Julie Bowersett

juliebowersett{at}gmail{dot}com
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Friday
Feb132015

Tabula Rasa Jacket, Take One

I have been wanting to make this Tabula Rasa jacket pattern for such a long time.  So many of my friends have turned out version after version of this wonderfully-drafted, casual fit jacket (with a fabulous square armhole!).  Plus, I really love the gals who designed this jacket and who have come up with so many variations that it never looks like the same jacket twice.  Rae Cumbie and Carrie Emerson are the gals behind Fit for Art Patterns, the independent pattern company that produced the Tabula Rasa Jacket and variations, plus several other patterns.  Not only have they designed a stylish jacket with exceptionally good instructions, they also provide fitting services through their booth at the sewing expos they frequent.  When I purchased my pattern at one of these shows I was able to try on a muslin version of the jacket to determine the correct size.  Then Rae offered other suggestions for me to try (move the shoulder line forward 1/2-inch, shorten the hem lenght 1", etc.).  This gave me enough confidence to cut out my first jacket from some good (though not precious) fabric.

I chose a brown silk noil which has been in my stash for years.  I knew that the fabric would need some help to keep the jacket from looking flat and boring.  I decided that the band and optional cuffs would be the perfect place to add a little embellishment.  I love hand stitching and decided to pull out my sashiko stencils and return to a technique I learned years ago from Nancy Shriber.  I traced the design onto a layer of flannel that I then used to underline the various pieces. 

The thread I chose is a beautiful, hand-dyed perle cotton with a wide range of colors from cream through camel to dark brown, with some pink specks and even occasionally some aqua.  As many of you know, I like a very tone-on-tone look and this project is no exception.  In fact, this stitching is extremely subtle, even for me. 

I also decided to stitch the same design on the side panels, and used the same thread to saddle stitch the hems and around the bands and cuffs.

I am very pleased with how this jacket turned out and have another planned using a lovely kimono panel I bought at a sewing expo last fall.  I think this versatile pattern will see a lot of use from me.

Tuesday
Jan132015

Alabama Chanin Stitchin'

Over the summer, when my sewing studio was nothing but a mountain of boxes, I spent most of my sewing time doing hand stitching.  For a while now it has been obvious to me that what I need in my wardrobe is more basic pieces that I can mix and match.  Not only would this increase the items in my closet, it would decrease the items in my stash, namely the large collection of recycled t-shirts I am storing.  I have been very fortunate over the years to find many matching shirts at thrift stores, and these shirts are perfect for creating basic tops and skirts, as well as smaller accessories, Alabama Chanin style.

It is pretty amazing to me how quickly you can hand stitch a garment, though the binding of the neckline and armholes takes a fair amount of time.  This single-layer corset top was created from a couple of recycled t-shirts.  The hem was left unfinished, as is typical of AC garments, but I am considering binding it with leftover binding to keep it from rolling so much.  Double-layer garments seem to lie better at the hem.

I used the herringbone stitch for the binding and employed my homemade Tiger Tape to keep my stitches evenly spaced.  I am hoping to make several more garments along this line before summer arrives.

I also finished up a project that I started last year, and that I alluded to in this post.  The fingerless gloves were made from two t-shirts; the underlayer is black, the outer layer chocolate brown.  The pattern is available in Alabama Studio Sewing + Design.  I stenciled them with the Bloomers pattern from Alabama Stitch Book in black paint and stitched them in reverse applique.  These gloves only require two t-shirts, one of each color, and are a great project to get you started in upcycling.

I'm in the preparation phase for my annual sewing retreat which is happening in a couple of weeks.  I have quite an ambitious list of projects for this year.  I am very much looking forward to seeing my sewing friends and to having some "quiet" time away to get some sewing finished.  Wish me luck getting everything cut out and packed.

Thursday
Dec252014

Christmas and Winter

Hello sweet friends, who I haven't seen in so long.  This past year has been so full -- too full, really, and certainly too full to keep up with my blog.  Which makes me sad because I miss it so, both as a form of record-keeping and a way to connect with friends near and far.

As some of you may know, I moved my family this summer and we have still not recovered from the process.  And here it is Christmas already!  We've now landed in Charlottesville, Virginia, in a sweet little house on two acres of (mostly) woods.

It is a lovely quiet spot and we are enjoying being out in the country.  Here's the little treehouse that we are having built for our boys in the back yard.

We are still getting settled here, a task made more difficult because much of our furniture is residing at our old house which is still on the market.  I previously wrote about the construction of my sewing studio, and that area, too, is still being sorted out.  Here's what it looks like at present:

The furniture I ordered to help tame this mess has been repeatedly back-ordered but finally arrived last week.  I'm hoping to get it assembled after the new year begins and get this place under control.  I have been doing some sewing despite the chaos, but some of my furniture hasn't made the move quite yet, so I've been making do.

I was busy this Christmas with lots of projects, most from my kitchen but some from my studio.  I made my husband a fleece vest and matching neck gaiter.  I also made my boys gaiters.  No pictures of those yet.  I also completed a project that has been on my wish list for at least 8 years -- a new star for the top of our Christmas tree. 

I created this from wool blend felt and used this pattern for the design.  The embroidery was done with perle cotton, silk ribbon and silver chop beads.  The pearl beads were left over from the beadwork on my wedding dress and the button in the middle was an extra from that same project.

I stitched an extra layer of felt to the inside of the star, leaving the bottom open to be slipped over the top of the tree.  I used a blanket stitch and more perle cotton to construct the star.

I did quite a bit of baking/cooking this year.  Our church had a Christmas bazaar and I made a number of items for the bake sale table as well as many bags of goodies for gifts to friends and family.

Eggnog Bread

Cookies for Santa

Rosemary Pecans with Cranberries

Salted Caramel Chex Mix

My neighbor gave me a jar of delicious Olive Tapenade along with the recipe so I had to make my own jars.  I'll share this recipe with you at a later time.

I've also been doing quite a bit of hand sewing in the evenings.  My studio is over our detached garage so it is a little harder to access.  I've been keeping a little bag of hand stitching in the house to work on.  I can't share one of the projects because it is still waiting to go out to a friend as a gift and I don't want to spoil the surprise in case she reads this post.  But I'll share once the gift has been given.

I have always found the quiet and spare days of winter to be my most productive time in my studio.  I love the quality of the light which is so different than other times of the year, and there are fewer distractions.  I am already looking forward to turning the calendar to January 2015 and really settling in to get some sewing done.  I hope that my life will now allow me to create more and post more.  I've really missed those things.

Wednesday
Dec242014

Happy Holidays!

Wishing you and yours a very happy holiday season.

Wednesday
May212014

Graduation Cap Treats

Tomorrow is my youngest's last day of preschool, so in honor of his "graduation" on Friday I made these graduation cap treats.  They were super simple to put together.  Here's how I did it.

I started with chocolate graham crackers (seriously, the hardest part of this entire project was getting the graham crackers to break into proper squares.  I ended up cutting them with a big knife.)  I "iced" each square with melted semi-sweet chocolate and topped them with an M&M.

Once the chocolate hardened (I put them in the fridge for 30 minutes) I piped yellow icing to resemble a tassel on top.

Previously, I had baked some brownie bites using a boxed mix (do yourself a favor and subsitute melted butter for the oil called for in the mix directions -- heavenly!) and my mini-muffin pan.  Place the brownies with the flat bottom side facing up.

I used this Cookie Icing and placed a dollop off-center on the bottom of the brownie bites

then placed the graham cracker pieces on top of the icing, pressing them down so they were slightly slanted.