Nani Iro Self-drafted Dress

When my son gave up his chambray and Winnie the Pooh toddler room for his "big boy" bedroom, I lovingly passed along some of the cherished pieces, the glider, and stuffed animals to friends with newborns who needed and really could use nursery items. Because I have a wee bit of a hoarding tendency with all things fiber, I tucked the linens back into my closet. Yep, that's me. I particularly loved the chambray sheets, and thought I would make a really sweet something out of it one day. Fast forward a couple of decades, and finally I've found the perfect use for that sheet.

When I took the block printing class with Valerie Wells, I came across this gorgeous Japanese fabric, Nani IRO Textile, Encouter @Naomi Ito. I just could not leave the Stitchin' Post without a couple yards.

Isn't it dreamy? It's double gauze and practically floats off the bolt. I knew it would make the perfect summer dress.

I usually only hand stitch with jersey fabric, but this fabric was special enough to jog me out of my normal routine and forced me to step out of my comfort zone and attempt that summer dress that had been simmering around in my brain for years.

You think I could have found a pattern I liked? Of course not! I have a couple dresses that I love the look and fit of, so I bit the bullet and made a self-drafted pattern. I laid the dresses onto paper and traced out the shapes I needed. I folded the images in half to make sure both sides were even. I compared these to some other patterns I had, and they seemed to make sense. I added a seam allowance to my pattern. With baited breath, I cut my pattern out of that lovely chambray sheet for practice. Low and behold, it fit.

I frayed the hem, the waist casing, and the tie.

I contemplated making the skirt a little fuller, but I only had two yards of the Japanese fabric, minus a little I had taken off to use for my table runner, so I pretty much kept to my original pattern, just extending the skirt out as much as my yardage would allow. You can see how the sides dip down ever so slightly with the extra fabric in the image below.

When making my second dress, because the double gauze fabric tends to fray a lot, I used French seams to keep as many of those stray threads corralled as best as possible. I also used seam tape on the shoulder seams to keep them tidy.

I had a difficult time deciding which color trim to add.

I texted some friends these photos for their opinions. Lavender was the clear choice.

I added a casing over the waist seam and at first I tried this satin ribbon.

It's pretty, but wasn't quite what I wanted. So next I tried a piece I had crocheted with a tiny flower on each end.

I like this one best. I'm even wondering what it would look like to take off the lavender trim and add a simple crochet edging......but that will be another project for another time.

For now, I'll enjoy my two new summer dresses, of course after the snow melts and warm breezes begin.

Block Printing with Valerie Wells

My dream has been to learn block printing in some exotic locale like India or Bali. Unfortunately, that's not in the cards for me at the moment. Next best thing was travelling just up the road a bit to the quaint town of Sisters, and taking a block printing class at the Stitchin Post with Valerie Wells. Valerie has been block printing for decades. Her easy manner and masterful knowledge of all things block printing made for a fun, informative, and successful weekend of inky play.

Valerie has her own line of fabrics created mostly from her block printing. It was convenient having all the beautifully curated fabrics in the Stitchin Post available to choose from to put together our table runners. Valerie brought her personal collection of blocks for us to use in her class.

Just look at all these yummy designs! What an inspiration they all are.

Valerie lead us from the design, sketch phase of making the blocks, through the printing. Here is the sketch for one of her blocks.

And here is that same block, all carved out and printed.

So many possibilities!

You can see how different this lighter and slightly darker ink color looks on different colored fabrics.

I love these indigo fabrics as a base for block printing.

This is my first block I carved, printed up.

You can see it here in green on my project. The table runner was a gift for my parents, so I was stitching it in the airport on my way to visit them.

If you ever have the opportunity to take a class from Valerie, I highly recommend it. I wish I could go on her trip to Bali next month! A girl can dream; right?

Designing, carving, and printing blocks is really amazing, something I've wanted to learn for quite some time now. It's a great skill to add to my hand stitching creativity.

Abby's Flower Stencil T-Shirt

There are lots of tiny flowers and bits in Alabama Chanin's Abby's Flower stencil, making it somewhat tricky to work with, but I love it! The blossoms seem to float and hover about, like petals in the wind. Inspired by the beautiful couture dresses with appliqued organza butterflies and flowers, edges free-floating, I used the Abby's Flower stencil in conjunction with the Negative Reverse Applique technique to achieve these flowing edges.

I wanted the top layer to be white, so I didn't want to paint the stencil on. I used a gray Sharpie to outline the elements. I like the way it accentuates and crisps up the pattern shapes. It reminds me of the inked and quilted method.

Usually I try to stitch around all the edges of the elements, but there were so many smaller pieces that I ended up running stitches up the middle of some elements or hatch stitching some parts. I used a creamy colored floss to put French knots in the middles of some flowers.

After completing the stitching and cutting away all the negative space, I was stumped as to what color to use for the binding. I posed the question to the fun and helpful Alabama Chanin group on Facebook, The School of Making Stitchalong. If you haven't discovered this group yet, please look them up! There is a wealth of knowledge, wonderful conversations, feedback, and positive support from all the participants in this group.

White, ocher, suede, faded, or couched faded? I practically changed my mind with each comment. The overwhelming support was for the tone on tone, suede. My friend had the idea of suede trim, rosebud stitch, and white French knots. I stitched up the suede trim with the rosebud stitch.

I still need to get my book out to refresh my memory and get started.

Here's the neckline completely tone on tone. I liked it, was about to get out my white floss for French knots, then suddenly had the idea of using the beautiful cotton gauze tape in ecru that I had in my stash.

I used a very large needle and simply slipped it underneath the rosebud stitching. I'm not sure how it will launder, but if it's a fail, the ribbon can easily be pulled out and replaced. Also, this ribbon does not stretch, so don't try this in an area that you need to have stretch!

I may go in and put the suede binding on the hem. I wouldn't put the ribbon on that, though. I think it may cut me in half too much, shortening my frame up even more. For now, I'll wear this top with jeans, my basic suede pants and skirt, and over cream and white dresses. I may layer it up over a long-sleeved white T-shirt during the cold weather. This skirt would also be nice.

I'm happy with the little extra pop the ribbon gives, without adding extra busyness and fuss. If the shirt were plain, it might look cute to leave long tails on the ribbon and tie it with a knot or tiny bow somewhere along the neckline. I'll let you know how the ribbon fares in the wash with future updates.