Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Shibori dyeing experiments

I finished up my most recent class, Fabric Analysis I, last month.  As an extra credit assignment, we were tasked with trying out several different types of shibori and tie dyeing techniques.  I photoed a bit of the process....

This one is my favorite, called Plangi.  The process is to tightly tie tiny beads (even grains of rice!) in a regular pattern on the fabric and then dye it.  Here, I used pony beads, spaced as closely as I could manage.   The background fabric was dyed yellow first, followed by a dip in teal.

Each circle is about 1" wide.  Our instructor showed us a version that was amazing--super small circles, incredibly close together.  I couldn't even come close!

Another type of Plangi, which is essentially "tie dyeing".  I gathered from the center, placing a bead at regular intervals to make the concentric circles the same width apart.  Again, I dyed the fabric first, followed with teal.

Tritik was a type of resist dye using stitches.  The initial picture isn't very informative, but I sewed six parallel lines of running stitches, which were pulled tightly and wrapped around the fabric. 

Not my favorite version, but I'm also not convinced I did it correctly!

Pleating and Binding was another dyeing effect I tried out.  I used quilting clips, which was perfect for this application (and unaffected by the dyes).   The basic set-up is shown below, with fabric accordion pleated then clipped, but I did three different variations.

The final type I tried was Arashi Shibori (pole wrapping).  I wrapped a length of fabric around a narrow PVC pipe, then wrapped thread around the pole, evenly spaced.  Then, the fabric was squished toward the end, gathering the fabric.  I dyed the fabric yellow first, followed by teal.

This is the small swatch I submitted, but the rest of the length of fabric was equally beautiful and exciting!
I have to say, this was hands-down the most enjoyable assignment I've ever completed.  It took well over 2 hours, for a very small number of bonus points (which I didn't actually need!), but I loved it all!  I don't typically like the look of tie-dye, but there are some pretty designs that can be made and they might look interesting if used in small amounts in a garment.   Anyhow, I would highly encourage you to try it out for yourselves, if for no other reason than the fun of unwrapping the fabric at the end.  It's like Christmas!  

Friday, June 10, 2016

Leini, the birthday dress

This past week marked the beginning of my last year as a thirty-something.  Eek!  There were several celebratory events (dinners here, here, and here--clearly I enjoy eating!), and for the latter two, I wore this lovely silk dress.
The pattern is from Named, the Leini Dress.  I chose it for the simple design (to blend in better in San Francisco) and elastic waist (see above comment about loving to eat).  
The fabric came from Stonemountain and Daughter at a recent trek to Berkeley.  It was in the 50% off rack, so I snapped up about 3.5 yards of the silk for about $12/ yard.  Such a steal!  The fabric is a bit sheer, so it might be a chiffon.  It was fairly easy to work with, and I hemmed it (successfully!) with a rolled hem foot on my machine.
For this pattern, I went with a straight size 36 based on the measurements.  This was definitely the correct size, however, I did make a few pattern alterations after making a partial muslin and reading other reviews/ seeing photos.  First, I lengthened the bodice by about 2".  As a short person, I have never done this! However, I wanted the waistline to sit a little lower (at the top of my hips), and the elastic on most other versions seemed to be hitting at high waist.   I also chopped off many inches from the length (maybe 5-6"?) to make it a bit more youthful looking (see comment about being 39 this year).   The last alteration to the pattern was to line the skirt; since the fabric was fairly sheer and light, another layer made it a bit more modest (and swishy!).

The bodice pleating is a subtle design feature (at least when paired with this fairly wild print).
Overall, a great pattern and dress--perfect for date night at fancy (and not-so-fancy) places and very comfy, too!  I'd definitely like to make another in a solid navy or berry colored silk crepe.

Monday, June 06, 2016

Visit to Spoonflower!

Brother-in-law, sister-in-law, and myself at the Spoonflower headquarters!
A couple weeks ago, I had the opportunity to travel to North Carolina.  My husband was competing in the Masters National Championship cycling race, and we were taking an extra-long weekend to spend time with his sister and brother-in-law who live in the area.  After hearing all semester long from my Fabrics Analysis instructor about all the fabric weaving and printing facilities in the Raleigh-Durham area, I contacted Spoonflower for a tour.  (I also contacted Cone Denim, and they completely ignored my request.  Bummer.)
Fabric samples stretched on hoops.
Spoonflower was amazingly gracious!  Our lovely tour guide explained their digital printing and transfer printing processes, as well as showing us how their custom prints are cut and prepared for shipment.  It was a surprisingly small facility for all the work they do!  

I wasn't allowed to take photos of the actual printers (to protect the fabric designer's work), so I have few images to show for our time there. What I lack in photos, I can make up for with technology: looks like Google Street View has toured the facility, too!  As you can imagine, the place was decked out in custom printed upholstery, wall coverings, and accessories!  Check out the virtual tour:

If you have the chance to get out to Raleigh-Durham, definitely schedule a tour of Spoonflower!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Astoria sweater + swishy skirt = new fave outfit

This rayon from Britex caught my eye, and I just couldn't shake it.  It's not a typical color palette or print for me, but I had to have it and I knew exactly what I'd make with it: a dirndl skirt.  A dirndl is not my favorite silhouette, but with this fabric, it all just felt like good fun for the summer.

The pattern for the skirt was self-drafted, using the Maritime Shorts waistband as a rough guide.  I getting old and fluffy about the mid-section, so I just can't handle a non-contoured waistband anymore.  The rest of the skirt is literally just two full-widths of the fabric (the back one cut in half for the center back seam/zipper).  
The lightweight rayon allowed for huge volumes of gathers without being very bulky, which makes the skirt extra swingy.  I accidentally walked in front of a fan at a dinner party and nearly had a "Marilyn moment".    But it's fun, and super light--perfect for summer.  
Of course there was only one top option in my wardrobe to wear with this circus-tent print of a skirt, and I didn't love it, so I bought the Astoria sweater pattern (Seamworks).  The slightly cropped, slightly vintage, and really simple design were a prefect match for the skirt.  Love the wide waistband and 3/4 sleeves! 
I made the top in a light-medium weight French terry (not sure where I got it), but I think it must be a blend because it has a lovely sheen to it.  
Applying what I've learned from other Seamwork/ Colette patterns, I made some alterations to the armscye and sleeve pieces, and took in the sides a smidge, but otherwise sewed a straight size 0.  While I would normally do a petite-adjustment in the bodice, I did not and the length was just perfect (For anyone taller than 5'1", you may want to lengthen the bodice a tad.)
I really love how the wide waistband angles out ever so slight at the hem.  It makes a world of difference keeping the top from creeping upward.  The neckband doesn't lay flat, but I think that adds to the vintage feel of the top.
I timed myself once I started and it took 50 minutes to sew--true to the claim that it's an hour project. (And even though I did it all just this morning, I cannot remember if that includes cutting time. Sheesh.)
While the sweater is a bit warm for out current "heat wave" in NorCal and in the depths of summer, it will be perfect for the other 340 days of the year.  I'm already scouting other rayons for more swishy skirts.

Pockets!  It's a little hit or miss with pocket height at the side seam when I'm drafting myself, but these are at a good level.  
So here's the problem with a skirt as "distinctive" (read: loud) as this: I can't wear it all the time!  Kind of a bummer.  I'll be wearing it as much as is socially acceptable :)  
** The fabric was purchased with an allowance from Britex, thereby enabling my addiction to fabric!  

Friday, May 13, 2016

Adelaide #2 in double gauze

For Mother's Day, we set out to Santa Cruz for a lovely brunch at Gabriella Cafe (wonderfully adorable place, and worth the drive!).  We got to SC early and I could request anything I wanted on my special day, so I made my family take me to Hart's Fabric for a 20 minute, whirlwind shopping spree.
This amazing double gauze by Kokka ended up in my basket, originally intended to be another Hayden top.  Somehow, I must have requested the wrong amount and when I got home, I realized I had 2.5 yards of the stuff!  Change in plans--the fabric was going to be a dress!  At 45" wide, it was enough, with not much left over.
Crazy stuff: the day after my post about the drafting changes I made to the armscye of the Adelaide Dress, Colette released an addendum with a revised version of the pattern!  Clearly, it had nothing to do with me, but it was nice to see they take the feedback from their users seriously.  The fixed both the strap angle and the armscye draft!
I sewed this dress earlier this week, but waited a couple days to finish it while I waited (not very patiently, I might add) the 2 days it took for Snap Source to ship my navy snaps.  Unfortunately, the "capped prong ring" type that I bought don't work with my snap pliers--they are too small for the pearl snap attachment and too bit for the normal ring attachment.  So, I improvised and put a scrap if thick fabric in the pearl snap attachment and it worked.  I am determined to never resort to the blue pound-with-a-hammer tool again.
I wanted to have snaps that blended in with the fabric so I could wear the dress with a particular belt, and felt like the pearl snaps or any other type of snap would compete with the gold buckle.  I've been waiting to make a dress that works with this adorbs scalloped belt (from Boden).
Here in Northern California, this is how I wear all my dresses: with a cardigan.
How much do I love just making a pattern without testing the fit?  I love it enough to have a wardrobe full of multiples, and the strong desire to get a basic set of perfect patterns.  I'm working on it!  There may be one more of these in my future....

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Adelaide in chambray

I didn't even know it was "Pattern of the month" when I selected the Adelaide pattern with my Seamwork credits. Nice!  And this is only the first of two I've made...
I really wanted another chambray shirt dress after I chopped off this one to make a top (scroll down the page a bit), so I bought a bunch of chambray fabric at Stonemountain and Daughter.  I still haven't found the perfect shirt dress pattern, so when I saw Adelaide, I thought it was a good stop-gap for the summer.
As a student in Apparel Production, I looked at the printed pattern and immediately recognized some issues.  The back arm scythe was shaped a little weird (see above, the original line is the solid blue line and dotted white line) so I redrew it to have a more shallow curve.
Additionally, the seam at the shoulder strap was angled the wrong way, at least for the smaller sizes (see pattern section, above). I really can't fathom why the shoulder seam would angle up for the smaller sizes and angle down for the larger sizes.  In any case, it should angle down, so I redrew that, too.   Final alteration was to reduce the bust dart intake, for a quick-and-dirty small bust adjustment.
After the minor adjustments, I sewed up the pattern as written and it fits beautifully!  For sizing, I went with size 0, grading to 2 at the hips.  In the end, I don't think I needed to grade up, but having a row of snaps down the front made me want to allow for a bit more wiggle room.  No one at the boys' school or the grocery store wants to see a peep show, so best to be a little conservative.  
Speaking of snaps...I've always used the standard blue pound-it-with-a-hammer snap tool.  I hate that thing for so many reasons.  So I splurged (with my 40% off coupon at Joann's) to buy the next level up in snap tools (kudos to Shams for going all the way!).  Holy crap, kids, how did I live without this?  It makes applying snaps FUN.  And QUIET.  Seriously, guys; fun AND quiet.  I planned another Adelaide so I could apply more snaps (and bought specialty colored ones to match my garment!).  Then, I applied snaps to the cuffs of the top chopped from my former shirtdress. I {heart} snap pliers.  
Initially, I thought the dress did a good job of hiding my bra straps, but then I saw this photo (above), so I'll modify that to say that it does an OK job at hiding bra straps.  Certainly better than most tank-style dresses, so that's cool.  
Overall, I'm really happy with this garment.  It's a work-horse type of dress for me.  Something I can wear to the park, class, strawberry picking (like I did on Mother's Day, in this dress, in the mud), woodworking (like I did today in my son's Kinder class, in this dress, a mere three days after I wore it last), cycling (well, maybe next week) or cleaning toilets, and feel comfy the whole time. Multifunctional, I tell you!  Final words: by the snap pliers, and, I'd definitely recommend this dress, with the caveat that I had to make some drafting changes to the pattern.  Once my navy blue snaps arrive (tomorrow!), I'll be done with version 2!