Friday, August 11, 2017

Improv Stripes

For a while now, I've been an admirer of modern quilts and especially those that are improvisational. I have been following Debbie of A Quilter's Table via her blog, as well as Flickr and Instagram. When she issued a challenge a few weeks ago, I decided to give it a try. The challenge is called Improv Stripes and you can see the description here.

My first attempt involved two coordinating fabrics. I made one block with some pretty skinny stripes first:

Back of block with skinny stripes

Front of block with skinny blocks

After this block I tried more chunky blocks and found those to be more fun for me. It is lots easier to make the blocks flat if the stripes don't overlap one another. And I like the look of the more chunky blocks.

I arranged the blocks free-form, layering the raw edges until it pleased me. Then I added a cotton flannel batting and a striped linen piece for the back. The striped linen piece came from a thrifted shirt. My quilting is simply more-or-less straight lines that are 1/8 to 1/2 inches apart.

The quilting stitch runs across the linen stripe, creating a wavy look.

I was enjoying the freedom of overlapping the oddly shaped blocks and so left the edge of the quilt raw too. I simply top-stitched it densely along the edge. The resulting 23x25 inch quilt had great body, just right for a bag of some sort.

I'm pretty pleased with the duffle and think I'll use it quite a lot. It has a good feel to it. Also I have fond memories of previous sewing projects in all those stripes.

It is not finely finished and I am happy with that. The entire project was a good exercise in letting go of my need to strive for perfection.

I used the block with skinny stripes to make another small bag but it is not nearly so satisfying as the larger one.

If you are interested in seeing more responses to this quilt-along, check them out here on instagram. There are so many pretty and inspiring quilters out there! And thanks to Debbie for her inspiration and leadership in this fun activity.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Jeans Vest

This project was inspired by a recent article in Threads magazine - Jeans to Jacket by Mary Ray (July 2017 Number 191. I love almost everything that Mary designs. And I've been wanting to play with the Tabula Rasa jacket pattern again. Also I found a pair of DH's jeans in the trash. He thought they were too worn to even give to charity. But they were just right for a remake.

First I took the jeans apart, as much as I could. DH helped me remove the rivets. As mentioned in a previous post, this created fabric with all sorts of interesting resist patterns from the years (and years and years) of wear. I took one belt loop apart but tossed the rest. I kind of wish I had kept those too. They would have made such interesting closures for the front. I used the one on the back:

Stitching added to one shoulder area where the knee was extra worn.

Because of the fairly narrow pattern pieces in the Tabula Rasa, I was able to cut most parts with a minimum of piecing. Of course, I wanted some piecing to show the interesting patterns. But, I was unable to cut out the sleeves from this one pair of jeans.

I purchased another pair of cotton jeans from the thrift store and tested the sleeves but they were so much heavier than the other denim that I had to remove them. I'm glad I did.

I'm guessing that even thrift stores don't want jeans as well worn as DH's. After removing the sleeves, I rearranged some pieces and did the finishing work. I cut a front band facing from a light weight denim remnant in stash. I cut bias binding from a piece of cotton shirting and used that for some of the seam finishing, as well as the hem. I added the small ticket pocket to the front at the chest level. It is the only functioning pocket. So far.

This vest is surprisingly light weight but obviously there are a number of worn places. These are great opportunities for boro stitch, patch and sashiko. So that's next.

I am particularly fond of the Lee leather patch. That must be used somewhere. And I have just discovered another pair of pants that really need to be recycled, don't you think? But I do not have permission. Yet.

This was a fun project and, as usual, I learned some things. Denim is not so easy to sew, but it's easier when it's old. It's surprisingly easy to disassemble with a good seam ripper. And I think I will actually wear this. It will be another work-in-progress that can be worn in the meantime.

This worked out just like those stash-busting contests. I have more jeans parts now than I did at the beginning.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Just Preparing

In and around my sewing, I seem to spend a good bit of happy time just preparing. Today is one of those peaceful, puttering days.

A pair of husband's torn jeans pulled from the trash provide some gorgeous resist patterns. I'm not sure how I'll use these pieces yet, but they are so pretty, I think.

The pocket areas are my favorite but the back yoke and waistband also provide interesting possibilities.

I also like to have a few dye pots around the house. Husband is so very patient with these sometimes stinky endeavors. Here is one that carries on continuously - a small copper pot for my discarded tea bags. It contains some squares of cotton sateen.

Happy making!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Lani Woven Tunic

This is my first foray into Style Arc patterns but it won't be my last. I am really taken with this design.

It's true that I'm very late to the party in just now trying out Style Arc. Although there are many lovely styles published by Style Arc, this is the one that called my name. And I was able to order it on Amazon, avoiding international shipping. On the down side, I later learned that these are sold by Style Arc on etsy for less. It's ok though for such a great pattern.

It took me way longer to make than it should have. I began by deciding to make up a toile (muslin) because there was no easy way to determine the finished hip measurements. Luckily my version of the pattern is a multi-sized paper pattern, giving me size options. I believe that Style Arc does not ordinarily issue multi-sized patterns.

I often make one size through the shoulders and bust, and go up a size in the hips. So my first toile was based on that assumption. It fit great through the shoulders and bust but was way too big through the hips. Hooray!

Next I retraced the pattern using a size 12 throughout. I recut the toile and made it up again. I loved it, even without the sleeves, even in a sickly yellow sheet cotton.

Finally I was ready to cut and sew the pattern in good fabric. I chose a cross dyed linen-cotton blend from stash. It is navy in one direction, cream in the other. It reads light blue-gray. I probably purchased it at Twill Fabric and Yarn store in Nashua NH, a lovely little shop.

I tested my fabric on the floor to make sure all the pieces would fit. Still plenty of space for a 2nd sleeve and facings.
 It took a bit of time to cut out because only the sleeves may be cut double layer. It's awkward even with my large cutting table, but it is a great way to make optimal use of a piece of fabric.

The bust is shaped with an armscye dart on the left and a princess seam on the right.
I did find myself tangled up on the seam allowances. The instructions say that the seam allowances are 3/8 inch, except for *internal* seams, which are 1/4 inch. That was a term I had never heard but I suspected that *internal* was being used where I would use *enclosed.* An email exchange with Style Arc confirmed my guess. The only 1/4 inch seam allowance was at the neckline where a facing enclosed it.

I love the little inseam pocket on the right front.
This is a winner. I think I'll make it again though it is quite distinctive looking. I'll surely make another Style Arc pattern. The instructions are brief (almost in the extreme) but accurate and easy to follow.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Favorite Pattern Hack - the Neckline

Over time I keep coming back to a neckline that has great appeal for me. This one is particularly good for hot summer days when I to minimize the fabric enclosing me.

Fabric: As Mama always said, it's all about the fabric. That is no less true for this piece. It is a silk dupioni purchased at Gail K here in Atlanta. I washed it before cutting into it in order to knock back the sheen just a bit. It is a fairly weak fabric with no give at all, but easy to wear and easy to sew. I love, love, love the coppery milk chocolate color of it.

Base pattern: One of my all time favorite patterns for summer is the Mix It Top from the Sewing Workshop. The pattern envelope contains 3 very different shirts, but the Top is the best, IMO. It's loose but has bust darts and good fit through the shoulders. I only altered the neckline finish.

As you can see, the original has a key-hole opening in the front and a smallish mandarin collar. I replaced it with a reversed facing, an idea I first encountered in the Egyptian shirt pattern from Folkwear:

I have made this one many times!

I attached the facing to the wrong side, flipped it to the right side and hand-stitched it in place. It creates a bib effect.

Initially I thought I'd like 3/4 length sleeves. Unfortunately I did not measure properly and the sleeve was too tight, so I had to return to the sleeves from the Mix It pattern.

In order to make the facing, I placed pattern tissue over the original and drew in the lines:

I also lengthened the pattern 1 inch. I think I am influenced by all the tunics I see everywhere. Shorter tops are beginning to look outdated to me.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

All About Details

Yesterday I finally finished my (first) version of view B, All About Details, from Cutting Line Designs. I almost hid it in the back of my stash closet at the beginning, but was glad to recover my senses and finish it. I like the current version very much.

The fabric is a piece I've had in my stash since a week in Arrowmont with Roland Ricketts some 3-4 years ago. With BSF I spent a whole week learning about the ancient Japanese approach to indigo dyeing. And I spent a great deal of time carving stencils while we waited on the dye vat to refresh. It's a PFD linen I purchased from Dharma Trading Company, fairly crisp and not especially heavy.

Linen is always fun to sew. There was no need to turn on the iron for many steps. A little finger pressing produces a sharp crease on this fabric. But the flip side is that it wrinkles much more than the softer linens I like to sew. And it is too light weight to use for most jackets.

So I decided to line it with some Thai silk. The pattern is designed to be unlined, but I really wanted to use this piece of linen and, with my eyes closed, I found the weight of the linen with the silk was just right. Initially I thought I'd take the simple approach to lining and line it all the way to the edge, creating a nearly reversible garment. It was at this point that I realized just how wrong that was:

The lining overwhelmed the soft color of the linen. I thought briefly about using the silk as the exterior. That was more wrong:

Bleh! What to do. My first instinct was to start ripping. But, for once, I paused and picked up another project, leaving this little disaster cooling on the dress form. That's when it dawned on me that I needed to take a more conventional approach to the lining by adding a facing to the front pieces.

It was easy to do and, in the process, I added a slot pocket in the left facing. Speaking of pockets, look how cool these *post-office* pockets are. These are part of the pattern, a jacket inspired by an early Issey Miyake jacket.

The lining process went fairly smoothly. First I finished the neckline edges and vertical front edges. It might have been a good idea to draft another facing for the back, but I did not do that. Second I attached the lining to the jacket at the side vents:

Next I opened up one side seam of the lining in order to easily attach the hems:

I deepened the sleeve facings in order to allow me to roll up the sleeves. This is a large silhouette, typical for Issey Miyake, and I think it helps to be able to roll up the sleeves. Otherwise it looks huge on me. Next time, I will probably go down to a size Small.

I love that this jacket afforded me much opportunity for sashiko. In fact, it's not just decorative. The double row of stitching on the jacket hem keeps everything tidy on the inside with no chance of droopy lining.

The sleeves are such a clever draft, making great use of the fabric grain. This seam runs down the front of the sleeve, visually connecting with the shoulder panels.

At this point, I can say that I'm quite happy with the piece. I look forward to trying it out, possibly in cold restaurants. It's way too hot here to wear it outside.

I'm pretty sure that I made a mistake on the installation of the lovely shoulder panels, as mine do not look like the drawing, but I'm happy anyway.

Now I'm ready to make something simple!