Monday, June 30, 2014

Jeans or Pants Stay, Part One

Got my camera issues figured out, finally. Thanks to those who shared their helpful ideas. Photos are under control now, able to be edited, and I am smiling again. The really good news is that the camera shop my friend brought my cameras to says one is fixable and won't cost too much. Hooray! I am getting the big guy back! Wahoo!

I am going to show how I did this pants stay in two parts  as it is rather involved. It's not hard, just involved, very doable. The first part will be on making your pattern. Years ago I had a Vogue pants pattern that I got to fit  really nicely and it had this stay in it. I loved how it made the pants fit and feel and used the "stay" trick on any pants I could from then on. Why use a stay? Well, it keeps your pockets from poking out. It holds the shape of the front of the pants really nicely. Many, myself included, feel it has sort of a girdle effect helping the tummy to appear flatter. If you have seen jeans out in the marketplace that claim to make you look slimmer it is because it has a stay in the pants.

Here are my pants fronts. They will get a fly zipper. I am showing these to you as I went round and round on the pattern matching here. THERE IS NONE! I layed the entire piece of fabric out flat on the floor and the only design I saw was one very wide diagonal unit repeating down the straight of grain. The repeat was so large that it took two yards to go from left to right across the fabric. It was an uneven design so there was no mirror matching either. It was hopeless. I decided the best I could do was balance the positive and negative spaces and leave it at that. I am happy. This is how the fronts worked out:

To make your stays for the pants fronts you will first need your pants front pattern. You just need the top of the pants above the inseam. The legs can hang off the table. You will be tracing this  with several layers. You will need tracing paper and a pencil and eraser to deal with the inevitable glitches. 

Tape the top of the pants, above the inseam, to your work surface. You are going to make 4 more pattern pieces. 


 Tape another piece of tracing paper on top of the upper pants pattern. You don't want anything to move and there will be all those layers so the taping is important. First you will trace what will be called the Upper Pocket Lining. You will eventually cut two of those out of lining fabric, one for each side. . Trace the upper pants in pencil and then darken with a sharpie when you know it is all correct. Here you see the center front clearly marked, the red line for the grainline, a 5/8 inch seam allowance at the waistline and a one inch seam allowance at the side seam. The one inch side seam, also on the inseam, is my fit insurance. The bottom edge has some slight curving. . You will often see directions for this edge to have a more pronounced curve. I think a nearly straight edge eliminates any bias stretching on the bottom edge which will increase the tummy flattening factor of the stay. So do just a slight curve on the bottom edge of this piece. You can see the stay stops about a half inch below the zip, right where the crotch curve begins. 


Next, I measure 3 different pair of jeans to see how the pockets worked. I found four inches across the waist and three inches down was my preferred "look". I marked that with a red dot. 

Connect those dots with a curved ruler or shape. This will be the edge of your pocket when done.


Add in a 1/4 inch seam allowance to the edge of the pocket nearest the waistline. Your Upper Pocket Lining pattern is complete. Tape another fresh sheet of tracing paper on top of this one. 

Trace the pants again, this time without the pocket markings. this is the Under Pocket Lining and/or Stay. It will be cut from lining fabric. Again, make sure the straight of grain is marked as well as center front. 

Fourth layer:  This will be the Pocket Facing. It will be cut from your fashion fabric/denim.  You only need to tape down a piece of tracing paper the size of the upper right hand corner of the pants as you see here:
You need a piece large enough to trace the upper right corner of the pants and a deep bottom edge. Mark the pocket edge and seam in red. 

Measure down from the red pocket edge an inch and a half. This insures that no lining will be peeking out of your pockets, just more denim. Add your grainline to this pocket piece. Mine's not in yet on this pic. Here's what your completed piece for the Pocket Facing, layer four, should look like, minus the needed grainline. 

If you are going to have a coin pocket, which I think is so cute and authentic, you need to make one more layer. Pin a small piece of tracing paper over the pocket you just traced. Mark the grainline on the little  pocket and play until you get the placement you want. Mine came out a bit high but there is always a next time to make it better. 


So now you have five layers taped to the table. They are all traced and marked. Straight of grain is on each piece. Each piece will tell you what fabric and how many you need to cut. 

Two Under Pocket Linings from lining fabric
Two Upper Pocket Linings from lining fabric. 
Two Pocket facings from fashion fabric
One Coin Pocket from fashion Fabric

Here are the pieces minus the original pants front pattern.
A word about the fabric. The Pocket Facing and Coin Pocket will match your pants fabric unless you are pursuing a more creative look. The Upper and Under Pocket linings need to be of a firm fabric, NO STRETCH! I kept picking fabric from the stash that stretched with lycra on the crossgrain. Not good. Only use a firmly woven fabric, a cotton a bit heavier than quilt cotton would be great. Make sure it is pre shrunk. 

Next post I will get into cutting and sewing. Please let me know if you have any questions. I am glad to help. This really looks more complicated than it really is. In the end, this gives really nice support to the pants and I urge you to try the technique. Questions?.....Bunny

Pants Stayed delayed!


I just couldn't resist this picture of sweet little Alex being frustrated. I'm frustrated too. I spent the day yesterday working on the pant stay, taking pics as I went along, planning the blog post in my head as I sewed the steps. Then reality set in. I really really dislike this new little camera. It's a Fuji whatever. It was inexpensive and was meant to be a holdover until either I could fix my DSLR or get a new one. Since we are going to build a porch shortly this is not the best time to plunk down the big bucks. But you do get what you pay for.

This little puppy, despite having done so previously, would not download. I pulled out the pdf manual and proceeded to install the program that came with the camera. I was then able to download but it took forever to find the file. That was all OK but installing that software somehow destroyed any other editing software on the computer. I could not edit and these pics definitely needed editing before using. Reading along in the manual I discover that I am supposed to edit in the camera and then download. Bull---t.  Editing to show fine detail better in a tiny little camera? You've got to be kidding. I will get this figured out and as soon as I do I will show you how I did the pants stay, a combination of Sandra Betzina and Sure Fit Design methods. It came out pretty nicely and  all pants could benefit from a stay.

ETA:  A new morning and a fresh  outlook have  found a way. I have to move each pic individually to get it edited and that will take a ridiculous bit of time. The good news is my friend called and my DSLR is being worked on so things are looking up. Thanks for your patience. Here is one pic I was able to edit a bit. It's from the beginning of the process. Thanks for your patience and I promise the stay post is coming....Bunny

Thursday, June 26, 2014

An amazing young sewist!

I have been trying to get a hold of "Esther from the sticks" for some time to get her permission for an interview and photo use. Alas, Esther has been working her buns off in her first year of design school and hopefully having a wonderful summer. I will still try to pin her down to an interview and hopefully soon. In the meantime I just couldn't help linking you up to the amazing work she has done. Esther has done all the work you see in this blogpost during three years of high school. The post is shows her portfolio for design school admission and she is a senior in HS while writing it. Enjoy !

Esther from the sticks


Monday, June 23, 2014

Chanel and Jeans!


Just got in my samples from Banksville Fabrics. If you haven't used their swatching service and live far from really good fabric, it is for you! I called and requested samples for a Chanel cardigan. I told them what I had in mind and this is what they sent me. I swear, they  can read my mind! I love them all but want something I will wear a lot so the boucle on the right is the one. I am thinking that would look good with jeans.Hopefully that will get ordered today. Isn't that metallic on the left fabulous? Perfect for a summer wedding!


This black boucle is heavenly with it's patterned silk charmeuse linings. I so would love to make up a jacket in every sample they sent me! I asked for a silk lining and there are charmeuses and silk satins here. 



I will get my fabric ordered but this looks like it will be a winter project. The weather out is so incredibly perfectly summer right now but my sewing thoughts are starting to turn to winter!

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I am back to actually sewing, finally. My back won't take much more gardening. The yard looks good, guests are gone, vacations over and I am ready to go. I've started on what I hope is a pair of good fitting jeans! These have been a long time coming. I have been using the methods described in the Sure Fit Designs Jeans DVD.  Watch a little, try a little, a process that has been going on for a couple of days. At this point I think I have the sloper down with a tweak or two of my own.

I am a huge fan of Sandra Betzina's fly front zipper installation. If you haven't ever tried or seen her method, go to Threads and watch or click this. It's quick, easy and professional.  Using her method means I don't do the zip the way it is shown in the Sure Fit  DVD.

One thing that is shown in the DVD, that I love, is using a fabric stay across the tummy of the jeans. I will share how I do that at my next sit and sew. Why would you want a fabric stay across the tummy of the jeans? First, it will keep your pocket nice and neat. It will help it lay the way it should and prevent any peekaboo or popout of the underpocket. Next, according to Betzina, and I agree, it helps flatten the tummy. Some even do the stay in girdle type power net. I will be using a tightly woven something or other, hopefully a bit heavier than a muslin. Have you seen the jeans out there that "slim" your tummy area? This is the technique they use.

For the fabric, and because this is the first pair of jeans from this sloper, I will be using a dark print, not a denim, the better to hide any possible defects and still be wearable. The weight is the same so I think it will be a good bell weather of future jean efforts. I am putting in one inch side and inseams and will baste everything first to try the fit. But, once I get this down I should be able to whip out real jeans effortlessly (let's hope). On my first pair, I will have the rivets and jeans buttons. I need to think about pocket design, hmmm....How is your summer sewing coming along?.......Bunny



Saturday, June 21, 2014

Singer Castle

 Hubby and I are back from a great vacation. We were blessed to spend it with close friends that go back to my husband in first grade and myself at the age of fifteen. What is it about really close lifelong friends? They are  such a blessing. We don't judge. We share a deep history. And we love each other as only best friends can.

One of the highlights of our vakay in the Thousand Island area of upper NY state/Canada was a visit to the Singer castle. That is Singer as in Singer sewing machines and there had to be a machine in almost every room in the castle! Our trip to the castle consisted of an almost four hour cruise through "Millionaire's Row" in the Thousand Islands and a tour of the Singer estate.

We approach the front door after a wicked uphill climb from the boat house. 

Singer Castle was built on Dark Island by Frederic Bourne, who at the age of 36 became the Director and President of the Singer Sewing Machine Company. In his teens, Bourne worked at the Clark O.N.T. Thread company and from there worked his way up in the rapidly growing home sewing industry. I am thinking this must be sort of like our current dot.com billionaires as Mr. Bourne was very very wealthy from the growth and sales of home sewing machines. Besides an apartment at the Dakota in New York City, Bourne also owned an estate of over a thousand acres in Oakdale, Long Island. Clearly he was no stranger to extravagant real estate!
View from the castle of a lovely sitting area facing the St. Lawrence Seaway and the U.S. 

Bourne wanted to surprise his wife with an island hunting estate and thus work on the castle was begun. He was adamant that the castle be built after Woodstock Castle in Sir Walter Raleigh's book, "Woodstock". It was. We saw many secret passages and architectural details copied from the book by beaux artes architect, Ernest Flagg.
One of the many secret passages used by the serving staff  so they would not be visible ot the guests. The passages were also built as they were in the book "Woodstock" by Sir Walter Raleigh. 

There is a gorgeous boat house and five story clock tower. The castle is currently owned by a group of investors in Europe who buy these types of properties and turn them into tourist attractions. The grounds are lovely but I really think would be much nice if owned by a not for profit that would plow the profit back into the estate. There is another nearby castle where this is done, Boldt Castle, and the difference is amazing. I will say that everything in the Singer Castle is of the period and much original to the Bourne family.


The cornice and drapery that you see on the left above were silk velvet and original to the Bourne ownership. They were navy blue when first installed and time has faded them to this mustard shade. In between the folds they are still navy blue!


There were nooks and crannies throughout the castle where you could curl up with a book or just look out at the incredible view of the neighboring islands and the St. Lawrence. 



Now for some textiles! This tapestry above was hung in the library. 


These two were a silk matelasse bedspread and coordinating pillow original to the owner. I just wanted to fix every undone thread I saw. This fabric was exquisite.

This is a beautifully machine quilted spread and sham, one of a pair. I am thinking this was maybe done on a Singer machine? It was really lovely. I love the different shades of thread used. It gives the quilting a lot more dimension.

 Above is the beautiful ceiling on the fourth floor of the female staff's dormitory. The men had their own quarters in the boathouse, of course connected through passageways. I can just imagine the clandestine meetings in those secret stone passages! The higher you slept in the castle the less important you were socially. This dormitory was on the fourth floor. The Bournes had their rooms on the first floor, guests went to the second and third and staff was on the fourth floor or out in the boathouse. 


Women of high society would never want to have the slightest tan as it meant you might be someone who actually did work. So when the ladies wanted to take some air that went out on the "veranda" that you see here and stayed in its shade.
This is the side of the castle facing Canada and the arched windows are the dining room. Gorgeous!

If you look close you can see an osprey's nest on the top of the chimney near the wethervane. We saw many osprey and great blue herons while up here.  We also saw what felt like twenty pound biting gnats at the Cape Vincent Lighthouse! Ouch! There were literally heavy clouds of the little buggers. 


Another day is over as we sit on our deck of our cottage and admire the sunset over Carrolton Island in the St. Lawrence Seaway. I hope you enjoyed this bit of needlework history. 

Now, back to some sewing.....!!!.....Bunny

ETA: In answer to Michelle's request:



Saturday, June 14, 2014

"The Lost Art of Dress" Book Review


"The Lost Art of Dress" by Linda Przybyszedwski, PHD 

I will refer to the kind Dr. as Dr. Pski hence forward. Dr. Pski is a professor at Notre Dame, noted historian, and a woman who loves to sew. Don't you just love that combination? She believes she is the only woman to present before the Supreme Court in an outfit of her own making. Our kind of woman, right? In this book she introduces us to the "Dress Doctors", a group made up of retailers, extension agents, home economists, writers and designers. The Doctors taught the nation how to dress for most of the twentieth century. They had rules but it wasn't just about dress either. They insisted that a knowledge of how to dress appropriately was all that was needed, not money or a large wardrobe. In wartime they taught women how to make do and espoused recycling long before the current craze we are  now witnessing. Their rules for dress were the rules of Art: harmony, proportion, balance, rhythm and  emphasis. They believed in occasion dressing. "Happy" garments were worn in the home while caring for family. In the evenings dinner required a change of dress. The workplace required another, and so on. They taught women how to live with very few garments but  they would be quality, well made items of clothing. Variety would be supplied by a varied assortment of cuffs, collars, hats and gloves. Don't you wish we wore gloves again? Love my lovely leather winter gloves but today that is as close as I will get to what the Doctors ordered. 

This is a fascinating and entertaining read. What makes it so is Dr. Pski's humor and wit. She is really fun to read. Her account of the Biennial Dress alone is worth the price of the book. What's a Biennial Dress? It was an attempt, one I still find hard to believe, to get all women in America to wear the same dress. This really happened and it was a big deal. It was to encourage thrift. There was a national competition to design it and the design had to be flattering to every shape and size of female. The goal was to own just this one dress and change it up with accessories. I will leave the outcome for you to discover!

Any sewist will appreciate the detail in the garments above. Whiles styles changed detailing continued until the 1960s. At that time dresses morphed to plain little mini dress A lines, a look that had grown women matching the style of their five year old sisters. It was the beginning of the end of great fashion detail and Dr. Pski documents this landslide beautifully. 

Dr. Pski takes us from the 1890s to the present as any Dr.'ed historian would. There are details, footnotes , quotes and pictures. Reading it all from the vantage point of 2014 makes it all seem a bit unearthly yet quite entertaining.  It is really hard to believe this went on given the state of dress today. But Dr. P provides lots of interesting facts and anecdotes to shed light on this history of garments, their design and construction. 

Really fabulous is that this historian is a sewist and can provide an accuracy to her viewpoint that a non sewist couldn't. She talks about the sewing through the decades up until the present with humorous opinions freely expressed. She brings us to the sixties, the Baby Boomers and the end of it all and how that affects what we are making and wearing this very day. We Baby Boomers blew this one as she will prove to you when you read the book. And aren't we paying the price today as an oft described nation of slobs? 

Raw edges, unstitched hems, cleavage and poor fit that is seen as the norm today---the Dress Doctors would be looking for the nearest fainting couch. What could have been a really dry college text on fashion history, this book is not. The humor and wit supplied by the doctor make it a thoroughly entertaining read. It really makes you crave a spot in one of her classroom lectures. 

Here are a few quotes from the book:

In a description of a 1970s sewing manual, "Clothing Liberation' we have this, "But the piece de resistance of Clothing Liberation consisted of six dish towels sewn together to create a dress. Don't forget to hack a hole for your head. Now you can walk the streets and everyone will want wipe their hands on you. It is a waste of good dish towels."

On cellulite: "The word "cellulite" was introduced to the United States in the late 1960s, when curvaceous women were passed over in favor of underweight teenagers. Vogue magazine wrote of a young woman who had not undertaken an exercise regimen as a teenager, had waited too long to be "diagnosed" for cellulite, and feared it was "too late"  to do anything about the disease at the ripe age of twenty two. Fortunately, she had managed to reduce her 39 inch hips down to 34 inches through exercise, "standing correctly", and using "a special rolling pin". If you didn't want to rub your butt yourself, you hired a masseuse to do it for you. "

Dress Doctors Mildred Graves Ryan and Velma Phillips wrote, "Dress is more than practicality. It is the means of expressing your love of beauty and of life". I like that one. 

Other links about this book and author:


I highly recommend this book. It is entertaining, easy to read, very informative and explains why we dress the way we are doing today. Yes, this art of dress is lost. Sad thing.........Bunny


Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Oopsie Shirt done good! McC 6076

I am fine with the Oopsie Shirt and really think I will get a lot of use out of it. I've decided it can be worn as a jacket with a cami or as a shirt. Either way, that back godet made the difference.


Pattern:
This is McCall's 6076, one of my TNTs. The collar is cut on, which I love. The sleeves are 3/4s with a slit and foldback cuff, my kind of sleeve, no buttons. It seems everything I make now has 3/4 sleeves. I find them just so comfortable. I read somewhere once that a woman's wrists look good, not matter what her weight or age. I think that stuck in my head somehow! I would definitely recommend this pattern. It has princess seams front and back, great for fit. But you all know how I had to change up the back!

For some reason this top was asking to be worn as a jacket and I like that.

Fabric:
The shirt is made from 100% cotton eyelet. I have no idea where I got it.  Half way through the project I realized that I put no effort into matching the eyelets, which you know I lost sleep over ; ). I was ready to wad it but a good night's sleep and a Eureka dream moment put the idea of a godet in my head. It really was driving me crazy enough that the eyelet pattern not matching affected my sleep!


Construction:
You can see how the godet totally takes your eye off of any pattern matching issues. It was easy to insert. I did curve the hemline longer than the shirt hemline as I knew it needed that to hang straight. You can see how that worked in the pick above.

Because of the sheerness of the fabric I did a few experiments to get the right seam treatment. I ended up pressing the seams open, cutting them back on each side to a 1/4 inch and then topstitching one eighth inch away on each side of the seam. I did this with all seams, including the godet. The hem was double topstitched. Classic white buttons with the BHs done on old Ken, the buttonhole king.

Other than the matching issues this is a really easy shirt pattern to make up and I highly recommend it. It s pretty conducive to embellishment and other interpretations. It would be great for a beginner not quite ready for a collar band type installation. Add in the princess seams to insure a good fit and you have a winner here.

I want to thank my hubby for taking these pics. We used my Galaxy tab. Not quite as sharp as the dead DSLR but Christmas is coming, someday.

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In the queue are some jeans. The pattern is made and I hope to get to them soon. I am using the sloper and DVD from Sure Fit Designs. However, it's time for another vakay! Hubby and  I and some great lifelong friends are all headed for the Thousand Islands. While I hope to get another post in before leaving, I am not sure. Happy sewing....Bunny

Monday, June 2, 2014

The dumbing down of FIT



Just when you thought it couldn't get worse..........This past Wednesday's Wall Street Journal had a really interesting article on the sizing in clothing today.  Here are a few quotes:

"..."Alpha sizing", the industry term for a simplified apparel-sizing system where two numerical sizes, like 6 and 8 are combined to form an alpha size like Small or S."

It seems the "relaxed" styles, aka sloppy, that are trending right now have been contributing to this phenomenon. Items with stretch built in (everything?) also are more likely to come in alpha sizes. But the Journal also notes that more traditional items like bras, blazers and pants are getting "Alphasized" ( my word ) as well.

How does alpha sizing affect you?  Here's another Journal quote, "The difference between a Small and Medium might be 2 inches, 2 1/2 inches, or for some brands, even 3 inches. By contrast, the difference between each numeric size, from 0-10, s typically 1 inch."  Now add that fact to this one: "Women typically have a size the they feel is their size. More than half will walk away without buying if their size doesn't fit rather than try a larger size." See where we are going here? Isn't it always about the bottom line, the almighty dollar?

So, here I am in Macy's looking at jackets. I usually take a 4 or 6. But all I am finding is Small or S. Dang, the shoulders hang off, the jacket just does not fit like my size 4 or 6. What no Extra Small? Mediums are way too big. Now I walk away. But that is me and more than likely you, too. We know what good fit is. We don't' always achieve it but we get a lot closer than what is in RTW, and now you know one of the reasons. But what about those who don't sew? That is where vanity steps in and the manufacturer wins. Back to the store, but let's make believe I don't sew. I just need a summer jacket. I always take a size 4 or 6. Hmmm, all they have are Smalls and Mediums. I try them on. The Medium is huge. The Small is kinda big too. But it's a Small. It must be the right fit. A 4 or 6 is Small. I look around. Most of the people I see are pretty casually dressed. They look good, as in good enough. My jacket looks good  as in good enough and it is a Small so it must be the right size. I plunk down my plastic and am out of there with a new jacket. Now I will contribute to the slovenly masses walking the streets without a clue about fit. I think you are getting my view point here.

Why is this happening, other than the fact the most of the public has no clue what decent fit is anymore?  Back to our WSJ article here. "If I only have to build four sizes instead of eight, my supply chain is going to be much more efficient", says Ed Gribbin, president of a company called Alvanon. More efficiency, more profit! Once again good fashion is hijacked for margin. Chiching!

Here's another illuminating fact per the Journal. There is a lack of consistency in this alpha sizing.  "Not all brands combine the same two numbers for their alpha sizes." It seems that in women's wear a small is a size 6 and 8 for 2/3rds of manufacturers. For the remaining third of manufacturers a small is a size 4 and 6. I  think at this point, as I am standing in my imaginary Macy's I start to spin and shriek. WTF size do I wear???

OK, back to sewing. We have the power and don't ever underestimate that. First, I feel really good that no one is pulling this crap on me. I'll make my own jacket, thank you very much. I feel good that I am not contributing to the already disgusting margins being made by clothing manufacturers on the backs of the poor and desperate. I don't want to contribute to Mr. Gribbin's margins. I just want to wear a nice piece of clothing that fits me to the point that it makes me look better than what I can pick up in RTW. I am lucky to sew and I am blessed to know how to sew. No one's pulling this crap on me!

I really do think that the state of fashion for the masses has really gotten out of control at this point. Let's do everything we can to teach others our skills. Let's not support the manufacturing of garbage on the backs of others. And let's stop all this sloppy clothing that is so pervasive. If you are a newbie to sewing and not sure what good fit is other than being comfortable, I have a great resource for you. Here is a link to a standards book written by the Professional Association of Custom Clothiers. On page 22 is the beginning of their "Quality Standards for Fit". I think this should be on every sewist's bulletin board for reference. We take so much for granted and this information is so necessary to your development of quality sewing, garments that really look good on you.

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My two cameras have both gone on to camera heaven. I am just lost without a camera and have been researching repair or getting a new one. I may get a cheapy to get me through until I can afford a really nice DSLR like I used to have. In the meantime, I have a few subjects to get on my soapbox about, so even without pics, I can guarantee the blog won't be boring. I hope you enjoyed this post. 

So many of you have asked "when are you going to start your jacket?"  I have a lovely lavender and black wool boucle that I want to use for a Chanel jacket but right now the prospect of playing with dark wool really is not inviting. I have also wanted to make my next jacket out of a blue and white sort of boucle. We are talkiing medium to light blue, sort of like faded jeans. I could not find what I wanted through Linton. I have also searched some other vendors but no luck. Today I called Banksville and they say they don't have a lot of blues but will send me some samples. They are on their way and I can't wait to see them. I am not a hundred percent on the actual style of the jacket, either. I am thinking something with a collar and buttonholes. We'll see. I certainly was inspired by the jackets Claire showed us. The styles were so varied. I was really surprised by that. I also will try to build some shape into the jacket, the way Claire taught us. So I will keep you posted but for the moment I have a big pile of fabrics, great ones for summer, all pretreated and ready to go for summer garments. Since our season is rather short, that is my priority. Plus, I love to sew linens and nice cottons so I will keep you posted. Happy sewing...........Bunny