Thursday, August 14, 2014

Straight Lines

11 x 14 Collage - linen, rough weave cotton, sheer papers, red tulle, bits and pieces
On Monday I put both contact lens in my left eye. And then I went to the gym and worked out. I was pleased when the lens popped back out in easy succession.

We had just hosted two of our grands for about 8 days - ages 5 and 8.

On Tuesday, my daughter called to remind me of my babysitting plan for the day. Not the plan I remembered either.

Today, after loading up my car with a sewing machine to donate to SEFAA, my car wouldn't start.

Things will improve. They always do. But just to be on the safe side I am sewing only straight lines for a while.

quilt top - about 50 x 80

Monday, August 11, 2014

Old Laredo



When I was growing up, my great-great uncle lived in Laredo. He was like a father to my mother, and my father loved him too. We saw him often.

He lived in Laredo for most of his life. He knew everyone, or at least that's the way I remember him. We would drive over to Nuevo Laredo and have enchiladas at the Cadillac Bar because Uncle Gordon once loaned the owner $50 to start the business. You couldn't drink the water so I got to order Coke.

I cannot remember much about his house, but I do remember his back yard where the grapefruit trees grew. Gorgeous yellow spheres with ruby red fruit inside. A crate of them almost always arrived at our doorway close to Christmas.

Perfect with a pinch of salt.




Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Butterick 5891 - the jacket

Between travel and hanging out with the grands, I've had little time for much sewing. But I always sew. And if I'm not sewing, I'm thinking about sewing. You know how it is.

So I finally had a full day to myself, just as we prepare for a vacation. It's fun to make something just for a particular trip. But it can also be a disaster. I get in a hurry, don't think about what I'll really wear, make something I don't particularly like, and then pack all the old stuff.

Not this time.

I've made the top portion of Butterick 5891 twice - once as a sleeveless top, and once as a knit vest. But I had never made the jacket portion of this Katherine Tilton design. I had seen it made up and worn by a sewing friend who always looks chic. So why did I wait over a year to make this?

It is a winner.

The fabric is allegedly Brussels washer - a rayon/linen blend. But it behaves more like a cotton/linen blend. It washed and dried with a lovely texture, behaves under the steam iron, and sews like a dream, has just the right amount of drape and body for a jacket. And it seems like it will be a great single layer jacket for many occasions. For now, it will mostly serve me on cool nights or with too-cold air conditioning.

So what is there to like about this jacket pattern?

  • Set-in sleeves that sit right at the natural shoulder
  • Princess lines in the front
  • Center back seam for little extra tweak on the fit
  • Funky collar that frames the face
  • Asymmetrical center fronts
  • Handkerchief hem


 And only a few very minor dislikes:

  • No suggestions for finishing seams. And you have to finish the seam edges, I think. I used a mock felled seam treatment throughout.
  • One of those front facings that wants to flop open unless you nail it down with buttons or something. I just tacked mine down for now. No time for buttons.
Next time, I'll definitely extend the cut-on facing to mirror the center front pieces, so that the inside edge of the facing aligns with the princess seam. Not only will it be easier to nail down the facing but it will cover some of the raw edges at the collar.

There will definitely be a next time. I think it will make a wonderful vest for cooler weather.


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Ai remembered

My class at Arrowmont with Roland Ricketts is over and I want to remember it all. It was a dear week with many opportunities to learn. I have recorded some images here to help me remember, and perhaps repeat the steps on my own.

The pieces at right are some of my final ones. All used the rice paste resist to create pattern. Two show my attempt to copy Roland's gradiant techniques with one small circular resist.

This shows where we hung our pieces to dry after the final dip in the vat and an over-night soak to clean off unwanted plant material.

There is still much to do to render these useful.



Roland, Alysha, rice balls are steaming.

Indigo leaves ready for the dye vat, from Roland's indigo crop in Indiana

Roland mixes the rice paste by hand.

Roland dips a piece of fabric in the prepared dye vat.

Part of our amazing studio space at Arrowmont

Rice paste ready to apply

Roland demonstrates application of the resist using a moiré stencil hand cut by Alysha

My first attempts to carve stencils

My most advanced carved stencil, originally intended to be free-floating circles but I liked the bridges and kept them.

Roland demonstrates matching stencil pattern on wet resist

Applying saw dust to aid in the drying of the resist

Roland's resist dries outdoors

Preparing to dip in the dye vat

Headed into the dye vat - timing was critical to keep resist from dissolving

My darkest piece - 13 dips. The piece underneath has been dipped 3 times.

Clever use of sticks to suspend pieces in the dye vat

Though I wore gloves for the most part, I did dip once without the gloves. All washed off except on my nails.

Roland's work - real art pieces - even more beautiful in real life.

Ai = Indigo



Monday, June 16, 2014

Indigo stencil dyeing first full day


Second piece primed with 30 second dip

Must dry next. 




Primitive easy stencils I carved and punched. I really like that part. 



First piece. Just dipped 3x. 


Saturday, June 14, 2014

SWAP 2014

City-wide Couture (CWC), a wonderful sewing group of inspired and inspiring sewists, has issued a challenge. And I love a challenge. The challenge is to create an organized, coordinated set of clothing. This might be called a 6PAC, as it is on Artisan's Square, but in this case, it is called a SWAP - Sewing With A Plan.

The 6PAC comes to mind because it is the one and only time that I actually - sort of - pulled such an organized set of sewing all together. I gathered fabrics, selected patterns, and sewed as planned. B.O.R.I.N.G. I much prefer to sew as the spirit moves me. Now I did love seeing the other 6PACs. Those were great fun to view.

Notably, though my 6PAC was successful in some ways, I never enjoyed wearing the pieces. The 6PAC I chose resulted in clothes that worked together but did not make my heart sing.

The CWC SWAP is fairly simple - 5 pieces by late fall. Not many rules, just that the pieces need to mix and match. After much thought, I believe that the best path for me is a modified SWAP. In my SWAP world, I make one garment after another that makes my heart sing.

So what makes it a SWAP, you might ask?

Well, I've added my own little personal challenge. Each garment must coordinate with the NEXT,  I mean, LAST garment. Sort of a linked list. Or serial monogamy.

While I love the idea of the pretty story board with fabric swatches attached and patterns neatly listed, it just is not going to work for me unless I force it. And if I force it, well, no singing heart.

And I've decided to use stash fabrics, another minor twist to the SWAP.

So here is garment 1:


It is the High Five jacket from the Shapes line of patterns, made as a pull-over. The fabric is a light-weight shot linen, hot pink in one direction and yellow in the other. I added some yellow sashiko to warm it up a bit.

And I'm trying these pants out for garment 2:


Not too sure if these really work together, color-wise. What do you think?

I do love each piece. The pants are Cutting Line Design one-seams with added pockets and elastic gathering at the hem, also linen but a medium weight. This linen has a subtle stripe that may have taken the color tones too warm to wear with the cooler colors in the top.

Now I'm looking at tops that work with these pants to continue my linked list. A yummy chocolate brown top would be pretty maybe. But first I'm off to spend a week learning about indigo dyeing. So maybe my SWAP will be replanned around that!


Does planning to sew make your heart sing?



Friday, June 13, 2014

Camp Sew N Sew


Camp Sew N Sew continues for the 6th year. This year, there was a new twist. We had two weeks - one for girls living in a temporary home near my church, and one for the youth at my church.

Each day the workrooms started out sort of like the picture at left. We had lots of borrowed sewing machines and kits for everyone.


During the first week, we made pillow cases, make-up bags, wallets, portfolio covers, and totes. During week 2, we had one beginners class making similar items.

We also had an *advanced* class during week 2. Three of the girls were returning for their 6th year and so their skills are coming along nicely. Each selected her own pattern and fabric.

Here are some of the items made:
Ready to hem!
She finished 2 skirts!

This one will be ready for DragonCon
Patchwork tote
Travel bag
PJ pants


Monogrammed pillow cases and little pillows
Advanced girls helped each other




Small wallets









She made fabulous pockets!

Upcycling a hand-me-down

Some of us