Sunday, April 25, 2010

Spring clothes

As it finally feels like spring is here some spring sewing is in order. I few years ago I had a wonderful linen tee shirt and linen vest combo that I half lived in during the warm seasons and wanted to revive the idea for this year.

I had a head start with a long sleeved linen top I made last year out of a window pane checked linen from my stash, using Textile Studio's Marseilles Shirt. To complete the look I made a vest using Simplicity 2539.

The pattern has been on my to-make list for some time but got a real push when I saw the version made by my friend Ellen at Sew Group's annual retreat to Bodega Bay. She'd made some major mods to the back but I was able to try it on and get a sense of the look and size. We agreed that it ran on the small side so that was helpful to know in advance.

Also at Bodega Bay, Lynn gave me some very large scraps of a gorgeous deep blue-violet linen left over from a project she had started. With a little fiddling and some creative choices of grain lines here and there I was able to squeeze the vest out of the linen pieces much to my delight.

I didn't need to make many changes in the vest pattern. I cut a size 12 for the neck/armholes and tapered out to a 14 fro the rest and didn't need to adjust a thing. The pattern already has a center back seam so I just curved it in toward the neck a small amount. Darts are built into the curved front seams (the pockets are also set into this seam) so I didn't add anything there. The length was good too.

The whole ensemble looks a bit baggy on Jezebel, my lovely vintage mannequin, but as she has a figure that would make a Barbie doll feel large it's not to be wondered at. I am very, very happy with the finished vest and the overall look over the linen top. I'll definitely make more of both pieces for the summer.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Banner Day

TW and I have been collaborating on a fun project - we're making 4 banners for the California College of the Arts to use in their Commencement ceremony in early May. We're both alumni, as well as TW being a professor there, so it makes for a special project for both of us.

There's one banner for each school within the College - Fine Arts; Design; Architecture; and Humanities & Sciences. They'll hang from an "L" shaped pole and will be carried in front of the groups of graduating seniors from each of the schools in the Commencement procession.

Plain fabric is being screen printed by TW, and then sewn into the banners by me. We found a drapery lining fabric that's coated on one side with a lightweight insulation layer that makes a surprisingly perfect choice for the project. It's sews easily, but it's quite opaque and has a nice drape to it. The bottom hem of each banner will have gold fringe across it to give some extra weight to them, and grommets along one side will be used to attache the banner to the vertical pole to keep it from swaying too much.

We did a bunch of scribbling and figuring; it took some time to figure out what sort of poles we would make and how the banners would hang from the poles, etc. (We're doing the fabrication for that part, too.)

Once we had the design and the materials, TW cut the panels and printed them, first with the seal of the College in gold, and then with black for the lettering. Meanwhile, I made a life-size sample banner to work out the construction kinks.

As of tonight we've gotten all the printing done and the sample banner is done. TW will get the poles from an aluminium supply tomorrow and get them assembled and painted over the next week, and I'll do the actual banner sewing next weekend. It's great fun to collaborate with my sweetheart!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Good friends

Today was a great day spent with good friends. Patricia hosted an afternoon of sewing, knitting, and whatever else we wished to bring along, and for me, offered an opportunity to hand deliver hats I had knitted for Michelle and Lynn ( I had made one for Patricia earlier). So here we are! For some odd reason it hadn't occurred to me to bring my own hat so the hatmaker is the hatless one here.

The pattern is called Piper, and is from the Fall 2009 issue of Twist Collective, an online knitting magazine. If you haven't looked at it before I do recommend it. The patterns are available by purchase for download and feature a wide range of current knitwear designers. By being available for purchase pattern by pattern the designers earn more from their designs than if they were published in a print magazine.

Today's hat recipients chose their own yarns while on our Sewing Group trip to Bodega Bay in March. We stopped in Petaluma for a visit to Knitterly to give everyone a chance to pick their preferred colours and textures.

For her hat, Michelle chose Rowan Yarns "Calmer" for the main colour, and a deep purple-grey chenille called "Touch Me" from Muench Yarns for the trim, and a gorgeous vintage looking button in black and a touch of gold.

Lynn chose two Rowan Yarns for her hat; "Summer Tweed" in a brilliant turquoise with yellow and pink flecks, with LenPur in a solid turquoise for the trim. Her button was a large, contemporary ceramic button with mutlicolour stripes.

What I love about this hat is that every time I make it, always in a different mix of yarns, it always looks different, and always looks great on the wearer. This is a real winner of a knitting pattern, and is easy and fun to knit to boot.

Kathy was also at today's get-together, not being a hat person, chose to remain hatless. She worked hard at cross-stitching this afternoon. Patricia made a wonderful lunch of grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup, Kathy and Margaret brought delicious salads, and 2nd Kathy brought tzatziki and pita bread (I can still taste the garlic!) and Lynn and I brought desserts. No one went hungry, needless to say. Except Freya, Patricia's German Shepherd.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Back at it again.

Wow, it's been a while! I've been dealing with a serious illness over the past year but am now feeling better and am excited to be posting again. It's good to be back.

I'm planning on expanding my blogging to include more than knitting to include a wider range of my creative endeavors of all sorts; mostly, but not exclusively, focusing on textiles. So my first post is about a project that is combines crochet and sewing, old and new, past and present.

My great-Aunt Jessie was an avid crocheter and churned out acres of lace tablecloths, ruffled doilies, kleenex covers, and what have you in her long life. I treasure the crochet pattern book, published in 1942, which she left to me and that included her beloved pineapple-patterned round lace tablecloth.

My mother and I both have a number of pieces of her beautiful lace crochet, and mom recently gave me this cotton crochet tote bag that Jessie had made to see if I would use it. It had been lined it with some beige twill cotton, and was stiffened in the bottom with a piece of Masonite. The thing weighed a ton and was a bit on the dull side, but the crochet was in excellent condition and had plenty of potential to be made into something more chic.

So I rummaged through my stash of fabrics and notions and found some black wood oval purse handles and some solid black cotton. Hmm, here's a good start. What if I backed the crochet with the black cotton to really set off the lace and replaced the crochted handles with the black wooden ones? A good start.

But a black lined bag is impossible to find things in, especially once they fall to the bottom of the bag, so back to the stash I went and found an ivory and black cotton print that had the right blend of contemporary chic and old-fashioned charm. Now we're talking!

So using the old beige lining as a pattern, I made a whole new tote bag of solid black on the outside, the print of the inside, along with a handy zippered pocket. I stiffened the whole thing with some scraps of primed artist's canvas that where lying around the studio, using a double layer in the botton to keep it flat and sturdy. Loops of the solid black attached the handles.

Once everything was constructed I slipped the crochet over the outside of the bag and stitched it around the top. Voila! A beautiful new bag that both honors my aunt's skills and suits my own sense of style.