Thursday, October 31, 2013

Fear Fabric Challenge reveal!

Happy Halloween! In honor of this scare-tacular month, I'm hosting the first annual Fear Fabric Challenge! Myself and some other lovely lady bloggers accepted the challenge to sew with a fabric that scares us. Make sure to pop over to the other blogs to see what fears have been faced!

Andrea from foursquarewalls worked with lace.
Sally from the quirky peach sewed up leather.
Mrs. Smith from The joys and trials of my sewing and crafting! tried her hand at silky fabrics.

And I tackled my fear of brocade!

Please bear with the photos. I would have loved some outdoor fall photos, but it's been dark, gloomy, and rainy here (trick-or-treating has even been officially moved to tomorrow!). I promise there are close-ups that prove this is more than a plain black skirt!

Brocade used to scare the crap out of me. It's textured, it has weird and often (in my opinion) ugly prints, and it seems like it is only used to make jackets. I think I spent more time obsessing and planning (thank you Sewist's Notebook) than actually sewing. I must confess, I'm now totally converted! You have to get pretty close to see the texture of this fabric. It's a polyester brocade, black on black, from Mood (more here!). It took me a while to find a brocade I liked, but this was exactly what I wanted.

This is a close-up of the design. It's called a "medallion floral". I'm very glad I ordered from Mood. I can't attest to anyone else's quality, but this brocade was medium weight but still had a nice drape. I was pleasantly surprised by how nice it is. I decided on a skirt because I wanted to use the fabric in a small-dose kind of garment, and I chose a pattern with very simple lines.

I made View E, but without the pockets. It's a basic A-line skirt with a waistband. Originally, I wanted to add a full lining, but I wasn't loving it and halfway through abandoned that idea. The quality of the fabric was good enough that it wasn't unraveling like mad, so a lining didn't seem as necessary. I did make a muslin since this was my first time sewing this pattern, but it turned out the size 4 fit almost perfectly without any alterations (maybe needed just a teensy bit extra space at center back).

I had read that brocade can fray easily, so I cut 1" seam allowances instead of the 5/8" included in the pattern. I think that was a good idea when it came to the vertical seams, but in the waistband area it was maybe not so smart. The extra-large seam allowance made it more difficult to ease the waistband to the top of the skirt, and also the facing into the waistband.

The pattern calls for a center-back, lapped zipper, but I put in an invisible zipper. This is only my second invisible zip, and look how nice it looks (above)! I'm super happy with it. I sewed it twice to make sure it was invisible-ish enough (I don't have an invisible zipper foot). Next time I might put it in the side seam so it's easier to reach.

The facing fabric is leftover crepe-backed satin from AB's flower girl dress. So soft! The color is a little off in the above photo, the bottom one looks more true-to-life. I used the Coletterie method for sewing on the facings so that I didn't have to slipstitch to the zipper. The bottom edge of the facing is finished with rayon seam binding.

The hem is finished with bias tape. I've pressed the blankity blank out of it but it's still a bit wavy. The brocade was pretty hard to press, being thick and polyester. I serged all the seams to finish them. And yes, I used gold thread because that's what was already on my serger. I wanted to finish the seam allowances in a fancier way than that, but everything else I tried was creating too much bulk.

Like my sweater? I'm selling it here.

Some other tips for working with brocade:

--use a fresh needle
--if you're having trouble marking, try thread-tracing (basting the outline of the pattern piece onto the fabric), tailor's tacks, or soap slivers
--staystitch to prevent stretching
--reinforce high-stress areas like zippers
--use a press cloth to protect the raised motifs
--if your fabric unravels easily, consider underlining

I MIGHT redo the side seams of this skirt into a pencil skirt, instead of A-line. Can't decide now that it's done. I think there is actually some spandex in the fabric, even though it wasn't stated online, so it may work in a tighter silhouette.

I had fun conquering my fear and adding another fabric into my repertoire. Make sure to check out the other blogs and see the results of the challenge! 


  1. I like that fabric. My fear would be an invisible zipper, I have avoided that bullet so far, though I have bought a few at the thrift store for practice. You did a great job on that!

    Serger thread - I knew immediately why you had that color, haha!

    1. I was also afraid of invisible zips, but they're way easier than, say, a lapped zipper. Give it a try!

  2. Gorgeous!!!

    You tamed that brocade into a beautiful, well made and well fitting skirt!


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