Sunday, September 30, 2012

From the Collection: Weaving - Bolivia & Ghana

I'm working on a few projects I hope to share soon, but in the meantime, thought you'd enjoy seeing more from our textile collection...

This first one is a saddle blanket from Bolivia.  It's extremely fine wool (in terms of gauge), but isn't that soft--it seems as though it'd be fairly durable.  Probably goat?  Definitely not one of the higher quality wools from the region like guanaco or llama or alpaca.  It has some amazing detail (see below). 

I also believe it was repaired at some point, not surprising for a blanket used on a pack animal.  However, the repair work is also pretty amazing--though it doesn't reconstruct the original pattern, it is as tightly woven, and looks quite sturdy.    

I really love the idea that this blanket had a utilitarian purpose, but was designed and crafted beautifully, even if it was going on the back of a pack animal!  So it protected the animal, and possibly made the owner happy every time s/he looked at it.  It certainly makes me happy when I look at it.

Another item decorating the living room right now is this kente cloth, from Ghana.  It's woven from silk & rayon (I think).  I feel like it's silk because of the luster, but that it must have rayon in it because it's fairly sturdy (we have another 100% silk kente that is fairly worn--silk is amazing, but fragile).  

If you've read my comments on weaving before you'll know right away that this is strip-weaving at its finest.  The strips are about 3" wide and are stitched together to make an eye-catching design.  Weaving on such a narrow loom means the loom is extremely portable and can be moved mid-project, then hung from a tree or fence post and used immediately.

Here are a few detail photos of this kente.  

Questions?  Comments?  Please leave them below.

Music:  The XX, "Angels," definitely Sunday morning music!  

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Another Corduroy Dress for Winter!

So, here is dress #2! (I'm modeling it in the new kitchen.)

I finished this a few nights ago & I love it.  It's more on the 7501/7051 theme.  I readjusted the neckline ...and added the collar from 6081:   

I used old silk from a kimono scrap to make the neckline facing.  In the photo below, #1 is the silk for the facing, #2 is the underside of the collar, so it wouldn't be too thick.  

And used up lots of scraps someone from gave me to make the bias tape to finish the sleeves and to face the collar. 

The only thing I'm not sure about is the length.  I'll try it once with boots (once winter is here) and see about it then.  I did a halfway decent hand-hemming job, so it should be easy to re-do, if necessary.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

More 1960s Patterns from My Mom's Pattern Magazine

All Simplicity, BTW!
8286 & 8388; I don't know, that mustard color, not sure about it, but I love the pleated skirt in back!  

8394 & 8386
Nothing says the Sixties like jumpers & contrast plackets & collars, huh?!

I can imagine wearing either of these, but with tights, not white socks.  
Though I have seen women with great legs who can pull that off. It's the right hairdo that kills me!

Look at all the great stuff you get in that one pattern! 

8445 & 8391
I actually really like 8391; pretty princess-seamed dress--so flattering.  
Not so sure about the collars.  8445 is cute, too.  

8234 & 8254 - Jammies!
I love the I Dream of Jeannie look!  And the feather trim on the blue outfit.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Everyone is Making a Coat But Me...Maybe

So many thoughts flying away in all different directions here.  I'll try to be coherent.  Just got back from a business trip (only 2 days) and I'm really pretty beat.  It was a lot of driving, though I was fortunate that both my colleagues are experts & fun to travel and hang out with.

First, Gertie is doing a coat sewalong for one of the patterns in her new line for Butterick.  

And my friend Winnie has some amazing fabric & says she's making her winter coat now too.  She is so fast & so good I'm sure it will be ready soon, and look amazing.  

So what about me?  I found this beautiful fabric (Marc Jacobs) on Mood Fabric's website a while back.  I ordered a swatch, but never did anything more.  

Then, after I saw Gertie's & Winnie's sites, I went back to see if that wool was still there.  It was & was no longer 50% was now 65% off!  I jumped on that.  And it arrived today!  And here's Bella modeling it.  I'm not sure, but I think she approves.

You can see it's double-sided and quite lovely.  I think it would be so fun to make a coat, then make a skirt with the opposite side to go w/ it.  I haven't even begun to think about which side to use.

Now comes the hard part.  I want something vintage & cool-looking, de acuerdo!  But I have to keep in mind that not all fashion eras are flattering to me.  I bought this, Simplicity 9157, a while back on Ebay.  I love it, especially the Audrey Hepburn in Givenchy in Charade aspect of it.  But I'm not convinced it would ever look good on me...let's just say Audrey & I don't resemble each other in any way, from her gamine/slim body to her straight brown hair.  

I do believe the dress would be great on me, though, and that's really why I bought the pattern.

And I just got this from Etsy (waiting for it in the mail).  Simplicity 3994, from the 1940s.  Which is a much better era for me, much as I love the Swingin' Sixties.  It's tailored & fitted, which I really need.  I like the slash pockets, too, in the left hand picture; another flattering aspect.  The only thing I'm a bit worried about is those shoulder pads!  I might have to get some help softening that look a bit.  It should probably be lined to be extra warm & to protect the wool--but I'd have a hard time covering up the other side!  Maybe cuffs & collar & pockets out of the opposite side?!  Yikes.  

If I do choose this pattern, there's no guarantee I'll get it done in time for winter (unless winter hits in March 2014), but I do think I'd have to go w/ the pink side; I think the darker, stripier side of the fabric would be hard to match up in this pattern.  And those stripes aren't the length of the fabric, they are the width. (Though I just realized the width is 60", so that's not an issue after all.)

Comments/Suggestions/Ideas?  I'd love to read them.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Mix & Match Fashion Design

When I was little (many years ago), I received a used fashion design kit.  Essentially it was a light board (small lightbulb) at an angle good for drawing.  It came with pages & pages of different clothing items & they could be mixed & matched via tracing to create different designs.  The pages must have been thicker, I don't remember them wearing out, but I do remember hours of fun playing with collars, sleeves, shoes, hats, etc., to get the look "just right."  (BTW, I have tried to find what it was called or a picture of this toy online, but NSL.)

Anyway, this brings me to my current project, which is one of the corduroy dresses for fall/winter.  And for the first one I just put on a regular collar, which I had to design myself because I bought the wrong pattern (see the 7051/7501 tale here).  Here's the collar I put on the first corduroy dress.

But then I decided I wanted the collar that is on this 1960s dress pattern my mom sent.

And I remembered my mix & match fashion fun childhood & decided to change the collar myself.  In this next photo you'll see (barely) the blue paper that was used for the original collar I drafted, and on top of that the curved collar in the above photo pinned & modified so it will fit the neckline but retain the curviness.
It worked quite well & when I get the dress hemmed (probably tomorrow), I'll be sure you are the first to know!  ;-)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Stencil Fun!

Inspired by Gertie's amazing sewing room floor, the Roommate & I decided we wanted to give it a try on our screened-in back porch...

Our floor is not smooth by any means.  The Roommate did some sanding, but we knew that it was not going to be like the hardwood floors inside our house.  

First we bought a big overall stencil (about the size of Gertie's, but not as detailed).  And it looked like heck, to say the least.  Besides proving very frustrating for the Roommate who was doing it on his summer vacation.  

Because the porch floor is 4" x 2" beams, each one is cupped.  Also, because it's 14' long, they bend a bit towards the center.  Which means paint, no matter how thick, just runs everywhere because you can't get the stencil to lie flat. 

So he painted over that stencil-work.  And I kept trying to figure out a way to conquer this non-flat floor.  

Finally about 2 weeks ago, it dawned on me!  Narrow stencils!  So we got online & started looking at the various stencil sites.  We never did find one we liked that was narrow, but we found the next best thing--a pattern that was narrow.  And surprise surprise, it's an Africa-inspired design!  I really wanted it to look like we have a carpet out there.  

If you check out the page for the stencil, you'll see that they used 3 colors--which looks amazing.  But we only did 2 (mostly because we were using up paint from other projects, like our kitchen walls & trim).  It took a lot of work (mostly because I hate sitting on the floor).  But we are extremely pleased!  

We have put one coat of sealant/varnish spray-on polyurethane on it, we'll do another tomorrow, and probably a 3rd before we feel it's safe to use.  Fortunately the weather is cooperating...dry & not as humid as usual.  Bella is the only one suffering--she couldn't go out to help & she hasn't been allowed on her porch for almost a week.  I hope the fancy floor will make up for her hardship.  

What do you think? 

UPDATE! Here's the Roommate enjoying coffee out there; it's done & looks amazing.