Friday, October 21, 2016

Eco-Dyeing Party

Do you get as happy and as excited as I do when you meet a very creative person for the first time?  That's how I was about meeting Carole at a fall sewing retreat last year.  She was a relatively new member to a Maryland wearable art group and I immediately loved her creative aesthetic and thoughtful approach to sewing/creating.  She shared that one of the things that interested her was eco-dyeing and a big inspiration was a woman from Australia, India Flint.  India Flint  
Now, dyeing fabric has never interested me, mostly because I don't have a decent work space for using chemicals and dyes.  But when I got the India Flint book,   Eco Colour  I saw that this dyeing was rather more "natural" and relied upon more common ingredients for the dyeing and for the mordants.  I was even more excited when Carole offered to show us how to do eco-dyeing at her home/studio.  What a spectacularly fun day and I love the result

Eco Dyeing silk scarves
Eco dyeing relies upon leaves, flowers and organic materials which are used to dye fabric chiefly by wrapping them into tight bundles, leaving them to "cook" in hot water and a mordant then unveiling them in their colorful and surprising splendor.  Certainly there are prescribed formulae if someone wants to produce a predictable outcome, say for dyeing wool for a project.  But I love the totally surprising but always organic look of random arrangements of materials.  One wise member of our group did remind us to keep careful notes for each result since the combination of fabric, plant materials and mordants is almost unlimited.  
Here's what our fun day looked like:



My scarf unwrapped and hanging to dry

I went out into my garden that morning and clipped leaves and ferns and flowers to take to the session.  I added Trader Joe's eucalyptus leaves since we were told they are a good consistent plant for print effects.  We used silk scarf "blanks" from Dharma Trading since silk is one of the easiest natural fibers to accept a dye.  You can use rayon as well and cotton or wool but they would require some preparation beforehand.  
We wet our scarves with water then laid out the leaves, flower petals, berries, and stems in organized or random ways.  For denser colors and patterns you do want to lay them closely together since this is chiefly a transfer process.  
We folded the silk upon itself and tightly wound it around a stick, tying it with string to keep the plant material in close contact with the silk scarf.  We placed them in pots of hot water.  The mordant....what makes the dye transfer and stay in place in the silk....was sometimes the metal of the pot (mine was in a cast iron pot) or sometimes rusty items like old nails and screws or perhaps the addition of alum or copper pennies/pipe.  The fibers need a mineral in order for the plant dye to "take."

I enjoyed my day and first attempt at eco dyeing so much that I am offering it as an activity for my church auction next month.  Next fall four people can come to my house and yard to pick the materials from the garden.  I will supply the silk scarf blanks and we will do the same as Carole did for us...have fun sharing a creative activity with an organic, nature-inspired surprise at the conclusion.  Thanks to Carole for introducing me to another designing enterprise and to you dear readers and fellow bloggers for joining in the journey.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Right Dress, Wrong Season

In mid-August I brought several samples garments to a sewing weekend with fitting guru Sarah Veblen and this dress was the overwhelming favorite among all of us.  What a fabulous pattern and I am loving the final result....but not the fact that I won't be wearing it in public until we head to Florida later this winter.  But if you sew clothes, you know the joy and excitement of a new, versatile TNT pattern.  
Oh, Vogue 8997, how do I love thee?

Vogue 8997
I like the open neckline, the raised underbust seaming, the cup size options, the fun flare in this flared version and this fun stretch sateen from Fabric Mart.  It's the perfect dress for the summer winery outdoor dances that Mr. Lucky and I go to and I only regret that I didn't try this pattern out in late spring.

Here's the fabulous pattern...note that it comes with a two piece sleeve (wonderful in a dress and unusual), a flutter sleeve and a straight sheath version.  I will be making an entire wardrobe of these dresses in all their variation.
When Sarah helped me fit my mock-up, this is what I had to work with:
The pattern has eight pattern pieces for the sleeveless version.  I am so asymmetrical that I had to cut the dress in single layers and had to make adjustments on 12 of the 16 pieces.  So yes, it is a slow process for someone like me.  I am not temperamentally a particularly detailed or precise person. But working with Sarah has shown me the benefits of slowly making these adjustments and working carefully.  I would fail as a custom dressmaker but thankfully my style works for my casual life.  
Eight bodice pieces each with its own little adjustment

I self lined the bodice and then used a rayon lining for the bottom panels.
The stretch woven I used was quite lightweight so I applied light interfacing on the lining edges of the neckline and armholes to keep them stable.  I line sleeveless dresses using a sort of "burrito" method.  I  meant to take good pictures illustrating this technique again but instead will refer you to my original post...lining a sleeveless sheath  
Now let me show you how I will be wearing this dress in public...always with a little shrug.

I brought this project to my sewing retreat in August and one evening went shopping at the local Stein Mart store. (We don't have them in Maryland but they are one of my favorites for Florida casual wear.) I found this lacey little tie shrug for $8 on clearance and it looks like I coordinated it perfectly.
I may end up tracing the shrug because it's perfect for this dress.  And this is how I feel wearing this fun,  girly,swirly, twirly dress...let's get this party started.
Here's hoping that your sewing projects make you feel like dancing.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Fabric, Fun and Friends

Since this blog is ostensibly about my sewing adventures I will start with what interests you the most, sweet readers.  Did she go to that Colorado fabric store?  Did she buy any fabric?  What is she going to do with it?
Oh, so many questions.  Yes, when Mr. Lucky and I headed west to Colorado ten days ago I had added Elfriede's Fine Fabrics  Elfriede's  to our travel itinerary, particularly once Grace at badmomgoodmom blog enabled me offered to meet up in person.  I'm honored that someone so skilled and learned would even read my blog much less offer to help me select fabric from this wonderful emporium.  
So that was settled, we were heading out to Colorado to reacquaint ourselves with Mr. Lucky's family, take some local walks in town, meet up for more adventurous hikes with Maryland friends in the spectacular Rocky Mountain National Park and yes, add to my fabric resource center.

Grace, Elfriede, Jane
 The fabrics:

 On the left is a lightweight wool loosely woven knit.  No, I have no idea but it is just spectacular and my real splurge.  


 Not a wonderful cell phone pic on my dress form but I am thinking cozy jacket wrap. The middle burgundy/merlot is an Eileen Fisher ponte.  Wonderful drape and I am thinking maybe a bottom piece but it too would be gorgeous as a flowing jacket.  (Don't forget, Elfriede has great mail order as well and these pontes are on her site.)
The next piece was my first choice and if I were limited would have been my only purchase.  It is a rayon knit in my mid to fair colors, with that touch of black, and I think the abstract print looks like mountains so it will be a great souvenir garment in the future.
The two fabrics on the left were remnants I just could not resist, a yard and quarter of the soft wool and less than two of another rayon knit.  




I'm thinking shawl collared vest from the wool

and a very versatile knit top that would be a wonderful travel garment to coordinate with many others.

That concludes the sewing portion of our action packed seven day trip.  Mr. Lucky and I did two 10k walks through the University of Denver campus and neighborhoods and then thru the small town of Arvada which is becoming a bit trendier as the downtown is updated and the light rail is moving out there.  We find these great walks through the website for the local Volksmarch club. 
Volksmarches are mapped out by clubs all over the world and are a wonderful way to actively explore a town or natural area.  You look up the public "start point," a hotel or eating establishment or in this case, a local gym.  The Volksmarch Club leaves a registration box and you can pick up a map.  No schedule or racing but it does mean you are parked in a safe area and will be on a circular walk that gets you back to the start point.  If you really get into it, you can do the record keeping and earn pins and awards for mileage and quantity of walks you take.  We stopped that process years ago (reocrdkeeping of any kind is not our forte) and just enjoy knowing that we will always be an interesting place and be able to find our way back.  In the US, it's ava.org or internationally ivv-web.org
After the lovely fabric and blogging friend diversion in Boulder, Mr. Lucky and I headed to Estes Park to meet up with Maryland friends just completing 5 1/2 weeks on an RV trip seeing ten western national parks.  What a true delight to catch up with them in a gorgeous place and hear about their adventures on the trip of a lifetime.  The weather turned cold overnight and there was snow up on the mountaintops the next morning.  At their advice (perfect advice, it turned out) we got an early start into the park and onto a trail for our first hike of the day, up Deer Mountain, about a 1000 foot ascent with each view becoming more beautiful.  Wow is such a small word for such majestic sights.  


Aspen trees just starting to peak in the fall

Summit of Deer Mountain video

More hikes....marked with sewing pins...
more scenery....






Wildlife...elk rutting time...
The bicyclist did wisely move behind a car as the bull elk was bellowing for the rest of his harem.
I even had the very special experience of catching up with a friend from more than thirty years ago when we were both single career gals with heavy travel schedules.  We haven't seen each other or spoken directly in more than 20 years but when we got together on our last evening in town, the decades melted away and it was as if we had just met up yesterday.  Isn't that the most wonderful thing when that happens!
Still fun and crazy after all these years
If you stayed with me all through this long travel tale, you get to see another sewing surprise.  When we were looking at the Rocky Mountain National Park newspaper of events and hike information, I saw a blurb for a quilt show.  Yes, there is a beautifully curated small 13 quilt show making the rounds of the US national parks as another part of their centennial celebration this year.  Just so happened the the visitor center we stopped at had the display and I was able to capture the shot of the quilt designed for this particular park before my camera battery ran out.  The display is traveling to other parks this year so check your closest location if you would like to see more of them.  NPS Centennial Quilts






Now it's time for me to get into my own sewing room and finish a dress I will be wearing this weekend for a  family gathering.  Here's hoping you are enjoying adventures in or out of your sewing space.