The microsuede remnant

2/3 yard sage green microsuede

The remnant to be reworked is a 2/3 yard piece of microsuede, originally priced at $21.99 per yard. I was very conflicted about working with this piece of material because it is expensive, and I’ve never really worked with this type of cloth before. I had an idea in my head to make a vest, gilet, waistcoat, whatever people name the wardrobe item that, I feel, is going to be a popular item this fall. Since I saw the movie Inception and  Ellen Page’s character’s “vests and scarves look” (although panned viciously by fashion critics), I thought it might be a great look for fall and winter.

My questions about the fabric kept me dragging my feet on this project. Why is this fabric so expensive?  I looked up microfiber fabrics on the Internet, and found some fascinating info on the famous, patented flagship microsuede, Ultrasuede, made by Toray –the subtitle on its website heading is “Innovations in Chemistry.”  My husband, who majored in chemical engineering, says the words “micro” and “ultra” refer to units of measurement, and when I looked up “microfiber” in Wikipedia, voila:

Microfiber is a fiber with less than 1 denier per filament. (Denier is a measure of linear density and is commonly used to describe the size of a fiber or filament. Nine thousand meters of a 1-denier fiber weigh one gram.)

Some microsuedes are described as 100% polyester.  Some descriptions of Ultrasuede say it is part polyester and part non-fibrous polyurethane (the chemical engineering major says polyester and polyurethane are two different things). So, microsuede is a man-made fiber; will we incur the disdain of the sustainability people if we wear it? Even His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales is asking, via an article in the September 2010 Vogue–the American issue–if people will consider “natural fiber” such as wool, which “is renewable, it has a far smaller environmental footprint and is far less flammable than man-made fibers, and it is fully recyclable.” All I could say, after reading that article by Prince Charles, was “Wow, the Prince of Wales cares about what we wear?”

Clotilde devotes an entire section of her book Sew Smart to sewing with faux leather, and gives a wealth of information and tips; I ultra-recommend it.

I tried to find Ultrasuede at the local fabric store, but it was not to be had. The closest (to me) purveyor of Ultrasuede appears to be in Lakeland, and the closest online source looks to be in North Carolina. I checked a few web sites and found the patented Ultrasuede on sale for anywhere from $37 per yard to $84 per yard. Yikes!  Which brings me back again to the trepidation I’m feeling about working with expensive fabric. What if I mess it up? Wait a minute, I’m who I am, and it’s practically a given that I will make mistakes sewing. Now that I’m almost through with this project, I can tell you I made some doozie mistakes on this vest, which I agonize over in the next post.

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