Thursday, April 30, 2020

Seeking Color

Lately I've been hungry for bright color. Maybe you've experienced that too. Staying at home means I see fewer colors in my daily activities even though my neighborhood is beautiful right now. This piece of nice cotton designed by Sarah Campbell for Michael Miller fabrics is just right for adding a lot of color to my environment.

My first make in response to this need is this variation on the MixIt top. If you read this blog often, you may know that this is a TnT pattern for me. I like the fit and the various options for a simple summer top. This is the first one I made years ago. It is still the top I reach for most during warm weather. It has faded to a dark pink.

This time I used my modified neckline with a shaped facing. This allows me to keep the simple collarless neckline with a vent in center front for ease of wear. I used this wonderful, always useful black and white striped light weight linen from the Sewing Workshop.

I really like the hem on the Cottage shirt. It is 6 inches deep and gives the top nice drape. So I adapted the hem of the MixIt top to also have a deep hem. Like the modification to the neckline, this hem treatment is not really noticeable.

And did I mention how much I like this black and white striped linen for accents? It may make an appearance in lots of future garments. Not only did I use it for the neck facing and the hem, I also used it to finish the edges of the short sleeves.

And that's it. Such a simple, satisfying make.

I might wear it with these Hudson pants that I just finished in the black and white striped linen. Or I might not. I like the pants but I think I bought the fabric with the idea that all remnants would be fun to use.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Now is the Time

Now is the time for all good women to come to the aid of their country. Remember that? Typing 101, late 60's, I think.

I must admit that I resisted making the masks. I tried hard to duck. But then I jumped in.

When I hit 100!
Like you, I'm guessing, I tried a number of different patterns. My first, and frankly my favorite, is the domed version that is intended to extend the life of a real N95 mask by covering it. Then the DIY part can be washed and reused.

I like the overall shape. But they are quite fiddly to make. So when I really geared up production, I had to streamline things.

I also came to appreciate the ease of use that the ear loops provide. Of course, like everyone else, I ran out of elastic a long time ago.

I have a box full of 2.5" strips that were donated for my sewing camp. By cutting them down to 2", I was able to make some fairly nice ties.

I also had/have several cotton knit remnants in stash, and those seem to make ear loops that are very comfy and useful.

I cut 1.5"  strips cross grain and then gave them a good yank to make them curl. Then I cut 7" pieces to insert in the ends of the rectangular pleated version.

In my most streamlined process. I did the following, in large batches.

1. Cut 2 pieces of cotton each 6"x9".
2. Sew the long sides right sides together.
3. Press seams open over my clapper and then turn right side out. Press flat.

And here are some happy mask models:

And now I'm done. Unless someone else asks for one. Then I'll make more.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Zigzag or Detour?

I made the Zigzag pattern - both pieces - back in 2008. I made them in coordinating linen fabrics, one solid for the jeans, and the other a lighter weight cross-dyed linen. In January of this year, the Detour jacket was issued as part of the 2020 Sew Confident series from Sewing Workshop. All of this was before Covid-19, of course.

In my mind's eye, my original attempt was lovely. Unfortunately the pants were a bit snug and then I gained weight (!). The shirt was too voluminous for the light-weight linen I selected and the wrinkles were just too much. Both pieces are long absent from my closet.
The Zigzag was and is a lovely style and silhouette. The slim jeans are a perfect pairing with the large topper. As you can see above, the jeans have interesting lines and there are zips down the lower back. It was a very cool design. I'm sorry I did not pursue the pattern further in 2008. So much potential there.

The top has a unique collar/yoke that is fun to make. Here is how it looks before attaching the back.

And here is how it looks when folded into position. The back is still missing here:

And the hem swings a bit lower in the back. There is also an inverted pleat in the back. I got distracted and constructed my pleat backwards, but it looks fine, I think, and I don't want to tear into the silk to fix it.

Although this is exactly the same pattern (I had to print the Detour jacket and piece it all together and then place the original on top to believe it), I had one of those duh moments. Well, yes, it makes a cool swing jacket. I simply chose the wrong fabric for version 1.

You know, I think sometimes that the main reason I love, love, love the Sewing Workshop stuff is the way they style things. Yes, I like most of the patterns, but it's the styling that maintains my interest.

I was a tiny bit miffed at the effort I engaged to download and use this pattern, given its existence in my stash. I mean, of course, I recognized it, but I thought that they had made some changes to it. But, no, it is identical.

And yet, I had great fun making it again. And I really like the result.

The fabric is a piece gifted by a non-sewing friend. She bought it sometime in the way past and cannot remember anything about it. It seems to be silk, based on a couple of burn tests. It may be drapery weight, as it is crisp and the crisp does not wash out. It has a lovely tone-on-tone raised stripe. It does not wrinkle and is very light to wear. The color is not part of my usual color range, but I kind of like it. A lot.

I am sad to report that I screwed up the top button (isn't that always the one to screw up?!?) but it still looks darned good, I think.

At the moment there is a snap there with an unusual button sewn to the outside. Now I don't like snaps much, but this is a pretty good fix for now.

The one and only time I've worn it is in the above picture from Sew Kansas with Sarah Campbell and Linda Lee. It was such great fun and I'm happy that it happened before the world shut down around us.

I feel lucky to be able to sew almost every day. I've made a gazillion masks and will blog about that soon. But I've also made a few other satisfying little bits and pieces.

They like it when I assemble downloadable patterns.
Here is my latest attempt to discourage our new kitties from destroying the furniture.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Good Friday

Each year, for the last few years, I've approached Easter with thoughts of one station of the cross. This year, though different due to the world-wide covid-19 pandemic, I return to the rhythm of my Lenten preparation. For me, and other artists in my church, St Patrick's Episcopal Church, this is a time of meditating, visualizing, and actualizing a depiction of one station of the cross.

As you may know, stations of the cross are a tradition in many Christian churches. I think the goal of the tradition is to remember Christ in his darkest period, a time when he knew what was next, and his closest friends could not fathom the days to come. There are several versions of the Stations with differing numbers of stations. This year, ours has 14 stations.

I chose Station 11, the repentant thief. It is based on this passage from Luke 23:

42. Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."
43. Jesus answered him, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise."

My journey began with a trip to the High Museum. One of the art leaders at St Pat's took a group of us there and taught me (us?) a new way to visit a museum. She explained that the viewer of art completes the art, and so we are all participants, and without us, no piece of art is complete. She also encouraged us to sit with a piece for a while and be still.

The piece that spoke loudest to me was Stefan Bondell's "Pyramid."

Dark, isn't it? It's huge and sits in a room with an audio installation that sounds like a Gregorian chant. Commanding. Not pretty. Not pretty at all.

It's a trinity, of sorts, and references the 3 Abrahamic religions - Islam on the lower left, Judaism on the lower right, and wait, what's that at the top? The closer I looked, the less I wanted to look, but I also felt drawn in, inexplicably.

The top of this pyramid is based on a well-known depiction of our (USA) atrocities committed in Abu Gharib in 2003. So, no, this is not a pretty picture. The image stayed with me and I began to imagine the three on the cross, only not crosses. Instead I imagined them posed on boxes, dressed in rags, heads covered (it would have been harder to ignore their humanity without covering their faces), and wires extending from parts of their bodies.

I thought, yes, this will become my station.

But I could not do it. I mean, I could sketch, I could add a little paint, but then nothing. When covid-19 reared its head, I gave up and listened to my need for nurture and beauty.

In the past, I've sketched and painted but then transformed the idea into cloth. This year, I decided to paint my station. It was a leap. I have never worked so large and it was a learning activity for sure.

my husband's right hand
I like drawing hands; I took my time playing with hand images.

And I was enjoying the now-flowering Dogwood near my deck.

This is a small (8x11)  mock-up that I later ruined in order to learn some techniques.
Many times, I was ready to wad it up and go back to cloth, something I know well. I could not start another painting, as I had the one piece of watercolor paper this size. So I continued. There are some aspects of it that are not pleasing to me, but not enough to trash it. More than that, I'm satisfied with it. It suits my need for beauty at this dark time in the history of our planet.

I was introduced to Dogwood trees when I moved to Atlanta in 1989. They are beautiful and usually arrive at the beginning of spring, foreshadowing of the riot of color on its way. And, as it happens, there is a Christian tradition associated with the Dogwood tree, with its strong, lean branches and delicate flowers. According to the legend, the cross of Christ was constructed from Dogwood.

And the story in Luke is full of beauty and hope. Hope for new beginnings, even while observing the darkest day in the Christian calendar.

With all the restrictions, of course, we cannot hang our stations in the church this year. I am so pleased that our director of communications put together a web site containing each piece with the accompanying narrative. It's not as powerful as the starving artists' dinner we usually have where we share our artistic journeys, but it is a nice way to document the stations for 2020. If you are interested, you may see them here:

Also, if you would like to see our stations from 2019, and if you are interested in a meditation on Good Friday, I encourage you to watch this video narrated by the youth of my church. They put it together for today, and used images from last year's stations:

I hope you are well. I am dreaming of new beginnings.