Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Stitcher's Wardrobe: Sleeveless Shirt

I have a 10 x 13 envelope labeled "favorite shirt parts". In it I keep all the parts and pieces for standard shirts -- various collars, scoop neck fronts, regular fronts, facings, sleeves, and dart templates. In order to create ease across the back of my shirts, I have modified the back pattern piece to feature small darts that run perpendicular to the shoulder seam.

I typically shy away from sleeveless shirts -- I feel fleshy in them. This sleeveless shirt with its broad back and high underarms covers those mushy folds of skin where my arms join my body. Phew. And a vintage silhouette is always good in my book.

This fabric was purchased at the Salvation Army sale for a dollar. I love using inexpensive fabric for a first iteration -- the results are sometimes wonderful, and the cost of learning is affordable.

My sewing output is about to explode, and I am thrilled! I am spending next week at Searsport Shores Ocean Campground as Artist in Residence, a highlight of my summer. Like last year, I will be sewing a complete garment each day. Come see what goes into making clothing, and join in the fun. Learn simple hand stitching, construction, and how to mend your own clothing. Let's celebrate the humble stitch.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A Stitcher's Wardrobe: Brooches and Hankies

I am a sucker for vintage brooches and hankies. They are inexpensive and charming, and easily found at thrift shops, antique stores, and flea markets. 

A brooch adds light and whimsy to any outfit. 

A hanky is a practical accessory and a most thoughtful gift for a girlfriend, especially a girlfriend who is hurting. I keep a stack clean and pressed for gifting. Slip a pretty number into the hand of a dear before a funeral -- actions are easier than words.

Checking in on my year's To Do list, I have loads of good fun ahead of me, and some behind me: 

Old skills: Hand knit and write patterns, machine knit, screen print, sew on the Berninaserge with the Husqvarnaserge and mock chain on the Siruba, acid dyefiber reactive dye, weave, *spin, paint, full or felt, trim, thriftreclaim or refashion.

New challenges: Discharge print, design my own fabric at Spoonflower, embroider, crochet, pompom & tassel, applique & patchwork.

Garments: *Cardigan sweater, sweater vest, pullover sweater, scarf, hat, mittens, coat, dress, shirt, skirt, *leggings, tee, pants, *socks, slip, undershirt, bike shorts, apron, handkerchief, and brooch.

* work in progress

Pants. Why did I say pants?

Friday, May 2, 2014

I Heart Machines, and I am Not Alone

Imagine the equipment you would have in your own dream textile studio. Now imagine more equipment: Think big, this is a fantasy. Next, dream up a large well lit space with jumbo tables, background music, and upbeat busy people, not too many, but enough to make your day. Throw in a well mannered dog.

A Gathering of Stitches in Portland, Maine is the place you just dreamed of. I went for the first time last weekend and was instantly smitten.

I took a Knitting Machine Restoration workshop at AGOS. We tore our machines down and became intimate with their innards, greasy fiber boogers and all.

We scrubbed out the crud with various tools, removed worn parts, wrote shopping lists for replacements, and oiled. And then we oiled some more.

Not only does the instructor have a wealth of experience with the machines (she was a product developer for Land's End and L.L.Bean), her love of the machines and calm and confident approach put us all at ease.

My Singer 360 was a gift from my parents when I was sixteen years old, and came with weekly lessons. It is all reassembled and working smoothly. I am pumped to know it well again. I want to know what every button can do. I am not certain what my parents' idea was, but I think it worked.

AGOS has is an industrial sewing machine for leather: I have intentions, a crush quite frankly.

And this secret little gem is on my short list for this year, all restored and ready for someone like me to master it. Socks are on my wardrobe list, and just between you and me, I have one hand knit sock finished ... and the other one will get done, but I will be distracted now that I have seen this.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A Stitcher's Wardrobe: Pullover Sweater

This sweater has been 95% done for a couple of weeks or more. Sometimes I stall out at the end for various reasons.  In this case the neckline was reworked several times.  But sometimes I think I am not ready to let go of a project -- that might also be the case here.

I knit this from the bottom up, joined the sleeves at the base of the yoke, and worked the front, back, sleeve caps and saddles all at once. The math was enchanting.  I used standards for sleeve circumference, armhole depth, and shoulder width.  As a gal with non-angular proportions (and I know I am not alone in my figure type), I would like to see the effect of this same sweater knit with a narrower yoke and fuller sleeve caps.

The yarn is from my brother-in-law's sheep and a llama or two, spun into a 2-ply at MacAusland's, and dyed in my basement. This clip is especially hairy, like maybe someone's shipment to the wig factory was misplaced. Which makes me love it even more.

The buttons are vintage, and I am smitten with their largeness and proximity. In my next iteration I will move the buttons alongside the placket and make loops instead of buttonholes. I will also steepen the angle of the neckline where it meets the saddle.

The shaping is located almost under the arms, like a cereal box.

In other news, Project Two-Houses-into-One is progressing beautifully. I am sitting in a newly painted lovely knitter's nest. The sorting, culling, and improvements throughout our home are distracting and liberating.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Style Influences and Lack Thereof

I've been thinking hard lately about my design roots -- why do I have such a compulsion to make, and what influences my personal style?

I make because I was raised a maker, by makers. My Mom stitched and weaved and gardened and cooked and baked. My Dad built a tree house and a go-cart (and roads for the go-cart) and a train table and a loom. And that's just my parents -- the rest of my family were makers too.

My style is influenced by nostalgia. I had a simple childhood of sticks and dirt, hand-me-downs, one tattered Pendleton shirt, needles and thread, and four older brothers and sisters that treated me like gold.

We spent our weekends at our woods camp, off the grid, climbing trees and swimming in our pond. If I had forgotten a swim suit my mother said, "Just swim in your underwear". Surely this was not what my friends did, but whatever, okay.  Little did my Mom know what this would lead to.

One Friday when I was a Sophomore in college my friend Jen came to my door and said, "Tonight a couple of the boys downstairs are streaking through the quad. Think about it -- last year you would not dare go streaking because you were a Freshman. Next year you will not go streaking because you will not live here. This is your single opportunity."

Guess who went streaking through the quad that night.

In the following months there was a spate of streakers (not me, I had met my requirement), and when the weather got warmer we resorted to jumping into the Lamprey River at Wiswall Bridge, swim suits optional.

On a dark night my friend Paul was standing at the bridge railing talking to a really pretty gal, a really pretty naked gal. Paul was short like me and tongue tied around girls. I did not want to miss this. But he had drunk some liquid courage, and I was stunned by how cool and collected he was, chatting about class and such. And then the girl climbed onto the railing. Paul's mouth dropped open and his eyes grew huge. He grabbed my arm and blurted, "OH-MY-GOD-SHE'S-NAKED!"

I hope you have a grand weekend. (But don't streak because nowadays it'll earn you a sex offender record!)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

A Stitcher's Wardrobe: Hat

A scrap happy beret, with a loop-dee-loop on top.  This is one of many ways to use multicolor variegated yarn.  I'll be teaching a Dozen Ways to use Variegated Yarn at Fiber College this year. Class registration opens on April 1st! Do come join me, the class list is fantastic.

In other news, my household is currently a furniture vortex. My Mom downsized to a lakeside condo last year, and we are slowly moving seven lifetimes of goodies out of the family farmhouse and barn. This bookshelf was built for my brothers by my Dad.  It housed books, a potato chip bucket of crayons, and a Habitrail for their gerbils, which was never-ending entertainment for the family dog.

Inky, bad dog.
The bookshelf was eventually demoted to magazine storage in the barn. I recently dragged it home, cleaned and painted it, and promoted it to my bedroom.

And this week we sold our old house/camp up in the Great North Woods, partially furnished (phew).  Still, there are favorite items for which I need to make room.  And when I decide to move a credenza into the house, six other pieces of furniture get moved. And I may as well paint, because moving the furniture reveals grubby walls and inefficient use of space.

Maybe vortex is not the right word.  Furniture Tetris, that is what I'm playing.

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Stitcher's Wardrobe: Shirt

A simple shirt that ticks many boxes. The fabric is from the Salvation Army Women's Auxiliary Fabric Sale (I'm sorry I cannot find links for this). Thrift, check. I sewed most of this on my regular sewing machine (check), and finished the edges on my serger (check). There are four more of these cut. I enjoy the cutting part.

The buttons are plastic and vintage, from Concord Antique Gallery.  Amy and I have been known to spend many hours there, as well as a couple of bucks.

In other news, and without my own photo evidence, I spent Saturday afternoon at the Common Cod Fiber Guild's FiberCamp Fashion Show.  It was a great opportunity to share my work and meet a lovely crowd of knitters, and I always jump at the chance to spend time with other designers. Everything looks even sunnier after a visit with dear friends. Here are some photo links from Baby Cocktails, and also from Sheeri.  Julia Farwell-Clay put the show together, and she did a bang up job. Thanks Y'all.