Friday, May 5, 2017

Fabric Store recommendation and review of McCalls 7094 top

Where do you buy fabric? The web has opened up every possibility to us all, and I'm like many of you - jumping from one site to another because you saw a great fabric on an IG or blog post. I'm sure a lot of us are disillusioned with the chain fabric stores. It seems the fabric they sell, while sometimes useful, is kind of the lowest common denominator of fabric choice. At the same time I am coming around to the idea of supporting local and small business owners - particularly when they are selling products for so many of the things I love, be it fabrics, garden supplies, books, the special produce market in my neighborhood or the hardware store with the helpful guys who know how to fix everything.
Which is a long way around to introduce a fabric shop, The Confident Stitch, owned by Kate who I met a few years ago when she came for a sewing and fitting lesson. She is originally from my corner of the bay area but moved years ago to Montana and has now fulfilled her dream of owning a fabric store. I don't think I will every make it to Missoula but happily we all can order from their lovely selection.
Confident stitch image2
I like the way she lists the fabrics on the site, the photos show the color and drape of the fabric. I saw some interesting Japanese fabrics and even the ever elusive tencel denim (I love tencel-cotton blends and in denim colors they are great for a wear-everywhere shirt dress.) But for a coat and jacket maker like me I was really pleased to see the pressing tools listed - they sell a 2-in-1 Tailor board very similar to one you have probably seen on my blog. Plus lots of marking tools, like Chalkoner chalk markers and Frixon pens. If you have been lamenting that you can't find these tools near you give a look at The Confident Stitch website.

Fabric - Kate offered to send me something from their website so I chose a couple of cotton lawns that I had seen in person as I met the fabric designer (who is based here in my local area).

First up is this dreamy floral print, the poppies evoke California (our state flower) but the color way is a bit different than the usual poppy prints with the pink background. It reminds me of Japanese porcelain. I decided to try out a new pattern, McCalls 7094.

McCalls 7094  front on form

I've been on a tunic top kick lately as I will be teaching a Sew a Tunic Top class at Hello Stitch Studio in Berkeley which starts next week, so I made a few different patterns to check them out.

McCalls 7094 pattern envelope

This pattern has pleats at the shoulder which I like, and a sewn-on placket plus an interesting collar that meets at the top of the placket. However I will say that this part is a bit tricky to sew. It's one of those areas where you have to stay-stitch and then snip the fabric to the stitching, and then apply the placket and collar precisely so they meet and create that v-notch on either side of the neckline. It looks nice and this fabric had enough body to deal with that little minefield but I think in a silk or something that ravels like linen it would be a nightmare.

McCalls 7094 back view on form

Do you ever make something and think it is really pretty then try it on and it's "just not you"? I don't have that happen very often but when you are on a kick to try new silhouettes you encounter some that just won't work. I felt like it was both much fabric and and a bit frumpy on me. But I loved this fabric - so mentioned to my pal Alice that I had made a new top which she might be able to wear to work, an extra pretty scrub top if you will. When she came over she said, "oh no, that won't be for work, that is going in my actual wardrobe. And it looks great on her!

alice cotton top front view

I'm coming to the conclusion - when in doubt about my sewing choices - give it to a tall friend and it will be fine :)  Or try to grow a few inches myself. Which is probably not going to happen.

Here's a closer look at the neckline and fabric.

M7094 cotton top front neckline

I also chose a coordinating fabric from the same designer, and used that to make up my favorite tunic top pattern (New Look 6688 which I have sewn several times already, in eyelet, silk, silk, and rayon. So version five is in cotton lawn and the name of this fabric is Sun Spots - which I didn't realize but is kind of fitting for me.

Tunic top dots on me

This one is great with my red jeans but I am seriously tempted to remove the sleeves and have a top I can wear in our hot weather. However I think I will refrain and then have a cute casual top to wear a little bit now and then again in the fall when it cools off. I love the painterly dots of this print.

dot tunic top on form front view

The pink lawn is just a tiny bit softer than the blue dotted one, I did wash both but probably with another wash it will soften up some more. By the way, both these cotton lawns are organic cotton. I've seen a summer quilt that incorporated these plus other fabrics from the same designer and it is gorgeous.

So that's the scoop on The Confident Stitch - check them out. Thank you to Kate for sending me this fabric at no charge and I'm sure I will find more to purchase on her site.

Here's me and Alice and a corner of my garden in full bloom - this is the best time of year for a California garden, still so green.

me and alice cotton tops

Up next - I have been sewing quite a few things for others, some I will share including a plaid coat I am working on, the boucle fabric is an unraveling mess but the result is turning out so well.

Happy Sewing,

today's garden photo, a close up of that yellow rose shown above. It starts out a bright yellow touched with pink and fades to a pale almost white.

yellow pink rose



  1. Nice to get your take on the first tunic - I've always thought the neckline and placket would be a challenge. And I do think it's a bit 'stuffy'...but the second one I really like. Now, that rose...I used to have one that looks the same, the Peace rose - it was very fragrant and my favorite. I gave up my rose garden after about 3 years, as they're very difficult to grow here, even on the correct stock for South Florida. Bugs, fungus, water requirements, etc. They needed daily attention, which I loved doing, but it became too much.

  2. I made that first top and it didn't work for me either. It looked like a maternity top on me. I have a large bust and only 5'4" tall, so those two combined didn't flatter at all. Love the fabric and it does look fantastic on your friend. The other is pretty as well.

  3. I always love to see your sewing, but thank you for sharing the fabric store link. I have Joann's and Hobby Lobby to choose from. There is one quilting cotton store, but I am not a quilter. I will definitely check the store out.

  4. I'm taking advantage of the tunic trend as well so I appreciate your candor about what you like and don't about each of these patterns. And yes, let's support these small businesses.

  5. I tried the 7094 top in a slippery rayon and it's the only thing in 5 years of serious sewing I have put away in disgust! It looks gorgeous finished though. Will check out the online store

  6. Love the neckline on the first tunic! I'm on a tunic making spree as I've been sewing for my family. The fabrics are lovely

  7. I really like that McCalls pattern. You really do showcase a big selection of patterns.

  8. Both lovely tops Beth, and glad the poppy one has found a good home. The new look one is my favourite I think!

  9. both tops are lovely Beth! Thanks for also recommending a new fabric source. Yes, I can go into NYC but it's a 2 hour trip between train and travel to the train station and It's easier to shop nicely edited collections. NY shopping can be overwhelming. If I am looking for something specific that I can't find on line I will bit the bullet and go in.

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  11. Both tops are beautiful. Alice's top looks like it was custom made just for her. Stunning! I'm quite partial to that poppy fabric. Love!

  12. Thanks for featuring a fabric store in Montana. Missoula is 2 1/2 hours away but worth it for good quality garment fabrics. I'm a garment sewer in a state of quilters! I always enjoy reading about your current projects.

  13. Ohhhh! that poppy fabric is DIVINE! though of course both tops are really lovely. You made both looks from the same pattern quite different from each other. It's always a good thing to support our local businesses :)


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