around here

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It is very much so fall. It’s a season that can be breathtakingly beautiful, but it can also be mushy brown leaves in a puddle of rain and discarded trash. I’ve been trying to find the charming pieces of fall this week, in between a couple of sick days and a whole lot of knitting. Knitting equals fall, right? Especially cables and tweed and woolens.

I’ve been clued in to a farmer’s market that happens every Thursday in the university area of town. It’s hugely popular – to the point of people sitting and waiting before the guy even arrives! – which is funny, since it’s just one farmer with his goods. But the carrots and the cauliflower are the best I’ve tasted, and this week I even scored tomatoes and broccoli (it’s usually pretty picked over if you don’t show up right at the start). I feels so good about buying and eating things that were pulled out of the ground a few days ago, a few miles away.

This week I’ve even worked on a sewing project, which has been a while since. Of course, I’m complicating things by thinking about changing the construction and cutting things on the bias, but I’m happy to finally be working on this dress, and the fabric is dreamy (and a little crazily patterned for my usual self, but comfort zones needs to be challenged!). And the yarn for my Geithus lace knit top sample arrived! It is gorgeous, and fantastically soft.

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the Valentine’s day skirt

Finally, something sewn! There has been a lot of knitting around here lately, which isn’t too strange considering that I’ve been without my sewing machine for months over the summer, only to play a repair waiting game with an airline, an insurance company, and a repair shop.

So, fed up with waiting, I did what any normal person would do. I finished this skirt by hand.

Eking every last centimeter out of this remnant. And yes, that makes me ridiculously proud!

The pink lining, the graphic ribbon, the silk organza, and the wool suiting.

Yeah, this skirt has been waiting for completion since sometime this spring. I started patternmaking around Halloween (I clearly remember my co-worker talking about the scant and tacky clothing she was planning to dress up in, and me drafting this pretty demure pencil-skirt. I pick pencil-skirts over scant and scandalous any day!). I posted about my muslin and the fitting changes back in December last year, and was really determined to finish the skirt for my Valentine’s Day date (John and I went to the Museum of Science and Industry in the morning. Then I went  straight to class. It was lovely). That obviously didn’t happen!

The Valentine’s Day thing seemed appropriate because of the rich pink silk that I lined the skirt with, and I got pretty close to finishing before it all came to a screeching halt. I really wanted this skirt to be full of lovely touches, so I’ve been taking my sweet time and doing things thoroughly and nice. I interfaced the waistband with organza; I bound raw lining edges with more organza to prevent the crazy fraying I knew would happen otherwise (I used the same silk as a lining for another skirt, and when I took a look at the inside for some reason, it was such a mess! Just silk-fuzz everywhere!); and I french-seamed all the lining seams I could.

Binding the edges of the silk used for the pocket and the lining with strips of bias organza. That should keep the silk from fraying, and I think really increase the durability and lifespan of the skirt.

I had sewn in the zipper already and was all set to attach the lining to the waistband when I realized I had closed up the wrong side of the lining. I had just messed up which side was supposed to be open when looking at the right side – and since the right side of the lining was facing my body, it wasn’t the same as the shell where the right side faces outwards. Ops! Undoing painstakingly made french seams on silk charmeuse? Yeah, it went in the waiting pile.

Where it stayed. I graduated. I went on a cross-country road-trip for several months. I moved back to Bergen and Norway. And I was without a sewing machine. And really missing my sewing.

The insides of the pockets are the same pink silk as the lining. So lovely to put my hands into!

So I redid my french seam, and attached the lining to the waistband. I used this black and white graphic ribbon in the transition, and I love the way it came out! I also used it at the bottom – it made sense to me in how I needed to sew this thing by hand. Look how narrow that hem is! On the one hand I’m a little perturbed – hems aren’t supposed to be that narrow – but on the other side, I think the flash of black and white and pink is pretty cool!

The waistband facing, contrast ribbon, and the lining. And the same at the hem.

And I love the pink charmeuse best of all. I adore putting ont the skirt and seeing all the pink just hiding cheekily! Oh, and happy Valentine’s day everyone!

using the fabric scraps

I can’t stand waste. More specifically, I can’t stand being wasteful.  I don’t know if the mild hoarding is the source, or the consequence of this aversion to throwing away anything that could possibly be useful, but here I am – constantly with drawers and boxes and surfaces covered in things that surely will be useful – somehow, sometime.

fabric scraps

Setting up in a new apartment always feels like a new start, so spurred on by that, I’ve come up with a way of making at least some of my hoarded materials turn useful. I’m sure I’m not the only one with scraps of fabric left over after sewing projects – too big to throw away (too beautiful!), but too small to be put to use in a garment. Some people make small things; pincushions, coin-purses, soft toys – but I mostly make garments, and these pieces aren’t even large enough for pockets. I finally realized the perfect use for these scraps was to make bias tape!

making bias tape

I make my bias tape by measuring the same amount (say, 3 inches) along two sides of a triangle – along the weft and the warp grain. Connecting those two points gives me the bias, and then I can just use my ruler to draw new diagonal marks. This works well on oddly shaped scrappy pieces, but I’ve found that my lines can get a little skewed after four or five repeats – best to double-check my lines every so often!

making bias tape

making bias tape

One trick to getting perfectly aligned seams when joining pieces is to make sure the short ends are at a 45 degree angle to the long ends, which they will be if they follow the grainlines to begin with. Sometimes it’s easier to trim the scrap piece of fabric first. The other trick is to mark the seam allowance, and offset the two pieces so that it’s the stitching line goes edge to edge on both layers.

self-made bias tapeIt’s kind of amazing how many yards of bias tape you can get out of a fat quarter sized scrap (or smaller!) of fabric.

I think I’ve been fooling myself with my mindset of “this can be useful somehow!”. Sure, most of the things we having lying in drawers and boxes can be useful, but are they useful to us – in the way that we use things? Like I mentioned, I don’t really sew or make small things, so smallish scraps of fabric don’t hold any value to me, at least not in how I craft. So while someone else might have found a million things to make with my scraps, I didn’t. By making these remnants into bias-tape, I’ve turned them into something I will actually use  – something that makes sense with the kinds of things I craft. And that is the whole point, isn’t it?

And what will I use my bias tape for? I took a workshop a while back where I learned lots of finishing techniques, like hong-kong hemming, bound seams, and decorative uses. Quilts can be finished with some home-made bias tape; use it for a decorative piping touch,  and my favorite, a really nice edge finishing from Tasia of sewaholic.

things

I really did not plan to add to my fabric  stash this summer.

For reasons that are part of life – yet still bittersweet, two ladies (both wonderful, wonderful seamstresses) that we have visited on this roadtrip of ours have let me choose some fabric from their impressive and lovely stashes. They were unfortunately both at a point where they were not going to be using their fabrics anymore, and wanted to give it to someone who would appreciate and enjoy them. All in all, I’ve gained a double-knit, wool Liberty print, some wool crepes in fuchsia and black, and a subtle dark grey wool pinstripe to use for a blazer, with a jacquard cream silk lining fabric to go with it.

They are beautiful fabrics, and I am honored that these ladies gave them to me. At the same time, it makes me all the more determined to do justice to them and their skills and make something really well-made and lovely out of them!

I’ve also treated myself to a couple of things! I eyed this shirtdress pattern from lisette when it first came out; not only is it a basic pattern for a style I absolutely love (that would be the shirtdress-addiction kicking in), but it’s also from the woman behind oliver+s.  How can that possibly be bad? And when I went to pay for the pattern, it was even on sale!

The book in the background is an introductory book on canning. I was totally swayed by the pretty pictures (I always am), but it does seem like a good, basic place to start. I’m sure soulemama is partly to blame for my desires to grow and put up my own food, but that’s not a bad thing! I can’t wait to give the recipes a spin – I’ll share my attempts here when I get around to trying!

As a bit of a side-note, there has been less making this summer than what I anticipated. It turns out that there is too many interesting and beautiful things to see and do on the road – no time for knitting! I still have a bit of a backlog of things I want to share, but internet-time has been limited. I’m working on it though!

mmmm, new fabrics

There hasn’t been a lack of fabric and yarn purchases lately, but not all of it has been for me. These lovelies however, are all mine…

I bought the bottom two fabrics for my pants-project, which I have to admit hasn’t made much progress.. yet! I’m waiting for a chunk of available time to take my existing pair apart, but I have gotten my hands on some fabric I intend to make pants of! There is a dark denim that I’m hoping will fade to something closer to grey than blue, and a fine-waled dark brown-grey corduroy. It’s fairly thin however, and it might not be as suitable for pants as I thought it would be when I bought it. Fear not! I’m pretty sure I can find something to make with it! It’s so soft and pretty…

The yellow dupioni is really more muddy acid green in real life – it’s like navy or true red I guess; really hard to photograph. I only got myself a half yard of this, but it should make yards upon yards of bias strips. After the sewing techniques workshop I took a little while back, I’m completely in love with bias strips and what they can be used for, and I have bound seams, hong-kong hems, piping, and lots more in mind! Imagine finishing off the inside of a skirt with a pop of shimmery yellow-green silk dupioni? Fun!

Lastly, my splurge… There was a fabric rep at my school recently, and we were able to order some fabrics usually only available wholesale to designers. This richly colored silk/cotton blend just jumped out amongst the rest, begging to come home with me and be turned into the best summer dress ever. And that’s the latest addition on my sewing list: The Best Summer Dress Ever. Oh! That fabric is so pretty!

(Denim and corduroy from Fishman’s Fabrics, and silk dupioni from Vogue Fabrics, both in Chicago)