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Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Right Stuff

One of the hardest parts of making a Chanel-style jacket for me is finding the right trims. Sometimes you find the right texture, but the color is all wrong. Sometimes you find the perfect color, but the trim is too big, too small or just not the right style for the jacket. Thank goodness I know how to dye stuff.

I thought I had finally got the right color but after it dried it lightened up, so I don't know, may need one more dip in the dye bath...and now that I look at the photo I'm thinking that it isn't the right color at all. Sigh. I'm often torn between "get on with it" and "get it right". Considering the cost of the fabric and the amount of time I've already invested, I think I'll go for the it's back to the dye bath for sure...
The dyed trim--still not quite right
Possible trim combo
I have been playing with combinations of trims--the photo to the right is my front-runner. It's a little hard to see, but there is self-fringe on the bottom of the stack.
I really like the texture if the linen-y trim, but now thinking the color is too light, so that might go back in the dye bath, too.

Maybe I should just go back to the Aran sweater that I've frogged 3 times. Or I could clean the house. Nah.


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Felting fun

I've been playing around with felting using yarn I've gotten at Tuesday Morning. If you don't know, felting is what happens when you submit natural wool yarn to heat, moisture and agitation. Most of us have unintentionally experienced this--the wool sweater that gets thrown in the wash and comes up doll-sized.
Believe it or not, sometimes people do this on purpose. According to Knitting: Fashion, Industry, Craft
some hats were made by knitting fabric pieces, felting the piece, then cutting out the shapes and sewing them together.
I've done a few samples, but this was my first finished project: the bag is knitted complete then felted (I've found the "sanitize" cycle on my front-load machine works great). After felting the bag is about 20% smaller, and the fabric is very sturdy and dense.

felted bags
So, how does this 'felting' work, you ask? (SOOO glad you did!) Untreated wool fibers have scales on them:

closeup of wool fiber

Those scales work like a cable tie--you know those plastic straps that you can pull tighter, but can't loosen? All those fibers criss-crossing keep getting pulled tighter, making the overall dimensions smaller, but the fabric itself thicker.
Washable wool doesn't do this because its been treated--either to coat the edges of the scales or to etch them away. 

Pretty cool, huh?

yeah, I'm a fiber nerd, and dang proud of it. :)


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Back in the groove, Planning The Next Big Trip and Sewing Stuff

My latest Chanel-style jacket
I came back from the ASDP conference in Nashville all revved up, just like I do every year. My husband was sick of hearing about it by the time we got back home from the airport (about 45 minute drive), and so many things are spinning in my head I have trouble focusing.
BUT, I did manage to spend one evening playing with what I learned in June Colburn's class on silk-screening, got about 6 women at work to agree to being my pants fitting guinea pigs, started a pair of toe-up socks on my shiny new Chaiogoo Red Lace circular needle and made really good progress on the latest Chanel jacket (it is ready for trim and pockets). I even found some cool trim to use.

I also did some brain-storming on the Threads Challenge for 2014.

One of the things I found out at conference was how many people were following my blog while I was in Europe last year--fabric shopping and exploring with me vicariously.
So I will plan to do the same and try very hard not to complete flake out when I hang out with my friends.
I've booked our plane tickets already (Austin to Heathrow direct, baby!), reserved all our apartments and we've got a house-sitter/critter-sitter.

Our homes-away-from-home:

The London flat
London, Knightsbridge--March 12 - 15

Marseille, Port Vieux--March 15-20
Two Steps to Vieux-Port

The Marseille apartment

Our stay in Lyon

Lyon, La Croix Rousse--March 20-22
Furnished Apartment in Historic District of La Croix Rousse

The gorgeous Paris Flat
Paris, Montmartre--March 22 - April 2
Amazing Terrace Eiffel Tower View
This is the place I stayed in April--so perfect I just had to share with hubby. (AND it is close to the fabric district!)

I'll be doing things differently this time in regards to work. Instead of working 2 solid weeks, then taking off a week I plan to scatter my days off so that I work a couple of days, then take a day off. I'll probably end up having the same number of days off, but this should be easier for my co-workers since there won't be any large block of time where I'm not available. It also means far less catchup for me when I return.

I've decided I am a "Touriste des Tissus" (Fabric Tourist) or maybe better a Fiber(Fibre) Tourist.
Other than working and spending time with friends/co-workers, I hope to do the following:


Visit La Droguerie and a couple other merceries (notion shops). I haven't seen any fabric stores that I really want to visit.

  • Visit the Fabric and Decorative Arts Museum
  • Tour a silk weaver's studio, maybe this one: or this one:

I was sad to find out that most museums have stopped having textiles and historical costumes on permanent display, thought I understand why. Textiles by nature are fragile and difficult to curate.
I was lucky in April to catch the Couture exhibit on Hotel de Ville (and that Mario was a good sport and agreed).
I just found this museum and am trying not to get my hopes up, but....
I am hoping there is another exhibit when we are there, but if not I'll just have to check out more fabric shops and maybe some vintage clothing stores.

All I need to do now is book train tickets: London to Paris to Marseille, Marseille to Lyon and Lyon to Paris. Have I ever mentioned how much I love traveling by train?


Monday, October 21, 2013

Another great conference!

This year's ASDP conference was in Nashville, TN.
Everyone who went commented on how much 'cuddlier' this conference was, and new members said they felt very welcome and already a part of the crew.
It seems every year I get to spend a chunk of time with someone I already know, but get to them know them more. We share more stories, thoughts and philosophy, and every time I find that I like them people even more. Sometimes I get to know their work first, then get to know them personally. Sometimes it's the other way around, but it always ends up with me having even more affection and admiration for them.
I am a lucky, lucky girl.
Me and Kenneth King

Just a few photos from the weekend--I will add more as everything sinks in:

Kenneth King in his "weave coat"

Playing in June Colburn's wonderful Silk Screen class

Sarah Veblen's excellent Art of the Dart class

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Adventures in knitting

So it's been just about a year since I started to knit again, and I'm still obsessed. It doesn't help that Tuesday Morning often has yarn for a bargain as well as knitting tools.
My recent finds were a steel interchangeable circular set and a huge Tunisian crochet hook.
I'm sold on knitting on circular needles, even if I'm flat knitting. My favorites are bamboo 8mm that I bought at Liberty in London in April.

I finished my second sweater (I frogged the first one, and I'm now knitting into a blanket)
I used a KnitPicks pattern and Stroll Tonal yarn in Deep Waters. I need to re-sew the sleeves, but otherwise I'm happy with it:

I found Stitch Nation "Full O' Sheep" yarn in black, 3 skeins for $5.99, and bought enough for a sweater before I realized it was 1 ply, so now I'm playing with felting.
This swatch is garter stitch on 8mm needles. I washed in warm water with the kitchen towels and shopping bags:

My other find this past week was a huge (22mm) Tunisian crochet hook. I thought it might look cool in shop, but then I looked up what the stitch looks like and how to make it. Sooooo, I found a smaller hook and some cotton yarn to play with. Here's my first swatch in Tunisian simple stitch:
This video by the Crochet Side was perfect for learning the stitch.
With a larger hook and bulkier yarn, this stitch would make a great rug.

Next time I'll share progress on my Chanel jacket, photos on the jean jacket I made for hubby, and the custom shopping bags I'm making for our friends' wedding.


Tuesday, August 20, 2013


I've made good progress on my latest jacket.

I've sewn all the bodice seams by machine and hand-stitched the lining.

I'm really proud of the matching I did on the front of the jacket. The back looks the same--the side seams, well, I'll just have to keep my arms down...

That pile to the left of the jacket is the lining and fabric that I trimmed away.

Next up is the sleeves--I got the upper sleeves thread traced and cut out and hope to get the under sleeves done tomorrow night. Next step will be basting to the lining, then machine basting.

A close up of the lining showing the machine quilting
and hand-sewn seams.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Some Recent Projects

I've had comments from a few people, and I admit, I've been really bad about keeping anyone not on Facebook up-to-date on my projects since I got back from trip in April.

I haunt Tuesday Morning for various things, but mostly for yarn. They often have very nice yarns for low prices, though never in big quantities. I found a nice wine color in a bamboo/wool blend, and there were enough skeins to make a lacy scarf with fringe:

Last week I made a slip for a friend at work. I cut it extra long, and ended up with enough to make a camisole for her as well. I've been sewing for few people at work, and they have been great clients. I especially like anyone who pays me to sew beautiful fabric. Silk charmeuse is such a pleasure to work with.

I am making my second sweater ever (my first was funky, so I won't post photos) This one is out of a fingering wool/nylon blend from KnitPicks. I like the yarn a lot, which is good, because the body is going pretty slowly on Size 2 needles.
Here's my progress as of Sunday evening:

The other big project I'm working on is my latest Chanel-style jacket. My mom bought the fabric for me when we were at the American Sewing Expo in Novi, MI last fall. The fabric caught my eye at Helen Haughey's booth, and since it was my birthday, Mom offered to buy it for me. The photos don't really do the colors justice--I'm hoping to get better photos at some point.

At this stage I've thread traced the stitch lines and markings on the bodice pieces and machine quilted to the silk charmeuse lining. Next step is to baste and sew the pieces, then hand sew the lining.

That's it for now! I promise I will be better about posting my progress.


Saturday, May 4, 2013

After the amazing weekend with Thomas in the Southwest of France, I arrive back in Paris Monday afternoon, and kicked around with Mario through Wednesday morning.
I took so many photos over the weekend, I had to leave the battery to charge Monday, so I only have photos from Tuesday.
We both had museum passes, so we ran in and out of a few.
Monday afternoon we visited the home of Gustav Moreau, the Louvre and Musee du Moyen Age (middle ages).

Tuesday we visited the D'Orsay first. The line must have been 2 hours, but we walked right in thanks to the museum passes.

Lunch near the D'Orsay
After lunch we visited a museum in Les Invalides--a series of scale models of fortified cities. The models had all been made around 1700. Photos of the current state of each city was displayed next to photos of the model, as well as maps and aerial photos with outlines of the original main structures.

 We headed to the Marais for a sweet snack: Tiramisu for Mario and Tarte Tatin with creme fraiche for me.

We had planned to also visit the Pantheon, but I talked Mario into visiting the Haute Couture exhibit at city hall. We had dinner in Montmartre again--this time a little further down the hill.

Shrimp cocktail for starters

Escalloped chicken for me
Mussels for Mario.

The bartender was standing right next to us in the doorway while she had her cigarette break. After watching Mario struggle to pull the mussels out with a fork she showed him how to use a shell like tongs.

A couple more days in Paris

I am back home now, but am trying to catch up on my posts.

Friday April 19th was my last day working in the Paris office. I felt that I really bonded with my Parisian co-workers and was sad to leave. I hope to see some of them soon in Austin, and some day back in Paris.
Paris Metro during rush hour


I had a nice lunch with 2 of the ladies from HR at a classic french restaurant right down the street from the office.

Gilda and Crystal
At the end of the day, I kissed everyone goodbye, then headed back to the apartment to meet Mario who flew in from Switzerland.

Emilie and Franc


Me in the Paris office!

Thomas Jung

After Mario dropped off his suitcase and I gave him a tour of the apartment, we walked around Montmartre a bit (and saw HAIL!) before finding somewhere to have dinner. We settled on a place just a few doors down the street from the apartment.

Chez Marie
Beautiful, tasty macarons

French Onion Soup
Faux Filet

Panna cotta and Chocolate Mousse for dessert

Monday, April 22, 2013

Un Bon Weekend

We are going to Biarritz!
I have not fallen off the face of the earth--I have been in the southwest of France with our good friend, Thomas Ung. We left insanely early on Saturday to catch an EasyJet flight to Biarritz.

I see wonderful things...

The beach at Biarritz

We walked around a bit, enjoyed the sea air, then drove to St. Jean de Luz.
St Jean de Luz arch

Inside the church where
Louis XIV was married.

For lunch we headed to the home of the parents of Thomas' friend, Mathias. He and his girlfriend, Eva, treated us to a true basque lunch. We sat in the sun, took our time, enjoyed a great Rioja reserva and talked--in French, Spanish and English.

The cathedral in Bordeaux.
After lunch, Thomas drove us to Bordeaux(stopping a couple of times for him to nap). We walked around a bit, then had dinner--by this time we were both tired and grumpy.

A ferocious guard.
We had a good night sleep, woke late, then headed to St. Emillion.
part of the city wall

Bordeaux is beautiful, but St. Emillion is something completely different. It was a medieval walled city on a hillside. Stone everywhere, and buildings that have stood for 100s of years.

We had lunch here, then walked around. I took so many photos this weekend that I killed the battery in the camera. Thank goodness I can take pics with my camera, too.

My Croque Monsieur

Thomas' tuna and shrimp salad

Some pistachio, hazelnut and chocolate
ice cream for dessert.
Cloisters in the cathedral

someone's house
The last medieval building that survives.
One of the many beautiful streets

Inside the Bordeaux cathedral.
We headed back to Bordeaux and walked around some more. We were headed to the river Dordogne and stumbled on a huge flea market. I found a old piece of lace and eyelet, probably cut from a petticoat. The price was 20€, but I hesitated, so it dropped to 15€.

We stopped for coffee near the center of town and enjoyed the sun, visited the church which was started in the 1090s, and had dinner at a place close by. We got ice cream for our walk back to hotel. I have always liked flower flavored food, but the violet gelato was the best ever.
Now we are headed back to Paris on the train--Thomas to work and me to spend time with Mario before I head to my last destination--Cologne, Germany (Köln).

I am trying to catch up, but there so much to see!