Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Progress is slow but continuing

I continue to make progress on my embroidered linen caftan.  I'm probably getting close to half way done with the outside hem.  Not sure whether I'll hand or machine stitch the side seams.  That probably depends on whether I'm at home when it's time to start them!

Pockets may be something to add to the caftans, either on the front in the 'usual' sorts of place, or I'm considering putting some in the area outside the side seams.  Simple patch pockets would go on the black linen quite well.  On the embroidered linen it may be a bit more of a challenge to not disturb the embroidery.

I happened to stop back at Hancock Fabrics last week and picked up the last yard of the embroidered linen.  It is so lovely and I think it will make a really nice bag, especially lined with the black linen with an interior pocket or so.  I may even consider adding a zipper to close it up completely instead of the simple open top on the black one.  I'm still doing imagination design trying to figure out what I want to do.  When I figure it out I expect it will whip up pretty fast, with the possible exception of the zipper, since I've not put zippers into anything in a while.  I know I've got some zipper tape around someplace.

Friday, September 16, 2011

More Caftans and other fun things to do with linen

I finished the black linen caftan the day after my last post.  I was too impatient to wait till the next week to stitch the side seams by hand on my rides to work, so I just whipped it up on my machine.  Wore it that evening, and quite often since.  It is very comfortable

Both other linen fabrics, the black with turquoise embroidery and the lovely blue, were washed and dried several times.  I have started on the embroidered one.  This time I used the full width of the fabric and I made the overall length longer, ankle length.  I'll have to pick the bottom up when I use the stairs, which I don't have to do with the shorter black one.  Because the length is longer I found that the outside edges ("sleeves") dragged the ground, so I cut the bottom hemline at a much greater curve on each side.  I'll see how I like this longer length after it is made, knowing that I may need to shorten it.

Like the plain black, I am hand stitching the hem while I ride to and from work.  First I did the neckline.  I cut this a bit differently than the plain black, a bit more of a curve in the front with a shorter slit.  As with the black I used a narrow, 1/8 inch hem.  I wanted this to be done first because the loose threads of the neckline were subject to rubbing around as I moved the fabric to hem the outside edge.  Taking the fabric out of the bag I'm keeping it in in order to hem it, and moving/folding it back to put it back away could result in too much fraying.

It took me a day and a half or so of riding to/from work to finish the neckline.  Once the neckline was hemmed I started hemming the outside edge several inches above the bottom curve on one side, moving across the bottom using the same 1/4 inch hem that I used on the black.  I found that I needed to pick the embroidery out if it was right next to the hem, otherwise the fabric and embroidery together were too thick to turn and stitch down for the hem.  Because the embroidery motifs are large and spaced apart I only needed to do this a couple of times.  I have finished one bottom edge and am currently moving along quite well up the next side.

Last weekend I decided that the extra fabric that I hadn't needed to make the black caftan would make a nice, simple carry bag.  This didn't take very long at all, stitching it up on the machine.  It probably took me longer to decide what size to make it and then cut it out than it did to stitch it up.  Finished size is 15 1/4 inches tall by 15 inches wide.  The folded top hem is 3/4 inch.  The 2 straps are 1 inch wide, made from 1 1/2 inch strips turned into tubes.  Each strap is 32 1/2 inches over all length, including the attachment, making the finished strap length 31 inches.  This is long enough I can hang it over my shoulder and still easily get things into and out of it.

I'm thinking that I'll make another, similar bag, out of a similar size of the embroidered linen.  My idea for this one is to line it with the plain black and put a small side pocket or so inside it.  I may make this one with a zipper or other closure, too.  It will be more substantial with the lining and look a lot fancier with the pretty embroidery.

Earlier this week I decided to stop back by Hancock Fabrics again.  I decided that I would make my husband a linen sheet.  He gets hot easily, and linen is so nice at keeping one cool and dry.  I've thought about this several times, but he always said no.  This time I decided I wouldn't ask, I'd just do it.  So I did! I came home with several yards of a very light weight linen in a pretty dark sort of rose red.  I don't even have a good word for the color.  It's not brick, but it's not rose, either.  He likes red, and it is dark enough not to stain easily, and it is a color I'm happy with so with the limited options I took it.

Usually I prewash all fabric before making anything from it, but this time I didn't see any reason to bother.  I got 5 yards, which is enough to make 2 sheets large enough for his use.  Pulled threads to make sure the fabric was true to the grain on the ends and also for the cutting line, then stitched a simple 1/4 inch hem.  Washed and dried after the hemming.  I didn't stitch the selvedges, just left them. If they start to fray at all I'll trim and stitch them as well, but this allowed me to get him something done very quickly.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Black linen caftan almost done

Yesterday I finished the hemming on my new, heavy weight black linen caftan.  It didn't take me as long elapsed time as I expected, in part due to several hours spent waiting at the BMV drivers testing station with my son last Friday.  Basically I stitched the outside hem down all the way around, then yesterday I did the neckline.  Most of the stitching was done riding in the car, as expected, which is a bit slow due to being bumped around a bit.  I used a sharp needle, which I usually don't with linen, and I won't again.  I managed to stitch my fingertip into the thread a couple times.  Probably wouldn't happen if I didn't have a nice callus on the tip of my finger, but still!  I like the way it came out.  The hemming is basically invisible on the right side, and the stitching nearly so on the wrong side.

I decided to wash it before finishing the side seams, so it is in the dryer waiting for me to get home tonight.  I've not decided yet whether to hand stitch the side seams, or if I should just do it on the machine.  It will take just a couple minutes by machine, so I'll likely do that.

Since I like the way this is turning out so much I stopped by Hancock Fabric yesterday afternoon to see if they have linen fabric.  The JoAnn I got this linen at only had a couple bolts, no fun colors and very little option in the way of weight, thus the plain black.  Lo and behold, Hancock's had a nice selection of 100% linen as well as some blends, in different weights and colors.  I didn't see any handkerchief weight in white, so I'll have to continue to get that online, but I found a very nice black with turquoise embroidered flowers & leaves as well as a beautiful bright medium blue.  I got yardage of each enough to make a caftan with some left over, even with shrinkage.  I serged the cut edges of both this morning before work, and the embroidered black is in the washer waiting to be dried.  I'll wash and dry each piece of fabric a couple of times of course, so it does any shrinking before I make it up.

I need to get pictures, too, of course!

The finished width is 44 inches, length is 46 1/2 (shoulder to hem). The bottom outside corners are rounded.  The side seams will start 8 3/4 inches from the shoulder seam, 6 inches from the outside edge, and stop 9 1/2 inch from the bottom edge.