Indigo and cobalt

I have a pretty-pictures post for you today! I visited the NGV on Sunday after choir, and saw an exhibition that's been on my to-see list for a while.

Blue: Alchemy of a Colour definitely lived up to my textile/dye geek expectations, once my eyes adjusted to the dim lighting. I really enjoyed seeing all the different textile decoration techniques from various places and time periods - and it was so much easier to see the details and differences in real life. Being able to see the texture of the fabric from various angles makes such a difference. That said, I hope you find my photos interesting! ;)

Most of the fabrics below are dyed with indigo. This beautiful kimono and wall hanging were decorated using resist techniques, which you can read about here: Resist-Dyed Textiles.

And here are examples of ikat fabric, where the threads are resist-dyed in a pattern prior to weaving. You can find out about how it's made in this photo gallery: Making Ikat Cloth.

The 'rag kimono' below is an example of boro patchwork, a traditional Japanese form of visible mending. You can see the parallel lines of running stitch holding the layers together in the close-up photo.

You can read more about traditional boro and sashiko embroidery here: The Japanese Art of Sashiko Stitching; and you can see examples of modern sashiko-inspired visible mending here: Three Easy Ways to Mend Fabric, Inspire by Japanese Textiles.

This quilted bodice with indigo-dyed silk ribbons and 18thC embroidered bedspread are just too pretty, especially with the depth of colour in the ribbons. I recognised the bedspread from last year's 'Exquisite Threads' embroidery exhibition...

Lastly, I had a look at the ceramics. This article on the exhibition describes the use of cobalt in ceramic decoration, which goes back over 1,000 years. The 18thC Delft tiles were especially cute! I've included by favourite below...

If you're curious about indigo dyeing, here are a couple of videos I found interesting. The first is about cloth-dyeing in India, and the second (specially for my fellow knitters) is about dyeing yarn. I must get some real indigo yarn to play with!

Craft holiday II

My post-Christmas break in NZ is nearly over, so it must be time to show off all the things I made! Like my previous craft holiday, I took full advantage of having access to Mum's sewing machine. This time I made tops using downloadable indie patterns. I haven't had much experience sewing from patterns (as opposed to following photo tutorials on blogs or just figuring things out myself) - so I learned a lot along the way. :)

I started off making a Wiksten top out of some lightweight cotton fabric with a diagonal tie-dye stripe. I enlarged the pattern one extra size, which worked well - hooray for drawing skills! The fit is pretty good, certainly good enough for a casual top.

I dove into making a second one, this time using a crystal-print cotton sateen fabric from Spoonflower and plain white bias binding. Mum thought the fabric was far too heavy for a Wiksten top, and (surprise, surprise) she was totally right - it didn't drape well, so the not-quite-right fit around the armholes was very obvious. She fixed the problem by demonstrating how to put in some small darts above the bust line - thanks Mum!

I moved on to another pattern for my next sewing adventure, a Fen top in a black linen-cotton blend. Instead of following the pattern's instructions I kind of did my own thing while sewing it up. This worked out very well with the bias binding around the neckline (which is super tidy if I do say so myself):

However, I messed up with the seams - I decided to do French seams again, but didn't realise it would cause problems with the curved underarm seams. Luckily the fabric looks the same on both sides, so I just decided to turn the top inside-out and continue. It's not a mistake, I declare, it's a design decision to have my French seams on the outside. ;)

Again, my fabric was a bit too heavy for the pattern, but I think it looks ok this time. It's certainly a very comfortable, roomy top. I'll be looking out for lighter, drapier fabrics to make more Fen tops the next time I do some sewing.

Learnings:

  • using proper patterns isn't hard or scary
  • I can enlarge a pattern if necessary by looking at the outlines of the other sizes and just drawing one size further 
  • bias binding isn't hard to get nice and tidy (if you use the iron a lot)
  • fabric choice is IMPORTANT - pay attention to the pattern's fabric suggestions, and Mum's warnings
  • French seams are awesome, but not for curved underarm seams
  • linen / linen blends are easy to work with
  • bust darts are my friends 

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I've also been knitting away on a new scarf design which I plan to release in the next week or two, once it's all photographed and polished up. Here's a peek at the scarf-in-progress...

Craft holiday

My stay in Whakatane is drawing to an end, and on Saturday I'll be flying back to Melbourne. As always, I've done a lot of crafting while hanging out with Mum & Dad, sitting in my favourite knitting spot in the sun-room or bent over the sewing machine.

As part of my getting-ready-for-summer project, I sewed a couple of lightweight cotton skirts. I used the Purl Bee's tutorial Gathered Skirt for All Ages, and adapted it for a longer length and no pockets. My skirts are super comfy to wear, and were quite straightforward to make for a semi-beginner like me. Each one took me two days of tinkering. :)



I also want to finish sewing my ill-fated silk cowl, which will hopefully work out this time around! 

Last week I finished knitting a hat-and-mitts set, tweaked their patterns, and had a photoshoot with Dad behind the camera (which is always fun). I'm planning to release the patterns in December, so I don't want to give too much away just yet. Here's a tiny peek...


Finally, here are a few photos from Mum and Dad's garden. Yesterday I played around with Dad's smaller camera - it's never hard to find interesting things to photograph in a garden...

A rose called 'Greensleeves'

A fern frond unfurling

Plenty of thyme

Bird Sanctuary + Slow Fashion IV

This is another belated Slow Fashion October post, as my weekend was full up with visiting a bird sanctuary, working on a new hat design, choir, brunch, and other pleasant-but-tiring things.

The Serendip Sanctuary was amazing, by the way - very chilled out and quiet (except for the birds), so we were able to take our time wandering around and noticing the more camouflaged wildlife. A lengthy discussion occurred over whether a particular brown shape was a bird, lizard, or stick. It turned out to be a napping tawny frogmouth!

Wetland with birds (click to enlarge, and spot the emus in the distance!)

A tawny frogmouth staring us down

Slow Fashion October prompt:
Week 4, October 19-25: WORN
second-hand / mending / caring for things / laundering for longevity / design for longevity (bucking trends, quality materials …) / heirlooms

This one's very timely for me, as I've been getting my outfit ready for my brother's wedding this Saturday (yay Jeff!). As usual, I'll be wearing several second-hand pieces - my blouse, jacket, shoes, and jewellery.

I have a glass-bead necklace which I inherited from my Nana, which I've worn on fancy-dress-up occasions before, like choir concerts. It's always been a little too short for me, and the clasp was quite tarnished, so I decided to re-string it for this occasion.

Before

After

I struggled a bit with knotting the silk thread and securing the ends tidily, but the clasp will be hidden by my hair anyway so I think it's fine.

I also have more mending to do today, if I have time - I'd like to replace the buttons on a black silk shirt so I can wear it to dinner on Friday. We'll be staying at a posh Art Deco hotel in Napier, which I'm looking forward to!

I'll be staying on after the wedding festivities, relaxing at Mum & Dad's and doing lots of sewing and knitting. Can't wait. :)

Birthday Sale + Slow Fashion II

I'm having a pattern sale in my Ravelry store! On October 13th, all of my individual self-published patterns will be 20% off. Just use the code BDAYSALE20 at the Ravelry checkout.


I'm not sure yet how we'll be celebrating, but I'm leaning towards fish and chips at the beach. :)

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Now on to Slow Fashion October... this week I've been focusing on the 'handmade' part of the prompt:
Week 2, October 5-11: SMALL
handmade / living with less / quality over quantity / capsule wardrobe / indie fashion / small-batch makers / sustainability

I desperately need more lightweight, breezy summer tops, preferably sleeveless or with very short sleeves. Tshirts just don't cut it for an Australian summer! I also want to sew at least one long lightweight skirt with an elastic waist for maximum comfort.

I've been doing lots of research, and even ordering some supplies. I've gotten as far as ordering some fabric, and I've found a few indie patterns for the kinds of tops I want to wear: simple, fuss-free, and beginner-level (especially as I haven't sewn from patterns before). I'm most excited about Sew DIY's Lou Box Top, which includes different options for the neckline and hem. I also ordered a copy of Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns, which looks amazing.

I'm also hoping to replicate my home-made dinosaur top in a lighter fabric. I sewed the original three years ago and I still wear it regularly! It's held up to wear and washing a lot better than my shop-bought tshirts, which usually end up out-of-shape and shabby after a year or two - hooray for handmade. :)

Dino top + crochet-in-progress (Feb 2014)