Before I tell you about that, I have to show you photos of the Chinese suits I don't have to sew for Chinese New Year next February/March, thanks to Mum and Dad buying these for the girls. Hurrah! I love this thick, solid brocade paired with the very subtle prints in the facings.
I'm still planning on making some for the girls, in some modern fabric versions as well as this traditional brocade, but Mum and Dad have bought me time with these, so I can wait another year.
Today Dad wanted to go fabric shopping at JoAnn's so off we went - Mum, Dad, the girls and me. Dad was there to check out nylon packcloth and foam padding for the bowcases he's making back in Singapore. Loaded him up with specialized sewing needles (denim, top-stitching) which are hard to find back home. In the midst of our animated discussions on zippers, bindings, the denier factor of nylon packcloth and methods of lining and padding bags, it suddenly occurred to me that it would be fun to tell you about our afternoon. I'd often gone fabric shopping with Mum while I was still living in Singapore but I'd forgotten that I did that with Dad, too. We didn't buy garment fabric so much as trawled the streets of Chinatown, trying to track down the old suppliers of 600D and 1000D packcloth. Very funny.
I also bought neoprene:
Let me tell you, I shall never buy this online again. I bought a yard of that raspberry-black neoprene from JoAnn for $10 a yard, and paid 5 times that for about half the amount online. Hate online fabric shopping.
Dad was quite excited about the neoprene and we had more animated discussions on what to make with it (pouches for tools, for instance). Not the same kinds of things as I would make with it (insulated lunch bags and little waistbags for the girls) but good to brainstorm and expand my horizons a bit. I think filial piety compels me to share my new neoprene stash with him, especially after years of dipping into his stashes of bag hardware as a teenager and young adult.
Dad wants to hit the other fabric hotspots around here over the next few weeks, so more fabric shopping for us. Must remember to bring a huge arsenal of snacks for the girls - today I didn't, and they were not their usual well-behaved selves.
Mum and I have been dissecting my drafting books after the kids are in bed, randomly jumping from topic to topic and whipping out the brown kraft paper rolls to experiment. On a whim, we drew up a raglan sleeve block/sloper the other night. I'd done raglan sleeves before but never from a sloper and I wanted to visualize how one adapted a basic body block into a raglan sleeve block. We read the books and then surrendered and had Mum do her "draft by feel" thing with the color pencils. Then we got sleepy and went to bed. If I find cheap and ugly knit fabric in some fabric store soon, I'll make a muslin and see how that turns out.
Oh, and I found out that I have another sewing aunt who drafted her patterns directly onto fabric when sewing clothes. She'd take a person's measurements, draw the pattern right onto the fabric itself and cut it out. Without a paper pattern.
"What- you mean like a shapeless, dartless dress with a gathered waist, sort?" I asked.
"No," said Mum. "Like uniforms, you know, for hotel staff. Tailored coats and jackets and things like that. She was very good."
This dear aunt has since passed on, but while she was alive, she also used to do amazing machine embroidery. And her husband - my uncle - is a tailor, which was a fact I'd known but forgotten till Mum mentioned it again. Suddenly felt very self-conscious that I was making chickens and pantyhose potatoes and morphable totes and spending entire years working on strange rubbishy things like mannequins. So frivolous in comparison to the other people in my family who are actual seamstresses.
Anyway, Mum and I think we might work on those Chinese frog buttons together - she remembers them better than I do. We might do a tutorial and share it here!