Saturday, April 12, 2014

Welcoming Spring with B6026

Another really good pattern from Katherine Tilton for Butterick. And a good color to wake up my wardrobe to spring. I think it is a classic and so will become a TNT for me.

Spring in the southeastern US comes in color waves. It seems that each week there are new shades of spring.

This green shirt-weight linen is from Sawyer Brook, probably purchased a year or so ago. As is always the case with a good linen, it was a delight to sew. With linen, I find I can easily finger press little spots needing it without actually steam pressing. Then when it was complete, the steam iron performed its magic to show off a crisp summer green. And, of course, I'm good with linen wrinkles - rather fond of them, actually.

And this pattern is just so sweet. I love the use of the pin-tucks in the side seam (creating the illusion of a waistline) and in the neckline (framing the face). And there are pin-tucks on the elbow length sleeves, giving the sleeve some shape and style.

The pin-tucks are to be 1/16 inch wide. Now, I don't know about you, but I don't even have a way to accurately measure 1/16 inch. So of course I worried a little. I think mine range from 1/16 to 1/8 inch but it seems to have worked out OK.

The next time I make it - oh, yes, I definitely want to make it again - I will not make tucks. Instead I'll use a double needle to create channels, much as I did on a Chado Ralph Rucci shirt two years ago. I should have made some samples to see if it drew the fabric in enough. I'm betting it would.

This pattern is fitted including fish eye darts in the back. This is refreshing after sewing so many loose-fitting tops. There is enough ease, I think, but I will see if I actually reach for it regularly, or if I retreat to those other tops.

I sewed a size 12 through the shoulders, grading out to a 14 through the bust and then to a 16 through the hips. And I ended up using 3/8 inch SAs in the side seams. So in reality, this is probably size 12-16-18.

Here it is on me. I'm even including a back picture. Normally I would not. But I really like all aspects of this classic sweet summer shirt.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Cas Holmes Workshop

Unfinished piece - needs lots of stitching
Cas Holmes, UK Textile Artist and Teacher
Paper, Cloth, Text and Image Workshop
April 4-7, 2014 at SEFAA
Fabric collage wet with paste 

Wow. Cloth and Paper. I have wanted to learn about this for such a long time. And I learned so much more than I anticipated.

Day 1 - Introductions to each other and to our media. Preliminary creation of components for our samples. Great creative exploration. Sketching homework. Some pieces left to dry.

Day 2 - Assembly of components to produce samples. Also some deconstruction. Stitching and sketching too. Sketching and stitching homework. Tried a little free motion stitching. Oh my goodness, so much easier that it ever was before when I tried.

Day 3 - Challenges for each of us, based on our particular interests and passions. My challenge - to incorporate one of my samples into a garment.

As it happened, of my many samples, only the one above was composed entirely of fabric. All the others contained paper and so would not be appropriate for a garment. This one sample started out as a collaged 9 patch. In order to actually use it, I tore it into three strips.

Well, actually let me back up. When Cas first suggested that I make a garment on day 3, my reaction was - what? you don't mean now, do you? Sure, she says, you can do it.

So next I suggested that I probably would not have enough fabric. But when I held it up, well, there was no denying that it might be just enough.

It is a soft fabric of unknown fiber content, maybe cotton or linen or a combination, something that has aged in my stash for a while. Almost surely a natural fiber. Lovely to work with, to stitch, to press, to manipulate. The selvage is pretty, I think, with one red and one navy thread running through this wheat colored fabric.

It tears easily so I was able to tear 4 rectangles - the front and the back (torn strategically to place the pretty selvage at the hem), and the two sleeves.

I used Cas's sweater to roughly trace a neckline. She suggested the slit opening to make it easier to slip on and off. Sewing friend and Cas's host, Lucretia, contributed a pretty button.

The sample's base was the same fabric, so I backed it in order to create a frame with denim-like shirting. After assembling the tunic pieces, and while it was still flat (before the side seams), I experimented with placement of the three strips. Finally I pinned it all together and Cas slipped it on.

I did take it home incomplete. Cas gave a lecture to a larger group the very next evening and I bravely (foolishly?) promised her that she could wear it for her lecture. She offered me one of her gorgeous pieces of art in return! Mostly the work at home was finishing the seam edges and securing the collage pieces with more stitch. I could not bear to think that this delightful artist's trade would involve a garment subject to coming apart.
I was so very thrilled with this transaction that nothing could stop me. And, truthfully, it was a blast from start to finish. So energizing. And now I'm ready to do more. 

I am thinking that Cas is a very gifted teacher. Yes, she is definitely the best kind of teacher - the kind that can pull something very unexpected from an old student.

Tea and Friendship by Cas Holmes
Cas models the final tunic!

I am planning to stitch and perhaps disassemble/reassemble my many other samples to create art pieces. And I'm anxious to assemble more samples with just fabric.

I love the idea of using these in garments.

Many, many thanks to Cas Holmes, artist and teacher extraordinaire!

Also thanks to my classmates for offering encouragement, as well as inspiration while sharing your talents and work with me. What a gift.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Thai Wrap Save Continues

In my previous post, I asked for advice on this the Thai wrap top by folkwear minus the sleeves. Thanks to those of you who offered me advice on this, Each suggestion was valuable, and tested.

So, to recap, here is how muslin 1 finished:
It is too short, especially in the back. I really like the fit through the shoulders and the bust. It wraps in a modest and pleasing manner, I think.

Next I cut a muslin from an old sheet. I added 4 inches to the length and gave my high hip fluff a little more room in the back. I also created (straight) shoulder seams in case I wanted to clip the shoulder wings. Making muslin 2 taught me some important characteristics of this pattern:
muslin 2

Muslin 1 was not only too long but too narrow. As it happens, this requires no change because a natural place for the closures falls along the princess lines created by the triangular center front piece. The side seam hangs correctly, even with this change.

The back is actually on the bias and has a tendency to hike up at the lower hem particularly as it stretches out. So, note to self - cut wide SAs in the back to allow the bias to grow and reshape itself. And I'll need to let it hang before completing the center back or the side seams.

And, yes, the shoulder wings needed to be clipped.

Here is iteration 3:
muslin 3

With muslin 3, I clipped the wings over my hips. That is, I stitched the side seam following the grainline, rather than winging out, as the original pattern does.

Muslin 4 incorporates more of the same, with adjustments in the sleeve width.
muslin 4
I think this may be ready for something truly wearable. Now I have to decide whether to use the muslin as a pattern, or do something more interesting with it. It might be fun to dye, stamp, paint...

Meanwhile, just for fun, I talked DD1 into modeling muslin 1 for me.

Unsurprisingly, it looks so, so much better on her. She is quite a bit shorter than I am and has slim hips. And she is a tad younger than I am. Well, ok, more than a tad.

She tells me that the wrap thing is out of style.

Here is the way she prefers it, but I still did not talk her into putting it in her closet.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Thai Wrap from Folkwear

I really, really liked it. In fact, I thought it was exceedingly cute until I took a photo.

Now I know that the mirror lies. Of course, I encourage this. This little topper feels so good. It looks good on the dress form. It was fun to sew. It seems to fit. Must be a success.

Then I checked out the pictures. oh.

Folkwear's South Asian Tops and Wraps (#134) has been on my mind for many years. I was first attracted to it when I saw Elizabeth of the late (sniff, sniff) Waechter's Fabrics wearing the Thai Wrap Blouse on a hot summer day. She had omitted the long sleeves, and voila, cute summer top.

Finally, yesterday, I cut out a muslin. A wearable muslin made of denim. Denim is a favorite fabric, especially after seeing Anna Toth's winning collection at the recent Charleston Fashion week competition.

Unfinished here, but already too short
Denim is such a delight to sew as well, especially this light weight washed denim (100% cotton) from Gail K. It tears in both directions. It presses beautifully. It is ideal for top-stitching.

There are many things to like about this interesting pattern. There are only 3 pieces if you omit the sleeves: the front/back piece, the center-front wedge, and the collar band. The front and back pieces are cut as one, so there is no shoulder seam. The triangular addition to the front section creates a secure wrap and lovely princess lines. The curve of the side seam adds the illusion of a waist.

The fact that some SAs are 1/2 inch and others are 1/4 inch is a little odd, but consistent with the Folkwear use of traditional ethnic clothing construction techniques.

My main concern is the length. It's too short for my not-all-that-tall 5 feet 5 inches, I think. And I'm not sure how lengthening it would affect the silhouette. I wonder if it would be an interesting vest for a sheath?

Perhaps I should make another, longer muslin. Or add the sleeves back. Or use it as a vest. Or make another pattern. Or just go back to quilting.

How can I save this cute pattern?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

CFW 2014 Winners: Anna Toth, Leah and Rebecca Plante

Anna Toth's design, available on
Charleston Fashion Week 2014 is finished, this time with a few surprises.

For the first time, the win was awarded to two designers. One is a sister team - Leah and Rebecca Plante; the other is Anna Toth.

I was lucky enough to attend the first night of CFW 2014 and see both collections during semi-finals. I even voted for Anna because her looks are so appealing to anyone who loves denim. That night, the Plante sisters were both the judges' choice and the peoples' choice.

The tucks are so pretty. Toth also makes custom jeans.
Saturday night we saw the final collections of each night's winner plus a judges save - Anna Toth. So there were 5 finalists. Each of the five added a few items to this final runway competition.

Surprises: Two Project Runway alums competed - Justin LeBlanc a finalist in season 12, and Angela Bacskocky, also season 12 but she exited after episode 1. Justin did not make it to the finals; Angela did. And I actually liked her final collection quite a lot though it was more of a fall collection, and spring is on my mind.

The other surprise is that the winning looks were not edgy or outrageous. I would classify both as pretty, but not over-the-top art. They were certainly the most immediately wearable, especially Anna Toth's work.

Both of the winning runway collections were spring-like in color and texture, appropriate to Charleston and the rest of the southeastern US now. Since Anna Toth makes custom jeans, those were also prominently featured. In fact she wore some tight but beautifully fitted jeans each evening. 

As an aside, I was mystified by designers who seemed to be wearing uninteresting clothing when they appeared at the end of their own runway shows. It was almost as if they had been caught off-guard and dragged from their workrooms.

Toth was clearly wearing something of her own design. Very pretty. Very casual. Very wearable. I did not see her up close but I think this is a cap-sleeved tucked denim shirt with one of her denim vests over it, and of course, her great jeans.
Toth with the final model in her Saturday show. I don't think this jump suit is denim. Hat is also an Anna Toth creation.
For the final runway, Toth added quilted pieces - a cropped top in dark denim that was paired with her signature jeans, this time in white. There is something so appealing about white pants for spring and summer.

Toth also showed a quilted A-line skirt paired with another cropped top. The skirt had body and stood away from the model's hips, producing a cheerful, youthful silhouette, not the dowdy silhouette I usually associate with A-line skirts.

You can like Anna Toth and her work under the name Bow and Arrow on Facebook, if you do that sort of thing.
My favorite look from the Plante sisters

The Plante sisters used drapey fabrics with some low-contrast color blocking in spring neutrals. The dress at left was shown in a peachy beige where you see navy in this picture. The back has a feminine V formed with the spaghetti straps. They used lots of flowers in the models' hair and put on a good show.

The other designers presented collections that were decidedly darker, the traditional fall collection shown in spring, I guess.

Some themes ran through all the collections I saw: 

Sheer layers were everywhere. These included palazzo pants that were sheer from the knee down, a black sheer dress with a white lining, dark shorts under long sheer skirts.

Bare midriffs were another theme, both on and off the runway.

Still seeing lots of high-low skirts (low in the back). I saw many missed opportunities here to showcase the inside of the back skirt with some gorgeous design. Most were lined in self-fabric or ordinary lining material.

I'm not sure this CFW will be as memorable as the previous two but we'll see. I hope to watch Anna Toth on Facebook this year to see where she goes. 

Next up - off- runway looks seen during CFW 2014. 

What a fun and inspiring week!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Final Prep for CFW 2014

Charleston Fashion Week (CFW) starts tomorrow so it's a good thing that I am almost finished with my last pieces for it. I hope to wear this to the Saturday night finale.

This is a lot of purple, or plum as the Waechter's website described it. It is a silk noil and, seriously, it really does look good with the kimono fabric. What's up with these pictures? They make the silk noil look blue next to the silk brocade.

The plum column is composed of CLD's Pure and Simple shell, and her tapered one-seams. I never grow tired of that PAS pattern, when I need a slightly fitted easy topper. It has just the right amount of fit. And of course the one-seams are a great TNT pattern for me.

The shell is lined using the jacket-bagging idea I tried out on the bling version. I experimented with various ways to make sure the lining does not slip out. The is very important, you see, because I used a light blue ambiance from my stash (!). For now, the neckline is finished with a little sashiko using gold silk embroidery thread (4-ply). I top-stitched the other edges at 1/4 inch in the interest of time.

The plum silk noil was narrow (44 inches) so I had to add a front center seam and back center seam to the shell. No real problem since it disappears or creates another vertical line.

I interlined the plum one-seams because I wanted to add strength to them. Silk noil is quite fragile so I'm hoping that will help. And the one-seams are not tight, so I should be fine.

Now for that kimono. I love it but maybe it takes this ensemble into PJ territory. I hope not!

I used another TNT pattern for this kimono. It is the women's hippari from Japanese Field Clothing (Folkwear Patterns). I bought the silk for it in San Franciso's Chinatown many years ago. It is only 28 inches wide and I did not have a lot, so I needed an efficient way to use it. This hippari pattern is very traditional and so involves only rectangles. Very efficient way to use fabric, I think.

The kimono silk is soft-of a silk brocade though much lighter than that and it has great drape. Maybe it is a double-cloth of sorts. One side is predominantly purple; the other is predominantly gold. And there are no running threads on either side. Perhaps there is a better name for it. 

There is still a bit of handwork remaining. The pictures show the hem facing hanging out and the front band with threads. I used gold silk dupioni for the front band and to create facings for all the hems. I've got a  long car ride coming up which will be perfect for the handwork.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Expo plus ACC Show!

Inspiration overload today...

CLD booth

Yesterday I attended the Sewing and Quilting Expo in Atlanta. It is a combination of education, inspiration, and, of course, shopping. There were so many things I discovered that I needed. You know what I mean.

I did resist the gorgeous pieces at left. Love that combination of colors. Hate it on me.

Yes, there were way more quilting vendors than those geared to garment sewists. And it seemed that there were fewer vendors. But the few there make the trip totally worthwhile.

And I do love some quilty eye candy (below).
Large installation by Marlene Glickman

My trip to Expo included Louise Cutting's booth with so many alluring bolts of fabrics, all placed in an tasteful and even artful arrangement. She had an interesting piece of Japanese cotton that I believe was sashiko stitched by machine. The background is cream and the stitching parallels the selvage in black cotton. Now I do love sashiko and though I have no interest in creating sashiko that way, I thought the piece would be fun to use for embroidery experimentation. Maybe it accent some upcoming piece, like a vest.

More fabulousness at CLD booth

Louise wearing (A New Dimension) and holding some of her exquisite Japanese cottons
Also inspiring was a fashion show narrated jointly by Louise Cutting and Linda Lee. Linda Lee had made interesting use of some of the older Sewing Workshop patterns including the very first one I ever tried - the cocoon coat. Louise's ensembles were in that casual spring-like Florida styling that is her signature.
Cutting Line Design Samples

THE highlight was getting to see and visit with old and new friends. These are my people. It always reminds me of the first expo I attended. I was not a member of any sewing group at that time, just doing my career-kids thing mostly. My sewing was solitary and almost secretive. But here they all were - my people, my tribe. And each year I get to see some of them at this event.

Today I attended the American Craft Council show in Atlanta. This is always a treat. It features quite a bit of fiber-based art, but then I love most forms of *craft* art.
Wool coat, ACC show. Love the obi-inspired *belt*

So Marcy-Tilton-like.

ACC continues to show more and more fiber art, it seems. There were several wonderful Atlanta-based artists, whose work I have admired in other settings - Karen Tunnel and Lucinda Carlstrom.  And there was quite a bit of wearable art.

Architectural necklaces enhance the B&W theme here

Danielle Gori Montanelli cheerful precision wool felt jewelry

This coat reminds me of Vogue 8934, another Marcy Tilton design
More on the ACC show here.