Malaysia meets Michigan

You might think that I haven't been sewing...and you might be right!  I think we would call what happened in November being 'over-run by circumstances!'  Every time I thought I would get an afternoon here or a few minutes there to sew, something else would show up and distract me...mostly fun stuff...but not sewing stuff.  

I did have one day with my sewing buddy and we spent the WHOLE day.  We both needed it and were determined to get something done!  Of course we spent the first several hours hemming (as in not making up our minds) and hawing and popping from one idea to another.  Finally, we decided to focus on tops.  More specifically, oversized, layered tops. 

Her layers involved several rayon and sheer fabrics that she planned to overlay into the front of her top and then make knitted sleeves to help control some of the generous ease of the top design. (I will get a photo from her when she finishes to post here :)

My layers ended up being quilted together.  

I started with a very fine, billowy China silk that I got while visiting my son in Malaysia.  It is 100 degrees there all the time, so very light, tissuey silk is perfect.  But, once it got back to Michigan, where we have maybe one 90 degree day a year, it didn't seem so practical.  (kind of like when you buy the really darling muumuu on your Hawaiian vacation!)  So it sat in the stash.  The idea of "layering" gave me a whole new perspective and opportunity to take it from Malaysia to Michigan!

I tried several things and finally settled on a mid weight, stable cotton jersey. I chose to quilt random lines on the cross grain of the silk.
The two fabrics together created a very luxurious texture.  Very pliable and cozy.  

I used a pattern that was inspired by another top that I like a lot.  It's over-sized and has close fitting sleeves that keep it from looking too much like I'm wearing Santa's sweatshirt!  The quilted silk and jersey was a great fabric for the body of the top and I used the jersey on its own for the pockets, collar and sleeves.

I followed Gayle's lead on the pockets.  I loved these when I first read about them here on Gayle Ortiz' blog and am very pleased with the results on my top.

So November's Artful T is finished, again I'm just in the nick of time. (My artful T's didn't really start out as a monthly idea, but I'm kind of liking the challenge to keep me motivated to finish at least one project in a month)

Not very proficient at the 'selfie'

Attempts at "artful" photos....(not a big improvement on the selfie, but I'm digging being out in the yard on the 30th of November!!!!!!  Notice the absence of the white stuff!)

I wore my new T to pick up my new toy.   I have a great sewing machine dealer...Gall Sewing and Vac in Grand Rapids.  The only hitch is they are an hour away.  So when my machines need to visit the mother ship I make an appointment, my machines get the once over and I spend time with Becky who shows me all the schmancy stuff my machine can do.  She definitely knows what I like and always figures out cool stuff for me to play with.  The last time I took my machines in for servicing I had a chance to 'test drive' a felting machine. (Did I also mention that Becky is a GREAT sales person!!!)  After spending the morning messing around with wool and roving I ordered up one of my own.

I'm very excited to rev it up.  I know I have a bag of roving around here somewhere, I got it when I visited Fiberfest several years ago, just in case I needed it!  I'm sure there will be a "wool" artful T in my future.


My New Jersey Skirt!

Remember this?  My fall "pile of potential?"  

I usually do this 'pile-making' exercise in the spring and the fall to switch my brain into the upcoming season, in this case making the switch from linens and cottons to wools and sweaters.  It's a great way to get my creative energy moving in a new direction, but I don't necessarily work up all of the things that end up in the piles. Well, this time, I actually made something from the pile!  Yep, the lovely wool jersey in the middle of the pile turned into a top AND a skirt. (not bad for a yard and a half of fabric!)

I wanted something to wear with my new alpaca sweater and the color was perfect. (it's better in person than in the photos)  I knew that the wool and alpaca combo would be warm so I opted for a sleeveless top, which is how I had enough fabric to squeak out a skirt to match.

I used Vogue 7799 (I think it's out of print, I've had it for a long time!)  The neckline works nicely with the neckline of the sweater.

The skirt ended up with 'strategic' pockets...meaning that I couldn't cut the full fronts and backs from the pieces I had left so pockets with contrasting facings and linings made it work out.  I used a fold-over elastic for the waistband eliminating the need for a zipper.  I'm pretty pleased with the outcome.

The wool jersey was one of the Ibex end cuts that I got from my local fabric store, Fabrications (they have an on line store as well.)  It was a total dream to work with and washable to boot!  

The necklace is something I did a few years back when I was learning to use my Kumihimo disc.  I made the braid with the disc and hung some old skeleton keys and beads on it, kind of fun.


Fall Distractions

I keep thinking...'this is it, this is the last nice day' but fall has gone on and on...it has been one sunny, glorious day after another!  I have lots of 'starts' on my cutting table but keep getting distracted by the amazing weather.  In Michigan you just don't ignore a beautiful day in November!  

Some of my fun distractions....

We had a lovely weekend away in Traverse City to celebrate our anniversary.  This darling B&B was our home base.  Everywhere we turned there were sensational views of Grand Traverse Bay.  My new 'sweatshirt' was the perfect weight for the weather. 

Now that my toe is back in commission I can pedal again.  I missed my bike at the end of the summer but have had the chance to make up a bit of ground this fall.

I can't resist a sunny day on the trails near my house! (This is a great perk of being retired!)

We also did a "Wine Tour" on bikes.  In a ten mile loop there were 5 wineries, a brewery and an ostrich farm!  It was another perfect fall day and such a fun way to see the vineyards.  And there was wine!!

I have a beautiful Ginko tree in my garden that turns brilliant yellow in the fall.  A friend told me that his kids were making flowers out of the Ginko leaves....OK....had to try that!

Aren't they great?!  I had so much fun and I love the way they look with the Osage Oranges.

I know fall will end and I will have plenty of wintery days to hole up in my sewing room.  So for now it's OK that my favorite 'pattern weight' is holding down the fort!


My Camp Sweatshirt

It's been a long time since I've had the chance to attend a retreat with my ASG sewing friends.  It has often been in the fall when I was busy at work...BUT...this year, no work!  

I went back and forth about whether to go.  I already had two other weekends away in October and the thought of packing up my sewing room and moving to 'camp' sounded like it might be that 'one thing too many.'  I finally decide to 'Nike it' (you know , 'Just Do It!'), but I decided that I would make it a 'slow sew' weekend and not take my sewing machine.  That's right, a sewing retreat sans sewing machine. 

Our home for the weekend was a Lutheran camp/retreat center in Northern Indiana in the heart of Amish country.  Lots of clotheslines and horse-drawn buggies!  

We started gathering on Thursday and by Friday evening most everyone was there and installed in the camp's dining room, AKA our sewing studio for the weekend.

This was my sewing table, note the absence of mechanical sewing devices!

It was Halloween weekend so there were a few 'ghouls' to contend with...

My 'bunkmate' didn't even realize that her folded up jammies and headphones looked like E.T. had stopped by for a visit....Apparently this boney guy has shown up at other retreats for some tricks and treats!

My 'slow sew' project started as a pile of over-dyed wool scraps.  I had chosen a red color for the accent, but one of my fellow retreaters suggested a turquoise color...it worked.  A trip into town and a visit to an amazing quilt shop provided the extra dose of inspiration, and a few supplies (wink! Turquoise houndstooth!) that I needed to really get going.  

I had a basic 'sweatshirt' shape in my head and started hand piecing the scraps into yardage.  It was a very contemplative way to work. Just connecting random scraps with no real plan, letting it grow organically and slowly.  (And also allowing lots of visiting time!) 

By the end of the day on Saturday I had enough 'yardage' to actually cut out my pattern shapes.  By the time I left on Sunday I had the basic outline of my sweatshirt...my dress form at home in my studio helped me figure out the final neckline details and hem lengths.

I thought about cutting a neckline, but when I opened the center front seam to get it over my head, I really liked the way the corners dropped down and looked like a shirt collar.  I just stitched over them...

I considered adding some of the turquoise houndstooth and orange wool to the neckline, but the interest seemed to be more at the hem, so I left the neckline with just the stitching.

My Lutherwald Sweatshirt...October's Artful-T...

It's hard to describe what happens when a group of sewists gathers to work and share their passion.  We laugh and eat too much and laugh and tell stories and laugh and stay up too late and...oh yeah, maybe even sew a bit.  Actually, several projects were completed and many others got within a hem or a buttonhole of finished!  But for me it is all about the fellowship that makes it such a special time.  I am so grateful to be part of such a generous and caring group of women.

...and I'm so glad that it will happen all over again in the spring.  should be rested up by then!