18 September 2012

Sewing Hearts Over the Holes

When I have posted this line periodically over the years, it has often been mistaken for metaphor; when in fact, I am actually sewing hearts over holes. I finished my bed quilt in 1997; it is a simple squares quilt made from 1930's reproduction prints in bubblegum colours. The first holes appeared about six years ago. Seven hearts over seven holes. (Shown above when you could still see the squares.) Things wear out, and more holes kept appearing. Then the binding wore out, but instead of replacing it, I patched it. At first, I tried to stick to reproduction prints of the same era, but gave up on that, because there were just too any awesome prints. I began collecting quarter yard pieces to make new hearts; retiring fabrics as I didn't want to populate the quilt with any one fabric too heavily. The hearts overlapped, and holes keep appearing. It is the endless project that I can't stop working on. The worst is when I am sick in bed, and can see the tufts of broken threads at eye level.

This last spring the patches of the binding were worn through, and it was time to replace it. I dreaded doing this, because it would involve taking the whole binding off, along with the bits of hearts that overlapped onto it.

Once I decided to commit to taking the binding off, I knew that I would have to be without my quilt, so I chose a week of hot days. I know quilting in the heat doesn't sound very much fun, but those hot days I am not generally productive, as silk and heat do not mix!

Before I could bind the quilt, I had to cover all the holes where the binding would overlap. Turns out, there were starting to be holes on the back too.

For a long time I knew that rebinding was inevitable, I decided that I wanted a red binding. The awesome owner of Cool Cottons talked me back into doing a bias binding (I had almost decided that it wouldn't matter, because this would be a work in progress forever). I have taken this quilt in a few times over the years to pick fabrics for it. It is almost like a history of her shop! I have gotten fabric from all over for this quilt: leftovers from my days at evil Daisy Kingdom, Josephine's (where I have been shopping since I was a small child), Bolt to name a few. Friends have sent me paquets of scraps to add to it too. I end up at Cool Cottons the most, because it is the closest to my house.

Piper helped all along the way.

Of course I will be working on this forever. Every few weeks, I get out the newest stack of calico and start cutting out hearts.

I will post some variation of this literal line to twitter or elsewhere online, as I pin hearts over new holes to heal the wounds this well-loved quilt endures.

That is, if Piper will let me. It is after all, her quilt too.

12 September 2012

What I did Last Summer

This summer was a bit unusual for me, as most summers are spent with desperate wedding deadlines. I have been in the process of retiring from weddings for the last several years trying to stop. This summer I didn't take any custom dresses or major alteration/restyling/restoration projects save for a couple of accessory orders. I spent my summer tying up loose ends; finishing left over custom projects (some have been languishing for years for various reasons), doing some sewing for myself, and of course designing corsets! Here is some of my summer in review:

This is the quilt I started before it's intended owner was born, she is now 8.

Sometimes my fabric hoarding pays off; I had pieces of the original fabric left over to let out two of my favourite sundresses.

I dyed my hair pink.

I actually had time to make a few things for myself:

Firecracker sundress.

Just the hem with my cute sandals (this was after my broken toe finally healed!).

Half circle skirt made out of a bit of fabric I bought on a whim.

I wrote a tutorial on twitter for a friend on how to make a sack dress for the extreme heat. I drew the schematic on the back of an envelope with a dull red pencil.

The sack dress itself with a sash in case you need to leave the house (this is just before I took a trip to the river on a 99+ degree day).

For the seventh summer, I hosted the pre-school for crows outside my kitchen window.

And I met a new bird friend, a Stellar's Jay (and his mate not shown) are regular visitors now, along with some very messy chickadees who like to dump out the feeder to get all the sunflower seeds.

I knitted a shawl and Piper helped (Piper always helps).

I also did a major repair on my hearts quilt, but that deserves its own post. I am ready for fall, well, almost, I have a ton of sewing to do. Luckily, here in PDX it is summer until at least mid-October.

06 September 2012

as long as i am sewing

It has been forever since I have written, but don't think I haven't thought about it. It gets harder and harder as the last post glides slowly into the past, and the guilt becomes more overwhelming. I make promises to myself that I will start, and post regularly, and plan ahead, and take photos.. I am very good on twitter, instagram, and even practicing my french every day at duolingo, but totally bad here. I am sure I have said it all before whenever I come back in a manic burst after a long hiatus, post here a few times and disappear again.

I have spent most of the summer catching up on old commissions that have been languishing, knitting, trying desperately to get my house in order, and on my corsetry project. This summer I have been trying to clear my slate so that I am free to do whatever; which might seem counter intuitive to being laser focused. The realisation I came to when doing these things is it doesn't so much matter what I am doing as long as I am sewing. I have done a wide variety of projects which I may or may not post, but right now I am looking towards fall.

Fall will bring me to my 40th birthday, and while I am not much for planning for my birthday save for making dinner reservations a couple of days before, this year (yesterday, actually) I decided that I need a new dress. Usually, I make myself a new dress for New Year's Eve, but a birthday is a real new year, and I need a dress. I haven't decided what exactly, except that it will be cocktail fancy, heavily underpinned, and possibly have some handwork on it. So starting now is a very good idea; especially since I still have to make a zillion flowers and corsets before holiday.

If you want to know what really excites me, it is underpinnings. These two images are examples of couture underpinnings that create the structure of a dress. The first one is Dior from this month's Vogue magazine and is a part of the dress. The second is 1957 Jaques Fath from my V&A Underwear Fashion in Detail book and is free standing, but likely made to go under a specific dress. Both are open on my bed for today's inspiration.

True couture. I love it. It is difficult, picky, and slightly imperfect underneath to give the appearance of perfection on the outside in the exact shape the designer intended. It takes almost forever like everything I feel is worth doing.