Sunday, November 27, 2011

I Ain't Gonna Paint No More

Ok, ok.  Before you make judgments about my personal style, just know that I approached this as an art project.  Not necessarily something I'll be wearing on a regular basis.  Though there is a part of me that really likes this jacket.  Call it batty old art teacher style.  You'll see it all over the runways soon.

Do you read no big dill?  If you don't, I highly recommend it.  Katy is a designer/sewist/mom extraordinaire who comes up with the most creative, artsy things.  I enjoy reading her blog so much and I love her sense of style and color.   She's also the genius behind the Once Upon a Thread series where sewists are challenged to create a project inspired by a favorite children's book. 


I decided I wanted to play along last week.   I love sewing practical and useful things, of course- but isn't it fun to make something totally wacky and frivolous every once in a while?  I wanted to try some techniques I haven't attempted yet.  Painting fabric, namely.   It seems like the perfect marriage between my day job and sewing.  


Now I realize that most people who participated in this challenge sewed for their own children.  I don't have any children of my own yet, but I do teach art to almost 600 a week!   I spend most of my day socializing with four to ten year olds (oh the things I hear...) so I felt like this challenge was right up my alley.

I chose the book I Ain't Gonna Paint No More by Karen Beaumont and illustrated by David Catrow.  I collect kid's books that have to do with any sort of art-- being an art teacher.  But I also L-O-V-E the illustrations in this book.  They're completely wild.  Very Dr. Seuss-esque.  For those of you out there who are horrified by the improper language, just know that Karen Beaumont based the words on an old folk song, It Ain't Gonna Rain No More.  The book can be read, sung or chanted-- whatever.  I've read it and I've also sung it to my kindergartners.  But only when the aide is not in the room.  I have no problem singing to 25 six year olds, but not to another adult ;)

The book starts out-
One day my momma caught me 
paintin' pictures on the floor
and the ceiling
and the walls
and the curtains
and the door
and I heard my momma holler
like I never did before...

 Don't you love the drawings?  Look at those little feet sticking up out of the bathtub.

But of course the main character does paint again. Then the book goes on and talks about all the places he paints.  Good for teaching body parts.
I read some reviews of the book where parents were upset about the book encouraging kids to paint all over the place, but I think most kids know the book is silly and fun.  At least the age that I read it to does.

Here's my fabric painting set up in case you are interested.  I sacrificed a few old towels and laid them out on our dining room table. Then I covered the whole thing with brown postal paper.  It only seeped through in a few places on to the towels.  I decided to cut my pattern pieces first instead of just painting the whole piece of fabric.  I figured I would have more control over what color went where.  I used a white cotton bull denim, which was a dream to work with.  I wet my pattern pieces first so they would absorb the paint better.  I tried to treat it as I would a watercolor painting but not all the same techniques applied.   Tricky to do an even wash on cloth.   Fabric is much more absorbent than paper, so the paint continued to "travel" long after I stopped painting.  Some colors overtook others while some seemed to have less pigment.  It was a fun experiment.


I used Jacquard Dye-na-flow paints which I ordered from Dharma Trading Company.  They have any number of fabric paints.  I chose these particular paints because they are thin- like dye- so the fabric stays soft.  You can heat set, too, which is a plus.  I cut a few linoleum stamps for the paint splotches and ants.  I brought out my old printmaking supplies and blew the dust off.  Super fun.  Funny how I keep band-aids in with my linoleum cutters-- and yes I needed one later.  I always poke myself.  I used standard black fabric paint for the stamps.

 The ants are on the inside, creeping out around the lapel.  I love me some stripey buttons, too.
I decided to put piping around the faux pocket flaps and lapels.  I wanted to bring in some more black like the illustrations.  All the top stitching is done with black thread.

The jacket pattern is Butterick 5647.  I used the variation with the shawl collar but also used the cuffed 3/4 length sleeves.  I wanted the jacket to have a shrunken feel so I went down a whole size.  I actually really like the fit even if it is a tiny bit short on me.  Quite a nifty little jacket pattern, if you ask me.  I liked the construction.  This one will be bookmarked for a more wearable jacket one day. 

Quit all that racket!
Gonna paint my....


(sorry- lame attempt at rhyming...)

 I sure did have fun working on this.   I'm happy I broke out some old art supplies, too.  It's about time some of those things saw the light of day again.  Hooray Katy, for your awesome idea! I really enjoyed seeing all the things made that were inspired by kid's books.

There's got to be SOME time and place appropriate to wear a hand painted jacket, right?

And I can't promise you that I ain't gonna paint no more...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Winter Maxi

 A friend of mine was wearing a long sleeve tee dress the other day (from Anthropologie, of course) and I decided I really wanted one.  I wear maxi dresses in the summertime.  Why not make a winter maxi?  I had just finished my stripey green monster dress at the time.  I was happy with that one but there were definitely a few fit issues.  The main one being the extra fabric and ease at the lower back.  I've never needed a sway back adjustment before, though.  I think the issue was from the fact that I frankenpatterned a tee shirt pattern with my a-line skirt pattern.

Anyway, this time around I made a paper pattern and adjusted for the extra ease on the back piece.  I pinched out a dart in the tee shirt pattern I was using (Burda 2-2011 again) and transferred the new shape to my pattern piece.  It was all highly untechnical.  Then I just free handed a curve out to the skirt portion of the pattern.  My a-line skirt pattern was my guide.  The length was a guess.  It turned out okay.  I mean, it is just a tee shirt dress after all.  There's still some pooling at the back, but not as much.  I could use a bit more length.  But now I have a paper pattern to play with anyway.

The black knit is a cotton/rayon blend interlock.  My body is not smooth enough for one thin tee shirt layer anymore so I underlined the whole thing with a periwinkle blue cheap polyester ITY knit.    It gives it a nice drape but man, is it heavy!  I had no idea it would pull downward so much.  I used black braided elastic around the neckline to keep it from pulling too much and some twill tape at the shoulder seams.

I like the style and the silhouette.  I can see this becoming a very useful pattern with a little more tweaking.
Hope everyone has a great week!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Improper Coat

This turned in to a way bigger project than I had originally anticipated.  It started with a funky fabric purchase.  Something called high performance waterproof pique-front fleece, whatever that is.  I ordered it on a whim, mainly because I liked the warm, grey color.  Also because I was trying to make it to the free shipping amount at (they get me every time).  I knew I wanted to make myself a fleece jacket at some point this winter.

At first I thought I'd make a standard zip up fleece jacket.  I have a red ready-to-wear one that is pretty much my everyday jacket.  Winter here is mild, except for a few weeks in January/February.  But then I thought about how boring that would be to make.  It would be practical, but no fun to make.  So I made this instead.

This is Burda 7314, one of their envelope patterns.  I can't find a site to link this pattern to- is everything on Burdastyle now?  One of their pattern books just popped up recently at my local fabric store.  I like the over-sized swingy, a-line shape and the pleat at the back.  The jury is still out on the bubble sleeves, but all in all it's a very comfy coat.  But what does the "young" mean?  I didn't notice any difference in sizing.  In fact, it ended up very large.  There's a lot of ease built in to this pattern.

I didn't want to line the coat since one side of my fabric is soft while the other side is apparently waterproof pique (strange!).  I decided to try my hand at binding all the interior seams even though the fabric didn't fray.  I just figured it would look nice.  This is where the word "improper" comes in to play again.  I know I didn't bind everything correctly.  I cut my own bias bindings from scraps of a vintage cotton I had in my stash.  Holy cow, I had to make a lot of bias.  Miles and miles of it.  But it was a good learning experience.   Always fun to try something new.  I'll be able to do a proper Hong Kong seam finish next time.  Any way, this coat looks nice enough on the inside.  In hindsight, I should have cut the back piece like the lining piece in the pattern- on the fold- and eliminated the odd rectangle down the back.

Below you can see good close ups of the fabric- fleece-y on the inside and pique on the outside.  I like it because you can't really tell it's fleece when I'm wearing it, except for the drape.  Not exactly the same drape you'd get from wool.

Stripey buttons and welt (?) pockets.  The pockets really are even- just the weird angle of the photo.  Are these considered welt pockets?  There's no actual welts-  it's just the window and a bit of the pocket peeking through.

I'm pretty happy with it despite it's impropriety! I've already worn it everyday this week.  It will be my go-to coat this winter as I don't need anything much warmer.  It's big enough to fit a bulky sweater underneath  and light enough for fall days, too.  I can throw it in the wash, too.  Another perk of the improper fabric.

Wishing everyone a great week!
Happy sewing.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Making The Grade

I'm still here.
Just busy.  Lots going on around the Jane household.

I also hurt my back (at risk of sounding like an old lady).  I actually think it may be sewing related, as crazy as that sounds.  I sit in the crappiest, broke-down desk chair with no back when I sew.  The table I use doesn't allow the chair to be too close, so I'm constantly leaning over.   I did some marathon sewing the other week and by the weekend I was out of commission.   I'm just now feeling better.  What sort of chair do you sit in when you sew?  I've got to find a better setup.   I'm wondering if standing would be nice. 

These photos are from a while back.  I drafted an 18 month size baby robe.  Special order for a coworker.  I say I drafted it because I did.  From scratch.  Again. 
 I thought it would be easier than trying to grade a pattern.  Grading doesn't make much sense to me.  I don't see how everyone can be evenly and incrementally larger.  I also don't quite understand how you know which seams to add more to and which less.  Do some seams require different proportions when grading?  Where do you get the measurements from?  Not that precise grading is a huge deal on a relax-fit baby robe, but I'm curious.   I need a robe pattern in between my big one and small one now.  I'm debating whether I should just take the difference between the two or draft another one based on 9-12 month measurements.

I'm sure there's some good information 'round the interwebs on grading.  Any links are appreciated!