Friday, August 10, 2012

Pageantry in Progress

Productivity has been down this week in Seersucker Sally Land. I've been very distracted by bleak Norwegian dramas and synchronized swimming. Such feats of agony and strangeness, it's hard not to get sucked in! Anyway, here's a glimpse of the front flap of a messenger bag I've been working on when I haven't been watching the pageantry of the human spirit unfold on the screen:

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Pattern Pyramid Winner

And we have a winner!

Randomly selected from 22 entries is #3- Tiffany James.

Congratulations, Tiffany- send me an email at to let me know your street address.

Thanks for playing, everyone. Best of luck in the rest of the Pyramid giveaways.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Pattern Pyramid Giveaway- Round 3

As promised, I am hosting my first ever giveaway, courtesy of Karen's at Did you make that?  As part of her great Pattern Pyramid Giveaway, Karen sent several lucky participants bundles of patterns, of which they each kept one and hosted giveaways of their own to pass on the remaining patterns. As the winner of Sew Brunswick's leg of the giveaway, it's now my turn to pass on the sewing love.

Here is Sew Brunswick's beautifully wrapped parcel of patterns, having traveled from London, England to Melbourne, Australia to Philadelphia, U.S.A. Where to next?

Here are the patterns:

On deciding which one to keep, it was a toss up between the New Look 6674 and the "Economy Design" blouse. I decided to go with the New Look 6674. I've been wanting to find a work dress that could double as a post-yoga cover up (is that too much to ask?). I think the New Look 6674 just might fit the bill. Thanks, Karen and Leith!

So, here are the Rules: 
  • Anyone, anywhere can enter by leaving a comment on this post by midnight EST on Tuesday, August 7th, but you must have an active blog.
  • I will randomly select one winner, and post them the collection of 4 patterns along with hand woven labels to be sewn into anything made from one of these patterns.
  • The winner will pick one pattern to keep for themselves, then host their own giveaway. They will randomly select a winner, post the remaining patterns to that Person D. Person D will pick a pattern for themselves, host their own giveaway and post the remaining patterns to the winner, Person E. Person E will…
For more information, including code for the Pattern Pyramid button and details of the charity supported by the very generous donor of the patterns, please see Karen's post at Did you make that?

Best of luck!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Applique in Progress

I've been wanting to start another applique project ever since completing this bag.  This time around, instead of using an Alabama Chanin stencil, I sketched out a pattern on piece of paper. Here is a peak of what I've got so far:

 The piece of fabric you see in the picture will be the front flap of a bag- BurdaStyle's Diana #8235A to be specific. Maybe next time I'll move on to applique on clothing. Check out these sources of inspiration for applique on clothing.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Gloves and Giveaways

I'm excited to announce that I'll be hosting my first ever giveaway, courtesy of Sew Brunswick and Did You Make That?'s Pattern Pyramid Giveaway. As the winner of Sew Brunswick's leg of the giveaway, I will be receiving four patterns and passing three of them along to another lucky recipient. Thanks Karen and Leith! More details to come!

Now on to the gloves... Here are my finished Ringwood Gloves that are en route to my sister-in-law as we speak. Maybe it was the combination of steamy iron and drippy sweat that clued me in, but as I was blocking them, I realized the ridiculousness of sending someone gloves in this 100 degree heat. I got a little twinge of self-consciousness, but I'm pretty sure she'll be tickled to get them nonetheless. I mean, winter's coming, right? For something to enjoy in the meantime, I sent her a copy of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks .

The details:
Pattern: Ringwood by Rebecca Blair
Yarn: Manos Del Uruguay Silk Blend in Rust
Notes: Easy to follow pattern for a fairly quick knit. True to the pattern notes, the Ringwood stitch has a nice stretch to it that produces a close fitting glove.  The silkiness of the silk was especially noticeable after I blocked them. I would love to make a pair of these for myself!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Propaganda and Fashion: The Cold War Edition

This time we visit the Soviet Union for more evidence of propaganda and textile design. The books Soviet Textiles: Designing the Modern Utopia and Soviet Costume and Textiles: 1917-1945 discuss how Soviet textile manufacturers in the 1920s and 1930s produced fabric designed to promote Soviet ideologies . According to Pamela Jill Kachurin, author of Soviet Textiles,the purpose of the textiles was to assist in the dissemination of Soviet ideals and to transform the wearer into a model Soviet citizen. Most of the designs featured in the books show dynamic patterns with bold colors. Popular motifs were smokestakes, airplanes, and Young Pioneers. Others show peasants harvesting their crops for the collective.

Here are a couple of my favorites:

 From page 194 of Soviet Costume and Textiles: 1917-1945: Anonymous designer. The Red Navy, Late 1920s. Printed on cotton.

 From page 69 of Soviet Textiles: Designing the Modern Utopia: Young Pioneers Rally. 1928-29. Printed on cotton.

  From page 197 of Soviet Costume and Textiles: 1917-1945: Designed by N. Sokolov. Airplanes. 1932. Printed on cotton.

From page 77 of Soviet Textiles: Designing the Modern Utopia: Designed by Marya Anufrieva. Women Harvesting. 1928-1932. Printed on cotton.

Check out the books if you get a chance. In addition to the textile designs, the Soviet Costume and Textiles book also has plenty of colorful fashion sketches from the 20s and 30s.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

On Deck: Ringwood Gloves

My sister-in-law's birthday is fast approaching, and I've been wanting to knit her a pair of gloves to go with a scarf I made her several years ago. She told me once that she wears the scarf practically every day in the winter, so hopefully, the gloves will be just as much of a hit. On the other hand, being that this will be my first attempt at glove-making, maybe I should get a back up gift...

My first task was to find some yarn in a glove-appropriate weight to match (or at least complement) the yarn I used for her scarf, which was this Manos del Uruguay Wool Clasica in henna:

I love Manos del Uruguay. Their yarns are kettle-dyed in small batches that produce amazingly rich colors with subtle variations. Their line of reds are especially complex- from deep plum to bright orange-red poppy to dark brown brick and everything in between. I love seeing them stacked together at Rosie's Yarn Cellar. I could stare all day.

The Manos Wool Clasica line, being a worsted-weight, was too heavy for most glove patterns, but luckily I found this rust color in their Silk Blend line:

Though the colors don't match exactly, they go together quite nicely:

I'm using this Ringwood Glove pattern, available on The extra long cuff with the buttons is what sold me. Here is a peak in progress:

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Zucchini Pickles

I took a canning workshop on Saturday with Marissa McClellan, who writes the blog Food in Jars. I've always been a little apprehensive about canning. When I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Armenia, canning was a big part of preparing for the long stretch of winter months when, other than cabbage and potatoes, not much produce was available in the markets. Summer through fall though, produce is plenty, and I'd join my neighbors in pooling our resources and sharing the labor so we could eat tomatoes in January. With every batch of figs or beans or apricots they'd tell me the same story about a family who sat down to a dinner of canned eggplant one winter evening and succumbed to botulism that very night.

Although Marissa put many of my fears to rest, it's unclear when my un-airconditioned kitchen will be cool enough to try canning on my own. In the meantime, I made an unprocessed version of her Garlic Dill Pickles.

The recipe make a great, slightly spicy pickle. I substituted zucchini for the cucumbers and sliced them into spears, instead of coins. I also used fresh dill from the garden instead of dill seed.

An added bonus is that pickle juice is supposed to make a great post-workout recovery drink, or so it was reported in The New York Times. Skeptical? Let me know if you give it a try.

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Project that Will Never Die

You've experienced this, right? A project takes a wrong turn and yet, you are determined to make it work? From the annals of unfinished projects comes that wool dress with the Peter Pan collar that I was so excited about all those months (years?) ago. You may recall that this project was an early foray into patternmaking, and actually, the fit of the dress isn't bad. I'd try it on for you, but it's almost 100 degrees outside and nearly that hot in my sewing room. I am just not sold on that collar. Here it is pinned to the dress so you get the idea:

I'm thinking of ditching the collar, folks. Alas, I've learned several things in the process of making this project:

1) When you are not very busty and you wear big, floppy Peter Pan collars with Mary Jane shoes, you run the risk of looking like an overgrown Little Orphan Annie.

2) Hand stitching may take longer, but when you are working with corded piping, it will allow you to attach it much more evenly than with a machine.

3) Homemade dress forms have a tendency to sag and lump with age, not unlike their real life counterparts. A little extra duct tape and spray foam can help with the former; a little yoga can help with the latter.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Propaganda and Textiles: The USA Edition

A while back I wrote this post about the book "Wearing Propaganda: Textiles on the Home Front in Japan, Britain, and the United States" in which the author, Jacqueline Atkins, shows how fashion was used to elicit feelings of patriotism during World War II. My favorite images from the book were those in which the patriotic elements were subtly incorporated into textile designs. Since reading that book, I've been on the look out for other possible intersections of fabric and propaganda. In honor of the 4th of July, I'll post a couple of examples I found lurking in my very own fabric stash:

This is a cotton print featuring all fifty states, their capitals, and a little illustration of something each state is known for.

 An adorable print and reference guide rolled into one!

A show of patriotism or just a pretty design? I found these stars amongst a pile of vintage remnants in a shop on Fabric Row:

Context is everything, I suppose. At the fabric shop, my only thought was that they'd make a great pair of sleep pants for my husband.

Happy 4th!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Summer Bloomers (aka Sleep Shorts)

About a year ago, my Aunt Lisa gave me a suitcase packed full of sewing odds and ends that had been my grandmother's. Among them were a set of underarm sweat guards, iron-on elbow patches, several packets of hem tape and rick-rack, a few fabric remnants, and a lifetime's supply of spare buttons. Even after I got them home, they smelled faintly of moth balls and Estee Lauder perfume- scents I always associated with her apartment and for that reason still find comforting. These summer sleep shorts are a quick project I made from stuff in my grandmother's stash:

I lifted the pattern from a pair of store bought sleep pants and used a piece of super wide seam binding for the waistband/drawstring casing.

Are they too sticky sweet for an adult? Yes, they probably are, but they sure are comfortable and came in handy during the heatwave this past week.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Bringing Back the Skort

Was the skort really ever in style? I am not sure, but I've always been a fan. Never mind that it's a style that's generally relegated to small children, grannies, and high school gym teachers, I think it's a garment of pure genius. For those of us who have never really been comfortable in jeans (please don't tell me I'm the only one), the skort offers the practicality of pants and the femininity of the skirt at the same time! I made this Simplicity 5173 recently as a way to reacquaint myself with the sewing machine since it's been awhile.

I made the top in this picture several years ago from the BurdaStyle pattern Retro Top, which was created by member Zahra and is still available as a free download on their site. The scarf is my grandmother's.

Here's a closer look at the skort fabric. I got a couple of yards of it at a thrift store for a dollar. I think it's some sort of rayon/cotton blend. 

I bought the pattern eight summers ago when I first moved to Philadelphia and rode my bike everywhere I needed to go. I've used it several times since then, usually in version C.

The underskort. I'll make such a good old person some day!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Kid Sweater

Hello, dear friends-  It’s been a while! I’ve taken a year’s sabbatical from Sally so I could devote more of my weekend and after work hours to school. Now that school is over (Yes, for good!), I’m looking forward to all those sewing projects I daydreamed about when I was supposed to be writing papers.

In spite of time constrictions, I have managed to eke out a few projects over the past year, such as this sweater I made for a friend's little girl:

Hopefully, it will still fit her when this heatwave passes! The green yarn is Knit Pick’s Shine Sport in Green Apple. The cream colored yarn is from some unidentified remnant I had in my stash. I followed this “Sheepy-Time” pattern from the Stitch-n-Bitch Superstar Knitting book, substituting a classic zig-zag for the little sheep.

 Using a smaller gauged yarn for the zig-zag slightly cinched the waist without having to decrease stitches. I’ll have to try out this technique on my next big girl sweater.

Anyhow, so good to be back!