finished – sari silk kimono

so the most troublesome part of this kimono has been the sleeve. i have no use for traditional kimono sleeves, because they catch on kitchen drawers, etc. and the one i liked the best was a simple wrapped sleeve, taking the whole lower body and folding it up on a diagonal, then sewing the flap down to the sleeve front.

below you can see the sleeve as it starts out, traditional japanese style. it’s got a shelfy kind of pouch at the bottom, under the armhole, and i want to retain that as a pocket and maybe make a secondary pocket from the fold.


this is what it looks like inside out. the lower right edge has been gathered the traditional way, but now it just makes for more bulk under the arm, because it’s this edge that gets folded up.


there is another problem with the sleeve, and that is that i managed not to attach it fully to the body at the armhole.  i don’t believe traditional japanese kimono for women are attached, either, something about letting the undergarments show thru on purpose (because they’re gorgeous). but i wanted more garment security, and decided not to leave any gaping holes or flapping edges, and this is the other one of those.

what you’re looking at is the gusset below (the rectangular stitching – the middle rectangle is the actual seam, and the outer one is stitching the entirety of the gusset to the body), and the insides of the back and front pieces to each side of that. the purple stuff is the outside of the sleeve from the seam line to the edge of the fabric. and the surrounding fabric, crisscrossed with lines, is the inside of the sleeve.

it’s difficult to understand this visually. the sleeve, being turned inside out and flattened on the surface, has been sewn all the way along the bottom, with a 90-degree turn, and sewing to the point where it should have been stitched to the body.  the peak of the purple fabric is actually the bottom edge of the seam at the edge of the fabric.  i have put the tip of my finger in the hole where i neglected to sew the sleeve to the body, and i’m afraid the whole thing looks rather vulval, but hey.


here is where i attach the side sleeve seam – where my thumb is – to the body (the yellow silk). basically i’m just going to force a stitch attaching the two seams.


then, below that, i have used red thread to angle the side seam of the sleeve. that makes for a less severe angle, and so less bunching of fabric, less bulk.


and when i turn it right side out, there’s a nice angled edge.


now to get rid of the bulk.  i came along with pinking shears and trimmed to a comfortable 1/4″ from the sleeve, cutting off all that gathering, and the old side seam. then turn it right side out again and press.


then the only thing left to do is quilt the thin, old, ripe silk down to the lining of nice new strong raw silk, so that it won’t just completely come apart. because the silk is so old and ripe, i wanted to use as little quilting as possible, so i followed lines in the silk pattern and quilted gentle waves about 3″ apart. this may not be enough, but i’m going to leave it like that.


and this is why. for the second machine in a row, the bottom tension is all fucked up. i think it’s bobbin tension, but i have no idea how to fix it, and these are both cheap machines. for xmas i’m going to take my sister’s old machine to the repair shop and get it fixed, whatever’s wrong with it. then i’m going to put both the cheap machines (brothers, and electronic, both of which are bad in my estimation) into the attic.

the stitching is only approximate on the quilting, because of this problem. it’s enough to hold it together, but it’s lousy stitching, and good only for art pieces, which this was not meant to be.

so the instructions include advice to go over with a decent machine anything that looks horrible or insecure.

and when i held the kimono to the light, i could see many places where the silk was holey, or thin, and where mending will need to be done before too many wearings tears the fabric. which then can be mended, until the whole kimono is embroidered.


so, anyway, this is what it looks like finished. i ironed it all out, but then the cat had a nap on it, so it’s a little crumply, but i smoothed all that out before folding.


kimono get folded up into small packages in japan, so i did the same. sleeves folded into body folded over on itself, and wrapped with the obi.


then into a ziplock and into a mailer, and away.  i sent a bunch of instructions with it (cold water hand wash only, no dryer, mend mend mend), and the rest is up to the recipient.

i hope she enjoys it.


continued – sari silk kimono

okay, now that i am finished writing 50,000 words in one month for nanowrimo, i can get back to finishing xmas presents and working on all the things i have let go because it’s difficult to write 50,000 words in a month and do anything else.

so here’s the work i’ve accomplished on this project so far. i’ve been taking progress pictures all along, since september, when the last post was put up, and i’ll post them all and tell you a bit about what’s going to happen next.

as you know (hahaha), i’ve made a few kimono now, with varying degrees of success, and they are worn, or not, by their various recipients. but i still make more, because it’s a cool thing to do, and they get better every time. i’m working off this book – make your own japanese clothes – which is the bible of kimono making.

because i’m using old sari silk, which isn’t fit for clothes by itself because it’s old and ripe and wouldn’t take the strain, i’m doing this kimono differently, making the lining first out of good strong raw silk, and then quilting the silk down onto it. actually i cut out the pieces for a kimono, then cut out the same pieces in silk and stitched the silk down onto the pieces, and then assembled it (and quilted it, which is the next part, to do)


this is what i chose for the front of the kimono. it’s particularly worn and fragile, and the kind of silk that catches to anything sharp. perhaps i should have used a smoother silk, but i really liked this one. you see it laid out to be sewn, the fringe still not cut away.


and here’s the back piece. it doesn’t go all the way to the hem, but the hem is another matter, and i planned to just hem above this line. you can see on the right where i’ve already sewn the back and front down to the lining at the shoulder seam.


here i’m pinning the front lining to the silk. the silk hasn’t yet been cut in the middle, tho the lining has. it starts out as 1 piece of silk for the back and front, and you just cut out the opening and the neck. so i’ve done that, and now i’m piecing the silk to the cut. of course this is difficult, because the silk slips around, so i had to keep smoothing it as i pinned it.


this is the sleeve. i liked the patterns at the border of the silk so much that i decided to keep it, which meant either cutting the length and sewing it shorter, or gathering and sewing the middle.


so that’s what i did.  i worked from the edges, sewing the silk down with straight lines every couple of inches.


then when i got to the middle, i ruched the extra fabric, running peaks and troughs along the edges and into the middle until the top silk fit evenly onto the lining. you can see the pins holding it down before sewing.



i still haven’t sewn the ruching down yet, but i pinned up the sleeves beforehand, just to see how it worked. the top of the picture shows the (wrong side of the) sleeve folded over into the middle of the kimono body, and the bottom of the picture shows the top of the sleeve.

for some reason i don’t remember at this point, i started the silk a half inch inside the lining. oh yeah, i remember now. it was so that i could use as much of the pattern of the silk as possible, knowing the last half inch of fabric would be inside the seam (japanese clothes use an inch of seam allowance, not the 3/8″ used in modern pattern sewing.


this picture actually skips a bunch of steps when i guess i didn’t have the camera handy (i’m also making paper in the studio downstairs, and documenting that (see future post)).

i made the sleeve. this involves not just joining the sleeve to the body, which is a straight line all the way from edge to edge, and not just matching up the ends and sewing around to the sleeve opening, but also a lot of fancy stitching, because you may notice a rounded corner on the outside bottom edge, and that means gathering on the wrong side of the fabric, and ironing down the gathers to reduce the bulk. the bottom edge doesn’t actually attach to the body, either, but turns in on itself and provides a pocketlike area inside the sleeve where you can stash things. it’s either that or find a place to sew a pocket, which i’ve done before, clumsily, on the inside of the chest panel. i’m leaving that until the next post.


there are gussets on the side of the body, so i used the same fabric as the sleeves (and the belt) and cut them out and sewed the silk onto them.


there’s no other reason for this picture except to show you the intricacy of the border of this fabric, which explains why i went to such lengths to keep them in the sleeves.


i liked it so much that i made the belt out of it, too. i must shoot a closeup of the finished belt. i quilted the elephants.


a word about ironing. in my daily life i wouldn’t touch an iron to anything i wear. i just don’t give a damn about being neat and pressed. my ex mother in law would iron the sheets and even the underwear, i just can’t go that far. but when you’re sewing, it’s essential to iron all the seam flat, and to iron every piece of fabric before sewing so that there are no surprises, no bunching, no sewing creases into the fabric, nothing like that. so i have an ironing board and two irons, and this is the only time i get them out. just in case you thought i might be a neat freak or something.


this is the gusset pinned on. unlike modern sewing, i’m not going to be sewing right sides together, but i’m sewing one layer on top of another.


this is the gusset sewn in. it is sewn in a triangular shape. most gussets are cut as triangles, but in this case, the japanese method is to work with rectangular fabric, so they sew the triangle instead. it makes the bottom of the kimono flare a little.


see, all nice and pressed. now it’s time for the hem – before attaching the collar. now i’m going to make up for all those lengths of silk on the body that don’t go all the way to the edge of the lining. the gussets are also short. the book says to make a fold of 3″ and then another of 5″ and then blindstitch. i don’t do it that way. the first fold is about an inch, maybe 1.5″.


the second fold is about an inch above where the gusset ends. and then, i’ll correct myself if i’m wrong, i folded it again to cover all those edges. else that or i sewed them all down. i’ll have to check.


and this is the whole thing, hemmed. you can see pin heads where i stuck the whole thing down to the board so that i could make sure of the hemline. the collar is being pinned at the top of the picture.


this is the collar. first there’s the lining, which doesn’t come as long as the body because of the complex hemming. you’re looking at the bottom edge of the kimono. and yes i can see where i folded the hem over again and sewed it down, because we’re looking at the wrong side of the fabric, and there’s the finished hem.


this is the neckline. the transition from gold to red fabric is the shoulder seam, and the triangle bits are the circular neckline cut into pie slices. the pins run along the sewing edge of the fabric, which is just above the sliced bits (except that i didn’t exactly follow this line, and ended up with a bit of slashed silk outside the collar. but since i’m quilting the whole thing, i figure i’ll just mend it then.


and now here’s jim modeling the kimono front and back. please excuse the mess. that’ll be tumbles and tripod on the bed, and sebastian on the floor. jim’s been sick, but he’s better now.


what’s still left to do is to figure out how to mess with that sleeve. the actual sleeve turned out way too long, so i had to fold and hem the sleeve opening rather more than was called for in the directions. and i don’t like how the sleeve hangs down and catches on things around the house, so i decided to fold it, one of the options they give you in the book.  but of course i can’t do things the way normal people do them, so i’m figuring out how to incorporate pockets. i’m planning on making the bottom of the sleeve the pocket, because it hangs down a couple of inches below the body/sleeve opening. but it might also be possible to make a pocket going diagonally down under the wrist opening. we’ll see. first thing is to turn the sleeves inside out and trim away as much bulk as possible, because i can feel it under my arms when i try it on.

i don’t think i want to have belt loops, but i could, depending on what the intended recipient thinks when she reads this.

and then i have to quilt it all over. i’ll be using red thread as a way of unifying the whole thing. and then i can send it off, probably not in time for xmas, but hey it’s the thought that counts, right?

revived project – kimono of used sari silk

the thread is buried in the used sari category, if you want to see photos of different saris in my collection, soon to be dipped into to make a patchwork of old saris on top of a raw silk kimono.

i’ve made several kimono now, and am still learning. i got the book and study it every time i go to make something, and i still don’t do it the right way. it must be me.

i got to a stage with this project where i had cut out the raw silk pieces of the quilt. i found a ziplock with these pieces in it, along with several quilts that we had kind of sort of decided on when i put the project aside.  funny, in the last post on this project, we had singled out two or three other saris to use, but they had been put back into the collection, and i’m not sure why.  (possibly i’m not ready to cut into them)

these are old saris.  most of them are not supposed to be worn anymore, but used for silk threads and rags.  uppurposing, or something.  but i want to use them as fabric in a kimono.  and i’ve made a kimono with only lightweight silk, and no lining, and it’s not only difficult but it’s hard to not completely screw up on it.  so i’m not exactly going to make a kimono out of the silk, i’m going to quilt it onto the basic kimono pieces of raw silk, and then assemble the pieces.


the silk is ripe.  a couple of times thru the wash and there’s be nothing but threads and rags in the machine.  and the kimono is designed to be washable, or at least handwashable, and is therefore designed to fall to pieces.

rags hanging off you is in style these days.  my daughter is wearing pre-patched jeans now.  a couple of years ago it was destroyed jeans, nothing but holes.  now they do a half-assed job of patching so they’ll deteriorate in teh wash cycle.  it’s all good.

anyway, i am going to have to quilt each piece onto the raw silk piece, and then once i’ve assembled the kimono i will quilt all over.  it could get tedious, with a million tiny stitches crowding up on each other.  but if i made the stitches too loose and widely spaced, then great chunks of silk will wash away.  it’s going to be a hit or miss thing, and i expect i will miss it in the end, altho it’ll look good for awhile.  that kimono i made out of breezy silk, i don’t think the recipient ever wore it.  i never heard from her again about it.  it must be me.

right now my sister is basking at the beach and doesn’t have time to think about this project, which was started at least a year ago.  but when she comes back down to earth perhaps she can have a look at the other posts and help me settle on what i’m doing.

there is the back

two sides of the front. the kimono goes to the knees

there’s the collar

there are two sleeves

there are two gores from the bottom of the sleeves to the hem at the knees

so that’s 5 pieces.  i had originally wanted to get fancy, but i don’t this time. the saris that were included with the cut pieces in teh bag were these::


kimono12  the problem with this one is it’s stiff, unlike the others.

and i forget another one, and that brown one below.


these were mentioned in prior posts, and of them the one on the left and the yellow one in the middle were in the bag. i think the purple one…


the one on the right below is the one on the left above, and the one on the left below is the second one from the left below.  confused yet?


anyway, look thru the pictures in the used sari link.

continuing with the silk scarf thing

i’ve been to a lot of blogs that start out well and then just trail off, because the writer got tired, or the essay was of the moment and they lost the trail, or they moved off to youtube to cruise for a couple hours after the dose kicked in.

i’m afraid some of my fabric posts are like that.  and that’s a shame because i’m trying to show how to do stuff, and if i don’t ever finish documenting it, then there’s some poor schmuck in the middle of trying to make whatever unique thing i’m trying to redesign my way, and what’re they going to do – improvise? – when i never come back to explain how i made it look that strange way that the photos don’t really show.

right now i’m thinking about the double-apron artist’s smock that i never posted another thing about after my computer crashed and i lost all the process photos.  thanks for helping, ex husband.  not.  stupid comment about never meeting your obligations mutter mutter.

i had this great idea for a smock.  i looked and looked for artist’s smocks that looked okay.  most looked like the xxxx shirts kids wear these days.  then there was gustav klimt’s smock.

but i didn’t want to be walking around in a sack.  i don’t look good in sacks.  to tell the truth, i only look good naked, and only if you like renaissance painting.

so i took a regular old restaurant apron, which i actually kind of like wearing, made it so there was one apron on my front, and one on my back, added sleeves, and i was off.

and then it sat there half finished for over a year.

so i still have to detail that.

but i can go forward with the scarves i’ve been making for gifts and to wear underneath my sweater to keep my neck warm.

i had four patterns that jim drew for me.  two were little wee fairies frolicking in the flowers.  you’d say too cute, except jim’s cute turns out very sinister and twisted.  the other two were puffins, who inhabit the islands where i’m going to be.

i started off with the puffins.  it had been about a year, maybe more, since i’d done any scarves, and boy what a learning curve there is.  it’s mainly simple, painting on silk, but things can go wrong, and you’ve got to prepare for it.

i forgot.  things like how easily the silk takes up the dye and why don”t i use a drop of alcohol in the damned mix instead of either not having enough dye or flooding the whole scarf with it.  things like the use of sugar syrup for interesting effects that can sometimes look lousy.

anyway, i hated the first two scarves.  they looked horrible right up to the end, when i was splashing dye on and violating all the lines.  somehow this helps my work to look better, to overpaint and then pretend it was my intention all along.

i really screwed up the first fairy scarf.  putting sugar syrup all over the fairies’ wings and clothes was a good idea, but the dye i painted over the sugar syrup was too strong.  plus, it was humid and i waited too long for the syrup to dr, which it won’t when it’s humid.  it just sort of melts and runs, and then it’s as if you used no-flow.

this is why i stopped posting the progress.  because to me it didn’t feel like progress.  it felt like a mistake.  the kind you hide in the corner.  but i only had the one scarf of the puffins, over colored, and i wasn’t happy with that.  the first fairy scarf was ruined, so i had to proceed.  so i whipped out jim’s template and inked it in using homemade water-based resist (alginate print paste), and started in on it using the lessons i’d just absorbed fucking up the first two scarves.

everything went in pastel at first.  a basic light green, a dilute magenta, yellow, a dirty orange.  then i developed the colors a bit, adding a tip of yellow to a magenta flower, etc.  then i deepened the greens with blue.  notice i avoided painting any fairies until i was happy enough with the half-way stage of the flowers.

the fairies got an underpainting of dirty yellow where their bodies are, leaving the drapery floating out away from them untouched – the white of the scarf.  then i went over their skin with dirty orange, and made sure to smear resist all over their faces so that later i could apply eyes and mouths with a fine brush, like makeup on a tiny doll.

i put sugar syrup over their clothes and wings, tho not their hair like i did last time.  i didn’t bother letting the syrup dry, which takes hours, because it’s been damp lately and i knew from recent experience that it would only get worse the longer i left it on there.  so i came in over the sticky wet syrup with a brush full of medium dark purple, and put it on the wings, with magenta on the clothes.  and then before it had a chance to do much, i flooded the whole area with water, so that the dye would hitchhike on the back of the syrup as it flowed and made cool patterns.  neat trick, and just the thing to make the fairies seem ethereal.

but it didn’t work with the flowers, which were pale and pastel.  i hated it, and put it over a door to dry out, moving on to the second puffin template.

this one went pretty smooth, because i didn’t take so many hesitant starts.  i just went ahead and put in a medium blue on the water, and diluted black in the clouds, coming in much earlier with the rich tones, being a lot more heavy handed with the blacks.  i like this result better.

so then i went  back to the fairy painting, and went ahead and got bold on the plants, putting in black for shadows and strength.  normally you wouldn’t use black, silk is one of the few mediums where black is necessary to get any kind of dark at all.  it’s more like light than pigment.  it’s like printing when you use the four colors and everything in the range is represented with those four colors, white being the paper, the substrate.  that’s why i have so much trouble using white paint, because i expect the substrate to supply the lightest values, and in silk painting, the white silk blank does just that.

so i got bold, deliberately going outside the resist lines, flooding the area around the plants with clear water every time so that the overs would fan out and spread.  and slowly the whole thing got richer without looking like a disney poster.

and the whole thing looks much better.  and even if the intended recipient thinks my scarves are touristy as hell, she might like the colors, and she might deign to take one from me as thanks for all she’s done.  or else i’ll just wear them myself to ward off the cold.

baby quilt – the corners

i’m sort of almost finished with my baby quilt.  at this point i’m starting to reflect on the mistakes i made.  number one is too much bulk.  the damned thing must weigh 20 pounds.  no human baby could use this for a real blanket, it’s going to have to be a play blanket.  or hang on the wall, which means i need to put a sleeve on the back.

you can see below where i’ve been sewing down the baby clothes onto the sandwiched quilt.  in effect, i’m quilting the top by stitching clothes onto it.  but this leaves big gaps where there is no quilting.  and this is important, because when you plan to wash something 50 times, you’re going to have any loose batting bunching up inside your quilt.  not that anybody’s going to be able to tell.  it’s already so lumpy that it’s not funny.

in order to reduce the size of the quilted area, say to something around 3″ between quilting lines, i’ve got to go in and do stealth sewing, so that the top layer of the clothes still comes off the surface and can be played with by little hands.

the yellow pin, above, shows where i’ve got to go in and stealth quilt.  the area is the white onesie underneath the oshkosh b’gosh overalls.  i’m going to put something here, like a heart, but i’ll have to change presser feet first to a quilting foot, so that i can do it free motion.  the big advantage there is that i don’t end up having to turn the fabric around the needle, but can just move the needle in any direction.  i don’t figure it’s a good idea to do this when i’m using zigzag stitch because of the stretch fabrics, but i’m not that expert a sewer, and don’t really know.

one thing you don’t want to do is expect good stitching from me.  it’s all over the place, and i don’t really care, because i’m not sure why.  as long as it  holds together, i don’t mind clumsy stitching, careless sewing.  the more amateur the better, like naive art, especially since it’s the best i can do, anyway.  it’d be different if i could sew and did it this way on purpose so i could look folk.  but i really don’t sew that well, and so i’m a genuinely bad sewer.  another reason i don’t want to be paid for doing these sewing projects i do, because i’d have to have a much higher standard of workmanship than i’m willing to put into it.  and i’m not willing to tear out stitches to please someone else.  it was hard enough doing a quilt for my sister.  now i just do them and present them, and don’t involve the recipient in the design process.  and if i were to be paid for it, i still wouldn’t involve them.  you get what i make.  i don’t have time to do it your way.

here are the quilting lines i went back and put into the bubble suit.  i had to be careful to stitch down the back of the piece of clothing so that the top would still be able to be opened.

once i had done this to all of the large areas, it was time to take care of the corners.  i had left the corners to the end, not sure what to do with them, but had a few weeks ago decided i wanted to put in corners made of heavy denim, and to let them ravel in the wash by top stitching them on rather than right sides together and hidden seams.  i had to measure each corner because the quilt didn’t match at any corner.  i cut out two pieces of heavy denim from some huge vest i got at the thrift store and have been keeping in stash since.  then i carefully pinned them to the quilt, carefully because as usual i cut the smallest possible corner and had to really fit the border ends inside it.  i’m dumb that way, too, as well as the stitching problem.

unfortunately i didn’t get a picture of the corners once i’d sewn them in, but i can tell you that i went around all four sides with a straight stitch, and then a zigzag stitch inside (or in one case outside) the straight stitching.  it looks mildly interesting.  this is the place where you can really notice the stitching, because mainly it’s invisible on the quilt top and going thru all those clothes.

this is what it’s looking like with corners.  as you can see if you’ve got really good eyes, i’ve got all the zippers down and all the bib fronts unhooked, in the middle of sewing down the bits and pieces.  there’s still a little more to do to the middle, little touches here and there, reinforcing seams i know will get ripped at, things like that.  but mainly, it’s done.

except that it’s not.  i made the mistake of using stretch material for the borders.  i should have used heavy material that didn’t stretch, but i used jersey, stretch jersey, light denim, and heavy knit pants.  all different weights, all different stretchiness, all not working together very well as an edge.  you can see it won’t lay straight at all.

so i need an outer border.  another one.  something to tie everything together, something to add stability to the shitty border i put on because i didn’t know what i was doing (which you can say for this entire project).

i think i’ll use denim.  i took out everything in my denim stash drawer and put it on the work table in our bedroom.  i can get by with a one inch border, but even so i’m already working larger than 45×60, and that’s 210 union inches.  that’s over 17 feet.  so i’d better be able to get by with a one inch (that means two inches and a half).  i’m not sure i have that much denim, and i know i’m not going to be able to use a uniform weight.

so i’m going to end up with different weights of denim in the border.  and this is pretty much the problem i had with the knits as border material – different weights.  at least it’s not a stretch fabric, and i’ll be damned sure none of the denim is any kind of elasticated.  i need a substantial frame.  perhaps i should reinforce the denim with a liner fabric that won’t show but will stiffen the border.

anyway, that all waits for tomorrow.  in the meantime, i’m trying to figure out if i can fit the thing in a large priority mail box so i can ship it for a flat rate.  it’s very heavy, and very bulky, but if i put it in plastic and removed all the air…?

baby quilt – the end of applique

okay, this is a lot of photos for a little bit of progress.  this marks the finishing up of all this applique quilting of clothing onto the top of the sandwiched, three-layer quilt.  instead of showing the monotonous slug progress of sewing on item after item, i decided to document the last several bits of clothing so you can see how i did it.

the oshkosh b’gosh overalls i got from my mom that might have been my little brother’s.  the onesie has been cut off halfway to reduce bulk (you wouldn’t believe how heavy this thing is now), and i’ve pinned it in.  when you do layered clothing like this, you need to plan carefully.  i cut away the back of the overalls to save on bulk, and saved only the shoulder straps.  i’ve sewn them onto the quilt halfway up their length, leaving the ends free so i can fasten the whole thing when it’s done.

you can see the bit of the back side of the pants on the lower right.  i cut a bit of the back side out so i would have more of a turn in the pants when i sewed them in, so i had to cut the back some of the way up, and now i’ve pinned the edge of the onesie right along the edge of the cut back, so it looks like it wraps around.  i’m going to have to go right into the inside of the coveralls in order to stitch down the sides of the onesie.  i’ll be stitching thru the onesie and the denim on the inside, and then will go at it from the foot and sew the rest of the pants seam down (below).

this is the quilt all rolled to fit neatly in the hole in the sewing machine.  my machine is particularly compact, so it’s a real bitch getting the thing in the space so i can sew.  that’s when i start dreaming about a quilting machine, about as long as it takes to look up the going price.  i’m going to go down the right side of the onesie/jeans, tugging on the back of the fabric, wedging the roll thru the throat of the machine, plumping the fabric in front of the needle so it doesn’t drag.  it’s going to be a real struggle, a physical struggle, partly because the machine is so lightweight and isn’t anchored to anything.  it’s just sitting on a board on top of my old cabinet sewing machine.

this shows the other end of the overalls and onesie we’ve been looking at above.  you can see on the lower right how i’m continuing the seam on the inside of the pants.  you can see the bottom end of the onesie under the folded-up leg in the middle – it’s crooked where i cut it but i don’t really care.  you can see where i’ve pinned in the snaps that will hold the legs in place.

see, i’m making the whole thing, at this point, as a play blanket.  it’s designed for older babies and toddlers to mess with.  they can unsnap and unzip everything, they can stick their little hands and feet into the hands and feet opening, and i was even considering leaving some clothes that an enterprising toddler might be able to zip him- or herself into.

moving on to the only girl item of clothing.  i debated about this.  but i didn’t have any girl things.  and the first dress i tried, a nice pink seersucker dress, didn’t work out when i cut it in half to save bulk.  so i went back to the thrift store and got this nice ruched thing with pants.  a very basic dress, really, but i had no trouble fitting it into the space i had for something there.

i sewed down the top edges of the dress, around the arms and shoulders, and came down the sides of the skirt, and then lifted the skirt and sewed the back of the skirt down.  since i wanted a lot of movement in my clothes, i made a few pleats, tugging the skirt down on the right side.  i just sewed the edge down as a precaution, even tho it would have been enough to sew the pants down on top of it.  with the pants, i did what i’ve been doing with most openings, and sewing down the bottom edge of the legs and the waist, leaving the top edge loose.

the last thing i had to do was the pair of kids standing on each other’s shoulders.  it’s the middle of the quilt, and it’s the only two pieces of clothing going the same way (every one is upside down to the next one).  so i figured i’d do something fun with it, and made them start to lose their balance.  i raised the right knee and tilted him over to the right.  this meant having to tuck the fabric at the knee and hip, and you can see the yellow-headed pins holding these areas down.  the trouble with these union suits is that the zipper runs from neck to foot and is plastic, and so won’t stay down.  it naturally buckles unless it’s under tension.  so it’s always going to look lumpy.  in the photo above, you’ll notice that i’m  not going to sew down the arms and shoulders yet, until i’ve figured out the guy balancing on top of him.

here you can see what i’m doing with the guy on top.  he’s even moreso lost his balance, and is reaching for the hand of the little girl in the pink dress, and over the shoulder of the guy to his right.  at this point i’ve just pinned everything down, i think, including the arms and hands of the guy holding him up.

this was tricky.  i’ve got to sew down the guy on the left first, except where he overlaps the guy on the right.  then i’ve got to come in and sew down the guy on the right, including where he overlaps the guy on the left.  and then i have to come back in and sew down the wrist of the guy on the left.  all this on top of a three-layer quilt plus whatever other appliqued clothing lays beneath it.

this looks like i have loads of room, but the throat of the machine, off camera to the right, is jammed with rolled-up quilt.  here i’m sewing down the arm of the guy on the left, and i’m going to come all the way down the right side and underneath the overlapping foot, which i’ll come back to finish sewing down once i’ve finished the layer underneath.  at some points i figure i’m sewing thru nine different layers, and sometimes that’d be nine different layers of seamed edges.  that’s very thick for a little ballpoint needle and a machine that cost around a hundred bucks.

i’ve re-rolled the quilt so i can sew the left side of the two kids.  i’ve got to put the left arm down over his side and over the pink sleeve, and then i’ve got to come down to the overlapping wrist of the guy on the bottom, and sew down the right side of his sleeve until i get to the foot of the guy standing on his shoulders.  does this all make sense?

but finally i’m done with that part.  i even got around to clipping all the loose threads on both sides and sewing down any edges i missed the first time around.

it’s hard to see the details at this distance, but i’ve got – starting from the top middle – a boy in brown standing on his brother’s shoulders, then a girl in a yellow striped top and jean shorts, turned upside down from the boy in the brown jumpsuit.  then there’s a baby bubble suit in white with green trim facing opposite to the kid in the jeans, and it’s heading to the right in the middle of the right side.  beneath that is a kid, facing the opposite way to the bubble shit.  this kid has dinosaur overalls.  next comes the brother holding up the kid on his shoulders, in the bottom middle of the quilt.  and next to him, and opposite, is a kid in green pants and a pink flowered top.  next to her is a kid in a onesie and overalls, in the middle of the left side of the quilt.  and finally there’s the little girl in her flouncy pink dress.  every kid depends and upsets the balance of the next kid, all the way around the circle.

of course, it’s hard to see the details at this distance.

what’s next?  well, turning the quilt over shows that there are areas which have not been quilted yet, and this will make a difference after 50 times thru the wash.  i need to devise corners for the thing after that, and then wash it 50 times.  stay tuned, i’m not finished yet.  but at least all the hard work is done.

baby quilt – now we’re talking

i love it when things drop into place.  with the discovery of a pair of overalls of my little brother’s (the one who’s pregnant now), the design for the applique top is suddenly obvious.

you can see the pants in the middle right.  suddenly i had a bunch of clothes to arrange on top, so i made it six on top.  now i was working with a star of david instead of a pentagram, and that’s okay because 6-pointed  stars are equal, whereas there’s always a head of a 5-pointed star.  so i put the dark clothes in a triangle, all facing outward, and then i took the lighter three sets of clothes in a triangle facing inward.  this left that same hole in the middle, so i adjusted everything outward, toward the border.  in some cases i’m making the clothes go right up to the border.  this left a gaping middle, so i fetched the sleepers i was going to use on the back, and laid them out facing the same way.  obviously one’s standing on the other’s shoulders, so i adjusted the arms to show the support.

i was careful to avoid putting clothes down on top of the cool features of the underlying work – like the fronts that unsnap and unzip.  and in doing this i had to get a little off center.  so first i  made the guy standing on his brother’s shoulders just a little off balance.  and i had him lean on the kid next to him, who then went off balance and had to lean on the next kid.  so i went around the circle, bending and reaching all the little arms and legs until i had everyone relying on and unbalanced by everyone else.  nice and dynamic.  with no up and no down, really.

now i think the background will function as a background instead of a distraction, and the border will be less nastily varied because it’s going to be much interrupted.

i’m liking it again.  now i just have to figure out how to get all these pieces cut up and sewn on.  that’s going to take weeks.  good thing we’re only halfway thru being pregnant.  good thing i’m not doing more than one.