Another hand-woven cotton and vintage fabric dress. The black fabric is hand-woven cotton, and the brown from a roll of fabric that I found nestled among countless delightful rolls in a quiet little alley. There is nothing like the feeling of pulling out rolls of fabric, each more wonderful than the next, and collecting them in your arms until you can’t hold anymore!

Initially I had planned on making a horizontal neck line for this dress. I tried the top part of the dress on and decided that it looked better at an angle. The line worked better with the strong vertical line of the brown section.

The brown fabric on the bodice is sewn at an angle onto the black bodice. The angles of the shoulder, neck, and front pull the eye into the waist and then opens up again with the skirt.

The brown section almost pours out of the waistline, and onto the skirt. I matched the brown panel from the bodice to the skirt. The black part of the skirt is gathered on the back to create more fulness in the skirt. It is a pleasant view to look at when sitting down…

The back of the dress is all black. Because there is so much going on with the pattern and embroidery on the front I left the back plain. It is important for me to have some major elements of simplicity in design. Things can get too busy.

I haven’t managed to buy bias tape to line armholes and the like, so I came up with some fabric left over from another project. So the armholes are lined with purple and black spots..

 

It is delightful to me how two different pieces of fabric, with the same general format can inspire two different designs. By general format, I mean size, color scheme, etc. The difference in these two pieces of fabric was the geometric pattern printed in black. One piece of fabric seemed to be based more on squares, and the other on circles. From that difference came the two different dresses.

Circular vs square neckline, and on and on.

The second dress is also a tunic shape. A bit on the large size. Again, the patterning creates an illusion of shaping!

The sleeves are a little bit more interesting. I added little pleats on the cuffs, and they pouf out a little bit.

The sides of the dress match up nicely, with circles being created at the seams. I love how geometric this fabric is. The cutting and sewing are easy because of the patterns.

The rest of the dress is pretty much straight down. I am thinking that it would look good with a belt, but I don’t have one yet to try it with.

I made this sweater thinking that I would be needing a simple sweater while visiting Thailand. The temperature has been so so hot! I have only used a sweater when traveling in cars, taxis, buses, airplanes, etc. So this sweater is finished, and will probably wait until I am in a slightly cooler climate to be worn.

But it turned out well! I adapted the pattern from a Jo Sharp cardigan that I like. I took out the waist shaping and added a garter border around the front, and ribbing on the bottom.

The yarn is beautiful Silken Straw, by Alchemy yarns. Each strand is made up of many tiny threads pressed together and dyed. When the garment is washed and blocked, the material softens, and takes on a beautiful drape. Each skein is hand dyed, and so there can be a bit of variation from skein to skein. To help balance the color, I kept changing the balls of yarn as I moved from piece to piece.

Also, I knit the back of the sweater using two skeins of yarn at the same time. One for the right side, and one for the left. This created a seam up the middle, and I liked the division of color. It was especially interesting in the upper back when the yarn began to pool in different ways.

 

This is a dress pattern that I have made before, but with a new material. I found the fabric in one of my new favorite spots in Bangkok, Pahurad. It is a street completely packed with fabric vendors. All kinds of materials are piled, stacked, and stuffed into every possible space. I would be happy to wander around for a few days just to see everything!

This material is Japanese cotton. It is thin, and I have a nice slip to wear under the dress. (It would either need a slip or a lining.)

The fabric came in three different colorways. I bought several meters of each, and plan on taking the additional two colors to the dressmaker with my dress and the pattern.

So far I do have only one difficulty with my interactions with the dressmaker. I don’t speak Thai, and she doesn’t speak English. We manage to communicate many things with pointing and smiling, and the rest we figure out by calling someone on the phone, or stopping by and talking with someone who can translate for us.

I would like to have her make some dress samples for me in different sizes, but so far I am not exactly how to tell her that is what I would like. This whole dress making business is certainly a good motivator to learn a bit of the language!!

 

 

bedspread dress..

April 19, 2012

I have a sewing machine, fabric, and time to sew! I got this piece of fabric from India, and was going to save it for a tablecloth or something like that, but I held it up as a dress, and loved it!

First thing was to cut the neck, square to match the pattern.  The dress is rather shapeless, and almost more of a tunic. There is so much complexity in the pattern on the material that I didn’t think that it was necessary to shape the dress itself.

I decided on gathering the sleeves to add a little finishing detail. Because there is so little shaping, it needed a little something to add dimension. 

I tried belting the dress, but the fabric pattern didn’t lend itself to the shape created, and the dress ended up looking a little bit top heavy.

The length is a little shorter than I would have liked, but I wanted to end the skirt at the end of the pattern on the fabric, so no choice there…

The border is really beautiful, and I experimented with my new machine to sew the border by machine instead of by hand. (I got to my room this morning, armed with all my supplies, carefully collected and selected, only to realize that I didn’t have a sewing needle…)

The machine stitch worked well though, and I am excited to have learned how to do it.

I think that the fabric was tie dyed somehow, and there is a strong band of white going around the dress. I am considering dying the fabric a little with some coffee to darken the band. I think that I will have to wear the dress a little first to decide if I like the band or not.

The material might end up being a little rough for a dress, but I am going to give it a try, and wash and wear it a bit. I noticed a tag saying that it was a bed sheet a little bit after I had cut the hole in the top for the head…

for sale

March 16, 2012

Here is a collection of cotton Kanga dresses. And they are for sale! I am working on coming up with dress designs, and am testing out fabrics, sewing techniques, etc.

These four dresses are made with traditional Kanga fabric brought to me by my sister. She and her mother, who lives in Tanzania, pick out the different designs for me, and then I get to make things!

The bodices are lined with another layer of Kanga fabric, and the skirts are lined with a layer of cotton lawn.

The sleeves are left unlined. This design is loose-fitting and perfect for warm summer (or spring…) weather.

Each dress is unique, with the patterns carefully selected and matched for each. The seams are all finished with zigzag, and I tried to cut all the ends off, but I am sure that there are a few hidden here and there. The hems of the sleeves and bottom are the finished edge of the fabric, except for the white and black dress, which has a raw edge.

The material is thin and not too refined. There are imperfections, and I feel that this adds to the character of the pieces. Each piece of Kanga fabric has a quote on it, and I left the quote on the bottom of this dress.

The fabric comes quite heavily starched, and after a few washings and wearings, it softens and relaxes a lot. I always take care with laundering, and machine wash delicate, cold, and always hang to dry.

The dresses do usually need to be ironed a little, or else they end up looking a little bit rumpled.

Let me know what you think!

denim jumper

March 10, 2012

This started out as a dress. When I added the sleeves, it turned into something that I wouldn’t wear. So I had to cut them off…

Now it is a jumper. Which works well with things like long-sleeved button up shirts, and short-sleeved blouses. I might be taking a turn for dorky…

The front and back  both have stitching around the edges. I had to undo the entire top a few times to figure out how to accomplish this.. It was a bit tricky, but worked out in the end.

I ended up finishing the edge of the armhole by hand. A few little stitches tucked in there to take care of the last raw edge!

The seam at the bottom of the dress was sewn by machine. I generally tend to make the seams by hand, but with the denim I have been sewing the seams, with good results. I think that it might have something to do with the stiffness of the fabric.

I am meaning to put some pockets on the front, but haven’t gotten to it yet.