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Midland, Texas, United States
I write. I make stuff.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Hey, Out There!

Just a quick note to say "hi" and that I'm trying to post over on Facebook at least a couple times a week. I'm having a great time making stuff and experimenting with pain-in-the-butt projects, but I'm not at all inclined to post how-to stuff or take a lot of photos. Maybe later, after school starts. Or maybe it will mostly be on Facebook, which is just so much quicker. In truth, I'm loathe to do much of anything that doesn't involve hanging out with The EGE and the cats, stitching, and talking to makers—I've gotten to interview a bunch of really interesting ones this summer. I'm easy to find if you're on Facebook: just my name. Not like there's a whole bunch of people with the same name.

Thanks for coming by—hope you're well and having a wonderful summer. Or winter, depending on where you are—XO

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Making. And Making & Making & Making. . . .

There are other things I "should" be doing, like being more helpful in The Painting of The Porch, which currently looks like this:

 The Ever-Gorgeous Earl, Man of My Dreams, has done most of the spindle painting, a little at a time. First we did the purple railings, and then we started on the orange spindles. So in the photo below, taken this morning, the green and purple spindles still need a fresh coat. As you can imagine, it's slow and tedious work, and it takes a kind of patience that is not my forte. To put it mildly.
 The living room/sewing room this morning, awaiting Triage. I had to set up a temporary table to force myself to deal with the stuff I've hauled out in the last couple weeks.

And here's what I've been doing, not in any order. This duster, below, is my favorite. It's not finished, not by a long shot—I have ideas for all kinds of stitching on it. But it's at the wearable stage, not that I'm going to be needing a denim duster any time soon, not when it's in the 90s.
 OK, let me back up for a minute. Several years ago, The EGE rescued a quilt and a comforter from the dumpster and took them to the laundromat and brought them to me. We thought we'd use them for outdoor cat bedding, but they were pretty cool. One was a king-sized Ralph Lauren denim comforter, faded and soft. At some point I ripped out all the quilting and removed the batting (and used it under the cats' blankets in the winter), and last week I finished ripping out the seams and discovered there were 5 yards of wonderful denim fabric. So the duster, above, is the first thing I've made from that. I love everything about it: the faded parts, the bleach stains, the other, unidentifiable (but washed!) stains. I'm currently working on an apron out of the same fabric (I can get two dusters and two aprons if I'm very exacting). Then there was the quilt, which you've seen before when I used the shredded backing as a Jumpron, which I then quilted. Here's the quilt, before, a Tommy Hilfiger hand-pieced and hand-stitched king-sized cotton quilt:

Below is the Jumpron, which I've given to a new home:

OK, so I had that fabric from the comforter and the quilt, and I forced myself to quit "saving it because it's so special" (you know how that one goes) and just do something with it. Here's another shot of the duster:

 I did an Alabama Chanin style binding out of the denim, which is soft enough to work for this, and I love how it laundered with just the perfect amount of fraying. The floss is the last of the batch I dyed last year.
 Then this heavy-weight linen duster, made from some yardage that was out in the storage building (these take 2.5" of 54"+ fabric, the wider the better (for sleeve length). I wanted to see how the heaviest linen with drape with that sleeve shape. It looks better on than in this photo, I think.
 This one, below, is medium weight linen:
 The rest of these are light-weight, very flowy, as you can see from these photos on the breezy front porch:
 These are a lot of fun to wear.
 I've got the blue one I showed a while back, and I'm getting ready to cut the fabric for a bright orange one. Then I'll have one in all the colors I wear, and I have aprons in those colors, too, as well as the sleeveless knee-length cotton jersey tank dresses: perfect mix-and-match of the 7 colors (orange, orange-red, purple, hot pink, chartreuse, chambray blue, and sometimes a raspberry-ish purple-ish, but not always). So I can wear a tank dress with an apron over it, then a duster, along with bamboo footie socks (ordered from Dharma Trading and dyed; I LOVE these socks, so soft and silky and not expensive and VERY dye-able, except the chartreuse). Then my Keen's shoes, which I have in purple, green, orange, blue, reddish-orange and black-and-gray. I'm trying not to think about the fact that, on their website, you can toss in an extra $30 and have them made it almost any color combination you want, including, omigod, HOT PINK.

Trying not to think about that.

Here's the light-weight blue (the "Be. Here. Now." blue is medium weight).
 I've taken the first stitch. I go over all the machine stitching, which I think is ugly. I enjoy this part.
 OK, now we're back to the Tommy Hilfiger quilt. I bought some cheap, very thin cotton and cut it out for the lining and then pinned it to the wrong side of the quilt top and cut it out—I had to do this on the floor because it was too big for the tables—and sewed it, and then I cut bias strips from the striped backing for the binding. It's a pain in the butt to make into double-fold bias tape because it doesn't want to stay creased, as if it has a mind of its own. I've got another foot or so to make so I can finish binding the bottom, and then I'll do the sleeves and the tops of the pockets, which I haven't made yet. I usually do the pockets early on because I have severe pocket issues that I don't understand (I can never, ever get them exactly even), but this time I just wanted to get it stabilized and make sure it was going to work (not be too stiff to drape once I had it sewn together; it's not) before I did the pockets. I think I may bead some of the stars. It's not a flag duster; there's no red anywhere on it. It's about stars in the sky, and I may do something more with that idea (French knot stars in the background, maybe).
 It's unbelievably soft, even without having been washed with fabric softener.

 I'll do some kind of embellishment stitching that will secure the lining more firmly to the duster, but I don't want to do too much because it would make it stiff. I found some ecru bamboo crochet thread—I've dyed a bunch of the white and love using it; it's very soft and silky—that will work well with the color of the stars. No rush in finishing this one (too hot to wear for several months, at least), so I can play around with ideas once I get the binding done.
 On the Triage Table are a couple bagged projects: on the left, two ancient Henley tops, dyed several times, beginning to fall apart. They're identical (and about 30 years old), so I'm layering one on top of the other (orange, purple) and stitching to secure them that way. With some judicious mending, maybe there's another 30 years of wear in there. I love that idea. Maybe they'll out live me and become antiques.
In the bag on the right, above, is the apron made out of the denim like the duster. I've got the binding pinned in place and ready to stitch. I first just turned under the hem and edges, as I do with the linen, and sewed them by machine and planned to stitch over them. But after doing the sewn edges of the duster (the open side slits), I realized I can't do that through 3 layers of denim any more. I screwed up my hand for a couple days. So I went back on the apron and cut off or ripped out all those parts and started over. Oy. But worth it: I'm learning what my hands will do and what they hate, and we're establishing a good, lasting partnership, I think.

In the summer, at home, I usually wear a tank top and a pair of cut-off Levis. I don't wear these anywhere else, of course. I have three pair, and they need various kinds of mending. I wanted to try outlining with black crochet thread—for whatever reason, I can't leave well enough alone and have to keep trying to stitch with every possible kind of cotton thread, including string I dyed (which didn't work well except for couching; it frayed too much to be stitched through the fabric). I free-handed a butterfly—yeah, I know how trite that is—to give me a lot of lines, and I carry it with me and work on it, like in the car while The EGE gets gas, or at Starbucks. Once I get all the lines done, I want to see if I can fill in the spaces with satin stitch in bright colors, maybe silk floss, and see if it looks like I want it to. I like doing experiments like this on the shorts or on the winter long Levi's: I don't like to do tests on stuff that won't be worn, but doing them on something I've made is risky, in case I hate the results. Doing it on the shorts and jeans is good: sturdy ground fabric, can't ruin it, will wear it no matter what, will always have it as reference for what works and what doesn't, can easily see how lots of laundering works.
 I think I'm going to play with the Shiva paint sticks on these, below, when I get them mended. (These are two different pair, above and below, both very old). The moon and stars and squares were painted with Lumiere silver and gold many, many years ago, so it's been through a bazillion wash cycles and is no longer metallic. Kind of blah, so I may do something with that, too.
And that's what I've been doing. I'm having a ton of fun, so much so that I'm not getting done the various things I wanted to do (painting, more sorting, helping more with outdoor projects). But I get obsessed with things in spates of experimenting, and then something works out just exactly the way I hoped, and I have to keep making variations until I'm done. It's not a good thing, I know. There were those 50+ dresses, all identical. The thing is, I know the kinds of things my brain needs, and having it obsessed with something like this works for both of us. It happily gets to keep going over and over an idea, tweaking it, and when we're done, I can send whatever extra we made to Wendy.

Looking for photos of those quilts this morning in the photos I'd uploaded to this blog in the past, I scrolled through dozens and dozens of photos of clothes I made or altered and posted. I have almost none of those any more. Not a single Jumpron. Very few of the dozens of Cynthia Ashby stuff I bought secondhand. I do have most of the AC boleros and about half the skirts. This is not a bad thing: I had a lot of fun with this stuff. It was fun to hunt for it and buy it, dye it and alter it, figure out how to make stuff cooler and more colorful. I wore most of it, at least a time or two. And now it's out there in the world, doing its thing. I don't care where it is as long as it's being worn and enjoyed. Maybe altered some more. Wendy knows that if she doesn't want something I send her, she's more than welcome to pass it on.

Just for fun, here are some things that are gone. I don't know where, and I don't care. Some were sold, some were given to friends. They were fun for me, and now maybe they're fun for someone else. None of them live in the closet anymore, and that's good.

Thanks for coming by~~XO