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Showing posts from 2015

all righty!

I'm starting an Alabama Chanin dress. It's based on a color scheme I saw at the AC workshop in New York this summer -- sand for the top layer, dark gray for the bottom layer, red for the thread color. It's not something I would have ordinarily picked — I gravitate toward blues and blacks most of the time — but the sample blew me away. I think I grabbed Natalie and said, "" and she was kind enough to look up the colors for me. I couldn't get it out of my head, and finally I just broke down and ordered two yards of each. (Also, someone at the workshop noted that AC pieces are especially eye-catching when there's high contrast, which I totally agree with.) I'm planning to do outside reverse appliqué, so with any luck the watered-down paint will be all or mostly gone. (It's my first time airbrushing! Learned my lesson: Don't water down the paint too much. Half and half is good.) Can I be honest? The whole process is a

dyeing, UFOs, and Harley

Update one: I'm still making dye swatches for the PEM workshop. Goldenrod with alum, l to r: cotton woven, cotton jersey, wool from Dharma Trading Co.,  wool from Weircrafts, and nubby silk Black-eyed Susan (I think) with alum, also in woven cotton, nubby silk, two types of wool, and cotton jersey I was surprised by the black-eyed Susans; you can't really tell from the photo (bad light, I guess), but they produced a fairly dark range of purple-greys. I totally expected them to make the usual yellows and oranges. I really like the results, especially the Alabama Chanin cotton jersey at bottom right. (All I want for Christmas, Santa, is a billion yards of white Alabama Chanin fabric.) Also, I used the goldenrod to dye the base fabric for an experimental pillowcase: Overnight soak on linen, no mordant. I made this for The Chalifour Collection at the Pickering Wharf antiques market in Salem, along with a few other pieces. (The back story on that: I was out

it's a good day to dye, pt. 2

Red wine experiments: wool, cotton jersey (I think), and silk with an alum mordant. I like them. Not sure how well they'd hold up after a wash, but I'm going to pretend that's not a problem. (And it was bad wine! We were going to throw it out anyway. Really.)

it's a good day to dye

Experimental dyeing with tansy: They're not quite dry and still a little blotchy. I think I'm most excited about two in the middle, especially the lemon-yellow linen with an alum mordant and tin afterdip (third from left at the top), and the dark gray (looks black in the photo) cotton jersey with alum and an iron afterdip (fourth from the left at the top). Note to self: Iron darkens everything and tin brightens everything. Also, the cotton jersey took the dye surprisingly well. I've always heard that cotton doesn't take natural dyes well at all, and my first dyeing experiments with your standard white Gildan t-shirts didn't really work...but this is Alabama Chanin jersey, so maybe the fact that it's organic had something to do with it. (It is awfully soft.) I actually love the dark gray so much that I'm dyeing up an AC remnant with the tansy/iron mix right now. I hope there's enough to make a t-shirt. Also, I'm messing arou

MPB Day 2015

MPB Day! We (Peter, my husband Tom, Lisa, James, Kate, and a few others) met at Blue Dog Coffee in the morning. I love their iced coffee, but the dude forgot our orders! Also I don't have a picture of Lisa's dress this year. Sad. At the flea market, I found this amazing Hussein Chalayan jacket at the flea market. (With attached hat!) Full disclosure: I've been fascinated with Hussein Chalayan since I saw this article . It makes me want to get the basics down so I can make excellent modular clothing. He's amazing. (Did I already say that? I did. Well, there you go.) I'm also totally enamored with this jacket because it's practical for New England weather. I can totally wear it to Old Sturbridge Village when it's chilly but sunny and flip the hat up. Or take it on the ferry. Win! Lisa's find: Man, I love that flea market. Also, here's Peter and Enrique of Enrique Sews  with their me-mades. I can't get over Enrique's tie and

Sewaholic Renfrew

I jumped on the bandwagon (finally) and made two Renfrews . This is a wearable muslin in performance fabric: I've started using performance fabric (the kind you can wash in the sink and hang up to dry overnight)  for t-shirt experiments in an attempt to build up my travel wardrobe. I think this is from Osgood Textile in Springfield; it's fairly thick and substantial (and comfortable), and much better quality than the stuff I got at Jo-Ann. (Sorry, Jo-Ann.) It's the same fabric I used to make the Beginner's Dressmaking boatneck shirt . Side rant: I'm really tired of travel clothing companies that seem to think that a woman's travel wardrobe needs to consist of pastel-pink button-down short-sleeved shirts. SO MUCH PASTEL. Soooo many short sleeves. Because apparently traveling is only for warm outdoorsy things and not, like, cities in cold climates in the off-season or anything. Related: Last week I was at Kittery Trading Post and ran across a scoo


The Alabama Chanin jacket that I saw at the workshop is now for sale on their site as a one-off. You can't see it, but I'm drooling over here. Put down the credit card and back away slowly...

three things make a post

1. I went to Staples and printed 7 patterns from the new Alabama Chanin book. Total cost: $50. Here's Harley, guarding them for me on the guest bed. I plan to spend the week tracing and muslining (especially the A-line and tank dress patterns, as well as the fitted dress pattern from the previous book) so I can compare the fit and figure out which  version to make. There seems to be an error in the A-line pattern -- the back piece shows the hemlines for the top, tunic, dress and long dress, but the front piece only shows the hemline for the top. It's an easy fix (I just laid the back piece over the front piece and traced the hemline), but still weird. I'm sort of mulling over the idea of making an Alabama capsule wardrobe -- a dress or two, a jacket to wear as a cardigan (I've tried on an actual AC cardigan and it was too short for me), and maybe a skirt. 2. I went to Quebec City last weekend! And it was great! Not a lot of sewing/crafting stuff to report,

addendum and outtakes: Boston city guide

My Boston city guide is up in this month's issue of Seamwork. Disclaimer: I revisited most of the places on the list (and went to a few new ones) to get the most up-to-date information. I didn't revisit the museums—we go a couple of times a year, and they don't change, really. And I have to admit I've never been to O Ya—although it shows up A LOT on Best of Boston lists and it's the place to go if you want to get fancy, so I had to include it. I hear the fish is especially good.  I also met a ton of really nice people (hi, proprietor at Newbury Yarns ! I need to learn to knit now) and added to my stash. (Shocking, I know.) Also, I didn't include some of the usual Boston sights like Fanueil Hall, the Freedom Trail, Fenway, etc., because you can find that stuff anywhere. If you have questions, though, feel free to ask, and I'll answer if I can. AND I should thank my husband Tom for driving to some of the out-of-the-way places and coming with

Alabama Chanin workshop

We were already planning to go to NY over Memorial Day weekend, mostly to visit some old haunts that were closing (you'll be missed, Pearl River Mart and Salvor Kiosk). Then I found out that Natalie Chanin was hosting two sewing workshops and a book signing...on Thursday, two days before we were supposed to leave. So I exchanged my train tickets and found a hotel and arranged to work remotely for two days. I mean, what else could I do? The workshop was held at LF8 , a nifty boutique in the East Village. There's not much you can do in two hours (and we didn't sew much, just a bit in the end), but it was a great introduction to AC materials and methods. Natalie talked about the physics of sewing, the properties of various textiles (did you know that silk from silkworms is perfectly triangular? I didn't), and the basics of hand-sewing. We practiced stitching on swatches and she walked us through the process of reverse appliquéing the projects in our DIY kits, inclu

adventures in t-shirt making (and my new favorite book)

At the Worcester Sewing Expo  a few weeks ago, I bought a book called  The Beginner's Guide to Dressmaking  on impulse, as well as a ton of bamboo knit from Vogue Fabrics . The haul: How could I pass up an Animal appliqué?  The book's t-shirt pattern caught my eye because I'm perpetually on the lookout for a decent not-too-fitted, not-too-loose t-shirt with interesting details. (Which is hard to find. As much as I love Alabama Chanin, their fitted tops are a little tight—and the Vogue top I just muslined is enormous.) This one is just drapey enough, with a boatneck and sleeve bands. And only two pattern pieces! I loved the variations, too. In fact, the variations on every project (there's an asymmetrical moto jacket, as well as skirts and a shift dress) are pretty great. You can make the dress with or without sleeves and add collars and/or pockets to just about everything. And I couldn't pass up the fabric; I'm a sucker for stripes and polk