Fabric Fail

I love me some linen, maybe even more than cotton, at least for garments.  And every year when the weather warms up, I feel a yen for more flowy, soft, linen clothing to wear–which nearly always sends me out shopping for new fabric.  And this year, perhaps more than in some other years, I went on a tear.  Let’s just say that if I actually find the time to MAKE all these garments, it’ll be a minute before I need to purchase more linen for my wardrobe.

Most of this was found online, except for the solid linen we carry at the shop–the plaid and the check and the stripes were all ordered without having felt them first.  I find that I always have the best luck when ordering online if I stick to 100% natural fibers–no poly, ever, not even once.  I don’t mind a blend of natural fibers, like a cotton/linen or a silk blend, but I avoid nylon and poly like the plague.  Some of these are real finds, especially this one, which is a linen plaid weave with metallic threads–you can just see them with the sunlight glinting off:

Not every online purchase goes as well as planned, though, and while I hope that absolutely everything I order will always be dreamy, occasionally you get a piece of fabric delivered that isn’t what you thought it would be.  Behold:

I thought these would be lovely near-solid neutrals that I could use for casual pants or a simple linen skirt.  But instead they’re…ugly.  No other word for it.  The stripe looked as though it would be a nice creamy taupe with some teal and coral stripes:

It’s really more of a dull, grey-ish tan with country blue and pink stripes.  Complete fail.  I thought it would have a nice, subtle texture that I could use to make a pair of pull-on pants a la Pinterest, but there is no way I’m wearing this fabric in public.

This other one seemed like a soft near-tone-on-tone not-quite-floral that would make a pretty skirt or blouse, something that wasn’t too printed and would give some quiet variety to a garment.  In daylight, in front of you, it looks like something your grandmother doesn’t wear anymore, like a bad thrift store purchase.  Even though the weave and weight are nice, the print is soooo dated and matronly that I can’t even think about using it in real life–trust me, even my own photo, right here, makes the colors look more vibrant than they really are and grants this fabric qualities it does NOT possess.  It is tragic in person, I assure you.

But!  There is light at the end of the tunnel!  These are both similar in weight and drape to the other linens I scored, all of which are dreamy–that checked linen comes in about eight colors, and all of them are in my palette, and I adore the softness of them now that they’re laundered.  The stripes are a bit stiffer, but will both make lovely spring-into-summer 3/4-sleeve jackets (I think one might even sport a Mandarin collar–wait for it).  The cross-weave lilac is going to be a wrap dress, I’m pretty sure.  The solid navy will be a pair of tailored pants, and the deep camel wants to be a pair of yoga-waistband summer pull-on pants real bad, as we say in Alabama.  So all the other purchases win big around here–which means that before I cut into them, I want to be sure that my results will turn out.  What to do to have a trial run without risking ruining good fabric?  Why, make a muslin, of course.  And the rule of thumb for muslins is to use a fabric that has a similar weight and drape to the fabric you’ll use in the finished piece.  Now, where would I get…hey!  I can use these horrifically ugly fabrics for my muslins!!  Done and done.  Nothing wasted, no regrets.  If I hate the muslin and end up wadding it in the trash, I don’t even have to feel bad, because it gets this fabric out of my stash–and if it’s perfect on the first go, I don’t have to keep it, I can just donate it to the local Goodwill and take the write-off.  Woot!  Everyone wins.

This week is a painting week, so I won’t be making any of these today.  But I think I’m going to dive in with one of the checks and make a Tova top next week–I’ll let you know how it goes.  And then the stretchy-waistband pants will have to be next, because really.

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  • katie@ swimbikequilt
    June 6, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    these cracked me up. Oh, i dislike when things like that happen!

  • Rachel at Stitched in Color
    June 6, 2012 at 8:31 pm

    Way to turn it around. Yep, if Grandma isn’t still wearing it then you know.. you know… well, you obviously know what to do.

    P.S. Cracking up about that exotic “made in China” bug collector.

  • MJ
    June 6, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    You can always dye the ugly fabrics and they just might turn out to be wearable muslins!

  • Kerstin
    June 7, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    Sorry to hear about that! But I guess that’s still better than what happened to me, I took some really nice fabric from my stash to make a dress and it ended up being to tight…