Friday, June 24, 2016

Learning from Alabama Chanin - Red Hearts on Gray Tunic Top

I bought a couple books last summer at the local Barnes & Nobles.  When I sat myself down in the crafts section, as I like to do from time to time, I found two books by Natalie Chanin on hand sewing clothing.  One is titled, "Alabama Studio Sewing + Design: A guide to Hand-Sewing and Alabama Chanin Wardrobe." The newer book is "Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns: A Guide to Customizing a Hand Stitched Alabama Chanin Wardrobe."

This is the back of a tunic top.

Now that I've had the books for a full year, I've gotten a chance to read them thoroughly as well as make a few pieces from them, including the one in this blog post. This fitted tunic top is a slightly altered version of the pattern in the books.  It is upcycled from 3 different t-shirts. The stitching is in black and red with four "random ruffles" running down the front.

 Shoulder close up
Here are some close up shots that show the detailed hand stitching. The seams are all sewn twice for strength and style.  It has inside felled seams where I sewed the light gray to the dark gray. Because I upcycled from other shirts, I had to patch together the fabric to make this top.  So there are more seams inside the dark and light areas. Outside felled seams connect the dark gray to itself, and the light gray is patched together using outside open seams with feather top-stitching. By the time I got the front and back cut out, there wasn't enough fabric left to make the binding, so I cut into a third shirt, the red one.  The red binding is attached with a stretchy stitch, called Cretin stitch, to keep the arm holes and neck line stretchy. Since I had so much red fabric left over, I thought I'd add some applique, and hearts seemed like the obvious choice.
As is characteristic of Chanin's style, the bottom edge is left unstitched. Also, characteristic of her style are the hand appliqued bits attached with running stitch and an unfinished cut edge.

One important tip that is omitted from the books is that you have to ease the binding anywhere you use it.  This means that the binding is a bit shorter than the edges it binds.  If you don't ease, you will find that the arm holes and neckline gape in an unattractive way. (Ask me how I know.) Figuring out how much to ease the binding is a bit of an art, but I find that I use as much ease as I can without creating ripples. Even a tiny bit of ripple is okay.  I found that it's better to slightly over do it than to slightly under do it, especially since these tops tend to be fitted, which leads me to another observation...

I think the pattern sizing in this book is too small.  I've found that anything I make from these books in a large size tends to be a tight on me, and I'm 5'5" and 130 pounds. I am a US Size 8 or maybe 10. In fact, according to the designs I've made from these books, I'm consistently an "extra large," which bothers me a bit since I'm not a particularly large woman.
Other than that, I really love the designs and techniques in these books. If you like hand stitching and making clothing, I totally recommend these books to you. I love the combo of soft jersey and fancy stitching.  The clothing I have produced is both beautiful and comfortable, and I'm offering much of what I make for sale, including the top in this blog post.  I made a couple more tops that I still need to photograph.  So expect more from me soon.
Thanks for looking. 

Saturday, June 4, 2016

New Tutorial Space Ship Earrings and Blast Off Bracelet with Crescent Beads

Crescent Bead Bracelet
This tutorial explains how to bead weave a bracelet and earrings with Toho’s 2-holed Crescent beads and a variety of seed beads. The Blast Off Bracelet is solid and somewhat flexible. The cable is round and measures one centimeter thick. It’s stitched lengthwise, making easy to add units for a perfect fit.

This tutorial includes step-by-step instructions for weaving Space Ship Earrings and the matching Blast Off Bracelet. The designs include loops of seed beads that make for simple and elegant way to attach jump rings and clasps. Use your purchased clasp or stitch a toggle bar with seed beads to finish the bracelet.

Space Ship Earrings and Bracelet
This tutorial is designed for advanced beginning bead weavers. If you know how to use the basic tools of beadweaving (needle, scissors, bead mat), you are ready to follow this very detailed tutorial.

With ear wires the earrings measure about an inch and a half (38 mm) long.
Beaded bracelet measures 1 cm thick.
The tutorial is very detailed, 13 colorful pages, with over 77 full color illustrations and photographs. The tutorial gives highly detailed illustrations, photographs, and written instructions to make the earrings and bracelet.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Gothic Cross and Trident Pendants Beaded with Peyote Stitch

Beaded Cross Pendant
I came up with a pointed finial design, and when I put four of them together, they made a perfect cross.  I think the style is classically Gothic. So that's what I named it. The tutorial explain how to weave seed beads into both crosses and tridents.
Trident Pendant
To inspire you to learn the techniques and make them your own, a page of illustrations includes other designs using the techniques this pattern describes.
Beaded Cross and Trident
These pendants feature the new Toho Demi Round Beads. Just add 2 sizes of regular seed beads, round beads, and an optional rivioli. The difficulty level is suitable for intermediate bead weavers who like tubular peyote stitch with step ups. If you know what that means, you can probably pick up 10 grams of Demi Round 11° and start beading from your stash.
The tutorial is 17 pages, with over 115 full color illustrations and photographs. The tutorial gives highly detailed instructions for every step in making the two pendants.  Thanks for looking.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

More Felt Cuffs

I started adding beads to this felt bracelet and couldn't stop.
Two more felt cuffs... these are in purple.  I don't know why, but my camera hates purple. The colors are prettier in real life, I think.
Anyway, this one is a Mobius bracelet. It has a half twist in it.
Now, you might be looking at that and thinking, "No way I could wear that.  It's huge!" Well, it's also soft and flexible.  See, here's a photo of that same bracelet flipped inside out.  It's very soft, but it's stiff enough to pop back into position, which also makes it fun to play with.
If you're like me, you like the idea of bracelets but hate wearing them because they're uncomfortable.  That's why I make felt bracelets.  They're big, bold, colorful, and they are so soft and light, that you barely know you're wearing one.  Comfy, comfy, comfy!

This cuff is a regular bracelet with some beads on it.

See? Beads!
Seriously, the colors are prettier in real life.  Trust me.
These pieces are for sale.  Click on the photos to go to the listings.
Thanks for looking. Have a great day.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Coxeter Bead in Pink and Silver

This Coxeter Bead is a beaded bead, woven from pink and silver glass seed beads. This ornate cluster is composed of over 400 beads, each one precisely woven into place. This beaded bead is very round and hollow and has a bit of a satisfying squish to it without being droopy. The shape is like a Buckyball virus.
Coxeter Beads are named after the great mathematician Harold Scott MacDonald Coxeter in honor of his extensive work on symmetry, especially four dimensional polytopes, on which this piece is based. It is woven like cubic right angle weave but with tetrahedrons and prisms instead of cubes. It has a fascinating internal structure that you can see when you look at it closely.
Beaded bead is 26 mm (1 inch) in diameter, suitable for a focal bead on a necklace. The largest hole is 2.5 mm wide, wide enough to accommodate a thin cord or chain.
If you would like to learn how to make your own Coxeter Beads, I have a tutorial for a couple variations. Thanks for looking.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mobius Textile Felt Bracelets

I gave a workshop recently at the Gathering for Gardner on how to make topologically interesting surfaces in wool felt. After the workshop, I was asked to write a short article for Math Horizons, which you can expect to see published next fall sometime.
Mobius Felt Bracelets
After making some samples for the article, including this one
Mobius Felt Bracelet
I had the wool out, so I kept making felted objects, including this one.
Mobius bracelet
These pieces can be worn as cuff bracelets,
mobius bracelet
but they are also fascinating objects in their own right. As bracelets, they are large and bold. They are soft and so light, you'll barely know you're wearing one. I added a few seed beads to this one to give it some extra texture and sparkle.
Wool Felt Bracelet
These textile cuff bracelets are felted with fluffy merino wool with silk fibers felted right in.  The shapes are organized but organic. They have a lot of holes to stick your fingers inside. They're fun to play with.
Felt Bracelet
The combination of needle felting and vigorous wet felting permanently binds the fibers together. As you can see in the photos, the felt is stiff enough to hold its shape, but it's still very soft and quite flexible.
If you bend them out of shape or flip them inside out, they will pop right back into position. If they ever get bent out of shape, wet them because they are totally hand washable, very strong and won't shrink, crease, crumble or tear. When they are wet, you can reshape them in position to dry, and they will stay like that. Since they are wet felted, I already pre-washed them.
Mobius Felt Bracelet
These pieces are for sale in my Etsy shop, gwenbeads. Check out the Section on Bracelets to find them. Thanks for looking.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Wide Leg Ruffled Pants in Burgundy Wine Kimono Silk

I have been sewing pants lately.  I made this pair of comfy wide leg pants from 100% pure kimono silk.
silk ruffle pants
The fabric is amazing. I bought it on Ebay several years ago with the idea of making pants, but since it's kimono fabric, the bolt was only 14 inches wide.  So, I had to create a pattern that would work with such a narrow bolt of fabric.
It's a deep burgundy wine color, vintage kimono silk, a nice medium-heavy weight with a wave design woven right onto the weave, and then subtle hand painting to bring out the design. I used every last bit making these pants, and because it's vintage fabric, this pair of pants are truly one of a kind.
Details include ruffles along the hem, adjustable ruching at the on the sides with gathering strings, and two front pockets with gathering strings. The top has a double channel waistband, one with elastic, and a second with elastic and a draw string for a perfect adjustable fit. I stitched everything with both a serger and a regular sewing machine to make this pair of pants last until the fabric wears out, which should be a good long while because it's REALLY nice fabric. Seriously, I'm a silk snob, and this fabric is unusually high quality.
The waistline is somewhere between regular and low. These are very well made and as comfortable as pants can be. If you think you might want these pants, I assure you that your really do. They are amazing. Once you put them on, you won't want to take them off. These pants are for sale in my Etsy shop.  Thanks for looking.
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