Thursday, April 30, 2009

May screensaver and the hip denim blues

(to download or print a copy of May's screen saver, click here)

When I start to sketch the monthly screen saver, I actually don't know what will happen, and it always turns into an unexpected surprise. This month was no exception. I've been busy with my calligraphy, and started with some new inks and new nibs, and the "Bleu Myosotis" ink led me to denim, and the list of different jeans on the sketch, which was where it started. Feeling that there is nothing more cool or comfortable, than plain old denim, I sketched it like a rebel who creates her very own individual jean statement - drawing baggy, boyfriend jeans, heavy runners, and a boyfriend's hat - all very tomboyish, which needed to be softened, which is how the pretty, totally simple, floral sun-top popped up with the dreamy floral background. The background is taken from a corner of the invitation to the Romanian artist, Carmen Marin's recent exhibition. I have pastels from her, which are dramatic, with great confidence and strong convictions, and love to meditate on her dreamy world and deliriously broad color palette. And now we're in May!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A garden photo

Lovely soft light and gentle breezes are gracefully leading us toward May.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sewing a pretty spring dress

Spring dresses are especially lovely...and to sew them can be as much of a pleasure, as to wear or spin in them - at any age! When special occasions arise, it is a joy to imagine, plan and create a dress, just for that event, and then enjoy it and the memories associated with it, for years to come.
This breezy, dress started with some vintage yardage, with a soft, cottony, hand feel and a pretty 50s era print. The fabric was narrow, only 36” wide, so I had to do some figuring to achieve a luxurious sweep to the dress - which was how it grew into the flounced design. The top part is based on Burda's pattern #8347/C. Elastic was added, encased in the waist. It expands so that you can pull the dress over your head without a need for any zippers or buttons. The flounce, with a circumference of 120 inches, is a couple of inches longer than the upper skirt and a narrow self belt with a vintage buckle has been backed in a lime ribbon. I do hope it inspires you to look through your fabrics and notions, and think about sewing some pretty dresses with spring and summer blooms to carry you into the next season.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Two denim moods

Along the way of hunting for a photo ... I found this image of the one of the projects in my book with a piece of embroidery made by my Baba, all sweet, taffeta and lacy ... and then I found this other photo, of a denim bag with a clear vinyl shoulder strap and all kinds of funky patches ... in a totally different style. Some days doesn't one feel rather frou-frou and on other days dreamy about black leather and a rugged style ...
...and I still am hunting for the other photo.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Pretty denim slippers to make yourself

Here's a little sewing project, for a weekend morning, and an endearing way to re-cycle something old into something new...

All you need is a pair of old cast-off jeans, some wadding and a ribbon to decorate. The rough and softly worn colors of the denim combined with sweet pink gingham bows gives them an irresistibly stylish and cozy charm. Suggested for a sewer of intermediate level. And not to rush through it, but to take your time, and hand-stitch the details, to give a beautiful, professional finish.
List of Materials:
1 pair of jeans (any size)
½” x ¼” yard wadding
A piece of thin cardboard (not the corrugated type), about 12” x 12”
Click here, to print out the 2 pattern pieces
Note: Pattern is a ladies, medium adult size, or a size 8/38. To check the size, stand barefoot on the sole pattern. The edge of the pattern should extend about ¾” beyond your foot. Enlarge or reduce proportionally as needed (on a Xerox machine or with pattern making technique) to fit your foot.
5/8” x 1 yard pink and white gingham ribbon
White and blue thread (choose a blue shade that matches your denim)
Scissors, straight pins, sewing needle, pencil to mark notches, sewing machine

Cut the pieces:
1. Cut the legs off your jeans and cut the leg open along the inside seam. Press flat. Lay them flat on the table. Note: Notice and plan the color variations of the denim when you cut your pieces. I cut the pieces so that the uppers are in faded denim and the soles in the darker denim, and matched the shadings on the two slippers.
2. Cut 1 piece of the sole and 1 piece of the upper out of one leg. Mark notches with a pencil on backside. Flip the pattern pieces over and cut 1 more of each piece and mark notches.
3. Repeat for the other slipper.
4. Cut 2 pieces of the sole out of the wadding.
5. Cut 2 pieces of the upper pattern out of the wadding following the reduced cutting line marked on the pattern.
6. Cut 2 pieces of the sole from the cardboard, cutting 5/8” smaller all around.
7. Machine wash and dry the 4 pieces of denim uppers, to get frayed edges. Clip any really long frayed bits.
8. Press all denim pieces.

Sew It Together:
1. Sandwich the wadding upper between 2 denim uppers, with the right sides of the denim facing out. Pin, baste and stitch together, ¼” from the edge, around the perimeter, with the blue thread.
2. Stitch a running stitch between the notches (later it will be pulled to form gathers.)3. Stitch a running stitch between the top notches on all 4 denim soles (later they will be pulled to form gathers.)

4. Align one denim sole, right side up, on top of a wadding sole. Pin together. Baste from the top notch, down the side, and up to the other top notch. Remove pins.
5. Pin the denim upper on the sole, aligning bottom edge on bottom notches. Baste from notch to notch. Remove pins.
6. Now pin a denim sole on top, back side up. Baste from top notch, down side and around to top notch. Remove pins. Machine sew along basting line. Remove basting.
7. Clip seam allowance.
8. Turn it inside out. (You have to wiggle it a bit to get everything through the toe.) Then take something long like a chopstick, and slip it inside to push the seam allowance firmly to nudge it into a nice smooth edge along the seam, especially along the curve of the heel.
9. Slip the cardboard inside, between the two pieces of denim. (The cardboard will be the lower part of your slipper, and your foot will rest on the soft wadding.) It can be a bit of a struggle to slip the cardboard inside, but even if you fold it a bit in order to squeeze it through, don’t worry, it will re-flatten out and be supportive.
10. Now repeat with the other set of pieces.

Gather The Toe:
1. Pull the running stitch to from soft gathers on the bottom denim sole so the toe curves gently around the card board edge. Knot the thread. Pull the running stitch to form gathers along the top sole and upper so that they align with the shape of the lower sole and knot threads. With the seam allowance neatly tucked inside, pin the toe closed. Baste, remove pins, and with the blue thread, hand sew toe closed securely with little back-stitches.
Note: Take your time to sew neat little stitches and to keep the gathers evenly distributed. It is this attention to detail that will give your slippers a professional finish.
2. Repeat with the other slipper.

Adorn Your Slippers:
1. Cut the ribbon in 4 pieces of equal length. Take 2 pieces, pin on the slipper front, about 2 ½” apart with a ½” fold back. Hand stitch in place along folded edge. Tie into a snug bow. Cut ribbon ends at a diagonal.
2. Repeat with the other slipper.
Note: You can make many decorative variations on these slippers. Adorn them with saucy feathers and beads, with pretty buttons, different fabric mixes or fabric flowers. Just search through your sewing basket to find the right combination that reflects your personal style.

Knot all threads securely.

Voila! You’re finished!

Link for patterns: