Never Enough

I had a delightful gift today from an acquaintance. They have a clothing factory in China and gave me some lovely brocades because they know I love the sewing.

While beautiful, I realize fabric gifts from non-sewers is sometimes never enough. These are 45 inches wide and a scant meter each. What’s funny is they did ask me prior amounts and I said at least 3 yards / meters. But, you can’t kick a gift horse in the mouth, can you :)?

Am welcome to ideas on how to use these up!


  1. A yard is enough to make gorgeous corsets from these……..or purses!

    • I sound silly, but I’ve actually never seen a corset worn in ‘real’ life. What an intriguing idea!

      • Oh oh oh! Take one of Susan Khalje’s Couture Classes (NAYY, though I am hosting one in May at my studio classroom). Corsets are one of her specialties. And honey, you would look FABULOUS in a corset!

        • oh yes a corset would be amazing! I had one made for me for my wedding. Jill Andrews (head draper at Center Stage) made it. She is great. I’ll show it to you- it is a work of art. It was interesting to talk to her about her work at Center Stage, too.

        • Seriously, you would look great in a corset, with your teeny tiny waist and all!

      • A corset would be so great. A friend of mine wore a black satin corset with black and red brocade in the centre panels to my wedding. She wore a long black dull satin skirt. To finish it off she wore a black lace bolero. The lace really softened the look. So gorgeous. I can send you a pic if you are interested. 🙂

  2. These are soooo lovely! Too bad you didn’t get alot more but I’m sure you’ll make it work. I agree with Brocadegoddess. Those are sounding like some great options for you 🙂

  3. You mentioned in an earlier post that you didn’t have enough ‘party clothes’. These 1 metre lengths would make a cute ‘stepping out’ pencil skirt or vest (obviously not worn together) to pair with a plainer piece for this new date night thingy you’ve got going. The corset idea from brocadegoddess sounds like a winner too.

  4. I was about to say, “Vests, anyone?” but now I see I am sharing a mind with other readers.

    A corset, for sure. Or an obi. Or the asymetric corset style belt in one of the summer Burdas from last year.

  5. These are lovely. You can get enough to line a jacket. You could do the sleeves in a plain colour satin and you should be able to get the main body from the brocade. I did this once with pink silk brocade I had once and it looked great.

  6. They are beautiful. I wonder if there was just a misunderstanding, because you really got 4 meters, didn’t you? even though it came in 4 fabrics, too. I know people who would think that way, so I wonder if your friends did too? Just curious. Enjoy your fabrics:)

  7. My head immediately went to purses as well! A cute party clutch with a wrist strap would be so chic in any of those brocades! They would also work well as trim on a plainer piece.

  8. Oh I just love brocades. I’m sure you will be able to come up with something to do with them, they mix well with a plain fabric so you could use the brocade as an accent somewhere.

  9. What about vests? If not enough for a whole vest you could do lining at back. Or a top with a zip? A skirt? Not sure if you need more for a straight skirt but if you do maybe blocking it with another fabric? And of course you could make an evening bag. Cover some shoes…….etc

  10. Perhaps you could make a dress with a simple top part from the brocade and the rest in another solid colour. Something like here:
    I think BWOF 02-2009-124 would be very nice for this too (top part brocade, bottom part solid colour) although I would probably lower/change the neckline a bit. But perhaps you would need more fabric, not sure. I can also see a dress in solid colour with just a middle part brocade, but you could just make a belt/obi out of the brocade as suggested above to get a similar effect. Although for an obi you might not have enough either??
    You made me laugh with ‘kicking a gift horse in the mouth’. I only knew ‘looking a gift horse in the mouth’ (we have the same expression in Dutch), but kicking really makes it more vivid 🙂

    • LOK. You are right. It’s been butchered so much that around me, they say ‘kick’ more often than not. Oh, that Trojan Horse! If only they knew how it’s remembered.

  11. My thoughts were: purse, shell shirt, pencil skirt. But, I really like Carol’s idea of lining a jacket with one of them. It would be so luxurious and decadent!

  12. You’ve got lots of comments about what to do with the fabrics so I won’t add, but you have just brought out my inner pedant! The gift horse is not the Trojan horse. Someone buying a (real) horse will look in its mouth to check its age and condition by inspecting its teeth before deciding to buy or not. So if someone gives you a horse as a present, you don’t look in its mouth. It’s rude! Like if someone gives you fabric, you don’t say, “Oh what? Is that all?” You think, “Mmm, OK, not exactly what I wanted but how can I use this.” So clearly, you have got the gist of the proverb, if not the origin! It’s about showing graciousness and gratitude. As you did. Oooh, my inner pedant feels relieved now. (Goes off to mumble to self among dusty dictionaries.)

    • How interesting! I always thought it was Trojan horse. Like…. If thr had looked in the mouth of the gift, then they would have known it was a trick! Lol. Apparently, I should be starting urban legends since I just make things up!

  13. You lucky girl..that fabric is beautiful! Can’t wait to see what you create with it.

  14. I’m a fan of clutches made from fabrics like brocades. Nothing finishes off an outfit better than an awesome accessory.

  15. Buying/giving fabric for/to someone falls in the category of men buying clothes for us. Although it is a very sweet thought the item usually doesn’t fit or isn’t our taste. These are very pretty brocades. I like the ideas for a corset or vest. Maybe you could also make some clutches or something? People give me the weirdest fabric- like printed cotton panels to make a fabric Christmas wreath.

  16. Celie, do I recall correctly that you do travel a great deal for your job? If so, why not make some nice travel accessories from this windfall? I always found, when I traveled fairly often, that I could have used more bags for shoes (Heels especially can be very hard on the clothes around them, the suitcase, and each other), small bags for jewelry, cases for toiletries, pouches for undies, etc. A little luxury always makes a girl feel special, and an organized suitcase makes it much easier to get through the security checks, especially now.

  17. All the ideas I thought of have already been suggested by your brilliant commenters! I immediately thought color block garment (jacket if it’s heavy enough) or vest (and I still saw color contrast lapel of welts) or fabulous belt. And the scraps could make amazing piping!
    So pretty!

  18. My first thought was vests.

    And I thought of those little shrug jackets that look so vintage, something with a short sleeve and shortened jacket body, and you could put a killer button or exotic toggle as a closure.

    I also wondered if the white brocade and the pale blue can be combined, for example, the blue for the body and white for a large exposed facing or collar. Or one for a skirt body, and the other as a pleated edging. That way you would have a little over two yards to work with for one garment, a bit more manageable.

  19. How beautiful! What is the fiber content, do you know? My first thought was they could be incorporated into a patchwork design, if you wanted to use them all in the same piece.

    My sister bought us a couple of baby outfits from China that are made of a satiny brocade, and I never put them on my daughter, fearing they would stain and be unwashable, etc. I never did take them out of the packaging, even. Sigh.

    Anyway, I was thinking of cutting them up and using them in… I don’t know! I like the idea of a purse or clutch – maybe I could make it into little “dress up” accessories for her when she’s interested in that sort of thing.

  20. Not being into the “flashy”, I’d probably use them as accents – like the red and black: black silk dress with the red&black as a midriff band, facing on kick pleats, and collar/cuff facings. Or depending on how lightweight they are – luxury teddy/nightie ;).

  21. Looks like there are a lot of great suggestions. I don’t know what your home decor is, but you could make some throw pillows with the fabric. It’s beautiful!

  22. I have nothing to add but I had to read the comments because someone bought me 1 yard of brocade from China a few years ago. I wasn’t sure how to use it but now I have ideas.

  23. My brother brought me a similar package of brocades home from China (he is a teacher). Same thing – 1 to 1.5 yard pieces. I hated cutting into them, so I pieced them into a beautiful shower curtain. I get vinyl liners from the dollar store 5 at a time and just toss them when they get dirty & replace with a fresh one.
    Everyone who goes into my bathroom comments on the shower curtain and when I have a party people will actually stand in a small group and pick out their favorite pattern. Yes, men too!
    I laid them out on the floor and moved them around like puzzle pieces until I had a) a pleasing arrangement and b) the right size. As they are uncut I can unpick them later and make something else should the urge arise.

  24. Beautiful fabrics and the ladies above have great ideas on how to use them. I’m excited to see what you create. 🙂

  25. I’m not sure of your size, but I think a yard would be enough for a pencil skirt, a simple top (waistcoat, corset, bustier or bolero) or even a sheath dress! A stiff brocade would look best in a simple, fitted style. Oh, I just remembered someone (Licarrit on Stitchers Guild, I think) who made a newsboy cap out of a silk brocade. Very cute.

    Vibeke in Oslo

  26. Forgot: I’m making my brother a birthday gift of cummerbund and bowtie out of a silk brocade.

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