tubular crin, you should check it out!  Keep in mind, they are calling it “mohair tubing” so if you are sending someone to shop for you, let them know that too!

337 West Hastings Street Vancouver, BC V6B 1H6
(604) 682-6196

Ribbon Crafting

In Millinery Class #7 we worked on fabric roses, and were supposed to work on ribbon flowers in class #8, but we ran out of time.  Once a number of my hats were constructed, I kind of felt at a loss sometimes on how to embellish and decorate them, so I decided to do a little ‘research’ on ribbon work, to see if I couldn’t get inspired.


First off I found another blogger who loves ribbons; Kate O’Brien has a quick post with some great links.  That being said, I can’t imagine ordering ribbons online – I need to touch-and-feel things that are new to me.  (I could totally see myself ordering broadcloth or something though – something where I know what it will look and feel like, and where a slight colour discrepancy won’t really matter…)

She recommended the Artful Ribbon – now.. I’m not entirely eager to buy a book sight unseen either – especially about a subject like this, where it could be all fluff and pretty photos… OR could be really good useful instructions.  So, my first stop was the Calgary Public Library… hahaa, yes, they actually have this book in stock, so I placed a reserve and took a look when it came in.  My intention was that if it was super-useful I could purchase it, but unfortunately it wasn’t quite what I was looking for…

Linked to and from the source. Sorry if this link breaks in time! Click for source.

Kate O’Brien also mentioned being inspired by the ribbon on the House of Nines millinery designs.  They have an Etsy store  with gorgeous mini top hats, mini wellingtons, derby hats – all very Victorian-inspired but at the same time very modern.  Beautiful!  They also have a blog – click the link for the cockade-specific thread… and then go back and take a look at the blog in general!

Another Etsy seller of note for beautiful ribbon cockades (or Cocardes, which I guess is the French term) is Monsiuer Cocarde.  I especially love the swirly ones (I hesitate to name or link, because by the time anyone reads this, they’ll no doubt be sold out…).  The really nice part – he has some really clear, up-close photos so you can really get an idea of how much work goes into all of the pleating (not to mention the yards of ribbon required!)

Another (very) notable Etsy seller is Clytemnestra’s Closet – there are some amazing designs here – and it turns out I am pretty sure that the artisan is the author of the Artful Ribbon – because I found the same photos being used in a class she taught as are displayed on the Etsy page.  Hmmm I wonder if the book will have some of the designs like the Nautilus?  (My favorite, by far!)  One thing though, she really takes advantage of different ombre-effect ribbons, striped ribbons, etc… and I find them very hard to find locally.  I don’t have a trip planned to Vancouver any time soon to hit Dressew, but perhaps a visit to one of the specialty fabric stores in town is worth consideration. Perhaps after I pick up the book….

Finally, as far as inspiration, I found this instruction image on Pininterest, and followed it to the source – How Did You Make This? It’s a very neat visual instruction to make a lovely feathered brooch with a ribbon cockade accent – what fun!  I’ve copied the image, but please click the link to get all of the instructions as well!

From How did you make this. Click for original source

So now what?

So I’ve had the chance to look at a number of different books, but none of them are really giving me what I want!  The topic seems to be a bit too obscure, because there aren’t a lot of Google hits on the search term either, and I’m not really close enough to Berkley, California, to go to a class held at Lacis.  (Ok.. the class was in 2011, but presumably at some point there might be another..)

So – dear readers… do you have any suggestions?  I want to make something more complicated than the photo above… but I just don’t know how, and can’t seem to find any instructions.  Help!

Tubular crin

Photo from Sigil on I Kick Shins. Click for original image

A while back a friend was looking for coloured tubular crin (aka tubular horsehair, cyberlox, etc) and although I’ve found black and white through the supplier I use for corsetry goodies, but finding the coloured stuff eluded me.

One person recommended ordering through Cypherlox (30ft bags of regular 3/4 inch crin for $13.99, plus tax & shipping) and another recommended I Kick Shins (15 ft bags of 3/4″ diameter for $7.00 per bag plus tax, shipping). There are loads of colours available, plus stripes, metallics, etc…  Those prices are all US$ though I’m sure… so it’s not Canadian dollars, but still pretty close.

Unfortunately, locally there was nothing to be seen.

Buuuut… the other day I was at Skyline and they had a decent selection of metallic tubular crin in the 8mm size.  I have the sneaking suspicion that they might just have brought it in for the holidays (because they were sort of sitting on the ends of ribbon racks rather than having a rack of their own) which might mean that it might not be there for good… but could also mean that shortly after the holidays it might go on sale? They had:

  • Silver (metallic)
  • Gold (a warm, coppery gold)  (metallic)
  • Yellow (or a bright gold) (metallic)
  • Peacock blue (metallic)
  • Royal purple (metallic)
  • Soft pink (metallic)
  • Dark pink (metallic)
  • … perhaps another colour or two that I overlooked

They were 17.99$ (plus tax) for 30 yards (three sets of 10 yards each) per package in the 8mm size.

The wide and narrow tubular crin packages

Then I was at Michael’s craft store and found the larger size in three colours.  They are calling it “tube ribbon” and it’s with the holiday ribbon and gift-wrapping stuff.  It doesn’t seem to be the same quality though – there are a lot of stray metallic threads on the one I picked up. 😦  It was 13.99$ (plus tax) for a 5 yard package.  (Wow expensive in comparison!) This is the 2cm wide tubular crin, and they had it in:

  • Silver (metallic)
  • Dull gold (metallic)
  • Red (metallic)

I’m betting it will go on sale after the holidays, and they’ve been having some really good pre-holiday sales too -plus you can always use your 40% off coupon.  Still, when I Kick Shins is selling it for less than 50 cents/foot (before taxes and shipping, in US$), more than 2$/foot (before taxes) seems pretty expensive!

As an aside, they also had matching sinamay and fabric ribbon bows, so there could be some interesting gifts being wrapped up.  I picked up some red sinamay while I was there though… in anticipation of the advanced millinery class in the spring!

So, if you’re looking for tubular crin locally here in Calgary – take a look at those two places!

Land of eternal sundresses

To the sewers out there – do you have one pattern that you keep coming back to time and time again?

I used to buy patterns with the idea of using them once, perhaps twice.  I never really looked at the variations on the cover, because I knew that I only liked ONE of them, and that would be the one I would make (if I made it up at all….).  When I started drafting my own patterns, it was a similar fate.  The empire waist, ruffled front long dress was made in tone-on-tone black striped spandex stretch velvet.  It was never made up in a short version, never made with long sleeves instead of the cute cap/puff sleeves that I originally intended.  The crossover blouse was made up in soft grey knit, never extended to a dress length, never made up in alternating colour blocks.  With the exception of my super-simple dress pants (which I’ve made up in about ten different solid and pinstriped fabrics over the years), my ‘perfect’ t-shirt (which has never once been made up in anything that resembles an RTW store-bought t-shirt) and my corset patterns (which each have been made up multiple times) it’s pretty rare for me to use a pattern more than once or twice.  (Three times if we’re counting a muslin version too…)

McCalls 5659

But… then I found McCalls 5659.  It’s just a simple sundress.  Nothing all that special really.  It has a front and back yoke, with a pleated dress section that hangs in an a-line.  It’s short, but not too short, and even the variations on the pattern themselves are minimal.  It offers inseam pockets or patch pockets (which I’ve never added).  It shows an embellished yoke and a plain yoke (I’ve only ever done the plain version).  There is a hem border on one variation (which I’ve also never done).  Yet, I’ve made this dress up a number of times.

The first variation added an extra pleat to the back, and subsequently all of the following versions have adopted that pleat, but in the first variation I enlarged the hem, adding black godets to the hem.  I didn’t end up repeating that, though I do love this first dress – made up in a fabulous grey, white, black and pink print.  Every time I get a compliment on this dress, I point out that the print is girls with tattoos.

The second variation was a black, ivory, and two shades of grey geometric flower print.  I trimmed the hem in super-wide rick rack, and loved the weight the trim gave to the hem.  (Big wide hems like this do tend to get floaty on a windy summer day!)

The third was a bold red/pink/white/green poppy floral print.  I loved this fabric (and still do!).  The hem got more super-wide rick rack, but this time on the inside, so it looks like a little black scalloped edge.  One of those things that I’m sure only I can see.  The second and third dress variations have gone on vacation with me to a few warm places, and have regularly been far preferable than standard shorts-and-a-tank-top that make up the majority of my warm-weather travel wardrobe.  (Plus, being simple cotton, they wash up in a hotel sink nicely!)

At Dressew in Vancouver I picked up some ‘must touch me’ purple striped silk.  Shades of grey and mauve and purple and pink all muddle together in this fabric.  I also picked up some brighter solid purple silk – which became the lining for this dres and the accent piping and bias trim around the armsyce.  I’ll admit, I’ve only worn this one a few times – it’s so precious feeling, that I tend to reserve it for special occasions.

I’m almost finished the fifth and sixth variations as well – the fifth is another poppy print, this time bright red poppies on a red background.  It’s bold and bright and happy – just right for summer.  Since I liked the rick-rack hem so much, I repeated it here too. I couldn’t decide until the last moment if I wanted a contrast yoke or a yoke in the same fabric – so cut both.  This way, the black yoke is lined with the fashion fabric.

The sixth is a black and purple Hawaiian border print I brought back from my first trip to Hawaii.  I found the fabric among a few others in a very old and worn-out looking fabric shop on the side of a road in a small town.  There were rolls and rolls of fabric to choose from, but I stayed away from the bolder, more garish Hawaiian prints in favor of this one which has large leaves on one end (the hem) and small flowers on the other (the neckline).  I love the way the fabric pieces together to form almost a necklace of flowers in the yoke of the dress.  The hem on this one is more black rick-rack.  I think I’m really the only one that notices…

That’s not all though… I also have cut out a mauve embroidered silk (just waiting for the right lining) and a blue-on-blue Hawaiian print rayon (waiting for it’s solid yoke).  They’re both sitting, nicely labeled in the dining room right now – waiting for their respective parts to join, and move from their pile on a chair to under my needle, and then up into my closet.  They will be versions seven and then eight of this dress… more, I think, than any other pattern I’ve used before.

If you want to try this pattern too – I’ll give you a few hints:

  • I found adding the extra pleat at the back gives nice fullness and still stays within the fabric width for me.  ‘Your mileage may vary’ based on your size and the width of your fabric.
  • The pattern recommends self-bias for the under arms.  I don’t see the point of this generally, as it will rarely be seen, and since I’ve used cotton for most of these dresses, and solid yokes.  I’ve generally used purchased pre-made bias tape instead, except with the purple silk dress, where I used the lining fabric for the trim.
  • Easing the dress onto the yoke almost always ends up with weird shapes.  Instead, I sew the dress to the yoke starting at each shoulder and moving into the center.  When I get to the pleat area I stop and go to the other side.  Then I manipulate the pleat into shape, and sew it down to the yoke as well.  Smooth!
  • For the facing, I straight-stitch where the fold line will go – this makes it easier to gauge.  However, I don’t turn, press, and then hand-stitch the whole thing down – too fussy!  I turn the yoke right sides together, and sew from each shoulder as far towards the middle as I can. Then I turn back, and hand-stitch the small opening closed.
  • To keep the yoke clean and crisp – a nice contrast for the puffy, floaty skirt portion – I top stitch the neckline, as well as the yoke line from the right side.

I haven’t started an embellished yoke yet – perhaps that will end up being variation nine?  I also have some gorgeous black batiste with ivory embroidery that I’d love to make up in this dress as well, and think that a white eyelet one would be super-cute as well.   Ahh.. so many dresses, so little time to sew!

I thought I’d share with you sewing on the rick-rack trim to the hem to create the little scallops:

Sewing down the trim to the fabric.

Step 1: Serge the raw edge of the hem. With a straight stitch, sew the trim down in the center of the trim, to the RIGHT side of the fabric, along the hem fold-line.  If you don’t have a serger you can zig-zag this edge, finish it with french binding, finish it with hem tape, cut it with pinking sheers, turn-and-stitch, or whatever other seam-finish you prefer.  Ideally I would be a bit closer to the serged edge than in this photo.

With the hem folded back but the trim NOT folded back. I did this on one of the dresses I made, but prefer it the other way.

Step 2: Fold in the hem

With the hem and trim both folded back

Step 3: Flip the bottom half of the trim to the back.  Press the hem.

Top stitching the trim while also securing the hem in place.

Step 4: Top-stitch the very top edge of the trim to the hem allowance and body fabric – catching the trim and the hem in one.

Gala fabrics

Gala Fabrics

I made a point of getting to Gala Fabrics while I was in Victoria.  They have a Vancouver location as well which I’ve never been to (and one in Hong Kong too according to their website), but the Victoria location is central and was easy for me to get to during a recent trip.  It’s jam-packed (and yet doesn’t feel to crammed) with gorgeous fabrics from around the world.  If you’re looking for quilting cotton or home decorating fabrics, they have them, but where they really shine is fine fashion fabrics.  Here is where you are going to find shelf after shelf of Chanel-style wool boucle, beautiful laces, gorgeous silk brocades, and a huge selection of fine knits.  One of the more unusual sections (at least for me) was their “eco” fabrics – fabrics from bamboo, hemp, seaweed, and organically-grown cotton.  I loved the feel of some of the tencel fabrics, and was totally tempted by the huge selection of velvets.

"eco" fabrics at Gala

However, the one thing that I knew I could get here, that is tremendously hard to find locally is Millinery Veil material – often called French or Russian netting.  I purchased some from them when they came to Calgary for an annual sewing show, and that was on my must-get list visiting the shop in Victoria.  I purchased the narrow width in brown, red, black, and navy (leaving only the white and ivory behind) and also got some black in the wider width.

Netting from Gala Fabrics

I also couldn’t resist picking up some of this hook and eye tape – featuring extra-large hooks riveted to grosgrain tape (with a satin cover).  The shop owner suggested that this would be good for corsets – I don’t know how strong this will be – but I’m willing to give it a try on corset-like tops to start out with – though I don’t know if I’d trust my cinching to this.. we’ll see!

Cool hook and eye tape from Gala Fabrics

Have you been to Gala Fabrics before?  Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Gala Fabrics
1483 Douglas Street
Victoria, BC V8W 2G2
(250) 389-1312