Tag Archives: sewing

Invisible zippers, double top-stitching, and pleated ruffles

As mentioned, I spent the last 2 weeks almost non-stop sewing every minute I was home (with the exception of the weekend Koby came. Koby trumps sewing).  The final count on the projects is as follows.

  • four long full skirts in pretty fall colors
  • one jean skirt (for Michelle)
  • one greyed lavender twirly skirt
  • one incredibly awesome petticoat to wear with long skirts
  • a mp3 pocket I can wear like a necklace– I’ll photograph and post on that later.

The four skirts (the four on the outside in the above picture) are from a 6 gored pattern I drafted myself years ago. They are floor length and wide enough that I can do anything I want with no restriction of movement. And they are fun and flowy! Last fall, I saw cotton solids in colors I had been looking for for ages now. A deep Jasper orange, cranberry red, plum purple, and a soft jade green– I’m so pleased with them!

The learning curve on these (and the rest for that matter) was the use of invisible zippers, a first for me. The verdict is that, with an invisible zipper foot, they are easy, but odds are, I will have to use the seam ripper at least once per zipper because I WILL turn something or another the wrong way. Even with that annoyance, I much prefer them to normal zippers.

The shorter skirt in greyed lavender was part of that bunch of fabric, but I purchased the last of it, and there wasn’t enough for a long skirt. Instead, I based the pattern on a skirt I have. Apparently, I didn’t measure correctly, because it was too tight across the hips, but I managed to just drop the waistline and take it in a bit on top. It worked out, though the repairs look less neat on the inside. I’ll have to fix that pattern for next time.

The jean skirt I was quite intimidated by– my college roommate asked me to make it, and we’d purchased denim years ago and I never got around to sewing the skirts (they would have been in the 6 gored pattern). She wanted pockets and bought a commercial pattern. The double top-stitching worried me because I was dubious about how parallel I could make my stitching (I tend to sew a bit haphazardly). However, most of it went beautifully. Oddly enough, the back seam did not ask for double top-stitching, but it seemed weird without. Making that work with the zipper was hard though. Up close, I’m not 100% satisfied, but I’d hope no one is looking that closely at her backside! Now, I need to wash it (the fabric left my hands tinted blue) and then pray it fits when I see her next. (No photo for now– it didn’t turn out by itself, and it’s not my size. Hopefully Michelle will model it for me!)

The last (and awesomest!) skirt is the petticoat. Initially, I was just intending to do a long skirt like the other four in muslin. In the past, I had a cheap “peasant skirt” in white that I wore beneath my long skirts as I detest the texture and fit of slips. However, the zipper broke, and now, the fabric around the zipper is completely shredded from the safety pin I was using as a closure. I needed a replacement. Sometimes I layer different colors, but sometimes, I just need something neutral! Thus, I purchased unbleached muslin for a long skirt.

However, I am also working on repairing my Kirtle– the dress a 15th century working class woman in England would wear (yep, I am part of a Renaissance guild!)– and as the hem was shredded and I’ve seen documentation of a ruffled hem, I used left over fabric to even out and lengthen the hem, with knife pleats every inch or two. That inspired me to alter my petticoat plans to include a ruffle. Only this time, I went all out! Full on knife pleats every quarter inch. Given that the dress is already wide, pinning those took a looooong time (two movies later, I was nearly done.) Just for curiosity’s sake, I did some math. Just under 350 pleats (and thus, the same number of pins. I nearly ran out.) They are tacked down along about 10 feet. The bottom hem is… 13 yards. Yes, yards. That would be 39 feet.

The ruffle was extremely tedious to sew, but the end result was worth it. It looks amazing with my long skirts, adding some volume and billowing around my feet as I walk. Small children watch me in stores, and a 3-year-old told me she liked my dress– made my day!

Pictures of the skirts in action! Please excuse the fact that I am neither a model nor a photographer, and most definitely not both at once.

The plum-colored skirt, petticoat, and (if you look closely) the mp3 pocket thingy!

The Jasper orange skirt– I’m not sure how I like the complete outfit though. I may need to find some shirts to match better.

The cranberry red with a sweater I found at the thrift store. Please ignore the fact that I look like a dork. The others were even worse, haha.

The Jade green skirt with a shrug I found along with the above sweater. On a whim, I paired them and I think I now have a favorite outfit for warmer days!

The lavender with the skirt it was patterned from layered underneath– layering skirts is fun! There are pretty lacy bits on the camisole and cover, but you can’t see them in this view. And my socks are from sockdreams.com– awesome website! If anyone feels the need to throw away money, buy me pretty socks!

 

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ATC: Secret Garden

Ugh! My art fought back! Yet another exercise in failure, haha. I am coming to realize that my art (or at least my muse) is most definitely not docile. It fights tooth and nail, and it has some pretty sharp teeth. But in the end, I beat it into submission. Or at least– into some sort of compromise.

When I saw the Secret Garden challenge on the Thank God It’s Friday website, I knew I had to enter. I’d just finished reading the original book by Francis Hodges Burnett for the first time, and it is easily one of my favorites now. Read it, if you never have.  (It can be found online at the Literature Network). It is soooo good. I spent a few days thinking on what I should do (a bunch of greenery seemed too easy, and not very meaningful.) Late last night, as I was drifting to sleep, the idea began to form and solidify. Instead of the flourishing happy garden of the middle and end of the book, I would depict the garden as it was when Mary first found it– wild and full of old, seemingly dead plants, but deep in the rich earth, full of potential and the magic her imagination would bring about.

Tonight, I went back, checked the specifications to be sure there weren’t any size requirements and– egads! it requires stamps! Ironically, this was one of my few artistic ideas that didn’t use stamps. I tried to make them fit, but it was turning out terrible. Most of the original stamping has been washed out, but the blurry colors in the background used to be stamped (and incedentally, used to be other colors, in some cases. That pink there was originally a color called “tea dye.”) I decided to just go ahead with my original plan, justifying it with the fact that the stamps are there, even if almost entirely washed out. However, in the end, I used the word stamp, and two other stamps in the final outcome, so there! It qualifies! I’m not 100% happy with it, but I’m willing to call truce.

Interestingly, the back might possibly look better than the front. Sadly, as bad as this is in person, it scanned 10 times worse, in part because gold thread doesn’t look gold on a scanner.

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“There’s lots o’ dead wood as ought to be cut out,” he said. “An’ there’s a lot o’ old wood, but it made some new last year. This here’s a new bit,” and he touched a shoot which looked brownish green instead of hard, dry gray. Mary touched it herself in an eager, reverent way.

“That one?” she said. “Is that one quite alive quite?”

Dickon curved his wide smiling mouth.

“It’s as wick as you or me,” he said;

—-The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnett

Read The Secret Garden online.

See my other ATCs.


ATC: Summer (An Exercise in Failure, Persistence, and Success)

I set out knowing exactly what my first art piece on my new desk was going to be. It should have been simple (and thus, should have been posted early last night). While running errands last week, I saw something that seemed like a good composition (and a good entry for the “Doors and Windows” challenge on one of the challenge sites.)

I sketched it down, determined to do it later, in marker. I did, and it looked good, but it was missing something. So… I added. Unfortunately, the more I added, the worse it got. The words were somewhat fun to add, going every which direction, but they just detracted from any discernible focal point, rather than adding. I resigned it as a failure. But… I couldn’t leave well enough alone. I crumpled it, flattened it, wet it, crumpled it more, then tried stitching the words. Then… stitched a piece to mount it on (stupidly choosing to do it by hand, which took nigh close to forever) and stitched it to the backing (this time, by machine. I is smart artist!) The stitching added what I needed. I now declare it finished– and a long sight from what I intended.

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This piece really got me thinking about the art process. Some thoughts that came to mind:

  • Two years ago, when I first took a serious interest in mixed-media, collage, art journaling, and the like, it was in part because I was mourning the lack of art in my life– a lack that occured because I’d get sooo frustrated with the quality of my drawings. I couldn’t shake perfectionistic tendencies, and I was no longer enjoying art. Art Journaling was supposed to be a way for me to escape that perfectionism, to take risks, and accept failure. It certainly didn’t start out that way, but I think I’ve reached that point. I’m bummed if a piece doesn’t go how I want, but it doesn’t leave me in a foul or dismal mood.
  • The reason I still prefer mixed-media now is two-fold. First, its much more forgiving. A mistake need not be final. If you start with one medium, sometimes there’s simply nothing more that can be done with that same media to fix or mediate the mistake. However, by adding other media, you can change the piece. Second, its just more fun.
  • Mixed-Media pieces almost always turn out more interesting– less perfect, yes, but still more interesting. There is a depth to them that is lacking in their single medium counterparts. Layers build up, and it adds a level of mystery, and compels the viewer to look a second and third time to take it all in.
  • Persistence does pay off in mixed-media. Mistakes don’t have to be mistakes. You can add to them, and the layers build up, and change a piece– although not always how you think. Persistance must be coupled with a willingness to forego what you envisioned for what the piece will become. More often than not, the two are not the same. Sometimes the result is better than your original plan. Just have faith that -something- will come out of it, and don’t try too hard to dictate what.
  • If a piece doesn’t seem to be going well, its probably either a lack of value balance (not enough whites, mediums, and darks) or a lack of a focal point (sometimes a result of the values being off). When in doubt, find (or add) a focal point, and check your values.

See my other ATCs.