Fiber, Fabric, Fashion
...and everything in between.
It’s only fabric.
Layers of silk doupioni garment pieces waiting for interfacing.
Working hard on something special for Pfaff convention in a few weeks. I forgot how much pattern drafting makes my brain hurt! Even though I am “cheating” by using a vaguely similar looking (to my inspiration/vision) commercial pattern, there is still much alteration to be done to make creativity a reality. I’m really rusty but the skills are there and slowly making their way back to the surface.
I keep reminding myself:
1) It’s only fabric I’m risking. Not world peace or something similarly important. Just fabric. In this case, silk. Silk is caterpillar “spit”. No biggie. Just fabric.
2) There is no innovation without experimentation. And no experimentation without the occasional detour/failure/creative solution needed.
3) The whole is truly greater than the sum of its parts. Working to keep the big picture - how all the elements will come together - in mind so I don’t lose sight of the overall vision. This will be a runway garment so I want it to flirt with being a little “over the top” but I don’t want it to continue on over the top downhill into overkill-land.
…and, of course I am practicing. That’s the practice garment (think muslin; I prefer to make my muslin from identical or at least very similar fabric) stacked on the mannequin. Hopefully my pattern alterations are accurate and it will all come together beautifully!
Get off the floor.
Just returned from my semi-weekly yoga class and am back to work at the cutting table. Since I am recuperating from a back spasm that hit right before Sew Expo, the whole ergonomical mechanics of sewing have been on my mind lately (and a very good reminder why I need to take breaks and go to yoga regularly).
I am headed back to Japan for more silk study in May. The tour director, Glennis Dolce, and I were roommates during Sew Expo and so of course there was much discussion of the upcoming tour during the week. One of the many topics that came up was the physical demands of staying in a traditional Japanese inn. These hotels do not have Western-style beds. Guests sleep on traditional futons placed on tatami mats on the floor. I had never thought about it before (being a “youngish” person in decent health) but it can be very challenging for many people to get up off the floor from this position.
As a result, I have made a promise to myself - that I will make it a goal to always be able to get off the floor. That may seem pretty simple but if you think about it, it’s a survival skill that will inevitably become more difficult with age. I’ve adjusted my workspace so that I stand at my sewing machines and worktables (to minimize sitting and hopefully encourage strength, balance, and better posture) but the yoga is here to stay. We don’t always think about the physical demands that sewing can bring until injuries bring them to our attention. Maybe it’s time for sewing fitness classes. Let’s get off that floor.
Return of the Lint Monster
The Studio is in full-blown pre-show preparation mode so it’s more than a little frantic around here. About 70 student kits to prepare as well as preparing materials for the Friday Sampler, Meet the Teacher and the Beginning Sewing Forum at Houston.
Thinking about quilts and quilting makes me think about cotton thread. I use practically every kind of thread in my sewing machine, except perhaps linen (but if I can get my hands on a nice weight of linen sewing machine thread I’ll sew with it, too!). They all have their uses and advantages - and disadvantages.
In my opinion, the main disadvantage of cotton thread is the potential for LINT! This is a photo of my sewing area after embroidering a pair of jeans with a cotton thread. You may be thinking that this was the result of cheap thread. Not so! This was a high-quality, mercerized cotton thread. But even a strong, smooth cotton thread is going to shed a bit when using a combination of a sticky stabilizer and high speeds through denim.
Here’s the rest of the story:
Even I was surprised to see the “felt pad” that had been created underneath my bobbin! So it was time for a little deep cleaning with the vacuum cleaner. I tried to get away with using a little brush but couldn’t help nudging a few clumps through the holes in the bobbin area.
I like to use one of the readily-available vacuum cleaner adapter kits for cleaning out my machines. They have very small tips - miniature versions of normal vacuum tools - that do a great job of getting the lint out of the nooks and crannies.
And don’t forget your tension disks! Given the mess you can see here - you can imagine there is some lint in those areas, too. Lint build-up in the tension disks affects stitch quality. Make sure the tension disks are open all the way (presser foot up) before you try to clear out any lint.
When using a vacuum to clean your machine - be sure that your sewing machine is turned off. I was advised by a repair tech that vacuum cleaners generate a lot of static electricity. Turn off your machine and leave it off for half an hour before you turn it on again to allow that static electricity to dissipate. I work in a dry climate where static electricity is a problem - I have stopped my embroidery machines in their tracks by touching them when I was “charged”. No damage occurred but it was definitely a shocker. (Sorry, couldn’t resist!) I now use dryer sheets to occasionally rub down my machine embroidery area and have invested in a large anti-static mat that is grounded to steel to help prevent static problems in the future.
So…by all means use whatever thread you like, but remember to keep your sewing machine clean! You will both be happy you did.
The other day I had a rare treat - Pati Palmer stopped by on her way to a family gathering. It was so great to see Pati - always an inspiration and an incredible mentor. If you’ve never had the opportunity to attend one of Pati’s lectures or (better yet) her workshops in Portland, I highly recommend them. If I’d known we were taking pictures I might have dressed a little better for the occasion! But Pati looks great as she always does. She was curious about my fleece production, so I showed her some samples of my flock’s wool: