Thursday, July 28, 2016

A bit of mending

July 2nd I had an encounter with a sparkler that left a trail of carnage on a favorite skirt:

I was wearing the skirt at the time of the incident, and there is a perfectly matched trail of carnage on my epidermis-- second degree burns, in fact. Fortunately they are healing well with minimal assistance.

The skirt -- actually it is more of a sarong or pareo, but I refuse to confine it to beach wear!-- is quite badly damaged. It wasn't the most precious garment to begin with. I received it as a cast-off from a friend's wardrobe purge, I thought I might reuse the fabric-- lightweight printed rayon, not the highest quality-- for sewing practice. But then I started wearing it and grew to love it, which makes it worth saving in my book.

I have done some darning on knits before and I'm using pretty much the same process for the burn holes using a single strand of embroidery floss and a sharp darning needle. I start by outlining the area I'm going to darn over with a running stitch:

Then I fill in the shape with "warp" threads running across the hole and anchored behind the outline stitches. Finally I weave under and over the warp threads using more floss and a longer needle-- here's the first patch in progress:

This part is engrossing and very fiddly, and I'm enjoying it immensely. I learned to use the side of my darning needle to push against the previous rows as I weave a new one, it kind of snugs up the weave and keeps it flat and even. I am very happy with the results so far:

The color doesn't quite match and that doesn't bother me. Really I should have used silver metallic thread as a kind of visual memento of the sparkler incident, and I may find some and do a little embellishing later on. I don't think I will soon forget catching on fire*, but long after the wounds heal the darned patches will help me remember how to line up the skirt with my body when I put it on! I can't wait to start wearing my skirt again, good as new if not better.

*I actually had to stop, drop, and roll

Friday, July 15, 2016

Sewing Progress

In fits and starts, I am making myself a kimono. I didn't expect to be sewing a garment for my second official sewing project, but the idea sort of fell into my lap-- from a 1990s-era sewing book I picked up at the library on a whim:

The other garments in the book are a bit dated, but the final chapter is a long tutorial on sewing a kimono. A pretty nice looking one:

I liked the idea of following a kind of lesson plan for my first garment, and I was able to scoop up an uncut copy of the circa-1985 pattern:

And also discovered at the same time a very charming way to waste hours and hours--
 hunting for vintage sewing patterns!

I could use a kimono for sure-- my lounging-around-the house clothing consists of a decades-old pair of hospital scrub pants and a small collection of ratty t-shirts. Even a slightly wonky kimono will be an improvement on the current state of affairs.

My planning process slowed to a crawl while I spent hours online browsing for fabric-- and then a quiet weekday afternoon fondling quilting cottons in the Marden's fabric department. I found something suitably soft and lightweight in a --frankly-- fabulous print:

I had and still have major worries about using quilting cotton for a garment, but I also wanted something easy to cut and sew. I hope it works out! The material feels almost like fine percale bed linen-- crisp but not too stiff. Three weeks after cutting, this is where I am stalled:

Three seams sewn and finished-- I should say two seams because I am planning to rip out one of the shoulder seams because the edges don't quite line up and I imagine this will cause downstream problems. I already ripped out and re-did both shoulder seams once because I didn't like my first attempt at seam finishing:

Clean finished = nice looking but too much bulk for this fabric

If I zoom in on my progress a bit, the list of basic things I've done that I had never done before is SO LONG! Cutting out a paper pattern! Squaring my fabric! Pinning and cutting my pattern pieces! Tailor's tacks! I spent several hours playing with my thread tension and stitch length, first with straight stitch, then again with zig-zag stitch. I have learned so much already-- but I do think it's time to step on the gas a bit, and that is just what I plan to do after submitting this progress report!