Thursday, April 11, 2024

Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane

Each year, for about the last ten, I have participated in a Lenten practice, creating one of the Stations of the Cross. 

Stations of the Cross are a series of 14 (or more) pictures of Jesus' journey, as represented in Holy Week prior to Easter. Just ahead of Lent, a member of my church puts out a call for volunteers to create the stations, the only restriction being the 24" x 30" size. The series is hung in the church nave during Holy Week and they remain in place until the next year's call for art goes out the the church members.

Various media are used - collage, acrylic paint, oil paint, other inks and paints, photographs, and small scuptural pieces that will fit on a 24x30 frame. With one exception, mine have been fabric pieces, sort of small quilts, though none of mine really fit the strict definition of a quilt. I sew the piece onto a painted canvas.

In progress, after the hollowing out.

Each year, it is a struggle. Yet each year, I sign up again and begin the struggle. I believe this is an important Lenten journey for me, the struggle, the goofs, the final piece.

a test

This year I chose Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, an event that appears in all four of the New Testament Gospels. I began with the scriptural stories and also recalled my own visit to the Garden of Gethsemane. I imagined. I sketched. I sewed. I unsewed.

Before he was hollowed out.


During fall 2023, I took an intensive online course from Jane Dunnewold. The title was Color Mastery: from White to Wow. I used unbleached silk noil and Pro MX fiber reactive dyes. I am also working my way through 2024 with a YouTuber, k3n Cloth Tales. I had some eco-prints and dyes inspired by her work.


I started with the background in three segments - sky, Jerusalem skyline, and the garden itself in the foreground. The sky is raw-edge applique with an invisible stitch, to start. I really like raw-edge work because it avoids the lumps caused by seams. On the other hand, I wanted the *lumps* on standard needle-turn applique for the Jerusalem skyline, in order to articulate buildings. And the ground for the garden is also (mostly) needle-turned applique.

another test.

Creating the foreground was the most challenging for me. The story is complex so there were many ways to go. I tried out pictures of sleeping figures.

Yet another test.

I created a super-sized figure that I placed over the background, a Jesus-figure. After I appliqued the figure on and added decorative embroidery to the edge, I decided it was all wrong. So I next cut out the center. Church friend, Margaret, pointed out that, in the story, Jesus was hallowed out by his anguish. Thank you, Margaret.


Then I created some bias tubes and began to form the olive branch vines and leaves. Gethsame literally translates Olive Press. And today's garden is full of olive trees.

Building up the background on cotton flannel

After that, I added embroidery to highlight and support various aspects of the piece. For example, I outlined the buildings to give them a bit of depth, adding a few details.

I was hand-stitching almost non-stop in the lead-up to Holy Week. It was such a relief to finish and be completely ready for Holy Week. The church held a *Starving Artists* dinner of soup and bread. Each artist described their journey in creating their art piece. It was a beautiful event.

St Patrick's publishes a nice pamphlet with write-ups on each station. Here is a photo of three. The one on the far right is by my wonderful granddaughter, H. This is their second year on this Lenten journey.

If you celebrate, then Happy Easter! Happy spring and Happy sewing!

Friday, March 8, 2024

Siberian Parka

Continuing with my New Year's theme, the Siberian Parka from Folkwear Patterns has been in stash a while. I've been wanting something with a hood. I think I must have purchased it at a resale, probably our local ASG chapter's annual sale. Honestly, I don't think I would have purchased it otherwise. But it has some appeal to me right now.

The fabric is 100% wool boucle, probably purchased at a fun store that used to be in Massachussetts. I cannot find evidence of it now and I cannot remember the name. It was almost exclusively mail/phone order, back in the day, but they had a smallish shop that was open to the public during limited hours. I used to connect with them while visiting my son in NH and visit them. I believe I purchased it soon after I finished my first, and last, Coco's jacket. I guess I thought I would make another. I will not do so.

The fabric is soft and it was easy to stitch. It did ravel quite a lot, so I serged all the edges. I could not bring myself to apply Hong Kong finishes. There are way too many seams that are way too long. And the serging thread tends to sink into it, so it is not too offensive.

After I finished the poncho, I was curious about how it would behave if washed. Not that I really intend the machine wash it on a regular basis - probably never. Unless I am extremely sloppy, I'll be OK with dry cleaning, which I know is neither dry nor clean. I serged two same-size scraps, machine washed them both, machine dried one of them. They remained similar, shrinking about 10% in both directions. And it is still soft and lovely to touch.

I checked Pattern Review for this pattern, of course. Although I had this piece in stash for years and never touched it other than to pet it, I still wanted to be a little careful. Many people commented on its size. Yep, it's huge. But then it is a parka. I made size Small.

I found the instructions for the area of the front neckline to be difficult to follow. In the line drawing above, it looks as if lots of seams come together in a V.  The shoulder area of the garment has multiple pieces as you can see in the picture. In the front, it needed to connect with the hood opening without a bunch of lumps. Ultimately, I simply played with the pieces coming together until they behaved. I'm quite happy with the result.

I also struggled just a little with finishing the edge of the hood opening. Instructions are to simply fold the fabric back about an inch total, and top-stitch in place. Because the opening widens as it moves away from the raw edges, there was no way that would work. 

My first try was to pull out a remnant of black silk dupioni and just finish the edge with a bias binding. I did not like the look of that and it enclosed my face too snugly. I cut the hem off. Next I applied a bias piece of another remnant as a facing. That worked and it is snug enough around my face though I removed more than an inch from the raw edge.

The first time I tried on the parka, I knew I would want the option of rolling up the sleeves without looking at serger thread. They are a bit long, but I like having options on this outer wear garment. I think there will be some occasions when I will want the sleeves rolled all the way down to stay warm. I finished the sleeve hems with a facing, using another remnant of blackish fabric. I traced a facing shape by pin-stitching the two piece sleeve tissues together. 

The pocket instructions were a little iffy. They are in-seam pockets with a single layer - the single layer is top-stitched to the front of the garment. The instructions were to wait to finish edges until the pocket was installed. That made no sense at all to me, unless I was planning to finish the visible raw edges with a hand-overcast stitch. I serged around each raw edge before beginning assembly of the pockets. I am glad I did so.

I used a remnant of some black tencil fabric for the pockets to avoid too much bulk.

All in all, I consider this project a success. Mr. Now Sewing thinks I look a bit gothic in it, but that's OK with me. If I cannot be a little goth now, then when can I be?

Wearing the parka with gray polyester Helex pants

Recently I've also made several pairs of basic pants - Sewing Workshop Helex pants in black ponte (my go to for black pants), as well as a gray polyester knit. The gray was well-aged, enough so that I have no idea how it came to be in stash. It would never be my first pick for pants. I also made a pair of Sewing Workshop Quincy pants in the wool suiting used for facing on this parka. The Quincy pants are still undergoing revisions to get the fit right.

The temperature today rose to 75 F (24 C), so it may be a few months before I need this parka. 

Sunday, February 25, 2024

E-Vest Re-Make

This is a make from last year that I never used as the subject of a blog post. It was perhaps because I wasn't sure I liked it that much. In fact, when I came across it recently I could not remember which pattern I used. At first I thought I had used the Valencia jacket and omitted the sleeves. But, indeed, it was from the Sewing Workshop eVest pattern. And here is why I thought it was the Valencia.

Online description: The easy-to-make eVest is an adaptation of our popular Valencia Jacket pattern. The loose-fitting vest has soft fold-back lapels and angled front drape. The wrong side of the fabric shows. Options for hemming or binding edges are included in the pattern download.

I think that the adaptation is just that the sleeves were omitted. Maybe. The Sewing Workshop folks are champs at reworking a pattern, I think.

I remember it as an easy make, probably from a short cut of fabric I had acquired - too little to make much of anything but a vest. But I like the fabric and NOW I think I really like the vest.

Version 1:

The selvedge was nice looking so I thought I would just fold it back and stitch in place with a running stitch. I used a silk tafeta remnant to finish the armholes and the lower hem.

The result was OK:

Version 2:

Next, I cut off the selvedge down the front and used more of the silk tafeta to finish the front lapels. I also added a patch pocket to the right side front.

Last week I fished it out of the closet and wore it. I love vests when it's cold here. We don't turn the indoor temps particularly high so I like the extra layer. This light weight wool drapes nicely. Also it is not itchy and so I can wear it with almost anything.

I felt like it needed another re-make, so here is the maybe-final...

Version 3:

I removed the silk tafeta binding from the lapels and the front hemline. It is not soft and does not roll nicely even on the bias. I also *improved* some sloppy finishing on the armholes. And I replaced the binding with this rough weave silk piece from stash. 

I have no idea where and when I acquired this piece of silk. It is only 14" wide so probably a kimono remnant I picked up at Sewing Expo years ago. I really like the way the stripes in the bias binding work with the colors of the wool in the vest. Now it is in my rotation of favorite vests.

It goes with a lot of things in my closet. Here I am wearing it with my very old gray silk charmeuse Plaza pants (another Sewing Workshop pattern from years past). 

I think those Plaza pants may have come back into style. Or (more likely), I am just in the mood for loose silk pants.

I did not resist the urge to add a patch to the back neckline.

I am pretty crazy about this eVest pattern now. Maybe I want to make a long version next. It's still chilly here, especially in the mornings.

Friday, February 9, 2024

Against Trend on the Toaster

The Toaster Sweaters pattern from Sew House Seven is a Best Pattern of the Year (2017) over on Pattern Review with 98 reviews! It's been simmering in my stash for a while, so in keeping with my semi-New-Years-Resolution to use what I have, I sewed it up. I kept pulling the pattern out, thinking about all the people who love it on Instagram. And I have had a French terry in stash for a while too. Check. Check.

About that French terry. I think I bought it from the Sewing Workshop a few years ago. It is a beautiful clear royal blue, a color that makes me happy. 

As you may know, terry refers to the fact that it is knitted so that there is a smooth side and a looped side, like you see in a standard sweatshirt. I had not sewn with it, except to fix my sweat shirts. 

Lucky for me, Gini, of the Big Sew Along on Youtube, did an episode, "Everything I know about French Terry." Gini does lots of pattern reviews on her Youtube channel and occasionally fabric reviews. I learned that the loops on the back function to wick away moisture, making a garment comfy in various kinds of weather. That function, though, is limited to cotton and cotton blend French terry. A burn test revealed that mine is rayon. Dang. At least it's not polyester.

It's not like I don't ever buy rayon. This morning I'm wearing a kimono I made with rayon challis. I enjoy wearing it over my PJs and feeling a tiny bit dressed.  And I already owned this rayon French terry, so...

All of this to say that my first experiment with the Sew House Seven (view 1) was not successful. The envelope lists Sweatshirt fleece first and French terry second. And it has a helpful stretch diagram to make sure you choose a knit with enough stretch. And this rayon French terry has plenty of stretch.

But it is too clingy. Well, that's rayon knit in a nutshell, I think. It is good for me to note that. My bad.

Based on my measurements, which admittedly I took after-the-fact, I fit comfortably into size L. So I traced and made a size L - view 1. I chose view 1 for my first try with this incredibly popular pattern*.

O.M.G. I just read their description of view 1 - it is described as *close fitting* !!! Oh, the things I learn when I compose these blog entries. Well, totally my fault, y'all.

I chose view 1 due to the ragland sleeves which I find easy to fit. But now I realize I got exactly what I ordered - a close fitting top in a clingy knit.

I did make some changes to the pattern. I lengthened it by 4 inches in order to omit the lower band. I took a 2" hem. It's too short. I also omitted the cuffs on the sleeves, figuring I could add those later. After my first try-on, I reduced the side seams from 5/8" to 1/4". It is still not a particularly good look for me.

It shall be worn under other things.

Next time I will measure the tissue in key areas, like the tummy area. I will test the stretch of the knit. And I will tissue fit through the shoulders.

I've just discovered some Black French terry in stash. Luckily it's cotton. Maybe it will become view 2 of the Toaster Sweaters pattern.

* You should see all those happy Sew House Seven Toaster sewists over on Pattern Review, as well as Instagram. People love this pattern, I'm telling you. I shall not give up!