confessions of a fabric obsessive

All I want for Christmas is…

…oh, so many things, and I know that all of them are too expensive for me to receive as a gift. I’m going to show you my wish list, anyway.

1. Another dress-form (tailors dummy)

This is Betty my current tailor’s mannequin.

Although Betty is fab, she is set up and padded out (with bubble-wrap) to be a near-exact replica of me. She needs a lot of unwrapping any time I need to use her to mimic someone else.  As the cloaks and costumes that I make tend to be for non-standard sized customers, Betty is invaluable, but it would be great if Betty could stay set up as me, and I could have another dress-form reserved for customers’ sizing.

The ones I have in mind are these:

A Lady Valet (£200 each)

(photos from John Lewis website)

one in small (33″-41″ bust, 59-81cm 23-31″ waist, 86-106cm 34-42″ hips)and

one in medium (39″-47″ bust, 74-94cm 29-37″ waist, 102-122cm 40-48″ hips) should have me sorted for most ladies.

I think Lady Valet is one of the most attractive looking tailor’s mannequins available, and as it’s adjustable in height as well as width and the manufacturers are happy to send replacement bits for free as and when required, I would love to have a pretty one.

Or, if I was really pushing the boat out, I think a FitBot would be even better

Originally intended for the retail trade, I think it adjusts to fit electronically instead of by manually by wheels as most dress-forms do.

The video makes it look fantastic:

The male version would be fun too (can I order a man who fits the set up in the photo please?).

OK, back to the list

2. A 4-thread overlocker (serger)

Four-thread overlockers (sergers)  have blades and can cut/trim at the same time as sew.  Three-thread overlockers don’t have blades. Four-thread ones are more useful and versatile and on the list. Three-threads aren’t.

I like this Bernina 1300MDC (but it’s over £1000, ouch!)

click to see details on Bernina website

Who wants a machine that can do rolled hems, sew jersey with same visible stitching that you get on really nice t-shirts, and trim at the same time except when tell it not to? Me!  Plus Bernina do a free course to make sure you get the most out of your new machine.


I love these sewing rooms (click on the images for the original blogs)

(Yes, I know this blog is in Portuguese, that’s what google translate is for)

Can you imagine coming home to this surprise sewing room?

(Mind you, I do have this wall clock, already)

And I love Apartment Therapy.

What a lot of these sewing rooms have in common is lots of space, and of course that isn’t an option when you’re living in a big city with not much money (not enough space for one of these in Birmingham anyway).  But I hope to be moving home in the next 6 months or so, and one of these:

could be used as a room divider (I can see a trip to Ikea) in a large living room to split off some space for me and my little sewing machine (where the tons of fabric would go is anyone’s guess, but this would be a good start). This site has some good ideas for sorting out sewing storage on a budget.

And if course, I’ve blogged previously about tidying up all my sewing stuff.

I love this idea for ribbon storage:

using a common or garden multiple-trouser-hanger to keep those ribbons under control.

I could do this myself, too :

(I’ll probably have to stick to sewing jersey using my ordinary sewing machine,  a twin needle and this tutorial too)

…but this isn’t supposed to be a “things I am planning to do, to make my life/fabric prettier and tidier” post, this is a list of what I would love Santa to bring me if he could afford it.

Of course, what I really want is to find a home that I can share with Mr ClaireBear, have room for my stuff, his stuff, for the cat to live out her last years and for my (grown-up) children to stay over when they visit.

Wishful ClaireBear

14 responses to “All I want for Christmas is…

  1. Brooke December 22, 2011 at 22:18

    Thanks for the link back – glad you like my sewing room! It’s taken about 7 or 8 years to get it to where it is now. You have a great list of what you want in yours – I promise it will come eventually. =) It is interesting when I look back at my original list and see how much it has come together.

    Word of warning about the “lady valet” dressform you want: three-legged stands will drive you crazy because they like to fall over when you are using them. (They must have been invented by someone who doesn’t sew and has never sat on a three-legged stool!) If you have the option, pick the four-leg version to save yourself the frustration.

      • Dayanne March 1, 2012 at 12:50

        I like using quilting cotton for easy bias cut, a line skirts. I use kwik sew pattern 3003 and the quilting cotton works great. I’ve tried using that fabric for other clothing items but it doesn’t really work that well. I think it might work for really structured shirts but I haven’t tried it yet.at the moment, I’m completely in love with cotton lawn. it’s my most favorite fabric to work with.

    • Debora February 29, 2012 at 23:41

      My favourite fabrics are cotton, linen, and wool. I do occasionally use quilting cottons for clothes. I have two kids and love the Oliver+S patterns and they often list quilting cottons specifically. I’ve found that they work brilliantly and the dresses I’ve made from them have held up well. I also love simple summer wrap and a-line skirts from quilting cotton and they too have held up well and are cute and comfortable. I don’t think I would try them for a blouse though, they just don’t seem to have enough drape. I don’t like synthetics and while I will occasionally use them for a lining, Rayon is about the only one I use regularly.

  2. Chris Lines February 9, 2012 at 15:16

    My brother recommended I might like this web site. He was totally right. This post truly made my day. Thanks!

  3. Yuki March 1, 2012 at 03:59

    I look forward to all your blog postings. I am very new to making clothes, and I guess I just don’t really understand how to make a lining for a dress. I know what fabric to choose, but how is the lining constructed, and how do you invisibly sew it in? a pattern I recently followed offered no guidance for this. I have lots of reading and learning to do, so maybe this is the dumbest question ever, but maybe you can take some the mystery out of it for me.

    • Handmade by Claire Bear March 1, 2012 at 09:44

      Yuki, you don’t sew in linings as much as you would think. Just look at something you already have that has a lining (not a coat or jacket, they use a different technique called “bagging”) or a dress in a shop that has a lining. You’ll probably notice that the lining is only attached to the dress itself at the shoulder seams, and at the neckline. You could top-stitch through the main dress fabric but you would need to make sure that you pinned (or even better basted) the lining fabric exactly in place first.
      I go to the library before I start making something I have never made before, or if I get stuck halfway through, I find that google is my friend! Just quickly googling “dressmaking advice lining” has brought up these two tutorials which might help http://sewing.patternreview.com/cgi-bin/review/readreview.pl?ID=1618 and http://www.threadsmagazine.com/item/4971/a-shortcut-to-great-linings
      I also “pin” useflul tutorials to my pintrest account on my “Tutorials” board for future reference. Feel free to hop over to http://pinterest.com/clairebearmade/ to see if there is anything useful for you.
      Hope this helps, Yuki

  4. Eraldo March 1, 2012 at 08:18

    I LOVE this. I am just aching to sew, not sure if I’m talented enough to do a quilt, but that hasn’t stopped me from trying anything else so I may try to do this! I have a sewing machine, finally, and adore quilts. I would love to make my own. I’m tempted to head down to the Country Living fair in Atlanta in October because I saw some pictures of beautiful vintage and antique quilts that were being sold at booths. It would, of course, be much cooler to make one of my own and pass it down someday.

  5. Sheriann March 1, 2012 at 21:06

    I find a well organised sewing room is an absolute must for me. I simply cannot function when my sewing room is disorganised! Thank you Nancy for sharing the folding technique of fabrics, it looks so neat and tidy! I can also relate to a box of pins being like a box of new crayons, giggle giggle. The smallest sewing notion makes me happy beyond all measure! I have my donation stash ready to go to our local quilting charity. Thanks for the organizational tips! Sew Sincerely, Sheriann

  6. Hanna March 18, 2012 at 23:16

    Great article! I loved the insight and the information given . Also, your writing style is very fun to read.

  7. exoscocky January 14, 2013 at 18:55

    Nice post. I learn something more challenging on different blogs everyday. Thanks for sharing.

%d bloggers like this: