Monday, November 13, 2017

Back with pictures - Alabama Chanin-style outfit and life update

I've been very involved at work in planning for an upcoming satellite mission (launch in 2021) and a few extra things got put onto my plate on that front that I've been trying to manage - writing a proposal for an education workshop (not my forte), calibration/validation activities, in general a bunch of stuff that won't likely results in papers but that still needs to be done.  Plus, teaching!

We've also had a blissful fall for the kiddos - lots of emotional advances, big jumps forward in education.  We almost never have to get up with them now in the middle of the night, and when I take them to dinner occasionally when Matt is out of town, it is really fun instead of exhausting.  We even go to Target without much of a headache.  Mimi is on the couch right now with a fever, and I can see her little eyes drooping as she falls asleep.  Poor sweetie.  Big sister had her 8th birthday party with a sleepover, and Mimi was right in the middle of it til 10 pm Saturday.

However, the big project for me is that I just finished a rather strange combination that I'm not sure that I'll be able to wear much, but that I love nonetheless.  Inspired by the last Alabama Chanin collection, I dyed fabric to a range of burgundies and made this 2-piece set:

Bodice is from Butterick 6016, skirt is just an Aline, 4-panel skirt I drafted.

If I raise my arms, you can see my belly!  I'm thinking of drafting a tight-fitting rayon knit top to wear under it, with a v-neck in the back to match the top.


Dying - I cut out the fabric pieces first this time and dyed them all after cutting.  I did this since I didn't really know what colors I wanted, except that I wanted 4 distinct shades.  I dyed over and over again, including with straight black to darken the bottom layers.  It kept being lighter than I'd planned for.  Main problem with cutting first is that the edges rolled a bit and then didn't dye as dark on the very edge on some pieces.  Meh.

Painting - this time I actually painted, mostly free hand.  I did the outlines of the shapes, just squinting at some of the AC pictures and trying to keep everything a little bit different from piece to piece.  No bulls-eyes on my bum or breasts, that sort of thing.  I used a mix of burgundy paints with water and thinned, with a little bit of gold.  The water + darker dye ran into the fabric much more than I'd meant to in spots, but the gold stayed put.  I used that mostly as the guide for my embroidery, and now don't mind the bit of running since it is, at least, fairly homogeneous.  Most of the gold in the skirt washed out at the end, but that was kind of what I'd hoped for.

Construction - After reverse applique was completed, I did all seams on the skirt with a narrow zigzag, then topstitched by hand.  Wide elastic is encased in a fold-over band at the top, which is topstitched with a stretch hand embroidery stitch.

Top was constructed more interestingly.  I stitched the top and lower bits together as if the lower layer was just a lining, so the armhole and neck edges are clean finished.  THEN I did all the reverse applique + cutting.  Bottom edge was folded up and topstitched by hand.

Sequins - I sequinified the top!  Just in about 4 places.  Means I can't machine wash it!

Pocket - I put in a brass zipper with a pretty pull and then topstitched (by hand) a pocket lining behind it.  I'm hoping this can be worn out to go dancing (good swishy skirt!) and I wanted to make sure I could go out with my credit cards/money and no purse to get stolen.  Still not sure what to do with a phone, though.

Skirt w/ zipper

Neck edge - clean finished, then topstitched by hand.  Right at edges, had to trim 3 layers of material in embroidered sections! Chose to leave an edge along all those hems rather than trying to completely remove the top layer - no other way it'd work, really.

Sequins along the lower dart edge, with hem

 Top view

Closeup of zipper and topstitching along pocket.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017


I'm realizing that I wore something I made every day (not even counting underwear) for the past few MONTHS.  I think it's because I have no more storebought dresses in my rotation, really, and enough blouses and bottoms that I actually like now that I kept reusing a few of them.  Still, I was pleased to realize this.

Work is really busy and is likely to stay that way for the foreseeable future.  We've got new activities for the girls after school, so the bliss of the little one being in Kindergarten (one pickup!) is tempered by really sleepy grumpy kids in the short time we have with them in the evenings.  And I've got my normal early fall cold/allergies - any time in the evenings after kids are in bed is spent working on the laptop on the couch drinking tea, followed by an early departure to bed (8:30pm!)

But I still have time to be grumpy!  I am increasingly grumpy about certain phrases and I'm not sure why.  "Nurture", "Nourish", and, most recently, "intentional".  I think I've got a certain amount of blowback against a smugness within the more liberal parts of our society (of which I am part), which I now see as needlessly alienating the people who now have moved to support Trump.  It still is ridiculous to support Trump, I'm not giving them any wiggle room there.  But we didn't help.  And the folks who are the most smug and who repost the most offensive cartoons also seem to be the ones who are a bit anti-scientific and embrace the slight holier-than-thou aspects of the above words.  So I give them eye-rolls and am smug myself. Yikes.  Just don't know where to go with this.  This post is a bit of an attempt at a self-exorcism, but I'm also unsure about what would be in its place.  Condemnation without smugness?  Is that better?  A calmer ability to talk to people about the problem when I see it?  Maybe. 

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Friday, September 1, 2017


I churned out another blouse, this time one from McCall's archive collection - out of a batik-y rayon that I've had in stash for two years.

I was concerned about the pattern because of its craziness - the front has two panels that include self ties that make the bow in front, and are both attached with a deep v into a panel on the bottom.  The sleeves are cut on down to mid-upper arm, but then have bouffant-y lower sleeves attached.  So...I just sewed the whole thing up and hoped for the best.

So far, it is one of my favorite shirts!

In this case, I think that the crazy print (I made no attempt at pattern matching) makes the shape less distracting.  Crazy + crazy = good.

I almost left off the sleeve lower parts and just hemmed them mid-arm, but now I see that it looks better from the back with a little visual interest on the sleeves.  Print isn't cut badly- I just am slouching a bit there.

 Shot of where the two front panels join the lower front piece in a v.

If I make this again, I'll close up the lower bit of where the ties come together.  The ties are heavy, and pull the shirt forward.  If the shoulder seams aren't right on my shoulders, then this opening dips below my bra.  You can't normally see it (floppy bow ends), but I don't want to inadvertently flash a poor student!