Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Designs in Real Life

These are some finished items I've made using the designs from Stay-Stitched, which were on display at the book launching last Friday. The night went so well that I forgot entirely to photograph the pieces and instead yammered on to friends and guests all night while shoving adorable mini cupcakes into my face whenever I got the chance. Luckily, I was able to still photograph the outfits on the gold headless lady yesterday before returning her.

The first one on the left is the A-Line Skirt. Fairly standard, and for good reason, it lays very nicely when you cut the fabric out on the bias (explained in the book) creating a snug fit around the hips while reducing excess fabric around the waist. I used %100 cotton, showing the wrong side of the fabric to dull the print a bit.

To the right is a close up of the waistline. I used a sort of stretchy bias tape, which could actually be the fold over elastic I've been hearing about. I don't think it is though because the stretch isn't that extreme. It did the trick for this project though.

Next is the Circle Skirt. Also very classic and incredibly easy to make.
I used a 1/2" elastic in the waistline casing and then stitched through all layers in the center of the casing to prevent the elastic from flipping. It also makes it look neater because the fabric isn't bunching up as much. The fabric was originally a bed sheet that I purchased second hand. And yes, that is St. Bartholomew from The Last Judgment by Michelangelo, good eye.

The Egyptian Tunic, pictured below, was made from a cotton poly mix...I think. Most of the fabric I buy is either discount or second hand so I rarely know what it is made up of. Even though I prefer to work with pure fabrics like cotton or silk, it doesn't always happen, and sometimes the piece is better because of it.

I really like the style of this item and think it could be very versatile if you wanted to play around with how high the waistline is and the length and flair of the skirt. It's also fun to try with a variety of shirts. Button downs look especially great.

 The Island Dress is my own design and features a pleat in the front of the dress that you taper in at the waist using a hook and eye. I wanted a simple dress that was fitted and slim without having to use stretchy fabric or an elastic waistline. Because of the pleat, you can use any fabric for this dress and still be able to get it over your head and then taper it in to flatter the waist. The secret is to make sure your initial measurements are very fitted so that after you put the pleat it, the sides of it will come together for a snug fit around the waist. I used a cotton fabric called seersucker, which always makes me think of a Sapsucker.

This piece also provides a good chance to try out sewing darts! Fun with fitting!

Everyone is probably familiar with the Kimono. The version I've altered for the book is simplified so much that it is unbelievably easy to make. The measurements and drawing out of the design may seem tricky, but if you really take your time and read it over well you'll have no trouble. But please, let me know if you do! I'd be happy to help out or just take some feedback. I used some ultra synthetic rayon-ish fabric for this. It drapes so nicely and feels quite good on. The only con was that the colour ran everywhere. My machine, iron, ironing board, and finger tips were all pink afterwards. I guess it wasn't safe to assume that fabrics are all colourfast now.

 The outfit below has a pretty nautical feel to it, all it would need is some grommets in the V of the neckline with a lace crisscrossing through. It is made up of a Viking Tunic and Sailor Pants. I made the Viking Tunic from a heavy cotton stretch fabric that used to be a Issey Miyake dress I made years ago. Luckily the pattern called for large pieces that wrap around so that I could take it apart and have good chunks to work with. This sort of fabric doesn't require much hemming so I just used a bias tape like finish on the neckline and left the other edges alone. 

Sailor Pants! I was watching an old western called Goin' South starring Jack Nicholson and really appreciated his pants. The front had two flaps that crossed over one another and there were long strips of fabric attached which would tie around the waist. I don't like added bulk around the waistline so I went with the two front flaps and then you have the option of using hook and eyes, buttons, or whatever closure you like. The close-ups show the darts at the back of the pants to tailor the waist in and the cross over in the front using buttons to secure the flaps.

Next is a style of shirt/shawl sort of thing that has become very popular, and for good reason. They are really comfortable, can be very elegant in the right fabric, and you have the added bonus of wearing half a blanket. I got the idea for the Throw Shirt from a knitted shirt I saw years ago. It's simply a rectangle of fabric with sleeves put in and then I made a few minor adjustments to create the shoulder area. It is a good introduction to making and attaching sleeves and because that is basically the only major step, you can focus fully on getting it right.

The Tote Bag. Simple, strong, and effective. It is an item that has infinite variations. You can really have fun with this since it doesn't need to be precise in the end. Of course it looks better if the handles are straight, but there are always ways to fix your mistakes...or at least disguise them. This particular bag is made from a heavy cotton, almost canvas like, fabric that is really perfect for this purpose. It was purchased second hand along with three belts that are used for the straps. 

 These last two images are of the outfit I made for the book launch. Gotta represent. I wanted to wear as much as I could of the designs to showcase them and show their potential. I made the Viking Tunic out of just about the most beautiful fabric ever when it comes to shears. It is a Georgette, made from rayon I believe but was traditionally made of silk, which I'm sure it still comes in as well. It was the fabric I touched the most while working at Fabricville so when I saw it, in a colour I loved, on the discount rack, well, it was meant to be. I snagged it. The shirt was so nice I made it twice... all because the pink from the kimono fabric I spoke of earlier was on my iron,  resulting in a pink blotch around the neckline. Boo. I'm sure the second one came out even better though.

For the Egyptian Tunic I used a wool blanket purchased second hand. I wanted it in wool so that worked out quite well. I made a light cotton shift dress to wear underneath to guard against some of the itchiness. Not knowing how this would turn out, I was really happy with the result. I cut it on the bias so that the wool would have some give when I pulled it on. It really hugs the body and has a nice and firm drape. The blanket stitching on the straps was part of the blanket, a detail I was happy to keep.

Okay, that is all for now. There are still two pieces yet to come which I just need to photograph. They are on display at MUSE, where my book launch was held and where there are books for sale, acting as some samples of what could be.

I hope this gives a better idea of the potential of these designs and the variety of styles that can be attained from them. I'm sure I will continue to make these items as I collect second hand fabric and get the urge to sew.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Etsy Shop

Stay-Stitched is on Etsy! Click here to simply buy it online and I will mail it right to you. Might even include a surprise in your package, depending on what I see lying around.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Video release time...

I was, and still am, thrilled with this video made by friend and filmmaker Millefiore Clarkes. It documents a morning/afternoon of sewing glory. It really is my favorite way to spend a day, or evening for that matter, with some CBC radio on in the background and snow falling outside. That was how I spent my evening last night so I guess it is still fresh in my mind.

The participants, making items from Stay-Stitched,  are Becka Viau and Michelle Hooper. Michelle made the Retro Dress pictured below. Originally, it was a Roman style of dress because of the multiple gathers at the neckline. My intention for it was to be a 60's style like below, but when Michelle had on her finished product, with the gathers spread out creating a wider neckline, there was a definite similarity to Greek or Roman Tunics. I think it turned out fantastically! The best part is, it's one of the easiest designs in the book.

Becka made the Tote bag. Seems simple enough, but to make it extra strong, and a bit more of a challenge, the straps go entirely around the bag. This is tricky when it comes to the layout and measuring of the straps. She ended up with one a bit longer than the other, but with some clever customizing, Becka made the bag her own. It turned out wonderfully and even better, she now has a practical item that suits her needs and can be used everyday.

Good day, great accomplishments, and a beautiful video capturing the feeling behind it all. Big thanks to Mille, Michelle, and Becka for their help in this project. You can see more of Millefiore's work on her site onethousandflowers.tv/​ .

The book release for Stay-Stitched is going to be December 10th at MUSE artspace, 211 Euston St., Charlottetown, PEI, from 7-9pm. Come watch the video again, try your hand and foot at using a sewing machine, view some finished pieces up close on non-living models, and maybe not so close on the living ones, and enjoy mini muffins and other goodies made by my Mom with some relatively cheap wine. The book will be available, fingers crossed, by the first week of December at The Green Man and The Bookmark, and will be for sale at the show as well.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Blog to be

Hi! If you are a new owner of my book then you know what this blog is all about, if not then I'll explain. Stay-Stitched: a workbook, is a sewing workbook I created that guides the user through eleven clothing projects without using a pattern. Instead, you start at the beginning by applying your measurements to fabric, drawing out your pattern pieces, and then cutting them out and sewing them to form a garment. This way you learn fundamental skills that can then be applied to your own creations. Use elements and techniques from different projects along with your own variations to create something entirely new!

There was a lot of trial and error when I attempted to make my own clothing. Not wanting to measure myself or the fabric, iron anything, or do proper seams or hems, I ended up with a lot of sloppy pieces. I now know better and have hopefully taken out some of the guesswork for others. 

Being self sufficient is really important to me and I thoroughly enjoy making anything and everything that gives me a finished usable product, whether I eat it, wear it, or stir soup with it. Making honest clothing based, for the most part, on how people have made clothes throughout history:  simply, using materials easily found, and with infinite potential for variation, is what I believe to be a very valuable skill.

Once this workbook is released my hopes is that this blog becomes a sewing discussion to share problem solving techniques and new ideas. Eventually, I will post a way to order the book online if it's not available to you locally.