Sunday, October 16, 2011

When A Flight to New York Was Fun and Exciting

There was a time when jumping on a commercial airplane was a big deal. I had done it once before. A flight from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City in an attempt to learn to ski and to visit my friend, Lisa, who was attending the University of Utah. My long distance childhood travels were generally made in convertibles in which we followed Route 66 from California to Detroit to visit family and buy a new convertible.

My husband, Bob made his first trip on an airplane in 1959 when he and his family boarded a Lockheed Constellation travelling from Los Angeles to New York. They then boarded a ship for the trans-Atlantic journey and lived in Europe for a time. He recalls as a child watching the flames behind the engines, an experience which led to a lifetime of travel.

It was no wonder that within a month of our moving in together, he flies off on a business trip, but before he leaves, he handed me a ticket to meet him in New York. Nowadays one can find designer fashion just about everywhere. At that time, 5th Avenue was one of the few places one could find a collection of designer boutiques in one place. While Bob was conducting his business, I made my way there.

I have learned more about couture construction from turning designer garments inside out while in the dressing room. This method of education took on a new meaning moving in and out of the high fashion boutiques of New York. (Will have more on elastic casing later, as I recently used the technique I learned from within the Ralph Lauren dressing room on that trip.) My sole purchase was a red leather belt from Gucci that perfectly matched the silk dress I had made to wear to my 10-year high school reunion, that same year. It may have been the only time I entered a Gucci Store, although I did covet through a window recently a Gucci handbag.

Its no wonder that I couldn't resist adding to a collection of fabrics made for Gucci.

Leave it to Gucci to keep their logo subtly embedded in the design.

We'll be adding more new designer fabrics to from this collection and others.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Moulin Rouge for the Holidays

More on the opening of 5th Annual World's Finest Lace Show.
M.F. of Santa Barbara, California and Ms. 
Fine Fabrics are inspecting Cindy's 
perfectly matching zipper insertion 
and back seam.

Cindy wowed everyone with her 30's inspired black beaded number, made using Solstiss' Black Beaded Lace, and lined with Red Silk Duchesse. Full pictures of this beauty will be posted to the clients' creation pages of later.

L.G., of Letizia Alta Moda, Santa Barbara, California wowed and inspired everyone with her expert draping skills. Wouldn't you love to show up for holiday festivities wearing a dress made using this embellished flame patterned lace, with red silk duchesse train.

Stay tuned for more on the variety of interpretations available from Solstiss in this flame patterned lace, and others. 

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Royal Couturier Visits Fine Fabrics

Fine Fabrics is honored to host its 5th Annual World's Finest Lace Show, featuring the haute couture collections from Solsitss, August 2 - 31. Our opening reception was Saturday, July 30, when a steady stream of oohs and aahs sang through the store throughout the day. Fashionistas from around the State attended, and toward the end of the day, C.M. of Santa Barbara, California brought her friend and fashion confidante, J.S to have a look. 

J.S. had been a couturier for Queen Elizabeth and her sister when they were children. When C.M. asked J.S. if this outing to Fine Fabrics World's Finest Lace Show opening made her day, J.S. responded, "You've made my life."
More pictures from the opening reception of Fine Fabrics 5th Annual World's Finest Lace Show to be posted later and within the client creations section of

Please join us for Fine Fabrics 5th Annual Lace Show, open Tuesday through Saturday, 11:00 am - 5:00 pm, August 2 through 31. You'll be surprised as to who you might me there.

Friday, July 15, 2011


Its hard to believe that I left the last post up for so long without moving on. I could use the excuse that I've been overwhelmed with a lot on my deck, but anyone who knows me would say, "yeah."
In answer this week, I can say, "yeah. I am overwhelmed and you just wait to see what's coming down the pike to prove that this round of overwhelmed tops all others."

First on the list is July 30, 2011, opens Fine Fabrics 5th Annual Worlds' Finest Lace Show.

Cindy has been busy making a dress for the opening using:

with the same red duchess satin lining.

Pips is going to show some funk using a piece of rose tone and gold lace, a pair of jeans and coordinating with the finest piece of designer silk charmeuse:

And, well, my selection is understated this year. My favorite, a pair of palazzo pants using our very finest designer silk and wool blend paisley print:

and a shirt of my own design using a Solstiss mostly cotton lace:

In a peach that matches the paisley.

D&G eat your heart out. If I'm not mistaken they did use this pattern in one of their dresses.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Let's Hear it for the Maxi Dress Becoming a Classic

I just discovered Facebook. Well, I didn't just discover Facebook, but I did call in the youth brigade, my niece's daughter Sarah to help work me through the set up and intricacies of Facebook so that we can most effectively work with it in sharing our couture adventures there as well. Please link through that you like  Fine Fabrics on Facebook. It seems we need 25 likes to go live. 

Within 24 hours of consumption, and I do see how Facebook can become a consumption this picture appeared, posted by my nephew:

Yes. That is a very young Ms. FineFabrics in her made for the senior prom at 14 years old maxi-dress. How appropriate that this picture should appear when maxi dresses are at their most popular since.

I was invited to the prom the day before by the friend, of the boyfriend of a friend, who needed a date.  I ran home from school and popped out this maxi dress from fabric in my stash. I remember cutting out Simplicity Pattern 9944 on the living room floor, with the afternoon session of Felix the Cat playing in the background.

Found today at

My date was in an Elton John emulation phase and wore a top hat, tuxedo jacket, striped shirt and patched jeans du jour. Well it was 1971.

I've made one maxi dress since. I wore it to a "festive" birthday party. It was perfect for the occassion, and I have no idea why maxi-dresses are not classics within our wardrobes. They are so much fun and when in style, so appropriate.

In celebration of the maxi-dress revival we have added to our offerings the following maxi-dress perfect fabrics:

Let's hear it for the maxi dress becoming a classic this time around!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Print Dominance

My first sewing blog post covered how studying a print before cutting can make a big difference in the results. I cannot under emphasize the importance of doing this when working with lively, bold prints, such as I used for my first project of 2011 - a jersey dress.

I learned this axiom the hard way. I had made a pair of pants and cardigan coat using an African print inspired fabric. The pattern was so busy I thought there no need to concern myself with matching. I didn't think about the importance of not matching. When the ensemble was complete, there were 2 big black Superman logo looking "S" patterns, one on each of my buns. We called them my super suzzy pants. I could only wear them with their matching coat. 

So, when looking at this fabulous matte jersey print, you see that the royal blue swath of color is dominant. I was careful to lay the pattern pieces so that this dominant blue feature of the fabric was placed:
  1. Along the right collar - to bring one's eyes to my face
  2. Upper left shoulder - for balance
  3. Center front hemline - to bring the eye down and offer a perception of length
  4. On the left hip - to move the eye away from my belly.
And, nowhere near my buns!

More great lively matte jersey prints available at

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Binding Fringe on Tweed or Matka

One way to to achieve the perfect effect as you design your fashions is to create distinctive details. We've featured examples in earlier blog posts where clients of Fine Fabrics have used fabric selvages in unique ways to create trim that is perfectly coordinated, fresh, lively and delightfully apropos.

Tweed or matka fabrics, those that are woven using wide threads, are perfect for fringing. The large fibers of the warp, easily pull loose from their weft, and visa versa. The fabric is so easy to fringe that it is necessary to run stitches to stop the process, or the piece will deconstruct on its own.

It can be fun to use a complementary or contrasting trim to stop or set the fringed edge. However, the complexity of a tweed or matka can make it difficult to find a trim that not only matches, but also does not get lost or overpower the fabric.

The texture of the weave, the colors, and the body of the fabric that Ms. Fine Fabrics is working with here, made it essential that the trim not over power the finished piece, yet at the same time, it needs to have a deliberate presence, one that says "of course, it's perfect."

She chose to  construct a trim by deconstructing the fabric into fringe and bind it with perfectly coordinating strips of the fabric itself. Since the dominant colors in the fabric are dark, she decided to highlight the fringe by using a strip of the color that had the highest contrast, the only light color in the weave, the peach. As high as the contrast, it is subtle because it is the exact same color and texture as repeated throughout the weave iof the fabric.

She created the binding by cutting strips of the peach colored fibers, then laid them over the fabric at the point out where she wanted the fringing to stop.

Then using a zig-zag stitch set as wide as the cut strips, and thread the color of a dominant dark shade in the fabric, she secured the peach strips down to the fabric. 

To maintain a balanced proportion to the effect of the trim on the dress, she varied the fringe detail, a single row along princess and shoulder lines, double rows at the sleeve hem, three rows at the hemline and a collection filling the neckline.

Some tweed and matka with which this effect might be used currently available at, with more to come, are:

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Searching for Valentino

It is not as easy as one would think to find how Valentino would use the lively and lush wool and cashmere fabrics that just arrived at Sure, you can search Google for Valentino Cashmere images and up pops a reference to 629,000 images, but verifying that they are truly representatve of Valentino's work, that is the challenge.

Then, I made my way over to  where it was easy to pan through runway shows and pick out those that look as if they might be made using our Valentino cashmere blends.

Valentino Red Suit

Valentino Blue Coat
Valentino Blue Suit
The Valentino Blue Jacket reads as if it might be suede, but I think it would work well in cashmere. The drop shoulder line is very flattering for most, and could also be used over a dress made using a coordinating fabric.

For example, consider using the Valentino Red, Mint or Iris for the jacket, worn over a dress made using this paisley wool and silk challis that coordinates with all.


Saturday, April 2, 2011

Valentino Colors in Cashmere

I apologize for having stepped away from our blog to put some things in order at the store and an update and redesign of I also apologize to those of you who had sent comments that have yet to be published. They were temporarily hiding from us, but that is now fixed. We have a number of inspirational and instructional blog posts lined up, starting with..... none other than,.... Valentino!

Now, I would not generally bring a wool and cashmere piece into the store at the start of the Summer sewing season, but when one of my very favorite vendors walked in with these colorful cashmere and wool numbers, complete with Valentino labels,..... I melted into their soft folds... Besides, if we start thinking about how to use these now, we can have the project finished when cold weather returns.

Valentino Red Cashmere
Valentino Blue Cashmere

Valentino Mint Cashmere
Valentino Fuschia Cashmere

Valentino Coral Cashmere
Valentino Iris Cashmere
Arrival of these exclusive fabrics prompted me to ask the question, how does Valentino use these?

Here is a start: Valentino 'Voulant' Wool and Cashmere Coat. 

Details, such as an assymetrical, ruffle front and ruffle collar, can be seen at, where we found this picture. 

Anyone who would care to chime in with more ideas, please let me know. Will have instructions as to where to post your answers later.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Relish in the Resolutions

We are proud to start 2011 with the launch of a new and improved, which we will be once again updating nearly every day! Our first featured fabric is a fabulous line of viscose and lycra knit prints, made for us by a very exclusive fabric printer in France.

These are a preview of what you will be seeing on the runways for Spring/Summer 2012!

I have started making a wrap dress, inspired by Vogue Pattern 8631, using our Tropical Destinations, Inviting and Rejuvenating in French Knit Print for our let's start the New Year living the way we are supposed to live vacation to Tahiti.

The pied piper called us just 2 weeks ago to invite us on an 11 night cruise through the Society Islands and Tuamotus aboard the Paul Gauguin. Instead of scrambling to finish a new wardrobe the night before leaving, I decided to let this dress be my first sewing project completed for 2011.

That is my New Year's resolution, to relish in life and all we do while living. Its not about the project's completion, but the process.

To that end, early this morning, before any other guests stirred, I started the year with a 2,000 meter swim in the infinity pool of the Beachcomber Intercontinental Hotel on Papeete, Tahiti.

Tired and still dehydrated from the 8 hour flight from Los Angeles, I had to fight to keep swimming. I had to keep reminding myself that there was no where else I had to be. No one was waiting for me to arrive at the office or store. I did not need to look to when my swim would have to end. I could keep swimming all day if I chose to. And with each stroke, I became stronger and more alive and enjoyed it more.

That is the way I will approach my sewing, and each thing I do this year. I trust it will be reflected in the ever changing offerings we will have for you at I trust that you will enjoy the results.