Monday, November 30, 2015

Seasonal Warm-up

'Tis the season. 'Tis the season for me to anticipate making tons of wonderful gifts, all the while knowing I will make maybe a few.

This little warm-up is in response to a nephew's elopement. I first thought I'd make them silk pillowcases. Off I went to my favorite local fabric store, Gail K. Alas they have their bridal fabrics in chaos, at least for someone looking specifically for cream silk. After rifling through polyester, rayon and other fabrics, I failed to find anything appropriate.

Then I remembered. I made silk pillowcases for my daughter when she married a decade ago. I'm willing to bet those sweet pillowcases are tucked away and have never been used.

So I purchased the most lovely off-white Egyptian cotton. It feels like silk to me, sort of a satin finish on one side and more flat on the other.

Making the pillowcases was, of course, super easy. I love hand embroidery and so added some to the cuff. First I used the feather stitch in a variegated brown pearl cotton. I had to refer to this classic embroidery booklet several times until I got my rhythm going. Then it was great fun.

After completing the feather stitch in brown, I then added blue French knots to each feather stitch. This took a while but was also great fun. I became a little nervous about how this stitching would hold up in the washer and dryer, and so I added a running stitch in a darker blue to sort-of secure the feather stitch.

The cases survived the washer and dryer beautifully. I am little disappointed in the shadows produced by thread tails. So not perfect. But certainly hand-made with love.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Tied up

During the past few weeks, I have been out of town more than home. This has meant way too little time in my sewing space. And my mental health depends upon time spent making. Yikes!

I always travel with hand-sewing which is a life-saver when you are spending time in airports and on interstates. But it is not the same. Last week I just started refusing to do anything until I had a little time to myself in my space.

Sometimes, after a hiatus, I jump into something complicated and make a mess. Fortunately I decided to use a pattern I have used before and I made it even simpler. 

Here is my Tremont Vest:

The Tremont Jacket pattern is the most recent of the paper patterns produced by The Sewing Workshop (TSW). I made it first in a medium weight cotton Ikat. 

I goofed and made this fold left over right. So you cannot even tell that the right front is different.

By simply omitting the sleeves, it became a fun little vest. I was surprised at how deep the armscye is. Wow. But still highly wearable, I think. It's a bit kimono-like except the sleeve head sits right at my shoulder line. I like that.

As before I used (mostly) a thrifted man's tie to make binding for the Hong Kong finishes inside. Although one tie generated more than 4 yards of 1.25 inch bias tape, it was not enough to finish every edge. So I used some silk scraps that are similar in color.

When I use a tie to make bias binding, I first take it apart and then wash it in a lingerie bag. This time I even dried it in the dryer. After a good steam press, it was ready to cut. I folded it in quarters along the bias (which is sort of the grain of any man's tie) and made my first cut right down the length-wise middle. Then I made 1.25 inch cuts on each side until I ran out of fabric to cut. Next I opened the strips up and cut off the pieces that were less than 1.25 inch in width. Lastly I stitched the pieces together to make one long 4+ yard bias piece. Tie material is so nice to work with as the fabrics tend to have a little tooth. Even though I choose only 100% silk, they are not terribly slippery.

The Tremont has different right and left fronts. For the vest I decided to cut two left fronts - the left front piece is the larger of the two front pieces. I added a little pocket because I am always reaching for a tissue this time of year.

So how about you? Holidays keeping you away from sewing? I hope not! This season is such a fun time to sew. 

PS - the fabric is a silk-linen houndstooth in black and cream. It's a remnant I picked up at my favorite local fabric shop, Gail K.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Wee quilt for wee grandson

Who arrived 5+ weeks early. Still in NICU. 

Crib entertainment
Pieced, appliqué, embroidery