It's about exploring and sharing my creative adventures (mostly sewing these days) ~
~those activities that sometimes obsess, usually inspire, occasionally frustrate
~and always provide a delightful maze to wander through.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Wool Gauze, Silk Screening, and a Really Long Vest.

One of the reasons I sew is for the ability to create one-of-a-kind, "it's so ME" garments.   My own sense of "this is ME" style has evolved since I started sewing (and is still evolving!)...but that's really another post.   If you've followed my blog for any length of time, you know that one of the ways I make a garment uniquely me is by adding little (and sometimes not so little) embellishments, including silk screening.

I love love LOVE Marcy Tilton's silk screens, and I'm slowly adding to my collection of her wonderfilled, creative pieces.
Marcy Tilton's "Chi" - one of my faves!

My process in embellishing a garment often goes something like this:

1.  Choose pattern & fabric & make garment (this is really 12 or 17 or 39 steps, not including all of the actually sewing steps, but we're only talking embellishment here...)
2.  Realize that it needs a little something extra.
3.  Think about options and play with them (buttons?  Fabric pieces?  Painting?  Silk Screen?  Hardware?  Something totally off the wall?)

Unless a garment is a super simple, straightforward, no changes other than fit piece, (like, say, a simple pair of knit pants) I have an utter INability to visualize the finished piece before I start.   I do admire people who can do that, but it ain't me!   It's the same with decorating my home, getting dressed to go out, even planning my day.   I just don't have the gene that allows me to be that organized with my planning, and I've accepted the fact that I'm just a go-with-the-flow kinda gal.   I am, however, very punctual, and if I make a promise to do something or be somewhere, I'll do it and be there!    I just don't make promises I can't keep ;-)

But - let's get back to the juicy stuff -  the garment!   Sandra Betzina's vest, Vogue 1375.

I saw Sandra's vest in person when she presented at PR Weekend San Francisco, and fell thoroughly in love with the fabric she used - a wool gauze from Stonemountain and Daughter.   I loved the fabric so much that I hightailed it to Stonemountain first thing the following morning (ensuring that I would beat any other PR fabricaholics) and bought ALL they had - which wasn't really that much, really it wasn't....   To my credit, I did share the yardage with 2 other friends - 'cause in the end, that's how I roll ;-)

I also liked the striped edging Sandra used, and I happened to have something similar in my stash (Oh, how I love shopping my stash!!!)  What I did NOT like about her version was the shoulder edging.  I call it  the "gladiator look", and even with my narrow shoulders, it's just not for me.   True to form (see paragraph above), I made up everything else before deciding on how I was going to deal with the armscye edging.

I made Version A in a size B.   Note the pleating and the asymmetric hemline on A - Version B is a simpler design.

Here's my finished pleating:

Both of my fabrics were VERY fray-prone!   Adding stabilizer at the armscye was crucial in this fabric, and probably a good idea no matter what fabric you use.

Once everything else was constructed, I decided to use the selvedge of the edging fabric for the armhole edging:

After that, it was time to play with the silk screening!   I had already made some test prints on my fabric (which is what I usually do)   I placed the test pieces on various spots of the garment until I had the placement I wanted, and then plunged in and printed directly on the finished piece.   Some people think this is bold and a little crazy, and I have indeed made some "mistakes", but as with anything in sewing, my attitude is that almost ANYthing can be turned into a creative opportunity, and I just pretend that I meant to do that (I learned that trick from my cats...if you've lived with cats, you know exactly what I mean!)

The finished piece is fun, and I'm definitely finding places to wear it!

You can see how sheer the wool gauze is here:

I used Marcy's "Riffle" silk screen on the front:

Oh!   I almost forgot to mention!   Sandra B was at the recent Britex event where some of our favorite bloggers presented some short but fabulous talks!  I was wearing this vest, and Sandra zipped up to me during a break to see if it was her pattern or "a really good copy".   She's always a hoot, and one of our local treasures :).   I was delighted that she got to see my version!

I know I've asked this before, but I'm always curious to hear what folks have to say... what is your process in getting to the final version of a garment?   Are you able to see the finished piece in your mind before you start?   Or do you stumble merrily along and let it evolve as you play with the garment?   Or maybe some other approach?

Happy Creating!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Linen! I Love Me Some Linen!

Pre-Post Paragraph -  A big, yummy, heart-felt THANK YOU to everyone for the warm welcomes in my previous post - y'all loaded me up with lovingness to spare.  :)  Your comments really warmed up the cockles of my heart!    What a great reminder of why I appreciate this whole community of delightful sewistas so much! 

And now, on to my most recent make!   (In my effort to catch up on all of the belated blog posts, I decided to start from the most recent and work backwards.   My brain just wraps around that concept better than starting from way back when - somehow this seems less overwhelming, and makes sense to me...)

Linen...the super soft, yummy-like-butter, tightly woven (and usually pricey!) sort of linen is one of my favorite fabrics, both to wear and to work with (yes, wrinkles and all!).   I also happen to love lilies, so when a pattern calls itself the "Tesutti Lily Linen Dress",  how could I possibly resist???

The description is apt:  "very figure flattering, comfortable and cool to wear and can be dressed up or down"  It's a simple shift, but the shoulder shaping,  curve along the sides, unique twist and angle of the pockets, and the pleating along the bottom hem all take it that step above and make it special.

Although the pattern describes itself for intermediate or advanced sewers, it's really a pretty quick and easy make.  The pockets have some tricky bits, but there is a tips section on the Tesutti blog that walks you through the process very nicely.  

The fabric was a gift from one of my sewing group fabric swatch/show & tell gatherings.    (And allow me to take a moment to give major thanks that I live in an area that allows me to be part of several amazingly awesome sewing groups!   SO grateful for that!)  I cut a Small, straight off the pattern (no muslin, no adjustments - that was brave & trusting for me, especially since my fabric was irreplaceable!)  I was, however, just a little short on fabric, and in spite of shortening the skirt by 2", and the sleeves by another 2", this happened (in two spots, since I cut the fabric on the fold):

I debated as to shortening it by another inch or repairing it, and decided to go with the repair.
Not too noticeable :)

 It's sooooo comfy to wear!
Yeah, wrinkles and all.   I had been wearing it all day when this pic was taken.

The only fit issue I had was in the armscye.   I didn't even realize until I had the sleeves set in that the cap sits over the shoulder, with the seam being much closer to the neck than most patterns - the dress is actually designed this way.    
I just had a brain fart when I tried it on for fit before setting the sleeves in. 
That happens.  (You've had it happen too, right?   Say "Yes.")
I do like the look of the sleeve caps, but need to make some adjustments in the front of the armscye for a really comfy fit.   
The cut is perfect as is for me for a sleeveless dress, and the pattern does lend itself well to a sleeveless option.

Here is the pleating at the hemline - four sections of gathers.  Subtle, but JUST the right amount to make a nice line.

 Showing the unusual twist in the pocket detailing:

The fabric, and the design, allow for a bit of lovely movement:

I'm really liking this pattern!   Linen is the perfect fabric for it, but a nice cotton with just the right combo of drape and crispness, or a cotton-linen blend, would also be fabulous.   It's very well-drafted, and the instructions are detailed and easy to follow.   You can download it ($10) or get a paper version ($25) - mine is from the download so I don't know what the pattern paper is like.

Bottom Line:   Thumbs way up!


Monday, July 14, 2014

A Partially Personal Post (and a welcome back to me!)

Oh my gosh where DOES one begin after over half a year's (!) absence from the blogosphere?
Ummm......I'm back?!?

It seems that Living Life got in the way of blogging about the Sewing Life, which has been rather minimal anyway.   The bottom line is that life has mostly been about healing lately.  Some mystery health "stuff" left me exhausted during the first few months of the year.  Having been "uninsurable"my entire adult life due to a pre-existing "condition", coupled with some rather negative experiences with AMA type medicine in my early 20's,  I really haven't been used to  seeing western doctors for anything that couldn't be taken care by "alternative" methods, diet, and self-care.

It finally became evident that whatever was going on was going to take more than that.    To the rescue....Obamacare!  Politics aside, I ended up being one of those people who has benefitted BIG time from the new insurance laws!  Thank you O for (quite literally) saving my life (along with my tangible assets)  Forever grateful...  And I am on the path to healing :)

I've also lost some weight (I hope those pounds were found in a new home where they're appreciated), so I have a bit of clothes altering to catch up on, along with the need  (and we do all know that yes, of COURSE it's a NEED!) to sew new clothes!

I am grateful
I am blessed
I am joyful
I have so many blog posts to catch up on!    I have been sewing a bit, so here's a tiny taste of what's upcoming  (and yes, I do promise that catch-up posts really will be happening!):

Here's to  being surrounded by an abundance of healing angels, good health insurance, and the energy to SEW!  

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

11 Months of 2013

I hadn't intended a yearly wrap-up this year, but I've really been enjoying reading the wrap-ups around blogland, and when I saw Caroline's version of a fave from each month, it spoke to me, so here are my monthly faves for 2013:

(and, of course, The Pose!)
Lynn Mizono - Vogue 1312

Note:  The Jilly Jeans are on the left, and look MUCH better now,
after a few months of wearing & shrinking and staining know,
the stuff that jeans are supposed to do.  :)
Style Arc Jilly Jeans

A labor of (LOTS of) love :)

Marcy Tilton Vogue 8088

(My first of 2, and I have to say I like the second version equally as well)
Katherine Tilton - Butterick 5881

Plus I happen to love this top ;-)

(Honestly, I wasn't crazy about this one at first, but it's ended up getting
a LOT of wearing rotation!)
Katherine Tilton Vogue 8817

Sandra Betzina Vogue 1356

Vogue 8962

Koos Van den Akker Vogue 2971
Clearly there's a lot of Tilton love this past year, with nearly all of my fave patterns coming out of Vogue, with a couple of self-drafted and a Style Arc tossed in.

Here's to a 2014 filled with an abundance of blessings for us all.   I take a moment to thank each and every one of my blogland friends - posters and readers and commenters and sewists - you mean so much to me, and I really appreciate your presence in my life :)

Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Gypsy Skirt! (Koos Vogue 2971)

Over a month since my last post, yikes!   I admit it, I really haven't been sewing much, until I got caught up in some holiday makes (which I was going to write about, but I still haven't seen some of the recipients so I can't post the pics yet...)

But that's OK, because I'm back in the sewing room, and I finished a selfish sewing project, which I LOVE!!!!

It's the now Out Of Print Koos Ven den Akker skirt and top pattern, Vogue 2971

I do love me some Koos - probably my all time favorite (and most worn!) make is my Koos Jacket, blogged here

His crazy fabric mixes and unusual shapes may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I think the man's a genius in the way he manages to put together mind-bogglingly unusual shapes and make it all work!

The shapes in this skirt definitely fall into the category of non-intuitive mind-benders.   I did some head-scratching several times during the make, trying to figure out how it all went together, but it was a fun exercise from beginning to end, starting with choosing the fabrics to mix.

While playing at Fabrix with ReAnn during her recent visit, I found this unusual fabric, and thought it would be a perfect base for this skirt.   I had no idea how much fabric the pattern called for, so I only got a yard (thankfully, the Fabrix cutter gave me a VERY generous yard - almost 1-1/2 yards, in fact....and I NEEDED it!)   The pattern actually calls for 2-5/8 yards for the main body of the skirt, but with a bit of creative piecing, and cutting a couple of the pieces from a different fabric, I made it work.  (:::whew:::!)

Sizing:  The body measurements/sizing that Vogue calls for are ridiculous.  Although my waist measurement of 30" calls for a size 16, I measured the waistband for a size 8 at 35" (not accounting for elastic 'shrinkage'), which seemed safe, given the fact that there is a zipper at center back and elastic in the rest of the waistband.  Also, the yoke flares out a LOT right below the waistband.  In the end, I could have gone down to a size 6 (the smallest size), and STILL would not have needed the zipper!   I did install the zip, but the skirt slips over my hips without even needing to use it.

Length:  Measuring the pattern pieces for length had the skirt brushing the floor with my short legs (surprise!), so I shortened it by 4".  How lucky was I to discover that Sharon had already figured out the calculations for a 4" shortening, which she detailed on her blog post here.  Now, let's be real here....her detail-oriented brain figured out that the back section needed to be shortened by 3-7/8" in order to match up precisely with the front.   In my world, that's "about 4 inches".   That's why she's a tech writer and I am not.  ;-)

And while we're on the subject of (im)precision, I won't bore you with some of the ridiculous mistakes I made in the layout and cutting!  As I mentioned, I did some piecing on the back and lower front piece.   This involved adding a center back seam.   However, instead of sewing that seam up the center back, I sewed it along a side seam.   Did I mention that these pattern pieces are NOT intuitively put together?

One more admission:  (This admission might actually help someone who is as foggy-brained as I was when I was cutting) - the applique piece is supposed to be cut on the bias.   You know, the piece that has all those raw edges that would fray to smithereens if it was NOT cut on the bias?  See that grain line mark in the center of the applique pattern piece?   I didn't.   And I even sewed it on, including a couple of the applique lines in the center of the piece, before I realized my mistake.  Rip-rip, re-cut, re-sew, no problem   ::::rolleyes:::: I'm REALLY happy that I took the time to unsew it and cut a new piece, because the rayon I used for it happens to be quite fray-prone!

You can see where I shortened the applique piece in the above shot; I shortened the front skirt piece in the lower part of the pattern, as shown below:   NOTE:  Try to preserve ALL of the dots and notches, because they are IMPORTANT when you're putting everything together!   Marks that last, like tailor tacks, are highly recommended!

The back & lower front piece is trickier to figure out (this is where Sharon's calculations were very helpful).   This is shortened along the longest line of the pattern piece, as shown below.   (NOTE:  If, like me, you have a shorter length of fabric and are going to piece together this section, the CB seam is along the SHORTER edge at the top of the picture.   I'm sure you wouldn't do what I did, and piece it along the longer edge  :::sigh:::).   Yes, this skirt piece is VERY long!    But it all makes sense in the end.

Once I finally got all the pieces cut, the FUN began!   And really, this skirt Is. That. Much. Fun!  to make :).

Once you've sewn the front yoke to the front skirt, you add the applique piece, then sew it down with a dozen plus lines of stitching.  I marked them with my much-used and appreciated Clover Chaco marking "pen", because the marks brush off very easily.

After sewing the pocket on to the side pieces, you attach the side pieces to the back/lower front section. This is where all of your markings are REALLY important in matching the pieces up!   I went a bit nuts trying to decipher this, thinking I had surely made a mistake somewhere along the line!   As soon as I had it all placed correctly, of course it made perfect sense and my markings lined up exactly.

Maybe this will help someone who could get as easily befuddled as I did - the edge that has the pocket sewn on lines up with the shortest edge of the back skirt piece.  I kept trying to match my seams on the wrong edges, and the markings would almost line up.    Almost.   Again, maybe it was just me, but this skirt is SO not intuitive!!!
(NOTE:  Both the pocket and the side pieces would use the same fabric as the skirt back if you followed the pattern layout - above you can see that I used the black batik fabric for the sides, and the butterfly applique fabric for the pocket.   Otherwise all of this section would be the circles-and-stripes fabric)

Done at last and ready to wear!!!    The curvy bits snaking down the front were made using some of the fabric I used during the Tilton Sisters Craftsy class, so it was the perfect pairing with this skirt.   The weather needs to warm up a bit before I'll get to wear it as much as I'd like to.

The Sassy Look:

And the Sweet Look:

Back View:

Showing off the unusual shaping:

Close-up of the applique piece, sliced between the stitching lines:

The side rectangle (which would use the circle-stripe fabric
if you followed the pattern):

A twirling shot to close with:

Have I mentioned how much I LOVE this skirt?   So much, in fact, that I've already started cutting out a version using some more winter/fall weight fabrics.   Now that I have the head-scratchers figured out, it should just be fun from start to finish.

Oh, and it's GREAT to be back in the sewing room, and active in blog-world again :)