Like many of you, I'm guessing, I favor a certain style in clothing. Comfortable, loose and linen all come to mind. However, because I am short and have a small frame, most of what I find in the stores looks ridiculous on me because of outsized proportions. Even smalls in these styles often swamp me, because I am petite.
When we went to Shanghai last fall to visit the kids, the day after we landed my DIL whisked me to the South Bund Soft Spinning Material Market. Inside is a dizzying array of hundreds of booths on several floors, each owned by a different tailor/shop. The booths are lined with bolts of fabric and hanging along poles up near the ceiling are numerous articles of clothing ready for you to try on and consider the styles. Once you decide on an item, you choose a fabric, your measurements are taken and upon your return, a week later ~ Voila! Your custom clothing is ready to pick up! Jersey print dresses, cashmere wool coats, linen smocks and pants, silk and satin evening gowns, it's all available.
H, considering a new style
For just over $100, I ended up with 2 dresses, a skirt and the blue-gray
linen smock (above), all custom made. Aside from being a fun
destination, it's a wonderful convenience, as my DIL has discovered
during their stay in China. A special occasion coming up? No problem.
See the style you want but want to change some things? No problem.
Shorter sleeves? A different collar? No problem!
Sadly, no such options in suburban Ohio. I used to sew for myself, but not in years. Yet, with the styles I prefer, how difficult would it be? It's often a problem finding good patterns, but over my years of travel in Japan, I've accumulated a number of pattern books featuring these simple linen styles that I like. If you sew at all and are on the blogs and Etsy, I'm sure you're familiar with them. Japanese children's clothes patterns are particularly appealing, more and more widely available now. But even for experienced sewists, the Japanese patterns are somewhat intimidating.
If you've been at all interested in sewing with Japanese patterns, you must get yourself over to the charming blog, You & Mie. A home sewist, the author is currently presenting what she is calling 'The Japanese Sewing Book Series', a week of links to posts by invited bloggers who regularly work with these patterns. Each features a particular challenge of working with them. So far, they are clearly written, explain each step and are illustrated by many excellent photos. Aside from being an interesting introduction to some very creative bloggers, the series is a great reference to bookmark for my eventual projects. There's hope for us all!
Molly visited several weeks ago while in the U.S. on a business trip. She knew she'd have a little room in her suitcases so accepted some special orders from me ahead of time ~ so nice to have a personal shopper in Tokyo! Among the things she brought were these two patterns I had seen on a Japanese website, Linnet. (Wouldn't I love to shop in the actual store!) The drawings don't look like much here but I loved the photo of No.74 and think No.48 might be cute a little shorter, tunic length, in a light linen or lawn print over a t-shirt and leggings.
Have I made even one piece of clothing from any of my accumulated patterns? Go ahead, venture the question. You wouldn't be the first! (Molly among them.) No, I haven't, but as they say in the commercial, you can't win if you don't play.
Unlike some people I know, I've never had much blue fabric in my stash. I've probably mentioned it here before, but early in my quiltmaking days, blues were notable for quick fading. And not in a nice, aged, timeworn way. More like everything turning a grim gray. I got into the habit of avoiding it. A few weeks ago, on a day trip in Amish Country, my favorite shop in Holmes County, Miller's Drygoods, was unwrapping new bolts for display. All the repro designers seem to have blue lines out this spring! It all looked so enticing that I added some cuts to my paltry blue stash.
I have lots of large, in-progress quilt projects (of which I'm often reminded in comments) that I've decided to try to finish up this year. But knowing how quickly I often flame out due to boredom (or a decision point), I decided in January to make one small quilt a month, something that would satisfy my urge to work on something fresh but wouldn't chew up too much time. An antique blue & white doll quilt recently caught my eye on Pinterest, so it seemed like a good March project inspiration. Plus, I could fool around with another of my new BlocLoc rulers.
I pulled a variety of blue values and prints and started assembling little 3" blocks. As with the Flying Geese ruler I used in my Valentine piece, the BlocLocs result in extremely accurate units so this went together beautifully. That said, 1" units, aside from sawtooth edging, are too small for my liking. Not only is the piecing fiddly, but the pieces are too small to show much of the print. And I'm all about prints and patterns.
I've always wanted to blue & white quilt, but honestly, this is leaving me a bit "meh". Maybe too many of my shirting choices leaned creamy instead of bright white? In any case, it was a fun exercise ~ got the blue and white out of my system ~ but the quilting will have to wait a bit as I have something else on my hand-stitching plate.
I didn't mean to step away for so long (and thank you for the emails, inquiries and even a phone call ~ it's nice to be missed!). After my last post, I knew I had to tackle a job I'd been kicking down the road, prepping and basting Molly's quilt for hand-quilting.
First, with all of those little squares (what was I thinking?) and repeated displaying and refolding during the wedding week, there were quite a few little threads that needed to be trimmed up on the back before layering. I blithely figured, oh, an hour's work?
Not exactly! A broken back, paralyzed snipping hand and an afternoon later....
...on to the basting! In previous homes, I've enjoyed a nice expanse of berber carpeting on which to pin and baste my large quilts, but here at our new place we have all hardwood floors. So on to plan #2, our spare room and a large (but not quite optimally large) table. Furniture pushed to the walls, I used the clip method to keep the layers taut and after several days of basting and repositioning and more basting (and lots of Pinterest and snack breaks), I finally had it all prepped. Just in time for Molly's visit. Coincidence, huh? *wink*
Do the bloggers among you have a hard time writing that first post after a bit of time away? If I'm posting every few days, I cruise right along, but if I'm away for a couple of weeks, it's always difficult to jump back in. Too many things to write about, or too long past. The last month has flown by, yet it's dragged in some ways, too. Too many gray, snowy, scuffing around in low-gear days.
But things are looking up! House decisions ~ curtains, rugs, paint ~ have been made (some implemented), old projects have been resurrected, new projects are being planned and trips have been penciled in on the calendar. If only the sun would come out.