Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Not obsessive, really

Sometimes I've been motivated to blog because I really don't want to see whatever photo is at the top one more time when I log in. This has been pretty much the opposite - I didn't want to get rid of the latest one!

So I decided to make another eighty hour top.

Navy with hot pink underlayer (since the crafty girls' consensus on Monday was to go with this rather than the grey I'd had in mind first). Paint and stitching will be grey.

It's a different rose stencil, in three sizes to mix it up a bit. (A very small bit).

Meanwhile I finally got around to making the Oliver+S ruffle halter which I have wanted to make forever, and printed out months ago. (It's available as a free download here.) I'm not a big fan of halter necks for small children because they don't tend to stay sitting nicely when playing, especially if you layer them with a T shirt (I live in Dunedin - we layer a lot, even in summer, sigh...) So I made a full back. Deciding just how I'd do this was the reason for the procrastinating. In the end I just made the back exactly the same as the front (since the ruffle makes it obvious which is the front!) and traced a facing which went to the inside, but was otherwise constructed exactly the same way as the front.

And Isabella wore it on Monday to her first day of Kindy.

Front, two prints from the same range, so identical colours.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Eighty hours later

It's finished. I don't really know what else to say about it after I spent what I estimate to be eighty hours making it, all by hand. (I even did my hair for photos - that's the level of respect it gets!) I was right about the binding - it just brings everything to where I want it to sit.

It might sit better across my back if I wasn't trying to quickly get into position before the timer went off on the camera!

The binding is sewn on with rosebud stitch. I spent a very frustrating time with google trying to find an explanation of rosebud stitch after seeing many examples on the Alabama Chanin Flikr group. So many people referred to it that I figured it had to come from one of the books and was probably also known as something else. An hour or so of fruitless searching later I gave up and sat down with a needle and thread in front of a photo on the computer and had figured it out in approximately 30 seconds.
I didn't want to bind the hem, but I worried that the areas of unstitched red would curl up too much once washed, so I did the same stitch around the hem to finish it off.
My fear now is that the knots will come undone in the wash. I was a bit nervous anyway because my thread (Molnlycke Goliath) is 100% polyester, not the cotton cored, polyester wrapped thread used by Natalie Chanin. (If I ever find that I'm buying in bulk!) A discussion thread on the flikr group covered this topic - someone using the same type of thread had had half her knots untie in the wash. As I told Keely, there are not enough swear words in the world to express how I'd feel if that happened, so I quickly did a few lines of stitching onto the sample I'd made of the rosebud stitched binding so I had several knots and tossed it in the washing machine. To my intense relief none of them came undone, so I'm hoping for the best.

Monday, January 10, 2011

So close!

Not that I get obsessed or anything, but it really is amazing how much you can achieve when you put in at least six hours a day on one project. (And your husband is on holiday to play with the twins!) Pricked fingers aside (don't like wearing a thimble) I have loved every single slow second of this project. And now I've finished seaming it.

Interesting tan lines acquired sitting outside in the sun while I stitched. (Note to self - improve posture in photos)
I still have to bind the neckline and armhole edges , which will take a while as well, but in a couple of days I will be wearing it! I reckon it'd look fantastic with old denim......
Seeing it on myself reminds me that I should have gone with the smaller size (this is size "M"). I was worried that the lesser degree of stretch would make it too small, and that the sewing would further reduce stretch. Well, I made very sure as I sewed all those roses that the fabric would still stretch so that isn't an issue. Further, once I'd snipped out the motif centres the pieces eased out a bit as well. I didn't sew the seams as described in the instructions because I thought that might be unwieldy to stitch flat, and too bulky (visually "clunky", if that makes sense). Instead I sewed them as lapped seams, (which also added room, requiring little or no cloth allowance) so I just overlapped each one a smidge more than indicated. I think I should have overlapped a little more, as this is a little bigger than it should be. The shoulders are a little wide, but binding the neckline may bring it in a little. Since it's cotton jersey I'm going to wash it before I start taking it in! I suspect it will have a tendency to grow in wear and shrink back in the wash. (I did preshrink the fabrics before I started.)

Maybe I'll just have to make another one in the smaller size, hehehe.

I hadn't realised until I got into the project that the two layers would retain so much suppleness and flexibility - normally sewing two layers of fabric together like this (by machine) would make the resulting unit considerably stiffer, but this method doesn't - yippee! The layers give each other support and body, but the garment is soft and flexible. I'm really curious to see how it wears.

And to answer a couple of questions and comments:

Joy, my machine is a Globe 550, which I understand was marketed by but not made by Bernina. It has run like a dream since I talked my father into buying for me when I was 14. (That's 27 years) One model up from entry level it does everything I want (unless I get a really good machine that does embroidery, sigh.....) Oh yeah, and I have yet to teach it to make me coffee.

Karen, I love the spirals on your top! I know exactly what you mean about enjoying the contemplative nature of this sort of sewing. (I'm probably hooked now.) And how something will go into your head as one thing and emerge as something else!

Keely, I'll bring it tonight so you can pass judgement :-)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Slow Progress

Actually I'm making pretty quick progress on my Slow project! It took me about a week to do all of the running stitching on all eight panels of my corset. I've been putting in 6-8+ hours every day on this because I'm so fired up over it.

Now I'm snipping out the centres of the motifs. (Very, very carefully) So far I've done this much:

I'm thinking that I'll leave the red-stitched rose un-snipped. Not yet decided.
I love how it looks from the inside when held up to the light.

I took this photo with the tri-pod and timer, just for fun. I spend so much of my time at this desk (ignoring the mending pile on the chair beside me, hehehe) and have pretty much no pictures of myself thus occupied. (David has just come over to see what I'm doing and commented that this is the view he has of me all the time. Um, yeah, that'd be right!) Headphones in, listening to David Gray, engrossed in what I'm doing. The few photos in which I feature are family ones - when I'm old (and when I'm gone) this sort of thing will show my children and grandchildren what (besides them) I'm passionate about.

Oh, and so will this - I'm often interrupted for this sort of thing.

One last shot of the twins with their books - each open to their favourite pages.

It is incredibly gratifying to see how much they love them. Nicholas will ask for his "book!" (he's a man of very few words) and hug it to himself as he wanders off to play with it.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

An appreciation for slow

(Yes I know I should have said "slowness"). Anyway, I have now completed the outlining of all the stencilled shapes on one (of eight) garment pieces. By the time the stencilling was all done (which took about six hours to paint) and the stencils peeled off I was completely in love with the colour. On my computer screen it doesn't show up very well at all - the colours are richer in real life.

The instructions have you only basting the layers together at neckline and armhole edges, but I like more security than that so I basted around each section in it's entirety. Then began outlining each stencilled shape with a running stitch. That's where "slow" really takes hold. I know it took me over 6 hours to do this section, which is one of the two largest. That's a lot of time to conteplate what you're doing. I find that this sort of contemplation quiets my racing mind and relieves stress. It takes so long that there is no sense of rushing to finish, the slow sewing aids the slowing of my mind. I'm not good at explaining this, lets just call it the best stress antidote there is!

So this is what one of the side back panels looks like. The rose that looks unstitched is actually stitched in red. I like interest on the back of a garment - we only see ourselves from the front, but the rest of the world sees us from all angles, so I feel that clothes should be interesting from any angle. This rose will be slightly tucked under my left arm, just peeking out.

Here's what the inside looks like. Bad photo unfortunately, but I love the effect.

This corset is a celebration of the handmade and the unique - all the work shows, every single stitch. I couldn't exactly duplicate this if I wanted to.