A Hot Weather Sundress, and Making Spaghetti Straps

 

hot weather dress hollyhocks 1

 

I’m catching up here.  You know how sometimes, if you prepare carefully for something, it doesn’t happen?  I made this dress for Me-Made-May, but didn’t end up wearing it until the middle of June, due to unseasonably cool and rainy weather all month long.  This year I wanted to up my pledge for May, so that I wore at least two items of me-made clothing at all times.  When it’s really hot out, I like to wear only two items of clothing period, one of which must be a sundress, which allows as much heat to escape from my skin as possible.  My airiest one in particular was 1. wearing out and 2. not me-made, so I clearly needed to replace it before May.  It had a couple of features which I wanted to replicate in my self-stitched version: just about the lowest neckline I am comfortable wearing in public, layers of very light fabric, and gathering at the empire waist.

 

hot weather dress hollyhocks 2

 

I used my self-drafted sundress pattern again, altering it this time for a cross-over gathered front.  Each time I make a new version of this dress, I change the back in an attempt to make it not pull up at the center back, and both times so far it has not worked.  Any ideas?  I’m pretty happy with how the front came out though.  One thing I’ve learned: the key to keeping the bodice from immediately gaping open when I bend forward is to ease the top edges into a slightly shorter binding, so that I take some of the fullness around the bust out again. It’s especially important since I replaced the darts on this version with gathers.

 

hot weather dress fabrics

 

This fabric is a cotton batiste, I’m sorry to say I have no recollection of where it came from, I just remember it being in my stash for a long, long time.  My first idea was to use plain white for the lining layer.  As I was cutting out the main fabric pieces, I dropped a piece in my fabric scrap pile, and it happened to land on top of a piece of felt in this light minty green color.  I suddenly remembered that I had another piece of lightweight cotton in a really similar color, which might look great as the inner layer.  It turned out there was just enough of that fabric for the lining and bindings, and I really like how the green adds a little hint of color under the main fabric, and how it looks peaking out at the hem, a detail I added to show off the second color.  Even though I decided not to join any of the official fabric stash-busting challenges going on this year (despite this cool anime dinosaur logo) I have been making a conscious effort to use the fabric I already have, and making some good progress, in part inspired by all the other sewers who are doing the same.

 

hot weather dress spaghetti straps

Click on this picture (or any of the others) to enlarge for easy reading.

 

With all the sundresses and tanks I’ve been making the last year or so, I’ve gotten a lot of practice making thin “spaghetti” straps, and come up with a method that I like.  If the fabric is lightweight, like this one, I’ll use two fabric layers for each strap.  Since the dress will hang from the straps for most of its life, I want them to be fairly sturdy.  I cut each one 1 1/4″ wide, and a couple inches longer than I think I’ll need.  I get the best results when I zigzag the two strap layers together first, with a narrow zigzag right on the edges.  It keeps the layers from shifting as I sew, and from unraveling as I turn the strap right side out.  Then I press the strap in half, to get a clean even fold.  I stitch the strap seam with a short straight stitch, 1/4″ from the edges.  Then turn it right side out.  I use a long wire, as explained here.  The straps come out about 1/4″ wide, and somewhat thick and rounded.  If you do the math, the extra 1/4″ in the width becomes the “turn of cloth”, the extra fabric needed to go around the seam allowances which fill the middle of the strap.

 

hot weather dress hollyhocks 4

 

I decided to use light blue thread for topstitching the bindings and hems on both layers.  I topstitched over the straps as well, to go with the look of the bindings.  At one point, I started to wonder if I was going overboard using up things from my stash and adding more colors.  But if I took a step back, I realized that if I saw this dress in a store window, I would want it immediately.  So that was a good imaginary test!  Since I’ve been wearing it, I’ve noticed that all the colors in the print go with lots of other things in my wardrobe too.

 

hot weather dress hollyhocks 3

 

Special thanks to my aunt Barbara for taking the pictures of wearing the dress, and for letting me use the beautiful hollyhocks in her garden as a backdrop!  That was the first time it was warm enough to wear the dress, as you can probably tell from my lack of tan here. . .   What about you?  Are you making anything for your current weather, or the coming season?

 

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How to Hem Your Own Jeans, and Keep the Original Hem

 

Jeans hem finished hems

 

Once you get started sewing, I’m guessing one thing you’ll want to tackle is to hem your jeans.  You can definitely do it yourself, and keep that distressed hem just as it is.  You’ll need just a few more pieces of equipment than for normal sewing.

(If you need to start with some basic instruction about how to use your sewing machine, check out my e-book for beginners!)

 

Jeans hem equipment

 

A zipper foot lets you stitch with the needle to one side of the foot, right next to the original hem.

Jeans needles for your sewing machine have a sharper point and a longer eye, for sewing through layers of denim.  For the most part, you won’t have to stitch through too many layers with this method, but it still helps.  If you don’t have jeans needles, use a sharp rather than a universal needle.

It really helps to have a spacer, something you can prop up part of the presser foot with as you sew over thick seams (you’ll see why below).  This one came with my sewing machine, but you could also use something not too wide and about 1/8 to 1/4” (3 to 6 mm) thick, like maybe a popsicle stick.

A sturdy hand-sewing needle, and a thimble to push it with, is essential for the finishing of this method (I’ll go over that in the next post).

You’ll also need pins and thread.  The ones you use for regular sewing are fine.  I didn’t happen to have matching thread, so I used black.  It doesn’t show at all on the finished jeans.  Darker thread colors usually blend in easier than lighter ones.

Once you gather your equipment, try on your jeans, and fold up the hem to figure out where you would like it to fall.

 

Jeans hem measuring

 

You can get someone to help measure how much you want to hem your jeans up, while you try them on.  Or pin, try them on, and adjust until you get the hem where you would like it.

Figure out how much in total you want to take out of the length.  Make a fold that measures half that much, starting at the inside edge of the original hem.  You’re going to stitch right next to that original hem, effectively removing the fold of fabric from the length of the jeans.  Whether you’re using cm or inches, the principle is the same, your fold should be half the amount you want to take out, since both sides of the fold are removed from the length.

Make sure your fold is on the inside of the jeans, so it won’t show when you’re done.

Pin the fold in place every couple of inches.  Put the pins in perpendicular to the fold, or at an angle as shown, to make them easy to pull out as you sew.

Pay special attention at the seams, making sure that the original seam lines and topstitching match on both sides of the fold.

 

Jeans hem zipper foot

 

Set up to sew right next to the original hem, using a straight stitch (width 0), length about 2.5 mm.  Use your zipper foot so that the foot can sit flat on just the fold of fabric.  Move the needle position all the way over to your left, towards the original hem, so that you can stitch right next to it (and not hit the foot with the needle).  Let the edge of the foot touch the edge of the hem as you sew.

When you get to the leg seams of the jeans, you’re suddenly sewing through a whole bunch of denim layers, instead of just two.  When this happens, the presser foot ends up at a steep angle, which makes it much more likely to skip stitches (resulting in a weak seam).  This is where the spacer comes in.  When the front of the foot reaches the seam, prop up the back of the foot with the spacer to make it level.  Then as you stitch over the seam, move the spacer to the front of the foot, to keep it level until you are past the bulky seam.  Be careful to keep the spacer in front of the needle, so that you don’t hit it as you sew!

 

Jeans hem spacer

 

If your machine still skips a few stitches, try sewing in reverse and then forward again over the part that’s giving you trouble.  Going slowly over the bulky parts will also help.  You can even use the hand wheel on your machine to make just one stitch at a time.  If it’s skipping a bunch of stitches in a row, check to see if the bobbin thread has broken.  If so, stop and cut the top thread too, then start again so that you overlap a few of the last stitches before the thread broke, to hold them in place.  If the leg seams are giving you a lot of trouble, you can also try flattening them as much as possible using a steam iron, or pounding them with a hammer.

When you get all the way around the leg, sew over the first few stitches that you made, to hold them in place.

Do not skip this step: once you sew around the hem, try on the jeans again to check that the length is where you want it.  If not, at this stage all you have to do is pull out this one line of stitching, and start again.  If the length looks good, you’re ready to finish off your hem.

If you took out more than about an inch in total, it’s likely that your folded out fabric is long enough to show below the hem if you turn it down.  If so, trim it to about 3/8″ (10 mm), or a bit smaller than the original hem (I repeat, try on the jeans and check the length of the new hem before you do this).  To keep these cut edges from unraveling, overcast them with a zigzag stitch.

 

Jeans hem overcasting

 

Use a regular sewing foot for this (zigzag and a zipper foot don’t mix).  Stitch close to the edge.

This whole process is pretty darn simple once you get the hang of it.  You can also use this method to hem other pants, when you want to keep the original hem intact.  It will be even easier if you don’t have think layers of denim to sew through.

In the next post I’ll go over my method for tacking down the extra fabric to make the hem look natural.  In the meantime, if you have any questions, just leave a comment!

 

In Which I Read My Diary From Last Year, and Re-Up for Me-Made-May!

 

If you were reading this blog this time last year, you no doubt remember that I signed up for Me-Made-May ’12, hosted by the fabulous Zoe.  I just think this is the best idea, it encourages all those of us who make clothing to actually wear it in our everyday lives, and thus think about what we make and use and why.

I had a great time doing it in 2012, and learned a lot.  My pledge was to wear one item of me-made clothing every day, which I succeeded in doing.  Sometimes you would not have been able to tell, since I made underwear count.  I also pledged to blog about something MMM related once a week, which I almost succeeded in doing.  I did draw and post a cartoon of my summer wardrobe, an extension of the way keeping track of what I wore for the month helped me clarify what I wear and what I would like to wear.  My overall favorite thing I did was to get three other lovely bloggers/sewists to share their thoughts on style and how sewing allows them to express themselves, in this post.

I knew that I wouldn’t take a picture of every outfit I wore, so I decided to also keep short notes for each day.  I dug them out recently and I was surprised at how much is in there, about my thoughts and how far I’ve built up my me-made wardrobe in a year, so I thought I would share some of them.  If you are bored by reading other peoples (very brief, not edited for grammar) diary entries, please skip to the bottom of the post.  I’m going to include a couple of explanatory notes – May was as usual for us, a busy travel month, and even with the notes it’s going to feel pretty disjointed.

 

Me-made skirt.  I'm kind of tired of these two tops together, but they work well. . .

 

Day 1 – wore green Deva yoga pants, blue Henley. I felt more proud and self-sufficient than I thought I would!

Day 2 – I wore Henley & pjs to clean, then grey pants & ‘Bethan t. I thought about the various imperfections of those pants and vowed to make better ones.  (On this day we flew from home to pick up our truck and continue our summer art show circuit.  I promise to write a post about what exactly that means and what it’s like, soon.)

Day 3 – Wore cropped drawstring pants and strapless top. Found myself wishing I could wear all me-made outfits!  Wanting more time to sew since this month is good inspiration.  (When we are on the road I am separated from my sewing machine by hundreds or thousands of miles.)

Day 4 – wore all me-mades! Shorts & blue tank to set up, then new sundress + undies.

 

booth setup outfit

This is my standard booth-setup outfit, shorts that were a test make, and a tank that’s near the end of its life.

Day 5 – washed undies the night before to wear, wore those under too hot for anything else dress. Thought about need to make another airy dress, fabric is key.

Day 7 – laundry day. Repeat of plane ride outfit and thoughts about pants.  (We are camping out between shows, as we drive to the next one.)

Day 10 – wore B’s jeans & mm pink top in anticipation of City Museum. Maybe I should make some jeans? Would it be more work to find or make? Is either worth it – probably I will stick with the no jeans plan.  (We stopped off at City Museum, in St. Louis, which is like an amazing cross between mixed-media sculpture and playground.  It’s awesome.  Wear sturdy pants.  I once lost a fair amount of corduroy on the multistory slide.)

Day 12 – blue skirt/jeans for hiking with mm black tank. Dressing this way may mean laundry sooner. It’s cool and I’m wishing I brought mm hiking pants/another sweater. Thinking about how what we wear is a compromise between what we’d like, what’s available and the weather.

Day 13 – still camping, wearing mm tanks with alternating skirts & B’s jeans. Kicking myself for not bringing mm hiking pants.

Day 14 – now wearing B’s socks as well with more of the above and freezing!  Raining out and did laundry.

Day 15 – with fresh laundry! Wore grey mm pants, tank & sweatshirt. Thought about the ideal summer wardrobe – two pairs of pants, one for setup/camping, one nice enough for town/at show if cold. Thought that I have as much affection for the non-mm clothes that fit well, color I love, etc.

 
The pink shirt is the me-made

 

Day 18 – all mm! Shorts and blue tank for setup, wedding test dress for show. Thought of a plan to shorten/line dress.  (This show is in Reston, VA.  I love the DC area – the picture above is at the Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center, and the one below at the MLK Memorial.)

Day 21 – lounging/computer work/groceries and cooking at friends – good day for mm cropped pants & berry T.

 
Same me-made skirt.  I've really just discovered scarves lately. . .

 

Day 23 – same outfit as day 16, boring!  Me made pjs for laundry.

Day 24 – sorely tempted to cheat, but we are almost done  & I can stick to my pledge. Mm black tank & pink stripe skirt. Stuck in Floyd Bennett Field.

Day 25 – in NYC. Mm linen skirt (loving it!) & dk blue top stitched tank with blue cord jacket.

Day 26 – poor packing leads to undies only today –  with ‘bethan top and blue tea dyed skirt with flowers.  Also no bra – but fabric shopping in NYC!!!!  (This really happened.  Maybe I’ll tell you about it some time, we had quite an adventure.)

Day 28 – Mm drawstring pants & pink shirt w/ mm bra. Good for driving/hanging out with nieces. Wishing I could wear all mm pieces for the rest of May  but don’t think I have enough.

 

pink shirt drawsting pants

Catching tiny frogs with our little nieces at a pond in MI

 

Day 30 – grey pants even got a compliment from Mandy! With pink mm shirt and sweatshirt.

Day 31 – same as day 30 – camping out – cool again. Even though at times frustrating, I’m a little sorry to see the end of mmm.

 

bethan shirt, pants and scarf

 

So, um, there you have it!  Reading these over, I think I should make another shirt like the pink one, it was probably the most-worn item.  I’m certainly glad to report that my me-made wardrobe has grown by a few of the pieces I most needed last May – now that I have good me-made pants I shouldn’t end up wearing Bryan’s jeans this summer!   I also thought more about what I would pack this year (we’ll be on the road again for most of May), there are plenty of me-mades in various layers ready to go.  And I made a new airy dress, which I hope to show you some time during Me-Made-May – knowing that I wanted to up my pledge this time was an incentive to get it done in time.

My pledge for this year is: ‘I, Tasha of Stale Bread into French Toast, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’13. I endeavour to wear two handmade garments, of which underthings may count for only one, each day for the duration of May 2013’

I’ll definitely take some pictures, although probably not every day, and put them up at the MMM Flickr group.  It was really fun last year checking out what everyone else was wearing there.  I’ll make notes again too.  I’m looking forward to seeing what new ideas I come up with during this year’s challenge.  There’s still time to sign up, until the 30th, and all are welcome, so go check it out, I highly recommend it!

 

Three Long Sleeve Tops, and Experimenting with Sewing Knits

brown silk front piece

 

So, here is the sewing update I promised! I finished all three of these shirts months ago, but I haven’t got around to photographing and putting this post together until just recently.  The snow you see here has all melted away, in fact it’s almost warm enough to wear just one shirt outside!  Well, some days yes and some days no.

After I finished my fabulous purple pants, I was ready for a faster and easier/less fitted project, and also getting desperate for some long sleeve knit shirts of any kind in my wardrobe.  I had one looser, comfy knit top in cotton with a little lycra, definitely on its way out, but I liked the fit and decided to copy it.  It also helped that I found two big pieces of cotton knit fabric in the stash I share with my mom.

 

grey shirt on

 

I made this grey version first, and was overall pretty pleased, the fit isn’t totally perfect, but it’s, um, a knit shirt!  Since it was something I needed, I started wearing it right away and it’s lovely to have a soft new long-sleeve top.  It went together like lightning, no edge finishing, some double needle stitching for the hems and it was done.  And I thought it was close enough to what I was going for to try in silk.

I bought this silk knit fabric at Promenade Fabrics in New Orleans.  That store is such a treat to explore, it’s full of the loveliest wools, linen, ribbons, it’s very NOLA in that it’s unusual, but high quality.  There aren’t rows of the same thing next to each other in different colors, I swear each bolt I looked at was totally unique, so naturally I had to dig through as many as possible (which was a lot, since luckily I had all morning).  I knew I wanted to make more long sleeve tops, and I was hoping to find some wool knit, which I didn’t really, but I did find this rather amazing silk, knit in two layers, shiny inside, heathery soft and slightly fuzzy outside.  “Where did you find THIS?” the owner’s son asked when I went to have it cut.  Score!

 

brown silk sleeve

 

So, having tried out the pattern, and curious to see the differences, I got out the silk.  Only three problems; one, it raveled!  I guess I’ve been spoiled in a way by stable cotton knits, you can imagine my horror when I pulled on one edge and tiny runs immediately started down the fabric, as the two layers peeled apart!  Fortunately, if I zigzagged the edge it seemed to hold everything in place, even when I tugged on it, so I decided to play it safe and overcast all the edges of all the pieces, before sewing them together.

The second problem wasn’t really a problem, more like me being thorough/not having enough knowledge of silk knits to dive right in – I just took a lot of time making samples.  Since this fabric is incredibly slinky, plus stretchy, I knew that it would be easy for the seams to come out either baggier or tighter than the rest of the fabric, which would make my finished shirt look decidedly amateur.  So yeah, I made a LOT of samples.  I definitely recommend making as many test seams as it takes, especially if you are working with an unfamiliar fabric!  I decided to tag all these with a little bit of muslin so I could write down what I changed.  I think the most interesting thing I learned was that by increasing the stitch length, I could get the seam to pull the fabric in a little more, shortening the seam.  The colored stitching is my first, just to make sure the silk would not get runs as I washed it (by hand).  See how the other edge goes from stretched out to pulled in?  I also found that some stitches worked well on one layer, but not as well on two.  Eventually I settled on using a mock-serger stitch to overcast around the pieces and sew seams, and a regular zigzag for topstitching.  Although I have to admit that I decided matched seams and a total lack of skipped stitches were too much to ask for in this project, overall I’m really pleased, the seams neither draw in nor pooch out, which is exactly what I wanted to achieve.

 

brown silk samples

 

Oh, the third problem?  I totally didn’t have enough fabric.  This seems to be a theme of mine lately . . . I ended up cutting the sleeves in three pieces each.  Eight more edges to finish, four more seams, but the first thing that Bryan said when he saw it was, “I like the sleeve seams!”  Still, next time I’ll try to remember to just get two yards, having enough for full sleeves and a matching tank top is NOT a bad thing.

 

brown silk shirt on

 

When I first finished it I couldn’t decide if it was worth all the extra effort for the fancy fabric.  But, the more I’ve worn this top, the more I’ve been bummed when it’s in the wash.  It has the kind of drape that makes wrinkles disappear or just look elegant, it feels divine on my skin, and it looks like something just a little special.  In short, I’ll be hunting around more fabric stores for unusual silk knits.

 

color grown cotton shirt and samples

 

While I was at it, I decided to make one more shirt from stash fabric, and play with the fit a little.  I narrowed the back around the waist, and flared it out again over my hips, to try for a little less puddle of fabric at the back high hip area.  It did help some, but I’m left wondering if I need a center back seam to make a big difference, and if so, wouldn’t princess lines work better and look better?  Or should I just reserve this pattern for slinky fabrics – this one is decidedly not.  It’s a lovely color-grown cotton, but the fabric has very little recovery from being stretched, meaning it tends to hang a little bit loose, and it’s kind of thick.  I made a few more samples before sewing it, mainly to try for a stitch that wouldn’t stretch out the seams.  I like this shirt and I’ll definitely keep wearing it, but it’s not a perfect match of pattern and fabric.

Since I was playing with different fabrics, I thought it would be fun to show the tops with a similar contrast in pants.  They’re the same pattern (another one I copied from an existing thrifted garment) of no-side-seam drawstring pants.  The green pair are a textured cotton, I wear them to yoga a lot, and sometimes to lounge around in.  The blue pair (which aren’t quite as electric blue in real life) are wool crepe – the result of a time when I really needed some new pants, hadn’t fit regular ones well enough yet, and had some lovely wool just hanging out in my stash.  I’ve worn them teaching a lot, and to swing and tango dancing, and they’re great for travel, but I would definitely not wear them to yoga!  Again, I think it’s the drape and the body of the fabric that makes them look so much more elegant.

Next up for sewing: summer stuff!  Especially a dress, for Me Made May ’13 . . .

 

I’m in a Fashion Show at Flagstaff Photography Center

 

FPC Fashion show poster

Look, my name is on this poster!

 

I know what you’re thinking, I’m too short to be a model – but it’s not like that!  Actually, there’s an eclectic show at FPC this month, celebrating fashion, photography, and the intersection between art and what we wear, and featuring some of my work!

 

4 bags photo fashion

 

If you are in town, come by, I will be there this Thursday night for the fashion forum, and Friday during First Friday art walk.  I have a lovely selection of one of a kind purses, scarves, and wallets in the show, all made from recycled and handmade materials and totally unique!  Plus the work of four different photographers, and some totally wild and amazing macramé masks made by Sheree.

 

4 scraves photo fashion

 

If you’re not near Flagstaff, I’ve also been working feverishly on my latest project, which will be available worldwide, very soon if all goes well!

 

All’s Well That Ends Well, but Please, Don’t Put Your Wool in the Washine Machine

 

 

 

viola outfit 2

 

At one point, I considered not writing this post at all, because I’m pretty embarrassed about how this skirt got to the point where it needed remodeling in the first place.  But in the end, there was no way to not write about it, especially since I ended up wearing this once-shameful skirt to dressy Flagstaff event (maybe the only dressy Flagstaff event? We always joke that people here wear jeans to everything) . . .

I made this skirt, as near as I can figure, about 10 years ago!  This was a time before I knew much at all about wool, other than the basics; it comes from sheep, it’s been used since ancient times, people say it’s lovely, etc.  It may be worth pointing out that this was also years before I had felted anything, on purpose or otherwise.  You probably see where this is going.  I put a sample of the fabric though a normal cycle in the washing machine.  Nothing happened, the fabric looked just about the same as when it went in.  “Great!”  I thought.  I made up the skirt using the Folkwear Walking Skirt pattern, one I love and have used a lot.  And, I continued to wash it in the machine.  It never went in the dryer, thankfully, or what happened next probably would have been a much shorter process.  As it was, the fabric continued to look like nothing happened, for many years, for dozens and dozens of washes.  But eventually, all that agitation inevitably started the fibers felting together.  By last winter it was impossible to ignore.

 

pinstripe skirt remodel 1

 

Since I now know quite a bit about felting, once I could look past my obvious horror since I had ruined some lovely fabric, I found it fascinating that the places on the skirt where small parts of the fabric were stitched to each other (the waistband, hem, and back placket) were still unfelted, while the big skirt pieces were noticeably felted, thicker and fuzzier.  Actually, it was the contrast between the two parts that made the skirt look weird, especially the unfelted hem, which looked almost gathered against the felted skirt.  My current theory is that since the hem and placket fibers couldn’t move as much, they couldn’t interlock to felt like the others did.

The skirt sat in my to-fix pile until I figured out a plan, actually a pretty simple one, which I think is essential to not spending inordinate amounts of time remodeling something.  I would cut off the not-as-felted hem, waistband, and placket, fit the remaining felted skirt to a wider and lower waistband facing, make a new placket, and re-hem it.  Above you can see my chalk lines for what to cut in the back, I continued the line of the wider side of the placket down to the hem, and cut a symmetrical amount from the other side of center back, to keep the back pieces the same size.  I got little pieces of felted fabric to use for my new placket from the extra cut off below the old placket.

 

viola outfit 3

 

While I working on this project, I was also trying to figure out what I would wear to the Viola awards.  They’re Flagstaff’s yearly art and science awards for teaching, exhibits, and community outreach, and they throw a big Oscar-like party to give them out.  Bryan was nominated for one this year, for the exhibit of his In a Big World Wandering work, for which we also made the giant silk cyanotype.  I’d never been before, and I wondered what would everyone wear, what should I wear, should I borrow something, is it more like a costume party, should I wear something shiny?

I am not a shiny person.  In the end, I decided not even to go to my friend’s and try on formals to borrow, but instead to wear something that reflects who I really am.  Not only that, but I realized I could actually wear the lovely tailored skirt I was working on – if I went ahead and finished it!  I took the photos of my outfit right before we left, and I think you can tell I was pretty thrilled with my decision.  If what we wear tells everyone we meet a lot about who we are and where we stand, shouldn’t it be even more important, at an event where people are actually paying attention to my clothes, for me to wear something that shows my values and my heart?

 

pinstripe skirt and top

 

So I wore the rescued skirt, in it’s newly tailored glory!  Note the buttery folds.  And a nubbly cream silk tank top I made to wear to a wedding last year (same copied pattern as this linen one) which has proved more useful than I thought it might.  The shawl is something I started knitting for our wedding, realized would never be done in time, and eventually finished later.  (It’s a longer and wider version of the Fiber Trends Cocoon Lace Wrap, in a wool/alpaca blend lace weight yarn.)  It’s drapey and surprisingly warm, enough to keep me comfortable outside while I took the photos.  The pin holding it closed was my grandmother’s.  I didn’t make the tights or shoes, but I still love them . . . topped off with my winter coat, and I felt like I had stepped back to the ’40’s.

 

bryan and tasha viola photo booth

 

Proof that we went and I wore this outfit!  If you are curious what others wore, or what the event looked like, there are lots and lots more photos on the Facebook page for the organization.   We didn’t win (Bryan’s photo exhibit was up against the opening of the Discovery Channel Telescope!  And the winner, a recycled art exhibition that’s been going strong for 10 years here) but it was a really fun party, and I got lots of compliments, especially on the shawl.

 

pinstripe skirt remodel 2

 

But back to the skirt, and I might as well confess one more thing, I feel slightly guilty but I can’t help it; I like this fabric more now than I did in it’s new/intended state.  It’s so soft but with so much body, and it tailors like a dream.  In fact, making the new placket and waistband gave me the itch to sew with wool again, it’s just a pleasure to work with.  This has got to be the flattest-laying, easiest-pressed-in-place placket I’ve ever made.  And the buttonholes – I made them by hand with a single strand of waxed black cotton sewing thread, and it was as if I sealed the cut edges with a magic wand.  Not only can you not see the stitches here, I couldn’t see them in my studio while sewing in broad daylight.  Note the pockets!  Another benefit of me-made formal wear.

 

pinstripe skirt remodel 3

 

I also thought about how much I’ve learned in the last ten years.  I was able to add several refinements to this second round of the skirt, including using rayon ribbon on a lot of the edges to reduce bulk, adding a contoured waistband that fits my figure, and using catch stitches to secure the hem and placket so they wouldn’t show from the outside.  Now that it’s on a strictly hand-wash-only plan, the new and improved version should last me another ten years at least!

 

viola outfit 1

 

Morals of the story: please wear your heart on your sleeve, especially to formal events.  Sometimes a silk purse is lurking inside the sow’s ear of your mistakes.  And people please, no wool in the washing machine!

 

 

Update: How to Fix a Small Hole in Knit Fabric

kitchener stitch 6

 

When I published this post about fixing small holes in sweaters and other knit clothes, I realized I didn’t really have pictures of repairing a hole in the middle of the fabric, not near a seam, and I said I’d add some if the opportunity came up.

Well, it did.  One of the lovely things when word gets out that you work with a certain material (in this case recycled cashmere garments) is that every now and then, someone just gives you some.  The best thing about this as far as I’m concerned, better than the free stuff, is that I have absolutely no obligation to use the donated items for business purposes unless I want to.  Therefore, when someone gives me not-yet-felted cashmere sleep pants (thank you thank you Lauren!) I get to yell “Cashmere SLEEP PANTS!” try them on immediately, and wear them myself!

They also had one small hole, a perfect example to fix.  It was perfect but, um, fuzzy and a little hard to see (who’d have thought, right, fuzzy cashmere?) so I also snipped a hole in my sample from the how to pick up a dropped stitch in knitting post, fixed it, and included those pictures as well.  Click on the link above to see the updated post.

Here’s to enjoying the materials life gives you!  And happy mending!

 

fix sleep pants 3