Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Rectangles, Circles and Squares. Post 4

This has been quite a week. While we were in Colorado, my little dog ended up with an infection caused by an abscess on one of her back teeth. I had noticed a bump on her cheek, but thought it was caused by the two dogs wrestling. I went to Denver to do a little shopping and looking around. Within an hour it had blown up to the point that it was pushing her eye closed. All I could think about was getting somewhere where I knew someone and finding someone to help for her. A friend texted the number to a vet in a nearby town. This man is such a wonderful vet, he has his cell phone number on his answering machine when he is not in the office. He gave me some antibiotics and felt that they should take care of the problem. Well, it came back this week. Tuesday night, I couldn't sleep. I was able to get her to the vet on Wednesday morning. As it turns out, her back tooth is broken which has allowed it to become infected. She is once again on antibiotics and is scheduled for surgery. On Wednesday night, I pulled her into bed with me, held her tight and cried my self to sleep. Now some may think it's crazy to be so attached to a dog, maybe, but remember, I fly all over the place for dogs that don't even belong to me. So as crazy as I may be, mine are especially special to me. My husband loves to give me a hard time about how spoiled they are. My reply is always the same, "their little lives are so short, they should just be happy." I think he agrees, he just likes to give me a hard time.

My Little Bit, snuggled tight in my robe. Now who can say this is a spoiled dog? Well, maybe a little.

Another Rectangle

So, finally, my fourth post. Two more and I'll be caught up. Again...finally.
This rectangle is so incredibly easy.

The rectangle is the skirt. To begin with, you will need to have a knit fabric. It does not need to be a two-way stretch, but it does need to have a crosswise or lengthwise stretch. I like knits that have a two-way stretch as they just seem to work better. The stretch will need to go the length of your rectangle.
The measurements are as follows;
For a size small, cut the rectangle 54" x 25".
For a size medium, cut the rectangle 56" x 25".
For a size large, cut the rectangle 58"x 25".
The 25" measurement is the width of the skirt. You can cut it a little wider, especially if you are rather tall, but take a look at the picture above and you can see that the point hangs rather low. So you don't want to cut the length too much more than 25". If you are rather short, cut it less than 25" wide so that the point will not be not be touching the ground.
First, serge all edges of your rectangle with a rolled edge. If you don't have a serger, just finish all four sides of your rectangle.

Once all of your edges have been serged or finished by machine, take one end of your rectangle and bring it over to the top side of your rectangle. Sew or serge a seam.

Once the seam has been sewn, your piece will look something like this. Thankfully, we wear fabric and not paper so yours will have a nice drape.

Once it is on the body, it will look like this. You can see from the picture that the piece will form a V at the waist. I always wear a top over my skirt, so this is not an issue for me.

I made two skirts that coordinate and I wear one over the other.

Or you can wear one as a skirt and the other as a poncho.

Remember the jacket that I said looked like something Morticia would wear? Well, I also made a skirt out of that fabric.

This fabric is not a two-way stretch. In fact, I didn't even finish the edges. The knit does not run, so I only sewed the one seam. It doesn't get any easier than that. The piece is great for throwing over my shoulders at night. I also put it over pants and you can see from the above picture, I can also use it as another layer over the other skirt, and I've worn it with other skirts.
Give it a try. It's a nice little versatile piece to have in your wardrobe.

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Saturday, February 5, 2011

Rectangles, Squares and Circles...Still Catching Up

One of my favorite fabric stores is in Houston, TX, High Fashion Fabrics. This is just the most spectacular store I have ever seen. There are rows and rows of laces stacked twenty bolts high, and more silks than you can imagine, just a dream of a store. I've been told that singing stars and pageant contestants shop here. I've seen a few celebrities in the store with their seamstress picking out fabric. Whenever I am in Texas, it is a must stop. Whatever I am looking for, they have it. If you are ever in the Houston area, please stop, it is just a feast for the eyes. I drool over the laces and embroideries and wish I had a black tie event to attend every day of my life so I could justify buying everything that I see. Many years ago my husband and I were invited to a very special party. Ronald Reagan was president at the time and he was in attendance. Incredible!!, I couldn't believe we were there. That night I made the comment to my husband that I felt like the Queen of England. He said , "If you were, you would have to do this every night." No thanks,(not that I have any other choice!!) I like my life just fine. Special parties remain special, and memorable.
If you are in the Houston area, the address of High Fashion Fabrics is;
3101 Louisiana St.(it's located off the downtown area and they do have free parking)

Today's rectangle was purchased at High Fashion Fabrics. The picture does not do it justice. There are shades of grey and silver threads throughout the fabric. The pleating is permanent. The top portion is so finely pleated that it forms an elastic stretch.
To make the skirt, I began by simply serging a center back seam and in doing this, cutting off the selvage edge.Once I had the center back seam sewn, I divided the waist into four equal parts and marked it with pins.

Then I measured my waist , cut a piece of elastic, sewed it together and then divided it into four equal sections and then matched that to my skirt.

I then serged the elastic to the edge of my skirt.

At center back I turned the elastic down,

and stitched it down about a half inch. I could have done a zigzag stitch all the way around, but that would leave a line in the pretty pleating, so to hold the elastic down, I opted to just do some small tacks by hand to hold the elastic down around the waist.

In three simple steps, I have a beautiful skirt,

I have a fun little strapless dress that I can also wear with leggings and a t-shirt,

and I also have this funky poncho. Fun.
The last time I was in the store was December and they still had the fabric. They did have it in at least one other color. I'm so sorry, but I just can't remember what the color was. If you like the fabric, give them a call, I'm sure they will be happy to help you.

This fabric I found in the little fabric store in Granby, Colorado. It's pleated just like the silver/grey fabric above. It's really pretty. She also had the fabric in I think, rust and blue shades. This I know is still available as I just bought it a few weeks ago and she had plenty. Lorene of The Fabric Nook does not have a website, but she would welcome your phone call. Her number is (970) 887-2005. During the week she is open 10-5 Mountain Time, and she is open on Saturdays 9-2.
If you do end up with a piece of either of these fabrics, I would recommend hand washing them. I don't think the pleats will fall out, but if it looks like they will, just twist the skirt while it is still wet and allow it to stay twisted until it drys.
I wore the black and red skirt yesterday and received a number of compliments. It looks so much more complicated than it is. As you can see, with a minimal amount of effort you can have a great looking garment.

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Friday, February 4, 2011

Once a Hippy, Always a Hippy

I grew up in a very conservative southern family. My father was a Southern Baptist minister. But I was different. I loved and was intrigued with anything that was a bit different. When I was able to choose, I bought psychedelic paints. I would listen to The Midnight Special with Wolfman Jack on the radio and Edgar Allen Poe was one of my favorite writers. We lived in rural Mississippi from the time I was 10 until I was 13. So, not only was my family conservative, but everyone around me was conservative as well. Girls were not allowed to wear pants to school, and that was public school. My mother would measure my skirts at exactly 3 inches above my knee. I hated my long skirts and I longed to wear the frayed, hiphuggers jeans and ponchos that I would see on television.

Finally, my day arrived. My mother and I were invited to a special event in Meridian, MS. The mother of a friend of mine invited me to come along and shop for something new to wear. Now this was much more special than you can imagine. All of my clothes were homemade, and not made like I wanted. The mother of my friend was much more easy going, so I knew I had a chance at picking out something I really wanted. I will never forget that outfit. I chose a pair of cerulean blue hiphuggers with big yellow and white daises all over them. My top was sleeveless with a mock turtleneck in sunshine yellow. I felt liberated and I felt beautiful. That spring, the school decided that the girls could wear pants for one special day. We were going on a field trip. To be honest, I do not remember where we went or what we did, but I can immediately tell you what I wore. That was the first time I ever wore a pair of pants to school and it was the most wonderful feeling.

I just finished this bag yesterday, and I love it. The way the bag came about was I took a class with Nicky Epstein. What a wonderful experience. She's so full of energy and fun ideas. To prepare for the class, we were to knit two squares. On one square we did the embroidery that you see above. As usual, I can't leave well enough alone. I added the center section to make it look like a sunflower.

We never did anything with the other square, but, I kept it.
'We made a sample of the larger flower and we also made one of the hanging flowers that you see in the above picture. I liked how they looked and decided to make two more. They are super fast and super easy.

As I looked at all the pieces I had, I thought that they may make a great bag. For the sides and the shoulder strap, I knitted a cable band. To decorate the top edge, I knitted 3 i-cords and then braided them together.
To make the bag a little sturdier, I made a simple square pouch that would slip inside and then put a zipper closing on the top.

I lined the shoulder strap with a piece of grosgrain ribbon so that it wouldn't stretch.

The bag was not a part of the class. I just hate to waste anything and so decided to make use of my pieces and try to make something I would enjoy and that would be useful. In the process, I was able to take a lovely trip down memory lane.

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Rectangles, Squares and Circles...WeekTwo??

The Magic Jacket

I started this series on January 5th, so I should have posted week 5 this week, but alas, I'm behind. I do promise to catch up and hopefully as the weeks go by, you'll be so happy with my postings that you will soon forget about that the fact that I allowed things to slip.

My goal is to give you items that are relatively simple to construct and yet look great. This week I will explain how to construct this jacket. The above outfit is something that I love having in my wardrobe. It's great for traveling, takes up no space in a suit case. It can be worn with sandals or with a change of shoes and jewelry look great for the evening. The jacket looks so graceful and gives just the right amount of cover up that I would like on a summer evening. Because the fabric is so sheer, it's difficult to see the back drape.
This picture shows in a little better detail how the back drapes.

This is a shorter version of the same jacket. Now that I'm looking at this picture, the black looks a little like Morticia's negligee. I have to learn how to take better pictures.
You are not going to believe how easy this jacket is to make. For a small size, start with 2 yards of fabric. For a medium, 2 1/2 yds., and for a large, 3 yds. For the jacket that is pictured above, I used the entire width of the fabric which was 60". As you can see, this made a full length jacket. If you would like something shorter, may use a fabric that is 45" wide, Or cut the fabric down to 30" or 36" wide. However, the longer the jacket, the more drape you will have in the back.

Hopefully you can see from the above drawing that the selvage edges of the fabric are at the top and bottom. If your fabric has nice selvage edges, you will not need to cut off the edges or finish them. Make sure that your fabric has a nice drape and is not too heavy.

Square off the ends of your fabric so you have nice straight edges. Fold the two cut edges toward the middle. From the top selvage edge sew a seam down about 18". Then at the top selvage edge, leave approximately 10" open at either side (This will be the opening for your arms) and stitch the selvage edge closed between the two openings.
From the bottom of the 18' sewn seam to the bottom selvage edge you will need to finish your seams. The black jacket is made from a knit that will not run so I did not finish the center front seams. You will be able to decide depending upon the fabric that you choose. Your jacket is finished! There are only two seams. It's that easy.

The pants that I am wearing are really simple to do as well. I took a simple straight legged, elastic waist pant pattern. The drape gives a very floaty feel when it is left untied.

In the above drawing I have drawn the side drape as an extension. Actually this will be a separate pattern piece that is sewn into the side seam of the pant. I also left room at the top of the pant pattern. This shows where the elastic would be. At the bottom, I left room for the hem.For the drape extension, you will need to measure across the front of your pants pattern and then add another 6" to 8" for the tie. As you can see from the drawing, the top edge has a slight curve. This will give a lovely drape over the stomach when the piece is tied. At the bottom, the width is about half the width of the pant leg.

The extensions held out.

The extensions tied at center front.
The fabric I used for this outfit was purchased at Vogue Fabrics here in Chicago. The shear is a silk chiffon and the pants are lined with a coordinating silk charmuse. So nice.
Good luck if you choose to give this a try. If there is something you don't quite understand, send me a message and I will do my best to answer your questions. The jacket is great for so many occasions, a beach cover up, an evening wrap, a light summer jacket or even Morticia's negligee!! Enjoy!

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