Thursday, December 27, 2012

Polka Dots and Cables

First of all, I wanted to show you all the finished baby sweater I posted last time. I finished it up a week or so ago and have since started a new one. This one is a newborn size, so it won't be very practical as it won't fit long enough to make it through the cold next winter, but since it was mostly a cabling experiment on my part I'm ok with that. Someone will be able to make use of it again at some point. 

The left shoulder buttons with three little buttons that I had in my stash. They came off one of the cuffs of an old sport coat. I only made a few alterations to the pattern, primarily choosing to knit the sleeves in the round in order to save myself one more seam. I really like this pattern and will probably make another one at some point, but in a larger size.

I've also started a second baby sweater (this one is a 6-9 month size) for next winter. It's a cabled jacket with hood, and also has matching socks. The yarn I'm using for this one is a burgundy superwash merino. It feels absolutely wonderful! The pattern I'm using is very poorly written, making it a bit difficult to interpret some of the instructions at certain points. I made the mistake of not reading them all thoroughly before I started and after knitting about 5 inches of the back had to rip everything but the ribbing and start over. Now that I've got the pattern figured out (after needing to make a few minor adjustments) it's turning out very well. I've got the back finished and have started the right front. I'll be taking this one on vacation with us next week and will hopefully be able to knock out the majority of it (if not all of it) before I have to go back to work on the seventh.

Now, this baby is not the only one who's got new clothes in the works. I am about half finished with a 1950s maternity top (that's been on the back burner since I started the sweaters and have been busy with holiday stuff). The pattern is one that I was given by a good friend. It's a 1950s maternity pattern (Simplicity 1174) with a top, skirt and shorts. I'm making the top in version 1 to wear once I get bigger and the weather warms up. 

Image from Vintage Patterns Wiki
The fabric I found for just a few dollars a yard from Denver Fabrics, and I think it's going to look cute with my jeans and the black knit pencil skirt I have also. 

I still have to attach the sleeves, hem the bottom and finish the closures on the front. It's a bit of a wrinkly mess on Tabitha right now, but I think it's going to be really cute once I've got it all together. The fabric has a woven dot pattern in white, yellow, red and pink. The black trim is a scrap from my black linen pants that I made last summer, and I have solid black buttons for the front of the blouse.

Once I get this second sweater finished I'll probably go back and finish up this top. I also have to finish trimming some pajamas I made and try and get our couch recovered before the baby gets here, but that's going to be kind of a tall order, so we'll see what happens. I hope that everyone is enjoying the holidays  and I hope to have some finished garments to show you all very soon! 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A couple of little projects and a big announcement

I've been working on several projects here lately, but haven't had the time to photograph them since things have been so busy. The end of the semester was hectic, then I was laid up with a cold for a week (from which I am just now recovering), and the holidays are always busier than expected. I finally managed to take a few pictures of a couple of little projects I have in the works in order to prove that I haven't been sitting around doing nothing for the last several weeks. Hopefully I'll have a few more projects up soon.

However, before I show you the projects, I've got a announcement. We're having a baby! I know of at least three other bloggers who are also pregnant (CaseyNabby, and Quincy), and wouldn't be surprised if there are several more out there as well. I also have a cousin and several friends who are due early next spring and next summer. Mr. S and I are expecting our little peanut at the end of May (fortunately a month after the semester is over here, so I will easily be able to take time off this summer). Of course, a new baby (quite a big project in and of itself) means lots of new projects for me! I have a 1950s maternity top on the sewing table right now. I'm about half finished with it. However, what I have to share is for the baby.

I've just finished up the front and back of a baby sweater from this pattern on Ravelry.

So far so good. First of all, working on a sweater this tiny provides much more immediate gratification than all of the sweaters I've made for myself since the pieces are so small. It's the first time I've ever knit cables, and overall they turned out pretty well. There are a couple of minor mistakes in the pattern, but nothing too glaring, and I had gotten too far to care about ripping them out when I noticed them. I just finished blocking these pieces so that I can join the side seams and begin the sleeves, which are knit onto the body instead of as separate pieces. I have yarn for a couple of other baby sweaters that I will be starting once I get this one finished.

The second baby project I've been working on is a baby quilt. I'm actually recovering the quilt that my maternal grandmother made for me when I was born. I'm just going to remove the binding and use the whole quilt as batting. I'm making a bunch of tiny nine-patch squares for the quilt top, and all of the fabric for them is from scraps left from dresses I've made for myself. There are even a few little pieces from squares I used for a family quilt I made several years ago as an art project. I'm planning on alternating nine-patch squares and solid squares for the quilt top, using the white polka-dots as the contrast squares. The green dot will be with quilt back, and I'm going to being it in yellow.

I've been thinking about doing a little bit of embroidery perhaps on the white squares of the quilt top, but we'll see. I really like what Bessie did with the quilt top that she finished recently. I don't know if I have that much time and patience though. I may be lucky to get the squares finished. I found the green and white dot fabrics, along with the yellow for the binding the other day. I'm really pleased with how they look with the nine-patch squares. It was lucky that so many of my dress scraps were baby friendly, gender neutral fabrics. We're not planning on finding out the gender so I wanted to make sure it didn't look too girly, but still wanted it to be a little bit cutesy.

Hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season so far!

Very Inspiring Blogger Award

I was just recently nominated for a Very Inspiring Blogger Award by Sara at The Pretty Pickle. First of all, I have to say I am flattered. I really enjoy sharing projects with all of you, in order to get your opinions on things, share things I've come up with, and I particularly enjoy seeing what you all have created. I have a couple of local sewing friends, but it's nice to be a part of such a wide community of like-minded (and helpful) people. 

The rules of this lovely award are as follows:

1. Thank the person who nominated you
2. Add The One Lovely Blog Award / The Very Inspiring Blogger
Award to your post.
3. Share 7 things about yourself.
4. Pass the award on to 10 nominees.
5. Include this set of rules.
6. Inform your nominees by posting a comment on their blogs.

So, without further ado, I guess I should share 7 things about myself. 

1. I play the viola (or at least I used to). I took lessons for seven years, and I still have my viola, but it's hard to find time to play ever. I'm really shy about playing in front of people so I won't play if anyone else is home. Silly, I know, but what are you going to do. 

2. This is just totally weird, but unique I guess. I can pop my left shoulder in and out of socket. It has freaked out even die hard yoga practitioners who can do all kinds of strange things with their bodies. 

3. When I was ten years old I spent an entire summer trying to memorize all of Puck's lines from A Midsummer Night's Dream. I saw it at a local University and became a little obsessed. I still know most of his monologue from the scene in the fairy realm, before Oberon and Titania enter. 

4. I love to dance. I dance all of the time. Even while I'm teaching. My students tease me about it. I took tap, jazz and ballet as a little kid, took irish dance lessons for a couple of years when I was about 10. I have dabbled in belly dance, swing dancing, burlesque, pole, salsa, ballroom and have been taking flamenco lessons for the last couple of years. Flamenco is a beautiful art form, lots of fun to do, ties in with my love of Spanish culture, and is also just totally cool. One word. Ruffles. 

5. I hate bananas. Hate is a very strong word, and in this case it is entirely appropriate. I can't stand anything about them. I can even smell it if someone is eating a banana in the next room. 

6. The Land Before Time is one of my favorite movies of all time. It has great sentimental value to me, since my brothers and I used to watch it at our grandmother's house all the time. I cannot watch it without crying through three-quarters of the movie, though (and by crying I mean bawling uncontrollably). Full blown waterworks. 

7. My eyes change color. Sometimes blue, sometimes green, sometimes grey. For the past couple of years they have been much greener than they have ever been in the past. 

Now to pass this award on to ten other bloggers. I'm going to try and stick to people whose blogs I have found recently and really enjoyed reading back through, but I may have to toss in a couple of my old favorites. 

1. Jo at Bridges on the Body - I am very impressed with the projects she has completed working her way through Corsets and Crinolines. There are a few things in there I would really like to make, but haven't had the time. 

2. Jane at Handmade Jane - She does a lovely job tailoring to her body, and I particularly love her new polka-dot wiggle dress!

3. The knitting fiend MCONIECZKI at Tres Bien Ensemble (she's also on Ravelry) - Her sewing projects are lovely. Check out her new pjs! However, what really floors me are her knitting projects. She's prolific and very skilled. Everything she makes seems to turn out beautifully. 

4. Technicolor Cutie - Her outfits are adorable, but I really admire her commitment to fixing her hair with a new baby on hand. 

5. Cynthia at Dapper Duds - Because let's face it, she's precious. I really love that she makes clothes for her husband though. She always does a great job. 

6. The sisters of Brentwood Lane - great outfits and wonderful taste in film ;)

7. Jennifer Lauren at Jennifer Lauren Vintage - Her dresses are adorable and I love reading about her other crafty escapades. 

8. Nabby at This Old Life - Her clothes and hair make me drool. 

9. Milenushka of The Home Blues - Her new version of Gertie's wiggle dress pattern is killer! I love seeing all the photos from her travels as well. 

10. Jeanne at Sew Vera Venus - One word: Exquisite. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Pinstripe trousers

Well, I still haven't taken pictures of the finished wool dress, but I just came upon the pictures of these pants that I made over the summer and never got around to posting. These are another pair of pants made from the ever popular Simplicity 3688. I've used the pattern before for a pair of suit pants (which have recently been passed on to a friend). I've worn these a couple of times. I really like them, and they are very comfortable, but I wish I had added about half or three-quarters of an inch to the crotch length so the waist would sit just a tad higher. I have an ever so slightly higher natural waist, and these don't quite hit me at the smallest point. 

I didn't photograph this, but they also have some bright purple hem tape finishing the inside of the legs. They are very comfortable and great for work. I can't remember what the exact fabric content is, but it's some polyester-rayon-lycra something or other I think. Anyway, because of that they don't need pressing. I'll have to touch up the creases now and again, but that's not much work. It's easy to reset them with the stripes as a guide.

As usual, I hand picked my zipper. I have a zipper foot, but I've just really come to love hand inserting zippers. They just look so much more polished and neat, and it's much easier to work on curves like this hip seam in particular.

Due to the fabric content there is a bit of puckering that happens at the point of the darts that I couldn't eliminate completely no matter what I did to them. They flatten out a bit when on the body, but either way they're not so noticeable as to be distracting. I have a tan fabric with dark brown pinstripes in my stash that is destined for another pair of these. I may go ahead and raise the waistline a teeny bit on those so that they sit where I'd prefer. However, those have gone on the back burner for a while, since I've got some much more time and labor intensive projects in the works right now, but more on those later. Hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving week!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

1960s dress for fall

I haven't been feeling great and therefore haven't been very productive for the last several weeks, but I've finally gotten back into some sewing and am nearly finished with the 1960s dress I started ages ago. I have gotten a bit farther than is shown in the pictures, but it gives you an idea at least. I hope to have the dress finished by tomorrow so I can wear it for a brunch and movie date with my wonderful Mr. S. He's got the day off and we haven't gotten to go out in a month so we're going to make a day of it tomorrow. We are planning on going to see Lincoln and from what I've heard it should be a good film. It's hard to lose with Daniel Day-Lewis. Anyway, back to the dress. 

Just a reminder, this is the pattern I'm using. 

I'm making the full skirted version (as you can see), but will be using the three-quarter jacket sleeves instead of the short sleeves, to make it more winter appropriate. I have also dropped the back neckline into a shallow "v". I like the look of the high front neckline with a lower back neckline (in case you haven't noticed). The fabric came from a friend's mother's stash. She passed away and they gifted us with a lot of her fabric when they were cleaning out her house a few years ago. It was all very nice wool, much of it vintage pendleton. She also left notes on a lot of the fabric telling how much she paid, what year, etc. This particular yardage is a lovely, lightweight wool with a beautiful hand. It was 54 inches wide and I had about 3.5 yards of it. She bought it in 1994. It was originally priced at $40/yard, but she got it for 60% off (and I got it for free!). The colors are a bit different than much of what I have in my wardrobe, which is nice, but they work well enough that it will still coordinate with my sweaters and jackets. 

I have taken a lot more care with finishing on this dress than I tend to usually. Partially because I felt the fabric deserved it, but it also tends to be a bit ravely and I wanted to be sure that all of my seams were enclosed. I made french seams in the bodice and skirt, and bound the waist seam and the back skirt closure with self bias binding and was very careful in tacking down my facings and so forth.

I had just enough of this peachy-orange lace hem tape in my stash to finish the hem as well. Not only did it save me a little extra pressing, but I also like having it as a fun, hidden accent on my dressier garments.

The skirt wasn't attached yet here, but I now have that attached, the zipper, hooks, thread loops and snaps installed in the center back closure, and have finished the waist seam as well. All I have left to do is make and attach the sleeves and it's all set!

Hope everyone is having a nice weekend!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Cold weather projects in the offing

I still have a few projects from earlier this summer that I haven't taken pictures of yet in order to share with you all, but now that I have a tad more free time I've been working on a couple of things for the colder weather. It's officially fall here, and so many of my dresses are just completely summery I have a goal of trying to fill out my cold weather wardrobe a bit more in the next few weeks. I'm also doing a little stash busting in the process. Again, no pictures of the projects themselves yet, but I will try and get those taken care of soon. For now, I will leave you with a bit of a teaser, just the patterns and fabric descriptions. I have several small yardages of vintage wool, some of which is real Pendleton purchased in October of 1976 by the original fabric owner (according to the tags left on her yard goods).

Anyway, the first project I've managed to get finished is a wool swing coat from a heavy blue and green plaid that mom gave me a couple of years ago. 

Obviously it's the plaid on the right. Incidentally I've also recently made a pencil skirt from the purplish wool in the front, but that's something I haven't managed to photograph yet. The jacket pattern I used was Simplicity 4027. 

It turned out really well and it's very differently stylistically from any of my other jackets, which is nice. 

The next project I'm working on is a dress from some of the lighter weight wool that was in the stash my mom and I received from an acquaintance who's mother passed away. This one is a bit newer. The note said she bought it in 1994 I think, but it is 100% wool and the colors are perfect for a fall dress. No pictures of it yet, unfortunately, but soon I promise. The pattern I'm using is a vintage original from the early sixties that I found at an antique shop for a dollar or two. 

Image from Vintage Patterns Wiki
I cut the back neckline into a slightly lower V-back instead of the full boatneck. I also wanted longer sleeves, since it is for winter, so I'm using the jacket sleeves instead of the shorter dress sleeves. I just used the sleeve cap for the short sleeve and extended the sides along the seam lines of the longer sleeve piece. I have to dig through my buckle stash to see if I can find one that works with the fabric I'm using, but I should have something. I have just enough of a few other pieces to make myself a few more pencil skirts for wearing to work, and would like to get those done in the next couple of weeks, but we will see how that goes. I have a bit more free time now, but not that much. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Bread Baking

Alright, so this is going to be short and sweet, but I thought I'd share since, while it is not sewing, it is still a creative outlet of sorts. I just baked my very first loaf of bread. I am happy to say, I can now call myself a successful bread baker. Nothing fancy, just a white sandwich loaf, but this is only the beginning. I can feel it now.......

(Not an amazing photo, but the bread is delicious and that's the really important thing.)

In an effort to not only maintain a healthy lifestyle and good eating habits (along with minimizing the carbon footprint) I have been trying to make sure that most if not all of what we eat is homemade, locally sourced, preservative and creepy chemical free, and helps support our small local economy. I try to buy all of our produce, meat and dairy (as much as possible) from local farmers, I make my own yogurt from local, organic milk, and now I will be making our own bread as well. Everyone is always very impressed when I tell them I make yogurt, but it's really one of the easiest things in the world to do, and requires only a minimum of effort. This wasn't that much harder. Now Mr. S can eat his sandwiches on fresh bread made with only four, very easily pronounced ingredients. 

The crust turned out beautifully! Nice and crispy, like a good french loaf, with a soft, moist crumb (middle of the bread). Nice and fluffy as well. It's really delicious and it's going to be very nice being able to make loaves in a size that we can actually go through before it goes bad, so it will also be less wasteful, not to mention significantly cheaper. Now I just have to try and restrain myself so it's not all gone by the time Mr. S gets off work tonight. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Fellow Blogger Feature: Blue Collar Bad Girl

I just wanted to share this one with you all! Tamsen is another local blogger (who also happens to be my sweet baby brother's girlfriend), and while I love the clothes she designs for herself, I must admit that my favorite of her creative outlets is definitely her baking. This girl can bake like nobody's business! Seriously. And she makes valves; because being well rounded is very important. Without further ado, here are a couple of my favorite projects of hers....

This caped mini-dress is a newer project, and is absolutely adorable. She always looks cute, but this dress is definitely up there pretty high on the cute outfit list. I am no longer young enough to get away with a mini this micro, but she can still pull it off.

This pleated skirt is one of her own designs, as is the studded collar.

She ombre dyes her own jeans....

And I cannot begin to describe the goodness that is the vegan choco-nut peanut butter bliss bite. These things were seriously to die for. Chocolate, peanut butter, caramel and coconut. In miniature.

One of my favorite designs of hers, however, is this incredibly comfortable hooded tunic-dress. She very generously shared her pattern with me, and I could wear mine every day. It's one of those projects that I still haven't managed to take pictures of, but I think I'm going to make myself another one in the near future here, so I will make sure I take pictures of that one.

I really could go on and on about her baking, but suffice it to say, after several varieties of carrot cake, homemade chocolate truffles, Oreo cheesecake, pumpkin muffins with some incredible frosting (just enough to add sweetness without overpowering) and as many other goodies we could manage to get to the house before they were all eaten by my little brother, she has never made anything that was not "lick your fingers and pray there was more" good, and she frequently shares her recipes with us her dear readers. You, too, can have choco-nut peanut butter bliss bites in your life.

Photo credits go to my brother, Drury Graham.

I just started back to work teaching today, so it's back to the grind around here, but I should still be getting a few projects posted here and there as I get things finished up and photographed. Hope you all are having a wonderful start to the week!


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Spotted Summer Ensemble

This post includes a few different projects, all of which started with the same piece of fabric as inspiration. Some of you may remember this dress that I made last summer.

The pattern was one of the Butterick re-issues, and the fabric was a birthday present from my mom a few years ago. It was a vintage cotton, almost lawn in weight, with flocked dots in red. When she gave it to me she said "I know there are at least four yards". Great! Just enough for a dress. When I went to cut this dress out, though, as I unfolded my yardage to wash it, it just kept unfolding further and further. You were right, Mom. There were at least four. In fact, there were FOUR-TEEN yards of this stuff. It was great because as vintage yard goods, it was only about 36 inches wide, but still. Fourteen yards is quite a hefty amount. I had so much left I decided to make another dress out of it, but using the reverse side of the fabric this time for a slightly different look this go around.

The pattern that I used was Vogue 1137.

I was immediately in love with this pattern. After measuring all of the pieces and comparing the body measurements and finished garment measurements I cut out a size 12 at bust and hip, and a size 10 at the waist. This is a pretty standard ratio for me on modern patterns, especially from the any of the Big Four companies. I also shortened the hem a few inches, another common adjustment I make in order to accommodate my 5'4'' and a more modern hem length. I made a few other adjustments as well, to suit my own taste. I eliminated the front darts in the skirt, pinning them out before I cut my fabric. I did this first of all, because I like a flatter fit in the front, but also to keep from interrupting the grid of red dots as much as possible. I also changed the neckline, raising it to a boat neck in front and a much deeper V in back. The entire dress is lined in white muslin, because this fabric is so thin. The pieces all fit together beautifully, even after my alterations, and the fit is perfect. While I liked the original style of the pattern to begin with, it makes a wonderful base for adaptation.

Once I had the dress nearly finished, I pondered what kind of embellishment I wanted to do. I knew I was going to make a coordinating belt from some stash red cotton, and my first idea was to run thin red piping around the neckline. My mom suggested instead making button tabs on the shoulders, which turned out to be the idea I went with, also adding some at the side vents in the skirt.

 I finished the belt with a vintage shell buckle I found on Etsy a long time ago, which matches the mother of pearl buttons on the tabs. The belt carriers are thread loops.

I'm pretty sure this is my new favorite dress. It's so summery and comfortable, but can still be very dressy if I need it to be. I love the way it fits as well. It's an extremely flattering dress, and I will be using the pattern in future without doubt. I would love to do a dress and coat ensemble like the envelope, but that will have to wait, as I don't have any coat fabric in my stash and am not permitting myself to buy any quantities of fabric until I've finished several more projects.

Continuing my stash busting efforts, even after making this dress I had enough fabric left to do something with, so I decided to make a playsuit. The pattern I used is an original that I found at a local antique store a couple of years ago. I haven't been able to pin down a specific year, but it appears to be from around 1940, give or take a couple of years.

And here is the playsuit....

Again, I apologize for all the wrinkles. I took these pictures in the middle of moving into the new house, and didn't have my ironing board yet, nor the time to iron everything anyway. The bow is a detachable pin, which I have also worn pinned at the center back of the V-neck on the previous dress, and their are thread loop belt carriers on the playsuit as well so I can also wear the belt with this if I don't want to wear the overskirt.

My bound buttonholes on the skirt didn't turn out perfectly straight, but there was no correcting it once I realized it. Oh, well. The bow distracts from that slightly so it's not too bad. I usually end up wearing the playsuit without the skirt anyway, so it doesn't bother me too much. The skirt is lined with the very last bits of the red and white cotton. The playsuit is also fully lined due to the sheerness of the fabric, and I ended up putting a much longer zipper in the side so that it opened all the way to the top in order to make it easier to get in and out of. It's very comfortable and is one of my new favorite summer garments. I'd like to make another one in a more practical color for running around when it's 95º out.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Homage to Griffe, and a query

The inspiration for this dress came from a Jacques Griffe design that I have adored for ages. Everything about this photo of actress Suzy Parker I find lovely. The fullness of the skirt, with all those tiny pleats (they almost look like cartridge pleats to me) paired with the simple, clean, satin jacket and dainty black shoes is to die for. The colors in the photo are, while not vibrant, rich and warm, and the expression on her face, and the movement in her pose are just lovely.

I found this fabric at a Ben Franklin's ages ago on their flat folds table, and I think I paid about $3 or $4 a yard for it. While I'm not 100% sure of the fabric content, since that is hardly one of Ben Franklin's top priorities, it definitely has a lot of rayon in it, if it's not all rayon. The weight and drape of it are wonderful though, and I knew from the get go that I wanted to make something with a big full skirt like this one. I bought all they had, which ended up being about 6 yards I think. It's been sitting in my stack for about two years and I finally got around to sewing it up. The colors reminded me of this photo and I decided to use Butterick 4512 again, making the bodice from a solid black to mimic the black jacket in Giffe's design. 

Ever since I used this pattern for my white a and blue polka dot dress last summer I've wanted to use it again, because I like the way the top fits, and the overall shape was so nice. I only used the bodice for this version though, adding my own, extra-voluminous skirt. Other than the skirt alteration, the only thing I had to change about the pattern was the same neck adjustment I made the first time around. The sides of the halter neck were much too loose on me, and so I tightened them up a few inches total to bring the neck up higher and to eliminate the gaping around the top of the bust in front. The fabric for the bodice I found on a clearance table at JoAnn's (although the clearance price wasn't all that cheap). I only needed a yard, so it wasn't bad though, especially since the skirt fabric was so much cheaper. There is a little bit of pulling that happens at the darts on Tabitha since we are not exactly the same proportions, but it lays more smoothly on me.

The skirt is a 1.75 circle skirt. I didn't have enough to get two full circles out of it, but one and three-quarters circles is still a pretty voluminous skirt, especially with a crinoline under it. I love the black one underneath the skirt in the Giffe original, but I don't have one and have tulle to make an ivory one next, so the black will have to wait. While the shape I get with my current crinoline is great, I don't really care for it. It is too heavy and tends to not lay evenly all around, so I'm going to make myself a new one.

I decided to monogram the collar, since I don't have anything monogrammed and have been toying with the idea on several other garments for a while. I opted for a very subtle black on black "E" on the left collar point. While not perfect, it came out pretty well for an only slightly planned first attempt.

My original plan was to pleat the skirt in tiny knife pleats, but I ended up not being able to get the necessary width at the top to do that many little pleats and still have the length and fullness that I wanted at the hem, so I ended up just gathering it onto the bodice and am overall satisfied with the result. Getting the hem even on such a massive skirt was a complete bear, and there are still a couple of places that need to be adjusted; that is, if I ever get to a point where I care enough to make the minor adjustments to a skirt that moves around so much no one will likely notice the imperfections anyway.

After looking back at my finished project, I think that one of the things that I enjoyed most about this dress is that it reminds me of a project that I did in high school. During a visiting artist session with Lee Mingwei at Oxbow we did a project that reflected on the subject/issue of copying in the art world. Mingwei addressed the issue we have in the Western world with the idea of copying another art work; something that is generally perceived as low, uncreative, unoriginal, or even stealing. Through his work with us he wanted to emphasize the importance of copying others (especially older artists) in the education of artists for centuries, not only in the Western hemisphere, but particularly in Asian artistic traditions. In both areas of the world, copying the old masters was how a student learned to handle their medium and their subject, studying the work and technique of their predecessors directly and actively. This process seems to have lost value in the the modern Western tradition in particular. He provided us with a list of 21 modern artists, and we were each asked to choose one artist and one piece to copy. The term copy here, he used rather loosely, telling us we could copy directly, copy form, copy palette, copy subject, whatever it was about the piece we found interesting or compelling. I chose Pat Steir, an artist whose work was as far from my comfort zone as I could get. The painting that I chose is entitled Green One.

Image Source
I can't currently find the disk that has my portfolio photos on it, and I don't have a copy of them anywhere else, but I'll try and find a picture of my version soon. I would just take another photograph, but it's about 3.5'x6' and it's off the stretcher bars, so it would be a little tough to do. Anyway, the point of the project was to use the copying process to help further our skills and develop our own artistic visions through a slightly more focused path. I think this same concept applies to a lot of the things that I and many of you other sewers create, but in my opinion at least, there is a different attitude toward the concept of "copying" in the sewing world than there is in the art world. Whether this has something to do with the (in today's world) more mainstream and visible nature of fashion and fashion design as compared with the very closed art world, or because of the wearable, functional aspects of clothing as an art form. I do think the comparison is an interesting one, though. What are your opinions on the subject of copying (I again am using the term rather loosely)? Do you see it as a helpful, productive step in one's development as an artist/creator or as something that should be avoided in pursuit of the truly innovative and unique? Are the two things mutually exclusive?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Greetings from Holland, Michigan!

        While this isn't a sewing related post, it is another project that I managed to finish in the last couple of months. As a reenactor, I am well aware of the wonders of wooden shoes, especially when you're tromping through a wet, muddy campsite. I have a pair of plain wooden sabot that I wear to events, sabot being the French versions that are more appropriate for the group we portray. However, some friends of ours passed this pair of Dutch clogs along to me a couple of years ago. They didn't fit anyone in their family and the more narrow cut of these shoes was perfect for my skinny little heels. Despite the fact that Dutch shoes (the much pointier toes indicate that they are Dutch and not French, which have a more rounded toe) are not appropriate for me at events, I really loved the shape of them and decided to just keep them they way they were. However, these shoes happen to be souvenirs from someone's trip to Holland, Michigan in 1974. There is a note on the bottom that says "From Holland Mich. From Mom and Dad July 16, '74". Their daughter had apparently decided that they needed some decoration and had started painting flowers and words like "Peace" and "Love" all over them. Most of her plans, however, didn't make it past the pencil stage on the shoes so they were only partially painted with some very seventies teenage cheese happening. So, I sanded the outside of the shoes down a bit to get the paint and the pencil marks off and then set myself to painting.

        I looked around at lots of painted dutch clogs before I settled on colors and designs, and finally decided that I really liked the look of the yellow ones. Digging around through my mom's acrylics I pulled out the perfect shade of bright yellow, and several other colors to do the decorative designs on the toes. I wanted to make sure that I used a traditional design, and found this amongst several Pennsylvania Dutch designs. I loved the combination of bird, floral and hearts, and the shape and size was just right for the tops of my shoes. I printed it off and transferred them on to the shoes using a very primitive pencil/rubbing method and then started deciding on colors for the various components. I finally threw a couple of coats of satin finish polyurethane on them last week so now all I need is something to pad the top edge so they don't rub on my feet. Come next spring these are going to become my garden shoes. It's going to take some work to get the yards in shape for planting, so I don't even want to attempt it yet, on top of trying to get the house in order, but as I said before, wooden shoes are great for dirty, wet lawns. The poly should really help make them easy to wipe off as well. I just need to make myself a pair of 1940s overalls to wear with them and my gardening ensemble will be complete. The neighbors are going to think I'm a complete nut.

(I've been playing around with Mr. S's fancy Canon the last couple of days. He works all the time, and has given me permission to use it whenever I want. Definitely more fun than my old point and click. Tee hee!)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Bathing Beauty

In a never ending effort to work through my stack of fabric and projects, I whipped up this little number several weeks ago, allowing me to cross one more thing off my list.

The top for this sunsuit is the 1950s Beach Bra Halter Top from Mrs. Depew Vintage. Here again, I didn't bother to make a muslin first, but the fit is pretty good for the first time through. It's definitely wearable. There are a couple of minor adjustments I would make if I were to make this again, which is a definite possibility since it's a really cute top. First, I would shorten the halter strap just a hair. I think I would probably take about half an inch out just to give it a bit snugger fit and a tad more support up front. I would also want to adjust the darts some to accommodate a slightly larger cup size. I thought about putting sew-in bra cups in this one, but without having done a muslin first to adjust the fit properly it wasn't going to happen neatly so I just skipped them. I used two large red buttons on the back closure, which are very cute, but I think it would also benefit in future from a little bit of narrow elastic around the bottom just to snug things up a little bit more. That would just be my personal preference, in order to make myself completely comfortable with not wearing a bra under it.

My original plan was just to make the top to go with my sailor shorts that I made last summer. My mom picked the fabric up for me though, and when she discovered how much on sale it was she bought me an extra yard, which then became the trunks for the full sunsuit.

The pattern I used for the trunks is the same pattern I have used for all of my shorts. McCalls 7665 from 1949. I hadn't used the trunks part of this pattern before, but as they were very similar to the shorts, I figured it would be pretty easy to whip them up. I adjusted the waistline a tad so they would sit up as high as I wanted them to, and took them in a bit in the sides as I have done repeatedly with the shorts pattern in order to get a closer fit. I also shortened them so they would be more bathing-suit length. They have a side zip and elastic in the legs. The waist did not turn out perfectly, as I faced it instead of using the waistband, but it is serviceable. I really just made this an an experiment and for photo purposes more than actual wear. The top was always intended to get more use.

Now that I've got this project under my belt, and have seen a few other people's attempts at vintage bathing suits, I am interested in maybe putting together a useable 1940s bikini at some point. I have to work through the piles of fabric I already have though before I can let myself start planning more projects.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...