Kilroy Was Here!

First fall project!  It's hard to believe that summer is winding down. My altercation with the chair has kind of put a damper on summer activities, so I guess I'm looking ahead to fall. (which happens to be my favorite season anyway!)

Last year I got this huge, tweedy sweater dress at an end-of-the-season sale for ridiculously cheap...I think the price tag obscured the fact that it is also ridiculously HOT to wear!  The only way to be comfortable in this cotton, wool, alpaca blend frock is on an icebreaker off the coast of Norway!!

I had put it in the thrift store box, but the wonderfully soft fabric persuaded me to retrieve it.  I knew I would never wear it as a dress, so I started pondering a 're-do.'  I decided I would be more likely to wear it as a long cardigan than as a dress or a top and skirt.  The open front would make it comfortable even indoors.   It made me a bit nervous thinking about cutting into the sweater knit.  I kept picturing the whole thing unraveling in a fuzzy mess on my cutting table.

So before getting out my scissors I tried out a few options on my dress form...

I pulled a few 'leather like' bits and pieces from my stash thinking they would be the right weight and texture to go with the heavy sweater material.

I also played around with closures...

I ended up choosing a brown/black suede cloth with a snake skin print embossed on it.  I liked the contrast of the brown with the black and white tweed it has a casualness about it that I like.

I held my breath and cut the sweater right up the center front.  Phew!  The knit was surprisingly stable.  I ran the edges through the serger just in case.  Already I liked it better.

I was still back and forth about closures but I figured that binding the front edges would work with whatever I ultimately chose.  I used the suede cloth and did a half inch binding.

Once that was in place I liked the minimalist feel so I put a bronze separating zipper up the front.  At that point I could have called it good, but a long coat, cardigan just screams out for pockets!

Patch pockets would have been the easy choice, but, heck, I had had such good luck cutting the front I decide to go for welt pockets, keeping the minimalist 1/2 inch binding theme going.

I stabilized the angle cut with iron on tricot and stay stitched the opening.

I basically made two very large bound buttonholes.

Again, the knit was incredibly easy to work with.  Thank goodness, because ripping out black stitching on this stuff would have been a nightmare!

I finished the pockets by attaching a 'patch pocket' to the inside of the sweater.  I hand stitched it in place so it wouldn't show on the outside of the cardigan.

I was so nervous before I started this 're-do.'  Cutting up the chunky cable knit fabric made me very squeamish.  But in the end it was very easy to work with and I think the result is awesome!  Much better as a cardigan than a dress!

Now I'm ready whenever fall decides to show up.


Hot! Hot! Hot!

This cartoon just creases me up!  It kinda says it all...

It was on a particularly hot day here that I noticed lots of really cute dress/tunic/top things that looked like they were floating.  Like no fabric was touching the person inside them.  This looked very appealing for 90 degree + days.  

I thought the fastest route to getting my hands on one of these enticing garments would be to just buy one!  Yup, I was ready to fork over cold, hard cash to have one of these floaty things in my closet.  Well, do ya think I could find one?  Oh sure, I found some that were inappropriately short, many made of really horrible fabric...cool and polyester do not go together...and some that were, well, meh.  Even in 90 degrees one must maintain some standards.

So, it was off to the fabric store.  Since I was sans dress form at the lake, I decided to check the pattern books.  (I wasn't in the mood to mess around making a pattern, I wanted immediate gratification!!)  Simplicity came through with just what I had in mind.

Doesn't it look cool and floaty?!  And the bonus was the bralette pattern that was included.

I knew I wanted a natural fiber and something really, really drapey, something like rayon challis.  Well, do you think I could come up with one bolt of rayon anything?  Nope.  So it was back to the stash.  Which meant my simple, throw it together drapey dress would have to wait until a trip back into town. (This has been the story of my sewing adventures this summer.  I am going to have to come up with a better system next summer.)

I had a couple of nice choices in my rayon box, BUT now that I had a pattern for a cute sports bra I just had to find something that would coordinate with one of the rayons...AND I needed to find TWO things because the bra looks really great with a stretch lace on the back!  (so much for my simple, immediate gratification project!)

I didn't give up...I was determined to have a cool, floaty dress before the weather turned!

The dress has virtually no fitting, so it went together very easily.  And the rayon draped and pressed really nicely for the bias bound edges and straps.  

The bra, on the other hand took a couple of trial balloons.  (no pictures here, suffice it to say the bound armholes and neck edges needed a bit (a lot) of stretching to actually hold anything in place!)  Once I figured that out, and made the next size down, I had something I was really pleased with.  I may not make another drapey dress, but I will definitely make more bras.

I will share pictures of the finished products...I am quite happy with both the dress and the sports bra and ready for the next heatwave!

 ...the last little wrinkle in this saga..."What is that ugly footwear about?!"  "YIKES!!!"

So it turns out that when you go to the doctor because you can't get your shoe on...they GIVE you one!  Diagnosis = broken toe....Cause = furniture toe collision!  Ouch!  

So for the next six weeks I will be sporting this lovely accessory.  (what goes with black velcro?)


"T" Time

I realized at one point during a closet purge that I don't really wear T-shirts.  I had a whole pile of shirts that I had collected from different events...you know the ones, they have a list of sponsors on the back and the name of the charity event on the front...but have never been worn.  Even the t-shirts that I buy on purpose, I don't seem to choose when I'm getting dressed.  (note to self: stop buying t-shirts, even really, really cute ones!) So what to do with them...this week they became the targets of a 'refashioning' afternoon.

"Upcycling"  "Refashioning"  "Repurposing"  ...whatever you call it, it's everywhere!  I took a couple of swipes at it this week.  I love the challenge of figuring out how to get all the parts and pieces of the 'new' garment out of the 'old' garment.  

The first one came about because I wanted to try some boro stitching. (Japanese darning) I have been seeing it around and wanted to try a small project.  I thought the front of a shirt would be a manageable start.  I found a scrap of black raw silk and one of my son's old T-shirts (yes, the same son who lost his jeans to the wine tote/cut-off projects!) that inspired me.  I added some silk organza...

The scrap of silk needed to be 'enlarged' if I was going to get a shirt front out of it, so that became the place for the boro stitching to happen...

I used the torn edges of both the silks and made a kind of slotted seam.  The overlapped edges were then reinforced with hand stitching.

Black is kind of tough to photograph, but I think you get the idea.  The thread colors came from the t-shirt fabric. (also hard to see)

I tore apart the t-shirt to make the rest of the garment.  I used the front of the shirt to make bias strips for the neck, armholes and hem bands.  I did a funky high-low hem that gives some interest to the back.

The weight of the raw silk works really nicely with the t-shirt knit and I like the stitched detail.  I think I will try some more...maybe a bit more traditional next time, more like 'real' darning.

My second opportunity to 'refashion' a t-shirt came in the form of a t-shirt from an organization that I serve on the board of.  Knowing that I would probably not wear it in it's original form, but wanting to support the organization, I decided if it were more of a tank top I would be more likely to put it on.  So I went about turning it from a regular T-shirt to a pieced tank top...

The logo had some green in it so I thought maybe some bits of green would work...as it turned out, I didn't like the green and stuck with the shirt fabric and a piece of zig-zag fabric (also cotton knit) to make up some of the parts that I couldn't quite squeeze out of the t-shirt.

  I serged the seams to the outside and just folded an inch wide strip of the zig-zag over the raw edges of the neck and arm holes, using a twin needle to secure them. The message on the shirt really begged to be reworked!  THIS t-shirt I think I will enjoy wearing!


Sharing a 'Slow Sew'

I mentioned in an earlier post that my sewing during the summer, while I am spending time at my 'yellow' house, is very different than when I am in my 'winter studio'.  (that sounds kind of exotic for my basement space)...Everything seems to take longer and I seem to want to 'linger' a bit more with the things that I am working on.  It was fun to share a 'slow sew' day with my sewing pal this week.

She came over with her knitting bag with the idea of just sitting, sipping (sangria!) and knitting.  But a trip into town and the local fabric shop changed our knitting plans into sewing projects.  We both got a few yards of a textured knit, kind of a French Terry that was crying out to be a T-shirt dress.

We used one of my favorite dresses as the starting point and by the end of the day (which was actually 2 pm when I had to get her back into town!) we had her dress almost ready to wear!  The 'slow sew' got a bit frantic at about 1:45 when we realized that our time together was almost up!  

Here she is in our 'studio'.  I have a space that is sometimes a sewing room, sometimes a yoga room, sometimes...?  It's on the top floor and feels like a tree house, very inspiring!

The pattern that we figured out has a cool pocket that has a faced slit for your hand and is applied like a simple patch pocket.  My friend did some hand top stitching around the opening and used  serged edges as a decorative feature in several places that really worked well with the texture of the cotton knit.

Here she is with her 'almost' dress...it will get sleeves and side seams when she gets home!

We had sew much fun!    ...and sangria!


In the Mood

When I visit my son in NYC I get off the plane into a cab and head immediately to Mood Fabrics!  Now before you label me 'Bad Mom', let me say that I usually arrive while he is at work, so I need something to do while I'm waiting for 5:00!

Getting to wander through several floors of fabric on a regular basis is totally fabulous...but may require an addition to my sewing room! 

I've learned over the years that I can't go to Mood with the idea of just getting whatever 'speaks to me'...It ALL speaks to me!!!

Having something...anything...in mind narrows the scope to something more closely resembling the time I have to spend in the store.

This trip was about 'layers.'  I spent most of my time in the silk and sheer fabrics which I have neglected on other trips.

Here is the wonderful pile-o-layers that I will be playing with later this year....

The number of layering possibilities is crazy!!  And will keep me entertained for a long time.  I may even make something...who knows!

Of course I couldn't totally ignore the wools and jerseys, so these lovelies also came back to Michigan with me...

A bit hard to see...sorry...but there is a wonderful dark grey/green wool jersey, a lighter taupe wool jersey, a heathered tan rayon jersey and a heavy jacquard stretchy something glorious!

I also collected some novelty knits that were just too cool....

I am quite sure that these new additions to the line up will find spots in my annual fall 'Swapping of the Fabrics.'  Which I can hardly believe is right around the corner!