Monday, August 29, 2011

Red to black -jamming a quilt

Last weekend I failed to go on a quilting shop hop, and so I decided to dedicate most of my weekend to making a quilt. I really wanted to do something creative and not entirely preordained, but this is really tricky in quilt making, which is ultimately an exercise in repetitive geometry, and accuracy is important.
I realised that I simply HAD to overcome the limitations of this in order to satisfy my need to "jam" with my stash. Jamming in the musical sense, where one uses only techniques and experience to make things up as you go along. This and the need to make a throw for the couch, and use up some of that darn trophy wife quilting stash.
So, I auditioned a range of fabrics from reds to black,(second and third shelves) with a warmly brown and olive oriented back story, and cut some strips off each, ranging in width from 1 inch to 2.5 inches.
 The line up. A few more got subbed in at the last minute too
I arranged them into groups that would equal about 10 inches wide when sewn together, from the lightest red to the darkest dark. When the first one was sewn up and pressed, I finally thought, hmm, what to do with you now?  
 So, I cut it into four "on point blocks", 7.5 inches across, which was the biggest I could make.
 Cutting the top...
 Reversing the ruler and cutting the bottom... 
The resulting blocks. Squee, so pretty!
This left a bunch of half square triangles, either all red or all dark. What to do with you lot, I thought to myself. I know, I'll add a triangle plus a bit to each one of a whole print from the range of fabrics used. Done.

 Darks with darks
 reds with reds
Repeat four more times. Result is an amazing effect of movement, nothing like I could have planned. I love how the reds seem to bleed through - not yukky blood bleeding but paint on wet paper bleeding. The darks create points that intervene almost like mountains in a Japanese landscape. Phew! Who knew! LOL!
The blocks so far.
I WAS going to sash the whole thing with a 3/4 inch wide sash in the same almost black sprig I used on the edge bits of the colourwash quilt. (Which I just realised I never blogged about as a finished quilt and must do so as it is gorgeous!) but because I had used it on that project, I now don't have enough. And I cannot find anything like it. So it may come together without sashing.
More jamming.
More later...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Giveaway time!

I'm feeling generous. Leave a comment and I will randomly select one commenter to receive their choice of teacosy from my current stock!
I love tea cosies and I love to make them. This is not a random thing however. A loong time ago MrC and I realised that we both liked a top up of tea, and making tea in mugs or cups with a teabag was unsettling. So we bought a china teapot and started using it. However, the tea would cool down between first cup and top up. So I bought, second hand on trademe (NZ's own answer to ebay) a fabric teacosy. Very 1992 it was, with little pink and green flowers. I realised that I could make a much nicer one myself, and had a go. I wanted a reversible style so I could two different looks, and my 'pattern' allows for this.  The first one was a Phillip Jacobs poppy print in bright red on one side and a bright fruity print on back on the other. With purple trim. Since then I think I've made around 50? Anyway, the process of creating something special from scratch even in one sitting is too irresistible. :)
Comments on the wonderfulness of tea, afternoon tea, tea cosies or any related topic are welcome.
If you take advantage of my recently changed settings that allows commenting without logging in (as blogger is being such an ass lately), do include a name so I can ID you :)
I will ship anywhere in the world, so no holding back, now, y'hear! :)
PS If you are a coffee drinker, I can sub a coffee cosy instead xo
A random selection of past makes. :)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Petticoat update - Savant sewing

Remember Joy and I promised to make a white rockabilly petticoat even bigger than the black one? Well on Sunday we started.
This is what I call idiot savant sewing. I know what I am doing but I don't know why I know and I find it hard to articulate. I think it is more idiot, Joy thinks it is more savant, but she is very generous hearted. And patient with all my "I don't know!" answers to her perfectly sensible questions!
Using tricot instead of tulle meant adjusting the allowances an amazing amount - that stuff gathers up like nobody's business compared to tulle. We're getting through 50% more fabric for the same metrage, but it is VERY poofy, so hoorah for tricot! Cheap, and nothing to rip your tights on!
So far all we've made are the ruffles and as these are the same as for the black one, we didn't bother to photograph it. We'll start snapping at the next stage. It was going to be one uber petticoat, but is now to be two, allowing for adjustable froofelage (the official measure of the stickyoutiness of a petticoat). The finished two petticoat effect will be 2 bazillion units of froofelage. :)

Friday, August 19, 2011

300 Years of Wedding Fashion - *LeSighofBliss*

We gals love nothing more than a bunch of wedding frocks. The Victoria and Albert Museum is touring a collection of its wedding dresses to Te Papa, the Museum of New Zealand later this year, and Edwina Ehrman, Curator of textiles and fashion at the V&A, popped by to deliver a lecture on the subject a couple of weeks ago.
Talk about SQUEEEE!!!!! About 600 women and approx five men comprised the audience for this lecture, and we gasped and oohed over the slides, and laughed and aahed at Edwina's interesting and entertaining lecture. It was oddly comforting (although of course not surprising) to hear her confirm what all properly informed costumiers know, that Queen Victoria was not the instigator of white wedding dresses, which were already a popular choice for weddings. Her contribution was to turn away from the silver more favoured by royalty to dress more like a normal bride not a queen, showing by doing so that her beloved Albert was her husband first and her consort second. It was a romantic gesture not lost on Victorian brides, or on the bridal industry, which was as commercial and abundant as it is is today.
Anyway, the V&A has put out a book to go with the exhibition, and I bought a copy and Edwina signed it for me. Here are some pix from it - a random sample of my favourites:
 The cover shows a dress of cotton organdie from 1953, designed by Hardy Amies for the Cotton Board. It so reminds me of the beautiful wool wedding dress in Te Papa designed for the New Zealand Wool Board to promote wool. I'm not sure if these unconventional alternatives to silk and synthetics for wedding dresses ever took off but how utterly gorgeous it is!
 I actually think this is my favourite. The most beautiful hand-painted coat by Bellville Sassoon from 1971. It was off the peg but a very high quality, stylish garment and don't you love the bride's orange satin boots!
 A Norman Hartnell embroidered dress from 1951. I just love the almost mediaeval lines of the dress, and its architectural simplicity.
 This dress from 1828 is so beautiful! Fascinating too that its silver trimmings have now tarnished and provide a strong contrast, which of course alters the appearance but makes it easy to see the patterns of the silverwork. Exquisite.
 A gorgeous robe a la francaise from 1775-1780, more likely to have been worn for the bride's presentation at court than on a wedding day.
Possibly my favourite for its glorious maximalism, by Norman Hartnell, 1933. For a society wedding. It has the second largest crate in the exhibition, second only to Dita von Teese's dress! I adore the way in which the chiffon border looks like sea foam and I cannot wait to see it in person, so to speak!
I am reproducing these few pages to show you how lovely this book is. I've only read to page 49 although of course I've peered at all of the photos already. It's as interesting to read as it is beautiful to look at.
Rock on the exhibition!!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Trophy Wife - unplugged

In my last post I described my quilting stash as a trophy wife. Well, here she is, all scrubbed and made up!
 MrC supplying his 6' 3" self as a point of reference. I've had a quick count and multiply and estimate there is 300 yards of fabric in these cupboards *gulp*. But all folded nicely and arranged by colour or theme, SO much easier to find things!
Half of my fat quarters packed into an enormous boot box I was given. It is straining a little, I hope it doesn't bust apart as it is so pretty! the rest are in other shoe boxes and baskets...
Here's the slatternly mistress. Unlike the prissy trophy wife, this stash (only partially shown here) actually delivers! It's a mess as these fabrics don't fold up and stack as crisply as the cottons. But I know what I have in here and the bottom shelf is all marked for stash rehashing.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Snow and trophy wives...

It's snowing here in Wellington. I am 46 and it has never snowed in my lifetime before. So many people are posting Christmas card photos on Facebook and on their blogs of back yards covered in white, snowmen of varying sizes and quality, trees crystalised, all that stuff.
This is a time when living in the city is boring! Our walkways are slippery and icy and the street seems to have missed the white out. So, I am at home, and after making a nice merino hat for a friend, I have been through my stash cupboards, refolding and reorganising my quilting stash into a pleasing sight again.
I have way too much fabric, but unlike dress and costuming stash, I find it really difficult to cull the quilting cottons. When I go through them I love each and every one, even the 'uglies,' but in very few cases do they whisper in my ear what they want to become. I have at least four projects auditioned and packed into baskets ready for I'm not sure what - possibly for the right inspiration of matching person to quilt? A few are definitely for tea cozies or other craft projects, and some I would wear in an instant except I only have a fat quarter or half yard.
No, I reckon my quilting stash is like a trophy wife. Pretty to have and admire, not terribly useful and quite expensive to keep up. But somehow it is compelling and I can't bear to part with it! ;-)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Cupcake College

Last Thursday's class was a riproaring success, everyone reports having a great time and learning things they can use. Phew :) 
 Me holding forth on some point of philosophy. Did you know that cupcake decorating is a metaphor for life? I didn't either until I did this class and had a captive audience! I can't blame the bubbles as mine was apple juice!
A selection of completed cakes. Didn't they do well!
Maz making butterfly wings our of white chocolate. Great concentration and steadiness of paw!
None of the photos show the pretty aprons I made for everyone properly, there is just a glimpse in this shot. Lots of cake happiness. :)
Anyway it was fun, everyone helped clean up afterwards, bless them, and we're doing it all again next week. :)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

In the White Room (without black curtains!)

Remember that song by Cream? This post has nothing to do with it! :)
The White Room is an amazing idea - a craft shop INSIDE a cinema. Well, not in the actual place where you watch the movies, but off the foyer, which is a cafe. Lost? I'm not doing a very good of stringing this together am I!
I blame the mindboggling prettiness of this shop, which leaves me a bit discombobulated. :)
The White Room is in The Empire Cinema in Island Bay, a bijou three screen cinema that is my favourite place to see mainstream movies - and buy crafts!
And sell them, it turns out. I got chatting to Fran who runs the shop, and must have said something about sewing because before you know it, we were talking crafts and I was agreeing to put my standing stock into the shop! Since then I had a rush of creating and made a bunch more stuff.
 A collection of homewares including my tea cosies, and this gorgeous 'revived' furniture by Lost Fables. I so love what Rache is doing with furniture that is otherwise not very pretty! I wish I had room in my apartment for a few of her pieces...
 My plunger cosies and other pretty objets.
 This chair, squee!!! How pretty it is! And only about $120? Maybe a bit more. Very reasonable!
 A panoramic view of the shop, which was the storage room of the original theatre. I love the teatowels festooning the walls. Like bunting you can use! :)
 A closer up of one corner.
 My two favourite makes this month - paintilly retro fabrics made into tea cosies. I love them so much I almost don't want anyone to buy them so I can just enjoy them!
I want this tray from Lost Fables. Only $80. Nowhere to put it though!
I think that The White Room and, Wellington's newest craft shop, are both fabulous places for Wellingtonians to buy genuine kiwi made goods that provide a reasonable return to the makers.
But I would say that! ;-)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The things we do for sewing love...

I'm giving it a go. I feel slightly fraudulent as when I read the always articulate Zoe's reasons and philosophy for participating in a me-made month, I am not sure it's intended for lifers like myself. But I reckon it will do me a power of good to have to 'woman up' and wear at least one garment every day that I made myself. It will soon show up the holes in my wardrobe hehehe.
Anyone else game?
I don't promise to photograph every day's outfit but will do me best. Do aprons count?

Merino Madness!

As many of you will know, our beautiful Christchurch has inexplicably turned into Shakytown. One of the many issues the residents are facing is the cold. It's been snowing down there and snow below about 1000ft in New Zealand is a newsworthy event at the best of times. With peoples' homes being twisted and cracked from earthquake/s, it is hard to keep warm, resulting in increased power bills on top of the other hardships that insurance cannot compensate for. So unfair given everything else they have to deal with right now.
Last week, the Salvation Army put out a call for knitted wool singlets for babies, who are hard hit by this invasive cold snap. Now I do NOT knit - it's a left handed thing, it's my excuse and I am sticking to it! But I CAN sew, and so can the Embroidenator, and we have been mass producing merino wool undershirts and hats for babies.
An odd collection of colours, but the dark browns were such fabulous quality merino, I couldn't resist. The pixie hats are doubled, with red or yellow linings. Aren't they cute! I feel a bit like Snow White laying out clothes for the dwarfs!
Anyway this was the second shipment and I am all merino baby undershirted out. But I've used up nearly every offcut and scrap of merino that I have in my stash, which is wonderful! I did splash out for about 4m new, and between that and what I had I think we made about 20 vests and 12 hats. It is very, very nice to sew - we just used a slightly zigzagged straight stitch. No overlocking as it is a bit scratchy for baby skin, and I got construction time down to around 20 minutes per garment.
I'm quite looking forward now to making something bigger! Including a nice brown merino top I cut out so that I could use the scraps up. I hope I don't need any offcuts!
So tell me, is cosy, fine merino knit something you can buy in other parts of the world, or is it a kiwi thing? Most of what we can buy is NZ merino, some is Australian. Some is mixed with nylon which I avoid, but the pure stuff is around $30NZ a metre, which is about $25US or 15GBP. Most is 138cm or 150cm wide, and it is so fine and soft, and is very, very warm for its weight. Can you buy it in the fabric shops? I never saw any but then I was making a beeline for the silks most of my travels!