Saturday, November 24, 2012

Irish lace collection

I just got back from a sewing conference in the States. It was a Sulky Certified Teacher Training course. Talk about fun! 3 days of sewing and most all, the kits and threads were provided. I highly recommend going to one.

On the second day there was a show and tell. I presented the Battenburg lace edging that I am making. It is coming along and I have almost enough for the bottom of a shirt. I still need enough for the arms and maybe around the neck. I have a lot of time before I have to decide what to make. For me lace making is slow going since I only work on it during flights or long car or train trips.

One woman at this conference is a lace enthusiast. When I told her I had some pieces from France stored away stateside, she asked if I would bring some of them it. The next day I walked in with a bag full. I had everything from old curtains made with crochet and handmade netting to lace bits.. She makes Princess Lace, beautiful work I might add, so her interest in this type of thing was high. I had one example of Princess lace, I have been told it is called Calais here, after the town in the north of France.  Princess lace is hard to find here. The piece I showed her is the only one I have run across and it was out of the box of lace I bought 2 years ago in Bourgogne (Burgundy). I call the box Yvonne and Suzanne (Y&S) after the two beautiful handkerchiefs I found amongst all the things in the box.  

As she Ooh-ed and Aah-ed I told her I had nicer things here in France and she made a special request. The request? She wants me to make her jealous showing her some of my collection of lace bits.

I will now attempt to do exactly that. May I present my bag of Irish and Irish wanna be lace bits.

We will start with the bag of bits.  Intriguing isn't it?

Digging into my bag, one thing I don't have in it are doilies. I have lots of doilies, I collect them but they are not included here since most were just brought are stateside. What is in the bag are things I might use to embellish a shirt.

I have two pieces I would not call doilies. They scream "put me on a shirt". It is just I am not sure what kind of shirt yet. They are unique, to me at least, since they are the only ones I have ever found. (Y&S)

Collars, This lace technique has been used an incredible amount to make collars. Here are the ones in the bag.

This one is broken and not repairable, it is fair game to be cut into pieces.

Here is the one out of Y&S that has become part of a shirt I wear in the summer.

Here is the completed shirt.
Y&S, the handkerchiefs, were dated in the early 1910's. That sort of dated everything in the box rather nicely. This piece was worn at the neck. it is actually 2 pieces so one was sewn down the other added dimension. This one is crying to be used again.

How about some wide yardage. It appears to never had been used and there is a little over a meter of it. It is a little over 6 inches wide. I bought this in Strasbourg at a flea market this last summer.

I have assorted yardage of lots of different designs. Some of these came from my husband's family. My Husband's aunt sent me a small box of lace bits years ago and there was some of this in it.  This means that this bag has sentimental value and whatever I make with it has to be fantastic or I do not want to touch any of it. So, it sits waiting for me to come up with an idea for it.

Here are  my token off white/ecru laces. They are not as common as bright white. The second one down is backed with netting (Y&S) and I have two of them...more on why later.

How about, what is now, a very large pile of 1-1/2 inch medallions? Some are round, some are square. Some come from the US and most from France. After I took this picture, I rounded up another dozen to toss in the bag that were new arrivals or somehow had escaped the bag.
Finally I have a set, not Irish, but of the same type of thread so it makes for a good match.
These are the bottom of underwear, you know, bloomers.
I can now spot them even if they are not round like these are by the length. Very common to find in France at flea markets. Now look at the piece with the netting backing. That must have been one fancy pair!
Ok, end of the digging in the bag of lace bits. I have reached the bottom of the bag.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Christmas Stocking

I belong to a Quilting Guild in Germany. Every year at the November meeting they have a Christmas stocking exchange. All the stockings are placed on the table and then the fun begins! Last year I had made other plans earlier in the year and could not make it. This year I penciled it in early in the year so that I could be there.

To participate fully, they have a stocking exchange and here are the rules:
1.Make a stocking – the prettier, the better. People will get to choose from all the stockings on the table, and we want to see your talents!

2. Size: A4 (about 12 inches) is a pretty good height, but make any size you like. Make sure it’s large enough to enclose the gifts you are giving (more information about that below)

3. Stocking Material – anything goes

4. Pattern – anything goes

5. Line the stocking. Use interfacing, fleece or batting to add “body” to your work.

6. Add a cuff and hanging loop.

7. Fill the stocking with quilting items:

            a. Minimum:

                        i. Two excellent quilter’s quality Fat Quarters

                        ii. A treat like chocolate, candy, or similar

                        iii. Your name on a card so the recipient knows who made it

            b. Extras:

                        i. thread, quilt shop gift certificate, magazine or pattern, 
                           pins, rulers, buttons, key chain, tea, tree ornament, let
                           your imagination fly!

8. Hand sew the top of the stocking closed (with large stitches) so the goodies won’t fall out during the exchange activity!

I searched for a good stocking pattern, one that was not too fat or wonky. Everything was too big or too small for what I wanted so I ended up with the one out of an old issue of Sew Beautiful magazine.

It was huge so I had to shrink it down to an A4 size, Making sure I kept enough width for the goodies. I searched my stash for something interesting to use. The pattern from SB used lace. I was not in a lace mood. I did however have some really fun upholstery fabric. I also had some matching red fabric with snowmen on it.

For pattern making I like to use plastic sheeting, the heavy duty 4mil stuff. It comes in a package at the hardware store. I like to use plastic because I can see through it. It may cling to the fabric (could be a bad thing, I know) but it is worth that small hassle since when I need to match plaids or fussy cut something I can see right through the pattern piece.

For the lining I found some blue lining fabric, fabric content is polyester. I lined it with Sulky Tender Touch. I really like to use that product since it gives the lining enough body to stay down in the stocking. I did not have to sew it down across the top of the stocking, it  stays down by its self. Some ribbon did the trick for the hanging loop. And here is the final product.

Yes, the ribbon is sewn on backwards right now. (Made ya look, didn't I) I needed a break from it, but will go back and fix that before I give it away for the exchange.

Yes, I succumbed to the pressure of it all, there is lace on it. When I had it finished it, it was just missing something so I added the rayon lace trim at the bottom of the cuff. It added a very nice finish.

Now for goodies. That was the fun part. I have been to two sewing seminars this year and at both of them there were lots of door prizes. I have a pile of them. So I went through them and found some Sulky thread, Holoshimmer and a 30 and 12 wt Blendables that I have duplicates of and scissors that I could give away. I have a mixture of American and European candies, I found my fat quarters. I must have been in a green mood when I picked them from my stash in the States, on the last visit.
I am now in search of something French; I need to go get a chocolate Père Nöel for the stocking and then I am done.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

New PJ's

I have a 5 year old nephew who, the last time I visited, loved everything Batman. He had Batman shoes, Batman socks, Batman shirts, Batman backpacks, toy bat caves,  and at least 5 Batmans of various sizes. What was missing was batman PJ's.

Being the good aunt (who sews) I decided to make him some  Batman PJ's. The last trip home I went to Jo-Ann's and found Batman fabric suitable for making PJ's. On sale I found a pattern. Not the one that I wanted, that one was sold out, but it was close enough for me to make a pair that would work just fine.

To the pattern I changed one of the shirts to have long sleeves and left off the pockets and ties at the pant bottoms.
Returning from kindergarten one day this week, after I had completed the bottoms, I asked him to try them on. He told me he could not since it was not bed time. If he put them on he was afraid that he would have to go to bed early. It took his mom telling him that it was Ok for him to  try them on.

He informed me that he didn't like Batman anymore, his mom confirmed to for me saying he had been saying that for several days, ever since he received a large stuffed Angry Bird named Al.
Funny, I would have guessed it, you know, that he did not like Batman. Earlier in the week when I walked in the kitchen I found the table was covered with Batmans and "bad guys".

So now it is Angry Birds. I wonder how long that one will last. Gee, I wonder if I can find fabric out there for another pair of PJs. Of course by the time I make them, who knows what character he would want instead. Kids are so fickle!

They are a little big, which is fine, at his age kids grow like weeds.  It is getting cold now so I am sure he will enjoy them, even if he does not like Batman.

Monday, November 12, 2012

One Step Forward Two Steps Back

Remember the quilt? The one posted on 16 October? The second of the two? Of course you do, but incase you don't, here it is:
Well last trip to the United States I dug in my Quilt closet and found the proper binding fabric. I cut and brought back what I thought was enough binding strips to complete the binding on the quilt.
I was 5 inches off.   Bummer!
One of the members of the group is sewing the binding on now, but it will need to wait to be completed. Just darn. It will be the early December now before it is complete, if then.
Speaking of setbacks, I have a nouveau projet! Except it is fighting me. Normally I figure something out, it gets lodged in my brain and "poof", out comes a finished product. This one is not quite doing that and I do not know why. So here is the start of it.

The pattern is a common long sleeved shell that I have cut down the center front to make more of a jacket. I have some really great butterfly embroidery designs. Actually I have very many much's of butterfly designs, you see, I am a sucker for butterflies. Any type, any size, I am sew there! The ones I am referring to as "great" are from Zűndt out of Switzerland. I have wanted to use these designs forever. I just needed the proper idea.
Over the summer I traded an old linen sheet with a ladder or faggoting stitched top edge for many yards of lace tape. Linen sheets for me are rather easy to come by. Lace tape not so easy. For the person I traded with, the lace tape was not something she was going to use and linen French sheets were hard to come by. It was a good trade for both of us

The lace tape is in an off white color and each piece is about 2 yards long. This tape is one of my front and center inspiration pieces in my sewing room that I want to do something with.

Finally, the idea hit me. I made copies of the embroidery butterfly designs.

I plotted out the colors I wanted to use. I tested threads and colors for what I wanted to do with the lace tape.

I started embroidering.

First setback - The darker blue does not work on the butterfly. Unexpected since it did work on the test. I can redo the front piece with a better blue.

Second setback -  While cutting the embroidery design from the stabilizer, I cut through the shirt back piece. It is not repairable. No, one cannot embroider a flower in its place.

Third setback - I don't have enough fabric to replace the back - this is a show stopper. But can be fixed, I just need to buy the last of what was there at the store.
When something fights me like this, it is time to stop and re-evaluate. I think another fabric might work better, something heavier perhaps. Maybe I don't want to use the lace tape on this.  Would lace work better? With the bad front I have been experimenting. I took the lace tape and added color to it with a Sulky Blendables with the same colors as the embroidery designs. I have pulled lace from my stash. So far nothing is working, but it is early in the process since the process has to start over. If I need more fabric to play with I have the back of the shirt to play with too.
So here is the idea to date before I had issues with the scissors.
The front with a test of colors for the lace tape. Did you know it is dark in France now until almost 8am? I work in the mornings or when I get home from work. Ya, it is dark then too. Nice pictures are hard to take in the dark. even with the ceiling light.
Here is the back with the two fronts, one with a bad blue color. Never mind that it is there, you can not see it anyway.
Of course it will need old lace somewhere and here was one of the trials I rejected. One really does not know until the embroidery is completed though.
Rest assured, when this gets finished it might not look like this anymore.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Thanksgiving Sweater

Definition Kitsch (from wikipedia) - An inferior, tasteless copy of an extant style of art or a worthless imitation of art of recognized value.

I am not sure I would define it that way. I would define kitsch as unique, a piece of artwork that only a select group of people would buy to display or wear.

The reason I bring up the word kitsch is that one of my sisters loves kitsch holiday sweaters.

You name the American holiday and she has sweaters or shirts to wear during the holiday's season. For Christmas alone she has a different sweater or shirt she can wear for every day between Thanksgiving and  Christmas without repeating.  
I have checked, I have two of them and both of them are from my pre-France days. The French don't "do" kitsch.

I was informed lately, by my sisiter that of all of the holidays, the most problematic holidays to buy a sweater for is Thanksgiving. It is easy to find really cute Halloween or Christmas garments, It is not too difficult to find "Harvest"  but to find a cute Thanksgiving sweater, now that is a rare find.

I own an embroidery machine, and met with the request, I started to think about it. Thought is a dangerous thing, at least for me.
To embellished a shirt or sweater, this may sound obvious, but I would first need a shirt or sweater to use as my palette for embroidery. Sometimes this is the hardest thing to find.
Two weeks ago I found the sweater. It was in Germany at a store on the sales rack. My type of purchase, nice sweater and sale.

Now for the embroidery.
I began to look at what possibilities are out there.
What I found surprised me.  
I found turkeys. Domestic turkeys, wild turkeys, Baked turkeys, turkeys in a roaster, turkeys on a platter, turkeys wearing pilgrim hats. turkey faces, turkeys with axes, turkeys with cornucopias, turkeys in redwork, the flag of Turkey, turkey tracks.

By now you get the idea.

I found "Happy Thanksgiving" in every font imaginable. I found pilgrims and lots of them. I found Indians.

I found I was getting frustrated.

How do you make a holiday sweater for Thanksgiving? I mean the turkey with the axe, that goes beyond my definition of Kitsch.

Finally I found it, the design, the perfect design, the one to make a sweater original. True Kitsch. This was it! My sense of humor was about to be showing. I could not enter my credit card number into the site to buy the designs fast enough.

Before I could us the designs, I first had to do some research to answer some questions of the type one would think would have nothing to do with Thanksgiving.
The question that needed to be answered was what are the school colors for the University of Wisconsin Madison? While I was at it, who is or are the rivals to said university?

Internet search yielded that the University of Wisconsin's colors were Badger Red, white and gold. Badger red? What is Badger Red? On line I found a Hex value and from there a pantone number. Cross referencing it I found out it was basically Christmas red. I did the same for the rivals. It appears that the Big 10 has multiple rival teams. Who knew? Finally I had my colors and I was ready to go.

The sweater is fine gage so it would not work to embroidery the designs directly on the sweater. I decided they needed to be appliquéd on so the designs had to be stitched out first on water soluble stabilizer (Super Solvy) with two layers of silk organza on top.

The design I wanted to use, yes, I admit it, involved turkeys. I first needed turkey tracks, and lots of them.

Then I needed turkeys.

 Hours and hours of trimming everything and finally I was ready to sew them all on to the sweater using the same color rayon thread as was used in the embroidery design.
So here it is, Kitsch at its best!
The designs are from Embroidery Library
I removed turkeys from the frame and the tag for use on the sweater. The tracks came from the frame.

Without further adieu, here it is:

Right Front

Left Front
I hope she likes it because off in the mail it goes!