East meets west as they Wrap into one.

Here is another example of the interesting historical patterns which can be found at the VPLL website, offered as part of the VPLL’s 1912 Sewing Project. This is a 1912 fringed lady’s wrap with deep scallops, almost like bat wings! As soon as I came across it, I knew what fabric I wanted to use! I had a remnant from a sari I bought last fall. I made a circle skirt with the body of the sari and kept the pallu: that’s the especially ornate, decorative and patterned end of the sari which is usually thrown over the left shoulder.

I love saris. I was first introduced to them at about 8 years old, when my father befriended someone who worked with him at the CBC who was married to a lovely little Indian lady named Shakuntala. We often shared meals and eventually she gave my sister and me an old pure silk sari in shades of violet and black. It was printed with the perennial paisley design so dear to India. I still have it in my closet!

Anyway… my love affair with saris and most things Indian most assuredly started then.

As I digress nostalgically about saris, I mustn’t forget my present project.

The sari I bought last fall had bright colours: red, yellow and blue-green melding into each other and a Jacquard pattern woven into it which reminded my husband of fish scales. He thought it would be a good base for a Hallowe’en costume, as we had been invited to a party and I was still looking for a good costume to make. The blue-jade ran down the centre of the sari and as soon as he said that, I saw a siren’s tail… That will be the subject of another blog one day… So the sari was bought and quickly transformed into a skirt (see the second picture: that’s the circle skirt hanging to stretch before hemming it) which would become part of *Sedna*.

 

And there I go again! I was saying that I knew immediately upon seeing the pattern that I would use this remnant. The pallu is mostly red and yellow with dashes of blue-green and I was a little worried it wouldn’t be big enough to accommodate the wrap… but I was wrong. There was plenty! There was even enough to cut the tie linings but not enough to line the main body of the wrap.

 

I STILL have smaller bits which are folded away now that will undoubtedly be used as accents somewhere. They are packed away with several other saris awaiting their turn for use! And there I go again… It must be because I am in a very quiet house tonight: everyone is away at work or chumming with old friends. I can actually think, compose and write as well as savour my wine at the computer without guilt and without interruption!

The wrap pattern consists of only 3 pieces: two different length ties and the wrap itself. While I was placing the pattern on the fabric I was wondering what I would use as a fringe. I have several lengths of satin fringe, but most of them are black… I didn’t want that kind of contrast. The instructions also called for a lining. I did cut one out of bright red lining although I wasn’t certain I would want it. I thought it would be a convenient cover to hide the fringe band if I used a fringe.

I stay-stitched all around the wrap as it has scalloped edges and they tend to stretch even with *ordinary* fabric. But sari fabric is often rather loosely woven. This one is especially. So, to prevent too much distortion and stretching I stay-stitched.

My search amongst my treasures turned nothing up at first… So I went ahead and started sewing the ties to their linings. As I strolled over to my ironing board to press them I caught sight of a piece of beaded fringe a special friend gave me. I used to make belly dance and tribal costumes (for others as well as myself) and this is left over from those days! The fringe is gold, red and green. The gold was a perfect match for some of the yellow shading in the sari and the red and the green just worked too! There is a pattern within the fringe: red roses with a green leaf on either side. A 4” glass beaded fringe is a little heavy, but it doesn’t matter much to me. I figured it would help keep the wrap nicely pulled down to show the beautiful woven as well and dyed patterns in the fabric. Best of all: the fringe is beaded onto a yellow ribbon. I measured it and it was as if it had been cut especially for this project! Perfect fit!

So I carefully sewed the fringe on to the edge of the wrap with a zipper foot, still thinking I would line it. I actually did sew most of the lining to it as well, afterwards. But it felt wrong. I stopped sewing and took the lining off. I decided to use the yellow ribbon as the cache for the cut edge. I turned in the seam allowance under the ribbon and sewed the ribbon down over it. A very clean finish! After some consideration, I decided to sew a  narrow red satin ribbon on the right side of the wrap. It seemed to need it.

The ties could have a pleat or not. I chose to simply sew them flat to the wrap ends, as I intend to use them to tie around the waist at times… Easily done! I carefully top-stitched the ties on and there you are! The wrap was done swiftly. If it hadn’t been for the search for the fringe, it would have been done in an afternoon. This is an easy project for beginners and pros alike!

The best part of this is: I can use the wrap as a shawl, as it is intended to be, or as a hip scarf over the matching skirt! I don’t *dance* much anymore but I love my bright colours in summer and this certainly fits THAT bill! I will wear the skirt and wrap with a solid coloured t-shirt and it will look just dandy!

     

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Passion for the Fashion!

 

Life has been rather hectic since my last post. Lots going on at home and everywhere else!

I received our Titanic Sewing Group’s first pattern last week on Thursday. 1912 Afternoon Wrap, pattern # 0291, from La Mode Illustree, found on the VPLL’s website. First thing I did was go to my private stash and rummage through that until I fell upon a remnant from a  skirt/pant I made 3 or 4 summers ago from a lovely royal blue Jacquard light weight satin which goes to navy on both selvedges and within that darker part is a gold woven pattern of butterflies and scrolling. So the wrong side of this is just as beautiful as the right side… This explains why I chose to make the Afternoon Wrap without a lining. The flashes of gold add an interesting dimension to the outfit!

The fabric

Same as for the Challenge Pattern (the Princess Slip from my previous blog), I printed the pattern from a .PDF and reassembling it was easy. We were provided with a cutting layout and I saw that it showed cutting the two main and the four collar pieces separately on a single layer of fabric and realized that they had been placed incorrectly. Another Lady in our group brought that up yesterday… before I had a chance to report on it. I passed over that as I intended to cut these pieces on a folded piece of fabric, that way only cutting one large main piece and two collar pieces. As long as either the two right or two wrong sides are touching, the pieces get cut correctly, that is: mirror-image of each other and you are ready to assemble them.

I stay-stitched all the pieces. It means a lot of work removing some of that later, but prevents the pieces from changing size as many of the edges are on the bias or other than straight grain of the fabric.

There were two darts indicated on the main piece. One for the shoulder and one for the bust. After measuring the distance from the shoulder dart to that bust-line dart, I decided to lower that dart a little and extend it too. It was too high to lie where it should when I am wearing my *regular* bra. It would have been fine if I wore a push-up bra… These things always come into play, right? They do make a difference on some of us hahaha!! 🙂

Another change I made was to lengthen the back and front parts because again, after measuring, I saw that the hem line would lie across my widest part, and I don’t particularly want to put a spotlight on it… (I must confess that lately, I prefer to wear slightly longer t-shirts, vests, sweaters and jackets for that reason too.) As I was cutting the pieces out I was thinking of the trims and other decorations I wanted to use. The pattern called for making a belt and adding tassels to the sleeve points. As I didn’t have any ready-made tassels but did have a bit of matching dark blue satin fringing, I chose to make the tassels with that and embellish the tassels with beads. I have been beading for years as well and to put it mildly, I have beads in many colours, textures and sizes and shapes. (Being a sewer for the last 40 years, and a collector of *bits*, I have a large selection of many things to use when I don’t have exactly what is required.) Depending on how much fabric border would be left over, it would be used to make the belt. If too short, I would make a buckled belt as suggested but I was hoping it would be long enough to make a tied belt that would have long hanging ties.

 

 Tassels sewn to the point by rolling the hems over the crown of the tassel.

I wanted to spotlight that lovely border as much as possible, so turned the pattern piece 90 degrees making the centre back sit along the selvedge and the butterflies would be going up and down my back, rather than across it and the front pieces. The instructions included adding an optional band on the sleeve edge. Rather than add another layer of fabric to the sleeve edge, I decided to turn up the hem using the gold wrong side outside at the hem which added only a narrow detail instead of the wide one suggested.

  You can see the wrong-side-turned-out hem and the point which is covered with the selvedge border.

As I looked at the sleeve, it occurred to me that if it was going to have a nice gold edge, it should also have more decorative points. After cutting enough border for the belt, I found that I still had enough border length to cut four points from it and add them to the points of the sleeves. It gave the points the same fade from dark blue to the royal blue as the hem had and would decorate the points a little more than having just the tassels hang from them. This was also good for adding some weight to the points because the fabric was so light. Clean finishing the top of the triangle and sewing it to the end point was a quick job. When I turned the hem there, the two layers here turned over together to make a stiff heavier point which would be stronger to support the beaded tassels.

 On the left you can see the one point still pinned in and the second point has been sewn across its top to clean finish the new triangle.

  This is what it looked like before turning the hem.

Here are two of the sleeve points finished but before having added the tassels.

I made the pleats and sewed the darts first making sure everything was lying in the right spot with each piece. Then assembled the two main body pieces by sewing the centre back seam, as per instructions. The collar was equally easy to assemble and add to the wrap. Pictured at left below is the front pleat on right half bodice at waist line. The next picture shows the pleat on back bodice.

  

Using the border for the belt made a rather ornate belt. That was another reason for not using the order butterflies on the collar lapels.  I simply turned the two edges of the belt length under using the rolled-hem foot on my machine. Below is the wrong side of the belt piece.

 

I wanted to see the wrong side of the fabric too, in order to use the gold flashes that would appear as I moved. I didn’t want to use a buckle: that’s when I decided to make two more tassels for the belt ends. I shaped the square ends of the belt into triangles and sewed the tassels to the points of the belt, reflecting the sleeve points. The belt was then sewed to the middle back seam at its middle and everything was pressed once more. After beading the tassels, I made a beaded fringe with the blue beads which I then sewed to the front and back hems of the wrap. This all made it a little more formal than may have been used for an *Afternoon* wrap in 1912 but I may only use the wrap with the skirt on cooler evenings in the summer. I don’t wear that pant/skirt in winter! The very next two pictures show you the beaded fringe on front and back. The bottom pictures are front and back views of the entire outfit with the long-ago made skirt.

  

  

Now that it is done, I feel the slashed points of the sleeves near the bodice front need re-enforcing. So I will be adding a self bias strip stretching 3 in on either side of the opening.

And… I am pretty sure I will make this wrap in the same fabric used for the Princess Slip made to be a nightgown two weeks ago. Again, I will lengthen the front and back pieces and I will use the same lace as the gown for the sleeve edges. Instead of a belt, I will use buttons. It will be lighter than a bathrobe and give the nighty some extra *modesty* when not in bed, heheh!!

Spring Cleaning…

The count is now just over 400 members for the VPLL 1912 Sewing Titanic Project. We have been divided into 35 groups. Three patterns were sent out to the first lucky three groups… I was not in any of those. So the wait for that is stretching out some more.

😦 We were told a fourth pattern will be sent tomorrow Friday: Gr.34 may be the one to get it!

I had a wonderfully productive day yesterday… finishing many little projects that were abandoned as important work came in and sometimes left because more exciting things drifted along… So yesterday I added one Ostrich plume to the Little Hat and what a difference! I have been learning how to shape and work the feathers. My friend thought one of the smaller plumes would be just right for the Little Hat. She was right. It is now ready to meet the world!

       

I participate in our city’s belly dance community bi-annual bazaar and I have been preparing for the February installment. This prompted me to clear out many older items from the racks and get a few new ones ready… In so doing two shelves of inventory were re-assigned or completely disposed of and THAT allowed me to clear off my space on the light table which is also my main working area. I can spread my ostrich feathers out and properly gauge their sizes and plumage in order to start sewing them together and then onto the new hat. The new hat was fitted with its brim-edge wire, to give it the right shape and fold at the end. This hat by the way, is made of 100% paper!!! Its a very good summer hat!! 🙂

There was a skirt on the table which I started “un-decorating” some months ago: it had lovely salmon iridescent coloured beads all over it. Since I didn’t care much for the skirt style, I started removing the beads carefully for a future piece. The skirt is now in the donation box and the beads are safely in a little pouch…

Now that the White and Magenta stripe Steampunk outfit is finished, my mind has gone to transforming an 80’s jacket into a newer shape. It is wrinkled black printed with gold *splotches* and further textured with black flocking. I have already removed the gigantic collar and some lining. The lapels are also very wide and have a paisley gold print on them… they are still there while I decide to keep them or not. The same fabric is used as the cuff fold-over lining too… Just not sure about that part yet. I can’t decide whether to make it Steampunk or more ordinary for daily use. It will be machine embroidered with some new designs found earlier this week: an octopus, a swallow and some gears, which are definitely Steampunk oriented… the embroidery will be done in a matching gold thread so it will stand out better. I’m thinking across the back at shoulder level and perhaps some at the bottom hem front, maybe the sleeves.

    

I really like the way it is separated into two tails at the back. And it will certainly need reducing in size and tapering at the waist: it was made for the huge shoulder pads that completed the very boxy look of clothing and were so popular in the mid to late 80s. A major overhaul for sure!!

There is a black bustier in my stash of clothing for remodelling that will be a good match for this jacket. It has some beige embroidered flowers and leaves along the panels between the ribbed boning seams. I have already started that to better fit me as it was a little small in the cups. So the delicate embroidery on the black netting was removed from the original cups and I refitted the bustier with my own size cup then sewed the embroidered black net back onto them. Now I am deciding about outlining the boning seams or not. I have a nice black and metallic gold braid that would be a good match and make the ribbing stand out better. Adding all this detailing would make the bustier more formal, dressier and definitely more *costumy*. The question is: should it become a costume for sale or remain a piece to add to my (already bulging) closet?

Which brings me to another job which should be done soon: slimming the closet. Yes, there definitely are (too) many clothes in there!! I am quite guilty of loving clothes, especially for summer: bright, colourful, soft skirts mostly. It’s not to have clothes: it’s because I love the fabrics and the colours so much!! I want to have every colour and all the soft textures I come across!! That means a lot of t-shirts and tops needed. I rarely buy anything full price as I make most of my summer clothes… so there isn’t a large financial investment in there!! Making my own clothing has led me to having tons of it. Opening my closet doors is like opening the doors onto a rainbow! A frothy, soft, silky or rayonny rainbow! Cotton is usually too crisp, linen too: most of the skirts, dresses and tops  are either silk or rayon. These fabrics drape so gently and just take colour so well!! My lovely deep, saturated, juicy colours that make me so happy!