Sunday, March 24, 2013

Weekend Sewing and Cleaning

I have so many UFO's (UnFinished Objects) it is scary. This weekend I thought I would attempt to go for the "lowest hanging fruit" and complete a few items that have been hanging around the house almost done for years, months or days.

I started out with the last project we made at my patchwork club, just last week. I figured if I did not finish it now it would never get done. I will lose pattern pieces. So here it is. We made a chicken apron. Not normally my style, but I thought it would be fast and easy so I decided to participate in making one. It is rather cute and best of all it is DONE!

The second project I did was to make a scarf out of some extra fleece that was left over from another project. Due to winter extending into Spring, some use might come of it this year. The rest of the fleece became pillows and this was what was left over.

The third project is the oldest of the 3. It dates from March 2011 when I took a week long Teacher Licensing called "Sewing for Baby". I thought the Pleated Maternity blouse was cute so I made it in a size small. 

I will never use it but I should be able to find someone who will. All that is left is to remove the water soluble stabilizer across the front. At licencing I had completed everything but the hemming of both the sleeves and the hem. It was so close to finishing I just had to pull it out and get it done.

Along with sewing this weekend I have been cleaning. It has been 6 months since the last time I cleaned my sewing room. Actually it is not a room, it is a table next to a window in the office. I have some shelves where I store my stash and it had gotten unmanageable. I hate cleaning all at once since I get tired and pretty soon I am not doing a good job. I find that cleaning for an hour and then giving myself permission to do something fun is a great way to get things done over time. For the last 3 days I have been doing exactly that I have spent 2 hours a day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon cleaning. Here is what my shelves look like now. Notice how all my fabrics are so nicely folded!

Located on the upper right you will notice some empty shelves. They are empty because all of my boxes of heirloom items which include all of my old lace and anything vintage embroidered is getting sorted so that they can be put back on the shelves in boxes. I would really like to be able to find them instead of having to search through multiple boxes.

Off to do another hour co cleaning - I will be sorting out my lace boxes.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Un Sac de Mauvais Français

I am a junky. I admit it. If there is an interesting class whether it be sewing, handwork or quilting based, I am there. It's not like I do nothing with them, I buy them all for a reason. One class I bought so that I could get a professional show me how to do a flat felled seam. I was unhappy with my results last time I made a shirt. In another class I wanted to learn basic beading and jewelry making so that I could make some denim earrings. Yet another class works with knits. I want to have better results and so on an so on. Only a few classes can I say that I bought to make the project from start to finish, whatever that project may be.  The  "Design Your Own Handbag" was one of those classes that I bought expressly to make a handbag. I was tired to the quilter look to bags I see so often. I put the look up there with people who make quilted jackets and look like football players when they are done. That's fine if you are a football player and like that look, but for the rest of us there was too much something somewhere, but what?

It has taken me months to complete this handbag project. Before the class was even available I had a sketch of a bag or two I wanted to try to make. The problem was that I was always unhappy with the way the finished product looked. Home made in a bad way.  I bought the class and I started by watching the class all the way through, had a couple of "V-8" moments and while watching made a list of materials I would need to make my bag. I went to stores in France, Germany and the United States searching for the hardware that would go perfect with my project. I found the exact type of fusible interfacings I needed in Strasbourg. I found the separating zipper in Germany. I found the hardware in France and the United States.

In the basement of the house in the United States there are bags of hand-me-downs given to my nephew. In those bags I found the "fabric I would need to make my bag.
In my stash I found the other items I would need and lastly, a trip to a second hand store was required to find some "Jewelry" for my bag.

Here are my starting items. A child's jean jacket with a missing snap:
And a pair of boys cargo blue jeans:
From my stash came the galloon lace. I am not sure what this is, It looks like Bobbin lace or perhaps a type of Battenburg. What it is really is machine made so technically it is neither.
I have yards of it and have had a hard time cutting into it since it has never worked for any of my projects even though it is tried out every time.

Here is a side view so that you can see it is surprisingly really one dimensional. You can also see the Battenburgness of it in this picture. The lace tape is fake or better said part of the design not a seperate item. 

A while back I bought yardage of some hand bobbin lace of many sorts from an old Mercerie(store that sells all things sewing, knitting...) that had gone out of business. After some tryouts, this is the one that won.

From the trip to the second hand store I bought some religious metals of all sorts and some assorted beads and pearls.
In Europe many people buy one of these trinkets as a souvenirs when they visit a cathedral. the most common trinket one finds at second hand stores appear to be those from Lourdes. Lourdes is located in the Mide-Pyrénées in the south-west of France. Far away from the part of France I live. One the front of this trinket is usually Our Lady of Lourdes and on the back is a kneeling Bernadette Soubirous in the Grotto with Our Lady of Lourdes. Sometimes the back has The Basilique Notre Dame du Rosaire. Lourdes has an incredible number of faithful visiting each year, somewhere in the range of 5 million people so it is of no surprise that many buy this trinket to bring back with them as a souvenir.
I love to collect fabric with French on it when I can find it. Believe it or not, fabric with French writing or images on high quality fabrics are usually made in Japan. the Japanese have a real affinity for all things French. The title of this blog entry gets its name from the fabric I used for the lining of the bag. The fabric is made by Kokka. The fabric maker used mauvais French. On the top of each of the thread holders it should say "fil de bonne qualité". Bon, Bonne, ah yes, it is a common mistake. I make all the time so I am not surprised to see it. But, since it is improper French, the fabric goes inside the bag.

I knew it was bad French when I bought it, but I liked the fabric. Actually, truth be told, I was with some French friends and they all laughed and pointed out the error. The fabric is heavier than quilting cotton. I had a half a meter and that was just enough for the lining of the bag.

I had everything and I was ready to go and make this bag. Actual construction of the bag did not take long. What took a while was carefully ripping apart the jacket and pant so that I could use the pieces. The front of the jacket was just too good not to use so I decided to make that the front of the bag. I added some light blue linen and the galloon and I embellished it with my second hand store trinkets and pearls. I added little crochet medallions that kept me from having to finish the bottom edge of the loops for the handles.

Here is a close-up of the "necklaces":

Each bead is sewn on separately for strength otherwise it would be fragile and I did not want them to be able to move or break and fall off. The trinkets on the bottom, largest pearl necklace, are all from Lourdes.
The back of the bag uses one of the cargo pant legs. I embellished with a some mother of pearl buttons and a filet butterfly that actually came from the United States.
Inside the bag, I first added a zipper as a closure and embellished the area with the bobbin lace, the lace by the way, resembles butterflies to me. I so like butterflies.
Inside the bag has the Mauvais Français fabric as the lining and an added inside zipper and pockets on the sides.
I wanted a shoulder strap along with the two hand straps and I could not help but notice that the bottom of the jean jacket and the bottom of the sleeves of the jean jacket had something that when stabilized with interfacing would make a terrific strap.

Finally to make sure the bottom does not get dirty, I added feet.
I am extremely pleased with the results. This is a handbag I will actually use!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Dentelle Guipure Point D'Irlande

I was watching a sewing program on TV and during the final segment a clothing item from the "vintage collection" was shown. In this particular segment the vintage garment was a dress for an older girl. A comment about the lace was made saying that the two sided finished lace on the collar and going down the center was of the dress was Galloon and that it was probably Swiss.

Living in France it is hard to get the name of something in English and to be able to translate it to French. Most of the time the name is very different and can be confusing.

I had never heard of Galloon so I started asking questions. Sorry if I bore you with this, but as you all know and I did not, Galloon is the style of lace, not a type. One can have Galloon French Val,  Galloon English Netting or Galloon Cluny. Galloon just means it has a finished or scalloped edge on both sides of the length of the lace.

Now, let me continue to ramble. Galloon brought me to the next question, what was the lace called that was shown on the dress? If Galloon just means that it is finished on both sides, what kind of lace was used on the dress shown on the television program? This identification is important since I have a piece something like what I saw, well, actually it was very similar if not identical. I want to know what it is.
I think now I have my answer and I have pictures. Humor me if I am wrong. It would not be the first time.

When I bought the lace piece, the person who sold it to me told me the name of what they thought it was.  I wrote it down. But what I was told it was, at the time, made no sense.
According to my notes I had bought a piece of dentelle guipure point d'Irlande. That's nice, but what does that bunch of identifying names clearly written in French mean?

Let's look at them and dissect them:

Point d'Irlande - In English this is Irish crochet  I could talk about this but, this website does a nice job for me. I have shown pieces from my stash earlier. Irish crochet is three dimensional and amazing to look at. It is also done by hand.
 Here is a picture of one of the newer pieces from my ever growing and becoming amazing stash:
Here is a side view so you can see the dimensionality of this piece:

Now lets look at the next set of words:
Dentelle Guipure - Guipure lace
Definition: Any of various laces, often heavy, made of linen, silk, etc., with the pattern connected by brides rather than by a net ground.
Technically, I suppose Irish Crochet could be a form of Guipure. Those are brides interconnecting all of the beautiful flowers and leaves.
Here is the dentelle guipure point d'Irlande piece I bought:
Here is a close up of the middle:

Here is a close up of one of the edges:
Here is a side view so you can see the dimensionality of this piece:
This sample measures 17.5 x9.5 inches (44.5 x 24 cm). I know it was machine made in France since the manufacturer's information is still attached. It was a new sample manufactured in February but the year is not clear but from the style of the writing and what I can make out it is early 1900's The seller also told me when I bought it that it was made in the early 1900s.
This was obviously manufactured to mimic hand Irish Crochet.  There is a huge difference in dimension between the two of them and I bet when this style was first introduced it was considered not as good as the "real thing". It would have been cheaper to purchase and faster to manufacture. I can see how it would have put the cottage industry making this lace by hand out of business. Looking at it with "today's" eyes it is beautiful. 
Since I have your attention, let me show another interesting piece and comparison
Here is a machine made piece of insertion next to a similar hand made piece. The machine made is on the top and the hand work is on the bottom. Both have the same dimensionality from the side.
Now let's dissect the machine made piece. It looks like a long machine made length of lace insertion, but it is not. It is machine made in lengths of about 8 inches. Look close at the bottom of the picture and you can clearly see the machine zigzag stitch holding the two pieces together.
Backing out the piece, you can see more of it. Here is the first part where a machine made net embroidered square was added after lengths of the insertion were made.
 Backing further down the piece, here is what the entire piece looks like once a second medallion of similar style to the insertion was added.
I can't but wonder if women bought the parts separately and put it together, how many different ways could this be done? Did they have samples of different ideas in the shop? Why only 8 inch lengths? How was this manufactured in comparison to other laces.
To my knowledge this is the first time I have seen this done in vintage lace. Modern lace made with an embroidery machine would be joined like this. I love a challenge so I am now on the lookout for more vintage lace made this way.