Cross-Over Apron 

Front view of cross-over apron showing double bound finish

Front View

Back View

This apron was based on Kwik Sew 2311. I’ve been wanting to make a cross-over apron for a while and had been planning to draft my own, until I discovered the pattern in my collection.

I avoid using bias binding as the commercial product tends to be poor quality fabric and it’s almost always too narrow for my purposes. I usually make a hash of attaching it, too, so used a Hong Kong finish at the neck and along the arm and double binding on the back and hem.

The binding fabric is remnant from Spotlight, of Premium Cotton Sateen in Wedgewood colour, purchased for $1 when they had all their remnants on sale, but normally priced at $16.99 per metre. The binding fabric width was 127cm. I was only able to verify that the fabric was 100% cotton after taking it to the register and asking the staff to scan the bar code, which fortunately was still attached. The fabric seemed to have some spandex in it as it was moderately stretchy and I was able to cut my binding strips on the cross grain.

Next time I would stay stitch the neck before attaching the binding. I might also play with the back shoulder component of the pattern to make it curve a little more, for a better fit to the body.

Modified Pattern

I omitted the button closure in the original pattern. Closures on aprons can so easily open at the wrong time, not something I want in my workwear. It’s easy to put on and take off without the button closure in the original pattern. I did test that before sewing the shoulder seam.

Off to the kitchen, now.

The East Bay Depot for Creative Re-Use

Were you a child who treasured offcuts of wood, scraps of fabric, egg cartons and even empty toilet rolls for creative play?

I am old enough to remember when cotton reels were made of wood, giving them many more possibilities for re-use than the plastic cotton reels we have today. In fact wooden cotton reels were one of the most desirable items of ‘waste.’ My grandfather made spinning tops out of old cotton reels. I still treasure those spinning tops today.

Today I can’t help but save items that I think might be useful for children’s craft activities. I gather them until I have enough to pass on to a family or a play group where children will be able to enjoy them. I wish I had a Depot for Creative Re-Use locally, like the one at 4695 Telegraph Ave in Oakland, so I could donate these items. Their shop is a treasure trove of pre-loved art supplies, yarn, card stock, picture frames, patterns, books, magazines and many more useful items.

centre-for-creative-reuseWhen we visited the East Bay Depot for Creative Re-Use we had a wonderful time hunting for treasures we could use for our craft projects. I resisted the temptation to buy some very well priced yarn in an attractive colour because I am trying to restrict my buying to projects I will work on immediately. My beloved found back issues of Fine Woodworking magazine for his reference library and was very happy with his purchases.

If I lived locally I would be happy to donate to the depot because I love what they do – diverting useful items from the waste stream and making them available to crafters, artists and educators who will put them to good use. Most of us crafters have one or two or more items that we haven’t had time to use or that reflect an interest we have moved on from.

The depot is located in an old part of town where coffee roasters offer espressos in shops that are next door to run down old buildings. I received some light verbal abuse from a homeless person for getting between him and the checkouts at the Depot for Re-Use, an experience that seemed consistent with the neighbourhood which has all kinds of people.

If you’re in the Telegraph Ave area you might also want to check out La Calaca Loca which has a well-deserved reputation for excellent grilled and fried fish tacos. There’s a tool lending library available to Oakland Public Library members, just across the road from the taqueria, adding one more fantastic feature to the area.

I am unaware of any places in my home town that offer similar services to the East Bay Depot for Creative Re-Use. Do you have anything similar where you live? It’s a brilliant idea and I’d love to see more of them.

The Pub with No Beer

SPOILER ALERT -This post is about quilts, not about beer. If you want sunshine and unicorns, stop reading now. If you wish to read on you might want to listen to Slim Dusty sing his famous Pub with no Beer song.

Our visit to the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles at 520 South First St, San Jose was badly timed. Two out of three exhibitions on the day we visited were wedding themed.

mike_mcnamara_3The only quilts being exhibited were by Mike McNamara and were described as being inspired by the traditional double wedding ring design. When I say inspired, I guess they mean loosely inspired. It was hard to spot the double wedding rings at all as Mr McNamara’s quilts were hung in a corridor, making it difficult to get enough distance to view their designs clearly. It was only after I reviewed my photos (taken with permission) that the double rings became evident. Each quilt was accompanied by pictures of the mostly same-sex couples that the quilts were made for.

While I support marriage equality, when it came to the artistry of these particular quilts I wonder whether support for same-sex marriage didn’t influence the curatorial choices. These quilts did not inspire me, though they did confirm that for me, wonky edges are not an acceptable design choice. And while I’m being controversial, when the vast majority of quilts are made by women, it rather ticks me off to see a male quilter’s work being the only quilts on display at a quilt museum.

wedding_gown_2

The technology in fashion exhibit did not hold our attention and the wedding dresses on display were historically interesting and were, I’m sure, carefully chosen from the History San Jose collection. The most interesting was a dress that was so tiny that the bride either had a developmental issue or, more likely, was well under what we would call marriageable age today. The age of the bride was not given, unfortunately.

My personal favourite was a checked gown, worn by Ann Elizabeth Smith at her marriage to Robert Francis Peckham in 1849, a time when a woman’s best dress had to serve on her wedding day and well beyond. There was no focus on weaving though there was a contemporary (1985) woven Moroccan wedding belt on display.

moroccan_wedding_belt

Moroccan Wedding Belt – Detail

As for the outfits worn by two men on their recent wedding day, while I celebrate their love, I just can’t get excited about (almost) matching contemporary grey suits.

This was a disappointing visit, mostly because of the small number of quilts on display. As my beloved put it, “Oh well, we’ve given them $16, maybe they can go out and get themselves some quilts.”

However from their web site I see that the permanent collection of the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles contains over 1000 textiles and includes historic quilts, contemporary art quilts and textile-based art forms, as well as garments and textiles from world cultures.

But the quilt collection is not open to the public, so you could call the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles the pub with no beer.

Dying Warp and Weft using Rit Dye Powder

This was an experiment in teal. According to the instructions on the box, one packet of Rit dye powder should be dissolved in three gallons of water (roughly 11 litres) and is sufficient for 3 yards of fabric.

I pushed my luck and dyed 155g of cotton warp, 2 metres of cotton fabric and a bit under 2 metres of undyed calico.

I prepared the fabric by scouring it for about 30 mins in pot of simmering water mixed with soap flakes and washing soda, with the objective of enhancing the fabric’s propensity to take up the dye. It’s what I learned when I did the shibori class.

My stainless steel dye pot has a capacity of maybe 9 litres. I followed the instructions faithfully other than the too small pot. The steps were:

  1. Heat a pot of water to almost boiling
  2. Mix the dye in separately in 2 cups of very hot water
  3. Add the dye mixture to the hot water
  4. Add 1 tbsp washing liquid and 1 cup salt
  5. Wet the fabric and yarn
  6. Stir for 30 mins or until the colour looks ok
  7. Rinse in warm and then gradually cooler water
  8. Wash in warm water with mild detergent and allow to dry
  9. Clean the pot with a solution of bleach

I skipped step 8 and did not wash the warp yarn as I didn’t feel like handwashing it and didn’t dare risking tangles by using the washing machine. As it happens, I got plenty of tangles anyway.

The results were good on the whole and for a first attempt. There  was a very small amount of spotting and streaking on the fabric and the uptake of colour on the warp was not as even as it could have been but it’s all usable.  I turned some ugly fabric into usable weft fabric. The photo, sadly, isn’t quite true.

I won’t be able to reliably measure the shrinkage on the 8/4 cotton warp but would guessimate it at less than 10%. Good thing I allowed for a bit extra.

What would I do differently next time?
I wound my warp into two skeins and bound each skein with several loose figure eight knots but the dye did not penetrate well to the threads that had been enclosed by the knots.  Maybe a looser knot would help or a double figure eight configuration.

How do you dye your warps?

A Rag Rug of Firsts

This rag rag was always intended to be a test. It was the first time I used warp from my big cone of 8/4 cotton rug warp, a first time using a temple (stretcher), a first time finishing a rug with a turned edge and a first time weaving with a rose path threading.

Rag rug made with old sheets and shirts for weft

The hemmed ends are a first


 
Lessons learned:

  1. Don’t keep threading after you start feeling tired. You will regret it when you find yourself rethreading the following day.
  2. Measure twice, cut once. I was two warp threads short. The problem was easily solved with a new length of warp and some washers for weights, but I had to think about how to solve it.
  3. Using a temple is well worthwhile. No draw in visible this time.
  4. It’s worth the time sewing strips together for the weft but this only worked well for me with the main pattern 1 1/2 inch strips.  The sewn joins on the narrower 1cm strips that I used for the hemmed edges pulled apart under tension.
  5. Worn out sheets make excellent weft strips. This rug has a combination of worn fabrics (old sheets and shirts) and new fabrics (the dark blue is a remnant and the brown is a never used bed skirt from the op shop.) The worn fabrics packed in better and were less rigid in the finished mat.
  6. Don’t be frightened to make up your own design. Magazines and books are great but so are your pencil, your calculator and your mind. One of the reasons I bought the huge mill end spool of cotton rug warp was so I could experiment freely without worrying about wasting expensive rug warp.

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The rose path threading yielded sections with patterns that remind me of the beach. It’s a lot less formal a look than I had in mind but I like the unstructured look. Having said that, the rose path border patterns I tried to achieve were a total bust. I don’t know what went wrong and I’m keen to try again.

I plan to have a crack at dying the warp next. I like the yellow, but I also like variety.

Buying Fabric in San Francisco

Front of Frabric Outlet store showing signage

Here’s what it looks like from the outside

I made a visit to Fabric Outlet in the Mission District of San Francisco in order to post a review as a community service to you all.

In truth, I was was pretty keen to to see the place as it had such good reviews on line.

I’d been to the Mission District before, where Fabric Outlet is located, in order to visit Gracias Madre vegan Mexican restaurant, which Tinkerer and I were invited to on a previous holiday after requesting an authentic San Francisco dining experience. I loved Gracias Madre but I think it’s fair to say that Tinkerer regards vegan cheese as a bridge too far.

I remembered the area around the 16th and Mission BART station as grimy and impoverished. This time I visited in the mid-morning and I found the area downright unpleasant.

If you decide to visit, wear closed shoes, or at least your Birkenstocks to get your feet off the ground a bit. I understand that homelessness and poverty are complex problems to solve, but getting a street cleaner out on a regular basis should be manageable by the local authorities. The stench of urine around the BART station was overwhelming. And don’t get me started on the pigeons. If you have a bird phobia at all, stay away.

Interior view of fabric Outlet showing rolls of ribbon

And the inside

It was a short walk to Fabric Outlet and I recommend visiting if you have a need for a specialty fabric or anything unusual such as fake fur, or leather, or sequins. The range is excellent and includes notions, patterns and upholstery fabric. Prices seemed reasonable to my inexperienced eyes and they had a 40% off promotion running on the day I visited. Sadly for me the promotion didn’t include oil cloth, which was the one thing I was looking to buy.

The style of the store was also more human than you might find at a fabric store at a suburban mall, perhaps due to it being located in a basement and having fewer bright lights to dazzle you.

The only fabric I brought home that day was a couple of metres of new quilting type fabric from Thrift Town next door. I’m still not sure if it is 100% cotton or a blend, but as I’m planning to use it for rug weaving I’m happy either way.

 

 

A Warm Welcome at In Between Stitches in Livermore, CA

Quilt samples on display, pineapple quilt and bolts of fabric

Not usually my cup of tea but I even thought these pineapples were cute.

I bought a $4 silicone thimble at In Between Stitches and I received a warm welcome on a 38 C degree day, which I believe is 100 F. Regardless of your measurement system, I think we can agree that’s a hot a hot day. Hot enough for ice cream, but that came later.

If the weather was warm, the welcome at In Between Stitches was equally so. I met one of the owners who took the time to chat with me, told me which is her favourite quilting magazine, wished me a good visit to California and even sent me away with a complimentary copy of Better Homes and Gardens Quilt Sampler Magazine from 2010 in which their store was featured. This is easily the most authentic and friendly response I’ve had when I’ve mentioned this blog to any quilt store proprietor, in any country and I am thankful and appreciative. These people do so much more than parrot ‘Have a nice day’ when you leave.

Cutting area inside the store with work in progress and quilts hanging on the wall behind
They offer classes, have a beautifully designed shop and the samples are to my mind tasteful and inspiring. If you’re in the Livermore area, visit this shop at 2190 First St. You won’t regret it.

Photos were taken with permission.