Saturday, August 21, 2010

Swimsuits, Athletic Wear, Wicking, World Peace?

Folks, can you help me find good fabric?  That darn swimsuit looked fine, worked fine, but the fabric did not want to dry.  Even though I bought it from a table marked "Swimsuit Fabrics" at G Street, I am suspicious as to whether it really is.  The minute I got home, I dismantled it - just to show it who's boss!
Even after hanging overnight, this fabric is STILL damp! I took it apart and I will salvage the wide elastic from the bottoms.  That stuff is not cheap.  Oh and lookit there is Archie!  We missed her so much!

And here is Pepper- judging from the look on her face, it will take a little while for us to make it up to her.  I wish we could have taken her along!  I guess we are true "cat people".

And I finally did it, I bought a couple of books. 

I am so cheap when it comes to sewing books. I don't know why, because I spend like a drunken sailor on other sewing necessities. Well, actually, I do know why.

Most of my life, my sewing focused on alterations to RTW. When you take apart RTW, you see how it was constructed. So I felt like "I already know how things go together".  Furthermore, I made TNT patterns using worn-out RTW and tweaking them to fit me better. That explains my meager pattern stash. Commercial patterns didn't fit me, I could not figure out why and so I never bought them. But all of these things are changing. 2010 is the year of better tools and better fitting and, yes, better techniques. YAY.

I am trying to learn, in my spare time, the same skills that others spend years at college to learn. If not college, years studying with masters of the craft. 

Both of the times I have been in Kenneth King's company, he asked the question, "Why do you blog?" and I gave long answers that did not seem to clarify it for him.  He would rather sew or teach or otherwise be creative than spend time just talking about it.

The sortest answer I have is that I blog about sewing because I love it.   Sewing has freed me from the whims of fashion designers and the economic pressures faced by clothing manufacturers.

Blogging Mission Statement: I dearly hope that sewing returns as a normal part of every person's skillset. 

Sewing a hem is no different from cooking an omelette or filling the car with a tank of gas.

In addition, it's political.  It's economic.  It is a matter of world peace. 
[Hear me out on this, please :)]

Our society has become accustomed to purchasing clothing at prices which are, let's face it - absurdly low.   Sure, I understand economies of scale; I am trained as an accountant, after all.  But the clothes in the store are made with cheap fabric and the workers earned such low wages that we have trouble even comprehending how they support themselves.  So we buy our clothing made in factories in China.  And that, is not a bad thing. 

Here is why I think there is a postive side to all the upheaval of globalization.  Experts predict that China will be the world's largest economy by 2030.  I've seen statistics that for every American who lost a job, 400 Chinese people were lifted from poverty.   Whether that is accurate or not, and I am finally getting to my point, we must continue to trade with China.  If our economy and China's economy become inter-dependent, how likely is it that we will ever go to war with China?  We won't.  We must trade with China.  We must work together with China to keep the world from fighting so much.

Now if we could find a way to trade with some of the other nations out there, we might be getting somewhere.

OK, enough of my opinions.  hee hee.
Pet a cat, today, why dontcha?  Or eat something delicious, or ... do some research and tell me is there such a thing as swimsuit fabric that dries fast and where can I buy some?

Thank you for visiting my blog and thank you very kindly for all your nice comments on my swimsuit.  I love chasing down links and reading your blogs, too. 


  1. Wow ~ what an interesting read. So I guess fashion does equate to World peace. I might have to amend my latest blog post! *LOL*

  2. I've been reading your blog regularly and have not commented before, but wanted to say: I hear you about all of that!

    Including the part about commercial patterns not fitting. It's frustrating, because I do know how to sew (learned very young), but I hate wasting time on things that don't fit. It looks like you have really been getting into the finer points lately.

    I wonder RE the swimsuit fabric if it's a matter of finding material with the right contents/proportions? My Lands' End suit is 74% nylon, 26% spandex (and made in Sri Lanka). An 20-year-old Jantzen suit I still have is 85%/15% (and made in U.S.A.).

  3. I miss my kitties so much when I'm gone! If I'm gone more than three days they are all I talk about. :-)

    I love sewing books but I've been purging since there's no sense keeping books I'm never going to refer to again. I'm cheap when it comes to books too so I almost always buy them used from Amazon.

    As for blogging, I do it because most of my friends don't sew and I enjoy communicating with other sewers (and getting feedback). It really doesn't take much time and it's a good way to chronicle my projects.

  4. My niece bought a blouse at H & M to wear to the funeral. Boy, am I glad I sew. I pressed it for her so I got a good look at it. It looked good on her but the fabric was so flimsy I wonder how many wearings she'll get from it. The ribbon belt was above her waist, not because it was meant to be there, but because she's 5'9".
    I never used to think that I sewed for real economic reasons, but I do. I much prefer to spend my money on high quality fabric than cheap clothing. I blog, because like Gigi I don't have any local friends who sew, but I've made a lot of sewing friends through blogging.
    I have a nice library of sewing books because while I've taken sewing classes, I like books as reference and to go to if I don't know how to do something or I haven't done it enough to be proficient at it. I have lots of sewing tools and books are tool to me.

  5. Perhaps your swimsuit fabric is cotton/lycra? Cotton would take longer to dry than nylon which is more usual. I only wear 100% polyester swimsuits because chlorine rots lycra; they dry very quickly.

    I blog because I like the connections I can make through the www; even though I have friends here who sew. However using a computer for fun is a time suck; when my laptop was at the shop for 2 days I got a LOT of sewing done!

  6. I blog because I don't know anyone who sews and I like the connections I have made. I also started blogging because it is is a good way for me to keep up with my projects and what I have done or want to do, better than my slipshod attempts at notebooks.

    And I love reading your blog. Can't help with the swimsuit fabric though. I have RTW sweaters that dry quickly, some that don't and none that fit fabulously well, so when you find out where to buy the fabric I'd love to know.

    Oh, and I think I learned more from altering RTW and copying it than anywhere else.

  7. I agree with KayY. I think you have cotton/lycra. It's great for dresses and tops but it does take longer to dry. I'd search for nylon lycra tricot. I like some lycra to give a little more stretch than poly.

  8. Anne at Needle Nook Fabrics, Wichita, KS, (316)684-5989 carries fabulous knits and swimsuit fabrics! NAYY just a very satisfied customer. She will swatch on request and does mail orders. I took her swimsuit class (and bra class and shirts and pants classes and....she's fit my twisted frame beautifully!) and my suits dry quite quickly. Tell her Marty sent you

  9. I just love Kenneth King's books and he is so generous. You really have to sit down and take some time to pour through them cause they are packed with ingenious and such creative ideas.

    Agree re: China - we won't go to war with them, and they need us as much as we do them - but it would be nice for more consumers to know how their clothes go together. Just makes them better shoppers and gives better quality clothes.

    But I think there is just as much room in the market place for "cost effective" clothing as there is for well-made clothing. Really beautifully and well-made clothing can be more of a bargain that just the throw-away stuff.

  10. Dear Robin, I absolutely loved this post. My son Aidan returned from camp yesterday, where he was helping the camp cook in the kitchen. That wasn't his assigned job, he's a lifeguard, but the cook needed help and Aidan was able to jump in because he has cooking skills. Those domestic arts are crucial on so many levels. He has also played on my sewing machine, but as a fifteen year-old boy he's less likely to make that public. And China? Yes! Loved your points about trading and peace.

  11. Great blog post! I'm sorry that I can't help with swimsuit fabric, I've never made one (swimsuit fabric always looks like such tricky stuff to me!). I also can't help with solution for world peace (though I think you are on the right track - if Sewists were in charge things would definitely improve). Love your cat pictures - so cute!

  12. Loved to read your opinions and share most of them. Quality certainly is an issue with cheap clothes, and thinking about work circumstances and wages of the people who made it makes my heart sink.
    Sorry about the fabric. I too think there must be cotton in it. I'm sure you get a lot of inspiration and learn new techniques from the books. Great investment.

  13. Wonderful post and nice to read something so intelligent about the global economy - it's too late for it not to be one world. Your swimsuit looked dynamite, try again with different fabric, the fit is worth it.

  14. Very good post, and not just applicable to the USA.

    Re swimsuit fabric, I make a lot of swimwear, and use an Australian supplier that is probably not much use to you, as shipping costs are high. However, they are a manufacturer, and a Canadian seamstress has found their fabric locally, maybe you will come across the branded fabrics Chloroban and Aquatech - both nylon lycra, UV 50+ rated, long lasting etc etc. Poly lycra can also be OK in my experience but as the other commenters mention, cotton lycra (spandex) and rayon lycra (spandex) are slow drying and baggy as swimwear.
    Your swimmers look really good, I hope your next pair is more functional.

  15. Hi :) LOVE your blog :) The swimsuit was lovely, sorry the fabric wasn't up to 'speed'. I have noticed some 'swimwear' is actually just BEACHWEAR...not intended for WETNESS.
    Concerning patterns. I have sewn since I was 5 yrs old, I am now 53.I NEVER knew this fact until 3 years ago...patterns are designed for a 'B' bust....I always had 'issues' with blouse and dress patterns. I am small but..AHEM...BUSTY.. a 'd' cup actually. I ALWAYS had to alter patterns. Other seamstresses need to be made aware of this fact.
    I am NOT totally ANTI-CHINA. My problem is the MASSIVE job loss America has experienced because of our jobs going overseas :( I am also a self-employed seamstress who CANNOT compete with the LOW LOW 'Made in China' prices of clothes. In my area (Southeastern Ohio) people want inexpensive clothing...I get complaints about HEM prices ($10-$20) :( Quality is a GREAT thing to aim for, but many people do NOT want to pay for it...


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