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

Paris-Bomber_3

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.

Pants-sloper_3

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!

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.

fabric-photo-room

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!

Match it, Match it good!

I finally finished the plaid shirt! I’ve never spent so much time on a project with this inexpensive of a fabric, but I’m glad I did. I posted my hopes and intentions on my last blog. That sure put me on the spot, and I needed to follow through. May not do that again…

IMG_2307To add complication, I decided to make a pattern from my favorite shirt shown on the left. There are two of these are in my closet in different colors. I’ve only drafted a pattern a few times, and never with a complex piece of clothing (darts, pleats, placket, pockets). The drafting went well, but the first muslin was too small. I know it looks great on Roxanne, but she is the size I want to be. LOL

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After adjusting the pattern I jumped right in without a second muslin. Frankly, I couldn’t wait to post this, but a few fitting adjustments still need to be done on the final shirt. The changes then need to be documented on the final pattern for next time, and there will be a next time!Plaid-shirt4

Referring back to the last post, most of my stated design goals were accomplished in the shirt. Two related coordinating fabrics are used to break up all that plaid. My new embroidery machine performed flawlessly, and I smile at the unexpected fine embroidery on the casual flannel fabric.Embroidery DetailThe final desire was an interesting back pleat, and on the diagonal. The uneven plaid was tough to match in back, but at least I avoided matching the sides.Plaid-back

However, the sides came out well despite my not even trying. Don’t you love it when things just work out like that? Is this what you expected after reading my first blog?Plaid-back-side

Plaid Shirt…coming soon!

So much to share and so little time! As promised months ago I plan on sewing slower in 2016 and showing you more process, including how I come up with my ideas. This may be my last blog of 2015, but I plan on starting in January with lots of new projects.

The big news: I bought a new sewing/embroidery machine! It’s a Husqvarna Viking Epic, and this baby is huge! The embroidery hoops are as large as 360 x 360 mm (14” x 14”). The Epic has all kinds of new features that I will be exploring in 2016. What sold me on this machine over other brands? Well for one thing, There’s great dealership close by called The Sewing Circle. But best of all, the machine is spectacular. It has a large (iPad size) touch screen. Then there are tons of beautiful stitches including appliqué, sequin and very large decorative stitches, not to mention the embroidery function. The instructions are on the machine screen, so I stitched an embroidery pattern right out of the box! The machine has Wi-Fi capability so it can be upgraded, and stitches can be uploaded without dealing with a usb stick. Usb will disappear sooner than later. Wi-Fi is the way of the future, so this was important to me. I’m already planning projects to use the new features.

That leads me to my next project. This time, instead of showing you the finished project, I’m going to try and explain my thought process before I even start sewing. My BSF and I spotted some wonderful thick flannel plaid at Jo Ann’s Fabric (of all places!). We both thought of a warm winter shirt to wear on casual days.

Well I don’t want to make just a shirt. That’s fine, but what else can we do to take this to the next level of design? First it’s off to Pinterest to get some ideas flowing. What struck me was how many times I had pinned plaid (or tweed) with floral appliqué or embroidery. I have started a new board named Project Ideas where I can pin inspirational photos for upcoming projects. The board currently includes this shirt plus some ideas for the silk velvet purchased in Paris. You are welcome to follow me on Pinterest!jacobean-plaid

Second, BSF and I decide it’s time for further inspiration by purchasing an accent fabric. I found these two florals and bought 2/3 of a yard each. 1 yard was too much and a ½ yard seemed too little! At this point, I was thinking the darker, smaller print for facings and the larger print for an appliqué or two.

But wait! I decide to buy this new sewing machine that embroiders. Of course I go online to see what is out there in the world of pre-designed embroidery patterns and find a set of Jacobean florals that almost match my fabric!Jacobean-Fabric-and-Embroidery

One of the great things about searching the Internet is I didn’t know I was working with a Jacobean style floral. Isn’t it fun to learn something new? The threads of this embroidery can be changed to match the cotton floral fabric. Now the design process is getting exciting!

Third, the pattern needs to be picked and/or altered Here is a mood board of my favorites from the Pinterest file. mood-boardThe grey and black tunic from Soft Surroundings (bottom right) is the closest to the shape I want, but I love the bias pleats of the Alexander McQueen shirt (top right). The shapes of these two shirts aren’t completely compatible since the McQueen shirt would be boxy in shape.

Black-muslin_Backdischarge-silk-shirt_2

I made the shirt on the left last January with pleats in the back, but I can stitch the pleats together at the waist similar to the shirt to the right.

Now it’s time to start cutting, sewing and embroidering, so this is where I will leave everyone hanging  (hopefully) in anticipation! I still need to decide where to place the accent fabrics and embroideries, but I think I will decide as I cut out the pattern. Some things need to be spontaneous. You will all have to let me know if the final shirt looks like you imagined from this post.

Adventures in Italy and France with my BSF: Part 2 Paris

The second two weeks of our trip were in Paris. Of course, this was before the terrorist attacks. Paris was colorful, lively and simply a delightful place and we are all hoping for a return to it’s former self soon.

We wandered the first day and caught up on a little sleep before taking a cooking class the second night. The food in Paris is great everywhere, from small café, to street vendor to restaurant. There was a lot of walking on our tour, which was a good balance with lots of eating and wine!

Monkfish-with-Ratatouille

Monkfish on a bed of ratatouille at our cooking class

Marcy and Katherine Tilton were knowledgable and fun guides who planned an inside tour for our group. The very first afternoon we had an introduction to their friend Dominique who brought in examples from her exquisite collection of little black dresses.

Dominique-Marcy-and-Katherine

Dominique, Katherine and Marcy at our introduction meeting.

There is no way to cover all of our experiences in a post, but a few of the highlights were the couture flower maker…

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Each Petal is hand dyed then hand formed with heat and wax with special tools.

 

the Korea Now! exhibit at the Musée Les Arts Decoratifs-Mode et Textile…

Korea-show

Contemporary gown with a traditional Korean influence

 

the Alber Elbaz-Lanvin exhibit…

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Sweater knit by me, upstaged by some fabulous draping on the mannequins

Giverny in the fall…

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Monet’s pond at Giverny

and then Monet’s water lily rooms at the Musée de l’Orangerie…

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We’re wearing the clothes we made!

and of course SHOPPING! both window and…

real!

This is just some of the purchases. My cat doesn’t want me to sew the scrumptious silk velvet.

The best thing? Being greeted with a beautiful bouquet of roses and a hug when I walked into my door!Welcom-Back-Roses

Adventures in Italy and France with my BSF: Part 1 Italy

I’m back (and over the jet-lag) from our wonderful adventures in Italy and France and it could not have been more fun. The weather was perfect, in fact almost too warm for the cold weather clothes we packed! My BSF and I simply had a wonderful time, and our week with the Tilton sisters was fantastic.Positano Steps

The first two days were all travel to our first destination in Italy. Two planes, two trains and we were exhausted. Finally, a charming young Italian gentleman met us at the door of our train in Salerno. He was holding our name up on a sign, and Debra and I almost hugged him!  We were so relieved to be done with the complex travel changes of the last two days.

On the way, our driver calls the hotel and speaks Italian and then explains the streets are too small to park right in front. You have to picture this: the two of us get to our hotel and a porter meets us at the car and takes our two big bags. We start to follow him up some steps with out purses and carry on luggage. Then up a few more steps under a covered walkway. Then more steps to turn a corner, and then there are more steps! I had a breakdown at about 60 steps. My FORMER BSF, Debra looks down from the last 10 steps and starts laughing at me from the hotel entry! We both found it funny a few minutes later, and our adventure had officially begun.

Anna and DebraMy daughter Anna met us in Positano. She lives in Sicily and is getting married to a lovely Italian man in 2016…lots to talk about! She showed us the ropes of how to order fabulous food in Italy.

Positano-from-our-hotel

The view from our hotel balcony was stunning, and Italian linen and clothes made from the linen fills the stores in Positano. We both bought a piece of clothing since it was warmer than expected. It’s always good to have an excuse to shop! In one store the seamstress didn’t speak english, but we had one word in common, she was sewing on a “Bernina”. After 4 days of relaxation we were ready to head to Rome for a few days of true tourist. I won’t bore you with lots of tourist photos of Rome, but here are a few highlights.Near-Coloseum-web

We are by the Coliseum walking around the ruins, and just being tourists for a day. I’m wearing one of my 45 minute turtlenecks and a hidden zipper scarf. It was still too warm to wear the sweaters and coats that we both made for the trip.Nun-Bride-and-Groom

Love this scene…so Rome!

Big-Foot-and-the-Putti

We had a tour of the Vatican Museums including the Sistine Chapel. It’s an overwhelming museum and there were bits and pieces of sculpture lining the hallways. I call this photo “Big foot and the Putti”…I so wish I had a band.

Pizza-and-wine-take-out

The last night in Rome we had pizza and a movie in our room watching our iPad. Paris on the next post, and I promise we will be wearing the clothes we made!

Tried and True

stripe-tunic_3I thought I was going to take this to Europe, but decided against it because of the weight. The two stripe knits are wool that I washed first, and while very comfy to wear it’s a little bulky to pack. I used my TNT pattern Vogue 8962 which I love to sew with striped fabric because of the back detail. Isn’t this a fun back? stripe-tunic_4I didn’t have enough fabric so I cut the pieces out with a corner missing, thinking that something could be done with the other color to fill in the missing piece. I think the split tail is kind of fun, so I ended up just leaving it and adding the square on the upper back for balance. I also didn’t have enough fabric for the cowl neck. I pieced both colors for the top, then decided that it would be more comfortable to have cotton knit instead of wool around my neck. I love having a stash in my favorite colors just for something like this!stripe-tunicI‘m in Paris at this point, but hoping to have photos to post soon!