In general, I, Ruthlessly Practical, hate printed fabrics.
And yet I bought 1.5 yards of this Valori Wells for Robert Kaufman printed interlock knit when it was on sale at Fabric.com for US$12.73/yd. Without swatching it first. Or rigorously testing the yardage when it did arrive, while the order was still within the returns window.
Because I figured, “Oh, Kaufman, should be good stuff since I’ve swatched other fabrics by them before, and it’s a knit, so it’s forgiving anyway, how bad can it be?”
Famous last words.
#sewinglifelesson learned: Swatch, swatch, and swatch. All of my current sewing project disappointments have something to do with fabric choice and/or not going through the swatching process correctly. Isn’t that always the case?
What is “Solid-Plus”?
If I despise printed fabrics, then what made me buy this one? I blame an overabundance of solid-colored garments in my closet and fabrics in my stash that I felt compelled to balance out with a few prints…
This print is what I call “solid-plus”: the colors are “harmonious” to my eye, which I define as sharing at least 2 of the 3 color properties (hue, value, or saturation).
Also known as subdued, subtle, and boring prints that are easy to mix and match with other clothes I own, like blue jeans, black/grey dress pants, and black/white/grey/cream neutral layering pieces.
The design is monochromatic using lighter/darker shades of the same purple, accented by white, which automatically makes it harmonious to me. While I’m normally drawn to florals and paisley, the interlocking circles design was one of the few geometrics that I had trouble letting go of. And – bonus points – it wasn’t overly or overtly twee (I can’t stand twee personally, but you do you).
Fabric, Meet Pattern
My original intent with this fabric was to sew an office-appropriate, long-sleeved, winter weather top. I decided on a surplice/wrap top design, which is usually a flattering style on me, and since this fabric arrived in the midst of the Lekala Patterns discussion on GOMI Craft, I used the free Lekala 8004 pattern because FREE and to test their made-to-measure drafting system.
While the original pattern had some issues, I fully own my share of the blame due to pattern alterations I made, but all of these problems were further exacerbated by the fabric.
This soft, brushed on the wrong side, very warm and comfy, 100% cotton interlock knit has non-existent recovery. As in 3” recovered into 3.5”. Overnight, it became 3.25”. Finally, 48 hours later, it recovered back into 3”.
What. Is. This. Nonsense.
Everything grew and stretched as I worked with it, and to my chagrin, I didn’t notice the non-recovery until I tried on the almost-finished garment.
The “Home Alone Scream” Moment
Let’s be clear: I don’t have them in real life, with or without foundation garments. This? Made me look like I had ‘em. Not ok for me.
Part of it was my own fault through adding 1-2” in length to the surplice pieces because of some incorrect, convoluted thought process on an FBA.
Another part of it was “correcting” the original pattern’s drafting: Lekala drafts a surplice piece with the grainline running lengthwise down the body, instead of parallel to the neckline. So, I “corrected” that, as you can see in the photo above, and in the process, put the fabric stretch in a place where it would continue to recover grow unattractively.
I did take it apart, trim down the surplice pieces, and resew it – it looks better in its final version below, but I ended up waving the white flag of surrender with this fabric.
I don’t have a problem paying $$ for fabrics, whether they be natural fibers or “designer” prints. I simply expect GOOD quality fabric in return, which in this case, is fabric that actually recovers worth its salt. If I do pay a price premium for a “premium” fabric, then I expect a quality product in return, which was not the case with this fabric. Had this fabric been blended with lycra, the recovery might be a completely different story.
But now I’ve learned my lessons, part 1 of which is that just because ONE fabric in a brand’s product mix is “good” doesn’t mean ALL fabrics by that designer are “good”. Part 2, which has only taken me about 4 sewing disappointments to drive home, is to “swatch first and rigorously” on any project that I actually care about (i.e., non undershirts or wearable muslins).
As it stands, I now have a finished top that, thanks to the happy accident of styling it with a camisole underneath, has been upgraded from “louse around the house” clothes to “super casual I don’t care for you but apparently we’re having brunch anyways” shirt. Or, fit for public appearances.
In short, this fabric was not worth the $13 (or $15 non-sale) price tag. I don’t know what one does with brushed, printed, non-recovering cotton interlock, except for more PJs that I don’t need, but I have about ½ yard x 58” wide left.