All posts tagged: fabric

Terminology: What is ciré?

Ciré is a highly glazed wax finish applied to fabric through a process of heat and pressure, known as calendering (remember calamanco?) which is  giving a wet or polished look.  The name can also refer to the fabric or garment with the resultant finish.  The process tends to produce a stiffer, crisper fabric per weight.  It is sometimes, particularly in interior decorating, called a French wax finish. The term dates to the 1910s, when high fashion garments played with contrasts in fabric and textures, and the shiny, wet look of ciré lent an edgy modern twist to combinations of chiffons and brocades and satin. Ciré literally means waxed, so the first references to it are to waxed flowers.  This Worth evening coat features “a collar of ruched velvet, tied with two ribbons held by a roundels of satin and wax flowers”. Ciré treated fabrics were popular throughout the 20s, particularly as ciré ribbons. Ciré reached its zenith in the 30s, when frocks in ciré taffeta, ciré satin, and even ciré lace (ah, a time when shiny …

Why I’ve been sewing with acrylic (and why I’ll never do it again).

You may have noticed that I’ve sewn two things recently with cheap acrylic fabric: my ‘Win in Black and White‘ 1940s swing coat, and the Reproduction jacket. I complained about working with acrylic with both items, and Lynn even called me on it with the reproduction jacket, point out that “it is not worth wasting good sewing skill and time on fabric that is less than the best one can afford.” And she’s absolutely right!  And this is something I know, and have known since my earliest sewing days. I am the product of fabric snobs (in the nicest possible way).  My mother is a fabric snob who managed to live through the 1970s without every wearing synthetic clothes.  My first sewing teacher taught me to work with lovely quality quilting cottons, and then I went away to university where I worked for a professional costume shop that only used the best materials. As a historic seamstress, my stash is full of natural fibres: I sew in silks and linens, cottons and wools.  I barely …

Terminology: What is chinchilla

I’m not much for fur, but chinchilla has always fascinated me.  I think it is the name.  It’s just so darn cute!  It sounds like a name Disney would invent for an animal. I’m never really thought about what a chinchilla actually was until recently.  When I did begin to wonder, I had to look it up. The chinchilla is a rodent from South America.  It looks like this: OH.MY.GOODNESS Squeee! Cute overload. It’s a fat little mouse with extra big ears and a squirrel tail! Awwwwwwwwwwwwwww! I think they were invented by Disney! Really, could you get any cuter if you tried? I think we need to see more cuteness: Awwwwwwwwwww! Of course, in fashion they aren’t concerned with how gosh darn cute the fat little mice with big ears and fluffy squirrel tails are.  They are concerned with how soft and dense the fur is, because they kill and skin those gosh darn cute fat little big-eared, fluffy-tailed mice for it. Natural chinchilla fur is pale grey with a dark streak running along …