Sunday, January 22, 2017

Silk Weaving in Lyon

We were lucky enough to be in France and Switzerland this September, spending time in Paris, Provence, Lyon, Lausanne, and Geneva.  We spent only two days in Lyon which, in retrospect, is one of my regrets.  I did not properly do my research and did not fully appreciate the extent of Lyon's contribution to silk weaving.

 Photo of Soierie Saint Georges - Lyon, France

We spent a couple of hours at Soierie Saint-George, on 11 Rue Mourguet.  I don't think this is a location you would happen upon easily if you weren't looking for it.  It was on my to do list as a fabric store, but what it turned out to be is part museum and part storefront focusing on the silk industry in Lyon.  The front of the store features some very beautiful scarves, but in the back  is one of the last weaving workshops left in Lyons today.  Rather than try to reword, I've copied an excerpt from one of the Lyon websites.

Our workshop-store: an essential visit when discovering Lyon's heritage! Soierie Saint-Georges is where you can discover and become acquainted with Lyon's silk weaving history. During a guided tour, discover how silk and gold thread is woven on 19th century Jacquard looms. You'll be given a close up view of how fabrics designed for couturiers and ch√Ęteau furnishings are made. You'll be shown all the techniques that have shaped Lyon's history since the 16th century; all the different stages, from design drawings to weaving on traditional looms. Our store offers the widest range of silks produced in Lyon at attractive prices. You'll be charmed by our ties, headscarves, scarves, stoles, wraps, chiffon and velvet fabrics, and more, all created thanks to traditional know-how.

The Jacquard system, also called the Jacquard attachment or Jacquard mechanism is a device incorporated in special looms to control individual warp yarns. It was in developed in France in 1804-05 by Joseph-Marie Jacquard.  and improved on the original punched-card design of Jacques de Vaucanson's loom of 1745. The punched cards controlled the actions of the loom, allowing automatic production of intricate woven patterns. It enabled looms to produce fabrics having intricate woven patterns such as tapestry, brocade, and damask. Jacquard’s loom utilized interchangeable punched cards that controlled the weaving of the cloth so that any desired pattern could be obtained automatically. 
It was such a lovely few hours and I truly wish I had done my homework a bit earlier so as to get more out of this very special visit.  I guess that will be a good reason to go back some day!


Wednesday, January 11, 2017


Back when my children were babies, we had bumper pads, blankets, and toys in their crib.  All those things are a no-no today as I'm sure you all know. Sleep Sacks have replaced blankets to keep babies warm over their pajamas.  Eva has a couple but I was intrigued with creating something prettier than the standard fleece sacks without the price tag of the boutique ones.  

I had a hard time finding just the right pattern.  I had seen some pictures on Pinterest that had a two piece front, with the bottom section pleated or gathered a bit and I fell in love with it and bought a similar pattern.  It allowed me to do machine embroidery on the top.  But, the pattern called for shoulders that overlapped with buttons and a bottom zipper which mom didn't see as ideal.  So, using some ideas from the pattern I purchased, I moved on to Butterick and Burda.  But neither were lined, and neither had the separating, upside-down zipper we were looking for.

I began with the top front, doing the machine embroidery I had wanted to include.  I backed the fabric with a lightweight interfacing, and I used cut away stabilizer in the hoop.  The outside fabric is a Kaffe Fasset cotton and the inside is a white flannel.
After joining the top and bottom fronts, I moved on to the zipper.  I chose a 22" lighter weight separating zipper.  I wanted a flap behind the zipper that would keep it away from baby.  I used the same fleece I used as the lining, cutting a 5" width, folded in half, and attached to one side of the zipper.  

 After interfacing the seam allowances where the zipper would be inserted, I attached the zipper to each side of center front.  I inserted the zipper upside-down, with the stop near the neck and the sipper tab at the bottom, both tor ease of changing and also to keep the large tab away from baby. 

I wanted the lining to be secure in the sack so I wanted to attach the lining to the zipper entirely by machine before attaching any other parts of the lining..  After that I topstitched the zipper.  I didn't like where the tab met the bottom, so I inserted a fabric tab to clean the area up.  

Finally, I wanted the lining to be completely finished on the inside, with no exposed seams so I stitched the lining the back and front at the neck and arms, leaving the shoulders free.  I then pulled the lining and outer fabric apart and stitched right side together (leaving some inches open to turn).  And lastly, after turning right side out, I closed the shoulders by stitching the shoulders of the outer fabric by machine and the lining by hand.

All told, I am pleased.  Hope Eva is too!


Thursday, January 5, 2017

A Special Doll - More From Tilda's World

In my last post, I told you that I had become a little enamored with Tilda's World and some of the lovely toys, dolls, and ephemera she creates.  After my two monkeys I decided to try my hand at a doll or my sister's birthday.

This pattern is from Tilda's Summer Ideas.   I think I mentioned in my last post that I find the directions a little skimpy so I watched one of the several videos on YouTube that was very helpful with the construction.  While Tilda does sell her own fabric, hair, make-up, etc., I improvised with materials that I already owned.  I used a coarser material for her skin so that the stuffing didn't show through at all.  Her hair is a very cool yarn and I unwound some of the strands to give it some fullness.  Tilda recommends painting the eyes but I used 5 mm half round eyes.  I also used stamping ink for her blush, but think I will use regular blush make up the next time around. 

I'm a firm believe that the filling makes a big difference and recommend using a very soft fluffy filling. I have found Fairfield to be very high quality.

Also a word about construction which I didn't catch onto immediately.  Being a garment sewer for he most part, I am used to cutting out a pattern piece, placing it on fabric and cutting out the fabric.  But for these dolls (and other Tilda creatures), you trace the pattern on your fabric, stitch your tracing lines, and then cut.  (Picture below)  This is important because it adds a quarter inch on each side.  I didn't realize this when making the monkeys and their arms and legs are thinner than intended.  

 All in all, I am happy with the first try and see lots of room to improve going forward.  I have another one on the burner for another sister at the end of this month and for two grand nieces in March.

Hope to get some real clothes sewing in between!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Tilda's Monkeys

"Tilda is a craft brand founded by Norwegian designer Tone Finnanger in 1999, best known for its "whimsical and naive characters in the form of animals and dolls ..." 

That is the description given for the characters and other decorative items designed by Tone Finnanger and I honestly couldn't improve on it, so I won't. She has written many books devoted to her designs and I've recently purchased several of them.  I've moved away from clothing just for a bit in order to do some gift giving to some to the little ones in my life.  

It was hard to choose where to begin with these little pieces of magic, but since I have always loved monkeys, I will start there.  I've done two monkeys, one for a great nephew, and one for a granddaughter (more about that later).  

First up...

This handsome young man is made of a beautiful wool silk that my mother purchased many years ago and that still resides in my stash.  His face is velvet and his ears are suede.  He has a nice warm wool scarf as well.  He is a bit thinner than he should be as I was initially confused by the limited directions.  I traced off the pattern and cut it out.  Actually you trace out the pattern on fabric and stitch on the lines you traced and then cut it out.  As I said, directions are a bit skimpy in my opinion.  But, he is charming.

It calls for the arms and legs to be sewn on, but I opted for grommets instead which I like.  However, please do hammer them in tightly as they will unsnap if you don't.

The second monkey is for little Eva.  Eva is our granddaughter, born in March, and one of the reasons I have not been blogging much.  I am completely smitten!  Photo of Eva will follow.  I did not use grommets for Eva because of her young age.  I also used fabric eyes and the fabric is from the wonderful Kafe Fassett!  And, the tutu is sewn from one of her mother's tutus when she took ballet lessons as a little girl!!

And, here is Miss Eva....


Sunday, July 10, 2016

Louise Cutting Light and Shadow

This is from Louise Cutting’s Light and Shadow pattern.  It’s done up in a grey patterned rayon.  It is very easy to sew and, for me, is flattering as it skims the hips without being too oversized.  I like the neckline, both front and back.  It has some nice detail with the neck facing top-stitched down.  It’s very hard to see unless you blow up the pics and look very closely, but the neckline and the hem are done with a twin needle for a little extra punch.

The scarf is a simple infinity scarf made up from some vintage obi silk picked up on Ebay. I’m sure I’ll make this up again, with some variation.  Good go-to top for jeans.


Monday, March 28, 2016

When A Store Bought Gift Just Won't Do

Pillows for the great nephews.  These are done on duck cloth with ticking for the cording and back.  They are machine embroidered and some are appliqued as well.  Zipper in back for ease of washing.

I must say they didn't go over great -- think they wanted toys!!  Oh well, some day they may appreciate them!

Sunday, March 27, 2016