Hot for Haute Couture

For most of the world, haute couture is mysterious clothing seen on celebrities, royalty, and the very wealthy. Because of the secrecy surrounding this exclusive garment production, few people know why these clothes are so expensive.

What is Haute Couture?

Haute couture is an exclusive garment design based on contemporary inspirations by a garment designer whose specialty is creating spectacular garments made from the world’s finest textiles, which are woven exclusively for privileged clients.

What truly defines a couture garment the most is its carefully developed proportions, which redefine the physical shape. The garments are typically sewn with highly skilled hand-sewing techniques that fit the client’s body to perfection. It is not uncommon for an haute couture gown to take upwards of 800 hours to produce.

It has been reported that some women spend between $100,000 to $350,000 annually on haute couture. Despite this extravagant spending, most fashion houses don’t make a profit off their haute couture today, but use it as a platform to market other products like perfume and sunglasses for the everyday consumer.

In the Beginning

In the 1850’s, about the time the first sewing machines were invented, haute couture made its debut. An Englishman named Charles Worth began a small business in Paris creating exclusive gowns for women. His wife would model the gowns as he flaunted her around the fashion hot spots in Paris. His clothing caught the eye of many elite socialites. One of them being Empress Eugenie, wife of Napoleon III. She became Mr. Worth’s royal patron, providing the necessary income that would send him into the front of Paris fashion. This marketing ploy showcased a collection of the newest textile styles and helped sell the extraordinary sewing and design skills that France produced. Worth created the concept known as “haute couture.”

The term haute couture loosely translates as “high-class cutting.” It’s the term for the individually styled sewn garment that’s made from exclusively woven textiles; trimmed with the most expensive trimmings, buttons and laces; and created for a very wealthy client. These first clients were members of the upper levels of French high society and European royalty. They also included wives and daughters of the modern middle classes, the wealthy industrial tycoons, and in America, the families who established huge wealth in the foundation of the industrial movement.

Dressing wealthy women provided them with gave them the social interaction to impress and gain necessary attention. Women were dressed by the glamorous French fashion houses and were at every social occasion. Often times the garments were only worn once for a greater impact.

Christian Dior once said, “First comes the fabric, then the couture.” With each client, the making of a basic body pattern that captures every detail of the client’s figure, is made and fitted to perfection. This pattern is first fit on the client then onto a dressmaker’s mannequin. From this pattern endless garment designs are formed. The lengthy fittings required for this process are often so tiresome that many women simply refuse and instead, they purchase their garments Prét a Portér, or Ready-to-Wear.

150 years after Charles Worth created haute couture, the techniques are now slowly winding down. Some say haute couture may even pass into history. The elite who can still afford these garments has declined over the decades. A larger factor is that many of the artisans who first created couture fabrics are retiring or dying. Younger generations are simply not interested in carrying on this skillset.

 

Keeping an Eye on Interfacings

Interfacing is a common tool used in many sewing projects. It can be your best friend when you need a bit of stiffness. There are many types of interfacings out there, and so many ways to use them. 

What is interfacing?

Interfacing is used to add stiffness to fabric used in apparel, crafts, embroidery, and quilting. Most interfacing you’ll find today is fusible, meaning it has heat-activated glue when applied to fabric with an iron. There is also non-fusible interfacing (aka sew-in interfacing) which is sewn in just around the edges. Non-fusible is best used on fabrics that do not tolerate heat or are too loosely woven to be glued. Because sew-in interfacing is attached as a separate layer only along the edges, it can “float” within each piece. Sew-in does not require seam allowances, which can reduce bulk within the garment. Fusible interfacing has been known to change a fabric’s properties when glued down over the entire fabric surface.

How to choose the correct interfacing?

The way that interfacing is constructed will determine how it will behave. Most interfacings are non-woven. This means they do not have a grain and are made from fibers bound together rather than woven, like the Intra-Face Medium Weight interfacing. While a woven interfacing, like the Armo Weft, will behave more like fabric and therefore be more appropriate in projects where retaining the natural flow of the fabric is desired.

The next factor in choosing interfacing is the weight. Interfacing typically comes in three weights: light, medium and heavyweight. A good rule of thumb is to keep the weight of the interfacing equal to or lighter than the main fabric.

See our selection of interfacings here.

Why Sew with Beeswax?

Beeswax helps to reduce static and tangling, and strengthens your thread. Beeswax can also be used to improve the glide of an iron and even ease sbeeswaxtiff drawers in your old sewing cabinets! Waxing ensures durability of a finished garment and makes hand-sewing much easier.

You should always wax your thread before performing any of the following tasks:
  • Hand-working buttonholes
  • Sewing on buttons
  • Padstitching
  • Setting-in a sleeve by hand
  • Hemming
  • Inserting a zipper
  • Hand-stitched French Seams on fine fabrics
  • Sewing-on patch pockets
  • Sewing fur
  • Quilting
  • Beading

Generally, any task that requires a little extra strength from your thread will benefit from using beeswax. Cotton and silk thread should always be waxed before hand sewing with it. Waxing is also important to keep polyester thread from tangling and achieve some needed stiffness.

Tips for Waxing Thread:

When hand sewing, your thread should generally be about 36 inches long, or from your shoulder to wrist. Working with anything longer could lead to knotting. If you have to use a longer piece of thread, avoid tangling by waxing the thread and working slowly.

Once cut, draw each thread two or three times through the wax, then press it with an iron between a folded piece of paper or a pressing cloth to blend the wax and the thread. This also removes excess wax. Ironing through another piece of material is recommended if you don’t like the idea of coating your iron and ironing board with wax. Some professionals recommend simply pulling the thread between your thumb and the index finger to set the wax, or to wipe it with a soft cotton cloth.

Be careful, when sewing with white fabrics: beeswax may discolor the fabric or thread, so be sure to do a test run first!

 

 

The Jiffy J-2 Steamer – A Classic Clothing and Upholstery Steamer

One of the biggest benefits of using a steamer is that you can press clothes right on the hanger. Since most steamers are comparable in quality and price, the process of choosing the right steamer for you comes down to preference.  If you are thinking of purchasing one, you’ll want to make the most of this handy device. We recommend if you ever do use a steamer for the first time, test it out on a small piece of fabric to see how it will react.Jiffy J-2

Most steamers are not only used to remove wrinkles from garments but to also freshen up and even remove light dust from other items such as upholstery, mattresses, and draperies.

Whether for home or light commercial use, the Jiffy J-2 Steamer is the perfect choice for these common jobs without fear of scorching. There is no need for a temperature setting on the Jiffy J-2, unlike irons. This device will heat up and be ready for use in about 2 minutes, and will continue to provide steam for up to 2 hours on a one-gallon water bottle.

Check out our list of clothes steamers and steamer accessories today.

Benefits of Using Garment Bags

Clothes can come at a high price these days. It’s important to keep them safe. A great way to do so is to store them in zipper garment bags. Here are some great uses for garment bags and covers.

Uses for Garment Covers

  1. Protect off-season clothes in storage. Keep dust and unwanted critters out of your sweaters in the summer months. For more storage tips check out this blog.
  2. When traveling, use garment bags to hang clothes in the car or hotel to avoid wrinkles and dust. Most airplanes will even let you hang suits, dresses, or blouses in a special compartment on the plane. These bags will especially come in handy if traveling for a wedding or other special occasion.
  3. Are you moving anytime soon? Get a few garment bags to help relieve some stress. They will keep clothes folded nicely in containers and help clothes reach their destination organized and clean.
  4. Protect delicate fabrics from moisture and heat in a garment bag.

Benefits of Using Garment Covers

  • Durable for traveling, shipping and moving
  • Moisture resistant zippers
  • Lightweight, perfect for sipping and moving
  • Materials in the bags are safe for all fabrics
  • Reinforced hanger openings for bulky, heavy garments like wedding dresses

Sizes of Garment Bags
At Banasch’s, we offer 3 sizes of garment bags in a variety of colors sold by the dozen.

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