I still have a crush on Matisse and Fauvism, the colours are so bright and cheerful, they just light up my day. Great to hang on a wall, but not quite so great for clothing. One day I might attempt to copy that curtain, but for now it is well beyond my skills.
Fortunately Matisse’s cutouts are also great for my fabric printing and a whole lot easier to achieve, even if the colours are dialled back rather severely.
This is a dress pattern I have made a few times, the last version was for Christmas Day last year and this one was made for a recent family wedding. (Yes, we still are allowed to have weddings in Australia, my heart-felt sympathies to you if things are very different where you live.)
The print looks like one of the many cutouts from the ‘Jardin des Plantes’ series, or it could be just Matisse-inspired, but in any case it is just right for what I had in mind. The fabric is another silk/cotton sheer, like the green with the grey print (see link in the last paragraph), this time a light brown. The thinness of the silk/cotton makes it ideal for block printing, as blocks don’t transfer a lot of ink, not anywhere near as much as screen printing. This can be frustrating when using fabric with a rougher surface where more ink would be needed to make a nice fat even print. I really must do more block printing on silk seeing it is so rewarding, although it can be a bit scary to print on $$$ fabrics. I have only just stopped hyperventilating when printing on linen.
The dress makes a nice formal outfit with a pair of black pants underneath (use your imagination to add the appropriate shoes) and the big black hat is great for camouflage. I can people-watch and chat with members of my extended family to my hearts content without anyone being entirely certain what I look like these days.
Of course you do if you are reading my blog. That icon of the seventies, when not just clothes were that colour but everything from kitchen cupboards to shagpile carpet. In Sydney there was even a high rise office building with burnt orange plastic cladding. It has long since been re-clad in beige, but the memory lingers…
Well, it appears no fashion insanity is too insane for a revival, once enough time has passed, even if in this case it has taken 50 years. Look what I found on Pinterest.
I knew burnt orange was back in the real world too and not just online, when I found a linen curtain of that colour in the ‘As Is’ bin at Ikea. And here it is, slightly modified.
I used the same pattern for the pants as in the last post, a Marcy Tilton Vogue, leaving off the bottom part and the pockets. The weave of the linen is a little loose and I was worried the pockets would show through.
The top is another version of the Tessuti Mandy, with the armscyes widened to suit a woven and cuffs instead of sleeves. I have described the sewing process on PatternReview here.
My black and white Ikea print jacket, based on the Tessuti Jac shirt, works quite well with this too. So well done, Tessuti, Ikea and Marcy!
For the last five years I have been avoiding brown. All my neutrals were black, navy and my favourite, grey. Now all of a sudden, brown somehow seems to be all wonderful, new and exciting. Well, a change is as good as a holiday, they say, and holidays have been hard to come by lately.
So last weekend I sat down and made myself a brown outfit. Brown jacket, brown top, brown vest and brown pants. I dug out my brown loafers and a brown silk scarf I bought in Cambodia in —oh— about 2008. Coming in handy now!
The jacket is a modified Lyn Mizono Vogue pattern. I ditched the back ties and made normal cuffed sleeves, as the designer extravaganzas as per pattern would have been annoyingly impractical for me. Imagine tucking into your lunch wearing those.
Not as pretty as the model, but here is my version, made up in a furnishing fabric with a lot of body.
And again unbuttoned and with a scarf, as I would normally wear this.
The pants are a Marcy Tilton Vogue design, now sadly OOP. They are a bit shorter and slimmer on the model than on me, but they are very Oska and my go-to for wide-leg pants. If you can get the pattern online, I definitely recommend it. I used a dark brown Australian bengaline, and because the fabric is very stretchy, I omitted the zipper and waistband, and added a yoga pants-type wide band instead.
The top is crinkle jersey, using my current favourite for everything, the Tessuti Mandy pattern with an added cowl instead of the boat neck. I shortened it, but I think now that I shouldn’t have. The hem is quite wide and I might lengthen it by 3-4cm, or maybe add a band to make it even longer.
Last but not least I made a vest using the same Tessuti Mandy pattern as for the top. It is a better length and maybe I should make the crinkle top an inch or so longer still, to show underneath. I omitted sleeves due to lack of fabric, but changed front and back slightly to a straight rectangle without the armscye. The fabric is a thin boiled wool. Nice and cosy as we are getting further into autumn in the Southern Hemisphere.
Every hobby sewist, and probably professionals too, started with a sewing machine on the kitchen or dining table, or some equally multi-purpose place that required cleaning everything away frequently, if not every time they sewed a stitch.
I have vivid memories of cutting out on the floor of the living room, with kids and animals having fun with the tissue paper, me cursing inwardly every step of the way. I had fantasies of a ‘cutting out service’, or of paying a friend. Needless to say the friend hated cutting out as much as I did and there was no such thing as a cutting out service. Desperate to save sanity and my knees, if not my back, I graduated to cutting out on my bed, only a marginal improvement which came to an abrupt halt after I accidentally cut into the sheet. Ouch!
Then rotary cutters and self-healing cutting boards arrived in my life and cutting out on a table became quick and simple, no longer the most hated task of the whole sewing process.
And thankfully things kept on improving, when in the last 10 years or so I actually had a spare bedroom which could be used as a sewing room. Yay! Except that the sewing room in the last house was a black hole, full of surplus furniture and other junk, which left very little room to move once my sewing gear was installed. On top of that I am super messy when I create, much too much in a hurry to bother to stop to clean up after myself. Some people say they can’t start a new project until they have cleaned up after the last one. Well, I certainly can.
But things are looking up. We bought a new house early this year and it has a self contained granny flat attached which we don’t actually need except for holiday times when we have a house full of visiting family. The kitchen and eating space of the granny flat is ideal for a sewing studio. I don’t even have to move anything out when people are staying, because we cook and eat together in the main part of the house. Outside visiting times I have the whole space to myself. Perfect, isn’t it?
I put a fair bit of thought into my new studio before we moved in. The kitchen area with its many drawers and cupboards is ideal for storage of sewing stuff, fabrics, art materials, my jewellery making equipment and a thousand odds and ends creatively inclined people tend to collect.
The breakfast bench is great for my machines, with the added bonus of a big window that lets in lots of light. Because it is kitchen counter height it is too high for a normal chair, but that is easily fixed with a drafting chair and a foot stool for the sewing machine pedal.
The drafting chair has the added bonus of wheels, which lets me roll back and forth from my sewing machine to the overlocker or to the drawers on the other side, as needed.
I have three overlockers (thank you Aldi!), threaded in black, white and grey, which do most of my garments. To change colour, I unplug the overlocker on the bench, take the one with the appropriate colour out of the cupboard, and plug it in on the bench. They are all the same model, re-badged Janome, so I don’t need to change the power cord or foot pedal.
The other side of the room contains my cutting table and a newly installed built-in for my fabrics and anything else that does not fit into the kitchen cupboards.
Having got to really appreciate the benefits of drawers when we renovated the kitchen in the last house, I opted for lots of drawers in the built-in. Unfortunately they only make sense up to a certain height, once you can no longer look down into the drawer you need to revert to shelves. Being a short person is a disadvantage there, but it balances out because normal table height is fine for my cutting table without giving me a back ache. Win some, lose some, as they say.
I keep my PDF sewing patterns, clipped together, on the bottom of the built-in, below the first drawer/basket. So far that works fine, because I use only a small number of TNT patterns, so don’t have a lot I need to store with easy access. Any I use only infrequently can be folded and put into a drawer.
The glass fronts and open baskets make finding a specific fabric easier.