July 18, 2009
How one newspaper story about websites that make money turned me into a compulsive needler…
I clicked on www.themexicandress.com– paid my $4.95 via Paypal for a pdf pattern and WHAM; I went from being a random mender to a full-on all hand seamstress. And like so many of my creative compulsions a very simple project morphed into a collecting journey when I realized I could incorporate vintage linens in my creations.
On my first blouse I stuck to the basics. The pattern is made from white cotton. It only has four pieces; front/back, 2 sleeves and 1 yoke. The yoke was the only hard part; but once I found the right mixing bowl to create a head-sized opening, it was manic embroidering to hours of Perry Mason re-runs.
The first blouse taught me to think about color; to make sure they make sense and all go together. The chick blouse is a mainly red and yellow with some navy blue and brown for details. I was so proud of this danged thing I nearly entered it in the County Fair; but sanity prevailed.
– – A hen chases a rooster with a broom. Chicks ride collar bones – –
On the chicken blouse I delighted in adding big red zip code numbers, like football jerseys to designate my hood. All in all, it’s a fresh testament to hand-made.
And so the compulsion took hold.
My next blouse was of blue sparrows from an iron-on collection. And may I please wonder aloud; other than ME, for whom are they iron-on designs manufactured? ARE people still embellishing sheets and pillow cases? Is that possible? Well, the sparrows are darling and I don’t even mind that recently someone asked me if I had fashioned my shirt from a pillow case.
I don’t expect everyone to get it. I really don’t. But look how cute!
I learned to embroider when I was really little and always enjoyed it. Even though I hadn’t done any for – oh, let’s just say A LONG, LONG time, there is something so soothing and hypnotic about embroidery. The little decisions of when and where to turn, change colors, jump or cut; it’s relaxing to the brain.
Did I really get two images of the same shirt side by side?
Well, mercy me, I might actually be getting this wordpress program.
Or handi-crafts are making me smarter!
The idea of mixing new and vintage, modern and historic images is what keeps me excited. I’m scanning old comics for images, old newspapers; basically anything kept in a trunk or under the stairs.
In my laundry room I have old iron-on patterns framed; so imagine my delight when I found this cotton kitchen towel all sewn up just waiting to become my next shirt front. I even used the rick-rack seams in the decoration.
By my third shirt I had a Martha Stewart plastic bin dedicated to the blouses. I found little plastic cards to wrap the thread around and hooked them on metal rings, so each blouse has its own little science project feel to it. No pea green could be confused with grass green; which can happen as natural light dims and lamp light is used.
For this water lily blouse, I took original vintage embroidery, layed it on my copier screen and clicked.
I had to copy over the lines to make it darker. The second copy worked great. By placing that underneath the cotton yardage I was able to trace it and then sew along the lines.
It’s a miracle I can sleep anymore; what with the endless possibilities of a simple pattern that relies on the creator for its flavor.
I’ve been digging through boxes of linen stash because now I finally have a project that allows me to cut and utilize things I’ve been hoarding protectively for – such a long time.
And if something is too precious to cannibalize I can just copy it and enjoy the design with new colors and shadings of my own design.
So, what started with a high-tech business story about theMexicandress.com site has practically granted me a Perry Mason law degree and have gifted me with my new most favorite form of relaxation.
And next summer?
Honey, I’ll have a cute blouse for every day of the week. All original. All hand-made in cotton ideal for our torrid summer temperatures, and really, aren’t they are little works of art ?