Be it man or...fabric.
In my case it was fabric. Maybe I didn't fall in love with enough "Bad Boys" in my youth so I am trying to make up for it now by falling in love with "Bad Fabrics" Who knows? I just know that I was bound and determined to make this stuff work!
So I set out to tame this slippery, slidey fabric that wanted to disintegrate at the slightest touch. I searched the archives of PatternReview.com and the CMNewsletter. I re-read my favorite books on the subject: Sandra Betzina's More Fabric Savy and Claire Shaeffer's Fabric Sewing Guide
Both great references for working with any kind of fabric. I was going to go into this fully armed.
After some trial and error, I found that I needed a VERY gentle hand in every stage of the cutting and construction process. From the finest needle, to the lightest of pressure from both the iron and the pressure foot.
I even replaced the standard needle in my BabyLock Evolve with a very fine Microtex** to do Kayla Kennington's rolled hem technique. I feared that even the finest ELX705 needle would just shred the silk and, if not immediately, would eventually just pull away from the edge. As you can see here, it worked beautifully:
Notice how the look of braiding was achieved by the use of different colors of Rayon threads. To get this look I used a very dark Peacock Blue in the upper looper, Lt. Peacock Blue that almost dissapeared, in the lower looper and a lovely and unexpected Golden Tan in the needle position.
Where two seams were attached to each other, I used a multi-stitch zig-zag with a verigated metalic Sulky thread in shades of Aqua, Gold and Lavender.
At the seams with the greatest stress, like the shoulders and where the ties would go, I fused silk organza strips along the edge prior to serging, in the hope that it would keep the seam from slipping.
Next up~ Softening up that print...
**A word of warning: ELX and Microtex needles are of different lengths, I believe the Microtex are a smidge longer. I asked my dealer about the advisability of using the Microtex in my Evolve and his response was "Well, if your not hearing anything funny or having any problems, I don't see why you can't" While I wouldn't exactly call that an endorsement, I, personally (nor did my machine) suffer any ill effects from using them in my Evolve for this project. Your mileage may vary...
Be it man or...fabric.
In my quest for the perfect Ocean-Blues-Elegant-Ethereal-Drapey-Beachy-Silk to use for my Beach Fantasy Dress, I came across this:
An undeniably Gorgeous Silk Charmeuese print. That it was located in Hong Kong (!!) and the wedding was a mere 6 weeks away didn't deter me, I was in love!
It had it all: the deep blue of a storm tossed sea, green and every shade of turquoise with subtle highlights that looked like the morning sun reflecting off a calm inlet. There were even the golden shades of virgin sand beneath your feet...
I had found my perfect fabric. It was mine. I had to have it. No other fabric would do after seeing this lovely.
I dutifully awaited it's arrival from the far east. Surprisingly, I didn't have long to wait, 10 days perhaps. When it arrived it was even more vibrant and beautiful in person, just stunning!
The quality, however, left much to be desired. The first problem I noticed was a printing error where there were two 1/4" in dots devoid of any dye at the same place in EVERY Repeat. It was almost as if a piece of fuzz got stuck on the printing plate. (If they even use a 'Printing Plate' for fabric, lol)
The fabric was busy, the dots were small, the repeat was large, the dress was made of strips: I would make it work. If I couldn't cut around them, I would dye them with a Q-tip!
The far greater quality issue arose when I started tearing the fabric to get a straight edge. That's when it really hit home that there is Good Silk Charmeuse and then there is Baaad Silk Charmeuse. And this was definitely Baaad Silk Charmeuese. So bad in fact, that if I looked at it wrong the threads would slip in a BIG way, to the point of leaving actual holes in the fabric.
How on earth was I going to sew this stuff?~ Grrrr
Kayla Kennington is an Artiste Extraordinaire!
I have long admired her work and collected her patterns with dreams of some day incorporating a little of her genius into my own art.
As many of you already know, my first attempt at this was for VBG, where I used Kayla's unique seaming technique quite successfully. Here are a couple of close-ups of that:
After that I was hooked! I wanted to jump in to the deep end and make one of Kayla's amazing patterns! In July of this year I had the perfect excuse, my cousin was getting married in a small ceremony on the beach in Carmel, CA. and she wanted all of the guests to wear 'Ocean' blues.
I decided to make "Fantasia"
This is a beautiful jacket pattern I have had in my stash since it first came out. It is really quite simple when made as drafted, composed of mainly rectangles and triangles.
Of course, my brain just can't comprehend things like 'simple' or 'easy' nooo...that would be, well, too easy ;-) and apparently I must prefer my life a little more complicated.
The examples of finished garments made from this pattern on Kayla's site are truly astounding and inspiring! The one that really got my creative juices flowing was the floral silk georgette summer dress. Perfect! Except that the dress is not a draft that is included in the pattern. I did say that "Fantasia" is a jacket pattern, didn't I? But after seeing that summer dress, I had my heart set on making Fantasia into a dress for the wedding!
Since this pattern is comprised of mainly rectangles, it should be a fairly simple thing to just lengthen them all and make a dress. Right? Wrong! There are also triangles. Lots of triangles. And when you add triangles, you go from simple math to geometry. When I said my brain didn't like simple, this was NOT what I was talking about!
So what a girl to do? Call the designers website contact number for tech support, what else? I called on a Saturday afternoon, 'cause, well that was when I was getting frustrated. Not really expecting an answer, I got a recording of Ms. Kennington herself saying she was on the road until the following day. I hung-up without leaving a message.
Imagine my utter shock when the phone rang the following day, Sunday, and it was Ms. Kennington calling to say that she saw I had called, recognized my name on the caller ID (what? who? me???) and wanted to know how she could help me. OMG! It took me a second (OK a really long second) to compose myself enough to ask her about the dress draft.
We had a wonderful conversation and I must say that she is the kindest, patient and most generous woman you could ever hope to meet. She freely shared drafting help with me, even going so far as to tell me what size my rectangles should be based on my measurements and my height.
Kayla, if you happen to be reading this, Thank you Thank you Thank you! You are the best! I am just sorry it has taken me so long to get this posted, please see 'I am a baaad blogger' ;-)
Coming up: The journey of the Beach Fantasy Dress and Falling in Love with the Wrong Fabric ~
Last summer Anne Marie Soto, the Editor of Notions, asked me to write an article on using Tyvek. Apparently after seeing how I had used this great stuff on VBG, she thought her readers would like a How-to article. I was more than happy to oblige, but nervous as all get out!
With more than a few false starts, a computer crash, LOTS of help from my friends (Thank you Denise and Marylynn!) and Anne Marie's mad editorial skills my article was published in the Summer '08 issue of Notions.
For those of you not familiar with Notions, it is a great trade mag published by the American Sewing Guild, or ASG. ASG is a wonderful non-profit organization dedicated to promoting sewing as a rewarding and creative activity. They do a great job!
Oh, and if it weren't for the loving support and encouragement I got from Anne Marie, VBG would never have seen the light of day!
Stay tuned for the Tyvek Tutorial...
A Rowenta Pressure Iron and Steamer in the Sewing With Nancy 25th Anniversary Contest! I placed second in the Fashion category, quite an honor as the first place winner was none other than Eve Kovacs, a very talented and accomplished designer who has won many contests.
Congratulations to all of the participants!
All of the winners can be seen in the Summer issue of ASG Notions magazine.
It is now December and my last published post was in MAY! How can that be?
I have had lots going on. What about Nancy's Notions? Didn't I ever update that? Or how about my article for 'Notions'...I was sure I wrote something.
And sewing, what about sewing? I made the wedding shrug, the Fantasy Beach Dress, my perfect-crotch-curve-yoga-pants, the twist top, the twist top, the twist top...the Khaliah Ali stuff. None of it got blogged about?
I think the time has come to admit to myself that: I. AM. A. BAD. BLOGGER.
There, I said it. I can release the guilt.
I may be a bad blogger, but I am a great person, mom, wife, and friend and it has been those things and more that have been taking priority and my time these past few months. Now that things have settle down a little and my health and energy has greatly improved, I hope to catch up on all of the blogging that I have only been doing in my mind.
I am grateful to all of you for your love and support,
"I'm not ornery, I'm just playful"