torsdag 22 maj 2014

Dyeing with Indigo in Sanxia

Earlier this week I joined a tour with the Community Center Taipei to go to Sanxia. Indigo dying! I've been wanting to do this for years! I love this! (well, what else could you expect from me...?)

A group of maybe 13-15 people took the MRT and then the bus over to Sanxia. Quite a nice trip over there. Bus stop was "Sanxia Old Street", and after that a 5 minute walk over to the Indigo dying Center in Sanxia. I've been in Sanxia before, and I knew it was famous for Indigo Dying, but I had no idea where the Indigo center was!

In chinese, indigo dying is called 藍染, which means blue dyeing. I remember when I was a teenager we used to make "batik", or simply called tie dye. However, last couple of years people have started to refer this to a japanese term instead, Shibori. I've also heard of Shibori via Thread Cult, but I never knew it was more or less the same, just that you use Indigo instead of chemical dies.

First we got instructions how to achieve different patterns, and after we've manipulated the fabric to everyones wish, it was time to start with the coloring process!
First, dipping the white cloth in clean cold water. And then, straight in to the big barrel of indigo dying solution. Keep it there for 3 minutes, and when you take out your cloth - it's not blue - but green. Let it air for a couple of minutes to let the indigo oxidize for a while and you will see the green color turn to blue. Then we repeated the process at least 3 times, or more if you want even more intense indigo blue color.

After your fabric had dried somewhat you can take out the elastics, chopsticks, stones or whatever you've done to it, to let it hang dry completely.

We didn't have time to do everything at the center but had to take the bus and MRT back to Taipei city. It had been a very fun and HOT morning in Sanxia with little food to eat (Keep in mind that the Old Street will feed you nothing but croissants and ice cream in croissants! what would Taiwanese people do without 7-11 and all the other convenient stores??).

When we got home it was time to do the final step, rinse the fabric in cold water to wash all the excess dye out! And after that voilá!

Indigo Center

This is how you do it

Yes I can read, but I love these illustrations! They're so.. anthropological. Full of culture!

Indigo Center

Absolutely beautiful scene! All these indigo experiments that we did in class

My creations are the 2 on the right

All are different, all are beautiful

Now that I've tried it out, I can for sure say that I have the taste of Indigo! I would love to continue doing this. But actually next time, I'm gonna try to do this with what's called Chinese Gromwell, in chinese it's called 紫草 , meaning "purple grass". The procedure to obtain the color from the root is a bit different so I have to do some digging in chinese before I can get started. But I'm guessing - and hoping - it's going to be beautiful!! Who doesn't love purple? :)

Oh yes, and then of course I have all the chemical dyes that I bought when I had big plans to do all the coloring for my store by myself, but still I haven't gotten around to do that, especially when it's quite cheap to have someone do it for you. However, some places aren't better than you yourself, and just mix it up without any thought of different shades of a color! So yes, now, I am also inspired to continue with the chemical dying as well. Wish me luck!!

Crescent blouse from Megan Nielsen

Ever since I got these patterns last spring (I think) I've been wanting to do a Crescent blouse! Well, one of the long list of patterns I wanted to try from Megan Nielsen. So during the summer I did a Cascade skirt (yet to show!!) and 3 pairs of the culotte skirt Tania. But Crescent fell behind and then came the fall, and then the winter. But now!

Plus, I had this beautiful fabric that I also carry in the store, that I wanted to use. Mixing that chiffong with a similar shade dark blue chiffong and I was all set to go. Except that it was chiffong. We've all heard it, chiffong is a very difficult fabric to work with, and now I really know! Not that it moved around too much, I was prepared for that, and used a rotary cutter to cut the fabrics made it very smooth. But sewing on the bias strips in the neckline and the cutouts on the shoulder part. Well, that was super tricky! I realized it wouldn't look so good (after sewing the back bias strip on) sewing with the machine. So I ended up using a pick stitch all the way. That really made a huge difference. It looks really good actually.

And then came the rounded pieces from the waist down. Half circle round. I have tried the rolling hemming foot on the machine many times but always failed - big time! (with cotton). But I wanted to give it one more chance. And guess what! Taking it slowly, patience and longer stitches, it really worked! Now I agree with so many people out there, it's a great foot once you've mastered it!

And here is the result!

Pattern: Crescent blouse from Megan Nielsen
Fabric: chiffong (polyester)

måndag 19 maj 2014

Finished 2 bras!

So now I finally finished my bras! I have to say, it took me some time to admit to myself that my bra size is not what it used to be - before 2 kids, and 30 kg weight loss (I don't think many people can achieve that! :D) So now, I'm a B cup (!). They don't even look like a B cup, but all the measurements keep telling me - You're a B-cup!

So, after making 2 bras in the wrong size, I finally read the instructions and the measurement list. So now I can make bras that fit.

This first one is a cut and sew foam. The pattern that I used was a Swedish pattern from a woman named Lisa. She has a blog where she sells her patterns, but if you live outside Sweden there's no point in hunting down this pattern. There's plenty of options.

A close up to my problems that I had with this bra (it still fits though). First of all, I forgot to cut away the seam allowance on the foam cup pieces. This made the foam cup too big and everything wonky. But, one thing I have to go back and look at before next bra I  make from this pattern is the size of the cup and the size of the cup in the band. The cup was very much too big, which resulted in more wonkiness. It could also be because I didn't have a wire that fit so I had to take one that I had (but too big since I thought I was bigger), so I had to cut the wire and melt some shrinking plastic onto the edge.

The zig zag fabric is a cotton jersey fabric that I bought in Sweden some years ago, but it's a favorite fabric so I haven't done so much with it, I don't dare to. But I did manage to work up my courage and cut out these small pieces needed for a bra.

This white bra, I actually drafted the pattern all by myself! In April, the bra-guru Beverly, owner of the sewing store, the author of Bra Makers Manual and other books and also the maker of many nice bra patterns, she came to Taipei to teach at the local university! Amazing opportunity! I also got the thumbs up from Beverlys protege and European distributor of her books and patterns. You can find her store here.

The fabric for this is a non stretch cotton lace, and some supplies that I had at hand. Next I would like to start experimenting a little bit more, especially using all the great supplies that I carry in my store!

Plus, I can't wait for late June when I'll be attending a few more days of classes with Beverly, this time in Sweden!

söndag 18 maj 2014

Minty Green Gabriola

I've made a Gabriola skirt for summer! It is quite lovely to wear a maxi skirt for the summer. The fabric comes from my store, and has big patterned flowers. Flowers are fuchsia, on a pale mint green background. Somewhat tricky to match but I do like it a lot!

If you want to buy the fabric you can do that here, and if you want to buy the pattern you can do that here.

Good: I am very happy with the results, I didn't make a muslin first but I did grade it between the sizes since I don't have a pear shaped figure like all of the Sewaholic patterns are drafter for. If you also need some instructions how to grade between the sizes, especially the upper panel part can be tricky, you can find a good tutorial for that on Sewaholics own blog. I also shortened the pattern quite a bit, as I always have to do since I'm only 157 cm tall.

Bad: Nothing really bad actually, I had to take it in about 4 cm even though I walked through the sizes. For the next one I think I'll shorten it about 1-2 cm more. And again, like with the pretty Hollyburn skirt, I can not understand why the instructions call for that simple zipper insertion? A lapped zipper is much more beautiful! I really recommend putting some more effort into the zipper.

Best: My stitches for the hook and eyes! Precious!

Lately I've put some more effort into translating my store and adding information about my products in other languages in Swedish. Sweden is my biggest market, but other countries are finding me and I am overly excited over that! I love it! So please, visit my store, if not to buy, but to have a look around. If there's any questions or products that you'd love to see in my store, send me an E-Mail.
Location:Minty Gabriola

torsdag 15 maj 2014

Bra making

I think I got the pattern pretty ok now. It took a few rounds of redrafting the cups but I think it's time to really try the pattern on a "real" fabric and make a "real" bra! I'm quite excited.

This is a photo of my muslin bra. The band and the cups I made in muslin fabric, the straps are also just long pieces of muslin that I had to pin in place. The back band was still in power net. Before you get the sizing right I really recommend that you try to go for the basic fabrics. No need to spend too much time, money and fabric and lace and underwires on a piece that probably won't even fit you.

måndag 12 maj 2014

Horray! My wardrobe is starting to get matching pieces!

This is Cabarita top from Cake Patterns and Madeleine from Victory Patterns.

The blue striped fabric for the top you can find here.

But now, what I really need is shorts and underwear, and bra's! Lots of bras!

Location:Madeleine + Cabarita

lördag 10 maj 2014

Are you like me? Since I have an industrial sewing machine I still sew over my needles, most of the times that's fine, but sometimes they get wonky, especially if I use my old bad quality plastic head needles.

So sometimes, and actually more often than you think (!), you need to do a spring cleaning. And again, if you're anything like me, the wonky ones never get it to the trash, and they still sit there in a bad corner on my needle cushion. Sometimes they do turn up, and you think "no,
Not that one, not that one either, or this". And what do you do? Well, put them back! How crazy is that?

But today I've finally started the spring cleaning among my needles.

What do you do?

Later when you need new needles, of course I carry them at Mrs Bao.

Location:Do you spring clean among your needles?