Choosing Fabric for Nani Iro Dress Pattern

A few days ago, I made it to the Draper’s Daughter in Chichester, England to select fabric from Japanese designer Nani Iro.

In the days leading up to the trip, I stumbled into an interesting textile history across many continents*, starting in 1650 London with Petticoat Lane.

Since this series of blog posts is meant to tell the story of making my first dress pattern from Nani Iro, you can follow the beginning of each post for those details.

Then, farther down below you’ll find a more varied tale.

(*I didn’t really travel many continents in three days. Well. I sort of didn’t.)

Draper’s Daughter

You already know that I am a beginner and documenting my process figuring out how to make clothes. I am working on this dress pattern from Nani Iro. In this post, I’ll show you the fabric I’ve picked out and describe my next step to prepare the pattern.

Earlier this week my friend Su and I visited a fabric store in Chichester called Draper’s Daughter, owned by Karen (pictured below). I found this store listed in the back of Iro’s book, A Year of Sewing and wanted to visit in person because I am still learning about fabric. I need to feel fabric before I can select it.

From L to R: me, Su, and Karen (owner of Draper’s Daughter)
Su walking back to Draper’s Daughter.
Draper’s Daughter is an inspiring work studio and store.
Standing in front of Nani Iro fabrics.
This is the fabric I chose for my dress.
There are many stories hiding in the fabric, and it’s so soft! It’s Lyocell, perfect for the dress.

After touching all of the fabrics, I landed on the one above because it is super soft and intrigued me with the secret shapes hiding. It presents as a suite of steely blue and gray vertical lines, but just under the surface are watercolor-like shapes floating through the streams.

Iro titled this fabric, ‘Islands.’

There was another fabric that I loved, but there wasn’t enough left on the bolt to make the dress, so I purchased the remaining bit to make a tank top for summer.

This is a cotton silk fabric – even softer than the Lyocell. This print is from an original pen and ink watercolor drawing from Nani Iro, so I loved the handcrafted look. She titled it “Lei Nani” which means Flower Crown.
I also like this double-gauze cotton linen fabric, but I couldn’t buy everything.

Deciding How Much Fabric to Buy

For each project in Iro’s book, she provides a grid to help you determine how much fabric to buy. I’ve decided to make Pattern R (size small) and Pattern C (size small).

To use the grid, look at the Finished Sizes at the top of each page to help you choose your size. Then, look for Fabric Requirements under your selected pattern. It’s very important to always check the finished size of every pattern. You could be different sizes in different patterns.

I am making pattern R (size small) so I purchased 4.5m for the dress pattern to have extra fabric.
Here I am making pattern C (size small) so I purchased the remaining 2m of the cotton silk fabric to make the tank top.

Now that I have purchased fabric, what’s next?

It’s time to prepare the pattern. Next week I’ll share my process for preparing the pattern. I’ll need large tracing paper and special curved rulers for transferring the pattern.

The main thing to note is that I am going to start by making the Bias Tank Top (pattern C above) and use inexpensive fabric that I already have on hand (not the Nani Iro fabric). Since I am new to following patterns by Nani Iro, I want to first practice through an easy pattern of hers and use fabric that is easy to replace.

If you can’t wait until next week to see how to prepare the pattern, you can see how to prepare the pattern here with a video from the publisher:

That’s all for now.

See you next week with pictures of my pattern making process.

-Katie Days

As promised, a more varied tale below.

Petticoat Lane and Beyond

On Sunday, April 2 as I meandered back from a visit to the Tate Modern, I decided to put my phone navigation away and follow the interesting maps that I found posted around London.

I couldn’t help but think of the historical fiction book Lost Apothecary* as I used street names that were hundreds of years old to help me choose the next place to visit. Of all the names I found, I became focused on Threadneedle street and wanted to get there.

(*Note: Nothing in my explorations led me to believe the olde worlde street names would lead to hidden poison dispensaries, but I do think Sarah Penner could use something here for her next book.)

Side note: If you want to see a good video for how to make a knot after you thread your needle, check out this video from Rehana. (And be sure to check out the blooming dress she designed and made.)

So why did Threadneedle street stand out to me? The day before I explored the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Fashion and Textile museum, and Woolcrest Textiles, so I was looking for another adventure in fabric.

at the Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum
The V&A, like most major museums across London, is free.
The Japanese Kimono inspired fashion worldwide.
This is when I visited Japan. Sort of.
Japanese pottery
This neutral-toned color palette is beautiful. (Also, this is when I visited North Africa.)
After seeing this display, I tried to visit the Natural History Museum across the street, but the line of people waiting to get in was more than an hour long.
One of my favorite books at the library as a kid was the Smithsonian Rock and Mineral book. I can’t walk past a museum display of gemstones and not have my imagination sparked.
Next I went to the Fashion and Textile Museum to see Andy Warhol’s fabrics on display.
Read the sign display above to learn about the following print.
Warhol designed this print to be viewed on something like a skirt. He wanted to create the illusion of a summersaulting horseback rider going around and around.
This Andy Warhol print was sold as a skirt at JCPenny in the 1960s.
Three colors, two scoops, and one cone.
Dress with brooms.
Loads of books in the museum gift shop
I am going to check out this book from the library to read.
Using books is how I got started sewing.

After the Fashion and Textile museum, Saturday afternoon led me to an outdoor market and a fabric shop.

It’s easier to be surprised by cool things to do when you walk from place to place. I wasn’t expecting to find this!
Vintage Maker’s Market
Modern day handmade textiles

Rehana, (whose video I mentioned above) had recommended a textile shop to me, so I used the last daylight hours of Saturday to head over there after the market.

Recommended by Rehana – and so glad I visited!
Woolcrest Textiles is a cash-only store, so plan ahead if you shop here.
These are two of the four fabrics that I purchased. I don’t know what types of fabrics these are, but they don’t stretch and that’s why I picked them. I envision making a tank-top dress with the black and white fabric and something vest-like and drapey with the pumpkin colored fabric.
These are the other two fabrics from Woolcrest Textiles. I hope to make a skirt with the blue-purple fabric and incorporate the teal as accents for the pockets and ties on the skirt.

So that’s how I spent Saturday, back to Threadneedle Street on Sunday…

Once I got to Threadneedle street and looked at the next posted map, I noticed a section labeled “Petticoat Lane Market.” I didn’t know what that was, but quickly made it my next destination.

Petticoat Lane Market is in the center of the map above.

When I arrived, I was delighted to find a market in full-swing and a variety of fabric shops lining the streets. Many of the shops sold African Wax prints – and at 200£ a meter, I was definitely in the wrong shops.

After walking into the first store and seeing the prices, I tried to play it cool. I looked around like I was going to buy something, but I was honestly afraid to touch anything. I left pretty quickly. (This happened to me once in New York when I went into a watch shop with ‘used watches’. It turned out they were antique watches selling for more than my car. I asked to see a few, before leaving because they, uh, weren’t exactly what I wanted…)

Gorgeous African Wax fabrics at 200£ a meter.
French Lace, Swiss Voile, Brocade, Brand Wax, Men’s Voile, Cotton Voile, Guipure Lace
The outdoor market was set against fabric shops.
Petticoat Lane has its own branded posters.

I didn’t purchase anything from Petticoat Lane Market, but I did feel close to history and imagined Eliza from the Lost Apothecary running through the streets. I couldn’t imagine discovering a scrap of fabric from hundreds of years ago the way Caroline found the blue glass vial in the River Thames, but I did keep my eye out for little doors and side alleys that might lead to a Lost Apothecary.

The Eternal Maker

Just to mention, I did get a few remnants of another type of fabric that I am excited to use to make a work-apron. These came from The Eternal Maker, near Chichester where Draper’s Daughter is.

This is a fun shop with a wide variety of garment fabrics.
From top to bottom: printed cotton poplin, pumpkin colored corduroy, dark blue twill, and rose denim. I think these will make a lovely work apron.

Modern Art History

Have you heard of this pivotal piece of Modern Art titled, “Fountain”? Read the full description below.

Photo taken at Tate Museum of Modern Art
Upon learning that the original was lost, my boyfriend wondered if it was back to being used for its purpose somewhere, “Maybe it’s in the loo in the Louvre.”