Interesting things from around the web

By Molly Hamilton
on June 03, 2017

Interesting things from around the web

Museum Exhibitions:
Articles of Interest:
  •  From the Sew News blog: an article on how to use a rolled hem foot.  Always good to be reminded how to use those many feet, but I have nearly always used a zigzag stitch with a rolled hem foot, not a straight stitch, so maybe I'll try the straight stitch next time.
  • Saw this lovely article last month on Creative Machine Embroidery about Bukhara Embroidery.
  • You may have seen these before, but Cari (wonderful Folkwear assistant) showed them to me again the other week and they are too good not to share.  What Ellis Island immigrants looked like when the arrived in the US in the early 1900s: here, here, and here.  Many of the pictures are the same in each article, but each has a few the others do not, and the second and third give descriptions of the traditional clothing worn.  I LOVE these!
  • Are you traveling this summer and want to take handwork with you?  Here are some tips for travel with embroidery.  I am basically doing this for my big trip!
Podcasts, Websites, and Resources:
  • I've not seen this film, but the trailer, about a woman tending her Kashmir goats in the mountains of India, is breathtakingly beautiful.  Has anyone watched it?  It reminds me a little of the Eagle Huntress which I watched with my husband and children (and we all LOVED it).
  • If you want to make the #142 Old Mexico Dress or Shirt this month, and want to do some machine embroidery, this pattern from Creative Machine Embroidery is free to download for the whole month of June.
  • Do you listen to podcasts when you sew?  My very very favorite sewing podcast is Thread Cult.  If you have not listened to them, you are in for a treat. Christine has basically stopped (or severely slowed down) her podcasting, but what is there is a treasure (in my opinion!).

Sewing with sheer fabrics

By Molly Hamilton
on May 19, 2017

Sewing with sheer fabrics

The Greek Island Dress is a great garment to use with sheer flowing fabrics, but these fabrics can be a bit tricky to work with.  Here are some tips to help you before you begin to cut into and sew with those wonderful and fun (but maybe intimidating) fabrics.

  • If the pattern calls for interfacing, choose light-weight, sheer fabrics for interfacing, such as organza, organdy, or other sheer fabrics that match the fashion fabric or are flesh-colored.  For materials other than lace, you can even use the fashion fabric itself as a self-fabric interfacing.
  • If the sheer or lace fashion fabric is too transparent for your taste, underline the pattern pieces with a matching or flesh-colored sheer.  To underline, cut the pattern out a second time for the selected underlining fabric, baste underlining to the fashion fabric pieces (wrong-sides together), and handle as one piece. 
  • If neckline, armscye, front opening, or other facings will show through the fabric, omit them altogether, and bind the edges with bias strips, or line the entire garment with a compatible sheer fabric.
  • Cover cutting surface with a muslin, flannel, or old sheet to keep sheer, slippery fabrics from sliding around. 
  • Instead of cutting on the fold, cut in a single layer (making full-size pattern piece as needed).
  • Insert pins in seam allowances only, so you won't have pinholes showing in the finished garment.
  • Start sewing with a brand new sharp (or Microtex) needle and use size appropriate for lightweight fabrics (60/8, or 65/9, or 70/10)
  • If the fabric is too slippery and hard to manage while stitching, put a layer of tissue paper on top of the fabric, then tear away tissue after stitching. 
  • Don't backstitch at the beginning or end of seams.  Instead, set stitch length to 0.  Or, tie the thread tails in square knots.  Also, pull thread tails taunt for the first couple of stitches when starting to sew.
  • French seams are ideal for lightweight, filmy garments. 

These tips, plus quite a few more (including tips on sewing with lace) are included in the #266 Greek Island Dress pattern.  Happy sewing . . .  with sheers!

Pattern Profile: Greek Island Dress

By Molly Hamilton
on May 15, 2017

Greek Island Dress #266

Greek Island Dress with jacket

Greek Island Dress with jacket, back

Greek Island Dress with tunic

Greek Island Dress with tunic, back

Greek Island Dress with tunic, sleeves

The early 1900s witnessed many avant-garde innovations as people freed themselves from the constraints of the late Victorian society.  Both fashion and the arts were tremendously affected by new interpretations of classical styles, with outright revolts against recent tradition.  Isodora Duncan (1878-1927) was an influential figure in the 19010s and today is regarded as the founder of modern dance.  She revolutionized dance with her free-form interpretive movements and scandalized audiences by wearing non-restrictive, flowing robes that she adapted from Classical Greek vase paintings. 

Our Greek Island Dress pays homage to this unforgettable woman.  The dress is a Greek Island Dress line drawingsloose fitting sheath with back zipper and narrow shoulder straps.  A jacket or tunic is made to be worn over the sheath dress.  The jacket has a center back goddet that adds flair without adding fullness and a dramatic collar that extends over the sleeves like a filmy canopy.  The tunic is a breeze to sew, with front and back sailor collar and floating sleeve panels that can hang or be attached along the top of the arm.  This classic dress/tunic is on trend right now, with statement sleeves and the cold-shoulder look. 

We are featuring #266 Greek Island Dress this month, and it is on sale for the entire month of May!  This dress would make a fabulous summer gown to wear at a wedding or to the beach.  Made of soft filmy fabrics like chiffons or gauze, it is a perfect and unique summer make.  Do you have some beautiful sheer fabric in your stash and not sure what to do with it?  This is the dress to try!

Also, to help you make this dress, I will be posting some tips on sewing with sheer and lace lacy fabrics later this month.  So, keep an eye out for it!



Bonnie's Pattern Shop - a Folkwear stockist

By Molly Hamilton
on May 11, 2017

Bonnie's Pattern Shop - a Folkwear stockist

I love the great small businesses that stock Folkwear patterns!  They are fabric stores, sewing supply shops, online retailers, specialists in historic costuming, and on and on. Folkwear can be found in their shops all through the US, and also in Canada, the U.K., the Netherlands, and Germany.  These stores and shops are committed to providing high quality sewing supplies and fabulous customer service.  You can see a list of all the companies who stock Folkwear patterns on our Stockist page. 

I am going to occasionally post short interviews with Folkwear stockists here on the blog, so you can learn about these great small businesses and check out what else they do.

Bonnie's Pattern Shop has been selling Folkwear patterns for over 8 years.

Tell us a little about your business.

I began selling patterns online around 2001, and it quickly grew.  I offer a wide range of patterns (over 350 different patterns!) for the family, home, pets, and crafts.  I specialize in designs from independent pattern companies not found in most stores.  I offer many patterns for historic costumes ranging from medieval through the mid-1900s.  I have a large selection of patterns for Colonial, Pioneer, Victorian, Western, and Civil War ear clothing.

I also carry many patterns for Native American moccasins and costumes for Pow Wows.  I offer many patterns for gymnastics and skating costumes as well.  My customers have included movie, TV, and theater production companies.  I love being in the pattern business.

How can people find you?

I am on several sites:




Anything else you want to let us know about?

Customer service is extremely important!  I take care in preparing packages to arrive safely to the buyers.  Packages are mailed promptly and buyers are sent confirmation with tracking numbers. 

So many patterns!  Thanks, Bonnie!

Hats - Miss Fisher, Metropolitan, and Derby

By Molly Hamilton
on May 05, 2017

Hats - Miss Fisher, Metropolitan, and Derby

I just finished watching my first episode of Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries on PBS, and though I've heard a lot about the great clothing on the show (and it is great), Miss Fisher's hats were my favorite.  I love the colors, embellishments, and the style.  They are fabulous and she wears them well! 

We are featuring the #269 Metropolitan Hat this month (May) in our store.  It is a great hat to start building your own hat collection, and similar in style to Miss Fisher.  There are so many ways to interpret this hat - from floppy linens to structured wools, fabric prints, and pins, bands, flowers, or your own creation to add to the brim.  This hat can be a statement piece or a casual sun hat (and it makes a great sun hat!).  I created a new Pinterest board that is starting off with hat inspiration for the Metropolitan Hat (Board is called Hats and Bags, so I'll be filling it up with Folkwear hat and bag photos and inspirations).  The Metropolitan Hat is on sale  this month!

All the hat inspiration also came from the excitement leading up to the Kentucky Derby - and all the amazing creations coming from that event (or series of events).  One of my best friends is from Louisville and she always shares photos of her friends attending Oaks and Derby in their incredible hats.  I love seeing the creativity and color of those hats.  My friend also pointed to Dee's Hats as great place to get hats made in Louisville, and their website was fun to look at, so if you love hats, you should check it out.

Happy Hat Making!

And, as always, we love to see what people are making, so tag us if you post pictures on Instagram or Facebook or Pinterest.  Or, join the Facebook Folkwear Patterns Sewing Group and let us all see what you've made!


News (and newsletter) from Folkwear

By Molly Hamilton
on May 01, 2017

News (and newsletter) from Folkwear

You can keep up with Folkwear news (and sales) as well as get some great links for exhibits, articles, and other fun sewing stuff through our newsletter.  You can sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of the website (and you get a discount code when you sign up!).  If you get our newsletter, you will be the first to know about sales, new pattern releases, and other Folkwear events.  We have one going out today, and the next will be mid-month!

This month, we have two featured patterns: #266 Greek Island Dress and #269 Metropolitan Hat.  Check out these two patterns, and keep a look out for new photos, styling ideas, and fabric suggestions later this month.

We are also thinking about bringing back some patterns that are out-of-print, and would love customer input.  So, you can take a survey, and let us know which you might want to add to your pattern stash (you get a discount code if you complete the survey, too!).


Kimono Fabric Suggestions (and some tips for online fabric shopping)

By Molly Hamilton
on April 25, 2017

Kimono Fabric Suggestions (and some tips for online fabric shopping)

Sometimes it is hard to find just the right fabric for your sewing project.  Especially since local fabric stores carrying a wide selection of garment fabrics are not a reality for many of us.  Often, we are left with the option of online fabric shopping.

Shopping for fabric online can be daunting.  Is the color going to be right? the weight? the texture? fabric content?

A couple of things I do to make sure (or at least as close to sure as I can be) that I get good fabric that works for the garment I am making are:

  • I order fabric from a store I trust.  This is my number one tip, but it takes a little experience to learn who to trust. I go from other people's recommendations or the reputation of a company, or how long it has been around, or sometimes my gut feeling from the information they provide on their site.  If they provide lots of information, are candid and detailed in fabric descriptions, and contact information is easy to find, website is easy to navigate - this all helps. Reviews of the shop or fabric are helpful, especially if shopping on Etsy or other similar sites.  It is also a great idea to call the store if you are unsure about a fabric.  If it is a trusted store, their salespeople will be able to help you pick the right fabric (match colors, etc) because they are on the floor with the fabric.
  • I try to order fabric that lists the weight of the fabric in the description, and definitely won't order fabric if the content is not listed.  You want to know what the fabric is made of, as well as the weave/knit (crepe, twill, jersey, etc.) - which will tell you how it might perform for the pattern you are using. A fabric weight will tell you more about how heavy, or thick, the fabric is, and therefore its appropriateness for your pattern. A good description helps!
  • Go online with an idea of the fabric desired.  It is overwhelming to try and browse fabric online.  That is why I go into shopping for fabric online with a baseline.  I might decide a rayon crepe or a drapey silk would be great for a garment I am planning.  So, I will eliminate the website overload-overwhelm by being able to navigate or search for exactly the fabric content I'm interested in.  Or, the color I want, or the weight.  It helps narrow down the possibilities quickly.
  • Order swatches.  I don't always do this, especially with websites who I trust as fabric sources.  But, for expensive fabrics, matching colors, or fabrics I am just not sure about, I will order swatches.  This step can save you lots of money!  So, does calling the store.

So, after all those tips, I am going to leave you with a few fabrics I would love to use to make our Japanese Kimono.  We picked these out from some of the fabric stores we trust as online sources., but there are many more out there, so you can see this as just a starting point.

Rifle Paper Co Wonderland Black from Harts Fabric. This is a beautiful and popular fabric. 100% rayon. $14.79/yard.

Japanese Dragons - BlueJapanese Dragons - Blue from Stone Mountain & Daughter Fabrics. 100% cotton.  $11.90/yard

Rayon Challis Crane Print - RedRayon Challis Crane Print - Red from Stone Mountatin & Daughter Fabrics.  Rayon challis with a fluid drape and hand.  This light fabric and a pretty print would make a beautiful and drape-y kimono. $11/yard.

VF155-13 Bruce Botanical - Satin-Faced Silk Print FabricBruce Botanical Satin Faced Silk Print from Vogue Fabrics.  This is a beautiful print that I think would make a lovely kimono. 100% silk.  $12.99/yard.

VF155-02 Universe Nuance - Sunstone Abstract Cotton Print FabricSunstone Abstract Cotton Print from Vogue Fabrfics.  100% cotton, medium weight batic.  $8.99/yard.

Geishas & Ginkos - Ginkos - ML291729 - PurpleGeishas and Ginkos - Purple from Michael Levin.  100% chambray. $13.75/yard.

Genuine Handwoven Ikat - ML296748 - Raspberry / GreyGenuine Handwoven Ikat - Raspberry/Gray from Michael Levin.  100% cotton.  A traditional eastern look - very beautiful.  $18.50/yard.



Kimono Inspiration

By Molly Hamilton
on April 17, 2017

Kimono Inspiration

Kimonos are a beautiful and classic garment of Japanese origin and influence.  The Folkwear Kimono pattern is for the yukata, or unlined informal kimono, worn by all classes of Japanese in summer.  The word "kimono" literally means "clothing" but has come to distinguish the Japanese national costume from other clothes. 

Kimonos are great garments to be used as robes, house coats, jackets, or outwear.  They can be statement pieces or simple and elegant garments.  Kimonos can be made with beautiful silks, medium to lightweight cottons (cotton gauze is a favorite of mine right now)., or even heavier fabrics like denim or brocade.

I found a great book in our collection entitled Kimono Inspiration: Art and Art-to-Wear in America, from the Textile Museum at George Washington University. I've put some pictures from the book on our Facebook and Instagram accounts.  If you want to know more about the history and tradition of kimonos, as well as see some amazing artistic interpretations of them, you should check out this book.  Kimonos can be a canvas for your art - quilting, painting, dying, embroidery, weaving, etc. 

Traditional kimonos are a work of art themselves, so however you want to make one (traditional interpretation or modern art interpretation), it is a rewarding garment to make.

In our kimono pattern, we give information on the history and use of the kimono, styling and dress information, and instructions for traditional handwork (sashiko) and dyeing (shibori). 

Have you ever made a kimono?  What would you be inspired to make now?

** FYI, #113 Japanese Kimono is on sale for all of April (it is a great deal).  Enjoy! **

About me

By Molly Hamilton
on April 01, 2017

About me

I thought I should probably tell you all a little about myself!  I am Molly Hamilton, the current owner of Folkwear.  I am a relatively new owner of Folkwear, just taking over at the end of December 2016 (more of the history here), and I am slowly working on transitioning Folkwear to be more digitally accessible, while remaining true to its roots - and fun to explore and learn!

I grew up in a small farming town in northeastern North Carolina (considered “the South” in the US), where my grandparents were very influential in my life.  My grandfather was a farmer and my grandmother a farm wife who cooked, raised 3 daughters, and was an amazing seamstress.  

I learned to sew from my grandmother.  As a child, I hand-sewed Barbie dresses and machine-sewed lined notebook paper so I would learn to sew straight lines. I finally got into sewing with patterns when I was in college, and I loved it!  I sewed through college - mostly concentrating on important dresses that I loved but rarely wore.  

I got married to a wonderful man soon after graduating from college, and moved to the beautiful mountains of NC, near Asheville, where my husband’s family has a farm (two actually).  Here is where we remain, excepting 2 years when we lived in Raleigh and went to graduate school.  I have worked part-time for NC State University for nearly 13 years, doing Extension outreach for organic grain production in our state.  Here you can see the farming influence from my grandfather.  Agriculture, especially sustainable agriculture, is important to me.  

However, I got more excited about sewing after I had my first baby 12 years ago, and a friend gave me a baby present of a large bag filled with sewing patterns for children, cute girly fabrics, thread, and lots of gorgeous trim and notions.  I had so much fun with that present!  I started sewing as much as I could - clothes for my children, clothes for myself, items for the house.Home sewn dresses for everyone!

We now have 4 children - 2 girls and 2 boys (ages from 12 to 4).  They love getting the clothes I make for them and I love to sew for them.  They are wonderful children - delightful, fun, and lots of work!  They are a priority (which is why I am usually not at the Folkwear office in the afternoon/after-school hours), and I love being their mother.

In the last few years I started drafting patterns for myself and my children.  I enjoyed it, even though most of the time I had no idea what I was doing - but it worked (mostly!).  I also got more involved in the local sewing and art scene, and last year exhibited two outfits I made for a juried Local Cloth fashion show.

I love working for Folkwear and love this company.  When I am not sewing or working or taking care of my family, I love to hike (right from my house), garden, read, and just sit and watch the view.

I love to hear from customers too, and see what you all are making.  We have a new Facebook Group for customers and fans to share what they are making, ask advice, and chat.  It is called Folkwear Patterns Sewing Group. So, join if you are on Facebook and we will get to know each other!




Did you know . . . ??

By Molly Hamilton
on March 28, 2017

Did you know . . . ??

Though I have been a fan of Folkwear for years, I am still the “new” owner of Folkwear, and I am learning a LOT about this company as I go about the daily business of its business.  I am trying to wrap my head around the 40 years of history of this independent pattern company, and all the work, details, and passion and so many women have put into (speaking of which, I loved reading the comments from this blog post from Fringe Association).  So, I thought I would list a few interesting facts I’ve learned about Folkwear over the past months,

Did you know . . .

  1. That Folkwear has been around since 1974!  That makes it (maybe) the original independent pattern company (that is still around).  Pretty great that the vision of the founders has kept going!
  2. The first patterns printed were:  #101 through #106, and the most recent pattern developed and released was the #254 Swing Coat.
  3. A number of patterns include knitting patterns, too! Like this 1950s cardigan which comes with the #256 At the Hop pattern. 
  4. There are instructions for traditional embellishment in most the patterns.  Which means there are instructions for cross stitch, crochet, embroidery, beading, shirring, smocking, inserting lace, dying, and others in many of the patterns.  You can get a lesson on traditional embellishment, embellish your garment - then take those skills to your next sewing project.
  5. All patterns were based on actual authentic garments from the time period or culture.
  6. Since the 1970s, the iconic Folkwear illustrations have been drawn by Gretchen Schields.  Gretchen is a talented jewelry designer as well (and we hope to have an interview with her here soon)!
  7. Folkwear patterns are sold throughout the world - each week we ship to customers and stockists all around the globe.
  8. Folkwear has a home goods pattern line!  We have patterns for A Japanese Interior (futon, cover, quilt, pillows), Victoria’s Boudoir (sham, dust ruffle, pillows, etc.), and Baby’s Nursery (quilt, teddy bear, pillow).  Each pattern has multiple pieces to make.
  9. Every pattern is well researched - there is a history, geography, or anthropology lesson with nearly every pattern.
  10. Our customers are awesome!  I’ve heard so many wonderful things about Folkwear since I have come on board and the customers always give such sweet praise that I am sure they must be the very best!