Saturday, June 14, 2014

Perfection VS. Life As We Know It

I'm the first one to tell you that my sewing is not perfect.  I love the process and always...well almost always...try to do my best to make a garment look as good inside as out.

But I almost never achieve that.  I call myself a recovering perfectionist since in my professional life I have been tireless in getting things right.  But the truth is I've never been able to knit or sew with any consistent accuracy.  I've knit dozens of socks.  Not once have any two socks in a pair matched, even if I knit them at the same time!  Same goes for sleeve lengths.

Don't think I'm complaining, I'm just explaining that I know my limits.  I work on improving, I do.  Right now I'm hand stitching an Alabama Chanin wrap that is really challenging my hand sewing skills.  It's good for me.

And I'm slowly working on that French jacket pattern.  I have the muslin seam lines trace-stitched and am beginning to pin the pieces together.  Slow sewing, precise new mantra.

And...I'm having a blast.  Love challenge.

That's the intro to showing you two things I'm not so happy with.  I told you a while back I'd show you an epic fail and here it is.   This is a Tina Givens Luella Top.  You might want to put on sunglasses lest it pokes your eyes out with the color!

On a recent trip to Nashville I ran across a wonderful fabric store,  Textile Fabrics.  Huge selection, wonderful fabrics and a super friendly/helpful staff.  As you may know, I love black and gray.  But I've been trying to branch out when possible and I thought a summer top would be the perfect opportunity.

So of course I picked this melon-pink number.  It's NOT as bright as it looks in these pictures but let me tell you, it's a lot of pink!

I tried this pattern once before with a heavy tan and black stripe.  It was too small and the bodice was not flattering on me.

But I thought it was the fabric and size I had chosen.  Oh, will I ever learn?

I got this one made and the same thing happened.  The v-neck area just looked horrible on me.  So, I began making tucks/darts vertically down the front starting at the shoulder and neck.

That brought it in nicely but left little puckers I just couldn't live with.  So I went to bed asking the sewing goddess to give me a solution.  And she did.  She said, "Make a fabric necklace to cover the puckers and sew it right onto the bodice!"

I listened to her and here's what it looks like.  I think it's made for the young me who was free-wheeling in San Francisco in the early 70's.  I might audition it with white gauze capris one hot summer day (who am I kidding, I live on the central coast of California and we really don't have those) or it might just never get worn.

The neckline jewelry technique was fun to make.  I think it's worth exploring again.  I made a template of the design, cut it out and backed it with a lightweight fusible.  I then stitched it on with Pearl Cotton.

And I'll throw in a little boo-boo lagniappe, just because I'm so nice!  Here you see a pair of slippers I learned how to make from Gwen Spencer (love that gal!) at the DOL Ashland retreat a week ago.  I was laid low by a knee injury during the retreat so never got the chance to go through the pattern with her at the time.

So when I got home it was the first thing I tackled.  I had to check in with Lisa Ford, my DOL travel pal, to ask a couple of questions but they are pretty simple to make.

I love them but for one thing.  It's the old sock problem.  You'll notice how I took the picture so that the bottoms are cut off?  That's because one is too big and the other too small!  I did it again!  I'm hopeless.  But I do love them and will wear them after fixing the one that is too long...can't do anything about the one that is too short!

They are made from the same painted canvas I make my purses from.  A bit of tan and black stripe stitched on for contrast...oh yeah, it's the SAME fabric I used on the first Tina Givens top!

I like how that brings the story back to it's beginning!

I'll soldier on, trying to slow down my process so as to get it right more often.  But in the meantime I'm going to continue to have a blast sewing.


  1. Love the slipper fabrics, too cute! I admire your continuing striving for perfecting your skills. You seem to believe, as I do, that creative people must be willing to accept or even embrace a full spectrum of results of their efforts. Otherwise no new territory is ever explored.

    As for the top, if it were mine, I'd cut off the ruffle and overdye the top with a weak brown or green dye to take the edge off the brightness.

  2. I agree with Carol about taking the ruffle off. It does make it a bit young looking. Maybe a simple band around the edge if you need length. Cute slippers!

  3. I love your save-- it looks like purposeful couture!

    I just finished a Tina Givens influenced balloon shaped slip dress with a double row of gathered raw-edged bias strips-- my first ruffles since I was young. The dress is so beautiful, just like your top, but I don't know. I will wear some really funky layers, but these ruffles seem risky! It's been hanging in my bathroom for several weeks, but today I decided to wear it while I sew. I've pinned and unpinned a few appendages and tucks on it to make it more "me". I cast aside the linen pants and jacket that I intended to wear with it, because while I love the individual pieces, the outfit just doesn't work for me. In the spirit of the bohemian Prairie style, I've decided it needs even more ruffles and am making some Tina Givens/Magnolia Pearl style ruffled bloomers tonight out of a soft plaid shirting. If that looks right, a silk organza overdress just like yours will be next. I'll probably only wear this outfit on weekends-- but it will definitely make me giggle.

  4. I agree with elizajo - your neckline improv is brilliant. And I love the use of the art canvas for your slippers.

  5. Gayle, your creativity is boundless! I love your "necklace" solution. I also feel that the ruffle at the hem is a bit much. If you feel like spending more time on this, maybe remove it. Or maybe it's time to move on, as you learned something very useful from this exercise and you created a beautiful piece.

    I love your slippers! Ever since you told me (months ago) that you would be doing this, I was looking forward to seeing the result! Too bad about the sizing, but practice makes perfect. I think you have more of this wonderful hand painted fabric, yes?

    Thanks for sharing!

  6. We all use artistry to cover our mistakes. Very clever, beautiful top as a result.

  7. Its wonderful to see the work of someone you admire occasionally gives them struggle too. I done mean that in a teehee way- its inspiring to see that the process isn't always a walk in the park, but so worth the journey!


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