Friday, July 29, 2016

Peony in Progress

This is maybe my fourth version of the Sewing Workshop's Peony vest. Evidently I made a linen one when it first came out but I can find no evidence of that. Next I made it in a faux shearling that I purchased from the now-defunct Waechter's Fabrics in Asheville NC. It was fun to make but I never wore it. More recently I made one in denim and began to add sead-stitching to it. This one I enjoy wearing.

The Peony vest is one of my favorite patterns. It has good bones.

This one is from linen. The back is lined with a remnant of silk-cotton radiance. The front is lined with a cotton print designed by Marcia Derse. I love, love, love her designs. It looks like silk to me.

It is now finally ready for some hand-stitch. Finally.

It should have been an easy make. It has 3 pieces really - the back, the left front, and the right front. So I began to make mistakes right away. I do not think I have ever unsewed such a simple garment so many times.

And let me just give a shout-out to BSF Ginny who tried hard to preach the merits of understitching by hand at a recent meeting of City-Wide Couture. I was glad I did that. It would have been much more challenging to unsew machine stitched understitching. Yes, I got that far before making the final blooper.

Of course, the big reason to hand-sew the understitching is that you gain control over the shaping and there is no unintended shaping. Oh, and it's pretty.

Now I will enjoy much hand-stitched embellishment. It is fun just to think about the possibilities.

So what is simmering in your sewing world?

Wednesday, July 27, 2016


This Sewing Workshop pattern came out several years ago. It's a two-fer, as it contains two very different blouse patterns. I made the companion piece, the Cortona, last year. Now I have finally made the Siena:

The Siena has a vintage bowling alley feeling, I think. And it is a great canvas for striped fabric. This fabric is from Marcia Derse's commercially printed lines. It is called ice blue frost, from her Bookends series. It is a light-weight cotton border print and reads as a kind-of stripe. The selvage contains a wide painterly stripe of medium and dark blue. I used that for the front panel and the back yoke.

I am totally enamored of her prints. If you are interested in her, see her story here. It almost makes me want to run dye some fabric. Almost. I'd much rather sew and let people like Marcia do the dyeing.

The Siena is a great summer top. I shortened mine about 1.5 inches for a more flattering length on me. And I've seen it lengthened into a long winter vest. It's fun to think of all the variations in proportion.

I made a straight Medium and discovered (ahem) that I needed more room through the hips/tummy. Luckily there are 6 vertical seams - the side seams, the front panel seams, and the back panel seams. So I was able to let it out enough to feel more comfortable. I do not like for things to fit tightly at this stage in my life.

The Siena lends itself to stripes, I think. All the panels allow you to reorient the grain for interesting effect. The main print creates a horizontal striped effect from selvage to selvage. I rotated this 90 degrees for the side panels, so that the stripes run vertically. I also rotated the sleeves to run the stripe vertically.

The pattern is nicely drafted with a conventional back yoke, collar band, and collar. These are men's shirting details that I like a lot.

Have you seen the new issue of American Craft? It looks interesting, doesn't it?

My new Peony vest is in a stage of reverse engineering. Stay tuned, if you can stand more Sewing Workshop ruminations and exclamations! I hope that you are staying cool if you are in the middle of this hot, hot summer we are having in the US. A great time to stay inside and sew.

Monday, July 25, 2016

The Village Bag

I am still on a pattern binge with The Sewing Workshop (TSW). The Village Bag is a pattern that I think I received free last year while attending Sew Kansas. Linda included a goodie bag for each of us with several unexpected items.

I came home from the workshop, dutifully cut the pattern tissue apart and put it aside. So here I am a year later pulling this pattern out to try. Small wonder I have managed to lose the pattern piece for the handles.

This fabric has a small story. It is heavy cotton canvas, a traditional ticking weave. I purchased it my first day at Sew Kansas 2016 thinking to make a pair of Valencia pants, a sort of wearable muslin. I took it to my brother's house and laundered it,  supposing it would soften up. It did not.

If anything it became more crisp, more stable. This was lucky as I would have been very disappointed in my project. Luckily I also picked up a remnant of gray cross-weave linen at the same time and laundered it. That lovely fabric became my Valencia pants. And they are great. I will post a photo soon.

One zippered pocket on the outside.
As for the ticking - it makes a great bag - a very durable bag, I'm hoping. How could I have ever considered this for pants? When it is nearly 100 F outside?! Just proves that I should be careful to avoid becoming too cocky about my sewing skills. There's always time for a blooper.

Pleated pocket on the other side
It made up nicely as the Village Bag, I think.

I did not have magnets handy and so used Velcro to close the bag.
I moved the interior pockets to the outside. I think I'll enjoy them on the outside more than on the inside.

I had to experiment with the handles since I had lost the pattern piece. The final handles are about 22 inches long. I cut two 4 inch wide strips of red Kona cotton and folded it in half length wise. I pressed this crease, opened it up and pressed both long raw edges to the center fold. After a good steam press, I top-stitched it in place about 1/8" from each edge. This made a nice sturdy pair of handles.

I was over this pattern before I finished the bag so I got in a hurry. I made some slight changes in the construction. I did not box the bottom corners. And I inserted the straps before completing the bag. The instructions are to complete the bag and then sandwich the raw ends of the handles in the upper corners, top-stitching in place. These do make sweet tucks, but I am good with this bag.

Fun quick project. I like making the occasional bag. This is more of a tote, as I prefer a small handbag.

The Sewing Workshop binge continues. I have a new Peony vest cut out.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Alabama Chanin in Kansas

After the 3 day workshop, Sew Kansas, Linda Lee offered a class on Alabama Chanin. The project was a scarf although some people opted to upgrade to a t-shirt, the eTee. I decided to go with the scarf. Here is mine:

Because we were working with stenciled fat eighths from Alabama Chanin, we used negative reverse applique.  Reverse applique requires two complete layers. Negative reverse applique involves cutting away the background of the top layer and so is perfect for using these small stenciled pieces on a larger piece, in this case, a scarf. 

Yep, I'm hooked. My birthday is coming up. Maybe I need to buy a kit from Alabama Chanin. I loved that the stenciling part was complete. The sewing part is what I love.

The following are samples from the Sewing Workshop, not my work:

Friday, July 22, 2016

Sew Kansas 2016 Part II

Day 2 of this year's Sew Kansas involved some actual sewing on my part.

My Valencia pants are clearly too long. More tweaking needed. I'm wearing it with a Zona sample from TSW collection. It has been lengthened and sewn in several different denims. I really like the styling on the Zona and would not have thought about lengthening it into a jacket. 
It is interesting to see how different people manage the time. Some people sew constantly. One friend made 3 pairs of pants, 2 tops and then she cut out a jacket. I like to wander some, make notes, take pictures, and sew a little.

My approach generated one pair of Valencia pants and a lot of inspiration/information. The fabric is a cross-dyed gray linen. It's that signature flat front found in the Plaza, Urban and Trio pants. The Valencia is the most basic of those four pants patterns. Not much to show for 3 days, eh?

I'm back home and I still need to tweak the length a bit.

But I had fun trying things on and taking pictures to extend the inspiration/information plunge once home.

This is an example of something that was fun to try on. This is a sample of the Tosca dress. It does not do much for me. Good to know.

One of my favorite activities at Sew Kansas is exploration of their basement. They store *vintage* Sewing Workshop garments here.

There are an assortment of details in these older garments that are always appealing to me.

Inventor Shirt

Joplin Pullover

San Diego jacket

Mix It shirt as a vest
And here is a gorgeous version of the Tremont jacket by Karen Tornow. The chunks of color on the front panel, sleeves and elsewhere are a single layer of fabric. All fabrics are boiled wool. This means there is no need to finish the edges, reducing bulk. These colors are full of cheer.

Please note that except for the boring gray pants in the first picture, these are samples from the Sewing Workshop, NOT my work. But I can dream.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Sew Kansas 2016 Part I

I am just about to depart Topeka for home, having completed a 3 day workshop, Sew Kansas, followed by a one day seminar on the Alabama Chanin lifestyle and techniques.

Tops: MixIt shirt, Future shirt pattern, Plaza vest, Barcelona top, Siena top (below), Tremont Jacket
This is the second Sew Kansas for me - the first was in 2015.  Sew Kansas is a 3 day workshop taught by Linda Lee of The Sewing Workshop. It takes place in her shop in Topeka KS.

This is a version of the San Diego jacket, an older TSW pattern.

Good lighting. Great company. Fun times. Delicious food as needed. Individual help. And wonderful master classes taught by Linda Lee several times a day. Each of us chose what and when to work on sewing projects.

Here is the vintage San Diego on me.
Linda Lee is an experienced and accomplished interior designer and it certainly shows in the design and layout of her shop. One large room contains the classroom studio with Bernina sewing machines, samples of each current pattern in multiple sizes, the patterns, notions, fabrics and work stations for each of the 4 employees. It seems like a lot for one room, but it is arranged artfully and efficiently.

And here is a new version of the San Diego. Cool, eh?
Monique, one of the students, modeled her new San Diego. It is still being tweaked but will also include a cute tunic version. Can you see the interesting hem line?
It is always exciting to see what is in the works. I like the older version of the San Diego but I cannot wait for the new version to come out.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Sewing at 75 MPH

July is a month full of travel. And heart-break, evidently.

I am a passenger, not a driver. What is driving us all?

Lord, have mercy.

This piece is small but can grow organically thanks to Jude Hill of Spirit Cloth, and her combination of instruction and inspiration, especially here.

Despite the speed at which I am being propelled from one location to the next, I am engaged in slow sewing. Maybe not my best work, but still satisfying. And the light is fantastic.

I keep wanting to hand-quilt a larger quilt but traditional techniques have failed to sustain me. Just too much to manage, once the top, batting, and back are all pinned or otherwise basted together. I feel like I'm drowning.

I tried omitting the batting. After all I live in the southeast US and so a light quilt would be useful. It was still unwieldy and I did not like the way the layers worked (did not work) together.

So, thanks, Jude. This approach fits my needs just fine, as I am always working from the edges.

It will remain light weight with mostly 2 layers, and it will have two right sides.

Or two wrong sides.

Hoping and making.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Independence Day

Today we in the United States celebrate our independence from England. I wonder about all this. Can patriotism morph into nationalism to easily?

This day certainly brings back memories. And I am an American, happy to be one.

Quilts are an American tradition, especially scrappy quilts. This one is about 72 inches square with wool batting and a plain white back. One of a few UFO's that I am trying to finish.

This one makes me happy. Happy day to you!