Friday, December 12, 2008

SWAP at Artisans' Square II - Sand and Sea

I had an interesting conversation with my son this morning. He leaves on a flight to Tasmania tonight. Tasmania is home of some of the World's finest wool merchants. Alex is not on a buying trip. He is there to embark on a month long cruise aboard the Research Vessel Thomas G. Thompson in the rough waters South of Tasmania. He does know how to sew and probably made the mesh collection bags into which they will place the specimens to be collected from the deep. Alex had a lot to do before he left, not the least of which was get in his post-doctoral applications. In his own words, he has made "progress on multiple fronts", but was not yet packed, nor did he have one of the applications completed. Who says men cannot multi-task.

I had to scrap my first wardrobe plan, since sold out of the key pieces - the African Linen and Batik. Without these, the plan did not have the zip to keep me motivated sewing through 11 pieces.

Plan 2 is called sand and sea: Like my first wardrobe plan, the Missoni fabric found a new home before I made my ensemble. I was able to save 1/2 yard that is at this time destined to be a collar for a jacket to be made from the open weave silk muggah or a sweater coat out of the oatmeal jersey. That may be more versatile than the totally Missoni fabric suit, I had originally envisioned making.

During the past few weeks, I've completed the Organic bamboo with lycra dress. It reminds me of a dress, I lived in during my Senior year at High School and Freshman Year at college. Very soft on the skin when suffering from too much sun! Will post pictures of a young, thin Ms. Fine Fabrics later.

I've cut out and constructed the vest from the last yard remaining at of an absolutely unbelievable piece of Solstiss Lace, embellished with leather, metal, mini-springs, and embroidered with copper metallic thread. The vest is loose fitting and minimally constructed. I used a sleeveless, button down the front shirt pattern by Adri for Vogue Patterns, No. 2279 for the muslin.

I eliminated the side seam, which is a good trick to follow when seams will interfere with pattern more than they are required for fit. There is a more detailed instruction on this technique in "
Smelling Silk and Roses".

I used the post-fitting muslin as my pattern. It is a good idea to lay the fabric over the pattern or muslin so that you can see how the embellishment will appear on the finished garment. Since there was only a 1 yard square of this lace in stock, I had to add a side front seam and be a little creative in placement of the pattern. It is always a good idea to sleep over a creative layout before cutting, since I was able the next day to piece it a bit differently, that gave me more length and enough of the scallop edge to use in finishing the center front edges. When working with lace it is sometimes desirable to hide seams by cutting around key design elements and embellishments, then over - and under - lapping the seam edge. To be able to optimally choose how the design elements lay over the seam, I marked the pattern seam with glass head pins, and left key design elements extending beyond the seam line so I could choose how to over- or under- lap them where the pieces were joined at the shoulder, which seam is pictured below,or along the side front seam pictured below. ecause of the metal pieces, I hand sewed the seams and the scallop edge to the center front edge using a running prick stitch. I hate to say that my stitches look nothing like those done by the embellishment sewers for Solstiss. On this piece of lace, they use a copper metallic thread, and each stitch adds to the design. It prompted me to take a closer look at the application of embellishment by other Solstiss pieces we have at, and the same is true with these. Make a note to think out how seam stitches can be worked into the design on next piece.

Left to do is the finishing of the armhole and neckline edges, and deciding upon whether I want to add some sort of optional center front closures. This leaves me hand work to do when sewing with students who are using the machines and tables.

I'm ready to cut out the Montana for Vogue Patterns pants to be sewn this weekend. And, with respect to the sand and sea halter and Montana Pants.....

People often ask me whether one should start from a pattern or the
fabric. It really is sort of a chicken or the egg sort of question. I am of the fabric school of thought. Having a store full of fabric from which to choose on any single day is not the only reason. You can always find or modify a pattern to do what you would like to do. It is not always as easy to find a fabric that is exactly what you envision. And, frankly, I think it limits your creative options to be too specific when shopping for any fabric.

That being said, planning an 11-piece coordinating wardrobe offers its own challenges. Not the least of which was making my chosen designs fit within the boundaries of the fabric I had available to use. After a week of pinning and unpinning I made a pair of pants and top for which the combined patterns required 3-3/4 yards fit into 2.

In the meantime, I've come up with a couple more wardrobe plans in Navy, red, ivory and gold, and another for a client in deep brown, black, white, light taupe and gold. We'll post on these later also.

Like my son, I'm happiest when there are more projects on the deck than can possibly be finished, then orchestrating them to a crescendo conclusion.

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