Monday, August 3, 2015

Sewn by Hand

This T shirt was sewn entirely by hand. I overlapped all seams 1/2 inch and pinned in place. I used a contrasting thread and sewed a double running stitch on all seams. Hems and neckline were sewn with a single running stitch. It took four evenings, watching Netflix to finish this. The green on the lavender is so much more interesting than if I had just run it through the machine with no detail.

The Knit with a Dart and More

I got a bit carried away with channeling Alabama Chanin  After adding a bust dart, adding 1/2 inch to the back below the armseye, and taking out about a 1/2 inch at the front hip line I had a pattern that seemed about right for my friend's new T. I used scraps from several solid shirts I made for myself earlier this season. (I love solid jewel tone shirts in the summer months.) To design my friends shirt I sewed the fabric pieces together first for a color block effect. I then positioned the pattern pieces for the best look. Initially I used the green for the neck band but didn't really like it. I thought it looked like a bowling shirt. Friends said they liked the green so maybe my judgement was off. I went with the peach color anyway. Next I decided to add some contrasting colored circles using a blanket stitch to applique them on. Now, I have a shirt the looks a bit clownish, which was confirmed by another friend. My friends seem to be doing a great job as a focus group - I just need to listen to them. I did achieve my goal to get a good fit for my friend. She said it was the best fit so far.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

The Knit Top Uniform

Knit tops with pants or jeans are my standard uniform. I toss in a shirt from time to time but knit is really so easy to sew and wear.

When I feel I really don't need one more knit top in my closet I find a friend who might like one of my creations. The two tops below are the test run for my friend Leighann. She is an apple and I am a pear so my pattern needs some tweaking to fit her. Her arms are so tiny compared to mine. I have a large bust but Leighann tops mine (bad pun). I determined that even a knit for her should have a dart so the next top will have a bust dart.

The fabric has been in my stash for too many years so it was nice to put it to good use.

Monday, February 9, 2015

A Tribute to Serena

Several years into my retirement, I decided I needed a dog. After much research, I decided to get a German Shepherd Dog. My sister, who has had many GSDs said, “You know they shed.” I replied, “No problem”. She repeated, “No, I mean they really shed a lot.” I continued to ignore the warning and set out to find a GSD.

I decided to go the rescue route and found Westside German Shepherd Rescue in Los Angeles. I made an appointment and drove to their facility. The first dog presented to me was an older dog, very docile but just did not seem to have much spark. Robin said she had another dog that had just been spayed. We went to the vets and the vet tech said she hated the dog. Misty was put on a leash and proceeded to race around the block with me attempting to follow. Robin said, “I think you can handle her.” Several weeks later I called Westside to let them know how we were doing. The response was, “We thought you would bring her back within two weeks.” Sorry, I don’t give up that easily.

I am now the owner of a dog who is completely out of control, showing no signs of being co-operative. She has a whine that is ear piercing and becomes overly excited at the drop of the hat. I quickly determined she has no off button. She was on from dawn to dusk. I started looking for trainers and knew it would take a really skilled trainer to work with me and newly named, Serena. I found K-9 Companions in Woodcrest. Serena’s trainer was a no nonsense woman in the military who managed to get Serena on the right track to becoming a well-behaved dog. She went into training knowing the down command and came out knowing heel, sit, stay and wait. She never learned the Come command. It just wasn’t in her. Even with some commands under her belt she was a handful when walking. Everything distracted her. Anything small and moving set Serena’s prey instinct in motion. I took her everywhere with me. We went camping, hiked Mt. Rubidoux, and later in New Mexico we hiked Gomez Peak a couple of times. I tried to teach her to fetch. I threw grapefruit for her to bring to me. She would drop them half way, behind me , to my side, that is when she bothered to bring them to me at all. She could play with her Kong solo, never sharing. She would toss it, bounce it and run around with it. She knew toys were not to go outside and would be on a dead run to go out and drop her Kong just before she hit the door.  If she lost her Kong she could show me where it was three days later.

Serena never met a person she did not like. She greeted everyone who came to visit me as if they had come to visit her personally. She got along with some dogs but I never knew which dogs might set her off. If she spotted another dog while in the car she would bark until we got out of sight. Her babysitters loved her.

Her hips were bad from the beginning. As she got older, her hips began to fail her. I got wheels for her and meds to ease the pain. It took about a week for her to get the hang of walking in her wheels. It helped when she saw my neighbor (remember she loves people). She would forget she was in her wheels and begin to run to greet him.

On Monday of this week I left for Tucson for a dental appointment. Serena stayed home with a babysitter. She was somewhat feisty when I left so I felt confident she would be fine. The night before I was scheduled to come home Serena took a turn for the worse. Bree notified me and I got on the phone to make arrangements and to get my neighbor to help Bree get Serena into the car. The vet determined that multiple failures where taking place. I said, “No heroics. Just keep her stable until I get there. She was on oxygen and an IV but went into cardiac arrest an hour before arrive. As I was driving up highway 90 I looked out over the mountains and saw a ghost image of Serena running over the mountains. She ran beside the car and was gone. I will miss that crazy dog.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

T Shirts That Combine Fabrics

My favorite design technique involves combining fabrics. With all of last years fabric and a few new pieces I have enough fabric to play around and get some great combinations. I spread the fabric out on my cutting table and look for interesting combinations. Stripes, dots, and solids are a must to pull the combinations together. A good rule of thumb is to aim for at least three different fabrics. I love prints but sometimes the print is overwhelming when used for the body and the sleeves. I tone it down by using solids for sleeves and adding contrasting fabric at the neck edge. I also try to vary the hem edge with a shirt tail finish or some type of curve. 

Scale and color were the deciding factor in this T

The two main fabrics were purchased together. I added the navy to keep the fabrics from fading into each other. The picture of the hem shows how easy the two fabrics can get lost in each other. I also cut the body on the bias.

I love ikat prints, but they can be a tad bit busy if used all over. This is a great example of a solid color in the sleeve to tone it down. The white, beige, and charcoal strip was a nice accent to give a little punch to the effect.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Joan's Handspun and Handwoven Fabric

My friend, Joan Ruan spins cotton and weaves. She also teaches all over the world. I get to sew up some of her gorgeous fabric from time to time. The pink vest is mine and the brown is hers. The cotton in the brown vest is all natural colors. The colors are white, green, and several shades of toast. It is amazing that cotton can be grown in these beautiful colors. Be sure to click on the pictures to see just how beautiful the weaving is.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Another Summer of Sewing

I got way too busy last winter to sew and just closed the door on the sewing room. Projects were left wherever they landed when I quit. Now I am ready to get going again in the order I left the unfinished garments.

First a T-shirt from some fabric left over from one of my sister's T made last summer. Hers was made in the entire print. I like mine better with the black sleeves and dotted neckline. I think having limited fabric forces a more creative end result. The polka dot was just sitting there waiting to join the print. I am also partial to a solid sleeve with a busy print. It just tones down the total look.

A few more unfinished projects and then new fabric arriving.