Tuesday, July 28, 2020

The Finished White Wendy Dress

On Sunday, a friend and I met in the middle and went fabric shopping and out for lunch in Vernon. I finished the white Wendy dress the day before so wore it and received lots of compliments. It's very comfortable to wear.




The original has caped sleeves only my friend wore it with a t-shirt underneath with 3/4 length sleeves. Since that's my preference, I drafted my version that way as well as lengthened it.




For the neckline, I let the wrong side of the knit roll over and then tacked it in place with an overlap stitch and top-stitched the seams. I'm really pleased with how it turned out and have some black fabrics to try it in again, probably later in the fall since that will be more of a fall/winter version.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - an outing with a friend

Friday, July 24, 2020

The White Wendy Dress

Tuesday was one of those days when a simple task that should have taken a couple hours ended up taking all day and still wasn't done and when any news was not good news. The great thing about those kinds of days is that there's plenty of room for improvement.




Cleaning the jewelry section took a little longer than I expected but now absolutely everything has been sorted into labelled jars. It's the beginning of a system that I am sure will be fine-tuned as I learn more about doing the work but for now, it's more organized than it was and this is good.


 


My friend Wendy is an amazing dresser. Her ability to put together and accessorize outfits inspires me and luckily we have the same body shape and similar taste. I've learned so much from her. The other day, she was wearing this white dress. The upper section is knit and the lower two are woven and between the upper and middle front pieces, there are inseam pockets. I told her when she took it off, I wanted to copy it and that's what I did yesterday.





The garment is symmetrical which made it easier to copy by folding on center and tracing each section. To do that, I lay white paper over my pressing surface, pin along the seam lines, and then mark the pin positions with a line of pencil dots that I then connect to get the shape of each piece. And then...




... I use a French curve to smooth out the lines. As you can see above right, copying can end up with some wonky lines that need to be reshaped. I sized up at the same time since Wendy is smaller than me and I wanted more width. I also...




... wanted the length to be just below the knee instead of just above so I added three inches to the middle and bottom sections and then cut apart the pieces and added seam allowances. When I traced the garment, I traced to the neck at center and to the underarm at the side and then used my favourite t-shirt pattern to draw the armhole, shoulder, and neckline shapes that I know work for me. On the original, the front has three sections and the back has two. On mine, both the front and the back have three sections.




Right now, I'm test sewing my draft and so far it's fitting together well. The top is a grey knit with a vertical, white pin-stripe that is hard to see. The middle section is linen and the bottom section is cotton - all remnants. It's basically a free dress! Next, I want to audition some fabrics for the neck binding and possibly for patch instead of in-seam pockets and figure out what sleeve length I want. I needed a fun, nurturing day in the studio and it was just perfect. YES YES!

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - a studio day

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Have More Fun

Last week was both a mix of stuff to do and a mess of stuff, both inside the house and out. I know it eventually comes together but in the soup of it all, mess can be a bit disconcerting. I've lost track of what I talked about in recent postings so I may repeat myself. If so, I'm sorry.




I was finally able to get back to work in the yard this past weekend and filled in the upper decking at the edge and built the stairs between levels. They are temporarily tacked in place at the moment. Part of the deck still needs leveling before I can finish the stairs however, this is progress. I also swept all the mud off the studio deck from when my grandsons were playing there and hung up the outdoor - battery operated - light that was part of my birthday gift from my husband. It looks lovely.




Inside, I'm having some changes made to the basement suite to make it more user friendly for my tenant, currently my youngest son. Originally, there was only one four foot wide closet that wasn't even full depth. It has now been extended into what was my storage space and is six feet wide and deep. I still have plenty of storage so this is a win-win. The workers also took down the wall between the very small bedroom and the main area creating a studio apartment which may sound counter-intuitive except that the suite is not very big, just under 300 square feet, so less needs to be more and this is more open and brighter. I also added some more kitchen cabinets. Ideally - says the mother in me - this will mean a cleaner, neater space now that there is actually somewhere to put things. I hope.




With all the work going on, it's been virtually impossible to get anything done in the studio so I've been sorting, sifting, clearing and cleaning. Several times a year, I like to go through absolutely every box, basket, closet, cupboard, drawer, and container and decide what stays and what goes. Not only does it open up space and create more flow, I literally touch everything I own which gives me plenty of ideas on what to do next.

I have a large thread collection from when I was a textile artist and the best system I've found for storing it is in jars by colour and by regular or specialty thread type. In the jewelry section, I need to come up with a similar system for pieces to be recycled as well as findings, chains, and other components. I've been given a lot of jewelry, accepted under the condition that I can decide what I want and donate the rest. I've decided not to keep anything that is plastic and to take apart the pieces and put similar parts together such as beads, focal stones, or clasps. This will - hopefully - be more useful but I don't really have enough experience to know yet. Time will tell.

Part of all this cleaning is my normal routine but part of it has to do with the pending second wave of the virus. I think we'll either be locked down again this fall or choose to stay home as much as possible and I want to make sure that I'm ready to maximize that time. I've been accumulating project supplies like interior and exterior paint for the house, stashing up on basics for the studio, and even Christmas shopping so I'm prepared with things to do and won't have to worry too much.


 

Earlier this month, I was thinking about a small, carefully curated, pattern collection and wondering how many of each pattern type - tops, pants, dresses, etc. - I would keep if I wanted to go small with potential. I thought about that idea for a while since there is a lot of creativity to be found working with T & T patterns however, when I thought further about what would nurture me and make a potentially very difficult fall and winter somewhat easier, I realized that I wanted to have more fun with sewing while not thinking too hard. A few months ago....




... I made the decision to not lose or gain weight but rather to work at staying the same size. One of the reasons for that decision was to have the ability to create a more extensive and interesting wardrobe. I am tired of growing out of my clothing in one direction or another, especially as I tend toward a limited wardrobe. Asking myself how would I like to have more fun with sewing clothing, I've decided to try some different styles as well as patterns that are more labour intensive with individually cut pieces or designer details.

With Butterick 6355, I liked that the tank-top-ish bodice would cover bra straps while the off the shoulder sleeves would add a fun element and the hi-low hemline will flatter my hips far more than a straight one. In stash, I have a floral linen that would be perfect. The flower is 6" across to give you an idea of the scale.




My preference is for lower garments that are more architecturally structured and upper garments like the Butterick top that are softer with more flow. That may be one of the reasons I haven't sewn Butterick 6459 yet even though I really like the pleat details and fabulous collar. This pattern came out quite a while ago and this fall may be the exact right time to get to it.




Vogue 1704 is also more structured. It reminds me of the sleeves on a dress I had at a much younger age. I like the way shape is achieved with seams and darts. The fabrics recommended are softer which will make it more approachable. Blouses as opposed to t-shirts are a somewhat of a new adventure which is quite funny because way back when I sewed that dress, I never sewed with knits and now I'm trying to go back the other way.




Five years ago, when I first moved here and was renovating the upstairs of my home, I fell head first down fourteen stairs because my left sock caught on a nail at the top. Luckily, it stayed caught and didn't let go so instead of pitching into the stairwell, I landed against the stair noses with most of the impact on my right hip which is now forever bigger and lower than my left hip. It could have been much worse. I am alive and walking which I remind myself of whenever I feel a grumpy about the styles I'll never wear again. I've always liked asymmetrical hemlines but now they are especially helpful in hiding that lack of balance. I'd like to sew McCall's 7904, view B, in a stable knit to see how that softness might bridge the move from t-shirts to blouses.



McCall's 8025 is again asymmetrical and flattering on my figure and a bit more fun to sew than a basic t-shirt as is McCall's 7975. I don't like the neckline on this later pattern but that's easily changed. What I really like is that I have more than enough fabric in stash to sew these patterns and more. In looking at the wardrobe gaps in my closet, one thing that's missing is some plain but not denim pants. Last Wednesday, I picked up a dark plum, almost black, cord that will make fabulous winter pants. That's another thing I'm working on - more seasonal clothes. Right now, the only difference between most of my summer and winter wardrobe is the addition of a sweater. I'd like more variety between seasons. What are you planning?

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - a fabric stash

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Slowly Moving Back To Normal

My grandsons left Friday morning and other than changing the beds, washing the sheets, and going fabric shopping, it took me until Monday afternoon to get back to work - namely mowing the lawn. I'm so glad that I'm old enough to realize when I need to rest rather than force myself to do the work, especially as work is never ending. Those repeat tasks never go away and if we don't manage them, they will manage us.




The only sewing I got done while the boys were here was to make some more masks for my husband in a different style with a wire over the nose. Not that I need to tell my story but I can imagine there is some confusion in my writing about both living alone and being married... for thirty-nine years. My husband lives and works just over an hour away. His job is in an essential service so he hasn't been coming on weekends because he doesn't want me to get sick. The long and the short of it is that I have always wanted to live in a small creative community and after years of trying to discuss moving together, I gave up. It felt like I was stagnating in limbo waiting for someday. This is my one and only life too and since he had no idea when or if he would ever be willing to retire or move and I was tired of waiting, I moved. And it's been a good decision. We've found a way to make it work and I am thriving again which is so important. 


 


The boys and I spent one day colouring fabric in the studio. They are using regular crayons on prepared for dying cotton fabric. I took a workshop on this technique years and years ago and haven't used it much since but it definitely re-intrigued me. They created some fabric for Christmas gifts for their parents that I'll sew and wrap for them so there is a gift to give and an element of surprise. As silly as it might sound to some, I've been Christmas shopping because I think we're going to be locked down again and I want to have that all organized and taken care of and just relax. I've also been stocking up for fall projects both in the studio and around the house. Just in case.




In the summer, I find it hard to maintain my daily routine of coffee and then an hour in the studio. Usually that's because of the weather and wanting to get to the yard work before it gets too hot. Only whenever I miss the morning hour for days on end, I become both emotionally and physically tired because that definite hour a day energizes me. It's a daily vitamin. SO... I've been making an effort to take my morning time no matter what and started another version of the Burda 6323 top using some denim remnants. First, I had to figure out if I had enough larger pieces for the pattern.




In one spot on the lower back, the hemline was frayed. Since I normally fuse a strip of interfacing along this edge to help it finish and turn nicely, I was able to incorporate the fray into the interfaced portion and it will be okay. Right now, I'm painting the yoke. I'll talk more about that later.

Things are slowly getting back to normal... sort of. Cleaning up has led to a major cleaning out since - at the same time - I am having the closet in the basement suite made larger by extending it into my storage space which means shifting that stuff while the work is being done. Cleaning and shifting has, somehow but not surprisingly, led to the urge to purge which typically happens several times a year. Right now, I'm going through everything in the entire house with a minimalist, less is more, approach. I prefer to not keep things that I don't use and instead take them to the thrift store so someone else can use them. It always makes me feel lighter with more energy and it increases the potential and flow in my studio. YES YES.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - clean spaces

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

One Exhausted Grandma

My two grandsons arrived a week ago Saturday and are here until Friday morning - as in almost two weeks with Grandma, just the three of us, no parents. My youngest son is now twenty-six so those days are long gone and I have nothing but admiration for stay-at-home Moms. It's the hardest job ever. AND... I have tremendous admiration for my younger self who raised three kids, often alone while my husband traveled, and they turned out pretty good if I don't say so myself. I not only love them, I like them.




My boys used to play in the back yard with Tonka trucks. I found these two at the thrift shop on my one and only road trip a few weeks ago. What a bonus to find two, not just one, no arguments.




My youngest grandson took this picture. He was randomly shooting images however, blue sky and sun has been significantly missing so far this summer so it was definitely worth celebrating.




The boys used a pile of bricks to construct a fort in the back yard. I had waited on leveling the yard and putting in grass until after their visit so they could enjoy a HUGE sandbox. They love that and they are enjoying playing with the neighborhood kids since they live in more of a hot spot and have been self-isolated since mid March other than for a trip to their other grandparents. Boys need to play outside. This is good. 




This fort is version one - bricks, dirt, wood, an outdoor cushion, and some plants to decorate. While they were building this I was...




... placing rocks around another back garden bed. It's the first yard work I've done in weeks. Although, it felt good to get something done, I'm nowhere near finished the list of backyard chores I had hoped to accomplish while they were playing. Apparently, I am not that girl anymore. Instead...




... yesterday, while they were building version two of the fort, I knit some more of the throw for my swing... while sitting on my swing... which is the first time since I hung it at the beginning of June that I've been able to actually sit and enjoy it. YES YES. The boys like it too although they don't understand the swinging like a rocking chair style as opposed to the swinging like in the park style. It's good to have them. We're having fun. And I am one exhausted Grandma.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - grandchildren

Friday, June 26, 2020

Life Choices & Refashion Step One: Deconstruct

Look closely at the present you are constructing. It should look like the future you are dreaming. - Alice Walker

One of the silver linings of the current Covid situation has been the time and opportunity to look at the shape of our lives and make adjustments. Who do we want to become? What do we want less of in our lives? What do we want more of in our lives? That opportunity exists for those of us who are already introspective and for those who are asking deeper questions perhaps for the first time. Our life is our greatest work of art and no one else can create it for us. It is up to us to draw the fine lines and broad brushstrokes in a way that develops our best life, holistic health, joy and abundance.

A typical journal question is if you only had a week to live, how would you spend it? It can be hard to relate to a question like that when the sun is shining and everything appears to be fine. It's easier when there is actual danger looming on the horizon. I'm already a minimalist so I haven't been sifting and sorting my house. It's already clean. And I've worked from home for almost thirty years so I haven't been adjusting to being here all the time. I'm already adjusted. What I've missed is...

... a sit down, face-to-face, good conversation with a friend, coffee out, wandering through thrift and consignment stores looking for potential, road trips, workshops, and artist dates. With loosening regulations, I have looked more closely at who do I want to spend time with as I want that time to be positive and engaging, not negative in any way. Which groups have I missed and can't wait to return to and which can I let go of? What did I wish was already present in my life that wasn't and can I put that in place before the second wave? These and others like them are not completely unfamiliar questions yet they've allowed me to tweak the way I live and that's good.

One of the pressures I am stepping away from is the pressure to create some sort of business oriented on-line presence. This is something I pick up and put down annoyingly far too often and it is entirely possibly that this put down will once again be followed by a pick up and yet maybe not this time. Yesterday, I cancelled the plan for my website and will only have this blog. If I want to sell something, there will be a way but I'm not going to allow the possibility that I may sell something to mean spending time, money, and energy maintaining a site when that's not what I really want to do. The same with....

....social media. When the lock down began, I joined several Facebook groups and I've since unsubscribed from most of them. The on-line group environment is always shifting - one minute supportive and encouraging and the next minute someone is up in airs about something and there is negativity and controversy. No thank you. The group I stayed with is associated with the design retreats I've been going to over the past eight years and it's a group of (mostly) women that I want to stay connected with and support in their journey. That is good and enough.

It's probably an obvious choice that many are making yet what I am feeling called to is deeper cocooning,  making a warm, cozy home, and enjoying the gift of this space. Instead of going to Starbucks each morning to journal, I am curling up in the chair in my studio and it's wonderful. In the rest of the house, I've eliminated some things and added others to both freshen the environment and reflect my style. The yard has been a five year project so far and there is a deep sense of satisfaction in seeing it come together. My studio work is growing in new directions with metal and wire and I am thoroughly enjoying further developing new skills of which...




... refashioning is one. It wasn't something I was aware of until I went to the first design retreat and at the beginning I was hesitant and then I realized that if this garment wasn't working in its current state, there was a lot to gain and nothing to lose by taking it forward. The journey alone would be stretching and growing.

The first step in any refashion is to deconstruct the present garment to a degree that works for the next step which may be the only step you know. With this dress, I unpicked the hemline and took out the center back zipper. Most of the time I don't know what I'm making, and that's true in this case, except that I do know I want a center front opening because the garment is very fitted and the bust line clearly defined. I also want to add sleeves so I removed the neckline and armhole bindings and put them aside carefully. Don't throw anything out until you're completely done. You never know what you need and what those parts could become.

Right now, I am thinking about the center back. Without the zipper to suck it in, it has fallen into this triangle shape that is an opportunity to add some interesting details and a flared back. The dress has princess seams and those would be mimicked by adding a wedge. I'm also debating if I want to do any surface design. I see this as a spring/fall coat or a sweater-ish garment that could be playful and fun. Since I'm quite busy for the next two weeks, and after that will be a wet noodle for some time, I'm not sure how fast it's going to progress but so far - it's very fun.




I bought fabric. No surprise here. It's not unheard of but it is somewhat rare for me to go into a fabric store and come out empty handed. Every year, Fabricland has a huge buy 1 meter, get _ meters free sale before inventory. The fabrics above left are linen. The crinkled one was buy 1, get 1 free and the linen knit was buy 1, get 2 free. I've wanted to try sewing and wearing linen knit so YES YES! The fabrics at right are a rayon blend knit that I've sewn with before and knew I loved. They were buy 1, get 2 free and I bought a meter and a half of each since there weren't any other colours I wanted. The pink and the turquoise are both colours I love and were fun to add to my mostly black stash.




At Value Village, I found these two trucks made of metal like my boys used to play with. One is slightly bigger for my oldest grandson and the other slightly smaller for the youngest - so they can tell them apart. I was so thrilled to find two. The three bucket containers were from Home Sense and it wasn't until I took this picture that I noticed they aren't identical. Apparently, I was so caught up in how fabulous they'd be for my metalworking tools that I didn't look that closely. LOL - oh well. It works.




In the yard, I finally finished mixing cement and setting the posts for the stairs yesterday. At first, I was waiting for the risers to arrive to make sure the positioning was correct and then I was waiting for a free and rain-less day to allow the cement to dry. I have front yard projects and back yard projects to work on while my grandsons are playing so I can keep an eye on them without going crazy. I'm not very good at sitting around and they are here for two weeks, just me and them, no parents. I'll be exhausted but what fun!




I was a bit worried about whether the stairs would ruin the view from my curl-up chair. There will be wooden treads but even so, it's going to be okay. I'm glad. I spend a lot of time with this view.

SO... today is house cleaning, an appointment, and grocery shopping. Late tomorrow afternoon, my daughter and her family will arrive. Her and her husband will leave on Wednesday morning to go back to work and the boys will stay. I can't wait to see and hug them. It's been way too long and I wouldn't be surprised if this is our only visit this year depending on the second - and now they are talking about third - wave.

I hesitate to ask what you have learned from Covid knowing it has been beyond devastating for many people. If you feel comfortable sharing, I'd love to hear. Thanks.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - home and health