Tuesday, December 17, 2013

More Cashmere

Here are a few more items I've made for Many Hands.

This sweater was made from several over-dyed cashmeres.  I still love the drapy look because it's so attractive on so many figures.

 Back view

I forgot to take photos of this scarf and sweater while they were in my studio so I took them at Many Hands.  Sorry, not great photos but since I started this blog to document what I've made I wanted to get them in here!

Another scarf that didn't get shot in studio.  There's nothing like cashmere around your neck on a cold day!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Small Stuff

It's All Small Stuff

I've been compelled to work on only small items lately.  I keep dreaming of making garments but a combination of chilly weather, holiday buying and I don't know what has driven me to make one little bitty thing after another.

All are off to Many Hands for holiday presents, I'm sure.

I took a fun eco dye class from Lorri Scott several months ago.  I came home with a collection of silk hankies, one velvet piece and a cotton jacquard tablecloth scrap, all dyed with various flowers, leaves and rusted bits.  I've been wanting to make them into something but couldn't figure out how to make all the disparate pieces come together.

So, I went into my stash and found some bits and scraps that I've collected and been given.  It all came together nicely.  Looks rather Japanese in a way, I think.

It drapes really nicely and because of the silk we be warm despite being lightweight.

This view has a piece of silk on top, dyed with who knows what, I didn't keep track…sorry.  The middle strip is a sliver of silk knit a friend gave me.  The bottom is the tablecloth.  The jacquard gave it a nice texture.  On the right side you will see a length of Talbot tie fabric.

This silk piece was dyed with eucalyptus leaves and safety pins.  Love the colors and shapes.  The netting is from a large piece I got in Morocco.  It's cut from a hamam scrubbing cloth.  I have several of these I bought in a Taroudant bazar.  They're in various shades of burnt sienna, burgundy and melon…love them!  The lower piece is the silk.  Takes the colors so well but is such a bear to sew.

Close up of the safety pins.

Another close up.  I think the plum color was…oh I give up, I can't remember!

Using my cashmere again.  I never tire of working with it.  And there are so many great colors available in second hand stores.  I'm trying different color mixes using various contrasting strips for accent.

Been using both my serger and sewing machine.  I like both looks.  

These are satisfying to work on because each one is a little painting.

A beret using a pattern that has a larger profile than I've used in the past.  I still love using vintage scarves and buttons for embellishment.
OK, here's a confession.  I just bought the new Baby Lock Serger with the big floor.  Oh boy.  It's wonderful.  It won't replace my old Baby Lock Evolve, I love that little guy.  But this one allows me to sew larger pieces together using the cover stitch.  Here I used it for the top of the hat.  Sorry, these pics aren't so great, you can't see the detail in the patched top and the vintage black buttons in the center of the "poufs"

More to come soon, I'm on a roll!

Sunday, November 17, 2013


I made a passel of hats for Many Hands Gallery.  It gives me a chance to flex my right brain on several little projects at a time.  It's good for me to practice freeform sewing in quick-time; gets the juices flowing.

I don't know about you but I'm getting tired of the word creative.  But it's hard to come up with another way to describe what we do, right?  I just looked it up in Thesaurus, they didn't come up with any better words.

Anyway, off the point.  The point is, I got going on these little cashmere sweeties and had fun.  I use the sweaters that I can't use on larger garments.  And I also use colors that I don't think would work in larger garments.

I really had fun with this one.  But it took forever to make compared to the others.  These flowers are made with cashmere scraps that I stitched into with pearl cotton and added vintage buttons.  I swirled some...stuffed some.  I love all the color against the taupe background.  A few chiffon scarf scraps added in the background bring it all together.

Here's how I usually do my flowers.  I twist vintage fabric and silk scarves into little "rosettes".  More vintage buttons.  Gotta use them, I have trillions!

I over dyed this cashmere.  It was an off white that I dyed with green.  It's kinda camouflage.  The buttons are actually vintage mattress buttons.  You know, the coated metal ones that used to poke you in the butt?

This one is a tad "Miss Marple meets Little Lulu".  I can just envision the 50's coat that button came off of, can't you?  I think my grandmother had one.  The little striped bit is men's tie fabric.

This school bus yellow cashmere was given to me by a wonderful gal from Mendocino.  A hat is the perfect use.  Most of these fabrics were cut from vintage clothes.  The button is one I've never seen before, really unusual with some bas relief going on.

Heading back to the studio now to finish some sweaters.  More later!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Recent Sewing

Life hasn't allowed for a ton of sewing lately.  Guests, meetings, travel have all mashed together to keep me away from the bunkhouse.  But I'm back at it!  

I struck a pattern from a tunic my friend, Janet, was wearing last week.  I won't name the brand but it's one we all wear a lot.  I loved the assym lines and little drawstring at the hem.  I also love the funnel neck.  I cut it really wide so it wouldn't choke my drapy, wrinkled, very delicate neck…I used to wear tight turtle necks but ever since you-know-what I can't stand anything tight around my neck.  I know I'm not alone in this particular dilemma.

I used a fairly heavy knit I got from Marcy Tilton.  I've been asking myself why I bought it.  Seemed every time I went to use it the irregular stripes didn't work on the pattern.  But this time they were JUST what it needed to make the various aspects of the garment stand out.

Drafting top patterns has gotten so easy since I realized I could use the top part of a TNT tunic pattern for all of my new garments.  I don't bother to copy the new garment's upper part.  I just lay my TNT pattern on new pattern paper, trace the neck, shoulders, armholes and sleeves from the TNT pattern.  Then I lay the garment down on the paper, align it with the top and trace that part.  This time is was the lower body and the funnel neck.  Good 'ol masking tape comes in handy to tape all the elements together.

 This worked in one try.  I'm going to make this again and again, it's super comfy and I got lots of compliments the day I wore it.  Neve mind that I wore it BACKWARDS for the first two hours.  I finally caught sight of my reflection in a window and realized the little drawstring was hanging down in BACK!  OY.  No wonder the neck was feeling a bit tight, it was the back neck!

I'm sorry this is so dark.  I took the pics at the wrong time of the day.  Darn, because some of the details don't show up.  There is a lot of piecing of small pattern pieces you can't really see.  Maybe I'll take more and post those another time.

This vest was made with two grey tshirts I got at a trade show recently.  They are heavy men's shirts, just beautiful.  I've been wanting to copy an All Saint's vest I own for two years now.  This is the first go.  Most of the seams are on the outside, it has a big, drapy cowl neck and deep pockets that go down to the hem at the side.

I laid the All Saints vest over one of the tshirts and started cutting.  Then I draped the rest of the vest on my dress form, trying to follow the lines of the original.

This isn't truly a copy, it's very different from the original but I like it very much.  And I'm going to make more!

I'm working on cashmere hats and sweaters from recycled cashmeres right now.  I sell them at Many Hands Gallery next to the bakery.  Check out their website here.  I'll post them before I send them off into retail outer space.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Sunday Fun

I usually go to the bunkhouse on Sunday morning and listen to my favorite radio programs.  Foremost of which is Prairie Home Companion.  It's sort of my church.

Church used to be the flea market but when I turned 60 I just didn't need all that stuff anymore.  So now I make stuff on Sundays.

I was fishing around for something to make last Sunday.  I wasn't in the mood to create something 'big'.  I wasn't in the mood to make a basic wardrobe staple, which is usually my fall-back when I'm just not motivated.

I don't know why but I looked inside a cupboard I don't usually go to and bam, there it was.  A huge sack of garment labels I've been hoarding for years.  I take a LOT of labels out of clothes because I remake so many of them AND I rip them out of everything I wear because they're itchy.  I've always wanted to make something with them but never struck on the right idea.  Then, the right idea.

So I dumped out the bagful of labels and started sorting.  I wanted to use my favorites because who knows if I'll ever do something with the rest of them.  I had a blast.  So much fun looking at all of these labels.  Old ones, ones I've never seen before, don't know how they got in there.  But all of my favorite designers from Pringle through Dress To Kill!

You know you're doing the right thing when it all comes together easily.  And this project did.  It practically made itself.

I used a black dupioni for the base.  That's what I use on the collars I make.  Then I "shingled" the labels from bottom to top, making sure I didn't cover up any of the really cool ones.

I love it.  I might never wear it but who cares.  It will live in my studio and make me smile every time I lay my eyes on it.  Joe calls it a chicken.  He said, "There's chickens and then there's eggs.  You keep the chickens!"

I used a vintage button from my mom's collection.  I'm pretty sure it's jet.  

Everything we make should be this easy.  After I finished this...in about two hours!...I started a simple black tunic...a wardrobe staple...I'm back in the saddle!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Speaking of Vests

Ok, in my last post I told you that I love vests and talked about ones I had made in the past.  That got me thinking.  So I went upstairs to the closet and pulled out all of the vests that were there.  That didn't include all the fleece models that are put away for the warmer months.

I started this blog to document the things I make so that I can share them with sewing pals and have a "file" to refer to myself.   I hauled them all over to the bunkhouse, that's the little cottage next door I use for my studio space, and photographed them.

Here they are, in no particular order.

This is one of the rare short ones.  I drafted this pattern from my longer version that I talked about in the last post.  The fabric is a Fabrix rainwear in a rusty bronze.  The diagonal zipper works well and the little pockets on either side of the front are fun, if not too functional.  I wear this over a slinky steel grey rayon tunic with a huge cowl collar and fun sewn on colored patches that my pal Janet made and gave to me.

This fabric is kind of wrinkly which I like.  It compliments the smoothness of the tunic.

I got the pattern for this vest from another sewing buddy, Lynn.  We drafted it from a RTW, took it right off her back!  I love this pattern and will make it again soon.  It's great open or closed.  I won't make it from a crinkly fabric again though, too much volume for me in the you-know-where region.

Here is one of the remade cashmeres I've kept.  Several sweaters combine to make a really comfy winter vest.

This is one of those garments I've remade a few times.  I wore it once, figured out what didn't work, then added something, then decide I didn't like everything I added and whacked off some of it.  That gave me some interesting layers.

Here's a fun summer cotton vest in a taupe/grey.  I'm wearing it today!  I wasn't happy with the plain jane look when I first made it so I asked Diane Ericson for suggestions.  She had me add the gathering at the hem and the slit up the back.  Voila, it worked.  The collar is from Marcy's shirt pattern V8709.  I think it might be out of print?  I couldn't find it on Vogue's website.

This is another combined cashmere vest that I kept.  This goes with 99.9% of every garment in my closet.

This one is out of a mystery fabric.  I can't remember where I got it but you can bet it was probably Marcy Tilton or Fabrix.  It feels almost like it has a bit of wool but I know it doesn't because I'm allergic to wool.  It's self pleated, more in some spots than others, which gave it an unusual drape.

When I was cutting out the pattern I added some inches here and there and then pleated them up.  Again, the collar is from V8709.  I use that a lot.

Here's a crazy one.  I drafted this from a Rundholz vest that yet another sewing pal, Lisa, lent me.  This was just a stupid idea from the start.  There are zillions of pattern pieces all going in different directions.

I soon veered away from the actual pattern and just started nipping and tucking until the darned thing made sense.  I probably took away more fabric than I kept.

Terry, a DOL friend, sold me the fabric at last year's DOL SB, it's a heavy grey ponte.  It was perfect for this garment, she saved me.

You can't see them but the buttonholes are sewn at a diagonal, nice effect.

I call this my tortoise alter ego vest....like a big turtle shell.

This one I'm not quite sure about.  I don't wear it often.  I made it to use up some zippers from my stash and to make something that isn't grey or black.  But....I don't wear it 'cuz it's too bright!  Another rainwear kind of fabric from Fabrix.

 Here is a drapy shorty made from a slight boucle knit from Joannes in Santa Fe.  It started as a Marcy jacket pattern V8559...I think.  I really need to keep better records.  Hopefully this blog will help.

I added a panel in back because it was too short for me.  Worked great.

This one is another rainwear fabric from Fabrix.  I wanted a cargo pocket directly on the side of the garment.

Several years ago I saw a woman walk through a hotel lobby in Tokyo who was wearing pants with cargo pockets plastered to the sides, down low.  I loved that look and have been thinking of it ever since.

These pockets are a bit on the gargantuan side but I love this vest and wear it a lot.  My standby pattern but I raised the front hem a bit and used the Marcy collar.

Now for the boo-boo.  This mistake taught me never to cut out patterns late at night.  The lighting in my studio is not the best and I cut part of this on one side of the fabric and part on the other!  You can clearly see it in this photo but thankfully in real life it's not so noticeable.  And, hey, I might have done it on purpose, right?  Who should know!

So there you are.  Now you can see how important vests are in my life.  And these are only the ones I could lay my hands on at the moment.  I have tons of RTW vests in every weight and fabric.  Almost all with pockets so I don't have to wear a purse.