>> Monday, September 24, 2012

It all started very simply. A friend asked me if I had a black clutch she could borrow for a wedding. Alas I have no black clutches in my possession. But why let that be an obstacle? Obviously there was a solution. I'd make her a clutch.

I sifted through clutch tutorials and ultimately drafted my own pattern. I needed to make it quickly, so simplicity was key, but I still wanted it to look interesting. Hence the curved edge on one side. Interest. Also good fabric selection, though I claim no credit for that. Katie did the picking. (The blue floral piece is a Marimekko scrap, the gray is something for which I have a selvage that I could look up if I weren't posting from the library.)

And why make just one? Another friend was about to rock her exams, so a celebratory clutch was in order. The clutches have magnetic snaps and dividers. I've made a few more, and I think they will be one of the items I sell at the Ann Arbor Modern Quilt Guild Show and Sale. November 15. The Corner Brewery. Come! Let me know if you have any clutch color requests as my clutch-making factory is just starting up.


A Zig and A Zag

>> Tuesday, September 11, 2012

On rare occasions, I start projects with no real purpose or intended recipient. So it was last fall that I cut out some red, yellow, and aqua squares, and starting playing around with zig-zags.

Fast-forward to this summer when a friend from college very generously offered to let me stay in her apartment while I was in town doing research while she wasn't even there. That deserves a massive thank you. At which point half-baked ideas and projects are really really useful. Those fun zig-zags became a pretty sweet (if you ask me) table runner.

And I had just the right fun floral to use on the back -- with an additional red slab of one of my favorite reds from the front. The runner ended up being about 50 or 52 inches long, a tad longer than planned, but, coincidentally, just the length of her table. And the back shows off teh zig-zag quilting quite well (again, in my esteemed opinion).

I debated adding in another color for the binding, but ultimately decided that the saturated yellow looked best. I was a little under the wire finishing this before I hopped on a plane, but I've become a bit of machine-binding speed demon of late, a skill that comes in handy when you resist hand-binding and need to finish a gift as you're running out the door. Or the night before you're running out the door because 5 am is awfully early and machine-binding at that hour would be dangerous since I generally like having all my fingers, and that week I needed them to sift through papers at the archives.


I Made A Dress!

>> Sunday, September 2, 2012

I'm no longer sure whether sewing garments or photographing garments which one has sewn is more difficult. Both are tricky. The instagram/mirror option above does the job, provided no one looks too closely at the state of my mirror. (It's hidden in the closet, who needs a sparkling clean mirror in their closet?)

I finished this Washi dress over 2 weeks ago and have worn it well, let's just say a lot, since then. But I didn't post about it because I needed more pictures, which required enlisting a friend to play fashion photographer. And fashion photography, it turns out, is hard. Hard for the photographer and hard for the model. You know how even catalog models look like they're just going about their day, looking at the pretty sunset or petting a nice horse (who does that wearing a nice dress? Catalog models, that's who) or laughing at what must have been a hilarious joke. That's not easy to replicate. I look absurd doing all of those things (especially petting a horse, since the horse was invisible ).

Now about this dress. First, it is awesome. And not just because I made it. I made a dress! (Got that?) It's awesome because it is super comfortable, can be worn with boots (even if it's 88 degrees during said photo shoot, the boots were key), and has pockets. Pockets. All dresses should have pockets.

Second, it's not all that hard to make. Let's be clear: I make quilts. Occasionally I make bags. I have never once sewn a garment. Wait, that's a lie. I once made a pair of "pants" for a Tempest-themed Halloween costume (I was Ariel, my friend was Caliban, we were nerds, it was great). But basically, I have never made a garment or at least one that needed to last more than one night and fit. Which this delightful dress does. I think it's an advanced-beginner or intermediate-sewer pattern, in that the sewing is not hard but requires being able to visualize how pieces fit together and know how to work with bias binding and the like. But a dedicated beginner could, I think, do it.

{The what-am-I-supposed-to-be-doing-again pose}

It's also an intermediate-esque pattern because it will fit best if you make a muslin and do a full or small-bust adjustment. I made the dress in class with Rae and Karen (best teachers ever), and all but one person needed to make some adjustments. I also added an inch below the bust to move the waist down a bit as I wanted the dress to be a more fitted (within the bounds of the pattern) to fit my figure. A few people asked if the dress will work for pear-shaped folks. My answer is yes. Depending on what measurements and ratios one follows or whether one simply looks at oneself as a line-drawing, I am either a pear-shape or an hourglass-shape, and the dress works for me. I sewed the side seams with a larger seam allowance to work toward a more contoured fit, which I think is more flattering on me, and I think I will make further adjustments to that end in the future, but it's an eminently adjustable pattern, from what my novice-pattern-making brain can understand.

{My second enlisted fashion photographer came up with the tree angle, but knows the red-car-in-background composition is not winning any prizes.}

Third, this pattern is adaptable. As soon as I finished Washi #1, I hightailed it over to Pink Castle Fabrics to buy more fabric for Washi #2, also known as Atomic Washi. I should note here that until I made these dresses, I owned all of two items made from prints. My print-clothing population has now doubled. Which is all to say, I didn't expect to buy this print but I love it, seriously. And each time I've worn this dress out, random people have stopped me to say they love it too. About the adaptability: the Atomic Washi has a round, rather than notched, neckline and is sleeveless. The second time around, I remember to reduce the length of the skirt since I had added an inch at the waist, thus making for a more normal hem.

I'm not sure what Washi #3 will look like, though I'm thinking some Chicopee leaves or paisley might work well. Maybe a contrasting facing or hem band? Options abound.


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