Back in the Saddle

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh.......yes, Key West is my happy place.  It's crazy goofy, way out in the middle of the ocean, full of chickens and iguana and I love it.  I walk or ride my bike everywhere...in fact, until I got back to Michigan at the beginning of February, I hadn't been in a car for a month.  The pace is so much different when you can only go as fast as your own body can take you.  So I can't say that "I'm glad to be back in the cold, wintery north," but here I am.  And I did start to miss my sewing room by the end of the month. 

I have been sewing like crazy since I got back, but everything I'm working on is for an upcoming Threads article and I can't share...yet.  I'll let you know.  I did spend time with my stash trolling around for fabrics that would work for the Threads things, since going out to the fabric store hasn't been an option...yes, I have been snowed in.  I turned up lots of pieces that I hadn't seen in a while and also took the opportunity to do a bit of thinning.  There are still way too many lengths of fabric that I seem to need to hang onto even though I know I will never, ever sew them up.  I think I need to wait for a day when I am in a really bad mood and then start pitching!!!!!  Most of the time I get all sentimental and just refold stuff and put it back in the boxes.  *sigh*

One of the pieces I rediscovered was a silk panel print by Hale Bob.  The fabrics are kind of wild and have a definite Boho vibe.  I decided I would either make it up or pass it on....

I tried a few different options on my dress form...

A simple sheath type dress.  Using the panel asymmetrically...

Some kind of wrap skirt paying no attention whatsoever to the pattern...

Gather it up into something....?

As I played around with the fabric I realized why it was probably sent off to a fabric "jobber" and ended up on the remnant table of my local fabric store.  First of all the panels were not printed true to grain....

Second, the print was not centered on the fabric...matching the centers of the panels left several inches dangling on both sides....

...the idea of passing it along was starting to sound like the best strategy!

I hung the piece up on the wall and stared at it for a bit.  Seeing it in one big piece I realized that the print was basically a T-shaped garment waiting to happen.  So I went with it.

I had two complete panels, so I cut them apart and used one for the front and the other for the back.  When I sewed the shoulder seam the off-grain printing really showed up.

The worst bunch of folds and creases was right in the center, of course.  I decided I would just make that the neck opening and cut the whole mess right out of the middle!

I actually had several colors of cotton jersey that would have worked for a neckband...

I chose the umber color.

It really is a big ol' "T"!   It doesn't look like much hanging on the dress form, but it feels amazing to wear!  So drapy and swishy.  The perfect end-of-a-summer-beach-day dress.  I'm pretty sure if I had tried to do anything more complicated I would have thrown in the towel.  The off-grain stripes just about drove me over the edge!  The lack of structure makes it hard to see, so I think it will work.  I used a piece that I trimmed from the hem to make a tie, it was like sewing a mobius strip!  But once I tied it around the middle, it was fine.  

I am calling this my "Back of a Galloping Horse" dress!  My friend A says, "If you can't see it from the back of a galloping horse, it's fine!"  And so it is....

Harry Truman posing at the Hemingway House in Key West! 
Check out those huge paws!


  1. I love this...I also have some panels that I can’t quite figure...I will use the dress form for the auditions...great idea

    1. Auditioning is what my dress form does more than anything else! Sometimes I don't even need to sew!

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you! It's good to be back at my sewing machine...just wish it didn't come with so much cold and snow!

  3. I love A's comment about the galloping horse- what a perfect way to think about some garments.

    1. I know....right? We sewing folks are always sweating the small stuff. We have to remember to stand back and see our work the way other people do...not right on top of every wonky topstitching line or mis-matched plaid!

  4. Welcome back - can't wait to read your Threads article. Fantastic solution to your wonky print. A real case of listening to the print and great execution of what it said.

    1. I think because I had already "let it go" if it had gotten too frustrating to figure out I was prepared mentally to throw it back on the pile! I think there is a lesson in there somewhere...hmmmm....
      I think the article will happen in one of the fall issues, it takes a while to get everything together.

  5. I had zero success in weeding out the garment fabric stash a few weeks ago. I could still see in my mind what I had intended to make. It did not matter that now I'm retired and don't need the jackets and tops any more. I wonder if the dress form audition would help me decide. Perhaps just the thought of folding a fabric back up and trying to put it back on the shelf after unwinding it would be enough to move some of it along... It does not help that I keep hearing the thrifts put fabrics into trash/recyle bins, not on the sale floor.

    That galloping horse line - I always heard it as "galloping horse at 10 paces". Sometimes I increase the number of paces. So far 30 paces has been my maximum before giving up on a project.

    1. That retirement thing is a real kick in the head! I've been practicing for a while now and getting better at it! Like not going to the grocery store on Saturday!!!!! It was hard to rethink my sewing and my stashed fabrics. I found it easier to 'donate' my precious stuff when I knew it would be loved. I have a college in town with a fashion design department and they were thrilled to have fabrics for the students to work with. Most of the time they can only afford the remnant table at JoAnns so actual nice yardage was a treat.
      I like the paces idea! And if I take off my glasses....

  6. I love Key West!!! But I haven't been there for so many years... Do they still have the adorable cats with extra toes?

    Your dress is a triumph - the absolute best possible use of these panels. I struggle with panel prints because they're often asymmetrical or too small to make a front or a back. This one is beautiful.

    1. The cats are thriving....I added a picture of Harry Truman to the post above. I think you can tell from the picture that he knows he's special!!!
      I usually shy away from panels as well, but the colors in this one just reached out and grabbed me! So glad I let the fabric speak up and tell me what it wanted to be!