Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday fragments

Finished my pompom pillbox hat, just in time for the rain to come back... right pleased with how it turned out. Wool melton cloth trimmed with jaquard ribbon, blue/grey bias ikat, and just for fun,  chocolate-color pompoms around the edge of the brim! The way the colors of the hat and my clothes echo the colors of my hair and eyes is entirely intentional.

There will be time spent this weekend in the workshop, as there are a few enameled holiday gifts that have been commissioned for either Christmas or 12th Night. Shop work is very welcome these days. I had a fun time looking at pictures of snowy owls for one of the orders, and came up with four different possible designs for them to choose between, some more naturalistic and some more stylised.  The finished pendant will be about 1" in diameter...


Long years ago, when I wasn't even twenty and went away to college the first time, back in the 70's, one of the authors I remember reading was Alan Watts. I was surprised to find this sweet animated bit, "Life and Music" was done to one of his recordings. Enjoy...


The downside of going to the dental school for care is that it takes a lot longer timewise for various procedures (goodside being that care there is more affordable, helpful indeed when times are hard but teeth need help) Our plucky heroine has decided that one upside of only working part time is that there is no need to fret about such things, after all getting to sit in a comfy chair with my feet up is not part of my usual scene.

For some reason I have a foolishly insanely hard time with novocaine injections in my mouth, so much so that it is usually one of my two benchmarks for 9 to 10 pain (the other one, I wrote about here)... but today I was treated to one that was not excruciatingly painful, a first for me... Not only did my dental student use twice the amount of pina colada numbing gel, but he then was very careful to not insert the needle faster than the novocaine was working. Apparently this means going really slowly, which most places dentists are in too much of a hurry to do, but it meant that the novocaine pain I had been dreading so much that there was almost no sleep last night... didn't happen! Whoo HOO! After that, the rest of the afternoon in the dental chair was a snap. I made a point of letting the supervising dentist know how happy I was with what "dental boy" had done, because positive feedback is always a good thing.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

pom pom progress

...I have added a band of the jacquard trim around the brim of my pompom hat, and am edging it with some indigo/grey ikat bias strips, folded and couch-stitched down. This edging was inspired by my pal K, who suggested that some kind of raised cord would be an interesting addition. The diagonal bias stripe sort of puffs up between each stitch, which adds an almost beaded texture dimension to the border. So far have only partially stitched trim border on the top edge, bottom edge still needs border added.
The jacquard ribbon trim has both floral motifs and random bands of woven chenille in assorted coordinated colors. 'Twould be difficult to find a more perfect trim for my purposes, and it was surprisingly inexpensive. It appears to be simply serged strips of a very unusual fabric, and while it is useable as is, I felt that the serged edges needed to be enclosed somehow, hence the diagonally stripey bits, which also let me add in just a touch of my beloved indigo. This color combination looks very japanese to me, and the finished hat will coordinate with pretty much my whole cool weather wardrobe.

Monday, November 26, 2012

pom pom piping

our plucky heroine always has more projects on the list than time to do, so having more than one set up as a "kit" means that small fragments of spare time end up being useful. While currently my non-spare time is full of actual prep work for commissions (+ med foo, sigh), I am also working on some new ideas for holiday gifts, and a new style of whimsical hat. The wardrobe projects* occupy my mind in a soothing almost obsessive way...

My thought is to try some new-to-me detail of construction or style on many if not all of the 21 remaining garments. The next up, while I wait for the arrival of a copy of the missing misplaced pattern piece (thank you kindly Meg for being willing to trace and send), is a TNT longsleeve t-shirt - two layers, indigo over black, with pinked reverse applique. My original inspiration is this shirt, the fabric has such unique textural patterning, and, of course, just my colors...

 I am amused at the idea of translating a 16th century decorative technique into a 21st century garment. Back in time, some garments were slashed and pinked: had decorative cuts made in the main fabric to allow the inner layer to show through. I found one interpretation here, though her version is a different style of t-shirt. As there is time, my plan is to mark lines on the doubled pieces and stitch them lengthwise with running stitch, which should allow the completed top to still stretch widthwise when being worn...
...our plucky heroine was inspired to make up a new cozy whimsical hat, after seeing the pom pom cowl, initially posted here, and interpreted here by Sandra. There are many pieces of dense soft wool melton cloth that B&K donated to my stash, offcuts from the back room at Mill Ends. To coordinate with my wintertime sewing, a medium grey seemed ideal, combined with chocolate brown small pompom trim. Once the hat pieces were stitched together, it was apparent that a bit more stitching was needful to keep the layers of dense wool neatly aligned, so added a bit of pick-stitching with black pearl cotton along the brim edge, and where the crown of the hat joined the top. I do think this needs just a bit more embellishment, and if memory serves, there is some black/brown/grey/cream abstract jaquard ribbon floating around somewhere; will have to track that down and try it for around the brim just below the pompoms and running pickstitch... (better pictures tomorrow, when there is daylight)

* SWAP and 6PAC

Sunday, November 25, 2012

random updatery which our plucky heroine finds some of the many missing pieces

Step by step, maybe not as quickly as would be desired, but progress forward at all is a blessing. I had a chance to visit my friends in the West Hills for a Thanksgiving potluck, it has been months since I last was up there, and the ongoing progress on their house remodel was quite impressive. There were finished rooms where last I saw raw framing, and N has been doing some INCREDIBLE inlaid tilework in their bathroom shower - think japanese maples and iris, and corvids cavorting. Their home is always a delight to visit, both for the excellent company and conversations, but also for the fascinating artworks both acquired and home-created... It was a Thanksgiving dinner that couldn't be beat, and on the ride home N also offered me some potential building materials to include into some of my own projects here at tiny Acorn Cottage. I am blessed with kindhearted and generous friends.

My contribution to the potluck was "Party Coleslaw", and since my beloved sister has asked for the recipe:

¼ cabbage
½ jalapeño
1 red bell pepper
½ jicama
1½ carrot
2T cilantro,chopped fine

½ c mayo
½ c orange juice
2 T sugar
1 T lemon juice

prepare the vegetable ingredients,
using common sense + sharp implements
(peel and de-seed where necessary)
grate or finely chop everything

Mix together dressing ingredients thoroughly
(may substitute olive oil for mayo)
(fresh squeezed OJ is very nice,
one good size valencia will do,
but pre made is totally okay too)

Combine and eat happily...

Woke up this morning to find that my pal E very generously gifted me with an early Yule surprise, class credits to use at Craftsy , this is treat indeed! I am not certain which of the many workshops I shall indulge in, likely some from the sewing section... I recognise some of the instructors names from books and Threads articles; there are classes offered that teach skills new to me, not just "sewing for beginners"...

This Saturday I was going to start on my next piece in my winter sewing, a new version of the Sewing Workshop Teagarden T, adjusted to fit my current size/shape. ( I last made this up several years and pounds ago) Alas, when I opened up my pattern envelope, I was missing just one vital piece, the gusset... I have the instructions, the main/only body+sleeve pattern piece, the interfacing pattern piece, the tagboard templates I made for hemming, but no gusset pattern piece. The pattern has rather unusual configuration and construction, and the gusset is not a simple square, but a kind of complex polygon, which would be quite difficult to reverse engineer. When I put the call for help out on the Stitcher Guild message board, a kindly soul was willing to trace out the errant piece in the correct size for me, I look for a small envelope to arrive sometime before too long.

Today, I had intended to simply spend the day doing chores, after staying up far too late last night starting a new whimsical hat project, a late morning call changed that. My pal B suggested a sewing get together... I spend waaay more time alone than is good for me; housey-chores can happen anytime, while B works long hours, and is lots of fun to visit, so it was an easy choice. I met her friend SR for the first time, always a treat to meet someone new; she and her gentleman friend like to hug, so I not only got my weekly dose of vitamin "s" for socialising, but vitamin "h" for hugs. There was talk about swapping stitchery for bodywork, which could vastly improve my situation. (fingers crossed) Turkey leftovers and tasty pie bits were consumed, and pieces for a new t-shirt were cut out. There were even noises made about possible field trips to the Gerber knife store, and to pok pok...

And, much to my surprise, my very own missing little tourney box of eating utensils showed up tonight in a FB picture; it has been a long time gone, and was apparently left behind on a weekend excursion. A viking women's knife forged by my blacksmith pal Heidi, a handcarved (by me) little wooden spoon, a Barak from when Ambrose and Marian were Summits royalty (with our household otter as part of the design), a forged micro fork from a longago AnTir/West, and by golly, the linen napkin has the main charge of my heraldry on it, as well as a blackwork border of acorns... Yup, tis mine, and will be welcomed home again at 12th Night. Girl is happy when lost pieces come home....

All in all, our plucky heroine is grateful for the lovingkindness of family and friends, without which I wouldn't make it through

Saturday, November 24, 2012

darkness darkness which our plucky heroine does make progress, albeit slowly

Finished the crow shirt yesterday. The neckline applique continues down the front panel. The entire design was done as one large piece of reverse applique, and then applied to the body. The shirt itself is machine stitched; the applique and edgebinding are all hand stitched.


The cuff edge of the shirt has a simpler design, but it is easier to see how the construction works. The reverse applique layers are added to the body, and then an additional binding is stitched along the edge.


Crow shirt worn under black pinafore, and only the small ovals are visible, for a more subtle decorative effect. Being able to get two rather different "looks" from one shirt makes the piece more versatile. I'd like to say that this was intentional, but was rather more serendipitous... However, it is certain that our plucky heroine will use this concept (of placing a primary motif just low enough to not show above the neckline edge, and adding a more subtle edge border along the neck and cuffs) again...


Crow shirt worn over black pinafore, for a slightly more casual look. A year or two ago I realised that a shirt worn over a pinafore works like top + skirt... This allows for additional combinations without requiring additional garments. While this might not work for everyone, or even for most folks, it suits my idiosyncratic preferences quite well.


Has been a week or more of sinking into internal darkness, despite best efforts of self otherwise. Sorrow dogs my footsteps far beyond forty days in the bardo. I once thought I knew what the story was, and then it changed. Now it feels more akin to the sort of fairytale where after a visit underhill, no earthly commonality has a nourishing savor any longer.

I watch with care and attention the beauty of the bright world, and enjoy my own company, but how I wish for something more. I am not hanging on, mind knows clear that the door back to that particular happiness is forever barred. Perhaps the day will come when the memory fades of how it felt to have that internal spark, a flame of lovelight to warm my spirit. A day for every week, a week for every month, a month for every year...


Sunday, November 18, 2012

weekend tidbits which our plucky heroine learned a new skill: forming circles of fabric into round buttons. Our clever ancestors figured this one out centuries ago, and it was surprisingly fast to do. There are some online tutorials here and here. I can think of various kinds of garment embellishment that might call for these tiny textile spheres.

After the work party, in which many hands made light work of making dozens of these buttons for a worthy cause, some of us took a field trip to Washougal to the Pendelton outlet, where E found a roll of lovely black worsted wool twill, 16 yards at $2 a yard! On the way back to the car, looked south from the parking lot and saw this walkway tunnel. Sometime when it is not pouring rain and my companions and I have more time, I want to see where it leads. Obviously from the location and the inscription, it must go to the River.

We also stopped at Fabric Depot before calling it an afternoon. The only bits that followed me home were a few spools of grey thread for the future decorative stitching on the black linen shirt, to complement the artistic buttons that Jen made for me, and a roll of "steam a seam lite" to give a try to some of the placement techniques that Steph mentions in her blog post on using fusible tape

It is really difficult to photograph a picture when there is glass in the frame, without it acting like a mirror. A few years ago, my pal C gave me this vintage-esque mermaid card, which I've always intended to include with my bathroom water-theme artwork. Finally tonight I made a double mat and framed it; the outer layer of the mat is covered in a scrap of very vintage wallpaper; to me the squiggles and dots look rather like seaweed and bubbles...

not just more of the same ?

In which our plucky heroine wonders "am I becoming boring? has this turned from the cancer and heartbreak channel to all sewing all home decor all the time? Do I even care?"...

Life remains challenging, since walking is still dicey and extremely painful. I need to find a different way to earn my daily bread, as housecleaning becomes more difficult, and have no clue what direction to take. SO rather than turning into the all whingeing all the time station, focus shifts to what seems doable and positive. Our culture continues in the Long Descent, and with luck and care I may survive long enough to die of becoming old, hopefully not in the immediate future. It requires a strong hand on the scruff of the neck to turn the mind away from such discouragement.

How much more pleasant and hopeful to paint the walls in cheering color and pattern, or to plan out new clothing to sew, to replace threadbare worn-to-a-raveling old clothes. There has been a discussion thread over on Stitchers Guild about fabric stashes, and using them up. While I am certainly one with more fabric than sense, having a stash is quite useful, since I sew almost everything I wear except shoes and socks. Gathered when times were more flush, the fabric now enables me to replenish my wardrobe by "shopping the stash" instead of the stores, a kind of textile equivalent of "being prepared". One comment in a discussion with friends this afternoon compared fabric stash to an IRA; deposits were made ahead, to have the "wealth" available later when resources were less.

As I've somehow lost all desire to work on the grey corduroy vest that is cut out and sitting on the sewing machine, I am revising my winter 6PAC plans...
pants - dk neutral
::: black V8499
top - dk neutral
::: black TNT t-shirt, mixed grey reverse applique
top - complement
::: indigo jersey Teagarden T
outer layer - dk neutral
::: black wool vest ?
outer layer - complement
::: finish the UFO pinafore...
coat - dk neutral
::: something black ???

The weather here is now winterdamp, and pants make a good underlayer for dresses. The black/grey shirt is coming along well, I have cut out all the pieces and have them set aside in what evjc calls a "sewing kit"; I am eagerly working away at the handstitching so as to be able to stitch it all together soon. Making up a Teagarden T will let me adjust the pattern I have to my current size/shape, and I've a whole jersey sheet in dark blue to play with for a wearable muslin. The UFO pinafore just needs pockets and it will be finished. I've been curious about the kind of vest made from one piece, with two arm slits or ovals cut, and the top edge folded over. There was one featured in Threads a while back, as well as this version here online. I need to find the right sort of remnant fabric in my collection that is warm and drapey, hopefully some kind of twill, as I've been advised that melton cloth is not appropriate

Thursday, November 15, 2012

on the border

Last night, starting to get a sense of how it will look, quite different from where it was ten days ago, as well as how much time the border painting takes. (about an hour for seven repeats of the pattern, which is about how long our plucky heroine can stand on the stepladder before taking a break) If all goes well the decorations will be all filled in tonight.

The combination of the lilac and the coppery golden metallic is different from any previous decorative painting I've done, despite being a steppe nomad pattern it reminds me just a bit of a vintage candy tin, but be that as it may, it looks visually strong enough to not need any additional outlining. The choice to leave the top part of the wall white is actually working well, since the poor bathroom has no window, so no natural light, the white helps bounce what light there is around the room.

and... tonight the border painting is finished! A modest effort makes a big difference.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

wishful Wednesday

Sometimes I wish that there was room in my house for a dentist chair, well, minus the articulated arms and such, though the light could hold my monitor and the arms my keyboard... seriously, aside from what they do to you while you are in the comfy chair, are those not the most comfy chairs ever? (Like what I imagine astronaut chairs to be.)

About one more day of spare-time stitchery and the neckline reverse-applique for the black/grey crow t-shirt will be finished... there will needs be similar handwork for around the sleeve cuffs completed and then the shirt can be assembled.

The back side of the work looks equally interesting; really shows all the varied scrap bits of printed jersey.

have tried a new-to-me paint for the decorative borderwork I'm currently in the middle of... I started with Liquitex copper metallic, which looked good but was hard to apply smoothly since it was quite thick. I am now using Flashe deep gold, and it is both more liquid and more opaque, and easier to apply... They are two similar but not identical types of paint, Liquitex is acrylic, and Flashe is vinyl. The Flashe is twice the cost, but soooo much nicer to work with. Just FYI, if anyone else cares...

Last night my pal D brought me a bundle of bamboo poles (one-two-three-many), all about maybe four or five feet long. When I heard that there were some that needed a good home, so as to not be merely sent to the compost facility, I waved my hand in the air and said ME! My idea is that they will be useful as stakes to hold up temporary chicken fencing, and the speckledy sisters can help clear the backyard a bit at a time. There are plenty of fencing scraps here already, and if a more moveable* henhouse can be put together, they can be my chicken tractor buddies.

* the current henhouse is lovely and sturdy, but takes a whole passel of folks to shift from one location to another

Monday, November 12, 2012

progress report

...despite spending the morning at the dental school, today actually seemed to be a day of moving forward. I did start the day far too early, getting up whilst it was still full dark, and the hens were not even awake till just before I left the house. My temporary filling, which fell out last week, is now back in my tooth where it belongs, and I have the very odd instructions NOT to floss that location! Apparently dental floss can actually lever out fillings, since my teeth are really close together.

Started working on the reverse applique design for the black/grey knit top - the Nikki McClure crow graphic will be centered on the front panel, surrounded by irregular smaller ovals filled with various patterned grey/black fabric. The cuff edges of the sleeves will have a similar, but narrow, border of ovals.I set up the stitching last night and  basted in some of the underlayer pieces, so as to have, finally, a new handwork project for all the transit time today...

Once I was released to return home, I headed out to my delayed housekeeping visit to House of Five Dogs. Only one small dog was there to supervise me today, the others all out with the humans who live there. I managed to actually get back to Acorn Cottage before full dark returned, and after a tasty dinner, went back to working on the painted bathroom border project:
How do you lay out a repeat pattern? Well, what I did was make two templates, (since the design ended up too elaborate to stencil), one for the top edge and one for the bottom edge. Blue painters tape works well as a replaceable adhesive.

After painting the design around the light fixture, it was apparent that getting the metallic paint to cover smoothly will would work better if the base was not bi- color, so I decided to fill in the white top edge of the border with lilac, all along the rest of the wall...

Sunday, November 11, 2012

all that glitters is not gold

in which our plucky heroine continues to explore metallic paint...

The last time metallic paint made an appearance here at Acorn Cottage, I was printing up yards of fabric. This time, I am handpainting yards of decorative bathroom wall border with metallic copper acrylic. What can I say but "well begun, but not half done" This will probably take many hours, in small chunks of time, since standing on a stepladder doing detail painting is necessarily slow.

My visiting friends were somewhat dubious about the color (lilac?!?) of my new bathroom walls, particularly because I am soooo not a purple person. I chose the color as one that will look well with the someday/maybe/I HOPE! copper sink, since the other wall options were green or turquoise (really make my skin look odd in the mirror in the morning) OR brownish tan earth tones, which are almost as boring as landlord white. So, a color aberration of sorts, but one that is cheerful, sets off the mostly greenish water themed artwork, and reflects a somewhat healthy glow on skin. I am eager to continue the projects for improving the bathroom, there are a number of additional small efforts that should yield large results...

storyboard and pattern modifications

in which our plucky heroine realises that she forgot to include any pattern information with my storyboard! While I did not actually design any of the tops or pinafores, most of the patterns are pretty seriously modified from their original state, in style as well as in fit.

tops in order from left to right:

  • TNT - modified Kwik Sew 3120*, to be made with a mixture of black and grey knits, including the Nikki McClure crow, all in reverse applique Alabama Chanin style (this will be my "begin after the rules are announced" allowed garment).
  • EasternWestern shirt, to be made with multiple printed fabrics in brown and indigo, including my precious Liberty lawn...
  • La Fred Athena blouse, to be made from black floral lawn
  • TeagardenT**, to be made from micro-striped hemp knit in black and cream
  • TNT - modified Vogue 2545***, probably made from indigo linen
  • TNT - modified Kwik Sew 3120, made from brown cotton jersey, modified to add the Katherine Tilton neckline
*I spent a whole season about ten years ago working with this pattern to get it to fit me, the original pattern has no front shaping at all, I did a FBA and then converted the dart control to princess seams, which I prefer in knit fabric. I also reshaped the neckline to bring it in closer to my actual neck, since my shoulders are so narrow that a wide curved neckline looks silly and is not structurally secure. The pattern now functions well as a basis for adding all kinds of design details, from simply reshaping the neck edge, to adding collars, or making it into a twist-front top...

** the Teagarden T is a wonderful and graceful pattern, as long as you are not afraid of gussets. Since our plucky heroine is quite familiar with such constructions from her SCA clothing, gussets hold no terrors for me, and indeed, only serve to make clothing more comfortable, which is ever one of my primary goals. I've adjusted the pattern to suit my womanly curves, and need to do a bit of further letting out, since the last time I made this pattern up was maybe ten years ago...

*** another old but good basic, the only part I kept from the original pattern was the bias-cut sleeveless top, which I promptly generated a sleeve pattern for. Because the front is cut on the bias, and the back has a CB seam which allows for shaping, this is a very versatile top. I've made it with either an assymetric bias front (as designed), or converted to a CF seam with mirrored bias fronts. In addition, I use this top as teh bodice of my TNT dress pattern, clearly shown in this stripey version

bottoms in order from left to right:
  • pinafore #1* - TNT - heavily modified McCalls 7730, made up in black textured stripey not-corduroy, (this is the allowed "pre-made" item)
  • ur-jumper - Butterick 3849 "Betsey Johnson:Young Designer", to be made from the textured wool black ticked with cream. This pattern has been graded up to current size, still needs to be muslined and fit...
  • pinafore #2** - TNT - modified self designed pattern, to be made in indigo denim
  • overall jumper***- TNT - modified self designed pattern, to be made in brown heavy brushed cotton twill

* long ago, this pattern fell under my scissors and muslin to become a pinafore instead, the wide high shoulders were transmogrified into a more fitted bodice, whilst keeping the nice seam details, particularly the diagonal seam between the upper side bodice and skirt. I have lost count of how many of these I have made over the years.

** this design was originally an inexpensive purchased sundress, which caught my eye with the interesting use of spaghetti straps combined with binding. I am a real fan of using bias binding for edges and hems, and this design lets me finish all the edges that way. Sometimes I even bind the edges of the patch pockets, too...

***I had a pair of denim overalls about fifteen years ago, which fit loosely but were actually cut to fit my curvy figure. When they wore out, I turned them into an overall jumper, using the pant legs for parts of the skirt, and adding in more denim, in that time-honored 60's style. When they finally wore to pieces, I took a pattern from them, and have rarely been without either overalls or overall jumper since then.

Since both of my current ones are worn out, it is time for a new set of overalls, which will be made in either the black or the indigo denim which my visiting friends gifted me with this weekend. (They know me too well) The overall jumper will be made from some of the heavy brown brushed cotton twill, possibly trimmed or topstitched in black.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

a dash of McMenamins and other plans

in which our plucky heroine makes small progress in various creative endeavors...

Am currently working on a border design to decorate the transition between the lower and upper wall in the bathroom. Today I picked up some metallic coppery paint that I suspect will look splendid. Shall probably use the stencil to just mark out the outlines, since the walls are lumpy-textured, and handpaint the colors. At least with the decorative bits located partway down the wall, it will not be necessary to stand atop the stepladder with head turned sideways like a big curious bird, for hours. My one line description of Acorn Cottage house decor/style is "Modern Eclectic Whimsical Handicrafted: Pacific Rim meets Danish Modern, with a dash of McMenamins and Karl Larsson"; I have long admired the painted detailing and border designs at the various McMenamins, and this is one small attempt on my part to do homage to that level of decoration.

Am in the middle of creating a sewing plan for the next howevermany months... in some ways the planning and sketching is the most fun part of all, though the entire process is enjoyable, most of the time. As mentioned, my intent is to use fabric and patterns on hand, only spending out for consumable things like thread, and possibly fabric paint. At this point I have SWAP mostly planned out, coordinated with WInter 6PAC.

Everything in these plans will also coordinate with almost everything currently in closet and dresser. I never have many clothes, and wear them out at about the same rate that I sew, which works well, if I sew steadily. Right now, some of my everyday clothing is starting to look shabby, so it is definitely time. My eventual intent is to have functional clothing that will be enough to wear for a week without doing laundry in the middle, and I am almost there...

So... SWAP 2013

black and grey, accented with brown
  • top - black and multiple grey t-shirt, TNT pattern, Nikki McClure crow (this will be my "begin after the rules are announced" allowed garment)
  • top - black floral cotton lawn (Trios,in black), La Fred Athena blouse pattern 
  • top - black/cream mini stripe hemp knit jersey, TeagardenT
  • bottom - black textured wool ticked in lighter off-white, ur-jumper pattern has been graded up to current size, still needs to be muslined and fit...
  • bottom - textured black cotton, TNT pinafore pattern#1 (this is the allowed one pre-made garment)
and... indigo and brown, accented with black
  • top - brown jersey knit, TNT pattern, modified neckline to add Katherine Tilton style neckline
  • top - multi fabrics brown/indigo EasternWestern shirt
  • top - indigo jersey, TNT pattern, modify neckline to add Ottobre yoke and floral embellishment
  • bottom - dark indigo, TNT pinafore pattern#2
  • bottom -  brown brushed twill, overall-jumper, TNT pattern

and... Winter 6PAC

  • top - black and grey crow T from/for SWAP?
  • top - grey string pieced top
  • overlayer - grey corduroy vest
  • overlayer - black/brown/cream herringbone wool vest 
  • bottom - pants in heavy black cotton, possibly underlined, Vogue 8499 
  • coat - maybe this will be the year I make a raincoat?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Tuesday tidbits

in which our plucky heroine is curious about several things...

The last few days have felt a lot like a New England late summer/early autumn, the days are warm, and the leaves are turning color all over town. One of my favorite things is the narrow window of time when the fallen leaves make ghost prints on the sidewalks, somehow the rain leaches out color and their silhouettes remain on the concrete, though the actual leaves are long gone... ephemeralia indeed.

first coat and second coat of paint
Second coat of paint on the walls. In the interest of using what I have, rather than buying something new, I applied the textured layer using rags rather than buying a new large natural sponge. The difference between coat 1 and coat 2 is pretty subtle, the first coat (Highland Hills) is a much warmer lilac, the second coat (Violet Crush) is much cooler in hue. The gradations caused by irregular application give the color a lot more depth. Done with the base coats of paint, now on to the border decorations... Not sure perzactly what designs I will choose this time, but for now, am pretty chuffed with the new color on the bathroom walls.

The last time I painted wall borders was years ago, when I moved into the spare room at B & K's house. Took more than three days to paint them, but it was a much bigger room than the barely bigger than a phone booth bathroom here. Here, have a look-see - my former bedroom/workroom:

 handpainted acorn and oakleaf wall border

under the windowsill silhouettes

Monday, November 5, 2012

Monday musings

The bathroom here is now empty of artwork and cabinets, and I am taking a break from spackle. There are two large holes that need more than spackle to deal with, one I know how to fix and the other waiting on inspiration; I intend to ignore both of them, and move forward on the paint the bathroom project. The perfect is the enemy of the good, and color in my home will be a happy thing. The repairs can happen on a different weekend.

The fix the bathroom plan has many parts, some easy, some already done, and some require either helping hands or way too much dosh. Someday T might actually make the copper sink he and I talked about years ago, and then H will make the forged iron supports, but I am tired of the makeshift wobbly sink-in-a-hurry I built over five years ago. I live here, this is my home, and while there are many things beyond me, simple plumbing is not one of them.
Things I can do:
  • paint lower walls lilac
  • sponge lilac walls lavender
  • painted pattern (transition between white and lilac)
  • trim edges of shower enclosure
  • fill small hole behind cabinet, and repaint
  • trim around ceiling exhaust fan
  • new bathroom sink
  • enclose undersink with access to pipes
  • mosaic backsplash under mirror
Things I'd love, but cannot do myself:
  • repoussé copper Chinese cloud sink
  • forged iron sink supports
  • remove tub surround, put window back into framed opening in outside wall, for fresh air and light
  • remove stupid bathtub and replace with step-in shower
But, the place to begin is where you are at the time, and I have finally enough small spare energy to actually move forward, at least in simple tasks...
The first coat of paint went on last night, and once it is dry, I'll decide if I want to add a sponged layer of lavender over the lilac. The walls here are not thatsmooth, and subtle visual texture (not to be confused with harmless visual stimuli) is quite helpful in giving the eye something else to focus on.

New idea for bridge garment for SWAP - underdress with decorative hemline in all colors and additional prints, rather like the patchy edge on this navy pinafore, or maybe something Alabama Chanin style? (if I don't make the pants, but instead another pinafore, then an underdress could be worn with all the possible combinations). I like this idea better than a jacket, I have a terrible history of not wearing jackets I have made. I am thinking that a multicolored sweater, and an underdress/slip both will work, and be worn often, but an underdress will be far quicker than a handknit colorwork sweater... Maybe I can do both? (and also make the coordinating pants/overalls as part of my winter 6PAC, holding in mind the idea/prayer that I will have chances to go woods-walking again in my life?)

Friday, November 2, 2012

planning for SWAP 2013

in which our plucky heroine thinks out loud, and sets down initial ideas for the next sixmonth of sewing, entailing Winter 6PAC, SWAP 2013, and random other stitchery - knittery goodness...

This years SWAP is kind of a teeter-totter, two smaller sets connected with a linking garment. My current intention is to make the two sets be somewhat different colorways, with coordinating accent colors. Unsurprisingly, my chosen colors are black & grey (accented with brown), and indigo & brown (accented with black). This will give me more clothing that will play nicely with what is already in my closet, which is ever my goal, to simply be able to get dressed with whatever suits the day, in clothing that is comfortable, durable, and interestingly creative.

For Winter 6PAC I shall probably not do the entire six pieces, since I have no intention of sewing a coat in the middle of all else this winter, but will choose my pre-SWAP projects to either complement, possibly be the allowed one pre-made garment, or be "wearable muslins". The grey corduroy vest is intended as a wearable muslin, just in case I decide that a jacket will make a good link piece

So... black and grey, accented with brown
  • top - black and multiple grey t-shirt, TNT pattern, Nikki McClure crow, modified neckline to add Katherine Tilton collar
  • top - black floral blouse, La Fred Athena pattern, Alexander Henry cotton lawn "Trios" in black
  • bottom - ur-jumper in black textured wool ticked in lighter off-white, pattern has been graded up to current size, still needs to be muslined and fit...
  • bottom - pants in heavy black cotton, possibly underlined, Vogue 8499 
  • dress - grey stripey flannel, still needs pockets and hem bands etc, (this might be the pre-made component if needs be)
and... indigo and brown, accented with black
  • top - brown TNT jersey knit, in the Alabama Chanin style, black paint, blue stitching, possible allover pattern?
  • top - brown linen popover tunic, TNT pattern, trimmed in indigo and black
  • dress (or top) - TeagardenT combined with Shams "tablecloth skirt", blue cotton jersey, possibly stenciled?
  • bottom - pinafore, TNT pattern, dark indigo, not sure yet on details or fabric, might be linen, might be denim
  • bottom -  overall-jumper, TNT pattern, brown brushed twill, edgebound in blue/black bias
What to do for the linking garment is kind of eluding me at the moment, these are my ideas so far, (the biggest question being what would I actually wear):
  • knitted sweater in multicolors of stripes, in all my colors (Philosophers Wool style) I have lots of single skeins of yarn that used together would be suitable, not sure if I could knit an entire sweater in six months... maybe...
  • black melton wool jacket based on the modified KwikSew 2895. I'd want to draft a lining pattern to make it more wearable.
  • cotton velvet jacket - also based on the KwikSew pattern... whilst looking at the Ikea website, I noticed this printed cotton velvet, which appears to be in exactly my colors! It would certainly make a suitable linking garment, and would be a challenge to work with. 
  • multicolor striped scarf, based on "Roundabout". When I saw this in a yarn advert in my inbox this morning, it occurred to me that a slightly less overwhelming bit of knitting would also fulfill the requirement, maybe... maybe not... scarf might be an accessory, actually, but I wanted to make a note of the idea here, for future reference

Friday fragments

in which our plucky heroine seems rather sewing-obsessed for the nonce...

So, my intention is to make a vest with a bit of a peplum, using Kwik-Sew 2895, for the "Refashion/Repurpose" contest on PatternReview. The contest runs for only two weeks, but their contests have prizes, and this one offers the Threads Archive DVD to the winner... I have had this pattern for years; while I actually did five consecutive mock-ups to get it to fit properly, that was in 2005, and I am rather a bit larger in circumference now. The jacket made then still is in good condition, the upholstery denim has held up quite well over the last seven years, but it is a little too snug. It will be necessary to add a bit to the sides, and create the lower "skirting" and add lower pockets. I am thinking of something that looks somewhere between a shooting vest and a frock coat silhouette. If this works out, I also intend to make a lined jacket with the newly adapted pattern, in wool, for the cool damp weather to come. This one, however will be re-fashioned from the old grey corduroy curtains, in keeping with the refashion/repurpose theme, and trimmed with the directional plush fabric from the grey TeagardenT that hangs in the closet unworn...

AMOG day two - I am incredibly grateful for the internet, and the ability to access it at home. Our plucky heroine can connect to folks and information all round the world whilst sitting in the living room at Acorn Cottage. This is a huge and delightful thing, what I often call "the reference library that never sleeps" (though losing one of my favorite message boards earlier this week did make clear how fragile this access actually is). But, nonetheless, for now it is another of the great blessings in my life, allowing contact with friends and family near and faraway,  access to multiple answers to varied questions, and a way to reach out to people not yet or maybe never met in body, but still friends in the electronical world.
Finally managed to see Brave, as it was at the St Johns Pub last night; I quite enjoyed the film. Was definitely worth the $3, though there were several points where technical difficulties with the "projector" made it necessary to stop the movie and adjust either the sound or the scrolling. It was a very un-Disney kind of Disney film, with almost no jarring musicality or horrific cutesipation, and there were a few gratuitously beautiful scenes that made up for it.

Whooo Hooo! 2013 SWAP* rules are out today:
Each collection is either 3 tops and two bottoms, or 2 tops, 1 bottom, and 1 dress, which all form a cohesive group. The 11th garment should be a jacket or other piece that coordinates with both collections, both in style and color.
The actual sewing doesn't start till 26 Dec, but there is rather a lot of planning and online talk beforehand, plus the challenge allow for one pre-sewn garment as well as one purchased or previously completed. These are much simpler challenge rules than in some previous years, in part since the lead-up this year was complicated by the server that hosts Stitchers Guild failed not once but twice in the last week, and the site was offline for several days.

* Sewing With A Plan

Thursday, November 1, 2012

stitchery update + AMOG

How did our plucky heroine do with the current online sewing challenges? Hmmm not great, but not too bad...
Make and mend -
  • Make two crafts from scrap fabric, (hat, pot holders, table runner, etc.).  I did this, made a pot holder, and made silk organza rose brooches that are in use as hat decorations
  • Rework one garment. - Don't think that the small bits used to create the decorative trouser cuffs count, this one is a fail, so I didn't complete the challenge - no prize for our plucky heroine!
  • Make two wearable items not meant for day wear (i.e. : jim jams, robe, slip, etc.). I figure that my new SCA steppe nomad clothes fit this requirement, and the underdress and trousers can be worn as nightclothes
  • Embellish one item (i.e. faggoting, pin tucking, embroidery, etc). When making the trousers for my SCA clothing, I embroidered the join between the cuffs and the pants
  • Make one item (in addition or one of the items above) for someone else. I made, and gave to my my pal Dayna, one of the purple organza rose brooches
This news just in, New Vintage Lady is extending the MnM challenge, so I just might be able to try for the prize after all... (don't touch that dial, boys and girls)

Autumn 6PAC -
revised Autumn 6PAC
dk neutral overlayer -
dk neutral bottom -
dk neutral top -
alt neutral overlayer -
alt neutral top -
color link top -
- brown twill pinafore
- brown twill overalls
- brown t-shirt
- black pinafore
- black t-shirt
- blue/black/brown t-shirt
Not bad for three months of sewing - especially if factored in there was the new SCA clothing, which involved hand stenciling my own fabric. Obviously I still really need new pinafores and overalls, particularly as winter is on the way.

Frosting Fortnight - What I discovered is that there is not a lot of frosting in my wardrobe, not really a surprise. (as long as my SCA clothes don't count as frosting) I really only need one set of warm weather dress clothing and one set of cool weather dress clothing, since the life I lead doesn't really have much call for suchlike.

Challenge Contest 2012 - Refashion / RepurposeWell now it is the beginning of another sewing quarter, and I will be starting my Winter 6PAC and hopefully DragonLady will soon post the rules for the 2013 SWAP. In addition, I am going to enter this PatternReview contest, with a garment that will be part of 6PAC, maybe SWAP, and that also deals with a tiny bit of useless frosting - the grey TeagardenT that never gets worn, since the fabric being astonishingly directional, has a tendency to drag off any sweater or jacket worn over it.

Plan is to make a new "jeans-jacket" vest, resized to fit my current shape, and using the old grey corduroy curtains from my bedroom, trimmed with the directional floral velvet from the frosting Teagarden T. This will be a useful overlayer for cooler weather, and will work with many of my now and future pinafore dresses.

Winter 6PAC - (6PAC ="six pieces, amazing clothing")

provisional Winter 6PAC
dk neutral coat -
dk neutral bottom -
dk neutral top -
dk neutral layer -
alt color top -
alt color layer -
- ?
- ? overalls
- ? dress
- ? pinafore
- grey t-shirt
- grey corduroy vest
I know, this doesn't have a lot any of the suggested "bright color", but our plucky heroine prefers to have her clothing be subtle. Brightly colored jewelry is fun, though, particularly lampwork beads, or cloisonne enamel...

What I do wish for, and am not finding in my fabric stash, is three yard lengths of dark indigo and black denim, corduroy, or heavy twill - fabrics suitable for making trousers and overalls. I have a few black pinafore dresses, but would really like a dark indigo one, and some overalls and/or trousers. There are plenty of tops in my dresser and closet, but not a lot of basic outer layers (pinafores and overalls)and those are the garments that get worn most often and worn out most quickly, so need to be made of durable stuff. The challenge is to find durable stuff that is also nice to wear...

AMOG is short for A Month Of Gratitude. Now mind, I make a practice every day of being grateful, that kind of daily count-yr-blessings is part of what keeps this girl sane and happy, is part of what reminds me that every day above ground is a good day. But after reading over at Surviving the Suburbs about the idea of dedicating this month to particularly that, I decided to share something each post that I am particularly grateful for...

While Wendy is grateful today for hot showers, I shall take that idea one step back and remember how grateful I am for running water.  Girl lived in Idaho, out in the woods, and the only water that whole time was brought in from the tap at the local store, miles away, and sledged down the long driveway, the same one I saw a mountain lion on that one time, sledged in in five gallon white buckets. I got really good at being frugal with water that winter. Having water that just comes out of the tap, clean and ready to drink, is a blessing.