I bought fabric for the dress today. Yay! It only took an hour to find and purchase the fabric once we got to the district. Yay again! I ended up buying a black polyester peau de soie for the dress, a black polyester lining, and a black polyester organza for the bow/sash thingy.
We'd never been to Hamilton's fabric district before, and I have to say that it has some advantages over the fabric district in Toronto. There's tons of parking behind each block, which is awesome, and the stores are close together, which is also awesome. There are a lot more drapery/upholstery fabric stores - and what seems like a kabillion foam stores as well - which might be an advantage. There were also a ton of antique stores there.
One thing I didn't like was that some of the fashion fabric stores smelled weird. One smelled like mold and water damage and another smelled kind of like animals. None of the stores in this area carried a wide range of super-awesome high-end fabric. Several stores in the Toronto district would have carried that fabric.
I'd sort of thought about getting a super-duper high-end silk awesome fabric for the dress but I ultimately decided to not go that route. Apparently working with the type of silk fabric I wanted is difficult as it shows every pin and needle mark, which means that there's no room for error. I'm better at sewing than I used to be - I usually only sew each seam once these days, whereas I used to sew each seam two or more times - but I didn't want to add more pressure on making this dress. My limited time to finish this dress is pressure enough, don't you think?
Also, I didn't really want to spend that much money for a super-duper high-end awesome silk fabric. I'd need two or three meters of outer fabric at $40 or more per meter... and that's expensive.
Two of the stores had the fabrics at a cheaper price than I'd seen near my place so I had to choose where to buy the fabric. One store was kind of dark and a bit musty and cheaper, while the other store was well-lit and smelled and looked nicer but was a bit more expensive. Even the more expensive store was cheaper than my local store (if my local store carried the fabric I wanted in the colour I wanted, which it didn't). We decided we were willing to pay a bit more to shop in the nicer store because it was a much better buying experience.
The sales staff at the store - European Textiles - were very friendly and helpful, with one chatting with Ian while another helped me choose the coordinating fabric for the bow. I had my pattern envelope with me so that they could see the pattern; I thought it would make the fabric selection easier and it did. It was a lovely experience, and they have a ton of fabric in lots of colours. I recommend them.
When the manager saw my pattern, she told me that she used to do a lot of sewing and that many years ago and had made somehing similar to the dress I'm making. Hers was strapless, with the contrast across the bust, and by a different designer. She still has her patterns from the 50s and 60s all neatly tucked away in drawers - I wish I could see her vintage pattern stash!!! I was practically swooning with envy that she had those patterns. I think she noticed :)
So at least this part is done - whew! Now I just have to finish modifying the pattern and wash my new fabric so that I can get the bulk of it together before I leave on Friday. I may yet add a little sparkle along the top edge of the dress; we'll see if I have time and if I think it would look nice. I'm thinking a row or two of tiny black flat-back crystals would do the trick - they'd be subtle but would add just a bit, and they'd give the back of the dress some interest as well. I have to make sure I have time to do this, though. I don't want to start it and not finish or stay up all night the night before the party finishing the dress. That stress I don't need.