Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Spring Street Character

Here is an old Sewing Workshop pattern, the Spring St Shirt that I made back in 2003. So long ago that I cannot remember anything about it.

There are a number of characteristics that appeal to me. The sweet collar is the best feature,

I like the curved hem at center front.

And the wide straight sleeves are narrowed with a loop and button.

The fabric is a light weight Japanese cotton - almost voile but opaque. I love the print. I bought mine from Marcy Tilton, but I think that Louise Cutting and Linda Lee have it too. It is a very soft fabric and should be comfortable to wear even during July in the southeastern US.

The buttons are polymer clay, I think. A little short of fabric, I used another light weight cotton print for facings. 

This style may be a little dated. It had slightly dropped shoulders that I adjusted so that the sleeve seam falls pretty close to my natural shoulder line. And it is a little long, maybe. Perhaps I should shorten it?

I hope to adapt the details I like to another shirt, perhaps one that is more current looking. But I'll still enjoy wearing this 2015 version. It's the perfect fabric for 97F.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Sew Kansas - What I Made

Helix pants in red ponte

My *makes* at Sew Kansas were fun and simple. I find that during such an intensive sewing experience, I become overwhelmed and mistakes (many) follow. So I knew to aim low. This eliminates some stress and makes me more open to learning.

  • The first day I made a pair of Helix pants in black ponte knit. (sorry, no pix of black)
  • The second day I browsed.  And shopped. And enjoyed.  
  • The third day I made a simple knit top - the Eureka. I used three rayon jersey fabrics for it.

Each day began with a lecture/demo by Linda. And throughout the days, we took breaks for short demos as well as private consultations with Linda, Kathy and Erin. Linda also allowed us to trace off a future pattern - the Tremont jacket. It is a beautiful style and I cannot wait to make it.

Helix Pants:

I had seen this pattern on various people and was fairly certain I would like it. It is a pull-on pant that requires a knit fabric with at least 25% stretch. Although it has elastic at the waist, the overall effect is completely smooth. This is achieved with darts in the front and back, as well as the waistband treatment.

Linda had all the sizes made up, so I was able to try on *my* size and then Linda told me how to alter it for a great fit. I fixed the pattern tissue and cut out my first pair in black. This ponte is one of those nice beefy stable knits mostly rayon, and no polyester. Perfect for these pants. I also bought red ponte knit from Linda Lee, but decided to wait to make the 2nd pair at home.

Once home I cut out and made the red pair. During the workshop I asked Linda if she would ever make (and wear) a pair of red pants. She responded "Of course!" OK so I'm in love with these red pants.

Easy casual finish.

The Helix pattern also has an interesting Tee, too hot for now.

The Eureka Top:

OK, true confession. When this came out, I was underwhelmed. But I had a green-eggs-and-ham moment and now I am quite fond of it. Like the helix pants, it is a great basic. It is styled with cuffs tacked up, but I like it better with the cuffs down. I may lengthen and use it as a layering piece during cooler weather. For now, it is just right. Yes, I like the Eureka top.

The directions for the neckline create a nice finish, I think. 

Now I know to use my walking foot with jerseys. This stops fabric creep that dashes any hope for matched stripes at the seams. It also makes it easier to machine stitch a hem without rippling.

This top does not require fabric with any stretch so I will likely make it in a woven fabric next.

Now Sewing:

My current project is a very old Sewing Workshop pattern - the Spring St pattern. You may remember it. It has a flat open collar with key holes, as well as an easy and interesting fold over closure at the wrist. The shoulders are a little dropped so I'm trying to adjust that a bit.

So what's going on in your sewing room? 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Sew Kansas 2015

Nirvana for a fan like me. 

NOT made by me! This is a piece made with silk kimono pieces by Kathy at TSW. I photographed it for inspiration. 

Three days with Linda Lee of the Sewing Workshop in her shop in Topeka. The Mother Ship. 

A huge room full of TSW pieces from the past. A museum, really. Starting with the earliest pieces. Still beautiful. Still current. 

Gorgeous fabrics, buttons and everything you would ever want surrounded the 10 of us as we created, learned and chatted. 

Linda and her associates, Kathy and Erin were their to guide, teach, and of course inspire. Each day was a three woman fashion show in situ. 

All the pieces in the current line were available not only to touch and examine but also to try on in each size. So lots of great pattern fitting was happening too. 

I'm still buzzing. 

Left to right: Nancy, Linda, me. 

My sweet sweet sister in law took the class with me. Here we are, a little rumpled from a full day of sewing. Linda invited us to her home for dinner one night. Just as beautiful as you would imagine. And the evening was filled with good food and great women. 

More to come...

Monday, July 13, 2015


Derwent inktense pencils:

Before activating the color with water

After activating the color

The color, like most liquid color on fabric, is difficult to control. Next time I'll use aloe instead of modgepodge to activate with water.

Here are some pieces that I've been collecting from various slow natural dye experiments. No intent to control here at all. Just enjoying the surprise.

The above pieces were dyed with rusty objects, yard mushrooms, yard blossoms, red cabbage, purple onion, and wild strawberries. These were dyed with just a little vinegar and time.

Now I'm adding the element of heat. I guess I'm pickling these pieces. The dye is from Camilla blossoms. More pink, but only time will tell.

Just out of the pot!

My dyeing experiments are limited by the fact that I am trying to avoid toxic elements. And I want to use what I have.

Some little drawings sent to Spoonflower:

Drawn my granddaughter Hannah

My editing abilities are limited by software and stubbornness.

I'm learning some things about photographing, scanning, and editing images. Just learning.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Mix-It Tops and a Little Tip

The Sewing Workshop's MixIt patterns contains three items - a shirt, a top, and a tank. I have made the shirt twice and the top at least three times. My most recent version is from brown linen, to wear with a recent make of TSW's West End pants. I'm still evaluating the pants, but the MixIt tops are just great for these hot, humid days we are having.

Just for something a little different on this version, I added a center front placket and omitted the Mandarin collar. I used David Coffin's book to draft the placket. 

Oops. I need to move that button over so the placket isn't distorted.

I am still not sure if I like the West End pants. I cut a size large and they were size huge. I shortened them. I took in a half-inch tuck in both legs, front and back. I think I like them now.

I totally love the pockets.

These are some old MixIt tops that I wear year after year. The top one is from a crisp cotton print and the bottom one is from a cotton in baby pique. Though a white top tends to wash me out, it is always my go-to when I travel.

A Very Small Tip:

I like black. I like to wear black. But sometimes I struggle to sew black, even in the summer when the light in my workroom is at its best. And I have those wonderful Otte lights. Still, it's a struggle.

I have discovered that with most linens, I like to use either a French seam or a mock fell seam, just to make sure the edges don't fray down to the stitching line. Of course, when I'm lining something, this is not an issue, but for summer, I love clothing made from linen - it's wash and wear - so no lining.

Today I made something with French seams and decided to try using gray thread, instead of black, in the bobbin for the first pass. Then when I tried to trim the 1/4" seam down to 1/8", I could actually SEE the stitching line:

My finger nail is on top of the black thread. Can you see it? I cannot. I can actually see the gray thread from the bobbin.

And I could see to trim the first seam.

Then I switched back to all black for the final pass of each French seam.

This was a wadder but that's OK. I learned something and the fabric was a remnant, too small for my planned project.