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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Smocked skirt in Morris Meadows fabric

I bought some Morris Meadows fabric recently when it was on sale at Country Bumpkin, with the intention of making a skirt or dress for Brigid for her birthday. I spent a bit of time looking at my magazines and books. I wanted something with a flounce, or tiers.
I found it a lot easier to search my blog than to browse indexes and magazines! This will only work, of course, for things I have  made, but I am a pattern reuser, and found what I wanted in the end using a key word search of my blog. It has been worth adding those labels and key words! Indexes are only as useful as their access points,  the name of the project isn't enough.

This pattern is easy to adapt to a larger size and I am hoping it will do justice to the fabric as well as being something a ten-year-old will want to wear in 2013.

I was able to cut the fabric so it will only have one seam - nice for construction but a bit of a trial for pleating.  I ended up replacing one pleater needle and breaking one thread!

I chose threads that blended, debating whether to include only a touch of pink, as in the fabric, or blue, gold, green and pink in equal proportions. I went for the latter.

I wanted a simple pattern that caught the colour lines of the pleated fabric but let the pattern of the fabric show through in places. In the end I opted for the simple trellis of the original pattern, although that was reflecting a rick-rack on the hem that I didn't intend to use.

It is really interesting to see how you can use a stitch to quite different effect on different fabric.

I'm pleased I stuck with the pink. It provides a depth and blends with the gold.  I added a five-step trellis at the bottom to help define the fall of the fabric.

Blocking took a while because of the stretch over the length.

Gathering the frill wasn't too bad - I neatened the edge and hemmed the bottom before putting in the gathering threads, then marked it all out in eight sections before actually gathering.

The waist has elastic. I made it a bit tighter than the standard measurement for a 10 year old, which seemed big, but built in an extra loop that can be expanded.

The result is as I had imagined it. Finding and embellishing some matching tshirts will be the next blog post!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Kimono fabric bag therapy

When I was sorting out my sari scraps to replenish my bags, I was surprised by the number of pieces of antique kimono fabric I had accumulated, so I decided to make bags from this as well. Some of this I have bought online, some in physical shops, and some was given to me by a friend who travelled in Japan.

On the whole, the fabric is sturdier than the vintage sari pieces. Nevertheless, some is in need of repair, or has been cut to include a hem or border. Where possible I try to incorporate these into the bag. The thinking, manipulating and retrieving is very much part of my pleasure.

A couple of the pieces were fairly large - a real bonus. It is hard to find enough vintage fabric to make larger bags, while small bags are plentiful. Both of these are in faux silk. I used earring pieces on the ribbons of one, and paua shell buttons on the other.

Two really beautiful pieces of silk made medium sized bags without the need for lining fabric.

I had two medium sized pieces of dark greeny-black faux silk with pale roses woven into the fabric. I lined these to get the most out of the fabric. They made bags about 12x10 inches. I used ceramic buttons on one and lined it in ecru.

The other one - with more spectacular flowers - I lined in pale pink and used flower buttons.

These are amongst my favourites.

 These two are around 9 inches, and synthetic.
This is a lovely blue and white wool, woven, and with an intact hem I built into the casing for the ribbon.

The remaining bags are smaller, in an assortment of fabrics, much of it silk.

 I am partial to this little striped one, about 6 inches high, in a heavy woven fabric, and the two below, around 7 inches high, in a vibrant purple.

Again, I have used about half of my stash of vintage kimono pieces - and the plan is to buy no more until I have made them up!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

More Sari Scraps Bag Therapy

My supply of drawstring bags was depleted by Christmas and New Year gift giving, and at the same time I began to move back into my sewing room. I bought a Horn cutting table, which took Jim and I the best part of two days to assemble, but the result is terrific.

Although there is more to be done to set up the room I dug out my sari scraps, bought from Fabricana's Etsy shop last year and set about making a new supply of bags. Some of the sari scraps are quite fragile, so took a bit of care and work.

It took me the best part of a week, ironing, cutting, arranging, stitching (and in some cases, mending), finding and threading ribbon drawstrings, then finding and attaching buttons, beads or other embellishments to the ends of the ribbon to prevent them disappearing into the casing.

 I try to work around the shape and texture of the fabric piece. This for me is part of the fun of doing this - what makes it bag therapy! The spangles on this piece cost me one broken machine needle, and I had to line the top to get the full benefit of the parade of camels.
I found some little ceramic chillis in my tin of broken jewellery to finish the ribbon on one bag from this extraordinarily modern piece of silk; curvy fish buttons on another also mirrored the shapes in the fabric.

An old pair of earrings fitted the shape of this piece really well. It has the look of Indigenous Australia, but is an Indian sari piece.
This piece of pink silk has an embroidered border of doubled fabric. The detail in the hand-embroidery is lovely. I was able to fold back the single-layer above the border to create a lining for the bag.

I made a second, unlined bag from the same piece.

This piece of purple silk gauze also has a beautiful piece of embroidery on a heavier border, but I didn't have enough to create the lining, so part of the bag is see-through.

I really love the colours and embroidery in this small piece of bright pink silk - very Bollywood!

 I did a little bit of darning on this blue figured fabric - odd in a gift bag, I know, but I love preserving and using the fabric.

It also pleases me to use up buttons I have collected and saved over the years - as well as the odd felt flower that has come my way.


This is probably rather less than half of my sari scraps. The rest can wait for another day!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Swedish weaving throw finish

I made fairly good progress on the second half of the Swedish weaving. In spite of the safety pins, I clearly can't count, as I ended up with about 5cm more at one end between the hem and the end border. I decided it didn't matter on the bed, which is a king single.

I tried it on the bed to decide how to finish the edges. My original intention was to blanket stitch around the whole throw. But when I looked at the sides and the ends on the bed, I decided that the blanket stitching the sides would clash with the pattern.

I think, in retrospect, that a crocheted edge all around would have worked, but not blanket stitch.I also decided that the ends did need blanket stitching, but a closed, rather than open blanket stitch to reflect the points of the main design.

Having decided that, I set about finishing off the back. Although the aim in Swedish weaving is to use a thread long enough to go from one side to the other of the blanket (so some thread is 3.5 times the width of the throw!), there were a number of occasions where this didn't work out, and I was not flush with thread, so figured I could join threads using a technique I learned in a Naversom class late last year (still haven't finished my blog on that - but will get to it).

You leave two tails on the back, then stitch them together with  machine thread of a similar colour,   gently securing the joined threads to the back of the fabric. On such loose weave fabric it does need to be secured, or it will catch, but the technique seems to have worked fine. I finished the sides with a machine hem 4 threads wide.
For those interested, monks cloth is woven with 8 floats to the inch. Each 'float' has four threads and they are very loose, unlike huckaback, which is tight and has two threads to the float.

This photo, by the way, is taken using the clip-on attachment to my iPhone that Jim bought me for my birthday. It is an amazing micro lens, and also has a wide-angle and a fish-eye lens. Really simple to use and great quality.

I dug out my huck handtowel - made as my first school sewing project when I was 7 or 8 years old to compare. It was much used in my home when I was a child, so has quite a few stains.

The finished throw is now on the bed. I may one day decide to crochet around the whole edge, but for now it serves well as is.