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!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Inspiring Holiday

I just returned from a winter holiday in Paris and Florence.  I always forget how inspiring these cities every way.  I come home with tons of ideas for new things to make at the bakery/rosticceria, ways to redecorate the house and garden, and best of all, new clothes!

There's still nowhere like Paris.  It didn't disappoint.  Our first trip was to study baking back in 1980--gads, that seems like ancient times.  We traveled to France thereafter every year for about 20 years.  It's been so long since Joe and I were in Paris together.  We had a blast.  We rented a lovely apartment, Grand Marnier, from a company called Paris Perfect.  I highly recommend this company.  They are professional, friendly, helpful and have the most beautiful places to stay!

We walked until our feet screamed, drank wine for lunch AND dinner (something we NEVER do at home), bought a museum pass so visited more museums than usual, and ate everything we could lay our hands on.

I, of course, shopped as much as I could squeeze in, considering I was traveling with a man.  But it was enough.  I managed all three Noriem stores where I found two tops (see below) and Manuelle Guibal, where I found a Sophie Digard scarf I couldn't say no to (also see below).  And I found a great new pair of glasses at my favorite eyewear shop, Les Opticiens du Bac.  

On to Florence where we met friends for a two week stay in an ancient palazzo.  Gorgeous but chilly!  We managed though and had a great time with them.  They love food as much as we do and they both like to shop!  Bonus!!

We pretty much did the same things in Florence we'd done in Paris, just a few less museums.  Joe hit every studio he could find; Dante, Michelangelo and others I can't remember because I was off shopping with our friends!

Breaking News!!!--I found a new Noriem store in Florence.  I just stumbled on it.  It's not on their website nor is it on the map.  It's so beautiful, possibly the most beautiful one I've visited.  Of course I found a vest (see below).  

I'm not sure if I was lucky or unlucky that it was winter and most of the clothes were wool.  I'm allergic to wool, sort of.  I can wear it if I have lots of protective garb underneath but California weather is never that cold so I just don't buy it.  Hence, I only found a few things to buy...good or bad, you decide.  But, oh, those wool garments were gorgeous.

I did a couple of things on this trip I've never done before.  I decided that since I was going in winter my clothes would not be so important since they would be covered up most of the time with a coat.  So, 1. I bought myself a great coat, and 2. I only brought 4 remade cashmere sweaters (see below) and two pair of pants to wear.  I brought 7 scarves though, and they helped make me feel I was changing outfits.  This plan worked out well.  I didn't focus on clothes so much and I think it was good.  
The coat I chose is huge.  And I use that term only because I can't think of a better word to describe how big it is.  It's a Rundholz I bought at Mio in San Francisco.  It has two HUGE pockets that I used as a purse.  I hate wearing purses in cities and winter clothes don't lend themselves to fanny packs.   It worked so well!  I only had my phone with my credit cards in a little attached case and a small cloth bag with lipstick and other essentials.  But I had room for an umbrella, hat and gloves when I needed them.  I looked like a squirrel who was packing it away for winter but what the h___.  I'm going to use this method again. 

I did need to modify the pockets before I left and I'm so glad I did.  I sewed in two smaller polartec pockets inside the huge ones so my hands would have somewhere to rest and stay warm.  I couldn't even reach the bottoms of the big pockets without pulling up the coat from the bottom!

So now on to what I made to wear.  I apologize for the ratty photos, the winter light in the bunkhouse isn't so great for photography.  This is a black cashmere I made from three previously worn sweaters. Simple design, different weaves for accent, asymmetrical hem.

A slightly better photo of the back.  Hand stitched patch on upper back

This one of multiple grey, previously worn cashmeres.  Slim line with fun peplums at either side.

The collar was hand stitched on with an exposed seam at the shoulder.

This one was fun to make and wear and super comfy.  Several grey, previously worn cashmeres with mostly exposed seams.  It's hard to tell but both sides are different.  One has an open flounce (shown below) and the other side has a little design shaping.

This is the side with the open flounce.

A pretty straightforward design using many scraps from previously used red cashmeres.  

A bit of an assymetrical hem.

Apologies to Sophie Degard, the color of this scarf is SO much better in person.

One of the Noriem tunics.

Another Noriem tunic.  Love this one.

And the Noriem vest purchased at the new store in Florence.

So there you are.  I'll post a few more times on different aspects of the trip as I get back into my life.  But for now, my fondest wishes for a healthy and fulfilling 2018 to all.