Sunday, December 27, 2020

Kalamkari Jacket: my last Make Nine 2020 finish

The last Make Nine 2020 project squeaked in with four days to spare in this Make Nine year. This is my kalamkari jacket.

Kalamkari Jacket. Hand stamped with vegetable dyes on cotton fabric.
Fabric from Diamond Textiles.

I have been savoring this kalamkari yardage from Diamond Textiles for some time, so included it in my Make Nine list for this year. My appreciation of the kalamkari technique deepened after taking a virtual workshop through Selvedge magazine this year. 

In the photo below, the individual block print designs can be seen. Each block is stamped by hand and is skillfully registered with the each image across the fabric. 
Kalamkari jacket, front view.

Matching the designs
Because the pattern in this fabric is prominent, it took extra time and thought when laying out the pattern pieces for the jacket. The design needed to line up across the front as well as at the side seams. (There were also a few re-sews at the top and hemline to make the pattern match.)
Kalamkari jacket front.

Kalamkari jacket back.

The collar pieces were also cut with the print design in mind. Here is a back view of the collar. 
Kalamkari jacket back collar view.

Hand finishing
I do enjoy the hand work involved with garment making. For my "quilted" jackets, I leave about an inch of the lining extending out at the fronts and back side seams to cover the raw seam allowances once the side seams are sewn. 
When cutting out the pattern pieces, the lining extends out at the side seams.

After the pieces are sewn, the lining is lapped over the raw seam allowances and hand stitched down. This is done on the side seams and the sleeves.
Enclosing raw seam allowances of the sleeves.

At the shoulder seams, I insert a binding strip.
A 2.5" strip of lining fabric is cut for binding the shoulder seams.

The binding strip is hand sewn over the raw seam allowances after the seam is sewn.
Hand stitching the shoulder seam bindings.

A bias strip covers the raw edges at the sleeve hems. Sometimes I use a contrasting fabric for this detail—to make it show. However, I opted not to introduce another (commercial) fabric into this garment.
Bias binding at the sleeve cuffs.

The button loops are of the same kalamkari fabric and the buttons are sewn on by hand. 
Buttons and corresponding button loop closures.

The inside collar, front facings and bottom hem are sewn by hand.
Jacket lining.

The fussier aspects in the making of this jacket were worth the extra time and effort. Don't ya think?
Kalamkari Jacket. Make Nine 2020 finish.

That's it for Make Nine 2020! 
I checked all the boxes... and colored in all the worksheet diagrams.

My Make Nine worksheet for 2020. All items complete.

Here is the 2020 recap:

My Make Nine completed projects for 2020.

Make Nine 2021
I've been contemplating and planning for Make Nine 2021. I will be taking the Challenge again next year. Here is a link with more details, helpful hints on choosing your list and a printable worksheet. Anyone else want to join me?

Monday, December 21, 2020

The Winter Solstice and the Great Conjunction

December 21, 2020 is the Winter Solstice and the Great Conjunction. This evening, the two largest planets in our solar system—Jupiter and Saturn—came within .1 degree apart from each other. They nearly overlapped to form a "double planet." In our evening sky just after sundown, it looked like a red star beside a bright white star... which then sank into the horizon.

Blocks from The Farmer's Wife sampler

This astronomical event reminded me of the border fabric I used in this quilt top WIP [work in progress]. The blocks are a subset from my Farmer's Wife sampler quilt I started in 2018.

Astrology quilt top.

With a renewed interest in slow stitching, I'm considering hand stitched motifs in the woven alternate blocks. 

This is one of the corner blocks. It looks like a tree during the winter solstice. This quilt just might become my astrology quilt with each corner block representing a solstice or an equinox. Even the background fabric looks like a starry sky.

Winter tree

The shadows are long on this shortest day of the year. 

Stitching Success Tracker, December 21.

I'm looking forward to more hours of sunlight in the coming days.

Stan Leigh. One of our backyard kitties.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

How do grandmothers know things?

December 19. This year commemorates my grandmother’s 121st birthday. She was born in 1899.

Thread sketching, fusible applique on painted canvas.
Detail of "Memories of Gram."

My Gram taught me how to sew on a button. Her aprons and dresses always had pockets. Her favorite color was yellow. She had a green thumb and loved the black-eyed Susans that grew each summer in the front yard. This piece, called “Memories of Gram” [2009], portrays some of my memories of her.

"Memories of Gram" 2009, 16" x 16"

How do grandmothers know things?
Grandmothers are wise. They have more life experiences to draw upon than their children and grandchildren. They (try to) impart that wisdom on us—even if we're not listening to it. 

They also have an uncanny knack for knowing their grandkids. Mine did with me, anyway. I dated a guy for a number of years during and after college. He was a really nice guy. We worked in the same profession and had a mutual circle of friends. He was hard-working, smart, responsible and practical. My parents both liked him... and my Gram liked him too. But I remember one time—quite out of the blue—she said I would not end up with this guy. What made her say that?

"Memories of Gram" detail: photo transfer.

Did she know my curious nature and thirst for knowledge would take me other places—like grad school? Did she sense I was not ready—at that time in my life—to settle down? Or that I needed a mate with a different set of complementary or contrasting traits? Her "grandmother radar" had some kind of insight.

"Memories of Gram" detail: machine stitched black-eyed Susan.

Fast forward 100 years... 
December 19 is also the anniversary of my husband’s and my first date. 

Pure coincidence or providence? I like to believe my Gram concocted a plan to have my husband's and my paths cross... and decided that our first date would be on her birthday. The year was 1999.

Quilt label on back. Detail of machine stitching.

Happy Birthday, Gram.

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Stitching every day

Even when you stitch most every day... there is still not enough time to get it all done.

December 11 status of the Stitching Success Tracker.

Here's what the 2020 Stitching Success Tracker looked like at the beginning of January.

Early January when I started using the Stitching Success Tracker.

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Stitching Success Tracker: December status

December. The last month of the year... and a status update of my 2020 Stitching Success Tracker.
2020 Stitching Success Tracker: December status.

November hexagons
On the EPP [English paper piecing] front, 15 hexagon blocks were (surprisingly) completed in November. Four had a patriotic theme for the 2020 election and one commemorating Thanksgiving

I picked up several fat quarters on my travels and am still enjoying "selective cutting" motifs for various shaped pieces. This project is one that was resurrected during the quarantine shut-down—when many of us makers were seeking something soothing, creative and distracting from world events happening around us.

15 hexagons finished in November.

Ten hexies were finished in October.

10 hexagons finished in October.

Make Nine 2020
My Improv Garter Stitch Wrap was finished in November—a project I'm still thrilled about and wear most every day. This project was Finish #8 of 9.

Make Nine 2020 status.

I've started on the ninth item on my Make Nine list—a jacket using a kalamkari fabric from Diamond Textiles.

Pattern piece layout for a kalamkari jacket.

I love this piece of fabric! The colors and design are classic. It's hand block printed with natural dyes and it reflects the culture of this technique and the long, rich history of textiles. After taking a kalamkari workshop offered by Selvedge magazine, I have a new appreciation and admiration for this printing process.


Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Improv knitting for my Make Nine stash-buster wrap

It's looking promising for a 9-for-9 completion rate for Make Nine 2020. This post documents the completion of my eighth finish—a yarn stash-buster knitting project. This is my Improv Garter Stitch wrap.

Knit wrap in garter stitch.

This making process spanned nearly the full year. It was started in January with a rough sketch and the "weave in the ends" step happened November 22, 2020. 

Garter Stitch wrap. Knit improvisationally with random stripes.
Finished size: 59" x 24"

Project parameters
For this Make Nine project, I wanted an easy, relaxing knit. Something that I could pick up at any time and just enjoy the knitting process—no challenging pattern to follow, no stitch counting, no repeated motifs to track. 

I chose "good ol' garter stitch." Garter stitch makes a stable, reversible fabric with no fuss. To use up stash leftover bits and balls of yarn, I incorporated randomly-placed stripes—to add interest to the design and the knitting. Below is a sketch/road map I did to determine an approximate size. After swatching (4 stitches per inch on size 5 needles), I had an idea for the number of stitches to cast on.

Wrap diagram.

To allow for the stripes to go in different directions, I used the log cabin technique to pick up stitches and knit in another direction. A little bit "Mondrian" with the dark outlines and boxes of color and a nod to a Hudson Bay blanket's stripes.

Here is the remainder of the ball when I decided to call it "finished."

The bind-off with just a wee bit of yarn remaining.

Make Nine 2020 stash-buster knit wrap.

Project stats

Yarn: Fibra Natura Heaven [Universal Yarn] from my yarn stash. Main color: chili pepper. 
Fiber Content: 50% Merino wool/50% silk. It has a light, springy feel but is quite warm.
Gauge: 4 sts/in on size 5 circular needle
Finished size: 24" x 59"; which was pretty close to the diagram.

Stan Leigh wanted to check it out while I was photographing.

I've been wearing this wrap a lot since it's been finished. I like the color, the weight and feel, and overall I'm very pleased with the end result. 

The silk fiber content makes this wrap light weight and drapey, but the wool makes it warm. Turns out it was a great yarn choice for a wrap!

Improv knit wrap is complete.

I'm sure another knit project will be on my Make Nine project list next year.

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