Week Two: Oriental T

Here we are...week two of our "month of woven T's".  Week one's inspiration was the humble tea towel.  For week two we decided to start with kimono fabrics.  So, 'oriental tea' if you will.

Rhonda graciously offered up some vintage kimono pieces for us to work into our designs.  

 Kimono are a series of fabric strips connected to make the traditional Japanese garments.  The fabric comes from a single bolt called a tan that is about 14 inches wide by about 11 yards long.  All of the fabric is incorporated into a single garment.  You can often find pieces of the fabrics that have been scavenged from worn out kimono... and that is exactly what Rhonda sent to me in an incredibly generous and inspirational package.

The gift included four different kimono pieces, an African print and an Indian stamped piece.  When I opened the package my brain immediately went into high gear.  The Kimono pieces were not big enough for a whole shirt so I started trolling around in the 'ol stash and went a little crazy pulling fabrics and making combinations.  I haven't had that much fun for a while and that was just the first step!  I know...I got a bit carried away!

I have been drooling over the work of a designer called Susan Eastman.  She uses Kimono and other Japanese fabrics to create simple, elegant garments.  I knew as soon as I saw the fabrics that this would be the perfect inspiration for my "Oriental T."

I have to admit that the package from Rhonda made me feel a wee bit guilty.  (...only after the squealing and gleeful giggling subsided!)  One of the piles on my table had a very definite blueness about it, and if you have seen my closet you know that blue is not a big component of my wardrobe.  I knew that would not be the T for me, but it felt an awful lot like Rhonda.  So the first Oriental T I made was for her...

Along with the blue floral print Kimono fabric, I collected bits of blue silk and linen, a silk and wool blend with an interesting weave, a couple of indigo/batik square patches that my husband brought back from a trip to Japan.  For a pop, I added a fuschia pink scrap.

I wanted a simple drop shoulder shape with a cut-on sleeve (a la Susan Eastman), but often with this style there is too much fabric that collects under the arms and makes the garment look sloppy.  I decided to 'tighten up' the design by starting with my woven T pattern with set in sleeves.  I added just enough to create the 't-shape' without the extra roominess that usually accompanies this style.

The white pattern pieces are my woven T pattern, the brown paper is my new pattern.  By continuing the shoulder line I created the cut-on sleeve that I wanted.  

I snooped around on Rhonda's blog and noticed that she works on a size 10 dress form, the same as I do...I hope that the size will be OK for her...I did shorten it up a bit!  πŸ™

I let the fabrics dictate the sizes of the strips that make up the shirt.  It was a bit like putting together a puzzle or a quilt.  I was careful to put the softest textured fabrics for the sides/sleeves so they would drape around the shoulders nicely.

I cut the last scraps of the kimono fabric into strips to use as the neck binding...just eked it out.

I popped the blue oriental T into a package for Rhonda...I was feeling inspired and having sew much fun...I moved on to my second T.  It was very hard to decide between the two remaining piles on my table, I really wanted to make them both...but having a deadline relegated one to the back burner...for now! (there will be another Oriental T post in the future!)

I chose the piece that has a deep raisin color that is one of my favorites.  I also liked the over lapping blocks and thought that would be a great element to work into my T.

The rest of the fabrics came from my stash.  I realized as soon as I thought about stitching the kimono fabric to anything that it would need to be reenforced to handle the stresses of a garment, so I underlined it with a silk charmeuse. 

 It's always a bit scary to cut into a unique piece of fabric...no going back to the fabric store for an extra 1/2 yard!  So I spent time trying out different arrangements on my dress form to get a combination I like.  As I started to cut and assemble the pieces, it became clear the I would have several 'panels' in the finished shirt and that too much stitching on the Kimono piece would not be a good idea.  I figured out ways to line and secure hems to the lining so eventually the only 'raw' seams on the inside were the sleeve seams.  It got a bit convoluted before I got to the finish line, and there were a couple of 'unsewing' moments along the way, but I'm pretty proud of the results!

The zebra print charmeuse is underlining the Kimono piece.  I self lined the silk stripe for the other parts of the top.  The striped sleeve I cut double with the hem on the fold so it is hemmed and lined all in one go.  
I liked the pop of color from the red silk at the front neckline and repeated it on the back neck and sleeve facings.  I used the overlapping block idea for the back embellishment.  I hope I did justice to the beautiful piece that Rhonda 'donated' to the cause!

My 'tea recipe' this time is crazy simple!!!

...that would be cinnamon sticks simmering in water.  Yep, that's it!  I was at a yoga retreat center last summer and the food was all vegan and amazing.  Every afternoon they would put out 'cinnamon tea.'  I couldn't get enough of the stuff!  I finally asked the chef how to make it and..."put cinnamon sticks in a pot of boiling water for a while!"  That's it!  (not only delicious, but the house smells delightful!)

I like it hot or iced, but my favorite way to have it is 1/2 tea, 1/2 milk(whatever kind you drink) a bit of honey to taste, over ice.  It's like an iced chai latte!  So yummy and refreshing.

P.S.  It fits!!!   Whew!  Rhonda received the package and the ninja bunny T fits.  You can see her wearing it HERE. πŸ‘


Week One: Tea Towels to T-Shirts

"In 18th century England, a tea towel was a special linen drying cloth used by the mistress of the house to dry her precious and expensive china tea things."

I love tea towels!  And I'm so glad that they are popular again.  I have been collecting them for years, usually from antique shops, but recently I have been finding new ones everywhere.  True confession...I do not dry my dishes with them.  (I have a dishwasher that works just fine!)  I think of them as 18" X  24" pieces of fabric.  They are usually cotton or linen (my fav!) and printed with everything under the sun!

To start off our "Month of Woven T's" Rhonda, over at "Rhonda's Creative Life" and I are each starting with the tea towel of our choice.  Should we call them Tea-shirts?  😝  (You can see Rhonda's pick HERE.)  My pick was a towel that I spotted on my recent trip to Taos, New Mexico...

What's not to love?!

It's got chickens, and a vineyard and herbs and WINE!

It's actually printed on an old cotton flour sac so it has a soft rustic texture.  And it is a bit bigger than the standard 18" X 24" towels.

Snapped it right up!

I headed out to Oregon at the end of July for the International Pinot Noir Celebration!  (yes, it is all wine all the time!!!) πŸ˜‹ I have been looking forward to this trip since a friend and I started planning it a year ago.  She retired at the end of June and we decided it was a great way to get her launched into her new life as a carefree retiree!  It was an amazing event.  Not just lots of Pinot Noir to try, but fabulous food prepared by 80 different chefs from the northwest region.  The finale is a outdoor salmon bake for 1,600 people!  

I thought a wine shirt would be just the thing!  My traveling buddy was a bit dubious about the idea, but I figured it would be kind of like the 'camp t-shirt' for the weekend.  And, the guazy texture of my tea towel was the perfect weight for the predicted (and actual!) 90+ degree days!  So I surged ahead!

For some reason my towel reminded me of the Mexican peasant tops with all the colorful embroidery on them.  Maybe because I was in New Mexico when I found it...?  Anyway, that was the picture in my head as I started working on my Tee.

Square neck line, blanket stitched edges, loose, cool, comfortable...

I wanted to keep the image intact so I had to come up with something else for the back side of my shirt.  I pulled a light weight turquoise cotton and a cotton madras from my stash.  Both had the light summery texture of the towel.

I chose a drop shoulder style "T" to use as much of the towel as I could.

I did add some embroidery, but tried not to get too carried away.  Just a bit more wine on the back yoke!

It turned out so light and summery that I actually got a pair of white capris to wear with it!  I can't remember the last time I had a pair of white pants!!  Maybe a mistake with all the wine...

I gathered the plaid into the yoke and dropped the back hem a bit.  The white edges have turquoise blanket stitching and the turquoise edges have white. 

The embroidery on the back yoke took me right back to seven years old and the outline stitched pillow cases that were my first sewing projects.  I even got out my embroidery hoop!  ...no I didn't embroider wine bottles on my bedding!  😝 Just lazy daisies.  🌼🌼🌼

I'm not sure I transformed it completely.  It still has it's original 'tea-toweliness' about it.  But it was totally fun to make and makes me smile when I wear it.  

You might think that with all the wine going on that my recipe would involve a bit of Pinot, but, no, I decided to go with the travel theme for this one.

The 'recipe' that I want to share is a bit more craft than cooking, but it is all about making a cup of tea.  When I travel, especially for sewing retreats, I like to have my favorite tea.  It's a loose blend that I get by the pound from my local tea shop.  One trip I was unpleasantly surprised when I opened my suitcase to find loose tea leaves ALL OVER EVERYTHING!!  I had secured them in a zip top bag, but the airplane pressure must have popped it open...😬  Not wanting a repeat of that episode, I decided to bag my tea more securely for future travels.  I made a long tube out of a scrap of silk organza, I measured out the amount I needed to brew a bottleful of tea and put it into the tube, I sewed it shut and repeated the process until I ran out of tube!  I added a string and a tag and Bob's your uncle...I have travel tea bags!  Obsessive? Perhaps?  But it sure beats loose tea leaves in your panties!