Sunday, May 23, 2010

Summer To-Do:

New things to try out:
rosemary lemon rhubarb spritzer

make champagne rhubarb jelly

make and can pear chutney (Donna Hay Entertaining)
make and can watermelon pickles
forage rosehips in the city, make and can rosehip jam or rosehip marmalade

leather link necklace like this one from handle and spout
finish doo.ri-inspired beaded tights

silk-over-wood necklace

maybe smock another necklace?

To Sew:

Colette Patterns' Ceylon dress in purple lambswool flannel
Colette Patterns' Sencha blouse in either floral-print swiss dot OR my striped silk broadcloth
Vintage Vogue dress in red merino wool jersey
Very Easy Vogue T-shirt with drapey hem in either microfiber jersey or (tank version) silk charmeuse
Make peacock-motif wax-print fabric into a blouse!
Vogue skirt, adapted into maxi skirt - sewn from???
soft blocks for Tristan

To Read:
Orlando or The Waves, Woolf (because summer begins with Woolf)
In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower, Proust (because I loved Swann's Way)
Mont Saint Michel and Chartres, Henry Adams (Herb's recommendation for the Europe trip)
a collection of writings by William Morris that I bought (because I loved News from Nowhere)

To Write:
get Thorne and golem papers ready for publication?

To paint:
finish Lance
paint Liz

start building backyard woodland garden.
Install small raised beds for vegetables (and strawberry plants) along fence?
(plant beans along fence for short term/this summer).

plant wishlist: honeysuckle; peonies; big classic red poppies; lupine (blue or pink? blue or pink?) a bunch of ferns, giant hostas, and some more red huckleberries for the deep shade; more acanthus mollis and some foxglove; perhaps some raspberry canes? Maybe some columbine? English daisies? (I have a strong craving for an old fashioned flower garden at this place, can you tell?)

Saturday, May 1, 2010

at last!

this has got to be one of the most involved dress "remodels" I've ever done. I didn't change much structurally, but the superficial work took me months to finish.

here's the original dress: a Maggy London shirtdress, 100% linen, made in Italy, looks to be 1980s vintage. I swapped for this online. It was too big AND too short, but I liked the basic structure of the dress, so I decided to commit to a big makeover.

First, I took in the sides. Then I let out the hem on the bottom. Still too short; I'd have to lengthen it. Then I bleached the dress, hoping to get a pale pink. I wound up with bright bubblegum - not exactly good. So now, I'd need to dye it.

I had always wanted to try shibori, so I did. I shibori stitched it, and dyed it in a rust-coloured-dye that I'd hand mixed. I wasn't terribly careful about mixing the dye powders evenly, nor about turning it quite as often as I probably ought to. However, I like the result, particularly the little speckles of red and navy that punctuate the overall rust colour. I also tossed a wide strip of baby pink linen from my stash into the dye, wadding it up so it would have a kind of uneven, tye-dye wash of colour over it when finished. I added this strip to the bottom of the dress to lengthen it.

However, now that I'd basically tye-dyed this dress, it reminded me a bit too much of my hippie hometown and I needed something a bit crisper.

Inspired by an artist that Kayte featured on her blog, love forever, I decided to take on large masses of random embroidered running stitches. It was late summer by the time I got to this part, and I was thinking about rainstorms in the red rock country in Utah, where my partner and I have gone mountain biking a few times. I chose the grey and blues based on this idea of clouds building out over the fantastic rock formations at Arches National Park. The back is roughly freehand and a bit imperfect, but the narrower bands which run down the front of the dress and wrap around the back (so that the whole dress is basically encompassed in a continuous band of embroidery, at hem and neck in the back) were measured out strictly with a ruler.

And I've been stitching, off and on, since September. Voila! Done - finally! - and totally worth the effort. I am going to sport this with my wide cognac leather belt all spring!

hardware store tablecloths

this wedding table is coming together! We still need a few more big plates (I'd say less than 6 left to buy), and a few more napkins and the silver. And then we're ready! I might start picking up pewter vessels for flowers next.

Some of the recent thrifting finds: china from Goodwill, and napkins from Goodwill and Value Village. The mustard-colour one in front was a real success story: these were bright yellow when we bought them. We tried bleaching them, which only seemed to make them brighter. A day in a tea-dye-bath and they are a pleasantly muted mustard colour now. I love the pickstitch detail. These may be a linen blend. The soft-rose napkin (also went through a tea-dye bath) is linen, edged with hand-tatted lace made by Quakers (I love it when you find new things, tags still on, at Goodwill); the white one on the left is linen with pickstitching, and the top right, which you can barely see, is cotton with some nice fancy open/cutwork edged in beige. We found the blue plate (two of 'em) with the beaded edge a few weeks ago and I liked the idea of including "something blue" on the table.

And for tablecloths? We're using old coffee sacks. Sure, they have a bit of a strong, ripe/green coffee smell to them, but we've decided we're okay with that. And the nicest thing? Not only were they available to us locally (because, let's be honest, if you have to ship recycled materials to reuse, it does kind of defeat the point - a little!), they are basically waste materials from Seattle's thriving coffee industry. Which is to say nothing of the fact that, after we use them, we can lay them down to kill weeds or kill grass if we want to build a raised bed over them. They are biodegradable, recycled landscape fabric - and I hear they work really well, too! If you'd like to pick up some of these sacks, they are an affordable $5.50 for a half dozen (try searching for coffee sacks on ebay - you'll be charged a lot more!). Upcycle Northwest is the company creating gardening materials (including a coffee-bean gravel for your garden paths!) out of Seattle's coffee industry wastes, and these bags are available at Stoneway Hardware just south of Green Lake. The guys laughed at the hardware store laughed when we told them what these were for, but general consensus seemed to be "cool idea!"

And just had to share this. I found this silver-plated tray, badly tarnished, at Goodwill, and paid $3. A few minutes of polishing and wow, what a beauty. Totally worth the risk that it would turn out to be aluminum (I was pretty sure that aluminum wouldn't tarnish as badly as this poor tray). I found the brass candlesticks at a yard sale in high school; I think I may have paid a quarter for each, at most. The sugar bowl is from the set my parents gave me, the table runner (which I love, it makes it feel so Scandinavian in here!) cost me 99 cents at Value Village the other day, and the cut-glass fruit bowl is something I picked up for 50 cents at another yard sale when I was in high school. These beeswax tapers are made by local beeswax candle company Big Dipper Waxworks. I've become quite enamoured with these lately; I get about 15 hours out of each taper and they are completely dripless (which is to say nothing of how wonderful they smell, even when they're not burning!). Looks like they have some great deals on these candles if you buy from their website - worth checking out if you want to add a little romance to your dinner table!