Sunday, June 10, 2018

A Sewing Vacation~A Class and Some Clean up

Sometimes I like nothing better than to straighten things up.  Clean out a drawer or two, organize a stack of fabrics, it's probably just a chance to visit with my favorite things.

One such opportunity came after a recent trip to Oregon for a sewing retreat with a group of terrific women.  Each year, on the way to the retreat we stop at an annual garage sale.  The woman who holds it collects the best stuff all year and we are the happy viewers of vintage furniture, kitchen wares and often there are sewing related things. 
This year there were several vintage black singers with the intricate gold and colored paintings on them.  They were never going to be used again but would make great lamps or garden art.  Alas, I was flying home so couldn't get one...they were only $15!!!  Sigh....
I did find a baggie of old wooden thread spools though.  It had two aqua/turquoise colored ones in it, and I save that color in a big glass jar.  So I felt justified getting the whole bag for $5.
When I went to incorporate the rest of them into ones I already had (left from my grandmother, mother and me) I found my collection beginning to really take shape.  Now, I'm wondering what to do with them.  Any suggestions?  

One of my sewing pals, Janet, taught me how to make these clothesline bowls.  They are addictive!  If you want to make them (many of you have already, I'm sure, they have been super popular) there are plenty of tutorials online.  Be sure to get 100% cotton clothesline.
I made one for each of the 8 women at the retreat...and then I made some more.  Way addictive!  Another way to use scrap fabric.  I wish it used more of it.  The original technique, I think, is to cover all of the clothesline with the fabric, which would use lots more fabric.  But I prefer the off white with just a little textile peaking here and there.

We are so luck to stay in the beautiful home of Eloise W.  Way out in the horse country of Tumalo, between Bend and Sisters.  Yes, of course we had to stop in Sisters to visit The Stitching Post.  It's mostly quilt cottons but the selection is mesmerizing and of the best quality.  Plus they are stocking more garment fabrics so I picked up a wonderful woven cotton for billowy summer pants.

We always seem to arrive just when the irises and lilacs are blooming.

I took a class with Kayla Kennington last weekend.  She is one talented woman.  She had lots to teach.  I chose her new technique "Everyday Boro".  I wanted to use a pattern that was drafted from a RTW garment that I've used before.  It has several small pieces that lent themselves to piecing.
Of course I used only scraps. And for some reason, after finishing the garment, I still have the same amount of scraps...what the...???  Does that happen to you, too?

I really enjoyed Kayla's teaching skills.  Just the right amount of attention and not too much instructions leaving more time to just figure it out.

Most of the fabrics are knits with the exception of this cotton kantha-like textile that used to be a vest I got in Como, Italy many years ago.  It never fit right so I finally cut it up.  I love the fabric and have been using it for all kinds of projects.

On of Kayla's interesting details is a seam that is closed by using bar tacks.  I wanted to try that so here you see it with the little red tacks down the side seams.

A close up of the bar tacked side seam.  I used a lightweight dupioni silk for the binding.

And here is one of Kayla's pieces using another technique she taught us.  This one is tacked with a decorative stitch.  Her techniques are so eye-catching.  Not easy but certainly learnable.  I recommend taking a class from her if you can!!  Thanks Kayla!
I'm off to Tennessee with a handful of sewing pals to attend Shakerag again.  Last year was so fun we all signed up again...and a couple more added.
We are taking a class from Christine Mauersberger titled "Intuitive Stitch".  Hand I go again trying to find a way to love hand stitching.  Will I ever get it?
There will also be lots of southern food involved, the chefs at Shakerag are THE BEST!!  So good, in fact, that I am bringing them back to Capitola in July for a Southern Nights stay where they will cook at Gayle's Bakery & Rosticceria!

Enjoy your summer and thanks for stopping by, y'all come back now ya hear?

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Summer Sewing

I feel summer around the bend.  Day's are heating up and I have some stash fabrics I'd like to use.

I got this quilting cotton in Nova Scotia at a fabric store that was going out of business.  It was something like a dollar a yard and I had just decided I need to wear more color.   So I took the rest of the bolt.
I've made Marcy Tilton's V9174 before and enjoy wearing it but I wanted to add pockets.  I've been taking a once-a-week sewing workshop with Kiki Barrett, a local fashion design, sewist who is, in my opinion, on the highest branch of the tallest tree.  She's talented, patient, easygoing and innovative.  Her 5 hour workshops on Fridays are not to be missed.  Check out Cabrillo College Extension for the next session if you are anywhere near the Santa Cruz, CA area.

Anyway...Kiki helped me figure out how to add pockets to this design.  She suggested adding a second layer to the bottom-most pieces.  It worked great.  It did add some heft to the garment so it's more of a spring/fall piece than summer but I'm happy with it.

Here's a detail of one pocket.  The other side is slightly different since they both fit into existing asymmetrical seams.

I'm a huge fan of Martin Margiela of Maison Margiela.  I was in Barney's SF last fall and spotted a leather purse he calls the Origami Bag.  I fell hard.  But, I don't wear leather purses often.  I thought about it, went online and dreamed about it...but that kind of purse is not suitable for my lifestyle, it's just too classy.  But the lines were fascinating.  It's basically a square that is folded origami style.

I decided to try it using an old pair of denim pants, zippers, handles, hardware and scrap leather I had in my stash.  I had so much fun making this.  I don't think I'll make another, I think I got it out of my system.  But it was a fun exercise to look at a design and then try to copy it.  My hat is off to Mr. Margiela and his designers, they are geniuses! 

The handle can be attached in the place you see it above, or can be attached at either side where you see one of two loops.

Or you can attach it to the bottom.  Ingenious. 

Take care and have a wonderful late spring. 

Saturday, May 5, 2018

A Tetrad of Tilton's

I'm not even sure tetrad is the correct term to use here but I was looking in Thesaurus for a word beginning with "t" that meant four.  This is what I came up with so there it is.

Anyway...I'm back on the Tilton sister's train with four new garments, all from TNT patterns I love to make and wear.

I've made Marcy's V9230 three times now, as a coat and a vest.  It is generously sized so it fits comfortably over other clothing.  
This version is made using what I think is home-dec fabric given to me by my dear friend, Lynn.  Thank you Lynn, I loved working with this fabric.  It doesn't show in the pics but it is several shades of earthy green.

You should give this pattern a whirl, it is not a quick sew but really satisfying.  It has something like 21 pattern pieces, most single cut, so it's not for everyone.  But it falls right in line with my new slow sewing practice.  And when it's done there is such a sense of accomplishment.

Here is a wad of luscious, velvety purple corduroy-like fabric that was given to me by another great friend, Patty.  She cut it out for a long dress but decided against making it.  I found it on the free table at a retreat this spring and swooped it up.

I wanted to try inserting sleeves in Marcy's V9112.  The sleeves I cut work well.  This is just a muslin since I think this fabric is a bit heavy for the pattern.  But it will be a great knock-around dress.  The fabric is very soft and comfy.
For the next go-round (in thin black linen, I think) I want a tunic length.   I'll try making all of the pieces shorter by cutting along the bottom of all the pieces at a smaller pattern size line.  Hoping that will work.

I had so little fabric I didn't even have enough for the neck facing so I used a scrap of Kaffe Fassett cotton.

The last time I went to the Sewing Expo in Puyallup I met Marcia Derse.  She designs primarily quilting fabrics but the quality of the fabrics she uses and her designs are also great for garments.  This fabric is called Treasure Hunt.  Once again I didn't have a lot of fabric so I had to cut creatively. 

 I used another TNT pattern, Marcy's V9171.  This is a not-to-be-missed pattern.  It looks good on every single person who tries it on.  And it's very fun to make.  I like to wear it with a Diane Ericson Fault Lines vest.

This is the first time I've made Katherine Tilton B6491.  The fabric is a slightly stretchy black denim I got from Marcy.  It turned out to be a bit too heavy for this pattern to be considered a shirt.  But I'll wear it as a coat dress in cooler weather.  I'd make this again in a minute using a lighter weight fabric.

I faced the pockets with collaged fabrics I made in a Holly Badgley class.  I'm loving the deep dive into my stash these days, it feels really good to use what I have.

And here's the other pocket.

I bought some killer rubber snaps at Passamaneria Toscana while in Florence.  Wish I'd bought many more.  Do any of you know where I can find them online?
I've seen this snap closure treatment on several RTW garments.  This technique is NOT an easy thing to do well.  Mine are passable, not perfect.

And that's it for the Tilton Tetrad.  I have the whole weekend off and I'm headed to the bunkhouse to sew!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Spring Roundup

I've been busy sewing this spring.  I've been trying new things as a result of taking a community college sewing workshop with the delightful Kiki Berrett, a very talented clothing designer and nurturing teacher.  
I'm trying to learn some things I've never slowed down enough to learn.  Like welt pockets and just being able to answer questions that arise while I'm sewing.  I've learned a lot.

Here's a shorter tunic than I'm used to making.  It's Katherine Tilton's Butterick 6564.  I love it!  This was one of the most fun, challenging things I've sewn in a while.  One of the good things about it is you can use smaller pieces of fabric from your stash, which I've done here.  I like to make a "muslin" when I first try a pattern, just in case.
The muslin is wearable for sure, and I used stash fabrics!
I found the pattern to be quite large so I used a sloper I have for upper body knit garments and recut the top.  But kept the details the same.  And there are a LOT of details in this pattern.  One that I particularly love is the asymmetrical neckline.

This pocket is really good looking and fun to make.

The contrast fabric, which can be in either woven or knit, wraps around the left side from front to back.  

And the asymmetry is very attractive and a fun element to work with.  There's plenty of room for tweaking in this pattern.  For instance, I didn't insert a little flap that goes into the back left seam.  
I'd say she knocked this one out of the park.  Try it and see what you think!

Here's another Katherine Tilton pattern I've used several times both for vests and jackets, long and short.  It's B5891, the jacket version without sleeves.
The fabric is a lightweight cotton blend that has a natural wrinkled look and a somewhat shiny surface.  I'll be throwing this on over lots of tops this spring and summer.

Those of you who read this blog know that I go to a lot of classes and retreats.  I find myself having to use several totes to get everything in.  You know, lights, extension cords, power strips, pressing hams, you know!
So, I decided to make one very large bag that holds everything.  The cloth is made by Miles Frode, the extremely talented son of Diane Ericson.  I can't resist buying his fabrics.  And I like to use them in a way that show off the whole piece of a painting.

I made my first zipper pocket, based on the knowledge from my Kiki workshop.  And yes, I intentionally made it off center, it just looked to normal right below the handles.
I'll get a lot of use from this bag, and a lot of pleasure every time I see Miles' zany designs.

Some of the interior fabrics are mine leftover from the purses I make.

I went to Pajaro Valley Arts opening of their Museum of Curious Perceptions exhibit.  This little museum is in Watsonville, CA, not far from my home in Capitola.  I support them and love their exhibits.
This one has many of my friends in it; women who's art I love and collect.  Here you will see a few favorites from the show.
There's an explanation after each image.

I encourage you to go and see this exhibit.  There's plenty more I didn't get the chance to photograph. It's a fantastic show.

Happy wisteria season!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Cashmere Scraps Faultlines Vest

I've been working with Diane Ericson's Faultlines vest for the last couple of years.  I like it because you can make so many design decisions along the way and fit it after it's made by overlapping the back and side pieces.

This one is made using scraps of cashmere from old sweaters that I overdyed using a method that creates very uneven results...which I love!  It works so well when you use several different color sweaters because they dye in various shades of the same color.  Then, when you cut them into small pieces, they make a wonderful landscape, kind of like the ones we see from an airplane window.

These sweaters were dyed using Dharma Trading Company's Cabernet Acid Dye.  The inspiration for the design came from the gloriously talented and fun, Gwen Spencer.  Gwen has become a good friend over the years.  I first met her through Marcy Tilton.  If you click on the link you will see one of the tutorials on Marcy's blog that features Gwen.  They work closely on Marcy's designs for Vogue Patterns. 

She is amazingly talented and a stellar teacher.  Anyway....I attended a sewing retreat with her a couple of years ago where she was hand sewing cashmere squares onto a lovely wool piece that was turned into a shawl.

We were all gobsmacked with, 1. the fact that she didn't even BRING a sewing machine but sat with her hand sewing all week, and 2. the absolute simplicity and beauty of what she was making.

I came home and immediately started thinking about how I could incorporate her idea into something using my abundant cashmere scrap collection. 

This vest took me two years to finish.  It wasn't one of those lap projects where you can work on it in the car or waiting at the dentist!  Because the base fabric is a stretchy net the piece needed to be on a flat surface so that the squares stayed put while sewing.

I cursed this project more than once.  My love-hate relationship with hand sewing is kind of a joke.  I want to like it since so many of my friends who sew extol it's virtues.  But mostly it hasn't been all that satisfying for me.  And believe me, I've given it every chance.  In fact, I still do.  Right now I'm working on an Alabama Chanin piece I got while in Alabama last year...after a hand sewing workshop!! And I'm going back to Tennessee this year to take another hand sewing class from Christine Mauersberger.  I swear, if she can't teach me to love hand stitching no one can!

In the meantime, I'm happily machine sewing and on my way to San Juan Bautista for a sewing retreat where I'm bringing FOUR machines!...well, only two are for me, I'm bringing two for women who are flying in from Colorado.

Hope your sewing, whether it's hand or machine, is super satisfying!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Winter Play--Again

Goof up alert!!!...I don't know what happened but this post went out all on it's own last night!  I wrote part of it before dinner, woke up this morning to a comment and realized it must have posted.  So sorry.  For those who have read it, just scroll down to the photo of Diane and Helen and continue.  For those who have not, I hope you enjoy the whole post!

Here goes....

I'd call this post refrigerator round up if I was in the kitchen.  There are so many things I'm piling into this post it's like the fried rice Joe is making us for dinner...some of everything we've eaten in the last few days!

I'll start with a lovely quilting retreat I went to on the coast of Oregon.  I'm lucky to be included in this incredible group of women.  A long time friend, Victoria, invited me to join them a few years back and I never say no to Victoria.  Loved the whole trip.  First to Eugene, on her horse ranch/farm (I'm a city girl, I don't know what to call it!).

I traveled with another lovely lady, Gracie, and the three of us moved on to Seal Rock to join the others for a few days of sewing.  I'm not a quilter but my god daughter is having her first baby and I wanted to make her a baby blanket.

Well, I didn't know what I was doing so thank goodness for Victoria and another friend, Kathy, who gave me so much help.  Basically, I made mistakes and they fixed them!  (See below).

I know that my god daughter likes neutral tones, no pinks and blues for her.  I chose grey and I'm glad I didn't, when she opened the present she exclaimed, "My whole house is grey and so is the baby's room!"  Whew.

Here is the baby blanket put together but not finished...oops, it turned out a bit large...but they can use it for watching tv!

I actually like modern quilts.  I might just make others...someday.  Thank you to everyone at the retreat who helped me make this.  Lord knows I needed it.

Oh, and while I was up there I bought a new Baby Lock Triumph serger!  I have an Evolve that I've loved and wanted one with a large space for piecing cashmere.  I bought it from Paramount Sewing and Vacuum.  Very nice people.  Love this thing.  I've been using it all weekend and it's a dream.

This vest is made from a ready to wear piece that a friend bought.  Jenny made a pattern and I gave it a try with fabric Sharon gave me.  It's a heavy stretch woven novelty that I couldn't figure out how to use.  This seems to be a good result.  I wore it in Ashland recently and it feels good.  I'll make more of these for sure.

The pockets are tucked into the side seam.  Hidden but useful.

Kinda like a sidesaddle kangaroo!

During January I went through an insane period of working with down-filled objects.  First I worked with two men's extra large puffer jackets I bought in Ashland.  They were on sale for a pittance and I couldn't resist.  
I've been asking Marcy Tilton to find puffer jacket fabric for years now and I know why there is none available.  It's completely bonkers to work with.  I had to take the jackets apart, place my pattern pieces on the fabric, trace around each piece, sew on either side of my tracing, cut in the middle of the stitching and STILL had feathers in my nose.

I ended up using all four of the pockets from both jackets so there's no shortage of pockets here.

I used the stretch binding I ripped out of the original jackets to bind the hem.  Oh, I forgot to say, all of the seams were BOUNDS so I had to tear out the binding first.  I did use it all to bind the new seams.

A little tail never hurt anybody....

And then, as if that wasn't aversion therapy enough, I decided to cut our duvet in half and make two comforters so Joe doesn't tear the covers off me every night (it's worked, by the way).  I'm sleeping better and so is he!

I just got home from DOL in Ashland.  I enjoyed myself thoroughly.  Diane Ericson was spot on, as usual.  So inspiring and invigorating.  She invited Helen Carter from Secret Lentil to co-teach. What a hoot she is.  Her approach to designing clothing is totally intuitive and very fun.  I've loved her clothing for years, own two pieces, and wanted to see how she works.

I needed to draft a tunic top for woven fabric so I used an existing vest pattern.  Forgot my pattern weights so the tangerines that Honna brought worked perfectly.

I began auditioning the fabrics I brought.

I was really inspired by Tracy's version of Helen's spiral concept.  A big part of DOL is the incredible women you meet.

And here is my version.  I made a little Diane Ericson French-Fold Shrug to go over the top.  It's a very cool pattern!

And another version in a tissue weight knit that Judy, another participant, graciously gave me at the retreat.
I made another spiral shape for the turtleneck.

And finally, I finished a ripstop lined in polartec raincoat I've been working on since the last DOL!  This fabric was a nightmare to work with.  I'm finished but I don't love the detailing results.  I'll never work on this type of fabric again.
I guess my winter of 2018 was all about what NOT to sew with!

Stay tuned for another whacky project I started yesterday.  It entailed a LOT of ripping out as yo can see below.

Happy almost spring everyone!