"To live in the world without becoming aware of the meaning of the world is like wandering about in a great library without touching the books.".....The Secret Teachings of All Ages

Monday, November 25, 2013

A Few Winter Photos and a New Project

In my neck of the woods, Southern Oregon, winter has set in for sure. For the last week the temps have dropped into the mid 20s at night, and rarely get above 60 or so during the day. Daytime temps will get lower as the season progresses. The odd thing, though, is there has been very little rain. We have a seasonal creek that is usually going gangbusters by this time, and always before Thanksgiving. It's still dry.

Our house, since it is build up against a hill, and the hill is forested with pines, spruce, madrones, and oaks, is always dark, especially the back side. So when the light coming in through the big front window hits the living room just right, it really is lovely. It doesn't last much longer than an hour or so, but while it does, the room takes on a soft winter glow that I love.

I took these photos around 11:00. The wood stove was going, so the room was all cozy and warm, and Celeste was snuggled in on her favorite spot on the couch...where she spends most of the day. These are not "House and Garden" photos, folks, but I hope you can get a sense of the room's soft, warm ambiance. Outside it was about 45 degrees. Inside it was 74.

Oh, and my Hallowe'en decorations are still up...and stay up until after Thanksgiving.  The cover over the TV (I hate that big eyeball staring at me all day) is a quilt my mom made for me.

Here are a few photos of frosted leaves I took just this morning.

And now the new project—The Denim Duster Vest (the DDV?). This one will be a long, on-going "Something to work on while I am between other projects and will probably take forever" piece. It is a Nordstrom's  full-length denim dress with buttons down the entire front. My husband bought it at the Goodwill (for $4.99) to dress a dummy he was making (don't ask!) for a horse event we put on back in October. As it turned out, the dress didn't work. It was a petite size, but I tried it on anyway, to see if I could use it. It fit tight across the shoulders, but I figured if I cut the sleeves off, it would be fine. I liked the idea of making it into long vest, and since it has no other decorations, tucks, pleats, darts, etc. it's pretty much a blank canvas for me to play on.

So, here are photos of the original dress. Again, apologies for the darkness of the photos, but it was only 37 degrees outside, so there was no way I was going to take all these out on the deck, even if the light was marginally better.

Here it is after I cut off the sleeves and collar. I am going to leave the edges raw so they will frey out. The plan is to do some kind of stenciling around the bottom and go from there. I am also contemplating a way to take in the excess at the waist to make it a bit more fitted, and splitting the back and putting a gore in to give it some flare. It's a nice weight of denim, so I can pretty much do whatever I like with it. 

Eventually, when I'm all done playing with this, I may...MAY...swap out the buttons, but geezoh-peazoh, there are a zillion of those things, so I'd really have to be in the right frame of mind (crazy) to take that on.

So that's the latest. Any of you have Winter projects...or in the case of those Down Under...summer projects?

Monday, November 11, 2013

Filmore West Top—Complete

If there is one thing this project taught me, it was patience, 'cause things kinda went wonky as the work proceeded. Biggest frustration was sewing on the narrow banding that frames the black rose panel. Those long strips of knit fabric, despite being pinned to the fabric every inch(which caused another nightmare, as the thread was always getting hung up on the pins as I worked), walked, skooched, wriggled, and worm-crawled with every stitch. Then, after they were all finally locked down (I gave up trying to make them ruler-straight), the panel fabric started to pull loose and curl out from underneath the framing strips. First I tried doing a small running stitch around the inside edge of framing strips, trying to stabilise the panel fabric underneath. That helped...sorta...but didn't solve the problem. So, I added a running stitch all around the edge of the panel fabric. Again, it helped, but the problem never got totally solved. I suspect the first time I wash this, the two pieces will pull slightly apart and show the raw edges. At this point, I don't care. I decided it could just be part of plan...yeah...plan...at least, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

 Center panel partly top-stitched, and the framing strips pinned in place.

This was also one of those projects where the original design idea got changed as I went along. Pretty much each time I tried the top on I tweaked something. The last change I made was to cut off about five inches from the bottom, rather than gather up the sides, as I had planned. That was another situation where, standing in front of a full-length mirror and playing around with the shirt while on, made me decide it looked way better shorter, than just gathered. Whack...off with the five inches.

What would I do differently? For one thing, I would iron the center panel and framing strips onto Heat and Bond to stabilise them, iron them onto the shirt, then do the top stitching. It would solve that whole curling, walking, and pulling away problem and make my life much easier for next time. Also, in looking at the stitching around the rose, which I did in free-form swirl patterns trying to match the swirls in the binding material, instead I think I would just do the running stitches to echo the outline of the rose. As it is now, you can't really see the swirl pattern. It just looks like random quilting stitches that don't make any sense. Lastly I would make the shoulders narrower, so there would be less fabric bunched up under the ties. 

Purposely, there are no beads or sequins on this top. Just the four buttons, which I found while looking for something else in my button stash, and thought they would work well with this. I wanted this top to be different in look and feel from the other altered tops I have done. Less glitz, more hardcore. For whatever reason, I think it has a vaguely military aura about it. Maybe it's the colors, and the fact that the swirl pattern looks a bit like camo? Not sure, but I'm okay with it. In fact, I like it a lot.

Here is the finished top on Inara. Under it is a plain black long-sleeved T-shirt, which is how I will wear it during the winter. With tank tops under it during the summer.

Materials list: Two mans T-shirts from the Goodwill, one rose stencil from the Goodwill, knit tie cord from an old hoodie, four buttons from my stash, button/craft thread, regular all-purpose thread.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Filmore West Top

I found this T-shirt with the "Filmore West " name on the back, and I assume what was a fairly Hippy-esque design on the front but was so faded I wasn't sure. My first thought was, could this T-shirt actually have survived in someones attic since the 60s-70s? Probably not, but the idea was intriguing. Anyway, when I saw it, hanging in the forlorn ranks of other cast off shirts at the Goodwill, I had a flashback to my own Hippy days—painted clothes, painted face, lots of beads, freakout dances with giant pulsing blobs projected on the walls—you know, all the fun stuff. At the time, I never made it to San Francisco or the Filmore where all the hot bands played, and by the time I graduated from High School it was being touted that the age of the Flower Child was already dead. But still, I found this silly T-shirt that brought back a lot of silly, and I'll be honest also scary, memories. For $2.00 I bought it, with no clue what I was going to do with it.

Then, not long ago, I came across another Goodwill shirt with a swirly design that I liked. It was also only about $2.99, so I bought that one. 

Add to this progression the fact that I recently caved and started a Pinterest page, with lots of boards full of ideas, and we get to this current project, which is a bit different from the things I have done so far.

Here are the two shirts I am using. First decision I made was to ignore the design on the front of the Filmore shirt and make the back of the shirt the front. I have already cut the sleeves off the Filmore shirt.

I put the Filmore shirt on Inara (my dress form) and started playing around with draping, which I had never done before. At one point I basted in tucks around the waist and put pleats across the shoulder seams, but when I tried it on, I didn't like the way the shirt hung and knew if I kept it that way, I would never wear it. So, I ripped out all the basting and tried just tying the shoulder seems to get the drape. That worked a lot better. With that idea in mind, after cutting the neckline a bit lower, I cut binding from the patterned shirt and sewed that to the neck and armholes of the Filmore shirt.  Instead of using embroidery thread to sew on the binding, I used doubled button/craft thread, which I actually liked working with better than the embroidery thread. Unfortunately, it comes in a limited choice of colors. I used the button thread because it's not as bulky, and I didn't want the stitching to obliterate or distract from the pattern on the shirt. As it turned out, from only a short distance, the thread disappears.

The front of the shirt was going to need some sort of design, but I didn't have anything that really look "Hippy" and in any case, I didn't want to go that way. I wanted something more urban, rock, or punk rather than Hippy or "crafty." I wanted edgy. Which made me remember the stencil of a rose I also bought at the Goodwill, for only a dollar.

On one of the cutoff sleeves I stenciled the rose, in black. The rose will be cut out in a rectangle (you can just see the lines drawn with soap on the material), and then bordered with the patterned shirt material. The whole piece will be appliqued onto the front of the Filmore shirt.

After I got all the binding sewn on, I tied up the shoulder seams with a piece of cord I found in my stash of stuff, in a color that worked, and tried the shirt on again. I liked it, and knew the applique of the rose would work great. While I was still standing in front of the mirror, I hiked up the sides in preparation for taking the shirt off, and stopped. I really liked the way the shirt draped when I pulled up the sides just a bit. That will be the last thing I do to finished the top. This is meant to be layered over other shirts, as the armholes are a bit big and would show my bra if I wore it alone. Which is fine, because I originally wanted it to be something I could layer.

So, that's the Filmore West Top—so far. This should go together pretty fast, and since the weather is rainy and cold, I'll have lots of time to work on it.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Dia de los Muertos

Today is Day of the Dead, so here is one more piece of amazing jewelry to put you in the mood. This  is by Victoire de Castallane for Dior.

Pretty awesome, doncha think? I read it as, "All is vanity." Diamonds won't save you from your own mortality. But, however you view the piece, it's a beautiful work of the jewelers art.