Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Lengthened Alder Shirtdress

It would seem the 90s are cool again. There may be some gray area in the cool factor if youve already participated in a trend during a preious fashion cycle, but Im willing to overlook that possible age induced faux pas for the feel on rayon on my legs. This dress revisits the long flowing frocks of the 90s. I loved them in floral rayons then, I love them in linen rayon now.

This is a lengthened Alder Shirtdress. A modification Ive had on my mind since I cut out my first view A (made before View B, View B) last year. Why is it that good ideas hit you at the exact moment its too late to do anything about them. I really wanted that dress to be mid-length, it took until now to realize the vision. I made this dress over a month ago, and wear it every chance I get, but photographing mat black is well above my skill level. I finally gave up and went with my normal white door backdrop. The details are lost, youll have to trust me that there werent many to begin with.
This is pretty straightforward Alder except that I lengthened pattern 9 then raised the highest point of the curve 3 at the sides. Next time I might raise the sides a few inches more. I used the square pockets of the Archer. Otherwise it is made as written.

The fabric is the perfectly mat, delightfully flowy Robert Kaufman Brussels Washer Linen Blend. Its a rayon/linen blend making for a really nice drape. I used the few black and white scraps I had to liven up the insides, and brown tone buttons for a little contrast.
As far as summer dresses go this one is pretty awesome, flowing and unstructured for the summer heat, but casual enough to wear for no special reason. If I promise never to wear it with Doc Martins, I think the fashion police will overlook my transgression.
Fabric: Robert Kaufman Brussels Washer Linen from Fabric.com

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Hey June Racerback Dress

Sometimes, I make the kids something I really, really, love then dont let them wear it (example 1, example 2)! Its too precious, too much work, too fine of fabric, and totally not the point. Not so with the Racerback Dress from Hey June. This pattern is quick to sew, with a relatively small amount of fabric. I dont cringe when L puts this dress on to climb trees and play kickball. If she messes it up, I can make another one in an afternoon. This is the perfect #simplesummersewing project for kids! 

The dress is three pieces (front, back, and upper back straps) and finished with neck and sleeve bands. The two piece back is a great opportunity for mixing colors and prints. It's a simple dress, that can be made in a ton of combinations. I made this Racerback Dress with part of my Acorn Valley haul. Its the perfect weight, and a color L loves. I cut a 7 to allow room for growth, but a 6 would have been plenty generous.
Print Fabric: Acorn ValleyKnit designed by Patty Young 

Solid Fabric: Upcycled T-shirt

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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Think Less, Make More : A #simplesummersewing Project

Ive had The Modern Natural Dyer book since it came out last year. It is just as great as everybody says, and when you see the beautiful images, you will want to make something just as lovely as Kristine Vejar immediately!

When I got the book late last summer I started enthusiastically collecting pokeberries, black walnut hulls, and goldenrod from our family farm. It gave me a satisfaction almost like gardening to think that I was going to put something from nature to a good and beautiful use. After that first burst of activity I got a bit bogged down in specifics. I wanted to make one spectacular thing, a thing that I could see very clearly in my mind, a thing that was so fully conceived in my head that I already knew what I would wear it with. One thing I did not have was the experience to actually make that thing. Rather than give myself the creative and educational benefit of trial and error, I dove right in with precisely cut pattern pieces, and good fabric. Naturally, it didnt turn out well.

My sad, muddy colors were surely a result of sloppy fabric prep, something I had glossed over in my hurry to get to the end. Next, I got mired in the online sourcing of just the exactly right mordant and scouring agent. Nothing is labeled fully or consistently, so I kept getting stuff that seemed close but not quite right. No matter what I did, or how hard I planned, I ended up at a rather annoying (and expensive) mental roadblock. I was thinking too big, and letting myself get overwhelmed by possibilities.
This summer when natural dye projects started blooming across the internet like flowers in the spring time, I used a strategy that often works for me when I am stuck: think less, make more.

Carefully sourced materials, and thoughtfully considered construction methods are noble ideals, but I had to put them aside for the sake of growth. I have just enough self-awareness to know that I rarely get anything right the first time. Its unrealistic to expect that my fully conceived expert level (okay maybe just advanced beginner) project was going to emerge dripping wet, and fully formed from my very first dye pot. I shook the far too specific first project out of my head, chopped up the fabric already cut to size, and made the simplest thing I could think of.

I used that almost right scouring agent, and close-but-not-quite mordant. I used the marigolds under the kitchen window, and a black walnut branch growing at the corner of the yard. I rashly raised the stakes on my commitment to process, and let the kids help. Were these legitimate prep chemicals or did I just boil my fabric in snake oil? Would the freshly cut black walnut bark taint my lovely marigold orange? Would the synthetic dye in the kids art box string leave a stain on my natural hue? Did I add enough water? Are the strings tied too tight? There is only one way to find out.
This little experience is indicitive of the uncertainty I wrestle with when Im looking at many of my favorite makers projects online. How is everything so perfect so fast? Do they just barf out beauty at will? Do they do everything right the first time? Surely not, but its easy to let those feelings drive you into a corner of self-doubt. This project reminds me that I am here because I love the process.
Im really just delighted with my little zipper pouches. It is certainly not the best, or most creative dye project, but it is a very important step in the right direction. More important than a successful finished product, is giving myself the mental space to screw it up, then fix it, then let the process unfold. Im feeling a little bit liberated.

Dye Process: Based on Flowers at My Fingertips Sewing Kit on page 79 of The Modern Natural Dyer by Kristine Vejar
Base Fabric: Robert Kaufman Cotton Canvas
Mordant: Aluminum Solfate
Scouring Agent: Soda Ash Fixer
Flowers: Started from Hudson Valley Seed Library Marigold Medley
Pouch Pattern: Improvised, tutorial for similar here


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