Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Rag Style bag

I have finished one of my UFO!

It's a bag I started a couple years ago using a common bag pattern that employs a pattern of patchwork squares. The backing, batting and top layer to each square are quilted together and then the quilted squares are sewn to each other with the seam allowances facing out. After the top was done, I had added a stabilizer and then a inside lining. I had sewn the bulk of the bag together and I stopped. I had used, and had sewn in an interfacing/stabilizer that I was very unhappy about the feel and look it added to the bag.

So it sat, and sat and sat, half finished in one of the drawers.
I am in a UFO challenge and this purse was one of the items I made sure I put on my list.

No wonder why I did not want to tackle it. Throwing it out might have been easier!
First it had to be taken apart and a different stabilizer had to be inserted. The bag then was sewn back together and the handles, strap and closure needed to be added. Since the bag is one of those rag style bags and I had already clipped it, let's just say, it was a messy job. Threads everywhere!

Finally once it was complete, it had to be washed so that the cut areas would "puff" to give that shaggy overall appearance.

I was able to know what to use inside of the bag due to having made the blue jean purse. The CraftsyDesign Your Own Handbag class has now been very handy on two projects.

Finally, here it is, complete at last.
I for one am glad it is done!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Les coiffes catalanes

In France, in the Pyrénées Orientales, the region of France located south of Narbonne bordering Spain and Andorra, there was a traditional head gear, or cap, worn by women called a Catalan.
Click here for more information about this type of head gear.

This cap is trimmed with lace either, across the rim, or the bonnet piece in the back. As with all things lace, when the cap wore out or the owner no longer needed it, the lace was salvaged and stored away for future use. Not long ago, I came across a set of 6 of them. The woman who sold them to me told me that they were Calalan so, taking her word for it I will assume that is in fact what they are and where they are from.

All 6 are very different. After washing the patina of mold off of them, I removed the tie ribbons across the back that once held the cap tight to the head. After ironing, assessing damage and observing how they were made, due to a challenge at my local patchwork club, I decided to use them to make my challenge entry. More about that later. First let's look at the Catalan's pieces.

The first one is really nothing new. It is as a matter of fact quite common for it's era. It is made of wide machine manufactured cotton edging. It was hand sewn together so that the curvy part of the edging shows as it was sewn to the next piece. Finding edging used in this manner is common. I have a theory, or rather an observation as to why edging was used and not insertion. I have noticed at flea markets that edging is more widely available and a lot of it was unused. In garment or household item construction, The interior of the item is where the insertion would have been used. Normally there is much more of the insertion used for those inside design areas then there was needed for the edge areas. In the age of small shops and not many choices, if edging was all that was available, edging is what was going to be used. 

Looking at it from another angle, if a shop bought stock of equal number of meters of insertion and edging, there would be more edging available at the shop because the insertion would sell out first. More is used most of the time. Even in modern stores I have noticed that there is a wider variety of edging than insertion. Edging has more uses. 

Observation based on what I have found at flea markets is that in the recuperation process, many times more in the interior of the item is damaged. Yes the edging may be damaged, but more often it appears to be the insertion not the edging that is worn. It is also harder to recuperate the insertion but it is easy to recuperate the edgings. 

Here is a picture of the machine edging Catalan cap bonnet piece:

The rest of the pieces are more interesting and are absolutely beautiful. They are constructed by hand and some of the laces are done by hand as well.

The second piece is the smallest of the group. It consists of a purchased cotton insertion and an insertion which has hand embroidered flowers and vines on what appears to be finella. Finella is thinner than batiste almost like a fine silk in it's see though quality.

The third piece, similar in construction is also made from a machine lace insertion and a hand embroidered insertion also on a fine fabric like finella.
The next piece, the forth piece, is very interesting. It appears to be embroidered netting. Looking closely it is actually embroideries that were appliquéd to the netting.

 Here is a close-up of the back. You can see the stitches out of a rather heavy thread holding both the  design and the "insertion". This is all one piece of netting with the appliqué laid on top.
The last piece, the fifth one, is the same construction technique as the fourth piece only it is constructed on finella.

Here is a close-up of the back. You can see the stitches again out of a rather heavy thread. This is all one piece of finella with the appliqué embroidered pieces laid on top.

I have seen this before where the embroideries are done first and them are appliquéd onto a fine fabric. Here is a corner of a small doilie. 

Now look at the back of the item:

 Notice how it is appliqued in place and the inside of the leaves are added now keeping the leaves to the background fabric.  This same technique was used on the coiffes.

One last picture, from the top you can see where some of the grapes are beginning to come loose.
Now back to my project, for my challenge I needed a 50cm (20 inch) square finished block using only one color. So if I had chosen blue, I could use as many shades of blue I wanted. Being the queen of vintage lace, I desired to chose white. That would mean I could go from bright white all the way through shades of off white or ecru. For the support  behind my lace masterpiece I chose a vintage piece of cotton I salvaged off of a table runner. I envisioned some a sort of crazy patch of lace. The last part of the challenge is that we need to accessorize the block in some way. For me that would mean using vintage buttons, textured ribbon and trinkets.

First I painstakingly disassembled all of the coiffes. Interestingly I found that in several of the pieces that the mechanical lace was dry rotted. The handmade lace pieces were fine. I ended up with a pile of dry rot. 

I set it aside. I am so excited! I now have something to use with paint for another project I have been collecting pieces for! I bet you have never seen anyone so happy to find dry rot.

Then came digging through the stash for some pieces of lace that would make interesting additions. I had to find some buttons and beads.

Then came digging through the stash for some pieces of lace that would make interesting additions.

I started to lay things out and then I saw a blog by Lilla Le Vine. From there I found that she has a number of youtubes you can watch so I began to watch them while I was sewing. She in interesting. She is a Francophone living in Hawaii, here I am a non-francophone living in France. Odd world we live in.
I recently came across a couple of "La Mode Illustree" magazines from the late 1800s.

  Inside the magazine was a wealth of information, all clearly written in French, as well as fashion drawings on how to wear the latest fashion. If you are lucky you can get the pattern that was included with the magazine to attempt to reproduce an outfit in the magazine. I took Lilla's method of transferring designs to make copies on paper of some of the pictures I really liked from the magazine. She uses Mod Podge. I looked for it on line, it is available in France only I could not find it. While in Lyon a couple of weeks back I bought something called "Paperpatch". They make one for fabrics. I bought the brush that was recommended as well. It appears to be the same thing.
I started laying out the pictures and the lace to figure out what I wanted to do.
This was one of the projects that I knew what it would look like before I started.
I started in one corner
and worked to the center
and then down, hold your breath while you cut up one of the pieces. 
and around to the other side.

The top is now complete, it has a backing, a stabilizer, batting and the top. It is now ready for additions of button and beads.

I decided to put it all together first before I embellished it since I want to use some of the additions, like the buttons as a sort of quilting to hold it all together. I will also be doing a little machine quilting to the top as well.

Expect to see the finished product in the next couple of months. It has to be completed by September.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Bienvenue Dans Ma Cuisine

It is finally done! The kit I bought in France over 5 years ago!

I thought it would be easy and fast and it turned out not to be. I needed something for the wall in the kitchen. The walls are painted a light purple by someone who lived there years ago. I have never had a purple kitchen before, but over time I have grown to really like it.

The kit, which included the felt and background fabric and floss, did not contain purple so I had to figure out how to add it in.

I wanted a border for it and that turned out problematic. Fabric that matched color wise had a design to it that took away from the look of the felt work. Finally I found the perfect fabric, but it was in a kit. I thought about it for about an hour before I went back and bought the kit. The kit was expensive and was made up of hand dyed and then stamped linen. It was supposed to be a kit for a pillow. I have tossed the directions and the picture of what it was supposed to make in the trash and proceeded to extract the specific color of purple I needed from the kit for my wall hanging. I will find other uses for the other hand stamped pieces of linen.  They are all very pretty and like I have said, purple is growing on me. Here they are all together.

The next problem was the edging I wanted to go around the outside edge of the piece. Did you know that it is hard to buy any type of lace edging in purple? Impossible to buy a matching purple. This is not the normal type of thing I have in my stash. This is a more homespun sort of lace edging that says to me "Europe". After searching I decided I would have to somehow color lace myself. I bought several edgings that I liked and then took two shades of purple floche and wove it in as part of the design. Floche, I have almost every color, is made by DMC. It is about the same thickness as two of the 6 strands of DMC floss. It has a beautiful feel and look when used in certain types of hand work. I love using it!

Here is the edging I used before and after the floche was woven into the design.
So here it is finished at last.
The designer of this pattern "Bienvenue Dans Ma Cuisine" is Atelier d'Isabelle . Here is the original pattern. You can see how I have changed it. One big difference besides the color and border is that mine is reversed. It was easier to transfer the pattern pieces over.
I bought a second kit at the same time as the one I just completed. It is still in the bag untouched. It is going to stay that way for a while.