Thursday, July 16, 2020

A White Painted Kaftan

I have really fallen away on this blogging thing. . .and I was doing so good most of the spring! Blah. I am so freaking far behind in chronicling sewing projects that I won't ever catch up. One thing that makes it hard when it comes to blogging is the organizing of photos. I have been taking more photos with my dslr lately and just transferring them to my phone instead of downloading them onto the computer where I can edit them with Lightroom. Once in a while I'll download all the photos (usually a few hundred at a time) and just. . .leave them. Editing takes a long time, even if I don't do much more than crop a photo or adjust the brightness and shadow. And then I've been lazily exporting from Lightroom into a folder that is supposed to only contain photos from 2019. So this morning I finally got up super early and decided it was as good a time as any to organize my photos on the computer and I think I have that all sorted now. For the last ten or so years I just put all our pictures into folders by year, and each folder has subfolders for the individual months of each year. I think that's my favorite way to organize photos although when I do a lot of pictures for sewing projects it makes me want to create folders for just sewing projects. Olord the good things I could do and how organized I could be if I just had the time! (and I can't use that as an excuse. If one wants something bad enough, one creates the time.)

Waterfall at Ceasars Creek, where I went hiking with my friend Dennis recently.
Anyway, yes, I've been sewing quite a bit this summer. Mostly just everyday clothes for me and the girls but it's actually been awesome to feel consistently creative and inspired! They are mostly just simple and quick projects but yeah. It's been good. It really helps to have a dedicated sewing room and all the little items that ones needs to be able to do things quickly and well. For many years I got by with the most bare bones basics, but I've made a conscious effort to pick up little things here and there over the last year or two and, most importantly, LEARN TO USE THEM, and it is really starting to make a difference. Like, my very old second-hand Facebook marketplace serger and learning how to use it for finishing knits. . .and using fusible tape to make nicer hems in knits. . .and how to use a double needle. . .and getting comfortable with rotary cutters and buying new, nice pins often and not using chintzy nasty fabric just because it's cheap. (although, in this post, this fabric IS kind of chintzy, nasty and cheap!) I used to take satisfaction in doing things the hard way but eh. There is no glory in consciously doing things the hard way just because. It doesn't make me a better person and definitely not a better seamstress. Give me alllll the shortcuts and all the tips and tricks and I will try each one. And as a result, me and the girls get cute new things to wear that cost way less than buying new! (garage sales are still awesome though. I got Anne SO MANY clothes at one a few weeks ago, most with tags still attached, for 3 items for $1! 😮)

Speaking of cheap fabrics, have any of y'all been using the precut fabrics that Wal-Mart has started selling a lot of? For the last few years they've sold pre cut lengths of poly cottons and some mystery fabrics, but it seems that lately they are moving more and more to these pre cut lengths and phasing out the bolts. At my local Wal-Mart, which is the closest place to me where I can buy fabric, most of the cottons were bought over the spring when everyone was making masks. They still have not restocked the bolts but there has been a huge increase in the pre cut fabrics! I have bought a lot of them and they are actually quite nice. Some are crappy, yes, but the quality is consistently getting better. And they are CHEAP. 2 yards for $2? 3 yards for $6 or $8? Um yes!!!

Evolution of a kaftan. . .

Yoke sewn to neckline and curved hem cut. Time to stop for the night!
 I was out late one night getting a few groceries, a few days before summer solstice and as always I went by the fabric section just to see what they had. A pre cut length of cream colored, stretchy, open patterned fabric jumped out at me and I brought it home, along with another pre cut length of a truly low quality, cheap, flimsy, stretchy, silky fabric that I thought I'd use for a lining. It was definitely a spur of the moment thing. I got home around 9 that night and after putting my groceries up and getting the kids ready for bed I began sewing. I was determined to make a special dress to wear to Serpent Mound for summer solstice!

Side seams, belt slits and belt put in
I knew the stretchy fabric would be horrible to sew so, what garment requires no seams and just hemming?  A kaftan! It was an easy choice. I did make it a little harder on myself by deciding I wanted to use the full width of the 60" fabric, so after measuring up about 15" from each selvedge edge, for elbow-length sleeves, I cut a very wide, giant neckline in the rest of the folded rectangle that would be gathered to fit a yoke with a normal neckline.

Finished kaftan but the yoke was too plain!

Paint to the rescue!
It wasn't too complicated and I used a firmly woven cotton for the yoke, so I had something stable to stitch the gathered, stretchy neckline to. I lined the yoke and the stretchy gathered edge of the kaftan was stitched sandwiched between the yoke outer layer and lining. At that point, it was nearly 11 so I finished the dress the next day by sewing up the sides, about 14" in from the edges, and finishing the edges all around the dress with cotton binding I cut from scrap fabric. I sewed some lace from my trim jar onto the yoke since it seemed a little too plain. I desperately wanted to embroider a pattern of oak leaves and acorns onto the yoke but that would take too much time, so I ended up using some of my sons acrylic paints to quickly paint some daisies and swirly lines and little gold dots onto the yoke. I cut four slits to thread a belt through for the waistline and my kaftan was done!

Needed an under-dress
But it was very see-through and the two white slips/under dresses I had didn't work with the neckline of the kaftan. I used the cheap horrible stretchy silky fabric I had bought for lining and made a quick under-dress the day of solstice. I used my fitted crop t-shirt pattern, adapted from the Deer & Doe Plantain t-shirt pattern, to make an A line, lower calf length, sleeveless dress with a V neckline to match the neckline of the kaftan. I finished the armholes and neckline with narrow bands and just left the hem raw, since the fabric does not ravel.

It was lovely to wear the fnished dress to Serpent Mound, although the hem of my dress did pick up a lot of bits of grass and leaves as I trailed it around. I think I should have made it a bit shorter - but, oh well! It's fine as it is.

This pretty triple-leaf brooch was perfect for the dress!
3 is a sacred number in many traditions and cultures, representing many things. 
I also finished my rosette necklace that I began back in Februrary (I think? Maybe March.) I was deeply inspired by the sun and cross symbol that was used by the prehistoric Mound Builder cultures that lived here long ago and created the mounds that we still have with us today. The sun symbol was once thought to indicate that the Mound Builders were sun worshipers but we know now that they probably were not. The cross is thought to represent the world suspended from four threads. I drew out my design onto thick interfacing and spent way too many hours filling in each area with glass seed beads I picked up awhile ago from Windy's World. As this was my first time trying this type of craft my beads are too closely packed together which has caused a little bit of buckling and distortion of the design, but all in all I am vastly pleased with it now that it is done! I took it with me to the Serpent and it is a very special piece to me.

We also made two new shamanic drums, that we also brought with us but did not actually play since we simply ran out of time and spent a lot of our time walking around and enjoying the (socially distanced) company of everyone else who came. We have since played the drums very often and they have a nice sound.

Much love,