Have you heard about Natalie Chanin’s work? The designer behind Alabama Chanin? I’m sure you’ve already seen some of her (and her employee’s) beautiful work and mostly the stunning versions made by talented ladies like Carolyn, Andrea and Isabelle? I bought one of her books last year – Alabama Studio Sewing + Design – and I’m only starting working from it now. It is still a work in progress and I don’t have a photo of it just now, but I can show you the previous steps, because it’s a looong project.
I chose to make a simple knee-length skirt: 2 fronts and 2 backs, it could’t be simpler. But before engaging on stenciling, embroidery and sewing, I did a muslin in an ugly jersey knit bought over the Internet (I like the big dots, but the description said grey when it’s actually lilac) : I can destash, yeah for Stash Diet 2014! After checking the finished measurements, I clearly needed a little more room around the hips, so I simply slashed the pattern along the grainline and spread both parts. The fit is now fine! I didn’t know what to expect because I’ve never bought/worn a knit skirt. It is proving to be rather confortable.
Next step: stenciling. I used a sheet of plastic (you know the ones used in the old days when you did a presentation?) and a sharp blade to cut through. I used Pebeo textile paint, but apparently basic house paint could work. I’ll have to swatch, and it would be good if it worked because there aren’t many colours available in textiles paints. I used a little foam roller to apply the paint. Despite a few mistakes like forgetting on which side I put the paint on the previous pattern repeat then applying the already painted side to the fabric (grrrr, I had to re-cut a front piece), this step didn’t take as much time as I thought it would. However the very next step took forever: ironing the fabric to stabilize the paint (5 minutes on each repeat).
Next step (not the final one): stitching around each motif. This is the part I like best of course, confortably sitting on my sofa, watching tv or listening to podcasts. I try to knit a little less at the moment because I have a painful elbow tendinitis (or more precisely a tenosynovitis), but I’m not sure embroidery is any better, I’ll have to ask the physiotherapist. What about you? Do you like long-term pojects like this one? I wonder if knitters/sewers are more prone to this than sewers only?
Finally finished! It took me ages to finish this bag, though the actual embroidery itself wasn’t that long to do. Had I been working on it more regularly, it would have been finished ages ago. I didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself though, otherwise what’s the point of a craft?
Doing these three panels, I discovered I prefered curvy patterns rather than lines: the process is funnier and the result suits me best. I’ll have to remember that when planning for my bedspread (you know, the one I aim to finish before 2020). So now I have another knitting bag, of an intermediate size: perfect for a few balls of yarn and a knitting magazine – exactly what I need for my baby knitting. Can you tell I love my new bag?
My preferred one is the top one!
Even if my sewing has slowed down a little the last few weeks I still have plenty of things to show you, but not yet. I also would like to share with you my findings at the latest fabric festival (Stoffenspektakel !) that we attended last weekend. I went with my two friends Lucy and Catherine and we spent a little money and had a great time together fondling the fabrics. We also bought some notions and and helped Lucy find some basic equipment as she’s starting to sew. It’s wonderful to have a new addict with us !
But now I have another kind of work in progress to show you. A few months ago I shared my first attempt at Sashiko and in the meantime I have thought about something easy I could stitch for training. Of course it had to be a knitting bag. I chose three different patterns and organise them in panels, I have nearly finished the second one. I’m planning to make a very basic knitting bag: a simple rectangle with handles. I’m not working on it very regularly so I don’t know when it will be finished. I think I treat embroidery and Sashiko as I do spinning: it’s an occasional activity that I sometimes feel the urge to do (I haven’t touched my spinning wheel in months now).
I really love the simple lines of Sachiko as well as the two contrasting colours. One day maybe I will be brave or patient enough to make a bedspread (or do you say bedcover?)
Yes, I’m finally on holidays and at home for the most part, it means I can get back to my sewing machine! I did sew a few items during the weekends over the past months but haven’t had time to photograph them or even blog about them. So they will probably appear here in between newer stuff.
Strange thing is, now I have time to sew, I don’t know where to start! I’m slightly overwhelmed: I have plenty of ideas but can’t get round to even pulling out a pattern. I want to make the most of my time at home but instead of that I seem to be wasting this time! Oh well, I’ll try not to be too hard on myself.
Above is something I haven’t technically started yet because I needed to practice before engaging time and effort in it. Since I discovered sashiko, I wanted to try; I really like embroidery but am not much into cross stitch: I prefer simple lines and colours and sashiko seems to suit my tastes a lot.
sashiko needles (very long) and sashiko thread in my tin box from last easter – isn’t it cute?
I’ve started by doing a kind of swatch: I won’t be doing anything with this at all but it helped me practice regularity of the stitches and make progress on corners. Corners are important in sashiko and there is a preferred way to do them.
Practicing corners on the smaller squares
Inspiration and motifs come from this book: The Ultimate Sashiko Sourcebook by Susan Briscoe. It has beautiful stitch patterns and clear instructions on where to start when you’re an absolute beginner like me.
If you’re interested in this kind of embroidery, I really recommend this book : I probably won’t use all the patterns but there are so many that the book will keep me occupied a long time before I need to move on to something else.