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Orchid Linen Tunic In-Progress

Orchid Linen Tunic In-ProgressOrchid Linen Tunic In-Progress
An update on another embroidered linen tunic, because if I don't keep up on the updates, dfr will nag me (legitimately) about being a bad blogger. This one in fabric that I actually specifically ordered! (As opposed to the mushroom brown mystery bundle linen.) I'm getting very attached to these tunics.

Besides the general breathability of linen (which isn't quite as much of a blessing now as it will be during the really hot months,) I'm loving the tunic length. While I am a huge fan of those Neutrogena Spectrum SPF 100 sunblocks no matter how strong a sunblock is, you can't get around one major limitation: it can't work if it's not there!

Between forgetting to apply it to skin that's not exposed at the time of putting it on, and my waistband rubbing against my skin and removing it, sunblock doesn't tend to be on that patch of skin at the very bottom of my back. And then after spending awhile gardening, I find myself with a bit of a burn on my lower back. Tunics solve this problem very nicely.

A Belated Fabric Post

Mystery Bundle -- April 2011Mystery Bundle -- April 2011

Someone bumped the mystery bundle thread on PatternReview, and I realized that I still hadn't put up any pictures of my last mystery bundle! I guess this was a fairly typical bundle, useful but not one of the really great ones. That fabric on the left is silk, but I'm not sure what to make of it. It's a heavy-ish chiffon (er, if that's not a contradiction in terms) with a kinda panel-type layout. I'm always happy to get silk, but I'm not sure what to do with it. The second one is that mushroom-brown linen I've already used, but have a bit left over. The third one is a rayon print that's soft and nice, but not quite enough to make a top out of. The last one is a green stretch twill. It's a rather bright color for twill, and I don't know what I'm going to do with that either. But overall, it was a bundle containing cotton, rayon, linen, and silk, so I'm not complaining.

Linens from FabricMartLinens from FabricMartAnd here are the fabrics I actually ordered along with that bundle. Dfr has been telling me I need linen, so when they had a big half-off sale on the linens, I ordered some. There's an "antique red," an orchid, and a black and white silk/linen blend. That silk/linen blend is WONDERFUL. It's soft and pretty and I just love it! I'm expecting to try making a tailored jacket out of it, although I've never actually done a tailored jacket yet, so that'll probably take some time.

Sad News

I've been dreading having to write this, but I have to. When we woke up on Tuesday morning, we found that the bunny had died.
We had started to tentatively call him "Zoom" because it was cute and not gender-specific. He'd seemed like he was getting used to us. He was calmer, not in a listless or sick kind of way, but like he was actually getting less afraid of us, taking lettuce out of my hand, and seeming curious about what was out here in the rest of the house.
He had food and clean water, we just have no idea what happened. We may not have had him for long, but the little fellow will certainly be missed.

Silk Baron!

Silk Baron Scrap Sale OrderSilk Baron Scrap Sale Order Vinyard Haven DupioniVinyard Haven Dupioni Dublin DupioniDublin Dupioni Coppery Violet and Aquamarine DupioniCoppery Violet and Aquamarine Dupioni
I got my order today from the Silk Baron scrap sale. OMG. If I thought I was forgetting to breathe while waiting for it to get here, that was just preparation for actually getting it!

I have never seen anything so beautiful in my life. It makes my heart flutter and my stomach do flips.

I'd never ordered from Silk Baron before, they never really have sales besides the scrap sale, and even that isn't much cheaper than their regular prices. Of course, it's also the only time you can order less than a yard, and I don't necessarily need a yard for it to be the fashion fabric for a corset. And I just never manage to find beautiful dupioni in the kind of colors I want, it just doesn't go on sale. Heck, nowhere else has colors like these! You find a pretty color here and there from other stores, Vogue Fabrics usually has a few, but they're no cheaper, so why bother? So I finally ordered from a scrap sale.

Just.. Look! And it's even better in person. It's shiny and iridescent and.. Wow!

Fine, maybe I'm biased because I have a thing for iridescence in general, it just fascinates me how a fabric can be two colors at once. But.. the sheen! and the depth! and.. and.. there just aren't words!

Some fabrics I pet. This I hold. Fold it, turn it, stare at it in awe!

Let's Get the Garden Started

Small Garden (May 15)Small Garden Big Garden  (May 15)Big Garden Technically, I've already gotten the garden started, but now it's starting to get more interesting. I've tilled, worked leaves and stuff into the ground, dug holes for bamboo to hold up the tomatoes, gotten things started inside, but now is when it's really starting to become a garden. That big tomato plant at the front of the small garden is the volunteer that sprouted out of the top of the hanging indoor herb planter
that lives in my kitchen.

The dill is really taking off; I planted most of it in that planting box, and I ended up transplanting a bunch of it out into [temporary] pots because it's growing together and generally getting big. The basil doesn't seem to be so lucky. I'm finding that a lot of plants that have been living inside aren't particularly happy with going outside; if they survive, it takes them awhile to adjust. Some of the cilantro I started inside is doing okay outside, but I've also gotten new seeds and planted some of it directly into the ground outside. So far in the small garden, there's the row that has my blueberry bushes at the front, and then the fence with cucumber plants on either side. I started some of those cucumber plants in the planter box; those are the ones that are doing the best so far. Last year I had the cucumbers growing up a setup of those modular metal storage cubes into a "cucumber tower," but that had the tendency to blow over in strong wind. That was particularly problematic because strong wind frequently goes along with heavy rain; during that huge storm we got at the end of last summer, I kept trying to go outside to fix the tower! This year I'll probably use those mostly for protecting lettuce and spinach.

Potted Plants (May 15)Potted Plants (May 15)
Planter Box: Yes, this picture is GIMPed together, I couldn't actually get the whole width in one shot.Planter Box: Yes, this picture is GIMPed together, I couldn't actually get the whole width in one shot.
A few of the ones I started inside are growing outside, but a few died. Next row over is tomatoes and lettuce, then a row of teeny tiny bell pepper plants, and then a row with sections for basil, cilantro, and carrots.

I don't have too much out in the big garden yet. I've got some seeds planted in that row all the way to the left, and I'm starting to transplant the tomatoes in starter cups and pots into the row with the poles. I picked up a copy of Square Foot Gardening, and while I'm not actually all-out using the method, I am trying to apply some of the principles. I'm putting in some more poles around the garden, in hopes of growing a lot of my plants vertically, and trying to keep the garden to controlled rows built up, surrounded by ditches that can work as a simple irrigation system.

I'm also filling in the spaces between the rows with leaves and various plant matter, partially just because if I don't, they get really muddy. One step in, and my shoe sinks. So leaves and pine needles and whatnot help with that, but also serve as plant matter that should decay and work to feed the plants. (I hope.) Looking at composting systems like the Soilsaver Classic Composter on Amazon, I've gotten (Gasp!) An idea! If you can speed up composting with a dark plastic container, how about covering the biomatter I'm putting in between my rows with cheap dark fabric? I'm thinking half-width strips of polyesters I'm not expecting to use might improve composting right in my garden. I haven't decided whether I'm going to do that or not (or whether I might just buy one of those nifty composters with the door at the bottom to get out the well-rotted stuff!) but I'm definitely going to put more thought into exactly how I'd implement the direct-in-garden composting.

Chiffon and a Bunny


I've been meaning to upload fabric pics and write some stash posts, in the hopes that it will encourage me to do some of the projects I've been meaning to do. Then I caught the bunny. I'd actually been trying to catch a bunny last year, I'd gotten a live trap and baited it, but didn't manage to trap that one. Then this year I started seeing another tiny bunny, this one with an adorable white spot on its forehead, living under the next-door neighbor's shed. By this time, the trap was no longer set, but had been outside for quite awhile, grown over with weeds and all and generally blended into the surroundings much better. So we set it.  I've approached and talked to this bunny a bit before, so I wasn't a complete shock to it. And I'd had time to observe it. It would never let me get too close, but wouldn't immediately run away, either. I could get close, and then it would move away a bit, and it wasn't until after doing that a few times that it would run under the shed. I was going outside to bait the trap with some bread, and the bunny was already outside. so I kinda eased closer to the bunny, approaching from angles away from the trap, so that when it moved away from me, it moved towards the entrance to the trap. So I actually got the bunny to go right into the trap without baiting it. The trap didn't actually work--probably a combination of rust and the bunny's tiny size-- but since it would have had to come closer to me to get out, I was able to just close the trap myself. I covered the trap with some fabric and talked to it ("it" being the bunny, not the fabric; I'm not sure if the bunny is male or female yet.) and we put the big animal carrier together to put the bunny into. We brought the trap inside and let the bunny out of that and into the carrier. He actually got loose in the kitchen first, but we managed to get him back into the carrier. (Yes, I realize I've started saying "he." It sounds better than "it" even if I don't know if the bunny is a he or a she. And we haven't come up with a name yet.) And so, here's a picture of the bunny in the carrier! I didn't use the flash, because I didn't want to scare him even more, so I used the manor/museum setting and then played with the picture a bit in GIMP to brighten it.



Now, onto the fabric. I've developed quite a stash of chiffon. I'm not totally sure if chiffon counts as "fabric" it almost seems like it should go more in the "trim" category. Several times I've gotten chiffon in mystery bundles, and there was one specific chiffon bundle that FabricMart had for a little while last year, and one time when I ordered it from I actually got it. I intended to use some last year, but then never got to it. I'd really like to do some chiffon over-shirts, big loose sheer tops that I can wear over camisoles or corsets. Ideally I'd like such a top to open in the front, but I'm not sure if that would be too much structure for chiffon. Not all of them are exactly the same texture, though, so perhaps I could pull that off with one of the slightly sturdier and less crepe-y ones. And of course I'd also like to use chiffon in the "normal" way, as an overlay built into a garment. I'm always just so hesitant to use silk, I don't want to ruin it! Using some of a silk that I got a bunch of cheap (like the green shantung) isn't so bad because I have more, and using some for a corset isn't so bad because corsets use so little fashion fabric. But using silk, even increadibly cheap silk, to make a blouse? That's scary!

Embellished Mushroom Brown Linen Tunic

Embroidered Tunic

       My linen tunic is finished!  In fact, I had to take it off just to get a picture.  I was fairly successful at removing the misplaced embroidery and fixing it.  There's a tiny snag, but I applied the fusable interfacing after doing the embroidery, so it shouldn't be too much of a problem and it's not really visible. 


      As the pattern is drawn, the back is meant to be cut as two pieces.  I'm not so fond of this, so I cut it out on the fold, and then created a little pleat on the back to account for the seam allowances.  I like the pleated back anyway, since it allows for a wider range of motion for my arms.  I'm still getting used to wearing fabrics that don't stretch! 


      The embroidery designs are built in designs that came with my machine, so they're nothing really special, but I do think they turned out pretty.  The color of the fabric itself does kinda remind me of burlap, but the embroidery does help.  Maybe I should have done more; I'm not sure where, though. I do hope I don't look like I'm wearing an embroidered burlap sack. 


    ...And, I used decorative stitches on the hem!  this is actually the first time I've made real use of my poor neglected Wonder Wheel!

Yes, It's Linen! (Neck Band Embroidery In-Progress)

Neck Band EmbroideryNeck Band EmbroideryNow I've started on a version of Simplicity 2696 (formerly done in the much-debated floral rayon jacquard) in linen. I have the front and back pieces cut out, and then set to work on the embroidery for the neck band. This is actually the first time I've tried machine embroidery meant for clothing. I did the vine-y floral design at the bottom, and haven't quite figured out what else I'm going to do.

I may not have developed dfr's total linen obsession yet, but despite dfr's accusation that's less about a lack of linen-love and mostly just because I want corset supplies too! I can't afford real steel boning and couture linen! Not at the same time, anyways. I got the mushroom brown linen in a mystery bundle that I ordered along with the orchid and antique red linens from FabricMart's half-off linen section. So the mushroom brown one is the one I'm daring to cut into first.

I'm actually not particularly fond of the color itself, but earthy colors do tend to work for me. That's slightly baffling when they're colors I don't actually like. I like green and blue, but drab brown? I know that various colors complement one another and all that jazz, but for some reason I mentally sort colors as "good" and "bad," despite the knowledge that that's a supremely bad way to classify colors. The earthy mushroom brown also seems to be an excellent fabric for floral embroidery, too. And unlike the cream rayon jacquard, I should be able to wear a dark corset under it!

Rayon Crepon Jacquard Tunic


Rayon Crepon Jacquard TunicRayon Crepon Jacquard Tunic

I've finished a version of the Simplicity 2696 classic tunic in a rayon crepon jacquard from FabricMart. This is meant to be wearable, but also a mockup before making this in linen. A linen version would definitely have some embroidery around the neckline. I'm not totally sure how I feel about this one. It didn't turn out bad, but somehow looks weird. I haven't quite identified what looks weird about it. Perhaps the fabric looks more like home dec than something that should be worn. My big problem with it, however, was the instructions. Particularly, the instructions, or lack of instructions, for the keyhole neckline. This second picture is the front piece. As you can see, the front is cut out as one piece, with a rounded neckline that does not reflect the final shape. There's a stitching line for attaching the facing (er, is it a facing? Or a placket? I've been using the term facing, but isn't a facing usually turned to the inside rather than to the outside?) But there's no cutting line. Nor are there any instructions that actually tell you to cut the slit that allows you to turn the facing to the outside. Apparently, the slit is supposed to magically appear. I complained about this in chat the other night. dfr told me to open up the side seams, since Simplicity's instructions say to sew up the sides before sewing on the facing, but that makes it almost impossible to sew the facing. drsue said "sew first then cut." That was what I really needed to know. Simplicity's poorly ordered instructions so far as sewing the side seams were certainly annoying, but it was the total absence of any instructions about cutting the slit that allows you to turn the facing to the outside that really boggled my mind. It says to clip the corners and trim the seams, but to me, cutting several inches down the middle does not fall into the category of "clipping corners." So, I finally finished it, and the pattern wasn't bad, but the instructions were. Much thanks to dfr and drsue for the instructions in chat that I actually followed. Had I continued trying to follow Simplicity's instructions, my head would have exploded.

Simplicity 2696 Front PieceSimplicity 2696 Front Piece Simplicity 2696 Vague InstructionsSimplicity 2696 Vague Instructions



**Drawings and text of pattern instructions copyright of Simplicity Creative Group. Excerpts are shown here for the purpose of clarifying my commentary and criticism of this pattern and accompanying instructions, as outlined in Title 17 U.S. Code, Chapter 1, § 107. I have no affiliation with Simplicity Creative Group.

Eyelets vs. Grommets

Eyelets and GrommetsEyelets and Grommets
The ones on the top were sold as eyelets, the ones on the bottom were sold as grommets.
A major difference when buying eyelets vs. grommets is that eyelet sizes are described just by fractions of an inch, as opposed to the grommets which usually do list the size in fractions, but also list the standard sizing. When you look at the list of the sheet metal grommets and plain washers at GrommetMart, the primary listing is the 00 through 6 size, with the size in fractions of an inch in parenthesis.
In the row of eyelets here, the first is a 1/4" Dritz eyelet from CleanerSupply, the second (the one with only one piece) is the standard 1/8" eyelet you get at any craft store and can get in all different colors, and the last one is 3/16" two-piece Dritz eyelet that I think I got at Michael's Arts and Crafts. The inner circumference of those last two seems almost the same to me, although the outer circumference on the two-part 3/16" eyelets is definitely larger. The ones from Michael's A&C have different packaging and say "The Sewing Basket," but they're still made by Dritz. I can't find them on their website; there's a Michael's next to the Lowe's around here.
The bottom row are the grommets. I don't have the tools for the first two. The first one is a 3/8" grommet from Cleaner Supply (they don't have grommets in any other size and I was having trouble picturing just how big they'd be.) The second is a size 00 grommet from and the third a size 0 from Amazon

Dfr still says that the difference is whether they're one or two piece, but if the whole row on the top is eyelets, the pieces can't be the distinguishing factor, right?
The tools are different. Grommeting tools are usually pretty expensive. The size 0 ones I got on Amazon were less than $10, but that's still more than eyelet tools usually are. The grommeting tools are bigger, and heavy. The ones for the eyelets are light and flimsy-feeling.

ETA: Okay, so it wasn't dfr. Val is the one who said the difference was 1 vs. 2 pieces.

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by Dr. Radut