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Monday, February 20, 2012

Smocked Denim Dress

 A couple of years ago I bought a piece of figured denim at a Spotlight 'end-of-roll' sale thinking it would make a dress for Brigid. I liked the butterflies and asterisk-like pattern.
I have just made it up for her 9th birthday, using the Gypsy Dance pattern from AS&E Issue 86 that I had already made in original fabric .

I should have figured out before I started that denim doesn't pleat that well!
I destroyed 5 pleater needles in the effort - the first time I have broken a needle in the 15 months I have had the pleater, so I guess it was time to learn what to do. The needles didn't like the figures on the denim. I ended up with four broken rows of pleating out of 17 and picked them up by hand.

I used the figures on the denim to select thread colours, including some variegation to assist the grading. Perle thread would have been best, I think, but I got better gradation of colour using stranded.

Given the pleating difficulties I decided to stick with the same smocking pattern as the original Gypsy Dance design, which is a two-needle cross-over diamond pattern that only stitches into the pleats every second row. This made it easier to deal with some of the bumpy bits than a finer pattern would have.

My original intention was not to use binding strips or piping between the tiers, but I changed my mind as the dress progressed. I bought some mauve piping from Hetty's Patch and found a piece of batik fabric in my stash that seemed perfect.
Making up the dress was not difficult - just the usual yards and yards to be gathered to achieve the tiers. I remember the watermelon-pink dress with a three-tiered skirt my mother made to please me when I was about 8. She shed more than three tears getting the three tiers in place!

Orange star buttons pick up the asterisky pattern.  As all the bias strips and the hem had to be stitched down by hand, it was quite a lot of hand-stitching, but I find that quite relaxing.

The project was completed with a calico bag to cover the dress, rather than fold and wrap it. I figure it will be useful somewhere along the way for transporting a costume to school.

Brigid was happy, and one of her sisters was entranced.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Smocked silk dress

While I am on a roll with the much-handled McCall's pattern and my Indonesian ikat, I took the plunge with the second piece of fabric from Singaraja.

This piece is silk and woven as a sarong, rather than a continuous length.  I tried to cut it to maximise the use of the pattern. I did lose a little from the top edge but managed to centre the large birds both front and back.

I stitched in the sleeves using a narrow French seam and again pleated it like a bishop. It pleated like a dream.

I went for 9 half-space rows, including 2 holding rows.

I chose a very simple trellis in graded colours matching the fabric, using two strands of DMC.
I was hoping to get a bit of a bargello effect so shaded the colours pink, through purple and blue then back again.
I couldn't get a long enough bias strip for the neck out of the fabric, so I used a purple bias binding, then feather-stitched around it to give a bit of texture.

I'm pleased with the finished effect.

I debated turning a hem or leaving the selvage. The piece was designed to wear as a sarong, with the border at showing at the bottom, so I have left it for the moment. If it seems too long I will take up a hem.

I like the simplicity of this - a little bit of smocking, a little bit of sewing and the fabric speaks for itself.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Japanese Pouch Two

The pouch I made from David Pike's Japanese textile piece has been so useful, I decided to make another of the pieces up in a similar way. This piece wasn't quite square so I had to trim a strip from one side. I've set that aside to do something else with.

I used the same bottle green dupion silk to frame and line the piece, sandwiching some wadding between. As I hand-quilted around the flower shapes, I decided to pad them further to give a raised effect. This looks great, but it did give me uneven effects on the rest of the fabric, so when I quilted through the stems I got more ruching in some areas than others.

I decided to embroider the green edges with the  Papillon black/gold metallic thread  left over from Kris's Bag - it was easy to work with and very effective, especially in stem stitch, so I used it to outline stems and leaves similar to those in the gold fabric.

I edged the gold panel in black ribbon - tried green and rejected it.

The piece became highly malleable. I could shape it like a piece of heavy foil. I imagine this is a combination of the gold threads in the panel, the gold stitching and the dupion, which has a slightly stiff texture.

I ladder-stitched the sides into a pouch shape and decided against embroidering to cover the edges. Instead, I extended the leaf and stem pattern across the whole green area, partially covering the edges.

I really like the effect.

For the little triangular insert, I embroidered the shape of the flower (chrysanthemum?).

I stitched in a magnetic clip - the strongest one I had. It is still imperfect through a couple of layers of fabric, but the bag is so malleable the flap tends to stay where it is put.

I spent quite a bit of time trying various edging around the flap. I nearly went with a cylindrical gold webby one, but in the end decided I rather like it as it is. I can change my mind about that later if it doesn't seem to be wearing well.

Because it is so bendy, it is easy to close it to fit my iPad more closely than the earlier one I made. I even rather like the uneven effect on the back. It is proving perfect for the job.I'll use the earlier one for larger things.

I still have one more piece of this cloth. I am now thinking I might be brave enough to make another pouch, this time quilting it on the machine. It has been great fun playing with this fabric.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Silken Dreams - another irresistible bag.

No matter that I have bags to burn, I fell in love with Kris's bag in Silken Dreams, Inspirations Magazine Issue 66. This is a variation of a bag that Monique Johnston teaches at Country Bumpkin.

Colour was the key factor factor for me. This bag is a wonderful combination of gold and dusky pink dupion, with embroidery in shades of pink to match the silk.

The design is a simple trailing vine with bullion roses and leaves.

 Both the outside and the lining are constructed from two equal pieces, gathered around a circular base. The trailing vine was in Papillon black/gold metallic thread I found it much easier to work with than other metallics I have used.

The rose clusters are slightly different colours, making it more interesting to stitch. It was, however, the final addition of the three different shades of green that unified the design in a miraculous way. This was a great lesson in the importance of just the right shade.

Construction would have been easier if I had read the instructions more carefully, rather than skimming and assuming I knew how to do it. I have made a number of bags in this shape, but the construction of this one was different. It gathered the bag and lining together then added the bottoms by hand.

I machine-stitched the outer bottom in before realising my error. Rather than unpick the silk, I left it machine stitched, but added the stiffened lining bottom by hand.

The sides are also deeply split, so the bag opens almost flat. I'm not sure how necessary that is, since the bag is very full and opens wide anyway, but it was good to try it.

The bag is quite hard to photograph true to colour, because the gold reflects so much light, but this image is fairly close.

It is proving to be useful - and lovely to look at and feel.