I’ve had a fascination with reflective fabrics for a while. The amazing reflective fabrics being manufactured today have so many creative possibilities that I itch to get my hands on some of them. Unfortunately, most aren’t available here.
Recently I managed to get my hands on some reflective fabric tape, and designed a new jacket with the tape in mind.
But first I had to turn the tape into piping.
Then I made a few test seams with the piping and the wind-block fleece I’d chosen for the jacket. I found the combination of fabric and piping was singularly unforgiving—the fabric stretched too much, and the seam had to be sewn perfectly to look good. Even the slightest sloppiness caused it to look awful.
That meant hand basting the piping to one side of the seam first, and then hand basting the seam together before sewing it on the machine.
Then each seam needed topstitching to make the most of that precise seam.
The upshot is that every seam on this jacket (to which I added seams for style purposes) has to be sewn five times (two of those times by hand through four layers of quite tough fabric).
What was I thinking?!
I’ll admit that by the time I’d managed the first seam (having had to rip it out twice because it wasn’t perfect), I was nearly ready to scrap the project.
Then I looked at the gorgeous seam I’d just finished.
When I finally do complete this garment, it’s going to be lovely. I’ve chosen fabric I know will look good for a decade or more of hard use. Its reflective piping will give me a measure of safety for the nighttime walks I enjoy. It will be warm, windproof and nearly waterproof. Yes, it will take me quite a bit longer than I’d hoped to make. But, as they say, good things take time.
I do a fair bit of crafting—I weave, sew, knit, embroider, etc.—but almost all of what I create is useful. Clothing, rugs, bags, household furnishings … if I need something, I make it.
It’s unusual for me to create something with no utility at all.
Maybe that’s why I had so much fun making this fabric collage wall hanging. There is no purpose for this piece of whimsy, beyond fitting the ocean theme my husband declared for the new family ‘art installation’ in the living room.
I didn’t have to worry about whether the metallic threads would hold up to use, or whether the long embroidery stitches would snag on anything. I didn’t have to finish all the edges of every piece of fabric. It didn’t have to be machine washable, warm, comfortable, or something I’d want to be seen wearing in public. It didn’t have to be biologically accurate or to even make sense in any way. I could make it as silly as I liked. I could do whatever I wanted and call it finished when I got sick of it.
What started as a project I felt obligated to do (because everyone else in the family was contributing to the art installation) turned out to be a joy. I spent twice as long on it as I originally intended and, though I’m not sure it particularly counts as Art with a capital A, it makes me smile when I see it on the wall.
Maybe it was useful after all.
It rained all weekend, so what was I to do but bake and sew for two days? It felt decadent, indulgent (though I did get my weekend chores done; I wasn’t a total slacker).
It was a rewarding weekend, too. My fabric stash has been getting out of control lately. I only buy fabric when I have a project in mind, but there’s always a little left over from any project, and it builds up. Not enough to make clothing for me or my now adult-sized kids, but enough for clothes for little kids and babies.
So this winter I’m on a mission to reduce the stash by making clothing to give to charity. On this chilly, wet weekend, I started in on my scraps of polar fleece. I made a whole raft of warm hats, and cut out the pieces for five little jackets (I need to get zips for the jackets before I can sew them). It was great fun turning all that ‘waste’ fabric into useful items.
Next weekend, I hope to start in on the knit fabric—I have patterns for baby t-shirts that’ll be perfect for using up those scraps. And then there’s the denim, cotton broadcloth, corduroy … so many fabrics, and so many creative possibilities, once you think small.
I managed to cut my polar fleece volume down by half—my stash reduced to pieces useful for my own clothes. If I can do the same with all my other fabrics, I’ll be thrilled. I get more space in my cupboard, I get to indulge in sewing I enjoy doing, and someone in need gets new clothes. It’s a win for everyone.
Surprisingly, a day of calm. It was overcast and rainy. The garden is reasonably well weeded. The berries and peas were picked yesterday.
Tomorrow I will clean the house (because Santa doesn’t visit dirty houses—I’m sure my mother taught me that one), and the peas and berries will need to be picked again, but today there was remarkably little on the to-do list. I’m not sure what happened, because usually the lead up to Christmas is a frenzy, just so I can feel free to take the whole of Christmas day off.
So, I gave myself an early gift—a day of sewing. I managed two new desperately needed t-shirts for myself, and did the finishing by hand while listening to a recording of my far-away family reading A Christmas Carol. Then I picked roses, and played a game with my daughter.
Such a lovely, relaxing day, I hardly need Christmas at all…
Give thanks for the air
The vegetables in the garden
And the needle
And the thread
To watch bees
To drink tea
To laugh at bad jokes
To write awful poetry
To admire weeds
And talk over the back fence
Do not be in a hurry
To get where you are going.
You will find yourself there.
And then it will be too late
To enjoy the journey.