SWAP 2018 – planning

I wasn’t going to participate in SWAP (Sewing with a Plan) this season. Between too much going on, sewing mojo on vacation, and inspiration pictures pulling me in too many different directions at once, I didn’t feel like planning a wardrobe to fit arbitrary rules that may not fit my lifestyle.

And then the rules came out. They are delightfully simple and they sent my sewing imagination soaring. This is the gist:

You’re making a collection of 11 garments to be worn as outfits of at least two pieces that work for your personal style.

  1. Choose two neutral colors (at least 3 garments each)
  2. Add one accent color and two prints OR two accent colors and one print (at least 1 garment each)
  3. Remaining two garments may be made from any one or combination of your neutrals, accent(s) and/or print(s)
  4. Each garment must work with a minimum of two outfits

Here is my preliminary plan:

Wardrobe plan - WIP

It’s not quite finished – it’s missing a piece. Something in light gray. I’m not sure if this will be a dress or another top. We’ll see.

*****

Here’s something that caught my eye now as I was looking at the rules: “Multiple styles of pants, tops, jacket/cardigan, dresses, accessories, etc are made from the limited color/print palette. New seasons bring new items that work with some of the garments from prior seasons. Your goal is to create a collection that looks like it belongs together and that you can easily add new pieces to in the future.” When I sewed a SWAP wardrobe in early 2016, I used just three patterns and a bunch of different fabrics. I think the idea here is the opposite – choose just a few fabrics and go to town on patterns. Hmm, something to chew on. I may rethink the whole thing yet.

And that’s all I have today. See you soon!

Back on track

Between dropping down to a part-time schedule at work and my husband’s return from the year-long assignment in Korea, my life has finally gotten back to a normal, reasonable pace. And I got back to running. And cooking. And all the other fun things that come with normal life. Like planning a SWAP, hehe. These are my SWAP fabrics. Full plan to come.

SWAP colors/fabrics

These last few months have been a bit of a hell on wheels because spending a year apart is tough, and the stressful job and crazy traffic didn’t help things. So now I’m taking care of myself, slowly easing into my creative groove. In the polymer studio, it’s mostly about rearranging tools and looking at previously made pieces. It feels like forever ago that I touched raw clay. Here is a look at the bracelets I made this year:

Polymer clay bracelets - 2017

And here is a yellow and black set I made to go with this gorgeous scarf. I also dyed the cardigan to match because I thought it would be easier than trying to find matching RTW. The dye is Rit Lemon Yellow, the kind that comes in a bottle. I followed the instructions on Rit’s website, including adding the salt in the dye bath and then following up with dye fixative afterwards. I found the dyeing process surprisingly easy and the resulting color nice and even.

Yellow and black jewelry set

Somewhere along the line this summer I decided to experiment with mica shift. It’s an interesting technique that I’d like to explore further. First, I tried it with Kato and I have this set to show you:

Red jewelry set - mica shift

And some samples of other colors, this time in Premo:

Mica shift samples

And that’s all I have for now. Actually, not quite because I do have a knitting WIP but no picture of it right now so that will come later. See you soon!

Checking in again

Hi again!

So I haven’t been posting in the last few months because what was supposed to be a part-time job turned into a full-time one just a few days after I started. It was a lot of information to take in and a major lifestyle change, and the stress of all that coupled with the long daily drive back and forth meant that I’ve had very little time or energy left for creating, let alone blogging. I am still here though, and while my posts will likely be sporadic in the next two months, they will get more regular once I go part-time in October.

All that housekeeping out of the way, let’s look at what I’ve been making. Because I wasn’t exactly idle, as it turns out (to my own surprise). I have made a bunch of bracelets and experimented with fun techniques – I have yet to take pictures of them so those will come later. Also, I joined the summer 6-PAC and made a bunch of things: 5 tops, a dress, and a cardigan jacket. And two pieces I didn’t think to photograph, mostly because I’ve been wearing them to work a lot and they completely slipped my mind.

Summer 6-PAC - tops

All of these tops are cut from Jalie 3352, the dolman top. The red ones in 11oz. rayon jersey from Emmaonesock have the original neckline without changes (I think). The light gray is a cotton knit from Nancy Erickson and has the most wonderful hand. The darker gray is a mostly-cotton jersey from Fabricmart – that one will be given away because it was doing some shrinking as I sewed it, and I only noticed it at the end. Both of these gray tops have a 3/4″ neckband, which was my attempt to see if I like the closer neckline (yes!) and if I like the neckband finish (not really). The cute polka dot is a cotton jersey from Marcy Tilton and it’s such a happy, smile-inducing fabric. For this top, I just closed up the neckline by the same 3/4″ and then clean-finished it by turning the allowance under and coverstitching. I like this neckline the best. Next time, I want to try a boat neckline to bring it up closer to the collar bone – I had accidentally put on one top the wrong way, with the back in front, and I liked the effect.

Summer 6-PAC - dress and cardigan

The dress is drafted from Sure-Fit Designs Shirt Kit. I just lengthened it to dress length, took in the side seams some to accommodate the sleeveless design and the curve of my waist, and added the bias-cut collar. Oh, and the hemline goes in a slight A-line, which is comfortable, but I think I prefer a straighter silhouette. I made it in a lovely black Brussels Washer from Fabric.com – it is such a pleasure to sew and wear. Warning: it does seat out some so not your best bet for a formal anything. I cut the neckline fairly wide and the collar doesn’t play well with most of my cardigans but I do have a few RTW ones that work so the dress is not an orphan.

The cardigan jacket is from my old PMB pattern (from 2002 or 2003, yikes!). I narrowed the shoulder slightly with a corresponding sleeve cap adjustment, curved the front neckline where it meets center front, and added 8″ to the length. There is no closure and the front edges meet but do not overlap. The fabric is an acrylic/wool/poly boucle bought from Fabricmart several years ago. It’s nicely warm, and super easy to sew. I enjoy wearing it and there’s more in the stash for another, shorter version.

And that’s pretty much all I have right now. Thank you if you’re still reading, and see you soon!

New year, new direction?

I hope you are all off to a good start in this new year, sewing up the stash and thinking up cool new things to make.

Here we are just two weeks into January and I’m in a completely different space creatively than back in December. I had been thinking about sewing a wardrobe of separates, as part of the annual SWAP contest on Stitcher’s Guild. But this month, I started a new job that comes with a uniform requirement – a dark gray jacket. Scrub jacket, to be clear, so it’s not like I can just sew up some of my beautiful gray wools and call it good.

Color wheel

I’ve decided that if I have to wear a dark neutral cut-as-unisex jacket, everything else should be bright colored and feminine. So I’ll be wearing, and making, bright colored dresses with a matching scarf and bracelet. I’ll be working with the colors above with the aim of creating a capsule of two dresses (one long-sleeved and one sleeveless), one or two scarves, and a couple of bracelets, in each color family. Because the jacket is fairly dark, the dress colors will mostly be on the lighter end of the spectrum for contrast. This should also be a good time to experiment with various trim ideas and color-blocking.

The sewing plan then is to work with a couple of TNT dress patterns all year and refine my preferences in terms of fabrics, trims, and style details. On the polymer front, I’m planning to make bracelets to go with the dresses, and because I want to perfect the process, I’m going to make a new bracelet every two weeks.

I’ll be back soon with a finished knitting project. See you then!

Purple beaded Viajante

Yay, it’s finally off the needles! I’ve been working (or mostly not working, obviously) on this project since July. The pattern is usually a quick knit for me but this time, I had eleventy million other things that somehow took priority over finishing this lovely piece.

Purple beaded Viajante 1

The yarn is Miss Babs Katahdin and the color is called Violaceous. Isn’t it awesome? It’s a huge skein, at 14oz. and 1,750 yds. The best thing about a big skein like that is that it’s all one continuous piece of yarn. No extra ends to weave in. Perfection, I tell you. It’s 100% Bluefaced Leicester wool. This is the first time I’ve worked with BFL. It’s really lovely. Soft and springy, a joy to knit. And after blocking, it relaxed into a wonderful drapey fabric.

Purple beaded Viajante 2

The drapiness is helped to some degree by the weight of the beads. I’ve made this pattern three times before but this is the first time I decided to add beads to the lace section. Now I want beads on all of them because they add just that little extra sparkle. These beads are silver-lined Rainbow Purple 6/0 seed beads (Dyna-mites) from Fire Mountain Gems. I had considered a lighter purple too but there was just something about the rainbow finish that really made it work beautifully with this yarn.

Purple beaded Viajante 3

I wore it today to our knit group. It was a gorgeous sunny day, around 50F (a nice change from the arctic cold we’ve been having), and the beads caught the sunshine, sending sparkles everywhere. It’s hard to capture that on camera, at least for me. (Peeps, I was patting myself on the back for figuring out how to use the self-timer when it turned out that the battery in the remote is dead. Capturing sparkles is currently beyond my skills.)

Purple beaded Viajante closeup

Notes for future reference

Needles used: 2.5mm and 3.5mm

Mods
Increase is kfbf at the center stitch, with marker replaced after the first stitch through the front loop.
Decreases are only every fifth round, worked as a centered double decrease.
Worked 108 rounds. (Next time pay attention and work an odd number of rounds to avoid having to fudge the first yo round of the lace at the tip.)

Beaded lace mesh
One bead is placed on every 6th stitch in the following rounds:
R3: starting with stitch 5
R7: starting with stitch 1
R11: starting with stitch 3
R15: as R3
R19: as R7
R23: as R11
R27: as R3
Worked to RC29, then bound off using the stretchy bind-off method.
(A big thank you to mirielgw on Ravelry for figuring out the bead spacing.)

Measurements before/after blocking
Across neck: 8.5”/10″
Short side: 15.5”/18.5″

And that’s it for now. Happy holidays to all of you and I hope you all find some time to relax with fabric, yarn, or whatever your preferred creative medium.

See you soon!

Red wool top with brooch

Before I made the teal jeans, I was still on the red kick from earlier this year. And I made this red top. It was the first piece of my winter 6-PAC for which I never made a real plan. I vaguely remember thinking about three tops and three skirts, but this red top is as far as I got before switching gears to sewing jeans.

Red wool top

Lately I’ve been noticing trim and piping and similar details on my inspiration garments. And I have equally been noticing their very obvious absence in my own closet. The red top was my first step towards remedying this. The pattern is my TNT M6355 again and the fabric is a fabulous wool doubleknit from Michael’s Fabrics (years ago) that sews like a dream. I used black foldover elastic for the sleeve hems and neckline. It looked pretty “trimmy” already compared to my usual creations but when I put it on, it seemed to want more. I played with one of my samples, and I think small black-trimmed pockets would have been perfect, you know, Chanel-style. Except, this is not a jacket, but a pullover top. So no pockets, thank you. Instead, I thought, how about a brooch?

Red wool top - closeup

And so I made one with polymer clay. I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted but I knew it should be mostly black. So I made the dome and then fairly randomly poked it with a small stylus. It was meant to be a sample to try the back-fill technique so I wasn’t going for any particular pattern. After curing, I back-filled the holes with white polymer, and cured again. After sanding, the surface is smooth and solid. I really like it. And it adds the touch of black that the red top needed.

Skirt fabrics

Above are the three fabrics for skirts. I figure since these fabrics are the outfit star kind, they can be worn with solid-colored turtlenecks all winter. All three are from Marcy Tilton. Only a yard of each, enough for a skirt. They’ve been sitting on the shelf, patiently waiting for me to realize once again that I can have a fitted top or a dartless one, but that fitted and dartless is really not in the cards for my body shape. Well, they’re up next, hehe.

Happy sewing!

Teal jeans with embroidery and bling

I’ve been waiting to post about these jeans, hoping to get better pictures. Alas, between the rain and cold weather, I haven’t been able to get outside to take pictures so we’ll have to do with these indoor ones.

Teal jeans 1

Two years ago, I made a pair of jeans that was meant to serve as a wearable prototype. I had wanted to make a few more pairs but then life happened, and the planned jeans did not materialize. Until now. A few weeks ago, I finally picked up the pattern, Angela Wolf’s Angel Bootcut (AW 4200). I used the altered version from the prototype because it fit well enough, and added two refinements – one for fit, the other for style:

  • a 1/2″ flat seat adjustment, using Ann Rowley’s instructions, to eliminate at least some of the wrinkling on the back of the legs;
  • an adjustment to the width at the hem, tapering to the knee, to make the hem circumference 19″ so they can be worn with heels.

Teal jeans 2

The fabric is a stretchy denim from Emmaonesock. It’s 65% cotton, 32% polyester, and 3% spandex. It feels very cottony and comfortable, and doesn’t seat out. At least not noticeably.

Teal jeans - back closeup

I’ve been wanting to use this bubbly embroidery design set ever since I bought it last year. I thought the back pockets of these jeans were the perfect canvas for it. I combined three smaller designs in the software, and then played with them a bit so that each pocket is a little different. I had fun getting back into machine embroidery. Note for future: remember that 24 minutes of actual embroidery stitching time will easily mean several hours of work total.

The crystals took longer to put on than I had anticipated but it was easy work and fun to watch the designs come to life. This is the first time I’ve worn bling on my butt and I wasn’t entirely sure about it at first, but once I put them on, I loved them immediately.

Teal jeans - front closeup

I considered contrast stitching but it wasn’t right for this project. Instead, I topstitched tone-on-tone. The stitching is visible, but not in-your-face. The pockets, fly shield, and inside waistband are cut from a coordinating quilting cotton.

Teal jeans - zipper DIY

I didn’t have a coordinating zipper. I had white (too light) and navy (too dark). So I improvised with Sharpies, hehe. Blue and green make a decent teal together, don’t they? On one side, I only needed to color the 1/8″ or so that shows next to the teeth, on the reverse I colored the whole width of the tape because it can be seen when the fly is open. Not that it’s a common sight, ha! but I wanted to make it as close to perfection as I could.

I needed a refresher on sewing jeans so I used Angela Wolf’s jeans class on Craftsy. I’d watch a lesson, then sew that part. Then I’d watch another lesson and follow up with a sewing session. It was nice because the process is divided into manageable chunks, each of which is a visible progress towards the finish. Very satisfying.

I’ve been wearing these jeans quite a bit and love them. The fit is just right, the fabric comfortable, and now I want to clone them in other colors.

And that’s all I have about these jeans for now. If you have questions or compliments, please write them in the comments.

See you soon!

Back in the swing of things

For a person who values stability, I move an awful lot. At the end of September, we made our second major move this year and I’m just now starting to feel like things might return to some semblance of normalcy soon. Sewing has kept me sane (knitting too but lately I’ve been mostly sewing). Here’s how my new sewing studio looked after the movers left:

Sewing room before

And here’s how it looks now:

Sewing room after - view 1

It looked much like this just a few days after the movers left the hot mess you saw in the first picture because I cannot stand moving boxes. So I usually unpack everything in the first week. I had to wait another week or two to have my fabric closet delivered so at that point there were still seven large boxes of fabric in the room. But they sat along one wall and the rest of the studio was usable.

Sewing room after - view 2

I really like sewing in this room. It gets a lot of indirect light most of the day – the bay window faces north. The other two windows face east so they bring in lovely morning sunshine for a couple of hours every day. It feels comfortable to work in here although now that the temperature has dropped outside, I’m noticing a cold draft on my feet. I may need some thick socks or something. It is definitely the coolest room in the house, which is kinda nice because I can have the iron on all day without the room getting too warm.

The first thing I sewed after the move was an apron. I used to have several. Somehow they have all disappeared over the years and moves. And so a new apron was in order.

Apron

Pretty cool, eh? It was a panel I bought at the local quilting store. Easy-peasy. I lined it with a coordinating spiderweb print to make it reversible.

I have other sewing bits to share with you so those will follow in the next post or two.

See you soon!

Where did the time go?

It seems like just yesterday I was telling you about my beginnings with polymer clay and here we are two months later. Where did the time go? Did it go by fast for you too? We’ve been getting ready for the move next month, including a “recon” trip to the Washington, D.C. area so we’ll have some idea of what’s where when we get there. We visited Michael’s Fabrics which is always fun, found a couple of fabulous quilt stores and a yarn store within easy driving distance, and definitely decided to live on base instead of on the economy.

Then there was another trip, a totaled car (hail damage, no one injured, thankfully), and lots of sewing. A bit of the kind that produces wearable garments and a lot of the muslin kind. Real muslin. The kind that you wouldn’t want to be seen dead in it. Although my husband did mention it might be a good color for a pair of pants for me, so maybe I’ll keep that in mind.

Sure-Fit Designs 3-kit combo

Anyway, the many muslins were because I bought the Sure-Fit Designs 3-kit combo. It includes the dress kit, the pants kit, and the shirt kit. I’ll be reviewing them in detail as I work through them this fall. If you have this system and are starting to work with it, or if you’re considering buying it, my initial advice to you is this:

  1. Measure carefully. Like two or three times. At least. And check that you’re not measuring your “mirror posture” but how you really stand.
  2. Don’t try this when your weight is dropping fast because you decided to cut out refined sugar and processed foods right before you ordered the kit. (ahem!)

My summer 6-PAC turned out to be just 5 pieces – the red tops and white skirt you saw, and then I added a black skirt in Sophia knit and a light yellow rayon jersey top. All five pieces got quite a bit of wear and I’ve been really pleased with them. I’ve also made a bunch of PJs for both me and my husband. My most recent makes are a pair of black cotton pants and a long-sleeved top – in preparation for fall, I suppose. And fall sewing, or sewing plans, will be the subject of the next post because I really need to put some pictures together first. Not just for you, but so I have a good visual representation of what’s going on with my wardrobe. Or a checklist. Or something. Because I don’t think I can keep it all in my head and deal with this move at the same time.

See you soon!

My polymer journey – the beginning (part 2)

In the previous post, I showed you the first beads I ever made, my color reference beads and pivot tiles, and the many attempts at bracelets that finally led to something wearable. Today I’ll show you a bunch of other things that I worked on in between figuring out the bracelets.

Playing with color mixing

We’ll start back in Germany. In January I bought this beautiful yarn in my favorite yarn store, Strickliesel in Kaiserslautern. Those amazing colors totally inspired me to make beads for coordinating bracelets. It was a good exercise in using the color reference beads I’d made earlier.

Playing with Cabezels

Fast forward to March, now in Oklahoma. I ordered some CaBezels, made a basic lace cane, and proceeded to test them together. In the picture above they are not yet cured – they’re sitting on a tile, ready to go in the oven. They turned out quite nice except that the raw white-white cured to an off-white, which was a big disappointment.

Beads from Judy Belcher's tutorial

The next project was following Judy Belcher’s graduated lentil bead tutorial. In it, you’re supposed to make multiple canes using the same set of colors so they coordinate nicely. I don’t know if there’s a typo in the tutorial or if it’s just me not used to working with tiny pieces, but I got through making the first couple of canes and then I was out of clay. Hmm. Whatevs. I used what I had and made these beads. I was pretty proud of how they turned out even though they’re not exactly my style.

Polymer school

And then I found Polymer School. It’s a Czech program that basically promises to take you from new-to-polymer beginner to proficient jewelry maker. It took a few several emails and phone calls to work out the arrangements and then I was in. And the program is everything they promise and more. I love it. I’m still working my way through it. The picture above shows my first pieces, from the free intro video lesson. It was eye-opening for me to actually watch someone work the clay from package to finished, at real-time speed, and narrating every step of the way. The donut shape is the piece demonstrated in the video; I made the other shapes with leftover cane slices just for fun. This was my first project using Premo and I absolutely loved that the white stayed white after curing. It’s my new favorite.

Mokume gane

Here I was working with mokume gane – a fun technique that isn’t quite my style but worth learning anyway. I was mostly focused on the cuff bracelet and then used the leftovers to make the pendant and earring pieces and the beads. I’m still not entirely sure what I’m supposed to do with all the cane and veneers that I make, and I always make too much because I worry about not having enough. I think this is one of those things that take practice to figure out.

Happiness in a box

If you’ve ever wondered what happiness in a box looks like, wonder no more for you are looking at it. It’s a bunch of fabulous stamps, a silkscreen, a cabochon mold, samplers of metallic paints and glitter, and resin. (Obviously, you’re not seeing these things in the box but on my work tile, but they were in a box when the mailman handed it to me.) They will make for countless hours of joyful creating.

Happiness testing

This is what it looked like when I started playing with it. I was inspired by a project in one of my Fimo booklets – you can see the original in the upper left-hand corner.

Red white necklaces

Around this same time I sewed up a white skirt and two red tops, and I was looking to make some jewelry to wear with them. I didn’t have anything specific in mind; I was just playing and looking at what happens when I cut sheets of polymer and put them back together differently (kind of like quilting, but not exactly). And when I got something I liked, I cut a circle out of it. Or several circles whenever there was enough for more than one.

Yellow black pieces

A couple of days later, I woke up with a cool idea I was itching to try: red and white, circles, flat and domed, just play and see what happens. Well, what happened was that when I sat down to work, my muse had a different idea and I ended up combining yellow, white, and black to make the pieces above. Apparently, I needed to get that out of my system before I could go back to the originally-intended red and white.

Red white circle study

This stuff. Red and white circles. Different sizes, some flat, some domed, not sure where I’m going with it. I have a sense that was just the beginning.

Black white

Another project was testing Fimo Professional. I’m not sure if it’s just repackaged Fimo Classic or if they changed anything about the formula. I made color reference beads – gradients around the color wheel, and then just played with black and white. I thought the fuzzy effect was really neat. I found this brand rather crumbly but the colors are beautiful and the clay handles well.

Red white vacation jewelry

After a week of testing the Fimo and some interesting ideas that mostly didn’t pan out, I needed a break so it was back to Premo and simple things. I made two sets of jewelry just in time to wear on a mini-vacation over Memorial Day weekend. They are fun to wear. The top set is silkcreened and the bottom set is made with a technique called hidden magic.

Blue jewelry set

Next came this fun cane in black, white, and one color (Peacock Pearl in this case). Someone had posted a picture in one of my clay groups with a link to the YouTube video tutorial, I watched it and decided to give it a try. Making canes takes a lot of practice. Mine are still far from great but I thought this one turned quite pretty anyway. Also, notice I finally figured out how to put my name on pictures (yay!). I think I’ll be doing that from now on.

First brooch

This brooch is my take on one of the assignments in Polymer School. The color combination and dots idea came to me one night as I was going to sleep on our beach mini-vacation. I hope the green looks vivid on your screen – it really is in real life. It is such a happy brooch. It makes me smile every time I see it. Well, a picture of it these days because when my in-laws were visiting last week, my mother-in-law claimed it as soon as she set eyes on it. I was so tickled that she liked it that much.

Brooch and bracelets

She walked away with two brooches because I made her this one to go with her new wardrobe additions. She picked the colors and sat and chatted with me while I worked. It was fun to have company and also to be able to show her the possibilities and have her make choices on the spot. The coordinating bracelets are strung on an elastic cord to make them easy to put on and take off.

And that brings us to a close today. I have some fabrics washed and ready to cut and a knitting WIP that I’ll be sharing next time.

See you soon!

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