Harley helps.

Harley helps.
Harley, my hard-working sewing assistant.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

oh hi!

It's been a while. I haven't really been sewing as much, although that Sandra Betzina dress is still in progress and I'm thinking about a couple of projects.

But a couple of things!

First thing: I went to the Women & Textiles Expo in Lowell yesterday and met up with Deepika and a few others from PatternReview.

hi!
It was really fun! I think it's the first year for the expo, and I hope they do it again next year. There were lectures, a makers' table (we made scarves out of cotton and fleece strips), vendors, and a fashion show.

Here's Deepika trying on a jacket from B. Felt:


She bought the blue scarf from them:

B. Felt! #goals
The fashion show was pretty amazing. Here's what won Best in Show:




Why yes, that is a reversible coat with a map of Amsterdam made out of felted organic merino wool, no big.

I bought an amazing red woven scarf (you can just see it in the top photo) from Elizabeth Springett:


Her friend, who has cerebral palsy and is in a wheelchair, made it. She uses just one finger to move the shuttle. Gorgeous work.

So yeah, fun day. It's filling the Worcester Sew Expo-shaped void in my heart. (But I'll still miss you, Cynthia Guffey.)

Second thing! We adopted this little dude.

Hey, ladies.
The shelter named him Rensselaer, and we've been calling him Ren or Rennie or Captain Rensselaer Sassypants or (suggested by Facebook) Snake Plissken or Nick Furry. The non-working tiny eye on the left is a birth defect, but he sees pretty well out of the right. He's super-pouncy and snuggly and fun, and he likes pizza, vegan yogurt, and hemp milk a lot. (Ask me how I know.)

That's the news for now!


Monday, October 24, 2016

Harley

We said goodbye to him this weekend.

I miss him a lot. Hunkered down in the window, snoozing in the sewing room, stalking heating vents, chasing his tail... the house feels weird and empty without him.

Our other cat, Cinders, knows something's up, and she seems pretty unsettled. So am I.

I'm setting up a memorial space in his sleeping spot in the sewing room, with his blankets and a toy and the ridiculous baby t-shirt the vet asked us to make him wear (which he hated). It had some patriotic baseball thing on the front, and I wish I could have snapped a picture of his expression when we first put it on him. What the hell, person?

He was so funny -- the type of cat that took everything extremely seriously, until he didn't.

Going through my photos, it's amazing how many of them are sewing-related. He was always there! He loved sitting on fabric and paper patterns (especially PDFs, as I was trying to tape them up), and watching me thread needles. (String, person. STRING.)








The ridiculous baby t-shirt:


And my all-time favorite picture of him:


I'll miss you, buddy.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

V1510 progress, dyeing with purple basil, and other stuff

Updates!

1. I'm making slow progress on view A of V1510. Slow because Harley the cat is still sick (his cancer is progressing, unfortunately), and this keeps happening:

Me: Hey Harley, want to go work on the dress?
Harley: I have a better idea. How about I curl up on your chest and go to sleep?

This...
...or this?
I like the dress so far, though. (I'm doing the tunic version, but it's long enough to be a dress on me.) And how did I not know that Sandra Betzina's instructions are fantastic?

2. I'm totally drooling over Dries van Noten spring 2017, especially this coat:


I need this! Where can I find a giant floral print?

3. I dyed some fabric with purple basil. Did some cotton (including an overdye on a tansy/iron mix I wasn't crazy about), and then threw some wool and silk into the exhaust dyebath. I simmered each batch for several hours, then let it sit for 1 or 2 days.

Result: two totally different colors. Plants, you are so weird.

Purple basil, you smell SO GOOD

Soaking cotton
Final results

Left: Cotton, definitely purple. The bottom is the overdyed Alabama Chanin fabric. I might redye the cotton on the top to try and get a deeper color.
Right: Wool and silk in bright yellow bordering on chartreuse. WHAT.

4. We went to the Big E last weekend — New England's epic multi-state fair. It's so big that it takes two full days to see everything. My favorite building (well, aside from Vermont) is the New England Center, which has the the competition quilts, fiber projects and crafts. Some of my favorites this year:

RIP, Cecil
The Death Star quilt was really amazing up close.
A knitted electric guitar!
Hi, Amelia.
I had a fun conversation there with a woman who was hand-quilting some pieces from her brother-in-law's mother's (?) stash -- mostly pieces from the '40s and '50s. (I didn't get a picture; wish I would have asked.)

We were chatting about hand-sewing, and she said, "You know, those embroidery machines do a fabulous job, but why should the machine have all the fun?" My thoughts exactly.

Also, we saw someone making silk from cocoons — ! She had a little crockpot set up, and walked us through the process from beginning to end. She also had a shawl that she'd spun, dyed, and knitted herself. I really should have taken photos.

On Sunday, we went to one of my favorite fabric stores, Osgood Textile in West Springfield. I love Osgood -- it's enormous and I always find something interesting there.



When it's home dec, but you absolutely, positively must make a dress out of it.
That's about it for now. Time to go check on the cat!

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Monday, September 12, 2016

I don't get it

Two things are kind of ticking me off this week:

1. Gwyneth Paltrow's extremely expensive GOOP "basics." Made in Italy, and she says they're "luxurious ready-to-wear at a direct-to-consumer price." The tagline is Buy Now, Wear Now, Keep Forever. Hahahahahaha. Let's take a quick look at the fabric content of that affordable $695 blazer:



37% wool, 29% acrylic, 22% polyester, 6% nylon, 5% silk, 1% elastane. I'm guessing that acrylic/poly/nylon isn't all in the lining. Which means it's going to pill like crazy, no?

(FWIW, I have a similar blazer from the Gap. It's ~10 years old (wait, no, it's around 20! holy shit, I am old), 100% wool, and still holding up great. It was also less than $695, I'm pretty sure.

2. This story's been making the rounds over the past few days, and the comments are driving me up the wall. I'm really tired of (presumably) well-off women instructing each other to buy less, by which they mean saving up and buying high-end designer clothes, because they last longer.

Hmm.

And steam comes out of my ears every time these same clueless people declare that those on a limited budget should "just save up and buy better clothes." I just don't even know what to say about that. (Wait, I do, but I'm not posting it here).

I'd sure love to know how many of those $695 blazers are going to be around in 5 years. (Answer: All of them, in a bale somewhere, because polyester takes decades to decompose!)


Thursday, September 1, 2016

fabric shopping in Amsterdam

The Seamworker's Guide to Amsterdam is up!

I found out that Amsterdam — like Antwerp — is a really great source for knits. Especially sweatshirt fabric. (I'm really regretting not buying some as I get ready for fall sewing!)

I loved Noordermarkt — it was like an open-air Mood, just stalls and stalls of every fabric you can imagine, lots of them organized by type: gingham, lace, etc.








Albert Cuypstraat was like a New York street fair, with off-brand socks and makeup, food trucks, and — unlike most New York street fairs — fabric stalls (and permanent fabric shops behind them).






Also, I stumbled onto a hippie restaurant with no set prices — at the end, the cashier told me to "pay what you feel or pay what you think."

I laughed, but the food was very good. And they had cucumber-lemon-orange infused water.






On the way back, I stumbled across an amazing shop called Sprmrkt. The entrance was filled with trees, so it felt like you were walking through a forest.

They carried men's and women's Vetements, Damir Doma, Rick Owens...OF COURSE I stumbled across this place at the end of our trip, when I was out of spending money. OF COURSE.

Still fun to browse, though.





But I think Tinctoria was my favorite place. The owner's been naturally dyeing fabrics for 25 years. I was completely gobmacked by the colors — they were rich and deep and changed with the light. It kind of spoiled me for all other fabric shopping, and made me want to use naturally dyed, sustainably produced fabrics from now on, whenever possible.







She knew so much about dyeing — especially chemistry and working with hard-to-use dyes — and I was kicking myself after I left because I really should have asked more questions. At one point, she said, "So of course I pretreated it with soy milk..." and I nodded and went "uh huh" as if I totally knew what she was talking about, and of course I totally didn't. I have so much to learn.

She also recommended Dominique Cardon's books and mentioned a conference that takes place every few years in France (I think). So there's my rabbit hole.

SO. Here's my final haul:



Top to bottom:

  • Ikat remnant from Capscium Natuurstoffen — destined for a skirt or maybe a fancy bag
  • Polka-dot oilcloth from Maastricht (oilcloth is all over the Netherlands too!)
  • My favorite piece: Madder-dyed orangey-red hemp from Tinctoria (or, as Leentje politely called it, "your brick.") Haven't quite decided what to do with it yet. Was thinking about a jacket; wish I knew how to make sneakers.
Additional bits and bobs from the remnant bin:





Two pieces of velvet (the one on the right was dyed with weld, I think), two pieces of hand-printed linen. She'd written her dyeing recipe on the blue one.

I could post more pictures (so, so many more pictures, you guys), but I'll stop here for now. :)

Thanks for reading!
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