Where to find fabric in Pittsburgh, PA

When I moved to Pittsburgh, I didn’t expect to find such quality fabric and notions sources (it certainly doesn’t have a garment district (I miss you Philly!)), but I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find that this small city has its fair share of independent and unusual fabric stores.  If you don’t want to trek up to Joann’s in the north hills, here are my favorite options for shopping small and locally.

Firecracker Fabrics // Morningside
1745 Chislett St
https://firecrackerfabrics.com/

Firework fabrics has an incredible selection of garment fabrics for such a small store. They also have a large selection of indie patterns, regularly host sales and scissor sharpening, and the proprietor always offers great sewing advice. Firework is attached to Cut and Sew Studio, which holds sewing classes and camps for all ages and volunteer sewing events to make gowns for cancer patients. If you’re taking a class at Cut and Sew, Firework makes sure you have the right supplies. And if you’re just dropping in, this is a great place to get ideas and fabric.

Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse // Highland Park
214 N Lexington St
http://pccr.org/

A thrift store for crafting supplies, Creative Reuse has a large fabric section in the back. Fabric is available in pre-cut sections or by the yard. Selection changes frequently, so check often! There are also tons of buttons, patterns, zippers, trim, yarn and other things you didn’t know you wanted but will give you creative inspiration. Prices are marked down compared to other stores in the area, so plan a visit if you’re sewing on a budget. While you’re there, walk around the corner to check out Construction Junction for surplus and salvaged building materials.

Loom // Strip District
2124 Penn Avenue
https://www.loomshowroom.com/

Loom sells high-quality apparel and upholstery fabric. This is the most pricey of the places I’ve visited in the city, but it’s worth it for the quality of their selection and the incredible eye of the owner. They have an excellent selection of special occasion fabrics. The store is spread over two floors of a brick building in the grungy-turned-trendy Strip District (where you can also buy Steeler’s gear to your heart’s content). While you’re there, stop in across the street at Penn Mac for some delicious cold salads or one of the nearby food stands for banh mi or canolis.

Any other places you like for fabric or yarn shopping in Pittsburgh? Add in the comments and I’ll link in the post (and probably plan a visit, too).

Sewn // Lined Winter Slacks

DIY slacks

These are some basic straight slacks, modeled off my favorite pair of pants that recently bit the dust. I unpicked the seams, traced them and then made a few adjustments. These pants were originally from H&M, and fit surprisingly well for RTW clothing. But they needed a few alterations. I scooped out the front and back crotch curves about 1/4″ and shortened the legs by 3″ at the knee. I also slanted the front and back center seams forward by 1/4″ at the top, tapering to nothing at the beginning of the crotch curve. I wanted something warmer for Pittsburgh winter, so I underlined the black twill with a cotton jersey. The waistband is interfaced with fusible knit interfacing from my stash.

DIY slacks

Black stretch twill is from Mood (link here) and underlining cotton jersey is from Joann Fabrics. As you can probably tell I wore these pants all day before taking these pictures, but they haven’t gotten too wrinkly.  Zipper is repurposed from the original pants. I followed this tutorial on inserting an exposed zipper from Megan Nielsen. All inside seams are serged or flat-felled.

DIY slacks

I’m really pleased with how these pants turned out. The length is damn near perfect. If I make these again, I will probably make them skinny instead of straight-legged. The other weird fit issue I’ve been having is around the waist. The waistband is perfect when I sit down (doesn’t dig in in or anything), but when I stand up it’s kind of loose and I have to keep pulling them up. Any suggestions?

http://blog.megannielsen.com/2015/06/tutorial-how-to-insert-an-exposed-zipper/

(oh and look I’ve made everything that I’m wearing in these pictures! Except my shoes…)

DIY slacks

Socks/Shirt

DIY slacks

Knit // Purple-striped Hermione’s Everyday Socks // 3rd pair!

Hermione's everyday socks

https://www.etsy.com/shop/turtlepurl

Happy late Thanksgiving! I did a lot of traveling and knitting en route, thus my newly completed pair of socks.

It’s yet another pair of Hermione’s Everyday Socks! Similar to my last two pairs, they were knit toe-up (instructions here). Purple and grey striped yarn is Gothic Plum from Turtlepurl. I’ve only used yarn from Turtlepurl once before, but it has held up remarkably well. Besides yarn from Verdant Gryphon, this is my favorite brand of sock yarn. Heel yarn is leftover from the Pussy Willow stockings I knit a while back.

I turned a short-row heel instead of doing the usual gusset heel. Craftsy has good written instructions on how to knit a short-row heel here

Enjoy the pics, I’m going to get back to schoolwork! Penultimate paper of the semester due Tuesday.

Hermiones Everyday Socks Hermiones Everyday Socks Hermiones Everyday Socks

Knit // Blue Quartz

quartzonite socks

These are the Quarzonite socks, knit in a little over 3 weeks. My sock knitting time is getting faster! It used to be that I had to really push to finish a pair in a month. Now (maybe it’s because of all this time I spend on the bus commuting to and from school) its closer to 3 weeks at a less-than-breakneck speed. The basket-weave-like pattern was fun to knit. Each row is different than the last, but the chart repeats after 16 or so rows, so it was easy to learn the chart and knit without referring to it. Go Claire go! The yarn is Bugga! from Verdant Gryphon in a blue colorway (not sure of the name; this was stashed yarn I acquired a while ago).  I used a short-row heel rather than a gusset/heel combo as the pattern suggests. I also knit the toes my usual way (with JMCO, two at a time, same as in this post) instead of the pattern’s instructions.

quartzonite socks

I’ve gotten an early start on holiday presents this year. These socks were a gift for my mom. Normally I’d refrain from posting these before Hanukkah, but mom said she was running low on socks and requested them early. Now they are in the mail on their way to keep her feet cozy. 

quartzonite socks

Here’s a good picture of the basketweave in slightly lower light:

quartzonite socks

I’m glad to say that grad school is going well. Being RN felt like working from puzzle full of  holes, and now nurse practitioner school is like filling in the spaces with the rest of the pieces.  The information is super interesting, and hours will fly by without me noticing while I’m studying or writing papers. The new house and new roommates are treating me well, too. After turning my life upside-down last year, it’s nice that life has once again become (and continues to be) happy and peaceful.

I’ve been trying to spend less time on screens (AKA watching Netflix), so I’ve set myself a goal of sewing one thing a week. I had 3 successful weeks and then took last week off. Sewing regularly is working wonders for my skill level, concentration, and pattern drafting/altering abilities. I’m back to my weekly sewing goal this week and I’m sure I’ll have more posts soon.

quartzonite socks

Sewn // My Sister’s Wedding Dress

DIY wedding dress

I made my sister’s wedding dress this summer. Feel free to ignore the text of this post and just scroll through pictures- lots at the end. The wedding was over Labor Day weekend, and what was forecast as a warm, cloudy day at the beginning of September turned into a 50-degree and rainy day. Despite the rain, the wedding was incredibly fun (and she looked fantastic, of course). This is the sewing project I am most proud of to date. Yay DIY wedding dress!

When Jill formally got engaged she asked me to make her dress (I’ve made other things for her). I was beyond honored that she would entrust me with such a special project. I was also happy to give her exactly the gift she deserved to celebrate her marriage. We are both so pleased with how it turned out – it is very much her style – classic and streamlined.

We sat down a few times to scroll through Pinterest and some dress sites before I drew up a design. She quickly decided she wanted a two-piece ensemble, combining different fabrics and textures. We planned for the top to either be a tube top or sleeveless, tailored, boat neck top. The skirt idea started as a floor-length a-line tulle skirt and evolved to a more tailored mermaid silhouette.

I also don’t think I’ve had a project go more smoothly than this one- goes to show what planning does for the sewing process.

DIY wedding dress
Mid-festivities doggie snuggle time

The top I copied from an old Gap top with built-in bra. After seam ripping it apart and using it to make a pattern, I first made a muslin in black jersey, which turned out great the first time! I ordered special 5/8″ elastic from Tailor Made shop that I sewed in two rows with a straight stitch while stretching it under my walking foot. Tricky, but after a couple tries I got the hang of it. She liked the “muslin” so we decided on the tube top with built-in bra for the wedding.

The skirt I drafted from her measurements and then made out of an old bed sheet. I did this by making a pencil skirt sloper from her measurements, then slashed and opened starting at the knees. Here’s the muslin next to the pattern:

DIY wedding dress
skirt muslin and pattern

It was a little snug, so I added some ease on the final version. I also marked where the zipper and darts would go. I started crying when she put it on – things were coming together! She laughed at me and told me to save my tears for the wedding.

After that, we took a trip to Jo Ann fabrics (they rarely have  the fabric I’m looking for, but in this case, they have a gigantic selection of bridal fabrics) to compare shades of ivory, cream, blush, and eggnog until we found a fabric combination she liked. In the end we decided on ivory stretch crepe for the top and and white swiss dot lace with flowy eggnog rayon underneath. Here is a closeup of the fabrics all together:

DIY wedding dress
fabric

There was about a month of procrastination before I actually sat down to make the thing. The top took a couple evenings. Then the skirt I made in almost a day (the whole day, with a break for lunch). The skirt is french-seamed and the top is sewed on the serger.

I didn’t actually finish the skirt until three hours before the wedding ceremony because we didn’t know what shoes she was going to wear! It took me an hour to hem the under layer, and then I trimmed the lace layer to match the length. Then I braided her hair and put baby’s breath flowers in it. She also wore our mom’s pearls and a vintage fur coat.

DIY wedding dress
grainy instagram photo- our parents walking her down the aisle

The whole wedding was a blast. Our third sister, the groom’s sister, and I were bridesmaids. We moved the festivities inside because of the rain. The living room became the dance floor and people ate at high-top tables scattered around the first floor. 100 people in my parents’ house made it a very cozy and intimate wedding. Eventually the rain stopped and many of the guests (myself included) jumped in the pool to cool off from dancing and drinking. We partied until very, very early in the morning. And the dress did what dresses do the entire night (although it did get a good soak in oxyclean the next morning to try to remove some of the mud stains).

DIY wedding dress
pre-wedding

 

DIY wedding dress

DIY wedding dress

Yellow Clover

Yellow Clover dress

Hello again friends! Another post, so soon after the last one, you ask? Well, when you work on 5 dresses at the same time, sometimes they all get to the finish line around the same time. Maybe that explains the last three months of me not posting. Let’s call this catching up on lost time, getting reacquainted.

…Sometimes I choose fabrics for sewing projects that I like to look at, but don’t want to wear. I have been better at this in recent years, but this project was (at first) a miss for me. It hung in my closet, never worn. It felt too mumsy, too busy and colorful. I’m a neutrals and solids kind of gal. Black, grey, tan, and occasionally some blue or green. I really do love the fabric, but felt overwhelmed in all that yellow.

Clover dress

Luckily, the day I recruited my sister to take pictures of it (picture above), she had the brilliant idea that I cut off the sleeves and make it a high-neck tank dress. Lightbulb! Somehow changing the silhouette makes the dress feel more modern, less twee. It is now in regular wardrobe rotation. It’s airy and nice for this hot hot Pittsburgh summer. And the yellow feels bright and summery rather than overwhelming.

Yellow Clover Dress

Other details: Size XS with a small FBA on the side seams that I later took in when I converted it to sleeveless. I sewed and then serged all seams. Added pockets in the side seams. Bust detail fabric is a linen scrap leftover from another project. Belt is made of self-fabric and attached at side seams. I finished arm holes with bias tape. Fabric is Sleeping Porch cotton lawn from Firecracker Fabrics in Morningside.

Yellow Clover Dress

 

Yellow Clover Dress

Potholders

DIY pot holders

Another project I made this summer was potholders. They are such an easy and quick project (and they make good gifts). The longest part was waiting for the heat-insulated fabric to arrive in the mail.

DIY pot holders

I used this tutorial to make the square pot holders, and adapted it for the oval ones. Blue fabric is leftover scraps from a Maya dress I made, wood grain fabric is from Quilt Sandwich, and green is from Firecracker Fabrics.

Pot Holder DIY

Not the most beautiful job I’ve ever done with bias tape, but very functional.

Pot Holder DIY

Madewell copycat dress

Madewell copycat dress

Hello! I’ve been away for a while, busy with work, applying to grad school (and getting in), and so many weddings. I have a bunch of half-finished dressing sitting around my apartment, including a couple Clovers (finished soon, hopefully), another copycat dress and… drum roll please… my sister’s wedding dress! There will definitely be pictures of that coming up. My time sewing lately has been spent either on alterations, mending, or the wedding dress. I did a bunch of thrift store hunting and finding, and found a couple gems that I had fun altering. The only thing I’ve sewn from scratch (that isn’t sitting in my UFO pile) recently is this cute little black number.

Madewell copycat dress

I found this dress on super sale at Madewell this winter, and loved wearing it with leggings and socks:

I was sad to pack it away when the weather got warm. I loved the fabric, cut and length. I had a couple yards of dry stretch cotton from Mood that was the exact same weight and stretch as the original dress. So, I used it to make a pattern for this warm-weather version. I laid the dress flat and traced it, then folded my traced version in half, trued the lines, and added seam allowances and a scoop neck.  Madewell copycat dress

I made this dress while my serger was in the shop; it was a challenge to sew a knit dress with only my regular sewing machine. I used my walking foot most of the time. I also experimented with different lengths/widths of zig-zag stitches on scrap fabric before sewing the dress. For the gathered waist, there is a strip of fabric zig-zag stitched on top and bottom around the waistline of the dress, with elastic inserted after.

Madewell copycat dress

It was a quick and simple project, and hopefully one I’ll repeat in another color.

My sister and I took a walk with her dog in Frick Park a few weeks ago. I must have been laughing at something funny the dog was doing in this pic.

Madewell copycat dress

 

 

Sewn // Cabernet Cardigan II

 

Cabernet Cardigan

Aaand we’re back with some seasonally appropriate clothing. Specifically, my latest Cabernet Cardigan. I have made the long version before in a sweatshirt knit, and wanted to try the shorter version in a sweater knit. The fabric is a polyester sweater knit from Joann Fabrics.  I made View C in an XS, no alterations. The pattern is drafted for petite sizes and has options for both busty and less busty people. I used the version with darts (for more busty people), but I think the fabric has enough stretch that I didn’t need it. I think I’d also like to add another button at the top since there is more room in the bust than I need. It’s so nice to be able to make a pattern straight out of the package with minimal alterations. Yay for petite patterns!

Cabernet Cardigan

The only change I made after sewing it up was to slim down the sleeves. the stripes originally matched up at the seams but are a bit offset since I changed the width. The stripes do match up at the sides  (see above picture) and at the front, where it really counts! All seams are serged. Buttons are beige buttons from my stash.

Promise I’m not in a bathroom in these pictures- the S.N.O.W has relegated me to my kitchen, which has tile on the walls. Also sparkly black and gold linoleum and wood paneling. Wonderfully retro.

Cabernet Cardigan

Cabernet Cardigan

 

Sewn // Contrado fabrics and Lekala #4552 // post 2 of 2

Poppy dress with Contrado fabrics

So there I was with gorgeous fabric in one hand and pattern in the other, and the two didn’t match up (in case you missed my last post: I had accidentally ordered the wrong type of fabric and it was too stiff for my original project idea). I was pretty upset at myself, so I moped for about 24 hours until the idea popped into my head to hack Lekala #4552. I won it from Saturday Night Stitch’s giveaway a couple months ago and wanted to make a version without sleeves.

Poppy dress with Contrado fabrics

Below is my first rendition of Lekala #4552. It did not turn out well. I had originally made it in a black suiting from Joann Fabrics, but it looked like a very short nun’s habit or choir robe. I took these pictures, threw up my hands, and then threw the dress in my UFO pile:

The thing was, the body of the dress fit well, and I could see the pattern working without the sleeves. It was worth a second try. I omitted the sleeves, lengthened the skirt, sketched a new neckline on the black dress, and finally traced it back to the pattern. From there it was simple to cut and sew the dress in my Contrado fabric, do a little bit of fitting at the princess seams around the bust, and then add spaghetti straps.

Poppy dress with Contrado fabrics

Then came the pockets.

Pockets are easy to add when you’re just slapping it in the side seam, but which seam do you put it in when you have 4 seams to choose from?! I put them  on the side panels, between the front and side seams:

This fabric and the pattern are a match made in heaven!  I’m so pleased with how it turned out, and I know I will wear this dress so much this summer. I really only want to wear dresses in the summer, and this one has PoCKEtsES. Lookit what I can put in my pocket:

I’m a proud pocket mama.

I anti-pattern matched so the dress would look as busy as possible. I think I did a pretty good job of having no seams line up! (Dead serious. Promise.) The insides are serged and finished with bias tape (from da stash) and the hem is a rolled hem from my serger.

Again, thank you to Contrado fabrics for printing my design. They have a huge selection of high quality fabric. I definitely recommend them for fabric printing.  You can read my other post about Contrado and this project here.

Poppy dress with Contrado fabrics
Pretending like it’s summer in my kitchen

 

*I was provided this fabric free of charge by Contrado UK. All opinions are my own.*

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