Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Pink Peasant

 The warmth of summer is waning here in Alaska, but it's not too late to enjoy a lightweight cotton top!  This is the Classix Nouveau Refined Peasant blouse from Hot Patterns. 
 My fabric came from Mr. Kashi at Metro Textiles.  I bought this about two years ago.  It's a lovely floaty cotton.  I wore this all day today, so this is what it looks like after a long day at the office, partly sitting in sweaty meetings. 

Speaking of Metro Textiles, I was in NY two weeks ago, and paid Kashi a visit.  I got a load of lovely knits for Alaska wear!  I also went to Sposabella with my niece Christine, my parents, and my sister, because I'm making Christine's wedding gown!  We picked out our fabric, but I am waiting until the muslin is finished, approved and fitted before getting the fabric.  It's Alencon lace and satin.    The basic design is going to be a takeoff on Princess Grace's gown -and I'm using this pattern as a base.  And I think it looks pretty similar to the gown worn by Princess Kate at her wedding. 

Back to my current project!   This top has lots of ease, but it's floaty and flattering when being worn, but it is a MUST to wear skinny pants or skirt underneath, so as to balance the look! 
 Nick took the photo on our front porch.  Smokey and Snowy supervised. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Kuspuk - an Alaskan Tunic



Since I live in Alaska, I wanted a kuspuk, which is kind of like a tunic traditionally worn by Yu'pik women here.  I have seen Yup'iks and other Alaskans wear these, but mostly, for dress and traditional cultural celebrations.  On occasion, I see women wearing them at places like the airport (and mostly, it seems,  these women are on their way to places like Bethel, which is a large Yup'ik village in western Alaska).

 I made mine using fabric and trim inherited from Nick's mom, Carol.  She was an artist and a quilter, and when she died, I got some of her cottons. Most of these are now used up -  I  made a lot of aprons a while back and gave them as gifts.  But I have a few pieces, still, and the print on this dress is traditional for a Kuspuk -  usually they're made of printed cotton with rick rack trim, or similar other trim.

 This is the pattern I used.  Being that I'm in Alaska, I was able to pick it up easily at a local quilting store.  I don't think they're easily found outside Alaska, except by webstore/mail order.  At least, I never saw one of these before I came to Alaska a year and a half ago. 

The pattern is pretty basic and not fitted,  but I found the  instructions are a little obtuse.  Since the design is not complicated, I just did what I knew would work.  I changed the directions around so that I sewed the zipper in on the flat, and made a few other construction order changes, such as hemming the skirt before it was gathered and attached to the body of the tunic.  This made it easier.  Also, I made the pocket much smaller than the version on the pattern.  The version on the pattern spanned the width of the front, which seemed wierd, so I made the pocket smaller.  There is a lot of variation in Kuspuk design, so anything would work, I suppose.  I do know from talking to Alaskans, that with Kuspuks, depending on who makes them, each maker might have variation on on hood shape, pocket placement, and trim placement, depending on where the wearer is from (that is, if the wearer is Yupik).  Being that I wanted to honor the Alaskan tradition of Kuspuk, but I am not affiliated with any one town or village, I felt I could use creative license, as long as I honored the integrity of the garment overall.

 Here is a great website from a lady who makes and sells Kuspuks.  You can see here some different design variations. 

 
The hood is traditionally used to keep out bugs - and it is nice to have when the day gets a little chilly.  Mostly, I'm planning on wearing this inside, or in warmer temperatures.  But this evening (the first time I wore the Kuspuk), it got a bit cold outside, so the hood came in handy.

I think I will be making a second Kuspuk, but the second one will not be of traditional printed cotton.  I'm thinking a lightweight silk might be interesting. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Purple Stripey


I like to study how different designers create simple designs different ways, and in my constant quest for something different, even when it's a 'simple' t shirt, I purchased this t-shirt pattern.  It's the "Guest Designer" Mimi G series from Hot Patterns.  I used a striped lightweight knit from my friend Catherine.  She gave this to me a while ago...maybe years ago?  Anyway, I love the colors, I love the fiber content (wool and rayon), and it's soft and elegant looking, I think. 

Here are some things that make this t shirt pattern a bit different from others I've used:

1.  The 'hi lo' hem.  I've seen this look featured in some fashion magazines recently.  The front of the hem is high, and then curves to lower in the back.
 
2.  The back seam is curved in at the lower back curve.  I sometimes put this in myself when using other patterns, and it was a nice feature to have built in to the pattern. This of course is a bit more flattering, as the shirt narrows in where I do.

3.  The little insert at the upper shoulder.  This gives an additional design opportunity.  To make it without the little insert is easy...just overlap seam allowances at the join.  In this case, I used the insert feature to add some design interest using the stripes.

Stripes can be challenging to match.  I hand baste like this to create stability of the seam and then when I machine-serge the seam, it doesn't slip.  In this fabric, one of the stripes zig-zagged.   Matching was impossible, so I just went with it.  Notice I put the zig zag at the waistline, so as to break up the stripe visually.  Thus, it is hoped, not 'widening' me when I wear this.  Horizontal stripes are widening, visually, but I believe the zig zag breaks this up. 


 



 Basting is a  pain, and I hate to do it, but it is worth the trouble.  If I ever get lazy, don't baste, and use what I would call the "Hail Mary" approach, which means "just wing it and hope for the best",  I always regret the lazy choice.  In this case, I hand basted, then straight stitch basted, THEN serged.  The straight stitching first  provided  an extra bit of stability so that the serger would not push the seam alignment out of whack. 



The neckline was easy.  I cut the fabric so that it was with a stripe on the straight of the fabric , joined the ends, folded it over, then applied it to the neckline with the serger. 

Snowy likes to help.

Sometimes I have to stop sewing and pet him. 
Here's that neckline again, sans Snowy. 
Finished!  Time to go hiking...

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Holiday Happiness -Diana Ross Style




I got this book, "Famous Frocks", before I moved to Alaska last year, and I've made two things from it already.  Here's a tunic of stretch velvet, which I wear with thick tights and boots up here in Alaska.  This is a good 'going out' outfit -   dressy but not over the top.  And with snow and ice on the sidewalks from November through March up here, I don't wear high heels much in the winter.  Too slippery! 

The designs in this book seek to be reminiscent of iconic music and screen heroines.  Featured stars include Madonna, Rita Hayworth, Stevie Nicks, and Diana Ross. 

The designs are inspired by - but are not really copies of what these icons wore.  For example, the photo above is me wearing the "Diana Ross" style tunic.  Diana's stage version was made of a woven, but this version (and in fact most if not all patterns featured in this book) are meant for stretch knits. 

This design was straightforward and easy to put together.  I traced the pattern and went from there.  The authors give several ideas on how to 'mix it up' design-wise, so I added some slits in the sleeves. 

I used my serger to construct this outfit.  No problems, and the pattern seemed to be drafted nicely. 

The photo was taken in the Captain Cook Hotel, here in Anchorage.  The painting behind me features Captain Cook's foray into Prince William Sound.  I like going into the Captain Cook to look at the paintings now and then. This structure is 20 stories high, and was built in the 1970s.  It was the first 'high rise' built after the 1964 earthquake devastated Anchorage. 

I made the "Rita Hayworth" dress from this book also, so I'll post that here, too, once I get a photo taken. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Cushion Me

Hurrah!  A cushion for the arctic entry.  In Alaska, an arctic entry is a room between the house and the garage in which one takes off shoes, coats, and such.  Lately, when going outside here, in temps at 7 degrees above zero (fahrenheit), and headed for mountain tops 15 minutes from the house which clock winds at 50 MPH, I channel Neil Armstrong on a moon trip.  Clothing wise, that is.  I don't go for the 'depends' diaper or urine channeling rigamarole, of course. 

The cushion is, of course, a place to sit while taking off the shoes.  I made piping for the edges.  The fabric came from my friend Julie, who has a business serving clients in NYC and on Long Island in home decoration.  I brought some of it up with me  to 'elegant-up' the last frontier, so to speak. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Skirt with Swirl

 This is Onion (Maria from Denmark) pattern number 3019 available here

I bought this pattern several years ago. 

 I used my serger to do a rolled hem, using colored thread.  My fabric is wool. 

I hemmed the skirt panels (there are six) and then assembled the skirt, fabric wrong sides together.  I inserted an invisible zipper at the left side (you can see it above near the waistline). 

Monday, September 02, 2013

Arctic Entry Board

We have an "arctic entry" in our  home -  it's a vestibule area right after you leave the garage, and on the way to entering the rest of the home. So I made a little bulletin board to display stuff we want to look at as we come and go. 


Here are directions .. 

Basically, you take a cork board, staple or glue batting to it, wrapping it around the edges.  Then, do the same thing with fabric.  Then do the ribbons.  I added some buttons at the ribbon intersect.  Nick helped me stretch the batting and fabric, and then I did the rest. 

This is our 'happy board' so we can remind ourselves of things we like as we come and go from the house to our cars.     A no sew project (except for the buttons). 

I'm sewing a dress right now.  But I will be doing a seat cushion to match this board later.  Stay tuned!