Friday, July 25, 2008

I have a new favorite pattern

For what that's worth. Everytime I sew a new pattern and it turns out even half decently, I think this is my favorite pattern. So, it's a fickle compliment, but Burda 7798 is my new favorite pattern.

I originally got it with the intention of making the dress version, but I was a little concerned with how wide the skirt part might be. I'm not that tall and I'm not a huge fan of big, billowy skirts. So, I decided to make the sleeveless top first knowing that it would allow me to preview the "skirt" part of the dress without committing to it.

I'm definitely satisfied that, had I made the dress, the skirt would not have been excessively full. I'm toning my enthusiasm for this pattern way down. I love this pattern and I can't wait to make the dress.
I did have to shorten the top as it was more tunic like than I wanted. Also, the next time I sew this pattern, and there will be a next time, I'll use a 12" zipper instead of a 20" zipper. That's just too much zipper for this top.
Since the skirt of this pattern is cut on the bias, it doesn't really lend itself to directional fabrics (if someone knows how to make directional fabrics work where one part is cut on the straight of grain and another is cut on the bias, please let me know).
I'm already mentally auditioning which of my hand dyed fabrics would work best with this pattern. I think you'll be seeing more of my new favorite pattern.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Big Pattern Love

So the big pattern love continues. I haven't done anything yet with the fabrics I stamped with the wooden stamp I got from Mary Louise, but I've been making big shapes with another stamp. Actually this stamp is just a cardboard circle, probably 5 or so inches in diameter.

At first I used it to create an all over pattern. But then I started thinking about limiting the patterning to a specific section of the fabric and how I could use that to enhance a design.

I've been thinking about making a wrap skirt for a while, but once I made this big circle fabric in turquoise and limited the patterning to one edge, I finally sat down,drafted the pattern and sewed the skirt.

And it wasn't too long after I finished the skirt that I started to think about sewing a big circle tank. I made this pattern last year, but this time I altered it slightly. The original pattern calls for a pair of ties to run through the front and back casings and tie at the shoulders. I wanted my tank to tie in front so I made a buttonhole in the front casing and ran one, long strap through the both casings.
This allows for the front to gather and makes the tank look better under a cardigan. Not that I'm wearing too many cardigans in this 100 degree heat, but I can dream, can't I?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

English Paper Piecing

Now those are three words I never thought I'd be motivated to write about. But, boy was I wrong.
The other day I was wondering where I would get more Grandmother's Flower Garden blocks once I used up the ones I inherited for Great Aunt Irma. I took a while before it dawned on me that I could probably figure out how to make these myself.

I could cut out the hexagon paper templates.

I could pin them on to the fabric and iron the seam allowances towards the center.

I could even sew them together.

And add embellishment.
What I didn't think I could or would do was enjoy the process.
If you noticed that the pictures seem to get brighter as I got further along in the making, that's because I was so stoked about making this flower that, having begun the night before, I got up at 5:00 am the following morning to continue working on it. What's more, despite the fact that I had plenty of other things I "should" have been doing, I kept working on it until it was done.
One little tip I discovered along the way: it's very helpful to prep the fabric by ironing it with spray starch. It gave the fabric a nice stiffness that made cutting out the hexagons and folding in the seam allowances easier.
Now go out there and sew your own garden. But, be warned, this is seriously addictive.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Someone else's trash

There's an old saying about how someone else's trash might just be your treasure. I don't think I have to work hard to convince most people of that, but I recently had a wonderful, personal experience with this concept. The other day a dear friend called me up and told me that since she no longer used her fabric dyeing equipment she wanted it to go to a good home. She could have just thrown it away but that seemed wasteful. A few years back my friend hung up her fabrics and dyes and ventured into the brownie business. Now Mary Louise is the queen of her own empire, Butters Brownies . "So," she asks, "Could you use this stuff?" I thought that she might have a few yards of fabric and a couple jars of dye. My first clue that she had more than I suspected came in the form of the suburban she borrowed to haul the stuff over to my house.

I already had 30-35 jars of dye, but she probably tripled that with her contribution.

Add to that this large stack of wax and three wax-filled electric skillets,

an amazing array of silk screen frames in various sizes, quantities of dye chemicals and, get this, 90 yards of undyed pima cotton. I pretty much felt like I had won the lottery. Best of all she gave me a new wax stamp.

I am head-over-heels in love with this stamp and brimming over with ideas for the fabric I'm making with it.