The Good Grab Bin Buying Guide ft. the True Bias Nikko

Monday, November 26, 2018

Can you make a bad fabric good? When I'm not sewing leftovers, I'm a keen rescuer of the questionable fabrics that I'm sometimes drawn to - mainly the grab bin variety. This textured black velour is a prime example of one of those weird need to haves. It's sort of ugly and full of imperfections, but something about it just begged to be liberated from the bottom of the pile in Manchester Abakhan. A luxe True Bias Nikko Dress sprung to mind, working with the vertical stripe texture of the velour.

Luxe True Bias Nikko Dress in bargain garb bin velour
When I pulled the length of fabric from the grab bin, I realised that the stripe (and with it, the main stretch) ran horizontally rather than vertically as I'd hoped. It had a few faults too, where the texture looked squashed out of shape. Whilst I'm not one to promote over buying, in some cases it's good to have spare fabric, particularly if you're buying 'seconds' or worried about quality. In this case, I took home just over 3m for £8 - enough to 'work around' the dodgy bits and to try something else if my plans for a vertical stripe Nikko were scuppered by the stretch. 

I used the fabric stretch guide on the Nikko, and although it didn't quite reach the recommended 75% (it was probably closer to 50%), I thought it was worth the risk of cutting on the cross grain. As with my previous Nikko, I cut a size 6, grading to a 2 at the waist and out to a 4 again at the hips. Knowing there would be tears if I couldn't fit it over my head (this has definitely happened before with some of my Nikko Tops made from stretchier fabric!) I cut the neckband on the less-risky straight grain, meaning the stripes run horizontally. 

Side shot
Back view
In the end, I found that the fabric had enough stretch to fit (I was a bit worried it would turn out tiny!). It was actually the lack of bounce back/recovery that presented more of an issue in getting the right fit. I had to take the dress in a couple of times to get the perfect comfortable-yet-close fit around the waist and hips. 

This is a pattern is so made for tall makers - something I already knew about from last time. The weight of the velour seemed to make this version look even longer. I took 3" from the length and took the side split up by 3" too, though I'd be tempted to take the split up a little further next time.

Spot the fabric faults!
In all I'm really pleased with how this Nikko turned out - definitely my best version yet! I didn't totally manage to miss the imperfections of the fabric - something the eagle-eyed amongst you may have spotted - but I think this sort of adds to the charm of it. It fits well, it's made to a higher standard than most high street garments, so who cares if there are a few dodgy creases here and there? After making it, I realised that Anthropologie are stocking loads of RTW clothes in similar fabrics at the minute - 'on trend' at a cost of about a twentieth of the price of the average Anthro dress can only be a winner.

I've always been quite restrained in my fabric buying, but even more so recently. Despite the low price of this length of fabric, I asked myself a lot of questions before committing to buying it. Here's a little guide for good grab bin buying for anyone else who feels like they need to check themselves before sticking the bargains in their basket:

I'm really interested to hear people's thoughts on this. Do you find it easy to be restrained when bargains present themselves, or are you the first to put them in your basket?

Feeling luxe and fancy in my <£5 dress
I always knew I would have some leftovers, but cutting this project on the cross grain meant that I used much less fabric than anticipated. It gives quite a basic dress a real luxurious feel to it - I even wore this dress to my friend's wedding last week! Party season is almost upon us, so this is definitely something I'm hoping to replicate with the leftovers, in either a pair of wide leg trousers or even a jumpsuit at a push! Bring on the #sewingleftovers!

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  1. Haha, I know this feeling well. I also can't resist a slightly 'weird fabric (stretch lace curtain panel from Barry's comes to mind). I think the challenge of making something useful & wearable from something a but unloved is the appeal. Absolutely love this dress, the fabric looks like it was supposed to be a Nikki. x

    1. Hahaha, it's a good job I don't live near Barry's - I'd end up with some really strange creations! Thanks so much Charlotte :) xx

  2. I have the opposite problem - bargains, sales, really any sense of false scarcity makes me panic a little and then I leave without buying anything (including what I went into the store for!).

    1. Sometimes I regret being so restrained when I come home and think back to what was in the shops! Maybe it's all about finding the balance x

  3. Your dress is fabulous!!! I love it!!

  4. this dress is amazing, where did you buy this fabric


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