craft, design, fabric, garments, sewing

There’s always more to do, isn’t there?

Always. More. I was just looking through the (sparse) image logs I have on my current machine. I also have about 30 gigs of images archived on a memory stick. Most of it is from the community-college Art program. I’ll likely want to note which classes I was taking, when; that information is not in the same place.

What I’ve been advised to do is to copy all of my image storage onto my hard drive, then deal with it from there. It sounds like a good plan, especially as I’ve learned that, “save it and forget it,” is overly optimistic. (Backups can fail, that is.)

Today, I’ve mostly been dealing with face masks. I have 21 cuts of pre-shrunk, ironed batik for the outer portions (which I may have overdone); right now I’m picking out which Kona cottons to use on the backs, and what fabric to use for the ties. I have a lot of light-to-midweight quilting cotton which should be great for ties…but I don’t know how many I’ll get out of one Fat Quarter. All it takes to figure it out, though, is measurement and a little math.

Anyhow, there is not going to be a shortage of masks, here. I can see why people say they get burned-out on them; they can get really repetitive, at least unless I refine the design on each iteration. The latter keeps things interesting, but I can also see just wanting to get through them, as they’re needed almost immediately. The ones we need to send out, we can send out; I have a plan to replace them (plus), now. I just don’t want to send the ones I know are fragile…I can fix them, I don’t know if others can.

Not to mention that there is the stress of what to do when I run out of fabric, or thread. It may not have been the smartest thing to do, but that’s why I cut up the entirety of the batik Fat Quarters. It stops me from guessing, and lets me know what I do have. (The batiks are supposed to be good for filtering, so there are some on the outside of almost all of my masks.)

I also have more batik; it’s just more closely woven, more expensive, and in larger quantities. In other words: it’s nicer. :) But the higher quality does make it harder to sew, as it’s more resistant to the sewing machine (I’ve had the motor jam on me multiple times while trying to sew through too many layers of either the [tightly woven] good batik, or the [midweight] Kona cotton).

I also have quite a bit of soft, fine muslin, though that would likely go to ties, if it went to anything. I am not sure how effective it would be as a mask, even doubled. The reason to use it for ties is to avoid bumps of fabric at the corners of the masks (I have a sizable length of this which would allow one long tie instead of two short ones), though if I just moved in the corners of the ties a bit, I could probably take down a lot of that bulk.

Right now I do, actually, want to get back to work on the Nepali Blouse. It’s something I can do anytime, but I haven’t even wound the first bobbin, yet. We actually have more bobbins than I thought; I stalled because I thought there was only one empty one. Apparently, there are a bunch more empty bobbins, which just aren’t with the rest.

Right now I’m using Coats & Clark Dual Duty thread, which seems good enough (this is what I grew up with). The blouse, I got Gutermann thread for (it was a nice color match); but how old is it? I’m not sure — but if I look at my archives, it’s probably really old. I also don’t know how the fabric it’s made of, will sew…particularly, I’m not sure if I’ll have to use a different needle (or if I damaged the one that’s in there). I’m not quite advanced enough to know that, yet. M can help.

But tomorrow, I can wind the Gutermann bobbin, sew some scraps of the blouse material, and see how it comes out and if the needle needs changing. I’ve also just checked: I’ll need to make ties that are 2″ wide…unless I need to wrangle that a bit, in order to fit a multiple of 2 or 4 onto the Fat Quarter. Math, right?

The Internet (not my ruler, I haven’t checked) says the Fat Quarter should be 18″x22″. The 22″ is likely the length that I have lined up with the long side of the ruler (it has shrunk), which means the 18″ length is what I’m fitting 8 strips into, 2″ wide each: giving me 2″ of wiggle room and full ties for two masks.

That is what I’m talking about. Math.

I stopped work on this earlier tonight because I needed to think about what I was doing. It’s apparent, now, that I’ll end up using a lot more fabric for ties than I had predicted: however, it’s all (or, almost all) washed, dried, and ironed, now.

And I don’t have to make all 21 masks. :) However, I do have little cuts into the edges of some of these Fat Quarters. I’ll go and check on them now; I can easily swap out these lightweight things for uncut Fat Quarters, if I need to.

Just. Who knew that sewing would be such a useful skill (these days, at least)?

garments, sewing

Starting work on blouse.

Today I put in a bit more work on a for-real version of the Folkwear Nepali Blouse, with the new pattern. Yesterday I was basically scoping out the requirements of the pattern and seeing how much material I actually have. I also overlocked the edges of my fabric and put it through the wash. Today consisted of cutting out the pattern pieces, or more properly: adjusting the paper pattern pieces, laying them out, pinning them down, transferring the markings, and cutting them out.

I added 4″ of length in the middle of the pattern, as my toile (muslin mockup) was so short as to be uncomfortable (my gridded cutting mat was of use, here). I am uncertain as to whether to extend the side slits above the added length, as the slits in the toile start right at my waist. I also would like to insert a panel (maybe a triangular or trapezoidal one) so that when the side slits do open, it shows the underlying fabric instead of an undershirt or my skin. I am not entirely certain how to do this yet, or if it would be more worth my time to construct an undershirt or sleeveless shell.

The issue with using a shell is that the front of the blouse is constructed so as to curve around the breasts; a shell will likely take away that bit of detail. Amazingly enough, the detail itself doesn’t make me uncomfortable; it may be because of the fabrics I’ve been using.

I’m used to stretch fabrics requiring underlayers because of all the “landscape detail” they show, by clinging. A crisp cotton or muslin doesn’t seem to have that problem — at least so, at this point. However…a clingy and low-cut tank top with a long hem, of the type I already have, would clear up the problem — and not require a huge inverted box pleat. The lack of modesty around the breasts wouldn’t then be an issue, because those areas would be covered by the blouse itself.

Right now I still have to mark and cut out the underarm gussets, the two back panels (though these are already pinned), and the ties.

I’ve been using white Saral paper as transfer paper, instead of the Dritz stuff from the fabric store. It works much better, at least so far. I’ve also been using a white marking pencil designed for quilting, though it’s super-soft! To mark the dots, notches, and squares on the pattern, I’ve been using a leather tooling stylus — something like an awl with a ball at the point. I just press on top of the pattern with the Saral paper underneath it. It does have a tendency to tear up the pattern, though.

It seems like the pattern paper now is more delicate than I’m used to. I’m using washi tape to piece together the extension panels, and even though it’s light and repositionable, it has still torn this paper, just like tissue paper.

The other thing I can mention is that I keep forgetting to place my cutting mat underneath the areas I’m marking. I’m not using a marking wheel with really deep teeth (of the type that I accidentally marked the table with before), but it’s still something to watch out for.

I also meant to mention last time, if I haven’t, that using a sewing machine in no way takes away from the pleasure of sewing for me. I was mildly surprised. It makes things go much more quickly and efficiently, though I am sure I will want to review my hand-stitching techniques (I may need slipstitch and basting in the near future, in addition to a way to hand-finish seams).

craft, garments, sewing

Getting back to projects :)

I thought this post would go best on Hidden Jewels, as it’s a craft post. What I was doing last night is a continuation of the Nepali Blouse project (Folkwear #111) which I seem to have last posted about in 2010. I finished the toile (muslin mockup) for this project last night, along with working on the toile of the Japanese Field Clothing (I’m using the monpe/mompei section) pattern (Folkwear #112), to the point that I can see how it’s supposed to fit.

The thing about leaving a project unfinished for almost a decade is that your body shape can change during that time. In my case, I changed from a Medium to a Large (I think?) in the Nepali Blouse. I learned not to cut a pattern along the line which currently fits, now; I cut out the pattern to Medium size in 2010, so now that I need the Large size…I’ve cut off and thrown out what I needed, as waste. Of course, now I need it, as over the last 9 years (about a quarter of my life so far), I’ve put on a bit of weight (which is to be expected).

Instead of eyeballing the differences in sizes for that pattern, because it’s so complex, I decided to just get another copy. So far, it looks like the same pattern, but I’m just referring to the copyright date here: I have not matched up the components. I’m not really looking forward to cutting out all the pattern pieces again, so if I could match up pieces I’ve already cut and confirm them as the same, it would be great.

Right now, I could be working on this project. But just like last night I felt best working on something with my hands instead of writing, right now I feel the need to keep records.

It’s amazing how easy it was to switch out my computer for the sewing machine. I mean, seriously: I can just clear off a section of the craft table and sew on it. It’s kind of awesome.

The other pattern — the monpe — I had to scale up, though it was relatively simple to do so, looking at the differences in measurement between each size. The current version of Folkwear #112 isn’t the same as the one I have, though. However, as the pieces are mostly rectangles, and the changes in sizing are only along one side of a pattern piece, I feel okay with doing the calculations on my own.

The hard part about that pattern was telling the front from the back of the fabric (and the inside of the pant from the outside), which shouldn’t be too much of an issue with the fabric I have (a one-sided print).

 

fiber arts, garments, needlework, sewing, tatting

Crochet lace?

Today I realized that if I wanted to add lace accents to clothing, I can make the lace using a crochet technique.  It’s been a fairly long time since I did any crochet, but I find it much easier than knitting.  If I wanted to try my hand at it, I do have some laceweight yarn, which I think is alpaca.  I also have fine cotton crochet thread, which would likely be what I’d use if I put lace cuffs on a shirt, for example.

I found one book specializing in crochet lace patterns today, but it focused on bedspreads and tablecloths, which is not really what I want to make.  New Tatting focuses on doilies, which again, is not really what I want to make.  There’s always the option of going back to Ravelry, if they’re still up, and actually that may be a very good option.

I have in mind a shawl pattern with a lot of openwork between denser areas of stitching.  It would probably take me a while, though, given that the yarns are so tiny and the hooks are so tiny.  But! I know I can crochet, and I can read crochet diagrams; whereas tatting is almost totally foreign to me right now.  And I have all the stuff I need to crochet, including some backup manuals.  ;)

Sounds good?  :)  I’ll add it to my “things I can do” list.

embroidery, fiber arts, garments, needlework, tatting

Beginnings of playing with _Embroidered & Embellished_; plus, tatting?!

I finally broke through the wall and started playing around with muslin and threads, today.  What I found, which was surprising, is that my own handwork differs from the handwork I’ve seen in my main text, for now — Embroidered & Embellished, by Christen Brown.

I picked up this book, as it was advertised to me before the date of its publication, and I’d been waiting on seeing it before I bought it.  It’s a very pretty/inspiring book, and I ended up checking it out of the library and reading it all the way through.  I found out that it seems to be geared towards beginning embroiderers, given the (limited) spectrum of “traditional” stitches which it features, which seem based on linework.  There are also some stitches for more advanced needleworkers, which fall under the chapter on “raised & textured embroidery” — though I wouldn’t have known about the difficulty level, except for reading in other embroidery texts.

Despite the linework bit, which really reminded me of drawing with fineliners as versus markers (ribbonwork?) or painting — I went out and bought a copy of this book today, because it does say (out of the great plethora of options) what needles to use with what thread or floss, and things are easy enough to understand, and limited enough, that it’s relatively non-intimidating.  It also seems that the later stitches often build upon simpler stitches learned early-on.  So while this isn’t a thorough reference by any means, it is a good teaching tool and introduction to embroidery, as it shows different results given with the same basic skill set, based on using differing materials.

I’m really glad I finally got up the nerve to try and practice.  I don’t know what it is, but starting is always the hardest part, for me.  I think there is a fear there that I’ll try it but not like it, or that I’ll try it and fail.  What happened today is that I tried it, and I liked some of my errors more than I liked what I was supposed to be making!

For example, there is something called a lazy daisy flower — while trying to do this, I accidentally started making a lazy daisy maple leaf.  I actually like the maple leaf better than the flower!  It all has to do with variations in proportion and spacing.  Color doesn’t hurt, either — I’ve been intentionally avoiding pink, and so came out with a bunch of red maple leaves.  (And one flower, after thinking to myself that I really should try to make one.)  ;)  Note:  when using a French Knot as the center of a flower, make the knot first and then stitch the petals.  The needle has been punching holes all through the center of the flower, and so your knot may pull all the way through the (now-weakened) fabric, otherwise.  So unless you want an eyelet with a knot hanging off the back, don’t do that!

There are a few other things to mention.  One:  how one holds the thread on the right side of the work while stitching, really does matter.  I’ve had more luck with making a stitch and then looping the floss over the needle, rather than stitching with my floss leading in some general direction, however.  Two:  it’s difficult to make a finishing knot when working with a small embroidery hoop.  I think mine is about 4-5″ across, and that’s not enough when you want to finish a thread (requiring one to make a French Knot and pull the [thick] needle straight through taut fabric) and the needle is facing a wall.

The third bit is related to #2; and that is, when stitching an outline using a backstitch, it really does matter whether the floss falls above or below the needle.  Randomly, one gets an offset, broken pattern, though this can also be done intentionally; always holding the thread above the needle, however, gives an overlapping pattern.

The last thing I wanted to mention:  proportions.  I genuinely like my own proportions better than the ones shown in this book.  I am not sure how much of this has to do with having practiced writing kanji, but my staggered blanket stitch (called the “short-long-short blanket stitch” in the book) really looks like I was writing yama, yama, yama over and over again.  (The Japanese character [or kanji] for “mountain” reads, yama; it shows three peaks next to each other, not unlike the staggered blanket stitch.)

That’s as far as I’ve gotten, for now.  I did, however, find a book on tatting, which is a method of lacemaking.  I’ve gotten the idea in my head to make garments with 3/4 sleeves, and lace edging the sleeve openings.  However, I’ve really got to find a good, simple book on tatting which will teach me the fundamentals.  I’d never been exposed to it before, and so while a lot of what I saw, looked basically like a lark’s head sinnet which was looped around and upon itself — I had never even seen a tatting shuttle before, and I don’t know how to use one.

There is a place I know of which I can go to in order to look at laces, and they probably have a library there.  And it’s probably much greater than the one book I found on the shelf, today.  ;)  I didn’t pick that one up; it’s called New Tatting.  It focused mostly on doilies, which is not really my end goal.  My end goal would be something more like making trims for garments.  But again, you know, maybe it’s just meant as a course for learning the basics.  I’ll just have to research it more.

garments, sewing

Seven Treasures rumination

I’ve had in the back of my mind an idea for the slits on the sides of the Nepali blouse. This would be to leave them open where they are, and insert a couple of panels of Seven Treasures stitch to hold them together. How to make the Seven Treasures lacing is gone over in John Marshall’s _Make Your Own Japanese Clothes_ (page 88).

The thing is that the instructions are for panels which remain the same distance apart from each other along their length.  I’m not sure it will work out for a triangular opening.

And I’m not sure I wouldn’t need to insert eyelets if I used this lacing, as it’s done in a thick material and not with sewing thread.  Inserting eyelets means I’d need something to use as an anvil…and you can see where this is going.

I suppose I could try this out on my muslin version, but really, I don’t expect it to work.

The reason to do this, by the way, would be so that I could get the Seven Treasures-patterned fabric and make the hakama-inspired skirt to match…

garments, sewing

materials gathering for altered Folkwear blouse, + hybrid skirt dreaming

I found the perfect batik for the Nepali blouse. It isn’t really feminine (at all), but then…well, if you know me, you know this can be a good thing for something I (in specific) will be wearing. As long as it’s tasteful.

What I found was a very dark blue-green cotton with white accents at $9/yd, plus matching Gutermann thread for under $2, and the sew-in snaps for the cuffs for same. It wasn’t at the place I was planning to go to — it was at a place I’d never been before, but I feel good about the purchase, and about having gone there.

Side note, I also have started reading the article “East Asian philosophy” in an older version of the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, which outlines some of the major differences between East Asian and Western thought. It’s interesting to see how deep the fundamental philosophical differences go between Western and Eastern cultures — things that I hadn’t even thought of, such as the concept of a personal soul being the basis for the concept of individual rights and sovereignty. Not individual-in-relation-to, but stand-alone identity, as illusory as that may be. But I can clearly see myself being caught in a dialectic between East and West, and coming to understand them both more fully.

I kind of wonder what the “South Asian philosophy” article looks like, now…

Anyhow. After hitting the first store, I trekked over to the place I was originally going to and picked up some dark, soft interfacing and a pair of fabric shears. This was at 20% off, so the interfacing was almost free with the shears. (I ended up needing one yard, by the way.)

What I was told at the first store is that it’s estimated my cotton batik will shrink about 5% in the wash, as hot water is used to set the dye in manufacturing. What I was told at the second store about my interfacing was to submerge it in very hot water and let it soak for 20 minutes to preshrink it, and see if it’s going to bleed. I still need to do that. If it bleeds…I’m using white. I don’t want my collar stained.

Maybe I should use white, anyway. Now that I’ve got the fabric at home, I can see if a white interfacing will show through too much.

Other than that…I have the idea to make a hakama-like skirt. Just not exactly hakama. I’ve been finding multiple fabrics that would look nice as an insert into a plainer garment, but which would be too loud on their own. One of these I saw at the store where I got my batik…it was sort of a version on Seven Treasures, I believe. Indigo and light blue. Made into its own garment, I wouldn’t wear it; but as an accent on another piece, it would be perfect.

What I have in mind is basically an A-line skirt which is open in the center front for maybe 6-8″, with a wide inverted box pleat at the center back. What I want to do is to insert a generous amount of accent material in mirrored knife pleats between the two front panels of the A-line, with the rest of this skirt being a solid color or a very subdued print. This will allow me to have a tailored skirt in which I’ll still retain mobility — at least if I don’t go crazy chaining the pleats to each other.

What I can see being an issue right now is that this seems to recommend pattern drafting and a higher level of skill, and I’m way too new to sewing to be able to do that and not be frustrated. I can, however, buy a cheap pattern for a long A-line skirt and alter it. The hard part will be the shaping at the hips and waist (I’m curvier than I used to be, and I don’t have a block/sloper), and the zipper or buttons I’ll need to fasten the thing.

I suppose I can start thinking on it now, knowing that it’s something to work up to. There’s no time limit on this, I suppose.

garments, sewing

heading up to buying fabric, and altering pattern

I should be going out tomorrow to try and find a suitable cloth for the Nepali blouse. What I want to do is lengthen both front panels and the two back panels, along with the slits on the sides (which hit above my pant line at the current time).

I should need about three yards of material for this, assuming that I lengthen the front and back pieces a maximum of eight inches, which means I’ll need 16″ more material. Normally I’d be using 2.5 yards of material w/o allowing for strategic placement of the pattern on the fabric. Half a yard is 18″. This last time I believe I got 2.75 yards of muslin and it was more than enough for the basic garment.

The major thing is that I don’t want to be showing skin, and the slits at the sides will show my skin (or more likely, undershirt), and the hem is so high that if I lift my arms above my head, I’m pretty sure my belly will show (which makes me uncomfortable normally, regardless of whether my belly is large or not).

One of the reasons I’ve liked sewing is that you get to customize your clothes, so for someone like me who says that just because I’m female doesn’t mean I want to show my body to the world (honestly I don’t know why clothes designers seem to think that female = sex object, even if unwilling), it’s good to know that I can modify what I’m wearing.

So basically I want to make this tunic-length. Slit on the sides but not to the point that people can see my skin. Long enough so that if I reach over my head, no one’s going to be looking at my navel.

As for fabric choice — I’m thinking something between violet, blue, and blue-green, though a brown will also work. I want it mid-ranged to dark in tone. This pattern is a good choice for showing off the print of something like a subdued batik. It should drape well, not wrinkle easily, and not be translucent (as the fabric overlaps itself and the interfacing is opaque and also unbleached, it is easy to see in the muslin version that the muslin is translucent).

I’ll also need maybe .75 yards of interfacing. I want to use a lightweight silk (probably not white), as I’ve noticed the nonwoven stuff tends to roll up on itself after a while of washing. (Granted, though, this was in a ready-made shirt.) This would be encased inside the collar, so it probably won’t get very worn. I’m thinking of cutting the interfacing on the bias, though, after seeing what a stiff collar looks like. I should probably still get at least .75 yards, but I need to check pattern requirements.

I also need to topstitch closer to the edge of the collar, next time.

It will probably be easier next time to use…well, I suppose I can use that white silk basting thread to mark points on the fabric, if I’m using a darker fabric. It’s a bigger pain than using chalk, but I know the silk won’t melt into the fabric, never to wash out, unlike the chalk.

Right now I’m thinking rayon, or a wrinkle-resistant cotton.

M told me that we have another pattern here which is like what I’m thinking of, with the tunic idea — but it’s a bit too untailored for me. The pattern I’m working with has been fine to the point of realizing it was uncomfortably short, and I can easily remedy that. I’ll just have to lengthen the waist and the portion below the waist, and make sure those lengths match before cutting my material.

And I need to get some sleep.

garments, sewing

working again on Folkwear Nepali blouse

I’m back to working on the Folkwear blouse. I need to use a much lighter interfacing next time (this time, it was broadcloth or canvas, I’m not entirely sure of the difference between them), because of the difficulty of machine-sewing over many folded layers in the corners of the collar.

I finished the slipstitching, and got the topstitching on the collar and facing done earlier, plus removal of the temporary basting of the collar to the interfacing. Now all that has to be done before I can work again is that the table needs to be cleared off and wiped down from dinner. Then I’ll work on sewing in the gussets.

It was intimidating to restart the project after so long, but after I got into it, it was easy. I’ve also started making notes on the instructions — I basted in a couple of ties on the wrong panel, making the article of clothing cross left-over-right instead of right-over-left. Which is correct if it’s a Japanese top (where you only cross the garment right-over-left for a dead person), but I’m not so sure it’s correct for a Nepali top. I suppose I can run a search on it.

Regardless, I pulled out the thread markers which said where to attach the ties, and the ties are basted in now, so maybe I shouldn’t worry about it so much.

I also found that my 20% off coupon for my regular fabric store expires very soon, so there may be a trip there within the next several days. I’m still undecided on whether I want to get fabric shears from them…

(EDIT: I just ran a search on my pattern and it’s a Nepali blouse, not a Tibetan blouse, though the permalink probably still says it’s a Tibetan blouse. Sorry about that.)

garments

I haven’t forgotten about you, blouse.

So I’ve gotten a little derailed as far as what I’ve been working on. This is relatively normal for me, though. It’s one of the reasons I keep a blog — to remind myself of what I was doing, and try and gently nudge along focus on a project. :)

I still need to finish slipstitching the collar to the body of the Folkwear blouse, though that shouldn’t be too hard — I’ve got about 6″ or less left, and then I can start with machine topstitching. I think the part I’m dreading is setting in the sleeves, but I’ve got to remember that it’s only muslin, and it’s only for practice this time.

I have more to add, but it’s long, so I’ll put it in a separate post.