Saturday, March 15, 2014

Block Printing Fun

I have finally used my print block! I've had it for over a year now, and it's about time I did something with it. I recently purchased fabric ink from Dharma Trading Co., along with a dry ink pad in the largest size I could find.

The colors I chose were Violet and Ruby Red.  For the project I have in mind, I wanted to match the color of a purple linen I bought a while back, and I had a suspicion that the violet all by itself would be too dark.  It turns out I was right.

Using a fingertip on a scrap of muslin, I tested the colors of each ink separately and then mixed a small portion of both together.  The third fingerprint was very close to the color I was trying to match!  I also tested just a corner of the print block to see what the flower would look like.  I ironed my samples to set the ink, and tested the fastness by running it under water.

The color held beautifully!  So now I had to mix enough ink together to fill the ink pad.  This took some trial and error, as I kept underestimating how much it would really take.

I also did a few trial runs of stamping on more scrap muslin to work out the kinks of the technique.  I'm very glad I did, because I learned a few things.

I started by using cardboard under the fabric to protect my table, but also to provide some give for the print block to press into.  I quickly discovered that this was not the best thing, as the cardboard I had was slightly warped and the design did not print evenly.  Brian the Engineer suggested rubber, which gave me the idea of using my yoga mat.  It worked wonderfully!  (On the plus side, I did learn from the cardboard trial that the ink would not bleed through my fabric and stain the yoga mat.)

I also didn't like the results I got by stamping right after filling up the ink pad with fresh ink.  It seemed to work better after I let it rest for a day, especially after I remembered to store it upside down.

Finally it was time to start printing for real!

It was surprisingly easy to line up the block with the previously-printed design.  I have to say whoever designed it knew what they were doing!

I certainly made mistakes, but I should be able to avoid the most obvious ones when cutting out my pattern pieces.

At the top of the piece I had to use more scraps to protect my yoga mat where the print block went off the edges.

Overall I think it looks pretty good!  :D

Friday, March 14, 2014

Pocahontas Wedding Jacket Embroidery

This week I had a unique and incredible opportunity.  For those of you who may not know, Historic Jamestowne is putting on a reenactment of the wedding of Pocahontas and John Rolfe on April 5 - the 400th anniversary of the actual event.  The Costume Design Center of Colonial Williamsburg (where I work as a tailor) has partnered up with Jamestowne to create the bride's wedding ensemble.  This includes an intricately embroidered 17th Century sleeved waistcoat, on which volunteers have been busily stitching away since mid-January.  On Wednesday I had a chance to work on the embroidery myself!  For one hour, I got to be part of history.  It was very cool.

All of the pieces are traced onto white linen stretched tightly onto wooden frames.  The full jacket will be assembled after all the embroidery is finished.
This is the back, which is the only piece yet to be finished.  
I chose to work on the upper left corner of the back.  
Here is the section I worked on - before I did any stitching.  
Same section after my hour was up.  I only finished one flower, but I can still say I contributed!  
Want to see more pictures?  I thought you might.

The original paper pattern pieces are kept handy for reference. 

 I can't wait to see the finished garment!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Demise of Quick and Dirty

Do you have an inner sewing nag?  You know, a little voice that grows stronger as your sewing skills evolve and expand, that never lets you regress to your previous level of knowledge?  It's terribly annoying.  I call mine Nellie the Nag.*

She won't let me sew anything "quick and dirty" anymore.  When I try to get away with it, she reminds me that I know the correct way to do things, and that I know it's better.

Typical conversations between me and Nellie the Nag:

Nellie:  "What are you doing?  Match up your pattern pieces to the grain lines!"
Me:  "But I just finished laying it out!  I don't wanna do it over."
Nellie:  "Do it anyway!"

Nellie:  "Press your seam allowances open!"
Me:  "But it's just a mock-up."
Nellie:  "Do it anyway!"

Nellie:  "Clip those curves!"
Me:  "Ugh.  I hate clipping curves!"
Nellie:  "Do it anyway!"

See a pattern here?  So bossy!

*I can't help it.  I, like Stan Lee and JK Rowling, love alliterative names.  :p

~~~ In somewhat related news ~~~

I know I've been rather delinquent on Year of Foundations posts, but that doesn't mean I haven't gotten anything done!  I have my stays all cut out and the layers are basted together:

And I made a rump!

Glamorous, no?
It's a very simple tube made from a scrap of quilting cotton that had the benefit of already being roughly the shape I wanted.  I pieced one end to make it longer, tapered the other end to match, and sandwiched twill tape ties into the seam at either end.  It's stuffed with a hunk of quilt batting which I rolled up and stuck inside with some difficulty.  I added more to the middle, as I want the bulk of the... well, bulk... to be at the back.

Here's how it looks in action, shown here on the dress form over my mock-stays:

So I officially have one foundation garment finished!  Whoo-hoo!  Other "Foundationers" as one of our participants christened us, have been much more productive these last couple months.  I'll do a round-up post soon, but in the meantime you can see what people have been doing on Facebook.

The main reason I've been lax at posting recently is that I've been consumed with a new project which I will also be posting about soon!  Here's a teaser:

And, just for fun, here's a pic of Jazz "helping" me with my project:

I guess the pins are a good back scratch?