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Posts from the ‘Sewing’ Category

Bias. What’s not to like?

biastowear2Indeed. The Bias to Wear workshop is now over but I leave you with a few photos of the great afternoon.  This bias technique for clothing was one I learnt recently at Saori in Japan. Its beauty isn’t the fact that you can make bias clothing, of course you can in many ways. For me it’s the calculation of the length of fabric needed based on your woven fabric width and the easy process to begin building the bias ‘blank’. This builds the initial form with no wastage or fancy scissor work.

From this point the magic of styling and designing can begin in your own way.  Narrow cloth or wide the stitching works in the same way every time. For example a bias ‘blank’ for a poncho style of garment will require 3.62 metres of cloth in a woven finished width of 28cms. After working that calc  you can relax into the weaving like with assurance about the woven length you’ll need.


We all had a bit of fun stitching a small hat sized bias ‘blank’ in calico to get the idea.

We reviewed how to stitch up the seams on our handwovens to keep away the frays and CUT the fabric. Yes, cutting is part of it, you need armholes and neck openings even if you don’t cut off any fabric in the process.

What can you make. Well anything. Tops, jackets, dresses, pants, skirts, hats and even bags. Bias cut just makes everything drape and fit better and angles the fabric to make stripes diagonals rather than vertical or horizontal.

bias2Although it was a short two hour workshop I think we covered a very good start and what better way to spend a Saturday afternoon than thinking about clothing and weaving, designing cutting and sharing experiences together. Thank you to Dominique, Susie, Emily, Marilyn and Michelle.bias4bias1

Stitching things together

Sewing blocksSeems cathartic that I’m gravitating towards stitching and sewing at the moment.

I’ve been sorting through my collection of clothing blocks that I’ve drafted though the years.  To me they are like photos of my family. Blocks which capture the changing shape and size of bodies important to me.  There are blocks from size 000 all through my daughters’ childhoods -2- 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10,11,12 year olds. We are having a very challenging time at the moment in our family and I’m glad that I had these to remind me of the passage and value of time and the lovely humans I shared it with. Each block signifies an event in our lives where clothing was needed. There was Teresa’s year 6 farewell in silk taffeta to my own design and Michelle’s purple fluffy pants in year 10, which she had to have. These blocks mean more to me than photos. They’re unposed and real preparations for a labour of love which surely making clothes is. Even before my first daughter arrived in 1982 I had quilts, crochet rugs, jackets and many other things sewn up ready. Although this seems normal for most people expecting a child over the 9 months gestation, it was much harder for us in adoption which is basically a phone call today and baby daughter tomorrow. (this doesn’t include the many, many interviews, investigations etc etc)

Book example

In the spirit of stitching things together, this week I’ve taken some woven silk cloth and tried out the possibilities of this pattern from Fuku no Katachi ni Suru  It’s pattern 25 on page 72. I liked the neckline and flow of the garment and it’s pretty easy to stitch up. But as with all of the patterns in Saori inspired books much depends on the fabric you use and the fit you are comfortable with.

Well it ends up that I wasn’t so happy with the flow after all and it required substantial adjustment.

The neckline needed a bit of refinement to sit right although I probably didn’t cut it as low as the instruction. After finishing, I just folded it over and stitched a narrower look. I added a ‘princess’ line darting from shoulder to hip on the front, to contour the shape and also re-shaped the side seams. In re-cutting I bound the raw seams for a nice and secure look on the inside of the garment. The woven fabric is a beautiful 100% silk and it was amenable to such re-stitching. I’ve found that Saori woven cloth is far more un-ravelly than it looks. The uneven hemline is very nice and easy to cut. It also swings well with the style. But still I wasn’t 100% happy. So I thought about other solutions, then added ties for the back above the waistline and now I am very happy. This tie ‘hack’ is a good option is you want the flexibility of some extra shaping.

Flat pattern of topI read somewhere that “if you don’t know what to do, do what you know” Weaving and sewing is what I know and it doesn’t solve any problems in itself. But I can use it to restore a kind of faith that stitching and modifying might have a value in other life issues. I really don’t know but it’s the best I’ve got.

In working with the neckline in this pattern I found that tear away vilene is very helpful. As a total convert now, […loud voice] I believe it is a must when cutting out armholes and necklines in our Saori woven fabrics. It’s best to actually trace the neckline directly onto the vilene then sew around. This will prepare for cutting shapes out of the cloth and stabilise it. The vilene can then be torn away once the collar or cutting is underway. Keeps everything in order.

using tear away

I’ve placed the pattern on the tear away vilene. But you can directly trace the pattern onto it.

stitching tear away

Stitch on the stitching line so you can cut out the neckline safely and easily

completed saori top

This is the completed top with the mods. It’s a keeper.

Saori Snippit

Making clothes from your own woven cloth is the most amazing feeling. This week Dianne completed her first garment from a coloured pre-wound warp. The teal warp became infused with lavender purples, corals and greys to make a totally unique and beautifully draping top.

It took about 2 hours to cut into and stitch up but this snippit is the only ‘waste’ if you could call it that. It has become a pretty photographic Saori snippit. The garment is no 7 on page 25 of the Fuku no Katachi ni Suru book. In some areas we cut before securing which seems a bit risky but sometimes it is easier to do especially when all edges are going to be turned under as a hem.

Dianne still has another 2.5 metres left on the loom to weave off and this time the colours will be all teal as she is blending similar colours to the warp within the weave. One 6 metre pre-wound warp goes a long way weaving this way.


Couture Ablaze

This is the final destination of the journey for Summer Ablaze with Reds fabric and it’s overdye process.  A garment inspired by the new Saori clothing book, Fuku no Katachi ni Suri, p. 68. – available here.  I say inspired because there is a little work with modeling on the figure which helps develop a close relationship with how the design will fall and swing, and live on a real person. The fabric is 100% silk and the hand dyeing process all adds up to a very happy garment, I think. The reds are quite rich and reflect the overdyeing with Drimerene Morrocan Red! Read more

Simply So SAORI

With the arrival of the new Japanese Saori clothing book – Fuku no Katachi ni Suru – I quickly turned my first Saori influenced cloth, which had been hanging around waiting for its big moment,  into a lovely wearable.

I’ve hung this cloth up at workshops, not expecting anyone to see the twill pattern lines I wove here and there, thus on a 4 shaft loom rather than the 2 shaft. But EVERYONE notices. Although most of the cloth is plain weave the narrow little decorative reverse twill stripes add to the richness of the cloth. The piece was woven from 2/20 mercerised cotton and silk thrums that were knotted together to make a ball of yarn, which was then added as inlay. The original finished cloth measured 32cms x 1.65 metres before cutting. Read more

Zero Waste Pattern Cutting

I have to share my discovery of this great book. Although the title hints at the overused ‘S’ word, and ignites my cynicism about it containing more tips for us to buy and dump more things under the guise of saving the planet, I was pleasantly surprised.  This book offers real encouragement and hope in the world of fashion design providing practical ways to address waste, looking at the source of clothing, how we make and design them, how we use and wear our clothes and how to make them last and look after them. (Shaping Sustainable Fashion, eds. Alison Gwilt & Timo Rissanen)

Read more

Sew Saori

I’m now wearing my first Saori garment after my Saori Japan visit.
It’s a simple constructed ‘shrug’ style created from an approx. 260cm x 40 cm length which I stitched into a circle leaving one of the fringes on the outside, then stitched along one length leaving room for ‘armholes’. Read more

Colouring the underworld for babies

With so many babies being born in Australia’s baby boom I’ve taken to jazzing up singlets so the little ones feel connected to the textile world from the get go.

I used to buy the pale coloured singlets and do bullion roses on them. This looked great but the roses are a bit lumpy for their little chests. Also who wants insipid colours on a child when you can have your own shades of tie dye flocked with simple flower embroidery or applique. I was disappointed that some of the neck bands, from the same packet of singlets, didn’t dye with my cellulose fibre reactives as they must be polyester. Don’t you think the manufacturer would warn us of such horrors! Perhaps if weavers ran the world this would attract a major fine or even a jail sentence with the Textile and Weave Protection Board!

These photos are especially for Alex – the mum to be –  so she can see how to make them. I just concertina folded (or pleated) the singlet then wrapped string around them very tightly. In another lot I used clothes pegs to do the resist rather than string. You can see this effect in the two purple singlets above.