Monday, November 13, 2017

Brand Ambassador Announcement!

Hello Friends!


As I mentioned a couple of posts back, I have been working on some special things that I would soon share. Now is the time to share some good, big news! A few weeks ago, a friend contacted me because she saw that Natures Fabrics was looking to collaborate with sewing bloggers. She was a longtime fan of their fabrics, and she knew that I would love them too. After acquainting myself with their beautiful fabrics, I became an instant fan, and I contacted them about their needs. They loved my projects, and we began discussing a possible collaboration.  After several conversations, we came to an agreement.

I am thrilled to announce that I have signed with Nature's Fabrics as a blog ambassador. Beginning in December and continuing in alternate months, my projects will feature their luscious fabrics. 

They have a wide range of Bamboo, Wool, Organic Cotton, and Cotton Knit fabrics, as well as patterns and notions. I can't wait to sew with them, and you will love them too! I have been looking for a source of supplies for jersey hand-sewing for when my stash is gone. Not only do they have beautiful fabrics for single layer pieces, but they also have a wide range of coordinating colors and matching fold-over elastic. 



I will have complete creative freedom in which fabrics I choose and what to make with them. That means I may need to be reined in some by you dear readers. I will be seeking your guidance along the way on my Instagram. I will post fabric choices, and I will use the one that gets the most votes to make something amazing. To make it even more fun, I may poll you on pattern choices as well.

I am so excited, and I look forward to this partnership! As a warm welcome for my readers, Nature's Fabrics is giving away a $25 gift certificate to a random entrant. Enter here  


To keep up with what's happening moving forward, be sure to follow Nature's Fabrics on InstagramFacebook, and Twitter.


Happy Sewing,
Bianca

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Reversible Sequin Bomber Jackets Two Ways: Mommy and Me.

Oh the thrill of an impulse purchase!
                 

Hers flipped rose gold, mine flipped black
I was recently at Joann Fabrics recently and fell in love with their reversible sequin fabric. We've seen it around on pillows and it small swatches of pockets on garments. Everyone of my family loves this fabric; it is so fun to play with.  I had a 50% off coupon and the rose gold/black variety really caught my eye.



                                  

My plan upon purchasing this fabric was to make a bomber jacket. The minute I saw McCalls 7686, I loved it for its' elevated take on the sporty garment. I knew I wanted to make it this Fall and finding this fabric cinched the deal for me.                                   
An impulsive decision is, by definition, one you have not thought about beforehand. I have sewn with sequin fabric before, but not this particular variety. Had I known what was involved before buying this, I may not have followed that impulse. After making my bomber, I  realized I had sufficient fabric to make a matching bomber for Little Miss. I made my jacket the right way with all the necessary prep work. I attempted to make the second with shortcuts. In this post I will explain what I did in both and  I advise you to do it the right way if you choose to make your own. Hopefully, you will be better prepared if a similar impulse hits you.

To make it the right way:
  • Cut out your pattern pieces and fabric using a rotary cutter with a sharp blade 
  • Chalk trace the wrong side with the 5/8th inch seam allowance along the entire edge of your pieces 
  • Using thick and durable button and craft thread, trace along the chalk line making sure your stitches are visible on the right side of the fabric
                     
  • Remove all of your sequins from the seam allowance. I tried many sewing and crafting tools that were at my disposal including razors, thread snips, and Xacto blades. After slow progress and cuts to my fingers, I went to the beauty cabinet. Using a $0.33 eyebrow trimmer from the dollar store yielded the best results. It is a razor wrapped in wire so I was able to cut the individual threads without damaging the mesh beneath. This was a very slow and tedious process. Watching reruns of Sherlock helped the time go by easier.
                                


The sequins on this fabric are strong and are sewn on individually. Sewing over them with your needle is not a good option. I repeat, sewing over them with your needle is not a good option. 
  • Once all the sequins were removed from the seam allowances, remove the basting threads and begin sewing. I used my zipper foot to be certain I was getting as close to the sequins as possible without sewing over them. I used the 3.5 stitch length.

                         

I found it better to work with wonder clips rather than pinning as they held the slippery fabric together great.

                         

My bomber jacket is fully lined. I really appreciate that the lining is attached at the sleeve ends and the elastic casing at the waistband. I am not a fan of the other lining attachment methods. Because of the sequin fabric, I could not machine sew it in place as directed in the pattern. I could have removed the sequins along the right side stitching line. I chose instead to attach the lining to the body of the jacket by hand-sewing it in place. 


As I was sewing this super sparkly fabric, I thought the sequin body and sleeve would be overwhelming and I considered using contrast.  Now that it is all made up, I like it a lot in all sequins. 


There is a bit of contrast on the collar and at the sleeve cuffs.


After making my bomber and seeing her excitement about mine, I decided to surprise Little Miss with a jacket for her birthday. This was another impulsive decision made a few short days in advance. :)

We bought Simplicity 8429 with a plan for a denim bomber with emoji patches. It was perfect to make a contrast version for her.
                          Image result for Simplicity 8429


I did not have two days to dedicate to removing the sequins from the seam allowances on her jacket. I have a heavy-duty Singer, multiple Brother machines, and a Sailrite for sewing heavy canvas and leather. With my limited time, I was fairly confident in my ability to sew over the sequins without having to remove them first. Wrong! I attempted many times on my various machines all with the same result; broken needles and sequins flying in my face. I gave up the ghost when the only thing that saved me from losing an eye to a projectile, were my glasses. 

                      

Fortunately, she is little and I was able to work quickly to remove the sequins as I should have done in the beginning. With the contrast sleeves and waste cuff, there were fewer seams to shave. Admittedly, I was less precise with no chalk outlining or thread tracing. I simply eyeballed from the right side of the fabric. After making mine, I think my muscle memory had been set.

I think the contrast of the black cotton knit works great against the sequins here.

Her bomber is not lined but the sequin in the seams  are not comfortable. I encased them in fusible fleece and she's fine with that. If she were older,  not growing so much and likely to get more use out of it, I would certainly line it. We live in Texas so the shelf life on this particular one has its limits.  Additionally, I'm pretty certain when she outgrows hers, she will be reaching for mine. I sure did come up with a lot of justifications to bring this project to a close! :)

Hers flipped to black, mine flipped to rose gold
So to recap, when sewing with reversible sequins, 

  • Make a garment with limited seams
  • Chalk and thread trace seams to remove the sequins from the seam allowances. 
  • To get close to your seams use a zipper foot to sew garment together.


Sequins mixed
I love the way both of these turned out. She loves our matching outfits and I will savor that always. Some day, I may get an "Um, no Mama" eye roll with the mere suggestion. Until then, I will keep sewing for Mommy and Me. The Little Man has put in requests for Mommy and He, so I will ride this train to the end of the line.


As I mentioned, I was watching Sherlock when I was making these. A villain in a confrontation with him called Sherlock a psychopath. Before Sherlock ended the conflict with a bullet, he corrected the bad guy by saying, "I am not a psychopath, I am a high-functioning sociopath." There were moments of madness in sewing these bomber jackets and  that thought resonated with me. 

  
I designed these t-shirts to communicate to the world who I am, a "High-Functioning Sewciopath". I am one who can be antisocial in my sewing behaviors prioritizing it over other similar activities. When seeing a successful result, I have little remorse over the time and money invested, knowing I will do it again and again. I debuted the shirt at The International Quit Festival in Houston last week. It was a delight to see the smiles of people who appreciated the sentiment and defined it in their own terms.

It was so cool to see other "Sewciopaths" as I walked the festival floor. I received knowing smiles, nods of agreement and bursts of appreciative laughter. I sold many of them to people who bought them for themselves and their sew crazy and sewaholic friends. If you would like to buy one, I have listed them in my Etsy store
Use code SPATH20  to save 20% in the store through Saturday.

Happy Sewing,
Bianca


Friday, October 27, 2017

Good Things on the Horizon

Hello Lovelies!

I am so sorry for not posting in a while. Since my last post, I have been creatively busy, but sewing less. I have been selling handmade products at local craft fairs, preparing to list others in the Etsy store and now working at the International Quilt Market/Festival in Houston. In addition, I have been ironing out details for some upcoming amazing sewing collaborations. 

All of these things are good and exciting, but time is scarce. I want to be able to do the discussion about them justice, so stay tuned.

Happy Sewing,
Bianca

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Double Duty Duster Round Two Fabric Mart Challenge!

Thanks so much for your support of my dress called "Harvey". Because of your votes, I won round one of the Fabric Mart Challenge! The second challenge is to take a basic t-shirt dress pattern and transform it into a transitional piece for fall. We are encouraged to hack the pattern to change it in some way. Here is my entry and you can vote for it on the Fabric Mart page here.


In Pearland, Texas, Fall arrives around Thanksgiving and is pretty much indistinguishable from Winter. The weather requires long sleeves, light jackets and long pants or skirts. With the high Summer temperatures, buildings are cooled to shivers requiring transitional dress on a daily basis to account for the shift. I usually have a hoodie, or kimono in my car to throw on for a trip to a store or movie.

I made a maxi length duster to serve as a topper to jazz up everyday jeans and a t-shirt. I found a wonderful Vlisco African Wax with a bold floral motif.

It looks great coming


 And going


and everything in between.



To add to the transitional element, I made it fully reversible with the other side in a luscious black linen.



When worn on the black side, the cuffs and lapels can be turned to show the contrast print. 


The wax side has side seam pockets. What's the point of sewing if you can't put pockets in everything? 


the black side has crescent-shaped pockets positioned on the outside.


For this challenge, I hacked the pattern we were given. My pattern stash is large so I rarely pattern hack. I will generally explain what I did here:

This pattern has very little ease and is designed for knits. To modify it for the duster, I looked at the finished garment measurements that coordinated with the amount of ease I wanted. 


If I was making the dress,I would have chosen the size 12/14.  For this conversion from dress to duster, I went with the size 20 and graded out the hips and increase the length to a maxi length. I did the same for the sleeves and graded them down to get to my appropriate size. I omitted the front fold and cut it open. I used a retro pattern that had a similar width and length as my guide for increasing this pattern. 


To make this duster reversible, I constructed both sides individually leaving an opening in the sleeve of one for turning to the right side. 


With right sides together, I stitched completely around the edges joining the linen fabric to the wax print fabric before turning it right side out. To finish the edges of the sleeves, pull them out as high as the armpit keeping them free of twists. Make sure the duster is right side out (ask me how I know!), then pull the sleeves out through the opening. Match up the seams then fold each sleeve end back to reveal the right sides. With raw edges even, pin in place and stitch the sleeve ends together.  


 After turning the sleeves inside I hand-stitched the opening closed. 


I lowered the neckline and added four hook and eyes to serve as closures to the front.   

I really enjoyed playing with the placement of the flower motifs on this duster. I print matched the front and centered a flower on each arm.



Come on Fall! I am ready for you!




Happy Sewing,
Bianca

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

A Dress Called Harvey: Flour Resist Painted Fabric for the Fabric Mart Challenge

As you may have read in my previous post, I live in Pearland, Texas, and we were affected by Hurricane Harvey. We experienced 51 inches of rainfall in 4 days, and we watched as flooding devastated our community. Following the directives of city leaders, we hunkered down, and we hoped, prayed, and watched the rising water. Though it was touch and go with the rising waters, my home ultimately did not flood like the hundreds of thousands impacted in my community.


I was notified of this challenge's rules as Hurricane Harvey was a developing into a tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico.  I told Fabric Mart that I would participate in the challenge until I was unable to do so. The water rose, and my anxiety and fear rose alongside it. We were told not to leave our home, so I retreated to my sewing room. 

This first challenge is to transform a 2-yard "blank slate" of cotton muslin. I chose to use the muslin as a canvas to focus some of my emotions (i.e., fear, gratitude, grief, and guilt) related to the storm and the aftermath. 

I am not new to embellishing fabric in fun, playful ways to express what is in my heart and mind. I have ice dyed cotton jersey for a maxi dress. I have airbrush painted my Afro diva dress, Peace, Puff, Afro Love bag and Afro Puff Diva dress for Little Miss. I have used multiple hand embroidery and applique techniques in my embellished shower curtain skirt.


I like my clothes to express elements of my personality or emotions. That usually results in happy-looking pieces. Sewing usually lifts my spirits and allows me to shift focus in moments of sadness. I currently feel broken. I am living in a broken city around broken friends and neighbors. With nowhere to go, I took to my sewing room. I contemplated how to show brokenness on fabric and to find a sewing pattern reflecting putting pieces back together. 

Because of the storm, I was unable to shop for supplies to transform my fabric. I decided to use what I had on hand in my sewing space and pantry. It gave me a chance to try a "flour-resist" technique (see below for further details). A paste is applied to the base fabric. The fabric is dried overnight and cracked to expose the fabric beneath. Fabric paint is then applied, and it seeps between the cracks. After the paint dries overnight, the flour is removed to show the painted fabric beneath. This is a labor-intensive process involving saturation, breaking and cleansing.


The colors in the fabrics are black, blue, and gold. Black and blue represents the devastation left by Harvey. The paint effect is stronger in some areas and varies in strength throughout the fabric. I did this to represent the wide continuum of impact of Harvey on people who have been affected. The crackle can be interpreted as rising water and escalating emotions during the slow progression of the storm. 

First responders and ordinary people with boats and trucks risked their lives to save people in immediate danger as the water rose. They are represented in a layer of gold painted directly on the muslin. 


A second layer of gold overlaps the blue and black to represent love and out-pouring of local, national, and global support. It recognizes those who provided food, shelter, clothing, and ongoing cleanup in the aftermath of Harvey. 



The McCalls 6028 pattern does not reflect my everyday style, but it communicates what I feel. I wanted a pattern with multiple seam lines to represent separation, structure, connection, and regrouping. 
                          
The black piping represents the common thread we share, the boundaries of overrun banks, and released reservoirs. The piping also reflects the inaccessibility of streets and the need to feel supported in difficult times.  


This fabric is unlike anything I have made before. It is chaotic. It is messy. It is confusing. It is hard to look at, but it has more to show. This dress is organised, structured, detailed, and precise. It is purposeful and serves to calm the disorder.    




The fabric is designed using the "flour-resist" technique described here:
  1. Make a flour paste with a 1:1 flour/water ratio. A good starting point is 2 cups of flour per yard of fabric. Stir until there are no lumps and it looks like melted ice cream. Lay your fabric on a protected surface and smooth the paste over areas to be treated on the right side of the fabric. 
  2. Allow the fabric to dry completely overnight. Do not dry outdoors unless it can be protected from insects and vermin. 
  3. The edges will curl, and the fabric will become board stiff.
  4. Bend, fold, and twist the fabric to crack the flour surface. The more cracks you make, the more the paint will permeate to the base fabric.
  5. Paint the fabric with fabric paint using a sponge dauber.
  6. Check the backside to see if the paint is showing through the backside sufficiently. If you are not satisfied, add more. If you plan on using multiple colors, apply the light colors first. Allow that layer to dry, re-crack, and apply the subsequent colors drying in between. Allow the paint to dry completely before the next step.                                                                     
  7. To remove the paste and paint layer, submerge the fabric in a bucket or kitchen sink of water just until you can scrape it away. 
  8. Wring excess water out of the fabric and lay it on a protected surface. Using a blunt tool like a spatula, or putty knife, scrape the flour and paint away and dispose of it in the trash. 
  9. Lightly hand-wash any remaining flour from the fabric and dry. Heat set the paint with an iron or the method directed by your paint instructions. 



This is a labor-intensive, slow process involves layering, saturating, breaking and cleansing. I thought it was an appropriate metaphor for my experience. This was a wonderfully therapeutic exercise for me. My family provided encouragement and guidance along the way.  The waters are receding, schools and businesses are reopening and people are on the road to recovery. It will take time, but HoUSton is strong.



To see what the other contestants made and to vote click here.

Healing sewing,
Bianca