Shape and Texture

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For several years now, one of my Holy Grail clothing items has been a chunky wool cable knit sweater that actually has some feminine shape to it, and does not cost thousands of dollars. Now, at any given point in time, I have a list of Holy Grail items, and this one was somewhere outside of the top 5 on the list, UNTIL…

You may know Renee of Miss Celie’s Pants. She is a lovely, warm, and gracious person who is one of my favorite people to converse with. A while back, she got into her head that I should get a knitting machine. Whenever she brought it up, my response was always the same. “I don’t need another hobby.”h Then she would send me another Craigslist link with a promising knitting machine.

A month or so ago (or more or less — experience tells me that my concept of time bears no relation to its actual passage), she messaged me that she was looking to sell one of her knitting machines that she no longer uses, and would I want to buy it? It so happens that I was planning on being in her neck of the woods shortly, so I said, sure, why not?

I went to her house to pick it up, and she gave me an amazingly informative demo of its workings. I came home, set it up, and my 10-year-old commandeered it for the first week or 2. She took all of the spare yarn cluttering up the house and knit a multicolored blanket with it. Then I kicked her off the machine, ordered some wool from the clearance section at Made in America Yarns, watched many videos, and made the sweater of my dreams! It’s wool! It’s cable knit! and it’s curvy rather than boxy! I can’t wait to make another one. Or maybe a whole dress!

It came out really well. I did not use a pattern. I based the size and shape of the pattern pieces on my measurements. The only problem is that it’s a little too tight at the bicep, but I can definitely live with that.

back view

back view

Neckline.  I even managed to hook up the ribber!

Neckline. I even managed to hook up the ribber!

bust shaping

bust shaping

sleeve

sleeve

back shaping

back shaping

Topiatric

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This spring, I’ve been working on starting and stocking a new Etsy shop. I’ve tried this before, focusing on clothes, and it did not really fly. I’m hoping I learned something from that experience and perhaps I can make it work this time.

I’m starting with sofa cushions rather than clothes. I’m having a great time coming up with the designs and making them. They are made with upholstery fabrics, appliqued with wool melton, and stuffed with feather fillers. They would make lovely hostess gifts or decorative items.

My holiday line is occupying all of my thoughts lately. It will be lovely. I’m thinking about a Three Wise Men theme.

I chose the name Topiatric because, well, the URL was available. There will be a website at some point.

Here’s what’s in stock as of today:

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Let me know what you think!

Spring Print, 2 Ways

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My print love affair continues, with this early spring floral. I took a bunch of photos at a local park and image-edited them into this lovely (to me) print! I bought it from MyFabricDesigns.com in a linen-cotton canvas for a dress , and in a cotton knit for a t-shirt. The only difference between the 2 prints is the length of the vertical bars.

The dress is a modified version of Vogue 9105. This is the second dress I’ve made using this pattern. I love the shoulder/sleeve treatment.

back view

back view

side view with bonus photobomb

side view with bonus photobomb

cotton lining

cotton lining

I usually put in lingerie carriers when a garment has a wide neckline

I usually put in lingerie carriers when a garment has a wide neckline

print detail

print detail

t-shirt front

t-shirt front

t-shirt back

t-shirt back

Moths On My Fabric

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Have you seen the photos from the USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab? If you haven’t, and you planned on getting anything else done today, do not click on the link. If you do click on it, you will do nothing but look at bug photos all day. They are that good. And they are public domain!! I feel compelled to wear one.

My love affair with myfabricdesigns.com is continuing, and I concocted a moth print for my new fabric. I placed the design to print 2 moths per yard of 42″ silk/cotton fabric. I’ve been seeing a lot of big butterfly prints for spring, so here’s my interpretation of the trend.

The fabric is up for sale here, but what you should really do is click on the link in the first paragraph, find your own favorite bug, and order fabric with that one on it.

I was pretty careful with the layout of the print, because I had a specific skirt in mind and wanted to buy a minimum of fabric to make it. I chose the cotton-silk to print my moth because of the lovely sheen and softness of the fabric, as well as the color saturation achievable on this fabric. Then there is the added bonus that silk comes from moths (though almost certainly not the one in the photo). This skirt took 2 yards of the cotton-silk.

back view

back view

 

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For the back pattern piece, I started with a piece of tracing paper that’s 24″ wide at the top, 29″ long at the center back, and 27″ long at the side seam. For the front pattern piece, I started with a rectangle that’s 24″ wide and 27″ long.

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I took both pattern pieces and folded triangles out of them to add a bit of swing to the skirt. The top measurement was 14″ for each pattern piece.

I designed the fabric so I could buy 2 yards and get 4 whole moths. Because they moths overlap a bit, I broke one up. Here is one of the moths that I used on the back of the skirt, before stitching together.

I designed the fabric so I could buy 2 yards and get 4 whole moths. Because they moths overlap a bit, I broke one up. Here is one of the moths that I used on the back of the skirt, before stitching together.

Here's the seamed moth after stitching together.

Here’s the seamed moth after stitching together.

I gathered the skirt into a grosgrain ribbon waistband. There is a side zip.

I gathered the skirt into a grosgrain ribbon waistband. There is a side zip.

Creepy Floral

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In case you looked at my last post, featuring the print that I designed and had custom printed, and wondered what on earth anyone would do with such a print, here’s the answer. A menswear-style tailored jacket.

The pattern I used was Burdastyle 1/2010 119. I re-drafted the back piece to eliminate the center back seam so I would not have to break up the skull motif that I so painstakingly constructed. I also re-drafted the collar and lapel for turn of cloth. I block fused the linen cotton canvas that I used with a weft insertion interfacing to make it tailor better.

After working with this fabric, I wholeheartedly recommend it. This linen-cotton canvas has a great hand, and it tailors like a dream. I ran it through my washer once, with no noticeable change in color. It is a little expensive, but I’m old enough to remember a time when custom printed fabric was something that I could only dream about. The fact that I can get it at any reasonable price still seems miraculous to me.

The print is up for sale at myfabricdesigns.com. The jacket took 3 yards of the linen/cotton canvas. I found that I really did need all 3 yards, because of the extra fabric needed to match the large-scale print. Just so you know, myfabricdesigns contacted me and offered to let me try their service for free, so the fabric I used was complimentary. Also, if you buy my print, I will get a small percentage of the purchase price.

back view

back view

undercollar in necktie silk

undercollar in necktie silk

side view

side view

pocket detail

pocket detail

silk satin pocket flap facings

silk satin pocket flap facings

collar detail.  The orange things on the print are goldfish

collar detail. The orange things on the print are goldfish

silk charmeuse lining

silk charmeuse lining

back view, on me

back view, on me

front view, on me.

front view, on me.

Arboretum in Winter

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Have you heard of myfabricdesigns.com? It’s a new service for printing fabrics on demand. They contacted me a month or so ago and asked if I would like to try their service. I love designing prints, and it’s been ages since I’ve done one, so I decided to give it a go. It was a total blast.

I went to a local park (the Reeves Reed Arboretum), and took photos of the dormant vegetation and goldfish. I love plants at all times of year, but winter may be my favorite. Then I went home and manipulated the photos on my computer to come up with my final print. My favorite florals are ones the look a little creepy, so I centered my print around a skull motif.

I uploaded it and waited for what seemed like an excruciatingly long time (but was really only a little over a week), and my print arrived at my door! It is everything I hoped it would be. The colors are really vibrant. They came through my prewash really well, and the fabric ironed up nicely. I’ve already cut out my project and started sewing. I bought the linen-cotton canvas to make a menswear-style blazer.

I could also see this print looking fantastic in activewear. I may buy more in a knit to make a hoodie at some point.

The print is up for sale in their marketplace. For more details, you can click on the link in the sidebar, or click here to purchase.

This is going to be the back of my jacket.  I re-drafted this pattern piece to eliminate the back seam so the skull can rest between my shoulder blades.

This is going to be the back of my jacket. I re-drafted this pattern piece to eliminate the back seam so the skull can rest between my shoulder blades.

This is what 3 yards of it looks like hanging on my washline.

This is what 3 yards of it looks like hanging on my washline.

Swamp Creature Dress

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Every year, I make a nice dress to wear to holiday parties. I end up going to several, and for the most part, the other people there don’t overlap, so I can wear the same dress a few times.

This dress will be this year’s holiday attire. It’s actually a dress and a blouse. The dress is made with silk ottoman, trimmed with cotton crocheted lace. The blouse is silk organza, trimmed with the same lace.

The idea came from a look from Alberta Ferretti’s fall 2015 collection, showing a dark sheer blouse under a sleeveless dark dress. It looked so cool and gothic that I wanted one. I picked some fabrics from my closet and dyed them. I dyed the silk ottoman and organza with acid dye from Dharma Trading in Moss Green. The cotton lace is dyed with Dharma Trading procion dye in I can’t remember what color.

I call it my Swamp Creature Dress because of the color scheme and because the lace coming out the hem (which is attached to the dress lining, not the blouse) kind of looks like seaweed or pond scum. Also, the silk ottoman changed dramatically after the dye process. I thought it might be ruined from the stress of multiple washings. It started out as a very formal fabric, with all the rows laying perfectly straight. After the whole dye process, the ridges were markedly wavy. I went ahead and made the dress anyway, and now I really like it. The lace coming out the hem (which is attached to the dress lining, not the blouse) kind of looks like seaweed or pond scum.

back view

back view

I self-lined the dress

I self-lined the dress

cuff

cuff

collar

collar

seaming

seaming

hem

hem

the crochet lace tablecloth that I cut up and dyed for the trim.  I bought it at an estate sale.  It's a pretty standard item that lots of old people have.

the crochet lace tablecloth that I cut up and dyed for the trim. I bought it at an estate sale. It’s a pretty standard item that lots of old people have.

patterns that I used.  The blouse pattern is almost certainly oop.  The dress pattern might still be available.

patterns that I used. The blouse pattern is almost certainly oop. The dress pattern might still be available.

Alberta Ferretti dress (lifted from Vogue.com)

Alberta Ferretti dress (lifted from Vogue.com)

Wool Flannel, Out of Season

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As I think I’ve mentioned previously on the blog, I like to shop at estate sales. Even if I don’t find anything at all to buy (which happens pretty frequently), the voyeur aspect makes the whole trip worth it. My husband and I have (occasionally lengthy) discussions about what went on in the house.

I month or so ago, I saw an ad on estatesales.net with some very promising photos. There appeared to be a well-stocked SEWING ROOM in the house. I tried not to get too excited beforehand, because I’ve seen crafting spaces in these ads before, but when I arrived, the actual stuff was all crap from Michaels not to my taste. So, I got there, and it was pretty much Shangra-La. Hundreds of spools of different varieties of silk thread. Really high-quality fabrics on rolls. Interfacings. Strange things that I have never seen before, like invisible zippers with metal teeth, and silk petersham. I bought a whole bunch of stuff, including fabrics, thinking they were really high-quality. A burn test revealed that the vast majority of the fabrics were what I thought they were. Only 2 out of 12 of the fabrics that I bought thinking they were silk were actually polyester.

This suit is almost entirely made from my estate sale haul. The wool flannel, silk lining, silk topstitching thread, and even the fusible all came from this unknown crafter’s estate sale. The buttons were a gift from Carolyn. I like buttons that are in 2 sizes, with bigger ones for the front opening and smaller ones for the cuffs. The undercollar is made from necktie silk, from a tie that I bought at the thrift shop.

I put a bit of effort into the buttonholes. I made the lapel buttonhole using a technique I read about on the made by hand blog. It took a couple of tries, but I think I got it almost right.

My three tries for the lapel buttonhole.  The top 2 are my practice runs, and the bottom one is the one on the suit.

My three tries for the lapel buttonhole. The top 2 are my practice runs, and the bottom one is the one on the suit.

back lining

back lining

cuff buttons and buttonholes

cuff buttons and buttonholes

back view

back view

undercollar

undercollar

undercollar made with necktie silk

undercollar made with necktie silk

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front detail

front detail

pocket

pocket

Angel Wing and Unicorn Mane

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This sweatshirt started when I picked up the latest issue of Ottobre at my local Barnes and Noble. A Facebook friend of mine posted that they are selling Ottobre at B&N now. I want to encourage this kind of thing, so I went there and bought it. One of the patterns in the mag is a short sleeved sweatshirt, which reminded me of the short sleeved sweatshirt that I had in seventh grade that made me feel SO COOL. I thought about making it for my daughter, but, well, she’s not me. And I like to think I’m not one of those parents who lives through my kids. So, I thought about it and decided that it might work for me. I looked in my fabric closet for a good knit, and this soft woven remnant caught my eye. It just might be the most amazing fabric I’ve ever felt. The cut was a lot less than a yard, and the fiber was not marked. I think the fiber content is 50% unicorn mane and 50% angel wing feathers.

I took the Ottobre pattern and made the largest size, 170. I did an FBA, and it works for me!

For the decorative stitching, I used silk thread doubled in the bobbin, and stitched from the wrong side.

back

back

front neckline

front neckline

back neckline

back neckline

sleeve hem

sleeve hem

side view

side view

silk thread for decorative stitching.  I doubled the thread, wrapped it around the bobbin, and stitched from the wrong side

silk thread for decorative stitching. I doubled the thread, wrapped it around the bobbin, and stitched from the wrong side

The issue of Ottobre with the pattern that I based this garment on.

The issue of Ottobre with the pattern that I based this garment on.

Me Made May 2015 Wrap-Up

Another May has come and gone, and again I jumped right in to Me Made May. It’s just so much fun to see what people are sewing and share my work. It seems like it was a bigger thing on Instagram than Flickr this year.

Following is my image gallery for the month. In previous years, I’ve linked relevant blog posts about the garments, but I just can’t be bothered to put links in at this moment. If you have any questions about any of the garments, please leave a comment and I will be happy to point you to the blog post (if there is one) or answer your questions.

Here’s what I learned from Me Made May this year: red lipstick makes every photo better.

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I know that Me Made May has a bit of an anti-consumerist vibe (which I’m totally on board with), but several people in the Instagram group posted garments in this amazing octopus print from Cotton and Steel. I just had to get some from Michael Levine. I’m planning on making a buttondown shirt with it.
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