Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Loose grip

Peony vest and Odette shirt from The Sewing Workshop

I've just completed some small skirmishes with knits. Knits are like that for me. Perfect for travel. Great for 3 seasons of wear.  And I enjoy buying them. But sewing's always dicey.

Each type of knit behaves differently. Even the same type of knit varies from piece to piece. The drape, the amount of stretch, whether pressing is possible or useful, the stitch - so many variables. And unpredictable.

So I'm trying to loosen up a bit. After all - these are just clothes!

First up, 3 pairs of Helix knit pants: black, plum, and gray ponte knit. These were sort-of straight-forward and I made them in a quasi production mode. Darts, inseams, top-stitch inseams, outer seams, hems, and then crotch seams.

Helix pants - super easy to make

The only time I hold my breath with the Helix pants is when I attach the elastic waistband. It is attached by first sewing the 3 inch elastic into a circle. Then the top edge of the pants is lapped under the right side of the elastic circle and stitched in place. Because the elastic circle is a bit smaller than the top of the pants, a little stretch-and-sew is required. And the lapping wants to separate or the lapping grows too large. Pants #1 took about an hour on the waistband. Sheesh!!

I thought, maybe I should make a more conventional covered elastic waistline. I thought that until I tried on the finished Pants #1. I love the way that waistline looks and fits. A conventional elastic waistband is so much more bulky and looks more home-made, I think.

So Pants #2 and Pants #3 were finished with the same lapping technique as Pants #1. I tried to loosen my grip and pretend to be less of control freak. It worked!

Having warmed up with a stable knit, I was ready to work with a more challenging knit.

I had purchased a medium weight jersey at a tag sale a while back, so I'm uncertain of its content. It feels a lot like super soft rayon jersey. It curls a little - just a enough to tell the right side from the wrong . It has a slight tendency to get sucked into the sewing machine, though use of my walking foot fixed that problem. In fact, the walking foot seems to be the answer with knits, no matter the question.

Odette shirt from the Sewing Workshop

I made the Odette shirt from the Sewing Workshop, one I've made before. I like the result but I'm amazed at how much bigger it is than my previous Odette.

my new Odette
I reversed the pieces - it mirrors the older one below.

My older Odette
The new one is quite a bit larger than the older one. I think that both knits are rayon jersey but they feel, stretch and drape in very different ways. The white one is quite stable, almost like cotton.

I am not ready to give up on knits. In fact, I think I actually like knits. And I'll enjoy wearing the orange one. Here is how it works with my latest Peony vest:

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.