Sunday, May 2, 2010

old tricks - new project

Digging around in my sewing supplies this morning I came up with this sample of my oldest piece of embroidery work, circa 1972. I drew a bird I hoped would look something like an eagle on a piece cut from an old pair of jeans and, using single strands of embroidery thread, began to fill in the outlines. It's not perfect but it's sweet in its own way and I only mention it because embroidery may well be part of my new project to make an Indian inspired outfit or two.

These things take time but I now have several yards of fabric spread out in front of me ready to be cut and sewn into a salwar (baggy pants with narrow legs). The real ones from India turn out to have huge openings at the top that must be tied with a cord - and no pockets! I'm fairly slim but no woman wants to tie a great mass of extra yardage around her middle. Western designers discovered darts, pleats, inset pockets and zippers a long time ago so I searched and found a pattern I can use. Yes, I'll be lengthening the legs. Yes, I'm using a pattern. Once I used to be able to lay out material and just start cutting but it's been too long. Now I have to cheat by using patterns at least to get the measurements right. When you're sewing there's nothing worse than putting in a sleeve only to find it isn't wide enough to get your hand through, never mind a whole arm. It's all pinned and ready to go but I'm sitting here typing because I'm nervous about cutting. It seems so final.

I needed something straightforward to use as a base pattern for the kameez dress and I found this one after another fairly long search. As you can see there are a lot of possibilities for modifying this design to my hearts content. Piecing will be easy and so will shortening or turning one into a long jacket with buttons down the front or from the shoulder. Embroidery and beading may take a bit longer.

I'll probably cut up a couple of the big silk scarves I've made to use as lining and accents on the kameez - particularly a jacket I have in mind - but I don't want to make something all of silk because it's too light and I'd feel silly walking around Halifax (or anywhere else) in a pair of silk pj's. Instead, I've decided to use rayon. Did you know it's also a natural fiber? It's very soft and dense and drapes beautifully.

Well, even if I get bored with the whole idea I'm now committed to making at least one. If it works out okay you'll see the results in time. Maybe by then I'll be building a stick figure model to hang it on. You don't expect me to see me wearing it, do you?

18 comments:

marja-leena said...

Oh, this all sounds so interesting! You are waking up a long dormant sewer. I have stacks of fabrics that I've yet to use, including some lovely rayon. Yours sound scrumptious, including this lovely embroidery!

But of course I want to see your creative projects modeled by you, not a stick person! Good luck and have fun.

Pagan Sphinx said...

Oh, I am just so excited about this! I love embroidery on clothing; always have. Can't wait to see your results!

My dear mother is a genius at embroidery but she only ever applied it to baby clothes she made for our girls. I have saved everything, of course!

Love,
Gina

Seraphine said...

i tried embroidery on a pair of jeans once. i didn't separate the strings, and i didn't try to be subtle with color and shading. i didn't try to be precise and i made big stitches instead of little ones. it was a hippy flower and, while it didn't have a wow factor like your eagle, i was happy with it.
it just goes to prove even bad embroidery can look nice.
i'd do it again, but i don't want to harm any jeans during the construction process. i don't want people for the ethical treatment of jeans boycotting my comic.

p.s. if you successfully make your modified salwar (i have complete faith in you), i hope you model it.

susan said...

marja-leena - Dormant is definitely the word for it but I figure it's a bit like riding a bicycle. You may be a bit wobbly the first time you climb on after a long absence but you never forget how to ride :-)

pagan sphinx - I'm sure your mother does wonderful work so you're bound to know how time consuming embroidery is but it's so much nicer than the machine done stuff. I doubt I'll feel like doing anything as intricate as the bird right away but it will be fun.

sera - My biggest embroidery project was a red, gold and green dragon on a tuxedo jacket. His body was on the back with wings, neck and head stretching down to the upper chest. It was made for a musician friend at the request of his wife who sewed leather for rock stars. She made the long fringed jacket Eric Clapton was once famous for. I got a doe skin suit and a guitar for my efforts but when I found the bullet hole hidden inside a jacket pocket I gave up wearing it.

Maybe I'll cut a cardboard likeness of myself for modeling purposes :-)

linda said...

darlin' i do expect to see you wearing your work of art! come on , you're brave, stop with the shy girl routine, you've blown your cover...and these look like they will work, the important part....so it is to be rayon? i just read today it was but this was because it was made from bamboo...hmmm? i wondered about that but anyway....i would love one in good old cool comfy cotton or linen that is lightweight...love the pants, everything about them is very cute...the tops are neat too but the long sleeved would be way too hot down here so it would have to be modified....as you can see, i am your first customer so even if it's a pic in email so i can see it all, i get to see YOU in it, ok? pretty please with chocolate covered mints?

i love the idea of lining them with your silks...how lovely would that be inside the pocket peeking out? I can't wait....i have something else to ask you about but will do it privately as i don't want to make you quit before you even get started ;)

xxoxoxoxox, when are you starting? yesterday???? ;)

La Belette Rouge said...

You did that embroidery from scratch???? You amaze me. I so look forward to seeing where this new project takes you.
And yes, i expect you to model it for us.
xxoo

laughingwolf said...

neat bird, but i know nada of 'fashion' ;) lol

laughingwolf said...

marja-leena, you are finnish, right?

Liberality said...

Yes, I do expect to see you model this creation of yours. Wow, you are so talented. Sewing, drawing, writing, painting!!! You are amazing susan!

clairesgarden said...

wow, amazing creativity! and yes you should model the 'new clothes'!!

Lisa said...

I cannot wait to see how this turns out. You are so talented with your hands and your're able to bring your visions to life. What a gift, susan.

I think the eagle is magnificent.

okjimm said...

I cannot so what to say nothing of sew something.... BUT... I have saved scraps from my Father's old blue jeans... mine... and my son's..... some day I would like to make a 3 generation quilt.... my design... somebody else has do it.... I wish ( only for scant moments) that I could sew.

susan said...

linda - Moi, shy? Not at all in person but pics and mirrors aren't the faithful friends of my ego they once were :-) Yes, I'm starting off with rayon for the reasons mentioned and a few more I found here. It's the first man-made fiber but is made from cellulose (so bamboo would work) and not petrochemicals. We'll have to wait and see if I can actually still do this before I think of making more than one or two. I promise to get back to you if the time ever comes.

belette - Yes, I did. When I was much younger a favorite thing to do was to embroider while I was hanging out with friends. Typing keeps both my hands busy so I'm not doing it now :-)

:D wolf - Thanks! You're a man so you don't have to :-)

liberality - Oh dear, another request for a personal showing? What if it falls off? You're pretty amazing yourself :-)

claire - Nice to see you again :-)

lisa - Me too and thanks but remember most of what I do takes a lot of time. I agree it's kind of a nice bird but is more dove-like than eagle (except for the raptor beak).

okjimm - Hah! Since denim seems to live forever you may yet find yourself sewing those scraps together.

Steve Emery said...

I would love to see you waring it, of course - but we'll settle for a wooden model or a hanger if that's all we can get...

I like the embroidery - I think it shows your style in some of the gesture and proportion.

Seraphine said...

a bullet hole?
are you sure it wasn't a burn hole? because musicians are known more for sex drugs and drop-and-roll than they are for drive-bys, unless hip hop artists have taken to wearing doe skin suits...
i'd have been happy with just the guitar.
the dragon sounds awesome. too bad you didn't make a photo of it.
a cut-out would be fine. standing next to a cut-out of barack obama would be awesome too. where's marilyn?

Randal Graves said...

I see, trying to make the bird of peace extra warmongery in order to get in with the bloodthirsty oligarchs who run the place? You can't fool us, hippie.

(fashion of any sort is lost on me, so I had to fall back on tried-n-true commenting style, je suis désolé.)

susan said...

steve - Time will tell whether it's worth wearing, never mind modeling but we'll see. This piece was meant for a denim and velvet quilt but even though I made a few of them I never used it. I did get much better but never thought about pictures at the time.

sera - Yes, a bullet hole. You see, in my naivety I thought the doe had died of natural causes. I would have been happy with the guitar too but both of my friends were overwhelmed at the complexity of the dragon so they each insisted on giving me a gift.

Did you see 'Up In The Air'? There was a really neat bit about cut-outs.

randal - Back then I thought once Nixon was gone all would be well with this country again. Little did I know.

Seraphine said...

no i didn't see up in the air, but i just looked it up on IMDb. it looks very good. but of course, until i see it, i don't know what you mean about the cutouts.