Category Archives: Blankets and doll blankets

Dress Forms and December Decisions

The quintessential trademark of a dressmaker is undoubtably the figure of a dress form (or dummy, as it is called in some parts of the world). I am not sure why it took me so long to purchase one, but in the past year and half since I have had mine, it has daily reminded me what an invaluable tool it is for fashion sewing. Among its obvious aspects of usefulness are, of course, 1) for fitting, 2) for pinning and sewing of certain seams (like a shoulder seam), 3) for marking hems and making sure they are even, 4) for design and draping (for those fortunate enough to be versed in this art), 5) for displaying of one’s current project, allowing scrutiny of any imperfections which need to be addressed, and 6) for steaming/pressing certain curved seams.

I also have found it to be the perfect medium upon which to “audition” fabrics and styles. I can strategically pin fabric onto the form and get an excellent idea if the fabric is going to look good in the style in which I am envisioning it. Sometimes I have to leave the fabric pinned in place for days or even weeks while I make up my mind. And sometimes seeing the fabric pinned on my form will make other possibilities suddenly become obvious. Such has been the case with my plaid Irish blanket, purchased by me to make into a skirt.

 I wrapped the blanket around myself in the store - as a skirt - to test my theory.  Here it is pinned on my dress form

I thought my mind was set on making a pencil skirt out of this “throw” size blanket. When I pinned the fabric on my dress form in the length of a skirt, however, I was struck by the fact that so much of this lovely plaid wool would not be used. So I repinned the blanket in its full length, minus the fringe on one end, to see if I could make a sheath dress instead.

The blanket pinned onto my dress form.

The blanket pinned onto my dress form.

I got out my favorite sheath dress pattern and placed it on the fabric to determine if I could indeed get a knee-length dress out of the yardage I have. It will be a squeeze, but I am fairly certain I can manage it. So I have just about decided to make a dress instead of a skirt. But I have one looming question: is this going to look too much like a 1920s’ flapper dress? I think not, made out of a plaid wool. I actually think a fringed dress will lend itself to be dressed up or dressed down. Hm-m-m-m, what do you think?

Another look...

Another look…

The color combination of this plaid is one I love. After Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2015 was announced, I realized that certain blocks of this plaid pick up the Marsala color (reddish brown) which is supposed to be so popular in 2015.

Dress forms and December decisions

 

DSC_0356

I must admit, I was disappointed with this color decision by Pantone. Like 2014’s Radiant Orchid, I do not think it is a color with wide appeal for the long haul. 2013’s Emerald Green still has “legs”, and I was hoping for a similar clear and flattering hue for 2015.

Getting back to my blanket/soon to be dress (or skirt): in shades of red and subtle green, this plaid should be equally versatile throughout the winter, but wouldn’t it be especially nice in this holiday month of December?  Well, that’s not going to happen! But that’s okay. If I can get to it in January, that means I’ll have at least one thing complete for December . . . of 2015!

 

 

 

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Filed under Blankets and doll blankets, Uncategorized, woolens

In the Company of Cows and Sheep

Vacationing in a foreign country always has its own special charms, but when that country is Ireland, the charms are manifold. My husband and I were lucky enough to be joined by our son, our daughter, our son-in-law, and our year-and-a-half old granddaughter on a trip to Cork and Kerry Counties in southwest Ireland (our treat to them!), from which we have just returned. All of us love to hike (granddaughter Aida went on her Daddy’s back in a child carrier made for trekking), but we also enjoy nice accommodations and good food after a day on the trail – so we arranged our trip through CW Adventures, who took care of all the details and enabled us to take some incredible hikes through stunningly beautiful Irish countryside.

Photo of the Coastline in Dingle taken by Nate Helm (my son!)

Photo of the Coastline in Dingle taken by Nate Helm (my son!)

Ireland We expected to see cows and sheep, but the sheer quantity of cows and sheep, some of whom we shared our trails with, was a delight! Gentle-natured and handsome animals they are, living in this verdant green land with breathtaking vistas. We all agreed that the Irish butter was the best we have ever tasted. And, of course, we all know what lovely product comes from sheep. Irish lambs wool must be some of the softest in the world.

Ireland I thought it would be nice to come home with some Irish wool – can you believe that? We were not in cities for very much of our vacation, nor did I have time while we were in the cities to search for fabric stores. But I did expect to find some woolen yard goods in the smaller towns and villages.   There was plenty of knitting wool for sale, but very few bolts of fabric. I found this small offering of tweeds in one store, all of which were lovely, but not quite what I wanted.

Tweeds - Ireland Actually I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted until I saw this small blanket in a store in Dingle:

The dimensions of this small blanket are approximately 36" long by 62" wide.  The fringe is 3 1/2" long.

The dimensions of this small blanket are approximately 36″ long by 62″ wide. The fringe is 3 1/2″ long.

The colors in it seemed to speak to me of Ireland: greens reminiscent of the pastures and hills, the yellows and reds of the abundant flowers sprinkling the countryside, the brown of the cliffs and stone walls – all set in a pleasing grid just like the hills and valleys delineated by centuries-old stone fences and hedgerows. And it had fringe! I love fringe. But – it was a blanket. Could I possibly use this blanket as woolen yardage for a fringed skirt? Would I dare to cut it up?

I guess we’ll find out, as home it came with me, with that intention.

Draped loosely on my dress form.

Draped loosely on my dress form.

 I wrapped the blanket around myself in the store - as a skirt - to test my theory.  Here it is pinned on my dress form

I wrapped the blanket around myself in the store – as a skirt – to test my theory. Here it is pinned on my dress form

I hope you can see the herringbone weave in these close-up photos.

I hope you can see the herringbone weave in these close-up photos.

Ireland blanket

The weight of this wool is perfect for a skirt.

There is an old Irish proverb (so I am told) that seems apropos to this particular blanket/piece of wool: “Time is a good storyteller.” It will indeed take some time for me to figure this one out, but hopefully the story will have a happy ending!

And now, for the rest of this week, I’ll be in the company of —- my sewing room, working on my blue cocktail dress, which must be ready for our next trip! Move over please, cows and sheep …

 

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Wynken, Blynken, and Nod

“. . . and the wooden ship that sailed the skies is a wee one’s trundle bed.”

Do you ever see a fabric and feel captivated by its charm, its design, its ambience?  That is what happened to me when I saw this fabric on the website of Britex Fabrics:

Wyncken, Blyncken and Nod - fabric

It is a moderately heavy-weight wool blend, made in Italy (the source of so many beautiful and exquisite fabrics), and its friendly jacquard-woven deer, set amongst the bold pink checks, with that subtle gold woolen thread traversing its expanse, seemed to be a blend of Tyrolean style, buffalo checks, and frontier whimsy!  I loved it, but I could not quite imagine it made up into anything wearable – at least for me.

So I decided not to buy it.

But then I did.

What can I say?  I had to have it.  Of course, by the time I reversed my decision, I had determined it was the perfect fabric from which to make a small blanket – just the right size for a “wee one’s trundle bed.”  The small trundle bed, which we purchased years ago, has been patiently waiting to be used by a wee one – and although our little granddaughter is still in a crib, it won’t be long until this little bed will be the perfect place for her to snuggle and sleep and dream when she is with us.  So of course – a warm, whimsical blanket was in order.  Since it is almost impossible to find linens to fit such specific little beds, making one was very much on my agenda.

The first thing I did was go to JoAnn’s Fabrics to see if I could get blanket binding.  I could not believe my eyes when I found this bright pink color.

Wyncken, Blyncken and Nod

Then it was just a matter of measuring, deciding where in the plaid of the fabric to place the binding, and sew! One thing that made the application of the satin blanket binding much easier was using a walking foot.  Nice and easy and fun.

Cut and ready to be bound.

Cut and ready to be bound.

The binding sewn on, blanket finished!

The binding sewn on, blanket finished! 

I mitered the corners and used a fell stitch to hand-finish them.

One of the corners.

One of the corners.

It fits well  . . .

It fits well . . .

. . . and is nice and warm.

. . . and is nice and warm.

I had ordered a bit more fabric than I thought I might need – enough to make a doll blanket – and maybe a jacket for a teddy bear one day.  Who knows – we’ll wait and see what our wee one asks me to sew.

pink blanket

I fringed the edges of the doll blanket and added rick rack for fun!

I fringed the edges of the doll blanket and added rick rack for fun!

pink blanket

Too pretty to go completely out of sight - and easier to pull out for" wee ones".

Too pretty to go completely out of sight – and easier to pull out for” wee ones”.

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Filed under Blankets and doll blankets, Uncategorized, woolens