Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Really, I don't sew all day long (I wish!) - I really do teach school! Here's the proof! I had one of my Yearbook students take a few pictures this afternoon. The outfit I'm wearing is the top from Simplicity 4074 (review on PR) and the skirt is the chocolate brown one I finished yesterday from Vogue 2925 (review on PR; that version is black). The earrings are ebony wood that is both the heartwood - the dark color everyone is familiar with, and the sapwood which is a golden brown. They're special because we bought them in the French Market in New Orleans on a anniversary trip about 8 or 10 years ago. The lower pics show them better.
Yes, the desk is a mess! It was the end of the day, and having Yearbook last hour doesn't help. I'm trying to get students the paperwork they need, plus deal with the quiz and test that I gave earlier in the day, get grades done for Progress Reports and grade the papers that were due today. The paper due today was for my Physical Science class; it is what I call the "Natural Disaster Paper". I gave them each a significant disaster (like Hurricane Katrina or the Northridge Earthquake) and had them write about it, its destruction and what is being done for early warning/evacuation plans in case of a future disaster. Really opened some eyes in my class.
Here I am at the end of the day, having a good time with my class. Tomorrow and Thursday I'll be hiking and finishing up Mrs. Rucker's stuff. I *will* work on American Beauty before the end of the week, and start on a shortie 50's coat, too. I haven't forgot about the jeans, either. Working and hiking doesn't leave much time for jeans, but I'll get to them.
I've done and seen a lot of crazy things in my journey through the sewing world. I used to do alterations for people in college - I've seen everything from tape to paper clips to staples in hems. But glue?!?!? Well, yes, there actually is a time and place for it. That's exactly what I got in this week - a skirt from Mrs. Rucker to hem that was suede with the original hem glued. So, I glued the new hem in place, as I always try to have the finished product look like the original, without anyone having messed with it. Have I told you about Mrs. Rucker?
Mrs. Rucker is an older lady in her 80's in our church, and she brings me the nicest, most intersting clothes. She's still an avid shopper and does keep up with the styles. She likes to shop at Talbots and places like that, and likes QVC, too. Sometimes I don't always get the best quality stuff to fix or alter, but Mrs. Rucker brings me some real gems. She herself can sew, and quite well, too. She took tailoring lessons in Japan when she lived there. Her mother sewed, too and her aunt used to work at one of the old woolen mills around here. Mrs. Rucker gave me a great lot of vintage wool fabric from her aunt's collection when she passed away. She once brought me a vintage navy blue skirt made by her mother to alter. Her mother used to make these skirts for someone who sold them on 5th Ave. in NYC. The skirt was gorgeous - lots of details and beautiful handworked arrowhead tacks at stress points and for decoration. I was a little hesitant about altering it, but Mrs. Rucker didn't seem to care. I do get nervous about doing work for her - she knows her stuff. I guess if she didn't think I did a decent job, I wouldn't have done altering for her for the past 3 or 4 years.
This season she brought me a black stretch denim skirt that needed to be rehemmed - whoever did it, did not use the right stitch length, needle and tension. The stitching was all wavy and ripply. Fixed. No problem. I got the above mentioned suede skirt, and just need to reattach a small section of leather trim that covers some fringe trim. There's a green leather jacket that I need to shorten the sleeves on tonight and a decorative pillow she wants me to make smaller. No problem.
Then there was the green faux suede skirt with the 1/4" hem. It needed to be shortened 4". I thought it was 5". Oops. Don't ask me why I got that in my head! I always write down all the numbers and do the math on the paper and check my calculations. With those tiny hems, there's no room for error. I have never made that kind of mistake on a customer's garment. I realized it just after starting to trim off the too long part. So, I called her to let her know and ask if that was a problem. She wears her skirts long, so it probably wasn't a big deal. Most people would not have noticed that their skirt was an inch shorter, but it was my mistake and I wanted to let her know right up front. The skirt ended up being 30 1/2" long instead of 31 1/2". She wasn't upset and said that as long as I didn't cut it above her knees she was happy. Whew. Problem solved, skirt is done.
That was a minor stupid fabric trick that could have gone major. We've all made them - well, maybe you haven't, but I've made plenty. It's all in how you deal with it. I just own up to it, take a deep breath and figure out a solution. Sometimes I even laugh about it. An occassional blunder every now and again reminds me that I'm human and haven't arrived at perfection . . . . yet. Anybody out there with a stupid fabric trick you want to share?
Sunday, September 24, 2006
(and what hasn't been going on in the studio)
My birthday was actually Tuesday, but I was teaching that day.
My husband gave me a new choker necklace and my children gave me a silver and onyx ring. My in-laws gave me this book:
Just what I wanted! My mother had one, and if I would have been thinking when I visited my parents this summer, I would have asked for it. She had the original version, as does my mother-in-law, and I've borrowed hers many times. I told my mother-in-law that I didn't care if she found an older version somewhere I'd take that too. The new one has the exact same drawings for the techniques, except they're in different colors, not just all gold.
I bought myself these:
New hiking boots! I really needed these after hiking Mt. Osceola - my ankles felt like they've beat up a bit too much. I tried on three pair and these were the ones that fit right, and weren't the most expensive (surprise! only $140!) in the day hiker/short trip category. It doesn't really matter what the cost - if the boots don't fit and your feet hurt, no amount of money can take that pain away.
So, as much as I schemed, it didn't seem that I could really have the American Beauty coat ready for a photo shoot today to get my entry in the mail. I did devote every minute I could spare for several days and then came to an epiphany - no matter how much pressure I put on myself, the project would not be ready, I wasn't enjoying it, and it wouldn't turn out as nice as I'd like anyway. I took a deep breath and let it go. I will finish it, it just will not be in the Road to California Show in Jan., I think I'll make the deadline for the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival. I'm not too worried about it. I'm not making the garment for a deadline or a show. I'm making it because I want to, and because I enjoy the whole process. Putting myself under pressure goes against all of that.
Instead, what did I opt to do? Try out the new boots, of course. My friend and I hiked Mt. Moosilauke. Originally, another friend had planned to go, but discovered when we met at the school that he couldn't go, as most of the teachers were leaving for the away volleyball game. We called him from the summit - it ended up working out that he stayed as the furnace guy came and he had a lot of unexpected phone business.
We used the Gorge Brook Trail and the final approach to the summit is below - it's pretty open at the top, you can barely pick out the rock path and it's cairns up to the summit from the scrubby trees in the background. Although it was pretty sunny, the wind was blowing, and I ended up in my winter parka due to the wind chill at the top. I don't have a picture of me at the top - that picture ended up on my friend's camera!
Here's a view to the west from the summit.
Gorge Brook trail follows a brook on the bottom part of the trail - here's a picture of it, not much fall color yet, but there will be. One last picture from part way up the moutain at point that you could see out past the trees.
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Carolyn, over on her blog, raised an interesting question earlier this week along the lines of who was your sewing teacher and why were they special. I am pretty much self taught, with the exception of a Kenneth King class via Patternreview on couture strap seams, so there isn't a clear cut answer for me. I have been greatly inspired by my own mother.
She must have learned how to sew either from her mother or in Home Ec in high school. I'm not sure. I know my grandmother said her aunts taught her how to sew, but grandmother didn't say anything about my mother's experience. My mother died when I was 12 in a car accident, and needless to say, I ended up using all the sewing/craft stuff. I got a machine, patterns, fabrics, notions, knitting needles, crochet hooks, craft books, embroidery floss and transfers, the whole nine yards (and more). I still have all the knitting, embroidery and crocheting stuff, and have used it plenty. The only true sewing stuff I still have is the poor old pincushion and the tracing wheel. The sewing machine my father still has, and undoubtedly, I'll end up with it some day. In short, I began sewing on the machine right after her death, with the notion in my head that if she could sew, so could I. My first project was a pair of bubble gum pink brushed twill, triple row elastic waist culottes. I figured that was an easy enough pattern. Needless to say, I've come a long way from that pair of culottes.
Here are some memories of my mother and her sewing:
Some of my earliest memories were of me playing under the dining room table while my mother sewed. We lived in Germany at the time in base housing in a large apartment building. My mother had an old Singer (I think) that would only do straight stitches, I'm pretty sure. The reason I say this is that whenever she needed a buttonhole done, she'd have to take it downstairs to someone she knew to have the buttonholes made.
I remember the day the new Singer came home. I was about 3, and it was a very big deal. My dad still has this machine. It still is a great machine, and would do all sorts of "automatic" things, like buttonholes! You could also do fancy stitches with it, provided that you put the correct cam in the top of the machine. I remember the white plastic box that came with the machine with all the cams in it. One of her first projects was to make a dress for herself. It was a watercolor fabric - mostly yellow and greeny yellow and purple, a dark royal purple. (Do remember this was the early 70's!). The dress was empire waist with flutter sleeves. It also had dark purple velvet trim at the waist. The trim I remember well because she sent my dad and I out to get the ribbon. Now why she would do that, I can't imagine, but off we went. I remember standing in the store looking at an entire wall of ribbons in little clear plastic boxes, packaged much like watch bands are today - all in various widths and colors. I remember my dad asking me which one I thought we should get. I'm sure he knew, but was involving me, or he really was wavering between 1/2" and 5/8" - he's like that. Whatever we bought was right, because it went on the dress. She also used a fancy shell like stitch on the hems of the sleeves in dark purple, thread, too. She probably wore the dress with the bright yellow patent wedge clogs with the cork wedges (she had a pair in patent lime green, too and a golden yellow woven leather pair, too).
[Yes, I have a pretty good memory and remember all sorts of little details]
With the new machine, she made all sorts of stuff from clothes for the family to home dec. She absolutely loved holidays and she would make me all kinds of outfits to match the holiday. This continued even into elementary school after my brother was born. I remember the time she made us matching emerald green and white outfits for St. Patrick's Day! My brother was just over a year old, and he had a white turtleneck and green jumpsuit, and I had a white ruffly blouse and green jumper.
She also made me an outfit for my first day of kindergarten - it was aqua blue denim, and was a pair of jeans and matching jacket. She used the special "arrowhead" stitch cam in dark aqua to embellish it. In my excitement, I was running home from school that day, fell on the sidewalk, and you guessed it - put a hole in the knee of the pants. My clever mother saved the outfit by hand embroidering an owl patch in brown/orange/gold to put over the hole and embroidered a matching motif on the back of the jacket to unify the whole thing. My mom was so awesome - I would have been annoyed if that would have been me!
One last memory - the fabric stash. Yes, she had one. It was in large cardboard box in the closet. She saved every scrap from every project (in case she needed to fix holes made by some little girl!), and she organized each different fabric or related fabrics in old bread bags. When we needed a piece of fabric, we would go through the box pulling out bag after bag of fabric. I'm not sure whatever happened to that box, I think my dad got rid of it. I know he rolled his eyes at it more than once, but he's a pack rat too, I just never bothered to mention it to him!
I have other memories, but I'll save those for another time . . . . .
Sunday, September 17, 2006
Don't ask, I kind of feel like I'm stuck on this issue and can't post new stuff until I get it resolved and move forward. Which is what I'm doing with this post - resolving and moving on!
Thank you ladies who have put in some comments and suggestions! They are appreciated no matter how insignificant you may think they are. I get ideas and inspiration from all sources - talented people in sewing and art and those that are not either of those things.
Ok, so what did I decide? Well, I was thinking some of the same thing as Lynn - in order to make this work, I need to bring that lighter color somewhere else visible on the coat. The facings are that color, but as facings, you usually don't see them. I'm thinking a quilted band along the bottom, will have to do a faced hem, but that's appealing - quilted yoke and hem, and fur cuffs and collar. Seems fairly balanced. Vicki and Patsijean both suggested that yoke/coat seam needed something. I like the idea of a piping in the yoke/body seam, too, it needs a little something and is a bit dull at the moment. I could do an uncrushed velvet piping, that's darker - oooo - and put that between the yoke/coat and coat/hem band, too. Or . . . . I could do a entre-duex strap seam on those seams with little red beads, just like I'm going to do on the princess seams of the dress. Hmmmm . . . I've been wanting to put beads or something sparkly on the coat. Yes, now you know, I'm a bead, sequin and rhinestone magpie. I really do love prettily beaded things, not overdone, unless its a silly piece anyway (I've done those and will share another time!). Great, now I have to decide! I really like where this is headed now! I'm excited again and need to get back into the studio and off this computer. I can at least finish up the cuffs and get those on the coat and start work on the bottom bands.
Thanks again for the comments, this is why I started blogging - it helps so much to have opinions and other sets of eyes looking at what I've looked at too long. You get that tunnel vision and an outside perspective is really great!
I'll post an update in a few days. I have to substitute teach Algebra II and Chemistry tomorrow for a colleague who is going to a conference in Connecticut, I teach my own classes on Tuesday and am hiking Mt. Moosilauke on Wed. (new hiking boots, yeah!). Soooooooo . . . . I've got work to do!
Some things look better in the morning . . . .
So I slept on the whole dilemma. I was planning on working on it last night, but sat and watched TV with my husband instead. I've decided to go with Option A. I have put a lot of time and work into this already. For the most part, I am happy with the results. Appliquing the roses of the lining in two red tones, plus the sheer with the two tone roses, plus handmade roses in both reds will unify the whole thing. So, it's full speed ahead.
Let's back up a bit though. I didn't show you the crushing of the velvet. Very easy to do and if you don't like the result, you can always wash it in the washing machine and try it again. Threads March 2004, has excellent instructions for this process, but I'll put in my own details here.
Basically, you lay the velvet face up on the ironing board and gather a section with your fingers. This ends up being about 6 inches wide or so. The gathers don't have to be even, and actually that's the point. Then, with a hot iron (correct temp for the vevlet fibers!) and full steam, iron those gathers flat. This will flatten the nap on the top, but the fabric within the folds will remain uncrushed. Let fabric cool, and move on to another section. I crushed the whole 4+ yards and then cut out the pattern pieces.
I've got one cuff faced and ready to put on the sleeve, and will get the other one done today. I can then work on the facings and the fur collar. I tried on the coat yesterday and I think the collar will need some trimming off. It's a bit too big, but I knew that I wouldn't really know how it would look until this stage. I'll have to see about that button/closure, too.
Once the front facing/fur collar is done, it's on to the lining. Well, if I ever get the 10 yards of white silk that I ordered two weeks ago. I've enquired via emial, and it should be here this week. I need it not only for the coat lining, but for the dress!
Saturday, September 16, 2006
I am so bummed . . .
I got the coat body together with the yoke last night. After I crushed the velvet, of course. The sewing was fine. The color is not. The yoke and the body don't match in color. The yoke is a strawberry red and the body is more of a true lipstick red. I knew they wouldn't be exact - nothing is, but I didn't count on the wash pulling so much of the dye out of the silk. I don't know what I was thinking in going ahead and making the yoke. I probably have enough velvet to redo the yoke in velvet, but just enough - I bought all the rest of the velvet on the hanger, so there isn't any more. I won't have enough to do the facings for the body or the cuffs, either. If I buy more dupionni, I can't wash it, but then I'll have the bleeding dye issue all over again.
Right now, I really don't even want to think about it. I have an entry deadline, Oct. 1, for a show I was hoping to put the coat in. I could put in Little Red Empress in stead. Now I'm stalled a bit. I know I can make the deadline - I only need the standard pictures - front, back, and detail. The lining doesn't have to be done. But the colors not matching . . . . that's a problem. No matter how well stitched, no matter how many couture details, if the colors don't match or at least coordinate it's not going to fly. I've spent a lot of time and money on this and I'm not happy with the result. Here's another nasty twist - the sheer fabric with the flocked roses - remember that? The roses are two different colors - yes, would you believe it, the red of the yoke and the red of the body. They are the strawberry red, with darker red edges - you do have to take a good look at them, though.
Rant over. Now for the reality. I need to do something. Realistic ideas:
Option A: Leave it. Don't dwell on it. Pretend like it's ok for the coat fabrics not to match. Maybe if I do the appliques on the lining in both colors it will tie the whole mess together. Maybe the American Quilt Society National Show judges won't notice, either. Coordinating reds, not anal retentively matched reds. Right. . . .
Option B: Make yoke out of uncrushed velvet. Requilt everything, including trapunto rose. Make facings out of white dupionni with white fur. Problem is - velvet shows holes. No restitching allowed. Ummmmm, I don't think so, at least not after the experience with the first trapunto.
Option C: Make yoke out of white dupionni, no color matching required, but risk looking like a candy cane or barber pole, or worse, Santa Claus. This might work if I redid the fur in white. Since the fur for the cuffs is made and one cuff is ready for stitching on, this isn't a really attractive option.
Here are the pics, as bad as it is. I can't account for your computer monitor, but I did take this stuff out in the sunlight after taking the pictures, and it really doesn't matter what kind of light it's in. The top one is the closest to reality. I stuck a cuff up around the neck to get a feel for how the collar will look. The second one was taken with flash, and is a bit washed out, but shows the crushed velvet, nicely.
If any one wants to vote on the options, or has any ideas, let me know. Off to percolate - this is off my chest, and acutally Option A is looking pretty good . . . .
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
First, I'm up! Last night a good friend called me and asked if I still had sewing classes on Wednesday morning. Now, she's an artist but taught school part-time with me for the past two years, and I couldn't imagine her wanting to sew, so I asked why she wanted to know. Turns out she wants to go hiking. Yeah! I love to hike! I take my kids hiking, but I can't do some of the bigger mountains with them - they're still a bit young. They can do 5 mile hikes, but that's their limit. She didn't know where we were going and said she'd let me know in the morning. I met up with her and the school's administrative coordinator (he's a glorified secretary, actually!) at the school, and it turns out we ended up climbing Mt. Osceola, one of the many 4,000 footers here in New Hampshire (it's 4,380 ft. to be exact). So, here I am, at the summit - the town in the background in the valley is Waterville Valley, a popular ski resort area. Off to the right, beyond the picture, are the ski slopes of Mt. Tecumseh, Waterville Valley's Ski area. The bottom picture we had taken just to be silly. The summit has a couple of ledges, and you can climb down on a lower one and make it look like you're hanging off the edge of the mountain, if you frame up the picture just right.
I'm in! I got notice that all three ensembles are accepted for A Quilter's Gathering's Made to Wear Fashion Show and competition. This will be a lot of fun! The fashion show isn't until Nov. 4, but I need to get the garments down to the coordinator in Chelmsford, Mass between Oct. 19-25. Here's what's in - I'll model at least the denim outfit, Raspberry Frazzle Dazzle, if not the cape. Not sure about the cape (back view, below), Rising From the Ashes, it's a large and a bit too big and long for me. I'll see about getting a model for the cape - the show is in Nov. in Nashua, NH - shouldn't be too hard! My daughter will model the Little Red Empress, of course. You can read about them by following the links to my website, badly in need of updating.
Tonight, I'm working on American Beauty, hopefully will update either Thursday or Friday!
Monday, September 11, 2006
Drip, Drip, Drip . . . .
I'm still percolating over the front button, so I've decided to list what I can do and why it might or might not work.
Hook and eye: Just boring, and an easy way out.
Grommet and Toggle: Too casual for this coat.
Vintage Button and Buttonhole: Might work, finding a unique large button to go with the fabric might be tricky. Handpainted ones are nice, but are too "shabby chic" for my tastes. Living in the boontoolies doesn't help in locating these gems either. I've done several rounds through the net's greatest flea market, but nothing's quite right.
Rhinestone Button and Buttonhole: I'd probably have to get this off the net, again, hoping to get a match.
Covered Button and Buttonhole: Easy, but too obvious of a solution.
Red velvet ribbons that tie in a large bow: Would make it look like a really fancy housecoat. The matching of the reds would be a trick, too.
Polymer Clay Button and Butttonhole: Might end up too homemade looking, these are great for the right outfit - this isn't it. I've made some really nice ones before, though.
Large covered snap, with Handmade fabric rose positioned over the snap on the outside: This does have some appeal, but not sure how it would look with the fur collar. I don't want the fur and flower to fight. Nothing would come out smelling like a rose.
Still thinking, but the rhinestone button has appeal because this is a fancy coat, and I wouldn't mind shelling out $25.00 or so for one really nice button. The flower has appeal because it ties in with the whole theme of the garment, and there will be some on the dress, somewhere. I guess I really do want to make the button, by next week the components should be done and I should be able to see what the coat really needs.
Now for the good news and bad news.
The good news: I got the second cuff done this morning!
The bad news: I went to start the quilting on the front yokes/undercollar and took a good look at the back yoke with the trapunto and nearly fell over. Some of the boxes aren't perfectly square and worst, the motif is not lined up perfectly with the background. The x's that are formed by the lines of the quilted background should be lined up exactly in the center of the motif and then build around it. Nope, it was about 1/4" to 3/8" off. I am still working on requilting about three quarters of the back yoke. Ugh. I only have a little to go, and I think I can finish it before making dinner and going to music practice.
Saturday, September 09, 2006
He should be nimble and flexible, with all the climbing up buildings and whatnot that he does. No, really, my 5 year old son starts piano lessons on Monday. He is so excited, now he gets to take lessons just like his sister (she's a 3rd year piano student). I'm sure it will wear off, but for now I'll take the enthusiasm. The only down side is that dear old mom knows how to play the piano too, and she knows when something isn't played right!
Like every project, this one started with a dig through the stash to see what was available. My son spotted the spider web fabric right away and wanted that. Don't ask what it was doing in my stash, I think it was for an art to wear project that never got started. Lots of ideas, so little time. Then he wanted a spider on the bag and a music note. The bag I made his sister has a music note, so he wanted one, too. Red and black cotton, and some stiff Pellon stuff for underlining (layered under the outer fabric, with both treated like one layer) finished out the fabric stash raid.
I told him if he wanted a spider, I needed artwork to work from. The music notes came from some piano music of my own, courtesy of JS Bach, Invention 1. He came up with a small spider sticker - it's on the lower right of the picture below. It was big enough to draw up a larger spider, so he was thrilled.
The bag is just what I call a "box tote". Bascially, it's a large rectangle (sometimes, as below, I have to stitch two pieces together), to which I attach the handles and any appliques first. The handles are topstitched on and the appliques are fused with Steam-A-Seam 2 and then satin-stitched. In the picture below, you can see the rectangle ready for the finishing seams.
The rectangle is then folded in half and sewn down each side. I then make a fold, bringing the sides seams and the bottom center together and sew across the triangle, as below. This seam makes the width of the bottom and sides, making a 2D piece of fabric into a 3D box with an open top. The second picture shows what this looks like from the outside of the bag. I make a lining the same way, slip it inside and bind the top edges. Done.
Here he is. I couldn't resist the second picture - he makes the most silly faces sometimes.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
No, I did not run naked through the streets shouting this like Archimedes in ancient Alexandria. This is exactly what Archimedes did when he discovered the prinicple of water displacement while in the bath. Can you tell I'm back in teaching mode?Ok, done with the arcane fact of the day and moving on.
I did however, have great success with the putting the fur on the cuffs! I am thrilled and when something works and looks great, it's even better. I've been working on how to get the yarn that makes up the fur portion on properly. It's wound around a core, stitched down and the major problem was that the core needed to be removed. After many unsuccessful attempts with all sorts of things, I finally got it right. The main problem was that I was removing the core before stitching, which left me with a lot of loops, which stitched unevenly. There would be 3/4" of yarn on one side and 1/4" on the other and stuff like that. Not good enough. I need even pile that won't have to be trimmed out evenly. It finally struck me that if I left the core in, stitched down the middle, clipped the loops to make the pile, and then removed the core, it would be easier. The core is perforated by the stitching and just pulls out! DUH!!!!!!
So, here's the pictures of the process . . . .
First thing, each row of yarn has a tulle ruffle base. I found that it was easier to stitch all the tulle ruffles on first and then stitch all the yarn units on afterward. Reason being is that I used a marking pencil to make the lines for the ruffles, if I stitch both the tulle and yarn on at the same time, I can't see the lines and get everything lined up right. I can see through the tulle and make sure it's stitched on straight. Pinning the yarn units on top of that row of stitching is much easier, as I can turn it over and make sure the pins are right through the seam line. The cuff below has a few rows of yarn, but the remainder are just tulle at this point.
Once the units are stitched on top of the ruffles, then the yarn is clipped along the edges of the stabilizer, producing the pile of the fur. The bottom picture shows the stabilizer still in the fur, which I simply pull out and throw away. You can also see the placement lines for the ruffles - this pic was taken before I placed the rest of the ruffles, still in the "developing the process" stage.
Hopefully by the end of the weekend, I will have the other cuff done, and can move on to the fur collar.
Meanwhile, I'm still percolating about the button for the front of the coat. It needs to be no smaller than 1", but could be up to 2". I can do a plain covered one or a vintage one, but I feel I need something a little more unique and probably handmade. I just need one for the front. Any ideas?
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
In which not much has been happening over the last few days. I had planned on doing more sewing than actually occurred on Labor Day. Not a major problem - spending time with my husband and kids is more important than sewing. Sewing can wait, family time can't.
So here's the studio, in full production actually. I have a whole room in the lower level of our house (we have a split level, with the bottom level completely finished). The sewing space and workout space share the one room, and it works out rather well, especially when I need a large floor space to cut out home dec stuff. I have a lot of storage space - that's one huge closet that goes all the way across the room (no, you don't want to know how much fabric is lurking behind door number 1, 2 or 3!)
This room did not start out this way. When we got the house it was minty/aqua/greeny shade, all the wood work was brown, the closet doors were brown, it had brown carpet, a ginormous ceiling fan with four pathetic lights in the center of the room, and a ceiling where the previous owners had glued paneling to the bare sheetrock and covered the seams with brown trim. Ugh. Double ugh about the ceiling. After a few years, I just couldn't live with it any longer.
I painted it light grey, painted all the trim white, got rid of the closet doors (still need to get the mirrored bifolds to put in!), got rid of the carpet (best thing I ever did), and dealt with the ceiling. When it was obvious we could not take the paneling down without completely destroying the ceiling, we decided to remove the trim and texture paint the whole thing. Until we rip it out, and put in recessesd lighting, this will do. The texture painting took me about 8 hours, and that stuff is really heavy working overhead. I replaced the awful fan with a halogen fixture - much better light and I can put it where I want it. I also have a little light by the ironing board for extra light at night on the ironing board. White blinds and shelves and a lot of little plastic bins completed the transformation for the sewing part.
I have a design wall as well, behind the cutting table. I made it myself and built it in the room, it's too large to get out the door. If I ever have to remove it, I will have to cut the frame. It's a large frame of 1x2's screwed together and then covered with a queen-size Warm and Natural white batting. Fabric sticks to it, and I can pin stuff to it. It functions not only as a design wall, but a sort of bulletin board and picture backdrop.
Here's the workout end of the room. A wall mounted TV, black rubber floor tiles and 2 large mirrors (thank you, former ballerina MIL!) finished off the workout side. The mirrors are also a bonus for fitting myself and others.
Sunday, September 03, 2006
To either find or make jeans that fit. I went shopping yesterday for new jeans. I could probably end the post here. Enough said, huh?
So I tried on 7 different pair, in varying cuts. Only one pair fit me, the Tommy Hilfiger boyfriend jean, and it was a bit too loose and I really needed a size smaller, which they didn't have in stock. The problem I have with jeans is not that I'm a fluffy girl, or one with really unusual proportions. Yes, I'm petite, but leg length has nothing to do with the fact that if I can fit my thighs in the jeans the backwaist could be taken in anywhere from 3 to 6 inches. If I fit my waist - there's no way on this planet my thighs will even remotely be able to fit into the legs of the jeans. I tend to be a little on the hippy side, with more of an hourglass figure. I am coming to terms with this. I work out and watch my diet, but the truth is, if I diet down and get my butt and thighs to where I am happy with them, my upper body will be pretty skeletal. Needless to say, I am not sacrificing the years of heavy lifiting to get my upper body bigger and stronger by dieting away what muscle I've earned.
I refuse to wear Mom jeans.
Joann's was my next stop. I picked up Sandra Betzina's jeans pattern. Its Vogue 7608 , almost everyone is pretty familiar with it. Its the one with the silver haired model whose golden jeans are too short for her boots ala early Star Trek. (My opinion, but I've always thought this, my apologies to the Vogue photo shoot stylists.) I think this is a good starting place. I can use the GAP jeans that I am currently wearing that I like and adapt the pattern. They are slightly straight cut, but with a low rise. They're great, but are starting to shred in the absolute worst of places - at the pocket rivets in the back, the crotch and the crease where the thigh meets the leg. Wouldn't you know it, they don't carry this style anymore!
I know I have denim in the stash and once I complete the black vintage dress and the little faux fur vest, I will work on a muslin for the jeans.
On the bright side, I stopped at Peggy Anne's since I was in Concord, and bought some Kaffe Fassett fabric for $6.50 a yard on sale. Peggy herself also told me that she's is going to be carrying HotPatterns in her shop! I had mentioned HotPatterns to her last fall at a quilt show where she was a vendor and I was a competitor. Since then, Jeremy and crew have decided sell not only through their website, but through other avenues. Bonus for me!
Saturday, September 02, 2006
Two Days Later . . . .
I finally finished the trapunto rose medallion. It looks good, and I'm finally happy with it. I know, I know, two days for a 5 1/2" x 4 1/2" medallion?!? Yes, two days. That's all I sewed on, with the exception of hemming a brown polar fleece sweatshirt for a very petite, very eldery lady in my church. That took 30 minutes tops, taking longer to get set up, find the right thread and set up the machine properly for fleece. Back to the medallion . . .
This thing was a real bear to work on. More than once I thought to myself, "You are absolutely crazy, what were you thinking? Why don't you just diamond quilt it like the rest of the pieces?" By now, you might have a slight inkling that I am prone to do some strange things. In the realm of sewing, I can be fearless (or nuts, depending on how you look at it), I will try anything and am willing to cut any fabric, regardless of how expensive. I'm the person who went shopping for my wedding gown lace and forgot the pattern bag for the amount of yardage, had the person lay out a length of lace, mentally placed each piece and came up with needing 1 1/4 yards. It was plenty, and should have been at $135.00 per yard! Definitely the most expensive fabric I've ever bought and sewn.
So here's the medallion in stages. It's machine trapuntoed, not hand tranpuntoed. Meaning that instead of traditionally putting on a back, stitching around the design, cutting a hole in the backing and stuffing the resulting design, I did something else, but common in the quilting world. Basically, you layer your top and some very thick batting, and machine stitch around the design with water soluble thread in the top of the machine and regular in the bobbin. Then you carefully cut out the excess batting, layer your regular batting and back under the top fabric and restitch the whole thing and then quilt around it. After that, you spray the whole thing with water and the water soluble thread magically disappears and you're done. Uh-huh. Yeah right. It's not that easy or simple, especially in a small scale, complicated design. Now, did I think about this when I drafted this stuff? Yes, but, sometimes you have to have a certain design and you just deal with the consequences knowing there will be bumps in the road (or slubs in the silk).
Here's the first stitching. I traced the design on with white dressmaker's pencil and stitched. Big, big, big mistake! It looks like a 5 year old stitched it. What was I thinking? From previous experience, I should have known better. This stuff rubs off very easily and you can't get too far without losing your design. Furthermore, my machine decided it did not like the water soluble thread, no matter what dials I turned and things I adjusted. I don't why, it's stitched that stuff before. Ugh. There is no way I'm keeping this.
With my head on straight, I resorted to a few tricks. Tricks that will cost me a little time later, but will give me the right result. First up, I switched that nasty thread to the bobbin. Most icky threads will run a lot better if bobbin wound and a plain old thread is run through the top. Why didn't I think of this earlier? Well, because the water soluble thread will now be on the bottom, making it more difficult to remove and I will have to pick out the regular thread on the top. (Yes, I did so.) Second, I traced off the design onto tissue paper. Now, I could have used a tear away or water soluble stabilizer, but I am out of both due to another large project, the Burgundy Fall Coat. The down side of tissue paper is that, you guessed it, it will have to be picked out, bit by nasty bit of the final product. Again, a small price to pay for getting the right result. Once that all was done, I had a few corrections to make. Some of the little curlicues weren't even, the right side of the oval was lopsided, etc. The rose itself actually turned out right on the first go around.
I finally trimmed out the thick batting from the back - you can see the medallion from the back with the batting trimmed away at the right.
As if all that wasn't insulting enough, I still had to diamond quilt the whole thing - inside the medallion and out. The first go around was pretty bad, with distorted diamonds. So I picked out the yucky parts and proceeded very carefully, one or two lines at a time, meticulously measuring each line to make sure it was 3/4" away from it's neighbors. It took about 2 hours to complete just the area in and surrounding the oval. For every stop and start, I also had to pull the threads through and tie them off. In quilting with a regular back (not tulle), I would have had to bury the threads too, but in this case with a lining, I just had to tie.
Final pictures! The top one is a scale picture, my brother, the archeologist, would be proud of. He's always bugging me that he can't tell the scale of things in my pictures. I've included the ruler for him and for you. Next is the back yoke by itself, and the last is where it will be placed on the back of the coat on the dressform for a visual reference.
Today I get to go to Joann's and pick up the fur supplies, and I think I'll finish a black vintage dress I started earlier this week before the trapunto took over my life. Then maybe I'll do some easy diamond quilting on other pieces of the coat before tackling the fur on Monday. Whew.
Last, but not least, guess who I saw in my front yard? Mr. Fox. Yes, I really live in the Boontoolies. He came up and was sniffing around while I working on the trapunto one afternoon, and this is the best picture I snapped in haste. The windows were open, and the screens played havoc with the camera, and I wanted to be really quiet. He's about 15-20 feet away from the house.