Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Notes on a Pattern Table, and Project Sneak Peek

So I always wondered why it is we don't speak when we're at the pattern table looking through the books. We obviously all have a common interest, and while I like to look at the patterns on offer with a critical eye it doesn't require sooooo much concentration that I can't also exchange pleasantries. It seems like the perfect setting for a modern day quilting bee kind of thing...you know, pick a little, talk a little.

Last Saturday I went out to the suburbs for the G Street Fashion Sewing Club meeting, only to discover that it was yet only the first Saturday of the month, not the second. I might want to look into something called a calendar. Anyway, I wasn't too annoyed about it because Joann had Simplicity, McCall, and Vogue on sale, so I headed up to the Joann and beelined for the pattern table. It was pretty crowded but I scored a seat and a book and was content.

I was wearing the seersucker version of Vogue 2859, and one of the women complimented me on it. I recommended the pattern, which just happened to be on sale, and this got all of us at the table chatting a little. It was so nice! The girl to my left had pretty much my figure (well, what I could see above the table, I didn't get a chance to check out her booty!) and so we were exchanging pattern recommendations and tips for dressing a flat-chested pear. When I left I handed her my card and she emailed me! On my recommendation, she is going to Fashion Sewing Club (which actually *will* take place this coming Saturday) and I'm looking forward to seeing her again. Yay for new sewing friends!

So I got a ton of patterns (and of course there are a few Buttericks that I must have, on sale this coming weekend at Joann), and one of them that really pulled me in was McCall 5577. Something about the upside-down U shape of the bodice and the witty (as BWOF would say) suspender-esque back that evokes the 80s but doesn't go full-on 80s just drew me.

It went to the front of the project queue, from some Ikea fabric I got last year and an old table cloth I bought from a vintage store. Cidell is coming to DC this weekend and will be taking photos of my recent projects. I don't think she quite grasps how many recent projects that is--I'm probably up to 9 or 10 unphotographed by this point. So I'll get her to take photos on Sunday, but for now I *have* to show off the buttons. Choosing buttons is one of my favorite parts of a project but I didn't have any really great options in my rather large stash for this jumper.

So I made some from polymer clay. I'd been wanting to try it for a while, and since this needed only two it was an easy project. I used to make a lot of beads out of polymer clay (aka sculpey, fimo, premo, etc.), but jewelrymaking has been put aside for sewing the last couple of years and I hadn't done polyclay in ages. One of the beautiful things about this medium is that the clay keeps almost indefinitely. All the clay is at least four years old (I am sure I haven't bought any since I moved into my condo), and I'm fairly certain some of it is over six years old, from before I moved to DC. Several of the blocks were quite hard and required a fair amount of conditioning (this is just a fancy way of saying kneading) and a few drops of mineral oil (aka baby oil) to become pliable, but I got it all to work.

I tried several styles before I decided on the buttons for the jumper. Here are the rest of them. The ones with the millefiori style design are only the second cane I've ever made! I have a lot to learn about canes, obvs. The colors were great when they were in fairly large doses, but unfortunately once I reduced it the tiny bands of red, green, and blue around the yellow cores just read dark. They'd be great for a safari style item, because they're a little animal print looking. If you want any of these leftover buttons, email me and I'll send them off (t r e n a [dot] b at g m a i l--take out the spaces, turn the [dot] into punctuation). I still have half the cane left, so there's plenty of those to go around.



If it interests you at all, I highly recommend doing a project like this sometime. It's just fun! There are many tutorials out there, just google "polymer clay cane" or "clay cane tutorial" and you'll find them. To make the buttonholes, I used a commercial button as a template, put it over the clay disk, and used a yarn needle to poke the holes. Bake for 30 minutes at 275 F, sand with a couple of grits to smooth them out, coat with Future Floor Polish for shine, bake the glaze on at 275 for 10 minutes and they're ready to go.


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I wanted to give a better picture of my Paris Dress! When I got home I: unpicked the binding from the bottom of the armscyes, took it in four(!!!) inches at the bottom of the armscye to snug up the bust, reapplied the now-altered binding (and they had done it the cheap/easy/lazy way of binding the front and back and just doing the side seam; I sewed the garment front and back and then overlapped the binding so there's no obvious join/seam), and hand-sewed a batiste underlining for the skirt part to the yoke seam allowance because it was rather sheer. And this was what needed to be done to a well-made garment! Sheesh. Now I remember why I don't buy ready-to-wear. But once all that was done, I was very happy with my Paris Dress. I love the little details, like the pockets and the epaulet tabs. And the best part is, I can wear it with a blouse as a jumper or without a blouse as a dress to make it three seasons. It may only be in style for a few years, but I'll get as much wear out of it as I possibly can in those years!

14 comments:

Lisette M said...

Hi Trena!
Welcome back! I love the buttons you made!

RiAnge Creations. Ltd. said...

Welcome back. Can't wait to see your projects.
Angela

Dana said...

I love those buttons! I've wanted to try that forever but could never decide on a color, size... After seeing yours, I definitely putting that back on my summer project list. Thanks for the inspiration!

Emily said...

I love that McCall's pattern! I've been meaning to make it for this summer, but I haven't gotten around to it. I kept thinking it somehow looked unsophisticated and childish, but I think you've pushed me over the edge to make it. :) Also, your Paris dress is adorable!

The Slapdash Sewist said...

Thanks for the comments everyone! Emily, nobody would ever accuse me of having sophisticated taste, so keep that in mind. `-) Still, I think it's a cute jumper, and if made in a solid color and worn with a button blouse under it can be grown up. I also think it would be great for fall in a plaid, with a navy or dark green bodice.

Melissa said...

Your buttons are soooo cool Trena! Can't wait to see those projects posted once Cidell takes your photos. I totally agree about the pattern table, what is up with that. Tho our Joann's is so small I'm often the only one hanging out sometimes.

Paula said...

You look so cute in that dress! And I love your polymer buttons. You are inspiring me to dig out my Fimo. If I get distracted from sewing, I'm blaming you!

Carol said...

Wow! I love those buttons. I would never have thought to do that. You opened up a whole world of possibility for me. Thanks!
Carol

Connie B said...

I know what you mean about talking to people at the pattern book counter- you would think we were all buying drugs or something! Do you think it comes from an inner fear that the person standing next to you will think your choices are somehow wrong??!! Cute dress, cute buttons!! Have fun with Cidell.

Karen said...

OMG, you make buttons too??!! I feel like such a loser. I haven't even cut out the pattern I showed you when you were in Paris.

Karen

Cindy Lietz, Polymer Clay Tutor said...

I loved seeing all your cute buttons! It is funny how the colors change when they are shrunk down, isn't it? They can also read different if they are next to different colors.

I think it is so great that you are making your sewing even more special by making you own beads. With polymer clay you can even mix the colors to match your fabric perfectly. If you ever need any help making canes, drop by my blog and I give you a hand.

Kathleen said...

I love the buttons - it had never occurred to me to MAKE buttons, but they are AWESOME. Where do you get your polymer clay? I want to try making buttons and shamelssly copy you. I promise to give you full credit. I live in Northern VA, so if I had been at the fabric store at the same time I would have said hello. Welcome back :)

The Slapdash Sewist said...

Kathleen, feel free to shamelessly copy! I got most of my polyclay from Joann and Michael's. I did order online, several years ago, a large block of translucent Premo because it is available only online, but other translucent clays are stocked in stores. No need to go anywhere special! I actually recommend the Sculpey multipacks because they come with handy plastic tools.

RiAnge Creations. Ltd. said...

Thank you for the buttons!!!! My son had put the package on the couch which is currently the resting home for several yards of fabric. I unearthed the package yesterday. OMG! The buttons are fabu!!!