Sunday, March 18, 2018

Cashmere Scraps Faultlines Vest

I've been working with Diane Ericson's Faultlines vest for the last couple of years.  I like it because you can make so many design decisions along the way and fit it after it's made by overlapping the back and side pieces.

This one is made using scraps of cashmere from old sweaters that I overdyed using a method that creates very uneven results...which I love!  It works so well when you use several different color sweaters because they dye in various shades of the same color.  Then, when you cut them into small pieces, they make a wonderful landscape, kind of like the ones we see from an airplane window.

These sweaters were dyed using Dharma Trading Company's Cabernet Acid Dye.  The inspiration for the design came from the gloriously talented and fun, Gwen Spencer.  Gwen has become a good friend over the years.  I first met her through Marcy Tilton.  If you click on the link you will see one of the tutorials on Marcy's blog that features Gwen.  They work closely on Marcy's designs for Vogue Patterns. 

She is amazingly talented and a stellar teacher.  Anyway....I attended a sewing retreat with her a couple of years ago where she was hand sewing cashmere squares onto a lovely wool piece that was turned into a shawl.

We were all gobsmacked with, 1. the fact that she didn't even BRING a sewing machine but sat with her hand sewing all week, and 2. the absolute simplicity and beauty of what she was making.

I came home and immediately started thinking about how I could incorporate her idea into something using my abundant cashmere scrap collection. 

This vest took me two years to finish.  It wasn't one of those lap projects where you can work on it in the car or waiting at the dentist!  Because the base fabric is a stretchy net the piece needed to be on a flat surface so that the squares stayed put while sewing.

I cursed this project more than once.  My love-hate relationship with hand sewing is kind of a joke.  I want to like it since so many of my friends who sew extol it's virtues.  But mostly it hasn't been all that satisfying for me.  And believe me, I've given it every chance.  In fact, I still do.  Right now I'm working on an Alabama Chanin piece I got while in Alabama last year...after a hand sewing workshop!! And I'm going back to Tennessee this year to take another hand sewing class from Christine Mauersberger.  I swear, if she can't teach me to love hand stitching no one can!

In the meantime, I'm happily machine sewing and on my way to San Juan Bautista for a sewing retreat where I'm bringing FOUR machines!...well, only two are for me, I'm bringing two for women who are flying in from Colorado.

Hope your sewing, whether it's hand or machine, is super satisfying!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Winter Play--Again

Goof up alert!!!...I don't know what happened but this post went out all on it's own last night!  I wrote part of it before dinner, woke up this morning to a comment and realized it must have posted.  So sorry.  For those who have read it, just scroll down to the photo of Diane and Helen and continue.  For those who have not, I hope you enjoy the whole post!

Here goes....

I'd call this post refrigerator round up if I was in the kitchen.  There are so many things I'm piling into this post it's like the fried rice Joe is making us for dinner...some of everything we've eaten in the last few days!

I'll start with a lovely quilting retreat I went to on the coast of Oregon.  I'm lucky to be included in this incredible group of women.  A long time friend, Victoria, invited me to join them a few years back and I never say no to Victoria.  Loved the whole trip.  First to Eugene, on her horse ranch/farm (I'm a city girl, I don't know what to call it!).

I traveled with another lovely lady, Gracie, and the three of us moved on to Seal Rock to join the others for a few days of sewing.  I'm not a quilter but my god daughter is having her first baby and I wanted to make her a baby blanket.

Well, I didn't know what I was doing so thank goodness for Victoria and another friend, Kathy, who gave me so much help.  Basically, I made mistakes and they fixed them!  (See below).

I know that my god daughter likes neutral tones, no pinks and blues for her.  I chose grey and I'm glad I didn't, when she opened the present she exclaimed, "My whole house is grey and so is the baby's room!"  Whew.

Here is the baby blanket put together but not finished...oops, it turned out a bit large...but they can use it for watching tv!

I actually like modern quilts.  I might just make others...someday.  Thank you to everyone at the retreat who helped me make this.  Lord knows I needed it.

Oh, and while I was up there I bought a new Baby Lock Triumph serger!  I have an Evolve that I've loved and wanted one with a large space for piecing cashmere.  I bought it from Paramount Sewing and Vacuum.  Very nice people.  Love this thing.  I've been using it all weekend and it's a dream.

This vest is made from a ready to wear piece that a friend bought.  Jenny made a pattern and I gave it a try with fabric Sharon gave me.  It's a heavy stretch woven novelty that I couldn't figure out how to use.  This seems to be a good result.  I wore it in Ashland recently and it feels good.  I'll make more of these for sure.

The pockets are tucked into the side seam.  Hidden but useful.

Kinda like a sidesaddle kangaroo!

During January I went through an insane period of working with down-filled objects.  First I worked with two men's extra large puffer jackets I bought in Ashland.  They were on sale for a pittance and I couldn't resist.  
I've been asking Marcy Tilton to find puffer jacket fabric for years now and I know why there is none available.  It's completely bonkers to work with.  I had to take the jackets apart, place my pattern pieces on the fabric, trace around each piece, sew on either side of my tracing, cut in the middle of the stitching and STILL had feathers in my nose.

I ended up using all four of the pockets from both jackets so there's no shortage of pockets here.

I used the stretch binding I ripped out of the original jackets to bind the hem.  Oh, I forgot to say, all of the seams were BOUNDS so I had to tear out the binding first.  I did use it all to bind the new seams.

A little tail never hurt anybody....

And then, as if that wasn't aversion therapy enough, I decided to cut our duvet in half and make two comforters so Joe doesn't tear the covers off me every night (it's worked, by the way).  I'm sleeping better and so is he!

I just got home from DOL in Ashland.  I enjoyed myself thoroughly.  Diane Ericson was spot on, as usual.  So inspiring and invigorating.  She invited Helen Carter from Secret Lentil to co-teach. What a hoot she is.  Her approach to designing clothing is totally intuitive and very fun.  I've loved her clothing for years, own two pieces, and wanted to see how she works.

I needed to draft a tunic top for woven fabric so I used an existing vest pattern.  Forgot my pattern weights so the tangerines that Honna brought worked perfectly.

I began auditioning the fabrics I brought.

I was really inspired by Tracy's version of Helen's spiral concept.  A big part of DOL is the incredible women you meet.

And here is my version.  I made a little Diane Ericson French-Fold Shrug to go over the top.  It's a very cool pattern!

And another version in a tissue weight knit that Judy, another participant, graciously gave me at the retreat.
I made another spiral shape for the turtleneck.

And finally, I finished a ripstop lined in polartec raincoat I've been working on since the last DOL!  This fabric was a nightmare to work with.  I'm finished but I don't love the detailing results.  I'll never work on this type of fabric again.
I guess my winter of 2018 was all about what NOT to sew with!

Stay tuned for another whacky project I started yesterday.  It entailed a LOT of ripping out as yo can see below.

Happy almost spring everyone!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Inspiring Holiday

I just returned from a winter holiday in Paris and Florence.  I always forget how inspiring these cities every way.  I come home with tons of ideas for new things to make at the bakery/rosticceria, ways to redecorate the house and garden, and best of all, new clothes!

There's still nowhere like Paris.  It didn't disappoint.  Our first trip was to study baking back in 1980--gads, that seems like ancient times.  We traveled to France thereafter every year for about 20 years.  It's been so long since Joe and I were in Paris together.  We had a blast.  We rented a lovely apartment, Grand Marnier, from a company called Paris Perfect.  I highly recommend this company.  They are professional, friendly, helpful and have the most beautiful places to stay!

We walked until our feet screamed, drank wine for lunch AND dinner (something we NEVER do at home), bought a museum pass so visited more museums than usual, and ate everything we could lay our hands on.

I, of course, shopped as much as I could squeeze in, considering I was traveling with a man.  But it was enough.  I managed all three Noriem stores where I found two tops (see below) and Manuelle Guibal, where I found a Sophie Digard scarf I couldn't say no to (also see below).  And I found a great new pair of glasses at my favorite eyewear shop, Les Opticiens du Bac.  

On to Florence where we met friends for a two week stay in an ancient palazzo.  Gorgeous but chilly!  We managed though and had a great time with them.  They love food as much as we do and they both like to shop!  Bonus!!

We pretty much did the same things in Florence we'd done in Paris, just a few less museums.  Joe hit every studio he could find; Dante, Michelangelo and others I can't remember because I was off shopping with our friends!

Breaking News!!!--I found a new Noriem store in Florence.  I just stumbled on it.  It's not on their website nor is it on the map.  It's so beautiful, possibly the most beautiful one I've visited.  Of course I found a vest (see below).  

I'm not sure if I was lucky or unlucky that it was winter and most of the clothes were wool.  I'm allergic to wool, sort of.  I can wear it if I have lots of protective garb underneath but California weather is never that cold so I just don't buy it.  Hence, I only found a few things to buy...good or bad, you decide.  But, oh, those wool garments were gorgeous.

I did a couple of things on this trip I've never done before.  I decided that since I was going in winter my clothes would not be so important since they would be covered up most of the time with a coat.  So, 1. I bought myself a great coat, and 2. I only brought 4 remade cashmere sweaters (see below) and two pair of pants to wear.  I brought 7 scarves though, and they helped make me feel I was changing outfits.  This plan worked out well.  I didn't focus on clothes so much and I think it was good.  
The coat I chose is huge.  And I use that term only because I can't think of a better word to describe how big it is.  It's a Rundholz I bought at Mio in San Francisco.  It has two HUGE pockets that I used as a purse.  I hate wearing purses in cities and winter clothes don't lend themselves to fanny packs.   It worked so well!  I only had my phone with my credit cards in a little attached case and a small cloth bag with lipstick and other essentials.  But I had room for an umbrella, hat and gloves when I needed them.  I looked like a squirrel who was packing it away for winter but what the h___.  I'm going to use this method again. 

I did need to modify the pockets before I left and I'm so glad I did.  I sewed in two smaller polartec pockets inside the huge ones so my hands would have somewhere to rest and stay warm.  I couldn't even reach the bottoms of the big pockets without pulling up the coat from the bottom!

So now on to what I made to wear.  I apologize for the ratty photos, the winter light in the bunkhouse isn't so great for photography.  This is a black cashmere I made from three previously worn sweaters. Simple design, different weaves for accent, asymmetrical hem.

A slightly better photo of the back.  Hand stitched patch on upper back

This one of multiple grey, previously worn cashmeres.  Slim line with fun peplums at either side.

The collar was hand stitched on with an exposed seam at the shoulder.

This one was fun to make and wear and super comfy.  Several grey, previously worn cashmeres with mostly exposed seams.  It's hard to tell but both sides are different.  One has an open flounce (shown below) and the other side has a little design shaping.

This is the side with the open flounce.

A pretty straightforward design using many scraps from previously used red cashmeres.  

A bit of an assymetrical hem.

Apologies to Sophie Degard, the color of this scarf is SO much better in person.

One of the Noriem tunics.

Another Noriem tunic.  Love this one.

And the Noriem vest purchased at the new store in Florence.

So there you are.  I'll post a few more times on different aspects of the trip as I get back into my life.  But for now, my fondest wishes for a healthy and fulfilling 2018 to all.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Classes and Retreats

Yes, I can't get enough of them.  For me, sewing with my friends is the best relaxation I can find.  AND, I get something done.  All good.

I've had a wonderful fall.  First I attended a two day marbling class at Center for the Book in San Francisco.  It was given by a professional and very talented instructor by the name of Pietro Accardi.

The first day we learned to marble on paper.  The second day, and this is what I came for folks, we learned to marble on cloth.  Yikes what a fun class.  I'm kinda hooked although I can't see myself making and wearing a lot of garments from marbled fabric.  But I love the color and design so much.

 Here's the start of a piece.  Paint is squeezed onto a gelatinous surface in multiple circles.

Then it is manipulated several times to make one of the multitude of designs.

This is one of the more traditional designs, ready for the cloth to be placed on top.

And then there are my designs.  If you try to teach me anything you'll be sorry because I never want to do exactly what is being taught.  It's hard wired into my psyche I guess.  

I love these big voluptuous designs.

One of the great things about this class is that you are able to produce so many pieces!  There's color and pattern's intoxicating.

I recommend this class to anyone, so fun and achievable.  I've done a bit at home, too (see results below).  I made bias tape out of one fabric piece and like it very much.  It's going to be good for gifts and to wrap around flowers I give from the garden.

Several weeks later I attended an annual sewing retreat in San Juan Bautista.  Great fun with 20 of my sewing pals.  I look forward to it every year.

I made this sweatshirt from a thrift store white cotton men's sweatshirt that I marbled.  It actually worked!  I had to cut it up first to fit it into the marbling tray, then sew it back together to fit me.

 Then it was on to Ashland to Design Outside The Lines with the amazing Diane Ericson. I'm always astounded by her abilities to create new shapes.  She's a combination of engineer and artist...a good combo indeed!

 Halloween hit while we were there.  Geez, I thought Santa Cruz went all out for Halloween but Ashland puts us to shame.  The parade lasted about an hour!  Here are three lovelies having a whooping good time.

Several of us got our hair cut by the talented Crystal.  Here's Sham's getting cute!

And here she is showing everyone her new do.

And then it was back to work!

Kathryn Brenne was the other teacher for the week.  Such a wonderful teacher and so talented.  Her garments are all couture quality and she's fascinating to watch and learn from.

DOL is so worth attending.  If you've been thinking about it you shouldn't wait, just do it!  And If you've never heard of it check it out!

And last but not least, I just got home from a day of sewing with my local pals.  We had a class from local artist, Diane Ritch.  A very talented woman who works in all kinds of different art forms.  

Today she was showing us how she makes her darling little needle cases.  She brought the inside parts, including a bevy of needles, to tuck in when we finished.  Here are mine sitting atop my new little darling...a pale green Singer Featherweight I got at a yard sale.  

This was her maiden (for me) voyage and she did very well.  This is going to be my travel machine from now on for simple projects.

Here's part of the crew setting up.  Diane is second from the right.

Here are the fabrics I brought to work with.

And here are our finished cases...minus Anne's who had to leave early.  Mine are the two at the bottom left and center.  The red one is home dec fabric I stenciled years ago.

The inside "leaves" are made of beautiful thick felt or felted sweaters.

Good times!