Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Orange and Purple

I volunteer each Wednesday at a food pantry. It's quite a large operation, providing a market-style experience to about 200 families each Wednesday. Several times a year we volunteers participate in city-wide activities that raise money for our operation and others providing a similar service. And we receive brightly colored T shirts. This year's is bright orange and last year's was purple.

These T shirts are sized for men, wider through the shoulders and more narrow through the hips. I am not shaped like that and I never end up wearing these shirts. But I do like to combine them into a shirt that fits.

I was not terribly adventuresome with this project, using Grainline Lark T shirt pattern pieces. This is a basic (ladies) T shirt pattern that fits me. I cut the front and back from the body of orange T shirt (sized XL), and the sleeves from the body of the purple one (sized M).

Orange and purple is a cheerful color combination, I think. Makes me smile.

This is a good reminder to always have fun while sewing. This was all fun.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Blue Green Machine

Now that spring seems to be here to stay for a few weeks, I find myself wanting blues and greens in my wardrobe. When I finished my latest Tabula Rasa (Fit for Art) jacket in a blue-green cross dye, I wanted more.

Just about a year ago I finished a pair of Fit for Art Eureka Pants in green linen. I pulled the remnants out and realized I could just barely squeeze out a MixIt Top from the Sewing Workshop. This is my go-to top, especially when I make pants and have enough left over.

Since I've made it so many times, it goes together quickly. I fiddled around with the closure and may still come back to it. I also made the collar a bit taller.

I had always thought this green linen was a cross dye. It reads that way, but when I cut a square for the back I saw that it is not. I guess the threads are just multi-colored so that it reads less flat that a solid colored linen.

It looks a little stubby in this picture, but I think it'll look fine with the matching green pants. Or maybe it's too much green!?! Hope I don't look like Mr. Green Jeans.

Sewing with these colors is quite soothing. I think I'll make something else blue or green next, continuing with the spring theme.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Tabula Rasa Indeed

Tabula rasa means blank slate. And that is how I used it with this garment.

the plain version
This wonderful piece of fabric has been marinating in my stash for a number of years. It is a cross weave in light green and bright royal blue. It was purchased from Spanglish Fabrics. She travels to Guatemala and brings back gorgeous hand-woven fabric to sell. It's perfect for bags. There is not a lot of drape and it feels just a little coarse. But this piece needed to be a garment.

the cross-weave needed to be highlighted
Often I find that my sewing goal is to feature the fabric, even though this one is essentially a solid color. The Tabula Rasa pattern involves mostly narrow pieces, so it was just right for this 36" wide fabric. The sleeves on the pattern are the largest piece and I had to be careful to make sure I'd have enough for them. I did end up piecing the collar band with a small patch at the center back. You see it in the above picture because it is cut cross-grain and the rest of the band is cut on the length-wise grain.

Once finished the jacket was quite plain. It needed something. My first step to was to add the square patch at the back neckline. I had already added the little bias loop in the collar band seam.

I love working with bias binding and bias tubes and often look for spots to use them. Because this fabric does not have much give, I had to make some samples, particularly of the tubes. Below is a picture of my tubes and tools. I always start by trying to turn the tube with the Fasturn tube turner. It involves a metal tube and metal wire that slides inside the metal tube. There is a sharp pointed corkscrew shape on the end of the metal wire. So you cut the bias stripe and then stitch it together. For this particular fabric, I settled on a 1.25 inch wide bias strip, a 0.4 zig-zag stitch (otherwise the stitches pop when you're turning the tube), and I stitched it 3/8 inch from the fold (not from the raw edge).

Because this is hand-woven, the cork-screw end of the wire slipped out when I was mid-way through turning it. Dang. Luckily I was able to use the hemostat to reach inside the tube, grab the end and pull it the rest of the way out. I used both tools on every tube.

Then I fetched my favorite instructions for making a Chinese knot: Sandra Betzina's Power Sewing. I find her instructions to be the easiest to follow. And I never remember how it's done in advance! Here you can see how it starts:

The long end is off to the left.
This is how it looks after an *over* and an *under* with the long end:

At this point it's symmetrical and rather pretty, I think. I've been tempted to transfer this shape to a garment for embellishment, but I never have. The final step is to draw it up into a round knot. This take some finagling because it wants to draw up unevenly. It helps to have finger nails.

In the end I decided on a single Chinese knot closure, with a plain loop on the other side. I made sure that the Chinese knot finished with long tails. Then I opened up the collar band seams and inserted the raw ends of the Chinese knot on the wrong wide of the band, wrapped it around and hand-stitched in place.

To create the loop, I simply used one bias tube. I opened up the collar band on the other side, inserted raw ends of the bias tube on the outside, and hand-stitched it in place.

I don't know if I'll ever actually close it, but it was fun to make.

I had a Chinese knot left over. So I added a patch pocket with the extra knot attached.

You can also see that I created a vent in the sleeve that is bracelet length. A sewing friend said in a recent presentation that Coco always liked her jacket sleeves bracelet length since that's the skinniest part of a woman's body.

The inside of the jacket also has its own story with much bias binding in a very light weight Indian cotton. Stripes are so great on the bias. And I love the look of the Hong Kong finish when the inside is flashed.

Or if I want just a little flash, I can turn the sleeves up in a slight cuff.