I have to admit: It was hard to get back to work today. I spent the last 3 or 4 days elsewhere...The Costume Society of America Midwest Symposium and the Minnesota Opera. Both were pretty wonderful.
But, today, after much fooling around and after taking another embroidery class, I resumed sewing the petticoats. I will freely admit, I am not enjoying the petticoats. Each ruffle is 10 yards of slippery, rolling, generally uncooperative nylon tricot. The machines handle it fine. It is actually pretty easy to embroider. But, It is fiddly. It needs careful re-positioning during the 6 hours it takes to embroider one ruffle. And then there it the pinning the embroidered 10 yard ruffle to the plain ruffle to supply sufficient girth...that takes many,many pins and much finger action. Then the gathering happens, the sewing to the slip shell happens, the sewing of the ribbon happens. Oh, and the un-sewing happens to correct mis-sewn areas.
I don't like making slips.
The natural variations of Indigo range from light chambray to "Levi" dark blue. Using this characteristic, the "younger" personalities are lighter, less formed. The deep, complete indigo is reserved for the woman personality who has or is about to leave the workplace, fully formed, fully empowered..
What remains? the petticoats, the lining of the jackets and a few garment tags.
Today is warm and lovely and the indigo vat is happy. So, ALL of the garments are being dipped! Well, not the petticoats. They are not made yet and all they will require is a weak vat to knock the color back a bit.
The indigo will wash off my legs pretty well. But, I am wondering about my new New Balance shoes! Oh well. A girl needs to have comfortable work shoes, which in my case means that they will look like trash most of their useful life.
I will dip the garments a third time, maybe even a fourth.. WYSIWYG does not apply to indigo. Wet, freshly oxidized indigo is many shades darker than the final color.
It's Friday night. The embroidery machine is stitching away on the dress for the 30-40 year old woman.
All four jackets are sewn and embroidered (unless I re-make the 50 & up jacket.) All four dresses are sewn, 2 1/2 are embroidered. One petticoat is complete and 2 pairs of leggings are sewn. I embroidered labels for the garments today. Some are sewn in. Many will be sewn in after the indigo bath and the lining is done. I got out the petticoat material, planning to begin stitching and found myself to be totally confused. So, I cut out another pair of leggings. Tomorrow is soon enough to tackle the petticoat!
I think I might be ready for indigo by the end of next week....when hopefully it will be warmer.
Time for a book and a glass of wine, I think. Or maybe another episode of The Sopranos? I'm late to the game on that one. I have just started season 2. Better late than never.
Just a little slide show: production has begun in earnest. All the digitizing is completed. All the appliques are embroidered. 2 jackets are sewn, the third is nearly done. Then I will be cutting out the dresses. The pattern still needs a bit of tweaking...That will happen later this week, after my performance, tomorrow, of The Ophelia Project at Riverland Community College.
When all the sewing is completed, the indigo will re-commence. It is important to dye each completed outfit at the same time so that the shades of indigo more or less match. The vat will weaken over time. The vat also does not like cool weather, so speed is of the essence here. Autumn is upon us. I prefer to do the indigo dyeing in the yard...but will bring the stinking mess into the studio if necessary. Drop clothes will protect most of the space. And, once it oxidizes it does smell of flowers rather than urine!
RIght now, I am thinking of hanging the dresses slightly above my eye level, suspended from the ceiling. I may pad out the skirt with red netting. I will go to the used store display place and get plus sized hanging torsos. I am thinking that the old shoe forms may be coming out of storage and will become part of the display...as will the leftovers, the stitching failures, the test pieces... Bojagi? Thread/shred piles? galvinized buckets call my name...I will need to figure out why that is. Certainly, the project is struggling to become an installation, as usual. Nostalgia is pushing its head in. Evocative objects want to be part of this. Must boogie, though, on the assembly. I have made ready the studio for production sewing. Soon it will begin.
As you can see, the first petticoat is finished. A quick dip in the indigo took the edge off of the brilliant red.
Stay tuned, more photos to follow.
The day is not yet done and neither is the ruffle. I have been embroidering 5 yards of ruffle for around 7 hours. the end is near... Much detail work, much blue tape. Maybe a yard left to do.
Indigo is an exciting process. The vat is green, the cloth comes out green and instantly starts to turn blue. The vat stinks of ammonia, yet, as the indigo oxidizes, it takes on a floral scent. It is SO beautiful! But, a lot washes out. Yesterday I did three dips per item, massaging the cloth under the surface and counting slowly to 100 on each dip. The garments were nearly black with Indigo. After the wash, they are the mottled color of faded denim. I think I am OK with that because these first garments are for the over 50 year old woman. She has seen a lot of life already and some wear and tear are to be expected.
(color note: the iPhone seems to have a hard time capturing the complex color of indigo. The most accurate color shot is the shot of the back of the dress.)
It took a lot of dinking around with Thiox to sharpen the vat sufficiently, reduce more of the free indigo. I dipped 2 pairs of leggings , 1 dress and 1 jacket today. Here they are before washing. Ultimately I dipped them 3 times. They are in the laundry now. WHAT WILL THEY LOOK LIKE? Like me, you'll have to wait and see.
I designed and ordered fabric from Spoonflower. I sewed 2 pair of leggings up today that speak: the language of the people who responded to the survey last spring. They will, of course, be dyed in the indigo vat. And there will, ultimately, be 4 pairs.
WEARING MY AGE
I have received a grant from the Jerome Foundation to work on a project that I have called "Wearing My Age."