Fruitful Weekend Sewing

Finally, I have a focus. I’m not going to teach on this blog much. I do that IRL. This is for the other side of my sewing life, and to de-compress after a fidgety night of teaching FBAs to newbs. A diary of sorts.

This weekend I traveled down the coast to the in-laws farm. I usually stay away, but I brought some work with me:

  • “Free Block” for this month. It’s a “free” block of the month club run by the quilting shop where I work. Designed by one of our finest quilting teachers. Most quilt designs, especially BOM’s leave me feeling cold, at worst I think “what a waste of time and fabric,” but her Pickle Dish design blew me away. Medallion quilt, set on point, black and white and two other colors. After a great deal of dithering and consultation with the Quilting Gurus, I settled on a pale green and salmon. The prints are a little bit 1930’s, I hope the end result is a little Art Deco. The whole point of this venture is to help me push the limits of my comfort zone, become a more competent quilter, and to know the ins and outs of our “Free Block” so I can answer coherently when customers ask. This weekend I made 120 2″ half square triangle pieces, then stitched them up into the center block and four corner blocks. Some of the points are rather imperfect, I’ll go back and unpick them so as not to disappoint the Quilting Gurus.

  • LBD FBA for a student in class. I rather felt that I dropped the ball teaching the FBA this past week, which has led me to re-assess how I perform them myself. I had the student make such deep darts, and ended up with some Madonna-pointy nips. Not that great a look. Re-drawing the bodice pattern for her, I’m playing around with how exactly to do it. After 7 hours of working on it, I still can’t conquer Madonna nips. I consulted the internets, the Fit Guru at work, and my fit books but I still can’t come up with a satisfactory Empire Waist FBA with pre-existent darts. I can come up with something that mostly works, but that simply fails to reach the standard I have set for myself, both as a sewist and as a teacher. No fooling, it will happen.

  • FBA on my “Tourniquet Blouse” pattern. I think this is pre-1936 McCall’s. I bought it as a reproduction, the reproducers have blotted out the original pattern company, the original copyright (GASP, how am I to keep track of trends in pattern-making??!) and decided to put the pattern under their own copyright.

Bullshit, I say. This person makes copies of an old pattern and sells them. Fair enough,
I say. The pattern designer himself is long dead, the pattern should be public domain.
Also fair enough I should pay someone for their time and effort for copying the pattern.
Should they have any right to copyright it? Really, now.

I’m rather interested in the history of home-sewing, but I’m not so much interested in reading what other people think about it. I like working with original-source documents, sometimes it seems like I touch a little of some long-dead woman’s soul when I handle her patterns. I discovered this weekend that working from a reproduction that has been stripped of any authenticity kills that. It is merely another lovely pattern. Nothing else.

Really though, isn’t the pattern itself divine? I have a weird stormy blue china silk in a hue that makes my skin look porcelain that begs to be made up in the short sleeve version. The long sleeves is not without its charm, I could make it up in a green and brown and white sheer cotton silk I bought overseas. Back to the short sleeves… wowie. I had thought that the frills were some sort of self-fabric before I got the pattern. Now I am told it is of some sort of lace. Though I have some lovely black lace that would work well for this, somehow I can not give up the self-ruffle idea. Should I cut the strips on the bias, fold in half, and gently gather? Should I use the ruffling foot for a pretty pleated effect? Should I do a rolled hem on a single layer of fabric? Rolled hem in black? Rolled hem in matching blue? No trims at all, just let the silk and the cut and my own panache speak for themselves? These are the questions I ask myself as I drift off to sleep.


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