Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Shibori Smock - My Summer Clothes Collection

What could be more satisfying than sewing a tried-and-true pattern? I made two recently: my Japanese smock and another StyleArc design. The smock pattern was made from a piece of hand-dyed Shibori cotton I found on Ebay. Look how beautiful the fabric looks...

I managed to actually match the pattern in the front.

Not so successful in the back, but it difficult to tell. The cut on this smock
does not really allow pattern matching very well. 
 The cotton is extremely comfortable, and the blue is vibrant on every complexion. I was a bit surprised that even after washing before cutting the fabric, my hands still turned slightly blue. Well, not as blue as a true Shibori artist. Look at the two pattern pieces for the smock...

I am still working down the huge stash of bias binding I shipped over from the UK. But we can always use more bias tape right? I couldn't let this beautiful fabric go to waste, so I made more from the leftovers.

I have a couple more Shibori pieces left, and I'm planning on making another Asian-inspired pattern. One idea I have is a Chanel-cut quilted jacket. I saw one ever-so-briefly one season at J. Crew and fell in love with it.

Here is the other piece I completed on the same day as the smock...another remake of SyleArc's Peta Pants. I was inspired to do it in a black cotton because of the pair I recently made for my stepmother. This is an embroidered cotton that I picked up many moons ago at Stone Mountain Fabrics. Look closely at the second picture for the embroidery print.

See the actual pattern HERE.
The first couple of pairs of Peta pants were sewn in ponte, and another double knit. Both were too long, and too big due to the added stretch. Both pairs were gifted to my sister. The Peta pants are cut for wovens. After shortening the length, my woven pair turned out just fine.

Frida Kahlo's birthday is coming up in the first week of July. Anyone interested in joining me in a sew-along tribute? This would be my third year of sewing something for Frida. Last year I made a Victory Pattern dress using Sari fabric. I still believe that a modern Frida would be multicultural, and appreciate fashion from around the globe. If you want to join me...shoot me a message or post. You can make anything...just post it on my Google Plus community board on July 6th or send me a link or photo of your post before July 6th, and I'll post it on my blog. If Frida were alive today, she would be turning 108 years old. Let's celebrate together!

Frida Kahlo RIP
Happy sewing! 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Wardrobe Staples

Sewing was really at an all-time low during early Spring. My dreams of creating some fun clothes bursted from having too much work from my day job. Maybe you don't know this...but I am a licensed acupuncturist by profession. My husband pokes fun at this (pun intended), because of my general fondness for needling, be it in the textile or healing arts.

It's been a slow work week, which seems to happen around a holiday, and this being Memorial Day weekend, I thought I could sew a bit more. I took a good look at my aging wardrobe, which consists of really old corporate work clothes, and really raggedy things I kept from my graduate school days. I used to pride myself on dressing well, but given the opportunity to choose, I prefer to live in sweats, t-shirts, and clogs. Obviously, I need better staples.

Last Sunday, I decided to sew staples that I could wear at home and at work. There's nothing like elastic-waisted bottoms for complete comfort. And if I can find a pattern with no more than two major pieces to sew together...then it's gold.

Enter...another successful StyleArc Pattern...the Rita Ponte Skirt. Believe me, I've got a lot of ponte fabric in my stash. This easy skirt is cut in short and long lengths. I chose the long length for my first choice, but I might go back and make the shorter version as Summer kicks in. I did not add any decorative side bands, which is very in-style, but not in my "lazy" style I'm afraid.

I made three skirts in total...and it gets much faster after the first one. I serged all my skirts, and was able to churn out one in about an hour. I made the first out of a black and ivory striped print, the second out of my grey velour (which would go great with tennis shoes), and the third is in basic black. Ponte is pretty much wearable year-round in California (with the exception of those 100-plus degree days).

I felt slightly guilty that I was not challenging myself to make something more difficult. But seriously, I don't need fancy clothes. I just need clothes that are a step-up from sweats, and decent enough to wear to work. Luckily, being an acupuncturist does not require me to wear a suit. Although it's great to look professional...but I move a lot, and physically work with patients. Stretch and breathable fabrics are key for me.

With a few bottom basics completed, I am left with the task of finding things to match. The one thing I need to do better at is buying fabric stash that coordinate. I only did this once...and I managed to use up all except one piece of fabric in that collection. BTW, sewing with ponte and velour really shrinks down stash space. Happy sewing!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Pavlova Blouse - My First Try

I've been eyeing this pattern for a while. Since it was available for download on Etsy now, I decided to try the blouse. As of the making of the Pavlova blouse, the matching skirt was not available for download. It's overall fairly easy to sew. There's only two things about the pattern that calls for some extra attention.

1. On the PDF version, some of the sizing lines were difficult to discern. (Please be very careful!)
2. The second is a technique that helps stabilize the wrap, and calls for some interfacing. No biggie, but certainly something I have never done before.

I have noticed that I'm always wrapping tops to the right, and most patterns fold over on the left. I do this all the time with patterns!

This knit fabric was a Red Tag remnant. I think I paid a few dollars for it. The print looked a little funky on the bolt, but I think the colors are super cute. Don't you? This was my muslin. I call the first run of any pattern using inexpensive fabric my muslin. But stretch fabric is very forgiving, so even with a few fitting glitches, it's still wearable. This top is extremely comfortable to wear.

Since completing and giving the muslin a test wear, I decided that it was too short for my torso. I have added about three inches to the bottom. The bust area is too big for me too, so I'm going to be shaving a bit of the wrap around coverage to lessen the bust bulk. My problem is a thick waist and small breast, which equates to tree trunk body. Everything else fits okay.

If you're interested in the download, you can get it HERE for $7.44 (US).

This might be the first muslin that has received so many compliments! (Personally, I think it's the colors.) I might have enough of the muslin fabric to make a second one. Happy sewing!