Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Vests for Work and Play

As Fall arrives, and days and nights are getting cooler, a vest may be just the perfect piece to complete your outfit, while stylishly keeping you warm.

Vests can be casual, worn with jeans for play, or they can be dressed up and sophisticated, paired with slacks, a pretty blouse or nice shirt. Add details and accessories. Now you're ready for fun, for the workplace, comfortable and in style . . .

With this in mind, D.D. of Santa Barbara dropped in at Fine Fabrics. Her mission, to fashion a new vest for her husband, Peter.

She began her venture by perusing Fine Fabrics' new collection of wool fabrics, and the many new pieces arriving for Fall and Winter sewing.

She then compared her favorite picks with vests Peter already wears - a gray with prick stitch, a tiny hounds tooth with hunter green as its dominant color, and a deep Autumn rust with leather buttons.

She hoped to find just the right color and texture of wool so that she could complement his collection.

With a smile on her face, DD shared with me that she had made each one of the vests she brought in (proudly displayed here). She admits that her first attempt at vest making took a bit of refining. The most difficult part was getting all of the measurements right, so that the vest had a tailor made fit. After that, the other vests were a snap.

And, the fun in making any piece truly unique comes from playing with the details and subtleties of the fabric. Here, DD creates a one of a kind vest by using the selvage of the fabric as a perfectly coordinating trim. Quite frequently, the selvage is formed by the weft fibers (those running across the grain) wrapping around the side warp fibers (those running lengthwise). In terms of color match, using the selvage in this way works because the warp and the weft mingle, allowing for a mix of the fabric's hues. The wool heather DD used to make the vest on the right is a deep Autumn rust that blends perfectly with the leather buttons. The olive. which is barely noticeable in the body of the fabric, is dominant at the selvage and she astutely uses the selvage to trim the pocket edges.

For the new vest, after much consideration, she selected an Italian Gray Reversible Flannel, with a pin stripe on one face of the fabric and a box plaid on the other - just what was needed to complete Peter's collection of vests. We can't wait to see how DD uses the duplicity of this fabulous piece of wool from Italy.

As the cold weather comes our way, what will you need to complement your Fall wardrobe? -- Pipps writing for

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Never Too Young For Silk

With the arrival of summer, comes graduations.

In this flowing dress made of watermelon silk charmeuse and pink chiffon, our young graduate transitions beautifully to the next stage, with dreams of her future . . .

The dress was co-created by mother, (S.S., Santa Barbara) and her graduating daughter, whose idea it was to braid bias strips of chiffon in coordinating colors for neckline trim and straps. The benefit of cutting the strips along the bias is that the fibers cross-link, to hold raw edges firm and simple, so they can be left modernly unfinished, and will smoothly transition around curves.

It's all in the details, and our dressmaking team brings together imagination and play to create softness and simple sophistication!

At Fine Fabrics, we feature 150 colors of silk in multiple weaves, including chiffon, charmeuse in 2 weights (19 and 30 momme)*, four-ply crepe, heavy georgette, and Italian-style duoppioni.

Silk, one of Nature's loveliest fibers, appeals to our visual and tactile senses and is known for its drape, attractive luster and simply luxurious feel.

When wearing silk, one revels in beauty, confidence, and a sense of possibility . . .

* Momme (pronounced "mommy") - Did you know that although most fabrics are measuted in thread count, silk is measured in momme weight, or mm.

A silk's particular momme refers to the calculated weight of a piece of silk fabric when measured at a standard 100 yards long and 45 inches wide.

For a piece weighing 19 pounds at that size, the calculated momme would be 19.

A silk's momme gives body to the fabric. When designing your creations, you can use this - giving life, flow and inspiration to fashion.

~ Check back with us as we will be uploading to new arrivals over
the next couple of weeks.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Solstiss Lace Wedding Dress

Best wishes on this month's Solstiss showing and my heartfelt thanks for making my daughter's wedding dream dress come true.


a.m., San Diego, CA

This beautiful gown was created for the Bride by her mother with fabric procured by Fine Fabrics from Solstiss.

Through August 31st, Fine Fabrics is hosting its 4th annual Solstiss Lace Show. We will post new pieces online daily, but there are hundreds to see. Please stop by our Santa Barbara store to personally experience the beauty and artistry of each piece. Be inspired, dream and create something magical!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Lace Sleeves

Sometimes a predictable use for a fabric is so predictable because it works. That is the case with using a very beautiful fine lace as sleeves and necklines on just about anything. After much consideration through the collection of lace available at, I decided that this black chantilly lace would work perfectly for sleeves and neckline of lively print silk jersey shirt made using Vogue Pattern 8636 by Marcy Tilton.

I plan to wear it with my new and finally completed black super 190 wool and cashmere, a very, fine and soft combination suit, made using my own design for the jacket and trousers using a vintage Yves St. Laurent pattern. Will post picture of the completed garment later.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Summer Blouse over Jeans

I can see this soft cotton print made into a Summer blouse like Vogue Pattern 8657 worn with jeans. The key to your fabric choice on this one is the soft drape of a high thread count cotton.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Keep It Simple

This piece of silk has texture, body, drape, and sophisticated color and design. Its everything I look for when procuring silk and cotton prints for It could be used to make just about anything for Spring or Summer, blouse, dress, skirt..... My suggestion. Something simple that takes advantage of the drape and keeps it easy to match the pattern. Something like Donna Karan's Vogue dress pattern 1012.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Inspiration #3 - Opera Coat

Spring can be bright, sunny and warm. Spring can be blustery. Spring can be cold and rainy. It seems as if it does not matter where you are, but Spring can bring the most variable weather. Spring can inspire us to sew a Summer dress, a cotton blouse, a tweed suit, or an Opera coat, a long, loose, fitting coat made using a luxurious fabric, such as this wool tapestry, with lurex (metallic threads woven throughout) for sparkle. Made in Italy and available at

Consider making the coat using Vogue Pattern 8549. Love the collar and shoulder detail on this one. The wool tapestry has the body to support the collar, and a softness that will fall into the drape.

Think about wearing over a black velvet tank dress, or jet black cotton with a bit of lycra for stretch pant weight poplin for casual elegance.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Summer Fashion Inspiration #2

In my opinion, the fashion designs by Tom and Linda Platt are among the most elegantly simple available. Their entries in the Vogue Patterns Summer Collection are no exception. Take the dress of Vogue 1180 for Summer walks. A simple dress with elegant lines.

The beauty of this dress is how it falls from a proper fitting bustline. Made using using a fine Japanese cotton double gauze, with wispy painterly quality, it will be the perfect dress to wear on hot Summer days.

If a bit shear for your liking, then consider lining with soft, high thread count pima cotton broadcloth in eggshell, made in England and available from

Saturday, April 3, 2010


Is it a primal throwback? Something ingrained in our dna? No matter how consistent our lives might be... with climate controlled shelter and cars to enclose our travels year round..... Spring comes and,.... well..... It's inspiring...... and to inspire your sewing obsessions, we have a fresh collection of cotton, linen and light weight wools.

Inspiration #1:

Vogue Pattern 1165 by Sandra Betzina. I just love the pleating detail on the front of this blouse. It will prove to be a challenge to keep the pleats straight along their angle. Not something to do when you are tired or in poor light.

I envision making it even more daring, collapsing into the pleats the colors of a brand new cotton print from Liberty of London, now in stock at

What is your Spring inspiration?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Be Humbled

I am going to move from fashion and sewing and parties to a blog of a friend, whom I have had the honor to sit beside at a number of parties, Dr. Paul Auerbach, Director of Emergency Surgery and Medicine at Stanford Medical Center. Paul contacted us from Haiti last week, and well, you can imagine how humbling it is to hear from him. As busy as he was directing triage, coordinating between military, media and patients, he still found the time to journal his experience. His blog entries start on January 20, 2010 at and move forward from there. Take the cue from him and do what you can to support organizations offering aid to the victims of the quake in Haiti.