Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Fabric Shopping in France

I am back! I am happy/sad to be home. I loved my week with my girls!

I'm wearing another swing tee dress (2nd from the left, of course)
While in Paris, we of course visited Sacre Coeur and the surrounding park and shops. This area is also home to a number of wonderful fabric shops! So fun. But I had to be careful with my time, as my traveling companions are not into fabric at all.

We visited Sacre Couer and even climbed to the top for fantastic views of Paris below. We also briefly visited the church nave, but a service was underway so we were quiet and quick.

Then my sweet companions visited the souvenir shops while I power shopped for fabric.

Luckily I had already decided on one shopping goal - to buy some Liberty of London cotton lawn. One particular shop in this Montmartre area (Coupon) carries a huge variety of these cottons, more than I've ever seen anywhere in the states. And the price was not quite as high as I had anticipated - 26 Euro per meter.

I purchased a Liberty of London piece a zillion years ago at a gorgeous fabric shop in Asheville NC - Waechter's. I am pretty sure it cost $39 per yard! The shop has since closed, sadly. The piece was lovely to sew and I enjoy the blouse quite a lot.

In Paris I purchased two Liberty pieces, each of the same print but different colors - one red and white, one navy and white. I had a difficult time deciding but I think I made the right choice for my palette and taste. Some of the prints are too fussy for me. I also purchased a wonderful soft piece of gray linen for 10 Euro per meter.

The week in Paris was followed by a week with husband, son and family in Chamonix, part of the French Alps. I had no expectations of fabric shopping. The last day we were there, we visited Annecy which is a beautiful old city that sits on a large mountain lake, Annecy Lak. The city is quite large, but has a distinctive old town full of canals and restaurants and parks and tourists.

As we were wandering the old town, I happened to glance up at a building and see a sign: Tissus Couture. I said to DH, I'll be right back, (yea, right) and speed-walked to the spot.

It was a smallish store after the shops in Paris, but it had some lovely fabric. Again, I had to work fast. I found a pre-cut 1.5 meter of viscose jersey that I just love.

After a day on Annecy Lak, I was a bit worn looking but happy here!
I have just finished making a summer dress with it. This is, once again, TSW's swing tee revised into a dress. I drafted short cap sleeves and had enough fabric to add one (!) inseam pocket.

In order to hem without making it too short, I used a 2" bias strip of light weight cotton shirting as a hem facing. I like the effect. The dress feels light and yet has some hem weight.

My only regret is that I had too little fabric to place the darker portions more strategically. It was the last they had of this. And I just had to have it. It makes me smile. So light, so cheerful, so French.

It seems to be hot everywhere I go this summer, even in the Alps, so I'm still into summer sewing in a big way. And I am having a big time.

I hope your summer (or winter) includes some satisfying makes.

The back looks just like the front!

Friday, July 12, 2019

One More Before I Go

That's what happens every time I plan a trip and the accompanying wardrobe. I keep sewing and sewing, thinking I'll finally make the perfect wardrobe. And then, like Dorothy, I end up right where I started with all the clothes I will ever need, and more.

H and I made her one top for her Paris wardrobe.
This trip has been many years in planning - Paris with the grandgirls. I told them that I'd take them to Paris when the youngest was 10. And that is now. I terribly excited to show them Paris and watch them take it in. They are 15, 13, and 10. The 15-year-old has been to London with her parents, but the younger ones have never left the country. Their mothers and aunt were invited too, so there are 8 of us. High adventure for us all!

The 13-year-old is ready for Bonjour in her hand-crafted top!
My last minute finishes are a tee shirt and pants. But I've decided to leave the pants behind due to packing limitations.

Vogue 9063 with West End pants 
I do love the tee shirt. I used an old Vogue pattern I've used twice before with woven fabrics. It's a bit of a sleeper pattern, I think. A pull-on boat-neck style with a lower front band that can be a separate pattern piece or not.

I omitted the neck facings, opting for a bias binding instead. I should have made the sleeves 3/4 length but I'll roll them. The lower front panel is intended to be a separate piece with a matched facing. I overlapped the front and the front band to cut as one. Then I created a band facing on the bias and flipped it the the front.

For next time, I should remember that knits are really good for travel. I forget about them because I don't like sewing them - they wiggle all around and never look as neat as a cotton or linen woven fabric. And they are not as cool as woven cotton tops. As long as it's not hot like Atlanta, they are golden for packing and travel wear though.

This black and white rayon (I think) knit came from Louise Cutting's booth at Expo, as rare as hen's teeth in her booth. I do love a black and white stripe. To me, it says Bonjour!

The pants are black linen-rayon with lovely drape. I used the Picasso pants from the Sewing Workshop. It came down to choosing between these and my West End culottes. The culottes won.

Vogue 9063 with the left-behind Picasso pants. now I'm having second thoughts!
I may be able to close my suitcase without sitting on it. Just barely.

So jusqu'à demain et bon couture! I hope you're having a loving July wherever you are.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Never Say Never

I never wear shorts. Well, almost never. I own one pair of RTW shorts that I wear for walks, hikes, bike rides, rowing machine. Having this one pair of shorts allowed me to avoid making shorts because I do not feel all that comfortable in them.

Truly Terrible RTW shorts
After chaperoning 11 teens in Belize for a week, I have decided to come clean and admit that I wear shorts. There are simply times when shorts make sense. And these old RTWs are quite terrible.
So I made a pair of shorts.

I chose Fit For Art Eureka! pants as the starting point. These are narrow cut pants and so cannot be simply cut off. I think I tried that once and, of course, the results were not good.

Luckily I remembered that Carrie of Fit For Art had done a post on pants-to-shorts once upon a time. I was a little confused about part of it and posted a reply to her blog post. She not only replied on her blog but sent me an email message to make sure I was clear. Thanks so much, Carrie!

The fabric I chose is a linen-rayon blend purchased from the Sewing Workshop. I made a pair of culottes out this fabric and I love the feel and drape of it.

For mine, I first measured the outer seam of the awful RTW shorts, as these were the only reference point I had. I knew I wanted my new shorts to be longer so I added 7 inches to the RTW shorts outer seam.

Then I measured the outer seam of the front piece and the back piece, and folded the leg up so that my new shorts would be long enough, adding some for SA and hem. You can see in the picture the chalk lines I drew for the shorts. Evidently I'm not committed enough to making shorts that I think I need to create new tissue for them!

Based on Carrie's post and additional notes, I knew I needed to reshape the outer seam. Starting at the widest hip point, I dropped a vertical line to my proposed hem line. This added 1.25" to the width at the bottom. I added 1.25" to width at the inseam too, curving it back into the original curve near the crotch. I made the same changes to both the front and back pieces.

So that these would be a bit tailored, I added a fly to the center front of my shorts. Sandra Betzina's book is my go-to on this technique.

Then I decided to get fancy. I thought that perhaps a contour waistband would be quite comfortable, and, really, shouldn't the zipper extend into it? I could not quite conjure it in my imagination but felt confident it would all work out.

First zipper insertion, extending zipper into the contour waistband.
Creating the contour waistband was pretty easy. I created one that finishes at less than 2" in depth.

Extending the zipper into the waistband worked great on the narrow side of the fly front.
I watched several YouTube videos looking for a guide to installing the fly front zipper and extending the zip into the waistband. Nothing. There were several on adding a fly front, and there were several on extending the zipper into a waistband, but none on the combination of the two.

With unreasonable optimism I pushed ahead anyway. First I constructed the front darts. Then I added the front waistbands to each front. Then I installed the fly front zipper. All was swell.

But when I added the waistband facings, I realized that the facing would cover the top of the zipper due to the overlap created on a fly extension. To be honest, I did not realize it right away. I fiddled quite a lot. And let it rest overnight.

Nothing worked so I ripped out the portion of the zipper extending into the waistband. But that made the zipper too short. After an hour or so of picking black thread from black fabric, I was ready to install another zipper.

Second zipper insertion.
Sandra Betzina offers helpful advice on using a too-long zipper in this fly application. The stop goes at the bottom and the excess is cut off after it has been caught in the waistband. This creates a fairly flat transition.

Words were said, but in the end, I'm glad I ripped the first zipper out. I would've been unhappy with a too short zipper.

before the buttonhole fiasco
After that, things proceeded smoothly until I got ready to install a buttonhole in the contour waistband. My Bermina makes gorgeous automatic buttonholes. That's why I bought it. But it is finicky if there is any bump. That tiny zipper extension was just enough to cause it to get stuck.

So more words, more picking black thread out of black fabric.

Next I used the manual buttonhole - which is also darned good - and it worked just great!

I'm quite pleased with these shorts and will wear them proudly when the occasion calls for it.

easy machine hem
I should be careful when I say never. I used to say I'd never go on a zip line. And then I did.

But never again.

I'm serious this time.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

A Few Finishes

I've been away from my work bench quite a lot lately. When that happens, I like to tidy things up and this means finishing UFOs. There is something about finishing and liking the result that gives me inspiration for my next project.

In one case, I'm running in circles. I made this black linen Urban Tunic as a dress a couple of years ago. First I wore it as a jumper in order to avoid bare arms. Adding that white tee shirt seemed to help.

The following year I thought that adding sleeves would magically convert it into my favorite LBD.

Nope. When I wore it, I felt like a big black blob. So I removed said sleeves and I'm back to where I started. It's hot here so maybe my vanity over my floppy arms will lose out to the practicality of a sleeveless dress.

Or maybe I need to pull out that white tee shirt again. Or cut it off and make it a tunic. Or...

Go figure.
My second finish is a TnT pattern made up in textured cotton shirting in black. It's my much-altered version of the MixIt Top from the Sewing Workshop. I've made so many changes to it that I feel like it's almost my design!

It has a shaped facing that is stitched in place, creating a little neckline styling. This means it slips over my head.

I always enjoy pulling out remnants from other projects and incorporating them into new projects. In this case, I used a remnant of fabulous Japanese cotton. I do not get how it is woven but it has a different design on each side. And it is not printed. I don't get it but I love it.

One side of the Japanese piece reads striped, the other reads as little groups of hash-marks (cut on the bias here)

I used the bias version to finish the lower hem. I finished the sleeves with simple cuffs. I kind of like it with my green linen Fit for Art Eureka pants.

My favorite finish is this 17x22 inch art quilt. It makes me inordinately happy.

I started it in a class with Cindy Grisdela. I've long admired her work and was so happy to take classes from her. We brought our own fabrics and created improv designs informed by her aesthetic.

Cindy uses quilt cottons but my fabrics are from my stash - so silk, linen, and cotton. Some of them are cross-dyed. The colors change depending upon the light.

I finished the edges with a facing. It's frame-less and (I hope) more art than quilt. I cut a piece of burnt orange radiance (silk and cotton sateen) to the exact size of my squared-up quilt. Then I sewed them right sides together. I made a slit in the back, trimmed the corners and turned it right side out. Then I free-form cut the edges of the facing for a fun design in the back. The edges were turned under and stitched like hand applique.

I also took a free motion quilting class from Cindy. I love her beautiful machine quilting. But after I finished the piecing on mine, I felt a powerful need to hand quilt it. I used a 2-ply, 12 weight cotton thread from Aurofil. Now I see why people rave about Aurofil. Even after many hours of stitching, I was sad to finish. I have some travel coming up quickly. I think I need another project with hand-quilting, really, sashiko.