Back to School

Whew!  September was a whirlwind!  All kinds of life ganged up...most of which did not include sewing time!

I have been out of school for a very long time, even my kids have been out of school for some time now, but when September rolls around I still get into a 'back to school' frame of mind.  I don't know if it's the cooler weather, the piles of notebooks and new crayons at Target, but I need to pick apples and make something tweedy...preferably with pleats!!!  So here we are at the END of September and not one piece of tweed has crossed my ironing board.  (And the apples are still on the trees!  Geez!)

So what, you may ask, have I been doing if not sewing?  Other than nursing my dang toe, lots of fun stuff.....

My youngest sister encountered her 50th birthday early in the month and 10 of us went to Philadelphia to help her celebrate.  I have been to Philly several times and have loved it, but each time I have been with a group of people and didn't have to navigate myself around.  So once again I loved my visit but have no clue where I was!!  I am going to have to go by myself sometime and really figure it out.

We visited the "Magic Garden" which is a huge (I mean several buildings) mosaic installation.  There are tons of mirrors incorporated so I couldn't resist a 'selfie.'
You can check out some 'real' pictures of the place here.

We also had a wonderful tour of the Barnes Foundation which houses Dr. Albert Barnes art collection.  It is hung in a very intriguing and approachable way.  If you ever get the chance to see it, do!  And have a docent tour, it's worth it.  

We did some 'history' with a visit to Liberty Hall...we ate fabulous food...Philly is a huge foodie town and we did our best to take advantage of it. Oh, and wine was consumed, lots!

Obligatory Philly Cheesesteak!!!  Yum!

I did try to find some fabric stores, but it was way hot and most that I found were the kind of places where everything is piled to the ceiling and most did not have AC...maybe on my next visit.  I found this cool cotton voile border print, notice the different directions of the border stripes, and a great button before the heat overwhelmed me and I had to go eat gelato!!!!

The very next weekend was the American Sewing Expo in Novi, Michigan.  I have been going for many years and for the last 9 years have been part of the "Passion For Fashion," competition that is held there.

I am the design mentor (think Tim Gunn) for 12 designers who complete a "Project Runway" style challenge during the show.  We arrive on Thursday evening, get our models and set up our 'sewing room' which is in the center of the convention floor...

Friday morning at 8am we are given the 'challenge'...this year it was to create an evening or cocktail ensemble using decorative thread as a feature...the designers can shop on the floor of the show for their supplies.  We have until 3 pm on Saturday (yes we do go home and sleep on Friday night!) when the models return for fitting, photography, judging and the runway show at 6pm!!!!!  It's a total whirlwind!  My motto is 'No Naked Models' and every year there is at least one designer who makes me nervous...but we somehow get it done!

Me with the winning designer and her model.  

The designers are asked to wear black and this year's winner forgot, so she is wearing my jacket!  That's why we are so coordinated!
(Black leather lapels on the moto style jacket and yoke of the dress, matelasse knit for the body of the jacket and dress.)

It is a lot of fun, but I was extra tired this year since I was hauling around my goofy boot.  I did mange to fit in a bit of shopping on Sunday before heading home...

Cool sweater knit with a great selvedge from Haberman's,  Amazing boiled wool with felted bits and pieces from Beautiful Textiles, and a 'holey' denim stitched to mesh from Vogue Fabrics...

When I got home on Sunday it was truly feeling like fall so I swapped out the summer table runner for a more autumnal arrangement...maybe I'll make it to the apple orchard before the end of the week!  ...or make some tweedy pleats!

p.s.  I thought this little pumpkin craft was darn cute...it's made with mason jar rings tied together and cinnamon sticks!


Cookies and Slips

There is a kids' book called  "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie."  It's a circular tale that starts with giving a mouse a cookie, the mouse asks for a glass of milk to go with his cookie, then a straw to drink the milk.....round and round and finally back to the cookie. (the millennial version of "There's a hole in the bucket dear Liza") I mention these stories because they remind me of my most recent sewing room adventure.

It started when I was thinking about some new fall outfits.  Last spring I made a tunic (described here).  I liked the tunic with the ruffle showing, but the dress and tunic together were just too lumpy.  I decided that more of a slip would be a better solution.  

I started pulling things that might work.  I found a rayon crepe with a soft green and gray print that would be really lovely with the tunic, and it also went nicely with a linen gingham that I had considered for my DOL retreat (described here), but hadn't used.  Maybe they could be a 'slip'?  There were several ribbons and twill tapes that would make great straps...other pieces of linen that picked up the colors in the rayon print...

There was  a great wool jacquard that would make a top that could go over the slip so I would have two options...do you see where this is going?  Round and round....

Finally, I turned off my monkey brain and focused on the slip!

I started with a hand stitched piece...I wasn't sure where it might end up, but the stitching was calming and didn't require too many decisions!!  I knew it needed to be soft and light so I used two layers of cotton gauze... a light gray and a piece with green warp and blue weft...as my base.

I really liked the subtle colors and soft texture that emerged as I stitched rows across my gauzes.

I thought I was going to use the gingham for the bodice of the slip, but I had used a couple of shiny threads for my stitched piece and I found a metallic linen that really made the stitching pop.

The rayon crepe was only about 36 inches wide so I had to really work to get the skirt pieces of my slip to fit.

               A linen ribbon forms the straps.           What's a slip without pockets!

'Arty' photo taken by Mr. Sewphie.
(please don't tell my Doctor that I shed my lovely boot for the photo shoot!)

Sooooo...I love the slip...BUT...don't like it any better with the tunic!!!  
Should I make the wool jacquard top to wear with it...or just leave well enough alone?!

Maybe a cookie to think about it....

                                                                ...and some milk...


Linen's Last Hoorah!

Artful T #4...

Eileen Fisher is one of my style muses.  Elegant, timeless, sophisticated....where does she get those gorgeous fabrics!?!!?  I love everything she does!  This season I have had my eye on a simple woven linen t-shirt.  It's over-sized, rumply, loose...all my favorite attributes for a comfortable summer top.  

I waited for it to go on sale...which it did...eventually.
However...the only size that was left was XL.  Granted, I did say I liked 'over-sized' but in this case we're talking needing directions to get to the other side of the shirt!  Sigh!

So...off to find rumply, soft, maybe even plaid linen.

My plan was to make a simple shirt.  Top stitched hems and neckline. A final quick summer linen project.  

Famous last words!

I found the fabric!  Not plaid, but really pretty and soft.  And after a turn in the washer and dryer, divinely rumpled!

The pattern is one that I have been refining for years.  My basic woven T.

All set...let's do this...

You know I think I have some cool linen rick rack?  Oh, does that pearl cotton I got the other day match the print?  I bet this fabric would look great with raw edge finishes....

I just can't help myself....I started making samples...

The simple turned edge, top stitched neckline became a folded bias strip, machine stitched to one side of the rick rack, other side left raw (of course), then the rick rack was sewn by hand with pearl cotton to the edge of the neckline.  

I really liked the little 'chicken feet' stitches that I did to attach the rick rack, so I repeated them for the hems.

It was looking great!

I was very proud of my hem finish.  A side slit with the hem a bit longer in the back.

The 'slow sew' neckline was very cool, the little chicken feet hems looked super....

Slipped it on...

I could have just bought the XL Eileen Fisher!


I'll just wear it big....no I won't...it will just hang in the closet...double drat!

I tucked out several inches in the center front and liked it way better!  But a seam down the center front?  Yuck!  Sleep on it....

The fix was really pretty simple...buttons up the back!  I cut straight up the center back, folded the edges (which took out a couple of inches), made buttonholes (with cute little chicken feet stitches!) and badabingbadaboom...I love it!

My quick last hoorah of summer T turned into both a 'slow sew' AND a 'refashion' project!

So much for best laid plans.  Artful T #4 ready for those last few hot days in September before sweater weather!