Thursday, October 31, 2013

fear fabric: a lacy affair

Since it's Halloween and all, let's talk about our deepest fears. I have a few weird fears: Furbies most of all -- those awful talking, blinking, "sleeping" toys with the beaks and moving ears. Talking dolls or toys in general, especially broken ones that start chanting at you in the middle of the night (yes, that's happened to me). Ferris wheels, which I guess goes in line with my general fear of heights. Mean clowns, sure. Mean clowns hiding in the shower. Ghosts. Mean clown ghosts hiding in the shower. Lace.

Wait. Lace? Okay, we've moved into a different category of fear. As in, the fear of challenging your skill set, venturing into the unknown, and potentially failing at a sewing project due to lack of experience. THAT is actually what this blog post is about. Sorry we have to move away from the clown ghosts.

In the spirit of the spooky holiday, Beth of 110 Creations challenged a few of us bloggers to tackle one type of fabric we've been "afraid" to sew with. Enter the Fear Fabric Challenge. Because of my scaredy cat nature, I'm too nervous to sew with a lot of types of fabric, like silk chiffon, leather, suede, sequins. Lace has always been on that list, too. How do you sew through holes? How do you finish the edges? How to you hem it? How do you wash and care for it? Will it end up looking like a costume for a zombie bride?

Guys! Guess what! It's not hard. The hardest part about sewing with lace is finding acceptable lace to sew with in the first place. It can get very bridal or very tacky trashy very fast. The local options were both the latter and the former, and I found it difficult to shop online looking at 2D photos of textured fabric. Not to mention that almost all laces are floral patterns, and I feel a little uncomfortable wearing something so incredibly feminine. I'm not the neighborhood tomboy but I'm no Grace Kelly either.

I decided to look specifically for crocheted lace in an off-white color, because it has a bit of an earthy feel to it -- instead of pure bridal delicacy. I actually found this crocheted lace on It's a stretch lace (find it here), which I dug because that meant I wouldn't have to sew darts or do much fitting with this "scary" new-to-me fabric. I love the pattern of this lace -- almost like seashells.

I underlined the front and back with hatchi jersey knit in ivory, also from I treated these layers as one when attaching the neckband and sleeves as usual. This made it easier to sew because the jersey helped fill in the holes of the lace.

The pattern is the Kitchsy Coo Lady Skater Dress, with the bodice lengthened to a tuckable top length. Obviously I left off the skirt. I considered making a full dress in this fabric but wanted to avoid the taboos of wearing all white after Labor Day, or wearing a white lace dress when I wasn't on the altar. I was also afraid if I made this fabric into a full outfit, it would be more likely to snag on things. I'm glad I made this choice because I can wear the top with neutral skirts to work, or wear it with fancier skirts for fancier shindigs, or wear it with shorter skirts for weekend fun times. I've already worn it three times since I made it this past Saturday, heh.

Sewing with stretch lace is very similar to sewing with any stretch fabric. I referenced this blog post by Sew Fearless about it just to make sure I was on the right track. Appropriate that her blog name is Sew Fearless for my Fear Fabric challenge, yea? Tips include using a stretch needle, zig zag stitch or serger, and Wonder Tape to help stabilize and fill in the fabric for hemming. Stabilize your shoulder seams, too, if you're proper (I am not). 

My fabric is polyester. !! I was in NYC for a hot minute a couple weeks ago and breezed by the lace section at Mood, where silk lace runs at ~$40/yard. Sorry Charlie, je suis pauvre. 

I feel like maybe I phoned it in on this challenge because I essentially just made a t-shirt. I don't think my lace-sewing skills will ever be on par with, say, Julia Bobbin's (see here, here, here, oh and here for evidence), but I don't think my sewing skills or my style in GENERAL will ever be on par with her's. And I'm okay with that! I love my little poly top that cost me like $13 and 2 hours, and I still feel accomplished for finally sewing with a new fabric. You go girl.

P.S. My skirt is not handmade. It's from Banana Republic - bought secondhand last year before the anti-shopping habit kicked in.

Be sure to check out how these other sassy gals tackled their fears. Participants in the Fear Fabric challenge include:

Who else is scared of sewing lace? Or, who else is scared of Furbies? C'mon, I need to know I'm not alone on that one.