Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Self-indulgent bragging ahead!

I'm sorting my stash. Thanks to some recent purchases, I had trembling stacks of folded fabric threatening to topple off the chests of drawers I try to keep all my supplies in. I'll show you the whole set-up when it's presentable, but for now I'll post a brag pic of my closet full of wool.

The true colors are a bit off -- those teal blues are actually green.
That nice bright red, though? That's gonna be a dress for me someday, and so is that gorgeous caramel brown.  There's  some fine white linen on the far left that is going to be a new smock. I have many happy, busy sewing days ahead of me!

Amazingly, this isn't all of it: I also have a drawer of smaller bits and scraps and another drawer with  two or three really big cuts that are too heavy for hanging. All of it bought from thrift shops and garage sales, and not one piece cost more than $10.

Closet hanging is a really great way for me to keep track of what I have on hand. It's all right there on display. Where's that bit of fine green stuff I had? Oh! There it is. 

If I were really feeling organized, I'd measure each bit and label it so I could tell at a glance if I had enough for a particular project. No time for that now. I just want to make a tidy-up so that I have fewer distractions as I start the fall sewing season and my Big Project. Also, Dave keeps looking at my sewing area and sighing...

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Big One..!

I think I am ready to start on a sewing project that's been brewing in my brain for just over a year. 
I have most of the materials, I have learned and practiced the techniques, and I don't have any other open projects that need finishing. 
This is a big one, folks, and it's going to be magnificent. All I ask is your continued encouragement. 

Here are some of the materials. Excited? I am!

The work on this won't be intense. I will be taking breaks and doing other projects here and there. I'm hoping to have it finished by this time next year. Let's see how that works out, shall we? 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Progress Report

Work continues on Dave's bag. The embroidery is done, I stitched in the lining, and the sides have been closed with a blanket stitch, same as I used on my other bag. Left to do are some tassels for the bottom corners and the leather channel at the top for the drawstring. Stay tuned!

Oh, and "divitae"? It's Latin for "cash", and is similar enough to Dave's name that I consider it a play on words. It amuses me, anyway, and that's all the reason I need to do anything -- right?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Appleton Bros & Wm Morris

So I did a little more research into Appleton Bros, and aren't they just fascinating!  One of my fellow bloggers sent for their shade cards; here's a look at what she got in return. It's like a time capsule, with the old-school typewritten card and whatnot. Appleton Bros: doing it up right for over 150 years.

I think my favorite piece of trivia is that they were used by the designer William Morris. You don't find guys like him much anymore. He did textiles, mosaic tiles, all sorts of stuff like that, and was a huge influence in the design world in the early 20th century, but he was also a writer and publisher. His Kelmscott Press made books of artistic beauty, bringing back the medieval illuminated style. I have a Dover edition of his book The Wood Beyond the World and it's great fun to read. He also did a truly regrettable translation of the Aeneid in couplet form that reads like a Hallmark Card. And yes, I own that too. It's Virgil, and the story is so marvelous that you can't go far wrong with it even in a bad translation, but I can't forgive Mr Morris for that couplet form. And I know I'm starting to sound a bit book-snooty here, so I'll rein that back.


I took a picture of one of the skeins of wool with a nickel so you can really see how fine this stuff is. I'm going to use it for my Magnum Opus -- my "greatest work", a project I've only hinted at so far but I've been  planning with an artist friend for about a year -- and that puts me one step closer to having all the supplies I need to get started. And a little thrill just sizzled up my spine at that notion, if you'll pardon the pun.

(Also, I'm really enjoying links these days. I hope you like them, too. So much nicer than footnotes!)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Patio Sale Treasures

Today's haul:
A very lightweight linen tablecloth, 66"x100", with slight staining but otherwise perfect ($5)
Two yards of forest green wool ($4)
An approximately 4'x4' piece of deep green medium weight leather, kinda scruffy but will give that already-broken-in look to whatever I make with it ($1)
Four yards of heavyweight dark brown linen ($3)
A bag of assorted small balls of natural-colored wool (25 cents)
A bag of approximately a dozen skeins of fine Appleton Bros embroidery wool from England, so lovely I could barely speak when I saw them, and couldn't believe no one had snapped them up before me; each strand is thin as a pencil line ($4)

Seventeen dollars and one quarter, folks. There are bargains everywhere if you keep your eyes open.


Last night Dave and The Boy went to see the new Batman movie, and I stayed home to watch a few episodes of Kingdom, which is wonderful in an updated-James-Herriot-y way, but with lawyers instead of veterinarians. Stephen Fry is such a delight.

Of course, I can't just sit and watch tv; I must be working on something as well. So I did the couching work on the gryphon. Finally it was so late and my eyes were so tired that I had to force myself to stop, even though I only had a little bit left -- one hind leg. Here's a pic.

Good heavens, I just realized that perilous placement of that needle. Poor gryphon! Now that it's getting down the last stitches on this bit, I realize I haven't much of a plan in my head for the rest of the design. I'd better put my mind to that today.

Today is also the day of the Panorama Patio Sale, which marks the day that I got Imogene, my dressmakers dummy, for only three dollars. It also is the event that last year inspired me to start this blog and share all my little bits and bobs with you all. It's been a wonderful year, and I thank you all for joining me on my creative path.

Now, let's do it again, shall we? Onward!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Gryphon-y goodness.

I know you've all been waiting very patiently for me to post a bit of my work instead of snaps of my horse or links to other people's endeavors, so here you go: the embroidery on Dave's bag. 

There's some dark brown that will fill in the body, and then I'll work in the horizontal stitching and do the outlines and details. I really like the way this is looking. Originally I was going to stitch the body in a light blue, thinking it would looks more "heraldic", but as it gets closer, I think it will just look cartoon-y and weird. Dark brown it is.

I plan on lining the bag with a gold linen, and using some soft leather to make the channel for the drawstring. I think a motto is a must to frame the gryphon, so I'm playing with words and phrases to come up with something good and manly. Dave is gonna have one spectacular bag when I'm done. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

'I solemnly swear that I am up to no good...'

I know you're probably just sitting around this afternoon, idly clicking through page after page of the internet, wishing that something exciting would happen. (The good kind of exciting, not the "Oh my stars, the cat got ahold of my flamethrower!" kind of exciting. No one wants to see that.)

Alas, I can hear you say, If only I had something mildly engaging and creative to do...

Well! Here is a link to something fun. All you need is a needle and thread, and a square of evenweave cloth, and you can learn all kinds of new embroidery stitches! Next thing you know, you'll be embellishing your jeans or that linen blouse you picked up on sale. All your friends will ask where you are getting these cute new clothes, and will be so impressed when you lower your eyes modestly and tell them it is the work of your own clever hands!

Saturday, July 14, 2012


Today was our annual neighborhood garage sale event. As a rule, the offerings were pretty standard stuff: last year's bestsellers in paperback next to stacks of self-help and old romance novels, piles of tiny pastel baby clothes, culls from toyboxes and closets (who wants to buy old sweaters in July? not me!), and enough sets of mismatched drinking glasses to help slake the thirst of an army on the move.

Dave and I walked from street to street, surveying every driveway's collection with mild interest. It was past noon and the best things had probably already been sold hours ago. There was a faint note of desperation as homeowners pointed out the things they truly did not want to have to haul back into the house at the end of the day.

Imagine my surprise and delight when at the second to last yard sale I found a pile of Pendleton wool with a $20 price tag for the whole lot. I didn't even dicker, I just gathered it into my arms and sighed happily.

None of the pieces are terribly large. The plaid at the bottom is maybe four yards and all the rest are a yard or less. But that's enough for a pair of stockings, or a hood, or half of a parti-colored tunic or coat. There's enough to make a bag, or a hat, or -- well, all sorts of things! And it's all lovely, soft, 100% wool. I am pleased.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Catch up!

The other day at thrift, I found an old linen tablecloth made of very sheer lightweight linen. It caught my eye because there was a joining seam down the middle that looked exactly like my Elizabethan seams. I had to look very closely in bright light to see that it was machine stitched. The price was only five dollars, so of course I got it. It's huge-- banquet sized -- and I am pleased that there will be enough to make myself a new smock. It's so hard to find lightweight linen (at thrift) in enough quantity to make one, and I've been wanting one for a few months. I have no idea why it was priced so inexpensively; other tablecloths of its size usually go for seven to ten dollars. I wondered if maybe there was a stain, but I didn't see one. If I find one later, it can't have been very noticeable for me to miss it first time around, and besides, it's an undergarment I'm making -- who will see?

I have scrapped the bag I was making for Dave -- the one with the scribe holding a mouse -- because when I transferred the pattern to the fabric, I didn't consider how the framing border would square with the fabric's evenweave, and I started with the gold accent inner corner bits, and then when I did the blue-- well, details, details -- let's just say I wasn't happy with the way it was turning out. I've got enough of the fabric to simply cut away that bit and start fresh with a new idea that doesn't involve Euclidean geometry: a gryphon. Here's the pattern I'm going to be working from.
I will NOT be embroidering the explanatory "Griffin" caption as I think the icon speaks for itself.
Here's hoping it's agreeable for working, and looks awesome. I'm using shades of pale blue, gold, and white.On the dark red background, I think it will be very attractive.

In other Dave news, I did a little more embroidery on his tunic. I used a new stitch called "Crown of Thorns" and it was easy, fast to work, and I like the way it looks.  It seems a little lightweight on its own, though, so maybe I'll work in a little something more later on.

We've also been remodeling our guest bathroom, so there's not been much stitching time. Once we get that done, there will be more frequent updates, I promise!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Wanna see something pretty?

The thrift shop comes through again! When I saw this, I knew it was silk. When I saw the pattern, I knew it was a saree. When I saw the price of seven bucks, I figured it was only a piece. I've seen people buy whole sarees, cut them into fat quarters, and sell the pieces for amazing prices to quilters and such. I bought it anyway, because the color and pattern was very attractive and it was a big enough piece to line a cloak or jacket, or make a dress from. 

When I got it home and unfolded it to really take a look at it, I was happy to discover that it was the full measure. So now I have another saree to dish about the house in, feeling sassy and glamorous.  

Is it weird that I'm kind of sad that I won't be using this to line a cloak or jacket, or make a dress?