Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Happy Accidents, Serendipitous Slips, Marvelous Mistakes...

I don't know where my head was when I cut out my #4 version of Marcy Tilton's V9171 "lantern" tunic.  I think I wanted to have enough fabric so badly that I tricked myself into thinking I only had to cut one front/side piece.  Not.  It wasn't until I tried to sew both pockets into one piece of cloth and scratched my head that I figured it out.  (I hear you laughing, Marcy!).

At first I freaked out because I've been holding this fabric from Marcy for months.  It is exactly the kind of fabric I want to work with and wear.  Seems a bit Japanese to me with lots of texture and some give.

I started riffling through the meager scraps I had and miraculously turned up enough to cut most of what I needed, only needing to piece at the shoulders and one place on the bodice.  Well, in fact, I think it turned out more interesting than if I had just sewn the darned thing as is.  What a lesson.

I decided to make the most of it, hoping to make it look on purpose, by inserting a strip of fabric in the seams.

I initially cut this pattern a bit too large for me so I usually just take more of a seam allowance in the center front seam.  This time I used the selvage, another happy accident, and overlapped it.  I added a button at the top to make it appear as if it opens.

I purposely made the added seam strips a bit uneven, wabi-sabi style.  This is what I love about sewing my own clothes, making these design decisions as I go feels so RIGHT!

I blogged about this denim vest before but I don't seem to wear it.  Thinking about cutting the shoulders back a bit, racer-style, thinking it might make it a bit more flattering.  And also thinking about cutting off the bottom band to make it really cropped.

By doing that I think it might look good with this tunic.  Still pondering this possibility.  Suggestions??

For those who didn't see the original blog about the vest the front has black vintage buttons sewn at the neck and the back is woven denim, a la the fall 2016 Viktor and Rolf collection that I just can't get enough of.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Summertime of 2018

I've been absent on these pages since June.  I HAVE been several ways, but just haven't had any one thing I thought worth a post.  Hopefully, the sum total of the whole summer will be of interest.  This is a long one, feel free to skip around to what you like.

First, I attended my second Shakerag Workshops in Sewanee, Tennessee.  Once you attend this weeklong summer arts camp you can't NOT go back.  This year I took a class with the very talented Christine Mauersberger.

A whole week of hand stitching in the school library was delicious.  I was there with four friends from various spots around America.  The food at Shakerag is phenomenal.  In fact, I love it so much I brought the chef and baker out to California is July for a week of Southern cuisine at the bakery.

As you can see, the dining room is a beautiful old room, feels like it should be at Hogwarts!  We ate well all week!  My pals, from left to right, Sarah, JM, me, Sharon and Lisa.

They post the menu for the week so you can dream about what's next.

I made Marcy Tilton's V9174 out of an old Eileen Fisher sheet.  I figured I would hand stitch on it.  Never did that, we worked on prompted samples the whole week which were fascinating enough to hold my attention.  Something will come of this shirt someday, we'll see!

The camp is held at St. Andrews-Sewanee, a private boarding school, and is just gorgeous.

They have an unusual kind of "gum" tree there--made out of real gum!

Above, one of my prompted samples made from vintage kimono scraps, below, a terrific necklace made by the beautiful Martha Myers, who I'd met at a Design Outside The Lines many years ago.  It was wonderful spending time with her again.

Here Martha shows a top she made with repurposed denim.

One of the best things about Shakerag is it's director, Claire Reishman.  She's a marvel in many ways but one is that she remakes the current year's tshirt with hand stitching. Much of her work is in the Alabama Chanin style.  She's been doing this for several years and graciously agreed to bring in all of the tshirts for us to look at one day.  This one is the current year's rendition.
I found out, only after returning to home, that the tshirts are designed by baker, Ginger Freeman, who came to Capitola in July.  A talented woman in many respects.

Tennessee has the best food!  We enjoyed visiting Biscuit Love in Franklin.  We had to have their Bonuts--fried biscuit dough with lemon mascarpone and blueberry preserves.  Yes, they were as good as they look.

Then it was on to Nashville for a few steamy days of fun and food.

We saw the Nick Cave show, on it's last day.  His work is truly unbelievable.  Just the shear volume of it is staggering, not to mention the intricacy and imagination.  Love his work.

We ate at Husk, a place I can't miss when in Nashville.  It didn't disappoint.  This is the ham curing room.  They procure hams from several farms.

I had to try one of the dishes using the ham!  Yikes, their food is good.

A week later Joe and I went up to British Columbia for a summer holiday.  We flew into Vancouver and spent a few days eating and site seeing.  
Here's the fried zucchini blossoms at Osteria Salvio Volpe.  The whole meal was memorable.  Go if you can.

From there we took ferries up the coast to spend time in little inns along the way then ferried over to Vancouver Island where we spent a magical week in Tofino on the west coast.

So glad we went on a bear watching boat trip.  It also allowed us to see the coastline from the water.

And then we took a small plane to see it from the air.  Wow...

There was lots of beach walks and plenty of beach combing.

And of course, there was food.  Ice House Oyster Bar was our favorite.  Friendly, beautiful views, such good food.

We ate our fair share of oysters.

Their motto, outside the restaurant.  You can't help but....

We visited a famous taco truck, worth it.

And on the way home I saw a small exhibit of paper couture clothing.  Sorry this pic isn't good, the light made it impossible to capture the details.

A week after getting home we hosted the two Shakerag gals, Sarah Gunn, left, and Ginger Freeman, right.  They brought some fantastic recipes with them that our customers just loved.  We are still making them.  

One their last day I took them to Big Sur.  We had a great week.

I had to take a major break after they left, it was a whirlwind.  But, a friend brought me raspberries and blackberries she had picked so I was compelled to make a small batch of jam.  I used the The Blue Chair Jam Book, a must have if you are a jam maker.

There is nothing like a row of canned goods gleaming on the counter...major feel good moments!

My dear friend Lisa was so kind in offering to reupholster a free chair I found on the street a few months ago.  It was in pretty bad shape, you know, that 1960's gold velvet...there was lots to do on this chair.  Joe whitewashed the wood, then I painted some canvas and Lisa did her magic.  She had help from her teacher, Charlie.  I am so grateful.  It sits up in the bedroom where we can relax and read now.

And finally, here's some sewing.  A year ago, after Shakerag, a few of us visited the Alabama Chanin factory in Florence, Alabama.  There I picked up a bundle of hand printed scraps.  I pondered their future for a year, thinking of a scarf...pinning them together in various configurations and finally gave up on that idea.
Ultimately, I made them into Diane Ericson's Faultlines Vest, a pattern I return to often for it's versatility.  I like it because it uses so little fabric, is adjustable in fit and looks so good on.  On this one I closed the front to make it a pullover vest.  Did some hand stitching, both as seams and embellishment, and pulled it on last night just after the last stitch was secured.  It felt like I'd been wearing it my whole life.  It's funny how some clothes feel like that, eh?

That's all for now.  Maybe there'll be more before the summer is over, I am taking a wonderful sewing workshop every Friday at our local Community College.  Our instructor, Kiki Barrett, is so talented and knowledgeable, I'm working on some things I needed to learn so I may be showing those...depending on the outcome!  You know how that is...

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!