Thursday, September 18, 2014

Here's Something Else Fun for You To Do

Long ago there was a sale, or I had a coupon, or something at JoAnn's, and I bought some Tim Holtz stuff, metal pieces meant to be used in scrapbooks and assemblage and stuff.  Not long after, I pinned one of the pins on a t-shirt to see what would happen. It's been through the laundry about a dozen times, I'm thinking:
 It worked great: didn't rip the fabric, didn't stain it, didn't seem to fade or anything:

 Today I unearthed the other stuff (which of course I'd forgotten all about) and started playing around with it. I tried some of it in various locations and discovered that the weight is a problem and has to be taken into account when you decide on placement. But I'm happy with it and will see what happens over time.

I back both of these (this one and the larger one below) with a scrap of soft denim to reinforce the lightweight linen.

 I thought this was a good quote for an experiment of sewing metal onto clothing, right?

I'm pretty jazzed about the possibilities, and I hope this gives you some groovy ideas, too~~XO

Jumprons, Schmumprons

Forget the Jumpron. You know, these:
I am sooo over those.

No, I can't believe I just said that, either, but it's true: after making 17 (yes: seventeen) of them from scratch and altering clothing to make several more, I think I'm done. I'm pretty sure I'm done. I thought I'd be making these forEVER out of sheets and tablecloths and quilts and stuff (and, oh, yeah: I do have a tablecloth and a quilt I want to make into some, so maybe I'm not *technically* done).

But Saturday I bought this:
 It was beige/ecru/off white, one of those non-colors, but as soon as I tried it on, I fell in love. I'm not sure why, but I'm guessing it's the general funkiness: I love funky clothes, but I'm still way, way too anal-retentive to get there on my own from scratch. I work on it every day, but my innate love of symmetry and balance and order gets in my way. I'll keep working on it, probably until the day I die (I typed "dye" and then laughed out loud).

It's Cynthia Ashby, of course, and it's linen. Those are handkerchiefs used for the pockets (a little too twee for me), but they work:
 I think what I loved best was the asymmetrical neckline.
 I'm guessing some frou-frou ribbon must have gone through these eyelets, but it wasn't there when I bought it, and I can't imagine that it would have looked anything other than silly. I can't find this apron thing online, but from the others I did find, I'm guessing it was originally $150-300. I, of course, did not pay anywhere near that much. And wouldn't have, not for something like this.

And it didn't take me long to realize, duh: I can make these. Anybody can make these.

 So this week, all excited, I set up the table in the living room and got out the heavy brown paper and started working with it. There were things I loved (the shape, the neckline) and things I didn't: the way it sticks out on the sides under the arms, the width of the neck (it's too wide for even my wide shoulders), the angle of the straps (if they went up straight, instead of angling out, they'd fit better).
I went out into the storage building and discovered that I had enough already-dyed linen, all neatly folded and waiting for a project, to make not one, not two, not three, but FOUR of these.

I started with the green linen, since I have enough green jumper/apron things to last a lifetime already (many of the things I find second-hand are beige-ish light green, and this is the only way to go with dyeing). If I screwed it up, I wouldn't be sad that I'd wasted that color.

Because this linen is very lightweight, I didn't want the heaviness of binding and so rolled the edges and basted on the machine and then laboriously stitched them all by hand. The hem is sewn on the machine (rather than basted) and then overstitched by hand. I loved using the bamboo floss I'd dyed in variegated greens. That was a thrill: linen I dyed, a pattern I made (not designed, but made from a garment), floss I dyed.

 And I absolutely love it. I wasn't sure I would, but I've been wearing it around the house over a tank and a long linen skirt, and it's perfect. Perfect! I love everything about it.

And therein lies my current problem: after I cut it out and started working on it, I decided I wanted to tweak the pattern a little and try again. I moved the straps in and raised the sides a little and took an inch or so off the circumference of the hem. And then I cut out a hot pink one. And in the meantime, as I was sewing up the pink one, I was also working on the green one. And I finished the green and started wearing it and loving it, and now I'm thinking I might wish I hadn't tweaked my first pattern at all. I'm going to finish this pink one and wear both (not at the same time, I don't think, but who knows?) and see which one I like better. I have both patterns and can cut and paste if I decide I need to.  The other two swaths of fabric (one red, one purple) are heavy linen, and it will be interesting to see how this design works in heavyweight fabric. It might not; it might be too heavy for thin straps.

Then what's really exciting: I have a huge whack of well-worn chambray, some from our old shirts, some from thrifted shirts, some from shirts people have sent me. I started looking at it and realized I have plenty—way more than enough—to make one of these in pieced chambray. Whoa. I can't wait, but I have to: I have to figure out which pattern (it's mostly the straps and their placement that's the issue) I want to use because worn, faded chambray isn't something I can go get more of if I screw up (i.e., make it and then go, "Man, I wish I'd done it differently.")

For the pink one, I spent yesterday afternoon making bias tape—you know, like I made the purple stuff I showed. It will have it around all the edges including the hem. I don't have (or want) a serger. so I finish the edges of linen by stitching all the way around every cut-out piece with the machine set on about 14-16 stitches per inch, right up near the edge. That keeps my seams from fraying. Then I bind the edges, either with cotton jersey or this bias tape. I'm really liking the bias tape because it's so easy to work with and easy to sew. It's just the cutting of it and the ironing it that's a pain: it takes forever.

Now I'm wishing I had more of this thin linen, already dyed, so I could make one just like the green one in all the colors I wear: purple, orange, pink, denim-y blue, orange-red, red-purple. And I'm thinking to myself, "I'll bet their linen is on clearance at Hancock's," which is close enough to walk to. But I swore I wasn't buying any more fabric until I used up all I have (and I got a great deal on what was left of a big bolt of heavy linen, so there's still a lot out there, not yet dyed), so I'm going to focus on finishing what I've got here rather than going crazy and planning another dozen projects.

There. I said it publicly. So now I have to stick to it, right? I have to stick to the half dozen things I'm working on right now instead of buying linen and dyeing it and cutting it out and starting a half dozen more.

I think I can. I think I can.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A New Post About Simplifying

I just did a post over at Art Is You, about getting rid of 100 more lbs of Stuff this week and how amazing that was.

I know it was 100 lbs because we had to weigh it for FedEx, and somehow the scales got re-set to km, instead of lb, and it was an odd experience: weighing really heavy stuff and it not being very heavy and you thinking, "Whoa. Am I *that* old?" and then finding out later that yes, indeed, it HAD been really heavy. Whew. Decrepitude forestalled for just a little longer. . . .

Anyway, here's the post, and I hope it fills you with ideas and inspiration for your own life.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Two More Salvages

I showed you the beginnings of this one:
With its big clunky armhole and its tacky white serging
 and its fraying neckline.
It started out white and had a yellow stain on the bottom and that fraying at the neckline. Here's what I did to fix it:

 It looks spotty because it's thinner linen and has a black tank top underneath
 I rolled the hem of both flounces up (to the outside) and stitched by hand:
 I also stitched over the seams that were on the outside; they were white polyester thread and didn't take the dye:
 Because the shoulders were too wide and the underarm part too boxy, I cut down that part and stay-stitched it on the machine and then added the binding.

 I'm really pleased with it. At some point I may add pockets, but not now. I'll wait and see if I love to wear it (it fits differently than the ones I make myself, so I have to Test Wear it).

Then there was this:
It's an old hospital sheet, textured and very cool. It was white when I got it years and years ago at an estate sale. I know it was from a hospital because it had a stamp along the hem: King's Daughters' Hospital (only they left out the apostrophes, which I can't bring myself to do). I looked it up; it was a charity hospital in Temple, Texas, that opened in that 1890s and is now a clinic of some sort.

It was heavy-ish, and I loved the texture, so I brought it home and bleached it and used it for years as an over-sheet on our bed in the summer time, when you sleep under a fan and might need an extra layer but nothing at all heavy. Then I dyed it pink and used it some more, and then it started wearing out, and finally it ripped. I tore it in half (this Jumpron has a seam down the middle of the front and back because of that) and lined it with bleached muslin and made this:

 I didn't plan this, but I love how it lined up, so I emphasized that with stitching.
 This was a hole at the hem that someone had mended clumsily by machine. I loved that, so I made sure to salvage it (normally I would have laid it out to avoid that edge part of the fabric and would have worked from the other end). I reinforced the mending, of course, so it would hold.
 I mended other holes, using variegated floss. It isn't some I dyed; it's expensive stuff from the local stitch shop, which I am apparently helping to keep in business by my obsession fascination with hand-dyed floss. I justify this by saying it's research and by studying what makes variegation work and what makes it a fail (like, for instance, the white spots that occur when you tie it off too tightly when you're skeining it).

 When I photographed it this morning I realized I have one more hole to mend:

 My fully lined pocket design. This one isn't colorful, but it's for stability. The pink fabric is too old to hold up by itself.
So there are my two salvaged things: a jumper thing and a hospital sheet. I'm now trying to work through all the bits and pieces of stuff (mending old stuff I love and still wear after decades, cleaning a leather bag, stuff like that) to get it all out of the way. I'm doing pretty well, and I've got a project just starting that's really exciting: making a shawl out of an ancient linen tablecloth. I spent a couple days getting the designs on it (had to size some stencils and then trace them onto the fabric on a light box with frequent stops to rest my fingers). I like having it hooped and ready for me: it spurs me to get this other stuff out of the way. When the rack of stuff that's "in line" gets full, I know it's time to do triage and tackle the simplest, fastest stuff just to get it out of the way, and I'm doing pretty well.

Hope your week is starting off grandly! XO

Friday, September 05, 2014

Totally Jazzed

it may not look like much to be jazzed about, and I'm guessing there's more than one person in the world who's going to take one look and go, "Omigawd, it's a clown costume!" but this thing right here:
 is a really big deal for me.

Like all the Jumprons, it's made from a sort of anti-pattern, a piece of paper with the neckline and armholes and then lines and notes so I know where to lay the yardstick and how far down to cut. I made this anti-pattern myself, with no pattern to follow.

The fabric was lightweight linen on clearance. White, of course. I mixed the dye colors from Procion dyes. They're mostly Deep Orange and Grape, but I add a little red to the orange and a little raspberry—just a tiny bit—to the grape to get the colors to pop.
 I made the flounce not because I like ruffles and stuff—I don't; I'm not a ruffle kind of woman and wasn't a ruffle kind of girl—but because I wanted purple on the bottom and just adding a strip of binding wasn't enough. It needed to be "heavier," visually. Plus the flounce gives it some actual, physical weight, which it needs because the fabric is so light.
 The pockets are my own design: I drew the shape I wanted and made them completely double-sided, so technically, if they weren't stitched on, they'd be reversible. Why? They needed to be thicker than one layer of lightweight linen, but also: I love pockets, and looking down and seeing a lined, colorful pocket just makes me happy.

 And, yeah, I'm pretty dang pleased with the double-fold bias tape around the neck and armholes that I created from the same purple fabric. It turned out fabulous considering it was my first time ever to try it and I did it quickly. It was super simple to sew through, and it's a lot less stiff than I feared it would be. I am so loving this tape binding, I can't even tell you.
 I didn't dye the floss, but I *could* have (I see no point in dyeing solid colors of DMC because I have pretty much every color I could ever need. Oh! Except pink and purple: I will probably someday dye those because DMC doesn't have the exact colors I like. (Mostly I use Anchor purple floss; more expensive to get locally but much, MUCH better purples)).

So here it is, kind of a culmination of everything I love, and it's my own creation. Oh, sure: it's like other stuff you could buy somewhere, and the things I did weren't rocket science, and blah, blah, blah. That's not the point. I'm not saying I'm uber-creative or that this is some amazing creation. I'm saying this: I imagined something I wanted and I figured out how to make it, every bit of it, my own self. It's not that I have mad sewing skills or am a talented designer. It's that I have learned to believe in my ability to do stuff, no matter that I'm not trained and don't have all the fancy gadgets and stuff. And I'm learning to do it out of the most minimal things—not ordering $40 a yard custom-dyed linen or using a serger or having someone draft a complicated pattern.

And you can, too. You can figure out how to do what you want to do to make stuff you love. It doesn't have to be done The Right Way, and it doesn't have to please anyone else but you. It's not about perfection, or making things to sell (I'd rather stab myself in the ear than make these to sell) or impressing anyone or anything. It's about wondering, "What if?" and "How would that work?" and—perhaps the most important: "Why not?" Just "Why the hell not?"

We're not talking about just clothes here. Think about handmade books. Jewelry. Cakes. Walking sticks. Coloring books. Shoes. Bags. Hats.
So, yeah, this is a big deal for me. I kind of wish I *had* dyed the floss, just so I could say I did. Heck, I kind of wish I'd planted the flax and harvested it and spun it and woven it—oh, I'm so lying. I can't grow flax; I can't even grow weeds.

But you know what I mean. And it is, indeed, a joy. And I want you to stop and think about how that feels for me, because you can feel that, too. You just need to think about what would do it for you, make some notes, do some thinking. And then jump in. What have you got to lose? Plant a garden, carve a stick, make a flag for your front porch.

Now for a walk and then on to my next adventure: making a shawl out of a hole-y linen table cloth.

Why the hell not, right?

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Markers for Dark Fabric FAIL

Bleah. This sucked. I hated it because I had high hopes that one of these would be Perfect In Every Way.


Here goes. I bought these:
 From L to R: GellyRoll Pen, Clover White Marking Pen for fabric, Ranger opaque white pens, silver fabric marking pencils, Pen-Touch white paint pen.
 These two look identical, but they aren't:
 The Clover pen looks like it works OK, but it doesn't, not for me: the ink doesn't show up when you make the mark; it shows up when it dries a few seconds later. This would be fine if you were making a single mark, or a long line. But for writing text, no. I couldn't see where I'd put one mark before I made another. Those scribbles? That's because I thought no ink was coming out. It wasn't until later I realized it had to dry. This won't work for what I want to do: write a letter. Wait. Write another letter. Wait some more. I'd never finish, and if I can't see the spacing, I can't get it right for embroidering the letters (I guess if I were just writing, it wouldn't matter, but for stitching, the spaces are important to make it legible).

 Below, the first one on the left is the Ranger pen. I didn't like it because it caught in the fabric and was kind of spotty and took a while to start writing, which to me is always a bad sign with an ink pen. The big "Now" in the lower middle is the silver fabric pencil, and I hate it: the tip catches in the fabric and it's not as visible as the white pencil I have already. The most legible is the paint pen, on the right, but bleah: it stinks just like paint pens do, and I don't know that it's worth it to me. It might be for you, though, so I tested it.
What I'm doing: I'll keep the GellyRoll and try it on a project, but all the rest are going back for a refund. I'm really disappointed that they didn't do what I wanted them to the way I wanted them to.

Sorry I didn't find an amazing solution. You know: writes smoothly on fabric (so no sharp point; it would need to be rounded like the larger tips on permanent markers, maybe the .05), shows up, will wash out if it's not heat set but will not smear while you're stitching. In short, I want a white pen exactly like the black Pigma Micron or Zig Millineum, which I use interchangeably on all other fabric and LOVE. I use the .05 and .08 the most. The 1.0 is too thick for me, and the smaller points catch in the fabric too much and don't leave a bold enough line for me most of the time. They're good for more finely-woven fabric, though.

You know, I guess this should just be a lesson to me that there's one more reason I don't like dark fabrics. Once I get this Dream Jumper project out of the way, I think I'll go back to avoiding anything darker than a brilliant purple. Huh.