Thursday, October 20, 2016


A little experiential learning.

Black walnut dyeing. All of these silk pieces have been tinted. The lightest one is closest to the original. I still have some soaking in bell jars. I love the richest brown which came from the freshest walnut juice and stayed in the longest.

The thing I want to accept is that experiential learning does not always create beautiful pieces. This is a tea bag that I embroidered onto a piece of hand-dyed silk organza. I had attached pieces from a newspaper article to the 5x7 canvas first. 
This one is not beautiful but it is more successful.

Drawing on dried tea bag, then attached to paper with matte medium, and finally machine stitched.
Matte medium works differently with fabric than with paper. Good to know.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Stitch Itch

No real planning is required with a piece like this. I started with two hand-dyed (not by me) pieces. I had cut up one of them already and so had to stitch it back together.

The two rectangles are basted together using Jude Hill's glue stitch or invisible stitch. I am fond of this basting technique because it behaves like one piece of cloth and yet it is easy to separate when the design requires it.

Stitching on a park bench
I cut the top layer away and reveal color gradation beneath, using a hand-turned reverse-applique stitch. A lot of joy for so little work. zen.

the glue stitch from the back, invisible on the front.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Two Liberties

This has been a favorite pattern for many years. I have made it in coordinated cotton and silk fabrics, as well as a rich turquoise silk dupioni. It must be a top-selling pattern from The Sewing Workshop (TSW) with its Issey-Miyake-styling. I've seen and admired many created by other makers.

One variation I've wanted to try is the t-shirt version. Knit fabric is cut so that the center front (CF) of the front piece is placed on the fold. Here is one I just finished in a sheer linen knit:

The front piece has a deep notch cut at the lower center front. This is hemmed to the facing. I forgot its purpose and so had to just cut it shorter and then use a hem facing. Facing the hem, as opposed to just folding it up, added some nice weight, I think.

I dinked around with the neckline almost to the point of ruining it. The neckline had to be cut down in order for it to slip over my head. It took 3 tries to get it right.

The simple slits in the sleeve seam is one of my favorite features of this pattern. But it is a little too slouchy with the sleeves down, so I roll them up twice when I wear it. The fabric is yummy up against my skin. It feels almost like silk.

This is a super comfortable top to wear but it feels oddly sloppy and frail at the same time.

So I made another one, using a pretty shirting from Gail K here in Atlanta. It was such a pleasure to make and I know I'll wear it a lot. There is something fresh about a simple white blouse.

The original collar on the Liberty is a Peter Pan collar rolled up to created a ripple effect. I like it but wanted to go more classic with this white shirt. So I borrowed the collar stand from the Florence shirt (also from TSW), making about 1/2 inch deeper as a stand-alone collar.

With this version, I will not be rolling up the sleeves so I'll enjoy that sweet slit in the sleeve seam.

When I finished this shirt, I had to go to Gail K to buy the buttons. It took such restraint to avoid walking out with yet another yummy cotton shirting. There were some terrific stripes and I know the Liberty is striking in a stripe!

I seem to be on a roll with older patterns at the moment. I'm sure I'll make another Liberty before long.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Pattern Hacks

You see pattern hacks all around the internet. Mine is not especially different but it was fun to puzzle out.

The bias binding hasn't been pressed, so it is a little bubbly.

It started when I saw a blog post at The Sewing Workshop (TSW) involving a variation on their Eureka top. This is such a simple pattern - front cut on fold, back cut on fold, and sleeve cuffs - so it is perfect for some easy hacks.

The folks at TSW worked with knits, as well as some Alabama Chanin techniques and the results are quite lovely. So I dutifully followed their instructions to create new pattern tissue. That's when I realized that such an approach would not let me use some pretty remnants I wanted to use. So I started over with blank front and back pattern tissues. The tissue was cut for the full front and the full back.

Next I placed a remnant underneath the pattern tissue and determined where my slicing of the pattern tissue should occur. I drew a line on the pattern tissue following a straight edge on the remnant. That way, the slicing was based on the specific remnants I had. After each slice, I added tissue for the 5/8 inch seam. Sometimes I added 1.25 inches to one seam in order to max out my use of a particular piece of fabric. This was a fun puzzle to solve.

Finally I put it all together. I am fairly pleased with the result. The drape is very different with a woven fabric than with the knits that TSW used. My fabrics are cotton (black and white shot), silk dupioni (solid black) and a Japanese cotton print.

I also have been *hacking* on a completed pair of pants. These started life as a nice basic (yawn) pair of Valencia pants in a pretty gray textured linen. No sooner had I finished them than I somehow brushed up against some bleach, leaving an ugly spot in a prominent place.

Another Eureka in a pin-striped woven fabric, Valencia pants in gray shot linen.

The spot was not in a particularly great place for a pocket, so I added a hand-appliqued patch using remnants from the linen. Then I added some additional patches so it would not look so odd. It was OK. In fact the patches are pretty hard to see.

But every time I put them on, I took them back off again. They just seemed frumpy to me.

So the next step was to create 6" darts in the hem at each side. These pants have no side seams and that created a slight lantern shape. I liked that better but it still needed something else. So finally I added a 1 inch horizontal pleat right above the dart, and a pocket (why not?) near the waist band. The pants now hit me right above my ankle, as this shortened them by a total of 2 inches.

You have to look closely to see the patches on the left side. You can see the pocket on the right side.

I like these a lot, way more than the original pants. I think I like pattern hacking.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Postmortem on a Travel Wardrobe

For the first time in recent memory, I spent time planning my wardrobe for travel. And it was fun!

pocket purses that are large enough to hold glasses, phone (for pix), passport and credit card

I made sure that every top had multiple pants to match and the reverse. I also kept checking, right up until we boarded the plane. I was in denial. I so wanted it to feel like crisp fall weather.

Part of my deception stems from my first trip to Europe in my twenties. I was living in Austin TX where it is hot, hot, hot in June. We went to Germany and it was cold (to me). I layered clothes that should never have been layered. I have traveled overseas quite a bit since that first trip but the idea that Europe was cold stayed with me.

As it happens, the geography and weather in Europe varies. Duh. What is a trip overseas if it is not an opportunity to learn a little geography? I now know that my current home town and Seville Spain are at approximately the same latitude. And we've had a very hot humid summer. In fact it still feels like summer here in the middle of September.

So here is what I wore a lot, rinsing the pieces out over night.

I also wore a pair of white canvas pants a lot but they are still in my laundry.
L to R:
Sewing Workshop MixIt Top in cotton print
Sewing Workshop Urban pants in cotton cross weave (black and white)
Sewing Workshop MixIt top in white shirting
Sewing Workshop Eureka top in cotton pique
Here is what I wore some.

L to R:
Sewing Workshop Ivy tunic in organic cotton knit
Folkwear Egyptian shirt in linen (plus Gaudi scarf, a fun souvenir of the trip)
Sewing Workshop Helix knit pants (2) - one in red, one in black
Sewing Workshop tunic in rough black cotton
Grainline Studio Lark tee in rayon stripe
Here is what I could have left at home.

L to R:
Sewing Workshop tunic in china silk
Sewing Workshop Plaza pants in 4-ply silk
Sewing Workshop Now shirt in cross dyed silk
Sewing Workshop Hudson top in cotton Ikat
Cutting Line Designs Hearts A Flutter shell in 4-ply silk
And here is what I wanted to wear and never did.

Sewing Workshop Soho coat shortened to a jacket.

A raincoat only works if it is (a) raining and (b) cool. It did rain one day but there was no way I was wearing a coat. An umbrella was the only thing that made sense.

My shoe choices worked just great:

Gray Vionic flip-flops, the most comfortable and supportive shoe ever.
Black leather Vionic ballet slippers - great for dinners and other evening activities
Sketchers in cream lace with add'l orthodics - the best for cobble stone streets and standing in museums 
And I was ever so glad that I packed some talc - great for stinky shoes and other spots!

Lesson learned - the weather won't be ideal but it should not get in the way, either. I had a great time!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Sewing on My Mind

Alcazar, Seville, Spain

When I am not sewing or cannot sew, I am constantly dreaming of sewing. I see people in interesting clothes and I try to determine how they are made. I see colors, shapes, textures, and I wonder how those could be translated into sewing.

Figs in the market, Barcelona, Spain

Spices, nuts, sweets in beautiful fall colors, Market in Barcelona

La Pedrera, Gaudi house in Barcelona, Spain

You, too?

Seville, Spain, hotel steps

And I'm always on the look-out for fabric stores. Funny thing - when I found one, then another would appear. They seemed to cluster.

Julian Lopez, Seville Spain
Three pieces came home with me from stores in Madrid and Seville. I wish I had bought more!

Cotton and lycra knit, black cotton pique, viscose knit (border print, mostly black)
And did you know that you can buy patterns in a newsstand? No English spoken but *Pattrones* was the magic word! Each of these is chocked full of patterns to trace and cost 5 Euro each. What a deal.

And now I am ready to return to my normal life!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

A Shirt with No Name

One of the fun things about going to a workshop with Linda Lee or Louise Cutting is that you often get a peek into what's cooking in the kitchen. During Sew Kansas last month, we got to see samples of 3 different tops for future patterns. One of these was this shirt:

I understand that this one might become an e-pattern, as it is pretty simple. It would probably be ideal for that as it has just a few pieces and the fitting is minimal. I really like that they used a cross-dyed linen for the main fabric and a coordinating solid for the little inserts at the side. Towards the end of the workshop, I was allowed to trace it onto pattern tissue.

This shirt or tunic has dropped shoulders, bateau neckline, wide 3/4 length sleeves, and narrow side panels instead of side seams. And it runs big, as you can see in my picture above. I understand that I was trying out the size Medium.

Let's call it the Marseille.

Yesterday I sewed my own version of the Marseille, out of a rough cotton fabric.

I made a few changes and one of those was intentional. Since making the Egyptian shirt from Folkwear recently, I've wanted to try that exposed shaped facing again. So I created a similar external facing for the Marseille pattern, roughly following the shape of the Folkwear shirt.

I forgot that the hem was uneven, so I evened it up. Darn! That would have been cute. So now I need to make another.