An open invitation to daydream.

PicMonkey CollageI have been mesmerized by the beauty of Kantha quilts for quite a while now. Aren’t they just breathtaking, in their simplicity? I also love the reflective slowness of hand stitching. It gives you time. It gives you enough repetitiveness, to let your thoughts wander. It is the perfect task to accomplish, while daydreaming. Daydreaming is so conducive to creativity! We all should do it more! I am inviting you, to daydream with me!

I spent hours on Pintrest, losing myself in the images of traditional Kantha quilts. These quilts are traditionally made by layering old, worn Saris together and stitching through all layers in running stitch, so make the fabric more durable.This way the old clothing will get re-used as a blanket and will get just a bit more use out of it. Blankets like this are still handmade in rural India. The result can be as thick as you like, or a light summer blanket.

Finally, I decided, it is time, I made a “Kantha-quilt-inspired” blanket for myself. I am opting for a light summer cover for myself. Just a little “cuddle blanket”, for on the couch, or out on the terrace. For those not quite so burning-up-hot Pacific Northwest summer evenings ;)

I started by diving through my fabric stash and my closet (which I re-organized at the same time. How convenient!).

I emerged with an old Sari (light blue and gold, yes, I own saris) and a few sarongs (the other two pieces of fabric, also in blue tones). PERFECT!

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Saris are amazing. HUUUGE pieces of fabric. I am going to cut mine in half and will have enough material to make two blankets out of it. I will pair each sari half with one of my sarongs. The first one has a very pretty floral pattern on it and I think I will use the print to guide my stitching. The second one is more of a motive sarong. It has lettering and a tree looking print. I am not sure yet, if I just do running stitches, or maybe also incorporate the print into the stitching design. I guess this one will be my second blanket. This will give me some more time to make up my mind. I will take pictures along the way for you. <3

I would be thrilled, if you decided to work along with me on this. This project has no deadline. I plan for this to be  great, mindless, in-between stitching. Off and on.
Starting date for me is not until March 15th, this gives you time to grab some fabric, in case you decide to work along. Sarongs come up quite frequently in thrift stores, but a nice duvet cover will work just as well, or, if you rather go with new fabrics, by all means, buy some yardage. Make this blanket a mug rug, lap robe, or a California King cover. It is completely up to you! Mine will be as big as my sarongs are.

Kantha quilting is fairly simple, as it consist mainly of running stitches (also called straight stitch. Here is a link to a stitch glossary). How awesome is that? Anybody can do a running stitch! Lets have some fun with this!!!

Pictures in the collage were found on pintrest, but here are links to the specific places on the web.

Calling all my fibre friends!

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I am getting ready to start working seriously on my studio and on the first few pieces I will work on IN the new studio. So I was wondering, if there is interest in a community art piece?

What I was looking for:
The pieces should not be bigger than a credit card (3 inches by 5 inches. They can be smaller, but no bigger!), they have to be backed with lining. Any kind of thin lining (see mine in the picture), and can be whatever strikes you fancy and whatever technique you prefer. Knit, crochet, weave, felt, needle lace.. Anything. The pieces will have to have a blanket stitch around the edge, as you see in the picture, that way I can attach them to each other. You can make one, or eight. It all depends on how you feel and how inspired you are. Also: Please do attach a little tag to your piece with your name on it (and maybe an online  link, if you like and have one).
As to the materials used: I would like to keep them natural materials and recycled, if possible (cotton, linen, wool, blends, silk, etc). My little square there, used to be the pocket in wool pants, for example and the embroidery was made with a tiny leftover bit of sock yarn. You don’t have to make the whole thing out of recycled material, if you have a leftover scrap of fabric from a previous project, feel free to use it. I just wanted to see how creative we can get without spending a ton while keeping things out of our landfills. Make art, not trash! ;)

I would like this very first studio piece to be a community piece, because this is what my studio is all about. Growing community, working together on preserving the wonderful fibre arts, passing along what we know, celebrating each others talents and inspiring each other.

What will happen to the piece, once it is done:
Once the piece is done, it will be displayed in my studio for a while. For everybody to see it and marvel at our fibre community’s diversity and be inspired. After that, I was thinking of auctioning it off. I would like the proceeds to go to a charity. (I was thinking of picking three, or so and then hosting a vote on my blog, or on FB as to which one we give the money to.)

That reminds me: Our new FB page is up! If you feel like it, go clicklike! :)

How much time will you have to complete a little patch?

Really as long as you need. This will be a long term project. If you could get your patch done this year (2015) that would be awesome, but if you need a little longer, that’s probably fine too. I have no end date set for this, and I have no specific size I want it to be. So what ever comes in whenever that is, it will be fine. I think I will set a soft deadline for this at mid next year (I think a year and a half for a credit card sized swatch is enough time), but will re-evaluate the time frame when I see how big it is by then. :)

The pieces would have to be sent to me, if you are interested, please comment here and then email me.

Thanks for considering to participate! <3

If you are interested in participating, please email to catscradlenw (at) gmail (dot) com

A bit of boro and some sahiko stitches

2015-01-30 21.44.02Our towels have definitely seen better days. I am a bit ashamed to admit it, but some of them have extensive holes in them. I should go out and replace them with new ones and let the old ones become cleaning rags. It’s the natural life-cycle of towels in our house, as -I am sure- in many of your houses as well.
I just can’t let them go in the landfill, if they still have the tiniest breath of life and use in them.

I love the Japanese concept of Wabi Sabi. Life as such certainly is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete”. I adore the look of Kintsugi and the beautiful sashiko stitching (embroidery/reinforcement stitches done in running stitch). So why not put them to use? Reusing and mending is certainly not a modern idea and invention. Japanese boro has been around a while. Not only in Japan have textiles been re-used and mended and made to last just one more season, one more month, one more day.

So I look at my towels and think, why not give them another shot as towels? I could repair them!

A little bit of research and looking at photos and reading later and I was off to try my hand at some boro. I certainly have mended my family’s clothing this way for years, just never thought to actually call it any specific name, other than mending.

Boro does not mean art. It did not get invented as a form of self expression. It was the simple reaction to a very basic need of people living in extreme poverty. I can imagine the women sitting in their homes, or maybe in front of it, to make the best use of the natural light, and mending shirts, or pants, or bags, or anything one would need in daily life. To make it go another day. So their children would not have to run and play with holes in their clothes, or their husbands would not have to be cold, going to work every day. In the field? In a Mine? As a day laborer, not really knowing what he will do this day? Not really knowing IF he will get work and money to feed his family.

Our little family has been through our share of adversity. Brought on by the greed of big corporations, by someone just not thinking what their actions would do. Not just to my family, but countless others. People lose their jobs, their homes, their whole way of life. This happens every day. All over the world. My heart goes out to every one of you!

I am sitting here, mending our towels and thinking about the lives of people that went before me, and the people walking along side of me. I am not the only one, sitting here, mending things. There are a lot of us. Today, tonight, right now. Men and women. We are sitting here, taking one stitch at a time. Out of need most likely, out of love for sure. Every stitch I take, connects me with the other families, makes me understand the care and attention that goes into these fabrics. We are stitching so much more than just a shirt, a few towels, a bag.

We are stitching hope and dreams and love.

Just a small gift…

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New “Lagenlook” sweater refashion

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I have had this cashmere Prada sweater for a while now. I got it, because someone else washed it too hot and it felted. It didn’t really fit anybody comfortably in the family (I did fit in it, but it was too short for my taste and a bit too figure hugging to be comfortable).

So I had it laying around. I petted it now and again, only to put it back in the sewing box. I was always worried, I would screw it up somehow and it is such a soft fabric after all. I wanted this to work out.

A few weeks ago, I finally got up and told myself to cut it already. Yes, it WAS an expensive sweater at one point, however,

  1. I did not pay anything for it and
  2. it isn’t worth a penny to anyone in the shape it is in now.

I determined that I wanted the sweater not necessarily longer, as I wanted it to be a layer piece, but it had to be wider, in order to be able to get anything underneath. So a slit must be made and material inserted. I finally settled on a pleat in the back. Since the sweater was nice material, I figured I had to get a bit of nice fabric for the pleat as well and settled on linen. So I got out my form and my scissors and some linen shorts, with a skirt flap (who wears these things… seriously?) and got to work. (I swear, I made photos for a tutorial, but they got lost somehow. I have no idea how, or why…)

All seams in this episode are hand sewn.

I took a seam ripper to the “skirt” part of the shorts/skirt, since that was the bit I wanted to use for the pleat. I cut it a bit smaller, but I kept the top waist band with the button holes, since it was a finished seam that I didn’t have to make lol. I wanted that to become the new bottom edge of the pleat. I also liked the way the button holes looked and wanted to keep them as an added touch.

I measured the sweater’s back and found the middle and figured out how high I wanted the slit to go. I like pleats to go all the way to the arm hole. However, on this sweater I came in just about an inch short of arm hole height. The arms are rather fitted, due to the felting, and I wanted to keep them that way. The sleeves are not uncomfortable to wear, but having a pleat go too far up the back does not look good.

I made a chalk line up the back, then made a seam on either side of the chalk line (just to be sure it would not unravel the sweater when I cut), the same way one would do if one wanted to steek a handknitted sweater. Yes, it was felted, but better save than sorry.

After I made the seams into the sweater, I took my scissors and cut along the chalk line up to my end point. Now all I had to do, was to put in the pleat fabric and presto! I did all the stitching on this by hand. I don’t have pictures of the sewing. I am so sorry. But basically the pleat went in this way:

Pin either side of the pleat rectangle to the cut edges of the pullover then sew up those edges. This will leave you with a hole up on top, where the end of the cut slit is. now you lay down your pleat the way you want it, give it a good heat set (iron it) and then pin it to the pullover. Now sew up the top. I have done pleats before, so I didn’t have to think about it at all, but if you haven’t (and my amazing description of things just helps to confuse you), here is a link to a tutorial. :)

I also sewed on a few buttons, just for looks, really. They don’t to anything. (you can really see the button holes, where the skirt part buttoned over the shorts as well, in this photo.)

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To make the front a bit more interesting, I used a little vintage handkerchief as a collar. I just folded it in half, with the embroidery up front in the center and pinned it to the collar, then sewed it down.

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Presto! New cute shirt.

More sewing adventures are sure to come, as I am going to try and work towards a completely hand sewn wardrobe next year, among other things.