When we last visited about weaving and sewing issues, I had managed to salvage some unintentionally felted wool into a vest.  But the original project was supposed to be a winter coat.  Around the Christmas break, after the vest was complete, I bought some terrific wool from my local fabric store to sew the coat that I needed.  This almost felt like handwoven.  I was literally picking out the vegetable matter from the fabric as I worked with it.  But I loved the warmth and drape of the fabric. And I chose a stunning, red, flannel-backed lining to add warmth to the coat.

I chose a Very Easy Vogue coat pattern to use and I had to think long and hard about whether to use the view with the hood.  But in the end, it was my walk to and from the parking lot of my job that sealed the deal.  The hood was a go.

Then I had to consider the buttonhole treatment.  I experimented with a variation on a bound buttonhole.

But after I purchased some terrific and rather large buttons, it was suggested that instead of buttonholes, I use large snaps.  It was a good decision.

I got the coat finished just in time for some pretty wicked winter weather.  My husband took this photo of me in the coat as the winds whipped around us one Saturday after shopping at Cleveland’s West Side Market.  The hood offers great protection against the cold winds.

When I add a knitted scarf, I’m nice and warm during a winter that’s been filled with ice, snow, rough winds and, as I write this post, temperatures that started off this morning in the single digits.

Advertisements

Goodness.  I’m embarrassed that it’s been so long since I visited with you. The holidays, work, and a variety of factors kept me away from Between the Threads for over a month.  But I’m back with some nice projects to show for it.

During October, I spent some time at the loom weaving up 5 yards of material from Harrisville Shetland Wool cones.  It was a very nice twill structure and I used some handspun for a contrast.

Then I decided to full the fabric as I prepared to make a coat.  I threw it into the washer on hot, just for a few minutes. And then…. uh, I got distracted by my daughter who “needed to talk.”  Let’s just say that when I ran frantically to the washing machine to pull the fabric, it was felted beyond belief.  It was toast!  The part with the purple handspun was thick enough to use for a horse blanket.  Weave structure- gone! The magenta part at the top of the picture brightened considerably, but shrunk significantly so that a coat was out of the question.

Time to make lemonade:)  I needed a new purpose.  The purple accent fabric was cut off, doubled over, and now makes a nice surface for pressing on my ironing board. Then I went to a workshop one night at my local, independent fabric shop.  It was all about working with wool.  I raised my hand.  “Anyone have any suggestions for a this?”  I told my story and got ideas for a vest.

I’m not a big vest person.  They tend to look boxy on my short body.  But with little else to use it for, I got a nice pattern from Kwik Sew and set about making a vest.

The first order of business was making something flattering out of a thick wool felt.  It was all about reducing bulk.  I spent hours carefully fitting the pattern with added darts in the front and back and using ideas from Sandra Betzina on working with boiled wool.  In this picture, you can see one of the back pieces.  I used a diamond shaped dart to create shape, but instead of cinching the fabric together like a traditional dart, I cut out all the fabric.

I did this because Sandra says it takes out all the bulk.  It worked beautifully when I pressed the edges together and zig-zagged the seam after backing it with fusible interfacing.

You can’t even see the seam on the right side of the vest.  The thread is buried in the felt.  It was a cool trick.

Well, I eventually finished the vest before the holidays by putting a nice lining in it.

And I wore it for Christmas, adding earrings and a pin my husband gave me that morning which he had picked out specifically for the vest.

Tim Gunn always says, “Make it work.”  I think, this time, I did.

One of the wonderful results of my pursuit of weaving the past few years has been a renewed interest in sewing for myself.  When my children were young, the only sewing time I could muster was the occasional curtain or pillow…squares and rectangles.

But when I discovered I could weave fabric yardage my past world of sewing clothes returned.  Part of the frustration of sewing today is that most fabric stores only sell “craft” material.  You must go to the bigger cities of New York, Chicago, and Washington D.C. to find anything approaching a serious fabric store for garment construction.

That’s why I was so delighted to find Marcy Tilton’s website.  She not only sells the terrific patterns she designs for Vogue, but she also searches out the finest fabrics that she makes available for sale. Recently I purchased some stretch woven and double knit fabrics to make into pants.  In addition, I bought two of her fine dvds which feature details related to garment construction in Paris and creative ways to design your own t-shirts.

I have found that the content of her dvds is just like having a workshop at home at a time when it’s convenient for me. I am very excited to put some of her techniques into practice and get my sewing machine going again for my garment needs.

I have a practical side I just can’t seem to shake.  My garden is full of useful plants- herbs, vegetables.  Thankfully my husband likes the beautiful side of flowers so it’s a nice balance.

Even my hobbies have to be useful.

All of my handweaving projects have a practical purpose whether it’s towels, placemats, or clothing. But at the end of a workshop, I’m frequently left with samples and little to do with them. 

After the painted warps workshop, I managed to end up with a table runner I chronicled in another post.  However, I was also left with a lovely scrap of on-the-loom painted fabric.  Rather than watch it sit in my stash, I looked around for a small project to transform into a useful object.

I have an iPod Touch that I covet.  Why not make a holder to protect it from all the nasty stuff in my purse?  Voila.

A little bit of fabric, some batting, a piece of elastic, and a button from my stash and there you have it.  The fabric got a little thick on the right side, so the seam is kind of wonky, but otherwise I’m happy with something that appeals to my practical side.

Sometimes I have to tame the “useful” beast.  Not everything can be practical; some should just be enjoyed for the beauty of it all.  But this little project appeals to both.  It protects my darling iPod and it’s nice to look at too.

A couple of years ago I took a workshop with Liz Spear from the Asheville area on sewing with handwoven fabric.  (There are so many good workshop leaders from Asheville). We picked out a pattern, made a practice muslin, wove several yards of cloth and came prepared to cut our beloved yardage and make a garment.  Liz removed the fear, taught us some outstanding sewing techniques and we all finished wonderful pieces.

Late last year, I finished another jacket.  This time I wove yardage with a mix of colors and sizes of cotton threads.  When I wore the jacket for Easter, I realized I had never posted pictures of it.  Here I am modeling it in my garden on Easter Sunday.

The contrasting collar is the result of weaving some of my tencel/silk/cotton handspun yarn into the yardage.

The previous jacket I made was constructed of a wool/silk blend.  With this cotton fabric, I learned that I had to be careful because the pieces can grow over time. So stabilizing the shape is critical.

I’ve been sewing since I was a teenager, but I enjoy it more today because I can design the cloth on my loom.