Sunday, April 13, 2014

Random Rant: Quilts

I try very very hard to keep things super positive here... but sometimes a girl needs a break to complain about things that are totally unimportant.  Case in point:  The modern quilting hobby.

I *said* it was silly.

Quilting is a uniquely American craft.  It was born of having lots of little scraps of leftover fabric - and it took those bits of fabric, some time, some skill, and made beauty.  That's the *point* of quilting.  You take something you can't use in its current form and you transform it into something useful for generations.  IMO, that skill and craft contributes substantially to the beauty of the finished product.

Every step away from the original function takes something away from the craft itself.

I don't mind the new quilts.  Okay.  Sometimes I do.  But ... I mind that half of them aren't big enough to cover a child's bed - and aren't meant to be washed and cried on and hugged.  They're just for doing, just for pretty.  Maybe hang on a wall (but aren't our homes well-enough insulated?) or over a couch-back.  They can be pretty.  Some of them can be stunning.  But - if you bought a kit, and stitched it up right quick, and didn't even quilt it down yourself... is that even the same craft?

See, crafts are taking something raw and making it better through the skill in your hands.  That skill takes time to develop.  Time is something that no matter the craft, I see people uninterested in developing.  And *that* is destroying all the crafts.  There are legions of people who can do things to the "quick and simple" level, or a few steps up.  There are so few who are willing to cry and swear and sweat over the "doing it from scratch" moments.

This has been bugging me since my days (more than twenty years ago) when I worked in a craft store.  I'd watch people pick up disposable bits and pieces and walk out the door.  All they wanted was something to entertain them for an afternoon or three.  Waste of time.  Waste of material.  All because it was easier.  -shakes head-

There are so many true crafts, at all levels of skill, and they all make for beauty you can keep for generations.  Am I the only one here with embroidered tea-towels, special linens for holidays, latch-hooked rugs, quilts... I even have a christening gown (and we don't do christenings)!  (It's stunning white embroidery on white batiste - drool).

There is substantial beauty in taking simple things and making them lovely.

Rant over.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Shirts: A lot of the same thing that aren't the same

I finished the last bits of the navy blouse today.  First, here's the blouse:

 This isn't true to color, it's a very sheer cotton eyelet (yes, that's the hanger you can see through the shirt).  Better picture of the color lower down.  I used a green crocheted lace as the trim and wooden buttons.  I thought this brought out "feminine and natural" well.

For the topstitching, I used green thread that matches the lace.  I thought it was a nice touch.  Subtle, but the eye does pick these things up.  :)

And this is how I'll wear it tonight, for date night.  Blue blouse, rose skirt, leather-rose accessories.  I'm going to feel a little like a fairy-tale... but that's sort of the idea.  :)

You can see how this stuff comes together... I'm really excited about the wardrobe that God has me building.  I love all the pieces separately and together they're expressing exactly what I want them to express...

(That's Nadia, our eldest cat, in the top left-hand corner.   She likes to sleep on our bed in the daytime).


Now that I've made FOUR of these shirts, I'm done with the pattern for a good long while.  (Vogue 1260 from Sandra Betzina if you want one of your own).

Pattern notes:  The only really odd thing is that the button placket is cut on the bias, which led to some very strange stretching and wrinkling in the lighter cottons.  The heavier cotton lace and the linen didn't worgle up like that.  I just went with it, particularly with the navy blouse, it looks like a design feature.

If I make this again in a light fabric, I think I will cut the placket on the straight-of-grain.  

And this is how you make four blouses that don't look at all alike... even though they're cut exactly the same.  I chose very different fabrics and very different trims for each blouse.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Cycles, Linen and Life

So, I was powering through sewing like a madwoman, and DH brought home a copy of a beta game, and asked me if I'd like to play with him... so I've been playing computer games.  Along about that time, my normal cycle of energy went from full-throttle to dead stall (which is normal).   I get really annoyed at this lack of energy, there is SO MUCH I want to do!  But this week God gave me some insight... because when I was sewing like a madwoman, I wasn't writing, I wasn't getting introspective.  So, my times of quiet body are times of busy brains, and maybe that's okay.  Anyway that shirt I was going to finish "tomorrow" is finished except I want to re-insert the collar and I need to make buttonholes/put in buttons/figure out what I'm doing with the shoulders if anything.  I could finish it in two hours... not sure when that two hours will be.

In the meantime, my favorite online fabric place had a linen sale.  Linen is a very practical fabric here in SoCal - I bought a ton.  :) All but the coral has been washed up and is ready to use (I wash fabric as soon as I get it and store it clean and ready-to-go).  (But even though I"m pretty confident in this company and things being dye-fast, I give an initial washing in similar colors.  Red & blue aren't similar colors, so coral is still in the laundry.

Here's the fabric straight out of the box.  Getting these colors photographed true is a miserable job... and some of that has bitten me in the tail.  The coral is the only one I've not re-photographed.  It's for me, I'm going to make a button-down with it.


This is a french-blue linen (allegedly) hanging in the sun - this is as true to color as I can snap a pic.  This was SUPPOSED to be a shirt for my hubs, but in the picture online, it was much darker and appeared much finer grain.  It's nice fabric, but it's not shirting.  A casual dress?  A casual *short* dress?  Not for *me*, I look horrible in this color...

Yarn-dyed white and aqua linen.  This comes out as an ice aqua.  Ice colors, as opposed to pastel colors, are very hard to find.  My mom is a Winter, and I snagged this for her.  (Don't tell, it'll be a present).  (No, she doesn't read my blogs).

 Not sure why this looks purple.  In the photo online it was darker... anyway, it's periwinkle.  MUCH colder IRL than it was online, and it'll thus be a shirt for DH rather than a shirt for me.

Baby Blue.  Also destined to be a button-down for DH.

Taupe/beige:  A long-sleeved shirt for my dad (don't tell!).

Linen acquisition and cyclic exhaustion have rearranged my sewing priorities.  On top of the table (after I finish that shirt) are a slip for my daughter (so she can wear her white dress), the shirt for my dad (his bday si coming up) and my Easter dress.  After that?  I don't know!  I do know I have gardening to do, and my yard is rioting.

Lots of creativity here *always*, because that's how I roll.  :)

Friday, March 28, 2014

Sewing Notes: Hemming

Standard Sewing Instructions:  Hang any skirt with a bias hem out overnight (at least) or 24 hours (better) so that the fabric falls the way it's going to end up falling before you hem it - that way you don't end up with an uneven hem.

Why do you do this?  Because after 36 hours, this is what your hemline looks like on any loosely-woven or fine or sheer or true-bias-cut fabric.  This was evened up with scissors before I hung it.


My method for hemming really long skirts:

1) I stand in the hallway in front of the only full-length mirror in my house, sticking pins in and checking for evenness.
2) I take it out to the ironing board and true that up a bit - when you get it out there, you can see any lumps and bumps in your arc.  Iron it, pin it.
3)  New last night - I run a 3/8" hem from the folded edge, at the longest stitch length, then check to see if it's straight
4)  Trim excess fabric, fold up the hem, and sew.

It made a nice even hem and was much less heartache.  I used a basting stitch to run that first trial, just in case - but it worked.  

I did hem this by machine (!!) just because I'm forever putting my heel in my hand-hems and ripping them out.  Anyway linen likes topstitching and the blouse that goes with has some, so I figured we were good to go.

Only weird thing on this skirt is the hip seam wiggles.  I don't really know what's up with that - the zipper side is interfaced.  I might put in a stay-ribbon at the waist, see if it helps the hang.

Anyhow.  That's how I hem - and that's why you hang your skirts out overnight or more when dealing with certain fabrics/certain cuts.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Sea Green... Seafoam... aqua green?

Pick a name for this color, please?

I cut these three garments out on Sunday morning.

The green linen was a length for the skirt - but it had enough extra bits (unsurprisingly, garments that consist of two giant arcs are fabric-piggy) that God poked me and I gave a try to squeezing in the blouse (princess seamed blouses, on the other hand, can be quite fabric-frugal) - so I ended up with two garments for the price of one.  -pleased face-

If you're disturbed by this amount of green (my husband was), take heart.  I will probably NOT wear them together.  :)  I have plenty of items that will go with both.  This will likely form the heart of my summer-summer wardrobe, as this is a very light-weight linen, and the clothing items that match it most closely are also very light-weight.

One really random blouse:  I've had this length of fabric in my stash for some time, it was near the linen.  When I grabbed that out, I grabbed this out too.  It was a cheapie from the remnant table, and I had a trial tshirt to make with it.  Except - I HATE working with knits.  I had my experiment a couple of years back and ... I hate it.  Must be better if you have a serger.  I don't.  Don't want one.  I'll just skip the knits, thanks.
But that said - this is such a light weight fabric, that I thought, "well - I have a woven pattern that might work.  How about that peasant blouse?  It's a quick sew - and the worst that happens is I lose a $5 piece of fabric that I'm not using anyway."

Weirdly, it goes with the seafoam green (although I'm unsure about pairing it with *linen*)  - and it obviously goes with denim.  So - a win, if not a "wardrobe basic" at least I have a tshirt sort of shirt to get dirty in.

So - a very good three days at the sewing machine.  :D

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Looking Like Myself & grad pic

I made that second blouse... it's eyelet paisley cotton in ivory.  I'm so going to wear this to death.  :)

Looking ridiculously like myself here, in my rose skirt.


 Here's a close up of the shirt (someone on FB asked me - so here you go)


And here's me getting my Intern certificate from Pastor Mike last night.  :)


I came to a shocking realization .... I live somewhere warm, I wear substantial foundation garments, and I always wear secondary garments between my foundations and my blouses.... easy enough to add slips to my repertoire... and THAT means I can stop lining everything I make, which makes for less expensive, more practical makes, and faster sewing.

I cut three garments today... a basic skirt in seafoam green, a matching shirt (same pattern as above) because God poked me in the shoulder repeatedly and said, "you have enough scraps", and a peasant blouse in a lightweight knit that had been hanging around a stash drawer for over a year now.  I'm not going to make that tshirt - I can't be bothered to sew tshirts, so why not see if it works?

And then I hit the fabric store.

So, if you're missing me for the next couple of weeks, I'm trying to fill up my empty closet and my daughter's.  Well.  If you're missing me *elsewhere*, as I'm sure I'll pop in here with clothing pix as they come off the presses.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Girl Dresses

Yes, my design worked.  :)  It's a tad loose, but in growing girls, that's a plus.

So, we have a flutter sleeve with a pintucked bodice (with beading lace/ribbon that is functional, and sewn down) and a small flounce of a skirt.

Here's the first dress, in a "voile" that is more of a light weight quilting cotton.  PERFECT colors for 9yo..


 Here's the second dress, in a linen (or linen-like material, I forget).  It has fewer pintucks - I wanted them in scale with the print, so the above dress has sixteen tucks, this one has eight - and they're twice as wide.  I'm going to need to sew her a quick slip (she's nine, it will be a very quick slip) to go under this, it's a bit sheer.


Good work for this week.  And I have a second blouse for myself, cut, interfaced and ready to sew....