Saturday, October 03, 2020

Laura Dress

This is my first time sewing a Rebecca Page pattern. I made the fabric by piecing together upholstery samples that were destined for the trash. I always have to make things waaaay more difficult, but I wanted to use up/upcycle some of my upholstery samples. I used to work at an interior design showroom, and they’d throw out their discontinued samples. I couldn’t stand the waste, so I took several home.

I found two fabrics with different styles but colors that blended well. Both the rust colored birds and and scallop are the same high end manufacturer. When I worked for the showroom a couple of years ago, the bird print was $156 per yard, and the scallop was $122 per yard. Both are 100% cotton. It’s not heavyweight like many upholstery fabrics, but it’s not as light as standard cotton either. The bird print faded quite a bit when I washed and dried it, but upholstery has all sorts of nasty chemicals on it to resist stains (some carcinogenic), so it had to be washed. I don’t wash samples when I make things like throw blankets, but a garment is different. 

The challenge with using samples is that some are small pieces, some have holes from where they were hung for display, and some have grommets in them to prevent designers from borrowing samples and making pillows or something and not paying for the yardage. So that means the only way my fabric is wide enough or long enough to accommodate cutting out my pattern pieces is I have to collage pieces together.

The bird print wasn’t long enough to accommodate the full pattern piece, so I decided to add a band of the scallop to the bottom of both front and back (matching those was challenging on a high-low hem), as well as to the front shoulder. I also cut my pattern apart to add 5” in length (4” after seam added), and I cut off the two band pieces and the two shoulder pieces. In other words, I cut the two main pieces into five pieces (see what I mean by making it more difficult, lol?) I also graded the pattern between a XXL top and XL bottom. I was just winging it and hoping it turned out. I know zero about alternating or adjusting patterns. 

The front piece laid out nicely with a design centered. The remaining sample of bird fabric was too narrow for the back pieces, so I had to bring in a third fabric to supplement.

I found a sample linen blend that matched the color well. One option was to have cut out one half back side in the linen (like a colorblock), or another option was to have added strips going down my sides. Instead I chose to add strips to the center back, almost like a mock zipper. The linen blend is a heavier weight than the two cottons. I did not use French seams in this project (Rebecca Page patterns recommend French seams) because it was an added level of difficulty that was too much when so much piecing was involved. 

I only had two small samples of the scallop, so I knew to cut the bands first, and the front shoulder if I had enough. I had to cut the shoulders cross grain, keeping in mind pattern direction had to match. I didn’t have enough scallop for the back shoulder, so I used the linen. Funny, when I started I thought the scallop was the star fabric, but turns out the linen makes this dress special. Go figure.


I accidentally cut into one back shoulder piece, so I repaired and covered with an appliqué 

I had to piece the strips (both the scallop and the linen) to make them long enough, so I hid the seams with appliqués (I thankfully had fabric left) 

Off center front seam: 

Yeah, there’s a lot going on, but I’m pleased with the result, and basically I made something out of trash. That’s pretty cool. I’m 5’2” and adding 4” put the length right above my knee. The shoulder and neck area is too big, so next time I’ll size down and do a bust adjustment instead. 

Friday, October 02, 2020

Flower Power Caftan

Whoa, it’s been six years since I last posted?! Time zooms. Now that we’re six months into this pandemic, I’ve been embracing home projects, cooking, and I finally dusted off my sewing machine. And that has me missing blogging, sharing, writing, and getting inspired by others. I’m trying to not get swept up in the drama of doomsday Facebook posts, or the negativity of accusatory and shaming posts, or the endless political rants. It’s too much. Right now I want to try new recipes, and make my home more inviting, and get back to crafting.

I’m in two Facebook caftan groups, and have met people for caftan walks and photo opps at events. I don’t know where this vintage sheet came from that was in my stash, but I decided to turn it into a caftan using a current pattern, Simplicity 8505.

Of course I always tend to make projects more difficult, but I had my heart set on using the border along the outside edge. I had to cut crossgrain and piece to make this happen, and I didn’t have enough border to go around the back, but overall I think it works. 

I laid the pattern out so the flowers matched up on each side. I wanted them to be reversed, but I messed up somehow on one side and they match. Kinda bummed about that, but no one else will probably notice. 

In areas where I had additional seams from piecing, I covered these up with appliqués. 

Center front:


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Palm Tree Apron

I finally managed to get my hands on this vintage apron pattern from 1949.
I like to purchase originals, versus reproductions, so it's usually a waiting game on eBay or etsy, but eventually I always find what I'm looking for.

I can see this embroidery on the hem of a dress, or in quilt squares.
So pretty!

(please don't ask me for copies of my patterns. I get bombarded with requests, and it's overwhelming. It's almost impossible to scan pattern pieces, and there are copyrights on most patterns too. Sorry.)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Art in Embroidery

I found this embroidery-on-linen piece on eBay several years ago, but it has just been sitting in storage.
I'd like to possibly have it cleaned, then mounted under glass.
It was listed as a "geometric tapestry", and the seller thought it might be Peruvian.
I just fell in love with it (it's the most money I've ever spent on an eBay auction, around $133).
The size is roughly 29" by 31".

There's one repair on it
The underside of the same repair

There is also an area that looks like it's not tacked down or is about to fray, and the border is missing on part of the piece.

I don't know what the symbolism of the shapes mean, but I'd like to find out.
I'm also curious about the age of this piece.

Does anyone know if textiles like this should be cleaned or left as is?
How does one find someone who can mount this safely, without damaging the piece?
I consider this a work of art, and I'd like to display it and care for it.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Magical Wool Quilt

I just spent one week in Indiana.
I went for the National Road Yard Sale.

Well, and to visit my friend Michelle.  But that's another blog post.

Right now I just wanted to show my favorite purchase of the visit (actually found at a thrift store, though I found lots of fun stuff at the yard sale too).

This is a patchwork quilt of wool squares, held together with a crochet stitch.
It's signed and dated 1981.
I love it.

It makes me somewhat sick to my stomach that someone just got rid of this handmade quilt with absolutely no flaws.
No holes, no stains, no snags.
And I bought it for five measly dollars.
Think of all that work, unappreciated. Sigh....
But I'll certainly treasure it, so welcome home magical quilt. Welcome home.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Repurposed Silver Tray

I discovered this amazing store in Carlsbad (north county coastal area of San Diego) that is everything I could ever imagine selling if I had my own store.
It's called The Wish List (yes, even the name is perfect).

There is retro stuff, handmade stuff like collaged gift tags and these amazing paper roses (that make a perfect gift) made from sheets of music.
And (my favorite) repurposed stuff.
It was here that I saw my first item painted with chalkboard paint--old silver trays made into quotation boards as a cool decorative element.
These trays are beautiful, but no one really uses them for tea service anymore, especially if there's surface wear.
So what a great way to give an object new life.

I decided to make one.
My first attempt was a learning experience.
I managed to find a large and heavy tray at a thrift store.
I found the paint at Michael's.

I discovered (the hard way) that it's best to paint several thin coats with a foam brush.
So since my first attempt was a bust, I set out to find another heavy silver tray.
Note I also discovered a foam sanding pad might rescue my first gloppy attempts.

I found another tray at a thrift store (why is it so hard to find something when you're actually looking for it?!).
This one was nice and heavy; a Rogers brand.
I polished the silver plate,then decided to use black chalkboard paint.
Because there was discoloration up into the border, I had to paint all the way up to the decorative edge.

Thin coats repeated, dried. Repeated until there was a good coverage--more difficult than I expected.
 I love how the design is still visible beneath the paint

This has now been repurposed into a menu board for my friend Jen to display at her parties.
I bought gold and silver chalk pens to go along with it.
She really liked it!
I'm looking forward to seeing it on display at this year's July 4th party.

How Jen used this at this year's party:

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Delicious Ruth

Today I checked off number 23 on my ever-growing
 bucket list,
"Hear Ruth Reichl speak."

Actually, I still hope to hear her lecture one day.
Or how amazing would it be if she gave some sort of workshop?!
But today was amazing in its own right.

I went to Chino Farms and had her sign my copy of her novel, Delicious.

She got up at one point and told a story:  how back in the '70's Chino Farms was unique, and she wanted to thank them.
The farm-to-table idea was a novelty then.  The Slow Food Movement hadn't happened yet. Sustainability wasn't a buzz word.
But fresh, local, seasonal produce needed cheerleaders.
The decades of transporting unripened fruit to market left people believing fruits and vegetables were supposed to taste like cardboard.
Chino Farms helped remind people of the true bounty of the harvest, demonstrating how sun-ripened produce is bursting with juice, fragrance, flavor.

Ms. Reichl wanted to learn more about the farm and write about it, but the Chinos said, "we don't talk to the media".
Not giving up, and hoping to get in the back door, Reichl called Alice Waters, asking if she could tag along with her on a trip to get supplies for Chez Panisse.

They spent two glorious days on the farm, learning about the methods, and participating in a tasting/rating of 40 tomatoes.
On the flight back to San Francisco,  they each carried a flat of strawberries on their laps (back when you could do things like that.  I carried a box of coral on my lap after a trip to Jamaica), destined to evolve into dessert at the restaurant.
These berries weren't the tasteless monstrosities so often in stores (even at that time), but juicy and fragrant--so fragrant the entire plane was perfumed, and repeatedly, passengers started coming up begging for a taste.

I love the way Reichl describes smells and sights.
I've read all of her culinary memoirs, and especially loved Garlic and Sapphires, stories of her stint as a food critic for the Los Angeles Times, then the New York Times, before tackling the role of editor-in-chief at Gourmet Magazine.
Ah, Gourmet.
Conde Nast really screwed up when they decided to ditch Gourmet in favor of just having Bon Appetit, as if the latter were good enough to placate food fans.
Not even close.
But I digress.
I am still sad Gourmet Magazine closed along with its brilliant television series on PBS, Diary of a Foodie.
That series completely transformed how I think about food quality and source.

Today, while we waited for Reichl to sign our books, we were given fresh squeezed juice or infused water, and strawberry shortcake.

In addition to the regular farm stand, they had beautiful things for sale.
I bought rainbow eggs, a baguette, and some squash.

Everything is so perfectly beautiful.  I love the assortment of edible flowers.
Reichl described how she was in Seattle in 2009, on a book tour promoting Gourmet's cookbook, when her boss called to ask her to come back to New York.
Um, what?
She and her staff were informed the magazine was shutting its doors.
As co-workers packed up and moved on to look for other jobs, she was still under contract to finish the book tour.
It was an odd time, she said, understandably.
She came back to an empty space, broken chairs, items looted, photographs in the trash, the kitchen filled with spoiled food...and a whole lot of sadness.

She had locked the library before resuming the tour, so it was safely undisturbed.
She went inside and came across a file of letters from readers.
She said they were mostly insignificant--complaints, recipe requests, etcetera.
But in a moment of inspiration, she sat down and wrote the letters from Lulu that appear in this current novel.
The letters she wished she had found.
The letters she wished someone had written.
It was the first spark that would become Delicious.