Saturday, March 27, 2010

Purchasing Quality Garments

Today, with the economy the way it is, it is even more important for people to spend their hard-earned money more wisely. Coupons, sales, clearance racks and more provide the quick/fix satisfaction of saying one has saved on their clothing budget. It also helps to take advantage of these savings when you know you will have to spend more resources to have your clothing altered due to your physical stature and unique fitting needs.

Those that know me know my frugal and conservative nature. It's not about being cheap, but making sure the money spent will be used wisely. There are many ways in which one can acquire quality garments at affordable prices yet when you shop be cautious of how manufacturers are able to provide you those low prices.

Many of us shop at the department stores for casual wear. There is nothing wrong with finding good deals that fit within your budget at these stores. But there are many things to take into consideration before grabbing those $5 deals.

Things to be cautious about:

Fabrics are thinner, resulting in the need to wear multiple layers. The style to wear two layer tank tops, or two t-shirts, etc. was not so manufacturers could "cheapen" their fabrics, but rather a fun style to enjoy. I noticed this at a store I really enjoyed shopping at in the past, as I was shopping for my daughter at Christmas time. I found a fun T-shirt that both my husband and I spotted five racks into the store. We walked over to it, and when I picked it up, I could see the light through the other side. The only reason I purchased it, was that I decided I would be getting her new tank tops as well, and would put one with this particular shirt, plus it was marked down substantially.

Another area that manufacturer's are saving money are in the manufacturing of jeans. Take a look at your belt loops. Are your belts curling on you? It could be the result of two missing belt-loops on the back. What manufacturers are doing, is instead of providing 7 - 9 beltloops, they have decreased them to five. Those who are thin probably won't even notice this, but many will once their belts start to curl on them. I am finding that I am adding belt loops to men’s jeans lately due to this problem. They used to provide two on each side in the front near the zipper and now there is only one on each side. And, there used to be two in the back between the side loops and center loop. Instead, the back still has it's center loop, but the side ones are moved back slightly past the side seams.

A quality garment will have all the grain going one way. If the vertical grain is not going straight up and down, then you will end up with an item that not look well after the first washing. The cross-grain should run horizontal to the vertical grain.

A quality garment will have more buttons and are securely sewn on. And many of the quality garments have an extra 1-2 buttons "just in case". They used to be sewn to the inside of garments, which they no longer do. If you have to bring things to your seamstress to be altered, ask him/her if they would stitch the extra button(s) to the inside of the garment in the event you need them in the future.

Make sure you try the new blouse on. You want to make sure that buttons close at the appropriate places, versus open things up for the world to see.

Quality garments will also use metal or high quality plastic zippers (some quality plastic zippers used in clothing are sold at places such as Lands End, LL Bean, etc.). Take the time to move the zipper up and down a few times to make sure it is in working order and not getting caught in the garment fabric. Also, check the stitching where the zipper is. I recently had to reinforce the stitching on a gown that still had its tags on it. My client only tried it on two times, and I was taking it in, so it was obvious it was a manufacturing defect.

Check your seams...are they sewn straight? Are they secure? You can check the seams by gently tugging on the garment to see if it is securely sewn together. You will know if it is not, as it will pull apart too much.

Do you enjoy wearing plaids and stripes? Make sure they line up at the seams. A little off, most people will not even notice, but there are cases where the plaids are obviously not matched correctly. Some might find that I'm being a little particular here. That's okay. If you are comfortable with the plaids and stripes not really lining up, I won't pick on you.

Sometimes hemlines on pants are not the same length. This is okay when you have one leg shorter than the other does (yes, I have customers where I have to alter one pant leg due to this problem), but it's not okay when you are purchasing a new pair of pants. Take the pants and fold in half and check to see if the hems match up? Great! If not, put them back on the rack and look for another pair. NOTE: When purchasing 2nd hand at thrift stores, make sure you try them on. People get their clothing altered, and sometimes the size on the garment is not necessarily the size you wear.

With skirts, jackets, blouses, and other items, do the same. Fold the garment in half to make sure the sides are symmetrical.

Time for the "Scrunch test". Take the fabric and scrunch it in your hands. Does it fall back and continue to hold its shape well? Great! Does it leave heavy wrinkles? How much do you enjoy ironing? If it wrinkles a lot or feels flimsy, you might not consider it worth purchasing. Fabrics such as wool should bounce quickly back, which would indicate its resistance to wrinkling.

Trims and beading you will want to check in a variety of areas on the garment to make sure they are securely in place. One loose thread could mean there are a variety of loose threads.

Patch pockets should lie firmly against the garment and not fall away leaving a gap between the garment and pocket fabric.

With linings you will want to make sure that they don't hang lower then the hem of the garment (pant, skirt, sleeves and jacket hems).

The goal in shopping wisely is to have longer lasting garments as well as keep alterations to a minimum. Yes, many will still need to have their clothing altered, but a poorly made item with inferior fabric is not worth the cost.

Alteration tips: Pre-wash all garments before you bring them to your seamstress/tailor to remove all shrinkage. 100% cottons could stand to use two washings (two times through the dryer as well) to make sure the shrinkage is completely out.

Also, some seamstress will charge for pre-washing or washing smoke-filled garments, or possibly refuse to do the work for you.

As you shop, consider purchasing classic styles that never go out of style. These items will last a long time if well made and taken care of. With a watchful eye, you can find great buys!

~ Putting Thread to Fabric ~
Davina Dawn Sewing Specialties

Friday, March 5, 2010

What Bridal Fashion Fits You Best?

With so many engagements that have occurred since Christmas, New Year's and Valentine's Day, there are many searching the bridal stores for the "Perfect Dress".  Dresses look beautiful on the models with the sleek bodies that are shown in the magazines and other advertising venues, yet when we try the style on, we just don't seem to feel beautiful in it.

So, let's try to narrow down what might be the best look for you and your figure.

The Lovely Ball Gown, a style that has a fitted bodice, yet flairs out in a very full and bell shape.  A couple figure styles that look great in this style gown are the ladies who are slim, as well as the ladies who have a pear shape figure.
This is a beautiful style dress that is perfect for the fairy tale wedding.  Different necklines and with or without sleeves.  The skirt can be made with a variety of styles: draping layers of fine silk or chiffon to create an elegant look, covered in lace and beads, plain silk or satin, and many other fabric options.  The skirt will be supported with multiple layers of tulle & taffetta or might need a crinoline skirt to maintain it's fullness.
The A-line dress, also known as the Princess dress, has a nicely fitted bodice that fits well to one's rib-cage, yet flares gracefully along the rest of the body.  The nice part of this style dress is that it elongates one's body.  The A-line style dress fits most body types.  You can also get this style with a fuller flair.  It is a beautiful style for any type wedding.
The Princess style will have obvious elongated lines, from the neckline to hem, slenderizing the figure.  The A-Line will use a variety of fabrics creating a different look depending on the choice fabric.

The Sheath also known as the Column, is a very comfortable dress that will closely fit and follow the curves of your shape.  This is a lovely style with one who has a slender figure and those with an hour glass shape.  It's a lovely dress, it can be used with a variety of necklines and skirt lengths.  This is a great style for thin and well proportioned women.  Both tall and short women can wear this dress, and actually provide a sense of height for shorter women.
The benefit of this dress, is that many different fabrics can be used to provide different looks.  A great dress for any type of wedding...formal and informal.  A very modest style if worn with sleeves.

The Empire waist dress has a narrow bodice where the skirt portion starts just under the bustline.  If made with the lovely flowing polyester, chiffon fabrics, it is a beautiful option for thicker waistlines and pear shape hips.  This style looks lovely on many figures, although it is not a good design for the well endowed woman.  If you want to show off your hour glass figure, this would not be recommended.  With shoulder straps and with sleeves, this dress is a very elegant yet modest fashion.
This dress can be made with a couple layers, and depending on the fabrics chosen can change the look drastically.

The Mermaid style is a figure forming style that hugs the body which flairs out from the knees, or slightly above, to the floor.  This is designed looks lovely on a tall, slender figure with curves that desires to show off her figure.  Worn well by a woman with confidence.
Light fabrics will gently hug your figure, yet the heavy satins will hug your figure and accentuate any flaws you might have.
This style might have one of three style flairs: 1. The round flair will provide volume at the base of the dress.  2. The trumpet flair will provide volume behind the dress. 3. The Spanish flair, a flamenco look, will gather slightly in front and around the dress in layers.

I caution one to not go for the dress that will accentuate the flaws you find uncomfortable to share.  You want to feel beautiful, and when selecting dresses for your bridal party, remember their figures as you select their style.  Remember, you can always get different dresses in the same color.

So, consider your figure, browse the many bridal magazines, and select all that you like.  And remember, you might not be able to find or afford the dress you desire from a book, but you might not look well in them either.  BUT, you can make any change you want to your dress that you desire. 

You can also refashion a dress you are given, find second hand, on clearance, etc. to the look you desire.  Remember, this is YOUR special day.  My goal when I work with brides, as I alter, create bustles or refashion their dress, is to make their dress look the way that they want it to look.

~ Putting Thread to Fabric ~

Davina Dawn Sewing Specialties