Monday, November 1, 2021

Recycled Cashmere

A good friend taught me a new textile trick last July.  I know it's been around for quite a while but it was new to me.
She showed us how to imprint a silk scarf with recycled men's silk ties.
The lightbulb went off and I thought, why couldn't you do the same with vintage silk scarves and recycled cashmere sweaters.  And that started a two-week frenzy out in the garage!

I've been saving vintage scarves for over ten years.  I used them on cashmere jackets that I sold for many years but after I stopped making those I couldn't bring myself to give away the two huge containers of scarf bits and whole scarves. Unfortunately, my scarf stash doesn't look like I even dented it!

There are several good tutorials online explaining how to do this technique if you're interested.  Basically, you tightly wrap the silk ties or scarf pieces around a dowel with the cashmere (or silk scarf), bind it together very tightly and steam it.

 I pieced the scarves on large cashmere sweater fronts, backs and sleeves so there really aren't that many seems in this garment, even tho it looks quite patched.

At first I was going to make a large patchwork shawl with the pieces I dyed.  But then I thought I might use a sweater more so tried this oversized, slouchy sweater pattern I drafted from a RTW garment.

The sleeves are very tight fitting so it gives the garment a bit of shape.

Here's a close up.  Most of the colors really printed well.  Every once in a while one scarf didn't print so well.  And then every once in a while my burn test to determine if it was really silk failed!  Then I got NO print at all.

I also used some old kimono prints.  I was surprised that so few of my vintage kimono scraps were silk. Most must be rayon, I guess.  

I've been sewing and doing loads of surface design these last few months but just haven't gotten to blogging about it cuz I've also been lucky enough to begin taking classes and going to retreats again.  It sure feels wonderful to be with my sewing pals again!
I hope your sewing is bringing you joy.


Sunday, July 18, 2021

Versatile Vogue 1817--New Marcy Tilton Pattern

Marcy Tilton's new jacket/vest pattern is super versatile.  I've made it in a techno fabric and a French terry, both are super comfortable and the perfect all-year weight for my climate.

This is another quintessential Marcy pattern; somewhat of a puzzle, challenging but so gratifying to make.  This version is the techno fabric that has a bit of metal thread woven in so it retains its crinkles in a good way.  

I finished it with a twill tape and snaps and changed the collar.

I tend to wear it closed more often.  It has just the right amount of asymmetry for me.

There are many interesting details in this pattern.  Both front and back bottom pieces are single cut,  all four different.  A lapped flange separates the upper bodice from the lower pieces. 

Twill tape/snap detail.

This one is out of her Icelandic Black Tweed French Terry.  It looks a bit narrow at the bottom in this photo but it's fuller when worn.

The French terry fabric called for a hoodie.  It wasn't hard to make the change.  I took the pattern pieces from a Katherine Tilton OOP pattern, adjusted the circumferences, and it went in without a hitch.

This is a very stylish and wearable pattern that can be adapted to lots of different fabrics and occasions. Heck, I could even see this as a shirt.  I urge you to give it a try, especially if you need a bit of a sewing challenge.


Thursday, July 8, 2021

Spoonflower Printed Fabric

I finally did it!  I've been wanting to have the fabric I print (I use a silkscreen process that's a combination of what I learned in Pat Pauly and Kerr Grabowski classes) reproduced by Spoonflower.  It's been at least 3 years and I finally made it happen.

It started with a 3-one month online Photoshop Elements classes taught by the Pixeladies.  These gals know their stuff but more important, they know how to teach.  And they're FUN!

I was a three time Photoshop loser/dropout, couldn't get the hang of it, till I found Kris and Deb.  

I had some of my prints professionally photographed and started designing them in Photoshop Elements to make repeatable patterns .  I was pretty successful but I have a ways to go.

Here's my first actual wearable garment using fabric I had printed using Spoonflower.  It's their Cotton Spandex Jersey.  I like the fabric.  The black background came out sort of heathered, which I actually like.  The Pixeladies have done a whole blog on the blacks you get with different companies.  

I must have goofed on the sizing though.  The motifs came out much smaller than the original piece of cloth.  I'll have to figure out what I did.  I don't mind this size but I'd like to know how to size my designs so that I get what I want.

Here's the original piece of cloth.  It's 1/2 yard, about 52"wide.  The "windows", which is what I call this fabric, are each about 5-6" tall.

It's much easier to silk screen pieces that are about 1/2-1 yard.  Then have a company print more yardage.  I'd been trying to print several yards myself but it's just too danged hard to get what I want.  Plus, when I print smaller pieces I can combine them into one file on Photoshop.  Here's an example. 

 I started out with these three panels. Each is about half a yard.

And combined them in one Photoshop file that turned out like this.

I had it printed in their Signature Cotton which I'm not all that thrilled about.  I'd like to find a company that uses really fine garment quality fabrics.  

Something interesting happened when I put on a garment using my fabric but commercially printed.  It didn't have the same energy as when I wear garments in the original cloth.  I hadn't expected that.  There's something tangible and exciting about wearing the original that is somehow lost when they are reproduced.  That doesn't mean I'll stop doing it but it was interesting.

I plan to take these three classes again when they offer them in a few months.  

It was a super productive way to spend during COVID confinement and I'm glad I got something like this accomplished during that time.  I would never have done it otherwise.

What did you get done during COVID that you're proud of???


Monday, June 14, 2021

Textile Surface Design on Vogue 1784

I'm continuing to use the fabrics I printed last time.  Every part of this process makes me happy, from printing to finished garment.  I love figuring out where to use the various pieces of cloth.  

Each piece is designed to have several elements so that one piece of cloth looks like you are using more fabrics than you actually use.  I've been studying with Pat Pauly for the last couple years, love her techniques.

Here I used three different fabrics, but it appears there are many more.  And it's stretching me to put fabrics together I wouldn't have tried before.

This last printing session I used more blue than I usually wear.  But I think combined with black and red (it reads pink when I screened it lighter) will make me pull it out of the closet more often.

This, again, is Marcy Tilton's pattern, V1784.  Third time I've made it.  This time I simplified the collar by omitting one pattern piece...after all, it normally used 5!  And I added a cuff in a different fabric.

It took me quite a while to figure out where all the fabrics would light since they were all very different.  

Stay tuned, the fun continues now that I've learned how to use Photoshop Elements to replicate pieces of cloth for Spoonflower.  I took a 3 month Pixeladies class online and boy are they great teachers. 

 I combined 3 different pieces of cloth to create the image below.

But mostly I've used one piece of cloth and worked on it in PTE to make a repeatable pattern.

I've printed three different fabrics so far.  I'm happy with all of them but the last one I got up the nerve to ordered enough fabric to make a tunic.  It was the first time I ordered Spoonflower's Cotton Spandex Jersey and I like it. Next time I'll try the Modern Jersey.

I've also tried their Signature Petal Cotton but it's a bit too heavy for my needs.  Wish they carried a lighter weight cotton.  I'm researching other companies that print on demand, there are several now.

California opens up tomorrow!  I'm looking forward to going into our local fabric store, Hart's Fabric without a mask!  If you haven't checked out their online store you need to.  They have so many great fabrics.  We're so lucky, here in Santa Cruz County, to have such a good fabric store.

That's all till I take pics of the tunic I made from the jersey.  I'm off to Diane Ericson's Design Outside The Lines in Ashland!  I'm so excited.  She is hosting Amy Nguyen, a textile and garment designer I've wanted to study with for years.

Thanks for dropping by!


Thursday, June 3, 2021

Surface Design on V1274 Tunic

First, a bit of housekeeping.  As I mentioned last post, Blogger will not be allowing you to follow me by email, using their Feedburner link, after July.  So, I'm switching to Constant Contact as of this post.

If you follow this blog by email there is nothing you need to do.  You will continue to get this blog in your inbox, but it will be under the name gayleygirl and will be provided by Constant Contact instead of Feedburner.  In the email, there will be a clickable link to the post, just as before.

I have already sent out an announcement email to those of you who subscribe that way, letting you know of this change.  Hang in there with me while we see how this change shakes out.  I think it will work smoothly.

So, on to what's new.

My continuing obsession with surface design has been a life saver during COVID.  I took another 5 day class with Pat Pauly and continued printing for the following two weeks.

I produced a heck of a lot of cloth, got some new inspiration and tried a couple different techniques.  Here is a tunic made with Vogue 1274, one of my tried and true patterns.

Instead of screen printing I tried hand painting.  This is a beautiful Egyptian Cotton I got from Emma One Sock.  I can't fault the fabric, the dyes or anything other than my technique for the less than desirable outcome.  I'm not totally displeased with this but I sure learned a lot...mostly what not to do.

I was unhappy enough with the original design that I decided to add a block print I made last year.  It's the long black vertical lines of different circle shapes.  Think it helps a lot and I like the idea of mixing techniques.

I added a collar detail with a raw edged piece of lightweight cotton stripe and used the perfect buttons from my stash.  Yes, for once I actually had the right button for the job.

I have several new things to show you and will be posting more frequently, I hope.  Future subjects will include;
  •  the Photoshop Elements classes I took over the winter with the Pixeladies and the images of my fabric I am creating in Photoshop and sending to Spoonflower to print
  • my new career as a hat maker, having been taught by a wonderful Santa Fe hat maker how to replicate a straw visor I got in Tokyo 
  • more clothes I've been making and a tunic I made using block prints, sashiko/boro techniques with vintage Japanese textiles.  
Now that things are opening up I'm re-inspired to start sewing clothes again.  I'm actually wearing makeup and dressing up again.

Enjoy this spring, we deserve it!


Friday, May 21, 2021

Marcy Tilton V1784 Tunic

First, the bad news.  Blogger has decided not to allow RSS feeds and email notifications for blogs anymore.  I guess that means readers would have to remember to visit blogs...or, I need to find another way to let you know I've posted.

Hmmm....not sure how to proceed.  If any of you have figured out what to do next please advise!  I'll keep looking for ways to let you know I've posted.  Also, I'd love to know how you see my blog.  Do you get it in your mail inbox, on Bloglovin', some other way?  Thanks for the help, any help will help!

Now on to what I've been making.  There are several things I've completed, and lots of fabric has been screen printed.  But those will be posted in a week or so.

This post is about Marcy Tilton's tunic pattern, Vogue 1784.

This is a fun make.  Super easy and wears very comfortably.  I would make it one size smaller next time (and there will be a next time), it's roomy.  The lines are flattering and the details are fun.  There's a pleat in both the right front and center back that bring a lot of movement to the garment.

Asymmetrical hems also give it a lot of visual counterpoint to the bottom of the tunic.

I love the collar, it's fun,  not difficult to construct and can be altered in several ways by either stitching parts of it together...or not.

I made it in Marcy's stretch cotton shirting which is sold out with the exception of a lovely lavender and white stripe.  It is indeed a beautiful fabric, as are all of her fabrics.

It's a spirit-lifting, sunny morning here on the Central Coast of California and I intend to sew today, after doing a deep dive into our collection of books...trying to cull, organize, and make sense of it.  Ongoing...


Sunday, February 14, 2021

The Lessons of Hand Stitched Lettering

I've heard several friends refer to hand stitching as a form of meditation.  I used to think that wasn't the way I experienced it.  But I've just changed my mind after starting the book, How To Meditate-A Guide to Self-Discovery by Lawrence LeShan.

If I can paraphrase, Mr. LeShan describes meditation as a practice in which you are always striving for improvement, acknowledging your shortcomings, meanderings and frustrations along the way.

I now realize hand stitching is like meditation for me.  I'm really pretty bad at the nuts and bolts of it.  I'm not a consistent stitcher and no matter how hard I try to work towards exact stitches my words are rarely even or good looking.

But I persist.    

My mother, to whom I owe my great curiosity for and ease in making things with my hands, passed away in 1992.  Not only was she a passionate serial maker but she had a phrase for everything.  

The day she passed away her sayings began to pop up in my mind.  I started writing them down and for the next week I kept writing.  They just flooded back, one after another.

By the time we gathered at her grave, I had a pageful of them and recited them that day as my eulogy.  During this time of covid I've been cleaning drawers, file cabinets, the garage, the basement, you name it.  It was in one of these clearing that I found that piece of paper with all of her sayings.

Mom always encouraged me to make things.  Tables were set around the house with materials she was currently using to make one thing or another and I had full access.  What a gift.  To learn at an early age the effortless practice of just sitting down to start something using your hands.  No judgement about the way it will turn out.

The only thing she hated to do was cook.  She was a good cook with a two week rotation but she never liked it.  When I came home from school and saw the turquoise electric skillet set out on the counter I knew dinner would be Rice a Roni and Jimmy Dean Sausage casserole.

This shirt started out with just her sayings but as it went along I felt the need to tell her story.  

Here is Otafuku, from a Japanese folktale.  She represents mirth, joy and good fortune. 

This was a project that took over 8 months to finish.  Mostly because hand stitching is a love/hate thing with me.  I used a thrift store Brooks Brothers shirt.

I haven't worn it yet, not sure it was ever intended to wear.  Maybe this spring.