Thursday, August 5, 2010

Thoughts on Moving

"In 2010 I will be working on numerous arts projects. I am just a simple artist who hopes to make a small difference through creative expression and positive interaction. So much to do, so little time."

This was my posted thought at the beginning of 2010.  Now here it is August and we are well into the second half of the year.  Time flies and so it goes.  This summer my focus has been on getting us moved to a new location.  Who knew that we would make such a big, big change in such a short, short time?  The house we picked, our new "Casita," is just right for Henry, Papa and me, a teeny tiny castle at the bottom of a big, big hill.  Everything happens for a reason!?  Artsy endeavors...quilting, sewing, artsy projects are currently on hold.  I am a firm believer that change we must and so we did; thus, the move.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Utter Clutter

Moving from a house you have lived in for 24 years is an exercise in letting go in order to move forward.  I never thought I had too many things...except maybe crafty books and, oh!! of course, those many doodly do's from my craft room...okay then!...maybe I am a crafty artist of excess; but now that all my threads, yarns, fabrics, paints, patterns, etc., etc., are packed away in boxes, my thought for the day is what utter clutter!!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Casita on the Move!

Summertime.  No thunderheads here, but the days are hot and humid nonetheless.  July 2010 is the month that we sold our house in Cerritos on the first day of Open House.  Mama, Papa and Henry are on the move.  Casita business (the creative variety) is on hold until we get settled in our new home

Monday, June 21, 2010

Casita Update - Keeping Up With Chris

Definitely time to de-clutter.  The task at hand is to toss old patterns and fabrics that I know I won't use; that's my goal.  Sewing, embroidery, knitting, crochet, gourd carving, rubber stamping, artsy stuff...too many hobbies.  I have been dabbling with machine embroidery most recently.  I am better at sewing garments than I am at making bags, purses, and small crafty items.  Why is that, I wonder?  Here's my most recent art piece; I call it "Olangee" (translation: Orange).

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Mike and Me - The Wedding

Here we are...Michael and me...dancing at his wedding. As you might note, I'm not wearing the fabulous silver knit outfit that I sewed up (see May posting for picture). Instead, I opted for a traditional "Mother of the Groom" kind of suit which I found at Macy's. I did change the buttons on the jacket to pearl buttons surrounded by rhinestones, for added sparkle to the outfit. As for my other outfit...the sparkly is in my closet. I will wear it (I promise) another time. Mike and Ali are very happily married and we all had a great time celebrating in Boise, Idaho.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Michael's Wedding - Mom's Dress

Over the course of my life, I have been known to be idealistic, unrealistic and sometimes just plain goofy...but always an artist or so I imagine myself. This time I got it into my head to make the dress I am going to wear to my son's wedding, coming up at the end of May. With my recent commitment to making an artsy wearable wardrobe, it seemed the right thing to do. So in recent weeks (months actually) I got busy working on what I have dubbed Project "Mike's Wedding-Mom's Dress." I poured through pattern books, Vogue, Butterick, Simplicity, independents...all of them...with a frenzy that only a Chun Girl like myself would understand. "Chun" is my maiden name and we Chuns tend to do things with great intensity. Yep, I bought patterns, this one, that one; oh so many!! My sis finally suggested, "Why don't you make that one...that Marcy Tilton top which fits you well and is very stylish? It's such a simple pattern. Embellish it with fabulous jewelry; that'll make the outfit." Inspiration! She was right. If I picked the correct fabric and added a simple fitted tea-length skirt to complement the top, this could be a winner. I found the perfect skirt pattern, especially for knit fabrics, "The Magic Pencil Skirt," by Pamela's Patterns. This skirt is comprised of one pattern piece that you use for front and back, both cut on the fold. I needed to make adjustments to tighten up the skirt to make it a bit more form fitting and also to add length to the skirt pattern. A seam down the center of the back piece instead of cutting it on the fold allowed me to make the adjustment I was looking for. Major time was spent in finding the correct knit fabric, primarily taking into consideration fabric weight...heavy enough to support the fitted skirt, but fluid enough for the top to drape properly. After hours of searching, I found my fabric through the internet from, of all places, Hart's Fabrics in Santa Cruz, California. I grew up in Santa Cruz. Hart's is the fabric store that my mom used to take my sister and me to when we first began sewing. I have good memories of going to the fabric store with my mom. Hart's is where I bought the fabric and notions for my very first attempt at sewing a dress and where we bought the fabric for my son's first baby blanket that my mom helped me make so many years ago. My mother passed away a while back, but I still have that baby blanket...sigh. Thank you, Hart's Fabrics; thank you Mom! My outfit is done. Papa Paz says, "Mama, this looks like a wedding outfit for sure...very nice!" He's my biggest supporter and fan, good or bad, no matter how my finished projects turn out. I included a closeup of the fabric where I hope you can see the glittery silver threads that is a part of this knit fabric; not too shimmery! I would not want to be a blazing beacon at Michael's wedding, after all. I think this fabric is just right. I think I'll be brave and wear it... fly my colors, so to speak. ; )

Monday, February 8, 2010

Marcy Tilton Patterns - Knit T-shirt & Vest

Marcy Tilton is one of my favorite clothing designers who designs for Vogue Patterns. I have purchased several of Marcy's patterns as her designs are very creative and speak to the artist in me. The neck detail of this t-shirt pattern has a wonderfully stylish twist. The band should actually be wider but I had to make adjustments in order to make it lie flat, just as Marcy's instructions indicated might be the case depending on the fabric used. I had purchased cream-colored cotton knit (for the t-shirt) and mesh fabric (for the vest), both in the same color, for a very cheap price at the garment district in Los Angeles. The cotton t-shirt fabric worked up fine though not as stretchy and soft to the touch as I might have liked, but the mesh? Whew!! I generally pre-shrink all my fabrics before sewing. I noticed the material had "seized up" a bit after going through the wash, and the pretty mesh was definitely not as sheer and not so pretty anymore. I had to add tucks to the vest at the shoulders, front and back and make adjustments to the overall length (cut, cut, cut) to size this garment for a proper fit since it had stretched quite a bit during construction. All is said and done now and I have two great garments. I'll make these again but will splurge on the right kind of knit fabric next time.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Beads!! Pin Kit

I have had it in mind to do beadwork. With that, I recently purchased a Beaded Pin Kit (by Ruthmarie Hofmann, Email: when I was at the January quilt show in Ontario, CA. The kit provides a square of batik print fabric, a paper template, a variety of beads (bead soup), a covered button form and pin, thread and needle. Using the fabric print as a guide, you can create your own unique beaded design. This is fun to do, if not a little tedious. While working on my pin, I accidentally upset my plate of loose beads and the teeny tiny beads went flying. I'll be more aware of my workspace next time. Luckily, I was able to distract Henry the Yorkie Pup away from the area as I crawled around on hands and knees to retrieve all those tiny beads. My camera does not focus up-close, but these pictures show current progress. I wish you could see it more clearly because it's really turning out quite pretty. I'll post the finished jewelry piece when done. My ultimate goal is to learn enough about bead embellishment to do some artsy beadwork on artsy garments in the future.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Oh Henry! Yorkie Pup Update

If you've read past journal entries about this Casita, you have already met Henry the Yorkie Pup (reference article, April 2009). Henry is one year old now and here he is, all 6.33 lbs of him with one of his favorite toys. Is he all grown up now, I wonder? On the subject of productivity in the workroom and at home, we all have excuses as to why things don't always get done; mine is Henry. I want to sew and do artsy things, but Henry wants to play and cavort. Inevitably, when I'm hard at work on this project or that, Henry shows up in my sewing room with a chewy toy that squeaks, wanting to play. Henry's favorite games are Run-run-run/Catch Me if You Can and Hide and Seek; he runs or hides, as the case may be, and I'm supposed to do the chasing. He's can I say NO! NO! to that little face in the donut ring? I have Henry duty mornings and weekdays, Papa has nights and weekends. Henry is a playful little prince but sometimes all I want to do is sit and sew. Oh Henry!!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tweedy Wool Vest - Kwik Sew #3705

Here's a lined wool vest which I just finished for my friend Kathy, using Kwik Sew #3705. Kat and I visited the Los Angeles garment district a couple of weeks ago and stopped in at Michael Levine's to shop for fabric. That day all woolens were 20% off and Kat picked out a deep rich teal interwoven with black; very subtle, very pretty, very Kathy. We decided upon black taffeta for the lining. The weave of this woolen fabric tended to unravel very easily and required careful attention in handling once the pattern pieces were cut. Otherwise, the vest was easy to sew, following the pattern instructions, and I was done in no time at all. This was a fun project to practice sewing skills on; pockets, putting in the lining...that kind of thing. Since completing the vest, I also finished my first pair of pants and I am more excited than ever about sewing. I chose a European-style pant pattern by Lois Hinse, using a lightweight denim. Had to adjust the fullness in the legs for a sleeker fit, but otherwise I had very good luck.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Batik Jacket - It's a Winner

Just completed this jacket using a rayon-based batik fabric, Maid Marian from Sawyer Brook's Fall II Collection. The photos don't do justice to the richness of the background colors of this pretty batik print. The jacket pattern which comes from CNT Pattern Co. promised a quick sew (3 hrs??? I don't think so). After preshrinking the fabric in my washing wash, medium spin...I threw it in the dryer with good results; the fabric came out intact and ready to cut and sew. This fabric is very fluid and requires care in cutting. I also encountered problems sewing the seams where the neckline and shoulder meet and finishing the collar. I struggled, partly because of the nature of this very soft, drapy, somewhat difficult-to-handle fabric and partly because of the design of the front, collar and front facing pattern piece. Not as simple to sew as I had expected, but it all ended with good results. As promised in the pattern description, the finished jacket's feminine silhouette is comfortable and stylish. I may use this pattern again, but next time I'll go with the 3/4 sleeve option for a more casual approach.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Crinkly Slippery Polyester Update - Bah Humbug!

Not happy with the olive green color of this polyester fabric. The color is neutral enough, but it's drab and non-descript and will need good accessorizing. I MUST remember color palette, even for test garments. The shirt's nearly complete. This was a breeze to sew. The collar is flattering, simple and was easy to construct and install. Not crazy about the cut of the sleeve. It goes from baggy under the upper arm (don't like this) to a very close fit at the wrist (I like this). I don't know fashion terminology, but I'm finding that fabric selection is critical to making these under-constructed designer patterns look right. I think the sleeve for this pattern will drape properly with a good knit instead of the woven, crinkle polyester that I used. We'll see.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Crinkly Slippery Polyester

I don't normally sew polyester fabric because I find it difficult to can be so slippery, not to mention the static cling factor - ouch! I prefer natural fabrics, i.e., cotton, linen, wool, but I promised myself to try new things this year and practice, practice, practice. I went to JoAnn's Fabrics and purchased two pieces - one a drab olive color crinkly polyester, the other a deep, rich navy/black textured polyester. Crazy! I'm working on the olive green piece this week, using Christine Jonson's Straight Shirt Jacket #723 for the pattern. It's a simple pattern, easy to sew, but the polyester fabric has a mind of its own. I think I'm winning the battle, but the proof will be in the finished garment. We'll see.