Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Sew Intriguing: Re-Publishing the Stitcher's Guild Backstory and History

Sew Intriguing: Re-Publishing the Stitcher's Guild Backstory and History

I originally published this in July, 2013.  I then took this post down  as a courtesy to Julie Ford (DragonLady on SG), but I see no reason not to re-publish it at this point.  I have not been reading SG or having anything to do with it since this time, and since Julie has never seen fit to acknowledge either my (or Kathryn's) genesis of the whole thing, or my acquiescence to her request to remove this post, it's going back up.  Obviously it doesn't matter to her, so why should it matter to me?

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Sheila Hicks at Joslyn

I've been trying to get to this show for a while now, and I actually paid and made it to the gallery at Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha about a month ago, but they were having trouble with their alarm system, and there were strobe lights all over the museum flashing rapidly.  It was instant headache time, so we left, and I made it back today alone.  I'm so glad I didn't miss this.  What a wonderful exhibit!

Sheila Hicks is a native of Hastings, Nebraska.  Here's what Joslyn has as her bio:

Hicks was born in Hastings, Nebraska, in 1934 and trained as a painter at the Yale University School of Art, taking courses with famed color theorist Josef Albers, pre-Columbian art scholar George Kubler, and the architect Louis Kahn. Although she had learned to embroider and knit early in life, Hicks became interested in textiles in 1956 while studying Latin American art. The following year, she traveled to South America, a formative experience for the young artist. With Santiago, Chile, as her home base, Hicks toured the continent to photograph the landscape and historical sites and learn indigenous weaving techniques. These textile practices, along with other skills the artist discovered during her extensive travels — such as back-strap weaving and Moroccan and Guatemalan rug-making — continue to inform Hicks’s approach, even as she has developed new ways to use thread. 

I really  love almost all of what they showed, although I found it interesting that the first smaller room of the exhibition gallery, that you could see some of without a ticket, was the least interesting, at least to me.  Her colors and use of varied textiles and threads is really inspiring.  

I find myself eager to try to make art rather than just garments.  We shall see how that goes.  I purchased the exhibition catalog, Sheila Hicks: Material Voices to inspire me as time goes on.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Style Arc Issy Dress with Gorgeous Fabric

 As we all know, Gorgeous Fabrics does live up to their name. Ann chooses the most beautiful things for us to try to resist. This is a pique knit print I ordered before Christmas but had planned to use it for spring.

Last week gave us some horrendously cold weather which is still with us, and I decided last night to begin a dress out of this cheery fabric, just to warm up a little.  Dresses seem to be what I want to wear lately, and I don't really have many winter dresses, and this is not one either, so obviously my planning is not the best.

 I've been wanting to try Style Arc's Issy Top as a dress since my top turned out pretty well.  (Apparently I did not blog about that top, although I like it a lot.)  I got this pattern as a free pattern-of-the-month from StyleArc with the purchase of the Zoe Pencil Skirt.  I have to say, the skirt pattern was not a winner for me.  I made it up in a nice wool, lined it, had high hopes for the interesting side seams, and it was really nothing spectacular.  However, the Issy Top has been great fun, so I feel like it turned out well either way.

As you can see in the line drawing, it's an asymmetric top with gathers on both side seams, and an unusual draped neckline that looks like it might be loose, but is firmly attached and stays put in this shape.

My dress is basically the top with 18" added to the length, and I just extended the side seam lines at the original angles.  I ended up doing one more gathered area toward the hem on the right side.

Generally, I'd have to say I like this, but I think it might be better in a plain fabric, so the ruching would show a little better, and perhaps read as "cool ruching" rather than what I am afraid may be its message, "wrinkly wrinkles".   The fashion-savvy will know the difference obviously, but the rest of the population may be flummoxed.

I think this is cute though, and I will probably wear it first for an early "Spring" luncheon in March.  Hope it's not snowing and sleeting then! 

Still Swimming

I'm still doing Water Aerobics about 3 times a week, and so I still go through swimsuits with some regularity.  I finished one about a week ago, and another one today.  These are both from fabric I got at Spandex House when I was in New York last February, and shopped with Rosie, enabler extraordinaire.

They are the same pattern, but the green/brown print has a piece of Fold-Over Elastic (FOE) used as trim at the empire line and all around the back.  I usually leave the back pretty open, but this needed something, I thought, and I think it's cute.  You can see in the photos how the elastic works.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Top This! DMC Toddler Giraffe Hat

I bought this kit the other day at Hancock Fabric, and it turned out to be a very quick project (a couple of hours) and very cute.

You knit the hat and the topper is tied on with the attached ribbons, through a rubbery "washer" on the inside of the hat.

I had enough yarn to do almost 2 toddler-size hats, and I finished the second one with a cabled cotton yarn I had on  hand from a Prada style handbag I made several years ago.  I use a pompon on the top of it, and will donate it.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

American Girl Sweater Sets

I really enjoyed knitting these sweater and  hat sets.  A friend asked me to make them for her granddaughters, and I thought I might try.

The pattern is free.  Mochi Plus 18" Doll Sweater & Hat.

 It's also available on Ravelry

Instead of the specified yarn, she chose Lion Brand's Amazing.  I thought it was a good choice, and it worked beautifully for this pattern.  I like the colors too.  The color of the top set is Arcadia, the lower one is Wildflowers.

One skein made both the sweater and hat in each colorway with only a yard or two left over.

I did the Wildflowers set first, and used the specified needle sizes of 5 and 9.  The Arcadia set was done second, and I changed to size 4 and 8 needles, although I did the hat with the original sizes in both cases.

Each set took about 3 days, and was a lot of fun to knit.  I may try other doll clothes, as these were so much fun to knit.


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Tiny Hawaiian Shirt

This Hawaiian shirt is for an 18-month old. 

It's Burda magazine #136 from March, 2007.  What a great source for children's patterns. I never throw those magazines away, and eventually you realize you have a fairly classic pattern for most children's garments, and quite a few adults as well.

I heard that Nikki was having trouble finding a Hawaiian print shirt for Carmine's Halloween costume (he's going to be Ace Ventura, Pet Detective) and I volunteered to assist.  Then I had to find fabric. 

 I realized that most Hawaiian prints are very large-scale, and would overwhelm a small boy.  Luckily, we have a great source for prints of all types here.  The Cosmic Cow.  It's a quilting shop, but a really great one.  I was pleased to find just what I wanted.

This is a photo of the pattern schematic and beginning of the instructions, in case you don't know what Burda patterns are like.

I've made a lot of shirts, but never one this tiny, and it was fun.

Flounced Mauve Dress

Ruffles are not my style, but flounces are not ruffles, and asymmetric designs are always fun.

This Marfy pattern (#3744) appealed to me immediately when I received the catalog, and just FYI, there's a floor-length version that's beautiful and would make a great prom or evening gown.  It's a separate pattern, which I can  understand, since all of those flounces are redrafted to attach to a longer main skirt.  This keeps the proportions correct.

It was somewhat challenging to alter since the bodice is not symmetric, and it also has no 'regular' darts.  So I used a combination of a princess FBA and using my saran wrap block to make sure I had made the changes I needed.  I think it turned out pretty well, and actually, this was my 'muslin', though I had hopes that it would be very wearable.  I think it is.

I used a lightweight matte jersey I got from Kashi at Metro Textiles in New York. 

I left all the edges raw.  In snoop shopping in NY and Chicago recently, and online of course, I am seeing a lot of this, and if they can do it, so can I.  The trickiest part was making the hook and eye at the top of the zipper look neat on the outside since there was no facing to sew it to.  I think this works well.  It's visible, obviously, but not messy looking.  It's stitched through the top of the zipper tape for stability, and to control the zipper tape as well.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Kearney and Sarah Veblen

I  had such a good time in Kearney last Friday and Saturday with old and new friends from the Kearney Area ASG chapter and the NBMCC (Nebraska Bishop Method of Clothing Construction).  They put on a fantastic Expo every fall, and this year the presenter was Sarah Veblen!  Of course, I could not miss it.

What an expert fitter she is, and I am dying to try some of her techniques.  I'm on my own, since I was unable to stay for the hands-on workshop on Sunday at Cari's lovely sewing studio.  It makes me think about going to one of her sewing weeks in Baltimore.

Here are a couple more photos of  Sarah's classes, but you can probably tell that I was enjoying, and taking notes more than I was taking photos.

Marfy 1128 - Autumn Cocktail Dress - Completed

This latest iteration of Marfy 1128 turned out really well, I think.  This is the finished look.  It's hard to catch the sparklieness of the actual dress without having it be almost impossible to actually see.  I got to wear it this past weekend to a fundraising dinner, and I felt very appropriately dressed.

 The hem is my favorite part.  I love the way it drapes and catches itself up, especially in the back.  I changed the back neckline from a very low square back to a higher scoop, which is still fairly low. 

I have quite a few inner construction photos for this.  The blog photos are smaller than those you can see if you click here.  As  I think I said previously, I underlined this with a fairly heavy satin lining, almost something you would use for a coat lining.  I turned the satin side toward the body, and extended it about 5" longer than the dress hem edge. 

 You can see how I turned the hem up to the outside on the finished garment photos, but here is the inside of the hem, which comes out very nicely since all the raw edges are inside the rolled part on the outside of the dress.

The original pattern has front horizontal and vertical darts, and gathering at the neckline under a chiffon collar.  I stitched the horizontal darts, but used the other ease to drape from the waist up to the neckline.  You can see close ups of the neckline and waist draping here.
The facing you can see on the neckline is a folded bias strip of the lining fabric.  The neckline stands out in places, as it is supposed to, and the bias band helps it to stay close to the body in any case.
 These two photos show the inside front of the body of the dress with the stitched waist tucks.
In the close up you can also see the stitching which tacks the bow in place.

 This is the slight flange edge of the sleeve, almost just a facing which peeks out.  It's widest at the top, narrowing to nothing at the side seam. 
You can see inside that it is also a bias strip, but of the fashion fabric.

Finally, you can see that the extra-long invisible zipper opens the entire length of the side seam.  I really have learned that this is not too long a zipper for a dress like this.  It makes it so much easier to put on, and without spoiling one's hair or makeup.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015


It may seem a little weird to get very excited about straight pins, but we sewers know that there are pins, and then there are pins.  My favorite used to be Iris Pins, but the last batch I bought simply weren't as good as they used to be, and this seems to be the consensus.  So I've tried various brands and types.  Clover Quilting Pins aren't bad, but I knew I hadn't tried everything out there.

When I was in Portland last April with the Fiberly Group, we went to Josephine's Dry Goods, a lovely store.  She had Insect Pins in Size 2, which I like so far.  I wanted to try some more, and decided to see what other brands and types were available. 

I ended up purchasing Size 000 pins, to see just how much difference there was in sizes.  These are much finer than the Size 2, and bend more easily, although not as easily as you might guess, given how fine they are.  I like the little gold ball heads on the black pins, and have been happy to use these.

The photo above is of various sewing pins in my collection, and the 2 insect pins.  They are the black ones, and the smaller one on the right is the Size 000.  The pin on the far right is  your average every day pin.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Autumn Cocktail Dress

I'm excited about this dress. It's been awhile since sewing has been this much fun, and I'm enjoying it. I'm going to a Friends of Opera Gala fundraiser this Sunday, and I thought I wanted something new to wear.

I'm using a TNT pattern, Marfy 1128. It's a fairly basic sheath dress, but with the gathered neckline under the chiffon collar, it give you a lot of leeway to manipulate the neckline if you don't want the collar.
One thing I have learned with this pattern is to use a much longer zipper than I originally thought necessary. This makes it so much easier to get into. I bought a bag of invisible zippers last time I was in LA with Kathi Rank shopping the Fashion District, and so I happened to have a 34" invisible zipper in an acceptable color (dark green), which goes in the left side seam from the armscye to the hem. I probably would not have purchased this long a zipper on purpose for this, but it's great, actually. Apparently the longer, the better.

I found the fabric at Hancock, and it really spoke to me. It's a very thin, non-wonderful brocade, but I love the colors and the look. This actually shows the wrong side while it's being cut out.
I'm underlining with a thicker satin lining fabric. Originally I thought I would do something along the lines of a car-wash skirt, as they are so current, and finally wearable now that they're not being shown only with absolutely nothing underneath them. However, I like what I have come up with even better. I extended the underlining about 5" below the brocade and then turned it to the outside and asymmetrically attached it. Here's a photo of it on the dressform with the hem pinned. I am pinning a draped effect from the left waist to the right shoulder and I think the bow will be staying, but you never know.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

New York Trip Part V - Fabric (Mendel Goldberg)

Finally, the pièce de résistance.  I've been told for years that Mendel Goldberg was a magical place if you are in love with fabric, and Rosie took me to see it.  Well, you all were right!  We were lucky enough to be there when almost all of the new fabrics had come in, so we saw the stock at its most complete condition.  Wow, just wow!

Every designer you can think of was represented, especially every couture designer.  Of course there were things that I liked more than others, but the quality overall was exquisite.  Rosie took lots of photos, and I will share with you.

As you might have guessed, the first two photos are of the fabric that arrived on my doorstep.  I am so thrilled with them, and although there was choice enough to find fabrics for 20 different beautiful suit combinations, this one leapt to my eye.  The 'plain' fabric with the border texture is to be a skirt.  The border is pieces of fabric and yarns attached to the base fabric, and as the photo suggests, that border will be a few inches above the hem edge of a straight skirt.  Totally frivolous, yet somewhat restrained and severe.  Just my kind of thing.  The fabric to the left is for the jacket, and it's so much more beautiful in person I can't tell you.  The yarns it's woven with are gorgeous and of such a quality that you would think they were high-end hand knitting yarns.  There's a lot of gold in it and the selvedges are beautiful, and will be used as trim here and there.

Now, on to the other fabrics we saw and 'snapped'.

Do you wish you'd been with us yet?