cotton, knitting, Sewing, Spinning, Uncategorized, Weaving

Whatever Your Hand Finds to Do

I’ve been making. Yes! my crafty fire still burns as bright as ever. I feel like I am in such a whirlwind of ideas at the moment. Inspiration to create new things is flooding me from all directions. I want to do more and more. This year has been filled with unexpected changes both at home and at school. I find myself struggling for my craft time more days that I want to count. With teaching summer school for the first time and a new school year underway, I have my hands full. That, and having my little nephew move back into my home has really kept me hopping around. Yesterday I was scrolling through my pictures and realized that although it feels like I haven’t made much I really have.

Look at all this handspun yarn I finally skeined and washed up!

Some projects that I started in the winter have become finished garments that I now wear and use over and over again. I’ve been spinning yarn, sewing, weaving, batiking, and block printing. Yes, I  have discovered some new crafts. Lately, I have been carving rubber stamps, burning rubber mats, stitching, and melting wax to add color and pattern to fabrics that I’ve been sewing.

I can’t even begin to describe the adventures I’ve been on in creating these items. Hopefully, these pictures will share the thousands of words I should’ve, would’ve, could’ve been sharing over the months on this blog.

I wove my first set of towels using a monk’s belt threading. There were 10 of them, no two are alike in true Melvenea fashion. I forgot to take a picture before I gave a few away and started doing dye experiments on them. I also finally got around to sewing myself a new cross-body pouch to use at school using a tablet woven band for an accent and colorful matching key-fob.

The printmaking idea hit me on a chance visit to the public library. Jen Hewitt’s Print, Pattern, Sew book was the springboard for my block printing binge. The book is filled with information presented in the clearest and colorful way. I immediately purchased a copy for my collection and got to work on making my own stamp collection.

The Spinner’s challenge project I did for Duneland Weaver’s Guild was a success. I created a yarn that was wool, space dyed, and chain plied with sparkle. I was intrigued by the resulting shawl. It is full of dimension.

There was also the natural colored cotton sampler yarn I spun at the Lindenwood Winter Spinning Retreat. It was fun meeting all the new people and I got to see my pal Kathy who I met at the Sauder Village Fiber Fest again. I am still amazed at all of the subtly different shades that can grow naturally.  I spun each color in a 2-ply yarn one after the other and eventually wove a shawl out of it. The light blue is the last of my recycled blue jean cotton fiber stash😢. The finished shawl actually has cowrie shells sewn into the border to add weight. It needed a little extra funk in my opinion. Those cool, calm colors of nature pair really well with the shiny shells that occasionally clink together as the shawl hangs.

I am not sure where the batiking shenanigans came from. I’m just doing it. The dyeing experiment eventually led to me making some pretty cool shirts. I find the Nigerian Adire cloth tradition especially alluring. Can you tell?

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As a bonus I got to teach my guild friends over the summer what I had learned so far about the technique. We made some pretty eclectic scarves.

This past spring I somehow got myself drafted to be the fashion show chair for my guild. I challenged myself to do a full handspun, handwoven outfit for the show. I used a mill-spun cotton warp and handspun weft. This was the last of my homegrown stash. I ended up not having enough of one fabric to make anyone garment. The whole project was a patchwork that is basically a bunch of rectangles sewn together until it all somewhat fit. I wanted to do my version of a South American hupil blouse and got this.

I like it! See, even when I plan ahead I end up taking a gazillion detours. I guess that’s just me.

This project was long-going with no real plans but a pretty awesome outcome. The yarn was spun from a silk/flax blend I bought from Inglenook Fibers. It got woven, sewn, and block printed with my custom blocks.

I made a tote bag

Now that that’s taken care of there is this cool new loom Glimakra Ideal loom I got myself for my birthday. I am playing with rags at the moment on it.

Alas, there are cotton plants in the ground too. Hopefully, soon there will be more homegrown cotton to spin😊

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Sewing, Uncategorized

I Still Sew: Cappuccino Dress

I’ve been meaning to sew for a while now, really. I haven’t forgot. Lately my spinning mojo has been in control. There was this one pattern though that was able to snap me out of my spinning trance for a brief moment, the cappuccino dress by Oliver & Co.

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I caught on to the Portfolio Dress bandwagon late and Simplicity left us all hanging after the initial pattern run was sold out. When Oliver & Co finally released a follow-up pattern, the Cappaccino Dress, I wanted it although I liked the original better. At $14.99 it is on the pricey end for me but after stalking for a year I figured I wanted it bad enough for the splurge.

The dress sewed up pretty easily and is very comfy. I definitely want to do more. I am surprised at how well the kimono sleeves fit even without a gusset. Cheers to the Cappaccino dress!…now back to my spinning.

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I also want to throw in this picture of me feeling saucy for my cousin’s wedding wearing my MCCalls 6770skirt. I made it last year to wear to a murder mystery dinner. It was I think, the last garment I had sewn before this dress. Still loving it.

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McCall’s 6770 skirt

 

Meanwhile a whole basket of sewing projects I cut out years ago await their turns on the needle. 101_2301

 

 

Sewing, Uncategorized, Weaving

I Could Use Another Bag, Maybe Two

I Could Use Another Bag, Maybe Two

I’m not much of a fancy, shmancy purse kind of girl. Usually when I carry a  bag it’s on one of two occasions. For everyday, I wear a small pouch on a long cord, just large enough to carry  my cell phone, keys, and cards. When I am traveling whether for a long walk or on my bike I use a drawstring backpack  for anything I bring along. This summer I realized mines were looking tired. This was the perfect excuse to get crafty.

Back in my college days I attempted to learn embroidery. What I actually learned was that I am not guru material. I haphazardly use a running and chain stitches in order to add doodles of color. It works for me.

For both the pouch and drawstring backpack I used this technique with 3 strands of cotton floss to embellish some denim scraps I had. The cord for the pouch  is cotton knitted eye-cord I made.20161127_112019

Things took an unexpected turn when I was deciding on straps for the backpack. Long ago, like literally 12 years ago, I became obsessed with learning to weave as a college student majoring in Apparel, Textiles, and Merchandising. At school we were learning to weave on a big, elaborately engineered dobby loom. In a search at the local library I stumbled across weaving that was a little more my speed. Apparently I could weave with just cardboard cards, tablets. The cards would act as harnesses to raise the threads for weaving. I was able to weave narrow strips, the first using 10 cards with 40 threads. I never did anything with that sample (or any of the other narrow bands I wove). All these years later it would be the perfect addition to my bag project.

Great! Well sort of great. I only had enough for one strap. I needed to make another narrow band to match my original. This proved trickier than I thought. I remembered the pattern was from the book Creating With Card Weaving by Sally Specht. I found the draft and threaded up my cards with the same #10 crochet cotton used in the first weaving.

In the end I realized that somehow I had managed to mix up the color sequence (not even realizing it). The two straps are different plus my old sample is more irregular with obvious mistakes. Oh well, I still think the bag turned out nice.

As a bonus, I am obsessed with weaving again. Time to dig out my old weaving hoard.

knitting, Living History, Sewing

Sew Almost Victorian

gatzpI went to another murder mystery dinner a few weeks ago. As with the first one , I saw it as another excuse to sew.Fumbling through my first year of teaching has got me pretty strapped for playtime these days but I was determined to make my outfit. The theme this year was Victorian. I knew I wouldn’t worry myself with making something absolutely historically correct. I figured a lot of people would go with the steampunk style that is so popular right now so I aimed for something in between.

The Vogue 1132 vest I made a few years ago with the ruffle in the back immediately came to mind. It sort of reminds me of a bustle. The plan was to add a long skirt and badabing! I’d be victorianesk.

Peplum vest back
Vogue 1132 Peplum vest back

 

 

 

I found some shimmery, embossed velvety, polyester fabric from JoAnne fabrics for $3 and decided to make the Vogue vest with the flounced skirt from McCall’s 6770.Mccalls steampunk

Embossed polyester fabric. Not bad for $3 per yard.  My sister had these victorianesk shoes in her closet for some reason.
Embossed polyester fabric. Not bad for $3 per yard.
My sister had these victorianesk shoes in her closet for some reason.

I cutout both vest and skirt but ran out of steam after sewing the skirt. It went together nicely, but took me a while.

The skirt was easy to sew with only 3 pattern pieces. Hemming the flounce took forever.
The skirt was easy to sew with only 3 pattern pieces. Hemming the flounce took forever.

The lazy bones in me just thought well I don’t have to have the matching skirt and vest do I? I tried the skirt on with the houndstooth vest I made a couple years ago (it needed alterations on the side seams because whatdoya know, I lost weight!) and thought hey, this looks almost Victorian.20160312_185117

For accessories I pulled out a little ascot I knitted from a yarn of  blended angora and ramboullet fiber I handspun. The pattern is from Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts 2007.

handspun ramboullet /angora blend ascot from Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts
handspun ramboullet /angora blend ascot from Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts 2007

It is still cold here in Indiana (like seriously today it snowed) so I decided to wear my favorite shawl. It is the most complicated and time consuming one I have made to date. I finished it back in 2008-2009. The yarn is a commercial millspun tencel that has a really nice, silky drape to it. The pattern is Pretty As a Peacock by Some Knitting Required.

Showing off my Pretty as A Peacock shawl made from Some Knitting Required pattern
Showing off my Pretty as A Peacock shawl made from the Some Knitting Required pattern

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Until next time..Cherrio!

Sewing, Uncategorized

Wardrobe Essentials: Japanese Styles for Everyday

It’s pretty safe to say that I am on a roll with sewing everyday casual clothes for my wardrobe. I found a blouse on Pintrest from a Japanese sewing book one day and ended up falling in love with the simplicity of the styles. I have found 3 books that I really like so far.

Stylish Dress Book: Wear With Freedom by Yoshiko Tsukiori Tuttle Publishing

Happy Homemade: Sew Chic by Yoshiko Tsukiori Tuttle Publishing

Simple Modern Sewing by Shufu To Seikatsu Sha

The books are translated into English  with easy to follow instructions (for advanced beginner) and have western sizing. Styles are fast to sew and comfortable to wear. Most can be made from start to finish in a couple of hours.  Here are some of the styles I’ve made to date. I have been wearing the heck out of them.

tylish Dress Book Wear With Freedom Book
Stylish Dress Book: Wear With Freedom Book

 

Stylish Dress Book View E instructions. I like the pleat but think I will use different sleeves next time.
Stylish Dress Book View E instructions. I like the pleated design but think I will use different sleeves next time.
Stylish dress book View E with pants.
Stylish dress book View E with pants.
Stylish dress book style E back
Stylish dress book style E back
Simple Modern Sewing drawstring casing
Simple Modern Sewing
Simple Modern Sewing 3c model from Book
Simple Modern Sewing 3c model from Book
Simple Modern Sewing 3C instructions
Simple Modern Sewing 3C instructions
Simple Modern Sewing 3C has a cool crossover sleeve detail (like a baby tee) I ended up tacking the flaps together though.  The neckline is wide enough without the flaps.
Simple Modern Sewing 3C has a cool crossover sleeve detail (like a baby tee) I ended up tacking the flaps together though. The neckline is wide enough without the flaps.
Simple Modern Sewing 3C
Simple Modern Sewing 3C with drawstring waist
Simple Wardrobe: Simplicty 1620 and Sew Chic
Simple Wardrobe: Simplicty 1620 and Sew Chic
Sew Chic View E, Simple Tunic with Ruffle Sleeve
Sew Chic View E, Simple Tunic with Ruffle Sleeve
Sew Chic view E
Sew Chic view E
This is style J modeled in the book Sew Chic
This is style J modeled in the book Sew Chic
Easy instructions with diagrams for Sew Chic Style J
Easy instructions with diagrams for Sew Chic Style J
Sew Chic Style J tied in the back
Sew Chic Style J tied in the back

Sew Chic style J Jacket tied

Sew Chic style A worn with pants
Sew Chic style A worn with pants
Sew Chic Style C
Sew Chic Style C
Sew Chic Dress C book
Sew Chic Dress C book
Sew Chic style C worn as a dress.
Sew Chic style C worn as a dress.
Sew Chic Style C with style A sleeves. The patterns are interchangeable so you can make lots of variations of the styles.  Sometimes I wear pant with the dresses
Sew Chic Style C with style A sleeves. The patterns are interchangeable so you can make lots of variations of the styles. Sometimes I wear pant with the dresses
Sewing

Wardrobe Essentials: Make it Easy Simplicity 1620 and Sew Chic

Not too long ago re-making my wardrobe seemed pretty far-fetched. At my rate it would take forever. I got to thinking about what I wear on a daily basis. I realized that most of the patterns in my stash were more tailored than what I would typically choose for an easy, fuss free day.

Now this might be a Midwest thing but truth be told, when I’m not working, on an outing, or going to church you will most likely find me in some knit pants with t-shirt or jeans with t-shirt. I know, I know, I need to mix it up right?

I started looking for easy chill clothes and found Simplicity 1620. It is a simple wardrobe that has pull-on pants, a dress, tunic, short 2 piece jacket, long 2 piece jacket and a sash. No zippers, no buttons, no fuss. Fast and Easy sewing.

Simple Wardrobe: Simplicty 1620 and Sew Chic
Simple Wardrobe: Simplicty 1620 and Sew Chic

I bought linen blend fabric in different colors and got to sewing. I made no major alterations since the patterns have a lot of ease. In about 3 days I had made:

  • 2 pairs of pull on pants
  • 3 shirts
  • a short jacket
  • a long kacket
  • a dress
  • 2 sashes
  • Bolero jacket (from Sew Chic Japanese sewing book)
    Wow that's a lot of lint. Beware when you are drying Linen/Rayon blend fabric. You may want to clear the lint trap a few times while drying.
    Wow that’s a lot of lint. Beware when you are drying Linen/Rayon blend fabric. You may want to clear the lint trap a few times while drying.
    Linen/Rayon blend fabric. Very soft and drapey. I didn't even need to iron it.
    Linen/Rayon blend fabric. Very soft and drapey. I didn’t even need to iron it.
    Simplicity 1620 long jacket with 2 sided sash and brown pull-on pants
    Simplicity 1620 long jacket with 2 sided sash and brown pull-on pants
    Yellow top. I used the box pleated side. (Pattern calls for tucks)
    Yellow top. I used the box pleated side. (Pattern calls for tucks)
    Close-up of pleat detail. I also top stitched with a simple running stitch.
    Close-up of pleat detail. I also top stitched with a simple running stitch.
    Simplicity 1620 dress with sash
    Simplicity 1620 dress with sash
    Simplicity 1620 dress with short jacket
    Simplicity 1620 dress with short jacket
    I finally figured out what to do with 1/2 yard of this cool linen fabric I bought a few months ago
    I finally figured out what to do with 1/2 yard of this cool linen fabric I bought a few months ago
    Simplicity 1620 Tunic. I made one large pleat instead of 3 so that I wouldn't obscure the print as much
    Simplicity 1620 Tunic. I made one large pleat instead of 3 so that I wouldn’t obscure the print as much

    Simpicity 1620 tunic
    Simpicity 1620 tunic

Happy with the result I kept looking for more. Unfortunately I didn’t find too many more simple wardrobes like this one in the Big 4 pattern catalogs. Thank goodness for Pintrest though. I discovered Japanese clothing patterns.

My goodness. There are so many simple, easy to wear designs and they have started to publish them in English! My favorite Japanese designer at the moment is Yoshiko Tsukiori. I have her book Happy Homemade Sew Chic: 20 Simple Everyday Designs. Love it!

Simple instructions with diagrams. Jacket has only 3 patterns pieces
Simple instructions with diagrams. Jacket has only 3 patterns pieces
Simplcity 1630 dress with Sew Chic Jersey Style Bolero
Simplcity 1630 dress with Sew Chic Jersey Style Bolero

 

There are a few base patterns (graded up to American sizes) that have a bunch of style variations to mix and sew. The instructions are easy to follow with lots of diagrams. So far I have made the Jersey Style Bolero jacket. It only takes 3 pattern pieces to make. Easy, Peasy. I have more patterns cut out ready to sew. I will continue exploring  Japanese clothing style for sure.

Sewing

Wardrobe Essentials: Summer Maxi and The Little Black Dress

Sewing clothing has got me rethinking my wardrobe lately. I am one of those rare creatures that hates to shop for clothes. I mean seriously I would rather buy plants and craft supplies. There must be some kind of treatment for this condition, right?

After looking through my closet I realized a few things.

1. Dang I have a lot of polyester stuff. Like most of it.

2. I hate how all 3 pairs of my jeans fit.

3. I only wear about 1/3 of this stuff. The rest is either uncomfortable, too small, or ready for Goodwill or trash.

4. I need more separates, everyday dresses and jackets, natural fibers, a maxi dress, and a little black dress.

5. I want more Handmade and less cheap mass produced.

So I have decided to be a little more strategic about what I sew for myself this summer. I started with the summer maxi dress.

Last month I found this cool rainbow, painterly looking fabric. It’s polyester but I I like the shimmery look of it. The pattern I chose is really simple, Simplicity 1355 which has jumpsuits and maxi dresses.

Simplicity 1355 has easy to sew jumpsuits and maxi dresses
Simplicity 1355 has easy to sew jumpsuits and maxi dresses

The dress went together fast. I probably should do another in a different color for variety sake or maybe the jumpsuit.

Simplicity 1355 View c
Simplicity 1355 View c

Simplicty 6184 (1)

Simplicity 1355 with rainbow fabric
Simplicity 1355 with rainbow fabric
My sister decided to try it on too. She is about 5 inches shorter than me so she had to blouse it up more at the waist.
My sister decided to try it on too. She is about 5 inches shorter than me so she had to blouse it up more at the waist.

For the little black dress I chose a basic sheath from Simplicity 2455. This is a really nice discontinued pattern for sportswear separates. I like the little collar pleat detail. The dress is very wearer friendly with a side zip and soft A-Line silhouette.

Simplicity 2455
Simplicity 2455
My new Little Black dress Simplicity 2455 with neckline pleats.
My new Little Black dress Simplicity 2455 with neckline pleats.
Simplicity 2455. I can wear it with my cowrie best to jazz it up a little
Simplicity 2455. I can wear it with my cowrie belt to jazz it up a little
Simplicity 2455 with neckline pleats
Simplicity 2455 with neckline pleats

I’m so happy I can finally wear what I want rather than just accepting whatever I can find on the few shopping trips I attempt thoughout the year.