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Who Needs A Designer?

Who Needs A Designer?

I am one of the Fabworksaholics. I know this because I have the Fabworks tab permanently open on my laptop, and I look at the pages several times a day. It is not about seeing what is the latest tempting fabric put online as it goes up though that is interesting, but relaxing with ideas. I wander through the fabrics, thinking about my pattern library and what design would suit what fabric, and then also playing with combinations of fabrics, whether for linings or garment combinations, skirts and tops etc. Using one fabric to lift another can make a huge difference, and I must also say it is great fun and free entertainment. I may even ‘play’ with fabrics I know would not suit me, just to keep my creative eye honed. Yes, this even means I may look at the sugar pinks and oranges!


When creating ideas for your own wardrobe, do remember that however much you may like that fabric with aardvarks dotted all over it, if the base colour is lime green and lime green makes you look as if about to be violently sea sick - do not buy it. Work in the base colours you know look best on you, but also remember that accents or linings in colours you may normally avoid can be really good. That is not to say never experiment with a ‘dangerous’ colour, but I would only do that with a nice cotton that is actually very cheap, rather than a glorious wool that is, obviously, more expensive. If you have your eyes on a wool and are not sure if the colour suits you, you can buy a swatch of course, but if you think you need to see the colour on a larger scale, match it with a cotton with which you could make up a simple skirt or top, and try that first.


The way I work when I see a fabric I want to match or contrast, is to take a screenshot on my computer, name it, open it, and keep it to one side as I work through the Fabworks Online swatches. Remember you are looking not just at colour match but weight, and indeed composition. If you are actually using a fabric not as a lining but a swathe of new colour as part of the main part of the garment, it helps if they have a very similar fibre composition, nap and especially weight, or else you could look as if you made the clothes up from whatever came to hand, and it looks like a poor patchwork.


Let us take an example. I have been thinking about making some culottes. I am not a trouser person, having the wrong body shape to look good in them - hollow back and wide hips. Those same features give skirts a swing. However, we have a narrowboat, and I do the locking. Getting on and off and working the boat is not ideal in a skirt, though I have worn them in summers past. I have just bought a nice culottes pattern (Butterick 6178) and am thinking of a couple of pairs of culottes and some summer blouses and more casual tops. For the culottes I want darker fabrics, since you have to lean against the lock beams to push the gates, and also the lock mechanisms are greased with thick, black grease. This is not the place for white duck, or lemon twill. My first possible fabric is Ash - Linen & Cotton, which would take the long single pleats in the front very well. So I bring it up on my screen and leave it partially showing to one side. I then look at the shirting cottons and jersey fabrics, and this is where the fun really starts. The Ash is a lovely dark milk chocolate colour, quite rich. It would look good with a crisp white of course, but beyond that there are so many options. I do not want a plain, which discounts the aqua plain shirting cotton, though the colour goes superbly. I pick a selection, screenshot each of them, and pull onto a single screen. (Some computer whizzes may know better ways but I am a technophobe at heart).


The image that I have is like this:


I have on this page Citrus Hazy Check, then the Ash Linen & Cotton in the middle, followed by the Regatta Stripe, with the lower level the Lemon & White Gingham Check, then the Cappuccino Gingham Organic Cotton, and bottom left Shadow Gingham Check - Chocolate Teal & White. I can then compare them all. Teals, aquas and turquoise go well with chocolate brown, but the pattern I have may not look as good with the stripes. Of course, I can remove the Regatta Stripe from the screen and replace it with another until I find the perfect match. I am actually most tempted by the Cappuccino Gingham, because it has a nice outdoor feel to the look, and also the blouse would easily match with other skirts I have made. However, at £4 per metre for most cottons, I could always make two and have one in the complementing browns and something brighter as well. I have also selected the Softly Softly Narrow Taupe and White Organic Interlock if I want a more casual jersey top.

I also have a strong twill in mind as a sturdy culottes fabric, a little thicker and warmer than the linen. I am not a pink person, but have a fuchsia jacket I wear with navy blue that looks fine on me, so for a brighter set of culottes, I might try the Dark Magenta Organic Twill. The obvious match to that would be a nice dark blue cotton such as Royal Blue Multi Polka Dot, which has cerise dots in it, Indigo Dreams, which is plain but would give a nice strong combination, the delicate Small Sketch Floral - Faded Denim or Square Pegs In Round Holes (Stretch Shirting). If I were making a jersey tee type top I am not sure I could resist Lounge Lizards in the same dark magenta as the twill, however wacky that may appear. I am still pondering that one...



Now, that is just the way I do things. Sometimes I just put up the main screenshot of a fabric that seems interesting, without any specific idea in mind for it, and place it against the Fabworks internet pages, tapping through and making note of the most appealing combinations. That makes you think, and is a very nice way to while away a break with a cup of tea or a coffee.

The whole thing is about your choices. Make Your Own (MYO) gives that as nothing else can. You may not make half the things you wonder about, or buy half the fabrics (if I did I would be up to my ears in material by now), but you will discover some marriages made in your colour heaven, and it will both inspire you to sew, and keep that Fabworks site on hand for those times when you can relax - and have fun. 

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