Saturday, August 31, 2013

Travel Wardrobe 2013

This year has included more travel than usual. Our most exotic trip starts in mid September when we fly to Rome, Italy. We will start in Rome for a few days, then Cortona for a week, followed by several days in Cinque Terre.

Of course, I've been thinking about related sewing projects since we finalized our plans. As usual, my plans began with delusions of dramatic weight loss. And what I would be wearing with my brand new body. And how Italian I would look.

So back here on planet earth, I'm making clothes that will be comfortable without being pajamas, that will pack easily, and make me feel good. To increase the odds of actually packing what I make, I am using TNT patterns, or at least patterns I know.

Here is the line-up so far...

This is a shirt or jacket made using the Sewing Workshop's Tribeca. I made this several years ago and was not happy with my results but I had always believed that with a little tweaking, I would really love it.

I dutifully made a muslin and decided that it had plenty of potential. 

The fabric is a tightly woven cotton from Japan. Both sides are interesting, I think. I chose the pin-striped side for the face fabric and the other graphic for the inside. 

When the Tribeca was published, it was criticized for not having facings. I, like others, drafted my own facings. Recently though I've found that I like single layer construction with the right fabric. This fabric is quite crisp, and as I said has two good sides, so it worked.

Since this is intended for my trip, I hoped it would work as either a shirt or a jacket. Because of this, I delayed stitching the vertical darts until I checked its fit over tops. Ultimately, I included the front darts but omitted the ones in the back. 

I'm fairly pleased with the resulting shirt/jacket though it is not a show-stopper. It was fun to sew, a slow project but worth the extra effort.

My next two travel pieces are T's. I love my shirts and other tops made from woven textiles, but for long-distance travel, I think T's work best. And they are so fast to make. Every time I begin to sew with knits, I grind my teeth. And then I have a great time. 

Knits take a different approach. As Pam says, you have to hold your mouth just so, and then it all works. I have to let go. Precision is not so important, nor is it even achievable with some of these run-away jerseys.

I have had good success with two T patterns - Christine Jonson's Travel Trio One and Katherine Tilton's Vogue 8793. So I made one T with each. In this head-to-head comparison, I have to say that Katherine's T wins. The sleeve is drafted with so that the front and back are slightly different. The Christine Jonson T is more like the old Stretch-and-Sew patterns where the sleeve cap is symmetrical. 

The Christine Jonson T is made from cotton interlock (polka dots) and rayon jersey, combined with a little Katherine Tilton vibe.

The Katherine Tilton T was made with silk jerseys. A glass of nice white wine is helpful in maintaining the right degree of relaxation with this fabric. It just doesn't pay to get excited or exact or eager. But it feels divine.

I have enough of the silk print left over to make a scarf. Wouldn't that feel yummy?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Vogue 8934

Another great design from Marcy Tilton.

As soon as the last batch Vogue patterns appeared, I knew I had to have this one. I had seen one of Marcy's versions at the Design Outside the Line retreat and knew it looked interesting. I did not know just how interesting.

Then shams posted her maxi version to her blog. Oooh-la-la! Great San Francisco look. And just fab on shams.

Now, my body shape could not be more different, so I'm thinking this design is just one of those universally flattering shapes.

Not shape as in sexy, or curvy of even rectangular.

It's a little different with its deep darts at the hem. It creates a slight lantern shape. And the neckline frames the face with an interesting collar and front band detail.

But it's not just the hem shape that attracts me. Something about the placement of the shoulder seam is lovely. I made a jacket length muslin and just whacked the hem off straight. I really like that look too.

The fabric I chose has been sitting in my stash a little while, though I noted last week that it is still available for sale at Gail K. It is a medium weight cotton, tightly woven and stable. I think Ginny, a dear enabler friend who seems to know my taste better than I do, spotted this interesting piece of cotton.

I wasn't quite sure what I'd do about the front band.

Ignoring the bold design seemed a bad idea. It would be jarring to see the unmatched seams down the front. And matching the design would be even worse, I think. After all, that front band is quite slimming, I think. In any case, it is a design feature that drew me to this design.

I considered a linen remnant in gray but it took over the coat, and not in a good way. I finally settled on a solid black linen for both the front band and the collar.

The collar is a little different too, in the way it intersects the front band. The band runs all the way up the front.

The buttons are large black plastic ball buttons.

I had this fun polka-dotted Bemberg ambiance (rayon) lining also in my stash. I was afraid that using just the two fabrics (cotton and ambiance) would lead to a too-wimpy coat. So I interlined the lining by channel-quilting cotton batiste to it.

So, Marcy, you've done it again! I love this design and look forward to cooler weather when I can wear this coat.

Monday, August 19, 2013

King of Clubs

Finessing the King
Each September my fiber art group - Fiber Art Fusion - has a show at The Art Place in Marietta. After that our show goes to the Southeast Fiber Arts Alliance for October.

This year our show was initially based on the phrase *not playing with a full deck.* It was decided that was too negative and so the theme became *it's all in the cards.*

Either way I was stumped.

I drew the King of Clubs. I did not want to be literal - such a cop-out. I wanted to stretch my artist's wings, which are barely emerging some days.

An obvious one-off is the golf association. I have never been interested in golf so that was out of the question.

But I did have a blast learning to play bridge when I first started grad school. I think it was the Queen finessing the King, with much help from the Ace that really hooked me. Such an interesting play when I first learned about it. Well, always more interesting when I held the Queen and my partner held the Ace.

This piece also reminded me that when I left grad school, I left behind Austin, dear friends and bridge. Never really played it again.

And my king did follow me.

Title: Finessing the King
24 inches X 36 inches
various silk remnants - noil, taffeta, dupioni, charmeuse, silk-cotton blend, silk suiting; 
hand-stitch and machine stitch.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Beach 1, Stitch 2


Materials: 2 cotton fat quarters, embroidery floss
Techniques: basted then needle-turn applique, free-form, peeling back the layer(s)

Thursday, August 8, 2013


Cutting Line Designs (CLD) are fabulous for filling in holes, constructing columns, and just plain old fun sewing. Of course, they are also terrific for creating a whole wardrobe. But at this point during the summer season, I love something simple and predictable.

I just need to sew. Right now. Babysitting for grandboys ages 6 and 8. But I need to create.

So I did.

Pure and Simple (PAS) from CLD contains a shaped shell with cap sleeves that I have made at least six times. It also contains a jacket that I have never made. But I'm giving it some thought.

PAS is a classic. Sadly it is out-of-print, though I understand that Vogue fabrics still has it in stock.

After making and enjoying two dress designs from Marcy Tilton, I was searching for a simple summer dress. How about (one of) my favorite top patterns?

So simple. Just lengthened it about 15 inches, added about an inch to the hip area to allow for comfortable sitting, and curved the hem to match the original shell.

It fits exactly as I had hoped - a little bit of shaping in the waist area, otherwise just skims over my lumps and bumps.

The fabric is a linen-cotton design from Anna Marie Horner, part of her Field Study line. The print design demanded a simple stricture. It's a medium weight fabric that would work well for a skirt or a jacket too. And a simple summer dress, as it turns out.

Next up:
The Four-Square Dress from the Center for Pattern Design
(have the pattern tissue ready for a toile)
Four-Square Dress

Marcy Tilton's New Coat pattern
(have a partial toile cut out)
Vogue 8934