Vote for my Cat!

Zatoichi-FranzenI entered my cat Zatoichi (Ichi for short) for a spot in the calendar of Fort Collins Cat Rescue our wonderful local cat shelter where she came from. She’s now one of the 30 finalists and would dearly love to be a Miss September (or January…) and help the shelter. Please go to www.fccrsnc.org and vote for my cat before September 12th!

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Back to sewing. Here is my version of the new Marcy Tilton top from Vogue 9193. My every day dressing consists of a pair of knit pants and a top. If I go out of the house I like to add a cool jacket/coat or poncho. Most pants are fairly neutral so that leaves the tops to carry the interesting details. This pattern has lots of promise for both dressy, and an everyday wear piece that has some style. The addition of a pocket makes it function even better than most patterns.

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The sample photos are sewn with a single fabric, but the line drawings inspired me to try multiple fabrics. After cutting it out in three colors it just didn’t look balanced. The additional gold bands and neck seemed to pull the whole piece together. After sewing it all up I decided to add the stencil pattern to the front.

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I’m already wearing this a lot, but I do think I will make another design change in the future. The top has a subtle angled bottom band, and sometimes it simply feels odd. The change could be to make the angle steeper and more obvious. However, if I continue with the Mondrian styled piecing it’s possible the top would look better being simpler and straight. Or should I leave it alone?

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It’s a great top and I’ll try the pants some time and let you know how they fit. I’m at Diane Ericson’s Design Outside the Lines in Taos this week having a wonderful sewing adventure with my BSF. Don’t forget to vote for my cat Zatoichi!

My Last Hand Knit?

Kiba-LightArghhh! I have carpal tunnel issues no doubt aggravated by my avid knitting! One handed typing is pretty slow, so this will be a very short post. I do love this vest by Marianne Isager. Both the shape and the color just make me smiled wish for fall weather. The kit came from Tutto, based in Santa Fe, who had a booth at the recent Interweave yarn fest here in Colorado. The yummy Alpaca and Silk Mohair yarns are held together throughout the piece.Kiba-Light_8

The pattern is a little unusual in that Isager has you count rows for length rather than knit for so many inches, claiming that it will all work out in the blocking. After doing a bit of math it seemed my vest was coming up way too short, so I decided to knit to the calculated length. This seemed to work well for me, but I had to keep an eye on all stitch counts after that. Let’s just say this pattern isn’t a good choice for a beginning knitter unless they get gauge in width and height. Intermediate knitters wouldn’t have a problem making adjustments. Isn’t the back pretty?Kiba-Light_7

Physical therapy starts in a week! I have finished sewing two tops so there will be sewing project posts soon….

Poppy Embroideries

My spring coat is finally finished! While it’s too late for spring, I hope that by wearing it in fall the feeling of summer will be extended a bit. This was a big project!     2016-07-03-11.53.22-8I decided to copy an old favorite unlined coat. I always pull it out between seasons because the single ply of wool is the perfect weight, but it’s grey and looks a little blah in spring. However, the oversized fit gives enough room for anything from dolman sleeves to another layer beneath. To celebrate spring, I wanted embroidered poppies around the hem of the coat. I looked all over for the set of embroideries I evisioned in my mind, but to no avail. Just as I was giving up, my neighbor’s poppies began to bloom! I have software. I can draw. YES, I can do this!

The first step was to take some snapshots of her poppies. I wanted red poppies and some were golden, but as long as the values are there you can change the color later.PoppyBThe second step was to simplify the photograph into a line drawn cartoon. This needed to be done since the number of embroidery threads used should be kept down to a reasonable number. I have a single thread embroidery machine, so I need to rethread for each color and the final embroideries have about 14 colors.   drawing-webThe third step is to scan the freehand cartoon and open it up as a layer in a drawing program like Adobe Illustrator, then complete a vector drawing. The embroidery software I purchased from Husqvarna Viking has a drawing module that is fairly simple to use, but I’m used to the feature rich Illustrator. This part takes awhile, at least for me. I spent time fussing around with the composition by moving the flowers, changing their sizes and even moving flowers from one photo to another to balance. There are three separate embroideries on the coat plus some small designs for the buttons and the collar.      poppies1_042316 I make all of this sound very straightforward but the truth is I’d never attempted such a complex project, and most steps had to be done more than once. The good thing is that I continued to find faster ways to accomplish my goals. Next time should be much more efficient!

After the drawing is done the embroidery software takes over. The basics of the software are incredibly easy. Just point your mouse to an area and the software will fill that area with the embroidery pattern of your choice! Of course, that wasn’t good enough for me…I wanted shading, and the stitches to change direction on the petals, and satin stitch on the stems, and different weights of black outline. You get the picture, I basically nerded out for hours, and here are the final stitch outs before I put them on my coat.

I didn’t want the back of the embroidery to show inside the coat, and I was running out of fabric! I found a length that was uneven along the top and almost the width of the bottom hem. I then let this found shape lead me to the placement of the embroideries and the curve of the pocket. I like letting the fabric make decisions for me, and I think the pockets came out better than the straight ones that I’d planned. If you look closely you can see the bottom hem is actually two layers.2016-07-03-11.55.24-19

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I also designed matching embroidered buttons!2016-07-03-11.50.53-2

For the asymmetrical collar, I copied a few of the previously designed poppies and had them land in the corners. Now all I have to do is wait for some cooler weather!

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Have Scissor will Travel

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This project started with a fail by me. For my BSF’s birthday, I made a holder for sewing tools that hung around the neck. Luckily I put a few nice tools in it because the holder was useless! A few weeks later Debra suggested that we design aprons that would hold our tools, and that sounded like a great idea (and helped me save face).

We got together with a pile of fabrics, some inspiration photos and started planning. She wanted one to tie, and I wanted one I could just slip on. We made some paper templates and were soon cutting into fabric. The good news is BSF-Debra actually came over with her finished apron so you get to see both!

This is her apron with the cool textured denim and accents of lime green including a fabulous piece of green leather. I used my machine to embroider her logo that her husband had designed for her.

_O0A1068 Debra-logo

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It functions the best of the two aprons, and if you decide to make one, follow her lead in putting the tools center front so the apron hangs evenly. The other advantage is room for two pockets for hands. She found the badge reel that we are both using to hold a pair of small scissors. The front pocket holds large scissors, marking pen and pencil, measurement gauge, and a seam ripper. She has also tied on a 36” tape. Needle and thread can be pinned on the flap at the top.  Honestly, what more do you need?

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We are both constantly amazed that we can start out with the same idea and end up with completely different looks. I wanted to have some asymmetry to mine, but unfortunately at a slight loss of function. However, other than leaving my large scissor out of the pocket most of the time, mine is a pleasure to wear.

2016-07-03 11.47.06Since I like to embroider with my machine, I digitized a drawing of my tomato pincushion and placed the embroidery on my shoulder to hold pins. The dot fabric has some free-motion embroidery and I added some color to the black fabric with the help of some Diane Ericson stencils. The linen cat fabric came from Elfriede’s Fabrics and the crow is also from a Diane Ericson stencil.2016-07-03 11.44.37

Both of us love our aprons and it’s such a relief to not be constantly hunting for tools! Happy sewing!

Caftan to Beat the Heat

A number of months ago I promised to spend more time on explaining process of making a new piece. Well, admittedly I had a lot going on, but it took months to finish this caftan! The linen Moulin Rouge fabric from Marcy Tilton was the initial inspiration and it just got crazy from there. How difficult can it be to make a caftan? Who needs a pattern? Or so I thought when beginning this piece that turned out quite complex.
Moulin-Rouge-Caftan_3The other linen pieces come from my stash and were made into a rectangle of pieced fabric that I then draped on Roxanne. Cool, this is going to be easy! caftan-drapingThe back panel also needed to have a mix of fabrics so I decided to make a diagonal slice on the patchwork piece to make a wedge for the back. This seemed like a great idea and here is the back panel on the floor. However, all the angles started getting confusing on such a large project. caftan-fabric-pieceA shirt would have been much easier to manipulate, but I persevered adding more black linen until I had back and front rectangles to form the caftan. After sewing the shoulders it was time to look at the neck. It’s difficult to see, but I’m intrigued with this idea of a turned rectangle to form an asymmetrical neck. The shoulder seam is the black to black seam starting on the lower left hand side of the photo. The other shoulder continues diagonally across the rectangle to the upper the right hand side of the photo. Unfortunately, in the end the neck was too big, and I’m not a big fan of my bra straps showing. I played around with the neck later and came up with a solution, but I would love to perfect this idea in another project.

caftan-neck-detailSo at this point the project looks cool on Roxanne so I try it on. It looks terrible on me!!! Too much fabric…we’re talking full size tent, and it’s heavy! Time to start chopping! Moulin-Rouge-CaftanI decide that instead of a classic rectangular caftan that I will just cut into the sides forming sleeves as you can see in this photo of the back.caftan-pocket-detailThis reduced the bulk by about half so I decided to focus on a pocket. I’m very fond of how the pocket came out. However at that point the caftan still fit poorly. The photo below is after all the tweaking, and you can see I lost a little of the pocket opening when I took more out of the sides.Moulin-Rouge-Caftan_1

Finally, I start gathering up the front to give the garment some definition at my waist. It’s starting to look much better, so I take it over to my BSF to help me perfect the final folds while wearing the piece. I found a nice little fabric bit in my stash painted by Miles Frode and used it to integrate the intersections of the folds. Moulin-Rouge-Caftan_2You can also see how I resolved the neck. Hopefully it looks intentional…The outfit is fun, I will wear it and most of all I enjoyed the process and learned a lot!

I hope to finish my summer coat this week now that the temperatures are in the 80’s to 90’s and I don’t need it! Early fall will also be perfect for a light wool coat, so no harm done. I’m starting to catch up with my UFO projects and hope to start something completely new next week.

 

Summer Top

First of all, let me thank all of you for the kind words about my dad. The sewing community is so thoughtful and encouraging, and you all cheered me up more than you imagine.BlueGreen-LawnI’m back to sewing and blogging! Summer always poses wardrobe difficulties since fall is my favorite season in both colors and weight of fabrics. I’m determined to have a summer wardrobe one of these years, but while I started planning summer sewing in February, life got in the way. I have a spring coat that I’m still working on, but it’s a long slow project that I’m savoring so it’ll get done sometime soon. Hint: machine embroidery is involved.

In the meantime I made this self-drafted (from RTW) pattern that has promise for the second iteration. Not that this is a wadder, but the cotton lawn I used doesn’t have the right weight or drape. The shirt needs something like a rayon that is less airy. In addition I will make the shirt about 2″ longer next time.

BlueGreen-Lawn_2Isn’t this an interesting idea? The front basically ends up on the bias at the placket. Drafting this pattern was difficult, since the original shirt kept shifting around. This front idea is what I wanted to capture and beyond that, I made quite a few detail changes from the original.BlueGreen-Lawn_1 I may add some false buttons on the placket. I usually sew plackets up even on RTW that I’ve purchased. I’m just more comfortable knowing I don’t have to watch out for gaposis at the bust!The back pleat adds to the airiness of this top, which you barely feel while wearing. I find it slightly disconcerting and as I said before a little more weight to the fabric will feel better. I am wearing this “muslin” but I think there is great potential in the future. The body pattern is only two pieces so there is room for fabric play. Hope I have time this summer to make another!
BlueGreen-Lawn_3The back pleat adds to the airiness of this top, which you barely feel while wearing. I find it slightly disconcerting and as I said before a little more weight to the fabric will feel and look better. I’m wearing this “muslin” but there is great potential future iterations. The body pattern is only two pieces so there is room for fabric play. Hope I have time this summer to make another!

Fred

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My dad Fred pretending to play a mirrored art saxophone in his home. Yes you can see where my love of pattern and color came from!

When a parent’s health begins to fail it takes physical time to help them, but even more consuming is the mental time needed to process the changes. That is the place I have been in for the last 6 months or so. My dad passed away two weeks ago, and it took more energy out of me than I cared to admit.

Fred was what people describe as “a character” which meant that most people found him absolutely charming, but at times his only child struggled with his craziness. He could be great fun,  creative, and loved me, his little girl. While he was 89, a large part of him still wanted to party and he was pretty darn angry these last 6 months that he couldn’t go out to wine and dine a pretty woman! As I ponder this loss, one thing I can truly say is I’m happy to have his spunk, spirit and creativity in me. He loved my sewing, and was very proud of my artistic side so he would say, “it’s time to get back to it”!

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I’ve done a little sewing in the last few months. I made another pair of my self-drafted pants that came out well, however when stress hits knitting is a must. It just calms my nerves when the project is easy and repetitive like this tunic length sweater pattern, Truss from Shibui Knits. Their patterns are simple, but have an understated elegance and a nice fit.Shibui-Truss_2

Cascade Eco-Duo in Hazelnut made for a warm top that I wore over a turtleneck before the spring weather hit. The stripes were a BIG surprise, but luckily I found the subtle pattern very attractive. It’s a great pattern, and I may splurge on the recommended Shibui Knits yarn next time.

Shibui-Truss_3I will be sharing some spring sewing on my next blog. It’s time to welcome the warm weather!

Paris Velvet-Project One

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I’ve been so excited about my two luscious pieces of silk/rayon velvet that I purchased in Paris. By the way, I washed and dried both pieces as soon as I got home, and they came out of the dryer in perfect condition. Now the search for what to do with them…

After looking around Pinterest and with memories of a beloved rust bomber jacket from years ago I decided that the rust colored velvet should become a Rigel Bomber from Papercut Patterns in New Zealand. While waiting for the pattern to arrive (It took almost 3 weeks!), I decided to try a bit of snow dying to have a few coordinates for the velvet.

I’ve done most types of dying, but something about scooping up a bunch of snow outside my studio door and dumping it on my fabric was a novel approach. The basic process involves first soaking the fabric in soda ash diluted with water. The second step is folding or scrunching your fabric in a flat plastic container and dumping a bucket of snow (or ice) on top. The third step is to simply scatter dry fiber reactive dye on top and let the whole thing melt and process for 24 hours. There are plenty of detailed instructions on the Internet if you want to know more, but this was the easiest dying ever!

Velvet-and-coordinates

Here are the results with my two pieces of Paris velvet. I loved the simplicity of the process including the surprise results the next day. I processed one piece of PFD (prepared for dying) white Kaufman Radiance fabric, and one piece of PFD rayon/silk velvet from Dharma Trading each in their own tubs. Now I have a hip lining and a coordinating piece of velvet that I hope to use with the purple velvet.

One thing about the Rigel Bomber is the lack of a lining. Almost all of the sewists out there are drafting their own lining pattern, and that is what I did. I also cut the interfacing out of the velvet, but had nothing but problems with it. Velvet is a VERY difficult fabric to sew with and with the zipper I just couldn’t get it to work out for me. Instead I recut the interfacing pieces out of the lining fabric. I could have made this one piece, but unfortunately by this point I didn’t have enough fabric to cut a second one-piece lining.

For all the velvet seams I used ¼” Lite Steam-A-Seam to keep the fabric from slipping while I sewed the jacket parts together. It worked like a charm and I would recommend the extra step to save one’s sanity while sewing velvet. The cuffs, collar, and waist ribbing all came from The Rain Shed. There is a website, but you still need to call them, and they are super helpful on the phone. The cuffs are ready made so have no seams and they even have colors, but I still decided to go with black.

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The runways have shown plenty of embroidered bombers for a season or two and I thought it would be fun to do a bit of embroidery with my new machine. I purchased the Parisian themed designs from Urban Threads. While I’m developing my skills at designing my own embroidery, I think this set is perfect for this project. I tried the back embroidery once and wasn’t happy with the outcome, but luckily we had a Husqvarna Viking sewing expert, Alix Graham-Michel, give a class last week and my second embroidery came out perfect. Thanks Alix!

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Au Revoir!

Pants that Fit!

I decided that a classic straight-leg pant would flatter me more than a skinny pant, but where to find a selection eluded me. Yes, I could find black, but for a straight-leg it seemed there should be other choices. Oh yeah, I sew! This led me to buy the Craftsy class The Pants Sloper by Suzy Furrer. This may not be my most exciting post, but what a challenge! The sewers will understand, and my next post is lots more fun….

To my non-sewing friends, a sloper is the most basic fit pattern that you use to develop other patterns. The sloper can then be made into wide-leg pants, tailored pants with a waistband, or any other shape one wants. I’m looking forward to making some wide leg linen pants for summer.

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Furrer is very clear and easy to follow, but my first muslin was too small. Hint, listen to the teacher and don’t take your own measurements! I also missed one step in the drafting…sigh. The second sloper was close, but needed some adjustments. The third try was made with a yucky fashion fabric that I’d saved from the trash just for this purpose. Eureka!

Pants-sloper

So after days of measuring and sewing I have a pair of pants that fit fairly well. I think this pair is just a touch large, but probably just needs a little adjustment since the fabric is stretch. In addition, I’ll be lowering the hem by the time this post is published, but I’m very pleased overall.

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The fabric is a fantastic stretch woven from MarcyTilton.com (no longer available). Since the fabric is stretch I was able to make the sloper without any alterations to the waist. I even kept the darts so I wouldn’t have any gathers at the waist. I just added a nice wide piece of elastic and interfacing at the waist for a smooth front.

The class was excellent and I can highly recommend going through the process. I plan on taking her other sloper classes soon, and even purchased her book, Building Patterns, The Architecture of Women’s Clothing. Obviously I like a good challenge!

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Where’s Wendy?

 

I’m here, just spending some January time reorganizing! As interests wax and wane, workspaces also need to adjust. I had a very nice wood and metal workshop in the garage, but most of the summer it was stifling hot and in winter it was way too cold. I rarely used the wonderful equipment my husband bought for me, and I really want to work on some jewelry, and some art pieces.

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So after much planning, my fabric stash and blog photo area have moved into our oversize second guest room that isn’t often used. Besides, who wouldn’t want to sleep in a room full of fabric? The previous stash/photo room was stripped of carpet exposing the concrete. Then we hired movers to carry my entire wood and metal shop to the basement room.

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This workroom storage closet houses extra tools and equipment. Then a built-in cabinet holds all the metal supplies and tools. A mega air filter that we bought a few years ago when we had devastating fires in the mountains will keep the air fresh. I already love going to this room and I’m not finished yet. Some pegboard on the walls will help with the functionality of the room. I also plan to hang some of my wood and metal found objects while they are waiting for a project. I always like some of my inspiration to be out in the open rather than hidden in a closet. I’ll post a finished photo in a few weeks after I completely settle in.

metals-area

The worktable is two-sided to accommodate a friend. so my BSF and I spent an afternoon in the room testing it out by making some earrings.  We all have favorite earrings that have lost their mates.

Original-earring

I particularly love this one that is made of aluminum so it’s light, but a very bold shape. I was pretty sure I couldn’t match the aluminum texture exactly, and I wanted to make them into post earrings so they would not fall off as readily.

New-earrings-web

My BSF suggested I take them apart and add a brass piece to each side! Brilliant! She made the same ones from scratch in aluminum and copper. The workroom functioned adequately, but we found a few areas that needed further organization. It’s always good to use a room a bit to refine use and needs, but I’m going to love this space! I’ll post a finished photo in a few weeks after I completely settle in.

Coming up soon: Self drafted pants from a crafty class and a Papercut Patterns Rigel Bomber sewn with my Paris velvet and a snow-dyed lining!