Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Flash and Trash - Part XI

Fun With Flowers!

Now that the vest is assembled, I can get to one of the more fun parts of the whole project, the embellishments.  To start, I'll need to attach all the fake flowers.  Usually I make my own flowers with  my own templates, but I had all these silk flowers in my studio that weren't being used and the colors worked with the fringe and the velvet so that's what I'm using.  I've pinned the flowers in place with the help of the dress form.  This was nice because I was able to back up and see if I liked the arrangment of all the flowers and leaves.

Before attaching the flowers, I had to decide which threads would look right with which flowers, as I'm going to do a little free motion embroidery/thread painting to attach and enhance the flowers all at the same time.  This is fun because I get to pull out all the metallic and sparkly threads that I have and then find bobbin threads to go with them.  The smaller flowers only needed one color of thread, but some of the larger flowers have up to four different kinds of thread on them. This is only a small selection of the threads I've chosen:

Once the flowers were pinned in place, I dropped the feed dogs on my sewing machine, loaded up the thread and bobbin and attached the flowers. 

I concentrated mostly on the centers, leaving the edges free.

This is very easy to do and works up pretty quickly.

Lastly, there are butterflies, one on the front and one on the back.  These were leftover from a project a many years back which had a butterfly print.  I've had them stored with the silk flowers and funky fibers and never used them.  They even still had the Steam-a-Seam2 backing still on them, so I fused them to the vest and embellished them.  I used a gold glittery thread and outlined all the veins in the wings, and then added a black body in black metallic thread.

Once all the flowers are done, my favorite part will be next:  the beads and sequins!

Parting Shot:  New Glasses.   My daughter got new glasses today.  I noticed a few weeks ago that she was having trouble seeing the television and she admitted to not being able to see well.  After an eye appointment and finding out that her eyes had really deteriorated quite a bit in a 9 month period, we were able to get new glasses that she likes and that improve her eyesight.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Flash and Trash - Part VII

More Quilting!

Now that the main quilting is done, I realized that I wasn't quite done with the quilting part.  The green portion had to be quilted, too!  Sigh.  There were only six pieces, so that was nice!

As you can see, they're done, trimmed and ready for assembly.

Maybe now I can get to the construction!  I know I keep saying that and then I find a few more things I need to make or do before I can get to the construction.  Some projects are like that - you think you only have a few more steps to go and then you keep finding one or two more things that need to be done.  That's how it seem to work for me - and then a "quick" project turns into a week long project!   Tell me I'm not alone on this one!

Parting Shot:  Fabric Love.  My cats love, love, love the velvet fabric for F&T.  It has been hard keeping them away from it.  I'm not sure what it is about it, probably the warm, fuzzy, pile surface, but Wellie is very happy on it.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Flash and Trash - Part VI

Muslin Time

Now that I've got some components made, it is almost time for construction.  Before I actually get to the construction part, I need make a muslin because I'm not going to use the pattern as is.  That shouldn't be a surprise, as for this sort of thing I'm always doing my own thing!

I am using a pattern that I've made before, Burda 2/08, #116.  You saw it in the photos in a previous post, the red vest I was using to pin all the flowers to for placement ideas.  One change I'm making is to change the peplum as drafted to a peplum made from two circles.   This will really give the peplum fullness and flounce.  That part I really don't need a muslin for.  The part I need a muslin for is the bra part.  Cathy is known for wearing a green one over her clothes as a joke at some fashion shows, so I wanted to incorporate that into vest, too.  That's why I chose the green thread for the quilting, in case you wondered, as it was a pretty unlikely partner for the orange/red/yellow velvet.   I have made plenty of bras, too, as stand alone garments, but for this I need to incorporate it into the vest.  What I've done is to take my standard pattern, make it a bit larger and then play with where it needs to fit into the vest to be in the right place on the body.  Once it was in place, I drew the seamline, cut beyond the seamline for seam allowance and then put the two pieces together.

The side in the left of the photo was the first try, but the second try to the right of the photo is much better, so I went with that half when transferring the changes to the pattern.

After that, it was just adjusting and playing with the muslin a bit to get the look I wanted.  With that part done, the muslin came apart to be transferred over to my second set of vest pattern pieces (no need to destroy the original traced pieces).  All I had to do then was to make sure that the shoulder seams were the same width on the back as the front and scoop out the back neck a bit for a nicer look with the narrow "straps".   A little truing up of the lines and the pattern was all done.

Now, to get the green pieces quilted, and then I'll be ready to put the whole thing together!

Parting Shot:  It's Back.  This is why I don't put winter gear away until the first couple of weeks of April.

ColleenP. and LoisK. :  Yes, I live with a network guy, too.  We survived his getting his CCIE (on the first try of the lab, too), and yes, we have a *real* network rack in the basement that he salvaged from somewhere and brought home which is now full of equipment.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Flash and Trash - Part V

The Flash and Trash Part

Now that the quilting is done (thankfully, a vest has few pieces!), I can work on something a little more fun:  another embellishment component, the fringe.  The fringe *is* the flash and trash of this garment - it is what Cathy Franks calls the flash and trash - lots of yarns, fibers, serger trimmings, etc.  So, out of my collections came the stuff for the fringe.

One of the major components of the fringe is yarn.  I have quit a bit of yarn that has been given to me and that has been left over from projects I've knitted.  Most of the leftovers is sock yarn and I really didn't want to make some mish-mosh socks using up all the leftover bits anyway. (VickiW, you should recognize that bright green yarn in the top of the picture.) Between that and some stuff in the right colors from my funky fiber collection and some shiny serger trimmings, I had enough stuff for fringe.  To make the fringe, I simply wound all the yarn and stuff around a DVD case and cut through the yarn strands to get even lengths.

I then laid it all out trying to distribute the colors evenly, but randomly.  I know that doesn't make sense, but I didn't want big clumps of orange or purple with no interesting fibers or shiny ones mixed in.  I guess you could call that "selective randomness" or some such crazy thing, but I just wanted a nice distribution without really trying too hard or counting numbers of strands.

Once the fringe looked pretty much how I wanted it, I stitched a section of it at a time to a piece of twill tape, using a zigzag stitch on the sewing machine.  The twill tape is necessary to hold the fringe together during the construction process and will be trimmed away once the seams are complete. 

The whole process was actually pretty quick and easy, and now there are about 2 or 3 yards of fringe ready for the construction process. 

Once the construction of the vest is done, I can add the flowers - that promises to be fun, because I can pull out all my shiny, sparkly threads!

Parting Shot:  Epic Battle.  Serious military strategy is going on here.  Since the computers are networked, playing these sorts of games against one anther is easy.  Not to mention time consuming, but at least they're busy!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Flash and Trash - Part IV

More Playing, Less Doing

I've been really busy the past few days with judging at a fine arts competition, so not as much quilting has been going on.  While I've made good progress, I do need larger portions of time to work on it.  Maybe tomorrow or this weekend!  At any rate, I've been able to do a bit of playing and planning.

Since I'm using materials I already have, and I already have bags of silk flowers that are doing nothing but taking up space, I've decided to use them in this project.  They will be part of the embellishments for the body of the vest.  So, I've pulled them out and tried out a variety a colors and shapes on the traced pattern pieces and settled on the flowers below.  I also had some extra butterflies cut out of fabric left from another project, which I can use, too.

I pulled a vest out of my closet so that I could experiment with flower placement, too.  It was fun and easy to work on even in small time increments. I could leave it on the dressform and see if I still liked it over time.  Another bonus is that I've been able to photograph the flowers in place on the vest and will be able to reference the photos when I actually attach the flowers later.

Here's what the flowers will look like on the actual vest fabric:

Once the quilting is done, I'll get the vest constructed and then get to actually attach the flowers!

Parting Shot:  Glacial Retreat.  At least it seems like it!  The temperatures have been warm here and the snow is starting to melt.  It looks like spring might be coming soon!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Flash and Trash - Part III

Some Quilting, Although Very Little Quilting

Well, some quilting is better than no quilting, so here is a small section that has been quilted.  This piece is for the hat:

The picture above shows the effect of the embossed stripes but doesn't show the quilting really well, so here's a close-up.  There are two lines of double needle stitching down the outer sides of the embossed stripes.  I've chosen to use some lime green Sulky Holoshimmer for this because there will be a lime green component to the whole piece (more on that later) and I want to tie that component to the background fabric.

Bunny asked whether the velvet was hand dyed or discharged, so I should fill you in on that.  The fabric originally was white silk/rayon velvet.  While beautiful by itself, I really wanted something more unique and different, hence the choice to dye it.   I could have dyed it myself, but I decided to have a professional do it instead.  My friend and professional dyer, VickiW, dyed the velvet for me, but could not guarantee any results.  I was fine with that and sent the fabric down, with the only stipulation that it not come back pink or purple. 

We both knew that the rayon part would be fine with the same dye process used for the fabulous cottons she dyes, but the unexpected element was the silk component.  The silk needs to be dyed with acid dyes, which are different and is a different process than what she does (acid dyes also dye nylon, which I am familiar with) for cottons.  What happened was that the rayon base of the velvet absorbed the dye, which is what you see on the wrong side.  The pile is actually the silk part and did not absorb the dyes.  What I ended up with was a really neat frosted, muted effect, which showed up really well after embossing.  At any rate, I've had the fabric in the closet hanging around for the better part of six months or more waiting for the right project.  This happens to be the right project.  I needed a luxe fabric in a bright color.  Cathy Franks (the inspiration for this project) often uses velvets in her garments, so this is perfect choice!

Now, back to quilting those other pieces!

Parting Shot:  Speaking of Trash.  We almost have a garbage truck.  We put the finishing artistic touches on this afternoon, and my husband will take over this evening with finishing the wheels and weighting the truck just right - there are strict weight limits!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Flash and Trash - Part II

Quilting Choices

I'm now at the point in the project where I'm actually going to begin to make something!  I've decided on all the major details and will share those with you along the way.  The first step I usually do in creating one of my garments is the background quilting.  In this case, this isn't as easy as it sounds due to my fabric choice.  The pile of velvet really obscures a lot of the stitches and I don't have a thread that I'm super happy with as far as a match.  Since I'm trying not to spend any extra money on this project, I'm going to figure out how to make what I have work. 

As you can see from the photo below, I've traced off a full sized back.  This allows me to try out different quilting patterns and motifs and see them in scale before I quilt.   Since there will be other embellishments on top of the velvet and other trims going on in this garment, I've decided to keep the quilting really simple on the body.  I'm actually going to combine a couple of techniques to get the effect that I want.  I'm going to do some stripes.  Sounds easy, but you know I can complicate that quickly.

To make the stripes, I am first going to emboss the velvet with stripes and then quilt the stripes with double needle quilting.  See, this isn't as easy as stitching straight lines on fabric.  The reason for embossing is two fold.  One, it gives another dimension to the velvet.  When you emboss velvet, the embossed portions are a slightly different color that the raised portions.  Two, it is helpful to have a flatter surface to quilt on.  If you've ever sewn with velvet, you know that it can be very slippery.  Quilting it is no different!

The embossing part isn't hard.  I've done it before for the Midnight Garden jacket and used the velvet for the collar, cuffs and back insert. Instead of using a stamp that I made, I'm using a piece of scrap wood from the garage (still trying to go green with this project!) that has the same width as the stripe I want to make.  The velvet is held in place with thumb tacks pile side down, sprayed with water and then ironed with a hot iron.  This crushes the pile and creates the stripes.  Easy, but a bit tedious. 

Here is a piece that has been embossed, has been layered with batting and backing and ready for the quilting:

It doesn't look very exciting, but remember this is meant to be a background to the other stuff I'll be adding.  At this point, the process will be bit a repetitious as I'll be embossing and quilting until all the sections are complete.  I've got a back, two fronts, two peplum sections and a piece for a hat. Next time, I should be able to show you a piece that has been quilted!

Parting Shot:  Garbage Truck.  This will be a garbage truck when we get done with it.  Now that the green is on, we can do all the details.  My son will be racing his truck against the cars/trucks or whatever the other children in his Bible club show up with on Saturday morning.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Flash and Trash -  Part I

Getting To Play

This is one of the most fun parts of these art projects:  getting to make the samples and play with all the stuff that I have.  Not everything thing that I sample will make it into the final product, but I always keep the samples for future reference because an idea that won't work in one project, might work in another.

Since part of this vest is velvet, I needed to know what colors and paint formulations would work on it.  I've got Shiva paintsticks, fabric paints, and fabric paint pens.  What I found was that the paint pens actually worked rather well and left the least residue, which means there was less clumping of the velvet pile.  I also tried Prisma colored pencils and blending them, but I wasn't happy with the result.  The paintsticks weren't quite right for this fabric, either.  I also tried an embossed flower to see how that would look in this velvet.  I'll have to think about how all the embellishments are going to work together before I make a final decision.

Next up was thread choice for quilting.  I had a lot of thread candidates, in all colors and types, but from these early trials, I'm not sure that tight background quilting is the way to go with the velvet.  I think I'm going to have to make it simple and then let the rest of the embellishments really shine.

One other part of the early planning process is doing a few calculations.  I rarely use a pattern as drafted for these sorts of garments.  Because I'm planning on a circular peplum, I needed to measure the hem area and figure out how large of circle I'd need cut.  Actually, I'm going to use two full circles stitched together, but regardless, I needed to do a little math to get the right dimensions.  Some of that stuff from geometry class does come in handy!

Parting Shot:  Mt. Cabot.  Saturday I got to go hiking, which I haven't done as much this winter as I'd like to. I was able to go with a group (which I will definitely do next winter, too) and was able to hike Mt. Cabot.   Normally this summit sign would be a couple of feet above my head, but with the snow pack it is at the most a couple of feet from what now is the ground.  We all had to crouch down to have our pictures taken with the sign.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Flash and Trash


I haven't done a major art garment project in quite a while.  The last thing I completed was a redo of Spring's First Blush sometime last summer or fall.  I've been wanting to make something a little fun and different for a while, but not something too big or overwhelming.  For this garment, I'm making a vest.

The inspiration for this vest is Cathy Franks.  She is not only a fabulous fiber artist, managing to combine texture and color in a lovely pieces, but also is a quite the character on the runway at fashion shows.  She has such a bubbly, enthusiastic quality and you can't help but have a good time strutting the runway with her or watching her from the audience.  I've been in several shows with her and have always had a great time.  For these reasons, I want bright colors and texture.  Some of her work features velvet and I happen to have a piece that will work beautifully!  She also trims some of her garments with a sort of fringe from leftover bits of stuff that I've heard her call, "flash and trash", there will be plenty of that.  She also has some three dimensional texture, and yes I have ideas for that, too.  Note the gorgeous piece of hand dyed velvet and ideas for 3D texture:

While looking over my stuff and contemplating the project, I think I can also make this a sort of "green" project by not buying any new stuff for it.  I have enough fabric, beads, threads, and other assorted stuff to make this work.  I am hoping that this project will be done basically for no money, but I guess I'd better say less than $10.00, you never know what I'll run out of or emergency will arise.  Can I make an art garment for less than $10?  Hmmm . . that's to be seen.

As far as design, vest yes, but I'd also like to add a peplum.  That's fun and flirty.  I'd also like to work in a green bra or at least a representation of one.   Cathy has a lime green bra that makes an appearance on some runways as a joke, and I think it would be fun to give a nod to that as well.  Here's sketch of what I'm thinking of, probably with some changes along the way.  I can't leave out flowers or insects complete with beads, either!

This should be fun to make and I hope not too stressful, but a joy to work on!

Parting Shot:  Visitor.  Kiwi is making baby steps toward domestication.  She was completely feral when we got her over 2 years ago, but now she acts like a regular cat with me.  The only thing she won't do is sit with me.  She has started to hop up with me to visit if I'm at the sewing machine, so I'm calling that a little more progress.  I don't know if she will ever truly become domesticated, but she does love me.