Sunday, September 4, 2016

Making It Work

 What I love about sewing is that I can make myself new, every-day clothes that work for my body shape, my lifestyle and my ever-changing tastes.  And then, I can also make weird, one of a kind, arty garments that I'll probably only wear once or twice but enjoy the creative part of making them.

Today's post illustrates both of those types of projects.

I was really taken with a friend's version of Marcy Tilton's v9171 pattern.  And since I had it in my stash, and had a nice 3 yard length of her Taupe Bon Mots Stretch Cotton on hand, I set to work.

I cut out a large, should have cut a medium; this pattern is roomy.  But, after finishing the whole thing, I ripped out the center front seam, took two inches out of it, and it looked lots better.

But, I still didn't love that huge expanse of grey across my chest, I'm wide up there and thinner from there down!  I needed another component.  I've always wanted to make Diane Ericson's Fault Lines vest and it seemed like the perfect way to break up the bodice and overall shape of the bell-like tunic.

I'm really happy with the way this turned out and I'll wear them together often.  I'm also going to buy a medium in the tunic pattern because I want to make it again.  It's fun to make and so wearable.

One of the great things about the vest pattern is that it takes so little fabric.  I used remnants for the both the lining and the outside.  The horizontal stripes are from a knit cut so it rolls and a little piece of a stretch woven. I had to put them on because, after I got the whole thing sewn, I realized there were two blemishes on the front that I needed to cover up.  But it worked and added interest.

I like the vest pattern because you can tailor it to your size very easily since the side and back seams are overlapped after everything is finished.  That method also lends itself to hand stitching.  Next time I make this (and I will) I might cut the shoulders a bit narrower.  Although I'll wear it a few times before I make that decision.

I did a lot of hand stitching on this piece. 

Before deciding to make the vest I auditioned a couple of scarves to break up the front.  I liked the idea but it was a good excuse to finally make the vest.

Another scarf idea.  I like them both, will probably wear it this way, too.  This one gets some color into the mix which is good.

And speaking of color...
I started this vest a year and a half ago in a Holly Badgley class.  The fabrics are a canvas and a muslin I dyed turquoise, some of my hand painted canvas that I washed in the washing machine to soften, chartreuse cashmere pieces and orange kantha cloth scraps.

This hung in the UFO files while I tried to see if I even wanted to finish it.  It's pretty wild and I don't think I'll wear it more than once, if that.  But I finally decided to see it through just for the art sake of it.

I did get a lot out of making this vest though.  The biggest lesson is not to add a lot of accent pieces since the overall fabric is so wild.  I had lots of scraps laid out to audition and finally chose not to use any of them.  Just the orange and chartreuse that I already had on the piece worked fine.

The kantha scraps add a lot of texture and immediate this garment needed that!

I made a barbed wire silk screen in a class a couple of years ago and used a scrap of that on the lower back.

It has one pocket I hid in the patchwork.  This is one crazy garment.  I might wear it, I might sell it.  The jury is out.  I looked at it for so long I feel like I'm kinda over it by now!

And finally, here is a little gizmo a friend bought me at Eddie's Quilting Bee in Sunnyvale, CA.  I've used it about a hundred times since I got it.   This is a miracle of a little thing.  It's magnetic so it gloms onto your needle plate wherever you need it, making a perfect guide for the fabric.  Since I can't sew a straight line to save my soul this thing was MADE for me! Thanks, Lisa!!
Happy Labor Day Weekend everyone.  I'm headed to the bunkhouse to sew.


Sunday, August 21, 2016

Hold onto your divine blush, your innate rosy magic, or end up brown.  Once you're brown, you'll find out you're blue.  As blue as indigo.  And you know what that means.  
Indigo, indigoing, indigone.

Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume, 1984
One of my favorite books.

I've had indigo on my mind the last few months.  I took one class here in Santa Cruz last spring and saw a wonderful exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum called Mood Indigo.  The vest above is from this show.  It's well worth a trip and is showing until early October.  I also took an eco-dyeing class at MAIWA in the spring that had an indigo bath.

I'll be taking an eco-printing class in a few weeks that will have an indigo component that I didn't know about.  I'm happy about that.  I have some previously eco-printed cashmeres that can use a little brightening and indigo might just do the trick.  More on that class later in September.

So I've been getting the indigo bug slowly and without really going after's coming after me I think!

 I purchases 3 yards of this gorgeous fabric from Marcia Derse at the Puyallup Expo last year.  I'm continuing to incorporate color into my piece at a time.

Marcia was in her booth and what a lovely, fun and talented artist.  We had so much fun in her booth. We were there twice and spent a LONG time with her.  She designs all of her own fabrics and has them printed.  I couldn't decide which one I wanted, I wanted them ALL!  And the cotton is such a fine quality.  I didn't realize how lovely till I started sewing with it, and then wore it.  I want more!

This pattern is from the Bookends line and is called Cat's Cradle in "fig".  I wore it yesterday and everyone said, "Gayle, you have to wear this color more often."...ok.

This is a Vogue Lynn Mizono pattern that, thankfully, is still in print.  I've made it twice before and have just re-ordered it to cut a bit larger.  I love this pattern.  

The print worked out well for this pattern.  I think I've finally drilled into my brain the benefits of getting enough fabric so that I don't have to sweat whether I'll have enough or not.

I've been making these collars for several years now.  I used to sell them at a wonderful little shop in Carmel, Findings.  Do any of you remember it?  I mourn it's passing.

I make these by starting with a double thickness raw silk background. Then I drape fabrics around the base and stitch them on.   I have so many vintage scarves and bits of fabric I used in the re-made cashmeres I used to sell.  Now that I don't do those anymore I'm fishing around for ways to use these beautiful textiles, I'm not ready to give them up.

The little "puffs" are pieces of fabric, kimono fabric, cashmere, anything that works.  I stuffed them and then used Pearl cotton for the wraps.  

The little pinwheels are Dorset buttons made from curtain rings and various yarns.  I've given my pattern at the bottom of this post.  I taught it to my knitting guild many years ago.  I'm sorry I wasn't able to get my photo to copy here but if you look up Dorset buttons you will see many.  I didn't want to copy someone else's photo without their permission.

I was happy to finally finish the piece.  It's been in my UFO pile for about two years.

I'll wear this one, I think.  They are really comfortable.

The closure is offset, or I can wear it so that the button is center back and the front is offset.

Here's the pattern for the buttons, try them, they are so fun and easy to make.

                                               DORSET CROSSWHEEL BUTTON

These buttons are fun and easy to make. They are particularly cute for children’s
garments. They can be made any size depending on the size ring used. 

Materials needed:
Plastic or brass curtain rings to fit buttonhole
Darning needle
Strands of yarn in 3 colors (A, B and C)


1)    Tie a strand of A on the ring.  Thread the needle with the strand.
2)    With the yarn positioned away from you on the ring, bring the needle up through the hole and then down and away from you between the loop of yarn on the outside of the ring.  Pull tight to form a buttonhole stitch.
3)    Continue around the ring, pushing the stitches tightly together as you go.  When all the way around the ring secure the first and last stitch. If this is the color of the body of the sweater, leave the tail long to sew button on.
4)    Push the stitches to the inside of the ring
5)    Join a strand of yarn B to the ring and make 8 spokes that have a front and back, evenly around ring, interlocking each spoke in the center.
6)    Make cross stitches in the center of the button that holds all the stitches together and makes a nice center.  Weave in loose ends.
7)    Join a strand of C at the back center and bring it through to the front.  Backstitch in a clockwise fashion, back over one spoke, then pass the needle under the next spoke, backstitch over that and so on to produce a spider’s web pattern.  Repeat as many times as necessary to produce a full center of the button. Weave in loose ends but leave a shank to attach the button to your garment or project.

And finally, a couple of photos from a fun visit I made with my pal, Julie, to the Gilroy Gardens to see their Illuminations show that is there till November, I think.

Enjoy the end of summer!