Getting and Spending: Pure fibres, sizes for all!

Wendy inspired today's windows with her comment on last week's "Season of Secondhand" post, when she mentioned the difficulty of finding natural fibre clothing in large sizes. 

She decided to literally take matters into her own hands and return to sewing, an excellent strategy. 

Because not everyone sews, I scouted retail possibilities. Wendy mentioned making shirts, so I've put shirts, blouses and knits in the window—all available in a wide size range.  

Clockwise from top left:

J. Crew's smart chambray jeans shirt, feminine but not fussy. The tie can be worn as a bow, ascot-style, or left looped and loose. Sizes US00 to 24. 

Universal Standard make basics, and offer natural fibre pieces, from XS to 4XL. I like the deep contrast cuffs on this Rhine v-neck pure cotton tee, and the terracotta/eggshell stripe. Other combinations available.

Boden make sizes up to UK22. This ruffled cotton jersey top interests me—if returning to the machine, all those ruffles would be daunting. That green, "Midnight Garden", departs from their usual Crayola palette.

Poetry's silk crepe de chine placed-print blouse: a special piece for the holidays, when we hope to see friends in person. Sizes UK6-22. That is an easier style to sew, but silk requires more attentive handling than a sturdy woven cotton.


 Left: Larger-sized knits in pure fibres and colours are hard to find, but Boden's Collar Jumper , 70% cotton/30% wool is one, and how those two greens and ivory pick up navy! 

Top right: Cashmere offered to plusses rarely ventures into pattern—so this J. Crew cashmere rollneck in snow/dark berry stripe is a standout. Sizes from XXS-3X. 

Bottom right: My petite-plus friend Rachel collects Talbot's "Audrey" cashmeres, which are midweight, and made with bracelet-length sleeves—we do like to show a bracelet! This season the colours include some appealing shades (shown, Goldfinch) and two prints, and the size range is outstanding: misses, petite, plus (to 3X) and the nearly-extinct petite plus (to 3X).

My experience with J. Crew and Talbot's cashmere: usually acceptable; don't expect the plush hand and double-decade wear of the best British houses, or European innovation. If high-end cashmere is your price point, Rachel recommends ponchos from Brora, which she wears over a crisp oxford-cloth shirt.

I deeply admire sewing; that accord of skill, talent, and creativity that can provide the wearer with a garment that's hers alone. From apron to evening gown, there's joy in realizing a vision. (Anyone returning will be wise to revive her skills incrementally— take it from me, maker of several silk scarves that were meant to be dresses.)

But those of us with fingers inflexible as pins and patience shorter than a '60s hemline resort to retail. Some companies I thought of as far too restricted have recently extended their range, and have even provided more pieces in natural fibres. 




Laura J said…
I like a few of these but bracelet sleeves drive me nuts in the winter! Found a mustard cashmere sweater, grey EF trousers and a liberty silk autumnal scarf in one day at our local consignment store…rarely does that happen!,,
Jean Shaw said…
I spent time over the weekend planning my winter sewing...

One of the great things about the current sewing scene is awareness of/attention to the need for expanded size ranges, designs for different-shaped bodies (apple vs pear, for instance), better drafting... It's a good time to get back in the game!
Allison said…
I have found some beautiful new to me cashmere pieces on Poshmark. My favourite purchase is a Holt Renfrew brand cashmere leopard ruana that can be worn as a scarf or wrap. I paid around 75.00 for it purchased from original owner who gave over 725.00 for it new (she sent me a copy of her original receipt.) it’s probably the finest cashmere I have ever seen. Supple, no pills ever and deceptively light, the pattern and colour is lovely. I have two other cashmere ponchos from Poshmark one barely worn and the other brand new, both under 30.00. Sweaters are a different matter, I must confess that I prefer new as any thrifted cashmere sweater I find to often be the victim of severe pilling or moth holes ( or worse, moth balls:( but some new cashmere pills easily or looks really worn after just a season or two. I have had good luck with Bloomingdales (AQUA & C by Bloomingdales, only buy on sale) and a beautiful, non pilling, weighty black Lands End turtleneck. I am petiteL, 34FF woman. Again some good discounts if one signs up for emails. I perused the Bora site and wow! If I ever win Lotto Max first purchase is that cashmere dressing gown!!
Jane in London said…
That Poetry blouse is very pretty - I like their styles a lot, but their shades tend to be very subtle which (as someone with high-contrast colouring) is not always my thing.

Brora jumpers are lush! I love the sand/red colour-tipped jumper in their new season range. I find, though, that they size quite small at Brora so you need to be careful if you're buying a fitted style (perhaps size up if you are buying online).

I really like three-quarter or bracelet length sleeves on a jumper! If I'm wearing a long sleeve, I'll always push the sleeves up my arm a bit. I hate it when my sleeve covers my watch and any bracelet or bangle I'm wearing, and find a slightly shorter sleeve looks more balanced on me. My pet hate? Bell-sleeved jumpers!

Just waiting for the temperature here in central London to dip so that I can start to wear my new Bompard, which I'm longing to put on but is a bit too warm to wear at the moment.

Jane in london
Duchesse said…
Laura J: What a find, good for you!

Jean Shaw: The diversity is wonderful, now the challenge my seeing friends say they have is finding fabric locally, so they can assess it before buying. My favourite fabric store was the one near Summerhill subway, gone for years. Lief had bolts from the best textile houses in Europe which is how I ended up with some major silk failures.

Allison: I have never shopped Poshmark, don't know why. Some secondhand cashmere is so thin and low quality you know why it's in a thrift, but I have occasionally found good cashmere that someone obviously did not know how to de-pill. (I don't have the patience to mend moth holes, but some women enjoy the rescue work.) MO Land's End cashmere has taken a dive in the last decade, it used to be very good. Brora and Johnston's of Elgin cashmere is produced by Johnston's at their mill (Scotland), and both will last for decades with care.

Jane in London: Brora, to my dismay, are cutting short bodies (21 or 22in.) for too many styles. But they always have several they call "slouchy" or "long". Bracelet length sleeves also show off Brora's wristwarmers. My neighbour suffered 2nd degree burns up one entire arm when the sleeve of her wispy bell-sleeved cardigan caught fire while she was cooking.

Duchesse said…
Jean Shaw: A typo: my sewing friends.
Jean Shaw said…
Duchesse, yes, finding fabric can be a challenge. It's always worth asking if a company will send samples, even though that doesn't give you the expanse of the full bolt (not to mention the thrill of wandering about and having something jump out at you).
Beth said…
As a sewer, I too desperately miss "fabric browsing" in well-stocked store full of natural fabrics. Those days appear to be gone in Montreal. There's a good online linen supplier in Canada called Pure Linen Envy that sells beautiful colors in several weights; I have samples but haven't ordered yet. I plan to make the Zadie Jumpsuit from Paper Theory Patterns before warm weather comes again. Right now I'm knitting rather than sewing, but our studio cleanup/reorganizing has reminded me of several nice pieces of fabric that could be sewn now. I like your choices, especially that silk top (#4), but I will never again wear a blouse with a bow.
Beth, do you remember Marshalls? Near me there was one "good fabric" shop on St-Hubert, but they are also gone. I also like the Poetry top, and the colour (!) but with the exchange and international shipping, I'll buy a winter coat here instead. I am also very averse to bows and ruffles...

There is a distressing quantity of pales and pastels in the windows and online ads this autumn. Not my thing... In reality, I only shop locally.

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