Friday, February 26, 2010

Quilt Show!

Back from the Mid Atlantic Quilt Festival! VickiW, Anne, and I pilgrimaged to Hampton, VA despite the cold windy weather to see the treasures. Exhausted, but happy. Got to meet Mary. Got to see Summerset's Garden Path which won the Judge's Choice award. Got to shop. Here is the haul:

That black batik underneath everything is actually 2 yards of a 108 inch quilt back. A large portion of it is solid black - this photo shows the border part, mostly. This is going to become a dress, or maybe two. Also pictured are 24 fat quarters of brown and pink fabrics (love that color combination), 6 antique feedsacks, 10 rotary cutter blades, and 1 surgerical seam ripper. I didn't discover until I got home that one of the feedsacks is still a sack; the seams haven't been let out of it yet. I guess I'll be able to use that seam ripper right away. : )
I admit I went a little overboard on the feedsacks. But I have plans for them. Last year Anne gave me a couple of feedsacks and I found they make the most excellent skirts. I've made two. If I cut out the skirt pattern on the cross grain instead of the lengthwise grain, I can get a whole skirt made from one feedsack (I still need to get a photo of the skirts I made but it has been so cold and my photographer is out of town). Now I also admit that 7 or 8 feedsack skirts might be a bit much, but I tell you that skirts made out of this fabric do not wear out. I can see why women used them to make children's clothes - they might outgrow them, but they would never wear out!
Finally, I got a yard of this indonesian fabric just because I liked it:
It was a great day. Anne asked, "Why can't every day be like today?" I couldn't have agreed more.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Seasonal Affective Disorder

When the gray sky dome descends upon us in November and doesn't often rise until March or April, I understand there are some people who get depressed, but not me. Nothing makes my blood race more than a cool fall day, with dry dead rustling leaves, wood smoke in the air, and imminent frost. That is because I know winter is coming, and I love winter. I love being wrapped in cashmere, and cooking hearty soups and stews, and baking sweetbreads and cookies. I love Christmas too, along with a cheerful fire on the hearth, hot tea, and feeling all warm and cozy inside.

No, for me, SAD kicks in during our wretched southern summers. I get weary of the same old weather forecast in July of the three H's: hot, hazy, and humid. When I wake in the dim light of a summer morning, and the temperature is already above 80 degrees, I want to pull the covers over my head and never emerge. Invariably, the forecast is for 93 degrees with 90% humidity with a 30% chance of rain, but it never does. I get tired of being hot wearing any clothes at all, much less anything with sleeves, and I feel sticky and itchy the entire day until I sink into a cool bath at night. On my way to work in the morning, the pavement is already radiating heat waves, and I am so tempted to just drive north until I find a New England seaside town where they do not build their houses with air conditioning. Once at work, the difference between the outside temp and the inside air conditioning can vary as much as 25 degrees, so I am alternately sweaty and freezing everywhere I go. Maybe this is why Scotland is my preferred vacation destination: I am thoroughly sick of our relentless summers.

Except this year.

This year after two feet of snow, most of which is still in my yard, I now understand why people from up north take cruises in February and March. If they didn't, they would just stay in bed or drive south until they found people who say things like, "I've never seen snow," and don't build their houses with heat. I now understand why Yankees retire to Florida. I now understand why Summerset created "Garden Path" while experiencing a frigid northern winter. Last month my electric bill was the highest ever, and I don't know how much more I can stand. My skin never feels warm, and I don't want to get up in the morning. It's either snowing or raining, and I don't remember when the temperatures last exceeded 40 degrees.

So bring on daylight savings time and the daffodils and Easter Sunday! Where spring was once dreaded, it is now longed for. I welcome the tulips and St. Patrick's Day and your new barbeque grills. I propose we all go on spring break, together. Bring your sewing machines.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Use Your Linen Closet As A Stash!

I've been wanting to make a basic white blouse for awhile, but as usual I just hadn't gotten around to it. In keeping with my normal proclivity to make summer stuff during winter, and winter stuff during summer, I felt I just had to make a sleeveless white shirt that I could wear during the hottest of days. I've only made one blouse in my sewing career, and that was this one, about two years ago. I really like this one; in cooler weather, I wear it with a red cardigan. I picked the fabric up at a LQS a couple of years ago, and I also made a skirt from the same fabric, so when I wear them together, it's like a two piece dress. Here's the pattern I used, McCalls 2094:
The fact that I have only used this pattern once is pretty unusual since I like to make patterns over and over again (if they work). I made this in a size 12, straight up, and I love the loose way it fits.
The problem with making the white shirt was that I wanted exactly the right fabric. The hand of the fabric is paramount, as the feel of it is as important, if not more so, than the look. I didn't wanted to order any fabric online because you really can't tell what white fabric is like, and of course, you can't feel it. I also couldn't find anything locally. I was starting to regret not buying some of the Italian cottons I saw at the Philadelphia Quilt Expo from the vendor that sold me the cashmere/mink fabric.
The fabric I really wanted to use was pinpoint cotton. It's my favorite and I love it so much that I sleep on it:

I found this sheet in the linen closet and you can see that it is for a double size bed. I haven't had a double size bed in my house since 2004, so I can only imagine that I saved the flat and fitted sheet simply because I loved the fabric. I must have figured I would eventually do something with it.
The fitted sheet wouldn't do; it was so worn out that it was shredded in places. But the flat sheet, which sees less wear, was perfect. It had been washed hundreds of times and was as soft as you could have wished. And it was free!

I'm not as thrilled with the look of the blouse as I am with the feel. It feels great. But the softness makes it look rumpled, and it wrinkles if you so much as look at it. Here's a close up of the side detail:

I have a feeling this will be a Saturday blouse - one of those cool shirts I put on in the summer on a Saturday morning that I will love when it is 90 degrees and 90 percent humidity. I won't care that it isn't crisp looking and wrinkle free. It will be comfortable!
Parting Shot: It snowed in Cotton Creek, AL today! Here is Daddy in all his craziness standing in the beginning of the snowfall about seven in the morning. Without shoes, of course:

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Tunic or Dress?

Ye old yardstick this morning registered six inches of snow. And I found shoveling six inches of snow infinitely easier than shoveling a foot a week ago. So I was able to venture forth, after much tire spinning, to Joyce's where I found this on sale at 30% off. It's "Yen Rose" by Alexander Henry fabrics and the photos don't do the cheerful red color justice:
It begged to come home with me. I thought perhaps it would make a good dress from The Liverpool Tunic pattern. I orginally bought some forties inspired fabric to make the short dress with elbow length sleeves, but I'm drawn to this fabric even more. But I can't decide whether to use this fabric to make another tunic, or to make the short dress version. On the one hand, I can start wearing the tunic sooner, as the dress would have to wait until spring weather. On the other hand, I could wear the dress for more months of the year. But it would make an awfully cute tunic, though. I can't decide. Feel free to comment, and it will help me figure out what I really want to do. : )
I spent my snowy weekend finishing a shirt which I'll show you later this week when my photographer is available. And I started my first real knitting project. I'll photograph that when there is enough knitted to get excited about.
Parting shot: This is an all-to-familar scene on my back deck this winter.

Friday, February 5, 2010

My New Favorite Skirt

One of the things on my to-do list was to make a skirt this winter from the cashmere/mink fabric I bought at the Philadelphia Quilt Expo last fall. I procrastinated on this project for two reasons: marking darts on black wool (even as wonderful as this piece of fabric) is a PITA, and I was going to line it in silk, which also takes more time. But this fabric's wonderfulness is in how it feels. I wish this blog had touch-a-vision, because I have never worked with a more luxurious piece of fabric in my life. Or a more expensive. I saved the receipt and I can tell you I paid $ 88 for a single yard of this fabric. But I finally got it done and photographed this week:
These photos weren't taken until the end of the day, so of course the skirt is wrinkled a bit. It was glorious wearing it though. I've never felt a softer bit of wool, ever.
While this was a tried and true pattern, I did a few things simply because this fabric deserved it. First, I finished the waist facing edge with a strip of silk, Hong Kong style. Normally, when I am making a summer version of the skirt I just serge the waist facing edge or use the overlock stitch on my sewing machine. But I wanted this to look nicer. Here is the waist facing after I attached the strip of silk but before I sewed it to the waist:
To do this, I cut my strip of silk on the straight grain one inch wide. I attached it to the front of the facing with a quarter inch seam, wrapped it to the back, and then stitched in the ditch on the front of the facing, thus catching the silk wrapped in the back. Here is a shot of the facing on the back:

I briefly thought about cutting my silk strips on the bias, but I'm glad I didn't. This silk was slippery enough without adding bias to it.
Next, I gave the hemline the same seam allowance treatment. Here is the hem:

Next, I actually took the time to make 2 pattern pieces for the lining. The only tissue paper I had was some birthday paper with color dots, but it worked:

The only thing different about the lining pattern pieces from the garment pattern pieces is that I eliminated the 1 1/4 inch hem at the bottom, and I only marked the top legs of the darts. I don't sew the darts in my linings - I just make tucks in the lining where the darts in the garment are located.
By the way, the lining fabric is some fabulous silk VickiW gave me when she was cleaning out her garment fabric stash a couple of years ago. There was a goodly amount of it, and I am still using it for my skirts!
I handstiched the hem to the silk lining and in this photo you can see how it looks:
Here's a shot of the inside front of the skirt which shows you the lining and the facings. I didn't sew the edge of the waist facing to the lining and I probably won't.

Here's the back:

Dealing with linings like this that aren't free hanging are always more fiddly. You want to make sure the silk lining doesn't sag, but you don't want it too tight or it will make the skirt hang wonky. And then you have to unsew the hem, adjust the lining more loosely, and then hem again. I had to do this once in the front, but otherwise it hemmed up just fine. Because of this, I'm leaving the waist facing alone - it looks fine and it fits fine. No reason to mess with it!
Usually when I make this skirt from cotton I can get it done in 3 hours, and that includes cutting out. This version took about 7 to 8 hours. Extra work, but I know I will love wearing it, which is why most of us love to sew - you get the fine quality fabric in the color and style you want!
Parting Shot: Here we go again. The forecast is for 8 to 12 inches of snow this weekend. This is what it looks outside my back window:
Do I really live in the South? Hope you are staying warm!