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Sunday, February 7, 2010

Art Event

Trudy, the daughter of Tony who founded our store, Fabric Depot, gave me this pattern and asked if I might make her a bag, something artistic, to wear to an art event that was held last night. She had with her a dark blue silk blouse, a Chinese design, which she planned to wear with a simple black skirt. This tells you right off, that she is not a flamboyant woman. So she was really depending on this piece being quite wonderful but not in a goopy outrageous way with beads dripping off, fuzzy stuff hanging around it, etc, you know what I mean.

So I took her for a little journey to the Bridal department to look at silks. I watched her energy level wax and wane as I pulled out bolt after bolt of silk, trying to see what her fancy was.

This strap is very far fetched from the original pattern design which is actually a covered heavy cording. I had a very tiny piece of China brocade left to work with. Dragon flies on gold satin. The strips ended up being a little less than an inch wide which I stitched to silk taffeta to create the 72" long, 1 & 1/2 inch wide continuous strap. Her blouse is just about the same color as the taffeta.

Often times, working with silk is difficult because it frays so much and when you are using 1/4 inch seams, you have to work fast, precise, and with little handling as possible. And with the dupioni, you often have to topstitch afterwards because it is the worst for raveling. Once all the strips were put together, I ironed on a relatively soft batting to give it some depth. Then I stitched in the ditch as accurately as possible so the stitches didn't show but the indentations were there. The biggest problem with this bag came to be the grommets. In Home Dec, the grommets were way too big, maybe 1 & 1/2 and none of the metals really worked. In our Notions Dept, grommets are small, being maybe 1/2 the large. I'm talking in the hole. But Home Dec did have a 1" grommet, but in plastic. So I asked the Craft Department if they had a paint that might work with the plastic, not just fabric. And, they did called indigo. What a relief. So I painted and hoped that on Friday I could put these on properly. I was very nervous about this part as I was working with two layers of Chirimen silk and a batting. And I have never used plastic grommets. Would they hold? And this piece will go on display afterwords.

Then I began to cover buttons. I did remove the shank of the button so each one would lay flat on the fabric when I attached it. I first glued on bamboo batting onto each half-ball button and cut it 1/16th of an inch larger than the button. Then I covered the buttons which I then stitched onto the purse and surrounded each with beads.

Remember, I could not see Trudy in anything dripping or fly-away. So I was thinking that this was catching, and not too understated. Hoping so. She would come in to the sewing room every day to see the progress. Trudy loved everything about it. She was totally excited and kept hugging me every time we saw each other.

So you see both sides of the bag, one here, one above. Pictures of course don't do it justice. Oh, and I found a dense piece of cardboard which I covered and inserted for the base. I really loathe
slouchy bags. I love a good firm bottom. One of the surprising things I discovered during this project is that we have in the store what is know as "chirimen rayon" It is an exact knowck off of "chirimen silk" which is highly coveted. I own 350 kimono, old, some in great condition, some not, most of them are made of chirimen silk. I occasionally go to ebay and bid on a small piece of this silk. I refuse to pay much. So I never bid high. But there are people out there who bid lots of money for this silk.

This week I am going to pull some patterns and make something for display in the store. I know that it is a secret. Once I make a display, that fabric is going to fly off the shelf. And they are beautiful. Oh my god. I would love to own a piece of each one. I can buy a quarter yard for $3 with my discount~~~

At the very last minute, Trudy called from somewhere in Oregon saying she was on her way and would I make her a shawl. oh my god!!!


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  2. Beautiful work you have there,Paulina; I always wondered how to handle silk for the same reason you mentioned. I recently made a card bag for a neighbor using a silk dress she wanted used,between that and chiffon I think I will make sure I have fabric zen before I try again ( in about 3 weeks!).Thank you for being such an inspiration :)

  3. When it is time, I will help you. I will talk to you this weekend. Working silk is not as difficult as one would think. It just takes a little loving.